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Our Continuing Malfunctions...

Posted on 13 Sep 2020 @ 9:38pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant JG Charles McCullen & Lieutenant JG Damian Akorem & Lieutenant JG Angelica Fairchild & Ensign Kelly Khan

Mission: Ghosts
Location: Auxiliary Control
Timeline: MD 4 || 1230 hours

Captain Geisler was reluctant to take his seat in the center of Auxiliary Control. Just being in the room brought back memories of his first command, and the downward spiral the ship had suffered in the events that surrounded it. The only thing that had pleased him about the alternate command center was that the replicators were functional, and he at last had his hot cup of coffee.

Since the amount of stations were less than those on the bridge, Harvey found himself directly commanding five personnel, including Ensign Khan and Lieutenant Akorem. Both had been assigned to perform a level three diagnostic to try and isolate the current issues.

He approached their forward stations and sipped his hot coffee. "Any updates, Mister Akorem and Miss Khan?"

Kelly activated her console and ran a diagnostic. "According to this, everything is fine, Captain," she said. "Which doesn't make sense."

When has life aboard the Black Hawk ever made sense? Harvey asked silently. "Are you performing the diagnostic on systems themselves, or the control circuits?"

"Systems check at the moment, Sir," the petite brunette said. "But everything is reading normal. Running diagnostics on the control circuits now."

Damian looked at the Captain. "The command subroutines also appear to be running correctly which, " he gestured around their new locale, "Is obviously not the case. It's like the consoles are telling us exactly what we want them to tell us. I don't think they are displaying accurate information, Sir." He was furiously tapping away on one of the hard consoles, while the information on the holoscreens continued to update.

Harvey frowned. "Do you mean to say that the computer is lying to our faces? Is that what you're implying?"

"I wouldn't class it as lying, Captain. It's accurate data. But looking through the logs, it's from various points in history. Life support readings on the bridge are the exact same as yesterday for this time. The readings in shuttlebay are from a couple of weeks ago. Stuff like that. It's not like a lie, but it's almost like it's confused?" Damian replied.

On a whim and despite doing other things, Kelly did a check on the bridge status. She stopped and thought about the implication that the computer might be lying, and what the HASA did when they were in the shuttlebay. "Sir, I think you need to see this," she said as the readouts from the bridge read that all was normal again.

The Captain looked over Kelly's shoulders to see her readouts, and was shocked to see that everything had returned to normal. "What the...?" he muttered, sipping his coffee and leaning closer. "What about the Command lockout? Is it still in place?"

The petite brunette leaned over her console and checked for the lockouts, then shook her head. "No, Sir. The lockout was lifted."

"Lifted?" Harvey asked.

No sooner had he uttered the word did the turbolift doors part, depositing the Zaldan Ensign Tandron in Auxiliary Control. "Captain Geisler?" the Ensign demanded. Captain Geisler was known very well throughout the ship, and it was hard to mistake anyone other than the taller man with four pips on his chest as the ship's commander.

Harvey turned to face the new arrival. His shoulders were science teal while his rank insignia matched that of an Ensign. Any other time, the Ensign's stern tone might have given Harvey a clue to the man's species, but it seemed frustration was everywhere on the ship. He couldn't fault anyone for that. Harvey's eyes also drifted to the strangely colored gelpack the Ensign carried. "What is it, Ensign?"

Tandron approached the Captain and thrust the gelpack between them. "This morning, Lieutenant Ryler discovered this gelpack had been... mutated, altered by metaphasic radiation."

The Captain's face now displayed a perplexed expression. Metaphasic radiation wasn't uncommon, but it was unusual enough to have been easily detected by sensors. The fact that it hadn't been reported was the most alarming. "How is that possible?" Harvey asked. "Metaphasic radiation hasn't shown up on our sensors."

"All I know, Captain," Tandron sighed, "is that it happened, and it's also happened with other gelpacks around the ship. Engineering is looking into the root cause, but we do know that the gelpacks' biological components aren't sick. They're stronger, faster, more efficient."

