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Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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"What in the...how the heck does that even happen?"

Inside the Quaternary Computer Core, on the bottom level, Alistair stared at the console display in astonishment, not believing what he was seeing. The flashing error code was insistent: the gigantic four deck tall computer core was overheating. The internal thermometers indicated an internal temperature that was a full 300% above the optimum and was rapidly sneaking towards maximum safe operating temperature. Processing speeds were dropping, quantum errors were accumulating and the bioneurals were

In short, the computer core, one of four onboard the Theurgy, believed that it was incomprehensibly hot and was thus screaming for help. Alistair had rushed down the moment that he'd received the alert, half expecting the place to be on fire with steam billowing everywhere, but instead...nothing. The tower hummed away quite merrily, the chamber felt as cool as ever, and even when Alistair opened up an inspection port to peek inside the core directly, it all seemed normal.

"Okay, what are you trying to tell me," Alistair said with a frown, crossing his arms as he looked up at the core. "The other cores are fine, Thea is fine, there's no obvious damage, and we're right next to the warp core so this area is pretty safe. You're obviously having internal heat problems, though..." He placed a hand on the core as he pondered. "You're the quartenary core, you barely do anything at all outside MVAM except manage the warp...systems..."

Alistair blinked as realisation blossomed. "Oh come on...the engineers are messing with you, aren't they? They're did something to the warp core...let's see..." Full of excitement, Alistair turned back to the console and began typing. "There! No wonder you're burning up, the engineers are stealing your coolant...and the electroplasma running into you is running hot too...but Engineering has priority for both, so the alert was overridden automatically. I'll need to recode that...I guess this is the first ship in the class, glitches are bound to happen."

Alistair sighed as he looked up at the warp core. "Those bad engineers have really been abusing you, but that stops now. I just need to track down where all your coolant is being diverted to and give the chief engineer a good...er...well, a polite talking to. It won't be a problem at all."



As it turned out, tracking down the missing coolant was a problem. Alistair, full of vigour to start with, clambered into a Jefferies tube with a large specialised tricorder in one hand, and started crawling. It took him all of ten minutes to find a ladder, stand up in the space (with an accompanying groan of relief), check the code printed on the bulkhead and stare.

"How the..." he muttered in confusion, frowning as he checked his tricorder, which dutifully confirmed that he was on the right path. "How have I ended up two decks down from...but I never...I didn't even...what?"

Baffled, Alistair hopped on the ladder and climbed up, hoping to reorient himself. Upon reaching the next deck, he looked around and was confronted in one direction down a tube, in uncomfortable proximity, by an ass. It was a reasonably shapely ass, all things considered, though Alistair scolded himself that this was a poor place to appreciate such things.

"Uh, hi," he said awkwardly to the buttocks. "Could you point me towards the next primary coolant junction, please? I know it's around here somewhere..."

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #1
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck ??? | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

"Aw, come on!” Technically, Azrin was complaining, but her tone was more of a begging one. She didn’t want to yell at Thea. But really, after all the time and affection she’d given the ship over the past few days, it was only fair that the Theurgy behaved. “Don’t be like this beautiful. I’ve fixed you already.”

It had been a week since she’d been woken from stasis, and since they’d let her return to duty five days ago, Azrin had gone at her job with a zeal that surprised even her, diving — or crawling, in most instances — into the bowels of the ship to repair the remaining damage from what they were calling ‘The Battle of the Houses.’ She supposed that sounded more awe inspiring to Klingons. Personally, Azrin couldn’t help but imagine her aunt’s nice suburban single family home standing up on mechanical legs and lashing out at the neighbor. Then again, she hadn’t slept much the night before, a scant few hours before Kino had barged into her room by mistake. Maybe it was a perfectly frightening name, and Azrin was finally losing it.

Blinking at the conduit in front of her, Azrin shook her head to clear the wandering tangent and refocus. Now, where was she?

Oh yeah, the coolant conduits. How it had happened was a mystery. Could have been from the last battle, could have been from another battle, or maybe someone super strong had needed to release some anger. Point was, she’d found a conduit with a massive dent in it. It hadn’t ruptured, which would have set off alarms, just been forced inward to a deep concave and disrupting the flow until only half the normal amount of coolant could pass through. Somehow, the computer hadn’t registered that as an error, instead adjusting to pull more coolant through adjacent conduits. If she hadn’t been examining the warp assembly and every system that fed into it in detail, Azrin doubted they would have noticed. It should have been an easy fix, but as soon as she replaced the dented conduit, the whole coolant system had gone nuts.

That had sent Azrin back down here, crawling along and pulling off panels at regular intervals to see what was wrong with it now.

