Canopus Station
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A Sideways Tilt

Posted on Tue Jun 30th, 2020 @ 1:00am by Master Chief Petty Officer Ryan Terry & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci

Mission: S0E0: What Came Before
Location: Engineering

Master Chief Ryan was frustrated as he traced back the circuits that led to Captain Ingram's desk cracking in half. "Shouldn't have happened," he muttered as he inched the scanner along the pathways. "There's no way there was that much data."

The computer had traced it to a massive data download onto the local servers. The kilowatts need for the download was what snapped the glass in two, as all of the safeties were overridden to allow it to happen.

“And I’m the only person who has touched that data chit since it was manufactured,” added Mara, frowning at her own tricorder. “And I didn’t put that much data on it. So where did it come from?”

"I don't kno..." The big Engineer jumped backwards as another spike ran from the engineering data store where Terry and Mara logged their findings and lanced into the power distribution network of the hall. At which point...well the log files become gibberish. "Backup!" He called for a system backup.

Luckily, engineering had just spent a lot of time segregating every system and with a single keystroke, the area of engineering they were using was cut off from the rest of the station. Not literally, of course. But all connections immediately severed themselves, leaving the room completely self-contained. "We've got about thirty minutes of power before we'd have to reconnect to the station, just as a precaution,” she said, reaching over to remove the data chit. “Why didn't we take this out at once? And why didn't it do any damage to my office? Or yours!"

"Commander..." Ryan said quietly. "All the log files are garbage..."

Mara blinked and spun to face him. “What?” she replied, confused. “What do you mean garbage? What happened to them?”

Ryan selected a log at random and opened it. "This," he said and stepped aside to review the screen:


Mara blinked at the readout. “How....” she said, trying to work out how something she had personally compiled could have done this. “He must have gotten into the system,” she concluded. “It just doesn’t make sense otherwise.”

"Or we uploaded a virus," the big Engineer said as he brought up several more logs, all gibberish as well. "Ingram is going to kill us both."

“But how?” Mara asked, exasperated. “Nothing was directly from the Myriad-“ She stopped suddenly, her face going white as a sheet. She had written down Haztor’s exact words about the device when she made her report. “Oh, that crafty sonofabitch!” she hissed. “He knew! Somehow, he knew that I would enter exactly what he said and save it in the computer. And it never did this in my office because I used a PADD. It didn’t mess up the PADD because there was nothing else on the PADD! I just hope all the systems segregating we did saved the rest of the station.”

"I uploaded it to the core workspace in Engineering, Commander," he said. "If it's has access to everything."

“Oh, no!” groaned Mara. She had not put it into the main computer specifically to keep it out of the wrong hands. Oh well, what’s done is done. And how was he to know what it would do? “We’re going to have to hard reset the entire computer core,” she moaned. “Unless we can figure out what this virus does and how to get rid of it by this time tomorrow, I’m asking Ingram permission for the reset. When was the last backup made?”

"Don't," Ryan said. "It's easier to ask for forgiveness and it's already ruined his desk. I think this would ruin his day and cause him to ruin our careers. I worked a long, long time to become a Master Chief and I'm not giving that up." He paused and checked the backup schedule. "This says a week ago."

A week. That wasn't too bad. They might lose some things, but anything important would have been backed up on PADDs. Mara nodded. "With most commanding officers, I'd agree with you," she replied. "But not with Ingram. He'd kill us. After he had just strung up by our toenails and flogged. First thing's first, though. We've got to tell everyone not to connect their PADDs to the system until further notice. I wonder if I should disable all the connection points, just in case."

"Or maybe we can try to get Haztor back and strike a deal with him" Ryan suggested. "Such as he takes us with him and we escape with our lives."

Mara grinned despite their situation. Haztor might consent to take her and Ryan with him, but, "I don't think we can convince him to take Spires." Wait. She'd only said part of that out loud. It wouldn't make any sense out of context, would it?

"Who or what is Spires?" the big man asked as he looked over log after log of garbage.

"Stephen Spires," she clarified, entering the commands to disable the connection ports across the station so nobody could corrupt their personal or duty PADDs; she had to reconnect the room to the station to do it, but that was as easy as disconnecting it had been. "The reporter. He's my... well, I'm seeing him. I wouldn't want to go without him." She tried to make it sound offhand, but it was too true to come off as blasé.

"Ah. Got it. Significant other and all that," Ryan said as he tore the cover off a console and began to check the circuits.

"Yeah, it's kinda hard to leave those we love behind," she replied, pulling up one of the floor panels and checking the gel packs under it. "For that matter, I should probably miss Ingram if I left."

"Fortunately for me, I'm the only one that I can't leave behind," he said as he pulled out a few chips for a quick diagnostic. "Commander," he said after double checking his results. "The moment we synched it with Ingram's desk is the moment a massive download occured on the servers. I suspect Haztor or one of his people put a hitchhiker in the stuff he gave us and caused this."

“It’s got to be in his words,” she insisted. “It’s the only thing that’s directly from him. But I can’t imagine how he could manage to write a virus for our system or with only words.”

"I highly doubt mere words could cause this," Ryan said flatly. "Unless he had direct access and tried to make it a command, which he'd need authorization to do, and he doesn't have that."

“It’s the only thing we have that’s straight from him,” Mara insisted. “And everything went haywire when It synced to Ingram’s desk, which suggests that it’s on the chit. Unless!” she added, brain working a mile a minute. “He left some sort of command behind and combined with his exact words, it caused the issue. I don’t know. That seems just as unlikely. But the only other file on the data chit is my mock up of their luminal cartographer. And since I made that, it couldn’t have cause the issue.”

"There is no way he left any command behind," The specialist said again. "It. Is. Impossible. He does not have access. We both ran scans and my were more intensive. Their systems probably had programs ready for invasive scans and rode the carrier back to our tricorders, which we then uploaded to the computer. We have to figure out how to undo the damage."

"Let's see if it affects new files, too," she suggested, choosing to ignore for the moment how it happened. "Or if it only affected what was already here when it started." She went to a nearby console, opened a new file and typed, 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.' and then hit save.

The file saved as it was typed and Ryan looked over her shoulder. "Seems to be only what we scanned," he said with a shrug. "Let's get this backup done, then try to find out how to get the Captain a new desk."

"I say we use the industrial replicators to manufacture the desk itself and then swap over all the electronic components," she suggested. "At least until we can procure the real deal. Maybe we'll be able to avoid a hard reset. If new files aren't affected, that means it was a one-time sweep of the system. All we have to do is replace the files one by one- a pain in the ass, I know- and everything should be fine." She closed and opened her file several times to make sure it stayed put.

"Then let's get to it and get this crap out of here," he said. "The quicker, the better."

"Agreed," replied Mara. This was one of those stories she hoped Spires didn't get wind of; he'd make them all look like bafoons and she'd have to shout at him again.

With that, Ryan started to enter the information they needed and got to work.


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