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LtCmdr Rennyn & LtJG Mpeba, "Pulling It Together"


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((USS Darwin-A, Deck 8, Shuttlebay))


::Iniko tightened another bolt on the port driver coil and rechecked jheas calibrations. Still not quite perfect, but jhe didn’t think jhe could get the mismatched parts to align any better than that. Jhe had spent the last hour getting the coils within acceptable safety margins. This had seemed like a great idea at the time, but it was taking a lot of work to get all these parts to work together, and jhe was starting to have misgivings that it was even possible. Jhe called up to see how jheas partner was getting on.::


Mpeba: Any luck up there?


::In the [...]pit, Ren was fussing with the control layout. Their plan to combine parts from many disparate origins into their dream ship was turning out to be more like a nightmare. Even after centuries of peace between their makers, Andorian wires and Tellarite voltage regulators still didn’t get along. Anyway, it was easy to hear Iniko from below, considering how few floor panels they’d managed to install.::


Rennyn: We’re getting there!


::The Trill’s optimistic assessment sounded strained. His constant belief that everything would turn out for the best was being put to the test, and his good intentions were stretched thin by the lack of successes their project had seen so far. Not to mention the disappointments they’d suffered together in their last misison.::


Mpeba: Would you give the impulse engines a flick and let me know what happens?


Rennyn: You got it.


::Sounding tired after all the struggles with the little monster they planned to enter in the Deep Space 6 Shuttle Race, Ren flipped the switch, then looked down through a section of open floor to see what Iniko thought of the progress.::


::Iniko moved jheas hands out of the way, making sure jhe wasn’t touching anything when it started. The noises coming out of the little shuttle were much louder than they ought to be, with too many things slightly out of tune. There was no knocking or wobbling, though, that was something. Jhe shook jheas head ruefully. That was a terrible standard to be holding jheaself to. “Probably not going to shake itself to bits the moment it leaves shuttle bay” was not going to cut it. Jhe glared at the offending part, trying to will it into acquiescence. When that failed, jhe crawled out from underneath the shuttle and climbed up into the [...]pit, slumping down in the copilot seat.::


Mpeba: You can turn it off now. Not good enough.


::In the pilot’s seat, Ren did a little slumping himself, sitting back from the control board, not sure he ever wanted to see another self-tracking LCARS illumination filament as long as he lived. He usually had an easy smile to smooth over rough situations, but he couldn’t even fake a lopsided smirk through the frustration he was feeling.::


Rennyn: This is going about as well as a targ at a tea party. I don’t know if we can get any more of this junk to work. ::To emphasize the point, he dropped a spanner. It clattered away farther than he’d planned, down through the open deck plating, to some place down below.:: Shoot.


Mpeba: It isn’t really . . . ::sigh:: No, it really is that bad. These things just aren’t made to work together.


Rennyn: I’m usually not one to call it quits, but I don’t know about all this. You know, I’m just about to haul off and lose my temper with this lowlife batch of broken down--


::He trailed off, biting his lip. Ren hadn’t lost his temper recently. An incident on his previous ship had landed him in a mess of hot water over a fit-to-be-tied outburst he’d unleashed against a fellow officer. Ren still thought it had been justified, but one mandatory review course in Federation diplomacy later, and he knew there were more effective, more reasonable ways to deal with frustration. He’d done so successfully with Eleene, the administrator at the Zakdorn factory. But how to reason with a bunch of malfunctioning misfit machines?::


Mpeba: Maybe we should give it a little break? I mean, we’ve been spending all our downtime on this thing, and maybe we’ll be able to think of something if we leave it alone for a bit?


::They were falling behind on their alright very tight timetable, but jhe felt like they were beating their heads against a stone wall. They had been spending so much time here that even when jhe fell into bed at night all jhe saw were conduits and wires. Stepping back might delay them a bit, but jhe was starting to think they wouldn’t finish at this rate anyway.::


::Ren considered it carefully. He was tired, and he was cranky, and he was looking for a fight with this slapped-together ship and its myriad malfunctioning parts. He was probably going to lose his cool if he didn’t calm down. The way Mpeba had lost it with Eleene in the factory, while Ren stood by playing the diplomat. He had no diplomatic inclinations toward this shuttle. Not unless diplomacy included kicking the dang fool thing’s dirty rotten--::


Rennyn: Yes.


