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Log of the Month for January, 2004

The Surface
Posted on January 23rd, 2004 by Adam Drake and Jack Leirone

There was a stillness. Something had descended over Engineering and the people were less talkative and things were proceeding without hitch – if Adam didn’t know any better he would assume that they were on the edge of Armageddon. He didn’t like silence, he didn’t like boredom, and he didn’t like the fact that nothing was going wrong; things always went wrong. Adam’s eyes roamed Engineering and the blank faces that inhabited it. He missed the action of fighting and the constant feeling of being on the move, but this tranquillity was a new feeling to him. He didn’t mind it all that much.

“Well,” Jack’s serene yet serrated voice broke the saturninity. “At least we got all those replicators working again, huh, Chief?” Normally Jack wouldn’t care much about others’ state of being but Adam Drake seemed abnormally unwell. Normally Jack wouldn’t care but now he was in a crew among others he must rely on if they were to rely on him. Normally Jack wouldn’t care. But he did. “Chief?” he repeated.

Shaking himself from his train of thought and whatever far off land he was roaming, Adam swiveled on his chair with a smile and looked at the new engineer. The man was strikingly intelligent – almost too much so – and he had a grasp on reality. Adam took a liking to it immediately; it reminded him of himself. “I’m sorry, Jack, what were you saying?”

Jack then repeated his earlier statement but it had lost virtuality, like when you eat a piece of food you expelled from your mouth for being too hot at first. There seemed to be somewhat of a maelstrom surrounding his chief, black and intangible. What was happening inside this man? For some reason, Jack was asking this question inside. And it wasn’t pertaining to a…target. Or Mr. A for that matter. It was a comrade, a coworker, a friend. Who are you, Chief?

“Well, rather than sitting around and waiting for something to happen why don’t we go and fix that Dilithium Chamber problem you talked about earlier? I think it’d be good to nail it now before it happens to explode or something at warp,” Adam smirked a bit as he pushed back from the console and snagged his toolkit and gestured for Jack to follow. “Might as well, unless you have something better to do or something that requires your attention?”

Immediately, Jack Leirone thought of Ariel Ainslee. What a remarkable creature. And earlier while fixing her replicator, he noticed her interest in him. So he replicated a rose and gave it to her. But logic settled under his brain like a broth cooking around the meat. Chance was against him in this matter, for he was always at work on the ship. Just the night before, he spent the whole night making the holodecks stop crossing programs. So logic and work defeated love interest and recreation. “Not a thing, Chief. Let’s do it.”

“That’s the attitude I like to here,” Adam said with complete sincerity. Too many times he felt that the engineers that worked with him weren’t living up to their true potential and serving just to serve – there was no longer any meaning in being a Starfleet Officer. No one took pride in what they did, but Adam saw it in Jack. He saw the struggle that he’d trudged through to get to where he was, but what was more important is that he felt the pain that languished inside of him. They entered the lift in silence; apparently it was their custom now. “Deck Nineteen.”

“I hope this ship’s Dilithium Matrix is in better shape than the USS Patronus’…while I was in the Academy they called me up to do some work on it.” Jack was surprised at his own initiative of starting a conversation. More of the getting-to-trust-the-crew issue. “And I’ve never seen such a mess.”

“Perhaps they made it that way,” Adam mused, “I hear that sometimes they pull cadets out to aid starships that really don’t have anything wrong with them just to see how the cadet will react to being on a starship.”

“Well either way,” Jack said, blinking. “It was such a danger-zone I nearly got cut in half.”

Adam laughed slightly; he knew how those starships worked. “After the war ended I was reassigned to serve as an assistant engineer on the USS Flagstaff. It was a short term and I’m happy because if that place were run any worse than it was, there wouldn’t be a warp core to power the damn thing. The chief was so incompetent that he allowed repairs to go so long we needed full overhauls every two months.” Adam stepped out into the corridor through the familiar hiss of the parting doors, “I’m glad I have control now.”

“You seem to be doing a pretty good job,” Jack said, surprising himself even more. “Great, even.”

“Thank you, Ensign, that means a lot.” It really did. He did receive his fair share of compliments, but it meant something more each time. There was a certain satisfaction with knowing you have the approval from other people even when you didn’t need it. He worked his tail off making sure that one of the strongest ships in the fleet had a heart of stone and he felt good that it showed. “I can’t take all the credit, though, there are lots of people that are just as deserving of such praise. It’s the staff that is the soul of this ship.”

Leirone accompanied Drake down the corridor as it came to the entrance to the Dilithium Matrix. After an “after you,” he found himself crawling through the wondrous maze of complex workings that were one of the few things that still astounded him. Things didn’t look like they were in too bad of shape, and he told this to Drake but mentioned they should still look it over quickly.

