=/\= Main Engineering, USS Charon =/\=
It was wiggling.
Neyes' eye twitched as he watched the tertiary ODN pathway router in sub junction eighteen. Originally, it was meant to operate as a backup to the backup for Optronic Data regulations in engineering. When the Romulans invaded, however, they brought the whole computer system on Charon to a crashing halt, and physically mangled the systems to achieve their goals. Here was just one more reminder of the damage they inflicted on his new home. Every time his crew tried to power up the backup systems for the ODN network, they seemed to overload and burn out within just a few seconds. An irritating and meticulous hour later, Landon found this little bastard hanging onto the primary computer junction. The tertiary router wasn't meant to be attached to anything serious, and it was bloating up the workload for the primary systems, in turn, causing them to fail. He eyed it angrily, and poked at it with a hyper-spanner.
"I'll have to deal with you first, I guess." He said, threatening the little device.
It wiggled again, as if mocking him.
"Sir." Crewman Uchiwa said, getting Landon's attention.
Neyes heard the main door open, mostly because it made a horrific squeaking noise every time someone walked through it. It wasn't on the top of his list, but he was about to assign someone to fix it anyway. His headache wasn't getting any better, and the last thing he needed was a bunch of... oh yeah. The Vulcans.
"Welcome to what's left of the Charon, Engineers." Landon rose and walked over to the helpers, avoiding several charred and detached wall plates along the way. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Ensign Neyes."
"T'Yleh." The tall, slender woman in her rosewood colored uniform gave a swift but still exquisitely polite nod while the male behind her executed a sweeping half bow. "Saskal." No less tall but exuding a fair amount of curiosity, even something one could almost classify as good cheer which seemed utterly missing in his superior, the man laden down with an array of tools let his dark eyes sweep over the destruction around him. If such things could ever be said about a Vulcan, he seemed to be positively itching to dive head first into the mayhem and was merely trying to decide which challenge would be the most interesting.
"T'Meni authorized twenty-eight personnel to be temporarily assigned to your … vessel." Her cool, assessing gaze lingering on the fairly disheveled Trill, T'Yleh briefly pointed her chin at the door which made such offensive sounds. "They are standing by outside to be deployed at your discretion, engineer. However I strongly recommend their expertise not be wasted on menial tasks as the S'thora has seen fit to send some of her most highly trained crew."
Hand-picked, in fact. Vulcans who could disassemble a ship in their sleep and put it back together in better shape than ever before and leaving you with spare parts when they were done, born to hyperspanners and honed to perfection under the Commander's inscrutable eyes. Why T'Meni would waste such professionals on this … this … what was the expression? Bucket of screws? It truly was beyond her.
Landon bowed in response. His was a little more brief and quick, but he figured it would be better to reply in kind. "Thank you so much for coming to assist us. I won't bore you with the details, as you can see the ship is practically in ruins. I recommended a refit, but it seems we're going to overhaul her instead." He smiled curtly.
"We come to serve. Gratitude is unnecessary." No less clipped than his bow, there still was no doubt T'Yleh meant every word. "Mishek. Sagan'uh." Turning to her colleague who balanced his heavy load of Federation standard tools with ease and grace, though it rather made him look like a male who had just looted a hardware store, the hazel eyed woman pointed her chin at a flat surface that appeared to have been a console once. "As by your request," she did not wince or betray any sign she had even heard the tools bounce off the charred and fractured console, nor the muted exclamations as a pointy eared Santa spread out his gifts "T'Meni also acquired some tools for your crew as we prefer to work with our own. It is not much on such short notice, however more can be provided tomorrow. Will it suffice?"
The young Trill's eyes darted from the Vulcan to the spread of utilities they'd seen to gift his staff with. His disposition unchanged, he addressed the Vulcan's all-too-usual cavalier attitude with as much dignity he could pull together. "It's great. Again, thanks." His words were dismissive and laced with just a hint of sarcasm. He silently cursed his inability to really understand races with no emotional background to their personality. His chiseled jaw clenched for a moment as he tried to force himself to take on the superior manner of the Vulcan leader and his present situation.
"Well we received the crew manifest of the personnel your Commander assigned to help. It's already been loaded into our systems and Savant has compiled a list of some of the more complicated and... task demanding, of the jobs we'll need done." Landon smiled. "She's currently running personnel assignments and resources as we make repairs. I think you'll figure your crew's been placed well under her care." Landon nodded pleasantly to the gentleman behind her. "Saskal, here's a PADD with the crew assignments."
