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Posted on 16 Aug 2017 @ 2:16am by Chief Petty Officer Odette Farrar & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh
Edited on on 16 Aug 2017 @ 2:23am

Mission: The Finnean Crisis
Location: Shuttle Storage and Maintenance, Deck 12
Timeline: MD5 || 1300 hours

The small space afforded Erica in her capacity as the Black Hawk's Chief of Fighter Maintenance wasn't cluttered, but it was clear that the occupant of the office utilized every square centimeter to its maximum efficiency. This included the space above Erica's desk, where two holographic projections hovered.

One was a miniature replica of the Gryphon, surrounded by a field that kept making minute changes, with a complex equation suspended above it. Erica's focus, though, was on the second image, a holographic projection of a Gryphon's primary phaser coupling. Adjacent to the image was a graph that fluctuated with each entry that Erica entered into her PADD, which only seemed to make Erica frown deeper.

Terry had been meaning to pay a visit to the Chief of Fighter Maintenance and this was as good a time as any. He stepped off the turbolift on Deck Twelve and headed to the maintenance area where the office would be. Upon arrival, he pressed his thumb to the chime.

"Enter," Erica said absentmindedly, her focus still on the holographic projection of the coupling and the accompanying graph. As soon as she saw who her 'guest' was, Erica immediately came to her feet. "Commander Walsh. What can I do for you, sir?"

"Relax, Chief," said Terry. "I'm just stopping in to see how the work goes." He noticed the holograms of the Gryphon and...some part within her hovering above the desk. "Figure it out yet?" He pulled up the only other chair in the room and sat down.

"That's just a side project of mine, Commander," Erica responded, gesturing toward the holographic Gryphon with the fluctuating warp field and accompanying equations. "It's something I keep going on in the background, even when I'm working on another problem. For some reason, the potential distraction to my subconscious helps my conscious keep focused. Something like that," Erica added with a shrug. "What I know about psychology wouldn't fill an old style checklist."

Terry chuckled. "Me neither, Chief. I like the fact that you keep projects running."

"What I'm working on now, Commander, is trying to establish a baseline on both the Gryphon's phasers and computational system." The holographic display of the Gryphon surrounded by a warp field was replaced by a fuzzy outline of a Gryphon with the center line computer system highlighted in bold contrast. "Neither system is a problem in and of itself, at least from an engineering aspect," Erica added. "And my maintenance crews are already up to speed on servicing the fighters. My main concerns are with the potential logistic problems each system represents. In addition, I have concerns about the potential impact on the Gryphon's bio-neural gel packs by the area's...unique stellar phenomenon, is how I believe the Science Division classifies them." Erica paused before adding, "Commander, are you familiar with the old adage, for lack of a nail, the horse was lost?"

"No, I'm afraid I'm not," said Terry. "But your concern about the bio-neural gel packs being affected by the oddities in space. We need that taken care of immediately, especially if we need the fighters. Can you get your crews on this?"

"We're running level three diagnostics on the phaser and computational systems every time we take a fighter off the flight deck," Erica answered. "This is in addition to the normal maintenance schedule. It's adding an extra half hour to the time spent on each Gryphon, but considering the stellar neighborhood we're in, you won't find any of my people complaining about the extra work. The good news is that we've learned a lot about protecting bio-neural circuitry over the last fifteen years, and all that technology was incorporated into the Gryphons. Still, if you have no objections, we'll continue to keep a hyper-vigilant eye on the bio-neural gel packs, and I'll have a chat with the chief of support craft operations about the ready availability of replacement components. And if we spot something, I'll have a contingency plan to deal with it. You have my word on that, Commander," Erica finished in a no-nonsense tone.

"No objections at all, Chief," said Terry. "I'd rather keep a hyper-vigilant eye on them if you have suspicions than not. And good job for having a contingency plan. Those always come in handy and it never hurts to have at least one. So, outside of work, have you been able to settle in well? My dad always taught me to relax and enjoy myself as much as possible off-duty, because on-duty could last a while."

"Truth be told, Commander," Erica replied wryly, "If they put a replicator and a bunk in here, I'd be happy. At least for a week or so. But once I get everything settled down where I want it, yes, sir, I will be enjoying off duty to the best of my ability."

"Excellent," said Terry. "And you're not the first fighter maintainer I've met that would be happy down here with the craft. Speaking of maintainers, how do you find the maintenance crews?"

