"Needs of the Many"
=/\= USS Charon, Auxiliary Maintenance Room =/\=
Jack held the two tricorders and switched glances. One to be sure his
masking wasn't compromised and the other to be sure the signal to
Savant was still sending and to only one entity. He had gotten himself
into the far corner of the room, sitting with his knees to rest his
arms as he watched the tricorders. His placement gave him a clear view
of the door. Finally, after his efforts, the artificial intelligences'
face showed up on the tricorder's tiny screen.
"Hello, Sir," she said with uncharacteristic simplicity. There was not
much processing space on a tricorder, and apparently she wasn't able
to spare much extra from the ship itself. How odd, that an advanced
artificial mind would sound so *dumb*. "Can I help you today?"
Jack let out a breath in relief, "We need to do something. Can you do
something to disable them from having access to the ship?" He looked
at her. He was harried, but there was due reason.
Savant was cheerful as she replied with information that she should
certainly be un-cheerful about. "I have been requested to be compliant
to the best of my ability, Sir. I shall endeavor to help you in your
request, however. Also, you are not currently on shift, and appear to
be under stress. May I suggest some time in the holodeck? It is
currently not in use."
Jack blinked. He wanted to shout, but that would likely call undue
attention to himself, "I don't think you understand!" He was basically
whispering in a very "loud" manner. "On or off duty doesn't matter at
the moment! Using the holodeck is out of the question. If you want to
remove stress, help me get the ship back!"
"Back to where, Sir?" she asked plaintively. He was about to retort
when the tiny expression on the tiny screen knotted up in thought.
"Oh! I believe you are referring to our current state of surrender.
Allow me to reformulate."\
A few agonizing seconds followed.
"I understand, Sir. I cannot at present time deny our captors access
to the computer systems, but I am feeding them some amount of false
information. What would you like me to do?"
Jack swallowed. She seemed a bit smarter than at first. "Well, what
can I do from here? Are there any others who are hiding?" More
screams, "And is that screaming what I think it is?"
"Regretfully so, Sir," she replied sadly, "I am doing what I can. If
you are wishing to escape, you shall find a hatch four meters to your
left which leads into the sub-deck access tunnels. From there, you may
travel starboard twelve meters to the nearest Jeffries' tube."
Jack was confused, "And what can I do there? I don't want to escape. I
want to do something. Is there anything tactical suggestions you can
give me?" He winced at someone with an especially pathetic scream,
"What are they doing to our people?"
"They are being ejected from the airlock," she sounded especially sad
about the explanation, "I am afraid that I have no tactical
suggestions, Sir. All predictive pathways I have been able to discover
result in a higher rate of casualties overall."
His eyes widened in terror as more screams echoed through. "There has
to be a way I can lock the airlock doors." He holstered the tricorder
he was using to mask himself and rummaged around looking for another
tricorder, still holding the "Savant tricorder" in a hand, muttering
things about bypassing signals, disrupting systems and lock out codes.
He found another, "I can make it look like a malfunction."
"I can provide you with technical advice if you like, Sir, but I do
not predict good results from the endeavor."
"What do you mean?" His brain was already working out the coding. He
just had to get into the system.
"You will find an ODN junction in the sub-deck access tunnels, which
will allow you access to the airlock controls."
Jack nodded, "And what did you mean about not be able to predict good
results. Will this make things worse for them?"
She was speaking with discordant cheer once again. "I predict that
they will simply start shooting the crew if the airlock becomes
jammed, and that there is a chance that they will do so at an
"Ah, shit. I don't want that." Talk about a rock and a hard place. He
slunk to the floor again. He spoke out loud, not really to Savant, but
if she could answer, he'd take it, "Well, what can I do?" He felt like
a helpless coward just sitting there. But it was unnecessarily stupid
to get himself caught without it turning things in their way or,
worse, cause a worse consequence. He looked at Savant then, "If you're
filtering out ideas that could preserve my life, don't. I don't want
to make things worse for them, but I am willing to risk myself."
"I have no desire to put you or any of the crew at risk, Sir.
Unfortunately, my utility function sees compliance as the only
worthwhile solution." It was unfortunate, but with so little
brainpower Savant wasn't particularly helpful. Perhaps with more
processing power she would be handy, but for now she could do little
Jack thought a moment, "Are you isolated from your main program? Or
could you be?" He looked up as he thought some, "I could isolate the
systems in this room. You could get in the systems here..."
"I am processing locally, Sir. My local processes within the room are
currently computing survival values of the ejected crew and attempting
to determine the best means of rescuing them. I would rather not
disturb them, as it is a high-value task. Do you have a higher-value
task for them?"
Jack shook his head, "No, no. That is top priority. If there's
anything I can do from here, you know where to reach me."
"Yes, Sir. Please be safe. If you require further assistance, please call me."
"We both understand the whole needs of the many outweigh the needs of
the few. Let's save as many as we can. I'll let you know if I have any
other ideas." Jack holstered the "Savant tricorder" and pulled out the
masking one. It still looked good. He started rummaging about. There
had to be SOMETHING he could do. He looked at the dead bodies. He
swallowed and moved toward them to look at what they had on them.
Jack Fellos II, Engineer