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Rachel E Garrett

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About Rachel E Garrett

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    J-tube Rat

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  1. A Greater Terror Greater is our terror of the unknown. ~Titus Livius (59 B.C.-A.D. 17), Roman Historian There is fear, and then there is terror. The one begets the other, and once begotten, it transports one into a new dimension of debilitating trauma, a gut-wrenching, paralyzing agony of body, mind, and soul. Now there were many things that Rachel Garrett feared on Sky Harbor Aegis. She feared being late for shift, she feared certain open spaces, and she feared dropping tools through grated deck plating. Of only one thing was she terrified: Tylus Petrinius Jorahl, Centurion of the Romulan Star Empire and, as fate would have it, her Chief of Engineering. Her initial fear, brought on by the knowledge of his involvement with Enterprise-C, she had buried beneath jokes and light-hearted jabs, believing it would disappear. Instead, it festered into a bitter sore that sat beneath the surface waiting to emerge in full-blown terror. His very presence terrified her. His stature – all six feet of it – and his broad shoulders clad in the uniform of the Romulan Star Empire, reminiscent of the ancient empires of Greece and Rome. His very name smacked of aristocracy and political position, well above anything of which Rachel could ever dream. And his rank – Centurion – conjured images of ancient battles where helmeted warriors clashed in bloody combat with swords forged to slay two or three with one swift stroke. But of his eyes she was most terrified. Dark. Penetrating. More lethal than any blade. And his hands. Massive. Strong. Decisive in every move. With them he could surely fell any foe with one strike. Such things were, of course, the fabrications of Rachel’s overactive imagination and her innate timidity, but whether real or imagined, the same psychological and physiological response gripped her in his presence. So Rachel Garrett avoided his eyes and kept her distance. On the station. Just over an hour ago, however, she had boarded a shuttle – a small vessel – with orders to investigate a nearby asteroid. Her first reaction was apprehension at having to leave her sanctuary, the station. Her apprehension grew to anxiety soon after lift-off, when the reassuring solidity of the station dropped away beneath them. Still the close proximity of Scott Coleridge and Caelan Fletcher tempered her anxiety. They were comrades in arms, so to speak, and in that she took comfort. Upon reaching the asteroid, however, her anxiety heightened with the sudden awareness that holodeck simulations didn’t do reality justice. Though she’d worn an EVA suit, she’d never actually used one. Neither had she been outside a ship or station where atmosphere and gravity were almost nonexistent, where a frail suit and an oxygen tank held the balance of life and death. As she fumbled to adjust the suit and then took those first steps onto the asteroid, her anxiety turned to fear, which grew exponentially at the full realization that she and Centurion Tylus Petrinius Jorahl would be the only ones taking this walk. Furthermore, he wore neither Starfleet issue nor civilian EVA attire. He had donned that of the Romulan Star Empire in all its glory. “Standard zero-G operations. I do hope your suits came equipped with adjustment jets and gravity boots,” he said. Rachel scrambled to check. “The gravity on this rock is about 0.006 on your Terran scale. A hiccup is enough for escape velocity,” he remarked as she took her first forays into alien territory. “I don't think climbing will be much of a problem.” Too absorbed in keeping up and negotiating the .006 gravity, Rachel did not respond. “We will be needing a good protective location for the shipyard,” he continued, obviously at ease in this environment. “Have your scans picked up any open spaces under the surface?” Rachel struggled to use her scanner while her hands were encumbered by the EVA suit. She fumbled it, though, more from anxiety than encumbrance, asking the obvious question to cover her tracks. “As in caves, Sir?” Breathe. “Yes.” She stopped for a slow 360, waited for the results, then checked again for verification. “Problems with your scans?” She whirled to face him, nearly dropping the scanner. “There seems to be a structure jutting out from the impact crater, but I can't be sure. Something's blocking a full scan.” “Let’s get on top of it and see what we have.” Great. But the ascent proved easier than expected. In a few bounds they reached the precarious edge of the crater. A panoramic view of the stark horizon spread before them, and a steep ascent pointed to the center of the crater below. “Nice. Very nice,” said Jorahl as he surveyed the area with a practiced eye. “One point six tenths of your kilometers wide. Eight-tenths deep. The surface looks rather uncluttered. I can see something in the center. Let’s take a closer look.” He bounded off with Rachel trailing behind. A hop and a skip – and a frightening slide down a talus pile for Rachel – took them to the crater floor where they stopped for more scans. Then it happened. Rachel took one more step and the dust of the crater, undisturbed for decades, fell away beneath her. She sank to her knees. Then, as if someone had pulled a plug in a drain, a vortex opened and in she began to slip. She splayed her arms, clawing for a hand-hold, but her thrashing landed on powdery dust, throwing it up and obscuring the already-dim line of sight she had to Jorahl. Remembering that in her scans the tunnel ended in a 100 meter drop to a solid rock cave floor, she gasped, her heart pounding in her chest, her feet and knees pressing hard against the slick, smooth wall of the opening as she struggled to get a purchase – a ledge, a small crevasse, a foothold or handhold, anything to stop her downward plunge – to no avail. Were she a bit larger she would have been able to wedge herself solidly sideways, but her small frame slipped easily farther and farther down the narrow passageway. The more she struggled, the faster she slid. Her throat constricted by terror, she forced a scream but nothing came… Then from the darkness a large hand, strong and sure, grasped hers and pulled her from the orifice, firmly but gently. As easily as one would lift a doll it set her firmly on the ground above the tunnel. When she had caught her breath and the dust had cleared she found herself staring into the terrifying eyes of Tylus Petrinius Jorahl, Centurion of the Romulan Star Empire, Chief of Engineering. They stared at each other for a long moment, his eyes dark and penetrating. And – only for a second – Rachel thought she saw concern.
