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A Little Thing Like Life Support

Posted on 01 Jun 2014 @ 9:48am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander C. Kos & Lieutenant Commander Thaddeus Quint M.D. & Lieutenant JG Noxa & Chief Petty Officer Tarsa Rogers
Edited on on 01 Jun 2014 @ 12:41pm

Mission: Pursuit

Stepping onto the turbolift with the Ferengi Security Chief, Mackenzie appeared calm, but internally she was freaking out. She hadn't led an away mission like this. She'd been on plenty of them, but never been in charge of one.

"I look forward to working with you Lieutenant," she said to Noxa. "I hope you don't mind if I'm a little nervous."

The Ferengi flashed a toothy grin. "You're not the only one" replied Noxa. "This is my first time on an Away Team as Security Chief" the Ferengi added as she stood next to the First Officer.

Noxa let out a small shrilling cackle. "This reminds me of the Academy. I was once talking to a bunch of cadets pursuing a career in Security and Tactical about how it would be like leading an Away Team. One of them told me it would probably feel like the first time I gave Oo-max" recounted the Ferengi Lieutenant.

"I broke his nose" snorted Noxa.

Mac stifled a gasp. "You did what? I mean, it sounds like he deserved it, but still."

The Ferengi smiled at the Commander. "I made a fist and gave him a good uppercut across the face. It broke his nose and yes, he deserved it" commented Noxa.

"What about you? How was the Academy?" asked Noxa.

Mac shrugged. "It was a pretty standard experience. I was an overachiever, as many Academy students are. I was admitted as an engineering major, with a minor in applied space sciences. It didn't take long for me to decide to add a second major in interstellar relations. That was manageable, but then I opted to pursue a certificate in advanced starship systems, which made it so I took classes during every intersession." Mac sighed. "It wasn't always easy, seeing my friends go off and have fun during the term breaks. I didn't mind missing out on the travelling they did since I did a fair amount of that growing up. See, my father used to work for the Federation Diplomatic Corps and tended to get reassigned pretty regularly."

Noxa shook her head "You must have been under a copious amount of stress, Commander" said the Ferengi. She sighed "This is why I'll never be in command of a starship. I think I'll just make Lieutenant Commander years down the road and that will be it. There's no way I'd pass a Bridge Commander's examination and even if I did who would ever take me seriously?"

"Yeah, it was stressful. I just wanted to be a systems engineer, but I loved what I learned from my parents. Like I said, my dad works in diplomacy and my mom is a scientist, astrophysics mostly. I had a working knowledge of both fields because of them, so it made sense to expand my knowledge in the hopes of opening up additional opportunities down the road."

Mac looked at the Ferengi woman. "I had zero interest in Command. Thought I'd stay in the engine room until I retired. Things didn't work out that way."

"And for what its worth Lieutenant, I'm sure you'd make an excellent Command officer if you decided to go that route. If you are interested in it, I'd be happy to provide whatever guidance I can," Kos said with a smile.

Noxa nodded. "I might have to have lunch with you one day Commander" said Noxa.

"Sounds like a plan," Kos responded. "And in private, feel free to call me Mac. All my friends do," she smiled.

Noxa shook her head "I'm not all your friends. I'll find something unique for myself" said the Ferengi as she thought for a few moments before nodding her head.

"Kenzie" added the Ferengi. "Or if you would rather... I could shorten it to Ken" joked Lieutenant Noxa.

"You could," Mac chuckled. "How about Zee? Honestly, as long as we avoid my first name, you can call me just about anything."

Noxa smiled. "I'll be sure to remember that."

The lift deposited them just down the corridor from the transporter room. Entering, they went to the adjacent equipment lockers and pulled out EV suits. Mac hated wearing them, but she hated the thought of dying from lack of oxygen even more.

The doors hissed open and three suited crewmen entered. Two of them she knew to be Chief Tarsa Rogers, a tough systems engineer with more than 30 years in Starfleet, and Ensign George Thompson, an engineering generalist about a year out of the Academy. She presumed the third person to be Noxa's security officer.

"Chief Rogers. Ensign Thompson," Kos said to Noxa and the other suited crewperson.

Noxa looked at the two and gave them a small nod. "Pleasure" she said greeting the two.

The doors parted again and Mac turned, expecting to see the Black Hawk's Chief Medical Officer. She was not disappointed.

Thaddeus Quint walked into the transporter room, looking none too pleased. After all his stints serving on Starbases and at Starfleet Medical, drawing away team duty was yet another reminder he was a long ways from home. Not to mention away team mortality rates were among the highest in the fleet. Still being new to the Black Hawk he was still a stranger to the people in this room.

Deigning to offer a nod in greeting to the others, about as sociable as he usually got, Quint quickly donned his EV suit. He was surprised he didn't slip and embarrass himself in front of everyone. With the exception of refresher courses every few years, it had been over ten years since he actually had to wear one on duty. Clipping his medical tricorder and medkit to the suit, he indicated with a simple hand gesture he was ready.

