Friday, December 12, 2008

The M-5 - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

AD 2374

Star Fleet Command (SFC) is the term generally used to refer to the main Fleet Base in San Francisco, Earth, as it is the main training and centralized command structure for the entire fleet. It is often, erroneously, referred to as Star Fleet Headquarters (SFHQ), which is the central fleet command base in the Alpha Quadrant. SFHQ is the main ship construction and repair facility, with multiple base sections for that purpose along with the central and organized structure for Fleet Command. SFC is central to the Sol System dry docks, repair/refit systems, and also the place of such things as the Historical Museum located in Mars orbit and the 'Ship Graveyard' at Jupiter. SFHQ is the central command point for Fleet disposition, logistics, and sector coverage, ensuring that all bases, posts and ships, along with Federation outposts manned by Star Fleet are supplied and have regularized personnel tracking. One is in the Sol system, the other is not.

The very upper echelons of Star Fleet that interacts with the Federation Council is in San Francisco, while the nuts and bolts of day-to-day operations is at the SFHQ base. It is the division between Politics and Logistics.

That said, while new technology incorporated into ships is first tested, with much fanfare, at Earth, the basic design and engineering work to get to a new ship design starts at SFHQ. First of its kind production for NX class ships winds up at any of the Sol System based dry docks or at the orbital base. Decommissioned ships first go to SFHQ for some systems removal and powering down of non-essential systems, and then get a skeleton crew to take the ship to SFC for final disposition. SFC determines which of the old ships are Museum quality and which end up in Jupiter's orbit with their anti-matter cache removed. Few efforts are made to 'salvage' such vessels that end up in Jovian orbit as the work to dismantle and reforge components and remove older metallic mixes isn't worth the time or effort to do. The oldest ships generally slip unnoticed below the orbit of Io, becoming the 'Yellow Fleet' and at some point atmospheric drag slows the ship and Jupiter claims it as the tractor base there is only manned for an annual inspection and orbit maintenance for the vessels in orbit. Other ships get consigned to the orbit for other reasons, having little to do with battle damage, the cost of repair or even if the ship can be upgraded and repaired, and far more to do with lost bureaucratic messages. Paperwork from bygone eras did not get any more efficient when automated, just more quickly put into stasis when things can't be determined easily.

The non-ship oddities, things too interesting or too dangerous for various reasons, to go out for immediate civilian use ends up at SFHQ. The technology that is brought back from various ships or created inside the Federation and used to ill-ends, or even just the 'cats and dogs' or 'what should we do with it?' material ends up at SFHQ. There Federation scientists are brought in to examine and study those things, and there is a strong connection with such places as the Vulcan Science Academy and the MIT Complex, as well as the Andorian Spaciocharium for ship examination. That technology is generally classified at some level until full examination is completed and then final placement of it for utilization is rendered by SFC and the Federation Council. The overwhelming majority of it is processed in 6 months and released. Far less is held over for longer research, and even less of that is put under final, secure lock. In theory there is a vault in SFHQ that holds all sorts of fascinating things, but its actual size is about that of a janitorial closet... not that you could ever convince writers of that.

That leaves the 'it isn't dangerous, no one can figure out what to do with it' realm. The general rule is one of '50 years and then to SFC, let them figure it out'. Those disclosures, while made public, are generally uninteresting: who cares about a variant of a Romulan plasma rifle that's 50 years old with a guidepath system on it? Especially if it is partly melted. SFC actually does have to decide and most of it, perforce, goes to the Museum in Mars orbit (with attendant Mars surface base for the overflow). Some items that showed promise get held for longer, but at some point it all finally does have to go someplace.

* * *

If SFHQ holds the Extreme Secret Broom Closet, then the SFC Mars Museum has the attic. Some of it is polished up and put on display, all of it is available for study by those interested in historical oddities and, generally, it is one of the dullest places to get situated in Star Fleet. Very few people beyond historians ever really want to work at the SFC Historical Museum, Archived Equipment Division. Which is why the Academy sends cadets there, to learn about the care and maintenance of old things found and to ponder about Star Fleet's history. If they have nothing better to do.

Thus it was that Ensigns Jomra and L'Tira were on the receiving end of the cargo vessel Altax, which, itself, looked like a museum piece. When possible equipment is handled 'as is' so as to leave it in original condition, as even the very best of transporters don't always get things right or trip off some unlooked-at reaction that, in theory, was looked at decades previously. Also, some of it might collapse without its shipping crate. The two Ensigns, then, were on normal duty at receiving and the putative commander of the cargo ship told them to just come in with repulsors and get the stuff themselves from Bay 2 once the ship docked with the base. The two stepped down to the ship deck from the base, and walked to the second bay, where the screen had been turned off. Luckily the material was on a repulsor skid and they just had to attach their hand units to it, lifting it up and then they guided it out.

"Say, this is a lot of junk for a normal run, isn't it?" L'Tira asked.

Looking over his shoulder, Jomra said, "Well, its a pretty large amount, yes, especially for the computer history section."

"CS history? What is this stuff? An old Klingon War Simulator?"

Lifting his wrist to check the invoice readout, "No, its some old research stuff, been looked at and no one could figure out what to do with it so its been a dust collector. SFHQ finally decided to unload it as they would need a bigger Closet if it was important. Look at the date on that stuff, almost 100 years old!"

The two shifted it into the non-public freight turbolift, and ferried it down to the CS section, where Ensign Arrivan and one civilian were waiting. The civilian was waiting by the side of the room and she sidled out of the way as the large lift pallet was brought in and slowly lowered to the floor. As the fleet personnel double checked their entries to account for the transfer the civilian walked up, human, dark complexion, holding a small wooden box. The three turned, and Ensign Arrivan introduced her as the descendant of the original researcher.

Her name was Enid Daystrom.

The two looked at her, the shipping crates and Ensign Arrivan. He nodded, "Yes, the great granddaughter of the famous Richard Daystrom, this is his last major research work."

"Daystrom of Duotronics? The man responsible for the entire computing architecture of Star Fleet and the Federation?" asked Jomra.

"The same, although I work in biological research and materials study. Grandmother gave this to me back when I was 5 and told me," she said indicating a box under her arm, "that it really belonged with the rest of Great Granddad's work, but that no one in Star Fleet was interested in it. Really its just oddments of computer equipment, personal notes and some hand drawn schematics from... ummm... before his mental troubles. She said it didn't really belong to the family, but Star Fleet didn't want it either. So when I got the release notification from the Museum people, I thought it should really belong here, with the rest of his work."

"The rest of his work? I mean he pioneered the first multitronics... wasn't that it after duotronics?" asked L'Tira who looked at Arrivan who raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Enid chuckled softly, "Oh, no. This is his *other* work, the M-Series of ship computers," she walked around the crates, pointing at the smallest, "that is M-1, then the slightly larger one on the top is M-2, then M-3 takes up the rest of that, underneath it is M-4 and the main crate is M-5. That was his pride and joy before his mental breakdown, and he said that even the multitronic work didn't really live up to what he had been doing on the M-Series."

"The M-Series?", L'Tira asked looking at Arrivan.

"It was a first attempt at a fully automated back-up control system for a starship in case something catastrophic happened to its crew. It was supposed to be a computational add-on to the existing systems, and yet be fully automated not only for mission assessment, but self-defense for ship-to-ship attacks," said Arrivan.

"That isn't completely true, I'm afraid, Ensign," Enid said, "the original contract materials that Great Granddad kept specified for the M-5 to be a combat control system specifically for fleet work as it was thought a fully automated system with self-initiative would prove to be superior to biological commanders. He was obsessed with saving lives and if starships could fight harder in shorter periods of time with less loss of life, then his work would have been successful. The M-1 through 4 series were the first attempts at somewhat generalized control systems and the Fleet has conveniently forgotten its original contract, so the story has been reversed a bit."

Ensign Jomra looked at the pile of crates, "Fully automated... it could operate an entire starship on its own? Independently?"

"This isn't... not the 'Monster Computer' that fought 4 to 1, is it?", Arrivan asked.

"That it is, Ensign, the M-5 is just that system. Researchers with and without great granddad spent a decade going over it before his death, and grandmother recalls his frustration that the same neural adjustments that removed his psychosis also removed his ability to analyze his M-Series work."

L'Tira and Jomra edged slightly away from the crates.

"THAT computer, here?", asked L'Tira.

Ensign Arrivan looked at Enid, "Ma'am what are you here for?"

"Well, that does bring up the point. Mother and Grandmother really didn't want anything to do with this work, but couldn't bear destroying great granddad's work, and perusing the contract...", she walked over to a desk display and fitted an old series reader into it, and the display popped up a document with Star Fleet emblem that the computer verified was the original contract copy, "... all of great granddad's work, when no longer needed by Star Fleet is to revert back to Richard Daystrom of Daystrom Industries or his estate. Right there in Sec. 10, Para. 12, Sub. 3. This single document has kept his estate open for these decades and I am here to execute it, as he said, in the judgment of closest kin if immediate executor does not survive or to the MIT CS institute in cooperation with the Vulcan Science Academy if no heirs survive."

The three looked at her, then the pile of crates and back again.

"You OWN this?"

She smiled and nodded, "Checked by the best lawyers outside of Star Fleet and then verified...", she slid a hand into a pocket in her tunic and then slid that into the reader, " SFC Contracting Staff as cross verified by SFHQ logistics section... stardates all given, verified, and so on. I think everyone had forgotten the original contract and what it was for by now. And besides it was, 'old junk' not worth throwing in the closet because no one could make head or tail of it."

Ensign Jomra smirked, "Sounds like the Tholian recrystallizer brought in a few months back, no one can figure out what it is supposed to do even now, and the Tholians claim it isn't theirs, either."

"Well, Ma'am," said Arrivan, "if you want it, I will get the Museum Director and..."

"Not to worry, I've already talked to him, nice fellow near retirement. Asked me what I wanted to do with it and, really, I had no idea. So he said he had some grad students who... ahh... needed some gainful employment in their off-hours and asked if I would like to start a research project. Since Daystrom Industries was still active due to the contract and under family control, I talked a bit for said graduate's time with fair recompense..."

The three rolled their eyes, "Black Bart strikes again!" said Jomra.

"Better than cleaning out that scout vessel, did you see what had died in the storage hold?", Arrivan asked.

"I don't think it was really dead," said L'Tira, "but I was still glad to jettison it out the hatch."

"The work of Star Fleet Museum Staff is never done, I can't wait for my permanent assignment!", said Arrivan.

"So, Ma'am," said Jomra, " I take it we have been drafted?"

She smiled brightly, "Actually, yes, along with a few others as the entire M-Series was to interface with just about everything on a Constitution Class Heavy Cruiser. Plus, of course, the research notes and specifications of great granddad, can't forget those!"

Ensign L'Tira looked at the small box under Enid's arm,"Ahhh... what... exactly are those?"

"Beyond all his background work on psychodynamics, duotronic line extension to multitronics, original M-Series work and such, is a group of design specifications and interface work for something he had labeled as... hmmm... M-5 Final."

"M-5 Final?" Arrivan asked.

"Yes, the M-5 was rushed out the door on contract deadlines. Richard Daystrom had the final components for the system drafted out, but didn't have time to integrate them and thought, for a limited test, he could... 'trust his wits'. Like M-1 through 4, he had worked on tinkering designs to more complexity and then starting anew from a fresh base. M-5 was due for what he called, 'its last contractual tinkering for finalization'. Basically it was 95% complete."

"And that is the final 5%?" asked L'Tira.

Enid nodded, "The final work of the M-Series. He was very sketchy about it, in a literal sense at times, using actual paper and not automated design tools. The pre-work finals were done with standard tools, however, just never fully specified. Everyone puzzled over this box of stuff while he was alive and for a few years after that. It was, however, not finalized to the contract, so it was not Star Fleet's. They did get copies, but... 'lost in the shuffle' I think was the what I was told, just like most of the original design materials. They kept the devices and threw out the design documents."

Nods amongst the Ensigns, "Typical of SFHQ. 'If we didn't build it, it doesn't matter', at least for Federation made material," L'Tira said.

"No 'Made and Designed by Fleet Engineers' label on it, so it can't be all it is cracked up to be..." said Arrivan.

"'Designs? We don't need no steenkin DESIGNS!', remember the Torbasi Longitudinal Deflector? They did the exact, same thing... and then, once they figured it all out they started to ask where it was manufactured as it took specific design work not normally inside the Fleet or even the major industries. Heh. They actually had to ask, by then, as most commercial ships were starting to field the thing and it was not only better as a deflector system, but took far less energy to run. And that was for something that worked out of the gate. Typical SFHQ."

"Great granddad did have some, hmmm... descriptive words... for Star Fleet ship design engineers. He said without the Contracts Office he would have had problems getting anything from them."

"You do have the original specifications, don't you, Ma'am?" asked Arrivan.

"Call me Enid, please, I do without much in the way of formalities which, I know, is a major sticking point for the Fleet. Plus I am just here to run a little grant project with some Graduate Cadets waiting for final placement in proper ships and this will be their off hours-work. I do have the original design specifications, but many of the things he had ordered were modified by him and have altered specifications. He was, if nothing, meticulous in those details which he said was the heart of his work. Unfortunately, in many other areas his notes were less cogent, sparse and often not even put into regularized recordings."

