Obsidian Command

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Posted on 14 Mar 2022 @ 6:16pm by Lieutenant Elli-Navine & Lieutenant Commander Lance Quinn (*)
Edited on on 27 Mar 2022 @ 8:35pm

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Timeline: tbd
1915 words - 3.8 OF Standard Post Measure

"Sorry Sir," Petty Officer Ezzer looked apologetic, her eyes diverting so the top of her furrows of headtails faced him. She felt like she was disappointing the Chief Engineer.

"Hmm? What?" Lance looked up from a deep thought. He was sat cross-legged beside a disassembled piece of technology that it would have been hard for anyone else to identify given the state it was in.

Beside Ezzer, Petty Officer Gordon, a fairly built fellow closed the lid on his tool chest and activated the hover cart's antigrav. He'd just gotten back from being called up to his senior NCO's office and had to tell the rest of the work crew the bad news. Most of them hardly wasted time gathering their tools and had just walked off the job without a word. No one wanted a confrontation with a Senior officer anyway.

"Sorry, Commander." He looked really nervous. Gordon had never countered orders before, but this was different from most scenarios. "Chief Saulis said these labor hours were... misappropriated." The Bajoran man shuffled his feet awkwardly, avoiding most of the swear words the NonCom Chief had when he found the vanity project sucking up man hours needed on sorely hurting system recovery and maintenance. Gordon knew Chief Saulis was right, and that if Commander Quinn pushed back with rank, Saulis had the cajones to take it up with Commander Zayne. "We have to complete the shift on station maintenance. But Ezzer and I plan on coming back on our own time."

"I have a couple of hours tomorrow night," Ezzer promised him with concern. It was obvious this project meant a lot to him, and she didn't want to let him down.

"I see." Lance glanced around the chaotic mess of a workshop-slash-shuttle bay they were standing in. "Don't bother coming back," he said brusquely. Several seconds of silence followed. He imagined Calliope's nudge and whisper in his ear about being polite to people who had put themselves out for him. "I mean...you have given quite enough energy to this project. You should concentrate on your duties."

Ezzer shook her head, saddened. She didn't want to repeat what had been said about Commander Quinn and his dismissive treatment of them. She understood the feelings of the rest of the now disbanded work team, but she couldn't help but think of the project in honor of his wife as sweet, even if she did think it was unlikely to succeed. The rumors about Zahn had just further poisoned the sentiments and she hadn't thought herself likely to convince them to spend their own hours on the shuttle. Now with his sharp dismissal, she regretted caring at all. She just felt pity.

Lance eyed the non-comms pensively. Although capable, they lacked the theoretical talent to really contribute as much as he would have wanted anyway. This is quite frankly beyond them, he reminded himself. He watched expectantly to see if they lingered or not. Either way, he wasn't particularly concerned.

"Come on Ezzie," Gordon said as he trucked off his tool chest. As the two of them put space between themselves and Lance, Gordon not so discretely added. "You don't have to come back here at all. I'm not."

"I feel sorry for him," she said as she looked back over her shoulder.

"Don't." Gordon counseled as he opened the bay door exit and followed her into the service corridor.

The door hadn't shut behind them before a Grazerite woman entered the shuttle bay, shouldering satchel and tool cases with her arms full of study materials. "Okay! I think I understand about the strong force variance in the chaos element. If a subatomic secondary prediction can be factored there may be a differential margin of error within which we can— whoa." Elli's excited voice suddenly cut off as she looked around at all the missing laborers who were typically there each evening when Commander Quinn finished his primary duties. Instead it was echoing and silent, the active energies drained from the bay. She paused just shy of where the man was sitting alone. "Is everyone on break?"

"They were slowing me...us...down anyway," Lance replied, the tiredness in his voice cracking through just a hint. "Did you bring the radial flux compensator? We should be able to bring the particle modulator online."

Elli pulled the heavy, squat cylindrical piece out of her satchel. "Yes, I just picked it up from the shop. But the machinist said something about needing a different work order if I make any other requisitions. He said that one got closed out earlier this afternoon. He finished the casing for me as a favor." Elli still seemed a little out of sorts as she passed the compensator over to Lance. "Is there a different requisition process on the station now?"

Lance pinched the bridge of his nose. Likely that was another of Zayne's initiatives. Either he was deliberately throwing bureaucracy around or he was just trying to make the Engineering department's job that little bit harder for Lance to run. "There shouldn't be. Next time you tell him that he works for me and that you have my direct autonomy to order what we require." He was annoyed that it needed explaining that way, but at least she hadn't arrived empty handed. "I'll install this momentarily." He caught a half-glance of her expression. She looked...tired? Uncertain? His insight didn't translate well to people. What would Calliope do? Perhaps make an inquiry? He did a slow double take back to her. "You seem..." he ran through several options of phrasing in his head. "Unsettled."

