Friday, December 12, 2008

The M-5 - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

"Welcome to the fifth meeting of the M-5 group! Also let me give special welcome to the Gorns from their Embassy at Earth who have taken an interest in our work, as this is a technical working group meeting I do not stand on formality or rank, and anyone may speak their mind so long as the actual topics don't get too sidetracked. As the Gorn individualization naming convention is not amenable to anything that is easily translatable, they assent that they are Group Lead, Human Knowledge and Technical Knowledge as rough approximations of their current roles. We appear to have pretty complete attendance today, and I know that is due to the results that we are getting along with this rare opportunity to work with Gorns. That said I would still like L'Tira to go over any loose ends or general news that some of us may not have heard... I know I have had long hours on this project helping to sit-in when short-handed, and even though the work is relatively easy for me, as a non-technical person in the fields you work in, the data itself is vital. L'Tira?

"Thank you, Enid! And let me echo that, too, as sitting down with a group of computers and checking system status, entering in commands, and recording what happens has been something I hadn't expected in the Fleet, and we actually held a seminar with the Museum Contract Officer earlier in the week and that helped me understand just what it is that I was doing and why it fit in with the program. Also having the previous contract acceptance documents was a huge help in cross-checking what I was seeing, thank you to Patti for showing how to have those available when I was sitting there.

"Now, beyond that, and the briefings by SFC staff on proper etiquette with Gorns which you have all been at, there are actually only a couple of items. First is that the 7 Cadets the sections have offered up do have Capt. Bartholomew's approval for an 'in-time equivalent' for their work on the project and that has been a huge help to getting the work done and the Cadets are putting some real effort into this, having attended the Contract and SFC protocol meetings. Actually, those are things that they wouldn't normally get exposed to and there is some griping that all of the Cadets who have cycled in want a chance at the project."

"Which isn't happening, by the way," said Enid, "as we don't have time nor resources to get each group up to speed on background. The meeting I held the day after our last with the Cadets is something I can't be doing on a weekly basis. So, like with regular staff, membership is limited."

L'Tira was smiling, "And while the Contract Officer liked the run-through, he doesn't have time for that, either. The Forensics Team has been especially happy to give 'hands-on' live work to do, going over the basics of what to record, how to record it and then how to analyze it. Actually a few of us held an informal half-hour session on that to get everyone up to speed as active analysis of working systems is different than just scan and replicate. The second item is purely administrative, but a reminder that the next two weeks are summary performance appraisal evaluations for the mid-year. So expect time to be taken up with that. Really, I can't go over more without treading on other people's work, so I'll leave it off with that. Enid?"

"Thank you, L'Tira. Grace, anything on-going from phase I or new items?"

"Enid, Phase I is operational in the sense of accepting responses to information requests an putting active forensic tools in-place during the testing phases of the M-Series. We have forwarded Fleet materials from our project, so far, to the Base Historiographer for keeping a somewhat more formal set of records to show how the Base can work on special projects. Beyond that, we have completed the code download and analysis for all the M-Series and variants. All else is basically done."

"Thank you, Grace. Enak, you are the busy team and have a lot of ground to cover..."

Enak Varda stood up, "Too true, Enid. First I think we all owe a debt to L'Tira for asking a very simple question that is starting to yield up interesting results..."

"What question? I didn't ask..." said L'Tira.

"I do beg to differ, during the initial set-up phases for new testing via the old and new T&E equipment, you were going over the specifications for the M-Series units and asked a very insightful question. One, that if I may say so, apparently no one else has asked in the long sets of evaluations of the M-Series and variants."

"I did?" asked L'Tira.

Enak smiled, and brought up the manifest lists of the equipment in the M-Series, "I believe you were scrolling through this at the time..."

"What? The equipment lists? But I don't... oh... I guess I did ask a question, but it wasn't a serious one, really."

"I beg to differ, L'Tira, it is a very serious question, although I can see why you asked it because of your inclination to keep a lower amount of spare memory for your personal unit than most other people do."

"Hey! Just enough to keep me busy in my spare time... just because I don't keep every single solitary thing tracked doesn't mean I don't..."

"No impugning of character meant, L'Tira, believe me. But it is a simple fact that you recognized something that, for all the time spent by all the individuals on this, that no one else has ever asked. Would you care to share the insight with us all, L'Tira?"

L'Tira looked around, "Hmmmm... ok! I don't like to carry a lot of material with me, even in compact form, so I tend to swap and trade storage media a bit. Which means that I've gotten a memory module here, one there, one from another place and they are all the same, via the replicator. But they aren't, really. When a somewhat better design comes through research and testing, it quietly updates the replicator storehouse so that when each module is made it has a very fine code on the casing that tells of the date, time and variant of the module. They all work the same, so most people don't pay attention to them, and they are hard to actually observe or even feel when touching the module. So when I went through the listing... ahh... most of the equipment I really know little about, but the memory modules caught my attention because of their ordering."

"Their ordering?" asked Lothar.

"Ahhh... yes, Enak let me show..." she said standing up next to the holo display unit.

"What I did was sort out the memory modules," various other equipment disappeared so that the memory module information was left, soon down to two columns,"and as they are all the same density," it went to one column, which was all numbers, "I highlighted them by unit, dark blue for M-1, light red for M-2 and so on," colors appeared en block in the columns,"then sorted them by replication date." The colorations shifted. "Earliest replications first. Do you see what I mean?"

The memory modules at the top, first replicated only had 2 dark blue and 3 light red, all the rest indicated other M-Series with the majority being in M-5.

"So I asked, more or less, 'why is it that the oldest memory modules are in the newest equipment?'. I thought it was pretty simple to ask, really. Enak, you aren't taking time up for this, are you?" she said sitting down again.

"Yes I am, L'Tira, for it is an original question not asked by anyone in VSA, MIT, my home world consortium or, indeed, anyone involved with any of the M-Series work, forensic analysis or indeed any part of it. Because you are parsimonious with weight and keep track of things no one else bothers to you gave us the vital clue to explaining one immediate mystery and, I think, a number of other things that are cropping up."

"Such as...?", L'Tira asked.

"As you all may remember, or pull up from earlier meetings, there was a question of 'memory module initialization'. It turns out that in the initial tests, we were swapping out memory modules, both old and freshly replicated from the same batches as the M-Series and found that when a new module is placed in a system, the system, itself, looks at the module and then ensures it is wiped to base state before propagating code into it. The M-Series units initialize each module to their needs. With so many M-1 and M-2 units and variants, and more on those tests, one of the things we tried was taking an original M-1 module and putting it into an M-2 variant. Based on what the M-Series units do, could anyone hazard a guess as to what happened?"

"Wiped and initialized, I would assume," said Miss Lorimar.

"That is, exactly what we all assumed, too. When swapping an original M-1 memory module, not replicated variant, the M-2 unit did not wipe the memory module and propagate code into it. Some code was wiped but other code was retained. That is an anomaly, so that brings us to the overview of testing and evaluating the M-1 and M-2 units and their variants. All initial work along the lines of the original work went directly down the line, no changes. That included the use of original and modern simulators, no changes. Now as the M-1 and M-2 have a special arrangement for simulation in a testbed versus live test, we tried putting that live mode to work on the simulators. Each of the M units correctly identified, on start-up that they were in a simulator and were defaulting to simulation mode. Amongst the many pieces of unhappiness that the Engineering and Ship Systems integration groups have had this past week is actually trying to make a simulator that will fool the M-1 and M-2 units. Apparently that cannot be done. We even took one of the variant M-1 units, took all its memory modules out, put in blank ones, and started it up attached to the most modern simulator we have that will fool just about any equipment you care to name that it is operating in a 'live' environment. It defaulted to simulation mode once it initialized its programming. We then took that unit, put in fresh memory modules and dragged it to a shuttlecraft undergoing repairs. It would operate in 'live' mode as it considered a shuttlecraft to be a 'live' system."

"What? That isn't possible, the original documentation clearly shows that M-1 and M-2 units would operate properly in a live mode with simulators." said Mr. Jervis.

"Yes, they did. We have tried interrogatives to the systems, but part of their ability is tied to having an actual computer system to piggy-back on for a lot of its programming to work. That is how Dr. Daystrom worked around the limitations of the early M-Series: he had them utilize the ship's computer system for a large section of their programming. As we don't have a Constitution Class computer system available, we supplemented it with something that is as powerful by those days standards, and the final answer was surprising. It said that the test rig was not hooked up to a computer core active in the simulated ship and that neither was hooked into a live core shipboard system."

"How the hell did it figure that out?" asked L'Tira.

"We don't know, L'Tira, and that is something that has not been seen before this, because all the T&E equipment used 130 years ago had to be hooked into a live computer core at a base, a station or ship. These units were not only able to figure out that they were not in a live mode, but properly defaulted when, in the words of Richard Daystrom," he said looking to his unit and on the holo display the head and shoulders of Richard Daystrom appeared in a darkened room, possibly a lab.

'M-1 Log entry number 15' faded in then out with Stardate next to it.

"Part of the M-1 unit's capability must be to ensure that no one is able to fool it into being in a test mode when live as the lives of crew on a ship depend on the vital operation of the unit in event of disaster. No one should ever perish due to malicious use or improper intent or even simple negligence of the M-1, and if it ever detects that this has happened, it will automatically default to test mode."

'Entry ends'

"Whatever Richard Daystrom's other intents, he was dedicated and committed to the proper use of his equipment. Really this is crossing into Roger and Patti's areas, at this point. So let me finish up with a major problem. We have done a final overall cross-annotation on all the Fleet available materials and indexed that to the materials that Enid has provided us and there is one large, missing section in it, and that is the final M-5 unit. The extant code that exists is the working book remainders of all the individuals who worked on it, while the central code was done by Dr. Daystrom. As Enid pointed out, he had an awful work habit of leaving documentation to after reaching a final conclusion and then back-filling from his resources. Presumably he would have taken a code dump from M-5, annotated it and made that a part of the final delivery. As it is there is no final code as M-5 self-wiped and Richard Daystrom did not keep back-up copies on a safe system, so far as anyone has been able to find. That was partly due to his paranoia that had extended very far, from what we can tell of things. That coupled with his work habits served as an absolute end to M-5's original code. As it is the T&E phase will move on to M-3 and the integrated variants, giving each a full going over. We are discussing a full merging of phase 2 and 3 to save personnel time and facilitate getting some questions answered, like we did with the few memory module swaps. That sort of thing has sped up Roger and Patti's work."

"I can live with that," Enid said, "just as long as the basic work gets done. Really, having the cross-work done is leading into a few things I really didn't expect."

"Now onto the very preliminary results on the M-3 and the variant project. Starting with the simplest: M-3 checks out to its given specifications. One of the questions that has been examined closely is the integration of the stabilizing system from the Heisenberg circuits. It is one very simple scan and feed into the system, but the feeds head almost without exception straight into the memory core system it just scanned. There is a feedback happening either in the underlying engram programming or the more surficial programming, but that hasn't been teased out as of yet. Since we do see the underlying programming system of M-1 and 2 in M-3, and no one has properly looked at it, that will be our main venue for analysis. It is unknown and may yield up an answer where no others have found one."

"Why didn't the earlier researchers find the underlying code, Enak?", asked Miss Lorimar.

"To put it glibly: they didn't know it was there. As evolutionary algorithms and neural nets based on them tend to be haphazard in memory placement and space utilization, the 'holes' in the areas of the main code were not investigated, they were assumed to be stochastic 'empty space' between code sections. When they took a code dump, they got the obvious code, not the interstitial code, and even when examined, it did not look like operational code of the higher level sort being examined. More or less, it looked like random left-overs of the higher level code. What is important is that the code dump command was not present in the underlying code while it was in the primary, overlying code, so the underlying code would not comply with a core dump analysis command. Roger? Mind if I turn this over to you as this is your territory?"

"I'll pick it up, Enak. One of the things people don't realize is that evolutionary algorithms when combined with neural nets usually tend to leave lots of code bits that just don't work within the memory system. A good clean-up algorithm gets the worst of those, and one of those runs every 10 code evolutionary generations which clears up functional space between existing code areas. Some code, however, takes the neural net as a means of propagating itself, and some code pieces get left in the neural net because it is part of the net and even if it is non-functional it may serve a timing and coordinating purpose inside of it. The time it takes to propagate information across a network is defined by the length of hops it has to take, and that actual timing can be critical to other processes going on. Even underlying pieces of code, necessary for that engram work to interface with the ship are in the net, but lacking functional parameters, code recall and other systems that are present in the net, it was seen as 'junk code, purpose unknown'. In M-1 there were a lot of these, but fewer in M-2, so it was assumed the code was cleaning itself up in a better manner. The underlying code had its own clean up routines, but those also recognized the nature of the neural net and left things attached in the net to the surrounding code to deal with. Actually, from all we have seen from M-1 and M-2, that is carried out better than the multitronic code it interfaces with. And after examining code equivalents from modern systems, I will say there is a good research paper in this: Richard Daystrom's code is doing a better job of that than ours does."

