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Engineering Parley

Posted on Wed Apr 4th, 2018 @ 6:38am by Lieutenant JG Lucius & Commander Leigh Jacobs & Lieutenant Xiulan Song & Lieutenant JG Vitaath Zh'challiss

Mission: Stranded
Location: Engineering USS Valiant

Lieutenant JG Lucius was running system diagnostics, bouncing from panel to panel, trying to get as much information as possible before they ran out of power again. They were completely running on auxiliary power and backup systems as the warp core was still offline. He was having a hard time determining what caused the problem in the first place, that knocked out their engines and sent the USS Valiant careening toward the nearest planet. If he could get a handle on what happened in the first place he might be able to get a handle on how to fix it, but for now they were dead in the water and likely to remain so.

What he needed was a sounding board and people who could help him track down what exactly had happened to their engines. There had been no enemy vessel on their sensors. There had been no spatial anomaly that had hit them, unless it had been invisible. He hadn't had a moment yet to go over the logs of the events before they were forced to land. Hopefully, once the Communications Officer joined him they could take a moment and figure it out.

Slowly, a short figure descended the ladder into the Engineering section. Once safely on the floor, and she had to double check that her foot was on solid ground before stepping off that last rung, the young woman stayed close to the wall, mostly because she knew she would get lost in here, but also because she didn't want to get into anyone's way.

"I'm looking for a Lieutenant Lucius," the woman said when she heard someone walking nearby.

"Over here, Lieutenant Song," Lucius replied. "I've got a station ready for you." He turned in his seat for a moment to get a better look at Lieutenant Song. He had to admit that she was cute, but he had too much on his mind to spend too much time there. "I've already pulled up all the logs from before to power outage to after it. We've got another problem too." His tone was serious and unamused.

In order to follow his voice and traverse the space, Xiulan retrieved her cane once more and snapped it open to find her way; it had been a long time since she had been truly blind, and she took for granted how much she relied on heat signatures to get around. "You're not the only one with more problems; whatever knocked out the power also shut off my eyes, so give me a hand here," Xiulan replied as she made her way closer to Lucius. Once she was closer, she could feel a touch, his hand on her arm to guide her to the console where she could safely sit down. "So, what news do you have that's about to screw us over?" she asked as she put her cane away and then pulled out her Braille PaDD to start reading the logs Lucius had downloaded.

Vita approached the pair of senior officers. "Sir, we've managed to access some of the last sensor data before the power failure. We're hoping to have emergency power back on shortly."

"Send it to this console, I'll give it a once over," Xiulan replied.

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Stick around a moment. I'd like your input as well," Lucius invited, returning to his own seat and console. "So do you want the bad news or... well... right now there's only bad news. Emergency power aside we might run through our power supplies before we can get these repairs done and again, I still have no idea what knocked out our power in the first place. Honestly, I feel a little helpless," he admitted and made a sort of 'hopeless' gesture with his hands.

"Well, the fact that it knocked out the power in my eyes says something: it's not a result of tampering or any sort of networking since my eyes are obviously only connected to me," Xiulan pointed out. "It's not a dampening field because the emergency power reserves would be non-functional as well, and from the sounds of the warp core, the matter/anti-matter reaction has been suspended; whatever this is, it can suspend the reactions we use to generate power and warp fields, as well as the conversion of body heat to usable power in my implants. So the good news is we know more than we think we do, the bad news is we need to figure out what can suspend these reactions so we can get our power back."

"Did we get hit by any sort of pulse or disruptor? I didn't think that ships could fire from cloaked, but who knows. I'm just thinking out loud. Problem with disruptor cannon theory though, that doesn't last forever. It's a temporary effect. This obviously is not temporary. We didn't pick up any ships, or stations, or floating debris, or any of that. No phenomenon. It wasn't even like we were hit with anything, everything just shut down. Like someone flipped off the lightswitch. What about espionage?" Lucius looked at the two women.

