NPC: William McKibben, Jonnhum, Hillman
Start Location: Aerlay Craver, parked at the Larkarda Starport
1125.6.4 - 17:00 / 15:30 local time (18 1/2 hr day)
Bill McKibben leads Slade on board the Aelay Craver.
As Slade walks closer to the ship he can see that Aelay Craver doesn't just look new, it smells new. In fact, it looks like it has just come off the production line. The floor plating on the cargo ramp is gleaming with not a scratch mark in sight, there is no blackening of the hydraulics of the cargo ramp, and the access pad is sparkling with not a single finger print.
Bill McKibben stops at the top of the cargo ramp and speaks to an average looking woman in her early 30s with the classic spacers crew cut who looks like she's supervising the unloading. "Miss Jonnhum, this is Mr. Slade, Chief Engineer of the, I'm sorry I didn't catch the name of her ship."
Slade looks back towards McKibben having seen a nearly completely full cargo hold, "Miishakaal."
"Thank you Mr. Slade, the Miishakaal our neighbour."
Miss Jonnhum looks Slade up and down in a critical way, "You're to show Mr. Hillman why we had a momentary power loss to the manoeuvre drive during decent I suspect." She's carrying a snub pistol clearly visible on her left hip (pistol grip to the back).
McKibben answers for Slade, "Exactly. Are we clear through the hold?"
Miss Jonnhum's head looks like it might come off as she snaps it around to look at her Captain. "Is that wise Captain?"
McKibben turns to Slade "Miss Jonnhum is a little protective of our cargo just at the moment. You see we, Craver I mean, have lost a few holds recently."
"You are clear through the hold Captain." Miss Jonnhum replies with a strange look at McKibben.
McKibben indicates that Slade should follow him through the cargo hold. As Slade finds his way through the almost full hold to lower engineering, he passes containers with Craver logo all over them. The container markers show that they're pharmaceuticals in all their forms. McKibben explains as they make their way, "Yes, we lost three holds along the rimward border of the Ziru Sirkaa, combat and medical drugs. Craver aren't sure who hijacked the ships, and rumours of Vilani being involved have been circulated. Anyway here we are."
McKibben opens the iris to lower engineering and steps through. At the console is a man who looks like a teenager. He stands up as Slade and McKibben walk in. He's about 1.7 meters tall with a spacers crew cut. Slade wonders if he's even started to shave. He's unarmed.
"Mr. Hillman this is Mr. Slade, Chief Engineer of the Miishakaal the Garu class next to us. I thought you might like to have a word with him. Mr. Slade if you will excuse me I, like your Captain, have paperwork to do."
He closes the iris, leaving Slade in lower engineering standing looking at Mr. Hillman, who looks as if he might jump if Slade said "BOO" to him.
"Mr. Hillman, I'm Slade Trask. Pleased to meet you. Got some kind of intermittent? Be glad to poke around with you."
The guy seems to snap out of it a little "Mr. Hillman? ... Oh you mean me. Jon Hillman ... Jon ... Yes please to meet you Mr. Trask." Jon offers his hand.
Jon Hillman looks a little stocky as he turns towards the terminal. His nervousness seems to fade as he starts to concentrate on the problem at hand. "We were in our decent and Jonnhum was pushing the thrusters more than was necessary and they started to draw more power than was needed."
Jon points to the readout on the display "Aelay's brand new see, it's only her third jump, and Jonnhum wants to know how far she can push her. The problem is the power draw, and the solution is to reset the couplings on or close to overload, which is what I did here at 102%," Jon points to another part of the display. "Now overload is 101.5% but specs show she is in tolerance theoretically until 102.5%. The reset caused loss of manoeuvre for 0.427 seconds ... Jonnhum went ballistic.
"I thought something might happen as Jonnhum slowed from normal approach speed and ignored my warning, so I watched the power climb and instigated full logging on all systems here." Jon points to 99.21% power pull in the display. "I think I've got two problems, the first is the power pull from the thrusters and the second is the plant allowing a power pull of more than overload on specification. I need to know why both are occurring to be able to fix the problems and stop them happening in the future otherwise I'm going to be stuck to the readouts while in normal space. "I can't seem to find anything wrong, and Captain didn't like that answer. Any thoughts?"
Slade says, "I think I gotcha, Jon. Call me Slade. I seem to remember something like this before. I figure we take one problem at a time, first see why the thrusters are drawing beyond their rating. Let's take a look at the logs you generated and then isolate the thrusters subsystems. Maybe one of your conductors is faulty and you're getting some electron channelling at full load, or maybe the supply measurement feedback is off because of a bad sensor."
Looking over the data from the logs, Slade and Jon just can't seem to find anything wrong. All the systems are working to specification. They're a little distracted at first as Jon is a little naive about practical engineering aboard a starship and asks or questions Slade's statements that any other ship's engineer would take for granted. Jon is quick however and has a very good understanding of theoretical engineering and offsets his questioning by adding pearls of theory every now and then.
