Sreyler Theb had the jitters. It wasn’t just that fact that the Ahwahnee was hurtling, in convoy at warp 8, into space infested with merciless rogue Klingons. It also had something to do with the fact that, from what she’d seen, she was the most experienced engineer in the whole ragtag assembly of ships. She’d already spent half a day on the Tulwar making sure their warp core stayed in one piece for the duration of the trip to Meronia. Whether they could make it back to Starbase 27 or not was another problem for another time.
She swung back on her chair in Engineering, feet resting on the edge of the diagnostic panel. Letting her arms dangle down by her sides, she let out a long sigh. She blew a wisp of long, silver hair out of her eyes that had come loose from its braid. The warp core pulsed at a steady pace, blue waves coursing through at pleasingly regular intervals. Sreyler lost herself for a moment as she stared through the booth’s transparent aluminium panels. Each engine had a character; the beating heart of the ship. This particular one was hers to look after, and she knew it well. She knew that the particle dynamic inducers tended to deviate about three microns every month, she knew that the ion inhibitors occasionally misfired, and that the magnetic intermix field needed slightly more than the recommended EPS flow to operate within normal safety parameters. It was all finely balanced, sometimes a little too finely for her liking. The Cheyenne class warp drive was famous for being finicky. Despite being a highly strung ship, given the right inputs and oversight once she was on the move there wasn’t much that was going to stop her. The upkeep was a challenge, but she’d spent enough years on Starfleet’s older ships to know more than a thing or two about what needed to be done.
A loud knocking on the panel in front of her shook her from her introspection. She jumped up, startled, and nearly fell out of her chair.
“Damn it, Lup, ya scared me!”
Lupulo grinned, creasing the well worn skin around his eyes and dimpling his grey stubbled cheeks. “Ha, I cracked it.”
“The power flow to the phaser array, I got it stabilised.” His wide smile bordered on maniacal.
Sreyler huffed, scowling, launching up and around the edge of the booth to meet him face to face, “Have you even been to sleep? Wait, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know.”
“Come here, I’ll show you.” He started over to the pool table.
Sreyler could feel smugness radiating from every jaunty step he took. They both hunched over the systems display as Lupulo highlighted power allocation and phaser systems. “As you can see,” he was making a meal out of it, “it turns out the power couplings that make up link 73-J have much greater stress-energy tensor strength, so we can simply reroute through there to the-”
She stopped him dead in his tracks, “That’s a lot of words to describe the fact that you modeled every power coupling and this was the one that worked.”
“Well, uh, I’m no engineer,” she watched the wind leave his sails, “it took me a while to…”
“Aha, Lup, you silly!” Her stony expression cracked, and giggling a little she slapped him on the shoulder for good measure, “Looks great to me! Wanna give it a try?”
He composed himself, “Sure.”
Sreyler move around to the opposite side of the console, “Keep an eye on the flux in that coupling as I complete the reroute.” She didn’t look up as she worked to divert power.
“Acknowledged. Power stable.”
“Hey, Lup?” She said, continuing to input commands.
“Yeah?” His eyes remained fixed on the display.
“How long do you think until the D’Ghor get a fix on us?”
A pause, “Hard to say… The reports have been inconsistent. They’ve been striking all over the sector.”
“Yeah, but, you’re the Tactical Officer. Give me some details. Like, they’re flying around in janky old B’rel’s right? How bad can it be?”
Lupulo raised an eyebrow, “That’s not all, Sreyler. We’ve had intel of at least one Vor’cha floating around out there. Hell knows what else they’ve got. You know the Odyssey?”
“What, the USS Odyssey? First in her class? Captain McCallister?”
“The very same.” He lowered his voice, “Last we heard they took a suicide run from a D-12 bird of prey.”
“No!” Sreyler hissed.
His face was grim, “And the Endeavour’s catching heat in the Elgatis system.”
“Those are big ships.” Sreyler was incredulous, “The ice path is cruel.”
“The ice path? That an Efrosian thing?”
“Yup,” Sreyler nodded, “means I hope to hell we don’t end up trading blows with D’Ghor.”
“Ha.” Lupulo pursed his lips, “Well, the Ahwahnee’s survived worse.”
“Don’t talk about that.” She snipped, “Not now.”
He rolled his eyes. An LCARs beep signalled an end to the conversation, “And the diversion is complete.” The triumphant grin returned to his face.
Sreyler looked up, breaking into her own smile, “Alright, thanks for the help, Lup. We’ll make an engineer out of you yet.”
“Not bad for a sleepless night and a mere four cups of coffee.” Resting a hand on the pool table, he made a show of being overly tired. Then the lights dimmed.
“Captain Vordenna to all hands and all ships.” A familiar voice came over the intercom as emergency lighting flashed red. Simultaneously, the klaxon blared. “USS Stavanger has detected three Klingon birds of prey on a course identical to our own. Time to intercept; approximately four hours.”