"Even the holo-interface code?" asked Lothar, clearly surprised.

"Yes, our multitronic derived systems are just not up to this task like this code can do. Even from what we have seen of the sentient constructs we have examined, this code is unique in cutting out non-useful or even harmful branches not conforming with its engram directives. Our modern systems have at least three-deep layers of check code to achieve what this does in a single, easy pass. There is a second sweeper, that runs every 10 first sweep cycles, and it has proven extremely effective, although operating on simple principles of code interrogation and response. The surficial multitronic code has nothing like this."

"And we developed code only knowing the surficial example and its limitations?", asked Mr. Jervis.

"That is exactly right. I can't really call it anything but intentional misdirection, as the places the underlying code is hiding are so mundane that no one really bothered to check it. Just as we would not check our personal unit's power systems to see if there was a type of sentient code in it: it is absolutely beyond question that it would ever have anything like that. What was seen as a semi-active code repository is the actual heart of the M-Series systems with all the derivative multitronic work masking it."

Roger Arrivan shifted the display to the diagrammatic overview of the systems.

Enid Daystrom was sitting back in her chair, her brow creased and nodding, as she had heard this before the meeting from Roger, but it still was taking time to sink in.

"The highlighted areas are those responsible for the maintenance of the memory module systems in M-1, and that is where the code was put. As you can see in M-2," which came on screen and then overlayed M-1, "there is a minor extension of memory, and a few additional engrams," each highlighted, then M-3 came on screen. "With M-3 although the memory space increased greatly, there was only an additional engram, that as a form of sensor interrogatory imperative put in. M-1 housed the basics of what we would call energy sensation, sensor control, multitronic interface, ship homeostasis, weapons function, defense function, and navigation. Basically everything necessary to interface with a starship and make sense of it, along with a basic humanoid survival parameters section. It is that section that houses the poor code harvester and wiper. The failure was not in this system, as you may remember, but in the multitronic code sitting between M-1 and the ship's computer. That code was derivative of ship control, navigation, combat and regulatory simulators that already existed, and it failed."

"M-2 added in a control overcycle and human interface system. Those both went through the ship's computer system and required intermediation by the multitronic code in M-2. If M-1 had basic analysis and limited reaction capability, this code put in a reactive capability, along with asking for help from all ship systems. The multitronic code has a good section of that, but some very basic things come from the underlying system, such as necessary maintenance operations in ship systems vital to survival. In fact, there is a portion of M-2 that is 1:1 identical with M-1."

"What M-3 did, from just the first look, was put in more memory space and a code self-stabilizing system at the higher scale while retaining all of the functions of M-1 and M-2. This information went two ways: one directly into the memory module core and a second path through the code harvester. Actually, because of the fact that it is the transporter compensator, it is difficult to find out exactly what the information is that is being passed along as it is all in a raw state with no code regulation on it. From that, and the fact that Richard Daystrom found it necessary to add, I asked Miss Lorimar and Mr. Jervis to head up the variant section as the physics of this is beyond me. I don't have the information nor physics theory to even begin understanding this. Enak, I'll pass that back to you."

"Thank you, Roger. What Roger has seen is that there are pieces of code acting in some apparently non-linear ways. As Grace will attest, even the M-1 and M-2 units are highly resistant to having their code analyzed while in-service or turned on."

"Enak, they are impossible to analyze. Nothing makes sense from our units, and we have run out of theory on what is going on, which means we are out of hardware, too," Grace said.

Enak nodded, "Just from simply turning on multiple M-1 and M-2 units, we have seen the 'cross-talk' problem noted in the material supplied by Enid. Grace has looked very hard at the material, research work and other things coming in from her forensics people and they can't figure it out as they don't know what it is, exactly they are looking for. So that puts it in the realm of the physics and astrophysics department here, and we are working with Miss Lorimar and Mr. Jervis to help them understand what it is we are seeing. Even worse is that when any of those units are turned on, they 'cross-talk' with other units preventing them from working correctly on other test equipment. I'll turn the variant look over to Miss Lorimar and Mr. Jervis, if they don't mind?"

The two looked at each other and then Miss Lorimar stood up by the display system. She shifted out the M-3 unit display and then brought up the variant diagrams and their changes against the base systems.

"Thank you Enak! Miss Daystrom, let me thank you for asking for basic and applied sciences to contribute to this. We really didn't expect to have much to add, but then we didn't really understand what it was your great grandfather was working on."

"My pleasure, Miss Lorimar. And we are all, apparently, in the same boat with you on the work of my great grandfather."

"As you know I am the most junior member of the sciences team, which is why I'm here: to 'get my feet wet' on something out of the ordinary. Mr. Jervis is the section head of the astrophysics branch, and has his own interests in the project. I've been coming up to speed on the informatics part of this as fast as I can the past few weeks, and while it isn't my specialty, it is related to natural space warp mechanics at least for some of the modeling done there. Mr. Jervis has been working with Lothar to understand just what it is the variant system can do, and we are lacking in some areas of notation on it, and the previous review done here only verified that it turned on and operated correctly. So far the best overview of what it is supposed to do is given by the co-worker of Richard Daystrom, Erik Chapman. Let me put that up for you..."

The diagrams shrunk and faded downwards and the face of a middle aged man with dark red hair and fair skin, wearing a Fleet Reserve badge on a red tunic appeared.

The words 'Starship Emergency Return System Proposal' appeared on the display with a stardate.

"The SERS is a development of work by Richard Daystrom to utilize the test systems developed by him to work as a coordinated Emergency system for starships in trouble. In the history of the fleet, we see that one or two ships are lost every year due to phenomena beyond the control of the crew. The warp anomaly of the Klestra sub-nebula went through the USS Sedak killing all crew and yet leaving the ship in complete working order. The USS Valiant succumbed to forces beyond her crew's control which ultimately doomed the vessel. Even the USS Komax that was rendered nearly unlivable due to a burst from a neutron star could have done much better with a system to understand the depth of the damage done to the ship so that the survivors could have found a way to survive. Without the basics that needed to be done so as to get the ship out of the vicinity of the star, the surviving five crew members only survived via ingenuity and sacrifice of the vessel so as to get a shuttlecraft out to an orbiting heavy metal planet from which they were rescued. The ship, itself, could have saved them, if only a few basic maintenance routines and one intercooler had been brought back on-line, a 20 minute job."

"The premise of this proposal is to utilize the abilities shown in the work by Richard Daystrom to create a simple emergency ship control system for human survival and ship return, if possible, to nearest base. At the very least the Komax would have survived if its deflectors could be brought on line and served as a lifeboat. As catastrophe does strike in the unknown, Star Fleet has a vested interest in saving as many lives as possible and knowing of their sacrifice if nothing else."

Presentation Ends.

"It is the variant project that we have come to think of as the main goal behind the M-Series, while it was the main force to create the much more capable system that ended in the M-5. We have worked with Grace, Patti, Lothar, Roger, and L'Tira to understand all the ins and outs of the project, and really it is a lot to absorb. Patti has been a real help in telling us what code does in more understandable terms and then translating that understanding into something a non-specialist can understand. Grace and Lothar have detailed a couple of Cadets to help out, that is getting us prepared for the first real test of the entire variant project. What we have, however, is the material that is the multitronic code and the test and evaluation cycles that this variant had gone through up to the point of M-5. All project work stopped within a week of that, and the units were put into the 'canceled project' category by Fleet Engineering and put into storage. A few investigators did examine the system, but the fragmentary notes from that time haven't done much to document the actual workings and goings-on behind it. It was shelved at the 60% completion stage and had notes that the rest of the project would be waiting on Dr. Daystrom's work with M-5."

"That would tend to confirm Enid's material of more having to be done with M-5 to make it a complete system," said Simon.

"It does at that, Simon. The major difference between the variant units and their parent units is that the variants have a multitronic and memory module crossing system. What that means is that all of the units integrate their code across that system and coordinate functions. The insight given for this was that an M-1 unit was capable of handling a limited sub-section of ship functions but could not well coordinate between them. The M-2 units had better coordination capability with some modulated direction that... well it is described as 'task oriented' and that fits rather well, really. So this system would have work done by each of the M-1s and the M-2s would work to ensure the system kept to basic guidance. Two M-2 units were seen as necessary to manage their task loads in cooperation with each other."

"How did that delegation of work break-out?" asked Patti.

"Ahh... let me check.." Miss Lorimar checked her personal system,"... the M-1 units would interface with ship's power and propulsion, one to ship's sensors external along with communications, and the third handled the deflectors and shields. The M-2's had a rougher outline of ship homeostasis and maintenance, while the other took on interfaces and guidance. All the time exchanging information between the units to cross-coordinate."

"That is very interesting, really, and offers some insight into Dr. Daystrom's mindset, thank you Kathy," Patti said.

"That brings up the 'cross-talk' problem which was seen when one of these units was turned on during M-5 work. From what we have seen all the units have a 'cross-talk' problem and some ability to detect each other when turned on. The sole exception to this was with the totally memory exchanged M-1 unit which Roger is tackling to find out why it didn't create interference with the start-up M-3 testing. What the variant project was trying to do was to either eliminate or enhance the 'cross-talk', and it looks to be tending towards the latter. Really it is a pretty primitive arrangement to hook up the systems to each other via then standard output and input ports and the modifications to each system was minimal."

Lothar checked his personal system, and was scanning through it, "Standard ports? Were those in the main contract schematics?"

"No they weren't, Lothar, although they were easy to put in for the systems involved on the multitronic portion. The other part looks to be some form of optical transmission system between M-units interfacing directly with the memory modules."

"The reason I'm asking," Lothar said, "is one of Dr. Daystrom's notes from before leaving for the Enterprise. It was in the pack of ancillary material, but isn't a real schematic or diagram, just a grouping of numbered boxes with lines and a few circles. There are some similarities in one part of it... ahh... let me send this out to your units as I put notes on it..." Kathy Lorimar switched the main display to Lothar's document, ".... here we have a group of 7 boxes with lines between them, and numbered from 1-7 and a circle around the group. From the circle goes a line to boxes 8, 9 and 10. But those lines are dashed and very light while that circled area is in stronger lines. Each of the boxes have other, very light lines going from them into nowhere. Even though its just a miscellaneous note, it fits in the time sequence just after the first testbed work with M-5 on the Grant turning out successfully, and the first major milestone of the variant project, #4 if I remember."

"Yes, that was the last full milestone reached by the variant before Dr. Daystrom went to the Enterprise."

"What is interesting is that there is an older note... ahh... this one..." the display changed, "... just between M-4 and M-5 in the month or so he took off between them. It has that same circle arrangement although with only 5 boxes in it and a direct line to box 6 and 7. On the linked material notes attached to this, he is referencing what I think are early psychologists and those dealing in the neural sciences."

"I ran across that too," said Patti," and he was looking at Freud and Jung but also at Vernadsky, Chardin and Bergson. Plus Jain, Rivera and Lake later in the century and Steinbuch, Bauer and Mikhailov. It is a very eclectic set of reading and just skimming over that has given me a headache, that plus his other reading... may I say that the 'summary formulations' given to us by the mid-22nd century really don't properly bring the ideas across? Even just relevant passage citation is not enough and stumbling through some of this work is more than a bit difficult."

"What is it all about, if you can summarize it?" asked Enid.

"Ahhh, not to take time from Kathy, but the brief, harsh summary is examining ideas of a shared human consciousness then looking at how genes can cross species via hybridization and the basics of informatics theory, which I am sure was just a refresher for Dr. Daystrom. It is very eclectic reading."

"Can that be put into a human understandable version?" asked Enid, to smiles around the room.

"I will take a stab at it, Enid."

"Go ahead, Roger, please!"

"Well, if you put it with what was going on with the variant project, this then is a parallel to those thoughts, though not an exact one. If the M-units share an underlying connection and can share their code variations and resources, then they should integrated better and be more effective at processing information to directives and have some more... ah... fluid way of doing so."

"The cross-talk problem!" said L'Tira.

Kathy Lorimar nodded, "After talking a bit I was coming to a similar area, but what we see is between unconnected units. How are they doing that? That question may be the one that finally explains the M-units as a whole because Dr. Daystrom was seeing them as a whole, but had to work on them as unconnected parts. That is still a mystery, but perhaps solving one will help to solve another. So, before jumping that far ahead, the immediate problem is to get the entire variant system up and operating, which may mean having to block other tests."

She shut off the display, "Enak?"

"Thank you, Miss Lorimar. Roger should take it from here for M-3 and other work."

"We have had basics with M-3 at this point: turn-on, system self-check and are going through the major test for system integrity. Simulation tests for the first part of the week and then the shuttlecraft for the rest of it. We are also working with Patti and Lothar to get a handle on some of the basics of M-5 as there are entire portions of it that are identical to all the other M-units, which points to the same or very similar code there. M-3 tests should be able to shed some better light on the multitronic code as should M-4, and the engram work is finally teasing out those portions that Richard Daystrom put into those systems. Patti has been doing the work of examining that with some help from me and a couple of other team members and can speak on that more than I can." Roger Arrivan nodded at Patti.

