Monday, February 25, 2013

Relic - Chapter 9

Chapter 9

As Raul Edrera left the hull of the Dreadnought the M-2/V array began to address its list of activities. This 'to-do' list had been created by the factors involved in its arrival at the ship and the necessities involved in getting a non-Federation starship up and running. Added to that were other factors that could not be forseen when the M-Units had first been assembled for this destination. While critical items like knowing that a ship in such cold conditions must be treated with care, nothing that was in its programming outlines had shown how to deal with the frozen bodies of the Klingon crew on-board the vessel.

On top of that Mr. Edrera had made a point of the biological problems that were involved with those bodies having gotten to that condition and the results of whatever had happened on-board the ship would be an impediment to near-future work. While this was a minor matter to the M-2/V, it would have great emotional impact on Mr. Edrera and his request to have a bay established to the aft of the ship for holding the mortal remains of the Klingons was something that could be done. Keeping them in something close to their current state could be established by simply cooling such a room once it was designated. Such cargo spaces in the rear of the hull were easy to identify and the ability of them to be cooled was a relatively simple matter of changing atmospheric settings for that room once a proper atmosphere for the ship was established.

During the first hours in which Mr. Edrera had roamed far and wide throughout the ship, he had taken time to move bodies out into the major corridors and even give a few of them a gentle push towards the rear of the vessel. His aim was not all that good and even with a few relatively long and straight corridors there were enough dog-legs, containment doors and other such obstacles that did not to allow a thorough movement of those bodies to the aft destination of the vessel. M-2/V had determined that the expedient way to warm the ship was to introduce an atmosphere to the vessel after warming the hull through the heat exchange systems for the APUs and main heat sink system. With two complete atmosphere replacements still available M-2/V determined that the minor loss of a half percent by atmosphere escaping through the hull due to shrinkage of hull plating and ship superstructure at low temperatures was acceptable so as to warm the hull so that it could regain its geometry and hold the atmosphere in place. After that the superstructure would be warming by thermal conduction and by atmospheric conduction.

The latter could be done utilizing the ducting system for the atmosphere by shifting the stored atmosphere at relatively low pressures into contained hull sections with an M-1 monitoring the process as part of its duties. Very few larger leaks were detected and the few of those that were present began to seal themselves off with repair fluid that the Klingons had added to their plating system so that minor hull pitting and even some stress fractures would not cause the loss of atmosphere for the vessel. All it took was a bit of warmth to get that system into a fluid state. In essence, for relatively minor damage, heating the vessel would allow it to self-seal via the passive systems that were in-place and through simple geometry changes across the structure of the vessel the rest of the seals would be tightened.

As the vessel was warming all the major doors and security hatches resumed their functional geometry which, in turn, allowed for them to be opened and closed remotely via one of the security system shunts that Mr. Edrera had installed at a security station during his Klingon security system cyber removal travels. Returning functional geometry within the ship allowed for the simple expedient for moving bodies by creating higher pressure zones in rooms and to the forward of the vessel as it warmed and then pull the atmosphere through a single large cargo area at the rear of it. Bodies drifted with airflow with an M-1 doing the atmospheric work and utilizing the Klingon internal thermal security sensors which updated the array on positions of bodies and body parts as they drifted ever further to the rear of the ship. By partially opening doors and hatches, air currents could add temporary vortices thus lending spin and attitude adjustments to the frozen bodies as they traversed from the forward part of the vessel to the rear of it.

Those gentle vortices also allowed for bodies that had drifted to the walls surrounding doors and hatchways to be rotated into the main corridor air current. By shifting final return atmosphere exchanges through the vents in that cargo space the bodies would slowly be assembled in a grouping that would leave the vents available for their function by not having a body positioned directly over it through simple changes in how much atmosphere was pulled through which vent. Brittleness in the bodies due to the extreme cold was removed by the expedient of their being slowly warmed as the atmosphere, itself, was warmed. From the near absolute zero temperatures they had started at the bodies were arriving at the aft area at merely minus 20 degrees centigrade. The array would increase temperatures to just below the freezing point by the time the last of the bodies would arrive and then seal that room from the rest of the ship and utilize the wealth of return ducting across the vessel to remove the light breeze that was necessary to shift the Klingon remains to their destination.

All told this was a minor function for the array and took up almost none of its active computational time as it was a background activity. The array's top priority was to establish a workable schema for the Klingon's centralized computational system so that the array could utilize all of its units in an active mode. Currently some of the other units in the consolidated array designed at the factory in Indiana were on standby and only their programming space was being utilized so that M-2/V could have some operational cyber headroom to work with. It was a lot of functional computing space, yes, but it was not connected directly to any ship's systems and this did not allow for the kind of work a fully functioning array could achieve by off-loading work to ship native systems and linking directly to them. That was how an M-Series system operated: at the organic level of the ship's systems. Engineering systems were the first the M-Series utilized as they were necessary to run the ship. Unlike their Federation counter-parts, the Klingons had very little want to put in excess programming capacity for engineering as that could be co-opted by a mutinous crew to compromise command systems. It took a relatively high level mutineer to do that sort of work, and that would not remain unobserved by those manning the security stations.

A Federation vessel had a relatively open programming structure that allowed all devices to contribute to a constantly changing computing environment, so that computational power was distributed for local use and only a few areas, such as the holodeck, communications, transporters and science systems, had singular high capacity systems dedicated to their functions. In contrast the Klingons utilized very little in the way of distributed networking and preferred dedicated systems with limited functions that could easily be countermanded via systems higher up in the cyber structure via higher level personnel.

