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Operational Knowledge

Posted on Wed Jan 27th, 2016 @ 8:21am by Lieutenant Commander Vanora Stele

Mission: Mother Base
Location: Holodeck 1
Timeline: Backpost


Making her way to Vanora's quarters, Lizzy pressed the button and waited.

"Enter," Vanora said. She stretched out and yawned, happy for the interruption, though she didn't have anything on her calendar for this hour. Or any hour, to be honest. Medical leave had its advantages, but besides crying, drinking heavily and walking on the beach, she had found herself finally in need of additional stimulation.

"Hi, I'm here to ask you a question as Chief Operations Officer. Since I have become a Lieutenant, I need to kind of step up and do more officer work.. Which means I need to get Bridge Certification. A chunk of that is the Operations department, and wondering if I could get help? My knowledge is limited, although not as bad as Khelev is going to find with Engineering stuff."

"Strictly speaking, you don't *need* Bridge Certification. But I like the way you're thinking." Vanora motioned for Lizzy to take a seat. "Don't worry, I promise Mercia hasn't been in here for days," she chuckled. "Can I get you something to drink?"

Lizzy grinned, "Thanks. Yeah, I can't help teasing Mercia.. She gets so indignant and then, she decided to start it up again. Just a water please."

"Water, cold," Vanora ordered the replicator, then handing the materialized glass to Lizzy. "I wish all of our officers had to go through Bridge Certification, and that we didn't wait until folks were lieutenants or lieutenant commanders before doing these trainings. If we didn't learn anything else from that nightmare we lived through with the holograms and then the cultists, I hope we at least learned that we need to be more versatile and prepared for a complete collapse of the command chain. Which is a very long-winded way of saying, I'm very happy to help you. Where do you want to start? I'm not sure how limited 'limited' is, beyond the basic, required Academy course."

"Well, by limited, I mean that I have learnt how to do holodeck programs.. Oh, and I know how to mess with someone's replicator to give incorrect items. Otherwise, just the basics."

Vanora laughed. "Turns out that there's actually more to Ops than just practical jokes. Alright, so we'll start from the beginning. And I just so happen to have some time right now. Follow me," she smiled, standing and beginning to make her way to the holodeck.

Lizzy grinned, "Sure and cool."

Once the pair had entered the holodeck, Vanora moved to the center of the room. "Computer," she ordered, "run Operations Training Program Beta-One. The 'Alpha' series is for cadets," she explained to Lizzy as a bridge materialized around them. "Beta is where I start my ensigns' supplemental training. How does that sound to you?"

"Beta sounds good. It will probably be a bit messy on my part at first.. But willing to try."

"This simulation both trains and evaluates your ability to monitor and maintain multiple critical systems simultaneously. You'll be there," Vanora said, pointing at the Ops station. "The other stations, including the Conn, will be controlled by holograms. I'll be walking around, observing, but pretent I'm not here. You should follow orders but also take initiative as necessary. Computer," Vanora ordered again, "prepare holographic officers." The other stations were filled instantly with a mix of imaginary figures of various species. "Ready?"

Lizzy cracked her knuckles and nodded, "Aye aye, Lieutenant Commander."

The holograms all started moving and speaking as soon as Lizzy acknowledged. "Helm, get that warp checklist done yesterday. I'm sick of waiting any longer than we already have," the ornery Andorian captain called out at the young ensign at helm. "Ops, we're waiting on you, too. Are those diagnostics done yet? Any red flags?"

Lizzy looked across the board, "Yes, Captain. The diagnostics are reading acceptable within Starfleet tolerances."

When a panel lit up about power distribution as a small fusion reactor came back online, she checked it and adjusted the increased power allocation.

No sooner had Lizzy made the adjustment as a dozen different system notices began popping up on her screen. Five of them seemed standard: updates on the progress of ongoing level one diagnostic programs, changes to the next duty roster that was starting in fifteen minutes, and a few other minor items. The others were requests from the other stations on the Bridge. Apparently, not all communications on the Bridge were made orally. It made sense; the stations did need to be in constant communication, but all that cross-talk would make it hard to focus on the Captain's orders when she had them.