  2. "Not a Good Day" From day’s beginning, Rachel Garrett had three strikes against her. She had slept in her quarters in a bona fide bed, she had begun her day without the usual caffeine, and her first foray into engineering had brought her face to face with a plastered Betazoid who had, quite literally, lost her marbles. Well, perhaps not literally her marbles, but she had lost her telepathy, which, in human terms, meant she had lost her marbles. Had Rachel not slept in her quarters she would have snuggled her body onto the deck of a cozy J-tube with her ear to the deck plate. She would have felt the hum of engines, the reverberations from countless footfalls, and the rhythmic vibration of someone’s bass blaring at odd hours. She would probably have heard the bass and accompanying voices, have fallen asleep dreaming of the band and would have formed a picture in her mind of the person or persons playing the music. That would have made her wonder why they were playing it at that time of night, which would have led to the possibility that their species had different waking and sleeping times, which would have, in turn, led to an infinite number of other possibilities that would have eventually led her to dream in her usual multiplicity of directions. Instead of these comforting sounds and vibrations, however, Rachel’s waking moments were met with peace and quiet, a semi-orderly room, and a mattress cradling her restless frame – the results of her promise to Dr. Lepage. Strike one. Her waking caffeine would usually have been in the form of coffee from a replicator or, in rare instances, from someone’s percolating machine that had been left unattended for a few minutes – time enough for a bleary-eyed engineer desperately in need of a shower to snag a cup. Occasionally she wandered through the midway and took advantage of a patron who, upon spotting her in her disheveled state, mistook her for an engineer who had been working all night. The unsuspecting patron would take pity and offer her a choice of caffeinated beverages, she would take her pick and sincerely thank the patron, then Rachel would go about her business. But the replicators were not yet online in her quarters, she was nowhere near the midway, and she had promised herself a shower so a detour would make her late for her shift – not a good idea since their Romulan chief engineer would probably use any excuse to space her. Thinking of the newly-arrived Starbuck’s cappuccinos that had just been deposited in the dispenser in main engineering – the ones that cost at least twice their worth, but she had nothing better to spend her credits on, so what the heck – she had gone without. Strike two. When she arrived in main engineering, her path it to the dispenser was blocked by a boozed-up Betazoid nut-case wandering around in her nightgown. Furthermore, the odious task of depositing said Betazoid nut-case in sick bay fell to her. Without caffeine. Strike three. Suffice to say that Rachel’s day, within the space of a few minutes, had gone to Hades in a handbasket. It should also be noted that, in her state of mind and body, she probably should not be held accountable for any remarks made to anyone in close proximity, especially remarks about her personal sleeping habits. At least, later reflection on her remarks to Caelan Fletcher had given her a Dr. Phil moment, and she hoped she would not be held accountable. But back to the situation at hand. After depositing their nut-case in sick bay, Rachel and Caelan had made their way back to main engineering and were met with yet another strange event: Scott Coleridge on the verge of joining their nut-case in sick bay. “… and then the deflector malfunction caused the ODN line damage that resulted in the lag time! It's brilliant!” Rachel stopped. Caelan stopped. Questioning looks were exchanged. “So ... we have two problems,” Scott continued, his back to both of them and obviously unaware of their presence. “Maybe three, but probably only two, so we'll say two and a half.” Right. Rachel’s tap on his back was met with a leap that would have made any Olympic trainer proud. “Whoa. You okay?” she said. “Uh ... yeah, sorry,” said Scott with a sheepish grin. “Just got excited there. See, a malfunction in the deflector on upper Pylon B left the external hull vulnerable to micro-asteroid damage. And that, in turn, damaged the ODN lines that run from the lateral sensor array to the computer processors on Deck 15, resulting in the 12.5ms and increasing lag we are currently experiencing.” Rachel frowned, a plethora of thoughts on repair times, logistical problems, and – heavens help us – telling the chief – already running rampant in her caffeine-starved brain. Scott held up a finger. “Ah, and get this. The deflector malfunction was caused by an astronomically – pun intended – unlikely event. There was a solar flare several minutes prior to the first cycling of the graviton generators.” He stopped briefly to point at the logs scrolling on the screen before him. “The EM activity depolarized the graviton emitters along the unit's outer casing, resulting in a cascade failure. How cool is that?!” Rachel finally lost it. “Cool? Not,” she replied with an arm-cross and a glare. “It's totally not cool. Interesting, maybe, but not cool. Does the chief know?” Caffeine. “No,” Scott replied, way too calmly for Rachel’s taste. “I can tell because if he did he'd have already asked one of us why we haven't fixed it.” “So... we fix it before he finds out, or we tell him, or we let him find out and space us all. Which one’ll it be?” “Well, we can task a repair crew on both the deflector and the array. The lag isn't a big deal yet ... the rate of increase is small enough that it won't be detrimental to station ops for several more days.” He paused a moment, his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm and, in Rachel’s mind, probably a good night’s sleep and a heckofalotta caffeine. “So uh ... what was with you guys and the somnambulist?” Pressure rising. “Next time you get to take her. I wanna know what we're going to do about the problems. I mean, this is a lot of stuff.” “It's uh ... it's just a damaged ODN line and a deflector malfunction.” “And a bunch of microfractures!” Beeline to the dispenser. Scott continued, unabashed. “We'll need a workbee, thirteen and a half metres of ODN cable, five graviton emitters, a phase decoupler, and three cups of coffee for the repair crew we dupe into doing this during the double shifts we're pulling to fix other stuff.” He turned to Caelan. “Oh, and we'll need a partridge in a pear tree.” Starbuck’s mocca cappuccino. Forget the cost. Twist and swig. Audible contented sigh. The rest of Rachel’s workday seemed uneventful after the first hour, even though everyone did end up pulling double-shifts. But she spent that night and those following sleeping in a secluded J-tube, appearing in her quarters for a shower and wandering into main engineering only after her caffeine fix. The next two days brought rumors of a settlement for TKR-117 and the reconfiguration of Aegis into – of all things – a shipyard? Right. So long as I get my caffeine.
  3. Not the Stiles, but one from the family of Enterprise-C's Captain Rachel Garrett. Her granddaughter and name sake, Rachel E. Garrett, had the misfortune of being posted on Aegis as assistant engineer under " Tylus Petrinius Jorahl siva Romii N'Marys Gol'van, part of the team which took apart and studied the Federation starship Enterprise-C after the Battle of Narendra III." He made sure she knew about it on their first encounter, clearing the air in true Romulan fashion. Aegis is Rachel's first posting and, unlike her grandmother, Rachel E. is unsure of herself and is on probationary status after barely graduating from SF Academy. Needless to say, there is quite a bit of tension between the two.
  4. Ninety-nine Units of Def in the Bay She was in her element, yes she was, and it felt good! The bay was wall-to-wall Orbital Defense Platforms, neatly arranged by type and degree of maintenance needed. Next to each one, busy little bodies worked diligently, removing parts, examining them, then neatly sorting each as to usable, repairable, or scrap, in tidy bins located between the rows. It was enough to make an ensign proud, for sure. For the first time ever, Rachel Garrett, J-tube rat, felt she had conquered something besides the dirt on her uniform. She was decked out in work coveralls, gloves stuck in her shoulder straps, padd in hand, feeling really important ‘cause it had just occurred to her that she was senior officer – oh yeah! Ensign Rachel E Garrett was senior officer among all these noncom grunts, and she was crackin’ the whip. “Ok, folks! Listen up!” she had said, pulling herself to her full 5’ 3” height to be sure the team leaders heard over the din. Even Caelan raised a brow at that, but she mostly ignored it. He was junior to her by at least three days. “We have over a hundred units here that need triage - or so says Lieutenant Coleridge. Which means we need to take an inventory, see what's usable and what's not, what needs to be scrapped and what can be… sold.” She double-checked the padd. Yeah, it said sold. Well, okay then. When she looked up she realized the crews were actually paying attention; they were lis-ten-ing. To her. A new experience and a momentous occasion, to be sure. Regaining her composure, she plowed on. “So I'm here and Ensign Fletcher is here for you to report to. Get busy. Dress 'em down and report back… yesterday.” From behind her came a, “Uh...yeah! What she said.” It was Caelan, chiming in. “So, did I do good?” she asked after shooing the team leaders to their tasks. “Am I gettin' better?” “You’re brilliant,” said Caelan. She wanted to give him a high-five, but she wasn’t sure if he was serious. Caelan was so hard to read sometimes. No, he was hard to read most of the time. Just before they got here he had said something about Centurion Jorahl spacing us so they could get a