The Tale of the Over-worked Engineer
The Deuterium Argument [Rebooted]
Location: USS Highlander
Timeline: MD01 1800hrs
Now that the ship was finally rid of Yards engineers, in the delta quadrant, and on her way out from the Iota system at a comfortable cruising speed, Tim felt like he and the crew could finally relax a little. The stresses of having half the wall panels on the ship open were gone, as were the nerves of their first slipstream flight and trip through the graviton catapult. There had even been a small part in the back of his mind that was fearful of arriving to a full-scale attack by the Hirogen, or any of the other numerous hostile races Voyager had encountered in this part of the quadrant. Now with a clear mind, he felt himself searching around for ways to relax.
One member of the crew who he had definitely noticed was in need of relaxing was Grif. The Highlander's resident chief engineer had been almost as high strung as he had during the refit - arguably more so at times, having to work more closely with the Yards crew and not having the rank to overrule them. Tim had noticed that she had been drawing more into herself over the past few months, and he didn't know if that was just down to the work on the refit or for some other reason she hadn't shared with anyone yet. Regardless, now that their first working day in the delta quadrant was coming to an end, he felt the need to draw her out of the shell she had retreated into.
The turbolift deposited him at one of the side doors into main engineering, and he stepped out into what was still a busy engine room, even if the hubbub was less than his last visit, just before they had left Utopia Planetia.
"Captain." Came the clipped tone of a junior officer who was obviously surprised and somewhat scared of the sudden appearance of the Highlander's commanding officer. Ensign Lyra Hoparn stood straight her back almost arched from her stance. "This is.. uhm... unexpected?"
"No it's not. It is my ship after all. Unless you mean that I didn't expect to see someone attempt to do a standing back flip, in which case I'd have to agree with you." Tim responded, looking at the ensign with confusion, trying to figure out how much her back would have to arch back for him to have to call sickbay for her. "Where's Grif?"
"The Lieutenant is upstairs sir in the pit sir." Hoparn replied trying not to let the colour rise to her cheeks as she pointed upwards to the level above. It had become a kind of base of operations and a hole to hide in for her Chief, one that most were trying to avoid at the moment.
"Thanks," Tim said, moving around to the small elevator at the side of the warp core that would take him to the upper gantry. It moved slowly, giving Tim plenty of opportunity to observe the activity going on on the deck.
Griffen Tanol was a bit of a wreck if she was honest, or at least the voices in her head being honest. While the refit for the Highlander had gone exceptionally well and smooth overall the amount of work and dealing with yard engineers that she had had to do had driven her almost to the brink. Then she had recieved word from the courts that Allison had finally gotten a hearing for their divorce something she wouldnt be able to attend going to the Delta Quadrant and all. Combined the stress had been too much for the Trill as she had slowly reverted back to her old self. Blowing a strand of hair out of her eyes as she mindlessly scratched at the numb burn scar on her neck the Trill stared at the power distrubution diagram for the ship. Maybe... maybe if she routed power through the tertiary junction on Deck 4 she could boost power to the structural integrity generators on Deck 5.
"Not to sound insulting," Tim said, breaking her concentration. While her attention had been elsewhere, he had approached to stand next to the station she was so engrossed in. "But you look like you're in the middle of some sort of survival horror sim on the holodeck. There's not a zombie hiding inside that console you're studying, is there?"
Grif jumped slightly as she turned to look at the Captain. "Captain, uh Power routing options. The run in QSD added some stress to areas that arent original so I was trying to figure out how to shore up the SIF in the area." She said somewhat sheepisly still scratching at her burn even though she couldnt feel it. "And no. Horror stuff isnt my thing."
"Any immediate problems with the SIF I should be concerned about?" the captain asked, leaning over to peer casually at the diagram.
Grif stopped to look at the display once more before shrugging slightly, "Not not really, it was just something I noticed. The ship wouldnt be ripped apart or anything."
"In that case, your staff can take over for the rest of the day. Come on, I fancy a drink in the mess hall and conversation with someone whose eyes won't glaze over if the conversation heads towards warp fields."
The Trill hesitated, "I really shouldn't sir." She spoke quietly as she looked toward the warp core then back at the Captain, she saw a firmness in his stance that denoted it was more of a telling rather then asking of her. "But... I suppose I havent eaten in... two days?" She said trying to remember the last time she had infact eaten. Had it been that long? No, she hadnt done that type of thing in a long time. Not since before Tanol. Before Allison?
No she wasnt sure.
"Two days?" Tim asked, genuinely shocked that she hadn't eaten in that long. Not that he hadn't done long stints without acting like a normal human being in engineering himself in the past, but he usually remembered to eat at least something. "In that case, let's upgrade it from a drink to a seven course meal. Now come on, before I make it an order."
"I..uhh.. Yes sir." Grif said as she tugged a bit at her plait which was in a right state. She waved toward the upper levels entrance to the corridor behind them, making an attempt at some kind of small talk she spoke, "Ill admit, Tanol never thought we'd get this far from home when our hosts started exploring the stars."
"Really?" Tim asked, as they made their way through the corridors. "I mean, first couple of hosts I can understand. But you're on your, what? Fifth host now? Even without the speed at which technology has been advancing the past few decades, did you never consider just setting out one new host day? Swapping hosts to keep going when you'd lived long enough? Not that I'm trying to get rid of you or anything."
