Ghost in the Machine - CIC, Prologue Part II
Ghost in the Machine - CIC, Prologue Part II
Summary: After many, many hours of hard work, Persy and Praxis discover the cause of Kharon's technical problems and contain it for now. They report their findings to Sheridan, and Kai comes in to deliver some requested documents to Praxis.
Date: PHD #94
Related Logs: Ghost in the Machine, Prologue

CIC - Deck 2 - CEC Kharon
IC Time: Post Holocaust Day #94

Bathed in dark blue light, this warfighting nerve center is a room that might more closely resemble a cave but for the illuminated displays and activity,
creating an effect that detracts from the claustrophobic feelings it could impose when fully lit. Situated with all the major displays at the front of the room, crew
members sit at work stations facing that wall as if an audience to a performance. Liquid crystal screens track everything from DRADIS contacts to the fuel status of
airborne Vipers and Raptors. Off to the side, smaller screens hang from the low ceiling that provide video footage of the Flight Deck and Hangar Bay One's Viper Tube
airlock doors.
To the rear of the room is the primary plotting table - the only white-lit object in constant operation within the room. Its pale illumination is just bright
enough to back-light the maps that are lain out on it. A separate DRADIS display is placed at the rear of the room to provide the Officer of the Watch with a view of
the tactical situation no matter which way they are facing. A set of yellow-lit glass plots are stood vertically to the side of the room, allowing the historical
view of anything that might be tracked via sensors.

Condition Level: 2 - Danger Close

It's been a long, slow watch. For most of the CIC. But tactics has been obsessively hard at work for 16+ hours. You've been tag-teaming it for quick trips to the head and to grab coffee, but otherwise it's been all systems, all the time.
At the moment, Lt. JG Tanner is leaning back in her chair, hands wrapped around a tepid cup of coffee. Her eyes are closed, and she seems to be muttering to herself. "Op two, ar-ess one, ar-tee two, ar-dee six, shift amount zero… function thirty two. Op 35, ar-ess three, ar-tee eight, immediate address thirty-two hundred…"

Stay on duty, he said. Until Sheridan personally relieved him, he said. Well that was hours upon hours ago, and Praxis has not been visited by the CO yet, or at least not to let him go to bed. Usually, Demitros would typically be on his watch duties, but for the moment he had been working like mad on trying to get the mutated virus under control. Knight nurses his own cup of coffee, before he hears his colleague murmuring things he either cannot her or cannot comprehend. "Are you all right, Lieutenant Tanner?" he asks her with slight concern in his voice. Despite the fatigue, Praxis is being pretty stoic about it. "You did excellent work, I - rather, we could not have contained what we have discovered without you, hmm?"

The little blonde, her pixie hair more mussed than usual, snaps out of it. "Oh. Heh." She smiles wearily at Praxis. "Thank you, sir. You were great. I didn't think there were a lot of people I could learn from-but I think I could pick up a trick or two from you." The smile quirks to a cheeky grin. She yawns and stretches. "Machine code…" she nods a little, rubbing the back of her neck. "I'm going over the machine code. It's filtered through a programming language, of course. Now that we know which one, I'm trying to figure out how the virus is frakking it."
She sets her coffee aside a moment, talking with her hands, warming to her subject. "See, viruses corrupt code one of two ways - they rewrite certain phrases to speak nonsense - like "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." That's grammatically correct, so it's going to slip by, but it makes no sense. Or they write something that's illogical, but correct in form, like "John is a married bachelor." See?"

"So the virus twists the existing lines of code to execute its intended purpose?" Praxis inquires for clarity, folding his hands behind his back and raising his chin, both fascinated by the subject and seeing if he can contribute anything. Spending most of his studying on cryptography and encryption makes him regret ever having little to do with programming. "I suppose if I had the luxury I would run a comparison between a backup copy of the code and the current to see precisely where the damage has been done." He runs a hand through his hair. "However, machine code is a far cry from the high-level stuff I'm used to seeing. You must have a talent for it."
Demitros strolls to the comm station and places his hand on the chair, sighing for a moment before glancing sidelong at Persi. "As an aside…I'd really like to know how it is going with Brighton. I was looking around and I found that his panel was /forced/ open. Whoever did it got physically into the hardware.

