Part of USS Achilles Archive: It Resides in the Purview of the Diplomats

Misfired First Contact

USS Achilles, Jeffries Tubes
Stardate 24582.7: August 1st, 2347; 1703 Hours
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The way he had to fold his body within the cramped confines of the jeffries tube, Calumn was thankful for all those yoga lessons back on the USS Callisto.  Sat with his legs crossed atop the horizontal grating, Lieutenant Tumaini Calumn was hunched forward, halfway inside where he’d opened an access panel.  A tricorder sat open on his lap, humming away, while he poked at a line with the tip of a coil spanner.  As the Chief Security Officer, Calumn was certain that line was one of the primary trunks of the electro plasma system.  Either it was that or it was a phaser sensor line.  One or the other, he was certain of it.  What he didn’t know were the consequences of opening a maintenance hatch unexpectedly.


Cathmor was sitting at one of the stations in engineering familiarizing himself with his future duties. Looking through the systems he saw a flashing ping in one of the jeffries tubes, that was odd. He deftly opened up the screen on the terminal to see if there were any maintenance teams scheduled in that area. After a few moments he was able to determine that there most defiantly no teams out in the ship at the moment. ‘Well guess I will go investigate before dinner’ he thought to himself as he pushed himself away and started to walk to the location.

After a few minutes of walking and only having to check the map a few times he arrived at the open access hatch, poking his head up and in he saw what was easiest to describe as someone that was folded into some odd yoga pose. “Umm can I help you with anything?”  he asked in a voice that he hoped would not startle the man who was prodding at the insides of the ship.

From inside the phaser maintenance conduit, Tumaini Calumn called out, “No, thank you.  I’ve maintained phasers before…”  He tapped his coil spanner on the vehicle frame a couple of times and then he sat back, popping his head out.  Calumn looked in Cathmor’s direction and he blinked twice.  The placid expression on his face didn’t change.  “That was my ego talking.  The Callisto had type-eight phasers.  They were designed without independent power systems,” Calumn said.  “I could very much use your advice.”

Cathmor was a little shocked at the response at first until the man poked his head out to look at him, the lack of expression caused him to smile momentarily before responding. “Yes, lieutenant.” His eyes darted to see his rank and the red colored backing on his uniform “Would be beneficial for the Chief of Security to understand how this particular system works. I have limited experience with them myself, but I have read all about them and would be happy to pass on what knowledge I have.”  Without waiting for a response, he smiled and continued “I am Cathmor Langston by the way, engineering.”

Calumn tilted his head in a welcoming gesture, inviting Cathmor to see into the maintenance hatch he’d opened.  Calumn slid his body to the left, making more room for Cathmor too, in the cramped tube.  “I’m Tumaini Calumn.  It’s a pleasure to meet you, ensign,” he said.  “I’ve just arrived today.  Thought I should get to know this ship before we arrive at the Cardassian border.”

It took a moment but Cathmor was able to arrange himself comfortably enough next to Calumn. “Well that makes two of us I only arrived okay myself. I actually do not entirely know what our mission is, just the briefest idea from connecting to the ships terminal.” He took a look at the phaser before him, “Anyway though, you always want to start with securing power so that nothing can accidentally go off. Something like that should not happen, chances less than one percent, but never zero.” He chuckled to himself as he pointed out how to do just that. 

Calumn’s dark eyes followed the spots where Cathmor had pointed.  Reaching into the maintenance access with his spanner, Calumn confirmed that this segment of the phaser array had been de-energized by the computer and then he further pushed the manual levers that locked out the electroplasma submitter flow regulators – physically blocking the flow of electroplasma from coming anywhere near this equipment.  Starting from the very beginning, Calumn explained, “I ran a diagnostic on the phasers from the tactical console on the bridge.  I’ll admit, I was curious about the ability to apply different charges to different emitter segments.” –Calumn waggled a finger at the segments accessible in this maintenance hatch– “…I don’t know if it’s something I did, but the internal sensors warned of a misfire between the physical iris and the magnetic switching gate in this EPS submitter flow regulator. They won’t operate in sequence, cutting off these phaser emitters from the plasma distribution manifold.”

Having watched as Calumn worked he knew everything was secure and there was now no chance of any injury happening to himself or the Chief of Security. He listened with interest as the issue with the was described to him, his brain started to run through any and all things that could cause this type of issue. “Huh, misfiring is supposed to be very rare, it could just be an issue with the gate. Something in the coding that is making the gate stay closed when it’s supposed to be open. Kind of like running into a locked door energy would stop, if the gate opened late energy release would cause the misfire. Mind if I look?”  He asked holding his hand out for the tricorder “Sorry I do not have any equipment yet only been on the ship for six hours now, technically not supposed to start my rounds until tomorrow.” He said a little sheepishly. 