She’d replaced the panel and started onto the next one when a voice cut in from behind. Ever at home in the cramped confines of the jefferies tubes, it was an easy matter for Azrin to twist and plop herself into a sitting position. It helped that she was short and thin too. Her sleeves were pushed up to the elbows, jacket and undershirt both partially unzipped. Both skin and clothes were stained in places by bits of grease and other refuse she’d found in her days’ travels. Her hair was similarly a mess, having started in a bun that it was trying it’s best to escape. In spite of her disheveled appearance — or perhaps because of it — The trill grinned readily at the yellow shirted lieutenant. “Hello!”

He had to be from ops. Frank was the only full lieutenant in engineering and she seriously doubted anyone from security was looking for coolant junctions.

“The coolant junction is about five meters that way,” Azrin pointed over her shoulder to indicate. She knew the tubes near engineering like the back of her hand. “Is the computer trying to freeze some of your stuff? Because we’re working on that too. I’m going to make it down there soon, but unless you want to check the conduit on the way, I’ll squeeze to the side and you can get past me.”

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #2
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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Alistair was no stranger to getting his hands dirty, but even he was momentarily taken aback by the stranger's appearance and (stranger still) her cheerful demeanour. Engineers were a weird lot by nature, but even they generally didn't react to being filthy and uncomfortable with a grin. The woman's rank pips at least explained part of her oddness. It was a well known truism that engineers tended to become crazier in direct proportion to increases in rank.

What that implied about Ops officers who had reached two full pips, Alistair tried not to ponder. Instead he peeked past Azrin and spotted the open panel. "I don't think that I need to, actually, if you're dealing with coolant problems too. I figured that the engineers were messing with...oh, I guess it doesn't matter."

Climbing up and then off the ladder, Alistair sat down outside the tube entry and extended a hand inside. "I'm Alistair, by the way, Alistair Leavitt, from Ops. My problem is the computer, or...uh, one of them. The quartenary core just went berserk on me. Coolant pressure is down by 80%, but the computer thinks that the coolant is being diverted to a critical system. It wouldn't tell me which system though, the automatic monitoring systems in half these areas don't seem to be working, which I think is just old battle damage, but it could also be a software incompatability issue with the Klingon-built stuff that we got at Aldea, and I've been trying to track the coolant manually, but...uh..."

Realising that he was rambling, Alistair smiled awkwardly. "Sorry. What I mean to say is that if you're having coolant problems too, then we probably have the same issue. Want some help tracking the coolant down?"

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #3
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck ??? | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

It wasn't a rank thing. She'd always been like this. Her parents had thought it was rather cute until she'd almost accidentally blown up their cargo ship. Then they'd banished her to Trill to learn some restraint. Admittedly, Azrin was pretty sure she hadn't learned restraint, just how to keep doing what she'd been doing without blowing herself up in the process. Or at least the ship, considering she'd spent six months in stasis after nearly blowing herself up in another jefferies tube a few sections adjacent to this one. Azrin liked fixing things. Sometimes it meant explosions. Often that meant getting dirty. Why let something as boring as grease ruin her fun?

"Azrin Ryn, great messer-upper of the coolant system!" She'd caught that. Not that she minded. He was right, engineering had been messing with the coolant. "Normally propulsion, but today's coolant day. Coolant afternoon anyway. Who knows what the night will bring." She was still grinning at the thought.

"I'm following the coolant too. Because there was a problem and I fixed it! But now the whole system is going nuts. There has to be something else wrong that we missed. Don't suppose you know someone who likes spending their free time making massive dents in coolant conduits? There wasn't any damage around it, which was super weird. It's probably old, the rest was fixed and they just forgot about the conduit because it was technically working – badly, but working – but it looked so strange! A big old dent with nice working components for other systems all around." It was obvious that she was enamored by the mystery, as mundane as the likely solution probably was.

"There's way too much coolant going to the warp core. We're diverting it back, but I guess it's not getting to the quartenary core. That’s higher up in the priority list. Even before I fixed the dent, there shouldn't have been enough deficit to pull from there. It could be any of the components we added along the way, or a flaw in the original design. Could also be the Klingon stuff we've been using since we got here."

"Anyway, you're welcome to come along. The more the merrier! Do you have someone monitoring the computer core? I've got people monitoring the warp core who can watch the computer temps too." With that, Azrin flipped back around and started crawling down the tube again, onto the next panel on her list. This time, she went slightly past it and turned around, so her butt wouldn’t be in Alistair's way and he could get a good inside too.

"Ok panel 27-3-19, tell us all your secrets," she enticed as she pulled the housing off.

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #4
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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Thus invited, Alistair duly crouched down and began crawling into the Jefferies tube. "I just put the core to sleep and enabled secondary cooling protocols," he said nonchalantly as he edged up to Azrin, his knees already protesting. "That core mostly handles warp drive systems and provides redundancy, anyway, so we're fine while in orbit. Thea is keeping an eye on the other computers, just in case. She has enough processing power to spare for three dreadnoughts worth of computers, so she didn't mind."

