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Computer Gremlins

Posted on Thursday, 28 May 2020 - 5:31pm by Commander Soral & Lieutenant Alex Kingsley

Mission: Operation: Recall
Location: USS Fontana | Science Lab 1
Timeline: 2393 - MD 13 +


Are you afraid of the dark?

When she was five or maybe six years old, one of her best friends had asked her that question. It was during a localised power outage within the residential complex where many families lived and while in reality it lasted a few minutes at most - it had felt like a lifetime to the youngsters who knew even then just how dependent they were upon technology to protect them. To keep them safe. Yet such times were rare and as she grew, such fears seemed childish. The dark did not in and of itself mean danger.

Unless you happened to be running a biohazard four protocol within a laboratory, safely sealed inside, when the entire section of the ship was plunged into darkness leaving the only light the faint illumination from the faceplate of her suit. She had no major concerns considering she had been finishing up her work at the time and there was zero risk of any danger to the ship from samples which were already secured away. And, she calmly reminded herself, there were backups of backups waiting to kick in.

Yet as the seconds ticked by, the main backup system did not activate.

And beyond her own breathing, there was silence.

At ten seconds she could not afford to wait much longer. Working with practiced hands she isolated the oxygen feed before disconnecting from the central feed which would normally keep her supplied for times like this, when she had been working for hours at a time. Unencumbered now, she swept the cable aside and crossed to the storage locker, pulling it open to remove one of the small oxygen containers. Once again she cursed whoever designed these without imagining how to connect it up in the dark while wearing gloves which were not entirely perfect for nimble work.

With more chance than intent, the two connectors hooked up and her suit did the rest, regulating the flow of oxygen. One problem down, next one. At least she was working alone, meaning the remaining canisters were at her disposal.

It would be, she was sure Soral would agree, be illogical to panic.

As if to emphasise that, the emergency power came online, bathing the room in a dull red light. She watched as the lights above the storage units turned solid green, confirming no lose of integrity and that the samples within were secure. There were three physical barriers between her and them but still, every cloud.

"=/\=Lieutenant Kingsley to Engineering... I need someone to assist with an urgent power outage in the lab - =/\=" She winced as she had an earful of static before the link died completely. Cursing under her breath she tried again without success. Even the computer was not willing to play.

"Great," she sighed, glancing down at the readings on the cylinder strapped to her waist. This day was getting interesting for all the wrong reasons. Yanking open a control panel she knelt down to try and do what she could to help her situation, hoping that someone in engineering had heard her call.

Eyelaya was doing a systems check as requested and two things happened. There was a burst of com static followed by silence which was untraceable and a red light came on telling her a second of the ship had just gone dark. The science lab. She tapped her communicator. "Eyelaya to Science lab."

The static made an angry hiss. She worked her magic and found that there was one life sign. She grabbed her tool kit and headed out.

“... anyone searched for Gremlins on this ship,” Alex muttered as her efforts yielded no results or improvement to her situation. “Or, I’m jinxed. Definitely crazy... talking to myself.” What she wouldn’t give to be with Soral right now.

Soral was on the station. He was on his way to the ship when an eerie feeling passed over him. He stopped, closed his eyes focused. An uncomfortable feeling settled inside him and an image of Alex popped into his mind. He began walking faster his heart pounding. Alex... His mind repeated her name as his walk turned into a jog. He willed her to hear him.

Meanwhile Eyelaya walked began walking towards the lab. It didn't take her long to get there. The door was dead shut. She picked up a tricorder reading one life sign. Taking a heavy decupler she slammed it against the door. "Hello!"

Hearing the commotion, Alex moved to the sealed doors. “Soral?” But clearly it was not him. Separated by sets of airlock doors was a young woman, hitting the door loud enough to wake the dead. Alex grinned. Old school. Holding up the oxygen cylinder the scientist then pointed to her wrist, hoping the other woman would grasp that air was in short supply. Never mind how sickeningly hot her suit was becoming.

Eyelaya got it alright. She held up her thumbs. Kneeling by the panel she yanked it out and then stared. The wires were fused. The door was not opening anytime soon.

Soral had made it to the ship. Alex....Please be alright. He tapped his badge to call her but nothing came through. He fought the panic clawing at him. A humming at the back of his mind started and then....he felt her presence in his mind. It so shocked him that he stopped dead. He grasped the faint thread that was growing stronger. Alex...

Soral... beginning to set out another cylinder in case it were needed, Alex almost dropped the thing on her foot. She could hear him, yet comms were dead and she couldn’t see anyone apart from the engineer hard at work. But it felt like he was right there with her. As impossible as that was.

Having to focus she again took a deep breath before disconnecting one cylinder and attaching the next. With lights on it was much easier. And faster. But the cylinders were intended for short term use. To secure samples and get to the airlock. Adding more pressure though, seemed unwise. Her saviour from engineering was doing what she could.

Eyalaya kept her panic under control as she worked. This was not going well. The problem was a bit bigger then she thought. She was able to establish one way communication. She could talk to Alex but could not hear her. This door lucky had a window. "Eyelaya to Lab. Can you hear me. I can talk to you but you can't reply yet. How much oxygen do you have?" She ran to the little window and looked inside.

Able to hear her voice helped immensely. Moving to the window, she indicated fifteen minutes.

Eyelaya gave a nod. She ran back to the wires where she had routed coms "Gotcha. I'm working on it."

