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Drone Wars: Volume 1 - "Doctors aren't Engineers"

Posted on 17 Jan 2021 @ 5:59pm by Lieutenant Lex D'Gracefull & Lieutenant JG Xero Bren

Mission: Heading Home
Location: Medical
Timeline: SD242012.21
Tags: search and rescue, drones, obstacle course

=/\= USS Mark Miller, Deck Four =/\=

Lex'EL D'Gracefull out the viewports at the support systems, cables, and lines that connected the USS Mark Miller to the starbase as he walked the hallway towards medical. This system provided the hook-ups to provide power and communications while the ship was docked at the station. This allowed the ship to be on skeleton watch status, allowing most of the crew to escape the confines of the small ship and enjoy a little liberty/shore leave. Engineering personnel had just shifted from a port and starboard watch rotation, six people got to go on liberty, and the other 6 were stuck on board, doing various chores, maintenance tasks, supervising starbase repair teams that were repairing or upgrading major ship system or installing Ship Alterations. The new Duty section rotation was four-section, only 3 people plus himself or chief Laconse were stuck onboard. Cheif Laconse and himself switched who would go ashore, as the need arose, Having 24 hours off was nice, but Lex'EL was more interesting in making sure the upgrades and ship Alt's were installed correctly, that the system documentation was updated and all pertinent technical data was updated in the computer system and that engineering had quick access to it for emergency repairs. Then he had to make sure that the priority/ critical spare parts were in the storerooms. This allowed for critical system repairs in the event of main power being offline while trying to fix things like replicators, so you could fabricate more parts to fix other systems. Being stuck in between two star systems with no ability to use back up solar sails to generate power was not a good time, no matter who was the Captain.

Lex'EL quit his musing when he walked into sickbay and looked around. The no-nonsense nurse that normally did the administration, that it took to keep a smoothly run medical department was not at her station, so Lex'EL assumed she was on shore leave. Lex'Looked around and saw the department head's office door was open and the noise that was issuing from inside did not seem frantic, just loud. Lex'EL looked at the oversized Engineering P.A.D.D. to make sure there were no critical trouble calls for priority systems then knocked on the door, then leaned in looking around. " You rang?"

"Thank you for getting here so quickly," glancing up from the intricate, and clearly malfunctioning device. The sound that issued from it was indeed loud, and no matter how many buttons the young Trill stabbed at with a mixture of fear, frustration, and determination. "I'm sorry I had to call you down here but I really need your help here," he continued, taking a step back.

Lex'EL looked at the computerized complex-looking thing on the desk and replied, "umm no problem, I was in the neighborhood. I have to ask... just what is that thing? And where are the technical manuals for it? Is that one of those remote surgery robotic assistants? I heard that they are great for search and rescue." Lex'EL was relieved that it was not the time for a poking and prodding session. oh, how he hated physicals.

"Not exactly," Xero replied, scratching his head. One of the assignments he'd received had been to continue work on a project that had been left incomplete by the sudden departure of his predecessor. He'd read through a few of the manuals and a handful of the notes before he got stuck on a particular diagram and decided that practical application of what he'd read so far was the only way to continue to make progress.

"It's more like a rescue drone--y'know, for when transporters are an issue or a large area needs to be searched... Caves..." the Trill trailed off as he began to walk around the contraption on his boss's desk. "I'm hoping we can fire it like a torpedo, or build it into shuttles--I was supposed to be running a diagnostic on medical distribution hardware when..." he gestured toward the device, then shrugged.

Lex'EL pulled his P.A.D.D from an oversized pocket on his Engineering coveralls and started searching for diagrams and Technical manuals for this interesting contraption. while he was looking, Lex'EL said "I will have to give EMC Laconse a heads up, he will probably drop everything and race down here... he likes his toys." Lex'EL found several manuals that had hundreds of diagrams and illustrations but most did not even come close to this device. After panning through several dozen pages, Lex'EL pulled his engineering tricorder out of his coveralls and waved it over the device, then said "Umm... I think we're not getting power to the control matrix,  I might want to take this contraption down to Main Engineering, we have a big workshop and we can find out what the problem is. Do you mind if I take it down there to play? Besides EMC Laconse and EM1 Davidson will be dying to get their hands on this anyway.

You can come down and practice with it there, we can set up an obstacle course once we get it up and running. It would be kinda like an inter-departmental competition ... Let the boys and girls blow off a little steam. Also, it will give everyone practice using them in-case we need to break them out in an emergency. After pausing for a minute looking at the results of the tricorder scans and the technical manuals, Lex'EL asked " Just how many of these things do you have? If this is the only one, I will want to make more as soon as possible!"

"You... you want to... race them?" he stammered as if he didn't understand the question. Turning the project into a competitive event? ... Actually, that didn't sound like a bad idea. This guy was brilliant! With two teams working on two variants of the same basic premise their successes and failures would be adapted and overcome before the final version of the prototype was ready for submission.

"It's just the one prototype that I've got right now," Doctor Bren began, "and this sounds like a great idea," he continued. He glanced around for a PADD, and once he scooped it up he glanced at the contents. Updates to medical protocols regarding the declassification of certain controlled substances in the Federation colonies in Sector GB-1165-A. Plenty of time to read that later; he cleared the screen and began uploading information on the project.