Harvey didn't respond to the Ensign. Instead, he looked back over Lieutenant Akorem's and Ensign Khan's shoulders at their readouts. It seemed that there was certainly more going on with this ship than any of them knew. And if the command lockout had been lifted on the bridge...

The Captain tapped his combadge. "Security, this is the Captain. Send a team to my location, on the double."

"Acknowledged, sir. I'm on my way now." As Angel responded, a brief flurry of noise accompanied her voice as she scrambled her team together. She wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but she did know it was nothing good! So she moved rather quickly. With only one deck between the security complex and auxiliary control, Angel and a small team arrived there in record time.

"Mister Akorem, is it possible to lock the computer out of all critical systems, starting with life support, navigation, and propulsion?"

He thought for a few moments before answering. "Yes, to a point. Obviously the computer is integrated in almost every system, but if I add a form of fractal encryption to the critical systems, it could work. It won't lock the computer out forever, but it could give us at least seven or eight hours where the computer can't access them, especially if it's actively trying to crack the encryption."

The Captain nodded. "Get on it, Lieutenant." Harvey then took note of the newly arrived security team, which was commanded by Lieutenant Fairchild. The Captain remembered their first meeting very well, and while he wished Commander Di Pasquale was here to handle the task he was about to assign, he had a feeling the ship was in good hands.

"Aye, Sir." He had some encryption algorithms in one of his personal files. Not something for everyday use, but as hobbies go, this one turned out to be somewhat useful. He pulled it up on the screen in front of him and began to lock out the critical systems. Life support was his top priority, so he began on that system first.

"Miss Fairchild," Harvey began. "A short time ago, the bridge suffered an environmental failure, forcing us to relocate to here. Before leaving, I implemented a Command Lockout to disable the bridge until a repair team could resolve the issue. We just learned that the lockout has been lifted. I have a feeling there is a saboteur on board, and I need you and your team to investigate."

"A saboteur who can override a command lockout? That's exciting." Though her tone was relatively neutral, there was a glint of humor and mischief on Angel's face. "I take it the environmental systems are likely still offline and we'll need to plan this as an EVA?" That wouldn't be a problem though. She'd already scoped out where all the emergency equipment was located on board. Some people thought her a bit odd and overly cautious, but apparently that was going to serve her well on this particular ship. "Shouldn't be anything we can't handle."

"Readings indicate that environmental controls on the bridge have been restored to normal." Harvey directed her to the nearby science console. He tapped a few buttons to show the current conditions of the bridge though a camera view was unavailable. "But we've learned in the last few minutes that we can't even trust what the computer is telling us. I wouldn't take Jefferies Tubes or turbolifts to get up there. You could go EVA, but that'd put you out in the nebula, but you may find it easier to access through the ready or conference rooms. Whatever gear you need, including EVA, I leave up to you. Get my bridge back."

"We'll figure something out. Every ship has a way to access the bridge without using turbolifts or Jefferies tubes. It's just a matter of finding the right door." Or break a window, if one were so inclined. Angel wasn't going to tell Harvey that though. "Most likely we'll access the main conference lounge from the ship's exterior. It has the most possible access points, and whoever is on the bridge likely isn't watching it. Can't promise it'll be pretty, but we'll retake your bridge."

"Do whatever you need," Harvey confirmed. "Just make sure that whatever you break that it can at least be fixed. I've been off my bridge for extended periods of time before, and the last thing I want to do is repeat that experience."

A Brikar who had came with her gave Harvey a nod of respect and a wry smile for one of his species. "We're on it, Captain," he rumbled.

"I also want guards stationed here, Engineering, and other critical locations throughout the ship," Harvey directed, looking back to Fairchild. "As of now, consider the ship on Yellow Alert, but we're not going to broadcast it throughout the ship. I don't know who or what is listening, but I don't want to give them notice."

