Up and down. Pause. Up and down. Pause.
Petty Officer Caleb Stanfield watched the reactor reading spike again and again. The spikes were well within the safety limits for the reactor, but the regularity of the spikes was puzzling him. Stanfield looked around for the duty engineer, but he was not nearby. "Probably in the docking bay,'' thought the Petty Officer. The graveyard shift was when a lot of the minor maintenance tasks were done and the landing craft were just about due for an inspection.
Stanfield checked the readings again. The spikes were still there, but he thought maybe a little bit bigger. He wracked his mind for what might be causing the spikes. He ran a diagnostic check on the reactor which came back optimal. Then he checked the monitoring system. Optimal. He crossed the room to where the backup monitors were. The backup was a completely independent system from the main system, and it showed the exact same pattern of spikes.
By this time the spikes were definitely larger. Still within the safety limits, but noticeably larger. That does it. Time to pass the buck. Petty Officer Stanfield reached for the com and buzzed the docking bay.
"Docking bay. Lieutenant Osham here. What is it?'' the com growled back.
"Lieutenant, this is Petty Officer Stanfield in the main reactor room. I've been getting some spikes from the main reactor. I think you should come and take a look at it,'' Stanfield replied.
"On my way,'' the Lieutenant responded, then cut off the line.
Stanfield was relieved and nervous. He was glad the Lieutenant was going to take a look at the reactor, but hoped it wasn't something obvious he had overlooked. He wondered if maybe there was an external cause, but couldn't think of anything that could cause such and occurrence. He reached for the cam again and buzzed Astrometrics.
"Astrometrics. Ensign Gertraht.'' came back in a feminine voice.
"Ensign, this is Petty Officer Stanfield in the main reactor room. I'm getting some unusual readings down here and I'm wondering if anything external might be causing it. I'm picking up a pulse every 2 seconds. Are you detecting anything like that?''
"Sorry Petty Officer. Nothing matching your description or anything else out of the usual.'' Ensign Gertraht responded.
"OK. Thanks anyway,'' and with that Stanfield closed the line.
He checked the readings again. The spikes were definitely larger, and now they were faster. Just then the Lieutenant entered the room.
"What's the situation, Petty Officer?'' Lieutenant Osham asked.
"I've been getting spikes in the main reactor for about 10 minutes now, and they're getting bigger and more frequent, sir,'' Stanfield replied.
"You've run diagnostics?''
"I've run checks on the reactor and the monitoring systems which all came back optimal. The backup monitoring system show identical readings, and the Astrometrics sections reports no external sources matching the spikes,'' Stanfield explained.
"All right then. Let's bring the backup reactor up to full power and do some more tests.''
As the pair worked to bring the backup on line Petty Officer Stanfield kept an eye on the readings for both reactors. When the backup reached 80% it started spiking as well.
"Lieutenant,'' Stanfield warned.
"I see it,'' the Lieutenant responded, ``at least we know it's not just the main reactor.''
Suddenly klaxon started blaring in the reactor room and throughout the ship. The Lieutenant cursed under his breath. Stanfield checked the readouts. They were off the charts.
"Shut them down,'' the Lieutenant called out, ``now.''
"Sir, they're still spiking.''
"This is not good. We're going to have to eject the reactors. Activate the reactor seals.''
Stanfield did so while the Lieutenant worked at the main console. The reactors were disengaged and the the release hatches were opened. Explosives detonated and forced the cubes of dense material that made up the reactors out of the hull as fast as possible. But not fast enough. As the main reactor left the ship, it exploded, buffeting the ship and jarring all aboard.
"I guess I should inform the Captain,'' Lieutenant Osham said in a voice that made it clear he did not relish having to inform the Captain that his ship was all but dead in space.