S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
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Midnight Acquaintances

Posted on Friday October 5th, 2018 @ 20:04 hours by Damien Walker & Alexandria Farron
Edited on on Friday October 5th, 2018 @ 20:05 hours

Contract: Smugglers Need Not Apply
Location: Bridge
Timeline: MD03 - 2330 Hours

After the ships Engineer decided to give Bridge a full diagnostic system check, it was in even worse shape than after the Starfleet inspection. Almost all the consoles were lifted, exposing the intricate mechanics within, on the left side even a bulkhead was removed, exposing conduits that had various forms of scanning equipment attached to them, their displays running numbers. After dragging his behind through the ship's various nooks and crannies trying to locate the power drain and running between Engineering and the Bridge, Damien was exhausted, dirty and annoyed. He still hadn't found the source of the power drain, never in his career has he met such a stubborn ship.

Tired, he sat in the comfy navigator’s chair, he brushed his fingers along the lines displayed on the pilots console fondly. Memories tried to surge within him, but he was too exhausted to give into them, Damien let his eyes close slowly. Almost unconsciously he set his coffee cup on the floor beside the chair and let himself be enveloped into sleep.

Alexandria had been trying to sleep, but she was having difficulty adjusting to an earlier bedtime than she was used to. Plus the lighting in her quarters had a mind of its own, flickering rapidly in a seizure-inducing manner even when the power switch was clearly off. Frustrated, she considered pulling her beanie cap over her eyes to block out the light, but she couldn't find it. Had she left it somewhere? Maybe it was on the bridge. She almost left her quarters before realizing she was only wearing a thin pajama onesie, so she donned a set of rumpled coveralls and stepped into her pair of boots without bothering to tie them.

She arrived to find the place a total mess. Completely gutted. And the culprit appeared to be sleeping in her pilot's chair. Then she saw the coffee cup on the deck, next to her chair. Such wanton desecration of her workspace could not be allowed to continue.

"What have you done?!" Alexandria cried out, trying to wake the man. That didn't appear to be enough, so she gave the back of the chair a quick jab with her boot.

Damien jumped out of the chair startled, his mind in haze of sleepless fog, he quickly lost balance on one of the cables that was running exposed beneath his feet, tripping and hitting his head on the side of the console. His short nap and quick wake up left him disoriented, so he tried to raise but miscalculated and hit the side of the console again “Bloody hell” was all he managed, scratching his head crouched on the floor, trying to refocus his sight on the assailant. He saw a young blond fury standing above him “Fraxian bullywink kid, what’s wrong with you!?”

"What's wrong with me?" Alexandria countered. "This place was intact four hours ago, now it looks like a crime scene. We're one coffee spill away from a full blown electrical fire, and you're in here alone, passed out and headbutting consoles. I'm just here for my beanie! Which you were sitting on, by the way." She looked down at the chair, where her cap had indeed been left on the seat. She reached down and grabbed it, quickly stuffing it into a pocket of her coveralls.

“Intact? Crime scene? Ooooooou, it’s called work in progress! Did you even try to run one of the consoles?!!!” Damien stood up and leaned toward the young firecracker pointing a finger at her and then the whole room in frustration “Listen to me young lady, I have been here for hours trying to untangle the spaghetti mess. That damn Starfleet might have placed the consoles back after their inspection, but everything was connected wrong!! Hell, I found ops subsystems interlinked with navigation, you know what that meant?” he didn’t let her answer just continued “And your bloody beanie is the last of my problems!” Damien touched his forehead feeling a bump growing.

Alexandria instinctively ducked back as the man leaned in, as if he'd come close to moving in on her personal space. "The simulated functions worked just fine. Why would I need to activate the pilot's controls? We're still docked. And my beanie..." She pulled out her cap again and inspected it "is not bloody, I'll have you know. Unlike your forehead." She stuffed the cap back into her pocket. "You should really get that looked at. Head trauma can lead to confusion, and irrational decision-making." She said, glancing over at the chaotic mess, as if to insinuate that the engineer's efforts might be the product of a damaged mind, and not some actual problem with the ship.

Damien just stood there with his throbbing head and watched the young woman, not quite sure what to reply to her. Her sudden jump as he approached her and her retort were slightly off the charts, so he wasn’t sure what to make of it. He figured they both startled each other, it was the middle of the night after all.

He rubbed his forehead again and after checking his hand he saw it was indeed a bit bloody, but nothing serious, he has been bumping head with bulkheads since forever. He sighed and put up his hands apologetically “Listen” he began with a calm voice “For the last 12 hours I have been hunting the ship wide power failures and fluctuations nonstop. With the help of our Vulcan I finally realized the problem lay with Starfleet's inspection of the ship, namely the half-assed job of reconnecting Bridge systems and ship's computer. I am a bit tired and cranky and I am sorry if I startled you, ok? Everything is connected perfectly now, it just needs to be put back in place. And I’m Damien by the way.” he said extending his arm.