Soral burst forth from the turbo lift. He saw Eyelaya with scattered wires everywhere. "Report!"

"Lieutenant Kingsley is trapped sir. The door won't open. I'm working on it."

Soral ran to the window. He looked at her. "Do we have coms?"

Eyelaya sighed. "Yes. but I have to manually trigger it and you have only thirty seconds before we have to let it charge for a couple minutes."

He sighed and gave a signal. "Alex! Alex come here let me see you." The comms fizzed and burst caught him off guard. He looked at Eyelaya. "Coms is gone."

"Can we transport her out?"

"Transporters down."

He looked through the little window.

There was movement at the other side and Alex appeared, offering him a bright smile she didn’t really feel and he couldn’t really see. He was so close and yet she may as well have been on another planet. It was incredibly frustrating. Especially when the indicator light over the airlock was refusing to budge from red to green. So presently even using the manual levers to get into the airlock itself would do nothing more than change her location, not her circumstances.

If they could get air into the room, it would buy time. She had every confidence nothing had bypassed the safety protocols while she worked. Aside from the lack of breathable air, there was no danger. With half an idea she crossed to the other side of the room, pulling aside a storage locker to get to the panel behind. With difficulty she pried the cover off, looking at the maze of circuitry and levers.

She would be unable to use the lab again for days after this but on balance, it was worth it. She had some serious issues with this lab anyway. Sure, safety systems were great but the room designed of course to be isolated from the ship. One way in. One way out. Transporters could not lock on in here, only in the airlock itself.

Pulling one lever the air inside the room was manually purged, a hissing noise filling the room as air pressure did the work. When it subsided she closed the system again before reaching for the smaller green lever, one which would open a redundant system and filter in air via a small vent from the corridor outside. It would just take time to reach safe levels but far better than the alternative.

Settling back against the bulkhead she settled in to wait. Disconnecting the canister she opened the valve, letting what was left escape as she pried off the helmet and tossed it on the floor. Seated near the vent she was in as good a place as possible. It was as far from the airlock as she could really be, her lungs already struggling as the outside air continued to slowly fill the room. Still she stayed calm. Knowing it would ease. Closing her eyes and reminded herself that help was coming. Soral was coming. And she had faith in Soral and perhaps to a lesser extent Eyelaya.

"Got it!"

Soral turned to Eyelaya, "Report."

"I can open the first seal that will get you between here and the airlock. The door to the inner room is a problem. Once it gets open she will have thirty seconds to run out before the lab seals and all is neutralized. The lab will not be usable for days."

Soral gave a nod. He knew there was more. "And." It was like pulling teeth.

"The second door is the problem."

"Get the first door open." She did and Soral moved through them. He looked through that window and saw her by the vent with her helmet off. He didn't realize what she was doing and thought she was dying. A deathly fear settled over him. In a rush he let out an inhuman roar that would have made a Klingon tremble and that had Eyelaya dropping her tools. He reached for the release valve and with a strength he normally didn't have He pushed the door inwards until it flew across the room.

“Soral!” The almighty noise as the doors bent and fell away was unreal. His name escaped her lips in recognition as she struggled to focus on him. But it was him she had no doubt. It felt odd. As if she had been missing something - beyond air that is - but hadn’t really known it. Ignoring her discarded helmet she began hauling herself to her feet.

He vaguely heard a thirty second count down, vaguely heard Alex. He was through the door reached Alex in ten seconds and pulled her into his arms and out the hatch just mere seconds before the hatch sealed with a force filed and outer doors. Soral held on to Alex as if his life depended on her and in a way it did. He had seemed to be out of himself and now he looked around as if not understanding. "W...What happened."

Eyelaya smirked. "You tore the door off its hinges."

“Soral,” Alex said quietly, remembering the noise and knowing what he had done. “Soral you can put me down...”

He set her down turning away briefly to get his bearing. When he turned back he was more in control. "Report."

Eyelaya looked to the lab. "It's being neutralized completely." She looked at Alex. "I am guessing the work will be lost and we'll have a lot of rebuilding to do..." She smiled a little. "Specially the door."

Soral straightened his uniform. "So there is nothing you can do now."

"No," Eyelaya said. "Not until the cycle is over."

"Please see my wife to the medical bay." He walked away still feeling overwhelmed and perplexed.

Eyelaya gave a nod as he disappeared into the turbolift.

Once back on her feet, Alex had seen the damage on the opposite side of the airlock. It was staggering. And too close for comfort. She had been about to thank Eyelaya when Soral had spoken and it took a few seconds too long for the words to really register. “His what?!”

"The Vulcans have a saying," Eyelaya began wisely. "Parted yet never parted, always touching and touched. It refers to a mental bond. A link that intimately connects one mate to the other. So can you sense him as if he is here with you? Can you feel what he is feeling?"

“I-“ she stopped, her instinct to dismiss it as ridiculous. It was impossible, surely. “I’m not Vulcan. I do have a killer headache and a need to redesign some extra redundancies into that lab. And then Soral. I really need to speak to Soral...”

"Well let's get you checked over first."

“Before that,” Alex said quickly, “thank you. I had no idea if anyone in engineering got my message and if you hadn’t been there, it might have been very different. So thank you.”

"I saw the power glitch and heard static. I'm glad you're okay." She picked up her tools. "Let's go then."



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