It was uncomfortably cramped for the two of them to look inside the same space, but Alistair, focused on the new problem, barely noticed. Azrin's cheerful disposition was proving infectious, though, as he smiled briefly at her before looking at the coolant conduit. They looked...well, like pipes. Even aboard a state-of-the-art 24th century starship, a pipe was still a pipe. A small screen affixed above the two pipes offered some control, but if that failed, good old fashioned levers and valves still did the trick.

"I guess you handle the hardware checks, I run the diagnostic, and we get through twice as fast," Alistair suggested to Azrin with a shrug, sitting back on his rear to be more comfortable before starting to poke at the screen. "The last coolant system that I checked out was a hundred years older than this one, an old Oberth, but I guess that not much changes if it works. This system is a bit prettier, though. As starship cooling networks go, anyway...I don't have much of a frame of reference."

Feeling increasingly warm while sharing a confined space with another person, Alistair idly unzipped his jacket and shirt halfway before getting back to work. "Looking fine so far. Pressure is 28% above nominal, but that's no surprise given how much coolant is being jammed through these conduits. The monitor looks good and structural integrity is fine, so there's no chance of the conduit breaching on us. Probably. That's always nice."

Unperturbed, Alistair added thoughtfully, "You know, it could be a software problem. There are thousands of kilometers of conduits running through all over the place, and Starfleet hasn't got much experience building starships as big as Thea. The programs that automatically manage coolant could've just burped when they processed the anomalous damage." Glancing at Azrin, he grinned. "That's a technical term for us code monkeys, I swear."

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #5
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

“I should have thought of that!” Azrin blurted out at the mention of the ship’s AI, who she desperately wanted to meet after Lieutenant Arnold had name dropped her a few days prior. “A year on this ship — give or take — and I still haven’t met Thea. How sad is that?” The engineer didn’t wait for an answer. “Every time I request something from the computer, I hope she’ll answer, but it’s always normal computer responses. Though I guess that is her answering? But not really answering, if that makes sense? Hey, if you work on computers, do you work on Thea’s core too? Can I see it?” Even by Azrin’s standards, she was slightly, massively fixated on the Theurgy’s unique technologies this week. They were the bright things to focus on, as opposed to the general horror show she’d woken up to.

“Actually, no, wait. Coolant first. Sorry.” The trill shrugged, but her eyes were still twinkling brightly, not the least bit apologetic. “I get overexcited.” That was an understatement.

Azrin was on her knees. Less comfortable, but easier to lean forward if she needed to get closer to the now revealed pipes. She nodded as his suggestion, already scanning the hardware inside with a tricorder she’d pulled from her side. “Did you serve on a Oberth before? Sounds fun. Old ships like that always need a special kind of TLC. New ships, especially proof of concepts like Thea, are a different challenge. The system is basically the same, but way more complex.” Azrin bit her lip, thinking back to Frank’s comment yesterday that current ship designs were actually too complex, to the point of becoming a flaw. “All the multivector options led to some design chaos.”

The tricorder revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Rather than trust it on blind faith, Azrin ducked beneath Alistair’s arm as he worked on the panel, the top of her hair brushing lightly against his sleeve. Her fingers disappeared inside the panel, feeling along the pipes for anything out of the ordinary. It was obvious how she’d gotten so dirty, she was a fan of the tactile portions of her job.

“All good on my end,” she reported, eventually resurfacing and leaning back against the opposite side of the tube. "My scans match what the computer reports, and there's nothing anomalous around the conduits." Azrin laughed at the idea of the ship burping, not the least bit bothered by the phrase. “It could be a software problem,” she agreed, “But since we already found a physical defect that we can’t explain, we have to do due diligence and check the rest of the system anyway. Speaking of which — next!”

Her thirty of seconds of rest completed, she pushed off the wall and scooped up the panel to hook it back on. It was nearly secure she was distracted by a noise. Though noise didn’t quite describe the cacophony of sound that seemed to shake the jefferies tube, magnified and echoing through the confined space.

“Um. Did you hear that?” Azrin asked needlessly, since she was surprised her ears weren’t bleeding.

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #6
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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While enjoying some pleasant workplace chit-chat with the exuberant Azrin, Alistair was in quite a good mood. It was hard not to feel bouyed by her relentless verve and enthusiasm. He was bemused when she dived under his arm to dig her hand into the panel space proper, seemingly not caring a whit. Azrin's manner was quite a bit to take in, to be sure, but also immediately endearing.

