Entrance Examination, Chapter Eight

Quinn came into the infirmary just as Father Lester was getting into a blue-green medical outfit. “My son, in my college levels, after I decided to enter the priesthood, I took a few courses in medicine. I wasn’t sure what my assignment as a priest would be and so I studied a little bit of everything in preparation.”

“Very well Father, your assistance is accepted with gratitude. What criteria did you use to make the choice to enter the Navy?” Quinn began putting a medical outfit on, the blue-green color accenting his dark-white coloring.

The darker-skinned priest smiled slightly. “The Order decided for me since as a priest I could not be compelled to take the examination. Actually, with my background and education, I probably fit into the Navy more than some Duchy somewhere. I definitely was not a good parish priest. My two years in a parish, before joining the Order were a hard trial for both me and the parish.”

“Are not the requirements for pastoral care identical in the Navy as would be for a civilian parish?” Quinn started the self-test on the medical diagnostic table, blue eyes dancing over the indicators.

Father Lester’s smile grew a bit brighter, and then faded again. “Not quite my son. In the gross, yes the two fields are the same. In detail, now there is the trick. I may not be great with marriage counseling or some other of the personal areas; but, I would deal fairly well with other areas of counseling or some of the other areas of interpersonal relationships that are more likely to arise in the Navy, and with my background, I can pitch in and help more on a ship or small station. The Navy can use more of my skills and I will not have as many problems since there will probably be more chaplains available to cover the areas where I am weak and will not, I pray, cause as many problems as I might in a parish. A new colony might use my technical skills but I probably wouldn’t have the extra chaplains to help me and I might cause more problems than I solve.”

Just then, Ostrom and Houston entered the infirmary carrying Irving between them. Irving had her head buried in Houston’s chest. Quinn and Father Lester immediately saw the bandage wrapped around her upper left thigh, almost to her crotch, and that she was sweating profusely.

“Captain, we been checking some power conduits down by Main Weapons Control when something been exploding. Shrapnel be flying everywhere. Cadet Trainee MacBeath be on his way to start repairs, so we been bringing her here. She be in a great deal of pain, and we be not finding any painkillers in the emergency kit.”

“Position her on the diagnostic platform. Father, please find some painkillers.” Once Irving was positioned on the diagnostic table, Quinn began running the medical program. After a few moments, he announced, “The medical instruments indicate that accident damaged nothing serious. There is no damage to any of the major arteries or veins, all this bleeding is from smaller incisions. The smallness of the wounds will make it more difficult to render proper aid and there are a few nerves that have been slightly injured by the material that cut her The bone appears intact, nothing is broken or cracked that I can detect. There are several slices in the muscle, but it looks like nothing serious has occurred. It will just involve many minor repairs which will require significant time as this machine can perform only one action and therefor all repairs must be sequential.”

Irving muttered, her now-pale skin making her flaming red hair seem dark, “Your leg it isn’t, serious it isn’t Captain, of course.”

Quinn ignored her. “I should be capable of repairing her injuries without trouble.” Then over his shoulder to the storeroom where Father Lester was, “Have you discovered the painkillers yet Father?”

“Not yet my son. I have found some outdated painkillers but we don’t dare use them.”

“You are correct. Outdated painkillers can kill something other than pain and I will not venture that hazard with Irving’s life.”

Irving muttered, “My life it is and pain mine Captain it is. Risk it I will.”

Quinn continued to ignore her. “Cadet Trainee Houston, have you any training in the operation of medical equipment? I will require an assistant. Father, disregard the painkillers for the moment and come help me repair these wounds. Executive Officer Ostrom, please start hunting for the blood machine. This procedure may require a transfusion, she has bled for far too long already for my ease of mind and will bleed much more before I am finished repairing her wounds.”

“I be able to help with the operation, my mother been a doctor and I been grown up around medical procedures.” Quinn nodded and stated that his mother had also been a doctor and that she had trained him also. “Houston be able to hunt up the blood machine. Let’s get cracking.” Ostrom moved to the minor procedures machine and began the self-test. Father Lester handed him a medical outfit and while waiting for the self-test to finish Ostrom donned it. Father Lester then moved to another machine and began the self-tests on that machine, the major surgery machine, just in case.

With the medical machinery available, the repairs went as quickly as expected; it was just the number of repairs that slowed things down. Houston found not only the blood machine but a store of painkillers that were improperly stored as well.

Once he had finished the operation, Quinn took Houston and Ostrom to another room. They took the medical outfits to recycle them. Father Lester stayed with Irving to comfort her.

“Very well, Cadet Trainee Irving will recover from this incident. It is imperative that the two of you inform me in full detail as to the specifics of this incident.”

“Well Captain, Irving been inside the conduit checking out some power distribution lines. Houston and I been just outside the hatch she been used to get inside the conduit. He been running the diagnostic analyzer and I been handing Cadet Trainee Irving the tools she asked for. I been taking inventory nearby and stopped to help them. She been wanting Cadet Trainee Houston to work with her and me to work the analyzer but he been knowing it better than I do, so I been helping her. There be not enough room for her to be taking the toolkit with her, which be why I been helping. Suddenly, she be screaming and then we been hearing several small explosions, pops really.”

