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Something, Something, Hot! [PLOT]

Posted on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 @ 8:12am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Petty Officer 2nd Class Fhiri & Petty Officer 3rd Class Thomas Lopt & Lieutenant Kedra Nema & Commander Yumi Han & Chief Warrant Officer (Grade 2) B'Rala Of House Seeth

Mission: Mission 3: The Galilei Conundrum
Location: Galilei - Main Engineering
Timeline: 26 June, 2394 - 1030 Hours


Fhiri squirmed in her chair. She found it incredibly annoying that the chair had so much padding. It changed her height, making it harder to type. She finally gave up and stood, kicking the chair out of frustration. It wasn't helping things that she'd spent the last couple of hours crawling around the inside of the Galilei's computer core. The lieutenant's concerns had proven to be well founded. She'd located two other programs that the old engineer had set up that would have caused problems. One would have caused a cascading matter/ anti-matter breach if they'd gone to warp, resulting in a large cloud of space dust where the Galilei would have been. The second was just weird. A timer started when they'd brought up full power and after four hours, all of the replicators would have begun creating poisoned food.

This guy is skilled Fhiri thought, looking down at the bound form of the old engineer. He hadn't moved at all. B'rala stood nearby, still holding her phaser rifle as though she expected more enemies to come bounding out of the jeffries tubes. In fact, Fhiri noticed they all talked about jeffries tubes a lot. She shrugged,

"You doing ok there, Chief B'rala?" Fhiri asked as she close out another database and booted up a new one.

"I am fine just waiting for another drooling idiot to come crash the party." She said with a growl.

Thomas' head was still hurting but at least it hadn't gotten worse. He'd found the most amazing chair to sit in and in between setting up secure communications with the Firebird he was scheming on how to steal it without Lieutenant Nema noticing. He glanced over his technical displays and then frowned. There was an orange light on the environmental readout. He accessed the environmental controls to get more information.

=^=Access Denied=^=

Thomas frowned. "Hey, Fhiri, can you come up here for a minute? I've got something weird," he called down to the first level of engineering.

Nema had just finished a diagnostic and was headed to a secondary panel to start looking at hull stress when she heard Lopt call. She decided she could use a distraction. She walked to where Fhiri was just starting to move.

"Shall we?" She asked as she gestured towards the ladder to the second level. They both walked up to Lopt at his station and Nema asked,

"What have you got Crewman?"

Lopt started at the lieutenant's voice. "Uh, it is probably nothing, ma'am. But it is weird," he said, pointing at the screen. "There's an alert on the environmental controls. It looked like a standard error so I attempted to access the main controls and it is restricted."

Fhiri chimed in. "Restricted? You mean they are locked down," she said, squeezing past Lieutenant Nema so that she could see Lopt's screen. "That's really strange, ma'am. I don't ever remember reading about a security code on the environmental controls outside of a secure location."

Lopt nodded. "Yeah. I've heard of some controls being encrypted but they are almost always on experimental ships."

Nema looked over the security settings that Lopt had found. It took her a minute to react to the last thing that he had said,

"What do you mean experimental ships? Like test flight ships?"

Lopt nodded. "Yeah. I heard Chief Harlan talking about this on one of his past posts. He said that he was working on the Challenger about... a million years ago and that they often locked down the controls and encrypted them so that new crew wouldn't mess anything up while they were testing. This looks something like that," Thomas said. "Can you imagine Chief Harlan as a new crewman? I can't. I always envision him at birth looking just the way he looks now..." Thomas' voice trailed off as his brain caught up with his mouth. "Ah. Can we not tell him I said that?"

Nema's smile was hard to hide, she placed a gloved hand down on Lopt's shoulder.

"I'll make a point to keep it out of my report. Any chance you can get past the security lockout there Fhiri?"

Fhiri chewed on her lip with her pointy side teeth. "It is a challenge, ma'am. That security code isn't supposed to be here. It is Starfleet code and to be honest, I don't know how that old guy got it into the system. I'll do my best but it could take a while," Fhiri said.