Patti stood up across the table from Roger, who sat down.

"First let me say that in some ways this work by Richard Daystrom is far more alien than some of the exotic technology that has passed through here. Even when using technology that is based on such things as sub-space mechanics, it exists wholly in our space and operates by the known multi-spacial laws. Richard Daystrom is no different, but how he applied his knowledge is out of the ordinary and even extraordinary. What he had set out to do was use the knowns of his time to create a construct that, while guided from human engrams, would conform in the way a living mind does to its body. Looking at how this is implemented in M-1 and M-2, it is clear that he utilizes the knowledge constructs of engrams and yet allows them to fully adapt to their host system. To do that he gave it not only our analogs and a means to identify the code and have it tested to conform to those engrammatic goals, but just enough tools to understand its environment. Here 'understand' is a very loose term as those tools are the code based building blocks for interacting with the hardware, not a formal and set based of code when utilized, although the basic toolkit remains always available in hardware memory."

Patti shifted to look at the team members and smile.

"Most of what we get here is already fully made and its goal either obvious or based on its function, but the M-Series was a work in progress even by M-5, so our knowledge of it is sketchy. The basis for the system, from what I've been able to see on the physical side, started nearly 2 years after the invention of Duotronics and the beginning development of Multitronics, and sits in his the classes he taught at the MIT group. Even after getting Multitronics on its way he was already thinking about the next step from it, which pre-dates the M-Series by at least 7 years. Grace, actually deserves the credit for putting out a wide sweep for this and having had the student's estates and families contacted - without that we would never have gotten this."

"Which course is that, Patti?" Lothar asked.

"It is the 'Light Phase Harmonics' course, which broadly describes the low-level quantum interaction of light with various structures. That was actually done as a cooperative study program between the Materials and Theoretical groups at MIT to examine light based storage materials and how light works within those media. It was a highly technical group having a relatively small number of post-grads involved including one who had actually retained the course work in his personal archives: Lawrence Coughlin. His transcribed notes and original voice and visual inputs are available, but it is the abstract that keyed me in on this as it looked at how 'wave form structures propagated by non-linear means'. What had developed was self-sustaining code that created a light structure or interference pattern that then held a small amount of coherent light. If you kept the power to the material sustained and turned off the coding input, the light structure remained in place, until power to the media was turned off. The reason that this was interesting and caught my eye, is that a tool to expand the captured light structure and then divide it allowed for non-linear information flows between the two points in the test material using the quantum teleportation effect. Additionally the light structure was held in the memory media, ready to be recreated in its previous state when power returned."

"That is a pretty well known part of our systems, actually, and used for transporters...." Lothar's voice trailed off. "Patti, when did you find this out?"

"About 3 hours ago as I went through a month-by-month analysis of Daystrom's course work starting before Duotronics. And you are right, the effect, itself, was demonstrated as far back as the 20th century and used to create the transporter system as it is necessary to take the quantum state of the item being transported through sub-space into account. Quantum teleportation is different in that it does not use sub-space, but is a space normal effect. What this post-graduate work looked at was other ways to examine materials storage, and to do the MIT sort of work of 'just playing with something to see what it does and if it makes any sense' sort of work. What Mr. Coughlin did, beyond the transcribed work and notebooks, is actually retain the source code used to create the light pool structure and divide it. That exact, same code has been stripped down and reformulated to remove some of the operations necessary for their equipment and is in place in M-1's code storehouse. Believe me, there are, literally, millions of hits on equivalent code and re-used code in the M-Series and amongst other code pieces and entire programs in the archives, but this is the only single point reference of modern application that shows up. I'm pretty sure Grace, Roger and Enak would have gotten to this today or tomorrow, but I had a bit of time after lunch and just went through the recent hits."

Kathy Lorimar leaned forward, "Patti, what does this do? If it is a building block of M-1, then it should show up in the rest of the M-Series as some basic function to it."

"Kathy, the reason this fits in with the work I've done looking at Richard Daystrom is that there are engrams in biological systems to allow for actual analysis work to happen before information arrives via physical means..."

"Yes, that is true and more than just in one mind," that came from the Technical Knowledge Gorn representative. The Gorns had quiet interaction in the sub-vocal range during this time, and it was hard to keep track if they were actually following any part of the discussion. "It is a basis for civilization."

Patti turned her head slowly to look at the Gorn that spoke, and nodded her head, "I... had been thinking in more detailed terms, not like that."

"That is understood. The analogs to it are nearly identical outside of the system." That from the Human Knowledge expert sitting next to the Technical expert.

"But is cross-comparable and pertinent." That from Group Lead. "It is something humanoids miss in their knowledge."

Patti, for one of the few times in her life, was flustered.

"We did not mean to exhibit rudeness in interrupting," said the Group Lead.

Enid spoke up, "No rudeness at all! It is a technical working group and I am pleased at the input. When you say we miss this in our knowledge, how do you mean that as we do know these things."

"It is not incorporated into yourselves for activity," said the Group Lead.

"Exterior constructs only," said the Technical Knowledge Gorn.

Patti looked between the Gorns and Enid, "I'm clearly missing something here" she said softly.

"Yes" said the Human Knowledge Gorn.

"Please continue. Interruption was not meant to intrude," said the Group Lead.

Patti Dubois, a woman who had examined some of the most lethal artifacts left over by ancient civilizations, and who was generally well able to keep her balance in any situation, realized a lifeline when it was handed to her and nodded. She had no idea if she had been insulted, the entire Federation insulted, or if she had just been told a Great Cosmic Truth and didn't even know what it meant. Gorns were never known for insults. And the latter didn't bear thinking about, she closed her eyes for a moment, took a swallow of water from her cup on the table and then continued.

"Lets see... I believe I was talking on the use of the code in the MIT research? We as biological beings have engrams that interface with our biological systems: biochemical, bio-electrical, and purely physical motion from the molecular scale upwards. Often our systems anticipate things based not on our minds but on how these engrams arrange themselves. That arrangement we grow used to in our daily lives and don't even think about, and yet they operate far faster than our overall mind does. An example of this is a flash of motion out of the corner of our eyes that stimulate an immediate response for the eyes to shift to it, focus, adjust and start flowing information in that gets interpreted long before our conscious mind is even aware of the motion. Even the very slightest motion of the eyes for adjusting to motion, or just gain environmental information happens at a rate that is far faster than what our conscious minds register, to the point where we don't register it at all: our minds build up an interior representation of what is seen and then the important things gain eye motion concentration. When thinking our minds build up patterns and routines of neurons, biochemicals and electrical fluctuations that, when stimulated by minor events, can bring the entire mental construct into place near simultaneously across the entire brain. Multitronics are limited by the speed of light and cannot easily replicate this, even with quantum computational substructures. These code pieces are in the tools to back up the engrams that are looking to accomplish these tasks."

"But what does this code actually do?" asked Mr. Jomra.

"I am glad you asked!" and she was finally regaining her train of thought, "Somehow the coherent light pool, when it divides, retains its quantum connection and incoming light to one of them then exits the other. It is actually very basic work done with lasers in the latter parts of the 20th and early 21st century demonstrating that light shifts between the two simultaneously. The MIT work demonstrated this worked inside the memory module's storage system which is partly holographic in nature."

"So two distant pools could exchange incoming and outgoing light to each other?"

"Yes, and that is what we think is happening here. What it is doing and why it is doing it and how it actually works in evolutionary code creating networks is something else, but it is a vital tool that appears very quickly, almost in the first 1,000 generations of code, after a blank M-1 unit is turned on. We know that after doing a code analysis on a memory module from the M-1 that we put in an entire suite of blank memory modules. While not as complex as an M-1 that had been turned on for a few hundred hours or billions of evolutionary cycles, it is present and functioning, obviously doing something vital inside the code, itself."

"We are doing a forensics analysis on a few of the newly coded modules from the M-1 turn-on this last week and should have it in a day or two more," said Grace, "as you know evolutionary code can be very subtle, but this appears to be a basic capability that Richard Daystrom wanted for his systems."

"Does this have anything to do with the compensator that Dr. Daystrom added in on M-3?" asked Simon Lurva.

"It is an evolutionary system, so it is hard to tell, really. Plus I haven't gotten to more than the basics of M-3 as the evolutionary code seems to require understanding M-1 and M-2. There is a basic interface for the input coming in raw to the memory module system, and a some of this code has adapted that into it, but not all. I hope to work with Roger, Kathy and Grace on that this week, once I can get a basic understanding of what this code does. I don't think I have ever seen anything like it. Really, that is about it for now. Roger?"

"Thank you, Patti. This is really a whole lot more than I ever imagined with a system like this and it really needs a senior CS person to understand it."

"You are doing excellently, Roger, really. I don't think a senior person would have the necessary flexibility to try and handle so much. Believe me, age has nothing to do with capacity to understand. I'm actually glad to have you in that slot as you are doing the right thing of not tackling it all."

"Thank you, Enid! There are times when I feel more than a bit overwhelmed and that I'm handing off too much work to others..."

"Roger, anyone who feels that way would tell you." said Lothar, who was the most senior fleet member in the group. "Hell, you are doing a better job in that position than I would at this point. This is something the Fleet can't teach you and when they try we wind up with mediocre administrators. There are a bevy of them, if you haven't noticed."

"Yeah, there is that. And I've had to rely a lot on your expertise and that of Patti and Grace, and the others. There are some points when I clearly don't know what to do with what I've got."

"And you have done the most important thing, Roger, which many a longer term administrator is loathe to do: you have asked others and weighed their advice. Your mind is flexible enough not to take a given as a given, and yet to understand when you are just not informed enough to do something. I've been on a few projects where senior administrators have made projects with good outlook into failures in the biological sciences. That is why I chose you for the position, and didn't ask more senior staff. You had no worries that just not knowing would be seen as a negative." said Enid.

"There is that, I suppose. I had hoped to do some serious code digging, but this is more than just serious, really."

"You are doing fine, Roger, really. And you can't say this code doesn't require some serious digging to it," Lothar said smiling.

"No complaints on that end! I'm asking Kathy and Mr. Jervis to give an overview on some of the quantum work involved here, hopefully by the end of the week. Not much, just an hour overview of the field and where our understanding stands. Even though it was in my course work its... ahh... not a specialty of CS. Beyond that, M-3 stand-up with some forensics after turn-on and then multi-system evaluation on the 'cross-talk' phenomena with Kathy. We will be running on different schedules for this so there is minimal overlap in her work and the M-3 work until late in the week. That is pretty much for my area. Enid?"

"Thank you, Roger and everyone working on that! We are all being asked to step from our specialties, and I am really the furthest afield on this. You have all made this understandable and even comprehensible to me and I'm really beginning to marvel at the kind of man my great grandfather was. Now I've chatted with Lothar on this and we are ok to talk about it, so Mr. Jomra, what is the back-channel on the Grant?"

"The pre-announcement work has begun, and I know that the Corps has been in contact with Lothar, so he should really give that, I think, and I can backfill where he might... not have the resources."

Enid smiled, "Lothar?"

"Thank you, Ms. Daystrom and Mr. Jomra is dead-on: we are going to be getting the USS Grant. It is a ship that is structurally sound but its internal systems are... well, I've taken a quick look at the overview of work that went on in her both before and after the M-Series and it is a mess. As it was a testbed ship, the Corps never saw a reason to actually fix up things until after work had been removed from her, and as some of that would have taken substantial drydock time, and they never had the resources to do it, the mess has been left. The Museum is requesting a substantial amount, and it comes to either a full drydock session or some committed Corps time to actually get the excess material out of her while here. I would, actually, prefer the latter."

"Why is that, Lothar?" asked Enid.

"As it goes all that equipment will have to come here for final recording and analysis, and it is much easier to do that while it is in-place than it is after the Corps has stripped it out of a ship. One of the dirty little secrets of the Museum is that we have a larger storage area in orbit to put things that have been improperly removed and have little of value."

"Really? Where is that?"

"Phobos and Deimos."

"The moons? But you don't have those under Museum administration, do you?"

"Not exactly, no. There is, however, a 21st century set of observation platforms on each that are under our control... so we just utilize the rest of the moons as... well, not to put it to badly, they are junkyards for the big ship systems stuff that can withstand a microgravity. Which is most of it since it all had to withstand artificial gravity in the ships they came from. So I would much rather have the systems as they are and properly put into storage rather than make it pretty obvious what the Museum does with the true junk that has been mishandled."

"Ah, bureaucracy!", Mr. Jervis intoned.

"Too much of it. Plus we can start re-conditioning the decks that haven't been impacted, which was most of the non-engineering decks, such as that is. From what I understand, and Mr. Jomra may have some more detailed knowledge, the decks just above the warp cores in the Engineering hull have been partially gutted for the divisional warp core test system, while those under it have been gutted for the slip-warp. Just aft of the sensor dish has been removed save for supports that are structural. The primary hull saucer section has had a bit better work done when the Grant was upgraded from its old launch tube system for photon torpedoes to its X-system tubes. Better is qualitative, however, as what was done is that the area just above the old system became the new launch area and simple hull coverings placed over the old launch system."