“Just before she screamed Captain, I noticed that a previously dead power line went active. I do not know what the line is for, we did not take time to label everything before we started as we should have. All the lines were dead, so we just found the one we were looking for, the secondary command line for the gravity control systems in the living quarters, and started in making sure it was intact. It was not, according to the analyzer, and Irving started the repairs. I screwed up, we should have label the lines. Maybe we would have noticed the active line if we had done so.”

“That would justify the burn marks and minor cuts on her leg What further transpired?”

“When she screamed, I been climbing into the conduit and saw her be thrashing about. She be getting most of her cuts then, I think. I been pulled the power line away from her and pulled her out of the conduit. Once I been got her out, I been seeing how badly she be hurt and that was when I been calling you.”

“I saw him pulling her out. I couldn’t help because of the tight space, so I tried to figure out if the analyzer was screwing up. I stopped when Executive Officer Ostrom called you, I took a look at Irving and hunted down the emergency medical kit.” The use of formal titles was slowly dying out among the cadets, probably due to constant contact; for everyone but Quinn that is.

Quinn stepped to the nearest intercom station, asking as he did, “At what station were you when this event Transpired?” Ostrom told him and Quinn called the station. MacBeath answered. “Cadet Trainee MacBeath, this is Captain Quinn. Can you determine what power line it was that went active and thus caused this mishap?”

“Captain, none of the lines are active. I already checked. I’m not going to start repairs if any line in the conduit is active. All the lines are dead as a preacher’s brain.”

Ostrom and Houston bristled at the implied criticism of their abilities. Quinn ignored them and said, “Cadet Trainee MacBeath, Cadet Trainee Houston was operating the diagnostic analyzer whilst Cadet Trainee Irving was within the conduit and he detected that a line abruptly went from an inactive state to an active state just before the accident occurred. I believe that you would acknowledge that Cadet Trainees Irving, Houston and Ostrom possess enough intelligence to ensure that there was no active power lines present in the conduit they wished to begin repairs in. They were under the understanding, as you are presently, that all the power lines in that conduit were inactive. Please investigate and let me know what you discover concerning the matter.

After a few seconds pause, “Aye Captain, I agree with you, it sounds as weird as a Mormon in a mosque. Cadet Trainee Irving knows enough about repair work for her to not start work in a power conduit if she thought any of the lines were active. Cadet Trainees Houston and Ostrom do not have the knowledge about repairs she has, but they will not lie either. If they say that they checked it, then they did. I’ll investigate and let you know what I discover as soon as I discover it.”

“I anticipate the reception of your report. Quinn out.” Then, to the others, “I find no serious failing with your performance in this matter. You did not foretell that the diagnostic analyzer was not functioning satisfactorily. You are intelligent enough to have conducted a self-test on the equipment prior to utilizing it.” The two others nodded. “Therefore, you were simply not as diligent a you needed to be merely because you did not possess the knowledge that it was imperative that you have. there is no culpability to be affixed to your performance, unless you fail to gain the appropriate insight from this incident.” Quinn started to walk away.

“A moment Captain. Do you be knowing why Irving be avoiding me? It be embarrassing.”

Quinn paused and as he resumed striding out of the infirmary, “I cannot say Executive Officer Ostrom.”

As Quinn went into the area where the cadets had picked their sleeping quarters, needing to stop there for a moment, he noticed Corrbet coming out of his quarters. He ducked back to hide from her sight and watched as her brown eyes darted around and she then scurried away. Quinn waited until she was out of sight and then entered his cabin.

Nothing in the cabin looked out of place at his first glance. He could not remember how the unmade bed had looked when he left it after waking up, so he ignored it; except to glance under the bed to see if there was anything new underneath it. However, he saw nothing extra there. He quickly investigated his computer terminal, on the desk next to the bed, and then the rest of the room. He saw nothing out of place. Everything looked normal and he found nothing missing or added to his cabin during his brief search. Deciding to let the matter rest for the moment, Quinn went to his personal care kit, opened it and took his scheduled dose of medicine. Only another week and he would be done with it forever. He then left his cabin and returned to the bridge. Elder was still on watch.

Elder spoke up as Quinn walked through the bridge door, “Captain, Cadet Trainee MacBeath found a serious defect in the diagnostic analyzer. When he checked the power conduit, he found that almost half of the power lines were active. He checked the analyzer and discovered that it would read its sensors correctly but it would not display all the information. Someone put a bypass in the display circuit and that kept some of the data from reaching the display. When Cadet Trainee Houston saw that active power line, the analyzer must have had a real glitch. Instead of hiding the data, it accidently presented the data instead. Cadet Trainee MacBeath want to check every piece of machinery before we use anything again.”

“And the explosions? Has Cadet Trainee MacBeath discovered what instigated those?”