Hearing his name the light-footed engineer canted his head inquisitively and then took the PADD as carefully as if the person handing it to him were either fragile or an unstable explosive. Glancing at the Federation Standard words for a mere two point seven six seconds he nodded, and did not hide the genuine satisfaction in his voice "Logical. Concise. We shall proceed as suggested. If you will excuse me, engineer. Madam." Handing the little device to his superior, Saskal gave another half-bow that could have been interpreted as outright cheerful before striding off, and if he blinked at the ear-splitting sound of the poor little doors it happened fast enough for people not to notice.
Which left T'Yleh the sole Vulcan in an engineering section that looked like Fort Go'eyel after the Warlord of Khomi had been done with it. Only uglier.
"I see have been assigned to assist you personally?" raising a brow at the PADD that also seemed to have seen better days – unless Federation devices were designed to make noises like a Chkariya trying to crack a stubborn nut – the tall, dark haired woman tried to decipher some wildly flickering letters and at last decided that it was a waste of time, studying the Trill's face instead.
"I need your particular expertise in the warp coil injunction array in access port 17. We've gotten the primary subspace-field stabilizers online, but the gyrodyne array managing the starboard nacelle isn't responding like it should be. We'll have to go in and replace it manually. What do you know about Starfleet field coil systems?" He asked, motioning for her to follow as he moved further down floor.
Not as it should be. What kind of analysis was that?
"It is standard for Vulcan engineers to be familiar with all types of Yel-Halitra vessels currently in service or development, and recommended that one can recall earlier ship-classes and their specifications." Well, of course it was logical the ship's resident AI - that hopefully never decided to visit Seleya lest the good ship decided to explode from sheer annoyance – had assigned a warp field specialist to the warp drive. But it would have been helpful to know what 'not as it should' meant in plain Vulcan.
Bemused and experiencing a most unwelcome pang of annoyance T'Yleh gathered up her toolkit, with every single piece it contained perfectly realigned to make even a Starfleet ship sing and purr under their touch, and strode after the spotted one.
"Good, because I've never done it before." He smiled boyishly.
He what? She almost stopped in her tracks and realized that it would be most undignified if she would have to scramble to catch up. Still, her long legged stride faltered for a moment.
"You are the Chief Engineer, yes?" Hard as it was, she managed not to sound … incredulous. Or was this some jest that escaped her? His smile would indicate so, but … apparently T'Yleh was once more missing a crucial element. She wondered if it was too late to ask for another assignment and then decided her pride as an engineer would not allow it.
"And should we not take Jeffery's tube eleven to … oh." Yes, that about … explained why they were going the long way around. What had these people done? This time T'Yleh truly fell behind, staring in mortified fascination at the gaping hole to her left, surrounded by scorch marks and shattered remnants of … bulkheads. Power conduits. A chair? Half a … sandwich?
"Oh man, that's where I left that." Landon scooped up the sandwich without missing a step, and continued on, taking a bite and talking between chews. "Relax, ma'am. I've gone this enough times to know what I'm doing. Never really to a starship before, but plenty of times to the standard shuttle or two." After a moment of humored indulgence at the Vulcan's expense, Landon came to a stop at the far end of the room against the wall. He pulled a large sheet of metal off the wall to reveal a charred and completely destroyed passageway, careful to only use his left arm as he was still nursing the injuries to his right.. Anyone else would have given the shifty entrance pause, but he simply huffed and climbed inside what appeared to be the remnants of the engineering's turbolift. The shaft was all that remained, as the lift itself had fallen past the floorline. It now served as a make-shift plug, to keep the deck stable.
Relax. What was this male talking about? And that wasn't even taking into account the illogic of hauling heavy things around with an obvious injury impeding you when there was a perfectly healthy Vulcan at hand who could have … oh, my.
"Precisely what is this? And I shall refrain from asking how …" he did not even wait to check whether the twisted and scorched metal would bear his weight. Let alone wait for T'Yleh to calculate said matter. Or for T'Yleh herself, obviously assuming she would follow at her own pace.
Apparently she would need to readjust her parameters for how aggravating male non-Vulcans could be.
