The Assistant Chief
Sojourners of Time
Location: Computer Core Control Room
Timeline: Mission Day 6 at 1600
[Mission Day 6]
[Alpha-Beta Shift Transition; 1600 hours]
[Computer Core Control Room (Lower)]
"Careful Noah. Go easy. I know you're cold." Chief Basheer chuckled, producing ghostly puffs of breath. Noah's too-wide smile issued its own, between the chattering of his teeth. The Computer Core was a tale of two climates- the muggy warmth of the control room where even the massive heat sinks optimized the core's temperature to an operational medium. And then within the core itself- frigidly cold and dry, the beneficiary of those heat sinks. Here, with so little heat to encumber its sheer processing might, the brain of the Sojourner could operate. And Noah Balsam had been helping Chief Basheer perform some brain surgery.
Hands gloved and in a shiny metallic quilt-weave of a thermal coat on his skinny person, Noah was carefully extracting the Bio-Neural Primes. Despite shaking with cold he did his best to slide the tray out smoothly. And then he peered into the gelatinous-plastic sac of bio-artificial neurons. "Pink," he reported to Basheer. His teeth chattered just after. With the squeal of a PADD, Basheer duly recorded the gelpack number and health screen while Noah scanned it with his tricorder.
Then he eased the tray back into place and, with a hiss, locked it safely.
"Good," Basheer said. "Now, as you'll see on your Tricorder, the Primes need an HR-NT between 95.1 and 98.7. Any lower than that and there's neural degradation and we need to bring in the Neuragabtin. So this," and Basheer spanned his fingers out in a gesture at the tray, "Is alright. It's not affected by any virus. Now if its over 98.7, it's in overclock. And that's fine for a short period of time. But we have to monitor it. Anything longer than twelve hours above that and we need to rotate to the recursive primes. We're pretty far from any kind of resupply, so it's best we baby the Primes. Understand?"
Noah nodded once. "Yessir."
Basheer straightened, "Good. Dismissed from this lesson, Cadet. I understand Engineering needs an update on the Index heuristic kinesis subroutines, and Xenolinguistics has requested the lingo-matrices for Talbeethian be uploaded to shipwide ULT. On your way."
Noah nodded again. "Y-yessir," he said as he turned. His gloved hands grasped the frigid ladder and he climbed down through two of the silo-like decks of the computer core's kernel operations. When finally he touched the door key to the control room, he was hit by the familiar wave of muggy heat. He gasped at it, his body trying to find quick equilibria between what had to be a difference of nearly fifty degrees centigrade. Feeling slightly nauseous and prickly at the sudden change, Noah was quick to unzip and peel away the reflective thermal layer of his coat.
The medium navy of his SOJO undershirt bore snugly across his slender frame as he shouldered off the coat and hung it in its place. His face, already breaking up in a spritz of heat, frowned and he turned attention to his usual monitoring station. "Index," he called as he loped to his chair. The bald, mildly androgyne-feminine form of a being in a white one-piece body glove appeared. Noah, meanwhile, grasped a headband-like device with an optical HUD eyepiece. He pulled it down over his lank curls and fixed the eyepiece in place. "Index, set update mode for..." Noah bent and tapped at his console. "Heuristics subroutine, real-time kinesis code line 1167-Echo-Terra. Enable modification, authorization Balsam Iota 71 Iota Charlie Delta 6 Ampersand."
The doors of the Control Room whispered open as Noah bent and fished one of his last pistachio-flavored saltwater taffies from a small dish.
Magarar was heading towards the Control Room doors after she had finished instructing a number of engineers in their latest tasks. The five foot tall Antican called back, "Rogers, I want the warp resonance patterns on my desk in thirty minutes. Decalb, run another simulation on the modulators. The last one showed a .033 variance in the regulators." Engineers scattered as the sought to do the Antican's bidding.
Margarar was whirling around like a tornado that had just touched ground, as she complained, "Now, where the hell is that data on the heuristic kinesis subroutines?" Immediately after entering the Control Room, she spotted a cadet in an alcove, just having popped a candy in his mouth. "Food is not permitted in here. Spit that out, Cadet. And not in this room! I will not have you messing up the equipment with your bacteria or whatever that qualifies as food." She looked him over seriously and asked, "Are you even old enough to be away from your parents? You look like you just barely learned how to walk."
Noah went ridged, his lanky bare arms to his sides, his chin up. His nearly black eyes had anxious worry in them like a frenetic miasma of concerns, standing orders, regulations, counter-regulations were swirling in his head. The taffy had stuck into his teeth and glued, stickily, teeth together. "Um," he uttered a rounded sound around the taffy. Noah got his first look at the being that had assailed him. He didn't recognize their species. "Uh-um..." As the officer went on- asking if he was even old enough to walk, let alone be here, Noah frowned. He reached into his mouth and extricated a drooly, sticky, stodgy jump of bright green. He wiped at his mouth with his wrist.