As the two of them prepared to move on, the ominous roar froze Alistair like a startled deer. The sound was aggressive, even seeming to rattle the Jefferies tube itself and the two shocked people within. His heart hammering in the sudden silence, Alistair looked at Azrin with wide eyes as she asked her question.

"Heard it, felt it, and now wishing that I hadn't," he replied faintly, gulping as he sat back against a bulkhead. "Uh...that was...okay, I have no idea what that was, but it can't have been that bad...right? It's not like there's anything down here with us, that'd be impossible..."

Clearly trying to believe his own words, Alistair tapped his combadge. "Leavitt to Bridge." The lack of response and bzzt error noise made him frown before tapping it again. "Leavitt to Ravenholm. Leavitt to Engineering. Thea, can you hear me?" Bzzt bzzt bzzt. "Okay, that's...creepy. We are next to a huge bundle of charged electroplasma conduits, I guess that could be interfering with our combadges...if there was anything wrong with the ship, any one of a dozen alarms would be going off right now."

Alistair looked at Azrin with unease. "It sounded like that noise came from further down there. We should really back out, get to Engineering and run a...full..." Catching the look in Azrin's eye, he sighed. "You're going to go down there, aren't you?"

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #7
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

While Alistair talked, trying his best to sound reassuring, Azrin tilted her head to the side and listened. Some rebellious part of her almost hoped the wild sound would come barrel them down again, purely because it was new. She’d never heard anything like it, so how could it not be exciting? She did wrinkle her nose a bit at the insinuation that their own systems were scrambling the communications, because there should be enough relays around the ship to ensure that combadges worked everywhere.

He did try to stay optimistic at least, a quality that Azrin, the ultimate proponent of always looking on the bright side, could appreciate. She wasn’t sure how long that timid optimism would last though, especially when he realized that she had no plans of returning to the relative safety of main engineering.

“You know me so well,” she teased with an impish grin, already turning to continue her crawl deeper into the ship. She’d have to come back to complete the coolant checks later. Azrin had no idea if she was going the right way. Considering the way things echoed in here, that sound could have come from anywhere. “It’s fine! It’s not like we’ve picked up some big monster stowaway or something. We’re in orbit! Most likely someone with really bad taste in music is down here for the acoustics. Or Lowery’s pet vole got loose again.” Azrin paused, looking back over her shoulder for a slight disclaimer. “That’s a joke. That’s no way that vole is still alive!” Her grin widening mischievously, Azrin kept crawling. “Seriously though, I dropped a spanner ten decks once, and you should have heard the noise. Everyone thought I’d fallen instead.”

Azrin really wasn’t overly worried. This wasn’t an alien planet, or a mystery ship, or anywhere at all unknown. They were in the Theurgy’s jefferies tubes. It was going to take a lot more than a scary noise to make her feel unsafe down here. This was her happy place. Not long after, they arrived at another junction, with a ladder going up and down between decks. “Place your bet! Up or down?”

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #8
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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Resigned to the inevitable, Alistair could only crawl after Azrin. He couldn't but smile at her good-humoured banter, and in all fairness, she did have a point. It was highly unlikely that anything was actually prowling the Jefferies tubes besides the two of them. There were any number of explanations for the extremely unsettling bone rattling. Yup. Plenty of explanations. Definitely.

When they reached the junction, Alistair gladly got to his feet besides Azrin, rolling his protesting shoulders gingerly. At her question, he chuckled under his breath before looking both up and down the ladder. "It looks about the same both ways. Okay, let's think..." After a moment's thought, he pressed his palm upon the bulkhead over their heads, then crouched down to do the same to the bulkhead at their feet. "It feels warmer below us, but the warp core has to above us...I think that I can feel a resonance too...okay then!"

Decision made, he grinned at Azrin and hopped onto the ladder before starting to descend. "Down into the belly of the-" (Alistair stopped himself short with a wince) "-the very pretty starship." With his head now just above the floor, he paused and shrugged at Azrin. "Force of habit. I know that Thea doesn't actually record everything, she has all sorts of complicated safeguards to prevent that, but I try to be nice anyway. It just feels appropriate to be polite to her when we're inside her hull, whether she hears us or not."

With that, Alistair continued down the ladder and waited for Azrin to follow. The junction that they'd entered was identical to the one that they'd climbed down from, with three branching tubes heading off to who-knows-where. Thoroughly disorientated, Alistair simply looked around in bemusement, starting to feel quite silly indeed for his prior nerves. Then again, given recent experiences, perhaps those nerves had been justified. He had watched the recording of the Theurgy's very visceral destruction only two weeks prior in his frame od reference; crawling inside a ship that he'd seen die was perhaps understandably weird.