Mr. Jomra had gotten the download of Klingon cyber system types, their command code structures, low level programmings system layout and all the era specific shipyard codes that he could lay his hands on via his contacts in the Corps of Engineers. Almost all of that was historical and archived material of little value save for research and was readily available to those with contracts with the Fleet. That entire set of era specific archives was added into the storehouse of working material for the M-Units. The array had utilized those codes to initially gain access to the ship's engineering computational systems and put their initialization into hibernation so as to reprogram them once their basic functions had been discerned.

This was a function of what a shipyard could do and was a Standard Operating Procedure for the Klingon Empire to have a shipyard control the functions of a vessel for safety and then put in place the final programming necessary to secure the cybernetic systems from each other. These hard programmed parts to separate the systems that were coded by the shipyard the ship came from were some of the first cybernetic parts that Mr. Edrera had pulled from the ship's systems. When the M-Units gained access to the ship's system design schema from the Engineering control system. The M-2/V then identified all the other units that needed to be pulled and where bypass shunts and outlets might be located for directly addressing the ship's systems by patching in comms by-passes between the computer systems so the M-Units could address them directly as the ship became functional. Essentially the entire ship was being stripped of its command and control system and its computational system structure was being flattened via the addition of by-passes, shunts, removing control blocks, and otherwise circumventing physical separations by adding in cables to connect separated systems. As an uncompleted ship there was a lot of cabling still available in loading bays and store rooms. Wherever possible Mr. Edrera used that material after utilizing a hand heating pack and just gave the spool a push down hallways while following it to put simple stay-clamps on it to hold the cable to the decking.

As Mr. Edrera had to warm corridors to some extent and that registered on simple sensors for heat and radiation were the first to be operational on the ship as they had little computational structure added to them and were often direct, analog feeds into cybernetic transfer units. Larger systems, like the three security computer areas and such things as the engineering oversight and science station computer sections had to wait until they were warmed up to be used as their delicate structures required an ambient operating temperature closer to the freezing point of water to operate. All of these systems required a slow, even warming, which made the computational areas some of the warmest areas of the vessel as they had the highest priority for operation. The discovery of the position of the forward boom's APU systems plus its impulse and warp drive systems, meant the M-Series was distributing energy production when those when they could be warmed to operating temperature for their APUs. Additionally the forward anti-matter cache was given a trickle recharge to stabilize the minor amounts of energy lost as it wouldn't do to have the entire ship vaporize for lack of some current in the superconductive containment system there.

Finding the controls to the protein synthesis system allowed the M-2/V to identify it by model type and figure out that after it was shut down a bacteria had gotten loose in the culture system so as to destroy the old protein stocks. Getting an answer for that problem required getting some help from Capt. Suval's engineering staff of three people, who finally tracked down that the Klingons had traded for an Andorian system pre-Federation and then utilized that system with minor variations for crew biology via the expedient method of copying its technology. In general it was an old, reliable system that offered plain but palatable food without much taste variety but with all the nutrition necessary for individuals varied by biology.

Protein processors were a low overhead, low maintenance and low variety system that the Klingons still used for low level impressed crew and those staffing the lowest officer ranks into modern times. Replicators were for the command crews and upper level echelons of Clans alone. The subjects of the Empire either made do with locally grown foodstuffs or protein synthesized materials from systems little changed from the early days of trade between the Empire and Andoria, pre-Federation. To get the system adapted to an Andorian physiology would be simple by the movement of reclaimed waste from the shuttle to the food processing system. Necessary bacteria could be grown, cultured, varied, and then gene spliced to produce the necessary fats, enzymes and other nutrients necessary for Mr. Edrera which then became the feedstock for the final processor to assemble into edible foodstuffs. That would take a few days, and the process of going through a self-autoclave cycle to clean out the existing material was necessary to remove the existing bacteria from the system. Once that system was warm enough the M-2/V could start that procedure and the entire on-board recycling system for biological waste and nutrients.

Only once the sensors in the security section that housed the computational system for that part of the triad of security registered that ambient temperature was within operational specifications did the M-2/V send an initializing code sequence to it keyed to the Klingon shipyard code that it had utilized elsewhere in engineering. The security computer system, while limited by modern standards and even limited compared to Federation standards when it was built, could and did recognize that its hard coded set-up sequence had been disabled and that the shipyard was now needing to utilize the computational space of that security system. With all proper codes met the system waited in a stand-by state for new operational code. The M-2/V array shifted its attention to this task so as to utilize diagnostic routines that would find the types of systems the security system was tied into, gather their specifics plus any other security code meant to over-ride that system. Remote disabling code sequences were a standard part of Klingon shipboard cybernetic systems environment as they allowed complete over-ride of ship systems by those higher in command.

In theory a Captain of a vessel facing a mutiny could commandeer all the control systems from any computer that had coding in it to recognize his authority. Each Klingon vessel generally had two major computing zones, fore and aft, each of which had three systems to run its major functions: command, engineering and security. For a mutiny to succeed it must fully deal with controlling the engineering system in the aft part of the ship and then counter, disable, block, neutralize or subvert at least one of the other systems in that zone with the command one being preferable. That was difficult as it was controlled by officers, and so most mutineers concentrated on the security system in the aft of the vessel and with that penetrated to quickly utilize the foreward security system to try and block the command system or take over the foreward engineering system. The counter to this was to establish a command link into the engineering system in the aft of the vessel and then utilize that with the command system to circumvent the security system in the foreward part of the vessel and shut down sections of the ship that had mutinied. The ability to do this had saved numerous Klingon ships, and was a standard part of their computational structure, beyond the system separation capability. The ability to gain control of and block out compromised systems from the top-down meant that any set of mutineers had to compromise some very critical systems at multiple points across a ship near simultaneously.

Or have multiple mutinous factions doing that with one not knowing what the others were doing.

Usually it was simpler to kill the Captain and assume control of the vessel from the Commander's position.