As everyone was doing their things B'Rala kept scanning the halls and monitors to make sure they were alone and no one else was going to interrupt the smart people. About this time the restrained man started to wake and rustle as he found himself bound behind his back. B'Rala walked over and helped him get into a seating position. "Feeling any better? Maybe a headache?"

The old engineer groaned as he swung upright. "My head is killing me," he said, one eye scrunched closed and the other glaring at the Klingon. "Wait, you're a Klingon. What are you doing on my ship?" He said. His other eye opened and his head rotated to look around the room. "What is going on here? Where's my crew?"

She was not exactly surprised by his confusion she had seen many times people gaining consciousness were confused. She had also seen people who weren't in their right mind come to after a nice hit to the noggin. "We are from the USS Firebird and we are responding to your distress call." She told him then turned in the direction the Nema had gone. "LT. Our friend is awake and curious about us!" She yelled in the general direction.

Nema's head swiveled in the direction of B'Rala. She patted Fhiri on the shoulder, "Do your best." She said as she swung around and made for the old man.

"Welcome back, how are you feeling?" She asked with only a hint of sarcasm creeping into her voice.

"Like a Klingon bashed my head in," the old engineer said. "And also confused. Your friend here," he said and gestured to B'rala. "Says that I tried to shoot all of you. Sorry about that. I thought my therapy had it all under control but I guess not." He struggled to his feet, and held out his hand. "Chief Engineer Calvin Crawley. Formerly of the USS Endeavor."

He seemed to be a different guy and that was good thing but B'Rala made sure she stayed right next and just behind his right shoulder. That was in case he decided to turn hostile or this as all a game to him she would in position to grab his arm and manipulate his elbow joint for an effective take down.

Fhiri had displaced Lopt and was working on the encryption. She knew that she was good at her job. She'd always had an affinity for two things: getting her older brother to do what she wanted and computers. She'd only managed to get away from her family after writing a valuable program that had made her brother a mountain of latinum. Of course, she still worked for him on the side but it was easy work. The code she was facing now, was not easy at all.

Thomas stood nearby, watching the young Ferengi's face. She's so focused he thought, admiringly. He had trouble staying focused sometimes. He wanted to lean so he could see better but he remembered that she didn't like hovering. He took a small step back and looked down at where the lieutenant and B'rala were talking with the old engineer.

Nema took the offered hand, glad for the protective suit she still wore, and asked,

"You don't have any memory of trying to fight us off? Or of rigging the warp core to explode?" She was incredulous at such a significant change, but then she didn't know the full extent of the disease that was effecting the ship.

Calvin shook the offered hand. "Fighting you off? No. I don't recall that. Everything is a bit fuzzy." He stopped talking, a vacant look falling over his face. "I do remember... something about the warp core..." he said and shook his head. "It reminds me of when we were boarded during the Dominion War. Fought off a whole bunch of Jem' Hadar. I'm sorry if I hurt anyone."

Nema nodded slowly and glanced at B'Rala, glad that she was maintaining a close proximity to the man.

"No one was injured, thankfully, and we are well on our way to getting the ship back to working order." She began to turn away, and stopped, "You wouldn't know anything about why the environmental controls are locked would you?"

Calvin frowned. "Environmental controls? We did have an alert come through. Something was going on with the computer system. I don't remember anyone locking them down though."

Fhiri was grateful for her lobes. Not because of traditional Ferengi reasons but because they simply allowed her to hear things others couldn't. So she was listening to the conversation below with one lobe and paying attention to the console with another.

Lopt frowned. Something in Fhiri's last screen had seemed... wrong. "Hey can you go back?" He asked.

Fhiri paused. She'd been trying to manipulate the lockout program but wasn't having much success. "What? To where?"

"That last screen you were on. It had a warning announcement. Something didn't look right." Fhiri sighed but did what he asked. He pointed. "Look there. There's a misspelled word."