new crew. Rachel had taken that as gospel, but he said it was a joke. Go figure. She decided to change the subject. “So, you workin’ on somethin’ else, or this garbage?” “I was s'posed to be working on this, but I just looked at the mess and couldn't bring myself to start.” So he was less than enthusiastic, which made her feel a little less confident knowing that she was senior officer of something that didn’t make Caelan enthusiastic, which meant that this was probably the lowest heap of garbage and probably the least desirable assignment on the station. On the other hand, if they didn’t get this ‘garbage’ up and running so the station could be protected they would all be ‘garbage’ – or space dust – or both. This made her feel a teensy bit better. “So, where do we start?” Good question. “Anywhere that they’re not working, I guess,” she had said pointing to the teams spread out among the units. They both got to work until suddenly it occurred to Rachel that the place was a mess and wouldn’t it be cool if everything was neat? Well, she wasn’t sure His Highness would appreciate that kind of thing, but her OCD sure would. Her quarters might be in disarray with clothes thrown all over the place and stuff scattered here and there, but by golly, that wasn’t her workspace and workspaces needed to be neat, orderly, and above all clean! Yeah! Within the hour she had every unit lined neatly next to, behind, or in front of the other, with collection bins between the rows and cleaning materials neatly secured next to the bins with the teams working like sons-o-guns. Then, from somewhere along the line someone hollered loud and clear, “Ninety-nine!” Work stopped. Grins spread like wildfire. What the? Ensign Rachel Garrett checked her padd. They were down to 99 units in the bay. Cool. Soon they’d be…. Before she could finish her thought a small bunch of hearty voices had started: Ninety-nine units of def in the bay, Ninety-nine units of def. Ya break one down and toss it around, And there’re ninety-eight units of def in the bay! Gees…
  5. Going On Autopilot "Huh?" This was definitely not one of Rachel's more lucid moments. "Five days. Barely. Fifth just started." Jeter Sedgwick looked up from tapping the padd in his lap and eyed Rachel. "It's only been four days 'n' change." He went back to his work muttering, "How time flies." Rachel gave her coffee one more stir, licked the spoon and studied it for a minute, then raised her chin off the table just enough to take a sip. It wasn't bad, she decided, and took another sip. She picked at her muffin and scrambled eggs after placing her coffee spoon precisely aligned with the edge of her napkin on the right hand side of her plate, which was perfectly positioned far enough to her left so she could support her head with the table. Rachel had actually taken time to sleep and felt worse for it. Once she got into bed, her body didn't want to get up; ruined her whole routine. Then Jeter had convinced her eat. Bad decision. Slowed her down even more, and the coffee that everyone swore was made from bilge water didn't even begin to cut the fog. She was definitely on autopilot. Jeter "Sledge" Sedgwick had come aboard Aegis several years ago and seemed to have a handle on the goings-on. He also seemed to understand how Rachel's mind worked – scary though it was. Jeter was an easy-going roll-with-the-punches kind of guy with a shock of red hair, more freckles than stars in the galaxy, and a thick Texas drawl. They called him "Sledge" from an incident aboard the USS Alpine when one of his repair crew disagreed that a piece of equipment wasn't working right. According to the crewman it was ship-shape and ready to go. After pointing out several problems and trying to pound some sense into the crewman's head, Jeter had given up and decided on another tack. He had picked up a sledge hammer, smashed the equipment, then turned to the crewman saying, "There. 'S broke. Fix it." "Five days, huh?" To Rachel it seemed more like forty. Like the forty days and forty nights of the flood, or the forty days wandering in the wilderness. Or was that forty years? "Five days o' binness as usu'l on a starbase mos'ly owned by the Ferengi, sittin' smack-dab in the middle a Cardassian space, and gettin' ready t' move t' Breen space." Jeter tossed the padd on the table and leaned back to a skillful two-spoint balance in his chair. He crossed his arms and grinned as Rachel glanced to the side, watching and waiting for him to fall. He never did. Well, almost never. Once, a long time ago, the IDS failed in a course change on a starship. "So," said Rachel as the fog began to lift, the harbinger of at least a few lucid hours before the station began to move, "in four days we packed the station, got blockaded by the Ferengi, prepared for a Breen attack…" "…that never came," Sledge interjected, cocking his hand like a gun and giving a little click in Rachel's direction. "Yeah, but we didn't know that then," said Rachel, screwing up her face. The fog lifted a bit more. Jeter shrugged. "We got ready for the Breen," she continued, somewhat annoyed at the interruption, "unpacked the station so we could defend it and patch up whatever got messed up and whoever was unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The captain got a new ship. We all went aboard the ship. Then we came back 'cause then we knew the Breen weren't gonna attack." Here she paused and pointed at Jeter in emphasis. "And here we are gonna move the station again." "Yep," he said, giving his chair a bit of a rock like it was going to fall and grinning again at Rachel's alarm. "All in five days?" "Four days 'n' change." "Gees. No wonder I'm tired." "And ya slept in yer own quarters. I'm proud a ya." Rachel's eyes narrowed and she opened her mouth, but Jeter beat her to the punch, splaying his hands as he said semi-nonchalantly, "I checked yer fav'rit place." She sighed. There was no getting around it. Sometimes she was sure Dr. Lepage had people watching her, and she was starting to get paranoid. Or maybe just tired? Anyway, the walls had eyes, the windows had eyes, the J-tubes had eyes, the…. Then it hit her. Her eyes widened and she straightened up, meeting him eye to eye. "Waidaminnit. How'd you know I wasn't in another favorite place? How'd you know I was actually in my quarters and not... sleeping on the cot in main engineering, maybe?" The fog had totally lifted and day had dawned. The front legs of Jeter's chair hit the junior officer's mess deck with a thud. "Okay. Okay," he said, glancing around to see if anyone was watching. He held up both hands as if to fend off an attack and muttered, "I looked for your commbadge signal and it was in your quarters." He ran both hands through his thick, shaggy hair and the faintest sign of a blush colored his cheeks as he leaned his elbows on the table and studied his napkin. Rachel backed off and stared at him for a minute, trying to figure out what was actually going on in his head. Finally she fumbled for her things that were, as usual, scattered around the table and on the chair next to her. "Okay. Well. I gotta go. See y'around." "See ya," said Jeter without looking up. Before the mess hall door opened, Rachel glanced back in curiosity. Jeter was still at the table, head in hands, studying his napkin.
  6. J-tube Rat
  7. Wow. Gee. Well, yanno I think that the age range and the location are pretty broad. Like 14-17, 18-24, 25-34? As for the sex, there are lots of us who cross-sim anyway. 'Course it's up to you if you'd like to participate or not. ::shrug::
  8. "J-Tube Rats" So she was a J-tube rat. So fine. What_ever. But she was weird and she knew it. These people weren't weird. They didn't want to live in the J-tubes. Well, she didn't either; she just liked hiding in them sometimes. And sleeping in 'em 'cause they were warm and cozy and you could hear the engines hum if you put your ear just right on the decking. But that was beside the point. She, Scott, and Caelan were hunched together at an access junction on deck 98, just outside the main cargo storage area, facing about twelve people who had apparently been living here, for how long they had no idea. Rachel was dumbfounded. These people didn't like living down there. They were hiding. From what? They were living in a J-tube when they could be on the station getting help from medical and getting food and clothes and everything given to them from the Federation or whoever. So… why were they hiding? And they looked horrible, backed up against the far end of the J-tube where security had trapped them with a forcefield. They were huddled protectively around their children as if they were all about to die. What clothes they had literally hung off their emaciated bodies. They were filthy, and when one of them turned away from Rachel she could see their bones. He – or she – Rachel wasn't sure – had long gashing scars down and across the back, and some on the arms and legs. Their hair was matted and caked with something Rachel decided she probably didn't want to know about. And their eyes. She'd never forget their eyes: wide, terrified, squinting against the light like animals caged in darkness for days… months… years? Gees… One of the security guys said some of the people were Bajoran and some were human – Terran maybe. But it was hard to tell as thin and dirty as they were. He said they looked like they had been slaves somewhere. Slaves? Lt Cdr Shepard told them to move down the tunnel so they could get to sick bay, but they wouldn't move. Why? Didn't they know they were being helped? Didn't they know they would be okay, that Rachel and everyone else was there to help? Chief Shepard set a transmitter between Rachel and the… people?… hiders?… stowaways? "Get these people to wait here," he said; then he ducked out of the tube. Rachel glanced at them, then at Scott and Caelan. She figured the people sure weren't going to run away; they didn't want to. And anyway, where would they go? So she sat. And waited.