"Great!" said Jomra, "What do you think we will need to get this going, Enid?"

"Captain Bartholomew had some suggestions, but that it was my project to run. So I'm going to hand the documents out to your personal readers, anyone who wants copies has to come to me as they are encrypted via quantum routine between each of us. Your off-hours work, or any work done for the project on authorized on-hours similarly goes to those devices. I assume you each have personal systems?"

"Can't live without it! Music is my life. I don't know what I would do without all those lovely classical recordings of Def Leppard, BOC, Nazareth! They are so soothing and have such lovely ballads," said L'Tira.

"I believe I can say we all do have our own personal systems, Enid. We each have our own interests and your encrypted block should be able to handle itself on them," said Arrivan.

"Good! Set them to receive and I will do the handshake encryption."

Each nodded and turned on their systems, then Enid turned and shook each of their hands, and the systems then recorded that set of metabolic states and the transfers started.

L'Tira was first and then glanced at her device realizing that it was still transferring information and that much of her music collection was getting shifted over to longer term storage.

"Just how much of this stuff is there, Enid? The last of my 22nd century music is off, there goes the 21st... the 20th... my text and interactive collections...."

"I told you to upgrade," said Jomra, chuckling.

"I did upgrade, and have far more space than you have, in fact... there I'm down to... Plato's Republic is still left, some smaller works, but... you two had better get out some spares."

The other two Ensigns checked their pockets, opened up TriCorder compartments and started checking their storage flats and then added them on to their personal devices. Each handshake brought troubled looks as the recipients realized that they were getting more material than any of them had ever tackled on a single project or analysis document.

"Ok, I'll let each of you get back to your regular jobs and look to meet you... well, I assume you do have a regular research library here?"

"Yes, Ma'am, 5th by corridor 7, rooms 5100 to 5200, plus smaller meeting rooms and minor archival access points scattered around the station," said Arrivan.

"Did the Captain give you access to the staff areas, Enid?", asked L'Tira.

"He did and thanks, I took a wander around while I waited for the freighter to arrive. I take it that it is usually not on schedule?"

"Ma'am, when the Altax is on schedule, it ruins everyone's schedule here. This was pretty punctual, actually, only 4 hours late," said Jomra.

"I didn't think so by the way people acted. Well, I'll reserve a conference room at the main library and see you all there in..." she checked her chronometer, "two hours? Order up dinner and get it sent, unless there are replicators there, we will make it a working meal."

"Yes, Ma'am.." started Jomra.

"Enid, please."

"... Enid. I think we can be there now that our spare time has just vanished on us."

"Oh, its not as awful as that!" said Enid, "It's worse... see you there."

"Worse?" whispered L'Tira. Quickly each of them opened their personal systems and started to check what they had gotten.

"At least it is indexed and timelined!" said Arrivan.

"Yeah, and did you notice the raft of reports? Vulcan Science Academy Computer Sciences... Warp Field Studies? What? Comparative Logic Section, Logic Analysis Group, Field Logic Matrix Studies? MIT CS, Psych, Quantum Research and Design? What the hell...?" L'Tira was looking deeply at the hyperindex.

"Andorian Competative Studies CS, BioInfo, Compendium Compartment? I know our translators get a rough time of it, but what is that?" asked Jomra.

"I think it is their multi-team studies group for independent research and analysis projects." said Arrivan.

"Wow! Orion Task Group Intercept! The C&D folks looking to get underground reports on this. Then the SFHQ and SFC main groups....", L'Tira stared at the small screen,"... who wasn't consulted on this? That might be the easier question. I mean look at that list and there's the INTEL Orgs, Clandestine sections not by name, of course, but everyone knows who they are. Why all of these groups for a ship computer control project?"

Jomra glanced side-ways from his personal information system and looked at the stacked crates.

"Just what was M-5?"

Arrivan closed his eyes for a moment and then looked at the crates. "I think that is why she didn't have this stuff delivered to her personally and waited until now. Where is the place you would want to start Star Fleet archival research?"

"Oh. Here." said Jomra.

"Exactly. And we, apparently, are in over our heads."

"Looks like fun," whispered L'Tira, her felonid heritage turning that soft whisper into a barely heard hiss. The screen still scrolled down the index...

* * *

At the meeting everyone had trays with their meals, flat and holographic arrays set up in front of them, and multiple auxiliary information devices out on the table. Enid used a central projection system and the words slowly shifted to each viewer, each individual could see the text and any underlying diagrams and yet have a view of each other and not see similar text but the same diagrams when done in full up-mode. Flat mode was treated as text.

"Welcome to the M-5 Group! I will dispense with formalities as this is a working group of professionals and my experience in the bio fields, materials and systematics fields have tended to make these informal affairs, especially a few hours in. As the one running the overall study, I would like to show you the objectives...", here diagrams and schematics of M-5 along with the other M-Series rotated in the common projection space,"... First and most importantly is to verify we have everything on the past manifests. Star Fleet has lost some original equipment documentation, but Richard Daystrom kept his copies and we have those. From those I have a relatively complete component listing and even the contractual acceptance documents of the earlier M-1 through 4 systems. Since no one may have actually examined the contents of the crates containing all these systems, I expect other materials to show up as we go through them. Each item needs to be added to the common database which is cross-shared by our personal devices. That should not take a day or so, really, but two are given for it."

"An Ensign's work is never done!" said Arrivan.

"Second objective, is to get anyone necessary to do a thorough examination of the equipment delivered against the design specifications. For that we will need some expertise in doing such things and identifying changes while leaving them in situ. Any good sources for that here?"

"Yes, Ma'am. We have a section for doing that to an entire ship, from first design Cochran vessels all the way up to Heavy Cruisers and Alien vessels. Lt. Cmdr. Deter's section does that sort of thing as the Ship System's Appraisal and Conservation group. We will probably need a member or two of his team for this and to help address just what the M-Series actually did on a Fleet ship of that era," said Jomra.

"Mr. Jomra, my name is Enid and I prefer that in conversation. What do you prefer for yourself in these circumstances?"

"Ahh... Enid... I'm not the most outgoing of persons, really, and took up the engineering sciences and materials sciences to aim at a career in them. So I have very few friends, but with them I am Alex."

"Understood, Mr. Jomra. You are free to call me Enid when you are comfortable with that, and I will call you Alex from that point on."

"Thank you, Ma'am."

"I have no proper name in human terms, so L'Tira is my full given name, Enid," said L'Tira.

"And mine is Roger, nickname, preferred to my given name that only gets used in official records," said Arrivan.

"So, about the M-Series, why did your great grandfather go through 5 cycles of systems? What was his aim?", asked Arrivan.

"From all I have read, I think I can give the outline of the M-Series. The series was to be a real-time starship control system driven by computational construct. This was considered 'novel' research, not 'basic or applied' by the Fleet. Great granddad wrote a nice paper on the computational limits of duotronic software, even with quantum system design added in. That is still considered the basis for modern multitronic systems, but the faults given for duotronic ones are also present in the multitronic design concept. That is, perhaps, the most often cited work in the field for design architecture in computational systems. Star Fleet, however, does not like letting out awards and then getting back a paper showing that it can't be done. Especially after the Vulcan Science Academy, MIT, Stanford and Andorian Consortia looked at it and verified its contents."

"We have a whole documents section for those, it is amazing what Star Fleet has asked for only to have it come back: can't be done, and here is why," said L'Tira, "It forms an integral part of the 'negative thesis' view of science and has its own structure that theoreticians have worked out for all scientific endeavors."

Everyone chuckled at the 'If the Fleet asks for it, 30% of the time it can't be done' thesis.

"The next part was the 'basic & applied' part, where Richard Daystrom got the contract for the first full AI system based on the new multitronic design. Other designers were already working feverishly within the limitations that great granddad had published and garnered awards and visibility based on that fundamental understanding of those multitronic limitations. The first psycho-components for such things as personality re-creation, the heart of today's AI systems for things like the Holodeck, are all derived from the limitations of the entire multitronic design. That and the fact the system runs fast enough not to give an appearance to humans that it is an entire suite of calculations with vector matrices to give that appearance of 'real' AI. For all the glamor it is software doing that."

Nods from around the table, "Even the 'actualized' and 'self-independent' simulacra that have come out of things like the Holodeck are still based on the multitronic capability. A self-running 'Holo Doc' is still an extremely complex field program, for all its appearances of personality: it has evolutionary algorithms to adapt to circumstances and even 'grow' within limitations," said Jomra.

"Great grandfather had a different idea for the M-Series. He reasoned that the main problem with ship control is that the system was not an integral part of the ship. For all biological systems, the interaction between that biological basis and the cognitive portion is key for sudden re-configurations of thoughts and outlooks. If you could make the control system act at the organic rate of the ship, and self-control and adapt its own systems, then the ship would need less crew and the M-Series would react far faster than any biological system. That was the basis for the contract that started at M-1."

The small design sub-system in its structural container showed on the display, and then parts were removed and identified.

"One of the first things was to encapsulate software into hardware design, and that was full multitronic with some small quantum sub-systems for adaptability. It could not control even the simulation of a shuttlecraft because the basic software was unable to do anything more than just gain the individual readouts on a continuous basis. One of the most vital pieces in understanding M-5 is in M-1 and I have talked with a few theoreticians and can't seem to get the point across. Great grandfather's own paper said that a multitronic system couldn't handle this data load, and while it failed as a small scale controller, it succeeded in making sense of its inputs. Overall failure appeared to overcome minimal success, and that is when the talk of great grandfather 'being past his prime' for new conceptual generation started. It nearly closed down the contract, too."

L'Tira looked puzzled, "Gone beyond his theory? But thats... what...?"

"There are very minimal notes on M-1 as great grandfather was moving forward to M-2, and the only real insight is 'encapsulated matrix design'. Which is, apparently, gibberish to the CS and engineering communities, even today." A number of notes and other documents pointed to M-1 on the display. "Great grandfather was trying to take a step to a different computer platform away from multitronics, and it is housed in M-1's basis. There are just a few components found in M-1, like.." a schematic of sub-system within the circuitry came up, "... this modular memory system, used in real time display systems like the one displaying this stuff, that were part of the circuit dedicated to 'adaptive refresh'. While the encoding going on can be figured out and analyzed, what is happening inside the substrate of the module is not clear because it has a quantum feedback from the main system. And if you can't explain the 'how'..."

"... it isn't science! Oh how I hate that saying!" said L'Tira.

"Great grandfather preferred results, not theory, although he was fine with that, too. M-2 was to build on that understanding and he did a thorough front-to-back redesign to make a 'higher level integrated capability with oversight regeneration'. M-2 would also fail, although this time it was not an absolute failure like that of M-1: great grandfather had, apparently, re-invented the real time scale readout for all ship's systems and it could even modulate them within given parameters for each system. Basically a multitronic controller without the multitronic part doing any real controlling. He was... mmmm... 'dissatisfied with the results' but then went on to examine personality and latent mental functions while designing M-3. He utilized 'engram analysis' from the then available literature which served as a basis for human cognitive understanding and from there on out the emotional part of all the people who studied this stuff went off the scale. But his research couldn't be understood for multitronic systems by anyone, and that frustration obviously played a part in those trying to do the analysis."

"Even the Vulcans?" asked Jomra.

"Look at all the VSA papers and documents on M-3. There were no less than 100 in the AI field alone, and similar amounts from MIT and other groups. Great grandfather really couldn't explain what he was trying to accomplish after the incident with M-5, and his notes and research point to a different way of approaching AI that nobody liked or understood then or now. I've read a number of VSA documents in my own field and have learned to figure out when someone is being harshly criticized: great grandfather got that full-on after M-5. Which is why he spent his time whiling away his hours with multitronic systems only."

"And a few years after his death everyone was utilizing engrams in CS to describe everything in AI", Arrivan said,"Still, I take it that how Dr. Daystrom did it was not the same way that everyone else would do it, as none of the multitronic control systems in M-3 are in any way similar to modern control systems."

L'Tira was looking at the actual design images and getting the analysis papers along with Richard Daystrom's notes, "Then there are the things that don't belong in a system like this, like a Heisenberg compensator. I thought that was only for transporters?"

"It is the first anomaly to show up in the M-Series: starting with M-3 the system cannot be transported when turned on. It is literally impossible to get a transporter lock on it, and it even causes feedback to a transporter system nullifying the carrier. It even required a recheck after having a transporter used on it."

"You can't use the transporter on it?" asked Jomra.

"Not when turned on, no. That single circuit, alone," Enid brought up the subsidiary documents,"has over 300 papers devoted to it, 100 of which are pure engineering and no one can figure out why that works like it does as there is not a single other transporter related circuit in the entire schematic of M-3 through 5. And everything that could be done to isolate the effect was done and it only shows up with the full control structure of M-3. Which failed."

"How did it fail?", asked Arrivan.

"The M-3 was the first system to exhibit any signs of actual coherent programming for ship control and it failed in a way that was unexpected if understandable. When it was put into a simulator, it quickly announced that it could not properly handle all systems and then shut down."