The Jefferies tubes were tight and cramped, and as they crawled along the temperature raised drastically. Within fifteen minutes Drake found himself sweating and they hadn’t even started the work. They turned the last corner and a durasteel door loomed in front of them. The duo crawled into a control room surrounded and accessed by only one tube. Adam crawled in feet first and stood up surveying the area. “Not too much to reset and replace.”

Instantly, Jack spotted a problem. Pointing, he muttered, “The containment fields are out of alignment by two hundred microns.”

“And the EM relays are inverted in their position – no wonder we’ve been receiving feedback problems for a while. They weren’t designed to be installed that way,” Adam questioned the abilities of the people who created Starfleet technology sometimes. Sometimes he just didn’t see why they did what they did, but I’m sure people were the same way about him. “You handle the containment field and I’ll handle the EM relays.”

“Got it, Chief,” and he went to work. His hands worked quickly and efficiently on the console like a pianist performing a masterpiece. Jack Leirone was the Chopin of Starfleet engineering. Quickly opening a panel, he checked to see if all of the chips were correctly in place; they were. Using his tricorder he was able to lower the misalignment to a hundred microns and the number decreased still.

Popping open the controls to the EM relays Adam sighed outwardly. The entire connection network had folded under a power surge of some kind and therefore had rotated the relays to their inverted position. “What a mess. I’m going to have to disengage the power relay systems and reactivate them manually one at a time.”

Jack nodded and continued working. His body heat was already bouncing back from his surroundings and making him sweat. His concentration though was unhindered. Everything was like his arms and hands were machines working feverishly but still efficiently. “How’s it, uh…” he said, stuttering. “How’s it goin’?”

“You know how it goes, Ensign,” Adam started as he shoved his entire right arm into the connection subroutine area beneath the console, he was grunting and breathing heavily as he searched and replaced the inverted subroutines, “It’s good one moment and then the next you feel as if you’ve been swallowed whole by a Klingon and sold your soul to science. Poked and prodded and subjected to anything imaginable. Long story short, not any different than normal.”

Sparks flew like fireworks suddenly from Adam’s EM console. Adam shouted a curse and he drew his arm back and grasped it with his other hand, rubbing it. Leirone quickly snapped his head at the shock and moved toward his comrade. “Drake! Drake, is everything okay?”

Adam groaned in the silence as he touched the tender burnt flesh on his hand.

Slowly the luminescence diminished and died at the edges of their silhouettes. There was nothing to see. Everything was colder and Jack just sighed. To him this was another exercise. He leaned back and found his knee with his elbows, wrapped it with them and sat waiting for Adam to do something. “Well what’d ya do?” He smiled dryly as if his friend could see it.

“Burnt the crap out of my hand,” Adam said through the darkness with an obvious tone of half laughter and half pain. “It blew out the whole system for this series of Jefferies tubes. I’ll have to go back in engineering and grab some more relays to interface here. I think I’ll get to sickbay first; I’m losing feeling in my hand. And, if worse comes to worse, I’ll just blame it on you.”

Leirone found that humorous but didn’t react. Slightly unsure of Adam’s position, he slowly reached out a hand and found his chief’s face. “That you, Chief?”

Adam smacked his hand away playfully, “Touching is reserved for the second date, ensign,” Adam managed to stand up and open his kit to retrieve his flashlight palm beacon. He activated it and bathed the area in a dull light that was just enough to make out the still smoking console and the burnt out relay lying behind the smothering veil. “Damn it. This is going to take forever to fix, twenty-three relays are fused, burnt out, disintegrated, or melted into oblivion. This is going to take hours.”

Things changed.

He turned on his heel quite sharply, knocking Jack backwards because he’d been peering over Adam’s shoulder. The engineer’s eyes darted around with a hesitance and then he pushed open the Jefferies tube hatch. He flashed the light down the darkened tunnel and the light shifted from the floor to the ceiling and to the left and the right of the tube – as if there was more room to maneuver than there really was. “Did you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Jack asked, forgiving the startled chief.

“A scuffling sound,” Adam looked back at his assistant and then turned sharply again hearing something that no other could distinguish. “It’s like the sound of metal on metal, a scraping that sounds like nails on a chalkboard. It’s getting closer, maybe two or three tube sections down coming this way. We have no where to go but seal the hatch and call for back-up.”