"Nuh-uh, espionage don't account for my implants, you can't just remotely hack 'em and shut 'em down, interacting with them is very personal, I'd definitely notice something like that," Xiulan replied with a dubious shake of her head. "Anyway, I was on the Bridge so I know we did come across a spacial anomaly; it wasn't on sensors that long and we weren't tryna collect data, not yet anyway, but at the time we were simply altering course, and then everything went crazy. And who's to say the effect ain't temporary, maybe it's just taking longer than the known disruptor weaponry we're familiar with? Or maybe this anomaly left something behind that's interfering with power restoration? I don't know, I'm not a proper Engineer, I only know communications arrays, so maybe I'm just talkin' outta my ass."

"No, no..." Lucius said. "You make good points. I wasn't thinking about your eyes in that equation. It had to be the anomaly. Let's have a look at those sensor logs and see if we figure out what exactly it did to us."

"Since we don't know what we're looking for, this might take while," Xiulan said as her fingers began working over her Braille PaDD to read the logs. "You know, if this was a communications array, I'd start scanning for radiation, frequencies, trace particles, anything that could disrupt a clear signal; can you think of anything we could start scanning for that could disrupt power generation reactions? Like with disruptor weapons, what does it do? Is it radiation that halts power?"

"We've heard of subspace 'sandbars' that collapse warp fields and prevent ships from creating a warp field. What if there was some sort of 'sandbar' that prevented the energy conversion at all. Our teams have confirmed we still got fuel in the tanks, it's just that we can't start up the reaction. Chemical batteries are rapidly drained and the Lieutenant's eyes don't work. I have no idea what could do it but it's almost like someone pressed a pause button on energy conversions." Vita said.

"The 'sandbars' you're thinking of are subspace dead-zones; in areas where subspace has collapsed, subspace communications and warp fields aren't possible but it doesn't interrupt power," Xiulan remarked. "But... that does remind me of something...." Xiulan said, tapping her chin in thought. "Uhhh, there was an incident with the old NX Enterprise, uhhhh, something about polaric fields?" Xiulan worked on her PaDD to access computer records and find what she was looking for. "Nucleonic particles! Try scanning for nucleonic particles; according to this, they're highly magnetic and will attached to the hull of the ship, and in high enough concentration they can create a dia-magnetic field which can shut down all the ship's systems. We must have come across a small patch in the anomaly, enough to shut down the warp reaction but not enough to cripple us completely."

"Ugh! I should have thought of that. Scanning now." Lucius' fingers flew over the surface of the console and then he whistled. "You were right, Lieutenant Song. There are Nucleonic particles all over the hull. They're tiny, but they're there. We have cleared the field so they should disperse, although that doesn't seem to be happening with any sort of quickness. Ferric ions though, are susceptible to phase energy, so we might be able to clear off what is remaining with the ship's phase cannons." His fingers kept moving and his eyes were glued to the screen. "That would make sense as far as your eyes are concerned though. The nucleonic particles sort of act as a dampening field. So it would suppress those abilities as well."

"Yeah, the tech is sensitive, it wouldn't take as high a concentration of the field as the rest of the ship would need for a system-wide shut down," Xiulan agreed with a nod. "So we just need to get these nucleonic particles to disperse; any way we can hurry up the process?"

"What if we tie the main phase coils into the shield grid, in essence create a low level phaser spread across the hull, would that disperse the particles." Vita suggested, "Hopefully without burning out the entire shield grid in the process."

Lucius looked up at Vita and nodded, grinning. "Yes, exactly. I am concerned about using too much of the energy we have left, but I don't see that we have any choice and once they're clear we should be able to restore main power so, using up our reserves should be okay."

"And wouldn't we have to clear the particles from the warp core too?" Xiulan pointed out, although she didn't have the slightest notion as to how a warp core actually worked, so maybe she had no idea what she was really asking.

"Well... not the warp core directly, the particles could definitely affect the intake manifolds. If we were flooded with nucleonic particles it could cause a flare in the ship's plasma injectors. Although, now that we're talking about this, that might be exactly what happened. A flare in the plasma injectors would have caused a warp reactor shut down." He looked up at Vita. "Do you think you could run over the logs and see if there was any sort of event before we lost power with the warp core? It might have been just a tiny little fluctuation in temperature. It might not have even lasted long enough for us to catch it, like something easily overlooked."

