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Dude, Where's My Warp Core

Posted on Tue Jan 19th, 2021 @ 5:52pm by Captain Jacob Kane & Lieutenant Xavier Leiko & Lieutenant Commander Savin & Lieutenant Finnley Keating VII

Mission: The Shadow of Arachne
Location: USS Athena
2294 words - 4.6 OF Standard Post Measure

Kane was purposefully marching out of the sickbay when he crossed paths with Keating and Savin, who both looked a little pale and uncertain. His mini-briefing with the other senior staff had him feeling as though he was ready to get more hands-on with the situation, and the sight of a senior engineer was exactly what he needed.

"Lieutenant Keating. Mind telling me why we just lost a warp core? Those don't grow on trees."

Savin paused as they encountered the captain. "Two warpcores," he offered quietly, not looking at the chief engineer. "She ejected two. I apologise captain, I was there, but unable to stop her. At the time, I was not aware who she was. I was... Incapable of recognizing anyone."

Having just recently returned to the land of the conscious, it took Finnley a moment to respond. “Stop me? Why would you have wanted to stop me? Engineering has been taken over the Breen, It was the only thing I could think of to stop them. I tried to call the bridge or anyone, but coms were down.”

“Wait…” Finnley looked around and between the three officers in the hallway, confusion etched across her face. “How did I get here? Last I remember I had been captured by the Breen. You were taken too.” She nodded towards Savin.

"I have no recollection of any Breen," Savin objected, "and I do not know where exactly we were going when you dragged me from sickbay. Though, I did not know it was you at the time. I do not even know where we were, exctly, when I regained my senses."

"You were having a hallucination," Xavier added matter-of-factly. He turned to face the Captain. Xavier had never met the man before, only being on the ship a few days and not being one of the senior officers, and he hated that this was how they were being introduced. "Sir, I'm sure you're aware but several of the crew seem to be having vivid illusions, or something similar. Lieutenant Keating was experiencing one in Engineering right when she ejected the core. I tried to stop her but I couldn't."

"Believe me, Lieutenant, I'm aware of what's going on to the crew." Kane touched his shoulder subconsciously. He looked at Keating again. "I understand you're confused, Lieutenant, but you need to think clearly now. You've ejected the cores, but they can't have gone far. We'll need to track them and lock on a tractor beam so we can tow them back into place. Do you think you can do that?"

“Yes, sir. I believe I can track and reintegrate them.” Finnley responded somewhat automatically, still confused as to how the Breen could’ve been an illusion. It seemed so real, but as the pieces fell together, the realization hit that they were stranded in this nightmare-inducing space and it was her fault. “I’m so sorry,” she confessed as her face changed from confusion to a look of total regret.

"I can help," Xavier volunteered. "The work would go much faster if there are two of us on it, plus I kinda feel responsible. If I had kept my head we wouldn't have lost the second core."

"It's definitely not your fault. If I had kept my head on, you wouldn't have had anything to worry about. I will take you up on the help though." Finnley said, grateful for his offer. "You must be Xavier? You're the one that tried to reach out to me, but I thought you were the illusion, right?" She asked having never formally met the man before. She felt horrible for not believing him when he reached out telepathically and pleaded with her to not eject the core.

Savin nodded in agreement as he observed the two. "There is probably nothing you could have done to prevent this," he added, "both Lieutenant Finnley and I were caught in an illusion."

"We'll work together. The more of us there are, the less likely we are to all fall for the same illusions and tricks," Kane said, motioning towards the Engineering section. "At least, that's the hope."

Xavier appreciated the Captain's optimism even if he didn't share it. "Aye Sir," he said as he turned and headed in the direction that the Captain was indicating. "Do you have any ideas on how we get the hell out of this... place?"

"That's for Lieutenant Danton to figure out," Kane replied. In some ways he was hampered by not having a science background to come up with a solution himself. But that was why they had a science officer and lab on board: to fill that niche when needed. And they sure needed it now. "We have to trust her to come up with a solution. Our job is just as important; we're not going anywhere without those warp cores."

"How will we retrieve them?" Savin asked. Where the captain might lack science skills, his counselor was sure lacking engineering skill, or even navigational. Beyond piloting a simple shuttle, he certainly had no navigation skill.

"We should be able to pick them up on sensors," Finnley chimed in. "After that, it's just a matter of grabbing them with a tractor beam and then reinstalling them into the system. Getting them back in place shouldn't be too difficult, the harder part will be reintegrating everything, but it's doable. This isn't the first time a ship has jettisoned a warp core and then picked it back up later."

"It might be faster if we split up into pairs? I can reintegrate the core into main engineering and I'm going to guess Lt.Leiko is capable of reintegrating the saucer section core. We're also going to need someone more skilled with a tractor beam than me to pull these back into place properly," she looked at Kane. Engineering was her specialty, not piloting warp cores via a tractor beam.

"I can operate the tractor beams reasonably well enough," Kane nodded. His pre-command experience was as a tactical officer, and it wasn't much different from firing phasers. "But staying together as a group covers us from a pair being taken out of action by whatever this place might do to us."

"I would have to agree with the captain." He looked to Keating. "When we were together, you were caught in an illusion, as was I. You believed there were Breen chasing us and hauled me across the ship, and I had no idea which was what because I was rendered senseless." He turned to Kane. "I think, we are somehow subjected to our own fears."

