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Where Are The Stars?

Posted on 13 Aug 2015 @ 7:48pm by Ensign Elisha Cherno & Ensign Quinn Mackie

Mission: Answers
Location: Stellar Cartography

Quinn couldn't believe what he was tasked with.

Sure he knew his way around a computer, but his hands needed to be in a power transfer conduit, making adjustments to the warp drive. Somehow, in the midst of this widespread computer wipe, the warp drive was in perfect working order. And after several days of being adrift, the entire ship was now counting on the small handful of computer specialists aboard who were rebuilding -- reprogramming rather -- the main computer.

After a few days of crawling in the Jeffries tubes, it was nice to have turbolifts again, not to mention fresh, circulating air. Quinn, standing in the turbolift, was amazed how much the crew relied on such simple operations, all rendered useless by one keystroke into the computer.

The doors parted, and Quinn exited the turbolift with toolkit in hand. Though he was thankful for the help, he wasn't sure what good he could do in Stellar Cartography. None of the skilled programmers could come take a look, despite the Captain making re-examination of the X'annon's maps a priority.

Quinn paused outside of the Stellar Cartography door, wondering if he should press the door chime. The decision was made for him, however, when the sensors recognized his approach and parted the doors. Collecting himself, Quinn stepped inside, declaring, "What seems to be the problem..."

His voice trailed off, recognizing the only person in the room and not realizing the possibility that she would be the one he'd have to report to.

"Quinn!" Said Elisha, surprised. "Wow, I didn't expect them to send you. I mean, you know, they must think you're really good to trust you like this," she added, sounding impressed.

Quinn stammered, trying to come up with a response. Somehow words would not form in his mouth. Finally, he was able to pull something together. "Thanks," he said with a nervous smile.

Elisha grinned at him for a moment, not really saying anything. "Oh, right!" she said suddenly. "You probably need to know what the problem is. Well, it's this," she said, pulling up a star chart on the screen. It was perfect. "Apparently, whatever was done to our computers didn't touch the star charts. But," she said, pressing a few buttons to bring up the 3D model in the middle of the room. "You see?" she said.

The 3D model had planets and systems. There were comets, asteroid fields, the whole nine yards, but there were no stars. Planets hovered around blank areas of space. Nebulae had their own light, but tiny pin pricks did not show among them. "I mean, it's minor, but apparently, the problem is ship-wide," she continued. "We went up to helm and pulled up the star charts- they're accessible from there, by the way- but there were no stars on them their, either."

"Have you tried turning it on and off again?" he asked, a smirk appearing on his face.

"Believe it or not, yes," she said. "We've powered the whole system down and rebooted. It took about an hour and it didn't make any difference."

Brushing off the smirk, he stepped up to the console to examine the file formats hidden from regular view. "Looks like we're dealing with some markup language here," he muttered, looking a little more at the file itself.

"I have no idea what that means," confessed Elisha.

"It's a combination of things really," Quinn said, tapping a couple more buttons to show her the actually programming of the map. "All of the data is here, or so it seems, and the markup language tells the computer what to do with it. In some cases, it references other files in the computer, which are there, but what processes this language seems to be missing within the computer."

Tapping another couple of buttons to try and write a reference file for the lab to use to process the stars, Quinn reactivated the map to see if the stars had been restored -- which they had been.

But the planets were now missing.

Elisha's face burst into a huge smile which faded just as quickly. "Well..." she said. "That's... I don't know if it's actually an improvement..."

"Hang on," Quinn said, working with the panel. "Let's try this." The holographic display cleared and then returned with the planets. Alas, the newfound stars had again disappeared.

Elisha's brow wrinkled. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" she asked, looking over his shoulder. "Maybe we need to-" she started, pointing at the screen, but before she touched it, it went blank. "Oh, great," she muttered.

"The computer still isn't up to full capacity," Quinn said with a sigh. Somehow he had felt the need to impress her once he saw that Elisha who called, and now he felt like he failed. After all, up until now their only interaction had been one of both hiding from the enemy and a daring yet rash action to save the ship. "They're saying that it's going to take a team at a starbase to get us back to operational status."

"Meanwhile, how do we plot a course without stars and planets in our maps?" she asked. "I'm sure we can figure this out. Let's try again."

Quinn thought about the situation for a moment. He wasn't the best programmer in the world, and if he were, he'd likely be helping the rest of the crew getting the computer back online. "Wait a second," he said, looking at her, "the holoprojectors should have a redundant set, right?"

Elisha blinked at him. She had no idea what he was talking about. She wasn't a computer programmer, after all. "Um..." she said. "Okay?"

"Here," he said with a smile. "When I tell you," he said, leading her to a nearby console. Quinn tapped a series of buttons and gestured to a flashing purple button, "Press this."

"I think I can handle that," said Elisha with a grin.

Keeping his smile as a reply, Quinn stepped back to his console and entered a new string of commands. Let's hope this works... "Three... Two... One... Now!"

Elisha pressed the flashing purple button and turned to look. First, everything went off. Everything. It was completely dark in Stellar Cartography. "Um..." said Elisha, blinking into the darkness.

Then, lights started appearing on the consoles again. Elisha went to the nearest one and read what it said. "Primary computer rerouting to secondary sensors," she said. "Secondary sensors online. Primary sensors online. Rerouting to holoprojectors. Primary projectors online. Secondary projectors online. Retrieving Star Charts." She turned to see the stars and planets resolving themselves in the air. She turned to beam at Quinn. "That was brilliant!" she exclaimed happily. "I could totally kiss you right now!" She turned back to the stars and planets, checking them against the maps in her head. Everything seemed to be in the right place.

Quinn froze for a moment, surprised by her declaration. "I..." he stammered. "I'm... just glad it worked." Forcing an awkward smile on his face, he stepped closer to her, noting her focus was on the maps in front of her. "It is working... right?" he asked, looking at the projection. He knew little about star charts and what was being displayed, but he focused on looking for distortions and glitches in the holograms.

Elisha grinned at him, amused. "Relax, Quinn, I'm kidding," she said. "I'm not actually going to kiss you. But, yes, it looks like everything is working properly."

"Oh," he said, relieved and somehow... He shook his head and kept his gaze on the map. "So what are you working on anyway?"

Elisha opened her mouth to answer, but closed it again. "I can't remember," she said. "I spent so much time trying to get the stars back before I called engineering that I can't remember what I was supposed to be doing."

"I know what you mean," Quinn said, reaching up to rub his closed eyes. "I don't think anyone has slept the last few days."

She sighed. "Well, I suppose I'd better go find Lieutenant Carmichael and ask him what I'm supposed to do now that the virtual imaging is working again," she said. "Thanks. You know. For everything."

Quinn smiled back at her, though it was still strained by fatigue. "You're welcome," he said. The cadet could tell that Elisha needed to focus on her tasks, so he excused himself from Stellar Cartography and left the room, likely for another project Lieutenant Dicon had for him. Once out in the corridor, however, he paused and looked back towards Cadet Cherno who was still hard at work. Somehow, he felt...

The engineer shook his head. No... he thought, stepping away at last, allowing the doors to close as he ventured to the nearest turbolift.

 

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