"It has two sets of photon torpedo bays?" asked Grace.

"Two? Oh, we should be so lucky, Grace. Here, let me show you the schematics of the forward saucer launch bay section..."

The schematics for the USS Grant came up along with the deck overlay, and various red lines, notes, linked attachments, and a plethora of material that Lothar had accumulated on the ship. The view shifted to a side-view and concentrated on a highlighting of the area involved.

"One of the things the Grant was used for was a warp core stress testing of its different warp designs. Like with the BHR, the Corps has set upon a very, very easy way to approximate the load of weapons systems that are modern, but not ready for integration: they use multiples of the older systems until they reach the energy needs of the proposed systems. Now, as they had lots of the left-over Constitution class torpedo systems after starting the X-systems upgrades, they added in not only the standard X-bay on the support connector between the engineering and main hull, but they added two more tubes next to the original set the Grant had upgraded. They tested an in-Corps piece of work, there, called the Multi-Feed Torpedo Bay, in which fully prepared to fire photon torpedoes could be held with an energy overhead and then fired out of any of the 6 forward tubes. The two on the interconnector are standard types and a separate system."

"Wait! That is, ahh... 8 tubes total?" asked Grace.

"Yes, and the forward 6 can fire out of any or all of the exterior ports via the MFTB."

"And they are all operational?" asked Mr. Jervis.

"Just add power and torpedoes." said Lothar.

"Were they planning on making a Monitor of it?" asked Simon.

"Actually, that would have been a good fate for such a thing once you pulled the non-standard equipment out. Needless to say it also has a simple doubling of point phaser banks, plus one of the first phaser strips running around the perimeter of one of the upper mid-decks. To get to that sort of firepower, even today, you are looking at a battlestation along the Neutral Zone. Save that it would not be warp 9 capable."

"I thought the Constitution class was pretty much capped at warp 8 with emergency over-ride for higher?" asked Kathy.

"That is a ship with only one warp drive on board," the display shifted, "there is the old Constitution upgraded core, just where it should be." The cut-away highlighted it. "Just below that is the slip-warp, or high efficiency warp field system. By creating a thinner and longer warp core with the same volume, it was hoped that the field manipulation would be less energy intensive. That is what the theory says, and correct me if I'm wrong, Kathy."

"No, it should work that way, but..."

"Uh-huh, always one of those. In engineering there are trade-offs between control, energy, field size and other variables. It turns out that a longer core is less stable, harmonically, and so any process efficiencies in the core are balanced by the utilization inefficiencies. Now if that is the case for that, imagine trying to segment up a warp core into 6 smaller sub-cores and coordinating them. That is the other system, the one that creates those nasty bulges and has its own inter-cooler system just above mid-pylon. Those three curved protrusions are three of the sub-cores. Normally they would sit internally and further back, so as to provide more crew area forward. But that would be on a ship designed for it. Here it pretty much removes the decks above engineering. And it has a totally different harmonic problem, of trying to gain the exact, same harmonic warp field from 6 smaller sub-cores. Kathy?"

"In theory each core would take far less energy, and provide better power management for ship systems. But coordinating them...."

"Again in theory fine, in practice it just doesn't work that way. The Corps tried one more time a decade after this test and that was just a test rig, not even a ship, and one minor misbalance and the rig flew apart in 4 directions. I don't think that anyone has successfully pulled of the coordinated fractional core system as it just can't be managed. Field harmonics should stabilize all the core fields to a common frequency, but there is a feedback to the smallest of differences that basically creates the fly-apart scenario or the 'anti-matter/matter direct contact' scenario. Here the Corps never even got to a full warp field and gave up trying to merge them."

"Should supply power, though," said Mr. Jervis.

"Lots of power on this ship, if it was all working. As it is, not a speck of anti-matter in the warp systems and only enough fuel for one small fusion reactor. Not even fuel for the thrusters or impulse engine and the ship is out of tractor/puller range of the base. The Corps needs 6 months just to schedule a refuel, and once that is done it can use thrusters to change its orbit and then come out on impulse drive. As it is the Fleet doesn't have spare tug or freighter time until much later than that. Sol is a busy system and logistics reigns supreme from SFHQ so not even SFC can help. So, Ms Daystrom, we can get a full test-bed, but not until long after your time here is over."

Enid sighed, "Yes and re-scheduling later after my leave will be gone will be impossible and I will be out-system for a few years. A week or two I can get, but 3 to 4 months more is out of the question. Can we go to the Grant for working on this?"

"Not at present. The Corps team has only part of one deck that is liveable and that will run out in a couple of weeks until they get a full team there with fuel, then the ship can self-protect via deflectors and keep the life support available ship-wide."

"Well, it was a bit much to expect, really. Anything else on the Grant, Lothar?"

"Too much small stuff, but my section is sorting it out. It will be the largest job the Museum has ever taken on, including the BHR and Athens."

"Looking forward to it, then?"

"In some ways, Enid, it will be a large challenge and will involve basically everyone on the station for a few years. Probably retire after that, but not one second before it."

"Good! The Museum deserves it, really, after what I have seen. Thank you, Lothar. Mr. Jomra? The back-channels and unofficial work?"

Mr. Jomra looked around, "That is the basic story, Ms. Daystrom. Ahh... its not the whole story, though. I've been going through the specs on the variant project and talked a bit with Arrivan, Grace and Kathy about this. I think we should put this in as a test scenario for the variant project as it was really designed to handle something like this. We can test it through time-compression runs and get an idea of the time the M-variant would take to get this done, if it can do it at all."

Enid smiled, "I am not expecting miracles, Mr. Jomra. But I don't see any reason not to do so as it is an actual situation we can model very well. Kathy?"

"Actually, if the set-up is as easy as expected, it should be done this week for next week's meeting."

"Ok, its a good way to go, I think. And Lothar would like to have that sort of trouble, having to better estimate the work to do."

"Yes, that would be good. And protected shuttle transport can be arranged via the base in Jovian orbit. No one can use single point transporters that close to Jupiter, but there are some purpose built shuttles for when point-to-point transportation can be arranged. I'll make some inquiries."

"Anything else, Mr. Jomra?"

"Well, unofficially, when the Federation started having problems with the Cardassians and then the Borg, well... a number of ships in Jovian orbit were quietly restocked with weapon consumables. Even damaged dilithium spares were distributed, and the Grant was seen as a ship that could be useful in an emergency. It is highly unofficial, but the entire torpedo storage system was renovated and restocked, along with phaser coolant tanks in storage. A few other ships are like that, dead but able to be emergency brought online."

"Dear God," whispered L'Tira.

"The USS Grant is expected to be on Emergency Reserve/War Reserve status with the Museum. Damaged crystals will be removed and the Archive section will safehouse front line crystals on the Martian surface, along with the torpedoes and coolant. So we will have more than a museum ship here."

"Lothar, we will need safety precautions if thats the case."

He nodded sitting back, "Cut-offs and interlinks. The old computer system on the Grant may need some updating, so manual interlinks will be necessary. I'll work with Brian and Theresa on that."

"L'Tira, once this is done, make sure that Mr. Jomra's contacts get the regalia, as they deserve it."

"Yes they do, Enid," L'Tira said.

"Thank you, Ms. Daystrom. The rest of the ship is pretty much either in partial states of disassembly or locked down. That last includes the deck from the original M-5 test."

"What? What does that mean?" Enid asked.

"Enid, what it means is that deck has been sealed since the original M-5 team was there. Including personnel cabins, and none have been opened from that time." said Lothar.

"Great grandfather's quarters?"

"Yes, and the Fleet could have easily removed the contents but they were under contract. So they were sealed after an initial investigation. Grace, do we have Fleet records on that?"

"We do, Lothar. Probably in the Grant's records or the contract records. If not I'll get the Corps to cough them up."

"The estate is not fully closed, Enid. By contract anything there of a personal nature is yours." said Mr. Jomra.

"Great grandfather did travel lightly, from what everyone says. Still he was planning on returning... what happened was... unexpected. I really don't know what to say, Mr. Jomra, save thank you for letting me know."

"You are very welcome, Ms. Daystrom. Beyond that there is nothing more I can really say."

Enid nodded, "Thank you, again. L'Tira? Final outlook for the week?"

"There will be some material coming in from the Neutral Zone this week as an old battle site has been found and wreckage is being brought in. Nothing ship size, but some partial systems, crew effects and personnel material. Things will be filtering in from there for a month or two. I think you are scheduled for another predatory presentation based on your past work, and everyone who hasn't gotten their interim reports will get those this week. That is about it."

"Thank you, L'Tira. Do our guests wish to add anything?"

"Yes, Enid Daystrom, thank you for this time. Our people are interested in this M-variant as it is a worthwhile project and if the Federation will not continue the work, we will ask for your permission to ensure it does continue." said the Group Lead.

"Our people do not do much in the way of computers and this is a direction that is something that offers a chance to have common understanding between our people and those of the Federation." said the Human Knowledge expert.

Enid blinked a few times. A woman used to working with megacarnivores now realized that her knowledge had to be put to use, "I thank you, and look forward to this. If your people think this is worth doing, then it is worth helping you on it."

"Our people will be in contact with the Federation Council. Thank you for this opportunity, Enid Daystrom, to understand the work of your ancestor. This is vital knowledge."

Enid wracked her brain to think of what 'vital knowledge' meant to the Gorns as it had a different meaning to them than it did to those in the Federation. "It would be an honor to help. If there is nothing else, then I will say that the next meeting will be in the 3rd level briefing room as that is what was available. This meeting is adjourned."

Patti walked over to Enid, "That last bit may well take you away from your career."

"I know, Patti. But they are carnivores, after all."

"Multi-system spanning ones that have been facing down the Romulans alone for... 900 years? Longer?"

Enid watched the Gorns stand and move with the other members out into the hallway. "And we still don't know them much at all after 130 or so years. That doesn't speak well of the Federation, Patti."

Patti shook her head in agreement, "And they have shown little interest in our cultures, technology or much of anything else. Coolly cordial, I think is how the diplomats put it. A basic defensive alliance against the Romulans and, what, one shared colony near our common border?"

"Yes, but this is... 'vital knowledge'."


"To the Gorns that is basic knowledge for survival. To us it is a minor path of computer sciences, to them? Survival?"

Patti looked from Enid and to where the Gorns had left.

"I... Enid... what the hell was the M-Series?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, Patti. Better probably."

"Now. Now I'm worried. Enid, do you mind if I pass this up the chain?"

"Go ahead, I don't want this coming as a shock to anyone."

"Shock isn't the word. Believe me."

Patti walked out leaving Enid Daystrom alone, and she glanced at the projected image of the USS Grant in cut-away, and whispered just before turning it off, 'No one can escape their name.'

* * *

Between meetings Enid Daystrom kept very busy, even as a technical neophyte in many areas, she was more than willing to get equipment, hold recorders, annotate drawings and generally keep around the project personnel. She enjoyed, greatly, the full opportunities of the base and held more than just the regular seminars with the bio-analysis group, but actually helped to put together a more formal presentation of her work to-date, even to the point of having some help on her formal items for wider distribution via the information systems amongst scientists. Those latter had grown far beyond the modest hosting of papers done by a pre-warp flight government organization hundreds of years ago, or the predecessor actual printed material publications. While 'publish or perish' had its place for getting resource commitments, the actual information and formal system of distribution had solved the restricted outlets of bygone days.

What she hadn't thought about before coming to the Archive section and the Museum, was exactly how the staff lived and worked there. The turbolift system had interlinks between public and private areas, of course, but the cars, themselves, had restrictions based on occupancy and function. The highly refurbished cars represented a cross-section of eras from the primitive brushed steel of the original starships to the latest 'make displays available everywhere or nowhere' systems that so gently shifted movement that it was hard to tell if you were moving at all. As the Museum had to display all eras of the Fleet and Federation, so, too, did its interiors and personnel need to reflect those eras.

The main, public cafeteria had everything from the freeze-dried meals of so early on in space flight that it made most people wonder if it was food, to the latest SFC menu that auto-adjusted to metabolism, so that one always got the right nutrients, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and trace elements in whatever form you chose to have it. That was duplicated on the staff side, too, and she was more than a bit bemused that the actual, physical boxes of freeze dried food seemed to be replaced very quickly. It is only once she was on an active project did she come to respect the ability to carry those easily, and quickly reconstitute them, without breaking one's train of thought or work. Soon she, too, was doing the step in and 'grab and go' convenience of meals on the run, which was just like her field work experience and for the same reason: civilized eating requires time.

