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Ens. Nolen Hobart — Picking Up Bad Vibrations

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((Interior, Main Engineering, Deck 3, USS Arrow))


Despite the recent progress he made with Lieutenant Commander R'Ariel, and even before Lieutenant Dewitt shared the good news about their long-hoped EPS overhaul, Ensign Nolen Hobart planned to avoid the “fun.” He knew that, as wave after wave of Arrow crew beamed down to “Space Vegas,” as some of the humans had taken to calling it, the ship would grow ever more still. The buzz of excitement had been building steadily since they set toward Deep Space 33, known ahead of time to be but a waypoint for bolder and brighter destinations, but it hadn’t grown in Nolen. As impressionable as his own mind could be by the press of others’ feelings upon him, his own, personally-cultivated dread at what he might sense even from orbit served as a robust levy against the rising tide.


As high as the crests of anticipation seemed to be reaching, Ensign Hobart knew that down on Freecloud itself, if the lights wouldn’t blind him and the sounds wouldn’t deafen him, he would find himself struggling to keep his head above water. But there, as he made preparations for the upcoming overhaul, amidst the emotional buzz of the crew, an entirely different kind of buzz caught Nolen's attention. The power feed along the wall to the subspace transceiver was vibrating.


Hobart: ::curiosity:: Huh.


Vibrating equipment was generally not a great sign. Some equipment was meant to vibrate, but usually not for very long, and not without some kind of readout about what it was doing. Some equipment vibrated because some of its moving parts had come loose or required lubrication. But a power feed had no moving parts. Or, it wasn't supposed to. Nolen ran a system diagnostic.


While he waited, he looked around the compartment. Empty again. He could get used to this, so long as the work was interesting. Connor had been there not that long ago, but he’d run off to Shuttlebay 1 to meet Ensign Slipka. Gripping the loop of a ceramic mug—a family gift, painted on its exterior a dubious declaration of Nolen's rank among and above the galaxy’s engineers—he brought it up under his nose, and gave the contents a long, satisfying sniff.


The computer gave him a cheerful chirp and Nolen took a sip of his coffee. The results of the diagnostic were unsatisfying. No significant power fluctuations. No indication of any interruptions or irregularities at all. The computer thought this was great news. Nolen knew it was not.


Hobart: ::concern:: Huh.


He tried to recall who was on the bridge for this shift. Connor had mentioned who, but Nolen was too busy looking forward to the EPS overhaul that had finally been approved—and on a ship that had emptied its personnel, no less!—to pay that much attention to minor details like names and command structure.


He tapped his combadge, expecting to open a channel to the Bridge and… whomever was there. He was surprised, not by the identity of the Officer of the Deck, but by the fact that his combadge started talking at him.


Gott (recorded): =/\= …problems? Gott stuck? Have no fear, ‘cause I've Gott you! For a limited— =/\=


Ensign Hobart had never before slapped his hand against his combadge with such determination or force. He ran a hand through his soft, wavy brown hair and grabbed a fistful. A sharp tug confirmed that he was not, in fact, in the midst of a nightmare. He gave it two more sharp tugs, just in case, before returning his attention to the console.


((Timeskip, Interior, Shuttlebay 2))


As the doors to the shuttlebay swished apart for him, Nolen threw up a hand to shield his eyes. The lights of the Billable Hours were blinding, and the noise—was that music, or sehlats mating?—was deafening. Nolen had found his own little chunk of Freecloud, already, right here on the Arrow. He wasn’t pleased.


Hobart: ::yelling:: Computer, shut down all external device interfaces in Shuttlebay 2!


If the Computer chirped its acquiescence in response, Nolen couldn’t hear it. But as the Billable Hours was cut off from the ship’s power feed, the lights dimmed and the noise faded to a tolerable whisper. It was then that Nolen got a good look at what exactly was going on in the shuttlebay, and shifted from “not” pleased to “dis-.”


Hobart: ::mild horror, to self:: That is ten pounds of ship in a five pound bay…


It was enormous. The sight of it inside the shuttlebay was nearly incomprehensible, and Nolen imagined that even the thought of it would have driven the engineers at the Starfleet Design Bureau babbling mad. He could make out three decks underneath a whole host of features that didn’t seem to make any sense or serve any purpose except to be there and look fancy. He tried not to be distracted by his reflection in the polished gold hull plating as he dared to creep closer. He crouched down to see that it was, in fact, resting on the deck, metal-to-metal, and, in order to avoid crushing its uppermost bits against the ceiling of the Arrow’s hangar, was actually listing at a disturbing twenty-five degree (or so) angle.


He heard the hiss of an airlock equalizing from somewhere out of sight, and walked over to investigate just who had crammed this golden lump into the Arrow’s cavity. As he approached, he heard the whine of an embarkation ramp as it was interrupted halfway along its programmed travel by the deck of the Arrow, angled up from its perspective. As Nolen rounded the corner slowly, he was startled by an intense tap on his shoulder. Spinning around, he came face to face with an upset-looking Ferengi.


Gott: Response?


Hobart: This is your ship?


Gott: Response?


Nolen’s eyes narrowed.


Hobart: Right now, I’m the guy who decides whether your ship gets to plug back into our EPS grid.


Gott: Response?


Nolen smiled. He hadn’t met very many, but he’d always heard that Ferengi were very pleasant, so long as you had something of value to give them.




Ensign Nolen Hobart

Engineering Officer

USS Arrow (NCC-69829)




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