Log Matsiyan 2416-2237

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    Personal Log, Lieutenant-Junior Conrad Matsiyan, TSN Lancer, 4th L.D.
    Stardate: 26316-2237

    The crowd in The Galley were distinctly crotchety before the shift. Everyone seemed a little unsettled, unable to come up with a fun topic of conversation and a little prickly with each other. It is tough to let go and relax not only in the middle of a civil war but also after two vessels have been lost and their crews have nowhere to call home except the company of each other. Maybe that is what led to the singing, a strange wordless chord of chanted tonalities.

    I struggled to be civil, somewhat wrapped in my own thoughts. I had been able to cadge a ride on a supply shuttle out to the shipyard where they had rebuilt Hunter. Security clearance wasn’t a problem and a bottle of something tasty meant the yard dogs didn’t mind pointing me in the right direction. There was a lot of debris left from the refit. Major equipment, heck, major systems had been replaced to make sure the old girl’s innards were complete and reliable. They were all accumulated in one yard bay. Damaged structural members and large machinery were outside the bay atmosphere forcefield, floating free with periodic tractor sweeps to keep things in place. Smaller pieces were piled up and strewn around the bay. The yard dogs were already in the process of sifting through what was there, separating out useful materials for various recycling programs, looking for salvageable components for existing field systems. Some of them could be directly useful for Valiant for example. I spent hours combing through the piles of smaller items. Starships are big! Even just the replaced wreckage from a scout takes up a lot of space compared to a single human looking for that talisman, that ritual that entangles him with the thread of life stretching back through his ancestors that ultimately connects him to the rest of humanity and those around him, struggling for life.

    The briefing called for patrols near Waypoint 60 in Atlantis and confirmed that after last shift’s simulations of the new ships, TSN Eagle and Dauntless had arrived on station and their crews could go aboard the real thing this shift. I however had the good fortune to return to my temporary posting aboard TSN Lancer, the experimental interceptor that is all engines and primary beams.

    It is a distinct pleasure to be back among familiar voices and faces; not only Commander Jemel but the junior officers, Aposine at Helm, Morlock on Weapons and Roshin Das at Science. All really comfortable at their specialties and all trusted. It makes it hard to shuffle seats for simulations but we do all need good appreciations of what each other’s duties and difficulties are. I will always be happy to run Engineering when it counts, but I really need more hours at Science and Helm. We had all settled in to our consoles and were waiting clearance to depart when the incident occurred.

    I returned to consciousness in Medbay, momentarily woozy, but that rapidly cleared up as they purged the toxins.

    Apparently I collapsed as I stood up from the bridge Engineering repeater consoles I had been reconfiguring, and headed down to the Engine Room. During the time I was out, I had the most lurid nightmare. It seemed to me that the Duty Officer came aboard and asked for volunteers to man TSN Dauntless, the new carrier, for her next sim. There was silence. Before it could become too awkward I spoke up and volunteered, knowing that with a full crew, Lancer could find a cover for Engineering with no problem.

    I reported aboard Dauntless, hoping that perhaps they needed an engineer, and looking forward to the challenge of a new configuration with different requirements. No such luck. They had a new cadet assigned whose primary expertise was in Engineering and, let’s face it, you always want to apply Max Power to Engineering. The command team I respected, having served with Commander Verok aboard Hydra and having heard only good things about the record of Lt.Cdr. Van Leigh recently transferred into the division. Lt-Jr Quinn was already eyeing his primary qualification slot at Helm. So I wound up assigned to a fighter. There is a reason I flunked out of ECS pilot training and a reason I have not been excited enough to study the training manuals for the new fleet fighter arm.

    Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. And that makes it hard to find anything. Anything having a finite volume divided by the infinite expanse of space is as near to nothing as makes no difference and so are the odds of finding what you are looking for. The fighter HUD is extremely primitive. There is no referent for a fixed coordinate system and the control system is extremely sensitive frequently causing uncompensated roll and climb or dive losing all sense of fixed referents.

    Finding Launch, Recovery, Missile Launch, boost and brake controls was a nightmare of looking up manuals and following the helpful scrolling reminders flowing across that Sirius Cybernetics Corp. HUD. I opened fire on friendly targets, launched missiles without lock, lost the way home and had Dauntless, and her foot-tapping crew, loitering and manoeuvreing to pick me up. I’m glad the default lighting in the exit hatch is red. It helps hide the embarassment.

    The whole episode turned out to be psychotic hallucinations arising from contact with leaking toxic contaminants in the damaged components I had been sifting through. Fortunately the automed was able to analyse the cause (I’m told the scars will eventually fade) and prescribe a rapid detoxification regimen that had me fit for duty within minutes.

    Well fit enough at least to run an Engineering console and not screw up. It left my memory hazy of all but goodwill. I recall almost nothing of the mission except a vessel engulfed in a giant potato and stunningly balletic docking manoeuvres at the end of the run by Aposine.

    After the shift I was filled with nostalgia for our days together on Hunter. I caught another lift on the shipyard shuttle. I was wary of sifting through the workbay’s toxic content again and besides, I had covered most of it. I suited up and went outside.

    It doesn’t matter how many times I go EVA, my first times in EC crew emergency response training, all the EC engineering and officer qualification programs, my time at the academy, it always makes me pause to drink in the majestic stillness, the unwinking absolute brilliance of the distant stars. And then I remembered to finish all the basic checks; orientation, suit integrity, partial oxygen pressure, temperature regulation, external duration timer warning, manoeuvreing thrusters, stabilization. The suit automation suite will track all that. It is safe enough to take tourists out, but when they train you for serious work, it becomes ingrained not to leave anything to chance.

    Less perfect than the distant celestial mechanics, the loosely conglomerated wreckage of Hunter’s refit loomed off to my left, patiently waiting its turn for reprocessing into usefulness. As a point of pride I propelled myself to the nearest twisted girder with a calculated push and a refusal to use the thrusters. And so I continued working my way through misshapen giants that had been structural members or major engineering systems housings. It often took more than one glance to identify what something was in the confusing shadows cast by my helmet light and the yard floods and the fact that almost everything was melted, fused or cracked into a bizarre jumble of puzzle pieces.

    Eventually I found what I was looking for but had hardly dared hope to see. The main power converter over the front part of the engine room has an auxiliary coolant regulation unit that was extremely likely to be overloaded and blown out if there was major damage to the engines. One of its functions is to divert and exhaust superheated coolant or, Klono forbid, plasma from reaching the main saucer. The exhaust conduit is what protruded through what would have been the upper bunk space in a regular cabin and what made the engineer’s cabin a single occupancy luxury on those scouts. And there, fused to the ruptured conduit was the locker that had graced the foot of my bunk. It took a cutting torch and a powered mini-jack to free and prize open the door. Dislodged when I finally reached inside, a cloud of jagged crystals floated out glittering brightly in the strong light. Gently I deployed an electrostatic “butterfly net” to round up the fragmented ruins of my favourite coffee glass.

    And then I retrieved the prize, slightly distorted and spot-welded to the shelf by the intense but brief heat: the ancient Moka coffee maker.

    The universe seems like a warm and welcoming place.

    [End log]

    Adele Mundy



    // Psi-cheat, Ma’am!

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