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Posted on Tue Nov 8th, 2022 @ 4:51pm by Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: USS Phantom
Timeline: ID 1

The usual post-mission routine for the Phantom involved a tedious bunch of post-flight checks. But, after the last mission to the Theta-Corvus system and beyond, the Phantom had the temporal shit kicked out of it from exploding probability-mines in the chroniton-heavy transwarp race to stop Klingon zealots that only a few people believe ever existed. Repairing a ship from damage caused by temporal mechanics was something that only specialist shipyards would attempt. Physically, hull and deck plating were fine--despite the ramming maneuver Ryland had performed with shields at 300% capacity--but calibrating ship systems was proving to be elusively problematic. As the designated conn officer, Ryland was babysitting the bridge stations while Sophie was down in Engineering where she could coordinate the final touches.

But then Mrazak came aboard.

"Captain on the bridge!" Ryland sarcastically announced to precisely nobody, as he was the only one present. He didn't even get up.

"You are in my seat," Mrazak said with bitter enunciation.

Khaiel walked behind the Vulcan man, his arms full of various PADDs. He stood silently behind the Captain until he was called upon, though he wasn't exactly sure why he was here.

"Yeah, well, seeing as how you weren't even on board and I was ranking officer up in here, didn't see the harm." Even so, Ryland stood up and snapped to attention. "Something I can help you with? Ship should still be ready for Risa if you was wantin' an update."

Mrazak indicated Khaiel who had followed him aboard. "Ensign D'hikatsi is going to provide an update of his own. First, though, we need the ship placed in level one diagnostic mode before he gets to work."

"Ah..." Ryland chuckled. "See, the part where I said I was ranking officer? Well, that ain't exactly true. Sophie down in Engineering is technically in charge. I'm just the bridge jockey."

"Very well, then." Mrazak let out a very unapologetic tone. "We go to Engineering. Ensign, go ahead of me while I explain command chair protocol to the Lieutenant."

Khaiel nodded as he turned to walk away. The last place he wanted to be was here where the tension was so thick.

“Then why is the nanopulse shield still exhibiting reciprocating wavefront disturbance?” Sophie was demanding of one of the station engineers. “Maybe if you realigned the photon neutrino field, like I suggested in the first place, we would actually be getting somewhere!”

“Listen!” snapped back the engineer, pointing a finger in her face. “I cannot realigned the neutrino field until the dibridium ionization is complete!”

“You can if you adjusted the infernite discriminator to 3.523!” countered Sophie.

This elicited a mirthless laugh from the other engineer. “If you feel safe doing that, then you do it!” he snapped. “But let me evacuate the ship and station first!” And without further ado, he turned on his heal and stalked off to attend to whatever he’d been doing before the interruption.

Despite the dressing down Mrazak had given Ryland, he managed to meet Khaiel at the Turbolift. The two arrived in Engineering together.

"Lieutenant Song!" called Mrazak. "I have need of you."

“It’s XIONG!” Snapped Sophie, turning to glare at Mrazak. “What do you want?”

"That's what I said," Mrazak countered. "Ensign D'hikatsi is here to provide a updates to the AI interface. The ship needs to be powered down to a level one diagnostic first."

“While the dibridium is ionizing?!?!?!” exclaimed Sophie. “And without realigning the neutrino field?!?!”

"If something has affected your hearing, then be sure to visit the infirmary before the end of your shift." Mrazak folded his arms. "You can initiate the diagnostic now or I can, but I expect one way will be more complicated than the other."

“Fine,” replied Sophie, with a definite undertone meaning that it most definitely was not fine. “But when the ship is down for ionization, don’t you dare ask me why.” And without further ado, she stopped the ionization process. Once it had shut down- which took almost a full minute, she placed the ship in level one diagnostic as ordered. “We are now a full 46 hours behind schedule and I just want you to remember that none of it is my fault!” she snapped.

Mrazak was unmoved by the outcry. "Then I suppose you shall have to cancel your 36 hour personal time off. But I'm sure you can make up for it on Risa." Nodding to Khaiel, he said, "Ready the software update while the Lieutenant prepares the diagnostic."

Khaiel looked down at the two PADDs in his hands, scrolling quickly through them. "What sort of update am I doing, exactly?" he asked. "The LCARS system is already updated to version 16.3.4, the rest of the fleet is still on version 14.2.0. And my records show that Starfleet R&D hasn't come out with a new version for us, yet."

"Do what you did on the Secret Inquisition flagship," Mrazak said. "Whatever it was allowed you to accomplish what Ferrofax could not. I want to make it permanent."

A lump formed in Khaiel's throat. What he had done was highly illegal and could get him in a lot of trouble. "I apologize, Captain, but I didn't do anything special. I just used Ferrofax's program to piggyback off of."

Mrazak thrust an angry finger directly at Khaiel."Don't leking lie to me, half-breed! Ferrofax failed to push through the temporal interference. Give me what I want or I'll send you for a double rotation in Deep Storage with Eigthe."

"Why?" Khaiel asked. "Ferrofax is completely capable of doing his duties, sir. All that I did was use a highly inferior algorithm to piggyback off of him. It's not a fully functional AI or anything like we already have."

"I see." Mrazak frowned so hard it nearly formed a double chin. "You refuse to install a simple algorithm that shut down the most advanced vessel I have ever seen. Put yourself in my position, Ensign. Would you believe you?"

