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Gremlins, Trojans, & Saboteurs

Posted on Tuesday July 28th, 2020 @ 5:22pm by Commander Tharia sh'Elas & Lieutenant JG Peter Wilson & Ensign Jocelyn Zemke

Mission: Let The Good Times Roll
Location: Multiple
Timeline: Day 14 at 0920

The computer had taken longer than expected to comb through the information. The process would have been quicker if the main computer could have been trusted to provide an objective conclusion. The independent computers in Ops were scaled down versions of the main computer and the only ones unaffected by sabotage, unless of course, the saboteur was in the Operations Department. The idea was unthinkable. A few factions and enemies of the Federation came to mind, but she payed them only half attention.

Jocelyn took a direct path towards the computer she tasked with analyzing the information. Moderately paranoid about the whole situation, she guarded that specific computer by locking its access. It could only be unlocked with her personal access code and voice pattern match. " Zemke, alpha, zero-three-four, Charlie, Bravo, nine.” The computer unlocked and granted access to the sensitive material inside. Immediately, she encrypted the file with the same voice authorization and transferred the information to her personal PADD.

She walked to her office; eyes glued to the results. The results were initially comforting. 90% of all information on the cloned image were consistent with authorized Starfleet updates, software, and programming. The remaining 10% contained legitimate sources of code: manual work by technicians, departmental specific data files, and sloppy maintenance by distracted techs. She took a seat behind her desk.

There was one source that was of specific concern. One coding that repeated in various identifications, clear to the human eyes, but easily overlooked by a computer. These files were replicated and duplicated in systems across the main computer. In several instances, the main computer had combined the code lines as attempted fixes to erroneous problems across the ship. The files were present within the main operating system.

=/\=Zemke to Lieutenant Wilson, you're gonna wanna see this.=/\= Her voice was heavy, low, and burdened.

=/\=I'm on my way. Be there shortly.=/\= Peter left his office and made his way to the turbolift. He heard the stress in her voice. There was no silliness or humor that she normally had. Peter figured she must have found something. He hoped she had. He had been stepping up his maintenance crew schedule to keep up with things going wrong. It was becoming known that there was an issue, but he rolled it off as being an incompetent Chief engineer and said it was maintenance that he missed.

Peter approached Jocelyn's office and was about to ring the chime and follow standard procedure, but he remembered this was anything but standard time so he let himself in. He figured she would be waiting for him anyway "Hey Ensign, how are things?" He asked casually looking around. He did not know if anyone was there so he did not want to ask what she found until he knew they were alone.

Jocelyn's faced was flushed, and her movement somewhat robotic. "Things could be better," she replied, her voice heavy, a profound sigh following her words. She motioned Peter to have a seat and slid the PADD over to him. "The good news," she began to speak, rubbing her temples with great concern, "is that we have essentially isolated the problem. Our hiccups were the result of intrusive software replicating itself and gaining access to operating systems and functions. We were right." Her tone was flat, lips pursed in disapproval. She wished they had been wrong.

"Well, at least we found it. To much coincidence for it to be something other than that. With this cloak and dagger stuff going on, I'm surprised it didn't show up sooner." He said looking through the PADD. "What's the other side?"

"The bad news," she stated, shaking her head with another sigh, "there is not much we are able to do. The program has essentially integrated itself with fundamental programming, and re-written fail-safe mechanisms to support the objectives of whoever built this Trojan."

Peter read the PADD as she explained. It was all there in text. Subtle differences in code, but it functioned correctly and stayed dormant until the trigger happened. The trigger, his successful MARS test. It was hidden deep in code that could have gone undetected for a decade if it did not activate.

"It triggered with Mars getting operational. We had a small staff from the Odyssey help me run cable to the secondary computer core from the deflector dish. It must have been a Fail-Safe if we took off and ran, sooner or later we would have to break cloak dude to life support requirements." He said and looked up from the PADD. "We need to get to the Commander right away. Let's go." He said and stood up. "Oh, remember that drink I owe you? I'm adding dinner to that. Good job Zemke." He offered. He would never had found this without her.

"Assuming we are able to have dinner and drinks," she replied. It was hard to get relish the sentiment, when such troubling information was on the mind. It was also quiet possible that the replicators would shut down or only produce various recipes containing only Brussels Sprouts. She followed Wilson out the door.



[Ready Room, Deck One]


The pair walked hurriedly from the turbolift and crossed the bridge in quick fashion behind tactical. He looked over at Jocelyn as he pressed the chime button. "Ready?" He asked with all sincerity.

"As ready as one is with this kind of information." she replied. She liked to keep things light even when in crisis. She nodded an affirmative yes.

