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Golden Gel

Posted on 11 Jun 2020 @ 12:53pm by Lieutenant Zayna Ryler & Lieutenant JG Kemm

Mission: Ghosts
Location: Science Lab 3
Timeline: MD 4 || 1015 hours

Lieutenant Kemm had yet to meet a computer that he liked. The Kelpien was an engineer by trade, specializing in both power systems and warp theory. Given enough time, he could make just about anything work, even if only for a short while. He was, unfortunately, just about clueless with computers. He knew enough to get by, especially for the sake of running diagnostics.

Since the ill-fated drills from the other day, deck thirteen had suffered from a variety of issues ranging from random forcefields to decompression. Today, that list now included random power surges. All the computer would tell him was that the irregularity was coming from the science labs. Specifics were absolutely unavailable, leaving him to walk the deck with a tricorder to try and track down the source. The device was just as incapable as the computer, but it did lead him to Science Lab Three. A glance at the door's controls told him that the room was occupied, but it was not locked. Perhaps this was all due to a random experiment underway, but there was only one way to know for sure.

Kemm stepped forward and into the science lab.

Ryler had been trying to clean up some experiments that had failed after the power surges that had been happening. The power was still flickering, causing issues with her cleanup. Some of the liquids were clear, but she couldn't see them very well in the dark.

When the door opened, she was startled, as she was the only one assigned there. Looking over, she saw the outline of someone she assumed was an engineer. "Take it the power issues were reported?"

Kemm looked up from the tricorder, his eyes adjusting to the poorly lit room. "You didn't report the issue?" he asked her, somewhat surprised by her question. He sighed and added, "I've been monitoring the ship's power systems for the last two days. I swear there's a Ba'ul running amok somewhere in here."

"Maybe when I tried to turn the systems back on? Not specifically reported it though." She hit a few things and tried to get some of the lab table lights to cooperate at least. "I think I missed a memo, what the hell is going on anyways?"

"That's what I'm hoping to find out." Kemm waved the tricorder around the room a bit, only to find himself frustrated with the results. He did, however, spot a soft shine on the floor where a dim light bulb was casting an odd reflection. "What happened in here? Aside from the power surge?"

Zay rubbed the back of her neck. "Running an experiment, the temperature dropped rapidly. The reaction needed to stay hot, so it kind of...exploded? In a way anyways. But, of course it was all clear and I can't see enough to clean it up." She put up a hand, "Nothing dangerous in this state. Just, I'd like to clean it up."

"Is it dangerous in other states?" Kemm set his toolkit on the table and opened it. His eyesight worked fairly well enough in the dark, but even he had trouble seeing everything. He did, however, know his toolkit rather well. Kemm pulled out a flashlight and pointed it at the floor.

"I hadn't gotten to the real experimentation part yet, was just heating up what I needed. So, no, anything will be fine right now. I just wish I knew about the power issues before starting this." She found her own flashlight and kicked it on. "Luckily, I'd just started so really didn't lose anything. Do we know what is causing this?"

"Things have been weird since the drills a few days ago," Kemm replied, still using his light to illuminate her clean up though he did look around for a broom to help with some of the other mess on the floor. "We've been having power surges all over the ship, but only in one section at a time. First in Security, then Operations, and now here. It's like what you humans call a ghost in the machine."

Raising an eyebrow, Zayna did admit she was glad for the extra light as she finished the cleanup of everything from her failed experiment. "Ghost in the machine is an understatement. And no pattern, just randomly one system at a time? You'd think I'd have heard a bit more about this as assistant chief but no..." She shrugged and dropped the glass bits into the replicator for whenever it came back online so they could vanish.

"I'm sorry you haven't been informed," Kemm said. He picked his tricorder back up, and set his light upon a sealed canister of liquid to create a lantern. "I don't think anyone thought the science department would have been affected, but then again nothing's made much sense. What sort of experiment was that anyway?"

"Honestly? I'm not fully sure. I was just playing around a bit. Couldn't focus on any one experiment."

