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Tritanium Woes

Posted on 27 Feb 2019 @ 3:46pm by Lieutenant JG Kemm & Staff Warrant Officer William Griffin & Ensign Alora Nasek

Mission: The Kalisa Conundrum
Location: Engineering
Timeline: MD 1 || 1700 hours

Griffin marched through the corridor towards main engineering, his long legs carrying his impressive bulk at speed towards his primary place of work. Freshly showered and changed with the appropriate medications administered, he was no longer in danger of having an infantile accident, but the shame of it wouldn't leave him, he suspected, for a considerable length of time.

He stormed into engineering like a wild bull, not slowing down as he banked to the left and headed for the island. "Status?" He bellowed for anyone to hear, looking for a situation report on top of what the MSD would tell him.

Lieutenant Kemm had arrived in Engineering just a few minutes before. Until then, he had been working in an Engineering lab, only to lose all control when the Captain performed his command override. "Still trying to analyze the hull fragment, Chief," Kemm reported, standing over the sample with his tricorder.

"We've gotta assume," Griffin began as he ran his eyes over the MSD, the problems areas were spreading, slowly, across the hull. The area on the secondary hull was particularly bad, perhaps from being disturbed by the sample-taking. "That whatever is happening to the hull is connected somehow to the medical problems going on around the ship. Have you all gotten your shots from medical?"

"They came through about ten minutes ago," Kemm said, staring at the Chief Engineer while waiting his ganglia to activate. But, nothing happened. Though his subconscious was not alarmed by Griffin's return, Kemm was still going to be on edge for a little while longer. "If this is indeed connected, then there must be some sort of radiation or other byproduct that isn't being picked up by our sensors."

Griffin caught the staring and knew exactly why Kemm was on edge. His behavior over the past few hours, while explainable, was not acceptable. It didn't exactly engender pride and he found himself slightly embarrassed. At least he hadn't actually attacked anyone, he was well aware of his own capabilities and the consequences didn't bear thinking about.

"The best thing we can do is just get rid of the damn stuff," He replied, then paused, feeling the need to say something - partly to reassure Kemm and partly to allay his own guilt. "And... I'm sorry, lieutenant, for what happened earlier. I got my shots on the bridge and I'm all right now, they... did the trick." He left out the bits about nearly getting into a murderous fight with the surgeon and soiling himself.

Kemm nodded to Griffin, albeit slowly. It was not his place to openly question the Chief Engineer, especially matters of a personal nature. "We'll move past it, I'm sure Chief," the Kelpien softly stated in his way of accepting the man's apology. In a louder tone, he added, "But that's just it, Chief. I had barely started on an analysis when the Command Override shut down my lab. I still can't tell you what this is, or how to stop it, other than it's still feeding on the tritanium."

Ensign Nasek climbed out of the maintenance hatch and was replacing it when she heard the Assistant Chief's last. She came over, "Chief, Ma'am. I can report other systems operating at Zone normal and that the bacteria has not been detected below the hull." She stood with her repair kit over one shoulder as she looked at her superiors.

Griffin turned to Nasek and nodded, "thanks, Ensign, hold on a minute." The chief engineer punched a few commands on his console, "the lockout wasn't supposed to affect engineering systems. Damn thing. Computer, disable command override on all engineering consoles and workstations for engineering personnel with access level 7 and above, authorization Griffin Bravo Two Seven Delta Five Two."

While a small handful of consoles had been active in Engineering, the rest of the darkened consoles flickered back to life. "Command override in Main Engineering has been disabled," the computer droned.

"We have access!" called Lieutenant Bell from her console. "Chief, I know we should probably get rid of the sample, but I wouldn't like to risk trying to get another one." Her dark eyes ran over the MSD output. "Perhaps we should try a molecular analysis, now that we have command access again? Might I also suggest we cross-check with Sickbay and the science labs--maybe get their input directly on it?"

"That could work," Kemm stated. "But the predicament is still hampering us. Engineering does not have the tools necessary for this procedure. We'll need an engineering or science lab. Could we convince the Captain to unlock one of those for us?"