Mac nodded curtly. "Let's go." The six Black Hawk crewmembers took places on the transporter pad. "Energize Miss Jenerou," Kos called to the transporter operator.

Materializing in the engine room of the small vessel, Mac looked around to get her bearings. It was a small room, which was not surprising on a ship that small. "Chief, Ensign, get to work on life support. I'll check out the other systems myself in a moment."

Noxa materialized and took a quick look around. She was ready with a phaser as was her security support. "Don't go too far out of my sight, Commander."

"Of course not Lieutenant. I do not want to get on your bad side. I like my nose the way it is," she smirked.

The Ferengi simply flashed a smile.

A prone body in the corner of the room caught her eye. "Doctor, see what information you can gather from the corpses."

"Right, Commander," Quint said resignedly. He pulled his tricorder off his belt, magnets were useful things, and clumsily started poking at it with his gloved fingers. The EV suit would make things harder, but he bent down to start inspecting the first body he saw.

Mac padded to a small computer screen. The display was difficult to understand, in part from its heavy use of a language she wasn't familiar with. Pulling out her tricorder, Kos tied the small sensing device into the display and utilized the handheld unit's built-in translating feature. She quickly deciphered the readout. It was a power system monitoring station. It looked like the small vessel was operating on a single small reactor that was only running at about 40%. "Chief, how much more power will you need for life support once its operational?"

The older systems engineer touched a few controls on her own tricorder. "Not much. Couple, maybe 5 megawatts sir."

"I'll see if I can get this reactor to spit out enough juice for you," Mac responded. When she went to touch the computer screen, a small explosive noise erupted from behind a nearby bulkhead.

Quint had wondered off away from the rest of the team, the wrist beacons on his EV suit providing illumination as he went from body to body, checking for signs of life. Naturally there were none, and the causes of death were what you'd expect in a violent space encounter. The doctor just mumbled to himself, in disgust as he scanned yet another body. Not that this one was any more alive than the rest, but how he died was interesting.

"Commander!" Quint raised his voice as he tried to recall her name. He supposed it didn't matter at this point given there was no one else likely to answer to that rank, then it did occur to him, as he read the personnel file, even if he hadn't met her before today. Then he recalled the EV suits were connected to an active comm line and spoke in a more normal tone of voice, "Commander Kos! Something here you might want to look at."

Mac, hearing Quint's call, whipped around in the direction of the Chief Medical Officer. "What have you got?" she asked as she approached him.

"A lot of bodies," Quint said almost snidely as if that was a great revelation, before going on, "I've found six in this compartment alone. About what you'd expect. One poor fellow died from an exploding console... seems even races on the other side of the galaxy can't design a console that won't blow up in your face during an emergency." Quint shook his head as much as he could in the EV Suit.

"Another two died from simple oxygen deprivation I'm sure that was slow and agonizing.... and two more were apparently suffering blunt stress trauma... one snapped his neck, so at least that was quick, though the other died from a ruptured kidney so that wasn't," Quint went on almost grandiosely before gesturing to the corpse before them, "This last one here died from a phaser impact. And unless my tricorder scans are lying to me it would seem to be of Federation origin. We use very specific beam setting frequencies. The question of how that could happen has a few answers, none of them good."

"Are you certain its Federation issue? Any chance it could be a non-Federation weapon re-tuned to emulate a Starfleet signature? Noxa, what do you think? I want all possible options."

Quint shrugged, though is likely barely showed with his EV suit being on. "I'm not the weapons expert," the doctor stated, gesturing to the Ferengi, "but seems to me it would take a fairly deliberate effort to emulate our specific beam settings. The dispersal pattern in the tissue is proportional to our settings but I'll have the body beamed to the ship and an autopsy done on it to get something more concrete than a tricorder scan. Either way we would seem to have a problem."

"Fortunately, I am a weapons expert" said Noxa with a small glance at the medical doctor. "However, your assessment is accurate. Federation phasers have specific beam settings.... yet I am not ready to rule that a Federation issue phaser was used" responded the Ferengi.

Noxa looked at Commander Kos "Looks can be deceiving. We have not had contact with nearly enough Gamma Quadrant species to rule out the possibility one uses a beam setting similar to or identical to our own. Additionally, we cannot rule out the possibility that some phasers were left around the Quadrant from the war nor the fact that the Federation has a trade route in this quadrant and piracy has been on a light increase" the Ferengi added.

"Chief," Mac called over to helmet's built-in comm. "How much longer on life support?"

Chief Rogers touched a few controls on her tricorder. "Give me seven minutes and we'll get the bare minimums running. It'll keep the air just breathable and the temperature cold, but not dangerously low."

"Excellent. Get it up. Doctor, get the body beamed to the Black Hawk and then you, Noxa, and I are heading to the command deck."