There was silence for a minute, until a figure appeared behind the two visitors to the ready room, hands on its hips. "I can't even get to work late without being caught," Commander sh'Elas frowned, "what can I do for the two of you?" she asked, nudging her way past the younger officers and entering her private office. She took up position behind her desk and waved them over to stand before her.

Peter made sure that all three of them were in the room and the door was closed. He thought about asking the Commander to have the computer secure the room, but that may have triggered concerns. "I'm afraid it's bad news Commander." Peter said as he slid the PADD across the desk to her. "Ensign Zemke and I believe we have discovered evidence of sabotage on the Ulysses. The gravity failure has been random but has come to my knowledge at least four times. The waste disposal system has been repaired twice and other life support issues have came up. We found the cause though." He finished and looked to the Chief of Operations and nodded to her.

"Yes, Commander," she began, "We have identified a Trojan-software insertion into the main computer of the Ulysses. Unfortunately, the nature of this type of malware is that it remains undetected by the computer and routine maintenance; allowing access to whoever inserted the software into the computer. Whoever did, knew what they were doing, and were probably looking for something specific." Jocelyn looked at Peter, taking a deep breath. "We think the MARS device may have been the focal point of interest as that was the last addition made before significant systems began to go haywire."

"Hang on a minute..." Tharia struggled to take in all that she was being told, and slumped into her desk chair whilst she rubbed her temples. "Okay," she nodded when she felt she had a better grasp of what they were saying. "How the hell did you find this thing if the computer couldn't? How did you know where to look?" she queried of them both, eager for greater understanding.

"Well," Peter started out. "It began when I accidentally gave Commander Winters head trauma when the gravity failed in her quarters while she was in the middle of a shower." He looked sheepishly. "Yeah, it was as bad as it sounded. Anyway, it happened when I ran a test of the MARS system. There was an unexpected power shunt. I called in the Ensign to help me figure out what was happening. She placed a block code and we thought it was fixed."

"Gravity failed again the following night in my quarters after the replicators screwed up a meal. Instead of a cobbler with sugar sprinkles and ended up being salt. I went to follow up with Zemke who was already repairing waste disposal unit 1 that burned out overnight. They were all connected to life support. That gave us a starting location. The timing looked too coincidental." Peter finished.

Jocelyn nodded in confirmation, "there are two problems Captain. First, I can't provide any information on who or what placed this program into the main computer." She shook her head in disgust, "Second, I can't reverse the damage that has been done."

Tharia glared at the woman standing opposite her for a few seconds before silently placing her hands on the surface in front of her and pushing herself up and out of her desk chair. She gestured to the sofa on the nearby bulkhead wall and watched as the officers took the offered seat. Perching on the edge of her desk, she folded her arms across her chest. "What I am about to tell you is known only be a handful of people beyond the bulkheads of the starship Odyssey," she advised before continuing, "As you know, Commander Walker left us a while ago to become Chief Engineer on the Odyssey. Following the revelation that Captain T'Prynn was not who she said she was, the Odyssey crew were ordered to perform ship-wide diagnostics and discovered similar issues; in the MARS system, in the power core, you name it. Odyssey has been ordered to return to Beta Antares like us, but problems with their engines mean they are delayed."

Peter looked at Jocelyn and then back at the Commander. "I'll run a full diagnostic on all propulsion systems. It did not appear to have spread beyond life support, but then again we were not looking for it to spread. At least we know what we're looking for." He thought for a moment. "Is another ship already there to give the Odyssey a tow and in case life support fully fails?"

Tharia nodded. "The Rhode Island has been recalled to render any assistance they may need," the Captain revealed, "start your diagnostic and report to the XO when you have anything. I'll bring her up to speed in the meantime. I cannot stress the importance of your staff keeping this to themselves for now. I don't want panic spreading through the ship so soon after the last crisis," she ordered sternly.

"Affirmative Captain," Jocelyn nodded in response, "Keeping this tightly closed may reveal additional information about who is behind this. I'll make sure the OPS team guards the information." The fact that this had impacted other ships in the sector was most concerning. One good thing was that it meant that the saboteur was not likely to be someone aboard the Ulysses. It was a small sigh of relief amid a growing nightmare.

"Okay, you're both dismissed," the Commander ordered before quickly adding, "do what you can for our girl..."

Peter stood up. "Aye Ma'am." He looked at Jocelyn then back to the Commander. "Don't worry ma'am. Between the two of us, we'll make sure she gets home safe."

Watching the two youngsters depart the office, the Commander waited until she was alone before she slammed the lid of her computer console and stormed over to the window.

Standing, staring.

Silence.

Sabotage.

Just two days ago, it would have been unfathomable to think such a thing could have occurred, but now it was well within the realms of possibility. More than that, it was now reality.

 

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