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Posted on Sat Jan 13th, 2018 @ 3:14am by Lieutenant Erin Whitlam PhD

Mission: A Day in the Life

Astrophysics was buzzing with excitement and uncertainty. Erin felt it as much as any of the six other members of the astrophysics team.

The Autocrat of Astrophysics was leaving!

The news filtered down quickly, although not from Zohlaosh himself. No, the Tellarite had spoken to nobody as he packed up the sparse effects from his office and left the astrophysics lab behind for good without so much as a word. It was at the staff meeting - chaired by Lieutenant Commander Prell, the Deputy Chief Science Officer - that the team was formally advised of Zohlaosh’s transfer to the USS Kevaar. Although the always reliable science department gossip chain had long before delivered the news to the Astros.

Good riddance! Erin hadn’t said, but certainly thought, when Prell told them the news. In the six months or so that Erin had been assigned to Starbase 332, she had locked horns with Lieutenant Zohlaosh at least once every day about anything from her choice of statistical analysis to the proper temperature of Ligurian tea.

“Do you know who will take over from Zohlaosh?” Ensign Ballo had asked in the staff meeting.
Prell shook her head, “At this stage a permanent replacement has not been identified. Lieutenant Mol is still on bereavement leave, so for the time being you will report directly to me.”

Which meant that nothing really changed for Erin’s work day, other than having to send work reports to the Deputy CSO instead of the Astrophysics Lead. At least, that was how it began. Before lunchtime on that first, Zohlaosh-free day in the lab, a behavioural trend emerged among her fellow Astros that Erin found somewhat vexing.

“Pardon me, Whitlam,” said Ensign Ballo, who was hovering near Erin’s workstation holding a PADD like it was hot.
Erin looked up from her terminal and successfully hid any trace of irritation at the interruption. “What’s up, Foday?” she asked.

He stepped forward and hesitantly handed the PADD to Erin. “I could use a second opinion on some of these telemetric results from the Orsae probe. At first glance, they seem to indicate an unusually dense pocket of neutrino convergence,” he began as Erin took the PADD and looked at the data. “But I think it might actually be a corruption in the data download.”

Without taking her eyes from the data, she asked, “What makes you say that?”

“If you look here,” Ballo continued, pointing to a section of data on the PADD, “you can see that there’s a break in the feed. It’s the receiver cycling to a new data drive and lasts only a few microseconds. But if you look here,” he pointed to another section of code. “You can see there’s another break. I found it odd that there’d be two breaks so close together, so I checked with ops and it turns out the switching drive was faulty so the computer cycled to a fresh drive at this point. I’m not sure why, yet, but it looks like that faulty drive wasn’t accounted for in the final download, giving us faulty data.”

Erin nodded, seeing what the ensign was getting at. The neutrino convergence was recorded entirely within the section of the download that was received by the faulty drive. She handed the PADD back to Ballo. “Good pick up, Foday,” she said. “We’ll have to remap that section of the belt. Send it up to Commander Prell and see if mission ops can divert the probe back there.”

Ballo smiled like he’d just received a compliment from a sporting hero and said, “Yes, sir! Thank you, Whitlam.”

That was followed by a similar occurrence when Lieutenant Sobers sought out Erin’s opinion on an orbital track she was working on. And then a third incident when Ensign Fal’Ten wanted her to double check some of his calculations. By the end of the day, Erin was feeling like she hadn’t got nearly enough of her own work done because she was constantly helping out the other members of the team!

They’d better hurry up and find a new lead or I’m never going to get anything done!

Lieutenant (j.g) Erin Whitlam
Science Officer


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