An Added Line
Posted on January 10th, 2003 by Adam Drake
“Are you OK?” Drake turned his head up from his work and gazed at his assisting Ensign. Alexandra Potter, who was aiding Drake in his experiments with new shielding technology, looked tired and her blonde hair was skewed and messy from a long days work. “You can go if you’d like, you aren’t even on duty.”
She shrugged, “Nothing else to do.”
“I think I’ve realigned the phase circuits, and the feedback distributors were fired.” He tapped on the small object in his hand with a refined Engineering utensil. Adam ran a quick diagnostic on the miniature filaments and wires that lined the internal side of the device, and when all checks were complete he set it back on the pad.
“Same program again, sir?”
“It’s Adam, we’re not on duty.” Drake didn’t mind the formalities at all, but considering the circumstances of working while off duty, he found it unnecessary and too volatile to even mess with. “Yes, Alexandra, same program as last time.”
“I hate that name, call me Alex.”
“OK, let’s get going then, Alex.” Adam smiled.
“Do you think it will work, sir?” Potter tapped the console feverishly and pulled up the program.
Smiling, Drake looked at the little device more closely, “Something tells me that thirteen won’t be our lucky number.” They had been struggling with the same problems repeatedly for nearly four hours. Each period of reinforcing relays, couplings, desequencers, and resetting the configurations had almost a half an hour.
“My apologies, Adam.” She winked at him and engaged the sequence. The hologram lit up before them. A red-shirted (isn’t it always red) appeared before them with the little device strapped carefully to his upper right shoulder.
“Computer, run first set of tests. Weapon designation is a standard Romulan disrupter.” Adam stared at the figure as a Romulan appeared behind him. The green-skinned enemy fired a standard disrupter at the red shirt. The forcefield surrounding the man was effective after several shots.
“So far so good.” Potter muttered in the background as Drake’s eyes shifted uneasily to the display recording everything.
Adam shook his head, “There are many things to take care of first. This was only the first step in a ladder of ten.” He smiled as he realized the young Ensign had gotten ahead of herself in assuming that with the first step taken care of; the rest would follow easily.
That wouldn’t be the case.
“Computer, activate second sequence of tests. Weapon designation is an enhanced Romulan disrupter.” The same set of the results passed with the forcefield, using the energy produced from the enemy’s weapon, recharging itself to full strength.
“Computer, initiate the third sequence of tests. Weapon designation is a standard Romulan disrupter rifle, type one.” The sets followed with no noticeable effect or problems. Drake nodded as he shifted cycles to compare the first three tests to the last seven that he was about to start.
“Third time’s a charm.” Potter smiled and crossed her arms gingerly and without hesitation. She was confident that their hard work would pay off; Drake on the other hand wasn’t so sure of himself or the work that they had put into the small piece of new technology.
Shaking his head, Drake looked at her. “Seven to go, Alex, just calm down.” He winked and ran a diagnostic on the strength of the power pack and recalculation module embedded inside the emitters. “The circulator module is interfering with the recalculation module. It’s distributing the energy cells power along with the enemy’s power.”
Potter stepped up, a look of defiance and anger in her eyes, “We checked that.”
“Several times actually, a regulator has had no effect. With the rifle it overloaded the primary procedure subroutine and shorted out the rest of the regulator.” Drake’s hand worked quickly and cautiously over the console trying to isolate the problem.
Potter shook her head violently again, “No, we went over that a million times and it was fine. Check the parameter control.”
“I looked, it doesn’t matter the amount of space that the forcefield takes up. It still has to pass through the regulator, that is where the problem lies.” Drake didn’t look up, he just continued tapping the controls.
“I found it.” Alex smiled, “It’s in the converter assembly. It’s too much power to change. The regulator has no effect because that is specifically assigned to the distributor set of subroutines. A separate regulator on that system should work.”
“Agreed, make the changes.”
Alex tapped the console feverishly, a smile and a look of determination crossing her fine features. She was getting into what they were doing, even though it had taken four couples of coffee and an in depth talk on Betazoid culture before she would help him. She was eager, Adam would give her that much.
“Done, set to update.”
