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The console in engineering pulsed softly with the fluctuation of the sensor outputs. Sighing, Geordi returned to the manual he had been looking over. Field Mechanics wasn’t the most intriguing topic, but Starfleet regulations dictated that he did a refresher on it every few years. He selected the next subtopic as his mind wandered.

He had done very well in his Field Mechanics course at Starfleet, no thanks to the professor. At the time, his visor wasn’t quite as advanced as his current one, so it still had some issues. It didn’t have the same level of detail as he had now, which made reading the standard size type difficult at times. Occasionally it would even short out. Once it had been so bad that the visor had been unusable for a few days — the few days right before a test. But the professor had refused to reschedule Geordi’s test, citing regulations that only allowed that in cases of familial death or severe illness.

He glanced at the console again and froze at the blinking warning light. “Data! Computer, take the warp core off-line!”

“Procedure is not recommended whil—”

Do it!” Geordi glanced up to see Data hurrying towards him, then looked back at the console.

The warning was gone.

“Picard to Engineering. What’s going on down there? What happened to my warp core?”

Geordi’s mouth hung open for a moment before he cleared his throat. “Geordi here. I, uh… I’m not quite sure. There was a warning. I’m investigating it now.”

“Keep me informed. Picard out.”

Data approached. “Geordi, are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” He examined the console with more intensity than necessary.

A moment passed. “I was also monitoring the warp core readings, and I received no warning. Perhaps the console is malfunctioning?”

Geordi’s stomach twisted, and he sighed. “I think it’s me that’s malfunctioning, Data,” he mumbled.

Data cocked his head. “‘Malfunctioning’ implies a mechanical disruption. Would you like Doctor Crusher or myself to run a diagnostic on your visor?”

He shook his head, then stood up to see if they were alone. Even though the closest person was across the room, he still lowered his voice. “Ever since I got… back, I’ve sometimes seen things that… Well, they weren’t real. Counselor Troi calls them hallucinations. Says they’re my brain’s way of coping and recovering. But they haven’t been elaborate or anything, just little things, ya know? Like thinking the door buzzed. Or seeing someone in Ten Forward for a moment.”

“Or seeing a warning on a console in Engineering.”

Geordi sighed. “Yeah.”

“Computer, bring the warp core on-line.”

Behind them, the warp core throbbed to life. The two were quiet.

“Perhaps it would be prudent to find a means of ascertaining the reality of an object or event. Somebody to ‘ground’ you, so to speak.”

“Good idea.” Geordi hesitated for a moment, then met Data’s eyes. “Could you do that for me? If there’s something I’m about to react to, let me know if it’s actually there?”

“Yes.”

“Thanks.” A moment passed, and Geordi picked up the padd about Field Mechanics again, this time forcing his mind not to wander.