The Ensigns looked at each other, this was obviously not a normal thing for any computer to normally do.

"Great grandfather was a bit amused at this and, instead of a full ship simulator they started at the other end with a space probe simulator and moved up. That worked, so did it work with a guidance system to a photon torpedo and then it failed at the one man shuttlecraft simulator. The team did try a few other platforms, even a theoretical automated ship, but none of them worked. M-3 had a limit on what it could handle."

"This brings me to our third objective: test to make sure all the M-Series equipment actually does work as it did when it was first made, save for M-5. I take it we can get ship simulations done here?"

Jomra nodded, "Yes, Ma'am, standard for our engineering and ship systems section, just about anything save the first few craft ever made can be precisely simulated."

"Thank you, Ensign Jomra, I had expected something like that here, considering the variety of material that flows through here. Do any of you have a good POC for engineering beyond the head of the department? I would like some suggestions, because this will obviously need someone who would be willing to volunteer for something like this."

"Ensign Enak Varda, he should enjoy something like this, he went through the Andorian Consortia system as an undergrad equivalent before moving to Star Fleet," said L'Tira.

The other two nodded, "Plus he enjoys Orionid puzzles, like the Lafitte-T'nga inference game, which is the closest thing you can get to being an unexplainable math game ever created. Scored fourth in the fleet last year, placing above a whole contingent of players who have been at it for decades," Arrivan said.

"Great! Can't make head or tails of those outside of the molecular biology specialty puzzles and those almost require a decent computer for final solution," Enid said.

On the table display system the M-3 faded and the M-4 came up.

"That brings us to M-4, the last of the devices before M-5 and the first to demonstrate real promise for shipboard control systems. Like M-3 it would fail due to a level of complexity problem, but this was a linear time-based systemic lock-up. It was the first of the series to ever test out on a full Heavy Cruiser simulation of a Constitution class cruiser. For all of 3 minutes. Just as the simulation was about to switch to warp drive, the M-4 locked up. It did handle a second round of simulations of pure normal space cruising, planetary orbiting and even able to raise shields and deflectors, but it would prove unable to handle combat management of the ship itself. The team moved down through the old Republic class of cruisers, which had received refits over time, as well as the Bon Homme class. That proved to be very instructive as both those ship classes had similar configurations, at least for updated designs, but stepping back into less sophisticated systems allowed the M-4 to demonstrate adaptability and it would actually be able to take a Bon Homme class ship into very limited warp drive for a minute or so."

"Not completely successful, as your great grandfather said, that must have been frustrating for him," said Arrivan.

"Yes, it was. He took a few months off to try and figure a way around the M-4 limitations as a few tweaks and tinkering on some side issues like memory or refining data input hadn't helped more than fractionally. M-4, for all it could do, was a highly limited system and, by that point, a few years into the M-Series, brought up some serious questions about his own abilities and that, perhaps, the M-Series was not the way to go. And this is where the notes and such kept by my family come into play, " she took out her personal system and placed it on the table and the display integrated a timeline of documents, notes and designs along the M-5 system schematics.

"That was a busy few months!" said L'Tira.

Checking his personal reader, Jomra scrolled down the list, "Freud, Jung, Myers-Briggs, Raup, Sepkoski, Gould, Einstein, Heisenberg, Feynman, Von Neumann, Kurzweil... back to the 19th century for some of this... and annotated! What was he looking for?"

"Well, who better to explain that than great granddad himself? Computer, document 3711, Daystrom, Home." Hovered in the display.

"Working." said the computer.

The M-5 schematics shifted down and smaller as well as the research list. The words 'Daystrom Home Journal, entry 3711' flashed and then Richard Daystrom appeared, apparently at home with a view from a kitchen with door and exterior deck behind him. Dr. Daystrom's complexion was strong, his hair a bit unkempt, and some lines of stress under the eyes and in his face gave lie to the relaxed demeanor of the entry.

"Journal entry 3711, Daystrom, private, M-Series. The main problem with the M-4 has been its inability to integrate engrammatic structure completely with its memory sub-systems. Adding memory is only incremental in a way of a solution and the amount needed for a year voyage would be the mass of an entire starship. That says to me that the biological model, overall, is good, but the cognitive model is lacking in sophistication. I had hoped that engram stabilizers plus light quanta integration would add the complexity needed in M-4, but that just isn't working. What is needed is a higher order of mental capability that represents, in computer ability, what humans have in our biological capability. Using the Gould Dictum - 'what isn't a good description at one level may be satisfactory at a larger or smaller scale' - it is time to refresh that early background as the amount of work the 23rd century has missed from that early era indicates an explosion of knowledge, but only some of which was applicable to a given problem. So what is right for biological systems may not serve for computer systems at a proposed scale, but may do so on a computational basis at a different scale. It is 'back to basics' for a month or two. End entry." The figure of Richard Daystrom cut off with the end date flash and the M-5 plus listing moved back into view.

"That explains the reading, I assume he had actually read much of this years prior to the M-Series work?", asked Arrivan.

Enid Daystrom nodded, "He had, look at his published work citation list for outbound citations..." a list of citations for all published works, fiction and non-fiction, that Richard Daystrom had contributed began to scroll over the M-5 schematics, "... he was a stickler for research attribution which was why he felt others were building on his work without giving proper credit. He had always felt that the citation allows others to check your background understanding and make sure that you were properly using that material, which is a common basis for understanding new work. I'm sure you have each done research projects, and have utilized the fleet standard look-up system, right?"

Each of the others nodded.

"Have you ever worked the idea-search, which is put in an idea that crosses your mind and the system does a complete indexing of everyone else who has documented that same idea?"

"Yes, I've done it for day dreams and even dreams, its a very interesting experience to see how your dreams actually do represent various ideas your mind is working on during sleep," said Jomra.

"That idea-based cognitive search was done by great granddad, and it is more than just a simple look-up or taxonomic search as it derives multiple ideas from your search, re-parses them, cross-indexes them, then takes that result and does the same thing again and puts a final sieve of your personal experience on it based on your personality profile. He created that to allow himself, mostly, to quickly find the base ideas he worked with and give attribution, although the profile sieve is generic to any profile. And a base-search still utilizes a generic profile per age, species, planet of origin and sophistication of query. It was his first work after the M-Series because, as he said, 'there should be no excuse for not properly citing prior work'. Now, of course, the lazy student just puts in their paper and gets a compendium of prior works which they then weed out and down, and that weeding gets added to their profile and the next set are pre-sieved for the individual."

There were some glances around the table and trying to not look at the central display.

"Hey, I've done it!" said Enid, "Great granddad actually intended it just for the lazy student, because the moment a proper instructor looks at that list they can pull up the co-list of basic questions to ask about the texts. Even better is all the previously done work either publicly or privately for that class are added in to start picking out anomalies. Most researchers stop doing that, of course, although new texts will get pulled up and flagged so that they know when they cite works they haven't read. It is a very good system, and actually aids learning and its expansion is still supported by the Daystrom Institute."

"Well, it is a fun way to find out just who you are repeating," said L'Tira,"still that is after the M work. Enid, you said that there was more work that Star Fleet may not have gotten, an 'M-5 Final', are there any clues as to what that is?"

Enid nodded, "Yes, in overview what great granddad started out doing was to create a good feedback system into a multitronic software component, so that it would cut down computational lag for ship control. He had tried to use his unique design work to allow the software to design and expand itself via the modular memory module system. That hadn't worked, so he shifted attention upwards in the system trying to get that ship control capability at a higher level, but found that as the internal self-design software got more complex the entire design needed abstraction of lower level functions. By the time he got to M-5 he had a complete set of higher level engram encapsulated self-design software that had a fully abstracted and multitronic computerized layer for ship interaction. He recognized that something was not working properly, however. Here, let me pull up his final report on the M-5 test on the USS Grant."

"USS Grant? Hadn't M-5 been tested on the Enterprise?" asked Jomra.

"It had," Enid said as she shifted through her files,"but like all good engineering he had to demonstrate it on a static testbed, which is where M1 through 4 all failed. Although 'static test' for M-4 on the USS Grant meant the ship actually was fully operational. Or at least enough to get M-5 demonstrated. Here..."

"On the display showed M-5 Testbed Report, Final, Richard Daystrom. Summary."

A more harried Richard Daystrom appeared on the display system as the schematics shifted down and out of focus.

"The M-5 system has demonstrated ship control and function capability, and passed its test targeting for weapons and defense systems. All engram systems appear stable with minor shifts due to self-programming and interfacing with the abstraction system. Some anomalous results appeared when M-2 was accidentally left on during the test and the M-5 had problems in utilizing spacial orientation until M-2 was shut off, at which point interference with the abstraction system disappeared. That is worth further lab test, but nothing that will hold up the full scale acceptance test phase of M-5. Star Fleet has signed off on this and all that is needed is an operational vessel for fleet tests and acceptance. In the interim I will see what caused the interference when the M-2 unit was left on."

"Summary Ends."

"Great granddad didn't have long between the USS Grant and Enterprise tests, as Star Fleet wanted to close this contract out. It is in that period that he started to draft the M-5 Final System and it is little more than a few sketches, a set of rough schematics and very little in the way of actual material. All of that is in the downloads on your personal systems and that includes scans of hardcopy, which I have the originals with me. The basic timeline..." the display went to a short timeline display"... shows M-5 lab return, and then a proposed return to the USS Grant in three to four weeks for M-5 Final integration and testing."

"That never happened, did it?" asked Arrivan.

"It didn't. That is where all the after-documents come in by the best minds of the Federation puzzling over just what happened to M-5. As we know from the various reports, M-5 committed suicide to the point where all internal programming was wiped out: there was nothing to test on the unit, M-5 had killed itself. When turned on it will only signal power in the unit, no software of any sort is present. All attempts to re-create it failed, also: nothing was bringing M-5 back."

"Nothing?" whispered Jomra.

"Believe me, for over five years Star Fleet, VSA, MIT, Andorian Consortium... they all failed. Not even the barest flicker of any programming activity going on in M-5, even when all the memory modules were removed, replicated and the duplicates re-initialized with original backups. Then the originals. Everyone was at a loss, and great granddad couldn't pin his finger on anything as his balanced mental state would not dredge up much of anything past M-2, and even that was traumatic for him."

"But its just a computer," said Arrivan, "surely something must have worked?"

"That brings us to point 4 - just how did M-5 actually get programmed and, if as every post-mortem indicates it was an unstable system, exactly why was it unstable? Was it, as most suggest, a systemic problem, or great granddad's engrams, or some combination? I am, actually, not proposing to get the original M-5 with great granddad's engrams up and working, but some idea on why it went unstable would be a help."

"Do you actually expect us to succeed on that?" asked Arrivan, "I mean we are just Ensigns, after all, and the best minds in the Federation put themselves through a lot trying to get M-5 working..."

Enid Daystrom smiled, "Actually, no, and I don't have forever to work on this project, either. But I will point out that all of you have the great benefit of being young, inventive, meticulous in your work and having some interest in past history. That is why you are all here, aren't you? Beyond marking time to ship assignments, that is."

L'Tira chuckled and nodded slightly, "True, and I think this will be fun! I mean we get to bother basically everyone around here for this, which is something that we just don't get in everyday work. I mean we have engineering, psychodynamics, computer sciences, cognitive research, ship system design... why its nearly endless!"

"And what about M-5 Final, Ms. Daystrom?" asked Jomra.

"That is the last point, Mr. Jomra, if we can get some insight into how M-5 actually worked, we just might get an idea of what the last ideas of great granddad were for it. A contingent point, but you never know, great granddad had very little system fabrication time laid out for M-5 Final, so he must have had some good direction to go in. He just never had time to record it all... when he was busy he took lousy notes. About his only failure in actual design work is that he only explained it fully once something was up and running. Instead we have his hazy outline that wasn't even fully fleshed out."

"So if I get this right the basic outline is: inventory and check items to make sure they match spec, as items 1 &2. Item 3 test the entire M-Series for functionality to figure out item 4, programming of M-5. And if we can do all that, item 5 becomes figuring out M-5 Final. Fair summary?" asked Arrivan.

"Yes it is, Roger, and I know we will need some cognitive sciences and psycho-sciences work, also, as great granddad's systems used his engram profiles. I really don't have a handle on that for the work you do here. Do you have contacts here for that, or is that something that we will need to get outside help on?"

"Enid, if it is just standard work-ups of the era and seeing how they fit with the programming, we should be able to get someone from computer forensics or one of the staff psychometricians who review ship and personal logs for historical review. Patti Dubois would probably be interested in that, as she is very fond of some of the personality types that have been found in computer equipment. Like that defense system left by the Kalandans." said L'Tira.

"That sounds good, and a contact with the forensics team should probably on-board, too, for documenting the systems once we take them out of storage."

"Miss Daystrom, I can probably handle getting the contacts as I know a few of the central staff pretty well. And the forensics team would be involved pretty easily as they would normally be available if we were doing this for the fleet. Since there is a contract between the station and you, I assume that you are giving the fleet access to the material we find?" said Jomra.

"Most definitely! For me the work and seeing that great grandfather's work and reputation are finally put to rest and closing out his estate are the priorities. I don't want to close the estate and just donate the equipment to a museum, as he believed, even in his deteriorating state of mind, that there was something in his work and we do have proof he knew what he was doing."

