## Factor, Factor, Factor

### Work Text:

Factor, factor, factor. Renormalize the vectors and factor again. No, that transposition is wrong. Yes, carry the three. Factor, factor, factor. Don't get caught up in the math, Scotty. Math is just the first step. The language of math is ought and should. The reality of physics is. Every time you start over, factor the equations again. Factor, factor, factor.

Integrate the Han Li Equation in the polar domain, 0 to 2π gets you all the way around. Yes, just like that, Scotty. Don't forget the integration constant. Factor, factor, factor. The math doesn't matter, Scotty. The math is a decoy. Don't screw up the math, Scotty. If you forget to divide by two your captain might be divided in two when the transporter misfires. Take a Laplace Transform to simplify the arithmetic. Don't do the logarithms in your head. You'll screw up on the fourth decimal place. You always do. Nobody expects you to solve it without a computer. Everyone uses computers these days. Independent thinking isn't as important as using the right tools. But you still dream numbers without a computer. That's why Starfleet needs you. Factor, factor, factor.

There's always a missing factor in the math. There's always some coefficient of friction, some entropic contribution you can't account for. Throw away the math and start experimenting. Dilute the dilithium. Don't begin the beguine. The captain likes that song but you can't stand it. When you're in the lab, you listen to Mozart. Mozart was a prodigy like you. He was an asshole like you, too. Magnify the containment field. Triple the absorption spectra. Pull out your tricorder and set it to search for anomalies. Track down the missing factor in the lab and the captain might not die. Factor, factor, factor.

Run the experiment again. Run the experiment again. Run the experiment again. Doing it once doesn't mean you're right. You're a prodigy, but nobody believes in you. You're smart, Scotty, but are you prepared to risk your life for it? Add another circuit breaker. Solder in the contactors. Don't forget to check your power supply. If you reverse the polarity, it will fry instantly. You've worked too hard to see it blow up in your face. No more whiskey tonight, Scotty, you need your rest. Don't be nervous. You've accounted for all the factors. It's going to work out perfectly. You're the best there is. Factor, factor, factor.

Rederive from first principles. Renormalize the vectors and factor again. It's time for a more elegant algorithm. Try it in five-space this time. The math is cleaner, but the computer takes longer. It just might work in five space, if the damned computer doesn't crash again. Starfleet insists this supercomputer is top of the line. Its speed is limited by the architecture. You need it to go faster or you just may have to do it yourself. They're joking about John Henry, man against the machine. They should be joking about John Napier. Now there was a Scotsman who could do logarithms in his head.

Weld a new test setup. Cut, drill, mill, tap, replicate. Replicate, even though you feel lazy. Replicate, even though Michael Faraday and Gauss did it all by hand. You're a prodigy, too, even though you have it easier than they did. Replicate, replicate, replicate. Reprogram the replicator. Resupply the raw materials. Dilute the dilithium, position the positrons, begin the beguine, blur the boundaries of space and time. Boldly go where no man has gone before. When the grunts come in, throw some sparks around to impress them how dangerous it is. Your test rig needs a name. Call her Sally. All machines seem to be female. Ignore Uhura when she gives you a funny look. You didn't make the rules.

You must have overlooked some factor. Optimize the parameterization. Bisect the particle ray. Biject the tachyon beam. Bifurcate the phaser banks. Biocontain the sensor arrays. Recalibrate, reconfigure, regenerate, rescramble, realign, reassemble, readjust, reallocate, remachine, recheck, repeat, repeat, repeat. Run the experiment again. Run the experiment again. Run the experiment again. Factor, factor, factor.

You have to present your results to your superiors. They won't understand them. Use more jargon, it won't help them understand it but they'll feel better knowing you're smarter than them. Everyone in Starfleet knows science, but most of them aren't scientists or engineers. Most of them aren't prodigies. Most of them are men in red shirts who show up every day, work as hard as they can, and occasionally risk their lives for the Fleet. Most of the admirals started out that way. Engineers don't become admirals, they retire to become crotchety old engineers who putter around all day in rusty old workshops. You wouldn't want a desk job, anyway. Make hay while you're young, Scotty. Soon enough you'll be puttering around too.

R squared is over .7. You're green at the 95% confidence interval, but are you green at 99%? Isolate your variable. Eliminate that measurement error. The tricorder doesn't believe its own results. That means you're doing something right. You were right all along. The math was right all along. The math is a decoy, Scotty. Trust in physics. Trust in the power of discovery. Factor, factor, factor.

Captain asks for faster warp. Can you give him what he needs to catch the Romulans? Tell him she might be able to give him some more speed, but you haven't tested your new idea yet. He'll be more impressed that way. Wink at Uhura and maybe she won't tell about your experiments. You did that translator upgrade for her last week. Activate the warp core, activate your new dilithium coils, activate warp on the captain's mark. Save the day, as usual. Let Kirk or Spock or Sulu take the credit, as usual. Factor, factor, factor.