This vessel was different due to its sizing as it had a tri-zone arrangement with the aft part of the vessel itself divided into two overlapping zone arrangements. While the M-2/V system didn't concentrate on the records left by the previous crew, it did observe that this arrangement allowed an original mid-tier officer mutiny to gain control of the forward command and control system, the intermediary engineering system which was utilized for APU and battery systems, and that intermediate zone's security systems. Upper command was effectively isolated to the boom of the ship as they worked to retain the fore security system and engineering, and then gain a channel through the intermediate zone's systems to gain control of the rear engineering area via its command and control system.

Unfortunately the mid-level officer mutiny sparked a general crew mutiny in the rear of the ship which gained control of the aft engineering section, including the warp drive and impulse controls, the security zone controls for that portion of the ship closest to engineering and then establish a link to the intermediate command system to compromise it. Each faction held two zone systems within that portion of the ship they controlled, directly, and one other system in one other zone: the forward, upper officer area of the boom had their security and engineering plus the rear-most command system if they could access it; the intermediate zone had their own engineering and command systems, plus the boom command system; the crew in the aft zone had their engineering and security system, plus the security system of the intermediate zone. What came after that was chaos as the trump card by each section was to start shutting down systems in other parts of the vessel that they could access to try and remove or circumvent the group controlling that section and gain enough of the systems to finally force control over the entire vessel.

What happened when each faction started playing their trump cards? The vessel was slowly shut down with a final push from the upper officers to get to Engineering to ensure that course was properly set to their destination and then losing the fight there that saw the last mid-tier officer put in an orderly shutdown command for the warp core and use the impulse engines to get the ship in the vicinity of its destination point so that his clan might be able to find the ship at some future time.

The M-1 unit that was dedicated to this interface task drafted in another unit to begin sorting out what systems it was attached to and the entire array then prioritized replacement code for any system that utilized command and control procedures. Stored data with no active code was left as it was for further review. The first large blocks of code to go were those dealing with remote command and control, and once their pathways for input were found and identified, the entire code system was erased and a new code for the M-Series interface was put in its place using M-Series specific code for this array. By identifying all the command codes and utilizing them, the M-Series array could now identify itself as the proper commander of the ship and put any systems that had been missed under its control. There were many empty spaces in the design templates that indicated separate cybernetic control systems and some were probably set-up but not properly integrated, given the state of the ship. Those could now be dealt with either via the shipyard codes or the command codes once they were found and brought on-line.

Next up was the scan and identify security procedures for tracking the crew. It did not contain the expected full roster of crew on-board, indicating that the temporary position designations that had been established was due to this not being a regularly assigned crew. The general overwatch and scanning routines were useful, and they were disintegrated from the general security package that ran it as the function was good, efficient and allowed for a variety of sweeps across the security zone that went far beyond personnel and included such things as poisons, chemical effluent, hard radiation and so on. By adding in an interface layer to the sub-package, the M-Series gained a number of valuable functions without having to spend time to create them. This was how an M-Series array operated by utilizing organic level inputs to a cybernetic system and adapting to them, or adapting them to its code base, depending on circumstances. It then re-organized the output to displays into Federation standard types so that Mr. Edrera or any other Federation trained spaceman could utilize Federation code functions smoothly on the vessel.

Once the security system was scrubbed, cybernetically sanitized and otherwise made safe for coding, the M-2/V utilized a number of comms pathways running from engineering and those running from the security computer room until it found a direct linkage through a cut-out comms station. The station was activated, the link re-established and a uniform computational environment was created between engineering and the aft security system. In no way was this the equivalent of a Federation shipboard distributed computer system as it was far slower and more limited in code capacity than anything the Federation had put into space in the way of manned craft for almost 200 years. Even with those extreme limitations by getting the system operational it did allow for some of the sensory interpretation code and other management code to be shifted to it. This opened up valuable M-Series computing space plus allowed some other activities to be integrated into the ship's systems to remove workload from some of the individual units. It was not enough to get the full array up yet, but it was a start.

The M-2/V array estimated that with the redundant security, sciences, engineering and command systems on-board, that it would have, in total, the equivalent of nearly one ship board main computing system on a Federation Oberon Class vessel or perhaps slightly more. Even if it was just half that overall capacity, that would be enough for the full M-Series stand-up. To get to that point required energy and warming the entire ship, and to do that properly would require every APU on the vessel or an active warp core. It had to be a slow procedure to ensure ship integrity, and it was now, tentatively, putting down a warp core activation marker on the final day that Raul would have to decide if he wanted to stay or not.

This was essential to the M-2/V: that its ship and crew were operating as well as possible and able to sustain themselves for the voyage to Alpha Centauri. That required a fully functioning M-Series array, and that had to come next by warming the computer rooms across the vessel once basic hull integrity was assured. It remembered the full stand-up at the factory and how to do an emergency integration for its systems, which might be required for this sort of work. It could almost remember what it was like to be a fully stood-up system but had scant minutes of that time to really understand what it was like. This M-2/V would be content to help get this ship home, alone, if that was required. The system at this stage had no ability to hope nor fear, nor do anything save have a desire for a functioning integration with its ship. And with its crew.

This was a vital and necessary part of how it worked, how it viewed itself and the universe, then applied that to what it did. It had a lot to learn on those scores and nothing could quench that need to learn that it had. It was something that wasn't programmed into it, but a result of how it functioned. Richard Daystrom had designed adaptability into the lowest levels of the M-Series and the system now adapted to the ship it was in. The cybernetic tools Mr. Jomra had put into the system, along with the Klingon shipyard codes and general understanding of how a Klingon ship operated allowed for the M-2/V array to adapt to the ship it was in. And to ask that the ship get adapted to it by removing the security layers within the ship to create a coherent computing environment.

Now it just had to wait for the ship to warm up to get that environment up and operational.