"God damn pain in the ass lockouts," Griffin snarled, tapping the comm circuit on the console. =/\= "Griffin to Harvey - captain, we are working a problem down here and my people need access to an engineering lab, can you do that for me, sir?"

Silence lingered over the comm channel for a moment, placing the room into a bit of suspense. Had the Captain received the message? Was he going to help them? "Engineering Labs Three and Four are back online, Chief," came the Captain's reply at last. "What exactly do you need the labs for?"

"There's some kinda... substance, on the hull." Griffin explained over the comm, "we're detected it in three or four spots. We're not sure what it is, yet, but there's a good chance it's connected to whatever the hell is going on. We've taken a hull sample and we're gonna analyze it. It wouldn't hurt to get science and medical in on this, too, sir."

The channel was muted again, this time with an audible click. A moment later, the channel clicked once more. "Chief, I have Commander Walsh here. He's informed me we have two fighters down, and that they've also accumulated an alien substance while on patrol."

"Damn," Griffin grumbled, "Captain, I recommend you quarantine those fighters and keep the maintenance teams away from them, for now, until we figure out what this stuff is, if it's dangerous and how to remove it. You should also think about grounding all fighters. We'll get to work analyzing the hull sample."

"I'll inform the flight deck," the Captain replied. "Get me a full analysis stat, and a solution or two wouldn't hurt. If trouble comes our way, I will have to use the fighters."

Ensign Nasek listened with growing concern, she stood quietly debating if she should just go back to work or wait as information seemed to be flying in. This was the first instance of the 'death goo' ,as she privately called it, inside the ship and it did not bode well, she only hoped they could quarantine them in time.

"Yes sir," Griffin confirmed, turning to look at Kemm and giving him the nod to proceed. "We'll go as fast as we can. If you could just make sure we don't run into any more access restrictions, that'd be a great help."

"Acknowledged. Geisler out."

"Let's get this back to the lab," Kemm said, placing his tricorder back in his pocket and reaching for the nearby anti-grav cart. "Please use gloves when handling the sample. Let's avoid biological contact for now."

"Damn thing should be in a stasis field," Griffin grumbled as he replicated a pair of anti-contamination gloves while Kemm was fetching the cart. Then he bent at the knees and took a grip of the chunk of hull, grunting as he lifted it, and then placed it on the cart.

"Whatever this stuff is, it's definitely compromising the structural integrity of the hull," the chief engineer said as he stripped the gloves off, "that chunk is lighter than it should be by a fair way."

Ensign Nasek watched curiously, "Is there anything I can do Sirs or should I return to normal duty?" She asked finally. She was quite curious about this and wanted to help study it more but was not inclined to want to get in the way so best to check first.

“Respectfully, Ensign,” Lieutenant Kemp said, looking at the shorter Bajoran. “An unknown substance is eating away at the hull. We need all the help we can get right now.” With that, he pushed the cart out of the room, expecting others to follow him to a lab.

Griffin walked just behind Kemm and the grav cart out of engineering and towards the nearest lab, he felt, if he had to be honest, a little out of his depth. He was a nuts-and-bolts engineer, a maintenance specialist first and foremost. Theoretical engineering and material sciences weren't his strong suites.

Knowing an order when she heard one Ensign Nasek got moving.


Kemp entered Engineering Lab Four and pushed his cart over to a center table. “We need to start with a full metallurgical analysis. Hopefully, we can find out what is going on.”

"Yeah," Griffin agreed as he approached, "we should get this thing contained in a force field before we start running tests, we don't know if and how it might react to intensive scans."

"Standing by on safety protocols, ready to raise level 10 force field on your mark." The Ensign spoke up from a nearby station, "Should we invite a suitable member from science or medical to assist considering the biological nature?" She asked tentatively as a thought just occurred to her, she herself was a little weak on biologics.

Kemm nodded to the Ensign. "Activate the forcefield, and let's start the scan. From what I saw earlier, something is consuming the tritanium in our ablative armor fabric and the outer hull plating itself. The fact that Chief Griffin has stated that the sample is lighter has informed me that the rate of decay hasn't stopped since the sample came inside. If anything, the process is accelerating."

