Caelian sighed as the door to the holodeck growled closed behind them, set his toolkit down on the polished floor more carefully than he wanted to. It had been an exhausting day already, but productive. Inspections to the Ark Angel were going well in preparation for the installation of the slipstream drive. In a way, Caelian had been thankful for the change in venue when it happened; he’d have been even more displeased had they been tasked to remove the boridium modifications to make room for the other drive system. Not that the slipstream alterations weren’t going to be a monumental undertaking in and of themselves, but at least they were making progress towards getting home.
He ran a hand through his hair and peered around the holodeck. A miniature rendering of the Ark Angel hung in the exact center of the grid-lined room with several translucent lines stabbing outward from key areas and pinning to batches of data likewise suspended. Several of the ship’s interior systems were also rendered at equidistant points around the Ark Angel, reflecting the vessel’s current configuration. Flanking each of the lesser models along the wall were cascades of technical information—intermix pressures, EPS flow rates, gravametric outputs, and so much more—and several subsets of equations from his preliminary research from their venture in the runabout.
With a little luck, he thought, smiling weakly, we’ll be able to figure out a way to get us home that doesn’t involve leapfrogging across the galaxies using a volatile engine.
“Is this what you wanted to see me about before your test flight, Ensign?” a calm voice asked from his shoulder.
Caelian nodded slowly, looking sideways at L’Nel. The Vulcan was too busy studying the construct to notice. “The start of it, anyway. If I’m right—well, that’s a very big ‘if’ wrapped up in more assumptions and guesses than I care to admit—a week of some serious number-crunching is all that stands between us and Federation space. And you, my friend, are one of two very vital components needed to make it work.”
A dubious brow lifted in his direction. “…Indeed.”
“J-Just wait,” the engineer laughed, waving L’Nel’s stare away. “I’ll explain soon enough. Just waiting on—”
The door to the holodeck rumbled open and Sophia Jackson sauntered in with a smile on her face. Cradled in her arms was the protoform they’d discovered accidentally during their test flight. While most of the crew had given her the playful sobriquet of “Mini Fayth” after the woman she resembled, Caelian thought of her fondly under a different name more reflecting his current aspiration for the diminutive creature: Hope. Jackson gave L’Nel a polite nod, made introductions between him and Hope at a careful distance as not to startle the protoform being. The Vulcan greeted her calmly and plainly, as was his custom, before Sophia turned to him.
“Hello, there, little one,” Caelian beamed, crouching a bit and putting his hands on his knees to be more eye-to-eye with Hope. “How are you feeling?”
—Caelian Weir, Engineer—
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