Khaiel started to shake, slightly, as he slowly nodded.

"You are a terrible liar," Mrazak snapped. "So I am going to count to three. If you are not installing whatever it is you are withholding by then, you will be dead to me." Eyes narrowed, he added gutturally, "One..."

Khaiel's grip on his bag tightened as he stood protective of its contents. "With all due respect, Captain, this is a program I wrote for myself. Starfleet doesn't own this and as such, you cannot order me to hand it over to you. If you don't like my response, we can go see Captain ben-Avram right away. Otherwise, I'm happy to do anything else you require and continue performing my duties admirably."

"Let's make thus simple," Mrazak said. "Either you upload it safe and sound onto my ship, or we let Ferrofax have his sordid way with it to determine whether or not your private program violates the interstellar ban against synthetic intelligence." A sinister smirk crossed his face. "Two."

Defeat registered on Khaiel's face. While he removed Nick's program in his entirety, there would still be enough traces in the logs to piece it together. "Fine," Khaiel said. "But this does not mean you own the program," he said as he slowly pulled the encrypted PADD from his bag. He walked over to the console, placing the PADD onto the interface, and went to work.

It didn't take long, though it took longer than necessary as Khaiel put quite a few security protocols in place to make sure that the program couldn't be altered without his consent. Before long, the Computer chirped and a new man's voice came through.

"Initializing core programming."

Khaiel crossed his arms as he leaned against the console, staring at Mrazak. "It'll take about an hour for him to fully integrate into the Computer system. The program is built to initialize and integrate on its own. There's not much we can do before that's complete. Once it's finished, Nick will be online and responsive and I can complete the registration."

"I knew it!" Mrazak's eyes grew wide in manic glee. "Tell me about Nick."

"I don't think you're going to particularly like him," Khaiel responded. "He's a program written to facilitate interpersonal relationships. Though perhaps you could find him quite insightful."

Mrazak looked horrified. "He isn't your cyber lover, is he?!"

Khaiel rolled his eyes. "No, he was not."

"How did your love bot out perform Ferrofax?" Mrazak asked.

"Nick wasn't built on the typical subsequent-style neural matrix that most AI are built on. I created my own matrix using a type of non-neutronium lattice that allows functions to pass through with greater speeds and functions. I won quite a few awards for my design back at the Academy and was given quite a few offers for the technology. While I refused to sell it or even allow anyone else to study it, I was able to secure quite a prestigious job offer post-graduation with the Ingram Institute in Barcelona for it," Khaiel stated. "The lattice matrix I developed allows functions to be spread over multiple cores simultaneously, evening out the workload of the algorithms in a way that won't overload the matrix and allows the AI to perform at peak performance even while under 85% usage. From what I've seen of Ferrofax's code, he has diminishing returns at around 71%, which is still better than the fleet standard Computer which diminishes at 69%."

The vein in Mrazak's forehead began to bulge. "Ingrams..." He actually snorted in wrath. "I have never met one that did not incense me. Of course they attempted to poach you from Starfleet. You should thank your lucky stars that we conscripted you first." Scratching his thin tuft of chin fuzz, Mrazak began to think. "Yes, if you can out-Ingram an Ingram, then it's little wonder your design performed what Ferrofax could not. However, I wonder how Nick's overall performance compares to Ferrofax? The Sword-class Combat Automates were designed to run a ship, which is why we have specific inhibitors in place to ensure he never goes rogue. That likely accounts for the diminishing returns you noted." His chin stuck to one side. "Applying the same inhibitors, I am curious to see how Nick performs as compared to the last mission."

"The inhibitors are unnecessary," Khaiel responded. "The Sword-class Combat Automates have an aggression that needs to be controlled, Nick doesn't have any such emotions coded into his matrix. He will be able to perform his functions without any personal feelings getting in the way."

"Nice try," Mrazak said with a leering grin, "but the last time someone said an AI does not require inhibitors, an entire planet got set on fire."

"I will need time to study the inhibitors to make sure they don't damage Nick's program and that they're compatible," Khaiel said.

"Damaging? They just restrict access to core system controls and command protocols, do they not?" Mrazak furrowed his brow in skepticism and even turned to Sophie for confirmation.

“That depends, sir,” replied Sophie. “AI can be tricky. Sometimes the inhibitors can actually make it less effective or even cause a feedback loop that eventually shuts it down.”

"Yes, you are describing an AI Cage," said Mrazak. "Sounds perfect. Make it so!"

“Absolutely,” replied Sophie sarcastically. “So it can fail just as we need it! Yes, great idea! Leave us in the lurch so we can all die. That includes you, by the way,” she added as if talking to a toddler.

Mrazak scoffed at the ridiculous suggestion. "This Nick is just an enhancement. I'll be fine. And if I'm fine, you all will probably be fine."

Sophie rolled her eyes and turned to Khaiel. “Better use the badge inhibitors,” she said, using the code word engineers had that basically meant ‘make it look like we’re doing something and the higher ups will never know the difference.’ “They seem to interfere the least and we can watch out for catastrophic failure.”

"Yes, yes, you spanner-monkeys do whatever it takes to ensure my ship is in proper working order," Mrazak said dismissively."

"Badger inhibitors should be fine," Khaiel said as he resumed his work at the console.


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