Here's Mud In Your Eye
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The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.


Captain’s Log
Stardate 2324.15.IX
1117 Zulu

Starfleet has tasked us with investigating problems being experienced by the relatively new Federation science station on Prysmak IV. Problems seem fairly routine – closed recovery system failures, replicator failures, and problems in the hydroponics bay. However, that being said, seeing the unforeseen disaster that Dhal Theta II posed this crew, I am taking no chances, and am sending a full security detail down with the Science landing party. This science station is, after all, on the border with the Romulan Neutral Zone.

LT Debbie Wilson made copious notes on her PADD as she spoke to the Chief Science Officer of Prysmak IV science station. She occasionally glanced at her tricorder, which she had programmed to do a broad scan of the surrounding environment of the colony’s seven-building compound. Nothing out of the ordinary so far, she mused. This was her first landing party of which she was nominally "in charge." All of the complaints from the colony were of an environmental nature, and Wilson had to wonder why these issues had not been raised when the colony was established two years previously.

"Commander Bayne," Wilson said, addressing the head of the colony, "how complete were Starfleet’s bioscans of this planet before the station was established? I’ve read the reports, and they mention nothing of the mold and humidity problems you are now experiencing."

CDR Bayne drew herself up before she answered, obviously uncomfortable that she had had to ask Starfleet for help over a seemingly insignificant set of circumstances. "Complete surface and subsurface surveys were conducted, lieutenant. It’s all in the report made to Starfleet," she began tentatively, "it’s….it’s just….well, you see….it’s the mud."

Wilson reflected on how she had dismissed "mud" as a problem when she read the report from Starfleet before beaming down with the landing party. Now that the Chief Science Officer and commander of this Federation station brought it up, it gave her pause.

"It gets into everything, lieutenant," the commander stressed. "Granted, this planet has an abundant biosphere that produces lots of humidity, but we never could have expected that mud would become a problem."

"What exactly do you expect Phoenix to do, commander?" Wilson inquired.

"I thought, perhaps, that Phoenix’s engineers could help us upgrade our plasma generators in order to boost efficiency in the magnetic containment fields we’ve established on some of our systems," Bayne said. She shrugged, because at this point she was guessing. The station’s personnel had tried everything to keep the planet’s mud from insinuating itself into key systems, with little success."

It was far from typical for Federation outposts to require magnetic containment fields around key systems unless stationed in a hostile environment. The jungle planet of Prysmak IV hardly seemed to qualify.

Just then, CDR Bayne’s comm. panel beeped, punctuating her statements. "Commander, we could use your help over here in hydrology."

The science chief gave LT Wilson an exasperated look. "If you’ll excuse me, lieutenant. Please consult with your team and do what you can. Hydrology always seems to get the worst of the malfunctions with the mud."

Better do complete scans of the surrounding terrain, as well as confirm the findings of the initial surveys, Wilson mused. And see if there are any anomalies in the biomatter. But, how do I frame my report around….dirt?

Fortunately PHOENIX’s geologist, LT T’ramar was among the personnel who had beamed down with Wilson.

Stardate 2324.15.IX

1647 Zulu

Captain’s Ready Room, Deck One

PHOENIX hung in high orbit of Prysmak IV as Alpha Watch turned into Beta Watch. The beautiful blue-green globe glowed through the view ports of the captain’s ready room.

As CAPT T.E. Lawrence proceeded to her replicator to secure another glass of iced tea, her door chime sounded.

"Come," she said as she input her selection on the replicator pad.

"Captain, I have my landing party’s results of their diagnostics of the systems on the planet, " LCDR T’Prel announced as she entered, glancing at a PADD. She held it out for the captain to receive.

Lawrence finished inputting her order into the replicator and reached for the PADD. An unusual slurping sound drew her attention, and that of the Chief Science Officer, to the replicator. The curious noise, as opposed to the efficient whirring sound of the replicator’s program working, was accompanied by something very different than the iced tea ordered by the captain. It looked like….

"Mud!!" the captain exclaimed, holding up her glass for T’Prel to see. It was not an appetizing sight.

One of T’Prel’s eyebrows shot upward. "Curious." She examined the phenomenon as Lawrence gave cursory attention to the PADD.

"Did your landing party bring something back with them?" the captain asked in irritation. "This certainly can’t be a coincidence."

"I do not see how, captain, as mud is….well, dirt," T’Prel said blankly.

CAPT Lawrence stuffed the glass of mud (with lemon wedge) into the matter reclamation unit below the replicator. She crossed over to her desk just as the comm. panel signaled the Ready Room. "Captain, this is Engineering."

"Ah, Mister QaS, I was just about the contact you, about…." the captain began.

"About use of the heads? Replicators? Matter reclamation units?" LCDR QaS, the Chief Engineer, postulated.

Lawrence’s voice attained a dull edge to it. "What about them?"

"I am recommending that you issue an order to avoid use of any of those systems," QaS said firmly. "We have discovered a major disruption to closed system recovery function."

Lawrence ran a hand over her eyes. "Now you tell me," she muttered. "But, commander, the heads?"

"Unfortunately, captain, the disruption has disabled the closed-systems recovery computer from efficient recycling of waste, so we dare not use the heads until this problem is, eh, cleaned up," QaS said. "I recommend the use of the emergency heads near the shuttle bay, and forward on decks Two, Four and Six."

"Only six heads for a crew of 350, commander?!" Lawrence sputtered. "Just what is this disruption in closed-recovery?!"

There was a very brief pause, as if QaS was consulting notes. For a Klingon to have to discuss the ship’s sanitation system was…disconcerting. "It is some kind of dirt, captain that has insinuated itself into the system."

"Not mud?!" the captain said incredulously.

"Apparently so," QaS returned quietly.

"I want you to coordinate your efforts with the Science Department, commander," Lawrence said sternly. "They just did extensive surveys of the planet’s surface, and it more than likely has a bearing on these disruptions."

"Yes, captain," QaS’ voice sounded.

"Oh, and one more thing, Mister QaS," Lawrence added. "Make sure we get those heads operating soonest. I don’t need a ship full of cranky crew members waiting in long lines at what few heads are working."

"Yes, captain."

Lawrence sighed as she turned from the comm. and looked at T’Prel. "Not the way I envisioned my Friday ending, commander." She winced as she looked at the mud on her hands from the replicator.