What really made her enamored of the Museum was that the staff and guests had the entire suite of Fleet Regulation Uniforms on tap, and so long as you wore the complete uniform you were not looked down upon. She kept to her civilian clothing for a few days, and watched others around her, noting that the real administrative staff who served as that and not on active projects, gravitated towards the 'sparse' styles of skin tight uniforms that all emphasized looks and clean lines. Those uniforms had one, major, lack in her estimation: pockets. Star Fleet had a well known fetish towards the 'pocketless' look and it was one gripe that was heard about the administrators setting clothing style: those with real jobs to do needed additional storage space and the ships systems were no replacement for personal capability you could carry away from a ship or have in a secluded area where there were no computer inputs. Entire ship designs often gravitated around making spaces larger to allow for such things, even when that was not the best way to design a ship. It was the technical staff and working staff that showed the flexibility of Star Fleet uniform designers once they got feedback. And they did get feedback. Continuously.

Technical staff gravitated towards truly functional clothing, pockets included. Those in the Weapons section tended towards the less sleek wear of the administrators and to the earlier uniforms of the Fleet, where maximal carrying was a major asset. The hand weapons group, itself, had not only long sleeved pale gray uniforms, but then had torso vests with a truly amazing number of pockets, loops, hanging belts and personal equipment jacks. The pants of that era were likewise capacious to the point of being able to carry a phaser rifle broken into sections across the various leg pieces with the power pack serving as a power source for the entire set of clothing. Padding reduced chafing and the materials were relatively light. The sheer amount of equipment carried for specialized work was something a member of the group referred to as 'the walking test lab'.

Engineering uniforms varied, greatly, depending on specialization, so that most of the heavy equipment section had on sturdy and abrasion resistant clothing that featured a few large pockets plus an inner lining that held a plethora of small pockets and loops. The dark blue of that era helped to hide any bulk and yet seemed to come across as something that was not out of place on a construction site or warehouse. The fabric, itself, repelled dust and resisted fluids although that had limits due to the need for breathable clothes that were unpowered.

The biosciences group had fallen into a general area of multi-piece jacket/shirt combinations, that were only a hundred years or so out of date, yet featured sleek administrative clothing with few additions as daily wear, and a plush jacket with all sorts of places to put equipment, paraphernalia and up to half kilo filled storage containers or 'the instant bag' as it was called. That uniform had three different styles of boots, so that an individual could do a bit of mixing and matching to fit where you were going. When one of the staff explained that between the dual core breathable plush there was a tear-resistant impact absorbing duo-weave she nearly fell in love with it: that was something that could have been very handy in a few environments and situations she had been in.

After a few days she settled on an early 23rd century Yeoman's outfit, that was highly practical, consisting of dark gold shirt, black pants and soft pliable black boots that had a impact hardener between layers. The tunic, itself, was pocketless, but as the Yeoman's variant it had the lightweight, dark gold jacket as part of the ensemble and it fit the bill of having enough pocket space for modern personal equipment, and was able to fit in a variety of equipment across the rest of it. She was tempted to take the stylus/recorder with her, just for its storage compartments along with shoulder bag, but the tricorder of that era served much of the same function and had more space. While dark gold wasn't her color, the off-dark blue and yellow maroon of that era were not her colors, either, and this had some minimal styling with the jacket on.

It was only after the meeting that L'Tira had brought up the memory modules that Enid was struck by the commonality of that module size across the uniforms. After their invention a decade or two after Star Fleet was formed, the pockets and storage areas for them were everywhere. Tricorders had a small rack for them, as did the stylus/recorder systems which usually had two. Only in the pocketless uniforms did she realize that there were spaces for memory modules, tucked in under the waist and then up into the band which would then hold them snugly with just a bit of padding and yet be wholly unobtrusive. Only those of the last 50 years had done away with that for administrators, and that division of trying to make administrators unable to carry such things with them spoke to how the Fleet viewed them or, more correctly, how they should be viewed: as never needing to refer to anything, ever. When she watched bridge imagery from the USS Grant she saw how deftly the crew was able to palm the devices and then, with an easy sweep of the hand across the upper waist band, the module disappeared. She tried it and after a couple of false starts, it worked just like that, with the edge of the module unsealing the pocket, the outer part of the palm pushing it in and then any motion sealed it again. It was this becoming an unconscious action that really amazed her, as no one trained this, taught this, pointed it out, or recorded it anywhere, and yet the memory modules would appear as if out of thin air time and time again. Even on board a ship that could get the information and display it faster than you could do with the palming technique, it was still preferred by many Fleet personnel. There is nothing like holding information, really. Which was why printed books had still not disappeared completely, but were a niche item that remained steadfast against all advances of technology.

No wonder the Fleet personnel were notorious at card games!

It was only talking about a carnivore from the Elsen IV system that she started to realize that this strange habit was one she had picked up not only for memory modules but for the presentation controller, 3D light bar for pointing out internal organs, and even for the few personal effects of daily life, like the similar sized mirror comb that easily fit in the palm of her hand. As they were taught in biology - 'form follows function' and the form of the things she was using fit the function of the pocket system. Once the pocket was made and it worked well, other items started to take on a form to suit it. She smiled at the conclusion of the presentation she had just completed when the absolute, insidious genius of her great grandfather became apparent: no one literally thought about these things. Ubiquitous processing didn't have you thinking twice about addressing an empty room, as the network of small computers and larger ones meshing together were always available. Similarly the all too human characteristic of having tactile information at one's literal fingertips made it innocuous to the point of disappearing, just as it did into those pockets. By being at the end point of actually useful storage technology, the memory module disappeared into commonness. Within seconds her personal system, memory modules, pointer, and all other things she needed for the presentation had disappeared into the jacket.

One of the Museum staff waited until most of the people had left and she had stowed her gear, then stepped up to her.

"Miss Daystrom?"

Enid turned to look at the young man, wearing a skin-thin of the modern era.

"I'm Ensign Gallagher and we have an encoded sub-space transmission waiting for you on level 4. Shall I show you the way?"

Enid was puzzled not expecting anything and hoping to get back to the project bay.

"Please do."

"Follow me, Ma'am," he stepped to the side and walked next to her. They went down the corridor and into the staff area, then towards a turbolift, which opened and took them to level 4. From there to the communication section, one of the administrative, not Museum areas of the base. He took her to a hallway and led her to Room 2.

"It is keyed to you, Ma'am. If you need anything, or there are transmission problems, just use the intercom." he smiled.

"Thank you, Ensign." As he turned and walked away, she palmed the door pad and stepped in, the lights were a bit muted and the small communications room was empty save for a table that would seat three and a multi-display.

"Activate," she said as she sat down, looking up at the display which had on a Star Fleet Command logo with San Francisco, Earth beneath it. The display put up a 'Voice Verified' and then cleared out, and she was looking at a similar conference table, apparently extending the one she was at, which had five individuals at it that she had never met.

An older man, seated directly across from her, smiled.

"Miss Enid Daystrom?"

"Yes, I am," she said.

"Good! I am Vice Admiral Wilson Scott, Deputy Director of Fleet Operations. To my far right is T'sau, Undersecretary of the Federation Diplomatic Corps..."

The Vulcan male had gray at his temples, and a more rounded face than was seen with most Vulcans, "Greetings, Miss Daystrom."

"My pleasure, T'sau."

... next to him is Revar Umak, Deputy Undersecretary of Federation Commerce..."

"Good day, Miss Daystrom," the being was a Tellerite and she had problems placing gender.

"Thank you, Revar Umak."

"... immediately to my left is Commodore Leonard Mirak, Commander of Fleet Science Section..."

"Hello, Miss Daystrom." while apparently youthful for a Commodore, the tracks leading from the corners of his eyes bespoke of being old for his appearance. He wore a standard duty uniform, not a skin-thin type.

"Hello, Commodore Mirak."

"... finally there is Commodore Eloise Rafiq, Commander of Fleet Records."

"It is nice to meet you, finally, Miss Daystrom," said the woman with black hair and light blue eyes, who wore the Team Jacket, which being a black synth-leather made her a very different figure from the rest.

"And me to meet you, Commodore Rafiq. Admiral Scott, it is good to meet you, too."

"Thank you, Miss Daystrom, the same is true here. And you are probably wondering why it is we are contacting you like this?"

Enid smiled slightly, "Not really, I can name three things off the top of my head and probably four at this point, maybe even five or six. I am not used to such extremely high level of meetings, however, with the head of the Smithsonian and Vulcan Natural Sciences Academy has been about it for high level meetings. Beyond the Lascoter of Tuza V, of course, a 20 ton carnivore with a taste for hominids might actually rank a bit higher. It was quite hungry at the time."

T'sau stared off into space, obviously at a display she couldn't see and whispered, "Indeed."

"Ah, yes, I see," said Adm. Scott, "well as you know there are some happenings with what you are doing there..."

"What I am doing with Star Fleet is to help close out a contractual obligation, Admiral."

"There is that, yes. I, well, let me come down right to the point of things: this project is gaining far more attention to it than anyone had thought it would and was an extremely reasonable request handled at lower levels. But the implications with the Gorns, that is wholly unexpected and is the first real request of a true technical nature they have made in decades."

"Ever." whispered Revar Umak. "Miss Daystrom, do you know anything of actual trade going on between the Gorn Confederation and the Federation?"

"Truthfully, not a clue, Mr. Umak."

He snorted, "There isn't any. Not on the black market, either, and we have tried to get agents into various organizations to find out why that is. Star Fleet hasn't been able to do much of anything, and T'sau can speak for the diplomatic end. To have the Gorns ask to work on a project... not negotiations started by the Federation but THEM coming to US!!" Revar Umak was clearly enervated, even if a bit disturbed and excited simultaneously.

"If I may," T'sau said quietly, "it has been the great misfortune of the Diplomatic Corps to be unable to do much of anything to facilitate activity between the Confederation and Federation. Even the term 'Confederation' is ours, as theirs does not literally translate even via Universal Translator. We have tried everything at our disposal, and some decades ago things came to a more or less dead-end. The co-colony was meant to alleviate that problem, and has offered insight, but no inroads. They have had members sit in on, literally, hundreds of project reviews and presentations, ongoing scientific work programs, consortia council meetings, Fleet Engineering sessions, numerous commercial councils, trade representative meetings, the list is long. Very long. We have even had Kolinar individuals attempt to help via mind-melds, and that has been a poor experience for those individuals as they report that individuals do not exist in the Gorn mind. Not as we know it, in any event. It is one of the deepest frustrations of the Diplomatic Corps that the Gorns are not interested in the Federation."

Enid nodded, "And now a dead man's project brings them out."

"That is the problem, yes, Miss Daystrom," said Commodore Mirak, "and worse still is that the individuals working on that project are not what we would want as Federation representatives in such an endeavor."

Enid laughed, "Forgive me, please, but who are YOU to decide that? We are all members of the Federation and citizens from our home systems, mine being Sol 3 also known as Earth. While the Council tries to put a nice patina on things, the people I know of the Federation are diverse, involved, and feel good will towards it as a cooperative endeavor, but in many ways it is not representative of them. The understood need for competent and capable individuals in Star Fleet is one thing, but the view of the Federation Council towards those who tend to strike off on their own is a bit deplorable. And, if I may say so, the fine people who I have met at the Archives section and Museum are, for all their foibles and problems, well able to come together on something like this. Hell, they even put inter-office politics aside which is something I find rare on multi-institution projects where we are, in theory, all working together."

Commodore Rafiq looked at Admiral Scott, "You lose the bet, Wilson."

"Which bet is that, Commodore?", Enid asked.

"If you could successfully push a Daystrom to do something," Louise said with a deep smile.

"Heh. How many have you have lived in the shadow of fame? I do as I will, with or without that shadow, and it is often far harder to get anything done or recognized because of it. For that I understand great grandfather very well. The last time the Fleet pushed a Daystrom, look what you got."


"I will do the right thing by my great grandfather, by the Fleet, and for my family and to satisfy myself that the scales of history will weigh Richard Daystrom fully and fairly for good or ill. The deep darkness at the center of the shadow has yet to be lifted and that time is well past that it should happen. Do you understand me?"

"Well, it was worth a try. Eloise, I owe you dinner," Admiral Scott said with a wry grin.

"Yes you do, and it will be at the Museum."

"You are serious?"

"Very, Wilson, if the Gorns want in on this and the back-channel I have had with her team is any indication, this is something extremely important."

"Commodore Rafiq, you do know my team is under confidentiality, right?" Enid said.

"Yes, Miss Daystrom, yet some of the basics can't help slipping out. It would not be enough to even begin a project without your great grandfather's work, however, and because the Fleet cycled it so far through it is an obligation on us to ensure that you are satisfied. That work is yours as head of the estate."

"We could do an Eminent on it." said Umak.

"We have discussed that, and you know the likely outcome," said T'sau, "the inviolable right of that estate to have those works is something ancient not only to your people and mine, as well as those of Earth, but to the Federation in general. You know what would happen. Even hearing her this far, it is without question in my mind."