It did not take Noxa long to perk to attention with weapon in hand after Commander Kos laid out her plan.

Quint rolled his eyes briefly. Rather than argue with the security officer, he simply tapped his combadge and hailed the Black Hawk to have the body beamed to the morgue. He did his job and alerted them to the possibility, if they wanted to ignore it due to hopeful thinking, well that wouldn't be his fault. The body soon dematerialized in a shimmer of blue-white light. Quietly reflecting on how many corpses were involved in his first away mission in years, the doctor wondered how he ever saw the concept of joining Starfleet romantic in his youth as he fell into step with the two female officers as they headed towards the command deck.

Noxa observed as Commander Kos began to step forward, taking the lead towards the command deck. The small Ferengi quickly picked up pace and gently grabbed onto Kos' suit. The Ferengi asserted herself ahead of Kos.

"I'm first in and last out" said Noxa firmly. "No offense, Commander but you are a little more valuable to Black Hawk than I am."

"No need to worry Lieutenant. I've been around long enough to know the rules," Kos replied.

"I'm sure we'll be quite safe from any zombies on the command deck," Quint remarked rather sardonically from the rear, as his tricorder still wasn't showing any signs of life. Though they would doubtless find more corpses there as well.

"That's 'cute' Doctor," Mac said in response to Quint's snarky comment. "Stow that talk for now."

Cute? Well there's a word Quint didn't often have associated with him, even sarcastically. Restraining himself from making another flippant remark, the doctor simply shrugged and trudged on.

Kos motioned to Noxa. "Lead on Lieutenant."

Lieutenant Noxa continued onward, leading the others behind her. Zombies... wonderful thought Noxa as she moved onward. "I do not do zombies"

=/\= "Geisler to Kos." =/\=

"Kos here," Mac replied, slowing her pace. She had never been very comfortable in an EV suit. Most people weren't. "Go ahead sir."

=/\= "We've just had a visit from the Ferengi," =/\= replied Harvey's irritated voice over the comm. =/\= "They have salvage rights to that freighter. Let's collect the dead and be on our way. We've got somewhere to visit." =/\=

Noxa rolled her eyes. "Typical Ferengi" she said shaking her head.

"Understood sir. Give us 15 minutes."

=/\= "Will do. Geisler out." =/\=

With the comm signal closed, Mac looked at Quint. "Doctor, locate and prepare all of the bodies for transport. Lieutenant, give him a hand."

"Oh nice, eight years of medical school, surviving a war and dozens of medical papers authored only to become an undertaker for some Ferengi scavengers," Quint remarked ruefully, rolling his eyes as he turned to leave the bridge to start in on the task. Having the bodies beamed aboard would be easy enough. Making sure they got them all in fifteen minutes wouldn't be.

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Chief Petty Officer Tarsa Rogers was nearly ready to get life support to 50% of normal when her communicator chirped.

=/\=" Kos to Rogers." =/\=

"Go ahead Commander," Tarsa responded, not taking her attention away from the small readout display before her. She and Ensign Thompson had managed to pull off a life support reboot with essentially no power, a feat she was incredibly proud of.

=/\= "Stop repairs. Someone has already laid claim to salvage." =/\=

'Son of a bitch,' Tarsa thought to herself.

"Understood sir."

=/\= "And Chief?" =/\=

"Sir?"

=/\= "Let's make sure we leave things as we found them." =/\=

"Aye sir," Rogers replied, a smile creeping onto her usually stoic countenance.

She allowed the comm signal to close before she chuckled. "You heard the Commander, Ensign. Stop working. Its time to have a different kind of fun."

"What do you mean Chief?" the young inquired, seemingly having not considered the meaning of Kos' request.

"The Commander wants us to leave things as we found them."

Thompson stared blankly at her from behind his EV suit helmet. "Right..."

Tarsa sighed. "So she wants us to leave this vessel to the salvagers in the same condition as it was when we arrived. In other words, no working systems. We get to do a little deconstruction."

Ensign Thompson smiled as he gained understanding of their new orders. "I always did like taking things apart as a child."

"That's why you're an engineer," Tarsa responded. "And you are still a kid," she continued, as she had more than 20 years on the Ensign. "Now see if you can undo the EPS conduit graft from the secondary life support trunk relay."

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Close enough to the allotted fifteen minutes, the combadge beeped cheerfully.

=/\="Quint to Kos," the doctor's voice came, sounding somewhat exasperated, "We have the coordinates of all the bodies uploaded to the transporter chief... well short of anyone being in between stuck in the crawl spaces between decks or something, we did only have fifteen minutes."=/\=

"Good work Doctor. Kos to Rogers. You done Chief?"

=/\= "Yes sir. The ship is as bad as when we arrived. Perhaps worse." =/\=

Mac smiled. "Well done. Stand by for beam out. Kos to Black Hawk, bring us home."

 

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