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'Gizmos on the Nacelles.' [Felix, Burgundy]

Posted on Sat Apr 20th, 2019 @ 2:09pm by Captain Felix de l'Isle

Mission: Admiralgate.
Location: Bridge.
Timeline: SD241904.20

-= Bridge, USS Lone Star =-

The Insignia-refit Lone Star was made for the long haul. Each station had a seat, a good one: brushed Vetivian cotton along the beige-grey spectrum. A seat that, literally, remembered the configuration of each officer and adjusted itself to their weight and gait. Upon seating each display would inch to the side, occupying the officer's optimum ocular profile.

Felix de l'Isle didn't have the biggest strides of all the fleet's captains, but he did have most of the chutzpah. His bridge crew looked up from their long-range star maps, ship's systems and language protocols, information dancing on their screens with focus and precision. He glanced along the stations.

"At ease."

He took his own seat at the centre of the bridge. To one side was a place for his XO, on the other a counsellor or medic. His previous CMO hadn't much liked bridge duty but he intended to offer Vaughn some time up here, when she wasn't removing boots, proverbial or otherwise, from derrieres.

Noting the absence of Commander Zolog, Felix settled into favourable mood, exchanging a few remarks with the duty ops officer.

The lift doors opened with a soft, relaxing, but almost imperceptible swoosh; a sound that had been incrementally modified through each iteration of starship classes for centuries. The present combination of volume, pitch, tune and length was the result of a six-year study involving two universities, five different scientific fields and no less than 18,000 Starfleet personnel acting as unknowing test subjects.

It was also the matter of a pending lawsuit regarding intellectual property. The terms of the study were a little vague, as it turned out, and now Starfleet found itself paying huge royalties to a legal entity founded by the lead researcher.

Burgundy thought nothing of this as he entered. His mind was occupied by a series of expletives. Not only had Perdita sent him on a stupid liaison errand again, it was also made all the worse by the fact that Felix was on the bridge.

The science ensign had come to appreciate the new first officer. Not so much that he could be bothered to remember the dull sod’s name, of course. No, the commander had only one meaningful quality: he was not de l’Isle.

He was also benign to a fault, which meant Burgundy could drag his feet a little. That was something, at least.

But he wasn’t here. Damn.

”Captain,” Burgundy said as he approached the big chair. He stood at attention, but only just. ”We’re ready to initiate the previously reported manoeuvre, sir.” He intentionally left out the specifics. The XO would have reported it upwards, anyways. Maybe.

Lonie and the mechanics of coincidence that drove him were not on Felix's side today. “At ease, Ensign. That could be one of two dozen manoeuvres on any given day, as well you know. Clarify.”

Burgundy almost rolled his eyes. Why did it fall on him to do this? Right, because Perdita was an asshole. He took a deep breath. ”We’re ready to put the gizmos on the nacelles,” he said. That should be enough clarification to distinguish it from other business.

Gizmos, nacelles. That rang true with one of Animo's latter, eccentric but probably useful ideas. “The new slipstream scanner technology,” Felix confirmed with the precision that Burgundy was evading. “I've been interested to see the development of this project. I assume Commander Animo has sent you to brief me on its progress.” Suddenly, the Captain was decidedly chipper, and he brokered a gaze that seemed determined to smelt the scientist's face with charm, or impatience.

Burgundy’s eyes darkened. ”Actually they just sent me to report that we’re ready to proceed,” he tried. ”So, may we proceed, sir?” The scientist wasn’t as good as Felix at adapting his tone and demeanor at will. His question was meant to sound positive. It didn’t. Burgundy hated trying to explain complex physics to people he deemed too dumb to understand it. Yet he couldn’t just say so, because ranks. Ugh.

“You may proceed with my order to explain the changes you're proposing to make to my ship's engines.” The bridge crew bristled as de l'Isle spoke. Most of them had heard this thinly veiled tenor before, but none were as dim as Burgundy when it came to pushing it. The science station, to starboard, suddenly became available.

In two angry strides Burgundy had taken the station. He made no attempt to hide his contempt at what he considered an infantile display of power as he powered up the holographic projector in front of the main viewscreen. It came to life in a rush of formulas, atoms, star charts and diagrams. The ensign, similarly, adopted a demeaning and high paced speech pattern. ”This is high warp speed,” he started, pointing to a flurry of formulas, diagrams depicting subspace rupturing, and technical infographs of the basic functions of warp travel. Without letting his audience - which at this point was the entire bridge crew - digest any of it he explained it all in the words of a PhD dissertation and the speed of a sports commentator on coke. He wanted to overwhelm Felix; to show the man that this entire theatre was pointless, because Burgundy knew what he was doing and the captain would clearly never be able to grasp it.