"More like the virus uses the code that's already there to execute it's purpose. Like brainwashing it." Persy nods. "Going through the machine code - well, when I come across the line that reads, you know, in binary or whatever, 'Rapid tortoise feathers fry tap shoes'… I'll have a piece of the virus identified." A shrug. "No particular talent. Just a photographic memory. It's like having a sixth finger."
She sighs and sits back again, taking up her coffee. "I imagine whatever they got out of Brighton is Need to Know information. And they'll tell us when they think we need to know. Like most things." She grumbles a bit, but seems resigned. She tilts her head. "Wouldn't hurt to crawl in that panel and look at the hardware, though, would it? Between your big brain and mine, there's no way Brighton could have been sneaky enough for us not to at least figure out the point of entry."

"A photographic memory. Impressive, Lieutenant, I will keep that in mind. It could become quite the useful tool." Praxis adjusts his glasses with a smirk before looking to the other officers. "DRADIS looking clear? CAP sending proper Colonial signals?" Head turns to the other stations. "Comm systems functioning well? No unusual static or intermittent noises?" The TACCO cycles through a few systems and reports before he's able to get back to the conversation with Persy. "I will of course ask for the information if I am given the opportunity however we will need any information he is to reveal if we are ever to determine how he (though I am not ready to assume who is to blame yet) was able to so stealthily breach our systems." At the suggestion of crawling into the panel, Praxis nods his head. "He was in there. Either he was in a hurry to get in or out…or he saw something he wasn't supposed to see and acted on it. Your thoughts?" Knight moves to the comm station and kneels down next to it. "Maybe I could get you to look inside. I could use a second opinion."

Persy nods. "I'll take a look as soon as I'm off shift - I'm pretty familiar with the network tunnels now, but I doubt I'll find anything you didn't." She glances up at the clock, then shakes her head. "This shift's been /crawling/ since we contained that cluster-frak, hasn't it? All that adrenaline - poof! Gone."
She stifles a yawn, turning to look over her shoulder as the doors open. On her feet at once, she salutes, but smiles in greeting at the same time. "Captain. How can we help you?"

It's not completely uncommon to find the CAG slumming it in here with the masses of blue-clad officers, but it's certainly not a frequent occurance. Marek seems to avoid the place like the plague, and is on curt terms with the Commander more often than not. He ambles in this afternoon, zipped up in a bulky flight suit and sporting a head of dark helmet hair, fetchingly matted against his skull. He, almost certainly, is fresh off a CAP. He's also got a file folder stuffed with papers under one arm, and lurks somewhat awkwardly by the door until Persy greets him. He nods, but doesn't smile. "I'm looking for Lieutenant Demitros?"

"Off shift. I am typically a hard worker, but those two words just might be the most heavenly I have ever heard, Lieutenant." There have been likely no one in this room working harder than the two of the CIC crew have been for the past 16 or so hours. "I definitely owe you for enduring it with me though." Lots of gratitude flowing between them at the moment. But she was right. Things are winding down now since they've got everything under control. When the CAG enters the CIC, a faint smile takes the features of the ever-fatigued TACCO. "Ah, good evening." Knight approaches Marek and folds his hands behind his back, "I see that by the folders tucked beneath your arm that my message got through to you, am I correct?"

Lt. JG Tanner points at Praxis. "That's him. But for what it's worth?" she volunteers, "Whatever he's supposed to have done, it was probably me. I'm the problem child." Aww. Lookit Persy throw herself under the bus for her fellow tactical schlep.
She looks interested in the folders, though, glancing at Demitros with perked eyebrows. For the moment, she offers nothing further.

Kai pivots slightly when he catches Praxis' voice in the mix of officers chattering, and nods curtly to him in much the same fashion as he had Persy. "It did. I've got a few hours until I'm due to give the next briefing, if you'd like to go over these together. Or I can leave them with you. I can't promise that it's good reading." He hefts the folder, in order to relinquish it to Praxis. "I assure you, Lieutenant," he addresses Persy with a flick of blue eyes her way, "he hasn't done anything I'm aware of. Though your willingness to take one for the team, is admirable." It's offered completely deadpan.

"Unfortunately, Captain, I am still unable to leave CIC at this time but thank you for the offer. I am only to be relived by the CO himself." Taking the folder, Praxis puts it on the plotting table for now. Perhaps some reading would be done slightly later. In order to keep Persy apprised, the Lieutenant turns his head to explain to her, "I had Captain Marek compile reports from the CAP as to the performance of their ship systems. I wanted to be sure nothing else other than our main systems were affected by the incursion." Demitros then regards the whole 'taking for the team' thing. "Admirable, but rather surprising, if I do say so myself!"

