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====Starbase Legacy; Deck 20 - Repair yard, Chief's Office====
Milo let out a yawn as he entered his office. He placed his mug of raktajino on his desk."Computer lights please"As the lights turned on he walked further into his office and deposited his padd onto his workbench. He glanced down at the glass surface and with his right hand tapped on a few buttons on the LCAR panel.
A menu listing of schematics came up."Computer, can you bring up station schematic for decks twelve through to fourteen and superimpose them"As the computer worked to get his request fulfilled he turned to go fetch his mug. He had yet another rough night of sleep.
In fact, he wagered he may have slept all of two hours. A recurring theme in his nightmare kept him from the sleep he so desired. As he took a sip from his mug, the computer's voice alerted him of an incoming personal communication. He turned his Auxiliary display to face him on his desk.
"Computer put it through on my Auxiliary display."
A moment after the screen lit up with his sister's face and behind her, Milo could make out the Risian night sky. He grinned at her."Good evening to you Maddey, I wasn't expecting your call for another week."
=^= And by the looks of it, good morning to you big brother! I know we weren't scheduled to talk for a while yet but I needed to hear your voice. =^= His sister returned his grin.
Milo immediately knew something was off.
"What's wrong Madeline? Are you alright, is Matt? mom and dad…"
=^= Yes they're fine. =^= Madeline interrupted him.
=^= I just miss you, that's all. =^= Her soft voice came across the comm.
"Maddey, who are you trying to fool here. What's going on?" Milo saw through her deflections. "I know something is wrong."
His half-sister let out a sigh as she look to her left trying to hide a tear.
"Ok Maddey, now you're worrying me." Milo seemed more intent on discovering the root of the matter.
She looked back at him. =^=I need to get away from here. I can't talk about it now.=^=
At that moment, his office door chime went off. His first appointment was here. Milo looked at the door for a moment before returning his gaze to the screen.
"Maddey, I'll make arrangements for you to come to visit. Just grab the next shuttle out. And unlike last time be sure to tell mom you're coming to see me."
=^=Thanks big brother.=^= Madeline smiled at him.
"Send me a communication later to let me know when you'll arrive. I got to go. Love you." Milo smiled at the figure on the screen.
=^= Love you too Milo =^=
And with that, the signal was cut.
The door chimes rang again. He glanced up at the door.
"Come in!" Milo exclaimed loud enough to signal his visitor to enter.
As the doors to the office swooshed open Bloc confidently stepped in chest out, chin up trying his best to have his Klingon features stand out more than his Ferengi ones. This way he hoped to accomplish 2 things. First, to disassociate himself from the initial disdain most species had for Ferengi and, secondly, to hide the anger he had felt towards himself ever since he’d discovered that the Chief Engineer had his office on Level 20, just one level down from the level where he’d built the bar/casino and where most of his hotel suites were being built at that very moment.
He should have known this before construction started, not minutes before he had an appointment with the man. Peasy would have some splainin' ta doo!
He pushed all of this from his mind and focused on the office and the man occupying it. He saw the Chief standing in front of a display that showed the standard communication disconnection screen sporting the Federation’s emblem. The man was making an excellent attempt at hiding his feelings but did not succeed in that quickly enough for Bloc not to notice.
“My name is Bloc, Son of Quch from the house of wISuq. I am the new civil administrator of this station. Am I interrupting something important? I can always return at a later time?” the Klingon/Ferengi hybrid said with an apologetic expression.
Milo offered a quaint smirk as to not insinuate any ill-feeling towards the administrator.
"Not at all administrator."
Milo raised up from his office chair to offer a hand shack to the tall man.
"Please come in." Milo motioned with his other arm for Bloc to venture further into his office.
Now that his eyes had done a thorough scan of the office Bloc could understand this office hadn't drawn any attention and was overlooked in the planning for his own operation's location. It was tiny enough to be registered as a closet space really. This told something about the man occupying it. Slowly Bloc took a few steps inside the small office. Normally he would be on his toes, projecting a strong and intimidating posture when meeting someone but seeing this man, chief engineer of a starbase, located himself in a closet with no personal memorabilia anywhere told him that posturing like that would be useless.
As he walked towards the man he noticed the center table was outfitted with display equipment and, likely, was interactive as well.
"May I offer you a beverage, a raktajino perhaps, or something else from the replicator?" Milo inquired.
"I'd like a mug of Arabic blend coffee. no sugar no cream thank you" Bloc said, finding he was starting to like the man.
Milo picked up the mug off his desk and motioned Bloc towards the center console as he went to the replicator to get the Administrator's beverage.
"First, I would like to apologize for not being able to meet you any sooner. As you know while the station is still new, a lot of work still needs to be done and we've been severely understaffed. Then we had an incident that required my attention. Not that is an excuse I am trying to make you I hope you understand." Milo stated all while staring at Bloc trying to gauge his reaction.
