First Impressions

Characters: Dana Gentry, Katia Santiago

Anla’shok Dana Gentry wandered the halls of the Phoenix, rushing to make her way to Engineering. The excitement at being on her first assignment apparent in the bounce of her step. The major destruction she could see around her barely dimmed the excitement she felt at finally being able to do some actual, hands-on work to help the Rangers.

The scarred hallways and barely closed doors made for a grim scene for her to begin her new life in, but it was still nice to be able to finally move and do something. Being out of school and training was a nice change of pace finally. After years of classroom work and the training with the Rangers on Minbar, she felt it was time to actually do something with the talents she had.

Finally, she entered Engineering and began looking around for someone, anyone. The work had barely begun and there wasn’t a soul in sight. But, she knew there had to be someone there, so she began searching, making her way further into the Main Engineering area.

Dana walked into the main engine room and noticed a pair of feet, sticking out from under a conduit.

“Excuse me.”

The Chief Engineer had her body pulled into the main engine relays, trying to find a workable solution to providing the energy needed for the self-repair systems to function, without pulling all the engines and power offline to do it. That was the last thing Katia wanted to do. The Phoenix herself couldn’t survive that for longer then a few minutes at this rate, and providing the necessary backup to keep the bio-organic technology alive would require massive amounts of energy from the dry dock facilities they were hooked up at the moment.

Her total focus was on the relays she was trying to create, so at first, she didn’t register the voice talking to her or sense someone else had even entered.

“Ahem. Excuse me please?”

Katia startled a bit and pulled herself out of the console, banging her head on the top of the hole. She rubbed at her head as she stood up. “Can I help you with something?”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you!”

Katia smiled slightly. “That’s okay. I was just concentrating. How can I help you?”

Smiling the young woman replied, “I’m Ensign Dana Gentry.”

Katia nodded a greeting. “Nice to meet you, Anla’shok Gentry. Chief Engineer Katia Santiago.”

“Oh! Uhm…it’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am.”

Katia sensed an openness about the woman in front of her, immediately liking her, but made sure to strengthen her defenses so the other woman didn’t project too badly into her mind. “And you. Now, what brings you down to Engineering?”

Dana’s brow knitted in confusion. Surely she was expected? “I work here, ma’am.”

Katia blinked, then smiled. “Oh! Are you one of the new replacements sent to help with the refit and redesign?”

Dana smiled, relieved that everything was in order. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve just recently been assigned to the Phoenix.”

“Welcome aboard! We can use all the help we can get at this point.”

“No offense, ma’am, but I did notice. How much of the main engines are we going to need to replace?”

Katia snorted, “Probably over half. As well as the jump engines. They have been fried. The whole system is going to have to be overhauled.”

Dana murmured quietly, her voice edged with excitement, “I see.”

“The self-repair system has been overloaded and has started slowing a bit…I think she has just had too much thrown at her at once.”

“Do you still have computer access to the self-repair systems?”

Katia nodded. “Barely. We are probably going to be taking everything down and hooking up to the facilities here so we can just tear the whole system down and rebuild,” Katia informed her, sighing. “I hate to do that. Afraid we may lose her if we do.”

“Well, ma’am, with your permission, I have been working on a few programs that may help the self-repair systems and speed them up.”

“That would work wonderfully! Why don’t we go into my office and I can show you the report I have created on what needs to be done.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Katia turned and lead the way to her office. The young ensign followed close behind, eager to see the reports and get to work. The Chief Engineer lead the way through some of the damaged portions of Engineering, having to duck under a conduit that had bulged downward from the weight of the explosion from the bombs. Dana watched, eagerly, assessing the damage and itching to get to work on repairs.

“That must have been some bomb!”

Katia nodded slowly, an unidentifiable look entering the Chief Engineer’s eyes. “Yes, it was. Kordieh knew what he was doing when he set them.”

“Kordieh… the saboteur. I wasn’t sure if that was truth or rumor. Excuse me, but how many others are in the engineering department?”

Katia thought for a moment, the faces of lost crewmates swirling in her mind. Maenier face becoming most prominent of those, the first to have died at the hands of her closest friend. Dunstan would be down on the planet by now, and Katia worried for him, wondering how he was faring. “After the battle…. about 8 I believe. Out of a total of 20,” Katia answered, grimly.

Dana paled slightly, unprepared for such a death toll. “I’m sorry, ma’am.”