"I'm more for cheering on than taking the hits, usually," Persy replies to the Captain. "I really miss my pom-poms." Then, to Praxis, "Hey, after you've parsed machine code with someone for more than sixteen hours, you form a special bond. I'm hurt that you don't feel it, too." Bubble, bubble. Chatter chatter. Very obviously a natural blonde.
She perks up at the explanation about the files. "Hey! Great idea. We can go through them together, if you want. I really can't leave until you're relieved, too. You started shift before I did. I'd feel like a complete jerk, sir."

A little of the awkwardness starts creeping back into the Captain's demeanor, as Persy chats away. Social settings don't seem to be his forte; bubbly blondes, even less so. "Understood, Lieutenant," he tells the TACCO briskly. "I've shifted CAPs slightly to put a raptor on every one." He reaches over, thumbs through a few papers, and indicates a stack that looks like it came out of a dot matrix style printer. Which it probably did. "Verbose metrics on power readouts." He thumbs to the next set. "Viper weapons warmup and cooldown." Flip, flip. "Communications, avionics, nav subsystem relay signal strengths. It'll take days to go through all this, so you know where to find me if you need a second.. or third set of eyes. You can also contact Captain Legacy if I'm unavailable."

Praxis looks up at the CAG once he starts going through the list of things the report entails. "I am nearly taken aback, sir. This must have taken a lot of effort." But more effort than 16 hours of virus containment? Maybe not, but Kai took time out of his own duty to do this for him and that is extremely respectable. "Thank you very much for printing these off, I believe they will prove extremely useful, and I of course want to make sure your pilots are flying with a relative margin of safety."
Finally, he regards Persy again, his features softening at the mention of the bond they should have acquired. "Of course, Lieutenant JG. The work we have done and the success we have achieved strengthened our friendship." he agrees. "However, please do not stay at your station at my expense. Though yes, I might need both of your help to get through these reports at a rather quick pace." He's then back to gazing at Kai. "Did you see anything doing a quick skim, or have you even observed them yet?"

Sheridan strolls in like he owns the place, because in essence he does, doesn't he? An aide is fast on his heels like a yapping dog, giving him a rundown of some figures as they walk, and trying desperately to get the Commander to sign off on the hexagonal piece of paper he's waving. Finally when Sheridan comes to a halt near the plotting table, the aide remembers his place and calls, "Commander on Deck."

Persy's smile for the Captain turns apologetic, as though she senses his discomfort. She visibly tones down the hyper a notch, turning her attention from Kai to Praxis. "I was just giving you a hard time, sir," she assures him. "But I was quite serious that I'm in this for the long haul. We'll just need more coffee."
When the aide announces the CO's arrival, she starts and turns sharply, snapping a salute. "Sir."

CIC is bustling, as CIC does. There's an interloper in the form of the CAG, in his flight suit and evidently recently returned from a CAP. He starts to reply to Praxis, then spots the Commander's arrival with the trained eye of a dutiful soldier with thirteen years in the navy. "Commander, sir," is voiced along with a sharply snapped salute.
He would have loved to reply to either the Captain or the Lieutenant, but of course someone had to utter those magical three words that immediately send Praxis to attention. Hand comes flying to his forehead and his spine extends, standing up as perfectly straight as he can be. Oh boy, does he get some time off?!

Sheridan returns the salute of the room, then turns to take the paper from the aide, bending over a console to use its flat surface to pen his signature to the bottom line. It's handed back without a look to the aide's face, who's scurrying off now that he has what he needed. "At ease." The Commander intones flatly, his eyes drifting over those assembled. "Marek. Good job on the last mission. Let's consider making it a regular venture." His stride takes him over towards Praxis. "I hope you have good news for me, Lieutenant." Because bad news would make him grumpy. And no one likes a grumpy Commander.

Lt. JG Tanner relaxes to parade rest, bright, eager eyes tracking the CO as he approaches. She beams. "We do!" she bursts out. Then, pressing her lips together and clearing her throat. "Uhm. He does." See, her superior officer has the news. Being superior. And she's totally out of line. Bad puppy. She adds, flushing, "Sir."
Merciful gods, get her a hole to climb into.

Kai holds his salute without so much as a flinch, until the Commander's good and ready to give the 'at ease'. It's dropped as crisply as it went up, and clasps behind his back around the opposing wrist. "Yes, sir," he answers curtly, voice lacking the inflection of feeling, much less anything resembling a smile. He apparently has more for Demitros, but obviously isn't going to step on the big cheese's toes to deliver it. Persy's behaviour causes his lips to twitch slightly, but he otherwise keeps his own counsel.