"I'm on it," Vita said moving to a free console, and pulling up the logs and beginning to analyze them.

Lucius looked over at Lieutenant Song. "Do you think you could find out when we ran into the particles? I'd like to know how long we were in the cloud. That might tell us the density of the particles and how much energy we'll need to generate with the phaser cannons to remove them."

"On it," Xiulan replied, and started going through the logs from the Bridge documenting the anomaly and their course correction.

"Sir, I think I've got something," Vita said. "Look, 2 microsecond fluctuation in the plasma injector," she said putting the results up on the main terminal.

"Well shit..." Lucius exclaimed in response to Vita's information. "Even I missed it. 2 microseconds." He shook his head. "Alright, so we dipped into this nucleonic cloud and got ourselves covered in particles, the plasma injector overheated and shut down the warp core. We now know. I'll take these findings to the Captain and let her know of our solution. I don't want to just hit the ship with a random plasma burst or we run the risk of damaging our systems. We need a measurement and then we'll adjust the power of the phase cannon."

"Copy that, now that we know what we're looking for I'll go top side. If we scan the ship from the outside we should be able to gather some more information about the particles we picked up and then be able to calibrate a phaser pulse." Vita said.

Lucius nodded. "Good call. Thank you Lieutenant. I appreciate your help. Lieutenant Song? Do you have anything for me?" He turned his gaze to the Communications Officer.

"Yeah, I think so," Xiulan replied with a bit of a perplexed expression. "As best I can tell, we didn't come into contact with the anomaly on our sensors; the helm did a course correction, but we didn't give the anomaly a wide enough berth and these nucleonic particle things were attracted to all this nice magnetic hull plating. You know, if these clusters of nucleonic-rich polaric fields are going to be a reoccurring thing for this area, then once we get off this planet we should probably launch a buoy to warn all ships in the area to scan for nucleonic particles and to keep a safe distance."

Lucius nodded in agreement. "Alright, that sounds like a good idea. No point in making everyone crash land here." He chuckled. "I'll let the Captain know what's going on and what we've found and what we need to do about it. Our next step will be to figure how how hard to hit the ship with the plasma cannon." He stood up from his seat. "I'll be right back. Please continue." Lucius headed for what served as his "office" if you could call it that. It was pretty much a replicator with a closet around it and everyone used it. He tapped his comm badge. =/\=Captain this is Lieutenant Lucius. We have discovered what happened and have a solution.=/\=

Leigh finished changing into a dry uniform from her dip earlier. Sure, it had been a bit immature for a ship's commanding officer to dive off the ship and into the water but she needed something to ease the stress and that dive seemed to had done it. When her badge chirped to life, she tapped it in response. "I'll be there in a minute, Lieutenant," Jacobs replied as she exited her quarters.

Exactly a minute later, she entered Engineering at a brisk pace, feeling rejuvenated. "What have you got, Lieutenant?"

Lucius nodded, a little amazed at how fast the Captain had come to Engineering. "So we broke the ship," he joked with a little chuckle. "But seriously... We seem to have hit a cloud of Nucleonic particles. They are very magnetic. So we came along with the shiny ship and they just couldn't help themselves. The particles act like a dampening field, they also stick to the hull and caused the plasma injectors to overheat. When they overheated they shut us down and we had too many particles to get it started again." He paused for a breath. "There's more... normally they peel off the further we get away from their original cloud... but these didn't. They've clogged our manifolds and energy dampened everything. We think that it's possible... because our sensors didn't pick up the particles... that they might be in small enough clouds to not be detected." He crossed his arms over his chest and took a deep breath. "Phaser weapons can usually dislodge the particles... we're working on how to get that to happen using our own phaser cannons."

"I have a theory as to why the particles haven't dispersed on their own yet," Xiulan spoke up. "All previous incidents regarding these particles, the field from which they originate is quite large and exerts enough of a pull to draw the particles back once the ship in question has left the field, but the field we came across was quite small, so the particles remained stuck to us. Thankfully there's not enough of them to create a full-on dampening field or even our emergency power reserves would be useless."