"I-I'm twenty-one, Sir... I took five years of-of training at Academy..." His worried brow flexed while he bent and retrieved his wrapper. He carefully pushed the wad of gooey taffy into it and folded the paper around here.
"Do I look male to you?" Margarar complained. "Honestly, do they not teach young whelps anything in the Academy anymore? I'm a ma'am, regardless of whether you think that 'sir,' is still appropriate from your teachers. And I'm 20. So, your being 21 is no excuse. This must be why your species has a longer lifespan. It takes you twice as long to formulate a sentence." The Antican gave the cadet a toothy grin, her canines sparkling in the Control Room's light.
"S-Ma'am, a superior officer is a Sir until c-counter-in-indicated by said officer, Ma'am." Noah replied back. Noah's mind was racing. His mouth couldn't keep up with his brain. The unnerving smile looked not friendly but predatory. He'd never been treated like this before in Starfleet.
"And pick up your jaw from the floor. I'm an Antican. First in Starfleet. So tell me, cadet, why is it taking you so long to graduate and what are you doing here, right now besides peeling horrendous looking substances from your mouth near delicate equipment?" The five-foot-tall Antican loomed over Noah to look as imposing as she could.
Noah's eyes flitted to the collar of the person. Two silver pips, full. He swallowed in his throat- swallowing down hurt and nervous energy. This felt wrong. His mind raced to figure out why, what even? It couldn't have been because of candy. "I-I took... I was invited t-to take a year fellowship at the um, the Daystrom Institute?" His eyes drifted away looking for help, then back, "On-on Ishikawa Station." Noah said with a soft voice. To study artificial intelligence, but he didn't add that. He wanted to but he was afraid she would pounce on that.. His eyes wanted to avoid her. Why was she being cruel?
"Ma-ma'am, I-I think there's a misunderstanding. Um. There's no posted food restrictions h-here. Juh-just keep it reasonable..." Noah's runaway mind went to Xenology 212. Some species are abrupt about food because in their societies, it is required to be shared equally- and in some cases, the greater in station was given more. Arcturians thought that way. Maybe Anticans did? It would be a nice peace offering either way. Noah turned and picked up a couple of his precious taffies from the bowl. "Wo-would you like some, Ma'am? It's taffy."
As the smaller-than-he Antican pressed into his personal space, Noah took an instinctive step back. He was from Enceladus- personal space was important. "Y-you're making me uncomfortable Ma'am... Sorry." He put up his hands at chest level to show he wasn't a threat.
Prey. He is prey, the primitive part of her mind called to her. "Not tasty," she told herself regarding Noah, not the taffy. However, she was not about to correct him. "And when on duty, one does not eat," she chided both Noah and herself as she backed off a couple of inches. "It will interfere with the instruments."
She gave a snort of derision before continuing, "So, Daystrom. Theoretically, you're smart. So, cadet, what were you doing here and do you know who has my heuristics kinetics subroutine. I wanted that fifteen minutes ago."
The hands that had risen to show he was no threat shifted enough so Noah could run his fingers up their opposite tricep. He glanced at the coat he'd hung up. "I-I was in the kernel floor? Chief Basheer wuh-wanted me to learn about the gel pack Primes. But..." His lankiness swayed in the direction of the androgyne holo-image. "I-I was just about to update Index's heuristics...."
Margarar's nose twitched and she put her hands on her hips. "And you're assigned where, cadet?" She paused for a moment before asking, "So what are you waiting for? I'm still waiting on my report. Run it."
Blinking his eyes, the MIdshipman issued an exasperated sound. Lankily he moved like a loping stick insect, reaching out for his PADD. "Index, wuh-what is the current packet download status for real-time kinesis code line 1167-Echo-Terra?" He asked, setting his coffee gaze on his data.
The androgyne hologram turned her head to the speaker, "The update patch 1167-Echo-Terra is ready to be deployed."
Noah held his PADD to his skinny chest, "Index, initiate patch for code line 1167-Echo-Terra and cloud-port to all communications devices." Index rippled. "Authorization Balsam Iota 71 Iota Charlie Delta 6 Ampersand." He tapped at his PADD and then turned it side over side to the Antican. "The patch is deployed, Ma'am." He said professionally but with none of the warmth and enthusiasm that made him, him. His eyes narrowed with conflicting emotions as he looked at open space, "I work in-in-in here, wherever the Chief asks."
"Then you should know that I am the Acting Chief of Engineering. I will need things to be done on time and by that, I mean early. If it is not early, it is late. I hope that's clear, cadet," Margarar replied baring her sharp canines before turning on her heels and leaving. She wondered whether she had ever been so lax as a cadet. She certainly hoped not.
A Post By:
Assistant Chief of Engineering
Midshipman Noah Hyman Balsam