23,801 / 50,000
As he walked onto the bridge, Cmdr. Andrews greeted him from his console. "Captain, sir, I got ahold of special operations."
"They won't tell us a damn thing, sir."
"Figures. Nothing at all?"
"They said we may or may not be assigned a squad upon arrival at our next destination."
"Bloody helpful, that lot. Thank you, Commander." He turned to Lt. Cmdr. Locke, sitting at her console on the other side of the bridge. "How are your preparations going, Lt. Cmdr.?"
"Not well, sir. The secure communication link refuses to authenticate correctly to connect to the Unity network. I've been debugging this for half an hour but I can't find the issue."
"Have you contacted the network administrators? Could it be a problem on their end?"
"Haven't checked yet, sir. They get a little... defensive when people suggest such things before exhausting every other option."
"Well, we're launching in five hours. Get them on the line, tell them to start diagnosing the problem in parallel, and refer them to me if they give you any crap about it."
"Yes sir." Locke went back to work, and Mackenzie was just sitting down in his captain's chair when he heard a colossal crash and clatter, followed by a long string of profanity that echoed through the ship.
"Ah," Mackenzie said, as Locke looked around in surprise. "Lt. Pierce is back." Andrews cracked up laughing.
Mackenzie walked into the cargo bay to find a caster-cart leaning against the wall, and engine parts strewn about the cargo bay. In the middle of the mess was Lt. Pierce, shoving parts around with his feet.
"You, er, seem to have made a bit of a mess, Lieutenant. Welcome aboard."
"Um, thank you, sir. The damned cart got out of control - one of the wheels is faulty, and the collision-avoidance went haywire."
"I see. So, Lt. Pierce, how's her engine?"
Pierce just sighed in response and glared at his captain for a few seconds. He sighed again, and said, "You let another mechanic at her, didn't you?"
Mackenzie looked sheepish. "Not explicitly. Unity wanted to do an inspection. They said they were going to call you to guide them through the inspection."
"Yeah, sir, fat fuckin' chance. They left her engine a mess." Mackenzie helped Pierce pile the rest of the parts onto the caster-cart, and they guided it through the cargo bay door towards the engine room.
"So, Lt. Pierce, show me what they did to her engine."
"Well, just, well... look at it!" Pierce thrust his arms out towards the vast column of nigh-incomprehensible parts, gesticulating wildly. Mackenzie scanned the mechanical jungle, looking for anything obviously out of place, his eyes glazing over.
"Um... the fromnabulator is misaligned?"
"Oh, now you're just mocking me."
"No, seriously! And the, um, um, tachyon accelerator is overloading the, er, fuckit, I'm no good at making this shit up like you are."
Pierce threw his arms up in exasperation. "Among other things, they left the coupling on the energy coupling loose here on the auxiliary power grid. It wouldn't cause a problem immediately, but if we ever had to go over to emergency power, we'd suffer anything ranging from efficiency loss to total engine failure and possibly an explosion."
Mackenzie beamed. "See? Just like that. Explosions aren't good, though."
Edwin Pierce cleared his throat and looked his captain in the eyes.
"I see what you mean, though. They disassembled it for inspection and didn't bother reattaching it, right?" Pierce nodded. "Right. Well, we're lucky we've got you around, Ed. So... what are all the parts for?"
"Some of them are just backups for our most important bits, the stuff that the ship can't run without. Others are immediate replacements for the stuff they banged up when they were doing the inspection. I don't know how our fleet runs if it's full of people incompetent as the wrench-wielding monkeys that were banging on her."
Mackenzie winced. "Well, can you have her running in two hours? I'd rather not cut it any closer than that."
Pierce thought briefly, and nodded. "I'll let you know if anything goes wrong."
"Thanks, Ed." Mackenzie coughed. "Er, Lt. Pierce. I'll downgrade the formality once we're in the air, but you know how Unity takes to this kinda stuff."
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
Mackenzie walked out of the engine room, only to hear another crash and another string of epithets, this time in a slightly more feminine voice. He sighed belaboredly and headed back to the cargo bay to take a look at the latest mess.
In a frightening display of deja-vu, Mackenzie entered the cargo bay to see a caster-cart crashed into the wall, and boxes strewn about the cargo bay. This time, it was Lt. Margaret Fulcrum, mumbling as she picked up boxes and restacked them on the cart.
"Yeegods," Mackenzie remarked, "what is it about carts in here today?"
"Eh?" Lt. Fulcrum looked up.
"See that scrape on the wall right next to yours? Lt. Pierce, with a cart full of engine parts."
Fulcrum laughed harshly. "Great. Then I get to say it's not my fault, right? Sir."
"Heh, that's fine." Mackenzie helped shove the cart into the supply room. "So," he continued, "did you get everything you needed?"
"Eh, pretty much, sir," she replied as they unloaded boxes into the supply room's compartments. There are a few things we may have to requisition at our next stop. That is going to be a reasonable station, right?"
"I'm hoping so. Obviously we don't know, yet."
Captain Mackenzie left her in the supply room, heading back up to the bridge.
urrent pace: 51002
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