“Speaking of the Breen, just out of curiosity. If they weren’t there, who tackled me? Or was that somehow an illusion too?” Finnley asked as they continued towards engineering. Hoping that it wasn’t real since she remembered kicking someone, hard.

"That would be me," Xavier answered a bit sheepishly. "I was a faction of a second too late." He ran his ran through his short hair. "Considering how much grief me, I agree that we should all stick together. It will take longer but we have more of a chance of success."

"Sorry for kicking you," Finnley grimaced, knowing that he must've been the one she had grappled with. "Not the way I had intended on meeting you, but if you're willing to forgive me I could use your help getting the magnetic locks in place as the Captain tractors the warp core in. I promise not to fight you this time." She said with a slight chuckle as they entered main engineering.

"It's OK," Xavier said sincerely, as he unconsciously rubbed his bruised side. He knew she wasn't in her right mind at the time and to be honest, it wasn't the worst thing to happen to him that day. "And if you try again, Lieutenant, I will be ready for you," he added with a smile.

Finnley smiled back. "If you can get those," she pointed Xavier towards the locks on the port side of the warp core, "I'll get these." She then positioned herself at the console on the opposite side, ready to engage the remaining locks once the core was back in place. "We're ready when you are," she said, glancing towards Kane and Savin. "You should be able to pick up the antimatter signature to locate the cores."

Xavier nodded and made his way to the console that Finnley had indicated. Though this was the first time he had entered engineering, he couldn't help but notice how quiet it was without the warp core pulsing away. It was a fixed sound in most engine rooms, one that he wouldn't normally notice, but when it wasn't there it just felt...odd. Xavier tapped a few buttons on the console and activated the warp core intake programme. He had performed this sequence multiple times on the holodeck but had never had to do it for real. "I'm ready," he said to the officers present.

"Standby." Kane manned the tractor controls. "Power to the emitters is unsteady; could be the power drain from losing two cores. Let's just take this easy." He manipulated the panel. As he did so the screen started to flicker and flash. Savin, alongside him, didn't react at all, but Kane could see the images flickering away from the strange rippling space and to demonic, horrific faces almost leaning out of the viewscreen. He closed his eyes for a moment, fingers tightening into fists. "There was a saying, back at the Academy," he said quietly, though loud enough for the Counsellor to register. "We of Starfleet do not fear the unknown; we fear what the unknown might be." He took a deep breath. "Once we get out of this, I'm having that inscribed on the wall of the mess hall."

The intensity of the captain's voice was lost on the deaf counselor, but the words were spoken clear enough for him to see. "That seems like a good idea," he agreed as he observed his commanding officer. "Is there anything I can do to help?" Right now, he felt a little useless as he was no engineer.

"Don't let me miss," Kane replied, determined not to fail. "Keating, Leiko, here it comes. Be ready."

Xavier tapped on the console as he tried to regulate the power that the tractor beam would need. His primarily role on the ship, as an operations officer, was to monitor power usage and to make sure that the departments had the power they needed to make sure that the ship ran as efficiently as possible. Since entering this region, the ship's power consumption had been all over the place, obviously not helped by the ejection of two of the three warp cores. It was going to challenging to sort out, and since the Chief's death, he was the most senior one to do so. "Ready," he said to the captain, and he posed to initiate the intake process.

Standing at the ready, Finnley watched as Kane expertly tractored the core into place. "Now!" She announced to Xavier to engage the magnetic locks from his end as she did the same on hers. After breathing a sigh of relief that nothing had gone wrong she looked at the others. "I can get an engineering team working on integrating this one while we grab the core for the saucer section?" She proposed the plan thinking it would save some time so that they could escape the nightmare region of space sooner rather than later.

"Let's make it happen," Kane nodded, taking a break from the controls. "Good work, people. By the time we get those cores installed I'm hoping we'll be hearing of some progress with our way out of this."

Finnley quickly assigned a team of the most experienced engineers she had on hand and wondered where the hell Paxton was at that moment, thinking she could use his help. As the engineering team began work to integrate the core back into the systems, the four officers made their way to the saucer section's engineering room. Taking up the same positions as before when they arrived. Finnley saddled up at the control panel on the starboard side of where the warp core should have been. She then looked over to see Xavier already ready to go at the port side control panel.

"We're ready when you are," she said, signaling once more for Kane to tractor in the previously ejected core.

Savin took a step back and just watched them work, observing their teamwork. There was nothing much else for him to do unless someone literally coached him. What did he know of warpcores and starship mechanics?

Xavier thought about the last time he was in this room, it felt like a life time ago but in reality it was just over an hour. In fact, this entire day felt like an entire month had passed, how was that possible. As the Captain tractored the smaller core into position, Xavier activated the magnetic interlocks and started the intake sequence. Just like before, he watched as the cylinder unit slowly moved it way through the various decs of the ship and finally entered the engineering room. A moment later the core was fully in place and the loud clunk of the locking mechanisms filled all of their ears. Xavier punched a few buttons to make sure that the the core was securely in place before deactivating the sequence, which had gone off without a hitch. "Piece of cake," he said to the officers present.

"That's one problem solved," Kane agreed. "Now let's just hope the science team can figure out a way out of this place..."


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