USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Loose Screw

Posted on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 @ 2:08pm by Lieutenant T'Mia & Captain Claudia Ainscow & Lieutenant Commander Soren Himmel & Commander Akiva ben-Avram & Lieutenant JG Tora Benjarvi

Mission: S1E1 - Booby Trap
Location: Bridge / Deck 6 Jefferies Tube / Deck 2
Timeline: Mission-1 Day 2

It had been a boring first shift. Akiva smiled. He wouldn't have had it any other way. Boring meant efficient. Surprises could lead to mistakes, and mistakes could lead to, well, that doesn't matter. Things on the bridge were boring, uneventful, and perfect.

What was this? A flashing light brought Akiva's attention away from his console's normal routine functions. There was a minor glitch in the power distribution network. He tapped the console to bring up the appropriate schematic and localize the problem. He found it easily, marked as a red section of the ship, and ordered a damage repair team to the area and went back to enjoying the quiet.

And the Bridge really was quiet. No one spoke, and everyone was working. Most of the Senior Staff didn't even know each other yet. He could tell the other staff members present, mostly human, were on edge due to the silence. It was something that he would never understand. There was a time for fraternizing, and it was perfectly acceptable off duty. Why did so many people want to socialize at all times? In silence, no one was distracted, and their work effectiveness was better. Akiva worked so well that he had time to wonder whether he wanted to keep his scheduled holodeck reservation or retire to his quarters and enjoy the latest holovid his youngest brother had sent him from the Academy.

Several minutes passed, nearly three-quarters of an hour, and a message came to Akiva's screen. It was from damage control. The problem was persisting with the EPS conduit. They would manage to fix it, only for the same problem to occur again.

Akiva sent them a message. "I'm on my way,” and locked his station before turning around to face Commander Ainscow.

"Captain, I was notified of an engineering problem with the EPS conduits that could require my personal attention. May I be relieved to go see to it?"

"I don't see why not, Lieutenant," she replied. "Lock your station and be on your way."

"My station is already locked, ma'am,” Akiva said, turning toward the turbolift.

==Deck Six==

“Ensign.” Akiva addressed the leader of the damage control team. "Have you contacted the Lieutenant Himmel?"

"No, sir," the ensign said.

"Why not? He could've sent you more specialized help." Akiva furled his brow.

"I don't know, sir."

"Dismissed!" Akiva put them out of mind as they left and crawled into the Jefferies tube to take a look himself. It was an odd problem. It seemed to simply be an EPS transfer failure, which could result in a back-up that would eventually rupture and cause a plasma leak. The plasma flow had been restricted so that the crew could work on the tap, but nothing seemed to be wrong. There was no reason to see why there was a transfer failure from the EPS main line into the subsystem.

Akiva touched the blocked EPS tap to check its reliability. It seemed to
be working correctly. The problem lay elsewhere. “Great.” Akiva sighed. He removed his tricorder and activated the systems diagnostic function. The tap itself was useless at this point, so he crawled ahead to the EPS conduit which powered it. Although it appeared to be in working order, Akiva believed in being thorough.
His tricorder examined every inch of bulkhead along the Jefferies tube junction, and he determined that the ODN relay between the computer core and the bridge ran adjacent to this particular EPS conduit. When he pried off the bulkhead panel, he saw a bundle of fiber-optic cable hanging loose – not unplugged, but nearly.

“There you are,” he whispered with a grin.

It wasn't a hardware failure that was causing the glitch in the power system. The computer must have been blocking the EPS transfer. Akiva chalked it up to yet another automated safety precaution in these new ship models – in this case, non-essential EPS subsystems would be disabled if the Optical Data Network experienced intermittent lag near an EPS conduit.

“Thank you, little cable. You've just inspired me to update the maintenance protocols.” Akiva affixed the cable bundle back to its shielded position to prevent it from jostling. The average person probably would not think it mattered, but the last thing Akiva wanted was delays in the ODN system. Or to crawl back down here to fix the same problem twice.

Akiva replaced the bulkhead and paused a moment to think. His shift was nearly over. The ops station relief officer could very well be on their way to the bridge. Nobody would blame him if he did not inspect the ODN relay before reopening the EPS tap and getting the subsystem running again. The computer had not noted an issue when it triggered the power glitch.
Once again, Akiva sighed. “Better safe than sorry,” he muttered to no one but himself.

The ODN relay for this deck was not far away on foot, but it was still a healthy crawl. Akiva's hair was mussed, his uniform rankled by the time he pulled himself to the appropriate bulkhead panel. When he opened it, he didn't even get his tricorder ready. All he could do was stare at the ODN recoupler sitting perfectly square and flush against the bulkhead at the base of the relay.

