((OOC: Sorry I’m late, got busy for a while!))
(( Main Engineering, Deck 3, USS Arrow))
Keneth found himself lost for a whimsical second as he stood in front of the unfolding scene, watching in a mild horrified curiosity. One creature had dug its pincers into the other, not through a hole or port, but through the smooth chassis. He did not however have to be a genius to figure out that it was trying to repair the other.
Scratch that. It wasn’t obvious at all, he chided himself. Maybe it was harvesting it. Or just transferring data. He frowned.
Collins: =/\= Have they gained any mass at all, Ensign?=/\=
That was a prudent question. He looked down at the tricorder. The system mass readings were constant, which was expected. Matter and energy were conserved after all …
But the readings for each separate object were more interesting. It showed a minor trickle of mass between the two.
Nakada: =/\=There’s a minor uptick in mass in the damaged one. Doesn’t seem to be repair work though. I’ll run some tests.=/\=
Collins: =/\= Stand by, Ensign. And stay safe.=/\=
He turned back to the device, when another voice called out.
Serinus: =/\=Serinus to Arrow Engineering.=/\=
Nakada: =/\= Engineering here. =/\=
Serinus: =/\= I'm sending a Crewman to look for a device up there. =/\=
He frowned. It couldn’t be ...
Nakada: =/\= If I may ask, what kind of device? =/\=
Serinus: =/\= It's a metal box-like structure that may alive, and partially responsible for some of our problems. =/\=
Nakada: =/\= Ah, we seem to have found some of those ourselves. Pincers, many legs, green eye-like structures? =/\=
Serinus: =/\= That doesn't sound exactly the same, but I doubt that it's a coincidence, either. =/\=
Nakada: =/\= Agreed, I’ll show your crewman what we found. =/\=
Who knew, maybe a different perspective would be helpful.
Serinus:=/\=Thank you, Serinus out.=/\=
He turned back to the device. One of the optional seminars he’d attended at the academy was on how to reverse engineer computer systems in the wild. It had covered a lot of stuff he hadn’t really gotten back then, but the basic premise he had understood. One of the core tenets was that if there was no obvious pattern, an attempt to just parse the raw output could lead some to some insight. In the same vein, if they could access it’s software or its drive ….
Nakada: Let’s take a look at its systems.
Nakada: Let’s hope not.
He initiated a data link with the systems on the live device and was, as expected, stalled immediately. The whole filesystem was encrypted and there was no way the random gibberish that he was seeing right now could be used for anything. He couldn’t decrypt something this complex on his tricorder, however.
Nakada: ::taking a deep breath:: All right, I’m going to try plugging it into the computer.
Keneth acknowledged the concern, but he didn’t know how else to get answers. They had to get that system open, look at its guts, so to speak. He tapped the transfer button on the tricorder and looked up at the console. A steady flow of decryption algorithms started their work, the core happily humming as it exposed what was inside.
The data started streaming in, rows and rows of hexadecimals, a couple of binary blobs here and there. It was a dizzying array. He remembered the last time he’d dealt with raw data, writing a translation program for astrometric star charts. Translating from one species’ formats to another. There he’d had a guide, he was looking for common astrometric patterns, comparing identical sets of data to find common links. He had no idea what he was even looking for here, what to compare these streams to.
He was pulled out of his musing as the ship lurched, accelerating at a ridiculous pace.
The engineer was right. A look at the status showed that the ship had begun to increase in velocity, approaching Warp 1.3, 1.4 …
Ensign Keneth Nakada
USS Arrow, NCC-69829
(( Main Engineering, Deck 3, USS Arrow))
Keneth desperately dug through the logs looking for where everything had gone wrong. But even as he looked for the cause, a sort of desperation had started to grip him, a sense of horror. As he read the latest entries in the command files, his hands went numb, his legs wobbly as he realized what had happened.
Nakada: ::quietly:: The device, I connected the spider.
He could feel his thoughts panic, his fingers twitching. He was the one who had been stupid enough to hook that thing up to the system unguarded. And it had sent a dizzying array of random system commands straight to the core. Including some very suspect ones speeding them up.
Of course. But to kill the virus, he’d have to destroy the whole container. It would kill the device as well, the possibly sentient device. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest rapidly. Crap. He jabbed at the screen with trembling fingers, trying to pay attention. What would he tell the captain? Commander Collins? His morbidly cheerful alter ego piped up, showing him what that could go like.
Morning capitan! So, I wanted to know what was in the dangerous, unknown spider, so I hooked it up unguarded to the engineering computer core and let it execute random commands! Just like the handbook says we should, eh? Then to save us, I murdered it! It died because of my negligence!
He did not want to add ‘Then I blew up the ship!’ to that list, regardless of what else it implied.
Nakada: Computer, p-purge data container e45216b, authorization Nakada – 27 – alpha
Computer: Purge Complete
The ship smoothed again as the speed stabilized at Warp 2.3. A mild whine signalled that they could not maintain this speed for long. The spider had gone limp, its legs crumpling and a sad, sickening flump sound as it collapsed. He gripped the railing next to him. He had possibly just killed something.
Don’t be silly. It was trying to kill you too. He wasn’t sure whether that was just his mind rationalizing or not.
Shayne: =/\= Shayne to Nakada! =/\=
The ship jolted again, bringing him out of the stupor. They weren’t out of the woods yet – the hull was minutes away from crumpling like a tin can.
Shayne: =/\= I want those engines stopped now! =/\=
Nakada: =/\= Working on it, sir. =/\=
He started thinking about power rerouting again, forcefully pushing the guilt aside. Maybe if they could use the impulse engines … before he could deal with that however, another voice piped through the commbadge.
=/\= MacKenna to Engineering =/\=
MacKenna: =/\= We've got one of
these bug things in containment in the number 4 lab and in a few
minutes, we're going to be shut down. Can I request we...not? =/\=
He remembered the one in front of him flopping,
collapsing. They really
need the bug things out again, for everybody’s sake. But he wasn’t
sure how he would reroute anything
the obsolete, half-shot power systems without four strawberries and a
Nakada: =/\= I’m sorry commander, we’ll try, but I suggest you find another way to contain them quickly. =/\=
They were quickly running out of time. They couldn’t just shut the core down, those subsystems had been freshly deleted. They could of course eject the entire core, but that would be … uncomfortable. Unless, of course, they could slow down. An idea was trickling at the back of his mind, dancing on the horizon. He was sure it would have been obvious had he had any sleep …
Nakada: ::to Sasaki:: Any ideas?
He was briefly distracted by an alert. The warp core was overheating. Keneth was ready to declare a one man war against thermodynamics at this point. This was the second time it was nearly blowing them up. Come to think of it, the operative here was to not blow up. Nobody had said anything about being in one piece.
His mind went back to one of his favorite hologames. In the game, the protagonist would win by successfully pulling the combustion engine (a wonderfully archaic piece of technology) straight out of his enemies vehicle. It was a stupid, crude, idea. But it could possibly be scaled to the nacelles …