An hour and a half passes. They've almost given up hope of finding anything wrong. Just when they're thinking of taking a break and having a drink, Slade pulls up the calibration records once again. It says the same thing as last time he looked at it. All the systems are calibrated correctly. Slade has an inkling that something is missing this time though. After a second he realizes that there's no intersystem ship-wide calibration. Usually after an annual maintenance or a major repair the systems are calibrated against each other so their internal sensors can match and run in harmony. One would expect that this would need to be done on the initial build as well, however, there is no evidence that this has taken place. Slade isn't completely sure of this however as he has mainly worked in repairing and running the systems and not building them. Looking a little harder into the engineering logs following this line shows the ship was handed over two days ahead of schedule due to pressure from the customer. This is the same time that would usually be taken to do the ship-wide calibration.
Jon is still looking at the logs and getting a little frustrated.
Slade says, "Jon, I think I've got it. It's even simpler but more complicated than we thought. The sensor reference network is just floating on default values, and that includes the power management systems. Looks like somebody at the shipyard skipped a few items on the end of the checklist. I think if you look in your reference materials...here...wait...here," flipping through the hyperlinks in a documentation app, "you'll see what I'm talking about."
He continues, "See Jon, right here, section 42.23.3, we can just do the rough check of the power subsystem. That's what we'd normally do to rule out having to calibrate this one. And I think that will show us what I'm talking about," Slade goes over to the management window, runs a query, and points at two wildly different values. "To be safe you'll probably want to run these checks on all your subsystems and follow the calibration steps where something's out of whack."
Jon looks at what Slade is showing him with a look of complete surprise on his face and goes through nearly all the systems. "How could they have missed this? I mean look, even the jump drive is off." Jon points to the values. "We've done three jumps and a power draw like we had from the manoeuvre drive could have put us anywhere if we came out at all." Jon looks across other systems and pulls out similar results on lots of them.
"Slade, thanks!" Jon pulls up the procedures for a full system's calibration, "I think it best if all the systems were recalibrated." Reading a little he continues, "It's basically just a bigger recalibration from what we did on the Launch back at the academy. The standard procedure says it should take two to two and a half days, and I think I had better get this right."
Jon opens the internal comms channel to the Captain's suite, and Bill McKibben appears on the monitor. "You have found the solution Mr. Hillman." This is more of a statement than a question.
Jon answers, "Mr. Trask found it Captain. It's necessary to do a complete ship-wide calibration. I'll have to ground the ship for four days, three at the complete minimum if no problems are encountered."
A frown comes over the face of McKibben at the news and he seems a little taken off guard. You have the impression that this is a highly unusual occurrence with Bill McKibben, "Ground the ship? Three days... who? Mr. Trask?" He visibly takes a moment to collect himself before continuing. "Mr. Trask, my apologies if I addressed you incorrectly before, and many thanks for your help in this matter. Mr. Hillman please explain why you deem it necessary to ground my ship for three days."
Jon stays surprisingly firm. "Four days Captain." He continues by explaining the problem that the shipyard have left them, and indicates that he will need to start almost immediately.
After the conversation is over and the Captain has agreed to ground the ship Jon closes the connection and turns to Slade. "Thanks for your help Slade, I owe you one. If you need any helping the future you only have to ask. It looks like I've a lot of work to do and I'm keeping you from your own ship." Jon seems genuine in both his offer to help and in his concern about keeping Slade away from his ship. Jon goes over to the iris value to the cargo hold and opens it.
"Jon, it was nothing. I'd rather be looking at engineering logs than listening to my shipmates bitching about how they haven't gotten laid in three months. Take it easy, man."
"Slade, it was great, I learned more in an hour and a half with you than I did in the last three months at the Academy."
Jon shows Slade through the now half empty cargo hold to find Bill McKibben and Miss Jonnhum in a discussion.
Seeing you approach Bill says "Mr. Task, I'm glad I've caught you. It seems that our delay has caused some scheduling problems with some aspects of our cargo run. To come to the point, we have 9 tons of cargo that needs to be delivered to the Navies factor at Gishinridu in the next 11 days. With our necessary delay I need to find some freight space to deliver the cargo on time. Would the Miishakaal be interested? If you are, would you let me know in the next hour so I might make other arrangements if you are heading somewhere else."
After shaking hands with Jon Hillman, Slade heads out of the Aelay Craver and walks over to ring the intercom at the hold door of his own home.
Slade walks down the gantry arm to the starboard hatch of the Miishakaal. He holds his hand up to the scanner to let the ship do a security scan. Satisfied, it grants access in just a few seconds. The hatch opens and Slade walks in.
No sooner does he enter the crew lounge when over the intercom he hears the captain's voice, "Welcome back Mr. Trask. Anything to report?"
"Captain, you want to do this over the intercom?"
"Report to my room then in 5 minutes for your report. Shiraamer out."
5 minutes? It's gonna take alot less than that to get to her cabin, even if Slade takes the long way. Sigh Oh well, just stand outside the door then.
NEXT: The Call To The Aerlay Craver