Haumea Colony

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Rage Against The Machines

Posted on Fri Jan 6th, 2023 @ 8:39am by Jason Bray & Seshi Macae & Caithlin t'Leiya & Thaddeus Yu Dr & Cornelius Warner MS & Lieutenant Gunnar Arnason & Raikael t'Leiya

2,494 words; about a 12 minute read

Mission: Roll With It
Location: Inside the Bubble, estimated at the Bray Building
Timeline: MD 02

With their message sent off and communications being made, Jason had renewed spirit to getting out of their predicament. He had taken to tearing apart a wall in the currently non-fantastical room, giving the various circuitry a disapproving look, as if he knew what what he was looking at.

"I knew I should have hired on that hacker awhile back," he commented in annoyance, side-eying Caithlin, "Remind me next time I see that so-called technology guru that installs all this that I told them so. The legal trouble hiring a recently pardoned criminal might have been worth it just for this alone."

"The legal trouble, quite possibly." Caithlin agreed in part, before continuing. "The fact that a more extensive look into his background beyond the official checks revealed his likely active ties with the Orion Syndicate, however, would not have been worth the trouble. Everything in our systems would have been for sale in short order." She shrugged her eyebrows up-and-down. "We can investigate a better source of such expertise to acquire after this, however."

Jason gave pause, squinting at Cornelius. "Think there's a way to mess with this program enough to get it to do something other than park a dragon outside my building?"

"Probably," the bar owner said with a shrug. "If we try and open other programs, we might be able to get them to begin to merge. Try and basically force it to crash. Only problem is the main terminal is locked out and, these names are just file names. We'll have no idea what we're opening up as we go."

"So then there's a chance we could, like, end up fighting a huge holographic spreadsheet?" Raikael snickered.

"Or a giant holographic research report," Zoe giggled.

Thaddeus groaned loudly as he forced himself into a sitting position.  "Knew I wouldn't die," he muttered as he shuffled himself to a wall to give himself something to lean on.  When he got himself to something resembling comfortable he really started speaking.  "When I find the yIntagh bIHnuch petaQ who did all this I'm going to skin his legs, dip them in acid and sing opera while he screams. Then I'm really going to get started."

"You may not have died, but how you're feeling is no one's fault but your own. Next time a medic tells you not to drink poison, listen," Gunnar stated evenly, both the tone and uncharacteristic voicing of an 'I told you so' evidence of the degree to which the entire situation was getting on his last caffeine-deprived nerve, though his tolerance for even 'letting off steam' threats of torture was low to begin with. Perhaps doubly so in this case as a Klingon had featured among those who had tortured him. However, as if in awareness of that potential prejudice, he loaded a hypo with analgesic and applied it. "But this should help."

Thaddeus grunted, "Typical Federation gratitude, I took that to get you out of here, risked myself for the benefit of you all."  He forced himself into a standing position still leaning against the wall. "And Federation medical officer you should know better than to give medication without patient consent."  Thaddeus looked Gunnar in the eyes, "It's Doctor Yu, of the Klingon Physician Conclave."  He turned away and staggered a little further down the wall. Hadn't been here a day and already the Federation was lecturing him.

Right. Should have pegged him for a doctor by the arrogance. If Yu stating his credentials was meant to chastise or cow, it was having quite the opposite effect on an experienced nurse. Gunnar's natural tendency to regard most doctors in much the way a CPO viewed a newly minted lieutenant was only exacerbated by the fact that he'd experienced Klingon medicine. It had not left him with a particularly high opinion of their medical practice. "Given the 'procedures' you seem to be planning for whoever's responsible here, consent didn't seem of much concern to you," he muttered tersely. "I attributed it to discomfort, so treated you for it." He half lifted a hypo. "But if you prefer, I can reverse the effects."