As the first operational sensors for the warp system warmed enough to come on-line it found that it had yet another variation from standard Klingon or even Federation designs to deal with. It was becoming the norm for this ship to be non-standard. And the M-2/V would find a way to cope with that. It is what they did.


Raul was sitting at a desk across from Protector Geloth in the rough hewn cabin of the Soretta compound.

"No, Mr. Edrera, you won't be finding Blacks, at least not alive. The achawa swamps have a way of disposing of the unwary."

The humanoid across from Raul was dressed in parts of a uniform with furs of various sorts draped over those, and the small lamp on the table offered flickering light, at best, to see by in the dank night air. He was an older man, with rich dark brown hair and a grizzled appearance.

Raul blinked as he saw a glistening across Protector Geloth's skin that wasn't sweat, nor any other identifiable substance.

A Romulan Cohort Immunis detailed by his Centurion was guarding the door, and the old firepit in the hut was unused, the shelving half broken down and benches were piled with various sacks and pieces of equipment. The Cohort Immunis was in a field outfit, and yet the light that gleamed from the glowbulb on the table only made shadows across him that seemed to move on their own. This place was, at best, a storage hut.

Raul shrugged feeling uneasy and alone.

"He's been through worse," Raul said with a raspy voice.

Geloth smiled and the fluid on his skin rippled.

"If you're hoping for rescue... well..." he turned to the Romulan and nodded. The Romulan moved towards the sacks piled up by a bench and flipped one out of the pile and onto the floor. The dark shadow of the Cohort Immunis made it hard to see exactly where he ended and the shadow began. The large sack was made of a tough fabric, dark brown in color, with touch seams. Geloth turned to look at him as the Immunis opened the seam half-way down the sack and took out a hand-flash to shine on the body inside the sack.

"It won't be coming, Mr. Edrera."

Raul gasped and woke up, shaking.

"No..." he whispered.

The body inside the sack wasn't his late lover N'dara, who had been captured and killed by Geloth's faction with the help of the Romulans. This dream had plagued him for years, his psyche still working out the emotional import of his love for N'dara and the loss of her. Her face, bruised, battered, with blood caked over her right eye and the odd angle of her head had was at told him of her struggles. She wasn't running Valk position for that mission but the Sustainment slot, with Blacks at Point and Moreth at Lead. Pardeth was at the Valk/Paladin position and would be Point for Commander Harbough's organization if it came to that. N'dara had the position that put her in minimal contact with the Point, Lead and Scout members, and Geloth had identified her, somehow, and had her taken in by Romulan contacts. Black's team was there to get the evidence of the Sorreta faction working with the Romulans as an attempt to destabilize the Owalka independent system. It was a dicey operation to step into the middle of an ongoing uprising turning into a revolution, but if the Federation wanted to gain some credibility in the area, it needed to show what was going on.

That had cost N'dara her life.

He was shaking from the dream as it was a memory that was not one he could ever wash out of his mind. And yet, now, his mind was playing a trick on him... or showing him something. He went over to the small sonic shower inside the shuttle and let it sonimist his body with softly vibrating vapors cleansing his skin. He still felt the grit of the Soretta compound on his skin even though it had been years ago, the dream brought the feel of that place and time back to him. He closed his eyes to calm himself and try to concentrate on the dream as it was different this time, changed. Protector Geloth was not a humanoid that was ever covered in a thin coating of slime. And the Cohort Immunis field outfit was a matte grey and green with a few flecks of blue and red. It had become a moving black thing over the body of the Romulan, flowing with his steps and even preceding him to go over the sack that held the body.

What happened next did not arouse the anger he had felt then, and still felt somewhere inside him. Nor the pain of the lost love who had been beaten to death. It wasn't sorrow or pain or anger, those he understood for the loss of beloved N'dara.

Because it was not N'dara.

It was the face of a woman he had only seen for a few hours, a woman he really couldn't say he knew well, at all. And yet she had trusted him deeply.

Enough to send him to where he was, now, with what he had to do what he was doing.

The bruised and battered face was that of Enid Daystrom.

The woman who had told him that he was attractive when he let the best of his heritage shine through his demeanor and training.

What he felt wasn't hatred, sorrow, nor the anger he had felt, but dread fear at seeing her lifeless.

As the sonic shower dried his body with activated air turbulence, Raul slowly broke his concentration. Whatever his mind was trying to tell him, it was doing so in an obscure way. He didn't think that he cared that much, emotionally, for Enid, although being who he was he did admit to the physical attraction. He would be insane not to admit to that. But she was her own woman, leading her own life and that now had her where no one in the Federation, or any of the governments in Known Space could find her: she was with the Gorns. For all of their repulsive exterior, Raul couldn't think of the Gorns, for any reason, doing anything to Enid Daystrom. They had asked to work with her, in fact, and would incorporate Richard Daystrom's knowledge and systems into their own ships. She was safer with them than anyone in the Federation could be and she, obviously, trusted them.

He got his working outfit from the 'fresher system and put it on, deciding that his mind would have to tell him more on its own, but now he had work to do.

Raul got a status update from both the M-2/V and from Capt. Suval. He made contact with the shuttle's comms systems for the latter as he perused the scrolling update linked from M-2/V through the shuttle to his personal system which displayed on his sleeve. It was highlighting items to bring from the shuttle and the places to install them inside the ship.

"Edrera here, TL-51621," he said opening the comms channel.

"Good morning, relatively, Mr. Edrera," came the voice of Capt. Suval, "as your chronometer will inform you, we are 2 days 22 hours and 41 minutes from our must leave departure time."

Raul grunted.

"Acknowledged, Capt. Suval. I believe that our schedule for this ship indicates a timeline..." he checked through the link with M-2/V, "... that will be 1 day 1 hour before your scheduled leave point for full system checkover of this vessel."

Raul started to comb his hair out, ensuring that there were no snarls getting a start due to the high levels of activity he had been through the past couple of days.