"About Thea," he continued breezily to distract himself, as Azrin descended, "I actually am responsible for her care. Positronics are...well, honestly, they're my thing. Her hardware and software are amazing, but they're...you know...hers. I could do with some help with the hardware, but you'd need to talk to Thea first. Her brain, her rules." After a moment's thought, he added off-hand, "Oh, if you want to talk to her directly, just say her name from pretty much anywhere and she'll answer. If you address the computer, you're just talking to the...er...well, the computer. I guess Thea can access those data streams if she wants too, but I don't think she does that too often."

After Azrin got off the ladder, Alistair said lightly, "I'm completely lost here, so you're navigating, I'm afraid. Unless you're lost too, then...er...please don't be lost."

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #9
[ Lt JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

Forget about whether Thea was listening or not, Alistair was facing a problem much closer to home, in the insulted expression crossing the face of the trill next to him. As someone who spent a majority of her time keeping this ship in pristine condition, she was incensed on Thea’s behalf. “Beautiful starship! Miracle of modern engineering, a work of art! Graceful hull configuration, humming with power from three perfectly in tune warp cores!” Azrin could have continued for longer, calling out the ship’s attributes as Alistair descended the ladder, but she had to pause once there was room for her to start climbing too. She’d always been perfectly polite – or strangely flirty, depending on who commented – to starships even when they weren’t alive, so Azrin didn’t worry about whether Thea was listening or not.

She listened intently as they descended. As he reminded her that she needed Thea’s permission to touch any of her hardware, Azrin nodded so vigorously that she nearly bashed her forehead into a rung, stopping a centimeter before it and pushing backwards with a slight “whoops!” Luckily, she finished the climb without any more near injuries.

“Welcome to Deck 28!” Once given the opportunity to be dramatic, the engineer happily took it, her voice mimicking tour guides at the historical sites she’d visited as a kid. A ruined historical building vs Jefferies tubes with surprises hidden behind every panel? Azrin knew which one she’d choose. “In Thea’s finely sculpted stomach,” and yes, that was meant to mock his earlier comment, with a pause and a slight eyebrow raise to make sure the point was made, “we have the lower cargo bay, accessed by those two tubes,” The junction wasn’t made for grand gestures, especially with two of them in here, but she did her best to point with a flourish. “And that way is the Below Decks Lounge.”

“I spend a lot of time in the tubes.” The persona was dropped as quickly as she’d created it, a slight shrug accompanying her explanation. “But I like your navigation technique better.” Azrin darted to each tube in turn, feeling the walls with her hands, once sticking her whole head in to press her cheek to the wall. “The cargo bay wins out. Too cold in engineering, too warm in the computer core, and burning up down here. Did the Klingons give us any gifts that need to be kept in a furnace? Maybe there’s a stowaway targ instead of a vole.”

The direction decided, Azrin stuck her head back inside the tube and started to crawl. “Helloooooooooo! Big scary noise maker! Come out come out wherever you are!” As expected, her voice echoed quite nicely.

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #10
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae
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Azrin's sense of humour was endearing her to Alistair more and more, and he couldn't stop himself grinning broadly at her antics. Working in a Jefferies tube could be irritating, but Azrin's cheerfulness made it downright fun. Unfortunately, of course, Azrin's exuberance had its drawbacks.

Alistair had just ducked into the tube when, right on cue to Azrin's call, the ship itself seemed to roar back at them, the entire Jefferies tube shaking violently. The two unfortunate occupants of the tube could only suffer through the onslaught, which was considerably more intense than the first time, before it finally ended, leaving Alistair and Azrin the quiet lull that followed.

"Azrin," Alistair pleaded in a whisper, "I like your attitude, I really do, but right now, maybe, just for me, could we avoid taunting the universe? Pretty please?"

As he spoke, Alistair pulled the specialised tricorder off his belt, flipped it open and began scanning, conscious of how uncomfortably close his head was to Azrin's rear. "Woah. The pipes on this deck are completely jammed up, up to about...uh...twenty five meters ahead. I'm only detecting trace amounts of coolant and...silicone? How...what...how does silicone even end up in a coolant pipe? Wait, forget that. How does silicone end up on a state of the art starship? What do we even use silicone for?"

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #11
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

“I’m not taunting it!” Despite her argument, Azrin did lower her voice to a matching whisper. “I’m inviting it to share all its secrets!” Well, it might have been more than a whisper. Her ears were ringing to loudly that she honestly couldn’t tell. “We’re definitely closer to whatever that sound is though!” Though she sounded excited enough about the prospect, her thoughts were still a maelstrom of theories about what could possibly be making such a noise. Building up and tearing down insane combinations of components that would start screaming if thrown together. None of it fit.