"You got it, sir." Gesturing to two of her team to stay in Auxiliary Control with Harvey and the others, Angel took a moment to mentally review the Black Hawk's deck listing. "We'll split up in the corridor. Security is on the way back to deck one, so I'll stop there and send teams out."

Harvey nodded his acknowledgement to Lieutenant Fairchild. "Good luck out there. Limit communications until the bridge is secure. Dismissed."

"Does this mean we're stuck here, Sir?" Kelly asked.

"Stuck means that we're trapped, Ensign." Harvey offered a smile. The ship may very well be in danger, but at least he wasn't sitting around on his ass waiting for something to happen. "I don't know about you, but I don't feel very trapped at the moment. It's high time we find out how much rust we gained sitting in drydock."

"As long as it isn't cosmozoan space dust," the Flight officer said.

Damian spoke up. "Speaking of dust, I dug out some of my personal encryption algorithm's. I've managed to get life support and propulsion systems locked out. Reading through the attempts to crack it, we're looking at maybe three or four hours for the computer to break the encryption. It's a definite when not an if. I'd also err on the side of caution, and say it's probably going to be closer to three hours than four. Once it's broken through one, which it seems to be doing, it's going to learn and the following algorithms will likely be broken quicker."


===[SHUTTLEBAY]===

As Lieutenant McCullen took the shuttle back indoor, Arjin took two phasors out of the storage. He made sure to put them on maximum stun. As they stood still, he nodded towards Chief De Vries. “Keep her safe and ready. As long as we do not know what is happening, you only take orders from Lieutenant McCullen or myself. Understood?”

“Aye Sir. Good luck.”, she replied.

“Let’s go Lieutenant. Let’s try to contact the Captain one last time. When there is no response we will head towards the bridge.”

"Aye sir," Charlie responded. Now that they were aboard he was feeling nervous again, out of his element, but he shoved it aside and tapped his comm badge.
=/\= "McCullen to Geisler, captain can you hear me sir?"

A moment passed before a voice came from the tiny speaker, "Geisler here. Go ahead, Lieutenant."

"Captain, there's a..." Charlie paused, the idea popping into his head that it might not be a great idea to broadcast the existence of a freaking great big bomb attached to the Black Hawk over an open com. "Uh, we just got back from surveying the Shran and we've got to talk to you, right now, sir. It's urgent. And, uh... whatever you do, don't go to warp."

"Report directly to Auxiliary Control," came the Captain's reply. He offered no pause, no form of hesitation. His tone, however, was both frustrated and aggressive, as if he'd been previously annoyed by something else.

"Aye sir, we're on our way. McCullen Out." Charlie confirmed, then looked over at Djinx, "uh, auxiliary control, then."

“There must be something very wrong when they are auxiliary control. Keep you eyes open and let’s go. Better put the phasors away first. Otherwise the captain would hav told us to arm ourselves.”

The way towards Auxiliary Control was uneventful although every crewman they passed seemed on edge.


===[AUXILIARY CONTROL]===

They both entered the Auxiliary Control. It was smaller than the actual bridge, but as effective. Arjin watched who was present, but quickly focussed on the Captain.

He decided not to cut around the bush, as the humans said. “Sir, we have detected a bomb clinging to one of the Black Hawk’s nacelle. If we were to go into warp, it will explode.”

Harvey had merely glanced over to the new arrivals and had started to walk in their direction. Upon Commander Djinx's admission, however, Harvey paused in his tracks. First, malfunctions had begun to run rampant throughout the ship. Then, he'd been forced off his bridge and command center. Now, he was being told that there was a bomb attached to the outside of the ship. Any other day he might have been surprised by this. The Captain found himself wondering what else could go wrong.

"A bomb?" Harvey asked, his tone growing more annoyed by the second. "Are you absolutely certain? Too many things have gone wrong today, and I definitely don't need to be dealing with further sabotage."

