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Lt Cmdr Didrik Stennes - Always There Are Changes (1/2), (2/2)

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(( USS Blackwell, Deck 2, Conference Room 1 ))

::The conference room steadily filled with officers as the scheduled time for the meetings crept closer.  So many changes had taken place on Blackwell in the recent past, and the new makeup of her senior staff featured a true mix of familiar and new faces.::

::Some of them, like Shayne, Rhyn, and R'Ven, Didrik had known for some time.  He wondered how Shayne was coping with the recent reassignment of Isabel Pond, with whom he'd had a significant relationship and even shared living space, and thought it might be wise to look in after him when the time was mutually right.  The thought of Pond, Logan, and Brell, having relocated for new adventures under the latter's command aboard the USS Atlantis, made Didrik a mix of happy and sad.  He was pleased that the Bolian CO was moving forward in his career and having new adventures on a ship of his own, but he was dismayed at how he himself had left things; Didrik had put off a proper apology for too long, and now he missed his chance.::

::The room reached near capacity, and Didrik presumed the meeting ought to begin any moment now.  Once the Captain seemed satisfied that anyone who would be in attendance had arrived, he claim the room's attention and began.::

Zaekia: Alright. Thank you all for attending. I appreciate we’ve all just been through quite the ordeal but we need answers. We need to know this vessel is fit for purpose and won’t let us down again like it has here today.

::Didrik didn't know much about Kalean cultural practices, but if Zaekia were human, Didrik might have ascribed an accusatory tone to the captain's words, as if the real culprit was not the ship, but rather one of them in the room.  ‘Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?  Who me?  Yes, you.  Couldn’t be.  Then, who?’  It was equally likely, however, that Didrik was just projecting his own thoughts onto Zaekia's words.  He did his best to suspend his own judgment until everyone in the room had had his or her say.::

R’Ven: Yes Captain. To that end I have had each of the department chiefs compile reports of the current state of their department and how it applies to the current state of the ship.

Zaekia: Engineering, let’s start with you. How bad is the damage and how long will it take us to complete repairs?

::Didrik was not a skilled engineer; in fact, he had always scored below average in engineering aptitude, but today, he was very interested to hear what Blackwell's engineers had to say about the near-breach of the ship's warp core.  A core breach is a death sentence for anyone unlucky enough to be within a few kilometers of one, and the story of how Blackwell had come mere seconds to utter destruction, only to miraculously recover, was a story Didrik was eager to hear.::
Yesna: The damage is not as bad as first thought engines can be back up within the next couple of hours and the deflector will take around five hours to get it back up and running, but when we do return to a space dock I would recommend a full replacement. The power systems will need a few tweaks and bypass as we fix the dish. We could do all this with the help of the Consortium within 12 hours and we can be underway again.
Zaekia: I know but we need their help, Admiral.

::Didrik recognized the non-sequitur immediately.  It wasn't just the out-of-place bit of conversation, it was the captain's whole demeanor, as if he were having a conversation with someone half verbally, half telepathically, lost the ability to distinguish the two.  He saw the same thing happening between Dr. G'Renn and Counselor Sindrana down in Sickbay, and Didrik it seemed Zaekia and Renos were now entangled in a similar thing.::

Zaekia: ::Clearing his throat and turning slightly deeper blue about the cheeks:: Sorry. Alright, let’s move on. I think we have a pretty good sense of where the ship is at right now and what sort of repairs timeline we’re looking at. Thank you Ensign Yesna. How are things going with regards to the investigation into what happened?
Shayne: Sirs, so far, the results of the investigation regarding the difficulties at the helm are...less than conclusive. We’ve looked at mechanical fault of all kinds. We’ve even... We’ve even considered pilot error. So far, nothing has turned up. But I’ve got a team on it- they’re going to look until they find the problem.

::As an ex-helm officer himself, Didrik knew that there existed a special bond among those Starfleet officers lucky enough to pilot its vessels across the galaxy.  To outsiders, it may seem that starship pilots were cliquish, or uninterested with the workings of the rest of the vessel, but Didrik knew this wasn't true.  It's just that most Starfleet pilots considered themselves so unbelievably lucky in a way that non pilots just couldn't understand.  It wasn't just flying the ship, it was the privilege of sitting at the head of the bridge and the honor of knowing that no matter where in the universe a ship might go, it is you, the pilot, who gets to take her there.  Because of this, Didrik knew that even Shayne's mention of investigating 'pilot error' was delivered reluctantly, and with all the seriousness of a heart attack.::

Thoran: My finding so far concur with Commander Shayne. We have run security sweeps over the main systems and have yet to find anything.
R’Ven: Captain, I would like to ask a few question to make the situation a little more clear?