Just like his underlings to make him report everything that has gone on in the past sixteen hours. Praxis stands down from the salute, hands convening behind his back while he faces Sheridan head-on. "As the Lieutenant JG had so eloquently stated, there is news to report." Knight begins, his mind's gears turning at a high RPM. "Approximiately sixteen hours ago we begun the work diagnosing the problem with the system and attempting to rectify it. The location of the issue was extremely slow, however after several hours we had detected a resident virus in the computer system." Praxis clears his throat for a moment, more so to take a breath and continue than anything else. "It was unlike any malicious software we had seen before. We were unable to determine its point of entry into the system or how it was able to transition to other vital systems aboard the ship despite the lack of networking between those particular portions. However, the good news is that due to Persy's programming efforts we were able to contain the virus; and additionally I was able to identify it as a 'mutated' form of the original virus, and much more difficult to eliminate." Yikes. What else is there to say? "Ah yes, Captain Marek is here to drop off some reports I requested regarding the performance of our fighters out on CAP…I wanted to ensure that our fighters' systems were operational. I was just about to dive into them now before you entered, sir…"

Persy frowns slightly. "It's hard to say, sir." She talks with her hands, thoroughly engaged with the subject. "In order to mutate, something has to be in the wild. Generally, it's the same with a virus. It has to be able to make copies of itself in order to adapt and continue surviving in an environment of similarly evolving countermeasures. Like chess. Since we have it contained, if it makes copies of itself - it's going to run out of room, so to speak. It'll start to infect itself. Sometimes a virus can have a failsafe and shut down, laying dormant while it's contained - the infected system thinks the virus is dead, releasing it. Back to square one. But we're prepared for that."
She takes a deep breath. "We now have an opportunity to watch it and evaluate its behavior. For a while, it's just going to run around in circles and try to do what it normally does. It's not sentient. It doesn't know it's contained. So we may be able to get an idea of HOW it infects systems. HOW it 'jumps.' It's all theoretical, but we've bought ourself time to test those theories."

Kai has nothing to do with the virus-stomping efforts. He remains silent and with an expression on his face that could be described as bored, while the conversation filters around him. Then again, he might be listening raptly. Who knows.

This time it was Praxis' turn to leave the talking to another person, more specifically the programmer who was previously sitting at the ECM console. Demitros just watches her speak about the virus, tons of times better than he could possibly relate himself. Eyes then flick to Kai, understanding his silence and perhaps even his boredom if it is present…there are no Raiders to shoot down here? "I trust the Lieutenant's judgement and expertise on this particular matter; she is more knowledgeable about the nature of viruses and programming than I am." he mentions.

Sheridan remains stoic for a pace or two more, silent as he takes it all in and seems to process it. Maybe he can follow Persy word for word, but likely she'll never know. "Good then. Solid progress. If you're confident that you have it contained, it will be up to the MPs then to investigate how this got into our system in the first place. Ensign Brighton is in custody and will be questioned. Good work. Lieutenant Demitros, lower the ship back to Condition Three and for frak's sake, get some rest." A pause, "Captain?" As if waiting to see should the CAG have anything further that needs to be discussed.

"We have theories. Not solutions. Yet," Persy demurs. "But the virus is contained. And I'm confident that Lieutenant Demitros and I, working together, will be able to dissect the little bastard, sir."
Short and sweet. Unusual for Lt. JG Tanner, but there you have it.

Kai lifts his eyes when the Commander addresses him, and you just know there's an argument he wants to make, barely bitten back. That's just how the Captain rolls. But he exercises some restraint with others in the room, and merely nods once. "I was just briefing Lieutenant Demitros on some numbers from the last few CAPs, sir. It can wait until later. I haven't seen anything out of the ordinary in our birds, sir." He's silent then, waiting to be either addressed further or dismissed.

Praxis nods his head with brevity, acknowledging the order. "Aye, sir. Thank you, sir." He immediately moves over to the intercom and cheerfully announces the order to set Condition Three throughout the ship. Subsequently, he moves to the commander and salutes him, "Lieutenant Praxis Demitros, I stand relieved of duty." There are no happier words that could have been spoken. Eyes drift to the CAG, "Thank you, Captain." And then to the Countermeasures officer. "And you have been up as long as I have. Get some rest, though I propose we meet in the lounge before we start the next shift. While we are not out of the woods, a bit of relaxation might be in order." With that, he's heading out towards the exit if nothing else is keeping him.

Sheridan quirks a brow at Kai, but doesn't comment. He merely swivels his gaze back to Praxis. "As you all were, then." No, he doesn't give dismissals, but rather, seems to be taking leave himself.

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