Grif paused a moment as she considered what she wanted to say next, truth be told the Tanol symbiote had never had great luck in her opinion, from all her memories and all her experiences bad things just happened to them. "Tanol... I.. we never really thought we'd survive this long." The pair of officers stopped at the turbolift pausing their conversation as a pair of junior enlisted appeared behind them.
For several moments there was silence between the Cheif Engineer and the Captain as they traversed the lift and headed for the mess. Griffen wasn't sure if it was for her privacy oof the statement she had uttered before the junior enlisted had shown up or if the captain was simply processing her words but it gave her a moment to consider what to say next, to really consider what she had said. It wasn't often she told people about the history of her symbiote or herself, despite Tanol's outgoing personality she was a rather private person. As they approached the Mess, the Trill spoke up again, "I didn't mean that in a dower way Captain, I just.. the Tanol symbiote hasn't had the greatest of luck over the years. We're rather clumsy as well which does not help."
"Pshhh. A bit of clumsiness never hurt anyone," the captain said, before realising his mistake. "Well, no, clumsiness has hurt a lot of people I suppose, but I've always been happy to accept a few scrapes and the odd broken nose in return for the chance to explore where few have ever gone before. I'm sure my medical records would give you a good run for your money when you tot up all the injuries attributed to 'unintended occurences'. Now luck... there are very few people I know who I could genuinely count as lucky. And if the old saying stands true that you're either lucky or you're not, well; I guess you'll just have to slum it with the rest of us luckless shmucks."
As they entered the mess hall, Tim scanned around for a table for them both. Although the mess hall was getting busier as those on the crew not on shift came for their evening meals, there were still a few tables unoccupied. "How many options have you got today, Chef?" the captain called over towards the galley as he headed towards the free table closest to the view ports.
"Two starters, four mains and three deserts on the menu today, Captain," the Highlander's jovial cook called back.
"Grif will have all of them!" Tim answered, taking a seat.
"No!" Grif cried as she spun to look at the chef, "No. Ill have the salad and whatever meat main you have Chef." She took a deep breath before giving a weak smile. She moved towards the table and sat down across from the captain. "Any engineer worth their salt that claims that they've never been injured isn't a good one in my books." She sighed, "That being said, the last two accidents I was in, one lead to me getting teh Tanol Symbiote, and the other lead to this." She lifted her hand and pulling the collar of her uniform undershirt down to show more of the burn scar that normally just peaked out, scar that ran far down the side of her body.
"You know I'm sure that the Doc would be more than happy to keep an eye out for any new treatments that would help heal that up better if you asked," Tim said, briefly looking away to nod as the chef pointed to a few options to confirm what the captain's order would be. "Anyway, let's talk about something else. I've been skimming through some of Janeway's reports from Voyager's trip through here, and it sounds like almost every other week they were finding races with all sorts of different kinds of technology that they hadn't seen before; slipstream drives, graviton catapults; one planet even had a transporter that could beam you to another system. So that got me thinking; what kinds of technology do you think we'll come across while we're out here?"
"Plasma fires have a way of burning away things that make em hard to fix, especially if an incompetent doctor is the one that helps." Grif shrugged as she considered the Captain's request to discuss something else. "I wouldn't be adverse to some nanotechnology. If we could minturiaze some of our curret relay tech we could really free up space for supplies and personnel for longer trips."
"Yeah, nanotech is cool, but I was thinking more out there. Like big honking space guns, or some planet-sized city ship. You know, something that we've never really seen before?"
"All of those would make me think that we're in trouble and I'm going to have alot of things to fix after it's all done." The Trill said with a small frown, "There aren't many technologies that I don't think we're not already working on. We have QSD now, we're standing on an example of that. Maybe some kind of power generation thats less voliatile? That would be great."
"Yeah, I suppose we'd need a bigger power source if we did manage to get a big honking space gun put on the ship," Tim answered, looking off into space as he mused, trying to draw out a response from Grif that was less directly focussed on the realities of work. "Do you think it would affect our slipstream profile much? If we stuck a big honking gun on the front of the ship? Ooh, or maybe we could stick one on the back of the ship and use it for a little extra boost?"
Grif let out a sigh and rolled her eyes, "You're trying to get me to laugh aren't you." She said chuckling slightly as she pictured the idea for a moment within her head, "Unless it's the size of the ship I doubt a cannon would give us a boost when we shot it. A chemical rocket possibly but not a cannon."
Tim laughed out loud. "Now that'd be a hell of a sight. I can imagine it now: A giant cannon sticking out of the cargo bay, big enough that the ship would topple over if she was on the ground. A long, dramatic wait as it charges, glowing brighter and brighter and then!.... phhhhht." The noise he made sounded like air being let out of a rubber balloon. "That would be pretty anti-climactic, wouldn't it?"
"In all seriousness for a second Grif - I know, I know, don't die of shock, I can be serious when I need to - don't over-work yourself. Pull your head out of a jeffries tube every once in a while and look around you. We're in an unexplored part of the galaxy! And you're going to be stuck with all this lot on this ship for quite a bit of time while we're out exploring it. It won't hurt to spend a bit of time getting to know more of them than the medical teams that will be tossing words like 'fatigue' and 'over-worked' and 'over-stressed' at you."
Captain Tim Williams
Lieutenant Griffen Tanol