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Looking under the Hood

Posted on 24 Apr 2019 @ 3:10am by Ensign Lex D'Gracefull & Lieutenant Astrid Jurgen

Mission: Prologue
Location: USS Mark Miller
Timeline: prior to departure


Lex'EL left Engineering with orders from the Chief to pull the Backup Navigational Deflector apart and ensure it was OK to use; important as micro-asteroids and space debris could do a lot of damage if they were not swept out of the way by the Navigational Deflector Array.

Lex'EL used the PaDD to find out which berthing area he was assigned to, it showed him assigned to Deck 6 port side. He headed to the turbo-lift and pushed the call button. When the lift arrived, he entered trying to not knock over the crewman inside, "Excuse me, sorry" as the crewman stepped aside to keep from getting knocked around by Lex'EL's heavy bags. The crewman had that I am tired after just getting off of the mid-watch and I just want to crawl into my rack or bed look.

As Lex'EL backed into the rear corner of the lift, after narrowly missing the crewman a second time, he said "Deck 6 port side." The crewman snorted trying to not laugh and said: "This ship is so small that there are only turbolifts on the port side of deck six." Lex'EL replied, "Ok, thanks." Then the crewman said, "Come to think of it, there are only turbo lifts on the port side if you don't count the bridge access. You must be going through size shock, coming from a bigger ship, a cruiser perhaps?" Lex'EL replied, "Yes, this is going to take some getting used to."

The turbolift stopped and the crewman said "Deck six, and enjoy your stay." The crewman backed up to allow Lex'EL more room, smiling as he left the turbolift, Lex'EL said "Enjoy" and walked off turning left in a few feet as the door to his assigned quarters opened when he approached it.The dim interior lighting gradually brightened a little bit so Lex'EL could see where he was going.

Lex'EL looked left into the first sleeping cubicle and blurted out "Yes, no bunk beds." He heard a muffled reply...He clapped his hand over his mouth as he realized he had spoken in his out loud voice and whispered "Sorry" as he tried to stealthily walk to the second cubical, looked in, hoping it was unoccupied, and to his relief it was empty. Lex'EL carefully set his bags on the bed and opened the biggest to retrieve a set of Starfleet Engineering coveralls, Unlike Solarian Navy coveralls, they only have a few pockets. That just meant he got to carry a bigger tool bag around.

Lex'EL quickly stowed his gear trying to be quiet as to not disturb his roommate, grabbed his Grav harness, putting it on over his Engineering coveralls. This Grav-harness was his security blanket, as the doctors had called it, they had repeatedly claimed that it did nothing to his coordination and that it was all in his mind. Lex'EL had taken the logs showing that over the 18 months he was on the USS Thunderchild, the accident ratio when he was not wearing his Grav-harness was 15 times higher than when he was. The darn doctors had claimed he was just accident prone. Lex'EL had replied his brother was accident prone, he was not and had the service record to prove it. He had not bothered to check to see who was his roommate, were they human or not and did they require noise to sleep.

His previous roommate had required at least 16-24 decibels of ambient noise to sleep. Lex'EL could understand, when they did drills and pulled various equipment offline, the lack of vibrations that he could not feel and sound he could not hear cause problem when the absence of them had woken him up right out of a sound sleep. The first time it happened, he had raced out of his quarters still dressing and yelling "Gang-way!" This had startled more than a few people and caused a small wave of panic, seeing the large engineering person getting dressed on the run yelling for people to get out of his way. The Chief Engineering Officer upon hearing the complaints had decided to talk to the XO and suggest that they start including the entire ship on a few drills. Lex'EL had not been very popular for a few months.It only took a little bit to get used to his roommate's bird squawks or calls as his roommate called it. Lex'EL hoped he would never have to sleep in a jungle as his roommate called, it was a noisy place.