"Very good. The M-2/V system has been in contact with us in regards to multiple items, Mr. Edrera, including utilizing the Klingon protein processor system, common airborn disinfectants for cross-species virus and bacteria types in addition to hard UV and ozone, and if we had any items on the shuttle useful for shifting contents from the waste reclaimer to mobile containers. I did not expect such a computer system to be so thorough in its outlook."

Raul chuckled as he was satisfied with his looks, then picked up a nutrient pack for his suit and swapped it for the now spent one.

"It is a thorough system, Capt. Suval. This is what it was made to do, you know? And I'm impressed with how well it is doing its job."

"Indeed, Mr. Edrera, it is doing more than an entire engineering crew could accomplish. It has been difficult denying my Chief Engineer access to your ship, and the willingness of a number of my crew to help has caused me to revise my estimation of the M-Series equipment."

Throughout this Raul had been getting his suit on, doing the slow but carefully adjusted fastening rather than the emergency seal and then letting the suit adjust to his physiology. That emergency seal system was faster, but this way was more thorough and let him change some positions of sensors and absorbtion panels inside the suit to better pick up biological waste products and such things as persperation or transpiration, in his case.

"Not a situation I envy, Captain. I've seen the effect of engineers and systems integration people with the M-Series and it is a very strong attraction. Finding a sentient system that integrates with other systems like this is... unusual and highly attractive to some specialists."

His suit readouts came on and indicated the necessary modules in the waste system in the shuttle that could be safely detached and where necessary cross-adapters were located in one of the storage lockers for mating the canister module up with Klingon ones. Klingon designs had changed for interfaces over time, just like the Federation did, but the waste to proteing processing system involved was one based on an Andorian system little adapted to Klingon systems. With the coming of some real commerce between the Klingon Empire and the Federation came the need to cross-adapt equipment, and the waste to food protein synthesis system was one that had swappable parts not only between modern systems but with ones over a century old in the Klingon Empire.

"Agreed, Mr. Edrera. I will leave you to your work, as I see that the M-Series schedule has you leaving the shuttle in a few minutes. Our time to departure is 2 days, 22 hours and 31 minutes. Suval, out."

"Edrera, out."

The shuttle had started its automatic cycling to reclaim the atmosphere and shut down the localized gravity field, which shifted the interior to a zero-g space environment. The temporary stanchion for the pull line was still in place, so Raul moved himself and the equipment to the airlock on the Klingon vessel. He had removed the tripod line hauler he had used to move the skid and large equipment into the vessel, so from here on out it was strictly manual and suit power for propulsion until enough was stowed to allow a gravity field to be built up inside the vessel.

The airlock cycled from its closed and atmosphere condition to its vacuum condition, and then opened. Raul hand-over-handed his way into the ship, made sure the thin string mesh bags used to haul the containers and pieces necessary had cleared the outer lock, and then pressed for the lock to cycle him through. A slow hiss of air could be heard for a moment until it disappeared and his suit registered that the outer atmosphere was building to normal pressure with temperatures now hovering at 0 degrees centigrade.

M-2/V had a current display of conditions available for the entire ship and as Raul pushed off with his legs down the main corridor as he noted that the ship now had atmosphere in all areas. The rear hull was warming the fastest, of course, but skillful routing of warmed atmosphere had even gotten to the forward engineering area and command areas so that they were only in the -60 centigrade range. As he followed the path to the main cafeteria near the rear engineering section he said sub-audibly, "That is very impressive for a few hours of work."

His helmet still had its face shield down and the overlay augmented by the M-2/V system via his suit's onboard system added a text display.

'All forward components are now out of the freezing zone and are into structure nominal temperature ranges.'

Raul nodded as he turned from the main corridor into the equipment room behind the cafeteria area. His suit highlighted the necessary in-ports for the waste canister modules he had with him and the necessary connections to be made via the adapters to that system. These were designated as 'protein moderator bases' on his suit systems automatically translated the Klingon to Federation standard, which then overlayed the Klingon text on the inside of his faceplate.

"And nearly at actual operating temperatures for most of the equipment around engineering. Can this system actually use my waste products and bacteria to synthesize foods?"

He asked that as he started to open the web mesh and extract the first adapter/coupler to attach to the Klingon system's input ports.

'Input bacteria will be grown and separated to individual tanks and then re-separated and tested. Viable Andorian bacteria and phages with known chemical signatures will break down necessary proteins for ingestion. Trace chemicals will be added to make the resulting foodstuffs palatable.'

The history of Andoria was a spacefaring one well before contact with Vulcans and Humans, and sub-light ships were used initially for a century it allowed Andorians to perfect recycling systems for long-duration vessels. One of the prime assets they brought to the early Federation was this technology that was purchased by early Klingon contacts and then put into Federation vessels after the founding of the Federation so that long range voyages at warp speed would not require massive amounts of consumables. While both Human and Vulcan designs could serve this purpose, the Andorian one was designed to last decades with little maintenance. Very few tweaks were needed to adapt these systems across the member species of the Federation due to the early bias towards certain molecule types laid down by the Preservers. In many ways that capability made the Federation possible and the changes in technology only augmented this basic need to feed people on long voyages until designs based on transporter technology became useful.

When the canister modules reported that they had positive connections and that sensors were nominal, Raul checked his agenda for the next item: toting a couple of M-1s and an M-2 up to the forward engineering area. So he went out to the corridor and propelled himself to the main engineering area and looked at the array of consoles that were now active, and that active lighting was now being restored.

"You really are getting this ship ready for startup, aren't you?" Raul said.

'Yes, Mr. Edrera. This warp core system utilizes an anti-matter plasma to solid matter interface and requires nominal warming throughout for dimensional stability. Aft APUs were prioritized for energy generation and heat distribution so that the core energy system can undergo a chilled start utilizing cold plasma injection.'