"It's just... I was going to bleed the plasmic compressors and take a new reading since flooding the lines with test gasses before I left yesterday, but I need someone else on the second valve." She motioned back to the rest of the bay. "Will they be back soon?"

"No." He spoke bluntly. She had told him she was fine, so he moved on to the rest of his thought process. "I can assist with the compressors once I have completed the adjustments to them modulator." He motioned to another disassembled piece of technology nearby. "I also had some inspiration relating to the plasma manifolds last night. We'll need to invert and recompile the capacitors."

"Invert them?" She asked outloud, one ear quirking at the decision. "We just finished the installation. We'll have to redo all the fittings for an inversion. Why the change?"

"I am making incremental improvements. This is not an exact science, and we are dealing with very experimental ideas. Did you not want to explore the possibilities of this Quinn-Navine Drive?" he asked, driving home the point by using its full name; their names. "Sometimes I wonder if this is truly a partnership at all..."

Elli's ears drooped. "I'm sorry, Commander. I know I've been spending most of the time with the reading you supplied me." She felt like she was taken all the way back to academy. "It's just some pretty dense stuff, this Quantum business. And I want to learn it! In fact I'm pretty sure the future depends on me learning it or something over-dramatic like that." She laughed nervously.

"You're pretty sure?" he retorted. "Ms Navine, this could be utterly groundbreaking in the field of advanced propulsion. Honestly I'm stunned you're taking this so blithely..."

"Hey, I'm doing my best to keep up." She thought about the party she was missing...and Tobias' invitation. "I've skipped most of my shore leave to work on this."

"If it is a problem I can put forward a transfer request on your behalf. Then you'd be here more permanently. Without the distractions," he postulated.

Her jaw slackened and she sputtered, taken aback. The repercussions on her life would be enormous. She'd loose the Potemkin! her baby! And her crew who were fast becoming a family to her. She became more guarded, afraid that she was going to make the predicament impossible if she made any further complaint. "No. That won't be necessary, Commander."

"No. It won't be." It was a very final-sounding statement. Indeed, it felt a little like that anyway. The other so-called members of the project had basically abandoned him, and he didn't need to be too adept at reading between the lines to see that Elli-Navine, his supposed co-lead, was simply not in a position to fully invest. His supposed co-lead...not fully invested... He stopped and gazed at the mess of technology strewn across the floor of the bay. Dozens of ideas semi-formed and unfinished. Pieces of his magnus opum...which would never see the light of day if he continued to work like this. Steadily more isolated and alone. Like Calliope...you damned fool.

He put the tools in his hands down. He rotated himself so that he was sitting upright, facing the Grazerite engineer face-on.

"Lieutenant..." he said cautiously. "Speaking honestly, as an engineer, do you believe that every malfunction has a perfect fix?"

"There's usually more than one way to skin proverbial cats, Sir." Elli said carefully, uncertain if she was being tested. "But, depending what the snarl is and why, I think there's always a more elegant solution than we could know yet."

He pondered her answer in silence a moment.

"But no matter what the root problem...we always have that need to try don't we? I suppose it's one of those things that people like ourselves always do. We try to fix it using the skills and knowledge we have accrued." He pushed himself up to his feet, knocking over something that he didn't bother to check. He stepped down onto the deck and put a hand on her shoulder firmly. "Lieutenant Commander Elli-Navine. I owe you an apology. You are a fine engineer, and clearly a bright individual, and I am sure whatever crew you serve with will be incredibly fortunate to have you with them. Alas, as co-leader of the Quinn-Navine Drive project...I feel it is my duty to formally withdraw from the project at this time." He said it with the faintest of smiles on his face. A smile of relief, more than anything. "This..." he motioned to the scattered remains of the shuttle. "Will one day be something special. But today? I think we both have places we really ought to be."

Elli was even more in shock. She pointed back at the project and then back at him, trying to form words. "Well, I uh. There was a band set I was invited to. I guess I could... make it to that."

"Before you go..." he added, marching to the workbench containing all the diagrams, schematics and plans. He fished around for a moment before he found what he was looking for. He grabbed it and walked back to her. "Here." He handed over one of the pamphlets Calliope had passed him. "Since you're already here. There's a beautiful, quiet resort spot just outside of Kalara. Comes highly recommended."

She looked at the pamphlet, unsure how much fun a resort would be on her own. Maybe some of her friends from the department would want to go planet side. But what she really wondered was, "Who uses paper pamphlets anymore?"

Lance smiled again. "Someone who definitely needs to get with the times," he agreed. "And is well overdue a little attention herself."


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