"We do?" L'Tira asked.

"Of course we do," Arrivan said, "the deaths on the USS Excalibur are proof enough that M-5 worked. We just have to avoid that sort of result."

"As I'm more into species level interaction and not cognitive interaction, all I can say is that great grandfather was extremely talented, even if unstable by the time of creating M-5. So I am leery of working with the material just as he left it, that is a bit... much for me to want to revive. Well, an alternative might come up as we are going through the M systems. I think we can conclude this meeting with you three coordinating for personnel through Mr. Jomra, and looking a bit more at what was actually used to test the M-Series. It is unlikely that any of the original equipment is still around, especially the simulators, but it should be pretty easy to replicate up duplicates or adapt modern systems. If the pallet is safe in the CS area, then perhaps we should look to reconvene in two days? That should get time for any fielding of questions between sections, which I can handle, while you three are sounding out individuals and looking for the test equipment... and perhaps I should talk directly with the forensics section as I really do want the unpacking done up to all standards?"

"Commander Korvos is who you want to there, Enid, he runs a tight section but should have a hand or two for documenting and cataloging equipment in-situ, and then someone to spare on the engineering side as we go along. Probably as-needed."

"Wonderful, and thank you L'Tira, Roger, Mr. Jomra! You should all have my personal contact authorization and don't hesitate if you need me. I'm used to that and shouldn't be handling any hostile life forms as is my usual stock and trade."

"Ah, just what is your specialty, Ma'am?"

"Megafauna predators, normally, Mr. Jomra. Carbon-based, although I have done some carbano-silicate ones. Nothing smaller than wolverines, really."

"That's your specialty?" asked Arrivan.

"Yes," she said smiling, "so an unruly officer in Star Fleet is something I should be able to handle, if need be. Still, I will take any ecosystem impacts into account before collecting specimens."

They all smiled at that.

"Two days, then?"

Nods and agreement by the three Ensigns.

"All right, meeting adjourned. Next one in two days, and a larger conference room, probably the one down the hall if I can snag it."

* * *

The next meeting in two days was much expanded, with a larger conference room, table, and a cross-section of people from the various specialties of the Star Fleet Archive Section, Equipment Division, Mars Branch.

"Have I missed anyone?" asked Enid Daystrom. Looking around the room she was a bit put back, only seeing the three familiar faces of the Ensigns close to her and then a mixture of races and fleet sections in what had become a 12 person team, herself included.

"Welcome to the M-5 Group! This is the second meeting of this group and I am really quite stunned at the capability that Star Fleet has here. For most of you this is an off-hours working group, and I know many of you work together during normal hours which is a real good help, as I only have a few ideas outlined in the first meeting, of which each of you now have in your personal data stores. Really, I hadn't come to expect to do this much and I thank Star Fleet for its on-hours that will be devoted to this project, even if that is not much as such things go. I saw that the original destination for M-5, after a quick check-over, was the storehouse on the surface and that no one really expected me to show up with great grandfather's original contract. But it is in my care and I intend to do final justice to his work, good or ill, so that we can finally lay his estate to rest and close the books on his life"

"The M-Series was, as he told everyone while he worked on it, revolutionary beyond Multitronics. Apparently many didn't think so at the time... you have their reports. If that is so, then it is what I have lived with all my life and, really, expect no better. But, as my great grandfather had contributed so much to helping the sciences in his final years, I feel that familial honor must lay M-5 to rest once and for all. We have seen many events over the intervening decades, from the V'Ger event to the Borg to running across multiple sentient computational systems, and yet none have been designed along the lines of the M-Series. So, today, I am really here to act as coordinator and allow each of you to work at your areas of specialty. Most of you have been in contact with me or one of the First Team of L'Tira, Mr. Jomra or Mr. Arrivan. For this project there is no rank to be pulled: I am the one handing out assignments and expect each of you to cooperate as a flat team. With that I will turn Phase 1 over to our forensics team contact, Miss D'gorna..."

Enid sat down at the head of the table.

"Thank you, Enid!" Miss D'gorna stood up, a slim member of one of the smaller humanoid races near the Romulan Neutral Zone, with some apparent Vulcanoid features but those lost in the subtle red hues of her skin, "I'm from the Forensics Team and all of you know me and the team pretty well, and we will be directing Phase 1 of uncrating the M units, inventorying them, checking for any storage and in-transit damage, and then assisting each of you with your specialties in the other phases. Whenever pieces need to be removed for replication or for forensic analysis of software or hardware, we will be the ones to call on. The original workers had replicated much equipment already and that, too, is part of the inventory process and many of you will be working with those items or freshly replicated ones and not original material. Apparently this is one of those things that wouldn't matter normally, but with the M-Series the late Dr. Daystrom had left specific instructions about not trying to use replicated materials without proper safeguards... he never did tell anyone what those safeguards were. We spent the last day and half going over his materials and I've looked at his personal works and there is nothing of a hint as to what replication did to his equipment that makes it non-useable."

"Miss D'gorna?"

"Yes, Roger?"

"Did any of the previous researchers try to work with replicated materials?"

"That they did, and they saw no difference between original or replicated materials with M-5."

"Just M-5?"

Miss D'gorna smiled, "Now you are catching on to something! I dug a bit deeper and found that not a single research team had tried to replicate any of the parts from other M units. Even the personal papers of initial investigations of the original M unit failures do little more than a few cursory notes that said..." she looked down at her personal viewer,"... 'memory modules that have been replicated need recalibration before installation'. That was looked into, and deeply, but no one could figure out why that recalibration was necessary, just that the unit, M-3, failed to initialize if they weren't."

"Recalibrated? Did they say how, Miss D'gorna?" said a male Andorian.

"Enak! Glad they roped you into this! That is something that is never specifically stated, save for 'test system on the Grant' or 'auxiliary unit on the Grant' or even 'Daystrom Labs recalibration procedure'. That last is one of the earliest reports on M-3 and the later from M-4 and M-5 tests. Whatever it was, it wasn't shipped with the rest of the materials into storage, so it was, presumably, something relatively common or easily provided by the late Dr. Daystrom."

"So there is something missing from all this?" asked Enid.

"Yes, Enid, we had talked about it earlier and I looked into it and nothing like a recalibration unit or set procedure was specified in any documents, just a handful of references in the documentation. Just like the missing 'safeguards' in his instructions. Gone missing after the original incident and follow-on, and he couldn't remember what they were. This is particularly frustrating to the forensics team as we are used to dealing with replicated pieces as a matter of course, and we appear to be severely limited in doing that until we know better what is going on."

"That has to be it, then, for this project: limited replication and safe tracking of all pieces that have not been previously replicated. Can you do that for us, Miss D'gorna?" asked Enid.

"Happy to! I'll work with security on that and get a containment system put in place. This will be at the CS labs? Or elsewhere?"

"Bay 3, Miss D'gorna, the CS department requisitioned a full bay from the analysis area since they have no large scale projects going on." said Mr. Arrivan.

"Even easier! I'll contact security to set it up and get the admit list from you, Enid."

"Any other questions for Miss D'gorna? No? Great and thank you! Enak? You will be handling phase 2."

The tall Andorian stood up. "Most of you know me, Enak Varda, from engineering in the Systems Integration group. As Miss Daystrom has me in charge of phase 2, the full stand up of each of the M-Series, I will be working closely with each of you for your specialties. Particularly the CS department's Roger Arrivan, but also with Patti DuBois, to help in determining the operations of the later M-Series units, and members of our in-house Ship Systems Simulations group. That would appear to be critical in testing out the M-Series and we have the detailed specifications of how the simulations were done in the late Dr. Daystrom's work. We can improve substantially on that, of course, but ensuring that nothing has gone awry during this period of time requires original specifications work. Our group will be the ones to help transition the work to the next group for full assessment of programming and some original programming work when necessary. Any worries for this phase, please, go through me, especially needs for test and eval equipment. I'm tackling that special problem for the initialization of Memory Modules and how they integrated into the system and the intended ship. Really, no one has done anything like this since the late Dr. Daystrom's time as it is unusual. And our department has put together a special team to tackle the, ah, M-3 mystery of why the compensators stop lock-on by transporters."

"Are there any questions? Yes, Patti?"

A woman sitting at the table spoke up.

"In reviewing the documents, it's apparent that Richard Daystrom used his own psyche profile for the M-5 and the rest of the M-Series, and yet that full document is missing from all the work. There are pieces and sub-sections relating to various parts of the last M-Series units, but a full work-up is missing. Are you the one I should go through to get that?"

"I think I have to turn that over to Enid, Miss Daystrom?" Enak asked.

"Great grandfather apparently saw fit to wipe those from the M-Series documents," Enid started, "However, his medical records are under the control of the estate and I can easily get them for you. I just have to head down to the base secure communications area to contact my representative on the estate. I hadn't thought to include them, but if you need any of his personal medical records, do let me know. He had stipulated privacy, but this is contract work concerning his mental capability, so those are pertinent and vital to this work."

"Thank you, Miss Daystrom," said Enak, "any other questions? Yes, Mr. Jomra?"

"Not a question, really, but I was wondering, if the simulations are lacking something, is there a physical testbed that can be used instead of a simulation?"

Enak Varda smiled, "I had actually anticipated that, Mr. Jomra, as the M-5, and really the entire M-Series was to be put on a heavy cruiser for full evaluation, I am going through SFHQ to see if there is an engineering testbed available. It seems a shame that the Jovian Graveyard is so close and yet we can't utilize it for historical work such as this. Perhaps this might get someone off a padded seat at SFHQ and help us a bit with this. I will be going through our Base Captain for the request."

"A CA? Won't that be hard to get?" an older man asked.

"Ah, Mr. Jervis, from the Physics section, if memory serves?"

"Oh, yes, Physics and Spatial Physics in regards to ship design and dynamics, along with Astrophysics. We are a cross-over department between the pure Physics and Engineering sections. We don't get to do much of this sort of work, but obscure ship systems that control warp drive units is something of a specialty of mine, well, hobby really. But our section has tried to get a ship for out system observations of historical events and have had no luck in over a decade of trying. Even just a frigate would do."

"I do understand your frustration, Mr. Jervis, having been a sign-off on at least three of those requisitions. This time, if I may be so bold, we do have a difference," Enak said.

Mr. Jervis, a bit on the overweight side, but not physically unfit, looked at Enak who looked at Miss Daystrom.

"The name Daystrom carries weight with it. Sad to say, of course, but its not what you know..." Enid said softly.

Mr. Jervis smiled, "I do understand, who is on the petition, especially someone who has a natural association with the Institute..."

"A familial position only, really, I don't have any say in affairs there..."

"Be that as it may, Miss Daystrom, it is there as a fact. And the Daystrom Prizes, of course..." Mr. Jervis continued.

"And I have no say in those, either, its done by committee just like the Nobels are..."

"So, Mr. Jervis, we just might be able to get something a bit more regular worked up, even if it is with the Engineering Corps cast-offs," Enak said.

A slight chuckle and murmur from private words exchanged went around the room.

"There are times when being born a Daystrom has its disadvantages..." Enid whispered softly.

"Any other questions? No? Enid?" Enak sat down at the table.

"That brings us up to the end product of this which will under Mr. Arrivan and L'Tira, along with Patti DuBois to figure out. Have you three gotten this worked out between you?"

"Yes, Enid," L'Tira said standing,"as Roger will be busy trying to implement the work that Patti finds, I will get the fun of helping a few of the engineers, physicists, and assorted others to get M-5 into an operational state. This does have some problems, as M-5 self-wiped due to its actions during the ship trials. Richard Daystrom left very scanty notes on exactly how he went about programming M-5 and even less on what his 'Final' was supposed to be. I hope that those left on the project by then will have a good working knowledge of the systems... and if we do get a physical testbed... then Enak you will have to help us in the move, set-up and installation. I am inter-group liaison, is what it comes down to."

"I think the proper term is that she is my XO," said Enid.

"Thats me!" L'Tira said brightly,"So I hope we can keep the X-ing and O-ing down. I know most of you and, I don't want to be out of line, but there are a few minor conflicts between departments, not that I intend to talk about family matters in front of guests," she glanced at Enid Daystrom who smiled a bit,"so lets keep that to the departmental staff meetings, ok?" She looked around the room,"General consensus out there? Please?"

Various people sounded off with 'yes', 'sure', 'aye' and so forth.

"No Fleet family matters in this group once we get that far. I'm not really a specialist and getting something way beyond my rank in the Fleet, but I like Enid, think M-5 is a great project and really want to see what it was that Richard Daystrom had in mind. Look, I've been on a couple of smaller groups for things much larger than this size wise, and really love this sort of work. So when we get to the last stage, our mind has to be on M-5, not squabbles on resources and assignments. This isn't about you, but the dead on-board the Excalibur, done by the creation of a man looking to save lives in the Fleet. It is for our dead comrades that we can seek to lay this to rest once and for all."

There was a general silence, a few very shocked faces realizing for the first time just what it was they were going to be doing. Mr. Jomra and a few others had their heads down in prayer or meditation.

"For the Excalibur," whispered Enak.

