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A Rusty Dilemma

Posted on 31 Jan 2021 @ 2:17pm by Lieutenant JG Kemm & Lieutenant Zayna Ryler
Edited on on 17 Mar 2021 @ 1:49am

1,567 words; about a 8 minute read

Mission: Extinction
Location: Life Support
Timeline: Mission Day 3 at 0930

The tall, lanky Kemm found himself today in a horizontal Jeffries tube, trying to track down an errant anomaly with the life support generators on Deck 22. While thankfully there wasn't any housing on this level, the generators were responsible for the entire secondary hull. Over the last couple of days, there had been reports of variations in environmental conditions, including low gravity, colder or hotter temperatures, and even slower air circulation. What surprised him was that all of the diagnostics were coming back without any indication of errors.

Then again, this was the Black Hawk.

Kemm carefully ran a sensor probe through a hard to access area while monitoring the readouts on his tricorder. So far everything checked out. The ODN interfaces were fully operational, the EPS taps were at peak efficiency, the circuit breakers were still solid, the duranium bracing was oxidizing, the ventilators were clear–

The engineer brought his probe back to the duranium bracing. Oxidation? Why the hell was he picking up oxidation? Aboard a starship where airflow was carefully monitored and controlled, it would take at least ten years before oxidation would show, much less appear to be a problem.

He tried to think of possible reasons, but this was certainly out of his wheelhouse. A thought crossed his mind, but he needed help to investigate further. "Computer," the lieutenant called out. "Is there anyone on board with a specialty in temporal mechanics?"

The computer beeped in reply, the high tones echoing from a speaker three meters away. "There are three personnel aboard with specialties in temporal mechanics. Lieutenant Zayna Ryler, Ensign Tamiya Kaito, and Petty Officer Si'lat."

"Thank you, computer," the Kelpian replied, not minding that the computer was not programmed for platitudes. He tapped his badge and spoke, "Lieutenant Kemm to Lieutenant Ryler."

Having been looking over a few reports, Ryler raised an eyebrow when she heard Kemm's voice. "Go ahead, Lieutenant."

"Lieutenant," Kemm replied calmly. "Could you spare a minute to join me in the life support section on deck twenty-two?"

"Interesting location, but yes I can join you there. Ryler out." Zayna shook her head. "Of all the places," she mumbled to herself as she headed out of her office and wandered until she could get to the life support section on deck twenty-two. Once there, she grumbled as she climbed through to where Kemm was. "What the bloody hell are you doing down here, Kemm? Sorry, it just takes quite a bit to get here."

"In here!" called out the lanky Kelpien from inside an open tube access. "There's an extra tricorder on the console out there. You might want to bring it with you."

Looking down towards him, Zayna sighed and grabbed the tricorder before joining him. "Curious why you called me down here."

"I've got something for you to take a look at," Kemm replied, pointing to a duranium bracing strut that was not the same color as the rest in the tube. "Ever seen a rusty duranium brace before?"

Shifting to where she could see what he was pointing at, she raised an eyebrow when she saw what he meant. "Not...on a ship that should have all newer parts..." Instantly, she pulled out the tricorder to make sure they were actually seeing rusting duranium. "That is actually rust. That doesn't make any sense at all."

"No it doesn't." Kemm sighed and pulled out a padd. "Everything used in this section of the ship, according to the construction yards, was all pressed at the same time. Nothing in here has changed, at least not like it did in the Convergence Zone."

"And the Convergence Zone was before I was on board. This..." Her eyes went wide and she looked at Kemm. "I think I know why you called me down here. Temporal mechanics, right?" She looked back to the rust. "Only explanation I can come up with off the top of my head. Are we able to put a replacement in or bypass this section until we can examine that piece more carefully?"

Kemm sighed, having already thought of the possibilities himself. "Replacement isn't an option. It'll have be done at a drydock, which I doubt we'll be seeing for a while. I can bypass the section though to give you room for study. I'm definitely curious to see how far this twisting has gone and to see what else it would have affected."

Zayna nodded, "Bypassing works. It'll give me time to maybe figure out what happened in here. Nothing should be rusting. If we've hit anything temporal...this could make things a lot more interesting. Working down here could be tough too but, it'll have to do. Not what I thought I'd see when I woke up this morning."

"Do you think it is something we could have been carrying with us for a few months?" Kemm asked. "We've had regular service calls in this area. I wouldn't call them frequent, but it has been often. I don't know why we didn't notice the rusting until now."

"If we have been carrying it around, it is something the internal sensors weren't alerting us to. That worries me even more." She rubbed her forehead. "No where else from what you can tell is showing this, at least right now?"

"I haven't looked yet," Kemm replied. "Not to mention, our sensors aren't watching for changes in quantum dating or anything like that. Those are specialty scans that have to be approved by an assistant chief or higher, of which I am not a member of."

"Of course they are...forgot about that," Zay mumbled to herself. "I'll get those approved soon as I can. I really hope this doesn't get worse. It isn't what we need with the mission we're currently on. A rusting ship..from the inside. This is going to be one hell of a report too."

"I should be able to pull up the logs from the Convergence Zone," Kemm said, starting to slide out of the tunnel. "Perhaps they will be helpful in figuring out what scans to conduct."

"It'll help me since I wasn't involved in it." She followed him out. "Guess I have some rust to research. Should be fun," Zayna stated with a bit of sarcasm in her voice.

Kemm, now out of the Jeffries Tube, approached a console and took a moment to access the ship's logs from a little more than a year ago. "There were two instances when we passed through a massive barrier, which was essentially a mangling of subspace and the space-time continuum itself, but I don't think that would have been the source of our current predicament. I would wager instead..."

On the main display was a starboard schematic of the Black Hawk. Multiple waves encompassed the ship as if they were gigantic ribbons, all of them merging together in the antimatter pods on the ship. "This incident in particular was interesting," he informed Ryler. "Our ship was divided into four time zones, each one several years apart from the other. Some of us were present day, and some thrown more than fifty years into the future. We didn't age. But the ship, on the other hand..."

Crawling out and then looking at the information Zemm pulled up for her, Zayna knew she at least had a starting point. "You're right, that first one wouldn't have done this. If it had? We'd be looking at a more widespread issue." She then read over the information on the divided time zones. "This one on the other hand, I agree. What time zone was this area of the ship in? There shouldn't be any lingering issues, but if there is, we have an entire ship to check, not just this area."

Kemm frowned and worked with the sensors. "Sensors weren't functioning optimally during this crisis, but... looks like there were two zones, present day, and five years apart." He zoomed the schematic into a clearer cross-section of the life support generators. "Looks like we had a fifty-year zone a deck and a half above us, and I don't think I've seen some of these zones overlap before."

"If the zones were overlapping, there might be more areas that are doing this." She put in a few commands on the controls, making sure all the scans they needed were authorized. "Even with just the small amount of information we have, we might need to talk to either Djinx or, dare I say it, the captain. We could end up with a widespread issue."

The engineer nodded. "I'd recommend starting with Commander Djinx first. Right now, all we have is a theory. We should make sure it's proven before contacting the Captain. No need to go to him if it's just one rusted brace."

Nodding in agreement, Zayna's mind was going a million lightyears a minute with this. The type of thing she'd studied was in front of her, possibly, and she still didn't know what to make of it. "Right, Djinx, and I'm going to grab a sample of that rust and take it to the lab. I think my schedule just got a bit busier."

The Kelpien nodded. "And mine too it seems. Seeing that rust makes me wonder how many other systems have been affected that we haven't detected yet."

"You have fun on that point, I have a chief to talk to..."


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