"You should know the difference between medical procedures and the consequences of besmirching a Klingon's honour Human." Still ungrateful and disrespectful on top. If only this stupid program had left him with a decent blade. Thaddeus was half Human, something this group obviously not picked up on. He hadn't spent a lot of time with Humans or the Federation, but if this is how they treat a person who risked their life for strangers, he was glad he hadn't. A Klingon would have sung his praises out of respect. "Rest assured, I won't risk my life for the likes of you again."

"Thank you. Please don't." The response was uncharacteristically snarky for the normally empathetic and mild-mannered nurse, but between his abhorrence of torture and caffeine withdrawal, it came out. He did however manage to bite back a remark about that claim that a city-wide holoprogram gone wild somehow besmirched any particular Klingon's honor. Gunnar had enough knowledge of Klingon culture from both study and direct observation to know that was a BS claim; yes, the situation was extremely irritating, and he fully expected to have to talk Caithlin down from skinning Rocky alive, but that would have as little to do with mnhei'sahe [Romulan for honor] as this had to do with batlh [Klingon for honor]. However, he also knew from the medscan that Yu was a hybrid and spending enough time on Quonos even just for a medical degree couldn't have been easy so an exaggerated sense of honor might be coping mechanism.

Caithlin kept the corner of one eye (and ear) on the discussion between Gunnar and Yu in case it escalated to something necessary to intervene in; and studied the list of file names Cornelius and Bray had brought up, cursing under her breath at the sight of them: When he'd said 'just the file names' they weren't even the descriptive display names they'd originally saved them as, just the background code by which the computer itself stored them. There was in fact no way to tell what was what even if you knew what you had called various files. After a moment, she took a breath, focused on the screen, and finally, just reached out a finger and selected one.

Caithlin's experimental button press caused the room's image around them to flicker, before the familiar walls disappeared behind holographic, stone replacements. The only thing that remained was the console they were hovered over, readily reading out various bits and pieces in Ferengi.

Jason's eyes narrowed. "...Huh. Well, I guess that could be worse."

"I don't suppose you read Ferengi?" Cornelius asked with a groan. "If this is the same readout, and if things are working as I expect, we are effectively running two programs at once. That means whatever was out in the cave might no longer be a dragon - or more accurately might not be just a dragon."

"It also means we are one step closer to our goal of forcing an overload crash." Caithlin studied the new display, but did not read Ferengi either. "So. Until or unless we are given cause to change paths; we keep loading additions until we bring it down." She reached out her finger again and selected another file; the incomprehensible computer code of the file names now made even moreso by the Ferengi text and numerals.

A cold wind suddenly howled through the room, accompanied by gusts of snow and ice advancing along the holographic tower walls.

Gunnar reflexively pulled his bearskin cloak around himself, and then only slightly less reflexively went and pulled Raikael under it as well. "Either you've hit an artic adventure or activated a climate simulation from last winter," he observed just as an outraged roar came from the direction of the dragon cave. "I'm good with this weather, but you might want to try for climate that won't hack off an already annoyed dragon."

"I suspect that if we could close programs from this access point; we would have closed the dragon itself in the first place." Caithlin shivered and looked at Bray, then at Cornelius. "Is there a way with this terminal to force the closure of these secondary programs at least, if we come upon one we don't like once we open them? Or are we stuck with them as well?" She found the same long incomprehensible string of Ferengi characters that she'd hit on before the wintery blast began, remembering the string even if it was gibberish to her, and hovering her hand over it, ready to strike it a second time if he said doing so would close it. If it turned out it wouldn't, on the other hand; then they were probably better off continuing to hit other things as rapidly as possible until they crashed the program, not only before the dragon became a bigger problem but also before half of them froze to death.

"Now? Your guess is as good as mine," Cornelius shouted over the howling wind. The program was unstable, it was clear to see as the snow was jumping from place to place erratically. "Honestly the program shouldn't be able to handle three programs at once, so this is genuinely uncharted territory. So we roll the dice," and he punched a finger into another string. This time the room seemed to shudder at the action, with the snow and ice visibly fighting to hold cohesion, and a roar outside that sounded as if it was being passed through a series of poorly optimized auto filters. The temperature returned to normal, even if the snow and ice continued to swirl - if one could call it that. Punching another the program momentarily just stopped dead in it's tracks before trying to run. Now warning flared on the console itself, unintelligible without access to the translator, but it was completely locked up. "That's about all we can do, want to see if our banana friend has any insights?"