Yes, Bloc decided, he indeed liked the man. Anyone open and honest enough to begin what up till that point was a negotiation with an apology scored decency points with Bloc.
"Sure I understand. I'm first and foremost a businessman and I too have had to deal with under-staffing and...... unexpected events" Bloc replied smiling. He added "I was fortunate enough to be able to remedy that with cash. You are more restricted of course having to rely on Starfleet personnel."
A brilliant idea came to him as he said that.
"Maybe I can be of service there. I've picked up a competent engineering crew and might be able to take some of the load off you" he suggested.
for a reasonable fee ofcourse he thought.
Milo turned to face Bloc with an intrigued look on his face. He joined the administrator at the console and handed him his beverage.
"Well, some additional techs and engineers arrived at the station just yesterday. I think we'll be able to get ahead of our workload now. Thank you for the offer. However, I do have a concern now that I hear you have your own team of engineers. The good operation of every system on this station is my responsibility and I cannot have non-Starfleet engineering personnel accessing these systems at will. So I'm afraid I will have to insist if there are major systems works that needs be done in your section of the station then it must be supervised by a member of my staff." Milo stated in as much an officiating voice as possible.
After all it was his station and at the end of the day, regardless of who had rented or least space on the station, he would have to answer for any faulty work that could compromise the station's system. It was his arse on the line and he would be damned if he would let things slip.
Bloc knew then and there he had good reason to be worried. He'd have to tread carefully with the chief engineer if he wanted to avoid their working relationship starting conflictive. Outwardly he smiled hardheartedly and said
"I understand and let me assure you that no major work was done on any major systems by anyone in my employment. But I'm sure you understand that I did not have the luxury of waiting all this time to start building up my business."
Judging the man's reaction to his words he used the time it took to take a good gulp of his drink he decided on a tactic he seldom used; playing on the man's empathy.
"See it took just about everything I owned to get the contract with the Federation and Starfleet. All I had was the contract really. So it was essential for me to get some sort of revenue out of it as quickly as possible." Block explained, telling the truth.
“So I did my best to find competent people and went ahead with as much work as i was allowed to by the terms of the contract." Bloc added.
Basically, he had opened the conversation for coming to a head quickly. These federation types usually had a thing for honesty and he saw no way to avoid having to discuss the work done to date anyway. Besides that, he was pretty confident he and his assistant Peasy had taken great care to disturb as little of the engineering systems that were in place.
Conduits were left as untouched as possible, just as structural bulkheads and other engineering systems usually hidden behind the bulkheads or the floors and ceilings.
The only exception was the three-level high atrium center of his bar/casino where a fake skylight colored the main bar area in red green and blue lights and two levels of rings provided booths and tables for customers with a look at the ground floor. Maybe this engineer would appreciate the care in the design and the quality of the work that was done. Bloc had selected the engineering personnel personally and knew they were good at their job.
"I understand your position Administrator, I don't fault you for wanting to turn your profit. However, so long as that is not done in haste and disregarding the safety guidelines of this station then I don't think we'll have an issue. But I won't concede to having a member of my staff supervising any major work. At the end of the day, I am responsible for all of the systems of this station whether it is directly under my jurisdiction or yours." Milo said with some finality with his statement.
"Now, how about we start by having you guide me through what your plans are." Milo suggested as he tapped at the glass screen.
A very accurate schematics of Bloc's area of the station came to view on the tabletop screen. Bloc studied the schematics in front of him carefully. There were 2 worrying things that he noticed right off the bat. One was that the complete schematics for the bar/casino were on it, up to date to the very minute. The other was a small selection of red dots on the schematics. Right where the equipment of Section 31 was located..
"At first I intended to start with the spaces on the promenade on level 0 but i changed my mind. I'll be honest and open with you." Bloc offered, manipulating the image to magnify the bar/casino area.
"Now these power systems here and here" Bloc pointed "Are the only points at which the systems we have installed or built connect to the station's systems. It is a power mains connection and a node where computer, sensor and other "mains" in and outlets are connected to. You know, like waste extraction." Bloc explained.
He turned to face Milo. "I think you'll find that they’re not even putting in more than 80% of the maximum specifications," he said, hopefully projecting confidence and belief not having done anything wrong he didn't exactly feel.
Milo gave a nod as he surveyed the area Bloc was showing him on the schematic. From what he could tell, nothing seemed out of the ordinary thus far and the standard power allocation would suffice. Additionally, no structural change would need to occur but he couldn't help but notice how Bloc guided his attention away from what he thought was the area in question.
"I don't see any issues with the standard power allocations for this area in that case especially if it will remain unaltered. Once you get your vendors we can revisit their individual needs. I think we can move on unless there is something specific you wanted to address in this section." Milo looked up from the schematic displayed on the console to Bloc's gaze.