"This is how we're getting to the injunction array. Up the lift to Jeffery's tube 34, across four deck and down 50 meters to tube eleven." He began to climb, making no point to wait for her to join him.
Scrambling after the spotted one, T'Yleh did not even pause to give the ladder the disapproving look it deserved. Was there any part of this ship they had managed to keep intact? Or at least clean?
And how could he be so insufferably …cheerful about …this?
"Has it occurred to you it might be more economical to simply ask for a new ship?"
Though one had to admit it would be a bit of a shame. Ugly as Charon was … she had a certain valiant, if doggedly stubborn spirit. Something the Vulcan could approve of.
The blackened deck-plates creaked beneath her steps, and even as Landon gracefully climbed the turboshaft's ladder it seemed to groan in protest. "You know, even for a 'Yel-Halitra' vessel, I think the Charon faired reasonably well for being torn to pieces by a Romulan fleet, and then striking the mountain ranges of your homeworld. Given that the Charon is chiefly a scientific cruiser, the fact that she wasn't destroyed outright is nothing less than a testament to her crew's outstanding achievement and merit in the line of duty." He paused and looked down at her, subtly goading her on, "Wouldn't you agree, ma'am?"
Of course she would. And say it out loud the day Nevasa's light turned purple.
"It would have been an achievement, engineer Neyes, to spare your ship an encounter with either the Sundered or mountains. However, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge you did so with admirable intentions. What is this smell?"
The higher they climbed, the more intense and stomach-turning it became. Oh, not the all permeating undercurrent of copper which T'Yleh wisely blocked out. Nor the scent of animal – canine, and a rather … ebullient one – or the Trill himself. Who for an outworlder smelled actually tolerable.
Stopping to sniff the inexplicable and sickening scent, T'Yleh … sneezed.
It took every fiber of Neyes' being to stifle the immediate wash of laughter that overcame him, nearly making him lose grip on the ladder. With a clenched jaw, and a through grinning teeth he managed to say, "Gesundheit."
"Gel-sunay he'et? You mean to say someone roasted a … device for physical health and exercise purposes?" If ever T'Yleh had come across a Non Sequitur, this had to be it. And if ever there was a Vulcan expression of utter bewilderment, she wore it.
"Unless you are using an obscure dialect I am not familiar with."
It seemed the only reasonable explanation. But what this sentence – or word – had to do with this smell was beyond her.
"Peculiar, to use a word I'm sure you're all too familiar with... isn't it? One of the humans said it the other day. Until then I had never heard it before. It's from one of the Earth languages. Universe willing I couldn't pronounce the name right... I swear it's like. Deetch or Doosch, ... Douche. Something... I dunno." He looked down at her and made a face that was pleased, but not in an overly warm or friendly way. In truth he was as much laughing with her as he was at her... well. She wasn't really laughing so he couldn't really claim to share the joke. For him it was the thought that counted.
"It's the oxidized ions leaking from the damaged EPS taps. They're just micro-fractures, but it creates a nasty taste/smell thing. You're a Vulcan, so naturally it's worse for you. Thankfully, Trill are only gifted with excellent hearing and vision, we seemed to escape the curse of superior olfactory perception."
Well, not really. But seeing as an inquiry was like to get her more nonsensical answers, T'Yleh decided to leave the matter of medicinal treatments and odd human expressions for later review.
"However I fail to understand why one would perceive an evolutionary development as a 'curse'."
Ions. Well that would explain the sharp tinge that had made her sneeze. Talk about instincts creating nasty little surprises. She was experiencing aggravation because her body insisted it would be a good idea to run for her life. For if this particular scent were to appear in Vulcan's air she would be well advised to do just that.
He continued to climb and under normal circumstances, the height wouldn't have been a problem. With his bum arm, though, his left arm was beginning to lose strength. Landon found himself pushing to keep steady on the shaky ladder. "We also don't sweat as much as Humans. At least Human men. So I get to smell fresh as a baby all day long. Oh and don't worry, we're almost to deck 6, which is where tube 34 will be."