"The crew chiefs are a good lot, Commander," Erica observed, "Any of them could step up and do my job without missing a beat. Between them and myself, we're getting all our crews up to speed. And our counterparts with the shuttles are certainly no slouches. You won't have any complaints below the flight deck, sir."

"That's what I like to hear," said Terry. He adjusted himself in the chair a bit. "What other fighters have you worked on prior to the Gryphon?"

"Besides Gryphons, I'm checked out on Peregrines, Falcons and Javelins," Erica clicked off. "When I was at the Technical Services Academy, I spent a few weekends helping a friend at the Fleet Museum restore a..." Erica paused, before carefully pronouncing "Pa-yut puk-hal-ee. I think that's how it's pronounced. A Vulcan fighter from right before the founding of the Federation. And I've done a few walk throughs of holographic representations of the Scorpion and Blood Wing Fighters, though I couldn't tell you the Romulan designations for them. I wouldn't consider myself an expert on either type, though," Erica added wryly, "And hopefully what knowledge I do possess will be of strictly academic interest in this quadrant."

"It sounds like you have quite a bit of experience then," said Terry. "I know we haven't much time to talk since you came on board, but I do like to get to know those who lead my crews. So tell me, what was something that presented itself as a difficulty for you at your last assignment?"

"My two main problems were the fact that there weren't more than 24 hours in a standard day and that I didn't have a Denobulan metabolism," Erica deadpanned. "Other than that, I had no problems with the Joffre. I had a good crew, and not a no load among them. The Black Hawk looks to be shaping up the same way. And with the universe throwing in enough twists to keep things interesting," she added with a wan smile.

"I'll give you that," he replied. "Seems the universe is always throwing stuff at Starfleet. And especially the Black Hawk. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't Q acting up again."

The normally taciturn Erica couldn't resist the pull of her own curiosity. "Have you ever encountered one of the Q, Commander? They were the subject...part of the subject... of a lecture I attended at the Services Academy. A rather...well, if the data wasn't so well documented..." Erica shrugged, not really sure how to finish her sentence.

Terry chuckled. "I think I know what you mean. But no, I've never encountered a Q. At least, not to my knowledge. But I've read the reports that are accessible. I'm not sure what I'd do to be honest with you. How about yourself? What would you do if you ever met one?"

"If it's all the same with you, Commander," Erica replied carefully, "I'll reserve my speculations for problems that I can address with a hyperspanner. Speaking of which, since you broached the subject, sir, have there been difficulties you've met in the past that my people can help out with?"

Ohhh, a factual one, he thought. "Well, not really a difficulty, but there was once a Fighter Maintenance Chief who had an issue on the Akira class Black Hawk. Apparently the maintenance crew had started to bring their off duty relationships onto the Flight Deck. The report was rather...vague...on the details. But the scuttlebutt filled it in. Just might want to keep an eye out for that. The bonding agents used down here can be, heh, well, bonding."

"Indeed," Erica responded with an inflection that would have done a Vulcan proud. "When I served on the Implacable, my Chief had a policy about liaisons among crew members serving in the same department." Erica paused before continuing, her voice taking on a rougher timber. "I don't care whose plumbing matches up with whose, so long as they don't wear off the nonskid on the flight deck." Erica cleared her throat before continuing. "Senior Chief Campbell was an earthy sort, but he also had one of the best records of anyone I've ever served under. You won't need to worry about a repeat, Commander."

Terry laughed. "I think I would have liked your Senior Chief Campbell. And if you served under him, I think I'll like you, too. As far as a repeat, I'll hold you to it, Chief." He ran his hand over his bald head. "You might want to check the deck. Some days ago, we had a guy fly a shuttle in here without engines or the aid of the tractor beam from Flight Deck Control. Might be some gouges or scratches or something. Make her shine, Chief."

"Aye aye, sir," Erica snapped back. "Anything else, Commander?"

Terry grinned. "Nope," he said. "At least not at this moment. Anything I can ever help you with, just let me know." He stood up and brushed down his uniform.

"Of course, sir. Thank you, sir," Erica replied, extending her hand as she stood up. "I'm looking forward to serving with you, Commander."

"And I you, Chief." Terry shook her hand and nodded. He turned and made his way out of the office.


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