Despite wanting to yawn with aching visibility - like his impetuous younger self might have - de l’Isle watched the grandstanding for a few minutes. What drove Burgundy to his anabolic sense of entitlement? To think that the galaxy owed him a favour and was overdue on its repayment?

“I’m sure some of the botanists downstairs aren’t comfortable with warp dynamics, Ensign, and we’ve appreciated the refresher up here on the bridge. I’m glad to see fourth-year warp field dynamics haven’t changed much since I left the Academy.” They had, but that wasn’t the point. “But what I’m interested in is how you intend to address the gaps in detailed sensor capture when we’re at slipstream. That is what you’ve been working on, isn’t it?”

Burgundy grumbled. Even though it wasn’t exactly what he was working on, it was indeed the result that Perdita eventually wanted out of it. Which meant that he couldn’t with a straight face claim that Felix had it all wrong; once again the ensign got the feeling that his department head had screwed him over.

He gazed thoughtfully at the captain for a moment. Then, deciding to fight this battle with Perdita instead, he turned back to the projection. A few swift motions dismissed layers of abstraction and zoomed in on an Insignia Class vessel forming slipstream fields.

”This is slipstream,” he stated flatly. ”And the lack of formations in its wake is a symptom of our lack of knowledge. Yes, our sensor capabilities are reduced during slipstream, but we can’t solve that problem yet.” Without really intending to he found himself meeting Felix’ eyes. Briefly he wondered why there was no smugness there. Maybe de l’Isle simply hid it well.

It had been one of the few requests from the previous upgrade that had been bounced back to the Lone Star's crew until the next Insignia upgrade. Unexpectedly, it seemed Felix had found Burgundy's level. He nodded for the scientist to continue.

Burgundy turned back and zoomed in on one nacelle, then pressed a button. A series of insect-like attachments appeared, and started falling off into the wake of the ship one by one. ”This is what I - we - want to install. Almost 500 of these, and then drop them behind us as we are in slipstream. They contain a radiation source that we activate when we release them. Within moments of falling behind us they will dissolve. In minutes they’ll be so degraded as to be completely undetectable. But we know their degradation cycle, and can measure the tachyons they emit and thereby the distortions. With enough data from these I believe we can build a simulation engine that can help us understand and eventually calibrate our sensors for the distortions.”

“Like a swarm, compensating through microcalibration.” The Captain checked through his immediate thoughts, resolving them to a pair of questions. “You say the tachyon degradation will take minutes. I'll need you to get that down to seconds for me in case we're on the run from someone who knows their shit with tachyons. Romulans, for example.” His voice began to build with excitement, as it did when he was hooked on an idea. “If we reinforce the outer casing with trimithidine, we might be able to control their degradation cycle better - maybe even initiate when the disintegration happens from the bridge. But then, that risks increasing mid-flight detection, even if it improves the rate at which they disappear.” Felix hummed. “Thoughts?”

The science ensign cocked his head to one side, deeply concentrated. Military risks had not at all been on his mind. He was also surprised that Felix remembered anything of even the basics of science from the academy. ”We could,” he acknowledged thoughtfully, but there was reservation in his voice. ”A reinforced casing may lead to material traces instead…” he was thinking loudly more than making conversation. Idly he pulled up the schematics of the insect-like tools they had designed. With a movement of his hand it shattered into almost a hundred components, carefully designed to fit nearly together. He stood there for a minute, absorbed.

Felix angled an arm in to tap a few times on the Burgundy's display. “But potentially mask our tachyon signature. Single composite alloys are found naturally in space.” He was at the outer limits of his knowledge but knowing everything wasn't his job: teasing that intelligence out of others, however, was.

”Hmm. Yes,” the scientist broke his reverie. ”We can make a coned trimithidine case, with a smaller radiating element that dissipates quicker. The radiation will be aimed towards us, and we can dissolve the casing with a second mechanism.” He had been making sketches in the schematics on his padd while talking, and was already on his way towards the turbolift as he finished. ”I’ll have a prototype ready in 60 minutes,” he added, apparently as another thought.

The doors clamped shut on the turbolift before Felix's final word -- “Dismissed.” -- could be heard over the bridge's hum and chatter. The human moved his body through 120 degrees, mouth slightly open as he sought corroboration from witnesses. Two Lieutenants, who scored among his preferred supplementary bridge officers, met his look and returned their heads to their stations.

de l'Isle returned to his station in languid paces, consumed with preponderance. Every individual had a key, he supposed, a long and unique code that once found yielded access to their best. Their talent, plus the desire to excel in it. Having witnessed the first flash of Burgundy's potential, the Captain found himself briefly satisfied -- tempered immediately with the hunch to wait, and see.

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