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Routine Inspection

Posted on 06 Nov 2017 @ 4:53pm by Lieutenant T'Pai & Captain Harvey Geisler

Mission: Crossing Over
Location: Main Engineering
Timeline: MD2 || 0800 hours

Embarking on his daily inspection of the Black Hawk, Harvey, armed with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, preferred to start at the bottom of the ship and work his way back to the bridge. As the ship was just settling into life outside the Zone, Harvey didn't expect much from his officers. If anything, this would simply provide the Captain with a fresh pulse of his crew and ship.

With this in mind, Harvey entered the large Main Engineering, where the warp core slightly pulsed among a quiet backdrop. Now, if only he could find the ship's Chief Engineer...

In Engineering Lab Four, T'Pai was studying a holographic image of a n-orthotope floating in the middle of the lab. On one side of the hologram was a small, miniature figure that bore a striking resemblance to the Black Hawk.

"Computer, adjust tessalation, set coxeter notations to four three three three." Various shapes began forming across the orthotope, then began moving in seemingly random patterns."

T'Pai was about to issue further instructions when her commbadge chirped.

She tapped her badge and answered, "T'Pai!"

"Lieutenant, the Captain is looking for you," one of her engineers informed her.

"If you would direct him to Engineering Lab Four, I would be appreciative. T'Pai out." The Vulcan engineer turned her attention to the hyperrectangle floating in front of her. "Computer, input data from latest Convergence probe." Minute changes occurred in the shape.

Captain Geisler arched a single eyebrow like a Vulcan and thanked the engineer who relayed the message. Before immediately leaving the massive engine room, he circled the room, taking note of various displays, gauge readings, and status indicators.

Engineering Lab Four was not far from the engine room. The doors' sensors quickly noticed the Captain approach and parted ways, bidding him entrance. "Lieutenant T'Pai?" he called out as he entered, not quite looking around first to see what the Chief Engineer was up to.

"Computer, reduce holographic image to one tenth size," T'Pai ordered. The holographic image immediately went from room size to a roughly thirty diameter object. Turning to face the Captain, T'Pai assumed a "parade rest"stance and asked, "How can I be of assistance, Captain?"

Harvey sipped his coffee and made a waving motion with his right hand. As soon as he could speak again, he said, "At ease, Lieutenant. I'm aware of what protocol dictates, yet I'm not a fan of everyone stiffening up whenever I enter a room."

"Of course, Captain," T'Pai replied, though she maintained a formal stance. "Was there something specific which you wished to discuss?"

The Captain paused, surprised by the question. It struck him a moment later that she had not been his Chief Engineer long and was not used to his habits. "Actually, Miss T'Pai, it's an inspection." Before allowing her a chance to respond, he poked his coffee mug at the image. "What's this you're working on?"

"Computer, restore analogue," T'Pai ordered. Instantly the image T'Pai had been working on became it's normal size. "This is an n-dimensional model of the Convergence Zone, represented three dimensionally. I am constructing this representation from previous readings and attempt to penetrate it. We have started a series of experiments to assess the accuracy of this model. If our predictions are correct, we should be able to determine a method for successful penetrates of the Convergence Zone."

Harvey nodded slowly, studying what he could of the image. "You know," he remarked. "One would say its foolish for us to do what the Vasco da Gama could not do in seventeen years, nor the multiple attempts of those trapped inside the zone to escape it. On the other hand, stowed safely aboard this ship, we've got living proof that we'll do it anytime in the next thirteen months. What do you suppose that makes us? Arrogant?"

T'Pai arched her right eyebrow before shaking her head. "We are proceeding in a scientific matter, Captain. We have examined the data to produce a theory, and are using that theory to predict the results of future experiments. If we accomplish our goal, it will be because of the data diligently collected by the Vasco de Gama. As Isaac Newton once said, 'If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' Arrogance would be discounting the work of others that we have built on."

T'Pai paused before adding, "Although I am not as learned on the subject of temporal mechanics as Doctor Vassbinder at Starfleet Academy, I do not believe it would necessarily constitute a paradox if we do not penetrate the Convergence Zone within the next thirteen months. I do believe it would represent hubris on our part if we attempted to penetrate the barrier without sound reasoning that we can successfully do so, simply because we believe that we are 'destined' to do so."

Harvey grunted, finding some humor in the Vulcan’s response, no matter how unintentional it was. “And what of the massive amounts of data at our fingertips? What chances of success do you give the model you've been inspired to work on?”

"Assuming that observations confirm the hypothesis that the barrier around the Convergence Zone does, in fact, exist in as yet undetermined n-dimensions, it should be possible to develop a sparse grid algorithm that would allow a probe, an auxiliary vessel or even the Black Hawk to navigate into and out of the Convergence Zone unscathed," T'Pai answered. "However, the transition from the theoretical to the practical will still require testing and adjustment of our model."