Alexandria watched the arm warily. The crew would probably quickly learn that she didn't like to shake hands, but when it came to setting first impressions people seemed to take them so personally. Refusing to shake hands during her first days in Starfleet hadn't helped her make many friends. Granted, making friends wasn't a priority, but it was preferable to giving people more reasons to talk about her behind her back. When was the last time he'd washed his hands? The innards of the consoles looked quite greasy and grimy. She winced as she held out her hand, then quickly pulled it back. She offered her other hand instead.

"I'm Alexandria. Other hand please..." She said in a somewhat squeaky tone as she noticed the blood on his outstretched hand, from when he'd checked his forehead.

“OuuuKey” he said switching hands and making the hasty shake, that still left a smudge on her hand. He was glad that things progressed from open war to ceasefire, so he stood there for a moment appraising the young woman, who went from fury to squeaky in moments. So far he hadn’t met all the people aboard and was to busy to check on who and what, so he wondered what part she played. Damien rubbed his bloody hand against the side of his pants completely unaware of the action and decided to take the query slower “So … hard time sleeping?”

Alexandria nodded. "It seems my cabin was used by the former crew as a danceclub, going by the ersatz lightshow and decor." Alexandria said, unconsciously wiping her own hand on her coveralls after the handshake. It was tough to look at Damien, not because he was unsightly, but because of the blood on his forehead. She wasn't squeamish about blood, so much as she was wary of infections.

"Your wound must be covered until you can have it looked it. This ship is unsanitary in its present state, and we don't have enough crew to risk casualties to simple infections." She made a show of rummaging through a few of her pockets, until she retrieved what appeared to be an individually packaged adhesive bandage. Apparently she always had some on her. "Here." She said as she opened up the packaging and held out the bandage, as if to put it on Damien's forehead. It was hot pink.

Working in engineering and crawling through tight spaces all these years, Damien had his fair share of bumps and bruises, the reason why he learned to pack a subdermal regenerator along with his tools of trade. As he looked at the worried face of Alexandira, he decided to not use it, opting to take her offer and leaned slowly in with his head, looking at the pink band aid as it was applied on his forehead. He couldn’t clearly see but it seemed there was also a little white cat printed on it, as her warm touch applied the band aid with much care. “Uhm… Thx.” He added and leaned back as he paused not quite sure what to make of the situation. He decided to elevate the awkwardness by switch back to the matter at hand “Listen, I know its late, the ships systems are on the fritz and you are probably tired, but I could really use some help right now. Would you mind?”

"I thought you said everything was connected perfectly now." Alexandria said, feeling a little suspicious, though her expression didn't yet show it. She would rather not lose more sleep over things that could be taken care of while in more rested state, but she wasn't an engineer, and Damien seemed to have a lot on his plate.

“Well, the consoles internal connections are finally properly connected, even though the displays are out of their holds. I don’t want to place them back until I am 100% sure. I would need help with testing the computer subroutines, there are some bugs that I still need help with. You know anything about the computers?” Damien was used to crews on trading ships to have at least basic understanding of all ship systems but tight specializations in designated areas. ON smaller ships, everyone knew just about everything and Fawkes was a small crew, but Damien had no idea what they were capable. These were new people but for the task at hand anyone would be fine, but if Alexandira knew something more, so much the better.

Alexandria gave Damien a flat stare. "Those are not computers." She said, pointing at the consoles. "They're Cardassian nightmare machines, half-coded to Fed Standard by unlicensed technicians, and now reverting back to their original user-unfriendly programming. But you probably already know that... seeing that you're been headbutting them. But I may be able to help you." Alexandria pulled out her beanie and donned it, and spent a moment tugging at her coveralls, which had been hastily donned. She sat at the console that looked like it had the most functional interface and did a bit of poking around through the software.

"Starfleet can get surgical when it comes to studying alien tech, but when dealing with private freighters like this one they're super lazy. Since the freighters tend to have hand-me-down operating systems they know exactly where to smash their way in. Then they just leave all their crap behind when they're done. Look for one big garbage cache file... it'll be near the most corrupted part of the directory, most likely. Can't just delete it. Have to figure out a way to break it up, or you'll never get the system working right without a complete reset. And if you do that we'll all need to know how to read Cardassian in order to do anything." Alexandria started looking, but she knew that Damien had been working at it for some time already. Telling him what to look for may very well save time.