Zaekia: Of course, by all means.
R’Ven: Thank You. ::Turning his attention to those assembled he posed his first questions:: Commander Shayne, Lieutenant Thoran and Ensign Yesna, your accounts are thorough. Thank you. ::without pause Merrick turned to Yesna:: However to add one additional point. Ensign, I had also asked you to look into any sort of unauthorized access to our systems. Were you able to find anything?
Yesna: Yes Sir, There was a strange command-line subroutine in the navigational array, that seemed to be trying to take control of the helm. That was till the dish exploded.
R’Ven: And were you able to determine the source?
Yesna: Not yet but it was transferred to our systems within the last month.
R’Ven: Thank you Ensign I appreciate your efforts in this regard.

::Didrik had only met a handful of Ash'lie in his lifetime, and he found each one as puzzling as the last.  When humans were only just beginning to discover agriculture as an alternative to hunting and gathering, the Ash’lie were experiencing a Golden Age of artistic achievement.  Millennia beyond humans in nearly every measurable way, it begged the question, why would an Ash’lie choose to spend his time with such ‘primitive’ alien species?::
R’Ven: Commander Shayne, Lietenant Thoran. There was an event that happened on the Atlantis. Is it possible that these events could have been connected?
Shayne: ::Murmuring in horror:: Oh, my god.

::A few at the conference table overheard Shayne’s hushed interjection, but no one called attention to it.::

Shayne: When you were chasing that robot on the Atlantis, it was on Deck 6- auxiliary control, correct?
Thoran: Correct.
Shayne: You said something about it perhaps trying to transmit its data to whoever had designed it. What if you were half right? What if it was transmitting something, but not to its creator? Do you get what I’m saying?
::For his own part, Didrik didn’t get what Shayne was saying.  He had never even stepped foot aboard Atlantis, and wasn’t familiar with the events that transpired during the time she and Blackwell had been assigned to work together.  Piecing his questions together, however, had Didrik just as worried as others around the table looked.  Rogue transmissions from out-of-control robots didn’t sound like something that would just resolve itself.::
Thoran: Rather than transmit the stolen data to its creator, it had instead released some form of signal? ::His brows furrowed in puzzlement.:: Would we or the Atlantis not have detected that?
Zaekia: Good question.
Tu'Peq: Captain, Commander, if I may?
Zaekia: Go ahead Mr Tu’Peq, what’s on your mind?

Tu'Peq: The Blackwell and Atlantis has always been in relatively close proximity to each other, on galactic scales. All space-faring vessels vent waste energy into space, in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics. In addition to waste energy from propulsion, waste energy from the power grid is also vented through the same system.  If the robot had access to auxiliary control it could have masked its transmissions in the Atlantis's waste energy. It wouldn't be able to travel far but, knowing Starfleet transmission protocols, the Blackwell's power grid would have acted as a magnet for this robot's...virus.

::Phrases like galactic scale, thermodynamics, and waste energy didn’t exactly fill Didrik with a comfort that nothing was wrong.  The science officer’s explanation was reasoned, logical, and if it was true, scary.  It was the equivalent of the classic human sneeze-handshake method of disease transmission, and if computer viruses were now communicable through space via a starship’s energy field, it wasn’t just Blackwell, or Starfleet, or even the Alpha Quadrant, that would pay the price.::
Rhyn: Response
Zaekia:  That’s something we’ll examine moving forward. Thank you for your insight. I think this has been a very productive discussion. I’d like to move on now and get an update from medical.
::If medical was going now, Didrik was certain he’d be next.  He finished his glass of water and activated his PADD, using a stylus from his pocket to take notes.  He listened carefully to Dr. G’Renn as she informed the rest of the senior crew.::
G’Renn: We have already treated a majority of the injuries caused by the damage to the main deflector. At least two dozen injuries of varying degrees of severity. There were a few serious injuries requiring surgical intervention, while most of the injured have already been cleared to return to duty. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.
Stennes:  oO Thankfully.  It could have been so much worse. Oo
G’Renn: There is, also a situation that appears to be developing in regards to the telepaths aboard the ship. I believe that Counselor Stennes has assembled a report on the matter.