  9. “Would you like cheese with that?” A Joint Log by Scott Coleridge and Rachel Garrett Engineering officer Ltjg Scott Coleridge sidestepped Rachel as she bolted into the turbolift from the CT. A glance at Damian Porter behind the OPS console had brought an angry outburst. Rachel’s fuming seemed to radiate in all directions – too bad it couldn’t be harnessed; talk about an energy source. Scott decided he would stay put with his mouth shut. For a long time after the lift doors closed Rachel stood glaring at the rear wall, arms crossed around her padd, jaw clenched. She wasn’t gonna say anything; she’d already done enough damage. Finally she managed, “Sorry. It’s not you.” “Right,” said Scott, giving his uniform a tug. “Good. Because that would be a new record for me.” Rachel took a few deep breaths to get herself under control. It didn’t work. “Um ... I got lost,” Scott continued apprehensively, probably trying to ease the tension. “In the diplomatic wing. Shining things. I was under the impression I was forgetting to do something, but I can't remember what.” At that point the comm blared. “Porter to Garrett. I am not a bad friend!” A long pause ensued, followed by, “Porter out.” Rachel gave a low growl and ran a hand through her tangled hair. “Lost. Ok. I'm usually lost, but… you think you’re lost? We're supposed to move the station. Sometime. Somewhere.” She leaned against the lift wall and finally raised her eyes to look at Scott. “I think everyone on this station is lost but us.” “You mean everyone on the station isn't lost except us, eh?” Scott chuckled a bit. “Other way around.” When Scott resumed his defensive posture she continued, in a slightly apologetic vein, punctuating her rant with occasional gestures. “Sorry... I'm just… it's just… I dunno. All these people are weird.” “Well of course they're weird. Everyone needs to be weird to survive. It's a weird, weird universe out there.” Unabashed, Rachel continued. “First they want this then they want that, then you ask a question and they look at you like you’re supposed to know the answer and you can’t even find the question! And now they want to move the station?” She waved her arms in frustration and the padd she had been holding clattered to the deck. “It's like ... helloooooo ....it's a station. They call it that for a reason. It’s supposed to be stationary.” “I feel the same way,” said Scott, shaking his head. "Moving the station is ... it's a total oxymoron. If it were up to me, I'd just give it to the Cardassians and hop on the next transport out of here. Unfortunately, it isn't up to us. It's up to ... him.” Apparently Scott was into he-who-must-not-be-named syndrome, too. Rachel went on as though she hadn’t heard him – which she didn’t. She threw her hands up in disgust. “What's with these people, anyway? And to think the fate of the Federation rests here.” After a long pause she snatched the padd from the floor and looked up at Scott. “Sorry. I'm going on and on and not even listening to you. I need to shut up.” “They're bureaucrats,” he continued. “They don't understand that moving a station is an incredibly bad idea. So our job is to follow orders while also trying to figure out how we won't be blamed if things go wrong.” Good point. CYA. “Luckily, we seem to both be pretty talented. We have a talent for doing ... improbable things. I mean, I've pulled off time travel already. How much harder can spatial travel be? Let's just build a wormhole and send the station through that!” Rachel perked up. “Right! Exactly what I was thinking. A transwarp conduit. And plunk the stupid station right in the middle of the galaxy where they can duke it out and not hurt anyone! Where they shout and no one hears. Heck, in space no one hears you shout, anyway.” “Think of the parking fine that'd get 'em!” “Yeah.” Her face lit up with an impish grin. "Um ... Rachel?" Scott asked. He looked around the stationary turbolift. "Were you planning on sending the turbolift somewhere, or are we just going to stand here for the rest of our shift?” Gees. In her frustration she hadn’t even noticed. “Oh. Right. Uh...I’m not sure. We're supposed to be… in engineering. I think that's what His Highness said. Yeah. Main engineering." Scott sniggered. "His Highness. I like it.” As the lift moved, Scott continued, “You know, I've always wondered why they call it main engineering. Have you, in all your time here, ever seen a secondary engineering? Nooooooo.” Rachel had to agree. Upon exiting the lift she tossed her scuffed-up padd onto a counter, then reflexively checked to see if the padd was still in one piece. Good thing they made ‘em tough. They knew about engineers, especially engineers like Rachel. She was pretty tough on everything. "I was pretty tough on Porter,” she said, making a beeline to the cooler for a drink. For some reason they had a cooler in engineering. It had something to do with Drankum wanting to up his profits. “You still seem agitated. Maybe after we figure out this whole station-moving concept, you should take a vacation.” Rachel nodded, plunking herself into a chair and sprawling out, exhausted. “Yeah. But I need to apologize or something.” She popped the lid on her drink without checking the label and took a long pull, then stopped in disgust. What the heck? Prune juice? Blech. She leaned forward, lobbed the container into the recycler and continued. “But gees, he was so….” “I'm sure he'll understand. Send him a fruit basket if you want.” “Fruit basket. Right.” "Yes. And no. I mean, apologies are good, but you can't eat them. Fruit is tasty. I know that if I ever got an apology, I wouldn't turn down free fruit.” Okay. Something else she never learned when she missed the social graces class. “So, you gotta eat something with an apology?” Maybe he was joking. “Bagels are nice too.” He was totally serious. “This is getting expensive.” “It’s the thought that counts.” “And I suppose you need cream cheese with the bagels?” Scott shrugged. Yeah, it was gonna be expensive. Rachel needed to learn to keep her mouth shut.
  10. "Epiphany" To say that Rachel Garrett had changed would be an understatement. Her encounter with Jorahl – Centurion Jorahl, her chief, that is – had led her to an epiphany, and epiphanies have a way of working on one's psyche, which is exactly what it did to Rachel. Since then she had decided she was tired of being frightened, stepped on, and ridiculed, and no matter how frightened she felt from now on she would not react in fear. She would attack. And so she did, whether the situation called for attack or not. Case in point was her encounter with unsuspecting Damian Porter, OPS manager for Sky Harbor Aegis. The situation began quite innocuously – two middies meeting to compare notes on the EPS for the diplomatic wing. Problem was that Porter had other things on his mind. He was, frankly, distracted and overworked, and didn't seem – to Rachel, with her lack of social awareness – to be as interested in her problem as he should have been. Somehow Damian had missed the memo that said he should drop everything and work on her problem. After all, her work on the EPS for the diplomatic wing was much more important than anything he could possibly be doing because it involved an ongoing diplomatic celebration whose interruption by a simple power failure could not only reflect on her abilities as an engineer but could instigate, in her mind, a full-blown interstellar war – or at least a diplomatic one – which could result in the demise of the entire galaxy. The conversation, from Rachel's perspective, went something like this: "I need to check these EPS figures so the power doesn't crash during the party. Wouldn't that be ducky if it did? His Highness would probably space me." Rachel had begun calling her chief His Highness because the name she otherwise would have called him, though apropos to his demeanor, was inappropriate for her position as s Starfleet officer. Porter grinned. "Now, that's a thought." Strike one: spacing Rachel was a thought he found amusing. She tried to ignore it. "Yeah, right," she replied. "So, think we can match them up with what you have?" "Match who up with what?" Well, at least she had his attention, but gees… was he that thick? "My EPS figures for the Dip wing with what you have on the master board." "Erm... ohhhhh, okay, yeah, I dunno, will you be able to?" Not only was he distracted, but now he thinks she's not able to do her job? Strike two. "Will I be able to what?" said she. "Make 'em match," said he. Deep breath. Temper rising. "Well, yeah. I guess I can." "You are... strange." He's saying she's strange? Right. "Bad mood? Boyfriend trouble?" "Me? Bad mood? Boyfriend? You gotta be kidding!" Rachel's thoughts had now completely shifted from the EPS of the diplomatic wing to the station communications malfunction masquerading as Damian Porter. "So, am I allowed to touch the OPS console or not? I mean, it's your territory 'n' all!" "Is that why you're huffing a puffing like a steam locomotive?" Strike two and a half. With a shove that would have sent an unmilked cow across the stall, she took over the console. What followed was an exchange that escalated into a session that would have made any diplomat green with envy and could, had it been during diplomatic session, have caused an implosion at the galactic core, or at least given the station enough energy to last through the next millennium. "His Highness will be pleased," she said in a futile attempt to distract her thoughts from the now-alien entity hovering beside her. After a quick one-two punch to match her figures with those on the OPS console, she flipped it back to his configuration and bolted for the turbolift to stop herself from doing what she most wanted to: assume full attack mode. But the turbolift did not come. "Hey, J tube rat," Porter shouted to her across the CT. "A couple of days ago you were unable to move with awe when you came up here, now this attitude. Careful, I'm over worked and sleep deprived." And still the turbolift did not come. "Fine, be miserable in deep space then." Didn't he ever give up? "If you're sleep deprived, go sleep," said Rachel, still facing the closed lift door. "You're barking up the wrong tree here! Where the hell is the turbolift?" she shouted, slamming her fist against the firmly-closed door as if her insistence that it come would move it any faster. It seemed that the entire universe had turned against her. "Be that way! I'm sure you're the kind who has all the friends she needs out here." Strike three. Full attack mode. She spun on her heel and strode towards Porter, upping the volume a notch or two. "Tell you what. With friends like you I don't need enemies! I don't need any friends. I can take care of myself. Got it???" "And don't go biting my head off! Whatever put you in that mood, it wasn't me!" At that the turbolift doors opened, but – as fate would have it – the lift was not empty. "Whoa. Did someone kill another relative?" Scott Coleridge engaged evasive maneuvers to escape the line of fire, sidestepping Rachel as she marched in. "Oh great. Another one," said Damian, apparently now at odds with Aegis's entire engineering team. "What do you want?" he shouted at Scott. "Yell at me, too? Join the queue!" Rachel's epiphany had worked its worst, succeeding not only in damaging Rachel's immortal soul, but Damian's mortal ego. After a fume and a few well-placed kicks at the turbolift wall Rachel began to settle down. Maybe she had lost one friend, but she still had Scott. Maybe. Unless her outburst at Damian had ruined that relationship, too. She sighed. The EPS in the diplomatic wing seemed to be working fine, so she would live to see another day. Maybe. But most of all, the galactic core was still intact, so life wasn't all that bad.