“Sloppy,” he said trying to convince himself. “But not too sloppy.”

What were the odds that an ODN recoupler would be left just so right next to the relay? And in the same Jefferies tube were had had just fixed a problem too slight for the computer to diagnose accurately? Maybe it was just the captain's recent briefings, but Akiva felt a pit of paranoia in his stomach. He did not want to think the word “sabotage.” But how or why would a repair team would be so careless as to leave a tool behind? And in such a deliberate position at that?
Akiva decided this needed to be reported. He swiped up the ODN recoupler with one hand and tapped his combadge with the other.

=/\= “Computer, what is Lieutenant T'Mia's location?”

The computer warbled in acknowledgment and said, “Lieutenant T'Mia is currently in her quarters.”

Akiva rushed out of the Jefferies tube, nearly forgetting to re-establish EPS flow to the tap. With everything carefully back in place and functioning properly, Akiva hurried to the turbolift. He thanked his good graces when he caught a petty officer coming out. “Deck 2.”

== Deck 2 – Executive Officer's Quarters==

In his rush, Akiva did not feel he had prepared to explain himself adequately. He could only hope that the logical, analytically-minded executive officer would see the situation his way. Breathing deeply, Akiva buzzed T'Mia's door and fidgeted with the recoupler during what felt like an eternal wait.

Suddenly, the doors parted to reveal the ships executive officer, who stared at the visitor for a few seconds before eventually speaking. "How may I be of assistance to you Lieutenant?"

"May we speak privately?" Akiva asked. He offered the ODN recoupler as if it was evidence. "It may be urgent."

T'Mia stepped aside and gestured for the Lieutenant to enter her private abode. He was the first person to visit her private quarters. "Please," she welcomed him in.

"Thank you." Akiva marched into the center of the living area and waited for the doors to close before saying another word. "I realize how this may sound, objectively speaking, but I feel compelled to report it anyway." Deep breath, he thought to himself, and don't stare at her tantalizing eyebrow gestures. "Near the end of my shift, I investigated a power transfer issue that a damage repair team was unable to rectify themselves. It turned out to be an automatic EPS lockout due to a lag in a nearby ODN cable. On a hunch, I checked the ODN relay nearby, and I found this." He then presented the ODN recoupler. "It was positioned squarely and deliberately next to the relay. As much as I downplay the expertise of drydock technicians, I can't see anybody being so careless as to intentionally leave a tool behind." When T'Mia did not immediately reply, Akiva kept began speaking at a faster pace. "And, well, circumstances being as they are, I can't help but shake the thought that someone staged an attempt to bring down the ODN relay during our mission. Possibly the whole network. Haven't checked the other relays yet. That's, well, why I'm here."

Akiva placed the recoupler on the nearest furniture piece and stood with his hands folded behind his back. He had stated his case as best he could. Hopefully T'Mia would see what he did.

T'Mia raised an eyebrow at the news from the ships Chief of Operations and considered her next response as she looked him over. "It is highly possible that this was simply an oversight by the ships crew or the yard engineers," the Lieutenant spoke thoughtfully as she bent over to pick up the object, "however, we cannot risk doing nothing." Her job as executive officer was to ensure the safety of her crew and given the current climate, she felt it necessary to take some precautions.She tapped her commabdge. "=/\=Lieutenant T'Mia to Captain Ainscow and Lieutenant's Benjarvi and Himmel. Please report to my quarters immediately."

After closing the communications channel, the Lieutenant looked at Akiva. "Take a seat, Lieutenant."

Claudia was in her office when she heard her Executive Officer summon her down to her quarters. Pressing her commbadge to reply she stood up before making her way down to T'Mia's quarters.

=/\="Ainscow here. I'm on my way"=/\=

A couple of minutes later Claudia found herself outside T'Mia's quarters. She pressed the chime and waited for permission to enter.

Benj was on the bridge going over post battle simulation reports. There were a number of highlight in which he would commend his security staff on, but there were definitely some things to work on. All in all, Benj was very pleased with how his team had done. When he heard the announcement from the XO, he handed off his duties to another Tactical Officer and made his way down to Commander T’Mia’s quarters.

Before the others could enter, Akiva leaned close to T'Mia. "Are you sure this was the best course of action?" he said in a low tone. "I do not mean to cast undue suspicion on the others, but I came to you first because you're immune to subversion by the enemy. I'd hoped we would rule the others out one by one before bringing them in on a potential sabotage discovery and tipping our hand."

Soren was a little frustrated to be pulled away from his duties. He was just wrapping up a preventative maintenance schedule, and running diagnostics on matter/anti-matter containment. He was approaching the quarters and changed his expression when the Captain surprised him. "Ma'am," was all he said.