“Well, we certainly don’t want to use ourselves as a trial run.” Harvey stared at the model for a few moments. “If I recall, the Vasco da Gama never moved past automated testing. I, for one, am not keen on sending in a manned craft on a hunch, even if we are certain it would work. What sort of substitute can we use for a humanoid life form?”

"I would say," T'Pai began, "that the logic of the situation dictates that the first step would be sending in automated probes, as the Vasco da Gama did. If this proves successful, the next step would be remotely controlled vessels with biological specimens. If that stage is successfully completed, a small manned vessel would be. Assuming each of these steps is successful, only then would I recommend that a discussion be entered on the possibility of the Black Hawk trying to enter the Convergence Zone. However, that final possibility could only be entertained if all the previous trials are successful." T'Pai gave an almost human-like shrug as she added, "A tedious and meticulous process, perhaps, but it is my assumption that you would prefer...I believe the human idiom is 'all your t's crossed and i's dotted."

T'Pai paused before continuing, "I will be requesting to be on the first test flight, if we reach that stage, Captain. I must confess that the more I study this phenomenon, the more fascinating I find it."

He could not fault the natural Vulcan curiosity. Undoubtedly it was the reason why Commander Stryk stayed so close to the Convergence Zone since discovering it aboard the Vasco da Gama. "I'll keep your request in mind for when the time comes," he replied to the Chief Engineer. "Though I'm sure I'll have many volunteers for that first flight. As for the process, as long as we can guarantee that we can enter the zone without turning inside out, I have no problem with how long it takes us to figure it out."

"I believe one of your Earth writers once put it best," T'Pai responded, "When he said one cannot go from crawling to flying. There are numerous intermediary steps that must be taken in the interim. Some may find the meticulous process of discovery I will advocate as bordering on tedious, Captain, but I assure you, as your Chief Engineer, I will resist any attempt to proceed to the next stage of observation and experimentation before the previous stage is fully exhausted." The Vulcan engineer paused before deadpanning, "By your estimation, Captain, we have thirteen months before we are 'destined' to enter the Convergence Zone. I see no reason why we cannot utilize all that time."

Harvey grunted this time. "Technically, we've got thirteen months to find whatever this danger is inside the zone and send our warning via probe, which will somehow be transported back in time and return to this side of the zone six weeks ago. The membrame's never been fully mapped, and we know it stretches for at least thirty lightyears in every direction. It could take a while to find what the warning's about, or we could find it instantly. Who knows?"

"All presuming that the probe originated from a future version of our Black Hawk, and not another quantum variant," T'Pai responded, "Though it was my understanding that a scan of the probe found its quantum resonation to be synchronous with the rest of the ship. That being said, Captain, it was not my intention to make light of any time constraint that the Black Hawk might be under. Rather, I was attempting to stress my intention to explore all likely hypothesis concerning the Convergence Zone thoroughly before supporting any escalation in our methods of experimentation and observation, no matter how innocuous any escalation might seem."

"Your understanding is correct," Harvey confirmed. "You are welcome to see the probe for itself. Both versions of it are aboard, so you will definitely be able to corroborate any theories or findings that have been recorded so far. As for your stressing, your intentions and opinions are noted. And, I can assure you, unless we can guarantee safe passage into the Zone, we will not enter."

"Thank you, Captain." T'Pai said with a curt nod, before adding, "I realize you had a purpose in seeking me out, other than to listen to me to postulate about the nature of the Convergence Zone. Was there a specific aspect of Engineering you would care to review? I will confess to something approaching pride in my department's implementation of the most recent corollary to the Diaz field application. It should represent a base increase of three point seven three percent in the Black Hawk's warp field integrity. That is a rough approximation, of course," T'Pai allowed. "If you wish to review the process, Captain, we could proceed to Main Engineering."

He was always amused a Vulcan call such a precise calculation a rough approximation. Harvey supposed an actual number would involve many more digits following the decimal point. "I would like to see that," he told the Chief Engineer. "That is, provided that it won't distract you from this. Any idea what that adjustment will do to our fuel reserves, or even our engine efficiency?"

"The adjustment should have a negligible impact on our antimatter reserves. As for engine efficiency, there should be a corresponding improvement, once the process is completed. As to this," T'Pai continued, turning her attention back to her holographic model, "I was once informed by a human colleague that he found his most productive theoretical work was accomplished when he 'walked away from a problem.' It seemed to me that such an approach would be unproductive, but such has not been the case." The look on T'Pai's face showed she was still surprised by the success of such a method. "So if you will follow me, Captain?" T'Pai said, gesturing toward the door with her chin.

Captain Geisler nodded, taking another sip of his coffee. "Lead the way," he acknowledged, extending his hand towards the door like a gentleman.

 

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