  11. Raising Spirits A Joint Log by Scott Coleridge, Caelan Fletcher, and Rachel Garrett Scott, assigned to the diplomatic computer sections, was checking status reports. He determined he’d have to go to the computer core for that section and to make adjustments. After her encounter with Chief Jorahl, Rachel stopped outside main engineering, leaned on the wall a minute then sank to the floor, totally overcome. Emerging from main engineering, Caelan slowly made his way toward the diplomatic section, not in any particular hurry to begin...decorating. It took him a few steps to register her presence, unaccustomed to encountering people seated in the corridors, beneath his line of sight. He was dealing with Rachel, however, so it didn’t completely surprise him. Smirking, he glanced down, “You ok, kiddo?” “No,” she replied, her voice small and choked. Caelan crouched down next to her, now uncertain of the seriousness of the situation, "Did he say somethin' to ya?" Sniffling, Rachel replied, "He ... killed my Gran." At this point, Scott left engineering by the same exit. When he came upon Rachel and Caelan, he stopped and wondered what the probability was that they would all leave by the same exit from such a large room. Then he shrugged and was about to continue when it registered on him that Rachel was crying. Approaching them, he asked, "She okay?" Rachel was devastated, trying to hold it together. The rest of the engineers passing her on the way to their assignments either politely ignored her or stared, making her feel even more uncomfortable. As quietly as she could, stifling her sobs, she replied, “He. Killed. My. Gran. My Gran. He....killed her.” Scott blinked. "He what?" Unable to endure more prying stares, Rachel said, “I need to go somewhere. Anywhere. Please...help me.” Caelan looked up at Scott, then back to Rachel. He said, "Yeah ... sure," and stood to offer her a hand. Scott did likewise. "How about a nice, out of the way Jeffries Tube?" "Yeah. Anywhere ... away from him." Caelan allowed for a slight grin to make its way into his expression, "Got any favourites, Rachel?" She shook her head. Scott took the lead, gesturing. "There's an access junction just around the corner." Together he and Caelan helped Rachel into the Jeffries tube where, alone, in these cramped spaces, Scott had never really been at peace. But now he could glimpse part of the reason Rachel spent her time here. It was small, and the confined spaces helped communicate the hum of the station's systems as their energy pulsed throughout the hull. Away from the bustle and crowds apt to accumulate elsewhere, the tubes could indeed be a sanctuary. But not today, not now. As they entered, Rachel broke down into further, inconsolable sobs. "Why do we have a Romulan as a chief engineer anyway?" mused Scott, applying the question mark typically used for rhetorical questions. Caelan, who had missed that day of rhetoric, replied with a shrug, "Who knows. You'd think they'd want to keep it in the fam...." Catching on, better late than never, he cut his answer short, consigning himself to simply watch Rachel vent some emotional baggage for the moment. "And what's this about killing her Gran?" "You know as much as I do." Scott turned to Rachel, determined to find out more. He waited for an opportune moment between sobs then asked, "So exactly what do you mean that 'he killed your Gran?'" Rachel hugged her knees close to her chest as she leaned against the wall. "He said," she choked a minute, then began again, "he said he took apart the Enterprise-C. That was my Gran's ship." Scott had honestly never made that connection. As it dawned on him, he said--probably not the best thing to say--"Oh, you're related to _that_ Rachel Garrett." "You'd never guess, huh?" she said, wiping her eyes yet again with the cuff of her uniform. Rachel never expected people to connect her with her grandmother. The holovids she had seen showed a dynamic, self-assured officer whose very presence in a room conveyed command. Rachel knew she had missed out on those genes. She was anything but command material. "My Gran....gave her life for the Federation. Some say she even saved the Federation from war - she and her crew." A shuddering breath forced Rachel to pause for a minute. "Not everyone died. Some were taken prisoner and used as slaves on Romulus. My Gran died. And he...." She stopped to stare at the opposite wall. "What am I supposed to do? Why did he tell me that? How can I work here now?" Scott exhaled, not quite sure what to say. Jorhal had dropped a bombshell on Rachel, that was for sure. What do you say to someone whose department head confronts her, point-blank, confesses to ... wait. Scott furrowed his brow and asked, "Rachel, did the Chief actually say he killed your grandmother? Killing someone and taking apart their ship are two different things. I mean, I'm sure that he didn't treat her to tea and cake, and judging from the way he talked to you, he probably isn't all that nice in general. But that doesn't mean he actually ... you know...." "Even if he did…yeh know,” Caelan allowed his voice to trail off, as if not directly mentioning the possible killing would be less painful, “…we're on the same side now, right? I can't say I'm fond of this guy's delivery…but maybe you shouldn't think of it as a bad thing," Caelan offered, trying to bang out his BS philosophy on the spot. “I'm sure your Gran woulda been thrilled to hear that." Okay ... so he was stretching the limits of optimism a little bit…or a lot... But calling the guy a stupid mother-frakker didn't seem thing like the thing she'd want to hear right now. Rachel turned to Scott. He had a good point. Taking apart and actually killing were two totally different things. Still, in her present emotional state Rachel couldn’t rationalize what Jorahl had done. She eyed Caelan. If we were on the same side, why did Jorahl dredge up bad memories and sling them around like they didn’t matter? Did he want her to be scared of him? Did he want her to hate him? If so, he sure had done a pretty good job. Scott glanced from Rachel to Caelan, glad that the latter was doing a better job at calming her. He tilted his head. "But the question is... where do we go from here?" "Dunno," said Rachel, tucking her chin between the knees still tight against her chest. "All I know is I don't want to hear or see that guy again." "So you want us to construct a cloaking device and surgically implant it in him?" At any other time Rachel would have laughed at Scott, but somehow she just couldn't do anything more than stare at the wall. Scott frowned at Rachel's lack of response to his jest. Humour had always been his first--and last--resort. "You know ..." mused Caelan, glancing between the two, "with all the commotion lately, I doubt anyone would miss us for ... say ... an hour or two. We haven't had a break since we got here anyway. I hear Drankum's is where the cool cats hang out.... I betcha we can find something that'll help ya take your mind off things." Rachel had never been much of a drinker, but she really needed something now. Maybe a drink would help; couldn’t hurt at this point. It might take her mind off things. One thing was certain – she couldn't stay in this J-tube forever, as much as she wanted to. If she did she'd have Dr Lepage on her tail, too - and then she’d have two chiefs to deal with. Scott nodded. "What we need right now is to just ... try to absorb what just happened. To recover. After all, we haven't really had much of a chief for a while now. This will take some adaptation, especially with his latest ... revelation." "Revelation. Yeah," said Rachel, grabbing her engineering satchel. "My mom has a word for men like him, but I'm not allowed to use it. C’mon, let's go." She turned towards the access panel to crawl out, her pain quickly turning to anger. Scott let Rachel and Caelan exit first, bringing up the rear and closing the tube door behind him. "You know, I think this is actually the first time I've ever met a Romulan. It's kind of different from encountering other alien species--they look like Vulcans, but they're definitely two distinct cultures." "You got that right,” said Rachel. “Commissioner Sorehl - he's nice. He's Vulcan. This Jorahl. She stopped abruptly and turned to face Scott. “Yanno what?” Scott blinked, rather taken aback--this was a Rachel Garrett he hadn't seen before. "I don't think I'll ever be scared of him again,” she said. Maybe you're right. Maybe