"Too true, T'sau. She would rip us apart in court using the Daystrom name against us and cracking open property laws that have been unquestioned for centuries. If the Council loses that trust, the Federation will survive, but wider distrust would grow," said Admiral Scott.

"And the Fleet wouldn't support it, either," said Commodore Mirak, "I've passed it by our Chief of Legal Affairs and Star Fleet would stand with Miss Daystrom. Not only legally, but look at Elouise. Even after bringing the name back via the NX ship, the NCC-1707 still has a deep meaning to the Fleet. Her honoring of that and seeking to set it right... the Council would have a fight on its hands, Revar."

"Hmph!", Revar Umak sat back in his chair, "The Council won't like it. But I agree, really. If commerce were impacted by this in any way, the Federation would decay and quickly. Orion Pirates are bad enough, having suspicion of high level corruption on property rights would be a harsh blow to the Federation."

"Especially on something it gave up on." said Enid.

Revar Umak chortled, "You are going to make us pay for this, aren't you, Miss Daystrom?"

"No, Mr. Umak. I am going to make it right."

"There is that, yes," said Commodore Mirak, "that, along with the Gorns are what we are actually here about, but the 'direct issues' had to come first. Even to those of us who lost no one on the Excalibur, the history of it is actually a worry due to so much of the modern computers coming from the brain of the same man. We have seen some systems go awry, but that is due to the nature of their users, not intent by Richard Daystrom. It isn't the 'ghost in the machine' phenomena, just... Miss Daystrom calls it a shadow and it is still cast by that incident."

"Yes, it is, Len, it isn't an active thing, just... a final hint of of something to it,"said the Admiral, "the good intentions of the Fleet turned lethal. Miss Daystrom, setting this 'right' is to the good which is why I've supported the requests coming up from Operations. If what Richard Daystrom did is that different, then my only worry is you and your safety."

Enid was taken aback and sat back, deftly taking out a small water flask from the jacket draped on her chair. She took two swallows and put it back. "Me? I am not my great grandfather, let me assure you. I can't afford to be dreamy-eyed in my occupation, as it would tend to get me killed."

"Miss Daystrom, if I may?" asked T'sau.

"Please do."

"None of us can know what would happen if something happened to you..."

"My younger brother would take over."

"Is he a man that would see this through in case anything happened to you?"

"On his own? It would be perfunctory, I think. Karl is that way even if Ushanda would needle him to take it more seriously because I did. Really, at this point the team is where the knowledge rests, not really in me. Getting that team through to completion... he would, yes. But he lives with that deeper shadow easier than I do because he is further away from its center, being younger."

"Skilled and able, but not deeply affected?"

"Yes, T'sau, that is a fair way to say it, I guess. The times it does come up, it irks him... and yet when I suggest that he change it, his response is 'What? And miss the fun?' So a good, stable man, but not one who will fully put a shadow away."

"If something happened to you, who would you want to lead the team?" the Admiral asked.

"L'Tira." Enid was shocked that came out so quickly. But as the one she worked with the most and spent the most down-time with, they had grown close in their understanding and viewpoints. "But not as a member of the Fleet, but on her own time."

"That will be a table for three, Leonard, might as well all go to the same place," Commodore Rafiq said.

"Eloise, how do you figure these things out? And I would be more than happy to go with you to the Museum. I would like to see these things working, really, and talk with anyone about what they can talk about."

"Which will not be much, Commodore, the team and those who help it are under confidentiality. But a briefing I can arrange." said Enid.

"Actually, that covers the points that we wanted to bring up, Miss Daystrom. I can get the USS Grant recovery work sped up, however, as that should help things out." Admiral Scott said.

"Oh, no, the variant contract was made to handle just this situation and the Gorns have primary interest in it. The location and condition are perfect, really, plus the time pressure helps greatly. If it all goes well, then I will actually be done with everything and can start pre-publication work and help get the Gorns and Federation working on a co-production system. I'll contact Karl on that, its his area more than mine. But no one will publish before I do. The technology remains under wraps until it is something fit for getting out. With just a bit of work I can actually get this done and get back to my private life and not have to worry about it."

"Ah, your brother run it? Not the Institute?" said Mr. Umak.

"My family has little to do with the Daystrom Institute these days, beyond a ceremonial suit, and once a year dinners. No, this will happen under the name of the group that started it: Daystrom Industries. Creator of the duotronic and multitronic systems before licensing those off to other firms. That is a family concern, unless you missed that in the contract."

"As humans would say, 'she has us cold', Revar."

"Are there any concerns you have, Miss Daystrom?" asked the Admiral.

"Just one. Commodore Rafiq, do you think you could work with my brother Karl?"

Eloise Rafiq blinked, "Me? I.. under what circumstances?"

"In case anything happens to the entire team. I will need someone to work out things the right way if that happens. I will bring you on when you get here, and you will be a full team member. This is too important to have chance work against it, I think. And at that point the Fleet does need its heft behind this."

"You are a wary woman, Enid Daystrom."

"Uh-huh, that is how I escaped the Lascoter. Very wary and introduced it to a cliff that it didn't expect."

"I do like you, Miss Daystrom, I agree."

"Thank you, Commodore. Oh, it'll be a working meal when you three get here. Expect to be kept busy if you want to see how things go. I'm sure you will like an early 22nd century Fleet meal."

"Thank you, Miss Daystrom," said the Admiral, "end transmission."

The connection died and Enid stood and put on her jacket. The flask appeared in her hand, and she took the last swallows from it, then stretched a moment before walking out of the communications room. L'Tira was sitting on utilitarian sofa just down the hall.

"What was that all about?" she asked.

"Busy work. We will be getting three high level staffers here for a presentation early next week. Working presentation at the bay."

"Really? Who will it be?"

"Vice Admiral Scott of Fleet Ops, Commodore's Mirak and Rafiq from Sciences and Records, respectively. They may have a few other people in tow, make sure the staffers get rooms but they aren't coming to the briefing. Anyone else clear through me, ok?"

L'Tira stopped. "Enid? The #2 of Fleet Ops? Wilson Scott?"

Enid stopped and turned, "Yes, important right?"

"Enid, the man is in charge of all Fleet Logisitcs and Personnel. What in the name of the Yellow Fleet is he going to be coming HERE for?"

"Wants to see what all the fuss is about, I expect. He may have some Council reps with him a Mr. Umak and T'sau, they are ok with me, ask me about anyone one else, ok?"

L'Tira checked her personal system, "I... don't believe that. A working meal? Here?"

Enid smiled tightly, "And let the good Captain know this is not a 'show and tell' right now, although their staff might do well to get the nickel tour. Especially the Athens."

"Ah, Enid, you can't just treat these people like..."

"L'Tira, I am a citizen of Earth and a member of the Federation. I do not serve in Star Fleet. I can and will treat them as colleagues and administrators and bureaucrats. All the bells, whistles and so on I will leave to Captain Bartholomew and you to figure out through their offices. Those offices will know what to do, and should guide you on that."

"I... ok, but I'm not up on protocol on this. Ok?"

"Let the Museum handle their end, and I set the protocol for the team. Colleagues, bureaucrats and administrators - be nice, be cordial and don't give an inch."

"Wow. You are really something, Enid!"

"Thanks? Game of zero-g handball?"

L'Tira brightened up, "Sure, I can handle that. Get the scheduling done after. And I'll take you by two this time?"

They started walking.

"Promises, promises. Oh, on the meal?"


"Its a grab'n'go for them. They agreed."

"You didn't tell them what it was,did you?"

"Of course not! I'm sure I can do a real sit-down one later, but I want an immersion experience."

"You're evil!"

Enid grinned wryly at that, "Say, you were wondering about the scars across my back?"

"Oh, yes, why didn't you get those removed?"

"Reminders, really. I'll have to tell you about the Lascoter that I met up with one fine late afternoon... a very hungry one...."

* * *

"Welcome to the sixth meeting of the M-5 project working group on the M-Series computers. Thank you, all, for making it here - this is the second time we actually have most of the individuals on the project together at one place and one time. We spent some time on introductions before the meeting started, and I know that most of you have met up with each other on sub-group meetings and topical meetings, beyond those of your normal jobs, of course. I got this room because I felt that a nearly complete meeting had to happen at least once, with no major distractions, before we moved on from the 'turn-on and ensure everything is working' to the actual 'what does this do and how does it work?' phase. We have started to go over that line already, but it will be official with this meeting: we are now into full research and implementation phase. And may I congratulate you all on the work you have done so far!"

Enid Daystrom walked from the podium pulled up a chair on the slightly raised platform that was the first few meters of the room. She sat down, and looked to Mr. Jomra.

"Is everyone here who can make it?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Good. This next part is truly for the team, so seal the room against all but emergency messages."

A few recesses in the walls turned red, ensuring continuity of enclosure as the cyber, electronic and physical seals went into position with soft sighs at the doors and ducts.


"Because we are going into this area, let me tell you all that I have been working my contacts along with those of Grace, Lothar and Patti the past three weeks. We have informed the VSA, MIT and ASC that a major basic and applied research paper on the fundamentals of computer science will be coming out with a citation database that will feature... Grace? What are we up to on that?"

"Enid, I've gathered the material from most of the group and we are at over 7,000 citations of those groups, alone, plus at least 20,000 more on other major institutions across the Federation. And not all of those are of M-5 vintage, or original post-work at this point."

"I've asked Grace to help out on compilation of that citation index as it is not only an excellent resource for us, but will serve as a founding part of the work we will be putting out. When I say 'we' this will be a paper that will have an et. al. list that will include each and every member of this team regardless of specialty. I've asked Lothar to back-channel post-publication academic credit for this work, and so the work time listing and specialty will be important, but at the very least we expect there will be a full set of post-grad credits handed out team wide by MIT as they are pretty flexible on this."

There was a stunned silence, and some murmurings of excitement going throughout the room.

"Enid, who is the publisher and holder of paper?" asked Simon.

"Daystrom Industries, founded by the late Richard Daystrom, currently headed up by his estate's manager, Enid Daystrom in cooperation with her brother Karl Daystrom and sister Ushanda Daystrom. The Daystrom Institute is not involved in the family business. By coming on the project as each of you has done, you can see that is my official position. The paper will be led by the late Richard Daystrom. My name will not appear on that work outside of sponsorship."

"What? Enid! That is ridiculous!" said Mr. Jervis, "You deserve full credit on such work, it is even getting people from my shop into it which no one ever expected."

"Thank you Mr. Jervis. I understand that it is not unusual for the sponsor to be a direct part of such work, but all I bring with me is my legacy. My talents on the technical and scientific part have been minimal. Just trying to keep up with all of you has pretty much left me befuddled, bemused and aware of just how little I have done. I consider all of you to be the colleagues of my great grandfather and actually going beyond him to save his work from the trash heap of technical obscurity and the blind eye of history."

"You just can't be serious," said Tareen Lefar, a member of Simon's group, "I've seen you put in more hours than any single one of us and work to understand what we are doing. You can't just walk away from that."

"Tareen, I am not walking away from such credit but acknowledging what I have done is in the administrative role, not technical contribution role. The reason I wanted you all here, today, is to explain that the project information, if it gets out, could jeopardize the publication of this work and the acknowledgments of it to your colleagues, coworkers and teammates. All of your datasets are encrypted, but the hard work, to-date, can still get out. I can't bring the force of Star Fleet security or any of that on you, beyond a secure room or two and what I've already provided. The rest is up to you."

Looks went around the room as Enid palmed out a water flask, took a drink and made it disappear into her jacket. She was pretty sure that only the computer recording the group saw that, and smiled very deeply.

"Now, there will be a second paper, which I consider to be as important than the first. It will be a technical critique paper on all of the other work that has been done by others and pointing out how their sloppy work missed so much. MIT, VSA, and the others don't know about that paper, and I doubt they will actually like it too much by the time it comes out. We have gotten agreement for security from Star Fleet Engineering Corps to be the group handling the peer review process for both papers and that actually is under contract. And if they fall down on that, there will not be much left of them or their reputation, so I expect they will do just a good a job now at self-criticism as they did, then, of criticism of the M-Series work in my great grandfather's time. They wanted this, way back when, and never properly cycled it out, and so I can only see their work as a mid-term review. 130 years old, yes, but still not a close-out. I've been through the Deputy Director's Office of Star Fleet for that, and he has agreed to my stipulations."

"Enid, you never told me about that!" said Lothar.

"That's right, because I only heard back on it last night. Tell me, Lothar, can you think of anyone else you would want to do the peering?"

Lothar sat back in his chair, furrowed his brow and then looked up with a taut smile, "For this? A few individuals here and there, but other than that, no institutions."

"Good, hand those names over to the Corps. As a wide peer criticism review of... call it 30,000 other papers and pieces of research, it will be one of the largest, deepest reviews ever done of the actual peer review system since the... well... has anyone ever done one of these outside of the automated peering system?"

"Not in a few centuries, Enid, no." said Patti.