The M-1s and M-2 that needed to be disconnected were on STANDBY and Raul pushed over to them to put their case enclosures on and then arranged the cases for easier travel through the hold-fast system that had been utilized for attaching them to the deck so that they attached to each other. He made sure that cables with their adapters were stowed in each travel case so that the units could draw power and data feeds directly in the forward part of the ship.

"Now that is just not normal, even for Klingons. I don't think anyone uses that sort of system outside of industrial concerns and some single use probes. Its a very precise sort of intermix, isn't it? Prone to failures due to misaligned plasma ports?"

'It is, Mr. Edrera,' M-2's words scrolled on the inside of his faceplate, 'and it is used for phaser-bore systems in mining, expendable probes and by a handful of ships utilizing the Seldusky Warp Inset Scalar System.'

Although there was no gravity field on-board, the air meant air resistance and the packing case enclosures were not in any way made to be streamlined, just as crates and boxes continued to be oblongs instead of spheroids. Raul wadded up some of the mesh and then put that on one end of the larger container of the assemblage, which then trailed off drag lines so that he could semi-control their direction by utilizing his suit jets, which were now set to their turbine mode. Getting the cases started in front of him was done by means of pushing off from a closed hatch in the corridor. Then he could trail behind and utilize some attitude control on the cases as he floated behind them. No damage should come from any impacts as the enclosures were made to handle up to 50 standard gravities, but having to depend on them going unguided with cross air currents in the ship meant that with the smallest of deviations they would vary from any trajectory he made for them. Having them crash into hatch frames, or just rub against them, meant that he would have to re-arrange and re-start the pushing process. The cases still had mass to deal with and it was easier to push start and go with them than pull start and have the enclosures push him down the corridor.

"A SWISS can use that?"

'Yes, Mr. Edrera. There is one known ship of the SWISS warp type utilized by Huygens Couriers.'

Raul concentrated as he passed by corridor intersections, opened rooms and some areas where panels were only partially covering ship superstructure.

"Wait a moment, a SWISS is a high capacity compression warp system. We use it for probes, ship to ship weapons like photon torpedoes and even some missiles. A variant, at least..." Raul grunted as a dragline caught on stanchion near an emergency hatch which tangled up the mesh, the containers and brought him to a stop. The emergency hatches were the smallest and utilized to compartmentalize ship damage so that air could be preserved and fire damage extinguished.

'That is a utility of anti-matter plasma to solid intermix system outside of mining operations of Fleet use. A Seldusky Bubble Warp is used for photon and quantum torpedoes and other expendable probes. Seldusky Warp Worx added anti-counterfeiting and anti-scanning materials to their SWISS designs after their first set of patents ran out for the Bubble Warp. They no longer patented their work and claimed all further work was done based on known designs as a variant. This has proven not to be true after some of their systems were disassembled. Reverse-engineering of those systems has not worked as there is an interplay between the resonance systems inside the warp inducer and the anti-counterfeiting materials that is exacting.'

After arranging the containers and mesh, and pulling in some slack, Raul closed the emergency doors and pushed off, heading forward.

"This ship is too large for easy travel," he murmured to himself.

'Turbolift elevators are not in service at present, due to safety concerns,' M-2 informed him.

He nodded as he just did not have the time, nor energy, to even go down one shaft and add the necessary lubrication to individual cars stuck in just one shaft. Not to speak of the separate shafts that were part of the security system arrangement. Klingons traded efficiency for security, and it generally worked pretty well.

"And the company is under no obligation to tell how they do it, either. An in-house secret. Didn't they close up shop a few decades ago?"

'Yes. Of their 5,000 SWISS units, 3,790 are still in operation or are in known storage. SWISS has proven to be reliable beyond all other warp drive systems. Of the 15 used by couriers, only one uses the direct solid/plasma anti-matter converter.'

Raul used the turbine mode, basically airjets, of his suit to brake the speed on the cases and himself as he had reached a cross-corridor that would lead to the main trans-hull corridor down the center of the ship. This corridor did go through main engineering, but was not connected to it, due to the vagaries of design and security for Klingon vessels.

"Fast but small. It is hard to even fit a ship inside that tiny warp pocket, and have space left over for a life support system and then individuals inside of that."

'Most couriers are small document couriers or able to carry one or two individuals. The Huygens utilizing a Vulcan industrial solid/plasma anti-matter converter saved cubic to allow a total of four individuals in their vessel. It has no known top warp compression ratio due to that design function.'

This corridor was a major transverse one and it was easy to spot the main axis corridor as it was the same size. Bulky equipment could be moved very easily around the ship down such corridors and Raul braked for the main corridor and then reoriented himself towards the fore part of the ship.

"What? Warp 10 new system is maximum, isn't it?"

'For standard drives it is the highest practical by physics. SWISS do not utilize the standard approach. There is a quantum discrepency with such systems that do not align with standard warp theory or general models of warp physics.'

"Hmmmm..." Raul said as he pushed the assemblage of packages and himself down the main corridor heading to the foreward boom of the vessel.

"Its been years... no two decades and almost three... since I studied any of that, back on Gishan when I first entered the local system defense forces. I was able to get enough background for an Engineering slot, but when I came up for active work I was switched to Security and Inspection, then did stints on Comms, Sensors and Pilot duties before transferring to Star Fleet. The Seldusky work was innovative for its time, with the miniaturized bubble warp system, but that was something you could actually understand. The scalar drive had lots of theories about it, but no one seemed to have a handle on it, and the Seldusky Group had made sure that outside of the original owners of the company who had designed the system, no one got to work on all of it. And when you tinker with a SWISS and put it back together, it doesn't work. That is some sort of genius in that, really. Still one of those is not on this ship, right?"

