((Flashback - Sydney Opera House, Australia, Earth – Stardate 238804.24))
::Sitting on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House, Wil admired the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night. Two flags adorned the top of the bridge – a United Federation of Planets flag, and an Aboriginal flag – which Wil assumed was there to recognise that Australia’s indigenous first peoples were the traditional custodians of the land around them.::
Ukinix: ::Small smile:: It’s funny how there’s an aboriginal flag next to the Federation flag.
::T’Rav, his teenage “mentor” and unofficial counsellor was sitting on the bench next to him.::
T’Rav: Can you elaborate.
Ukinix: Aboriginal people were some of the earliest astronomers on Earth. ::Looking up:: Their connection to the stars was almost as important as their connection to the land.
::Wil looked around at the mix of people from all over the Federation that were around them, walking all around the Opera House.::
Ukinix: And now, different people from some of those stars are walking here.
T’Rav: There is indeed a combination of different species here presently. Can you sense different emotions from those people around us?
Ukinix: Yes. It’s overwhelming. ::Looking around:: Mainly relaxation, admiration, some urgency. Impatience – ::subtle pointing:: that’s possibly from those children over there. And a little bit of confusion – I think there might be a few drunk people here somewhere.
T’Rav: Do you think you are getting control of your empathic abilities?
Ukinix: ::Shaking his head, frowning.:: No. I thought I was, but over the last few weeks it’s been so strong. T’Rav, I know you’re trying to help me, ::swallowing:: but honestly I’m not coping. Why did we transport to Sydney – to here, of all places, with ::looking around:: all of these people around us? I want to stop sensing everyone’s emotions, but I can’t.
T’Rav: This is a relaxed environment, with many tourists from all over the Federation – and possibly beyond. I have been researching the effects of empathic abilities of Betazoid people of a similar age to you – they are much better prepared for the effects. You require exposure. ::Turning to look at Wil:: You remember our walk on the trail at Yanchep national park.
T’Rav: If you follow the trail, you will arrive at your ultimate destination. That is what the trail is for. Around you, there were trees. Birds. Bushes. Geckos and snakes. Views of forests and hills in the distance. Sometimes, as we encountered, a snake may be on your path. However, while all of those elements surround you, they do not confuse your brain to leave the trail.
::Will furrowed his eyebrows, slightly confused at the point T’Rav was trying to arrive at. He looked at her.::
T’Rav: The people around you, their emotions, they are similar elements. The equivalent of trees, bushes, snakes, views. Concentrate on your emotions, your path – and just accept their emotions as being there, without letting them distract you from your path of consciousness.
::T’Rav looked back at the illuminated bridge.::
T’Rav: That analogy is a simple description of how I deal with my own emotions. It is how I was taught growing up as a child on Vulcan. Your strategy may need be to attempt to treat other’s emotions as elements that surround you, but do not let them distract you from your natural path. Do not try to stop sensing other’s emotions, Wil.
((Engineering, USS Solaris))
Vanlith: If I start fixing the damaged systems will we gain control faster? Or with it give the ship more control? I could work on shields and defences?
Ukinix: Shields and defences could be a good idea. From what we saw it’s likely that the Solaris and the Minerva are communicating with each other – if Sentinel gets a sense that someone’s trying to take control of this ship, the Minerva may turn on us.
Zea: I really don't like the sound of that.
Delano: Trust me, lieutenant, neither do I. Still, the logical course of action is to focus on the problem at hand rather than trying to plan for every contingency.
Moonsong: We shall have to see how deeply embedded in the systems Sentinel is.
Vanlith: Well I’m just about ready, looks like the worst damage is on Deck 7 so I’ll head there if that's ok with everyone.
::Wil walked over to the nearby console that was working and attempted to run a diagnostics report. He tapped several times, ignoring the error messages that appeared on the screen. When accessing the status report for the self-destruct system, the error message “0x0896A3F6E3 Unknown” was displayed.::
Ukinix: ::Shaking head:: The self-destruct mechanism is not operational. In fact, I’m getting crazy low-level errors from most systems.
Moonsong: That is not surprising. I would guess that it is still attempting to integrate with the Solaris systems.
Zea: And maybe--protect itself?
Delano: Perhaps. Still, this might be a sign of a vulnerability. If parts of the original computer systems are still in tact, we should be able to use that as a kind of foothold if we act quickly.
Vanlith: Well then we have to get this ship under our control as soon as possible.
Delano: Exactly. Mr. Ukinix, take the lead.
Ukinix: Aye sir.
::Wil looked around at the engineering bay. It was a mess. Not of wires and components, though. It looked more like someone had use the Solaris as a paper-mache project. And the abomination that had replaced the warp core was weird in the least. Remaining at his console, Wil decided to get a system report as best he could, when Raissa spoke up…::
Moonsong: I can feel Sentinel…
Vanlith: What exactly does that mean?
Delano: Telepathic contact?
::Wil thought back to seeing Raissa on the Veritas, and saw the vision of her eyes closed, a face of concentration, with blood dripping from her nose. In both cases where she telepathically fought Sentinel, she had initiated it.::
Ukinix: How is that possible if you didn’t initiate it this time?
Moonsong: ::looking to the others:: I cannot describe it any other way. It is a faint buzzing, familiar…
Vanlith: Does that mean its not completely imbedded?
Delano: Fascinating. Can you establish a stronger connection?
::At that suggestion, Wil became instantly concerned.::
Ukinix: Wait – Commander, Raissa-
Moonsong: I can attempt to feel how deeply embedded it is in the system and see what I can do, while the rest of you work on gaining physical control.
Delano: Very well. But be careful.