Nasek nodded and the field snapped into place.

"This stuff has gotta be biological or some kinda acid if it's consuming tritanium." Griffin suggested, "Let's start with a mass analysis, and find out exactly how much she's lost."

Kemm moved to a secondary console after taking a final look at the cubic foot of outer hull that had been extracted. His long fingers danced over the controls as the first scan began. "We know that the Black Hawk herself has a mass displacement of nine point five million metric tons. Our sample should weight at least two hundred pounds or so."

The console beeped a few seconds later, having finished the scan. "Chief, sensors confirm that the sample possesses at least twenty percent less mass."

"Bringing it up on the viewer..." the Ensign spoke up bringing up a holographic 3D projection of the entity eating the hull. It looked rather like a sort of oddly shaped ameba with little 'hairy' arms all around a mass. It was showing one in real time. Nasek watched it 'eat' a hull sample piece then split into more, her console beeped and she looked down, "minor traces of an unknown radiation just spiked in the chamber. Force field remains strong."

"Radiation?" Kemm asked quietly. "Tritanium and duranium are not usually radioactive. Is the fragment generating radiation or did it absorb it from the outside?"

"Backtracing..." Nasek muttered and after a few moments the hologram shifted, this time it showed a red cloud that was the radiation. A timer in one corner started counting backward and the cloud lessened until one could see a small cloud just around one of the weird ameba things.

"It's a byproduct," the Kelpien muttered. "Run a spectral analysis on the radiation. The fact that our sensors didn't immediately detect it probably means it's something we've never encountered before."

"Tritanium eating, radiation producing... life form?" Griffin mused aloud, watching the holo-image of the small creature, if that was the right word for the thing, "Computer, identify the creature displayed on console four-three baker, engineering lab four."

"Based on size, displayed physical characteristics and movement patterns, the displayed life form does not correspond to any known form of life." The computer replied coldly.

"What the hell is it?" The chief engineer asked, looking at Kemm and Nasek, the two of them were far smarter than he was, especially when it came to the kind of scientific study they were conducting. "I'm out of my depth here," he wasn't afraid to admit, "I'm an old-fashioned nuts-and-bolts mechanic, I can fix any machine that was ever made, but I've never been great at the science side of things."

"I'm no scientist myself," Kemm added. "Regardless of its intent, we need to find a way to stop it. Computer, correlate the scans of this hull sample with the entirety of the Black Hawk's hull. How much of the ship's hull is being corroded and estimation before all tritanium in the outer hull is consumed."

Beeps, whirrs and other processing sounds rang over the room's internal speakers. "The unknown substance has been detected on thirty-one-point-six of the ship's hull. Estimated time to total corrosion is forty-nine hours and twenty-six minutes. Estimated time to structural integrity failure, twenty-six hours, nine minutes."

"God damn," Griffin snarled, "computer, could structural integrity be maintained if we jettisoned the affected hull panels?"

"Negative, the ship's structural integrity would drop below critical levels." The computer came back quickly and Griffin frowned

"So we've got to find a way to neutralize this stuff, and fast. Every lifeform has a weakness." The chief postulated, "let's try a multi-spectrum radiation barrage, see if we can't find something that will knock them out."

Kemm nodded, looking to Lieutenant Bell and Ensign Nasek. "Shall we?" he asked them, focusing his attention back on his console. "I'll start with a series of 5-second bursts using common radiation therapies. If those don't work, we can try other types."

Nasek nodded thinking quickly, "Recommend we leave for last energies common in the Zone. Obviously it thrives here so starting there may not be helpful..." Then she shrugged, "Or it could make it grow faster so we'll want to monitor that as well." She said focusing on her readouts of the entity.

"Computer, display the growth factor of the organism, and the type and intensity of radiation as an overlay." Griffin instructed, the three peices of information appeared on the screen, showing the growth factor at a steady 50% per hour, the radiation counter was reading 15 rad/h and 'unknown'.