"For the Excalibur," said Mr. Jervis.

"Yes, for the Excalibur, may her dead rest in peace once and for all," said L'Tira, "you all understand, now?"

Nods from around the room in assent, Mr. Jomra lifted his head and quietly said 'yes'.

Enid stood up,"For the Excalibur, may the Fleet come to forgive my great grandfather for his transgressions."

L'Tira turned to Enid,"I think we can, Enid, many have decades back, that remember this."

"Thank, you, L'Tira. If there are no other questions, I will hand the group off to my XO and Miss D'gorna. We will be breaking up into working groups after this, but a weekly session amongst the groups should help a lot. One week, this room, same time, if I can get it."

"No other questions or concerns? Then this meeting is adjourned."

* * *

"This is the third meeting of the M-5 group, and thank you for everyone that could make it! Mr. Jervis and Miss Lorimar are out on assignment, and Mr. Jomra is nursing a cold and taking care of it so cannot be here. Luckily neither of those not here have concerns to bring up at this meeting, so I will turn it over directly to Miss D'gorna. Grace, if you would?"

"Thank you, Enid! As phase 1 has the progress report, let me update everyone. All of the M-Series units have been uncrated in the secured Bay. For that the group sent its compliments to the Captain Bartholomew and Lt. Cmdr. Rogath, along with a dinner attended by any who could make it. And we also brought in Lt. Esdra from SFC for a public look-back at the M-Series units. Which, while the outcome of the entire M-Series was pointed out, the greater contributions of Dr. Richard Daystrom and the Institute were given center stage."

"Grace, if I may?"

"Of course, Enid."

"My special thanks to L'Tira and Enak, they are the ones who designed the jackets and emblems you have for off-hours wear, as well as the logo featuring the Excalibur! 'We Do Not Forget' I believe sums it up quite well, and I understand that at SFHQ having such things is a tradition, dating back to pre-space flight times. In our own way we are also doing research, and my thanks to both for their work. Especially as no one informed me of the Public Affairs interview until a few hours beforehand."

"Black Bart strikes again!" whispered Arrivan.

"I am coming to understand that phrase, now... sorry about that Grace, back to you."

"My pleasure, Enid, and my thanks also to L'Tira and Enak, they have now given us something that is just enough different to make a few people envious. But that we can handle out at our normal staff meetings, let me assure you."

A few chuckles here and there, 'biolabs are peeved' someone whispered.

"Oh, hush, Roger. Enid has already given them a presentation on Vulcanid carnivores seen on Estes V, so they shouldn't be that upset, especially as it is pre-publication work. For once they have an inside track on things to start requesting resources. Now back to where I was..."

"We have completed the unpacking of the M-Series units and have done a full set of scans prior to internal examinations. All of the units were well packed and conform to pre-pack specifications and data, so there is nothing of concern on that end. All of the manifests have also been checked against originals that Enid brought with her, that did set back a few people... how many paper based manifest lists are there, these days? I haven't seen one in forensics for at least 7 years."

"Next up we checked on all replicated items on the list done by prior researchers, and that includes a complete M-1 and M-2 unit that were discarded once all studies were done. Their whereabouts are unknown, but most likely thrown into the disposal systems for atomic breakdown. A complete manifest of everything that is 'safe for replication' is now in your data stores, just make sure to not go overboard with that as they are all confined to this working group and Bay 3."

"Any questions so far?" Grace asked.

"Did original source programming code come along with the systems?", asked Arrivan.

"Let me see..." Miss D'gorna checked her personal system,"... we have complete code for M-1 through 3, variant and integration code for M-4 and 5. It should be noted that the M-5 source code was judged 'unable to operate in M-5' by no less than four independent studies. So take the M-5 work with a grain of salt as something just isn't right there. They checked against design modifications and other source material and were unable to get any of the M-5 code to work, including the most basic and unchanged code for the normal duotronic and multitronic systems on it. So I would say that you have your work cut out for you, Roger. Plus nothing Enid brought even hints at alternative source code being around anywhere."

"But M-5 worked with it!" said an older officer.

"It did, indeed, Lothar, but whatever happened when M-5 wiped itself was one of the most thorough jobs ever done by any system I have ever seen come through here. Believe me, I've seen forensics on a lot of systems that went out one way or another, and it has always been possible to coax something back in them. Even that ancient Moskadic probe that USS Sutana ran across, even that we could get back to some condition once we got the phase shift interlock key going again. M-5 is much more stubborn than that, and yet all its material designs look to be in perfect order. Even when two previous teams replaced the non-responsive sub-systems, and with very simple ones for things like power management, M-5 would not respond. They did put the originals back in place, but I don't consider those 'safe for replication' because of the failure. I've re-indexed the previous analyses, because they were thorough and it should be a relevant search for your questions on that. Stanford, MIT and VSA all failed to get M-5 up and operational, which I think is a testament to the late Dr. Daystrom."

"He was frustrated no end, really, and he even had to be taken off of consultation after a year or so because of that as it threatened his mental stability," Enid said.

Grace D'gorna nodded, "He was a good man and I am coming to respect his talents in a way I never had before, Enid. The M-Series are truly remarkable in many ways."

Enid Daystrom smiled and nodded her head, saying "Thank you," softly.

"Now on to something more interesting, that even Enid may not have known! It appears that SFHQ had a secondary contract on further development of M-1 and M-2 as emergency ship return systems. That only showed up by a late-term Request For Change in the prime contract while M-3 was under design/development. That was the only instance of it mentioned in the prime contract, and it has taken awhile to actually go after those documents as they are not included in those things sent from SFHQ. I've routed a request for that documentation through Records at SFC and Mem Gamma. The preliminary is that a sub-team assigned by Dr. Daystrom worked with SFHQ on this under SFHQ, not Dr. Daystrom's team. That is why it's documentation isn't here with the M-Series, as the Fleet felt that this RFC Contract break-out was something separate from the M-Series itself, although dependent upon it."

"What?" asked Enid, "My great grandfather's work was supposed to be under his purview."

"Yes, it was," Grace said, "unless he authorized a waiver, which he did for the M-1 and 2 variant development systems. Those documents were held out from the follow-on analysis teams after M-5 as it was a still active contract and under SFHQ safeguard by the Fleet Engineering Corps. What they could not do was actually take M-1 or M-2 out of the prime contract and had waivers for test development cycles. That is interesting as it places all of the M-Series on the USS Grant simultaneously which is also something overlooked by previous teams, although the MIT group did look at the M-2 and M-5 incident, but came to no conclusion except, and I quote, '... the M-2 system had not been switched to power down and M-5 could not integrate ships systems with M-2', end quote."

"That is an odd way to phrase it."

"Yes it is, Enak, very strange. MIT is usually much better at these things, but they also got the follow-on contract along with the Tellerite Wayfaring Organization and so there may have been some difficulties as the observer was a Tellerite."

"I think that about wraps it up for the week, Enid," Grace concluded.

"Thank you Grace! Enak?"

"Thank you, Enid. Phase 2 is starting its pre-ramp up phase, and we have most of the test and eval equipment rounded up. Most of the work right now is to ensure that the equipment works, identify possible failure areas and work with Grace to start the replication process on those things that can be safely replicated. We have turned up no clue on what the initialization process is or what the equipment was that is referenced for the memory modules. I'm having a few people try and track down some personal logs by those that worked on the project with the late Dr. Daystrom, but so far that has turned up nothing of value. As the M-1 and 2 variant project is of interest, we are also assisting Grace in putting out inquiries on that... as you know Fleet work for some matters, especially unsuccessful contracts and work can often be... ah... misplaced. Inquiries to Mem Gamma are also going out for the public records, of course, and any public donated records by individuals."

"Any progress at looking at M-3?" asked Roger Arrivan.

"We are getting the core copies of the systems of the M-Series from Grace and should be able to provide those relatively soon. The M-3 team is looking to get a full duplicate of M-3 made, even though the they will be limited to having to use new replicated parts, and not those used on the system. They are also looking at doing the same with M-1 and 2, though that has lower priority. Although Mr. Jervis isn't here, I think we should hear the progress report and Roger is standing in for Mr. Jomra. If you would, Roger?"

Roger Arrivan stood up, "Our station has gone through channels to SFC seeking the requisition of a platform for testing the M-Series, as you know, with the full authorization and backing of Capt. Bartholomew. On the unofficial back-channels and 'who do you know' network, we have gotten some feedback and pushback from the Engineering Corps. Mostly its of the sort that we have come to expect on the 'why should we waste effort on this?', but the actual Fleet Records Division is standing up to do the requisition, at this point, going all the way to Commodore Rafiq. As you know from her it is one step up to the SFC-Federation Council and she has a chair at SFHQ staff."

"What? I mean we fall in her Division, of course, but we have never had any sort of help on this question at that level before..."

"No we haven't Patti, and this is the unofficial back-channel understanding as I have come to know it, which makes for an interesting time. Her grandfather was second in command of the Excalibur and her father served in command of a frigate squadron along the Neutral Zone, so she is keeping a family tradition when she joined Star Fleet. She may be looking to put a ghost to rest."

"Oh... my..." Patti said.

"As some of you may know she is in line for the SFHQ chair slot at the SFC-Federation Council, having 'punched her ticket' via 3 command tours, 1 diplomatic tour, 2 production/construction tours and an SFHQ Staff tour. In two years, if all works out, she will be Admiral Rafiq and Chair of the SFC-Federation Council, but she still remembers the family stories of her father and grandfather which is why she joined Star Fleet."


"Yes, Enid?"

"Jackets for the Commodore and Captain, my compliments."

L'Tira smiled a somewhat feral smile, "Of course, Enid, my pleasure."

"Was that Eloise Rafiq?" asked Commander Lothar.

"Yes, that is her name..." said Roger.

"Thought as much, Captain Rafiq stole the BHR from us... the second time."

"Oh, dear god, Lothar, you don't still hold a grudge from that, do you?" asked L'Tira.

"You weren't here then, L'Tira, and, well, after cleaning it up once the Fleet returned it to us and we had just finished all the interior work... well... damn it, she waltzed in with an order from SFC to hand it over to the Federation Diplomatic Corps, again. I wasn't here the first time that happened, way back when the Constellation class was shaping up. Instead we got that dog of the USS Athens for the museum..."

"Lothar! No laundry, ok?"

Lothar looked at L'Tira, then nodded his head, "Yeah. Sorry L'Tira."

"Wait a second, by the looks of everyone here its a topic that is a bit sore and... ahhh... I feel a bit like everyone has a secret and I'm left out," Enid said.

"It's just dirty laundry of the base, Enid," L'Tira said.

"But a sore point?"

"Yes, but...

"I want to hear about it..."

A few moans. "It might take a bit, Enid", said Lothar.

"Can you all take a repeat for a bit?" Daystrom asked of the members in the room.

L'Tira looked around, "I think so, Enid, but if anyone wants to take a breather while its on, I think that should be ok..."

Enid nodded. "Ah... what is the BHR?"

"Oh, sorry, Enid, that is the USS Bon Homme Richard, oldest ship in the Fleet."

"I thought that was the Republic?"

"That is the oldest, continuous service ship in the Fleet, the BHR is the oldest active and is the generation before the Republic."

"I know its tangential to the project, but why the hard feelings?"

"Computer, service record, BHR."


"Full visual, 3D, text, conflict annotation."

'Affirmative... displaying...'

"After the first contact with the Romulans the first heavy cruisers were built to start policing the border, using the old Cochrane/Vulcan warp drive, and having to de-warp to actually confront the Romulans. Those old ships didn't even start with deflector screens, but armor plating... they started out white, but the radiation intensity of the warp pocket close to the hull turned the armor black and so they became the Black Ships of Star Fleet. The Bon Homme Class, with that friendly enough moniker, were pure warships and had little space for research equipment at the time. The Bon Homme Richard was the first constructed and saw almost immediate action along the border. The last encounter was a pretty large one for the time, with 6 Federation heavy and 8 light cruisers pitted against 18 Warbirds. That turned out to be a supply base for the Romulans which they destroyed, not wanting it to be captured as the battle turned against them. The BHR was given up for lost until it finally limped into contact range at warp 2, about six years later. Out of a crew of over 350, only 20 survived."

A tactical schematic came up of the BHR and then the battle, showing the ships involved and a 200x sped up battle representation.

"I never knew..." Enid whispered.

"The Engineering Corps took her in, and decided to testbed systems for the Republic class. By the time Republic, Grant, and DeSalle were operational, the Corps did an upgrade job on Bon Homme Thomas, George and Louis, then a final re-grade on Richard. The Bon Homme Richard had two significant first contacts after that, one with the Andorians, and Enak can tell you that from their side of things, and the second with the Klingons that resulted in a slugging match between two D-3 cruisers against the BHR. The Klingons refer to her as 'The Black Lady', which tells you what happened in the slugging match. After getting towed back to the solar system it was fully expected that the BHR would be decommissioned, and it was brought into Mars orbit with a fleet mobile dock for repairs. Way back then the Constitution class were still just a concept and that is the first time the Fleet would renege on its promise to have the oldest ship here."

The display showed the encounters, ship types, crew lost, outcome... Enid just gazed at it, as did a few others... they knew the story..