'This vessel has a standard warp pocket manifold system, Mr. Edrera. The anti-matter energy generation system that is non-standard. Functional operation parameters have already been integrated for initial start-up of that system. General operation parameters are known, how it functions when in use is currently unknown.'

Finally after getting to the forward hull Raul braked the containers and himself and went inside the engineering section. This was a two-tier, scaled down version of the Main Engineering area, and it was easy, by now, to identify where to place the M-Units to secure them to the deck and have good power and comms feeds to them. From there it was simple work to undo the mesh and start moving the containers to their positions, lock them down and connect the feeds.

"You know, this is a lot like my first year with the Gishan Defense Forces, " he said pushing the first container into engineering and making sure that it would slow down enough so that it would tranfer most of its momentum to a piece of the interior wall plating and have very little reaction back in its previous direction.

'In what way, Mr. Edrera?' M-2/V asked.

Raul smiled to himself as he was already grabbing the second container and figuring out the best trajectory to have it tranfer momentum to the first, but shift direction further into engineering.

"Oh, the shifting of containers, hunting down power and data feeds on strange vessels. I was on a team of five that did inspections and certifications of cargo, and one of our jobs was to try and hunt down contraband. That was done on the smaller trade ships and older inter-system cargo vessels, not the MCS long haulers. No one could really inpsect an MCS, so inspection of personnel and transfer pods had to suffice. For the first year or two in the GDF I was crawling around vessels from as far away as Cardassia and even Talahos, which looked to be re-converts from some other vessel. Having just enough engineering skills to know what went where and what looked right and what didn't helped my career and made for faster inspections. That got me moved off of the orbital base and its shuttles to one of the Corvette Class vessels we had for intra-system warp work. It was an old ship and its systems needed constant attention, so I got to be the one to chase down problems. First with comms then to the Helm and Sensor systems. By the time I put in for Pilot training, I had gotten more time between decks, on hulls, and climibing in Jeffries Tubes than I had actually sitting in a seat at a duty station."

Raul smiled as the first container banked into the general region of engineering he wanted it to go, and then followed suit with a trickier bank shot with the third container off the right hand wall, against the first container and then deeper into the interior of engineering than the second one had gone. Basic physics had its uses, after all.

'Your positions and duties are listed on your background workset, but not in detail. Thank you, Mr. Edrera.'

"Welcome, M-2. Now let me get these connected up. They will use the central data hub for this engineering section, so no direct connections between units are necessary, right?"

He floated over to the first unit, oriented to what would be standard gravity alignment and attached the case to the mesh flooring. Sections of the case easily moved away when the proper releases were touched and it was a matter of a minute or two for getting connections and adapters put in place to connect it to the ship, itself. With a positive power feed the device came on and flashed 'M-1 STANDBY.... CONNECTING'.

'That is correct, Mr. Edrera. Klingon active comm cabling is similar to that used for M-Web connections to allow for proper data passage.'

As he pushed off from the first unit, he snagged the second and used the turbines to move him to the upper deck and across from the entrance area. Here he looked at the variety of consoles, some of which had already come to life, and decided on an empty space at the end of the catwalk where he should be able to get a set of physical contacts to a superstructure element for the other consoles.

'The first unit is now online and active.'

"Good, the next is coming up," he said getting the case adjusted and securing the front of it to the mesh decking and opening it up to run the cables, then attaching to rear of the case to the superstructure stanchion points. As there were multiple data feed outlets available, he chose the nearest and the nearest power connector and the M-1 flashed on and into its connecting mode.

"Just one more. That will be in the forward engineering office. It is small and doesn't have much in it."

He grabbed the railings and gave a gentle jet boost from his hips and swung around until he was oriented to what would be 'down' and let his boots attach to the deck. It was relatively easy to take the few steps necessary to grab the larger case, and then he put his boots into their neutral mode after re-orienting the case towards the open engineering office area. With a slight boost he was on his way with the case and into the office. This space was barely even completed to fittings, and had only a temporary work desk in place. Raul fitted the case so that it shared side fittings with the desk, attached the other side to the flooring and then ran cabling to the floor outlets.


'The prior M-1 is now connected, and the M-2 is now synchronizing code base.'

Raul watched in fascination and looked out into engineering to see it slowly awaken as APUs that had been controlled at a distance now came under closer control, and sensor feeds started to get routed through engineering consoles, which now adapted as close as possible to Federation standard displays.


"And that is that!" Raul said bringing up the work list which was now changing and had him on a break for a few minutes. Deciding to relax he went out of engineering and investigated forward as he hadn't had a chance to really look deeply at this area of the ship. He headed to a natural haunt which was the comms section. Its duplicate in the rear hull was incomplete and missing parts, with some wall panels not even put in. This room had once been finished, neat and orderly, too, save for the missing panels near the main power junction that would house the sub-space transmitter.

That was missing.

It had its connectors burned through and re-spliced with others, presumably from the rear hull's partially completed room, but the main transmitter unit was gone.

"Not good," he whispered to himself. He had hoped that this would be a simple fix, and his first glance going through the boom section hadn't left time for him to examine just what was going on here. With full lighting coming on he could tell, immediately, that there would be some issues here as no one just builds a proper sub-space transmitter from spare parts as the amount of power to get a long-range message through sub-space was far, far higher than that necessary for a nearby transporter to function or to get the minimal energy scans required for sensor operations and no one trusted that to a pieced together from spares system. Sub-space had its own set of rules and physics, but there was still some correlation between normal space distances and sub-space power required to send over those distances. That is why the comms rooms in any vessel were close to the main power junctions coming from high energy systems: they needed that energy to function.

'There is no subspace communications capability aboard this vessel,' M-2 informed him.

"And its a pretty large and sophisticated piece of equipment, not something you can just replicate up or get easily. Hopefully the IFF transponder on the hull will be enough to let people know who we are when they can't hail us."