“Computer, load the updated features to the holographic representation and run the third sequence of tests again.” Drake stepped in front of the console as the Romulan rematerialized and fired again. He turned after the Romulan had let off all his shots; Alex looked at him and smiled. “Well?”
“Computer, run the fourth sequence of test drills. Weapon designation is a Romulan disrupter rifle, type two.” The more powerful rifle had little more effect than the type one, and the hopes grew in both Adam and Alex.
“Computer, activate fifth sequence. Weapon designation is standard Tal Shiar Disrupter pistol.” Adam knew, that in order to be effective and correct, he would have to include all types of personal firearms and munitions that could be used by the Romulan. He assumed, trying to cover all the basics that they may run into, Tal Shiar operatives might become a factor on a later mission.
“Tal Shiar, ever run into them?” Alex looked intrigued by the weapon of Adam’s choice.
“Yes, actually. On a moon that we thought was devoid of all life there was a Tal Shiar listening outpost. They were monitoring all of the Federation’s transmissions within ten light-years. We landed and we were to destroy it. Several vessels engaged with Romulan Warbirds while we lit the place up like the fourth of July.”
“No way, what did you do?”
“I led the expedition.”
“Did you kill anyone?”
“Of course, it’s what we have to do. I don’t like taking people’s lives-”
“But, Romulans are OK?” Alex laughed as she leaned nonchalantly on the console, not particularly caring about the series of tests or what they were working on, just him.
Adam laughed and looked at her, “They were in our way.”
“Did you lose any under your command?” An innocent and perfectly good question, it froze Adam in his tracks.
His mind raced and relived the moments. He looked off into space and didn’t focus on her. Her head tilted slightly to the side and stared at him, a look of confusion crossing her delicate face. Adam turned and looked at her, “Yes, I did.”
“All people are important in that sort of situation, Alex. This one, though, was my best friend. We were rounding a corner and he was the lead, he rounded the corner and took a shot from a Romulan defense turret. It ripped a hole in him the size of a cargo container. I couldn’t stop, though I wanted to, we had to keep moving.”
She put a hand over her mouth and shook her head, a look of terror lining her eyes. “I’m so sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to pull out harmful memories.”
“Don’t worry about it, and it’s Adam.” He smiled and winked. “Computer, run sixth section of tests. Weapon designation is a standard Romulan defense turret.”
The man appeared again, and a Romulan shimmered into view standing behind a huge gun aimed at the protagonist of their program. The burst rocked the man, who steadied his ground, and the forcefield flickered as if it was losing power.
“What is it?” Drake looked over his shoulder at Alex who had returned to shuffling through the data.
She shook her head, “The regulator fused.”
“Keep a Tri-polymer resin between the two, that should keep it from fusing.”
After the changes were made they ran the sixth again, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth sequences of tests and all proved to be flawless. Orbital cannons, plasma torpedo launches, Warbird disrupters, and all angled attacks were eliminated of threat.
“There we go. I’ll submit the data to Vice Admiral Sankoh and Captain Ruffian tomorrow morning.” He looked at her and smiled as she rubbed her eyes and the sleeplessness disappeared to a rejuvenated energy. “You’re tired, go back to your quarters and sleep. That’s an order.”
“You’re not on duty, Mr. Drake.”
“I know, but you should still sleep. Shore leave isn’t officially over until tomorrow anyway so I suggest you get it before you don’t have a chance for it anymore.”
“I do have a question for you though, Adam.” She seemed to change to a more laid back approach to him.
“Are you married?”
Adam laughed as he picked up the prototype of his portable shield generator, which he had designed to be an added line of defense against the Romulan forces. He walked a bit as she followed, his laughter still audible to her.
“No, I’m not married.”
“So, would it be out of line if I asked you to come to my quarters for dinner tomorrow evening?” She looked up and thought for a second, “Let’s say about sixish?”
“Sounds great.” Adam looked at her as she winked and smiled at him. She walked gracefully from his office and out of Engineering. He leaned back as he put his legs up on his desk. He was flattered, he really was, but it was completely unexpected. “Wow, this shore leave sure has taken a turn.”
Yet, in that turn, he couldn’t figure out if it was for the better or for the worse.