As if on cue, the banana, who had been politely sitting atop Seshi's shoulder fell to the ground, beady eyes disappearing from its form. It wavered in and out like the rest of the hologram. Seshi merely stared at it, exasperated. "The one time we want it to be helpful, it decides to stop working." She waved a hand at it, and it exploded into a glitchy mess of confetti.

Raikael, having wriggled her way out from under Gunnar’s bearskin cloak once the temperature normalized, snickered slightly at the banana-confetti.

"Makes sense," Cornelius said, pointing to the warning. "We have maxed out the system memory and then some. The computer has absolutely no idea how to process what we are doing to it, and I'd imagine all of the interfaces are just fried. I was hoping to actually use him to cause a logic loop," he added, and shrugged. This was, after all, easier.

Jason seemed to pay it no mind, as he returned to the console and the coding. "And this is why I hire interpreters. Unfortunately, I'm fairly certain I saw the one who was working late run off with a bloodthirsty unicorn chasing after him." He paused. "I wonder, if this is the holographic console attached to this room, simply trying to give it a good old refresh may do the trick - or, maybe we could apply some good old fashioned brute force?"

After a moment to consider the scientists words, Cornelius withdrew the sword from his belt and handed it to Caithlin. "We can't refresh the system, it's completely locked up. But also the power is diverted to just maintaining the holographic matrix, so all the defensive systems are no doubt fried as well. I need your strategic placement of sharp objects, Lady t'Leiya, while I see if I can't restore some functionality. This should cause enough damage we can force a command restart, or at least some kind of emergency shut down."

"If you need less strategic placement, or just brute force," Gunnar offered, pulling the battle axe from his belt. "This is the one situation where I wouldn't mind playing Barbarian."

Caithlin took the sword and gave a gracious measured little head nod to Cornelius at the follow on to such; and readied to begin tearing strips off the long tunic she had on to improvise a barrier to any electrical feedback from the system being able to pass well between the hilt of the sword and her hands; then stopped at Gunnar’s comment mid-tearing, eyeing the ax, or more specifically the non-conducting material its handle was made of.

“Smash away.” Caithlin waved one hand slightly at the console. “Though ‘all the defensive systems’ offline would possibly include fire suppression, so I wouldn’t go too wild with it.”

Having seen her wrapping the sword hilt, Gunnar understood why she had decided to let him do the honors and nodded in agreement. He wasn't normally someone who enjoyed destroying things, but in this case a small smile crept onto his face as he swung the axe over his head and down as if chopping wood (which was after all his only practical experience using an axe). The axe blade drove into the console with an impressive CRACK accompanied by both splinters of panel and sparks flying.

Gunnar yanked he axe out of the wedge he'd carved and held it a ready for another strike but paused at the first one's effect. Random patches of holographic imagery, as well as local weather effects, flashed around them in a sort of bizzare kinetic 3D collage as the damaged systems tried to run the various programs that had begun the overload. "Is that enough, or should I hit it again?"

Caithlin considered the bizarre spectacle around them, and weighed the little sparks still zapping on the damaged panel, the dangers involved in the various actions or inactions as she knew them, and the unfortunately large variety she simply did not know one way or another as she was not an engineer like her sister, before finally coming to a conclusion. "...Hit it again."

"You got it!" Gunnar said with something approaching his assigned character's enthusiasm for violence as he took another big overhead swing, driving the axe down nearly to the center of the console.

Looking at the remains of the console and the arcs of energy the came up from it, Cornelius shifted to better look at the holographic displays. Everything was now stopped, and twitching in place. Reaching forward to touch the fake wall, his hand passed through to the background. "We've done about as much damage as we can, so ask a god nicely to let us go now."


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