"Vulcans do not 'worry', engineer Neyes." She tried to sound level and reassuring. Tried. With limited success. He was slow, which wasn't his fault. A blind and deaf Vulcan could have sensed his arm was troubling him. But it forced her to adjust to a pace which by all accounts was one degree above dozing. Making her want to overtake the male, grab him by the scruff and get away from this smell. It would be no trouble at all, with the ship's low gravity that had her muscles insist she could bounce off the turbolift shaft's walls if she wanted to, and her entire system was by now flooded with the abundance of oxygen that saturated this air. How Vulcans living off-world managed to maintain discipline and not accidentally break things every other minute was astonishing. Though logic suggested that if one remained vigilant at all times and adapted … now what?
"Is there a reason we are slowing?"
Slowing even more. She didn't say it of course but the implication was there.
The two paused and exchanged a slight look of masked, but mutual irritation.
Metal. Grating. For a second T'Yleh had not been certain it wasn't her mind translating the scent of tin into the unpleasant sound. Or her teeth gritting. But no, this was … this was …
"If I am not mistaken, and I doubt I am, there is material fatigue occurring above us."
For all the inflection in her voice, the Vulcan might have commented on the weather. But the minute creasing of inky black brows was a clear indication she found this development less than promising.
Landon's face went from annoyance to concern, and he slowed his movement to alleviate any noise that would cover up the sound. "Yeah... my ears hear it too."
And it was getting louder.
The wry comment 'If they did not I might have to amend my statement concerning worry' presented itself but T'Yleh wisely kept her peace and rather canted her head to listen. The groaning and scraping stopped to be replaced by … rumbling.
Alone, she would not have hesitated a second. As it happened, there was a slow, injured and slightly difficult to grab male on the ladder with her.
Out of all the colorful metaphors that would have suited this situation, … the one he used was in fact tame. Fitting. But tame.
"Fyur'ixa d'xja it's a turbolift!" Landon looked up to see a rapidly approaching, free-falling turbolift pod coming straight down at them. Without even thinking, he flipped himself around to the opposite side of the ladder and slid downward until he was level with T'Yleh, grabbed her by the hand and pulled her around. The backside of the shaft had a working alcove space, and he hoped it would be enough to escape. Something told him her Vulcan graces would comply, and keep her from being yanked off the ladder, so he pulled her in close. Her form came quickly at him, then went dark as the turbolift screamed past them.
Landon looked out just in time to see it detach from the grav-rail and crash sidelong down the shaft. A thundering roar filled the tube, followed by a enveloping cloud of metallic dust and debris. He shielded himself and T'Yleh, waiting a few moments until the sound and shaking stopped.
What people rarely consider when they think about the aloof pointy eared creatures who do not at all like to be touched, let alone by surprise and most certainly not by strangers is that aside from the pitfalls of being a touch-telepath, being highly touch sensitive as well can be a real pain. Literally.
'Ow' would roughly be the exclamation any other than a Vulcan would have used for the sudden and unpleasant sensation of being zapped with an electric charge before run over by a truck. Trill. Better than a turbolift however, all things considered.
The main reason T'Yleh refrained from said exclamation – apart from the matter it simply was not done - was that it would have been a tad rude. He had meant well. Just as it would be impolite to point out she would have had a much easier time leaping for the alcove by herself, and made a softer landing, too. Before being hit by a truck.
So she settled for a huff.
Her body was pressed up against his in the tight space, and he chuckled nervously. "We're alive! ...hehe... Yay us!"
There were spots. Not dancing before her eyes which was a good thing, and not green which was even better. But there was an overwhelming sense of … Trill. Everywhere.
T'Yleh blinked. And blinked again.
The spots didn't go away but at least they resolved into markings on a living being's skin. Right in front of her nose. Which explained a few things.
Zero point four seconds later, the Vulcan had enough control over her senses to resist the urge of struggling free and another zero point two brought her to the point of not wanting to punch him.
"However I fear my toolbox is not."
She was rather proud of still sounding calm and composed, despite the fact she was so firmly pressed against the male her every nerve cheerfully reported on it, adding helpful information about heart rate, skin temperature, breathing, scent, imbalance in movements where an arm was …
There was such a thing as too much Trill. Too much information. All at once.
T'Yleh pointed her chin towards the bottom of the turboshaft where like as not the sorry remnants of her tools, yanked from her shoulder when the strap had slid down during Neyes' forceful maneuver, were to be found now.
"Oh. Yeah. We're definitely trapped." Neyes said, looking up at the collapsed shaft above and below them.
They both stood in silence for an odd moment.
"Hey… you work out?"
=/\= TBC =/\=
Ens. Landon Neyes