"So what?" Fhiri said. "Programmers have errors all the time."

"Maybe. But not the ones that cruise ships hire," Lopt said. "Look around this place. They spared no expense. Everything is so fancy. I keep expecting someone to yell at me for touching everything."

It sounded plausible to Fhiri. She accessed the behind the display menu and looked into the word that Lopt had pointed out. "Huh," she said. "There's something there. Another program is attached to it." She accessed the sub-program and both she and Lopt gasped. On the screen, rotating, was the green emblem of the Romulan Star Empire.

"Lieutenant, you might want to come up here," Fhiri shouted.

Nema whirled and darted up to the second level, she hadn't ever heard Fhiri shout, that she could recall, and it sounded bad. She almost slid as she reached where Fhiri and Lopt were looking at the console,

"What is....." She caught sight of the symbol. "Now that's interesting." Her blood had chilled and she feel every muscle tense as adrenaline pumped through her body. She tapped her commbadge,

=^=Lieutenant Han, please report to Engineering immediately.=^= She stated calmly with an almost icy edge. She hoped that Yumi got the message, this was not something to be talked about over comms.

Yumi stood quickly from her seat on the Galilei bridge, her eyes growing wide for a second. She glanced at each of the bridge crewmen as their heads tipped towards her curiously. The strain in Nema's voice left little doubt that the engineering team had run into something serious. Still, Yumi grated her teeth. She doubted any Firebird department head would call the Captain and order him to report there. Yumi took a quick breath and admonished herself. She was being overly sensitive.

=^=Commander Han here. I'm on my way.=^= She tapped her suit controls to switch back to local area comms and caught Gantt's light brown eyes. "Lieutenant Soto, you have the bridge."

"Fhiri, walk me through exactly how you got here, on another console. Lopt, if that console so much as flashes in a weird way, I want you to disconnect it." As Nema said this she pointed him to his phaser.

"Well," Fhiri said. "I was looking at one of the subscreens, trying to see if there was a backdoor into the encryption program when Lopt noticed a misspelled word." She paused to smile at the crewman. "I wouldn't have noticed it but he did. Anyway, that word actually was an access point to another program. This program," she said and pointed at the screen. "I can tell you for sure that some Romulan agent? Person? Someone. Put this on here or wanted us to think it was Romulan. This program is what encrypted the environmental controls and made changes. I still can't get into it but now that I know the origin I can try some other things if you want?"

Nema tried to scratch her head, her fingers running into the helmet of her biosuit. She shook her head in frustration and dropped her hand.

“Try what you can, but be careful of tripping any warnings to whoever set this up.” She stepped away from the group and tapped her commbadge.

“Nema to Han, we have uncovered something here. Would you be able to make it to Engineering?”

The doors to Galilei engineering slid open and a short, Starfleet hazmat suit jogged in. The suit paused and turned its helmet toward them, and Yumi's face looked at the engineers all bent over the same workstation. She jogged over, shooting a quick look at B'Rala and her prisoner and giving the room a once over for other threats.

"What is it you've found, Lieutenant?" Yumi asked, stopping beside Nema to join her in peering over a young Ferengi woman's shoulders.

Nema gestured to the console that Fhiri was working on.

"Petty Officer Fhiri has discovered evidence that the Romulans are somehow involved in what took place here. She found a piece of Romulan code that seems to have locked the environmental controls into their current settings."

Yumi stared hard at the machine gibberish Fhiri scrolled through on her screen. "t'Aegis found a Romulan bioweapon. In the cargo bay," she said darkly. "Seems to be the source of this plague." Yumi blinked to clear the rising anger from her mind and focused on what they needed to do in that very moment. There would be a reckoning for these Romulans, and justice for the idle tourists they had murdered, soon enough. "Gantt said the temperature was 4 degrees too high. Anything else amiss?"

Nema shook her head, "Nothing that we have been able to find. The rest of the issues here have been cleared up, or are being cleared up, and can be traced to an old Engineer having Dominion War flashbacks."