::The suggestion of Raissa going deeper telepathically into the system didn’t sit well with Wil. He let out a little sigh and shook his head.::
Ukinix: Sirs, with all due respect, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. Let us see what we can do physically first.. ::Turning to Raissa:: I could feel what toll it took on you-
Moonsong: :: She gave Wil at hard look.:: You will shield as I showed you. You picked up far too much from me last time when you did not need to. You cannot compromise your focus.
::Wil swallowed and looked away almost rolling his eyes, and placed his hands on his hips. He didn’t like what was being suggested, but he was going to have to accept it. His conversation with T’Rav in Sydney during his teenage years flashed through his mind. Strong emotions from others in intense situations had still troubled him since graduating from the Academy, but he was learning to cope – and Raissa had helped him to learn how to “raise shields” mentally. But blocking something that strong was tricky. He was also going to have to focus on his “path”.::
Ukinix: Aye Commander, I will try my best. ::Looking back at Raissa:: But please, just be careful.
Zea: I hope you know what you're doing.
Moonsong: I will not try to do anything, but try to read what it is doing. It did not occur to the probe to hide what it was doing from me. I believe that will still be the case.
Delano: OK, Commander. Let me know if you sense anything of importance.
Vanlith: I’m going to be no use here. Maybe I should make a move to start working on the shields.
Delano: That’s fine, Ensign, but keep an open comm line with us.
::Turning to Charlena, Wil showed a look of concern for the new Engineer.::
Ukinix: Ensign, take care OK? Call out as soon as you need anything.
Ukinix: oO If anything happens, Teller’s gonna have my head… Oo
Moonsong: I do not believe Sentinel itself would be controlling the ship. Particularly if the ground team is distracting it. However, it could be a self contained AI that is working here that would have a direct link to Sentinel.
Delano: They aren’t the same thing?
Vanlith: Well I wish you luck in understanding this. I got repairs for now. At least that way we can get some stuff up and running whilst you understand all this.
Zea: ::to Vanlith:: I'll keep you on my tricorder.
Ukinix: ::To Vanlith:: If things go well here, I’ll come and join you. Keep us posted.
::As he watched Raissa press her hands on the console, he felt a sudden sense of urgency in himself. He wanted to control this ship faster than ever.::
Vanlith: I’ll head to make these repairs then. I’ll keep in touch.
::Wil nodded to Charlena as she departed, before turning to look at the scene in front of him. Raissa had her hands placed on the console. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes momentarily, trying to relax and reminded himself of his need to “shield and focus”. As best he could, he ignored the nerves he was feeling in himself. At his console, he began to tap away.::
Ukinix: I’ll try and set up a firewall around systems that are still active, to stop the AI’s spread. Then we can fight back and gain control.
Delano: Can you disrupt Sentinel like you did on Veritas?
Ukinix: G’var’s idea of giving it a lot of data to chew on seem to do the trick. ::To Delano:: Sir, if we can re-enable communications, we might be able to get the Veritas to send over data to flood the AI with.
:: Evan shook his head. ::
Delano: I have very limited sensor data, but there’s a lot of weapons fire out there. I suppose that means Veritas is still putting up a fight. But I don’t know how long she’ll be able to hold out without our support. Whatever you can do, do it quickly.
::Wil closed his eyes momentarily and concentrated on disassociating himself from what he was sensing from Raissa. He counted to three, then focused back on his console.::
Ukinix: Aye sir.
Delano: =/\= That goes for you too, Ensign. =/\=
:: There was no response. Evan checked the commlink. According to the readout on his helmet display, the link was still open. He waited a few seconds. ::
Delano: =/\= Delano to Ensign Vanlith, Report. =/\=
:: Still no answer. Evan looked to Zea. ::
Delano: Lieutenant, do you have her on your tricorder?
::Wil looked up in a slight panic at Delano and Zea.::
Delano: Might be a comm failure. But I don’t want to take chances. Lieutenant, you’re with me. Commander Moonsong, you and Mr. Ukinix are to do whatever it takes to get this ship operational. As soon as you’re able, join the battle. Don’t wait for us to get back.
Ukinix: ::Nodding nervously:: Aye Commander.
::As Zea and Delano left, Wil inspected the console in front of him.::
Ukinix: In its haste to gain control of systems, some internal defence mechanisms have been weakened. We could emit a pulse to disrupt that thing that’s replaced the warp core, which will buy us time to regain control of the ship and restore primary systems back to their original state.
::Wil walked over to a nearby panel in the wall and bashed his phaser against the top of it. When it loosened slightly, he adjusted his phaser to a low setting, and fired it in the small gap, to loosen the fixings. He pulled on the top of the panel as the phaser helped it come loose. As the panel came further back, he used his left foot to step on it, bending it down to almost 90 degrees. He crouched down and looked at the components inside of the panel.::
Ukinix: ::Quietly:: What a mess.
::There was a mish mash of components on top of what should have been there – but on quick inspection the relays he was looking for were still in the place they were meant to be. He quickly pulled out several components manually, which made sparks fly. He then used his phaser to split two sets of wires in two.
::Wil grabbed the ends of two sets of large conduit wires in his hands. He was starting to get a small headache.::
Ukinix: I know you are, I can feel it. Ready?
::He pressed the end of the wires together. Nothing happened.::
Ukinix: What?! No, that should-
::Suddenly there was a large bright set of sparks in front of his face, followed by a loud “pop” sound. He felt a jolt of energy, which made him fall back several metres. The back of his helmet violently hit the opposite wall, which made him wince when he felt his head contact the back of his helmet. He squinted his eyes in pain for a brief moment, before opening his eyes. There was smoke billowing out of the replacement Frankenstein warp core.::
Lieutenant JG Wil Ukinix