Deflector Maintenance Area
= Backlog =
The Charon’s recent actions in saving the Lyrillian people had not only damaged two decks, but had burned out hundreds of relays, circuits, and systems integral to the functioning of the main deflector array. The array and dish were housed in a multi deck cavern of poor lighting, dangerous catwalks, and high voltage machinery. Power lines which were fed directly from the ship’s warp core were constantly throbbing and pulsing with massive amounts of raw power. A damaged power junction or a ruptured plasma line could easily be fatal as most of the components in the area were energized with silent and invisible electrical power. As the area was designed for maintenance and served no other needs environmental systems were limited. As a result, the large room pulsing with warp power was always hot and especially uncomfortable.
Never ending work, constant maintenance, and long hours was the life of an engineer. They had been working around the clock to save the Lyrillians from certain destruction and now that they had succeeded the commodore insisted that they continue the grueling pace and schedule to repair the damages sustained in the operation. There was no glory to be had by the engineers, no parties, and few accolades – just endless work waited for them day after sleepless day.
Lt. James Faltanis wiped his dripping forehead which spread a dull grey trail of greasy dirt across his face. The heat and sweat mixed with the dust, dirt, and burnt insulation powder caking everyone in an oily sludge. His team looked more like moles and gophers than engineers popping in and out of tiny hatches, crawlspaces, and access panels all with dirty hands and faces. Still, despite the oppressive conditions the Charon wasn’t going to warp anytime soon until the deflector and its thousands of parts and systems had been replaced, checked, and rechecked. One mistake on their parts could have devastating effects. A malfunctioning deflector could allow atomic particles in space to rip through the ship like an old earth machine gun while at warp. Over time the ship would be riddled with holes and should they pass through any dense clouds of gas or rocky debris it could well spell the end of the ship and her crew.
It was indeed a thankless task but one vital to ensuring the safety of the ship. James’s current motivation for completing the repairs was meager, but strong. A few glorious hours of unbroken sleep, some hot food, and the cool confines of his cabin were all he had dreamed about for days. Well almost all he had dreamed about. He had another dream, but it seemed more like a young man’s fantasy. Still, it helped sustain him throughout the recent crisis and beyond.
“Lieutenant”, James said suddenly. He quickly sat upwards surprised by her appearance and banged his head against the top of the Jefferies tube. Seeing stars he fell out of the tube onto the catwalk at Erin’s feet knocking over a tool kit which sent tools and spare parts scattering in all directions clattering loudly as they fell through the open grate into the darkness below.
As he looked upwards several images of Erin Andrews filled his spinning vision. He wondered why heaven looked so oddly confusing. After a few moments cold reality snapped the lieutenant back to the present.
"Oh James are you ok?" Erin gasped and was on her knees already checking to make sure he hadn't hurt his head to hard. She hadn't meant to startle him that much. "You really need to be more careful..." Erin said with a worried frown...
“Uh hi”, James said rubbing his forehead where a small, but throbbing knot was now forming. “What brings you down to the land of a thousand blown power taps”, he asked not bothering to hide his sarcasm given the pain his was trying to shake off.
"Well I was wondering if you needed help or wanted to take a break for lunch?" She asked with an innocent smile wondering if his sarcasm was directed at her or the blown power taps. figuring it was for the power taps she decided to ignore it...
“Lunch”, James repeated looking at her oddly. ‘She wanted to have lunch with me’, he mused. “Uh sure”, he said smiling. Standing he grabbed his wrinkled tunic, covered in grime, and pulled it back on. “If, well that is if you don’t mind my current condition. I’m not exactly what you call an ideal date.”
‘Oh no! Had he just used the word date? How stupid of him! How could he have said such a boneheaded thing? Here he was standing before the woman who had managed to somehow catch his heart and now he was screwing it up!’
“I..I didn’t mean it like that”, James stammered. “When I said date what I meant was company. That totally came out wrong”, he quickly stated flashing a nervous grin. “I mean lunch is fantastic. I’m sure you didn’t come down here to ask me out on a date”, he said with a chuckle. “Of course you didn’t, what am I saying”, he continued babbling trying to find someway to fix the hole he was digging.
‘SHUTUP JAMES’, his conscious was screaming, but his lips kept moving trying desperately not to offend or otherwise ruin the lieutenant’s offer for a simple lunch.
Erin smiled, though wondered if she should feel insulted. "I don't know whether I should feel insulted or complimented. However I was asking you on a date, it's what we like to call a lunch date James." She said softly knowing he wasn't exactly rejecting the idea, but could feel the eyes of his team on them watching with the breaths held to see if he'd screw it up further.
"We could stop by your quarters to get cleaned up if you like?" She asked arching a shapely brown eyebrow at him and smiled sweetly. "Come on you have to eat anyways even if you don't want to see it as a date." She said softly...
“No, no nothing wrong with a date”, James quickly answered. “I love dates. Really!”
“You idiot”, he said to himself. ”STOP TALKING!” James clamped his wandering mouth shut and flashed a nervous grin. “Sure, we can swing by my quarters. I can clean up and we can go grab something to eat. Ready?”
"Yes." She said softly letting his nervousness slide. she had felt extremely nervous just asking him to dinner she didn't know how she had managed to contain it...
Nodding, James turned to see his entire crew sticking out of hatches, panels, and tubes all staring at him like they were watching some sort of holonovel. Excusing himself from the lieutenant, James marched down the catwalk out of earshot of Andrews and shouted at his team.
“GET BACK TO WORK.” The engineer’s heads and bodies all quickly disappeared back into their holes like gophers. “SIMS, take over. I have to discuss a few maintenance issues with the Lieutenant. I’ll be back in an hour or so. Let’s see if we can get junctions 720-A and B crossed off the list before I get back, huh?”
“Roger boss. Enjoy.”
“What’s that supposed to mean”, James muttered his arms crossed. “Uh…nothing. Nothing at all lieutenant!” Sims quickly ducked back into his maintenance hatch and out of sight.
James sighed and turned offering his arm to the lieutenant. “Shall we?”
"You keep your men on their toes don't you?" She asked with a teasing smile. She slipped her arm through his and moved a little closer.
“Uh, yes. Have to run a tight ship to get all these repairs completed on time. No one wants to end up on the commodore’s bad list.” Smiling he took her arm and headed toward the exit and back to his quarters to clean up and change.
[ To B Continued ]
Lt. Erin Andrews
Lt. James Faltanis