::Didrik didn’t expect to be given the floor so quickly, and there were a few seconds of awkward silence as he finished scrawling a note on his PADD.::

Stennes:  A worrying number of telepathic crewmembers have reported abnormal experiences related to their telepathy.  Episodes vary in duration and intensity, and are somewhat eldritch in nature and highly distracting.  ::referencing his PADD::  Some have reported hearing voices, re-living memories, and hallucinating.  Somewhat more troubling is what appears to be a breakdown in the ability to control one’s telepathic abilities.  We’ve had reports of crewmembers ‘overhearing’ each other telepathically and... having difficulty distinguishing between verbal and telepathic communication.
::Didrik spoke the last words gingerly, because it appeared their captain had just had such an episode only moments before.  He didn’t want Zaekia thinking he was singling him out.::
Ilsam: Response(s)
Zaekia: I have to say that does explain a few things and before you ask, yes I’ll be visiting sickbay directly after this meeting. For now, I’d like to hear a bit more about the details - how do the symptoms develop? How is it transmitted? What is your plan for dealing with it and how can we help?
G’Renn: So far the vector of transmission is unknown, and I have so far been less than successful in locating a physiological cause. I wouldn’t want to rule anything out before we study the affliction in greater detail.
Ilsam: Response(s)
Stennes:  There is also anecdotal evidence to suggest that the breakdown in telepathic control, which I spoke about a moment ago, can be exacerbated in moments of extreme stress.  During the ship-wide emergency, several of those afflicted experienced significant difficulty in focus while carrying out their duties.
::Didrik didn’t want to ‘rat out’ G’Renn and Sindrana for their telepathic tête-à-têtes in Sickbay and in the convalescent ward, and hoped Zaekia wouldn’t ask to whom in particular Didrik was referring.  However, where G’Renn came from a place of wanting to withhold judgment until more could be learned about this mystery, Didrik felt his gut was telling him what he needed to know.::
Zaekia: We’ll ensure you have the resources you need. Here’s the plan - R’Ven, I want you to join Dr G’Renn and Mr Stennes and help them study and understand this virus. We need to eradicate this before anyone has a complete mental breakdown or suffers permanent brain damage. I’ll help in whatever way I can to that end as well. 
R’Ven: Agreed sir. I will do everything in my power.
::Outwardly, Didrik maintained a professionally neutral expression.  Inside, he was worried.  Could any of them be trusted to fulfill their duties if push came to shove?  Didrik was unaware of the progress R’Ven had made in recovering from his partial assimilation, G’Renn was having telepathic troubles, and Didrik was--::
Stennes:  oO Nope, we’re not thinking about that now, Didrik.
::He pushed the thought out of his mind and resolved to find a solution to the crisis with the help of his colleagues’ expertise and professionalism.::
Zaekia: Mr Shayne, head down to engineering with Ms Yesna and Mr Thoran - I want this ship up to spec asap but more than that I want you to investigate this lead we’ve uncovered. If there’s a virus or something infecting our systems I want it purged asap. I understand there was a civilian aboard who pitched in during the crisis as well?
Yesna: Yes Sir, A Ms Farnsworth I would like her to help if possible sir?
Zaekia: Well we need all hands on this so get her support as well.
Shayne: Response
Renos: I’ll be heading down to the Burellion capital city of Chloretta to meet with Negrid, an individual we identified at the Consortium HQ as wanting our attention. He has something he’s desperate to tell us, and I believe it related to the Consortium. This could be the big break we’ve been looking for. I’ll be taking Pandorn, Sarjak and Aquilina with me. I don’t want to spook him by approaching with unfamiliar faces.
Pandorn: Yes, Admiral. We should be as low profile as we can be though.
Sarjak: Response
Renos: We’re going to be stuck here for a number of hours while Starfleet and Consortium engineering teams work their magic. We might as well make the best of a bad situation and turn this to our advantage in any way possible. We still have an opportunity to explore, get to know the people of House Larokon, the people of Burellion and how they see themselves. What we learn here today might shape the way we approach diplomatic situations and build a better relationship with the people here in the future. That’s why I would like Mr Wilmer, Rhyn, Illsam and Tu’Peq to head to Chloretta. The cultural museum is said to be the finest in the region.
::Didrik admitted silently that the other team’s assignment sounded a lot more fun his own.  Sure, isolating the cause of, subsequently curing, a heretofore unknown malady that affects an ability his people didn’t even possess was fine work if one could get it, but a day trip to a museum sounded... well, cooler.::
Wilmer: Aye Admiral. I’m sure the team and I can dig up all kinds of interesting facts.
Zaekia: Please be aware that teams travelling to Burellion outside of HQ property must go by shuttle. Burellion has strict transport regulations and are not in possession or transporter technology. They don’t trust it so you could say it has been effectively banned.