Lex'EL finished unpacking and tried to tread softly back out to the door. As he left the sleeping area and entered the passageway outside the quarters, he had a disturbing thought. What if his roommate was female, that would be embarrassing if he entered while she was dressing or undressing vise-versa.
Lex'EL looked at his PaDD and it showed that just down the passageway was the entrance to the main Navigational Deflector array equipment room. Lex'EL headed for the door. As it opened he was expecting something small, but it was just a big as the one he had previously encountered. Lex'EL walked over to the computer console and pulled up the system specs and control matrix, performing a quick level 4 diagnosis while he was here.

As he studied the system looking for anything out of normal, there were a few unusual settings, but that might have been because the ship was so small and being a science vessel, it might have made a difference. He was going to have to dig out the system spec and have a good look through. Lex'EL pulled out an Engineering Tricorder and went over the equipment that was the physical part of the Deflector Array, and compared the results of his scans and his visual observations to the system indicators. Everything was a match and the system looked ready to be put online and into operation.

Lex'EL finished his system analysis as brief as it was, then sent a memo to the Chief Engineering Officer, saying he had done a quick level 4 diagnostic on the main system prior to taking the secondary system offline, he also asked about the different variables and why the system was configured that way, stating that she didn't have to reply immediately, that when they had time, he could get his questions answered then.
After checking that he had all the equipment panels closed and secured and that he had left no tools laying around, Lex'EL headed out to the Secondary Navigational Deflector Array equipment room. Using the map on his PaDD, he soon discovered that unlike his previous ships where everyone was roomy, here he had to several times crawl over equipment to get where he was going.

He had at several times turned his grav-harness to negative and leap over equipment. This ship was tight, no room at all. Lex'EL got to the Secondary Navigational Deflector Array Equipment area, he could not call it a room, they had shoe-horned it into a corner and it looked like half of the equipment was on the next deck down. They had cut a hole in the deck and installed it in a back corner. Now Lex'EL understood why the CEO had stated he should take several engineering crewmembers with him.

Lex'EL realized that he had not gone back to Main Engineering to grab those very crewmembers. Lex'EL hit his comm badge. A double chime indicated inter-ship comms had activated. Engineering Officer Of the Watch, Ensign Lex'EL, I need a few good Engineers with experience to meet me in the Secondary Navigational Deflector Array Equipment area, for a Level Two diagnostic. The EOOW replied Lex'EL, Chief Laconsei, Roger, it will take me a few minutes to roust them out of there rack's, but it's 0500 and it's time to make the donuts. Another chime signaled the channel closing again. Lex'EL felt bad about making them get up early, but at least they had gotten an extra 20 minutes rack time.

Lex'EL spent the next 15 minutes figuring what went where and why that the installed equipment did not match the documented equipment in the specs listed on his PaDD. The diagram was wrong, and the indicated equipment didn't match what was physically installed. That really irritated him.

His swearing under his breath was interrupted by EM1 Anderson, and she looked like she had just been rudely awakened. She said, “Shelly will be right here, she had to stop and grab the coffee, and she is a bear before she gets her first cup of coffee.”

Lex'EL said "Sorry to pull you out of a good night’s sleep, but I now see why the chief said to grab a few bodies to tear the system apart. Fortunately, we are only doing a Level II diagnostic."

EM1 Anderson's eyes widened as she thought about ripping the entire system down for a Level one diagnostic. She set down her tool bag and started verifying that the system was offline, power was disconnected and the control system was in the standby maintenance mode. Lex'EL nodded his approval at her actions, having worked on equipment with high amperage and electronics that could fry you for decades, he liked safety first as a motto.

Shelly arrived several minutes later with a large container of foul-smelling drinks. Lex'EL had forgotten how bad coffee smelled. The Name tape on the furry little person in engineering coveralls said Sheldonaskiton-ellycot, and Lex'EL figured out why everyone called her Shelly. Shelly offered Lex'EL a steaming cup of that obnoxious beverage, but Lex'EL said, “Thanks but my doctor made we give up stimulants. “

The look of horror on Shelly’s face was priceless as she exclaimed, ”BY all that is holy, how do you ever survive?”

Lex'EL replied, “I make do,” and did a little sniff, followed by some soft shoe and a spin and curtsy, then a deep bow. Lex'EL then stood back up straight said in a deep voice, “Ok, shows over, but I’m here all week! And no more dancing on duty.”