Tactical reported residual plasma in phaser banks two through five that were not properly venting. The main operations office reported that the secondary subspace communications relay was still experiencing what users had described as "static" during personal calls. Helm reported that all propulsion systems appeared normal. Tactical had a second note reporting a 0.2% variance in the aft shields from optimal conditions. Science wanted an update on requested upgrades to long-range sensors. Security reported an incident in the main mess hall that was somehow related to a replicator malfunction. Engineering reported an unknown increase in power requests from Deck 4 EPS relays.

"Alright then," the captain nodded to Lizzy. "Helm, take us to Warp Six. Engage." The ship immediately jumped to warp.

Lizzy scanned through the requests and began doing a bit of breathing as she got into it. Firstly, she started some higher automated diagnostics of the secondary subspace comms relay & replicators, and redirected higher priority requests for Engineering to check out the phaser banks and aft shields - along with a message to Science that Engineering would get to it when they could.

Once that was done, she boosted the available power for Deck 4 to cope with the increase and started doing some more intensive diagnostics across the Deck 4 EPS replays. She wiped her forehead and rolled her eyes, suddenly aware that there was quite a lot to this sort of thing.

Coming back to the first set of diagnostics, she noted that the replicator issue was more of an end user behind terminal problem and closed the request with that. Checking the comms relay diagnostic, she found that it alerted that the EC motherboard was returning a status code that showed damage. So, she sent an Engineering manual check & replace order for it.

"Not bad for someone with only basic Academy Ops training," Vanora interrupted after Lizzy had been running through the simulation for the better part of an hour. "You kept calm and on top of most of what was going on, and didn't miss anything that was going to get all of us killed... except the replicator issue."

Lizzy grinned and then frowned, "Oh, what should I have done with that? It came back with okay in the diagnostics."

"You wrote it off as a user problem, which it was, technically. But Ops, and running the ship, isn't just about systems. It's about the crew the systems are supposed to serve. Computer, freeze program and reload to Mark 235. Watch," she said to Lizzy as the holodeck vanished and reappeared as the Mess Hall.

It was a main mealtime, and the room was crowded. An Andorian petty officer was waiting impatiently in line at one of the replicators holding an empty mug, and the human at the front of the line seemed to be indecisive in making his selection. Every moment that passed seemed to make the Andorian increasingly angry, until finally, something in her snapped.

"Arrgh!" she screamed in frustration as she threw her mug hard at the human. The mug was a direct hit to the back of his skull, and the man fell forward hard, his head smashing into the replicator control panel. Before he hit the ground, the Andorian woman was on top of him, punching him in the face. Several officers rushed over quickly to pull her off the human; the first couple received sharp blows to their faces, but eventually a mob of crew was able to hold the Andorian down.

"Computer, freeze program," Vanora said. "Any idea what happened, Counselor?"

"Hmm.. This brawl seems like it has nothing to do with Operations. Sounds like a matter for Security initially, and then Counselling to deal with later. I don't get it."

"Personnel management. You're right that Security and Counseling would deal with the most direct issue: a petty officer with apparent anger management problems. But if you take a look from another angle," Vanora said as she walked over to Lizzy's console and pulled up a screen of duty rosters, "you'll see that it's not always just the individual problem. Whole swathes of crew who have duty schedules that aren't optimized, the wrong crew pulling the wrong shifts or extra shifts. Neither Security nor Counseling would catch that, at least not as quickly as Operations could." Upon closer examination, the picture became clear: the duty rosters on this holographic ship were a complete mess. "A small issue, seemingly isolated incident, could be an early sign of much larger problems. Sometimes it's static in subspace communications, sometimes it's an angry Andorian in the mess hall."

Lizzy gulped, "Oh.. Really? I must have missed that bit in the readings."

Vanora shook her head. "It wasn't in the readings. There are a lot of things that don't show up in the readings, and that we can't figure out until we look into them further. It's like... I guess it's like when you have a patient and something could be a symptom but you're not sure, right?"

"Yes, that is true. I hadn't thought of it like that. This is harder then I thought. Like herding cats."

"Exactly like herding cats," Vanora agreed. "You have the skill for this, you're fast enough and smart enough for Command. It just takes practice to become a micromanager," she shrugged.

Lizzy groaned, "Oh yay. I'll have to go do more study on that sort of thing. Thank you for your time."

"Of course," Vanora grinned.


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