When asked about silicon, the engineer looked back at him in utter amusement. Only a computer guy would think that it was completely useless. “Just because computers have moved on, doesn’t mean that the stuff isn’t a good semiconductor.” She started shimming around to get a look at his readings. “How much do you see…” The trill was pretty good at reading backwards, and it only took her a moment to realize her mistake. “Oh. Silicone. Why does Federation Standard have so many things that are pronounced exactly the same?”

Azrin rocked back onto her knees, careful not to wrack her head on the ceiling as she thought. “It’s for insulation. We keep a silicone polymer in a spray tube for emergencies, point, shoot, and it quick dries into a solid. We have other materials for long term solutions, but they tend to be more excitable and not as easy to run around with in a crisis. If a room is about to get really hot or cold, we spray it on critical or fragile components so they don’t fail while we’re fixing the other problem.” At some point, she’d given up on the whole whispering thing without even realizing it, busy with her explanation. “Putting it in a coolant pipe is stupid though.”

“If there was battle damage on here, it could have been used for emergency repairs. But it should have been permanently replaced by now.” Then she shrugged. “Enough theorizing. One way to find out!” Azrin stopped suddenly, realizing her volume and shooting Alistair an apologetic look. “Sorry!” Now she was back to a whisper, scooting around again so she could continue forward.

This wasn’t a big deck, since Thea’s aesthetically pleasing curved hull meant that the decks got smaller the closer to the bottom they got. So, it wasn’t long before they came upon a dead end. “And no monsters in sight. Guess we have to start digging in panels. Nothing is getting through the jammed pipes. It is way too hot in here.” No need for a tricorder to figure that one out. As for the rest, it would have been nice if there was smoke, or a red hot panel, or something to indicate where the problem was. It looked disturbingly… normal.

“Pick a side. Let’s get hunting.”

Re: Day 16 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #12
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 27 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae

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The next few minutes proved two old truths in Starfleet: Jefferies tubes weren't designed for more than one person to work in, and whoever the mythological Jefferies was, they were a sadistic monster. The hard duranium lip jutted into both Alistair and Azrin's sides as they worked while the deck grill brutalised their knees, legs and posteriors. The heat was intense, leading to Alistair simply removing his jacket and shirt, reduced to a vest that was already getting damp with sweat.

And then, of course, there were the coolant pipes themselves.

"When we're all back with Starfleet," Alistair muttered as he worked on a particularly stubborn pipe access, tapping on the tiny control panel, "I'm going to Utopia Planetia and having a long talk with the Theurgy-class design team about these coolant access points. This is the exact same model  as the Intrepids, and they just took that model from the old Ambassadors...error 5668-A? What...oh, right, I see." With a sigh, he continued, "I know that they did their best, and Thea is a marvel, but...this...could...be...better!"

Alistair grunted as he struggled with a particularly stubborn release lever that point-blank refused to budge. Bracing himself to get better leverage, and conscious of Azrin working in front of him, he put his entire body into forcing the lever open. It suddenly gave,  sending Alistair right into Azrin, the two of them ending up in an awkward tangle of limbs that took a good minute to sort out in such close quarters.

"Sorry about that, Azrin," Alistair said with an apologetic smile to cover his embarrassment. Returning to the cursed coolant access, he worked the control panel again. "Huh. Abnormal mass...twenty five centimeters long...diagnostic warnings...broken ODN connection, that must be why we couldn't see this with the computer. The pipe is sealed...no toxins present...trace coolant has been drained...let's see if I can just..."

Opening the pipe itself, Alistair simply put his hand inside. It was profoundly awkward, but the pipe was large enough to allow him to shove his entire arm in right up to the shoulder. After some jimmying, shimmying and a fair bit of grunting, he finally made a "Aha!" of victory.

"Got it!" he exclaimed with a grin, and slowly, he pulled out the small silicone object that had caused problems for a kilometer-long starship. After a moment of examining the object, Alistair yelped in alarm and dropped the bright pink conical object on the deck.

Written on the silicone object in thick black ink was:

G & S
XXX

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #13
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff
 
“You can join up with Lieutenant Arnold, he wants to go complain to the shipbuilders too. Personally, if we get back to Utopia Planitia, I’ll be busy tying myself to the slipstream drive so they don’t dismantle- oof!” Azrin had been rather cheerfully talking over him. People spent so much time complaining about how this ship was built. The designers weren’t going to redo everything for every new class of ship. That would take way too long. Personally, she loved all of Thea’s little imperfections. After all, how boring would her life be if there was never anything to fix?

He probably didn’t mean it that way, but Alistair falling on her seemed like an apt punishment for interrupting him in the first place. “No problem,” she continued breathlessly, shimmying out from underneath while making a valiant attempt to not elbow him anymore than absolutely necessary. “Happens all the time down here. Everyone gets friendly real quick when working in the tubes.” A joke that she promptly regretting bringing up a few moments later.