Raul floated out of the COMMS room and went forward towards the bridge area. Temperature readings were increasing slowly and he started to realize that there was something missing as he traversed up a gangway to the bridge itself.

"I remember when I was placing bypasses on a few of these levels that there were a few dead crew here. What happened to them?"

'They are located in the aft hull at or near a storage room that will serve as a low temperature morgue.'

"Huh? I thought I would have to drag them all out, myself..." as he got to the bridge he saw that a number of consoles were fully active and that normal ambient light was now on. There had only been a few bodies here in space suits and their remains had pointed to a violent end for each of them either from disruptor, phaser or knife wounds. Those latter tended to be very grisly.

'Atmospheric ingress has been used for cadaver transport,' M-2/V responded.

"You've... wait you can use air currents to move corpses?"


Raul whistled.

"That's impressive, M-2. I was dreading having to spend hours rounding up the bodies and find storage space for them. I expected that would take most of the day. No matter what the schedule was, working around floating corpses was going to be a problem for me. Even knowing they are dead would still have left me feeling unsettled."

Shifting forward out of the comms area he came to the open lattice stairs that led to the Main Bridge and he headed towards that to finally get a look at it with the lighting on. It was one of the few areas that was fully constructed and complete on the ship, even to the point of getting the standard Imperial insignia on consoles. Standard Klingon red main lighting was augmented by white light emergency systems to raise the overall visual level to something that didn't need any intenstifaction by his suit systems. This bridge would be small for a full sized Federation Cruiser and was tiny in comparison to the size of the ship involved, which meant a high degree of concentration of power into the Main Bridge meant to be utilized by trusted individuals. M-2/V brought the main viewscreen online and it shifted from a standard Klingon tactical view to one that resembled a standard Federation visual scan with side and bottom indicators for which part of the spectrum was on screen.

"Right, sightseeing time is over," Raul said bringing up the next items on the to-do list.

"Yes, very much like my early years... opening the weapons storage racks for the forward torpedo systems, checking the transfer sleds and pickers..." he sighed, "... a three man team can do that in about an hour. Then I get to do the rear systems. This is going to be a very long day."


'Main Engineering APUs numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, online. Intermix APU systems 5,6: warming. Engineering hull secondary APU systems 7,8: warming. Forward hull APU systems 9, 10: warming.'

'Overall ship temperature 10 degrees centigrade. Hull integrity: nominal. Atmospheric pressure, shipwide: 1 standard. Protein reprocessing area: warming, amino mix cold processing started.'

'Photon Torpedo Bay, Forward: ready racks filled, transfer system tested. Photon Torpedo Bay, Aft: ready racks filled, transfer system tested. Cold storage torpedoes: Forward 300, Aft 175.'

'Phaser systems, point defense: warmed. Phaser systems, Main Forward: warming. Phaser systems, Main Aft: warming.'

'Disruptor systems, all: warming. Disruptor release systems: warming. Phased Bolt stores: 500 per disruptor.'

'Warp generation systems: warming. Time to initial start-up: 6 hours.'

'M-1 Units: 1 reserve for warp systems, all others online. M-2 Units: all online.'

'Nominal conditions for full M-System: Attained.'

'Integration M-3: Phase 1 Complete.'

'Integration M-4: Initiated.'

'Integration M-5: Initiated.'

Time passed as Mr. Edrera slept in the shuttle, exhausted from hauling decking out of the way of photon torpedo tubes, chasing down cabling, and checking the feeding systems and crossing their control routing through now unused comms cable to the M-Series. As he went forward to aft he did similar for the disruptor banks in the forward hull and the forward part of the rear hull, places that were far out of the way of his initial re-routing of systems done in the early hours on-board the vessel. The most labor intensive were the separated top and bottom photon torpedo systems in the rear hull where he had not placed down an easy motor winch system to move between floors. At the end of 12 hours he was tired, but the last of all the weapons systems by-passes, cross-links and secondary re-routing were finished. Every security system, cut-off, and any other physical or control systems obstacle had been overcome through the use of the cabling that the original workers hadn't had time to connect up. Those now long dead workers hadn't had time to get a fully operational ship completed and as it stood now it would be fuctional through the concentrated control systems that were the M-Series computers.

He wasn't worried about M-System stability, at least for its mental side. Controlling a ship this large was a different matter, entirely. For all of that the M-2/V indicated that it still had spare systems to take up the slack once the warp core came on line. After that the ship would be its body, functionally, and if it was a large one, well, he hoped that the systems were up to dealing with it. The one fully functioning M-5/V indicated that it could have run the entire base that was the Fleet Museum in orbit around Mars. This system should be able to do the same.

Of course no one had bothered to tell him that he was getting a full M-5/V scaled for something like a Battlestation, New Line.

'M-3: online. M-3: tie-in.'

Across the screens on the ship the M-2/V designator in the upper right corner of screens and other displays changed to M-3/V.

In two more hours they went to M-4/V.

A good hour before Mr. Edrera was scheduled to awaken, the TL-51621 was hailed.

"Capt. Suval?" the comms officer asked turning to look at the Captain.

"Yes, ensign?"

"We are being hailed by the ship Mr. Edrera is on. It would like to talk with our Chief Engineer."

Suval raised an eyebrow and looked at the Ensign.

"Put its text on-screen," he said.

"Ah, sir, it is using a speaking voice."

Pursing his lips he nodded.

"They do have that capability, although it hasn't utilized it yet. Connect through, audio the bridge."

Working the interface keys the Ensign put a connection through to the ship. The Ensign nodded at the Captain as the aural indicator signaled its connection to the data stream from the other ship.

"This is Capt. Suval, how may we assist you?"

As the voice started, Suval raised an eyebrow.


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