Claudia watched as Soren approached whilst she was still waiting for permission to enter T'Mia's quarters. Once he was stood next to her Claudia smiled and greeted the Vindex's Chief Engineer.

"Hello Lieutenant. How are things going in Engineering?" Claudia asked.

"They are coming along, I always wish I had more time, but I'm used to it by now." Soren sighed a bit thinking about it. He posed a question to the Captain, "Preparations coming along well?"

"Not so bad thank you Lieutenant. Getting there" Claudia replied with a smile.

"Enter," the Vulcan called, ignoring the concerns of the Operations Chief, at least for the minute.

Claudia heard the call to enter and walked in. She wasn't expecting to be disturbed whilst doing her work so she hoped it was a good reason why she had been disturbed. Benj caught up to the Captain and Chief Engineer as they were entering T’Mia’s quarters. He entered with them, but was not able to ask what this was all about.

"What can I help you with Lieutenant?" Claudia asked.

"We may have an issue that requires the attention of yourself and the personnel I called for," the Vulcan revealed, standing tall and firm in the face of her decision to call several of the senior staff to her quarters.

Akiva shuffled from one foot to the other. This was stacking up quickly, and while he was reasonably sure he could convince the Vulcan of his conclusions, he was less certain about the rest of the senior staff. The situation could easily get away from him. At least the straggling officers gave him an additional moment to gather his thoughts and shift his approach.

What the Executive Officer said put Benj on alert. He hadn’t known T’Mia that long… really none of them that long, but his experience with her and other Vulcans led him to believe that they did not have the capacity for exaggeration. The fact that he was here and with what had happened with the rifles, well, Benj got a sense of that this wasn’t going to be good.

"There was a minor glitch in the power transfer system earlier," Akiva began. "A repair team couldn't resolve it, so I took the liberty of inspecting the EPS tap myself. That issue was resolved easily enough--the computer shut down the EPS subsystem because the ODN relay was out of whack. When I went to check that, I found an ODN recoupler placed squarely and directly next to the relay with no apparent reason for it being there. I suspected--" Akiva paused, clearing his throat, "--sabotage. Or at least potential sabotage."

Claudia was concerned at Akiva's find but she remained calm and collected. This wasn't the time for panic and assumptions - although sabotage was just as likely as the apparatus being left there in error...although why would it be there in the first place?

"Have we been able to recover any DNA from the device?" Claudia asked.

"No, sir," Akiva said. "When I found it, I immediately wanted to report it to a command officer, as I didn't know fully who I could--" Akiva bit his lip. From the hard facial expressions from the others, he knew he had said too much. "--and, well, here we are." Akiva folded his hands at his waist and forced himself to maintain eye contact.

"Well thank you for bringing this to our attention. In the circumstances I can understand why you may have been reluctant to widely share your finding - you did the right thing, Lieutenant," Claudia replied.

Soren wasn't sure exactly what this could mean, if there was a saboteur or just a tremendous oversight on the entire operations division, "How should we proceed, Captain? With an extra level of caution? Or just drive on?"

Benj looked down at the device. "Surely there is a way for the computer to tell who accessed that panel and what time it was accessed. I'll review the computer's security logs and see if I can nail down the timeframe and person that accessed that section. Until then, I recommend we keep this quiet. It would be hell to have a ship running amok with paranoia."

"We'll carry on as normal with a level of caution Mr Himmel. If the saboteur is still on board then we can't let them know we've found out what they've done - not yet. Mr Tora as you've suggested I'd like you to go over the logs and see what you find. For now we have to keep the findings between the five of us. We can't be sure who to trust at the moment," Claudia replied.

"I shall accompany Mr Tora and go over the sensor logs," T'Mia told as she glanced briefly at Benjarvi.

Akiva eyed everybody nervously, then simply nodded. For better or worse, the matter was now out of his hands.

Benj nodded at the Commander. "I would suggest that we not use the Main Security Office for our research though. We don't want to alert anyone that we may be on to something. The auxiliary security office on Deck 9 is typically empty during this shift. I can pull all the sensor logs and we can look at them through there, if you wish, Commander."

Claudia agreed that would be a wise move - any investigation into a potential sabotage had to be kept as secret as possible until the culprit or culprits had been confirmed. Anything before that could cause them to attempt to flee the ship.

"That sounds like a wise idea. We shall do that" Claudia replied.

T'Mia nodded and looked around her quarters at the occupants. If they were to investigate this potential breach, they would have to do so without alerting anyone else to the situation.

But T'Mia couldn't shake the feeling of suspicion in her mind. What if someone present was responsible?

 

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