"Not really. The area you probably are most interested in are these" Bloc smiled and changed the display, which had some little red dots in it, to the area behind the bar's wall. "What we decided to do, to minimize having to burden Starfleet's engineers for maintenance, upgrades, and monitoring, use the power we draw from the mains to drive a small power core of sorts. It takes the energy input and focuses that onto a chamber with crystallized Sirillium. This is energetic enough to initiate and maintain a reaction which generates almost a thousand times the energy expended to maintain the reaction." Bloc informed Milo.
The nifty piece of technology was something he had picked up a few years before in an after-deal card game out in the outskirts of the Ferengi Alliance. It unfortunately worked only on a small scale. When the energy input became more than 10.1PW, no matter how much Sirillium there was in the chamber, the reaction simply didn't initiate and the Sirillium was carbonized. The temperatures involved were lower than the average power conduit behind any of the bulkheads on this station and there was no radiation expended by the device, the Sirillium, or waste produced other than carbon ash.
Bloc was betting that the nifty power trick he had built behind the bar would tickle the engineer's inner geek while "unwittingly" bringing the structural construction work done for the bar/casino into the center view of the display. He had all his cards on the table now. It all came down to how the engineer would react and if he believed Bloc truly believed to have done nothing out of the ordinary at all.
Milo manipulated the schematic; moving it in various orientations. He stood back from the console and crossed his arms over his chest all while staring intently at the red dot shown on the schematic. He felt uneasy about hearing of an independent power source. He knew then Bloc wasn't as forthcoming as he initially thought since his earlier scan didn't reveal any Sirilium based power source. If he confronted the man then and there who knows how things would go. He was an engineer, not a tactician after all.
He then decided on a course of action to confirm his suspicions.
"All the same, Administrator, I cannot have a risk of the explosive force of any magnitude on the station without the proper requisition form, safety assessments, and the station's command approval. I feel it prudent that we arrange a visual inspection of the equipment in that area." Milo finally stated as he uncrossed his arms and approached the console again.
"Let's say we can probably arrange the inspection for thirteen hundred hours today?" His gaze finally met Blocs.
Bloc became relieved somewhat at that point. The power source, he knew, was completely safe and probably unknown to the Starfleet techies. With a little luck, he'd be able to keep them occupied with that until he could find a way to get the Section 31 equipment off the scans.
"Sure, no problem. You're free to go over every detail of that equipment at leisure. I will even provide you with the schematics for it. There's nothing secret about it." Bloc smiled at the engineer.
Then he manipulated the display to show the level above, where the hotel facilities were being constructed.
"This here is what we're currently working on. It's a number of hotel suites with supporting facilities. So far the suites are under construction, and the facilities are on hold pending your approval." Bloc told Milo.
Bloc hoped that the last statement appeased the man somewhat, even though the truth was they'd just not gotten around to building the reception, kitchen, and other facilities yet.
Milo had the oddest feeling that Bloc was deflecting his attention else were or perhaps it was just his misgivings about him. All the same, Milo let himself be guided through Bloc's curated tour of his hotel. He just listened as Bloc spoke on about how luxurious the rooms would be and how many there would be. He also mentioned how everything met with Starfleet Corp of Engineer standards.
Yet something was nagging at him at the back of his mind with regard to the special area and it was more than curiosity. He reasoned he would have to come back to the schematics later with a refreshed pair of eyes.
"This is all fine so far, Administrator." Milo place a hand on the surface and brought the ground floor of the hotel up again.
"Everything looks fine. Actually, it will be quite a nice place." Milo's gaze went from the schematic back up to Bloc's gaze.
"I don't see any other big engineering concerns thus far. Was there anything else you wanted to bring up?" That was when Bloc knew the man wasn't buying his story. It was too easy. He'd practically held Bloc's hand as he took the Engineer through the schematics for the Hotel.
Bloc was sure that if he didn't mention an explanation for the Section 31 equipment the engineer would have a team searching for it, or go looking himself, within 24hrs. He couldn't reveal anything about the S31 stuff either.
"No, not at the moment. But if there's anything that pops to mind later I'll contact you. Same if there's anything engineering-related the Ferengon Corporation comes up with. Sounds like a deal?" Bloc smiled.
"Certainly if anything architectural changes or your needs for power changes, yes please do notify me. And I'll have someone come by and perform that inspection at thirteen hundred hours." Milo cordially responded.
Milo then extended his hand towards the door.
"Well Administrator, we are both busy men so I dare not keep you any longer. A pleasure to finally meet you in person. I can't wait to see your establishment once it's completed." Milo could have sworn Bloc had given him a suspicious look as the administrator seemed to accept Milo's pleasantries and acknowledge he also had a busy day ahead of him. The two exchange a few more pleasantries before Bloc left his office.
As soon as the doors closed, Milo had the computer make an encrypted version of the schematics and transfer it to his personal padd to review later. However, for now, he was not lying he had a busy day ahead of him. It was time to roll up his sleeves and get to work.
To be continued
Thanks for reading this.
Stay safe and stay happy!