"So the Constitution equipment got its testbed, the BHR. That ship was actually re-armored by the Vulcan Star Probe group, beyond getting better deflectors and shields along with that maximum warp 8 system. The Corps really didn't want to see it come back battered again, so it was put to use for the Diplomatic Corps. If you remember the first encounter with the Gorns and then the diplomacy after that probably didn't get too well recorded. That first set of diplomats from the Gorns, or whatever it is they called that group, was ferried home on the BHR. That trip got a rude awakening as the Romulans had a cloaked surprise package waiting to take out the BHR as part of an assault on the Gorn sector base near the triborder area. They sent a brand spanking new heavy cruiser against the BHR, and about 8 assorted vessels to screen the base until the cruiser could get in and give its finishing touches. They thought they were going to get a standard heavy cruiser, they weren't prepared for the BHR. Turns out that plasma weapons don't work too well against Star Probe armor. The last message they got off was that 'The Black Eagle has awakened'."

The encounters, ship and base were brought up.

"This time she came home beaten and battered, but at warp 6 so no real complaints. The Corps was getting ready for its X-Class systems and the BHR was pulled in for those, saw another round of the Diplomatic Corps, with only a few minor dust-ups. They didn't call it the Ambassador Class of ship for nothing."

"And the ship came here after that?"

"Yes she did, Enid. It was expected that the BHR would take her place here instead of the USS Athens. The Athens had been left in Jovian orbit for a few decades and needed a lot of work, while the BHR was in decent shape and could easily be decommissioned and given a museum detailing. I was here, back then, going through my post-cadet tour and the Bon Homme Richard is a beautiful ship, even with all the changes over the years. It was to be a centerpiece of Star Fleet Engineering representing different decades of work. But, things didn't work out that way. Captain Rafiq shows up when we were about 90% done with the work and the BHR had been decommissioned. Her orders were to take her out to SFHQ and the BHR was to get Oberth Class upgrades to see how well they went with prior construction work."

"That was before the Dominion war, wasn't it?" Enid asked.

"It was, " said Arrivan, "and there are rumors, well... don't let me interrupt, Lothar..."

"Rumors?" Enid asked.

Lothar nodded, "The main one is that Capt. Eloise Rafiq was part of Fleet INTEL/COINTEL and they needed a ship to, ahh... check into some things. Now the funny thing is that the BHR was never taken off of the Diplomatic inventory of assignment opportunities, even while decommissioned, and while we were doing finishing a number of tours went through it. That included a number of engineers from the Utopia Planitia Shipyards. We thought they were doing historical recording.... but..."

"But? Ok, what's the mystery?"

"Enak? You want a go at that?"

"Sure! Enid, the entire Galaxy Class went from ship proposal to working testbed in less than a year and then from that to first ship entering service a year after that. Two and a half years before the testbed the Fleet took the BHR back to SFHQ and the Galaxy Class was rushed into service very quickly thereafter. Right before the Dominion War."

"What happened after that?"

Enak looked to Lothar.

"That is of some dispute. The BHR is still on the ship rolls or the old 'Ship of the Line' rolls, at least, which indicates still in-service and active. It has been taken off the Diplomatic Corps inventory after leaving SFHQ, at putative Galaxy Class capability and it is rumored that it has served in the Clandestine Services. Even a report that she was put into the isolation docks at SFHQ about, what was that, 2 years ago?"

Nods from around the room.

"Possibly Sovereign Class upgraded which would make her the most upgraded ship in the Fleet. She was never fully decommissioned if you look at the official record, now. Yet our historical records show that she was and belongs here, at the Museum. Lothar?" said Enak.

"Basically, there are those of us who remember that ship and its history, and we have the documents that put it here for the Federation peoples to have to commemorate their history. And Commodore Rafiq, she was part of that. I guess its not so much a grudge as... just missing something that should be here."

"Thank you, Lothar, that is more than just dirty laundry and very interesting on its own."

"My pleasure, perhaps I am a bit obsessed, but, I feel there is reason to be that way."

Enid Daystrom smiled, "I don't blame you in the least, Lothar. Enak? What is happening for a ship testbed in overview?"

"That is the interesting part, at least to those in the ship systems unit. A number of vessels tend to get heavily re-used for testbed work, and those are mostly the undamaged ones. Really only 30% of those in Jovian orbit are heavily damaged beyond expedient repair as the gravity system of Jupiter and its moons tend to over stress those vessels with critical weaknesses and break them up. The moons act as a cleaning system, either nudging debris closer to Jupiter or ejecting them out of the system... or having the debris impact on them. That has happened a few times to full ships, actually. The Yellow Fleet is coated by the ejecta from Io as they pass just outside its orbit to just inside and that is also the set of ships with the most drag on them from the furthest extent of the Jovian atmosphere in the sub-Io orbit. That and induced electricity tend to crystallize impurities in structural components and break up vessels, although that can take decades if not longer, and the tender base does work to pull those ships to higher orbits. The next ring of ships are the 'Fleet Archive' of ships, ranging across all classes, these ships are the ones that had better stand-down servicing before being decommissioned and de-powered. Very little attention is paid to them, save for avoidance of other objects in orbit, and that is the job of the tender base. Outside of that are the re-use ships, the ones that the Engineering Corps has tended to re-utilize for different projects. That inventory is 30 to 50 ships, depending on definition of 'recent', with the smaller number being 20 years and the larger being 70 years or so."

"So it is one of those that the Corps is being pressured on?" Grace asked.

Enak nodded, "Yes, and since they have had some level of maintenance, even if it has only been on active decks and power systems, they are also the closest to quick re-activation. But due to their nature their actual ability to go into service is variable. Not all tests work out and the unsuccessful ones tend to get left in place. I believe the term used in the Corps, for some reason, is 'The Chop Shop'."

"We don't need something fully active, do we?" asked Patti.

"Not in the least, really, and an older vessel might actually be easier for an M-Series system to handle. Although Richard Daystrom did try to make them 'adaptive', one would expect there to be limits to that adaptability."

"Any rumors on what the Corps is actually looking at, then?" Arrivan asked.

"Yes, there are about three or four names that come up, but one is of interest to the group, I think."

"Which one?" asked Lothar.

"USS Grant, the original M-Series testbed."

There were a few murmurs around the room.

"The ship my great granddad used?" Enid asked.

"The very same. I would say we have a one in four chance of getting that, and perhaps a bit more due to name recognition," said Enak, nodding.

"Daystrom, again?"

"Not just your name alone, Enid. It is the sister ship of the USS Republic," said Lothar.

"Oldest continuous serving ship in the fleet..."

"You are catching on to how some things work, around here, at the historical section," Lothar said, smiling.

"I see, it is far more interesting here than I imagined. Anything else on your section of the project, Enak?"

"Not at this time."

"Thank you! Roger, Patti and then L'Tira."

Roger stood up, "First let me thank those who have helped on the code analysis of the M-Series so far, we are still going through the bulk of it, and while we have some initial conclusions, I think that by next meeting we can give some initial overviews. Patti?"

Patti DuBois stood up as Roger seated himself.

"First, thank you Enid, for your great grandfather's psychological and personality profiles. With those we have been able to help on the coding work and have identified some of the basic engram encoding structures in the M-Series. Apparently there is part of the code that is static, or only slightly variable based on engrams. The actual data storage of the engrams in the units is that of the coding system for such psychological and personality profiles of that era. While the profession has gotten more refined and changed its outlook in a few areas, those basics of understanding were present when Richard Daystrom did his original work. I think that how and why he encoded engrams the way he did is a key to much of the mystery, but that was something that puzzled a number of researchers who initially worked on the M-Series aftermath analysis. I have kept my reading from them down to a minimum, however, and limit it to technical details."

"Why are you taking that course, Patti?" asked Lothar.

"Normally I would go over everything related to such a construct, but then I am more used to dealing with alien systems and thought processes. Quite frankly I don't want to bring pre-conceived notions to a human created system, and I am trying to treat it in my own mind as an alien device. By looking at it that way I just might be able to bring a fresh perspective on the work of Richard Daystrom."

"And sometimes genius really is quite alien to how we think," said Lothar.

"Very much so. So I try to contribute to the decoding team with the basic psychological structures for that work, but then try to approach the whole thing as an alien design: we can know its parts, but that doesn't mean we know the whole of it. That is all for me at the moment, not much else from my area as we are still ramping up there. L'Tira?"

"Thank you, Patti, and everyone! I really am new to this kind of thing and quite surprised that Enid put me into an XO kind of spot. And I've been very busy trying to keep up with everyone and I think my spare time has disappeared completely. There are some commitment and resource problems at a couple of areas, but nothing that can't be addressed, I think. The next ship assignment list looks to be a month delayed, so the Ensigns and Yeomen will be here for at least that long, while a new post-Cadet group will be cycling in next week. Let me know if you see any prospects for a short-timer Cadet to contribute! We need that in analysis, CS experience, and ship systems work, along with just about everything else. It looks like the 'hands-on' portion is hitting us just in time to hand out some off-hours practical experience."

"L'Tira, perhaps we could work something out with Captain Bartholomew to exchange project time for work time for Cadets?" Grace asked.

L'Tira nodded, "This is a pretty odd situation, but I think we might be able to work that. Let me run it by the section heads for you first before going to the Captain, as they each have some leeway on what they consider 'practical experience situations' to ensure Cadets get their hours logged."

"Sounds good," said Enid.

"Beyond that we are expecting the Altax this week, and it looks to be a weapon analysis load, mostly hand weapons from the Ferengi and Cardassians, plus one of the early Romulan Cloaking devices, if I am reading the manifests correctly which I may not be given how lax the SFHQ to SFC out-process procedure is. That should wrap it up, save for a dinner with the retirement of the Captain of the USS Ventura taking place here and the normal museum escort duties. Nothing else after that."

"Thank you, L'Tira! And let me say that I am still amazed at how quickly everyone came together on this project. I know only a few can get to these meetings due to regular duties, but the help by everyone is beyond anything I've experienced in my biosciences work. I have also come to a far greater appreciation of great grandfather's skill and mental capability. I have always known he was a special individual, but never just how special that was. It is like you are all giving me part of my family back to me, and I cannot thank you all enough for that. That should close out the meeting, unless there are any other questions?"

She looked around the room, "Seeing none, I will close it. Next meeting will be at the conference room by the Bays as this one is taken next week. That should be in your personals already. Meeting adjourned."

* * *

"Welcome to the fourth meeting of the M-5 group! I'm glad to see Mr. Jomra, Mr. Jervis and Miss Lorimar back with us. Cmdr. Lothar is out supervising the transfer of the recent delivery to his section from SFHQ. L'Tira any general news the group needs to know?"

"Thank you, Enid! The second biosciences presentation went off very well, with a few SFC members of the Fleet Science section showing up. Enid had some pre-publication work to discuss and that always gets interest as we all know - nothing like getting a leg up on the competition. The ion storm between here and Mem Gamma has dissipated, and we were very lucky to get some Mem Beta time, although mostly for other sections of the base, we did get some of the USS Grant logs covering the time that Richard Daystrom's M-Series project was going on. The Gorn Embassy sent over a contingent to tour the Museum and working artifacts section, they appear to be interested in differences between our perceptions of history and theirs. Even decades after First Contact we really do have some troubles explaining what we use and why we use it, and bridging that gap is important to the Federation as it is a sticking point on further treaty work with the Gorns."

"L'Tira, if I may?"

"Of course, Enid!"

"Some of my first work was on sentient carnivores, back when I was first in University, and the Gorns were one of our trouble spots as their cooperative mentality system is highly different from most other species. We have figured some of it out - that Gorns have more than individuality, they have shared ideation. That is ideas do not necessarily come from an individual, but arise from the interaction between many individuals. This is also their history, no one individual holds it, but once a sufficient number are present, the entire Gorn history is also present. I was asked by Captain Bartholomew to present what our historical research and investigation would be doing and got some first-hand experiences of how their history works. Their group was only 3 individuals, but they were specialists in the historical area and had a near complete racial memory at their disposal. They, apparently, liked the research that I had presented and asked them why... and their answer was that 'Richard Daystrom made sense, even when disordered, and found a good idea'. As they don't do much in the computational area compared to the Federation that was, frankly, not what I expected. So that is a thought to mull over. Thank you, L'Tira."


"Yes, Patti?"

"Did they explain it further? I mean, this is one of the few times, outside of purely technical design work, that they have offered something on theoretical knowledge. The Federation had to crack how they communicated and put their ideation together as the Gorns had no interest in it. And then, even cracking that system, we still can't figure out exactly how or why it works. They are one of the most puzzling races, not fitting clearly into any psychological category system."

"Sorry, Patti, you can run the presentation through on your own system and the base has it, too. Hadn't thought about it from that angle, which tells you how well I did with that early work and why I switched to basically non-sentient carnivores."

"I'll tag it for SF Psyche group at SFHQ and SFC. I will have to check on it, but, really, why this work?"

"I have no idea, Patti. L'Tira? Back to you definitely!"

"Thank you, Enid. Actually this project is far more interesting than anything I've ever had to do at the Academy or at my home world educational institutions. For all the fact its over a century old... its just plain fun!"