::Didrik pondered Zaekia’s admonition against transporter use within Burellion territory.  He wondered if their distrust of the technology, which was based upon converting matter into energy and reconstituting it elsewhere, might have something in common with Tu’Peq’s theory about robotic viruses traveling in waste energy.  Didrik scribbled the idea down in his PADD and would bring it up later.::
Zaekia: I really want to personally thank you all for your hard work. These are incredibly high pressure situations and as much as we train and we drill for it, nothing can truly, fully prepare you for the reality of it.
Renos: You’ve all performed exceptionally and when you get right down to it, it's because of you and the work of the collective crew that we’re here at all. 
Zaekia: I’d like to recognise Ensigns Tu’Peq and Yesna in particular, for their exceptional work and dedication. You are both hereby promoted to the rank of Ensign and granted the relevant rights and privileges that go with it. Congratulations.
Yesna: Thank you Sir
Tu’Peq:  Response
Pandorn: ::smiling:: Congratulations, you two. Good job.
Thoran: Congratulations to you both. Very much deserved. 
R’Ven: Congratulations Lieutenants Tu’Peq and Yesna. I have had the distinction of working with you both and this is definitely well deserved. 
Shayne/Anyone: Responses
Zaekia: With Commander Rhyn arriving to take up the post of Chief Tactical Officer, Mr Thoran will be able to concentrate specifically on security as the department’s permanent chief.
Rhyn:  Response
Thoran: Thank you Mr Pandorn. Perhaps you would care to give me a heads up?
Pandorn: I'll be glad to tell you after this is over. ::grins::
R’Ven/Shayne/Anyone: Responses
Zaekia: Thank you everyone. Dismissed.
Renos: Thank you captain. Those in my team - grab your away kits and meet me in the shuttlebay.
::Didrik liked Zaekia’s style; it was clever to save the mirth of promotions and crew reassignments to the end, when everyone was already pumped up and ready to take on their respective assignments.  It seemed to raise the excitement in the room as the officers filed out of the room; everyone strode into the corridor with as if purpose personified.::
(( USS Blackwell, Deck 2, Corridor outside conference rooms ))
::Didrik timed his movement down the corridor, passing some and allowing others right of way, until he, G’Renn and R’Ven had convened.::
G’Renn: Commander R’Ven, Commander Stennes. While it is practical for temporarily housing those affected, I am afraid that the Convalescent Wards are not very practical as a research area. We could use the Duty Doctor’s Lab in Sickbay, bringing a few patients expressing symptoms at different levels with us as we investigate. 
R’Ven: That does seem reasonable. ::Craning his head, Merrick turned to stare at Stennes:: What do you think commander?
::Didrik battled with what he was thinking versus what he ought to be saying, and at first, it was a toss-up to see which would arrive on his lips first.  By a hair, the more reasonable of the two emerged victorious, and Didrik answered calmly.::
Stennes:  I was thinking of the Medical Labs on Deck 23, but your suggestion is better, Doctor.  It makes more sense to work out of Sickbay directly.
::Didrik tried to make his sigh of relief as small and unnoticeable as possible.  He wondered why was being polite and congenial suddenly so difficult.  Actually, he pretended to wonder; he knew the answer, but denial was kindly keeping it from him until he was ready for it.::
G’Renn: Commander ::Turning to look at R’Ven:: It would also be neglectful on my part if I did not mention that the symptoms have begun to affect me as well.
R’Ven: I have been told that different individuals have been presenting the illness in different ways. How is your presenting.
G’Renn: Response
R’Ven: I understand. I thank you for sharing. We will do everything we can to help you. Have you found that it is impacting your ability to work?
G’Renn:  Response
Stennes:  My observation of Dr. G’Renn indicated that despite a momentary disorientation during her... episode... she maintained control over her judgment and her faculties throughout.  In my opinion, she is fit for duty.
::Didrik was even more flummoxed.  Why did that come so easily to him, when just a moment ago, he was in knots about which room on the ship to use?  Maybe the irritability and erratic behavior were just momentary blips on his emotional radar and nothing more.  He certainly hoped so.::
R’Ven: ::turning to face Zaekia:: Greetings Captain. I have been discussing with Doctor G’Renn and Counselor Zaekia the effect that this virus has had on Doctor’s G’Renn. ::slight tilt of the head:: You are telepathic. Have you noticed any adverse effects?
Stennes:  oO Well, that’s one way to bring it up. Oo
Zaekia: Response
::If the captain were having problems with controlling his telepathy, the entire ship could be in jeopardy.  It gave him an idea.::
Stennes:  We have collected a great deal of data from our current patients.  It may take some time to isolate the cause, but I wonder if we could identify some chemical or biological or physiological changes that accompany one of these telepathic episodes.
Zaekia/R’Ven/G’Renn:  responses
Stennes: If we knew what happens in the body when an episode begins, we might be able to predict when one is coming.  Then–with all due respect, of course, Captain–the medical computer could monitor whoever is in command, and should that person suffer an episode, it could transfer command codes automatically to the highest ranking officer who is not afflicted.  It’s not a cure, but at least it is a backup plan to keep the ship safe.
Zaekia/R’Ven/G’Renn:  responses
Lt Cmdr Didrik Stennes
USS Blackwell NCC-58999
Andaris Task Force
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