Pulling the engineering tricorder off the top of the equipment rack Lex'EL activated it, said, “Ok EM1 Anderson, put two people on the next deck down, and start disassembling the access covers and look at this thing with a fine tooth comb.”

Lex'EL reached in and disconnected the heave cabling that allowed high energy plasma to flow to the deflector array and looked at the discolored connector pins.

“EM1 Anderson, check the power connector’s and verify there in good shape, this connector shows some wear and it’s not even the primary navigational deflector.”

Lex'EL looked around and realized that there were exactly three of them in this compact space, not that there was much room for more. “Ok, EM1, it looks like you get to be in two places at once.”

EM1 Anderson replied, “Sir, EM2 Davidson should be here shortly, so we will be ok. Shelly, you're with me!”

Lex'EL nodded ok and watched out of the corner of his eye as the two threaded their way through the machinery with much better skill than he had demonstrated. He envied their grace and finesse, they made it look easy. Lex'EL was halfway through pulling the components out and visually inspecting the control power relays for damage, then running the tricorder over it, when EM2 Davidson stumbled over equipment and tried to keep from dropping his tool bag, which he did anyway. Fortunately for him, it was zipped closed, so nothing spilled all over. EM2 Davidson picked up the tool bag and walked over to the sensor system, and after scanning it with an Engineering tricorder, started pulling the access cover off to inspect the components.

Lex'EL said, “EM1 Anderson has trained you guys well.”

EM2 Davidson replied, “Yes Sir, she would keel-haul me if I was stupid enough to open a panel with checking to see if it was not dead first.”

Lex'EL laughed. ”She does seem formidable.”

As Lex'EL finished his inspections of the relays and the circuitry in the control system, He turned to look over EM2 Davidson’s shoulder and hit his comm badge. A double chime sounded. EM1 Anderson, ENS Lex'EL D’Gracefull, how’s it going down there. ETA of finishing on your end? Another chime signaled the channel closing again
While he waited for a reply, he realized EM2 Davidson had stopped working and had his eyes closed. EM2 Davidson replied in a shaky voice, “I’m sorry sir, I saw the grav-harness and thought it was an equipment harness and didn’t think to check to see that you were an officer.”

ENS Lex'EL D’Gracefull looked puzzled and asked, “What, the Chief does not work?”

Lex'EL was distracted the sounds of a double chime followed by EM1 Anderson’s reply. We are buttoning everything up down here, how is it coming along on your end, sir? Another chime signaled the channel closing again.

Lex'EL hit his comm badge and again heard the double chime. EM1 Anderson, ENS Lex'EL. EM2 Davidson is just finishing his end of the sensor system, he has… Lex'EL paused to count the components not installed back in …three components and the control grid to re-align. Stay down there, we should be done in 4 minutes, and then I want to check the system hard using tricorders from both ends before we bring it to standby mode. Then I want an additional check before we bring it online in passive mode only. I will be notifying the bridge shortly about our prospective test. Another chime signaled the channel closing again.

EM1 Anderson acknowledged the orders and went off comms. Lex'EL turned to EM2 Davidson and said, “The clock is ticking, chop chop, we don’t want to be late.” Lex'EL hit his comm badge again and the familiar double chimes sounded. Engineering, Ens Lex'EL D’Gracefull, we’re about ready to bring the secondary Navigation Deflector system online in a passive mode only for addition alignment and testing in four minutes. Notify the Chief Engineer and Bridge Duty Officer that we will be testing in passive modes only. The ending chime signaled the channel closing, which was the end of the conversation and the beginning of the waiting.

While waiting for the Chief Engineer to call back, Lex'EL went back to staring over the shoulder of EM2 Davidson, Looking at all the documentation that was going to have to be started. Paperwork, you would think that there would be a lot less nowadays… but it seemed that Starfleet ran on paperwork, not antimatter.

A double chime indicated inter-ship comms had activated in their small work area. Ensign D’Gracefull, this is Engineering, you’re clear to commence testing at your discretion. Jurgen out. Another chime signaled the channel closing again.

