Sunday, April 27, 2008

A story to welcome me back...

I'm a pretty big "Star Trek" fan. No, really; I know it's hard to believe, but I am. One day I was watching an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and I got to wondering about how those people would fare in today's world. So I wrote this quick little story-like thingy. Sort of a "Dilbert" meets "The Office" meets "ST:TNG." Enjoy.


Life aboard the Enterprise: The TRUE story.

"Captain's Log, Stardate... umm.. is this on? Damn. Ahem. Captain's Log, Stardate 43210.5 The Enterprise has been ordered by Starfleet to investigate a 'stellar anomaly' in sector 134.3256 mark 6. We have set aside our current mission of... dammit, why did this thing stop recording? Anyone?"

"Sir," replied his first officer, "like I told you before, you have to hold the 'record' button down the whole time, not just at the beginning." Will Riker looked at the ceiling, the floor, the walls. Anything to avoid looking at his captain. "I've never had a problem with mine," he said.

"Well," said Picard, "I'll just finish the damn log entry later. Helm, set our course."

"Aye, sir." The young helmsman's fingers began dancing across the console. Suddenly, an odd beep sounded from the helm controls. A puzzled look crossed the crewman's face, and he repeated his last entry. Again, the odd beep. "Um, captain? I'm getting a 'system access error' in the helm control program."

"How can that be? Did you remember to hit control-B before entering the coordinates? You did. Did you enter the coordinates in the new format?"

"Um, new format, sir?"

"Yes, the new 3.4 format, the one that we had that training session on last week? The one from the fuel consumption monitor program?"

"Um, sir, this is helm control, not fuel consumption..."

"I know that, ensign! But the newest version of FuelCon requires that format, and since it imports the data directly from the HelmCon app, we have to use that on the bridge."

"Oh. I'm sorry, sir, but this isn't my regular post. The old helm guy got laid off last week - well, he took 'early retirement from Starfleet,' but it wasn't by choice. Anyway, I'm usually with hardware development, you know, the deck 17 gang? So I was -"

"Never mind, ensign. Can you correct the problem now that you know what it is?"

"Well, no sir. The program is completely locked. I can access other programs; see, the Torpedo Launchers, the Phasers, all that, but the Helm Control is-- uh-oh."

"What does THAT mean?"

"Well, sir, now the whole thing is locked. I can't even reset it. I'll have to do a hard reset, with the switch underneath. The reboot will take about 30 seconds. Sorry, sir."

"Don't worry, ensign. Everyone has to reboot a console now and then."

"Yes, sir. Um, sir? It's not coming up. It's hanging in the hardware selftest."

"Right. I'd better call engineering, then." He taps his comm badge.. nothing. He glares at the ceiling, looks at the comm badge.

"Sir," says Riker, "We've found we get the best signal when we stand near the main viewscreen."

As the captain moves toward the viewscreen, he glances down at the ops console, where he notices...

"Mr. Data, are you playing Minesweeper on duty AGAIN?"

With a guilty start, Data clears away his game and buries himself in the status reports on his screen.

Arriving in front of the viewscreen, Picard once again taps his comm badge. At the distinctive chirp of a good signal, he says, "Picard to Engineering, come in, LaForge." There is no answer, no sound at all. He taps the comm badge off, then back on again. "Picard to Engineering, come in." Suddenly, the computer's voice booms from the comm badge.

"I'm sorry, the Comm System user you are trying to reach is unavailable, or has traveled outside the range of his equipment. Please try your comm again later."

Visibly containing his anger, Picard growls, "You have the bridge, Number One. Keep trying to reboot that damn console; I'm going to find LaForge." He stalks toward the turbolift doors, which fail to slide open as he approaches. He pulls himself up short, obviously annoyed at having his dramatic entrance spoiled so. Finally, the doors slide open, and he enters the lift.

* * * * *

Moments later, Picard enters the Engineering section of his starship. There are parts of at least six different ship's systems strewn across various consoles. The entire Engineering staff seems to be crowded around one table in the back corner, so he approaches it. Seeing his Chief Engineer at the center of the crowd, he speaks.

"Mr. LaForge. A moment, please?"

Startled, Geordi jumps up. "What is it, Captain?"

"First, why was I unable to reach you by comm?"

"Really?" asks Geordi. "Let me check," he says, removing his comm badge to get a look at the back. "Oh, no. I'm sorry, sir, I grabbed the wrong one this morning. I meant to leave this one in the charger, but I guess I got them mixed up."

"Well, let's not let that happen again, shall we?" said the captain, raising an eyebrow enquiringly. "As for my other question, why is my Helm Control console down again?"

"Sir, I've tried to fix that. I've reinstalled every system. I've checked all of the connections. I'd say it's a bum operating system. If you'd just let me install a Vulcix operating system and get rid of that MicroFleet Viewports software, I promise you, you'd see a world of difference..."

"Mr. LaForge, I am NOT about to let you use such an, um, 'experimental' system on _my_ starship..."

And as the captain and his chief engineer begin their old familiar argument, the helm control console comes back online. But without a connection to the network. And the comm badge system loses another 37 calls that day. And the weekly crew health report somehow loses its formatting and prints out on actual paper... in a single column one letter wide and 35.3 kilometers long.

Just another day on the Starship Enterprise.