Azrin stared at the object that had been causing them so many problems. Then up at Alistair, who looked like he’d just touched a bomb. Then back down at the dildo. Unable to help herself, she started giggling. Lightly at first, then harder, before eventually dissolving into full throated laughter. Just when she nearly got a hold on herself, Azrin remembered Alistair’s reaction to it again, and the laughter began anew. “We are definitely winning the weirdest find of the day!” she finally managed to declare, sounding absolutely delighted as she reached over and scooped up the vivid pink clog. “That couldn’t have been sanitary,” she noted as she read the inscription, hoping the permanent marker was an afterthought. “Any idea who G and S might be?”

Grinning widely, the trill looked up to see if Alistair wanted to chime in, and the look on his face immediately reminded her that humans could be slightly prudish. For Azrin, her symbiont’s sixth host, who remembered being intimate as a man and a woman many times over the past few hundred years, such things had long since stopped being embarrassing. “It’s fine. Silicone and ink might survive a few days floating around the coolant system, but no biological material would. Nothing nasty left on it.” As though to prove it, Azrin poked him in the chest with it.

If anyone came upon them down here, they probably would have looked mightily suspicious, sweaty and rumpled, jackets and undershirts unzipped or removed entirely, and playing with a dildo. But Azrin was too busy thinking through the maintenance implications to even realize the joke. “How did it get in the coolant pipe though? Seems like a strange place to hide it. It probably wasn’t down here the whole time. The pipes near the computer cores, the warp systems, and other important systems are bigger, it could have easily passed through them before getting stuck down here. Unless…” Azrin paused to look around the tube. “Maybe I’ll come back later with a sterilizing agent, just in case.”

“Anyway, that’s one problem solved, but unless this thing has a speaker system, what’s making the scary noises?”

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #14
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae

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As he watched the sweating and filthy Azrin laugh herself silly, vivid pink dildo in hand, Alistair stared at her in complete bafflenent. Her nonchalant question and dildo poke earned a subsequent look of disbelief, before finally, reluctantly, Alistair smiled too, unable to resist. Shaking his head, he resealed the coolant access (the lever turned quite happily this time, much to his annoyance) and replaced the panel as Azrin mused on the conundrums of the mysterious toy and noises.

"Good question," Alistair said as he sat back against a panel and wiped his scalp with his discarded shirt. "The coolant system is pressurised, so maybe..." He trailed off, frowning at Azrin. "Wait, sterilising agent? You don't think..." Alistair glanced around the cramped tunnel with disbelief. "You've got to be kidding. There's no way. How would that even...this would have to be the most uncomfortable place possible, right? Sharp edges, a hard floor, a confined space...surely nobody would..."

Realising the answer to his own question, Alistair shuddered. "We're going to be showering for hours after this. Or decon. Decon might be better. Okay, anyway, you're right, that should solve the coolant problem, but-"

Alistair was interrupted, as once again, he was interrupted by the Jefferies tube shaking violently, accompanied by the now familiar furious roar from further down the tube, leaving him and Azrin with no choice but to hold on. After it passed, Alistair eyed Azrin with bemusement. "So...uh...after you? Actually, wait a moment, we need to take...uh...the...erm...toy...with us. Uh..."

With considerable reluctance, Alistair took the dildo from Azrin and (wincing all the while) he placed it in the notch on his equipment belt where a phaser was normally placed. Trying valiantly to ignore that he now had a dildo sidearm, Alistair gestured up the tube past Azrin. "So, we're on Deck 28, forward of the cargo bay, right? We're pretty much in the bottom of the ship. What systems are up there?"

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #15
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

“Speak of the devil, and it shall appear,” she told Alistair in an exaggerated whisper, though her voice still seemed quite loud in the silence that followed each roar. She’d never been entirely sure what the phrase meant, but one of the ensigns on the Excalibur had said the phrase with such fervor – and frequency – that it had become something of an inside joke for that engineering team.

“Maybe the Klingons sent us a pet trag as a joke?” she continued, back to a normal voice now. “They’re not happy that we have priority use on the industrial replicators down there.” Her musings were interrupted by another fit of laughter as he stuck the dildo into his belt. Too bad she was in the lead, because she had to get a picture of that. Azrin imagined him drawing it like a phaser and ordering anyone having sex in the tubes to cease and desist, and dissolved into laughter again. She would have explained, but she couldn’t catch her breath long enough to get the words out.

When she was finally under control again, Azrin got moving, and found herself explaining some of the weirder aspects of space travel instead. “It’s not about comfort. It’s a badge of honor! The tubes are an easy one. I’ve caught people plotting to defile my warp core. Nasty and all sorts of dangerous. The crown is the captain’s chair, but that only happens in the holodeck. Far as I know anyway.” Trap hundreds of people from high libido species together in a sealed and pressurized metal box for years, and some shit was just bound to happen.