The chief engineer watched as Kemm introduced the first 5-second burst of radiation, a burst of high-intensity beta radiation. The displayed RAD number spiked to nearly 3000 rad/h, deadly to humans within a few minutes, but the growth factor didn't change at all.

"Try gamma," Griffin grumbled, but he was already beginning to lose hope that radiation would work, the realization that an organism that was living exposed to space would likely be resistant to most forms of naturally occurring radiation. He began to think of alternatives as the three other officers worked.

Kemm nodded, starting with low-level gamma radiation. Over the course of three minutes, he varied both the intensity and the available spectrum their generators would allow. As the gamma radiation became more intense, the lifeforms actually began to work faster, prompting Kemm to avoid experimenting further. "Switching to hyperonic radiation," Kemm announced, his tone nearly defeated. "Starting with three hundred rads per hour."

"This might not work..." Griffin finally put his thoughts into words, "I reckon a space-borne life form... is probably resistant to most kinds of naturally occurring radiation." He had been wringing his grey-matter trying to squeeze out an idea of something else to try, before he spoke up. "We should try things that don't naturally occur in space - bathe it in gasses, expose it to liquids, especially stringent stuff like acids or strong alkalies, biological agents like toxins, poisons... anything it wouldn't normally come across in space."

Giving it some thought as he purged the forcefielded area of all radiation, Kemm tried to think of various scenarios. "Perhaps some sort of particle bombardment. We did use nucleonic particles a few weeks ago to dislodge quantum filaments. I'll start with those." With a few keystrokes, he started to bombard. the hull sample.

Nasek continued to monitor and assist as the Chief tried the newest tactic. She hoped something would work soon, she wasn't sure how long the medical staff could keep the effects at bay even if they could figure out how to save the ship.

Kemm watched the monitor closely where a closeup of one of the... whatever they were... could be seen. The nucleonic particles didn't have any effect on the sample. "Switching to antiprotons," he said aloud, hoping someone could spot something he might not be able to see on the scan.

Griffin watched the display as one of the creatures suddenly changed color and detached from the hull, it's strange appendages curling in on themselves as it fell away from the sample. "Increase the intensity of the antiproton particles by twenty percent," Griffin suggested, thinking that a more focused, higher intensity beam might do the job faster. "Reduce the wavelength of the beam by ten percent and increase the frequency by fifteen."

"Aye, Chief," the studious Kelpien stated, making the adjustments as instructed. "Twenty percent intensity, ten percent wavelength, and fifteen percent frequency."

The chief watched as more and more creatures in the area Kemm was targeting began to curl up and fall away, "I think it's working," he said, somewhat unnecessarily as the others could also see the monitor. "The issue is, an antiproton beam of that intensity could do pretty severe damage to the ship, and our DNA, if we were exposed to it."

As a reflex, Kemm immediately switched off the antiproton beam as his threat ganglia emerged from their safe haven. Forcing thoughts of doom far from his mind, Kemm sighed. "Sadly, Chief, these creatures are already threatening our life, both from a biological and structural standpoint. Either we risk our ability to live by removing these creatures, or we will will most certainly die when structural integrity fails."

"What if we modify it? Are these the minimums or could we lower it with same effect? Or barring that perhaps a secondary force field? Like an airlock almost and just repair any damage from the antiproton beam?" It seemed to Nasek the antiproton beam would be less destructive and more easily fixed but perhaps she was missing something.

"For the sake of what remains on the hull, we must perform a thorough cleansing. We could outfit our shuttles with high-yield anti-proton beams, and we could evacuate the affected areas prior to the treatment," Kemm suggested. "That could minimize the potential damage to the crew, but it would certainly get the ship in the clear. When that's done, we could leave a residual antiproton charge. That should inoculate the ship for a day or two. By that time, the Captain should have us out of this sector."

"That..." Griffin said, "sounds like a plan. I'll report the plan to the captain, ya'll get started on modifying the shuttles, use the fighter maintenance teams if you need more personnel - as soon as they're ready we'll get it done." The chief was already moving, "I'll be down to help as soon as the captain approves."

"Aye, Chief," Kemm said, looking to Alora as Chief Griffin departed. "We're going to need everyone we've got."


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