it's for the best...'cause now I hate him so much my scared's all gone." Scott directed the turbolift to take them to the midway. He said, in as Vulcan a tone as he could manage, "As it should be. Fear is overrated." I am Centurion Jorahl, your Chief. Remember that. Yeah, Rachel would remember. She entered the turbolift, more resolved than ever to show Jorahl what she was made of, and it wasn't gonna be pretty. She was glad to have Caelan and Scott to help her figure these things out. The hurt was still there, but the other side - the side her mom always said she had - the determination - had taken over. And she was ready for that drink. "So now there’s just one more problem…" Caelan allowed for a suspenseful pause, "Who's buyin'?" Rachel thought a minute. Her eyes narrowed and she assumed a mocking pose. “Centurion Jorahl. Our Chief.” Scott put on his most mischievous smirk, the one he reserved for special occasions and had dry-cleaned after each use. "We're three brilliant Starfleet engineers. Among us, we should be able to make that work...." "And if he complains he can shoot us all out the tubes. And there he'd be with no engineering corps. Wouldn't that be nice?" The turbolift opened on the midway and Rachel tossed her bag into a convenient chair. She led the way to Drankum's, not caring if she ever saw the bag again. "I don't think Chief Jorahl learned much when he encountered your grandmother and her crew, Rachel," said Scott. "He said she was a fine officer. What he didn't know was that she was twice the officer he could ever hope to be.” Without breaking stride she muttered, “And it's genetic." Scott nodded. "That's the thing about us humans. We're just as crafty and conspiratorial as Romulans ... but we're also darned near unpredictable when it comes to our reactions. If Chief Jorahl thought that telling you this outright was going to prevent trouble in the future, he's made a mistake." "Darn straight," said Rachel, slipping into a chair at the bar. "Barkeep - drinks all around. Centurion Chief Jorahl's buyin'." Caelan took a seat to the right, watching the barkeep fetch a round of drinks, "And I figured we'd have to fool the computer into thinking we had Jorahl's credits ... but I s'pose that's one way to handle it." At that Rachel finally laughed. "Gran always liked to keep it simple." The barkeep returned with three mugs, filled to the brim and thick with froth. Caelan grabbed the first two, handing them to Rachel and Scott respectively. Reaching for his own glass, he lifted it to shoulder-level. "Then how about we dedicate this first round to yer Gran," he grinned. Following Caelan's lead, Rachel said, "To Gran," and lifted hers a bit higher. "And the crew of Enterprise-C." Scott made their duet a trio and added, "To your Gran, and the crew of the Enterprise-C, and anyone else on whom Chief Jorahl's stepped along the way. We might have to work for him, but we don't have to like him. Or invite him to birthday parties, with little kids, and magicians who perform those astounding tricks that they can't tell you the secret to because then it would ruin all the fun, like that one where--" he stopped when he noticed Rachel and Caelan, glasses still raised, staring at him. Caelan interrupted, “My hand's startin’ to cramp Scott…” Somewhat sheepishly, he concluded, "Er, to your Gran." Their glasses clinked together, and they drank. They were engineers; they all had that in common. Their mission was simple: they fixed what was broken. They repaired, they mended, and they worked tirelessly to make the old new again. For the first time since coming aboard Aegis, Scott felt like he had comrades: Rachel with new resolve and Caelan with raised spirits.
  12. Midshipman Rachel Garrett Engineering Personal Log Sky Harbor Aegis Close Encounters of the Worst Kind Rachel had been in her quarters and was just getting out of bed when the call came for their first formal meeting with the new chief – in two minutes. Two minutes? How the heck did he think they could get down there in two minutes? It took that long just to wait for the lift, then probably another ten to let it move and stop and let someone off and move and stop and…. Rachel switched her brain to off, grabbed her gear and hightailed it out of her quarters wishing she had slept in the J-tube so she wouldn't be so darned far away from the cubby they called main engineering. After her encounter with Chief Metapresence she wasn't looking forward to this at_all. Already late, she slinked into the room, glanced around for a friendly face, then looked for someone big and scary, figuring that would be "The Chief." One tall, broad-shouldered Romulan stood imposingly by the master status board, and when he turned, Rachel's eyes widened. She had seen Romulans before – passing through the station – but this Romulan seemed… well… really different. And scary. And large. His height made Rachel feel smaller than her actual 5'3" and his eyes seemed to slice through to her soul. She shivered. Rachel had thought she would feel relieved to have a real person in charge rather than the nebulous metapresence they had dealt with for the past few months. Now she wondered if she could actually face this person without withering away to nothing. He was the new chief of engineering, and he was the one who had caught her sleeping at her post. Oh, Gees. "We've all had our heads in the guts of this station for the last several weeks," the Romulan began. "Time to get back on track. I'm fully aware in that time most of you have not even met me. I am Centurion Jorahl, your Chief. Remember that." Whoa. Rachel shifted her stance, scooting closer to and a little behind a friendly face. "I want the EPS systems shored up. The steam pot you call a power source isn't worth the metal it's made of but I know it can work better than these readings." Steam pot? Gees…. "But it's time to finish the Ambassadors' sandbox on pylon two. What are we expecting in regard to timetables on opening the new sections?" He eyed the group for all of ten seconds, then continued gruffly, "Hmm, the pride of Starfleet in front of me, I'm sure. The timetable will be SOON!" Most of the group jumped. Rachel shrank into the crowd a little more. "The former chief's logs are a shambles and that hole up there has been a disgrace for too long. All primary shifts will be devoted to its completion. I'll hire Cardassian engineers and bring them in here if I have to. Coleridge, you're on the computer systems. Garrett, finalize the EPS grid. Fletcher, oversee the "trim work" so it looks all pretty for the little Ambassadors. Those assignments may change as I get a better idea what level of a mess we have up there. Deadlines have passed, but I won't start throwing people out airlocks for at least one week. Work together. Get the job done. Show some pride in your work. Try not to blow up more than you repair. Dismissed." Cardassian engineers. EPS grid? Out the airlocks? For a second Rachel experienced total brain shutdown. Then she turned to escape. But it was not to be. "Garrett. A moment please." She stopped short and spun on her heel, taking a quick mental inventory as she did so. Tool bag… check. Uniform… check. Slept in a bed… check. Total screw-up… how? "I've looked over your bio. You are a relative...and I assume namesake to the Captain of the Enterprise-C?" The question totally took her by surprise. In fact, it was so bizarre she had to stop and think, but she finally found the answer. "Uh . . . yes, sir. She was my Gran." "I had the pleasure of being one of the engineers to help take apart Enterprise-C. A very impressive Captain and ship. That is all." He raised an eyebrow then calmly turned back to the status board. The shock was immeasurable. Rachel stood there totally numb, rolling his words around in her mind, fully understanding but not believing she had actually heard him say what he had said and how he had said it. He had the pleasure of taking apart the Enterprise-C? A very impressive Captain? What the hell? He was there? He killed her? Rachel backed slowly towards the door, tears welling in her eyes, oblivious to her surroundings, bumping into engineers who had stood by watching and listening. Her body missed the door and backed into the bulkhead. She leaned against it, mouth agape, her eyes fixed on Jorahl as he so very calmly went about his business. Her left hand fumbled for the door. She stumbled into the corridor when it opened and sank to the floor wanting to die.