There was nothing but silence. Leirone began to fear for Drake’s hearing…or sanity. As his eyes began to adjust to the blackness, he began to see blue shades of shapes yet saw nothing about metal on metal. Nothing at all. Turning back, he saw the black and blue outline of Drake. “Uh, if you think that’s the wisest decision, Chief.”

“Where’s the nearest company?”


“Where’s the nearest company? Alpha, Bravo, Charlie? Where’s Delta located? They could probably make the best time and get here. We’re no match to fight Dominion forces without the cloak detection field or equipment in place. We’re sitting ducks if we sit here,” Adam began to close the hatch and sat back against the far wall as a vibrato traveled through his voice. He was visibly nervous and the shaking showed it.

Drake was simply going crazy, Leirone thought. “If I’m not mistaken, Chief,” he said, “we’re not in the war anymore.” He moved toward him, though he really didn’t want to, and tried to at least look in the direction of his face. There was obviously something very wrong here. And it would be nothing if he weren’t in there with him.

“Not in the war? Are you kidding? Three hundred and sixty troops were brutally murdered, massacred, whipped out of existence just yesterday and you have the gall to say that the war is over?” He shook his head; his teeth chattering silently in a monotone drone of repetition and his eyes seemingly stared into nothingness. “This is it…the time has come…”

Leirone began to understand. “What’s happening Drake? Tell me.”

“They’re moving in from the north ridge. They wiped the battalion here clean out and now they’ve located us on heat scans and are searching the caves for me. They’ve come to get me; they know I’m the only one left. I can’t do anything, I’m just an engineer with basic training.” He turned his face up towards Jack, his eyes filled with blatant fear and loneliness. “I’ve made it through two already being the sole survivor; the third time won’t be a charm.”

Role-playing time. “Then we’ve gotta get outta here, Drake. You realize that? What do you think the best chance of survival entails? Waiting in here to get ambushed, or making a run for it and fighting for your life? Come on. Open the hatch back up.”

“Me against a hundred or so Dominion soldiers? I don’t think so. They got Avery, they got Hawkins, and they got Quell. They’ll get us all. There’s no where to run because they’ve got all the shuttles and retreating units under their control,” a tear dropped silently from his eye onto his uniform which he rubbed away quickly, “I may be a Marine Captain, but there’s nothing I can do at this point. We’ve lost the Pandria System because Pandria Four couldn’t keep them at bay.”

“Yeah, but do you know who we ‘got,’ Drake?” Jack shouted triumphantly. He was quite impressed with his acting skills. “We ‘got’ Marine Captain Adam Drake, the finest engineer anyone could find on any ship. Ever.” Then out of the joy of acting, Jack decided to boost his own ego. “And at Adam Drake’s back, we ‘got’ Jack Leirone, one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy! Who’s going to take us down, huh, Drake?”

His voice reverberated in the Jefferies Tube and shook even his own ribcage. Leirone realized that it was with his Chief that he had spoken the most since joining Starfleet. Jack knew, through the severity of the situation, that he was making a friend after thirty-one years of breathing. But it would probably take him a little more time to admit it.

Adam stood as he had many times before and looked at the shouting Ensign, “Ensign, what are you doing?”

Solemnity took Jack once more. “Welcome back, Adam.”


Leirone explained Drake’s own behavior to him in a few sentences and then crossed his arms and waited for a response.

The color drained from his face. “We should, uh, get back to engineering to get some supplies to repair this stuff. And I should probably get my hand checked out in sickbay.” Adam led his way out into the darkened corridor and back into the light of the corridor beyond. People nodded their respect and Adam bee-lined for the turbolift. He wasn’t interested in the slightest to find out what he said; the fact alone that he said anything was enough to churn his stomach.

Damned if he was getting away now. Jack chased Adam into the turbolift, barely slipping through the doors before they hissed shut. “If you don’t want people to know, they won’t.”

“Know what, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“How you hid during the war,” Jack said, unafraid. “No one will know.”

“Computer, halt turbolift.” Adam turned and faced his assistant, unsure of how to proceed. The man was right that he wanted nobody to know. Dereliction of duty was one of the many crimes that could be brought against him at a court-martial. “You know, and that’s all that matters to me. I could order you to not to say anything, but it’s your discretion. You have to do what you feel to be right.”

Jack Leirone leaned his head back and looked into Adam Drake’s eyes. “Yes, sir,” he said in a low dry whisper.

“Computer, resume to destination,” Adam nodded still not feeling entirely comfortable with the vulnerable position he’d left himself in after his descent into his past. Taking a deep breath he faced forward, staring upward towards nothing in particular and smiled, “Thank you, Jack.”

There was a pause that seemed like an eternity.

Adam chuckled, “Bounty hunter, huh?”

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