"You're working too hard..." whispered Mr. Jomra.

"And you should be taking care of that cold!"

Mr. Jomra shook his head and smiled, "All these centuries and still no cure...."

"A common complaint, luckily I am immune due to biology. Now... ahhh...", L'Tira checked her personal system, ".... Jackets and Caps got sent, and hope everyone has the replicator number for them! They can be 'knocked off' by a sensor scan, but they change color to green if you don't have the proper encryption in the configuration. Yes, it is easy to get around, if you are Roger Arrivan which, thankfully, very few are."

"Just a glitch in the compensator systems and how the molecules get assembled. I assume most projects do things like that to discourage the lifting of items."

"Well I had never seen that happen before!" said L'Tira.

"Different biology," whispered Mr. Jomra.

L'Tira ignored that, "And that should round it up for the pre-meeting material. Enid?"

"Thank you, L'Tira. I have nothing more to add, so I'm turning it over to Grace..."

Grace D'gorna stood up and smiled at the member in the room.

"Thank you, Enid and again my thanks to everyone on the team! I can't really say the last time I've even heard about a project like this getting this sort of interest from the participants... really, most of our lives here are a bit sedate and we are more in the 'catalog, document and file' sort of business. We do have many historians working with us on projects, of course, but almost all of those are historical review and highly specialized. So, let me say that I had one minor displeasing, if very minor thing pop up and it was due to 'operator error'. As you know many of us play the 'Stop Wasting Memory Base Time' game, in which we try to ensure that the Category 3 questions rarely show up. So after 3 years, 6 weeks, 2 days and 7 hours I got my second lifetime Category 3..."

There were a few smiles and head nodding around the room.

"Grace, what are you talking about?" asked Enid.

"Oh! Doctor Daystrom," Grace started out in a more formal tone, "bothering the Memory Base systems is something that has a limited question allotment to users. Once the Mem Base system is busy with people looking up and doing deep archival work the answer rate from it slows. Have you ever had to get archival research or material from the Memory Base organization?"

"Ah... yes, three times."

"And what were the responses like?"

Enid furrowed her brow, "Two required research time and one came back as a 'null' for no information available."

"Not bad, three out of three! The 'Stop Wasting Memory Base Time' game would categorize those as Two Category 1 and One Category 2, each of which are useful research responses. As the Mem Base system serves as a major archive system for the Federation and the Fleet it also has, within Category 2 responses, such things as 'seeking extended archive review' at other Memory Bases as there is some specialization amongst the bases. A re-submit is null in the game, just indicating some technical problem in transmission. That then derives the Category 3, which is, and I am sorry to say I had this happen to me after the last meeting: 'Available at local storage to you.'"

"I see, which means..."

"They are basically pointing out you didn't bother to search locally, first. As a major archive system we know better than to waste Mem Base time and we endeavor, for each and every query, to try and make sure we have done a local query. And I did! Really! When looking for the secondary project for M-1 and 2 I thought that I had done that here and to SFC plus a few other research and archive systems in Sol System. It turns out that I had specified for a Daystrom derived ship system based on research work by Richard Daystrom and directed by him. That actually got a long list of projects for the fleet, but none of them fit the bill for this locally, so I went and used a Memory Base query for it. The very next sub-space return message had in the local data store location: I had bothered a Memory Base with a local look-up. What I had overlooked, however, is that one of Richard Daystrom's co-workers was leading this research project and under a non-M classification. So that is a reminder for everyone: think it out before bothering Mem Bases."

"It happens to all of us, Grace!", said Mr. Jervis.

"And what is your Cat 3 lifetime, Reggie?"

"That is painful, Grace, it is 5 over 27 years."

"Yes, it is painful, and as historians we should appreciate not wasting other people's times for things we should be finding ourselves."

"Point taken, Grace, and you are very thorough, you have kept my inane queries down from a high level and thank you for that. Just don't be so hard on yourself..." Mr. Jervis trailed off.

"Not to worry there, Reggie. With the information in hand I found out that the derived work had actually been delivered here 70 years ago. Pulled up the files, schematics, inventory list and then found a few stalwart cadets to go down to the surface base..."

"Have they found the Lost Ark yet?" asked Patti.

"It's still in Ethiopia." said Roger.

Rolling her eyes, and shaking her head, Grace continued, "... and only two days later they were back with the material. So we now have more to add into the project as the local Commander has used his discretion to allow us full access to the materials. Black Bart has his good side, you know."

"So we hear," whispered Enak.

"My crew went over this as this is just an 'open and check' operation, mostly to ensure the storage system remained secure during the intervening time, and a scan for any changes in material all the way down to metallic crystallization. The rest of the material I uploaded to our on-base system and then sent it all to the group systems during the week and it has been available to those working on the early Phases. Unless anything else comes up for forensics, the bulk of my team's work is done on Phase 1, although we will still have an observer on the project and I will be attending further meetings as it is, as L'Tira says, a fun project. We are finishing up the major work by helping out on the start-up of the systems, running the indicated diagnostics and so forth. That should be done in a day or so and then we are observers and consultants after that."

"What about the actual units and replication status, Grace?", asked Arrivan.

"I uploaded a list and sent your team the source code that was included with the project, but let me give the basics for everyone. I think it is safe to say that the full M-1 and M-2 units can be replicated as the derivative contract indicates that was done at the time. From that contract we have full replications of M-1 and 2, and then three variants of M-1 and one variant of M-2. Including variants and the main M-Series we now have five M-1 systems and three M-2 systems, with complete list of all equipment contained available for replication. There is also 'auxiliary equipment' in the derivative contracting material, including what looks to be some sort of M-1 to M-2 cross-connection system. They were trying to get the systems to enhance amongst themselves to reach what they considered 'optimal capacity' for interfacing with ship systems. The overall contract failed to do that, but their design and test notes are now with everyone and they are actually more complete for those units than the M-Series notes."

"Was there any specific T&E equipment with that contract?" asked Kathy Lorimar.

"Yes there was, Kathy, and while that was for the M-1 and 2 work, it should serve for the M-3, also, as it was indicated as using the same test equipment. And I think that should wrap it up for me, and, really, Phase 1. Enid?"

"Thank you, Grace, and your team has been outstanding in this work! I have seen the larger professional museums in New York take less care than your team has, and that is first-hand experience. If anything major comes up from your area, I hope you can give us updates?"

"Of course or my alternate, although personal interest will probably keep me attached to this project, much to the chagrin of my staff. Plus the jacket is useful for surface work."

"Great! Ok, now to Phase 2 which is now in play. Enak?"

"Thank you, Enid and my personal thanks to Grace D'gorna, as her help in sorting out the ins and outs of the forensics and materials study group has been a great boon to me in understanding just what we are looking at. First on the records search. We have accumulated the direct records of the USS Grant from Fleet Archives, so the entire history of the ship is available from the Command staff perspective over its history down to the Lt. Cmdr level for all sections. Along with that the Fleet Engineering Corps has sent us all of their records on the USS Grant, which includes the standard logistics material but has concentration on the special projects area."

"Is there any word on actually getting a testbed for the project?" asked Mr. Jervis.

"I will say that through official channels the Corps is still making up its mind."

"And the unofficial?" asked Roger.

"For that, I've been talking with Mr. Jomra who seems to have a few contacts beyond mine there. So as to spare his voice and not irritate his cold too much, let me say that unofficially the Corps has sent a basic restart crew to the USS Grant last week as the ship had slipped into 'Yellow Fleet' status. They haven't tractored it out, and may be looking to get the ship out under its own power via impulse engines."

Mr. Jervis was checking a personal unit and calling up something, "Enak, if I may put up a display?"

"Of course, Mr. Jervis!"

The holodisplay put up Jupiter and its system, pinpointing the moons and then circling all ships and fleet installations with pips and annotations. Then a thin yellow shell moved around Jupiter and some 20 ships were identified and then the USS Grant showed up.

"Just a moment I can do better than that, let me get the Ganymede observation platform..."

The display shifted and zoomed in to the USS Grant, passing a single nacelle DD class ship as the display zoomed in.

"The running lights are on!" whispered Jomra.

"Still too early to say, but..." started Enak.

"What are those under the nacelles?" asked Kathy, "That isn't X-derivative pylons, either. Not Oberth class. And the engineering hull, looks like it has been partially swapped out port/starboard. Well, it is a testbed for experimental systems, but you would still think the Corps would have some design pride... Lothar will have a fit if we get the Grant. A 'nice' fit, but still, not a happy one for an hour or two."

Sections of the ship highlighted, "Looks like two active decks in engineering plus nearby crew quarters, one of the fusion systems up and running, but barely," said Jomra.

"We should know in a week or two, with the way bureaucracy works," Enak said, "but that is hopeful. Mr. Jervis can you send that display routine to our personal systems?"

Mr. Jervis looked up, smiled and nodded, "Of course, glad to! Let me get it out of the way for you, Enak." With that the main display turned off and sent the display routine out to the group.

"No matter what ship it is, and it does look like we will get one for basic testing, at least, we still have much work to do with the M-Series, which now includes the secondary contract vehicle. Phase 2 has pulled in a few people, plus some Cadets in tracking down more biographical information. We have Enterprise logs covering the M-5 test and look to have the possibility of the original Contracting Officer's personal logs and records as his familial held estate is willing to share those with us from the personal side, so we can fill in some of the background on the official side. Autobiographical material from two of Richard Daystrom's co-workers has been found, also, and we are sorting out the period where they were actively involved with Daystrom and the M-Series. Beyond the Fleet Psychological profile data and Enid's personally held data we were able to find Richard Daystrom's course material prior to the M-Series at the MIT archives along with some staff records there. That is it for background material, now on to T&E, if there are no other questions on the background?"

"Any help from VSA which had the initial review work with Dr. Daystrom after the M-5 problems?" Grace asked.

"Nothing as of yet. Even though long-lived, there appear to be no surviving Vulcans from the original Daystrom era, so family records are receiving an inquiry, but you know that Vulcans are particularly tight-lipped about such things in deference to their ancestors."

"That is understandable," said Patti,"it is possible that a family may feel that releasing such is not in alignment with their ancestor's wishes or with familial tradition. Well, they also have other by-play at work."

"Which is?" asked L'Tira.

"The name, yet again, I'm sorry to say Enid. Still they will know you are not associated with the Institute, so that may not carry as much weight."

Enid Daystrom sighed, "That has been a problem in my life, really. My brother Karl and sister Ushanda have had similar experiences, even though they are in engineering and social sciences. Making your way on your own and trying to distance yourself from the effects is difficult, to say the least."

"Obtaining background material will remain ongoing during the course of the project, from what I understand, and your personal systems should be keyed in for the items of interest to each of you. And thank you all for contributing good note material, and analysis on past work, as without that some of the documents would be very difficult for non-technical specialists in other areas of expertise." Enak paused to check is system and then projected a list of equipment.

"It appears that the early M-1 through 3 T&E equipment was shunted to the other contract. Similarly the original documents to the M-1 and 2 and its variants are in there, along with specific designs and goals. Engineering assures me that none of the equipment is out of the ordinary for the era, save for the ship simulation computer, which underwent modifications to simulate everything from a simple space probe to a a few theoretical starships that were in design stage. We will be doing a power-up of M-1 and M-2 this week with initial self-tests and diagnostics, and a possible look at cooperating with the next phase for some basic simulations. And that brings us to the original M-5 code, and that is Roger's territory. Roger?"

Roger Arrivan stood up as Enak seated himself, "Thank you, Enak."

"Enid had supplied the known source code for the M-Series from her great grandfather's archives, and we also had the Fleet contract obligation code to go by. What is interesting is that there is a code difference between the archived source from Dr. Richard Daystrom and the contractually delivered code. That delivered code is substantially shorter than the original with regards to both M-1 and 2. In reviewing the code it was apparent that this was part of the code complex describing basic decision capability by the system. Since that is not my specialty for identification I put it out to a few team members and, well, Patti?"

Patti Dubois stood up, "It was interesting what Roger handed over, and once I got it into something a bit easier for humans to read... ahhh... no offense Roger... it looked like something done at a very primal level of human reasoning. As the late Dr. Daystrom was credited with putting engram content into the thought complexes of the M-Series at M-3, not earlier on, and none of the documents list any real engram interfaces beyond the 'adaptive matrix' material, this was actually new material to review. If, from what I understand by Roger's work, the multitronic system couldn't handle this, then it would go missing in the final delivery. Roger?"

"I think you should give an idea of what the code was doing, Patti..."

"Oh! You aren't all specialists in that, are you?"

A few smiles and even a chuckle or two were heard in amongst the group.

"Starting out at the very basic area, and Enid should be able to back me here, all life forms with any sort of mental capability have a direct interface to their body's state of being, as it is an essential aspect of making sure you stay alive, this thing known as knowing when you are hungry or being too hot or cold, or even something like the absence of a vital element in living, like oxygen. Together these form the most basic inputs to any being with mental capability and allows the ability to have directed survival. I understand perfectly why Richard Daystrom utilized those engrams, as they are a basic part of reinforcing modalities of survival. It was those exact, same pieces of code that went missing in the M-1 and 2 code as delivered."

Patti sat down again as Roger Arrivan continued.