Lex’EL hit his comm badge, waited for the two chimes to ring out, the said EM1 Anderson, Ens Lex’EL, We have a Go for testing, passive mode only, we will actively test upon departure from space dock. The ending chime indicated that the conversation was over. After a second, EM1 Anderson acknowledged her orders, and Testing began…

Ens Lex’EL watches the gradual power up on his tricorder with one eye and EM2 Davidson with his other, As the system gradually approached minimum power, Lex’EL kept an eye on the temperature readings and eddy currents from the power relays. Sometimes you could spot faulty relays by high currents or higher Eddy current’s than were normal. There was always a certain amount of hysteresis current which was in a nutshell, the resistance due to mankind forcing nature to do something that was not natural. Any time you forced nature to do something it didn’t want to, there was resistance, sometimes, feedback, and occasional explosions. Electricity or Ions, or Plasma, however, you looked at it was by its nature lazy, it would take any short cut to ground you gave it. The tricky part was to get it to do the work for you before it did so.

Lex’EL observed the normal resistance, power curves and temperature build up, but nothing that looks more than 2 percent above or beyond normal. Lex’EL hit his comm badge again and once he heard the twin chimes, he said EM1 Anderson, Ens Lex’EL, Power up test complete, no anomalies found, place the system selector switch into 50 Mega-Watt test mode and begin power drain analysis. Once the chime came after EM1 Anderson acknowledged her orders, Lex’EL turned to EM2 Davidson and said “OK, it’s time to stress the system, step back from the relays in case one blows with the cover off, I don’t want you to get hit by plasma and or sparks, flying debris or any other items.

Lex’EL leaned away from the relay panel but it was not like they could run if something exploded. As the power increased to the 50 megawatt limit, Lex’EL did not notice any major issues other than a few spikes and a couple of the Mag-Amps didn’t quite handle their share of the power. After fifteen minutes of the system running smooth, Lex’EL hit his comm badge, once again the twin chimes rang out, Em1 Anderson, Ens Lex’EL, begin power down sequence and place the system back in standby. After you wrap up, meet us back in main Engineering. After EM1 Anderson acknowledged the orders and he heard the chime indicating the conversation was over. Lex’EL turned to EM2 Davidson, and said: “put the covers back on and wrap it up.”

After everything was wrapped up and secured, Lex’EL and EM2 Davidson headed to Main Engineering to give the Chief Engineer the report. Lex’EL told EM2 Davidson, "stow your tools and go grab some chow" as they entered Main Engineering. EM1 Anderson and the CEO were standing by the MSD.

Lex’EL said “Mag-Amps L51 through L55 will have to be replaced, they are showing a 27% power drain due to hysteresis losses and feedback. The Documentation is all wrong, the Computer Drawings show oversize Magnetic Amps installed, but what’s there is under-sized for our purposes. I checked the onboard stores, they're the same undersized items. We will have to replicate the correct amps unless starbase supply has them on the shelf. “

Astrid nodded, "Good work Ensign. See what the starbase may have on hand but if needed you have the authorization to replicate the parts. I want that system 100% operational before we ship out."

“Yes, Sir,” Lex’EL said as he turned around and headed to the wall computer heads up display console.  Interfacing with the computer system, Lex’EL pulled up the documentation and the design specs, crossing it with the listing of spares and parts in the massive storage bays on the Starbase. Going back to the Blueprints and the specs, Lex’EL pulled up the parts on hand and promptly ordered all of his parts and sub-assemblies priority 03. Forwarding his Supply requisition to the CEO, for her approval, Lex’EL ordered the base materials queued up to the engineering Industrial Replicator, When the Required parts arrived from the Starbase, the replicator would 3D print the assemblies. Then Engineering personnel could install the assemblies, test the systems and bring it online just prior to Departure from Spacedock. Lex’EL went back to the blueprints and verified the rest of the system would work with the new equipment that they were making.

Lex’EL started simulating the system, and ran it through various troubles, and system failures to verify that the system could handle problems. His simulation completed and he forwarded his test results to the Chief, just as the Industrial Replicator wound up and started making the assemblies. Lex’EL hit his comm badge and said “EM2 Davidson, ENS Lex’eL, ok you chow hounds, break is over, meet me on deck 6; your parts are ready.”

