Episode 1.3 - "...Is a Friend in Deed"
Location: Main Engineering Hangar, Cardassia Prime
Timeline: Mission Day 04, 0830 Hours
ON: [[Main Engineering Hangar, Cardassia Prime, Mission Day 04, 0830 hrs]]
Lieutenant Commander Robert Hogan was still upset at being re-assigned suddenly by Starfleet from the Yorktown to Cardassia Prime. He had never claimed to be a computer engineer and didn't understand why now suddenly Starfleet sought to make him one. The Cardassians had been experiencing a strange issue with their propulsion systems and it appeared to be running the gambit of all star cruisers, whether military or commercial vessels. After about a day or two of space operation, warp drive would begin to slow and some other non-essential sub-systems would begin to act strangely.
Several crew members on different vessels reported weird changes in the food choices as well as strange changes in cargo composition. Three ships actually had cargo containers that began to liquify. The reports that were coming in from the entire fleet of ships was staggering. What Robert didn't understand was what was causing the errors in the systems and just what caused the cargo containers to liquify. The Cardassians were working as hard as they could with diagnostics and systems checks to identify the problems, but nobody had any real answers.
"Good morning, Commander," Alket said as he stepped out from behind a stack of cargo containers. Although he had been aware his supervisors had chosen to request Federation assistance in this matter, this was the first time he had actually met the Starfleet engineer he would be working closely with. "Glen Alket of the Eleventh Order," he continued, "I've been assigned to work with you on our...problem."
Robert hadn't had much experience through his career with Cardassians. That in of itself was a bit surprising considering the amount of time Robert had spent in Starfleet. He nodded to Alket and greeted him. "Glen is it? I am Lieutenant Commander Robert Hogan. Could you bring me up to speed on what you've got up to this point?" I understand this is quite the conundrum."
The Cardassian engineer nodded. "We've considered several possibilities, but so far, none of them have led us to the cause of these malfunctions," Alket explained, offering the Starfleet officer a PADD, "as you can see, the issue has affected propulsion systems aboard several of our starships, acting without discrimination."
Robert looked at the information on the PADD as Alket continued. He reviewed the information the Cardassian had compiled to date and tried to figure out if there was something simple that was being overlooked. There had to be something there, something that connected all they affected systems together but Robert couldn't see it with what had been researched so far.
"Something the matter, Commander," Alket inquired, noticing the look of concentration that passed over the human's face as he studied the information. Indeed, the entire situation seemed rather troubling, especially when one considered how little progress had been made in determining the source of their problems.
"What exactly is the malfunction to the propulsion systems? Is it the same malfunction on every starship propulsion system?"
Alket thought for a moment. Part of the difficulty they were having came from inherently poor operating technology. Even before the war, Cardassian propulsion units hadn't exactly been known for their longevity or durability. "I've gone over the information several times, but there doesn't seem to be a discernible pattern to the malfunctions," he replied, "The end result, however, appears to be the same in each case...complete system failure."
"I don't like it." Robert grimaced. "I just don't like it. It's too many and too much to be just some random fluke or some simple system wide failure. There has got to be something", Robert looked up at Alket, "or someone behind these...attacks on the ships."
"I beg your pardon," Alket said, not entirely sure he had heard the man correctly.
"Yes, I said attacks. It seems to me there's someone behind an attempt to infiltrate simple systems on the ships in order to slow them down or stop them completely."
The commander's words caused Alket to hesitate. It was one thing to think there might be something more to these malfunctions than what they were seeing on the surface and another entirely to suggest they were actually coordinated attacks. A great deal of work had been done by both the Detapa Council and the Federation to lay the foundations for a new future. There was a general sense among the Cardassian people that things were just starting to get back to normal...or whatever new vision of normal they were trying to live into now. Although the idea that someone would deliberately disrupt that vision was disturbing, one could not have ruled it out completely.
"There are...some...who might stand to gain from something like this," Alket mused aloud, aware that he was indirectly confessing to having also considered such a possibility, "but I do not believe they would have gone about it in such a way."
Robert had been looking at the PADD when Alket mused about someone gaining something. He looked up at the Cardassian and cocked his head slightly and squinted his eyes. "What do you mean...some....?"
The Cardassian engineer did not immediately reply. If he wasn't careful, what he said here might open them all to something far worse than simple engine malfunctions. "It is...a long story," Alket replied hesitantly, "but there are some...some who feel Cardassia will never truly be right until the old order has been restored."
Roberts arched his back and smirked. "Well, life is full of long stories isn't it. It's like a spider web, you never know what's going to get caught in the trap. I imagine you wouldn't know anything about it..."
"It's not something most people feel comfortable discussing, especially with...outsiders," Alket confessed, glancing down at the deck plating below their feet.
Robert shifted gears, noting Alket's sudden discomfort. "Well, I want a level two diagnostic run on the refuse collection subroutines on all the ships."
Alket raised an eyebrow. His engineering teams had spent the last several days going over every square centimeter of the affected systems aboard numerous vessels. Focusing on the refuse collection subroutines seemed to be a rather inefficient use of their time and energy. "The refuse collectors," Alket repeated, "There's no indication any of those systems have been directly affected. What do you expect to find, commander?"
"What do I expect to find? Nothing, something, everything. I suspect you'll find the subroutines are operating more than refuse collection and control." Robert was waving his hand around as he spoke.
"Very well," Alket conceded, "I will have one of our teams start going over the refuse collection processing subroutines. Will there be anything else?"
Robert handed Alket the PADD's and crossed his arms, rubbing his chin with a hand. "You know Lieutenant, there IS something else, but I can't quite put my finger on it....I can't quite..." Robert snapped his fingers. "That's got to be it. Have a second team check out the subspace communication relays. Have them check incoming communications for any type of piggy back frequency changes. That might give us a clue as well." Robert started to turn and walk away from Alket. He paused and glanced back at him. "Say, you don't know where I can get a cup of hot chocolate and a doughnut do you?"
A Joint Mission Post by:
Lieutenant Commander Robert Hogan
Chief Engineering Officer
Glen Alket (PNPC)
Cardassian Eleventh Order
Played by: Capt Naros