"Makes no sense to me, but Desai will want to know. Maybe the price of tea in China is somehow integral to the virus. Or whatever it is." She leaned on one arm against Fhiri's workstation. "First things first, though. I assume you've all had a hard look at it...can we unlock the controls?"

Fhiri chewed her lip for a second before speaking. Talking to the XO gave her a sour feeling in her stomach and made her teeth hurt. "Ma'am, now that I know what kind of infrastructure code we are dealing with, I can break it. But it won't be fast. If you really need these controls unlocked right now, I can use some more... brutal approaches that will probably get us in but could leave severe damage to the Galilei's computer."

"The only reason to rush it is if a temperature change will somehow slow or stop the illness." Yumi's stomach swirled. This was nothing like the decisions she made in intel for most of her life. There someone else always made the big call. "What kind of damage, exactly? T'Sai needs flight controls to keep us out of the Badlands, and their EMH is running on that computer."

"Um. It's hard to predict. Right now this code is just keeping us out but it could have all kinds of subroutines that do bad stuff like...cut off life support," Fhiri said. "But that probably won't happen. Probably."

Yumi huffed. "So, we can pay unknown costs to get an unknown result quickly or pay no cost to get an unknown result later." The Crewman Potter inside of her wanted to roll the dice. It couldn't be a coincidence that Rhiana had found a Romulan agent with the bioweapon in cargo bay one and now here was a Romulan program stubbornly locking the environmental controls to a specific setting. She looked at Nema. This was her department. It wouldn't do to barge in like a drunken elephant and stomp around without listening to the experts. "What are your thoughts, Lieutenant?"

Nema pondered for a moment, her eyes flashing between the screen, Fhiri, and Yumi. The choices weren't great, but one did stick out.

"Well, if we use the time that it takes Fhiri to do it slowly, then maybe we can get input from Science and or Medical on the effects of letting the temperature return to normal. Has there been any word from them as of yet?"

Yumi nodded. "They are working their magic in Sickbay. I'll go ask Desai to look into the temperature effects." She narrowed her eyes at Fhiri's screen. HALP would have fun chewing through it in the mission post mortem. "Save as much of that code as you can, Ensign. I want to check it for Tal Shiar markers when we get it back to the Firebird." Yumi stepped back. "Nice work, getting this boat running again. T'Sai will have us out of the Badlands in a few hours. Anything else I can do for you?"

Shaking her head, Nema said,

“No ma’am. Pretty sure we have things under control here.”


Lieutenant Kedra Nema
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Lieutenant Commander Yumi Han
Executive Officer/Chief Intelligence Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Crewman Thomas Lopt
Communications Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

NPC by Llwyedd

Petty Officer Third Class Fhiri
Computer Systems Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298

NPC by Llwyedd

Chief Warrant Officer B'rala of House Seeth
Master At Arms
USS Firebird NCC-88298
NPC by Stephens


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Comments (2)

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Fri Jul 20th, 2018 @ 10:30pm

A few days ago, I didn't have much interest at all in the idea of a Ferengi engineer, but whenever I actually see Fhiri actually written within a scene, I really like the way her mind works. She's very believable.

ex. At least once, she began explaining an idea by first giving supporting details and THEN making her main point. Usually, this is a RL verbal indicator of someone in science/engineering/etc. because most folks will first make their point and THEN give supporting details.

This was a fun chapter to read, and it gets the reader's mind glowing with eagerly trying to figure out what the right course of action is next.

By Lieutenant JG Murril Na on Fri Jul 20th, 2018 @ 10:37pm

On a more personal note as an ex-English teacher for grades 6-12, I appreciated how a misspelled word be the clue that began to unlock the mystery. I feel vindicated. LOL

Also, I appreciate how more than one of you is apparently making sure that the personality quirks you had put in your characters' personnel profiles have indeed shown up later in their thoughts, decisions, and behavior. ex. Yumi Han's entrance onto the ship.