“The explosions were from the high-power line arcing to the wall of the conduit when Irving kicked it in reaction to getting shocked. The power line tore out several chunks of the conduit wall when it hit. Apparently two power lines were shocking her, and jerking away from one brought her to the other. She was like a Benka ball between two good hitters, which is why she was jerking around and getting cut up the way she did. The safety breakers should have popped, but did not. Cadet Trainee MacBeath is angrier that the safety breakers did not work than just about anything else, I think. That part scares me too.”

“The equipment should be investigated, and the safety breakers especially. However, we cannot expend the time necessary to investigate everything prior to our operating anything. For the moment, he should investigate the equipment that is to be utilized in the immediate future. Once the inspection of that equipment is completed, then he should amplify the investigation to include equipment that we anticipate we will require although not immediately. The situation concerning the safety breakers is acute and must be of the highest priority. Any safety equipment that may be required should also be investigated at the earliest opportunity. You should ascertain what the technical data lists as the size of the safety breakers so that the actual breakers may be compared with what the technical data specifies. Once you have completed that task, then return to the backup control files.” Quinn crossed his arms and began stroking his chin while muttering, almost as if Elder were not present, “I now have learned that we cannot depend upon the equipment that the Navy has provided, at lest not unreservedly. At least it is comforting to know that explosives were not involved in this incident. I question whether we can trust the people the Navy provided unreservedly. The equipment would appear, on account of this episode, to be sabotaged and thus untrustworthy. Are the people also untrustworthy?”

“And just what do you mean Captain, are the people untrustworthy? Who is doing sabotage?” Elder looked up, his black eyebrows almost separating as his deep-set eyes went wide, from the computer console at Quinn.

With a start, Quinn spoke to Elder, “In the immediate past, I observed someone departing my cabin. I was not capable of descrying anything missing or out of the ordinary in my cabin, but I took time for only the execution of a hasty inspection. It provokes the question in my mind concerning the idea that this person, or another similar person, could be instigating predicaments as part of the examination. It would be formidable for someone to predict our actions before we arrive onboard the JACOTOT and use that prediction to establish the predicaments that would evaluate our capabilities, which has the appearance of what this examination is. In the early portion of the examination, the Navy could predict our reactions easily enough, but, as the examination continues, it will become more difficult for the Navy to do so simply by reason of the fact that we make so many decisions that the Navy could not contrive something for each foreseeable outcome. Nor could they set up enough predicaments to allow for all our decisions; at least, I cannot perceive that they could create such a multitude of predicaments.”

“All they’d have to do is create a few big ones and they would have a valid test, presuming that there will be more crises for us to overcome. The test may just be to see how well we operate together. Who was in your cabin Captain?”

“I do not believe that I should declare the person’s identity at this present moment. That person’s action might be merely uncivilized curiosity or something else that is not as sinister as I have surmised or insinuated it to be. It would be justifiable, I believe, to defer further comment until I have more evidence. I should not have mentioned the incident in your presence.”

“Well, you’re the Captain. But now I am going to be suspicious of everyone instead of just one person. Damn it, I like everyone, especially Cadet Trainees Corrbet, Jackson, and Clarke. They are good poker players and I like playing with them, I have learned a lot from them. Yu have spoiled it for me. I’m going to have this on my mind until I know who the saboteur is.”

“Allay your apprehension. As I mentioned, this incident may just be the inferior deportment of something else as readily explained away. Once I am possessed of more knowledge concerning the specifics of this incident, then I can determine what actions the situation does indeed require, if any, to take concerning this individual. Where is Father Lester presently located?”

“Still in the infirmary. He called up to let me know that he would stay there until Cadet Trainee Irving was well enough to leave.” Elder glanced at the clock, “Maybe another hour or so was his guess. Why Captain?”

“When he departs the infirmary, request that he converse with me in my quarters. It is my desire to initiate a comprehensive inspection of my quarters; and, since I desire conversation with him, I might as well conduct my inspection until such time as he is capable of conferring with me. Who is on the schedule for the upcoming bridge watch?”

“Cadet Trainee Corrbet.”

“Inform her of my location when she begins her watch.” Elder muttered that it was standard procedure” “You will perforce stand the remainder of this bridge watch.” Elder grimaced at that comment. “Also, notify Executive Officer Ostrom of my location and that command is his for the present. Before you leave, determine if there is some method of monitoring what the various persons are doing, not their private concerns, it is not my desire to invade privacy, but it is a requirement that we initiate a program to monitor people more thoroughly, at least in the public areas. Mayhap we will possess the capability of preventing the next predicament prior to its occurance; or at the least, ascertaining the person responsible for causing the predicament and thus preventing further predicaments.”

“There is a security monitoring system onboard. It isn’t functional, but it wouldn’t take too long to repair it, I think.” At least Elder’s face was not uglier with his lips thoughtfully pursed.

“Very well, it is my order that Cadet Trainee Jackson initiate those repairs as her highest priority. You have the bridge.” Quinn strode off, ignoring Elder’s continued sputtered questions and complaints about taking Quinn’s watch.

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