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Into the light

Posted on Tuesday July 7th, 2020 @ 6:27pm by Ensign Jocelyn Zemke & Commander Aria Winters

Mission: Let The Good Times Roll
Location: Waste Systems Control - Lower Decks
Timeline: Day 13 at 0700

The night watch had it's charms. It was typically less crowded and the computer systems were less taxed by the hustle and bustle of the first watch. It was a great time to get work done in solitude. The evening work order mentioned some malfunction on Deck 16, in the waste management system. The 'belly of the best' was not everyone's favorite place to work, but Ensign Zemke didn't mind. She was happy and proud to be out in space and fixing the ships' garbage disposal was just as important to the success of the Ulysses' mission.

Zemke was lying underneath one of the consoles in the cramped space which housed the waste management functions. "Did they not think anyone would be working down here?" she muttered to herself, hands inside the electronics and wiring. She made a mental note to send a few anonymous 'nasty grams' to the engineers responsible for this travesty. She found the chip she needed and carefully plucked it from its hiding place, only to have her sleeve get caught on some structural monstrosity.

"Scheisse," she blared in a moment of frustration, "I don't know what's worse." She took a deep breath and managed to unhinge the sleeve. She briefly peeked out from under the panel to ensure that she was the only one in the area. She laid back taking a deep breath and unzipped the top half of the bothersome uniform. She liberated her arms and scrunched it down towards her waist, securing the arms around her waist. She much preferred the undergarment's breathable material and flexibility. She rested her head against the lower panels and sighed a deep breath of relief, taking the pad and connecting the removed chip for analysis.

Ensign Jocelyn Delphine Zemke. Having spent the past hour pouring over her personnel file, Lt Commander Winters had gone in search of the operations officer before her shift would officially end. The computer had helpfully confirmed the young woman's location and - rather than interrupt her work and call her to Aria's office - the ship's XO had gone to find her.

"Are the environmental controls malfunctioning, Ensign?" she enquired with a distinct hint of amusement in her eyes as she stopped a short distanct away, her question announcing her presence.

To have felt startled, would have been an understatement. Thankfully, the feminine voice didn't sound upset, but it was unexpected. "Well," she began to speak while inserting her hands back into the compartment. Installing the new chip was twice as troublesome as it was to remove the old one. She grunted and groaned as her lower extremities flailed around trying to maintain some equilibrium in such an awkward position. "I suppose the sanitation systems, are technically part of the environmental controls. Thankfully, nothing critical, just would have had some backed up drains and fumes circulating throughout the ship."

Jocelyn slid out from under the panel, and faced the enigmatic voice which had initially surprised her. "Commander Winters!," she replied with concern, hastily getting to her feet. She felt ashamed to have not recognized her superiors voice and carrying on so casually. She really hadn't expected such company, especially from the command team. She kept her eyes focused the commander and attempted to dust off and straighten out her uniform, only to recall the outer jacket was tied around her waist. She closed her eyes in dismay, sighing deeply, "I am so sorry Commander, the jacket was getting in the won't happen again." Although the long-sleeve undergarment remained, such irreverence was equal to being undressed while on duty.

"That's quite alright," Commander Winters replied, clearly far from offended. "Do you require some assistance? Two heads, as they say, are better than one."

"Well," Zemke began, "I am good on installing this component...its just structural designs adding some frustration into the mix." She paused, collecting her thoughts about a matter of concern on her mind. "I have, however, noted some irregular activity within the main computer's self-management systems. One of which was...your shower, Sir." Zemke was unsure of how to make that inference and straight forward. "now this garbage sub-routines burned out the processor."

Zemke hadn't been able to fully explain what was happening on the Ulysses, but the symptoms were telling enough to support a hypothesis. "I don't want to be pre-mature in my assessment of the situation, but I think something has been inserted into main use an old reference a 'trojan horse' which appears like a normal function to the system mainframe, allowing invasive programming to interfere with systems."

"Yes, I still have a headache from that one," Aria commented drily. She frowned, "have you also considered ghosts? Or Gremlins? Or Cardassians?"

Jocelyn sighed, unsure of the first officer's intentions. She assumed it was all in good humor, as the issues observed would definitely fit the tinkering legends of sinister mechanical genius. "The ghosts and goblins I am familiar with are not usually this active, Commander." She played her tone to be somewhere between deadpan serious and playful so as not to rub the first officer the wrong way. "I'll keep an eye on it and share my findings with Lieutenant Wilson...and you of course Commander."

“I’d appreciate that,” Aria nodded before grinning, “don’t get me wrong, a lot of things can be fun in zero Gs, it’s when gravity kicks back in unexpectedly that’s the problem.”

"I can only imagine," she chortled in response. "We'll do our best to save anyone else the grave lesson about gravity."

“If I may ask,” Aria began, changing subjects, “how do you find night shift? I used to find it quite peaceful but it makes running a department challenging.”

Jocelyn hadn't fully captured the full message from the Commander, and simply plowed into a response. "I have to admit, I do enjoy it Commander. There is far less distraction at night, and I can get so much done." She looked around taking note of any other issues that had been noted in the service requests. "But you're right, it would be difficult to manage a department from the night shift." She stared at the console she had been working the words she spoke slowly sunk in. He eyes widened and shot back to Commander Winters, "Running a department?" She squealed in response, a pitch somewhere between excitement and utter confusion.

“Unless, of course, you are firmly attached to your current duties?” Aria asked, as deadpan in her expression as any Vulcan could pull off.

Jocelyn dipped her head and swallowed hard trying to find the words, "I don't believe one precludes the other Commander." She paused and took a deep breath. "It simply means additional responsibilities, which I am eager to tackle." She tried hard to suppress a growing grin and welling scream of excitement from inside.

“Please report to Commander sh’Elas when you are finished,” Aria told her with a warm smile that possibly held just a hint of amusement. “In lieu of the official announcement.... congratulations Chief.”

"Thank you Commander!" she replied. She waited for the Commander clear visual range. Knowing full well that no one else was around, she took a boxing stance and proceeded to punch an imaginary bag. She took a few jabs, ducking imaginary attacks, and swung the final victory punch. She raised her hands and ran a quick circle elated from the news, feeling quite victorious.

From the corner of her eye, she observed a figure, standing still and facing her. She paused mid-lap, slowly lowering her hands to dust off her uniform. She slowly turned her head towards the figure, sighing a deep breath of relaxation to see a female in yellow with an enlisted patch, a technician she had worked with on occasion. She closed her eyes and muttered softly, "Thank you Universe," contemplating how she would have felt if it was Commander Winters. She shook her head and waved at the technician. The tech smiled amusingly and raised her hand into a fist shaking it back and forth. The universal sign in recognizing good news. She continued about her business, and Jocelyn went turned her attention back to the console.


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