"Here is everything that I have on the schematics, with notes and logs from everyone who's worked on, or stood in the same room as our little friend here. It should be easy enough to replicate a duplicate, and just in case I've got the software, concepts, and initial proposal so you have a more well-rounded view of what we've been working on."

Lt Lex'EL looked at the massive data packet that had been uploaded to his P.A.D.D. The pictures matched the specifications exactly and were an in-depth look into the design and reasons this device was to be used. Lt Lex'EL said "Ok, this is easy. I can replicate four of the gizmos easily, as well as fix whatever bugs are keeping the control systems from coming online. So far whoever assembled this device did a good job, I think it's a software issue. So can I take this down to Main Engineering?

"You can take it down there, sure," Xero nodded, "but I'm only authorizing one duplicate. Fair is fair, right?" he added with a wink.

Lt Lex'EL looked back up... " ONLY one... I will never get to play with it.. "

"I was thinking it had something to do with the onboard chemical replication delivery system, but now that you mention it... I think there are insects sabotaging the internal circuitry... Xenoentomology should definitely be consulted."

LT Lex'EL almost dropped his P.A.D.D when he heard the word Xenoentomology, having visions of thousands of tiny insects pouring out and climbing his arms and legs. LT Lex'EL stepped back and said, "Did you scan for life forms?" Having said this LT Lex'EL was leaning as far back as the equipment behind him would let him.

"What? Yeah. That's like 50% of what this thing is supposed to be doing." Bren continued tapping at his PADD. "We're gonna have to come to some consensus regarding the obstacle course, of course, but that's way down the road. I'm sure you agree." He didn't wait for a response before his next question, which was: "What's your estimated time-table? Truth be told: I'm supposed to have an operational prototype by the end of the month."
LT Lex'EL was still twitching from his mental image of thousands of tiny critters invading the room, and said "Have you ever seen that sci-fi horror movie that they find this perfectly preserved mummy in a box in the desert, bring it home... and the science nerd that found it is investigating it... and gets ate by 3000 of these tiny bugs that come out of the mummies stomach and mouth? They have an old-fashioned tri-dee holo-fest every once in a while... Old fashioned popcorn with yellow drinks and everything. You have to wear these glasses to see anything properly" LT Lex'EL shuddered again...

"20th Century Human Theoretical Futurology," Xero replied with a broad grin. "I was a xenoanthropology professor; they are a fascinating culture, aren't they?" He couldn't hold in his joyful laughter. "Humans do a lot of weird things!"

Lt Lex'EL laughed, shuddered, laughed, and then said " OK, you win, we can keep the operations type our of our hair by saying were planning on simulating the release of 3000 bugs and our toys have to catch them all!" It took a minute for the bugs in the software to come to the surface of his mind the Lt. Lex'EL spoke again " ahhh software bugs... I thought you were talking about tiny insects... much nicer train of thought!"

LT Lex'EL looked at his P.A.D.D. temporarily forgetting his nightmare about 3000 insects crawling out and onto him. "Ok... figure two days to take it apart and thermal clean it, replace the chemicals in a sterile field, we will have to add that provision to the blueprints and design spec's. " Musing to himself, LT Lex'EL said, "We could upgrade the manulipituators to better quality hands by using mini-tractor beam projectors in the arms, to allow for greater mass manipulation,  I would also like to increase the density of the fibrous control network of its nervous system, for better control, say a week for all of this."

Xero gestured quickly as he exclaimed: "Wait--no, because if the drone would require a direct connection to a ship or shuttle to establish a network between the atmospheric beacons and the pattern enhancers built into the torpedo casing, we could use a holographic interface in the holodeck. We'd have an actual doctor piloting the drone; engineer to co-pilot. If the connection was compromised, built-in AI would take over, but... do you see where I'm going?"

LT Lex'EL thought for a moment then said "Wait, a pilot, not in the cockpit... I like it already..."

Lt Lex'EL paused for 30 seconds then said "Wait, we can't tie up the holodeck's for that long, this ain't the Enterprise with 20 plus holo suits and Main Engineering is tight already, we don't have room to put in a heads up holo display that would fit two people, and you would need room to access the equipment."

Lt Lex'EL said "I got it, we use astrometric's, they have a ship alteration crew coming in this month, they have some unused space...So a week with the Engineering gang playing and debugging it. Say two weeks to rough out the design and test the prototype, have the race, then a week to finish modifying the documentation to all the equipment changes, and document the obstacle course race. This still gives you a week to polish up your presentation and to submit your proposal. How about that?"

"I get to design the interface," Xero said plainly. "My last host was a holographer, and I already thought about how to control it with a full-body interface." He smiled again--it was the smile that many would refer to as the "That sound's crazy, I'm in"

Lt Lex'EL laughed and then said "I can see it now, the crew will be booking time slots to play for months to come. But some of the crew can get extremely competitive, we might have problems and fights arising from that."

[ to be continued]

=/\= USS Mark MILLER =/\=

Lieutenant JG Xero Bren
Chief Medical Officer


Lieutenant Lex D'Gracefull
Chief Engineering Officer


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