As the last assembly materialized, Lex’EL waved an Engineering tricorder at it, verifying it was complete, and when the reading looked good, he turned to several waiting engineering staff and told them “Grab a grav pallet and haul this to the secondary Deflector array control panel.” Watching them grab the heavy equipment and go, Ens Lex’EL looked around for EM1 Anderson, Seeing her at the Main Engineering Control table nicknamed the pool. He walked over and said “EM1 Davidson, we are up, grab your people and meet me down at the secondary Nav Deflector Array equipment room. It’s going to take all of us to get this system installed before departure in,” Lex’EL looked at the indicator on the POOL”2 hours.” Lex’EL left her yelling orders and grabbed a tool kit and followed the trail of equipment leaving Main Engineering.  
Ens. Lex’EL Arrived as EM1 Anderson was disconnecting the First Mag AMP assembly and he said:”EM1 Anderson, how did you get here first, I was tying up the turbolifts?” EM1 Anderson replied ”Short-cut!” Ens Lex’EL helped haul the heavy Magnetic Power Amplifier Assemblies over the equipment that of course, the designers had left in his way. He had to turn down his Grav harness several times, just to get the large bulky and heavy mag amps across the space to the controller. By the time he and the 5 other engineering tech’s had gotten the 6 units over to the controller, Em1 Anderson and EM2 Davidson had all the protective covering off and undersized units pulled out and the power leads pulled out of position. It took the three of them to get the first Mag amp into position and it was all Lex’EL could do to hold it up. This was one heavy unit. EM1 Anderson yelled,” Shelly, go!”
All Lex’EL saw was a fuzzy blur as Shelly had the fasteners in and tightened down and torqued before he could blink. Em1 Anderson said “Sir, you can let go now…” trying to keep a straight face. Lex’EL realized not only was he not straining to hold the unit in place, but all 32 fasteners were in place and the safety tie secured the fastener to keep in from vibrating loose. Lex’el Grabbed the Next mag amp and said: “OK, Next.” This time he thought he was ready and was watching for Shelly, but the only thing he was a compressed blast of air and then Shelly was gone from the front of the panel. Lex’EL pulled out his Engineering tricorder and waved it at the panel and said “4000 Neutrons’ on the nose, Shelly’s good” EM1 Anderson replied,” She does come in handy!”
Lex’EL grabbed the Next Mag Amp and heaved. Again he tried to concentrate to get a glimpse of shelly installing the fasteners. Again the blast of compressed air made him blink and once again he missed the blur. Putting on a pair of safety goggles for the next one, LEX’EL again tried to get a glimpse of Shelly doing her job. All that he saw was a blur coming and then a blur going. Lex’EL gave up trying to see Shelly doing her job. After all, six units were replaced, and the two engineering petty officers reconnected the power control grid and aligning it. Lex’EL used his engineering Tricorder to verify everything was correct and once they had the protecting gear reinstalled, sensors reconnected and the cover replaced, Lex’EL hit his comm badge, “Duty Engineering, Ens Lex’EL, Were done here with ten minutes to spare, you may put the system online at your convenience.” After receiving the reply, He looked around at everyone and said “Way to hustle, take a few minutes to get the gear back to Main Engineering, then see EM1 Anderson for your disembarkation assignments. I’ll be at the port side docking ring, watching them disconnect shore power and the control systems. “

Ens Lex’EL hopped this would be the beginning of yet another uneventful day…


Lieutenant Astrid Jurgen
Chief Engineering Officer
Ensign Lex’EL D'Gracefull
Engineering Officer

EMC Laconsei (NPC) - current Engineering Officer Of the Watch
EM1 Anderson (NPC) - Engineering Leading Petty Officer, Jack of all trades
EM2 Davidson (NPC) - trouble shooter, Power and Systems system expert.
EM3 Sheldonaskiton-ellycot (NPC) - exotic, shorter than human female, that loves her coffee.


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