“What’s mine is yours, ensign,” Calumn breezily replied, even before Cathmor had finished saying the words.  He handed over the tricorder easily, supposing it would be of more use in the engineer’s hands anyway.  Watching Cathmor with curious eyes, Calumn said, “You said you’ve just arrived.  Where were you posted before Achilles then?”

As soon as the piece of equipment was in his hands he switched the function to scan for any coding errors and started to scan the gate. “Appreciate it“ he responded brows furrowed as he started to inspect the data that was displaying onto the screen. “This is actually my first posting out of the academy, so before this I did a few cruises on training ships but no real posting.” His response held no real emotion as he was distracted by his analysis. The test was about eighty percent done before it flagged an error, “That’s odd the system seems corrupted at the gate. Which was the only thing that made sense but how would it have happened. When looking at the system you didn’t open the coding panel from the bridge did you?” He asked in an easy nature more curious than accusingly.

Tilting his head to the left, Calumn took a look over at the tricorder’s display.  There was something compelling about any computer interface screen, it always attracted the eyes.  In this instance, Calumn was particularly curious about what had gone wrong.  “On the Callisto, the computer interface wasn’t as modern as this one,” Calumn said, “but I’m… reasonably sure I didn’t open a coding panel.” –He craned his neck, taking another look at the readout on the tricorder– “Are these kinds of mysteries why you became an engineer in the first place, ensign?”

”Odd, if it wasn’t done by you, that means either it’s been this way since the system was installed, and been missed in any routine checks. Or someone else has messed with it,  I’m not sure which of those I find more concerning.” He said a little worriedly to Calumn “Should be easy enough to fix though just need to copy the gate coding and make the timing algorithm the same as the one without the error.” Cathmor went about doing that rather quickly his fingers deftly punching in the information that was needed to fix the system. As he was working he heard the question asked him. “I do love a good brain teaser, I’ve loved mechanical thinking though for as long as I can remember. My father was an engineer for Starfleet and I grew up living with him so I grew up in engine rooms practically. Now I finally get to do it all for real, my own little dream come true.” His words were mostly distracted as all concentration was on the tricorder in his hand.

In a similar state, Calum was craning his neck to keep his curious eyes on what Cathmor was describing from the tricorder readouts.  As much as Calumn’s eyes followed the computer codes on the tricorder display, he made efforts to keep an eye on Cathmor’s novel interventions too.  In a similarly distracted state, Calumn spoke from the heart without thinking about the possible consequences.  “That sounds like it would have been lonely, though,” Calumn said.  “A child among all those engineers.”

Cathmor paused what he was doing “it was lonely at times, I guess I never really thought about it though. I also did have friends I was not the only child around but I did learn how to talk with adults much better than I did with kids my own age.” He returned his green eyes to the tricorder pressing another button here and there. After a few moments the screen pinged green “there” he said with a satisfied look on his face “that should fix the misfire issue, now just to run a quick testing sequence and make sure the timing is right. Would you like to do the honors Lieutenant?” Cathmor asked with a smile holding the Chief of Securities tricorder back towards the man.

“No,” Calumn said warmly and he waved his palms in the space between them.  “You put in the work; you deserve the glory,” Calumn affirmed.  He tilted his head to one side, and he added, “I will take those sensor logs back to the security office, though.  I’ll ask one of the investigators to review the data.”  He frowned, thinking of their impending date with the Cardassians.  In an undertone, he pondered out loud, “We’ll have to rule out sabotage and the like.”

Pulling the piece of equipment back towards himself quickly punched in the command for the test fire to begin. The parts whirled to life in front of the two men and after several moments the tricorder pinged green in response. “Well looks like the issue here is fixed, I’ll let the Chief know the issue came up and log it. I will also run some test on the others to make sure there is no coding glitches in them as well, can’t be too safe.” He said with a smile handing the equipment back to Calumn before deftly sliding his way out of the jeffries tube. Once reaching the bottom corridor he waited for the lieutenant to come down so he could verify that the access hatch got closed before he went back to log the work.

With his hands loosely holding the rails of the vertical ladder, Calumn dropped out of the jefferies tube into the junction area where he could stand at his full height.  Offering a playful salute to Cathmor, Calumn said, “It was an honour to meet you, ensign.  I expect this mission will offer you all the brain teasers you can handle.”

Smiling Cathmor returned the jester “Pleasure was all mine sir, torn between saying I hope so and I hope not. She is a good strong ship and well built.” He put his hand to the panel closing off the access before both men turned and went their separate ways.


  • Awesome joint post between you both! Loving the budding friendship that is being hinted at here. Don't be breaking my ship though...

    April 3, 2022
  • lol, we fixed it, we fixed it

    April 3, 2022