USS Pioneer
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From Chernobyl With Love (Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Bomb)

Posted on 16 May 2019 @ 12:18 by Lieutenant Commander Gaelle Megaira & Lieutenant Alexi Petrov PhD

Mission: Scylla and Charybdis
Location: Science Lab 2
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1200

Alexi leaned back, carrying the large top panel of the torpedo in the thrall of an antigrav handheld. If he was honest it was like playing an adventure holo, with some sort of McGuffin device that should have been called a 'gravity gun' or some such. He walked the casing over to one side of the lab, placing it on the floor where it settled heavily into the carpet, and then returned to the half-naked 2 megaton weapon he was undressing.

Without the casing, the ribs of the pill-shaped weapon were soft grey bones wrapped around ODN data feeds and thick power cables. All of which was wrapped around the two major components of the weapon. In the aft was the impulse motor, a simplified impulse drive that instead of having a throttle had an 'on/off' function. And at the fore were the surprisingly small melon sized sphere of silvery metal: the antimatter pod. This too had a simple on/off switch that would cut power to the magnetic fields keeping the 4 nanograms of antimatter from interacting with three-dimensional subjective reality.

"If you like Commander, you could step closer? Is sight to see," Alexi said as he admired the sight before donning a complicated head piece with a number of folding and articulated optical sensors. "Or failing that is replicator near wall. Black coffee, bitter. Is good."

"I've seen plenty of torpedoes, lieutenant," Gaelle answered. And it was true—the entirety of her career, until recently, was spent in tactical and security. She stretched her neck to peer just over Alexi's shoulder as he loomed above the device. "I'm more curious to observe your modifications."

"Your eyes lack necessary depth perception," he said as he settled into a seat beside the bench. He then reached out without looking and took a mico calliper from the tray of tools he'd laid out, and got to work. "In simplest form, I am downgrading weapon's output. Torpedo is designed to impart greatest amount of force in radiative shock energy. Shatter armour, burn air to plasma. Doesn't make a big flash as that is energy going into process with no tactical property."

He took the micro calliper out of the torpedo after a second, placed it back onto the tray, and selected a long-nosed tool with a glowing effector tip on its end.

"This torpedo, once done, would not have ability to destroy shuttle pod in single hit. But will instead glowing like flare, wasting all destructive force in photonic radiation," he fed the tool into the heart of the naked torpedo and began to slowly turn it from side to side. "I could go over luminosity equations if you like? But I fail to find smell of coffee in the air from previous directive."

Gaelle was busy making a note on her PADD. "I don't trust you with liquids, Petrov," she murmured. She paced to the opposite end of the torpedo and jotted another note. "Not while the chassis is open."

"Trust is overrated. Do I trust engineer who is manning main control, do not. But I do know he would not be working on ship if not qualified," Alexi grunted and something within the torpedo gave a sound like a bolt fall between metal panels. He pulled the tool out, and then reached in with both hands and gently scooped up the antimatter warhead. "Here, give hands. I have work to do and this is in the way."

He held it out to her.

"Are you sure trust is overrated?" She held out her hands for the warhead. The device was inactive, but... Well, antimatter.

"You drop core, we both die in manner that will be most scientifically interesting," Alexi said, going to work on the case the warhead had been sat within. "I trust basic survival instinct. Has been good guide to survival for millions of years. Has earned trust. Huum, alignment of focusing array is off."

He leaned back, flicking aside tow of the magnifying optics from his eyes, and looked at his array of tools. He muttered something vaguely Slavic, and selected two items from the tray. One was the long questing probe, and the other was a blunt neutron detector. He inserted the long nose of th tool into the torpedo, gently manoeuvring it around until it was firmly nestled against something.

And then proceeded to hammer it with the neutron detector. ONce. Twice. Third time seemed to be the charm as he pulled both tools out, and checked the alignment

"There, weapon is now useless as warfighting tool. Will make excellent flare," he turned on his tool to look at the XO carrying the heart of the bomb. "Tell me, how do you hands feel? Tingling? Loss of sensation? A light burning sensation that you swear 'tastes' like chocolate?"

Gaelle considered the warhead, thinking about how there are two types of people with the fear of height: those who are afraid they'll fall, and those who are afraid they'll jump. She was drawn to the idea of dropping it, cracking its containment cell and letting the antimatter do its thing.

"No," she finally answered Alexi. She turned the device over in her hands. "But I should put it in a box and have Tactical dispose of it. Notify me once the flare's re-encased and ready to go. We arrive in about thirteen hours."

Alexi made a sour face and held out his hands.

"Dispose of..." he said, spitting the words out of his mouth with disdain. "Four nano grams of anti lithium is useful substance, even in crude weaponised form. I have use for it, experiments that would be benefited by application of such matter. Also have interesting theory on making you say? Fog Light? Energised antimatter could be catalyst for neutrino beam, very difficult to hide spallation effect from beam dispersal. Give war head to me, I for it. I assure."

Shaking her head, Gaelle replied, "Keeping warhead wasn't part of your request. If you have need for the materials in future, we'll revisit this." She gingerly set the device in a nearby container and secured it, then wiped her palms on the sides of her uniform. It was almost definitely psychosomatic, but her hands had started to tingle, pins and needles. "In the meantime, good job not decimating us."

"Yes. It is as though am trained for task," Alexi said and then raised an eyebrow. "We are done here. One flare, is not enough. Is little candle in massive nebula. We have long day ahead, is good that I have pointed where coffee can be made da?"

"Indeed—next time, remember that I take mine black," Gaelle answered, scooping up the box. She made long strides toward the exit and called back, "Do vstrechi," over her shoulder.


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