  13. We Have Met the Enemy Rachel bounded down the corridor like a hamster let out of its cage. Gees, I'm glad I found my uniform, she thought as she dodged someone coming from the opposite direction. Not sure how long it woulda taken to get a new one. But, wow! They had such neat stuff in that ICU. She cut around a corner a bit too quickly and nearly missed toppling a hover cart piled with supplies bound for the new diplomatic wing. The supplies survived, but the technician didn't. He jerked the cart aside, lost his balance and careened into a bulkhead. "Sorry," Rachel called over her shoulder. She was late, and late wasn't good. Otherwise she would have stopped to help. Anyway, the only thing that looked like he hurt was his pride. I wonder if they're gonna have that stuff in the new dips medbay, she thought as she scooted into the turbolift as the doors closed. In the time it took to reach the docking bay for Yorktown, several other things ran through her head, but she keyed in on a few – quite an accomplishment since her head was usually so crowded with facts and figures and other stuff. She felt proud. She had actually met the Chief Medical Officer, and he wasn't half bad. She talked to him. He was pretty nice. And he sounded like he understood. She tapped her foot as the lift door opened a few decks up, then she moved to the side to make room for borders. He might even be on my side. Wow. He might even talk to the chief. The thought of the chief made her swallow hard, but in no time her brain was up and running as the doors closed and the lift continued. She'd been aboard… almost a week? She ticked off the people she'd met, and they all seemed pretty nice. Maybe this job wouldn't be so hard after all. Maybe, just maybe, she might make it through the first month, then the first year, then – if she was lucky – she might even be off probation. That would be really neat. The lift paused, gave a little jerk, then opened on her deck and she made a mental note to tell someone about that. Then she remembered and tapped her commbadge, "Garrett to Fletcher. I'm… out. Where should I go?" She had assumed Yorktown, but now she wasn't sure. "Well...t-minus 3 hours, thirty eight minutes until Jorahl wants to run a preliminary test on the nacelles. I could use a hand replacing their circuitry." Jorahl? Someone else she'd not met yet, but the name sounded vaguely familiar. "Ok. I'm on my way." She found Caelan working feverishly to finish repairs to the Yorktown. He'd completed the work on several structural problems already, he said, but he still had a few hours of electrical work and at least an hour of reloading command protocols and testing left. And there were micro fractures throughout the nacelle. Gees, she felt bad about falling asleep and getting sent to sick bay. But now she was back working and she'd make the most of it. After a while they had a rhythm going and it looked like they just might finish in time. Maybe. If they were lucky. And she'd eventually have to find her way back to her quarters, 'cause she sure didn't want to end up in sickbay again. That thought made her stop work to reflect on something her grandfather had once told her. "Sometimes, Cricket," he said. He always called her Cricket, mostly because of the little noises she made when she was working. "Sometimes I think we're our own worst enemy." When she was little she really didn't understand what he meant. But now, especially after the last few days, the full meaning had really sunk in. "We have met the enemy, and he is us." ~Pogo
  14. "Meeting of the Minds" By Dr. Nicolas LePage and Midshipman Rachel Garrett It seemed an easy enough job for Rachel to trace the matter/anti-matter route from the reaction chamber to the EPS power taps, to the plasma injectors, and she had started with the starboard nacelle of the Yorktown. The ship had taken quite a hit with a lot of damage, but Rachel didn't really care how it happened, she was more concerned with what had happened and how she was going to fix it all. She was in her element. She was in sync, she was one with the core, working hard, crawling through the conduits, tracking down the problem, fixing the problem . . . or so she thought. In reality, she was dreaming. In sick bay. The senior staff meeting had ended about ten minutes ago and Nick was still a little annoyed. He hated such meetings especially when he knew there was work to do in sickbay. But he also knew that it was his duty as the CMO to attend those meetings whether he liked it or not. Now he was looking forward to a cup of coffee and a few quiet minutes in his office before briefing his staff. When he entered sickbay he noticed a midshipman lying on a biobed. Keeping himself up to date on all patients was another of his duties as CMO so Nick decided to quickly check on the young woman. A quick glance at the monitor over the biobed told him her vitals were ok. She didn't seem to have sustained any visible trauma either. So Nick picked up the PADD with her data and perused it for a few seconds. His frown deepened with every line he read. Rachel had been diligent, concentrating on one route at a time, one junction, each individual tap, each connection, scooting herself slowly down the conduit. But she had the strangest feeling someone was there watching. She turned, the hair on the back of her neck bristling, but there was no one. Dismissing it as an aberration, she continued on. Trace. Probe. Check. Replace. Scoot. Trace. Probe. Check. Replace. Scoot. Putting the PADD back in its place next to the biobed Nick looked at the young woman in front of him. He wasn't sure whether he should be concerned or just amused. The information on the PADD suggested that this young midshipman hadn't slept in quite a while. Actually, she had collapsed due to exhaustion. Nick knew that new crew members sometimes showed a little too much enthusiasm for their new job but this was a first. So Nick would wait until she'd wake up and have a talk about the necessity of sleep and recreational activities. Rachel heard something clink next to her, and it broke her concentration. Again she turned, certain she had not imagined it. Someone was in the conduit with her, but who? To her knowledge she was the only one assigned. Engineering had been stretched thin, what with all the activity on the station and the Yorktown coming in hot, shot, and almost out of gas. She sat very still and listened for a while. She heard movement. "Hello? Is anybody there?" Her call came out as talking in her sleep, and the sound of her own voice startled her, bringing her to semi-consciousness in sickbay. Nick was a little startled as the young woman spoke. Then he noticed a change in her brain activity indicating that she was slowly waking up. "Midshipman Garrett, can you hear me," he asked softly. A voice! She knew it! Someone was there with her! "Where are you? I can't see . . . ." And with that she jerked awake, totally confused. Glancing around, she rubbed her eyes. "What the..." Then she sat bolt upright, in a panic. As Rachel sat up Nick drew away a little. She wouldn't be the first patient waking up who'd hit him. Then he reached out and put a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. "It's alright," he said slowly. "You're in sickbay." It took her a second - actually quite a few seconds - to get her bearings. Sickbay? Why the heck was she in sickbay? There was nothing to do here; she was supposed to be on the Yorktown! Gees, what would Chief Metapresence say? She had to get back. "I gotta go," was all that she could say as she started to slide her legs over the side of the biobed. "No, no, no..." Nick gently pushed her back down, determined not to let her go before he'd had a chance to talk to her. "Apparently you collapsed during work. I think we should have a little talk about the reason why that happened." Being used to patients contradicting him and trying to get out of sickbay as quickly as possible Nick was almost expecting her to argue. The word collapsed hit her like a flying isolinear spanner. Had she tripped? Fallen? Something hit her in the head? In her exhaustion it took all her concentration just to wrap her brain around that one word: collapsed. She blinked a few times, thinking she might be dreaming, but when she didn't wake up, she finally looked at him, but all she could manage to say was, "Why?" Before he answered Nick pulled up a chair. He didn't like looking down on patients so he sat down and smiled at Rachel before he started talking. "We've done a few scans and none of the results suggest head trauma or anything else that may have caused it. However, your acetylcholine and serotonin levels tell me that you haven't slept much lately. Is that right?" Acetylcholine. Serotonin. What the heck was he talking about? She blinked again. "Huh?" Nick could have slapped himself. Rachel was a patient not a physician. This reminded him that it had been way too long since he'd last treated patients. "I'm sorry, your neurotransmitter levels are a little low. That tells me that you haven't slept much lately. Lack of sleep causes problems focusing on tasks, your memory gets worse and finally you collapse because your body just shuts down. Don't worry, it's nothing dramatic but you definitely need to change your sleeping habits." Ok. Brain overload. He said something about neurotransmitters, which she figured were kind of like isolinear chips. Then he said something about sleep and focus, but she'd always had a problem focusing, except for focusing on engineering stuff. Her memory is bad? What's that got to do with the price of beans - she's always had a bad memory . . . 