Lucius gestured toward Lieutenant Song. "Well... at least it's not as bad as it could be. We should be able to restart the engines once we can get the particles off and clean the plasma injectors and the intake manifolds..." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "We should be able to reverse the phaser cannon to remove the particles. Of course this is all theory. Lieutenant Song did, however, suggest that we might want to leave a warning buoy for other passing ships. Our sensors didn't even pick up the particles until it was too late."

"That's a good idea but let's work on cleaning these damn particles off the Valiant first. Could personal phaser rifles be enough to cleanse the particles or do we need more power?" Leigh asked.

"We'll have to do both. We need more power to clear the hull, but we might have to get up into the manifolds with phasers to make sure everything is cleared. The phaser rifles will work... but it will take like five times longer to do it that way," Lucius said.

"Then I'll follow your lead on the best plan of action, Lieutenant," Leigh replied. She had never been much of an engineer--she knew the basics that she learned at the Academy and in refresher courses but anything more than that was over her head. "How are the engines and power systems otherwise? Did we sustain any damage that you can tell from the crash?"

"It doesn't look like it ma'am," Vita said rejoining the group. "We've just had a team complete some inspections, once the particles are cleared power should be alright. We may have some damage to the ventral hull though."

Leigh thought about that for a moment. So far Deck Four seemed structurally sound but they wouldn't know until they got the main power back online. "Well between our XO's excellent piloting skills and the ablative armor, let's hope the damage isn't too extensive."

Lucius nodded in agreement. "I'll keep you informed as we go, Captain. Just in case there are surprises."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. I'll leave you to your job and great work so far. If you need any help, I'll be around," Leigh said. It was kinda frustrating that she wasn't more of an engineer like many captains. She was one of few ship captains that came up through security and tactical and thus that was where her expertise lay. In situations like this, she was basically just a third wheel.

Lucius nodded again. "Thank you, Captain. We will do our best. Alright team..." he said turning to the other two. "Let's make this happen."

"I'll get to work clearing plasma manifolds," Vita said with a nod to the senior officers before heading towards the manifolds.

"And I'll get the plasma cannons reversed. Lieutenant Song?" Lucius turned to the Communications Officer. "Once we hit the ship with the plasma cannon it should bring your sight back. Although, I was thinking... I bet going outside of the ship would help too."

"Yeah it would," Xiulan replied thoughtfully. "It would also make it possible for me to set up a distress beacon so we can try to call for help until the ship is at full functionality again."

Lucius nodded in agreement. "Do it. Maybe by the time someone sees it we won't need them, but it would be nice to get a jump on a help request. Make sure to set it far enough away from the ship that we won't accidentally destroy it with the plasma cannons," he joked.

Lucius started trying to override all the safety protocol that said you shouldn't shoot your own ship with your own plasma cannons. It took quite a bit of coaxing. One thing he could say for the Defiant class, its systems were serious about security. It took him nearly an hour and constant calling back and forth to the Captain for access. He was certain she was tired of hearing from him. Finally, after much struggling, frustration and swearing, he got everything set up. He opened a shipwide comm as well as his personal comm for those that might be outside the ship. "This is Chief Engineer Lucius. We are going to be clearing particles from the hull with the plasma cannons. Please stand away from the hull for at least five minutes and at least three feet."

Vita had moved to the bridge to assist in the process, the manifolds had been cleared and once the hull was cleared main power 'should' be restored. "Zh'challiss to Lucius. We're ready to fire on your order. All personnel report clear of the outer hull."

Lucius nodded, even though they were talking on the comms. "Alright. Let's give it a go!" He set the plasma cannons, made sure everything was calibrated correctly. "And firing!"

"Phasers firing." Vita reported from the bridge. "Discharge is propagating across the hull. Energy dissipating. Residual charge dissipating. Charge is gone," the Andorian reported over an open comm channel. "Looks like particles are fully cleared, main power should be back online now."

There was a long pause. "Nothing's changed," Lucius reported. "We're still running on backup power. Checking... please..." There was another long pause. "Son of a... we're done. Unless there's dilithium around here. Lieutenant Song, that beacon is going to be necessary."


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