A Different Perspective
Mission 1: Unscheduled Madness
Location: Eilaea & Vriha's Quarters
Eilaea glared at the PADD in her hand, the other hand setting down the half-empty cup of tea and grasping a fork with a piece of the human food she was currently sampling on it; an odd slice of bread covered in cheese, meat, and sauce which the replicator had delivered without any utensils, forcing her to order them separately. Bringing it to her mouth and chewing the piece she had sliced off the larger portion, it was not...bad. Still, she doubted she would order it again. If nothing else, it was unwieldy to cut up, the bottom bread resisting and crumbling as if it was not meant to be...Which given most humans were comfortable handling food with their hands, she suspected it might not.
The data on the PADD was more frustrating than the...'pizza'...however: A restart of the reactor, while promising at first, had ended where it had began: With a collapse of the warp field on attempt to use the engines.
Vriha entered the shared quarters and after moment of observing her friend, remarked, "If you wish to try pizza that can be effectively eaten with utensils, I would recommend ordering 'deep dish' next time. The crust is thicker and remains stable when sliced."
Eilaea looked up, then looked back at the plate for a moment and then up again. "I will consider that. I have had little success in recreating our cuisine in the replicator, and despite the similarities of the Vulcan tea we sampled the other day with our own, the Vulcan cuisine I sampled from the replicator menu was unsatisfactory." She paused for a moment and set down the fork, pushing the rest of the plate back. "I sampled their version of plomeek soup...I expected it would differ in being vegetarian, of course. I did not expect it to also be utterly bland beyond reason."
"Indeed. I wonder if the original recipe was altered because properly spiced plomeek elicits an emotional response?" Vriha mused wryly. Changing the topic, she nodded toward Eilaea's PADD. "Have you had any better luck with the engines?"
"Or our recipe evolved to utilize ingredients not available to them. Or both." Eilaea glared back at the PADD again for a moment, then handed it forward to Vriha to examine the information herself. "We shut down the power core in the hopes that it would both be able to successfully restart it, and that afterwards the engines would then function correctly. We were successful only on the first count."
"I suppose we should be glad of half a success there," Vriha remarked. "But it does point to something other than sabotage, and almost certainly something external... Something limited to propulsion since there's no significant power loss in any other system... I'd say that had to be targeted, but Starfleet impulse drives use a magnetaplasmadynamic thruster system where accelerated plasma passes through the driver coils, thereby generating a subspace field to improve the propulsive effect... so any subspace effect that would disrupt the warp drive could in principle also disrupt the impulse drive..." Her brows drew down into a V as she mentally thought over the frustrating mystery. "...but we ran numerous scans and there's no evidence of the sort of damage to subspace that would normally cause that."
Since Federation scanners were generally regarded as particularly effective when it came to scientific applications, Eilaea didn't bother wondering on the quality of the sensors themselves. "Are there any other phenomena you're aware of that might case similar effects?"
Vriha shook her head. "It's closest to the Breen weapon, but that had more widespread effect on ship power systems. This is confined to propulsion, which makes a subspace anomaly the most likely cause ...except we don't see any." She frowned. "Or believe we don't see any. All of the hallucinatory episodes people have reported are individual, tied to personal memories and fears, but that's not proof that our collective perceptions haven't been altered."
"Though as they remain seemingly unaffected in a unified manner in perceptions of other things, if they were altered specifically as to just that one matter, that would lead back to deliberate hostile action." There was a long pause. "I take it none of your scans gave you any reason to believe there may be a cloaked vessel in the vicinity."
"None." She paused. It was a struggle to maintain scientific objectivity and a open mind despite the paranoia that wanted to take hold, especially since one of the possibilities she could not logically discount was that an enemy really was behind this... "Of course, if they could control our perception of the sensor readings, we wouldn't see the indications."
"If they could control such even a ship of a power without such capabilities would remain unseen, yes..." Eilaea rested her chin in her right hand for a moment, considering the sorts of reasons something or someone might be able to avoid detection, overall. "Is it possible for such phenomena as might cause the warp drive effects to...fluctuate?"
"Have you observed such in engineering?" she asked. "I had told LT Ral that that struck me as a possibility. Though such fluctuation could be natural or due to a weapon requiring a period to recharge. However, the question remains: what sort of cause - natural or created - could cause both warp drive failure and hallucinations."
"Unknown." Eilaea replied. "But given such a possibility...Is it perhaps worth suggesting that such scans be set to an automatic protocol, and run either continuously or at frequent intervals?"
"We have run the sensors on a continuous sweep, but nothing was flagged on the automatic review... " Vriha paused thoughtfully, "...not that that means nothing was there. Only that those things that are among what the computer was programmed to note were not there...."
The otherwise frustrated expression on Eilaea's face resolved itself into an almost playful hint of a grin, with a subtle barely-raised eyebrow, as she reached for the remainder of her cup of tea and lifted it halfway in a gesture that might have been a toast and just as well might have been nothing, before settling back into a more routine expression with a touch of deep thought or perplexment. "Perhaps it would be worthwhile to suggest that a more comprehensive continuous scan be run, without such limiting parameters." An eyebrow moved rapidly up and down in a shrug of sorts. "It's not as if we haven't got the power for it at the moment, with nothing being drawn down by the engines."
"It's not much that the parameters are limited, as that it would be nearly impossible to expand them to consider all variations on 'look for something never seen before'. Finding whatever is buried in the data will take an actual mind capable of imagination and intuitive leaps," Vriha explained, and paused to consider that the evidence might already exist in the data but simply hadn't been subjected to a more careful and thorough review. She looked toward the door, where the security team making their rounds would undoubtedly appear shortly. "I think I may need to ask for a variance on the confinement to quarters. Either that, or take a very long shower..."