In turn, Damien simply stood entrenched overlooking the fast dataflow on the console as Alexandria’s fingers sped over the display. Raising his left eyebrow, he was more than impressed, but realized he overlooked that detail “Damn it! Of course, check the adaptive interface link, they must have been messing with it to transfer data and inspect the systems.” He was quickly picking up on her idea, so he jumped to next console, which was still on the ground its lines exposed but functioning. He sat down cross-legged “If that is the case the original subroutines connecting computer systems of different origins were purged when they left and hence the ships computer would exhibit errors interpreting commands from the console. Bam, power surges!”

"I hope your predecessor kept backups of those subroutines, at least. Those would account for at least part of the corrupted data blocks. I don't know about you, but it would take me at least a couple days to gain a working knowledge of Cardassian to reprogram them otherwise. Somehow, I think the captain is expecting us to be ready to ship out by then... you didn't tell her that was possible, did you? I've seen what happens to freighters that try to rush deadlines and get caught limping it out in shady shipping lanes. It's not pretty." Alexandria frowned slightly as she concentrated on her work but didn't give Damien a chance to reply before she continued speaking.

"Ah, I think I've found our garbage file. Or battering ram, if you look at it that way."

Damien only made a small dismayed tsk sound with his mouth as he checked Alexandria's query on the console, of course he told May he would fix the ship and this new problem could pose an extension of that deadline. On the other hand he was acquainted with Cardassian systems fairly well, but it would still take time to rug out all the bugs. Looking at the cache and checking for old backups, Damien was thankful for a fresh set of eyes or he would still be jumping through loops. “Well, it seems the backups are partial, they have also been deleted but no purged, look at the data cluster B/474 under section five. Like you said this would only partially restore the systems…”

Damien made a small pause as he checked the extent of the damage “ but damn… the dump cache is a mess and the more we use the ship the more its corrupting directories, but if we use recursive search algorithm and add a reconstructive programming block to repeat itself until the original set is found, it could slowly restore the systems. It might take while, but it would be faster than setting up the whole system again.” Damien looked up at her “You miss are a godsend, if you didn’t notice this we might would have lost the entire system. So what do you think?”

Alexandria looked skeptical. Not about the plan... it was a good plan, but about being a godsend. Malfunctioning lighting in her quarters sent her there to get her hat. "Sounds solid. But what's going to do the searching? A diagnostic tool or one of our personal devices would take too long. Do you think the system is stable enough for that? With all these faults, any algorithm could snag up on something or go rogue. Could you shut it down fast enough if the core starts to overheat?"

“Nah, the core is offline” said Damien waving his hand, a matter he was still very much frustrated about, but he knew she made solid assumption about the stability, surprising him again with her knowledge and added “and I could lock the secondary fusion generators on a security loop, a preset if you will. They will run low so no worries there. However, you make a good point about the stability of the system” Damien paused running over the options in his head “but the more we thinker the worse it’s going to get, and we might reach a point, when we will just have to drag out those Cardassian dictionaries and get ourselves a glass of Kanar. And I don’t like Kanar.” He said with a wink toward Alexandria.

Damien wanted to run the algorithm on the ships computer and just wing it, it was how he always did, but this time he didn’t want another blowout on the ship, as he had a fair share of those today. So instead he offered an option to Alexandria hoping she would tag along “Listen are you up for an adventure? We could use the station’s diagnostic analysis computer to run the algorithm, its available to all the ships in the docking port. The problem is, it might be locked, they don’t usually work at this hour, but this is an emergency, right?”

"A growth imperative certainly, but hardly an emergency." Alexandria deadpanned, lacking a sense of dry wit that would've made her reply more fitting. Instead, she yawned, seemingly too tired to notice or interpret the wink. "But you're probably right. No one on that station is going to want to do anyone on this ship any favors at this hour. Not for nothing, anyway."

In turn Damien nodded, transferring their new-found data on his PADD. It was true what Alexandria said, he will probably have to trade in a favor to make this happen, he had a few of those up his sleeves working on the station for one of the more prominent leaders of the criminal underworld. “C’mon, after I'll take you for a nice midnight snack at one of the joints I frequent here, I could really use your expertise.”

Alexandria had to admit, she was a little leery of what the man's idea of a late-night 'adventure' would entail, but Damien seemed like the type of person who focused on the task at hand. And she did not want to give anyone the impression that she one to shirk duties. Freighters were probably not much different from Starfleet. Out in space the work didn't wait for a shift to start. At least she was fully dressed.

"I supposed I should tie my boots then." Was all Alexandria said.

Damien only smiled and fastened his bag of tools about him "Yeah, we don't want to trip on this trip" he said with a wink.


...- To be continued -...

 

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