"As such, and with the other paper preceding it by a bit, the second one will demonstrate the credentials of the group to do such a paper. The first will get a good review and then some, I think. The second will be hitting the entire scientific review process in a fundamental way. The credible organizations will acknowledge this, and as it is on 'old work' many won't see that the amount of recent material covered is very, very large. For all of you, this will be a major accomplishment that will, literally, set you apart from everyone else in Star Fleet and the rest of academia and commercial activity. My name will be at the top of this paper, and I am more than willing to take the flack for that."

Not a sound was heard beyond the lowest level whisper of air circulating in the room.

"Patti has been heading that up as a side issue for me, doing the meta-analysis work of the other cited work. I believe we are going to have a three part paper consisting of technical faults, institutional faults and individual problem areas seen across a large number of the papers and works cited. It will contain the entire preliminary database of criticism at the post M-5 test stage. That is also going to be published and hosted by Daystrom Industries. The Daystrom Institute will be criticized in that paper, which is why the first cannot be published or hosted by them."

"Sweet Mother... Enid... but why?" said Kathy Lorimar.

"I am going to make things right, Kathy. I've told you all this from the start and I had hoped that it would be all or mostly to the good. It isn't and I am not going to flinch from those bad parts, because they are necessary to weigh the good ones. I expect those will predominate over time and bad parts worked on and then put out of the way to change the way we do things today in the sciences. Quite frankly, I never expected most of what we have been uncovering and some of it is more than just disturbing. Both of these papers are necessary, the technical achievements and the reasons why the system fell down in finding them. All of you, from the cadets who have come into the project to those nearing the end of their time with the Fleet volunteered for a technically challenging and historically meaningful task. As the one heading up that task, I have to make sure it comes out to its proper end and everyone gets the credit they deserve. The reason I am telling you this is that there will be others who will be brought on the project in the next two weeks, and while they will be getting full access to the materials, they are not on the papers. As the holders of the work, Daystrom Industries has a full and constant back-up of this work, and my brother and sister are informed. Further my back-ups and secondaries have been notified in case anything happens to me or the team. We are entering a critical phase of this work, and it must go through. Because from here on out we are in the area that brought Richard Daystrom down, and even with his unsteady mind, we are starting to see the outlines of his dream. And the scales will finally be balanced for the Excalibur."

"May her dead rest in peace," whispered Mr. Jomra.

"Amen." said Enid, her head down for a moment and then back up.

"Now to the work, itself. L'Tira, it is time for the outside update."

"You do know how to kill an audience, Enid!"

"Sorry, it had to be done," Enid said laughing slightly.

"Ok, then! As you may have heard we have had contact with the DD's Office and an SFC high level staff presentation is scheduled for next week. We have asked them to keep it light, but with the DD, two Fleet Commodores, and a few members of the Federation Council wanting in, we are trying to limit the actual number for presentations to 10 and their support staff can visit the Museum."

Grace shook her head and laughed, "They will not like that at all! It isn't protocol! Not to have their staff there to actually pay attention, is just not done."

"Well, not done for Star Fleet, yes, but Enid said this is Daystrom Industries, so we follow its protocol on these things, the Base and Museum can do what is necessary for their protocol."

"Enid! That's not a way to run a company!" said Roger.

"How would you know?" Mr. Jomra asked.

"I've watched the 'Accounts of the Traveler'!"

"That's fiction!!"

"Close enough...."

"Roger, if you want to run things differently, form your own company, get your own project and then let the SFC and Fed Council know how it will work, ok?" said Enid

Roger looked wide eyed, "Oh, no! You didn't...."

"Enid most certainly did, Roger. They wanted an 'in' somehow and Enid told them it was her way and the Engineering Corps Review or nothing. I think she said it would be very interesting to hear a Gorn review of Federation scientific peer reviews and hosting work left behind by the Federation a few decades ago as 'useless'," L'Tira said.

"God! That is hardball, Enid," said Simon.

"They tried the ton of bricks approach, Simon. I offered them a bottomless pit to dump them in." Enid said, "With a smile on my face as I did so, being ever so nice."

That had obviously broken all previous tension - letting the stuffing out of the higher-ups in the Fleet and the Council wasn't often done.

"Lets see, other than that, there were a couple of seminars on Enid's carnivore work, including an impromptu one at the gym for those who were there, on the Lascoter of Tuza V. I think its something like the appetite of a T-Rex and the table manners of a Great White Shark? Or is that reversed?"

"Close enough either way, really,"said Enid.

"Beyond that as the cadre waiting for scout vessels for placement is still here, and will be for at least another 6 months, we are making the best of it. I think all 8 of us are on the team, now. And to the cadets on board, remember you could wind up at such lively postings, too, if you are scheduled for an interesting ship."

"Actually, there isn't much else to go through, as Enid went through the important things. Oh! Cadets are now getting full work credit for the project for up to 50% of time, as well as any staff requisitioning up to 20% of their normal work time for themselves. It is a 1:1 and looks good on the staff report. But please, please, please, make sure your sections aren't left understaffed, ok?"

Nods from a number of those who had busy schedules.

"That's it! Enid?"

"As Grace's work is now in support, I'm putting this over to Enak, Kathy, Roger and Patti because there isn't a separation via work type at this point."

Enak stood up and stepped to the stage area, "As you know we have been looking at the M-Variant project and M-3 this last week, plus taking a good look at the 'cross-talk problem'. As most of this involves Kathy's group on the M-Variant, she should be the one to talk about this, Kathy?"

Kathy stepped up as Enak sat down, "Hello, everyone! I really didn't know what to expect earlier on this week as the original M-1 had a memory module swap-out and re-start with blank modules. We re-installed the old modules and left that M-1 unit running and then looked at the sequential turn-on routine that had allowed the M-Variant to come on line. We turned on each unit and they spent time trying to initialize and couldn't do it, stating there was 'unidentified input calibration error'. That is a code for unspecified ship equipment encountered that somehow interferes with M-Variant communication with ship systems and is a general code across all the early M-Series. We shut them all down, then tried the reverse in getting the M-Variant up first and then the modified original. This time it was the modified original that didn't want to initialize. It should be noted that like what Richard Daystrom saw, the single M-1 unit was not attached to the simulator. Next we tried the modified M-1 with its blank, initialized memory modules and the problem disappeared completely."

"Completely?" asked Simon Lurva.

"Yes, not even after 12 hours did it re-appear. After that test we decided to try the original M-1 and attach it to the system inputs along with the M-Variants. Not only did all systems function normally, but the M-1 with original memory modules began to gain functions from the M-Variants in a sharing arrangement, from what we could tell. What makes this surprising is that they used none of the simulators' communication pathways to do that messaging, and we watched as system functions shifted back and forth from the separate system to the group one. They operated as a single system, and we verified this by doing a random module dump and having the codes analyzed for new code generated and passed between systems: such code was found and it had passed between them to the remote system."

"They did, what?" asked Lothar, "That is flat-out impossible, isn't it?"

"That is what we thought, and we tried every forensic tool, scientific analysis tool and even got time from the sub-space transceiver on Deimos to sweep the station for an hour. Nothing was transmitted in any way that we could detect, and yet the systems still coordinated with each other and shared code."

"Why the cross-bar system, then?" asked a cadet by the name of Raelyn.

"We wondered that, ourselves. An analysis of transmissions across it reveals some activity, mostly timing activity for the cross-bar itself. Its purpose, from what we can tell, is an initialization one to allow the memory systems to share their code and standardize it in case they are called into emergency use where previous code was disrupted or they were put in blank. We tested this idea by taking one of the M-1V's out of the system, shutting it down, replacing its memory modules with blanks, reattaching it and turning it on: in less than an hour it had been fully repopulated with code and the system had re-balanced for it. That is not to say the cross-bar is not used, it is just not used very much. You can, actually, remove it once all the parts are up and working and that does not impair the system, we think it was either a temporary creation to be replaced by something more permanent, say a mutual housing or full integrated system, or, and there is mention of this, having 'keyed master modules' that will be put into all the M-Variants on a ship and then starting them up simultaneously or nearly so. That would allow for a dual fallback system, so that if one fails the other is still available for true manual start."


Roger stood up and went to the stage and stood next to Kathy, "This is basically how things were going by mid-week, and we needed time to test M-3, so we did try it on another simulator, but the cross-talk interfered with that. As we had helped with the variant project, we decided to remove all the memory modules and allow a blank start with re-initialization, and that did work. M-3 performs as specified with the exact, same limitations seen by Dr. Daystrom when he created it. At this point we had a sub-group meeting and decided the next path to try was that of bringing the original modules out of all the M-1,2 and V's and putting in blank ones save for the idea of 'seed modules' taken from M-3. As it is next in line, although co-temporal with the variants, we thought it would be interesting to see what happened if we did that all on the same simulator."

Kathy nodded and then continued.

"While Roger was doing that, my team had gotten all the parameters for the USS Grant and fed those into the simulator and test ship computer system which includes every specification for the mass of extra equipment on the ship. While that was being done, we handed the M-Variant system the problem of 'how long would it take to safely get this ship from Jovian orbit to the Mars Museum docking orbit?' Most of that was put through the simulator's system to allow it to act as the interface between us and the M-Variants as it would normally. After ten minutes it terminated its analysis and told us that the simulator 'could not accurately portray ship systems'. We removed all the variant material, giving it a stock USS Grant as it was during the M-5 test, and that went through to completion: 6 weeks with minimal hazard to the ship and no crew."

"Six weeks? And the Corps is going to take how long?" asked Patti.

"Actually if the Corps had a tug they could do it in two days or less, and less than a week if they could get enough fuel on board to get its impulse engines on line. Still, six weeks with no one on-board seems like a near miracle, to me."

"Have you ever tried to get a multitronic system to do something like that? It is not like a miracle, it is a miracle." said Lothar.

"The interesting thing is that the M-Variant is set up to take whatever precautions there are to have anyone on-board survive and utilize their skills. I am generally non-technical for engineering, and most of us have only been working with computers, simulations and the normal sciences. So we put our 'match crew' up as 4 unspecified, non-officers who were willing to help. It started presenting me with a skill inventory listing and let me know that others could use separate ship simulator terminals to do this, too. In an hour we had input our skills, none of which have a thing to do with engineering, described the ship as almost completely powered down via the simulator with only fuel for the one fusion system. Almost immediately it started to pull up standard work assignments on various parts of the simulated ship and ask if tools and access were available. It then checked through the rest of the ship's functions and asked if we could all locate to a central area with maximal radiation protection given by deflector screens. We could. From there it processed through the data and asked if we were willing to take minimal radiation exposure risks, if the ship's superstructure were undamaged in key areas... by the time we were done it was three hours later and it announced that it could do so with the time of work included get the ship to the Mars orbit in 14 days."

"I don't believe it," said Lothar, "where is it going to get the fuel?"

"Roger, care to take it from here, as we are hitting that knowledge base area?"

"Sure! The answer is Jupiter. We gave the knowledge base everything Star Fleet has on emergency ship operations, repairs and such that we have today, including all the failure reports. As you all know there are ways to try and operate the deflector screens to move external impinging gases into the intercooler system and then condense it. Even when done by multitronic systems, it doesn't work so well with a full starship without specialized equipment. The M-Variant recognizes those problems and sets up a very, very complex multi passthrough system that actually starts to sort out the gases by weigh, charge and spin. In theory it can be done, though a search of papers can't find anyone who has proposed it, and it uses the first condensate from that to start up a second fusion system and get it on line to reinforce the deflectors. It then feeds fuel to each fusion system as a way of 'mix testing', I think, and the rest goes to the thrusters which start to alter the orbit. After the 10th orbit the ship is grazing the very outer layers of the Jovian atmosphere and picking up a highly rich condensate, plus even recharging the intercoolers with helium, neon and argon, which really isn't a great mix but actually does work. After that it is putting fuel in the impulse engine supply area at a decent rate and then, two days in, it expends that fuel for a final, last close approach to Jupiter and slingshots out as a lighter, faster vessel with thrusters available and fuel for a final long, low velocity thrust to insert the ship into a parking orbit doing just a bit of orbital mechanics to have the ship arrive with nearly empty thrusters, three fusion systems still at 20% capacity and an impulse engine with a 30 second low power maneuvering supply. We decided to take the M-Variant off line and try the M-3 on something like this, a ship fully stripped of crew and it had problems coming up with a 3 month scenario, even with not much to do."

Ensign Kestes asked from her chair, "How did it do navigation and obstacle avoidance?"

"Mostly by periodic checks of the sensor array and it used the lowest power sensors on-board. I will have to say that at multiple points throughout this the simulator couldn't actually figure out what it was that the M-Variants were doing. We had distinct failures covering things like the deflector grid, re-routing of gases in directions they were not meant to go, on-board battery storage, the list goes on and on. Lothar helped us a lot in understanding what a ship does, as did Simon, and they were pretty mystified by a lot of the activities. Worse was when the M-Variants told us the simulator was not acting as a proper simulation and was not properly modeling design specifications for the simulated ship. That took a day or two to work out and the sensor business was the most interesting as the M-Variants asked for a very low power system to keep track of its position. It actually asked if we could affix a telescope out of each ship axes for the lowest power visual cues. Its periodicity increased heading in and out to Jupiter and on the longer arcs it was every few minutes. Open space navigation was a 10 minute check period. M-3 went with the slower routine documented as 'emergency only' and unsafe, but then it wasn't made to do this sort of thing, really. At that point we put in new modules with single 'seeds' from M-3 and brought it all up, including the original M-2 with a 'seed' module. We think we know what the 'cross-talk' phenomena is and we did test out all the other results, so we are left with one idea that works and this confirmed it: they all intercommunicated."