::The Trill knew he was acting like an oversized baby. He wanted a nap, and he wanted life to be less overwhelming. He wanted this to be easier. After what they’d been through at the Zakdorn disaster site, the death they’d seen, the damage they hadn’t been able to prevent, he wanted something to go well. To be easy just for once.::


::Iniko bent over and rested jheas head in jheas hands. Jhe thought it ought to feel like a weight had been lifted, but jhe really just felt slightly disappointed at the thought of walking away. The project was truly frustrating, but at the thought of letting it go, even temporarily, jhe just felt a little sad.::


::For both their sakes, a win just now was exactly what they needed. Ren stretched his arms up high above him and inhaled sharply, shaking his head against the thought of quitting and changing his mind in an instant.::


Rennyn: No. If I stop now, I’m going to want to just chuck it. I’m going to crawl in bed and forget about this for days to come. I just know it. I’m not going to come back to this.


::He ran his hands over the console. They had to pull it together. They had to make it happen.::


Rennyn: We’ve got to keep going.


::Iniko quirked an eyebrow at him and laughed in surprise, despite jheas frustration. That actually made jhea feel a little bit better.::


Mpeba: Alright, then. Any strategies?


::Ren leaned all the way back in his chair and rested his hands over his eyes, fingers resting on the bridge of his nose in contemplation. Thumbs ran over his spotted temples as he tried to think what to do. They’d pieced together a half-built shuttle out of parts from all over known space. A Cardassian plasma manifold. A Bajoran warp coil. Cold gray Saurian deck plates laid over orange Ferengi beams. It was a Frankenstein’s monster of a ship. The parts they’d collected were diverse, and shouldn’t have worked. They didn’t work, not in the elegant, beautiful way they’d planned.::


Rennyn: A lot happened on that planet. A lot of things… fell apart. ::He looked Iniko in the eyes, and his own spoke volumes about what they’d seen. The haunting, pervasive presence of death that couldn’t fully be left behind.:: We did our best down there, but it didn’t all work according to plan.


::Iniko frowned at the memory. Why was he bringing that back up? Jhe was trying desperately to forget everything about that mission. The explosions, and toxin, the horrific cruelty involved in setting it all off, and the futility of trying to extract anything whole out of that mess.::


Mpeba: I’m not sure where you’re going with this.


Rennyn: These pieces shouldn’t work together. They’re not working. But we still have the opportunity to make something out of it, maybe ugly, but whole and functional. Right now, I feel like all my optimism’s been sucked out at one go. This might be a way to turn that around. This is our chance to pick up the pieces and put something together.


::Jhe nodded slowly. This could be a sort of therapy, then. Making something new might combat those lingering feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The harder the task, the better. As long as it could actually be accomplished.::


Mpeba: My optimism is shot, too. I’m having trouble seeing it working out. But . . . I think you’re right. I think it’s worth doing.


::It seemed to be so. Despite exhaustion, both mental and emotional, this was their chance to feel renewed. They were building something fresh and new. It would do wonders for their morale. It would be beautiful.::



((A few days later))


::They stood back and surveyed their handiwork. It was ugly. Unbelievably ugly. But it worked! Mostly. There were some finicky components. The transporter couldn’t be engaged while artificial gravity was on, and the lights flickered whenever shields were put up to maximum. Reconfiguring the console layout while thrusters were engaged caused the starboard drive to cut out completely. Iniko was at a complete loss as to what was causing that particular fault. But it would fly like a beast, as long as nothing fell off. And they were out of time, so that would have to do.::


Mpeba: I can’t believe we actually did it.


Rennyn: Our baby.


::It wasn’t pretty, but it was theirs, and the sense of pride they’d hoped to feel after all their efforts was undeniably present.::


Mpeba: You were right, you know. I do feel better. About things in general, I mean. Making this heap of scrap metal actually fly . . . well, I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something.


::Ren smiled at Iniko. He was feeling a little better, too. While the regrets of their mission to Zakdorn would never fully go away, building this ship had done something to rebuild their confidence.::


::The Trill’s smile melted when he turned back to look once again at the shuttle. A shudder ran through him.::


Rennyn: Oh, it’s ugly!


Mpeba: I don’t really think the name “Monster” is appropriate, anymore, though, you know. It’s so . . . fragile.


Rennyn: Our baby. Our ugly, ugly baby…


Mpeba: Should we call it that, then? “Ugly Baby”.


::Ren looked sideways at Iniko, not sure what to think. He nodded slowly, then a smile spread across his face, then he found himself laughing. After all the stress of the last mission and the intense concetration it took to build this ship, it felt good to find something funny.::


Rennyn: “Ugly Baby.” That sounds like a ship that can get the job done!


::The ship was built, and it wasn’t beautiful, but it was still something special. The construction was complete. All that remained was the see how it would fly.::



Lieutenant JG Mpeba - Engineering Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

D239205IM0


and


LtCmdr Ren Rennyn - HCO Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A

A239102RR0

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