'cept for engineering stuff. Body shutdown? Drama? Sleeping habits? Gees, she really needed to get more sleep 'cause she didn't have a clue what he was talking about. All she could do was stare, her mouth half open. The blank stare on her face told Nick he wasn't really getting through to her. He tried to think of a new strategy. "Ok, let me put it this way. If you do not want me to make you come here after your shifts so I can personally make sure you get enough sleep you should start sleeping at least 6 hours every night." He hoped this, only half serious, threat would make her understand what he wanted. Ok. Keyword: sleep. He's talking about sleep. "I need more sleep?" Nick nodded. "Yes, much more sleep." Finally she seemed to understand. Now there was one more thing he needed to know. "I need to ask you a question and it is important that I know the answer. Do you have problems falling asleep, or do you wake up frequently during the night, or do you just not go to bed?" Nick knew there were many sleeping disorders and many reasons for them. But he had a suspicion that he was dealing with a bit of an unusual case. Ok. Weird question. If she had problems falling asleep she wouldn't have fallen asleep in the conduit. If she woke up frequently during the night, that meant she had problems falling asleep, which meant that she shouldn't have fallen asleep in the conduit. Not go to bed? Did he mean, like, in a real bed, or did a conduit or a J-tube count? And who was this guy, anyway? "I sleep when I'm tired. And who are you?" She frowned. Now it was Nick's turn to stare. Then it dawned on him. "Oh, I'm sorry. I'm Doctor Lepage." He paused to give her a chance to process the information before he asked his next question. "Ok, so you sleep when you're tired. Do you sleep in your bed or on the sofa? And do you feel rested when you wake up?" Lepage. Doctor. Wasn't he the Chief? Pips. Lt Commander??? Her eyes widened and she went pale. "Oh, gees...." She coughed to get her bearings. "I . . . uh . . . sleep wherever...." Her voice trailed off and she felt nauseated. Nick's eyes strayed to the monitor over the biobed. Rachel's heart rate had gone up for some reason. He had no idea what he had said to upset her, though. "Are you ok?" Ok? How could she be ok? She had fallen asleep in a conduit - passed out or collapsed or something like that. She was in sickbay. The Chief Medical Officer was taking care of her, and he was a Lt. Commander, which meant he would probably talk to her chief - Chief Metapresence - which meant she was in deep doodoo. Ok? Was she ok? "Yeah, I guess," she managed finally. "Alright, so here's what I suggest. I'll let you go if you promise you'll sleep more regularly and by that I mean every night, in a bed, for 6 hours or more. I want you to come back in 5 days and then I'll run a few scans to see whether you get enough sleep. Do you think we can agree on that?" Nick wasn't sure he had actually managed to impress on her just how important this was. He needed Rachel to work with him. It wouldn't help if he declared her fit for duty just so she could go back to her old habits. Rachel struggled to focus. Every night. In a bed. That meant she'd have to remember where her quarters were. Five days? "Can I ask a question?" Her voice came out all quiet and squeaky, so she cleared her throat a bit. "Yes, of course." Nick nodded. Finally he was getting a response. It was quite encouraging. "I'm in big trouble, huh?" That question confused him. "Why would you be in trouble?" "Well . . . ." She fiddled with the sheet, avoiding his eyes, even though he seemed nice enough and sounded like he might understand. "I fell asleep on duty, and yanno, that's bad. And now I have to sleep in my quarters, which is kinda hard 'cause there's so much stuff to be done. And you're gonna tell my chief, and I'm already on probation. I just . . . I don't wanna get thrown out 'cause I like engineering and I like being here, and . . . ." She didn't know what to say beyond that. "Know what I mean?" So that was her problem. He picked up the PADD again and looked at it for a second. Then he smiled and shrugged. "Well, you collapsed on duty. There's nothing in your file that says you fell asleep. I can only guess as to the reasons. Stuff happens, you know. And don't worry about your chief. I'll talk to him. Trust me, there's nothing to worry about." Nick had never met the chief engineer but if the guy didn't understand that his staff needed their rest he'd make him understand somehow. He couldn't tolerate any of the chiefs endangering their people like that. Rachel wasn't sure the doctor's plan would work, but she felt better - if just a bit - and she didn't know why. She did know she needed to sleep. He was right about that. She finally managed a weak, "Ok," and left it at that. She figured that whatever happened next would happen no matter how much she worried about it or not, so she chose - just for the moment - to not worry. Maybe it'd work itself out. Maybe she'd be ok. Anyway, she hoped so. And, gees, she was tired. She lay back down and closed her eyes. Within moments she had fallen asleep again. Nick watched Rachel for a few seconds. Then he got up quietly and walked over to the replicator to get himself a cup of coffee.
  15. "Dark Nebula" Rachel's head was in a tailspin. In a matter of minutes she was taken from working on the diplomatic wing of Aegis and put in charge of engineering aboard an Akira class ship, Pandora's Box, on a mission to find and maybe have to rescue the Yorktown. Now, transitions had never been her strong suit, but at least she had a day and a half – 32 hours, 14 minutes, 3.2 seconds to be exact – to adjust to everything before they reached Yorktown's last known coordinates, just outside a dark nebula. But the signal from Yorktown was coming from inside the nebula, with signs of weapons fire, plasma, and hull fragments all around. Not a good sign. A few taps of the bridge engineering console and she had adjusted the power for maximum efficiency to the shields, tactical systems, and the main sensor array. Rachel had never been near a nebula, much less inside one, and she had no desire to get any closer. Heck, she'd never been outside the Sol system until her posting on Aegis. But she had heard stories. Strange happenings, sinister creatures, evil phantasms, specters, shadowy figures, depression and insanity among the crew. Gloom. Death. In Dr. Maarburg's classroom at the Academy someone had scrawled Here there be dragons! in heavy dripping blood-red letters across the professor's Coalsack dark nebula image on Halloween. Rachel's roomie, Tanya, said it was a joke, but Rachel wasn't so sure. It gave her nightmares. "Helm, lay in a course for intercept. Go to yellow alert, all hands to stations." Oh, gees, thought Rachel. That was Commander Brown, and we're goin' in. Maybe she shoulda sent Caelan. Maybe she shoulda stayed on the station. Main engineering was a good alternative, though, and she was down there in a shot. Not long after she arrived, Ronin Shepherd was down there, too, and she thought maybe she had found a kindred spirit until he said, "We've found the Yorktown, and they need a microwave relay booster thing. Do you think you can get me one?" A microwave relay booster thing. Rachel scrunched her face. "We have a booster. You want a transmitter or a booster, and what size and configuration? I can send a micro IDS signal wherever, too, if you need it." Now it was Ronin's turn to stare. Finally he tapped his commbadge. "Commander Brown, do you mind telling Ms. Garrett here what exactly it is the Yorktown needs? I happen to have confused myself with it." Definitely a match made in heaven. "Yorktown. She's a sovereign, right?" Rachel's brain was finally working. "Yes, I believe so," Ronin replied. "She needs an IDF microwave relay boost," said Brown from the bridge. "Do you have the transmission manifold installed to transmit to a Sovereign?" Brain freeze. "Come again, Sir? Transmission manifold?" "Yes," replied Brown. "You need to have the right transmitter hooked to the microwave power manifold to transmit the correct amount of power via the microwave." "Aye, Commander. But . . . you're transmitting through a dark nebula, Sir?" Dark nebula. Lotsa dust. Lotsa hydrogen. Microwaves all over the place. High magnetic fields. Really, really dense areas and really, really uh… not so dense. Chemical soup. Hot. Brain overload. "We need to get it to them and get them out of this nebula." Brown's final word and he was right. How they did it, Rachel wasn't sure. On their way back to Aegis with Yorktown in tow, she had vague recollection of using a shuttle on a really bumpy, dangerous ride through a cantankerous nebula to deliver a new manifold. All she could think of was curling up in a nice cozy J-tube with an engineering manual. And she might even try having a beer.