Katia shook her head “What is done, is done. Nothing can bring them back…” The chief engineer seemed to become lost in a bit of thought at that. She finally wound her way up to the front of Engineering and into her office.

“No, ma’am, but we can salvage the engines…I hope.”

Katia sighed. “We can replace the engines if necessary. I am just hoping to salvage Phoenix herself, and not lose the AI. She seems to have a personality all her own.”

“Yes, ma’am, Minbari ships are like that, I have heard. I need to get to know the AI as quick as I can… I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe the ship is lost… if you’ll accept my opinion on such a matter.” Dana stroked a panel in front of her, almost soothingly. “They’re good ships,” Dana whispered, fondly.

Katia looked at the other woman closely and raised an eyebrow slightly, a bit surprised at the proprietary feeling she was already receiving from the young woman in front of her. That could be a very good sign. “Well, let me find that report.”

Katia began searching through a series of files on her computer. Dana nodded, trying to appear at attention. Katia felt an instant liking for the gentle young woman siting in front of her. Part of her worried that Ms. Gentry didn’t understand just what she was getting into, though. The ensign seemed a bit naive. Watching the chief engineer search her desk, Dana was impressed by the older woman’s calm, professional presence. The woman at that moment seemed to represent the Anla’shok: a determined, heroic force of experienced and competent soldiers. Her own heart was pounding with excitement. Katia finally pulled up the report and handed the computer console to her.

“Thank you.” Dana bowed her head and began reading the report, skimming some areas and reading others two or three times. “Hmm…. oh, yes… I see…. oh, my!… well, that’s a relief…” she murmured softly to herself.

Katia watched her reaction, and clamped down hard on her wall, the other woman projecting her disbelief and horror quite plainly.

“No wonder you thought the Phoenix might not make it! I had no idea the damage was so farspread!” Dana clamped down on her shock and forced herself to smile, trying to sound professional and hide her inexperience with such destruction.

“It was complete and total. No system or deck was left unscathed. It will take us probably the better part of three months to repair the damage.”

Dana nodded and finished reading the report. “Yes, it will take awhile, but I really don’t think we’re in danger of losing the Phoenix… at least not if some of the computer programs I want to initiate work as well as I hope they will.”

“Just what do you have in mind?”

“Well, for starters, I want to initiate the new self-repair programs. Mureen says the new programs should improve the efficiency of an undamaged ship by thirty percent and I’m pretty sure I can get them to improve the Phoenix by at least fifteen… hmmm…” Dana flipped through the report. Katia listened intently, waiting for the other Engineer to finish, so far impressed with what she saw. “I also have some new relays and conduits being brought aboard…”

“Mureen has some very excellent ideas on the subject, I can’t wait to see what he has come up with now,” Katia offered.

“Hmhmmmmmmm,” Dana murmured, lost in thought and almost ignoring the chief engineer. “Now this can be fed into a loop and kept offline to save energy… can’t use it until that relay is fixed anyway…” Dana muttered.

The chief engineer continued to let the other woman ramble in thought and leaned back in her chair, chuckling softly to herself, remembering when Engineering actually held that kind of wonder for herself as well. Dana pulled several Data Crystals from her pockets and began working at the computer.

“Let’s see…we’ll start with the ship’s main power source… good, the self repair seems to be able to get their fairly easily… hmm, access to the main engines is way too low…” The young ensign tapped swiftly at the computer.

“What about a level three transition here?” Katia asked, leaning forward and pointing to the schematic on the screen.

“Yes, that would help…then a level two transition over here…”

“And then a reroute around the main system here,” Katia nodded. “I think I see where you are going with this. Excellent! That will help tremendously!”

“Thank you. This is a start, but I see at least two conduits and a relay that need to be replaced as soon as possible. Even with the new programs, the self repair will have trouble reaching them!”

Katia bit at her lower lip “Yes, but it can be done, that is the main thing.”

Dana nodded cheerfully. “Oh, yes! She seems to be a marvelous ship!”

“I will have you begin work on that immediately. We are due for the rest of our crew sometime tomorrow, I believe.” Katia smiled slightly at Dana’s compliment. “She really is a wonder.”

“Yes, ma’am, I’m looking forward to working on her… oh, and with the others of course!” She smiled sheepishly.

Katia chuckled inwardly, “Of course… It is a pleasure to have you on board. I am sure you will be an asset during this time of transition.”

“Thank you, ma’am! It’s great to be here!”