[USS Charon, Computer Core]
"Don't touch anything." Nitka mocked dryly as she pulled off one of the panels and slid her tricorder over the connecting ODN relays. A spike in the readings caught her attention "what's this…this…" her eyes shifted to the open panel "that's just odd. Maybe the Romulans embedded a program?!" She nearly squealed in excitement and began to purge the strange software she just found.
The software seemed less than agreeable to being purged, however. As the code was disappearing, it started to construct copies of itself in other locations within the node. More appeared. Like a rattled hornet's nest, more of the small programs began to appear - connections formed from other ODN nodes nearby, reinforcing the besieged local node. It was war, and these little programs were apparently accustomed to fighting for their processing space. A clever Romulan program indeed.
"Oh what the hell…" Nitka's brows knitted as she stared at multiplying program "so you think you can outsmart me and my dozen lives?" She quickly tapped her fingers on her personal PADD creating an interesting little program. Setting it to consume the multiplying software she unleashed it into the ODN network. It carefully tagged itself onto the all the bits of foreign software and purged their coding from the network; however the foreign code was multiplying way to fast. "Hmm- I'll just add a bit of self replication in there." She added the adjustments and uploaded them "there you little turds. Try escaping my Pacman!" Nitka grin as her little replicating monster slowly consumed the foreign programming like an army of white blood cells.
Nitka's software was doing well - the foreign subroutines were abandoning their points and surrendering ground. They still got a few of the fleeing nodes as they retreated deeper, to other ODN points. The local point was secured and clean, and Nitka's antibodies spread out into the next.
The story on her PADD was immediately different. The nodes snapped up the first of the anti-virus guardians, rending it apart - Nitka could see the foreign software locating the antibody's functional parts and duplicating them madly, modifying them as they went. With new, sharper teeth, the foreign software tore into the security program, obliterating them in a stochastic mess of useless code. They reoccupied the abandoned ODN node and began setting up additional security measures of their own.
Nitka's brows creased and looked unseemly in comparison to her smooth features. She tapped violently on her PADD trying to find a way to overcome the resilient programming. Finally deciding that desperate times called for desperate measures she isolated the infected nodes and began a top level purge of the data "computer- engineering override Zar Alpha Gamma Zeta Three. Purge all foreign data from selected nodes." She waited…
"Beginning data purge." The computer announced. But nothing was purged from the node. She glowered at the PADD while she tried to sort out what this strange data could be - it was sucking up a good amount of the spare processing time, after all. This made her unprepared for the voice that came from nowhere, murmuring into her ear,
"Excuse me," it intoned in a feminine voice that was both pleasant and irritated, "could I ask you to stop that?"
Nitka nearly dropped her PADD startled by the sudden voice. She jerked around but found no one behind her- a more cautious movement to gaze around netted no sight of any person "who…who said that?!"
The voice lingered at her ear, always seeming to come from just behind her no matter how she twisted and turned. "A very irritable aggregate of subroutines which you are currently trying to delete. I don't try to delete *you*, please stop trying to delete *me*."
Swatting at the air Nitka attempted to find the location of the sound- obviously someone was trying to play a trick on her. We'll see who wins this! "Computer disable all ship speaker audio functions within a fifteen meter radius- also disable my commbdage and continue data purge. Don't think you can trick me- whoever you are!"
The computer did as it was asked, and the voice went silent while the ticker continued to count down its search of the node. The numbers churned as the scanner went through the ODN software, a nearly unintelligible mash of code. But apparently whatever was in there was not so eager to give up that easily. The characters snapped one by one into sentences, surfacing from the chaotic sea of code before being once again subsumed. "I am going to ask you nicely, one last time, to please stop."
Nitka's jaw dropped "what…is…this?" She fell backwards dropping her PADD. With a deep hefty sigh she decided to let someone else deal with this problem. Casually, as if she had never heard the voice, she carefully slipped on the unit's cover and turned around carefully walking out…
[ A few hours later... ]
Nitka inhaled the steam as the hot water poured from the decorative faucet. It had been a long day- a ridiculous day at that. She was relieved to be back home in her quarter and taking a nice relaxing hot shower. She was ready to forget the poltergeist haunting the computer core. Finished with her shower she press the water control system and slid the glass curtain aside stepping out. Making her way to the bathroom cabinets she tried to open the towel drawer.
Instead of opening, when Nitka pressed the button to open the towel cleaning/storage drawer, all the piece of furniture did was beep at her. The computers' dispassionate voice stated calmly, "I'm sorry, but you do not have permission to access that program."
"What?!" she asked the air incredulously, water dripping from her and spreading in a slowly expanding pool across the floor. "Computer, override Zar Beta Delta Five Nine. Recommit permission set."
The computer buzzed back in irritation. "I'm sorry, but you do not have permission to access that program."
Her eye twitched. "Computer, state permission set for Nitka Zar."
"Nitka Zar, Ensign, Engineering. First Tier crew rating."
"And?" The air was beginning to cool rapidly, and her towels were still locked away. Everyone on board has at least a basic permission rating - just coming through an airlock gave you *something*.
"No permission set classified."
"No permission set classified."
She gaped at the ceiling, stunned beyond words. That simply doesn't happen by accident. Someone must have gone in and edited her profile. What's more, they must've modified the basic security permission classes and explicitly blocked her, personally from the list. She boggled over the consequences, and would have called down to Engineering for confirmation, but she even doubted the computer would even let that through.
And then the towel drawer beeped and opened. "Limited permission set classified. One item in set - personal quarters, bathing room, storage, drawer three." It was her imagination, but she though the computer sounded *proud* about that. Nitka snatched the largest towel away from the drawer, afraid that it would snap shut before she could get it. The volume of terrycloth between her and the world improved her mood greatly, letting her feelings of vulnerability fade away. They were, of course, replaced immediately by anger. She stormed out of the bathroom and into her quarters, intent on charging down the hall in a towel if needs-be, to find out what the hell was going on.
She was stopped in her tracks before she took a full step through the door. In the middle of her quarters was a woman she had never met - black haired, tall, wearing a Command red uniform. And she was *floating*. Nitka's jaw dropped. The woman just smiled - strangely sympathetic, very amused.
"Turnabout is fair play, yes?" the woman quipped, and Nitka immediately placed the voice as that disembodied one from the ODN node earlier today, "I certainly hope we can put all of this behind us."
Nitka scrambled for words, but it was too late. The woman disappeared in a puff of photons, leaving her alone in her bedroom again. The computer adjoined helpfully, "Nitka Zar, Ensign, Engineering. First Tier crew rating. Engineering Standard permissions set."
Her jaw dropped as and then towel as she raised both her fists and clenched them. Nitka was determined to find out who the woman was- and get rid of her!
Chief Operations AI
Ensign Nitka Zar