Canopus Station
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How Much Do You Like Me?

Posted on Sat Aug 6th, 2022 @ 2:04pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci

Mission: S2:4: If Not Like A Mirror
Location: Ingram’s office
Timeline: MD-3 10.30

Now that Mara and Meilin had a plan- albeit a tentative one- it was time to set it in motion. And for that they needed Ingram.

It wasn’t ideal- he might not cooperate, after all- but it was their best idea, so they had to at least try. And what was the worst he could say? No? Well, okay, so there was a chance he could throw Mara out of an airlock, but that was the absolute worst-case scenario.

And why was the Yeoman never in the office when Mara got there? Was she afraid of the engineer? Mara was tempted to check under the desk, but resisted. Instead, she proceeded to Ingram’s door and rang the chime.

"Come."

The door slid open to reveal Ingrams office, once a bastion of modernist simplicity and calm thought, looked more akin to a design office at Utopia Planitia. A display pane as large as a wall had been set up, displaying a diagram of Canopus Station with various handmade annotations and amendments. Root like structures could be seen stretching through the main trunk of the station. Water, power, and propulsion, were all highlighted with a number of handwritten notes in a small script.

Ingram stood before the pane, using a stylus to input data with one hand as he held up a teacup with the other.

"Just a moment Commander Ricci," he said as he finished a line of notes. "It's not often I get to relive a past life, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed project management on this sort of scale."

Finishing up he deactivated the stylus and placed it behind one ear as he turned to look at her.

"Canopus Station is going to fly, even if I have to get out and push it out of orbit," Ingram said authoritatively. "Now, what can I do for you?"

“Well,” replied Mara, deciding to just jump right in. “Commander Jiang and I have a plan. But we need your help.”

"I have nothing but confidence in those words," Ingram said sigh. "First Toomey, now you, if the Devil turns up I might need to put them on a waiting list."

“Luckily, the help I need is pretty easy,” replied Mara. She paused for a moment to choose which angle to take and then plowed on. “I’d like access to the data on the nanobots that ripped the station to shreds,” she finished.

"The Portia Protocol is a poorly understood and dangerous technology from a parallel universe, one in which the Self Repicalting Machine Treaty was never signed following the Oynx Plague," Ingram said with a raised eyebrow. "And you want access to that data...why?"

“Pure academia, of course,” replied Mara with a cryptic grin. “I’m curious how they did it. Mostly did they create the parts from the raw materials or did they need completed parts?”

"From what I understand the assemblers of the Portia Protocol use any available matter to recombine it into a new template configuration. It was a prototype damage control protocol that, as you can tell, migrated from the USS Magnificent into the station because nanotechnology is not only poorly understood it's playing with fire." Ingram said guardedly. "The only reason we humour it now is that to excise it fully would require gutting the station and we're a little busy at the moment. Imminent invasion and all."

"Okay, well that answers that," muttered Mara. "I suppose you'll want to know our plans, then?"

Ingram raised his eyes brows in an impatient gesture.

She tried to work out a way to word it that wouldn't sound like she was stark raving mad, but didn't come up with anything and Ingram was waiting. So, she took a deep breath and said, "we want to use the Portia Protocol to create a false station."

"Elaborate," Ingram said slowly, settling in behind his desk with a gesture to the chair opposite himself.

"Well," said Mara, grateful that he wasn't shouting at her yet. "If we can figure out how to program them, we could tell them what we need and get them to fabricate it. I figure we set up a test site on Carpathia- far enough away from the settlement that there's no danger to them- maybe even on the opposite side of the planet, if possible- and do our experiments there."

"How about instead of unleashing a metal plague on a planet, we do it with something a little easier to contain: an asteroid. After all the Carpathia System has two belts, and it would solve any problems about transporting your test apparatus from the surface to orbit," Ingram mused. "What sort of test are you thinking about having it make?"

"We hadn't gotten that far yet," replied Mara, "but I was thinking probably simple shapes to start out with. Cubes, spheres, cylinders, that sort of thing. And then work our way up to more complicated things."

Ingram made a gesture in the air above his desk and holographic images appeared of the Portia incursion. Most looked like image artefacts caused by corrupt data files: display's mounted off-kilter on bulkheads, might be fixtures sloping into the ceiling instead of running along the wall. One or two looked more insidious, rafts of power cables like a vine mat curtaining off a corridor, hollowed-out structural beams lancing across a turbolift shaft.

"As you can see Portia is already above the block's and spheres stage as far as material fabrication goes,but I agree a controlled experiment to see if it can be directed to a purpose is warranted," Ingram agreed. "How much Portia material will you need for your tests?"

"I wouldn't think much to start with," replied Mara. "We want to make sure we can program them before we use too much. I know precious little about nanobots, though, so I would have to defer to your expertise." A little flattery couldn't hurt, could it?

"Very few have experience with nanotechnology Miss Rici, that was something of the point of Self Replicating Machine Treaty. It's one of the very few interstellar treaties the Romulans wholeheartedly endorsed with a signature because even they understand the dangers of a self-perpetuating plague if, say, someone was to make a cloud of nano-scale machines with a taste for Carbon atoms and nothing else. An atomic mass that makes up about 18% of most humanoid species," Ingram mused. "There might be one or two theoretical researchers out there who might be able to help us. With the Phase Space Array, we could bring them here in the form of holographic telepresence."

Well, it had been worth a try. "I suppose that'll have to do," she relented. "I know there's at least a medical nanobot expert on board. Which is better than nothing."

Ingram made a non-committal sound.

"I'll have an Op's team excise some of the Portia infected hull from the lower decks," he said after a moment. "Do you want it transported to an Engineering lab, or is Meilin affording you one of her Science labs?"

They also hadn’t gotten that far, but she didn’t want to admit that. “Send it to engineering for now,” she replied. Engineering was bound to have better security where nanobots were concerned.

"Heavy is the head upon which consequence lies," Ingram intoned gravely. "Remember that Chief Engineer Ricci."

 

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