"Thank you, Patti, because these are basic parts of what he was trying to accomplish, Dr. Daystrom had to have those somewhere in the make-up of the M-Series. From there a Daystrom code search across the code on all the systems found that code in M-1 through 3, and the M-4 search is still processing as it is far more complex than any of its predecessors. Dr. Daystrom did something any researcher who feels that they are being snooped on or may have intellectual property stolen would do: he hid the code. We had thought that the memory module sub-system was just an interactive memory pool, with some coding structure given to it, which is the basic conclusion of the researchers and the evaluation documentation. By looking at the original code and where it wound up, Dr. Daystrom, instead, shifted emphasis inside the code structure and almost set up a duplicate and coordinated computer system using memory modules. I've asked Enid to request one or two of our code mavens to come on board to start de-tangling it, but from a day or so of going over it, the memory module complex, once considered secondary to the M-Series may, in fact, be the point of the M-Series."

Murmurs from around the room.

"He hid an entire computer system within the M-Series?" asked a man sitting in Lothar's normal seat.

"That he did Simon," addressing Simon Lurva of the ship systems unit, "and very well, too, considering how many researchers have missed it. Even with the other M-Series units turned on and working, with test systems recording everything, no one found it. I only found it because of his original, archived code material which he had put into archive before incoming criticism of what he was trying to do. By pointing out a multitronic system could not properly encode nor work with engrams as he was doing it and later code advances would take place long after M-Series work, his critics and co-workers would not have access to the more important, non-multitronic code. His original code was very direct, actually straightforward, in the source comments by him, of putting the engram interface into an evolving computational system in the memory modules. After that criticism he stripped it out for M-1 and the basics of M-2 and hid it. So that early code is pre-system code or at least pre-stand up and test code."

"What you are saying, then," said Simon, "is that he utilized a very staid piece of storage technology for computerized interfaces?"

"That is it exactly, Simon. The puzzle of why the memory modules seems relatively straightforward, and by utilizing simple interconnects he was able to scale up computational power at a small fraction of the necessary energy used by a multitronic system. Just look at the graph of the number of them present in M-1, 30. By M-3 that had risen to 400. By M-4 it was in the 6,000 range. At M-5 there are no less than 135,000 of those modules packed inside the M-5 unit, by then stripped of casings and made into a dense sandwich of module layers."

"That is... amazing..." said Enak.

"It is, Enak, there are some extreme problems with the memory modules, but I'm starting to understand why and how those were attacked. The code will tell, of course, so I hope we can get a couple of more eyes to hit the code. Enak? Patti?" Roger Arrivan sat down.


"Yes, Enid?"

"Are you saying that my great grandfather's paranoia started at the beginning of the M-Series project?"

"I... uh... Enid, by the time he was ready to assemble M-1, he had changed the code, added in the memory module sub-systems and altered the system. That had to start somewhere after the project started, as his archives show, and the time of first assembly, that being 3 months later. I can't talk about his mental state, and you will have to judge his actions for yourself."

"Thats... Roger, that isn't my area of specialty, nor is the computational part, which is not my area of specialty. I'm shocked, really, that he may have had mental problems at the start of the M-Series as everyone had assumed that happened due to contractual delivery schedules and timing after M-3. Beyond hiding the code, is there any other reason he could have had to do that?"

"Ahhhh... that is something I have spent the past day or so thinking about. He had one of the most acute minds in computational capability, information physics, and its attendant subjects, as well as about 20 hobbies in the sciences. A true polymath, and I can't rule out that he had some other motive for this shift in emphasis at M-1."


"Yes, Miss Lorimar?"

"Did this change actually effect the functionality of M-1? Would it have worked as originally coded?"

"I think that is something we will find out by doing. I've chatted with a few others on the team about this and I will have to see if we can get something a bit more formal together, maybe an hour working lunch if we can arrange it. The general feeling is that it wouldn't have worked as originally designed, but no specifics before we create an original, as specified before changes, M-1."

"Why did he change the code?"

"Beyond the hiding of the code, itself, this would have had to come at the stage where some initial sub-system results were available but before assembly. As it would also be the basis of M-2, Dr. Daystrom had to be confident that he had a right track to be on with the systems. What, exactly, that track is, we don't know, but we do know that he had recognized the limits of his computational platform. This is becoming a major part of our work, at this point and the full T&E group will be looking at it. So results based questions will have to be put off for awhile, yet."

"Thanks, Roger," Kathy said nodding and taking notes on her personal system.

"Basically, once we get the M-1 and M-2 devices set up, we should have first results. We are looking at some code analysis routines to do forensic work on them when running. After that M-3 and M-4 will have the same done to them to understand their coding, along with figuring out what M-5 code would look like. I will say that the very basic code at the lowest levels is identical for the previous M-Series units and the module space for this section of code is identical in M-5. So we may have the minimal basis for where to start in on M-5. Any other questions? Patti, anything else from your side?"

Patti Dubois nodded 'no', "Not just now, Roger. I will be talking with a few people this week trying to get some insight into Richard Daystrom's life before the M-Series work."

"Ok. Enid, it is back to you."

"Thank you, Roger. Mr. Jomra, you apparently, are still sporting a cold, but that didn't keep you fully sidelined as it should have."

"Thank you, Miss Daystrom, it didn't. Excuse my voice, even with all the surface restoration medications and procedures, they just don't work well against the cold virus and the body's reaction to it. The unofficial, back-channel word I've gotten is that the Grant will be donated to the museum after the M-Series work. There are a few issues of contracting that are still left open by the mental problems of Richard Daystrom... and... hmmmm... the Engineering Corps had committed to a full system evaluation. Although the contract went through close-out for resource commitment at an active level, two issues were outstanding and the archive section here has been getting those Fleet side documents. One of the dirty little secrets of the Engineering Corps is that they just have a hard a time getting test-bed, front line ships as does anyone else. The entire Jovian ship array is from the sort of thing that happened with the M-Series, in which the Fleet is still obligated to provide a ship, did provide a ship and that ship still awaits final contract work."

"Mr. Jomra?"

"Yes, Ms. D'gorna?"

"I was pretty stunned to find that out, way back when I first came out of the Academy and into Fleet training, but thought that it applied to just a handful of ships. Perhaps just four or five. Are you telling me that each and every ship in Jupiter's orbit, minus the unsalvageable, are there under un-closed contracts?"

Mr. Jomra sniffed a moment, then closed his eyes, "Ms. D'gorna, salvage happens under contract, too."

"It does at that," she sat back for a moment then looked a bit more intensely," and the ships that SFHQ has powered down?"

"Under contract for final decision at SFC, of course, which includes ship restoration for those vessels to go to museums, re-grade to system protection vessels for vital systems not needing warp driven ships or at least not high speed warp ships, and, of course, re-purpose to other use. Each of those can have an open-ended status as some Federation requisitions for protection vessels, as an example, don't get fully executed. That becomes a tug of war between the Fleet and the Council and many of those end up in deadlock. Outside of experimental contract work, salvage contracts, temporary holding for sanitization and museum restoration, over half of the ships in Jovian orbit are stuck in limbo, contractually. Those ships that are not worth time and effort to salvage end up being taken by the planet or one of its moons in a final manner, and that closes out those contracts. That sometimes happens to other vessels under limbo."

"Starships allowed to just... impact a planet or moon? That doesn't seem reasonable."

"Miss Daystrom, it isn't. But there is one very good reason the Corps does so... no, actually there are a number of them, but one that seems to go above others."

"Which is...?"

"Personnel resources."

"Huh? Why is that a big deal? Can't they get enough resources to actually do the work?"

"Enid, if I may?"

"Sure, Grace, I am very puzzled by the attitude taken."

"As you have been on a project or two in your specialty, you know that you can never get all you want within the limits of your resources, right?"

"That is a given, I'm afraid... ah... I see..."

"Star Fleet has a limited number of personnel that need to be allocated to staff the various sections of it, and the front line ships, supply vessels, base staffing, communications security... all of that has priority over most of the Corps' work. So there is a feeling, and, Simon, correct me if I'm wrong but you have the best high level contacts for that in our group, that if you don't ask for absolutely everything you need, you will not even get half of it."

Simon Lurva nodded, "Less than half, actually. This allows the Corps to ping other parts of the Fleet hierarchy for giving them too much to do and not enough staff, resources and time to do it. That becomes a political tool, especially with those contracts caught at high level deadlock. Recurring Open Commitments, as they are called, and its always a good place to show that more work needs to be done the longer something waits. The Engineering Corps has grown utilizing those for expansion."

"Heaven help them if they ever got the staff they asked for, as the draw-down would shrink the Corps into a very small cadre," Grace said.

"That is insane!"

"That is Star Fleet, Enid."

"And there is one other factor in the case of the Grant, and that is the prestige of finally ending the Fleet commitment to the M-Series project. While the Daystrom side got summary close-out on delivery obligations, the internal Fleet side did not. That was necessary for the examination of the M-Series and then the Grant got pulled in on another contract, while the examination phase was cycling down, and that final paperwork was lost in the shuffle. The Contracting Officer who now has it will have the distinction of having closed out a Yellow Fleet contract," Simon smiled, "because there is only one close-out Contracting Officer for that entire section of the Corps and that individual is usually very, very busy."

"You all realize this is destroying the romantic notion that Star Fleet actually is run well and has some idea of what it is doing?" Enid said, smiling wanly.

"Welcome to our universe, Enid, time to grow up, " said Grace.

"I suppose so... do go on, Mr. Jomra."

After taking a sip from a small cup, Mr. Jomra checked his personal system.

"That is the main issue for the Grant, the other, though, was also important and that is the contract work to remove the various test projects and restore the Grant to Fleet Operational status."

Simon looked at Mr. Jomra, "Lothar will have a fit... how much work needs to be done?"

"Beyond the M-Series there are at least 5 major system testbeds and perhaps 3 times as many in the nature of minor tests umbrellaed under larger contract commitments."

"Lothar will go FTL on his own..." Simon was shaking his head.

"Ok, I think I can decipher that a bit, now. If the M-Series was a major system then there are 5 others of similar scope?" Enid asked.

"Yes, Miss Daystrom. The most unsightly of which is one of the two excess warp core systems."

"You can't have three active warp cores on a starship!" said Miss Lorimar, "You just can't coordinate them."

"The were put in sequentially and previous ones powered down, so only one was active."

Kathy looked shocked.

"Simon, I agree with you, Lothar will have a fit of epic proportions when he gets on board the Grant."

"I've loaded in the overview documents pulled up from Mem Beta and the full detailed work is expected next cycle for all the contract work. That can be worked around, I think, though Lothar will have to haggle for some shipyard or drydock time. I can't picture a simple restoration by the Museum in under 5 years based on the Athens."

"Anything else?" Enid asked.

"I don't think the Corps will be having any anti-matter to spare for ship power, so it will be fusion operations."

"That is to be expected, really," Simon nodded, "and they will probably be skimpy with fuel delivery, although if we can get on-board early enough we may be able to solve a bit of that."

"Yes, there is Jupiter to consider," said Mr. Jomra.

"Jupiter? What has that got to do with starship fuel?" asked Enid.

"Most of the fuel of a starship is hydrogen kept in liquid form and then fused via electrostatic containment or used for finely controlled matter/anti-matter annihilation. Jupiter is mostly hydrogen, but getting it is usually the problem..." Mr. Jomra started.

"You can do it," Simon continued, "but its just not efficient. For all the work done on ship protection, the ability to get a finely tuned system to go through the intercoolers as an intake and yield hydrogen back is still minimal. It is on the books as an emergency technique, but usually yields far less fuel than is used and such is the case here. Replicators aren't really able to do this as they need hydrogen and energy to start with: they are just elemental reconstruction devices. Normally a large harvester is used, and most of those use cometary solar diffraction of water and other elements as it is cheap and easy to do out of major gravity wells."

"Might have to hit up the trade network, then," said Grace.

"Yes, that might get the hydrogen. Not the anti-matter," said Simon.

"That is it for now, Miss Daystrom."

Mr. Jomra sat down.

"Thank you, Mr. Jomra. L'Tira, any last issues to go over?"

"Thank you, Enid! As you know the cadets have arrived and we have a few that have already been shifted over to the project. I'm working with Patti and Lothar to do a time exchange by Capt. Bartholomew, and that should work its way out this week. No CS specialists apparently, sorry Roger, but a number in Engineering, Astrophysics, and crew maintenance. Also the few officer trainees coming through on their training cycle. Keep your section heads informed and I will be doing the cross-over work with them. Other than that, caps and jackets sent out, Gorns still deciding on visit," L'Tira checked her personal system, "the Altax should be keeping the Space Sciences group busy with a long range 22nd century probe that Fleet ran across a few years ago... weapons section will get more Cardassian work... CS group will be getting an old Romulan space analysis platform... and the Deep Space observation group will be giving presentations this week. It should be relatively light this week, in other words."

"Thank you, L'Tira. Any other thoughts or observations?" Enid asked looking around.

The members of the team were either nodding 'no' or closing up their personal systems.

"Then I am closing the fourth meeting out. Thank you all for the wonderful work you've done and I'm sorry that we ran overtime, but the room wasn't scheduled for anyone else."

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