“Up there as in above us?” Azrin asked cheerfully when she finally got back around to work. “Everything is above us. We’re bottom feeding, the lowest of the low. As for here, there’s nothing critical on this deck. Standard environmental controls, power supply and projectors for the holographic areas in the lounge, mid-size replicators – also for the lounge – not industrial but bigger than a normal crew room. Ummm… whatever we have in the cargo bays? That’s your department. Cargo transporters. The only thing beneath us is landing gear and escape pods.”

“Maybe the holosuite is on the fritz and they have… all the doors open?” They were in another junction now. Basically taking a long, crawling route around the cargo bay. This deck wasn’t large. There weren’t that many places to go. “No, that doesn’t make sense. I know you said not to, but can I ask the noise what and where it is again? Maybe it’s friendly!”

As though responding, the roar came again, loud and world shattering. “See?” She could barely hear herself talk over the ringing in her ears. “It was definitely agreeing with me.”

Azrin was looking back at Alistair, waiting for his approval, so when the mysterious creature finally made its appearance in the adjoining tube across the junction, Azrin didn’t see it. It looked like a rabbit, pure white with floppy ears, hind legs made for jumping long distances. Though the similarities were ruined by the sharp canines protruding from its mouth. It was far smaller than its roar gave it any right to be, but if this creature had evolved on Qo’noS, it was presumably something to be reckoned with.

“Well?”

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #16
[Lieutenant Alistair Leavitt | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn. @rae

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When the "monster" appeared, unseen by Azrin, Alistair simply stared, slack-jawed. It took him a moment to catch on to Azrin's words, and another moment simply to collect himself as Azrin grew increasingly confused by his silence. It was a mark of how thoroughly Azrin's oddness had fried his brain that Alistair didn't have the faintest idea how to react to what he was seeing.

The monster, serenely unconcerned, took the opportunity to raise its hind leg and urinate on the bulkhead.

"You know, I think that I'll just concede the point," Alistair said meekly, his eyes still fixed on the monster as it quite literally took the piss. "You were right. Hopefully. Erm, Azrin-"

Before he could get out the belated warning, the furry little monster unleashed another almighty roar entirely out of proportion to its size, deafening the two hapless lieutenants and rattling the tube thoroughly. After it was done, the beast bounded down the tube at impossible speed, its tongue wagging as it hopped furiously towards them.

"Down!" Alistair shouted, grabbing Azrin and yanking her hard towards him, all while he drew his weapon. In the next moment, he found himself lying on the deck with Azrin atop him, pointing the vivid pink dildo down the tube, all while the 'monster' lay on Azrin's back, tongue wagging merrily. A moment later, it hopped down onto the deck and pressed its sbout into Azrin's cheek in what was undeniably an affectionate nuzzle.

 

Re: Day 09 [1845 hrs.] The Mysteries of Thea's Bowels

Reply #17
[ Lt. JG Azrin Ryn | Jefferies Tubes | Deck 28 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Griff

Wow, he was really not down with calling out to the noise again was he? Azrin started at Alistair and Alistair stared at Azrin, and the whole thing was far too still and way way too quiet for the engineer’s taste. When he did finally talk, Azrin didn’t quite hear it, as it had finally dawned on her that Alistair wasn’t staring at her, but rather at something behind her.

A flash of excitement engulfed her as the trill started to turn, her suspicions confirmed by the answering roar of whatever it was they were chasing. But she didn’t get to see it, stopped by another force pulling her in the wrong direction. She fell on top of the man in a tangle of limbs, the tip of her nose landing painfully on his combadge, which activated with a quiet chirp.

Then there was more weight, soft and warm, landing on her back. The sensation was gone before she’d even realized what it must be, and – finally – she got her first look at it. “Awwww. It’s so cute! Alistair look at it! Aren’t you just the sweetest!”

Azrin started to untangle herself, jabbing him a few times with her elbows and knees as she shimmied back into a sitting position, scooping up the little Klingon rabbit and depositing it on her lap without the slightest hesitation. “And so soft too.” Once there was a few feet between them, Azrin got a good look at Alistair still laying on the floor, dildo in hand and pointed at her new little friend. She couldn’t help but laugh at the sight, shaking with mirth as the bright peels escaped her lips. 

Unfortunately, the rabbit was averse to laughter, abandoning it’s attempts to nuzzle into Azrin’s leg with an unhappy rumble as it sprang up and away, leaping right over Alistair and dashing down the tube. “No, wait!” Azrin shouted after it. “Don’t be afraid of the dildo!”

She tried to chase after it, completely forgetting about the other person in her way and barreling right into him. Their second tangle in as many minutes. “Come back!”

 
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