"There's a bomb on the nacelle?" Kelly asked in disbelief, then nodded as she continued to speak out loud even though she thought she was thinking it. "Of course there is. This is the fucking Black Hawk, albatross of Starfleet!"

Arjin frowned with the interruption by the pilot, but continued. “Yes, Captain. There is no denying it. The device is crude but effective, and is indeed a bomb. Analysis of the device show that the alloy is common enough and available everywhere in the galaxy. The inside is also a classic. Two separate components that when brought together will engage in a chain reaction and initiate an explosion. One of the components comes off as liquid on our scans. Though we are not yet sure about the exact content. The second component is a bit weird to say the least. If our scans read it correctly, it is of biological nature. Whether sentient or not, we do not know. It seems dormant for now. I can deduce that ‘waking’ the creature will engage the chain reaction that sets off the bomb. Maybe this is also the way the bomb has attached itself onto the nacelle.”

If the Captain wasn't furious before, he certainly was now. Muttering a string of Betazoid curses under his breath, he turned to the viewscreen where the Shran listed precariously in the middle of the nebula. Its rusting hulk seemed to taunt Harvey in that moment, silently asking him how much more he and his crew could take.

"Screw it," Harvey muttered. Then, in his normal volume, he plainly stated, "I'm calling it. Our shakedown cruise is over. As soon as the Away Team is back aboard, we're going to leave this nebula and return to Gamma Command. Mister Djinx, the engineering and ops teams are still dealing with major systematic failures all over the ship. If that bomb has biological components, you and our medical staff just became the best candidates to diffuse it."

Arjin raised an eyebrow hearing the Captain using a swear. He wisely kept his answer short. “Aye, Sir. We will try to take care of it.”

Harvey looked towards the younger lieutenant. "Mister McCullen, assume the helm and contact the Away Team. Inform them that they need to finish their investigation quickly."

"Aye sir," Charlie responded, turning away from the captain, he gave a thin lipped smile to Ensign Khan and slid into the still-warm seat, running his eye over the readouts to get situated.

"As for everyone else," he said, turning to the bridge crew, "We're Starfleet officers. We've faced the Consortium, and we've faced the Dolmoqour. A bomb on the nacelle is no more than a nuisance. Child's play, really. Let's deal with the situations at hand and then get the hell out of here."

"McCullen to away team," Charlie said as he tapped the comm button on his panel. Silence. He frowned down at the display, it indicated the channel was open. He closed it and tried again, "McCullen to away team, can you hear me?" Again there was silence in response. He tapped his comm badge, "McCullen to Di Pasquale, can you hear me ma'am?"

Charlie was beginning to wonder if he'd found himself posted to a cursed, unlucky ship. It seemed they faced nothing but hardship after hardship, problem after problem. He was starting to understand why so many of the crew seemed so jaded. He shook his head slightly and turned to look at Lieutenant Akorem, "Either external comms are down, or something... uh, unfortunate, has happened to the away team, can you verify?"

Damian tapped on the hard console, with its data on the screen in front of him. "External sensors do appear to be working, albeit in a limited capacity, but they show the away team as still there. The problem seems to be related to external communications. Working on it now."

Before Harvey could speak, the doors to the bridge opened again. An ensign in red, all covered in sweat, entered and quickly briefed the Captain on what had transpired in the Flight Deck. Clearly, despite what Harvey had thought, the day certainly could get worse. But at least they now knew what was happening with the ship. HASA was going rogue.

"Mister Akorem," he instructed, "Get down to the computer core and take whomever you need. Shut down the computer and shift us over to the backup drives. We'll have to have Gamma Command sort us out when we get back."

"Aye, Sir," Damian replied. He stopped what he was doing with the communication system and stood up from his station, heading for the nearest turbolift. He hadn't, in all his years, ever had to shut down a computer on an active starship. Let alone transfer all active processes to the backups. Part of him was excited that got to do this, the other part terrified that he couldn't afford to mess it up.


~To Be Continued...~

 

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