"Any idea how long the power's been out?" Kemm asked. "And what happened when it did?"

Thinking for a moment, "Ten or fifteen minutes maybe? It was flickering a bit before that but I figured someone was running diagnostics. Once it went fully out, I didn't even have the light from the consoles and the backup power didn't come on."

Kemm frowned, looking up briefly from the tricorder. "And the computer didn't even tell us power was out. All we got was that there was an anomalous reading in this section. Seems like there's more than a power fluctuation at work here."

"Wait, it didn't tell you that there was a power outage? I mean, it is fairly obvious there is one. Is the tricorder even telling you there is one?"

The Kelpien shook his head. "All engineering tricorders are synced with the computer. It's supposed to help us speed up repairs, but obviously today it's not working."

Zayna rolled her eyes and dug out one of her tricorders that she hadn't synced to anything, just in case she wanted to play with the settings and such and not have the computer interfere. "Here, try this one."

Kemm set his tricorder down and quickly accessed its electromagnetic frequency array. "That's odd," he remarked. "This one isn't detecting any power flow at all. In fact, this lab and its neighbors are pretty much dead."

"We've already had enough issues in the labs, now this? The other issues were right at relaunch with a few minor things." She went over and looked at the readings. "But where is the cutoff..."

The engineer pointed at a maintenance hatch on the other side of the room. "Just behind that wall. Can you give me a hand with the panel?"

Nodding, Zayna went over to the maintenance hatch and made sure there was nothing that would hurt either of them before she looked back to Kemm, "On three?"

He nodded. "Three." Instantly, he pulled on the hatch, surprised immediately that there was a bright glow hiding behind it. "Oh my..." he spoke softly.

Tilting her head to the side as she set the hatch aside, Zayna was slightly confused. "Okay, I'm no engineer...but that does NOT look right."

"This... is new." Kemm stared at the very active EPS relays which pulsed with the raw power that kept the ship running. Below it was the ship's computer network as represented by several bio-neural gelpacks. Each of those three also had a strange glow, a slight yellow color as opposed to the usual soft blue.

"Now, I know my gelpacks. Never have I heard about them glowing yellow. What the hell is causing this?"

As soon as the panel was set down, Kemm started to tap away at the tricorder. The findings only caused him to be perplexed as the answers he received only provided more questions. "The EPS relays are operating at a hundred and thirteen percent capacity, but the safety barriers have been compromised. There's also an unusual amount of metaphasic radiation, and the gelpacks are absorbing it."

"How the hell?" Zayna grabbed another tricorder that wasn't linked to the computer and scanned the gelpacks. "Metaphasic radiation? That... should not be happening, not anywhere near the gelpacks." She tried to scan and track the source.

"It shouldn't be happening on the ship at all," Kemm added. "It's a rare subtype as well. The gelpacks... they seem to be cultivating. Growing."

"Can we isolate it with the power being gone? This can't spread to the rest of the ship."

Kemm scanned the rest of the EPS chain, at least what was within arm's reach. "That's just it, Lieutenant. Based on what this tricorder is telling me, the relays, manifolds... all of this is in perfect working order, just that the flow and regulators have been overridden. I think if you and I work together, we can put this section into manual mode, restore power, and then take a closer look at the gelpacks."

"Glad I at least remember some of my engineering skills, basic though they may be. Where do you need me?"

Kemm stood up to retrieve his tool chest. "How are you with a hyperspanner or electroplasma regulator?'

Thinking for a moment, "First one over the second one. I've only used the electoplasma regulator once, but very familiar with the hyperspanner."

"That will work." Kemm knelt in front of the open hatch and set the tool kit between them. He picked up the two tools in question and handed the hyperspanner to the Assistant Science Chief. "There's a red ring on the relay in front of you. It's on an independent rotation, so the entire relay won't turn and burst, spraying us with plasma. But, it will rotate out the computer's interlock and let us put it into a manual mode. You'll have to hold it open so I can use the regulator."

Nodding, Zay knelt down too and took the hyperspanner. "And if this doesn't work as planned, we end up covered in plasma, got it." She tried to think of a way to lighten the mood, but there wasn't one at this point. She took a deep breath and made sure she could reach the red ring. "Okay, ready when you are."

"The bright side is, we shouldn't feel anything if we're covered in plasma." Kemm's suggestion did not keep his ganglia from extending out from his neck. He lifted the regulator and placed it on the glowing orb, but did not activate it. "Ready."

"Bright side, right," she said with a slight eye roll. Hearing him say ready, her eyes focused back onto the red ring, "Alright, here we go." She was a bit shaky, being out of her element, but managed to get the red ring to do exactly what it was supposed to, she hoped.

Kemm tapped a button to bring the regulator to life. "All right, hold steady." Kemm's left hand began to dance across the keypad while his right reached down to pick up a microinducer. He glanced down at it, pre-programmed the intensity and handed it to Ryler. "Hold that at the base of the globe on your side, right where the access port is. Turn it on and hold it steady."

Taking the microinducer, Zayna moved it to where she was told and activated it. "Steady as I can be with all this," she stated, watching him work. "I will admit I'm curious what is causing this...after we fix it."

The engineer had both hands on the regulator now. "Curiosity doesn't begin to describe what I think about this. This is the third unusual occurrence in the last twelve hours. Each one started unusually, but each ended with an unusual, and non-threatening, way. Increase the power on the inducer by twelve percent please."

"Increasing by twelve percent," she said as she adjusted the inducer. "Third occurrence? So something must be causing this that we haven't been able to detect yet."

"It's definitely concerning. Aside from a full system shutdown, which I'm not even sure will be helpful, I don't really know what else we can do except look for a common thread." Kemm deactivated the regulator. Instantly, the lights and consoles in the science lab flickered back to life as power had been restored. "I think we've got it."

Pulling all the tools out from where they were, Zayna sat back on her heels. "At least now it is brighter in here. I'll run some diagnostics just to make sure everything is good to go. But, I don't think the crew would appreciate a full system shutdown."

Kemm began to insert the tools back into his kit. "You're absolutely right. Shutdowns are never appreciated, especially for the engineers who have to power systems back up. One wrong switch and you have to start all over. Tell me, Lieutenant. What is your specialty in the sciences?"

"Yeah, they might not like that at all. As for my speciality? Temporal science. Not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoy it. What about you in engineering?"

"Systems engineering." Kemm put the last of the tools into the kit and closed it. "I specialize with various plasma flows, whether they be regular power, or even some work in the nacelles. Temporal science? We really could have used you in the Convergence Zone."

"So I've heard," Zay stated as she got herself back up to start the diagnostics, "Instead, I was making some of the systems that are now on the ship. Honestly, the Convergence Zone sounds interesting for study, not for exploration."

"Take it from me, Lieutenant," Kemm said with a sigh. The Convergence Zone, despite being months behind him, was still fresh in his mind. "You are absolutely correct. Do you know anyone who might be qualified to take a look at those gelpacks? That is really out of my skillset."

"I can give it a try. I don't know enough about the skillset of the rest of the team to look at it. Anything you specifically want me to look for?"

Kemm looked back over at the three gelpacks. Normally, they were a soft bluish gray, but their hue had changed to a golden yellow. "Aside from the effects of the fifteen minutes of metaphasic radiation they absorbed? Anything that might hamper their further use. I can have Operations send over some replacements too."

Zay nodded, "I'll see what I can come up with. Luckily, that experiment was all I had planned down here today. And I'll get those new ones in once they get here." She went over to the gelpacks. "So strange...I've seen bad ones turn other colors but never golden."

"It's a mystery, Lieutenant." Kemm rose from the floor, leaving the maintenance hatch open for the time being. He also handed her back the tricorder he loaned. "One of many on the Black Hawk."

Taking the tricorder back, "So I've noticed. But, what's life without mystery?"

The Kelpien chuckled and smiled. "Yes indeed, ma'am. Yes indeed."


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