"But how?" asked Lothar.

"Well that goes back to the MIT research done with the quantum dynamics used to show teleportation in memory module substrates. That basic 'tool' is given to the evolutionary code along with goals to meet and given memory space to work in. This hardware encoded system is more efficient than the multitronic one, also using that memory space, and so quickly adapts to it. In fact M-3 is the first to really start to utilize those more conscious engram types, so the code does have to adapt to that, but in the tests to-date we see this teleportation code show up as nodes in the neural net. There are variants of it, pointing to different things its doing, and any time a code loses function it is swept out of the system. We tried a basic diagrammatic mapping of code pieces and their attachments so that we could do hop-length analysis: how many hops to get from one point on the net to another? Pretty straightforward, really."

"So you say," whispered Enid.

"No! Really its just the old 'friend-of-a-friend' analysis to see how far away any given piece of code is from any other. It is a telling part of neural nets that some areas are very efficient and others aren't, but they all operate optimally with the arrangement they create. So we came up with this diagram, based on memory modules..."

A diagram of points and lines all color coded as to suspected function floated in the air.

"These white nodes are the light pool teleporters and see how they are in each module? Most don't serve any function on the idea of using the memory module connectors to move information or do much of anything. So, as this is an M-1V I'm showing you, using that multitronic sub-subsystem to pass information means that there are some very isolated parts of code in the networks. Also note the geographically dispersed code equivalents for what we think they are doing are all over the place? Some concentrated in some blocks, others spread everywhere and hard to pass information to each other?"

The color coded sections of code highlighted showing the great variation of memory types and their locations.

"Shortest path between suspected nodes that need to communicate varies from 1, which must be critical, to, I believe the high is 35, with a mean of 12. Now watch what happens when all the teleportation nodes are considered to be 'unspecified, crossing point ' nodes."

The code system shifted and started to show a highly interconnected system with some major grouping of colors with few outliers.

"This now creates a good way for functions to communicate internally and with other functions across the network. The multitronic areas are almost entirely eradicated from the network. Here longest hop drops to 11 shortest 1 and mean is 5. We can't analyze this system as it works, so can't tell you what is going on in a fine grained way. But the code is utilizing the quantum nature of coherent light systems and its code to create a faster interconnect system than we currently have today."

"How does it do that?" asked Lt. Miyaka of the bio-sciences group.

"Well, for the structure itself, that is self-built. Some engram set-ups are pretty distributed and so do not have full code integrity within a single unit, and just a quick analysis trying to trace them out shows they have high levels of continuity across the entire set of M-Variants. How the messages are tagged and get to where they are supposed to go? We have had some coders working on the major information areas, or what we think they are at any rate, and we can't determine it for sure. There seems to be some sort of encoding for messages that indicates some pre-knowledge of destination, but that is not a strict address function and we have yet to be able to analyze the system to catch the interstitial data transfers. We know the message system via its original tool suite, but how that is used has been evolved to an extreme after just a half-hour from blank state. What this ties in with is the Heisenberg compensators in M-3 and later M-Series computers, as they are doing something with the data coming in to self-analyze the system and 'lock it down' so that it cannot be disrupted via outside quantum manipulation or scans. That 'lock down' propagates across the system via the teleporter nodes which are quantum connected as single pieces, if our analysis is correct, that is. If that is the case, then all connected M-Series computers having scanned teleporter nodes gain from that benefit, which just might explain the problem of transporting an active system."

"Can we back up a second to the problems with simulating ship systems?" said Mr. Jervis, "I'm having some difficulty in really understanding that. I thought this sort of simulation was pretty cut and dried with few problems showing up in them. We do have the holodecks, after all."

"Hmmm... Simon? Lothar?" the two men looked at each other and then Simon stood up and walked to the stage.

"You are right, Mr. Jervis, this is a pretty staid area of simulation, but that is for all normal uses and even expected aberrant uses of starships. The M-V was doing something different, and complaining that the simulation wasn't actually simulating things, it was returning null data where data was expected. Take, for example, its use of the deflector screens. Almost every simulation I care to name has a minimal energy point that is considered to be of use to ships for protection. The simulator didn't have any good examples of what happened at the extremely low power settings that the M-V system wanted. Without that it couldn't give proper ship responses and the M-V halted things, pointing out the problem. I had to work with Kathy on this, as it was a multi-part failure as the M-V had a long list of things that should be modeled but weren't. A primary one was that it had shifted the shield grid, a related system for full defenses against hostile weapons fire and some acts of nature against which it may be the only protection, because it wasn't acting properly either. When I finally tracked down what the M-V was trying to do, I really needed Kathy on the technical side as this was one of the most subtle uses of one of the oldest technologies in the Fleet and I don't think anyone has modeled it properly since the late 21st century and even then not like this.... probably just a bit of background would be in order on this..."

Simon shifted Roger's display to the side and then Roger removed it, and Simon brought up the hull of a standard Constitution class heavy cruiser.

"Now these minor grid lines running over the ship are the deflector screens, the low power system to deflect things like slow moving space debris, fast moving particles and such so that they don't harm the ship. At full power it helps serve as the final line of defense provided by these much thicker tracings that are the shield grid. As it is low power in origin, although that is comparing it only to the shield system, it is a pretty good draw on standard ship systems. Perhaps as much as a phaser bank or two, but on a continuous basis. Most of that is a magnetically contained low level plasma that reacts to incoming debris, and mostly vaporizes it. By having so fine a grid it draws far less power than the shields, but requires some regeneration even when the ship isn't in motion. Power draw goes up when normal speed increases and down when a warp pocket is formed. What the M-V did was extremely unusual - it sectioned off the entire grid into different, independent parts all working together and each having their own energy draw. It also formed an inner and outer section to create a scoop and funnel that started at the front of the ship and decreased in size by the time it gets to the intercooler pylons for the warp drive. It was obviously an atmospheric scoop, and only by doing some work with Kathy on atmospheric contents did I finally see that it was not just a scoop but a sieve: it was changing the magnetic field and density at each point to deflect certain atoms and molecules in different directions. It starts with a basic mass sieve so that dust particles get rejected. After that it is purely differentiation system working on the properties of molecules and atoms."

The ship diagram displayed the large curving scoop that conformed over the primary hull disk, and then narrowed as it went down over that to the pylons and secondary hull. Large particles and dust were indicated to be pushed above the scoop which was slightly angled and went a short distance out from the forward section of the ship.

"As we gave it average upper atmosphere for Jupiter, it utilized that and that average distance to do multiple things, the primary part was to sort out the gases. The intercoolers serve as a way to give surface area to the warp core to dump excess heat during violent warp maneuvers, even to the point of venting coolant. There are two of those inboard on each pylon and outboard, so four per pylon. Here the grid of the secondary hull and pylons divides up the incoming flow and puts it IN to each cooling system. With the cooling system not being used, the M-V then funnels the incoming gas into the fusion systems and does a final sort by atomic weight and any induced charge, done at an extremely low power save to test each flow every 30 seconds or so. Not a single one of these systems has ever been documented to do this, no engineer has ever proposed it because of the complexity involved, and no one has even thought about how any of these systems could be used in these ways. All of these systems were created to get rid of fused plasma, waste heat and other things necessary to keep the ship from glowing like a small star when active. I had to check the rating of some of these systems to make sure they even took this sort of use."

The interior of the ship was given in overview via system schematics and annotation points of how each part of the system worked and where its final work would end up.

"For the few minutes that a ship would dip into the outer atmosphere of Jupiter, this system will not only protect the ship, but utilize the resources it is going through."

"It's feeding!" said Lt. Miyaka.

Enid smiled and turned in her seat, "Exactly that. Great grandfather wanted the M-Series to approach the ship as an organic system, not a creation of engineering parts. It feeds itself and attempts to regain function and internal homeostasis."

Simon continued.

"The system does this work in cooperation with whoever is on-board, and even a minimal,non-technical crew can do almost all of the basic re-routing and bypassing cut-offs and such in a short period of time and then put those back in place very quickly. It can do these things alone, but as we have seen the time to do that is lengthy as it can't use direct feeds for the work. Unlike the worries of many about a 'killer computer' this one actively seeks help and cooperation to sustain life and bring the ship into working order."

The highlights on the ship changed to look at the shield grid.

"That brings up the second thing that is fascinating, and that is its use of the shield grid. As you know that is a system that requires a larger flow of current and field, and yet needs to be restricted so that it doesn't negatively impact interior systems. It has a two-flow channel, at least in the Constitution class and there are many ways to mitigate the problem, in which the main channel is the primary current and then it back-feeds through a smaller-tighter and intense back-grid that limits how far into the ship's hull the shields can go. That primary grid serves to generate up the shields at a distance from the ship, the back-grid, by having such a tiny radius and inverse polarity, goes only a short distance and counters the main shields, so that we don't have effects of it on the interior of the ship. The M-V complained about this, because it didn't generate expected current. And I scratched my head as this is not a power generation system, until I looked at where it was going, talked with Kathy and saw that it was looking to get an induced current from the magnetic field of Jupiter. Normally we don't think about this, save as a way to try and keep induced flows from overloading a system or channeling them off the shield system. Instead the M-V was trying to utilize it as a way to trickle charge the battery systems so that they would also begin to come on line as a power reserve. Again, never modeled, never done, never examined and everything we do tries to get rid of this, while the M-V wants to use it."

"Wow." said Mr. Jomra, looking at the ship display as it moved through the outer atmosphere of Jupiter slowly gaining supplies and energy.

"This is a subtlety and sophistication that I, personally, didn't expect from such a system. And yet it approached this in a pretty basic way, according to Roger and Patti. You can find the list of what M-V wanted done and why, and we are still chasing down a few pieces like what it is doing on the outer parts of the orbit, as the deflectors change configuration greatly from the inner parts. That is a very low level alert by M-V on the inadequacy of the simulation, and not a show stopper by its concerns. I'll be at Kathy's group meeting tomorrow for brainstorming to try and get the simulation fully revamped and finally give it the actual and real parameters of the unknown systems on the Grant."

Simon then sat down, and Roger came back, and the ship display faded into nothing.

"Now for the big one: bringing M-3 on line with the rest of the other tested units. We really didn't know what to expect as the code shift in M-3 towards a larger multitronic suite had bogged it down and what that would do with the rest of the system, we couldn't guess. But as we knew the basics of how to get a system back on and keeping the original code systems protected, we figure it was worth a try. Plus the compensator might factor in. But as the M-Variant integrated with existing M-1 and M-2 architecture, and the changes in some areas were minor, it was worth a try. We 'blanked' all the machines, put in seed modules from M-3 and did a low-to-high start up. The entire system gave us a one hour initialization phase and then pronounced itself on line. No fanfare, no nothing, save that M-3 now served as the interface for the system and we could, finally, interrogate it directly. We ran this through all previous tests, including the ones it had failed the first time around and the entire system took them in stride. Unlike the pared down M-V and extension, it did have a few problems with getting a ship into warp drive for saving the vessel: it faltered at the energy build up to create a warp pocket. By 'falter' I mean a 3 second delay and finally choosing the minimal configuration used by the M-V system to save ships: it fell back to a known and reliable configuration in normal space. What it failed at was actually being able to do any combat and at some point it was actually turning off its higher functions to let the M-V 'carry the load'. So it has limits but they are not the ones of the original system and really quite amazing. I think Patti can talk about some of this better than I can, at this point, as its not really about the code. Patti?"

Patti stood and walked up as Roger went back to his seat.

"I've been trying to convince Enid that her name belongs on the first paper, too, but she just won't have it. So, its time for me to show her why it has to be there. As we know M-3 starts to incorporate higher level engrams to interface with those of its lower level structures. I believe from all the original reports and our duplicating them, that it originally failed due to lack of mental space to comprehend what it was doing. Looking at M-4 and M-5 it is those areas that grew very, very quickly while the underlying parts received little or no attention. Now as Enid has said that the ship demonstrated feeding behavior with respect to Jupiter, and I do concur, let me ask her: in your field of work is just finding food and consuming it enough for an animal of the size you work with to survive?"

Enid smiled, "Rarely, Patti. It needs some overall direction and ability to think ahead so it can know where it can probably go to get its sustenance, be safe and address other issues of its life."

Patti smiled, "Yes, it does. Now once it has fed and done any other biological actions based on those drives, and it has no other overwhelming urges or needs, what does that animal do?"

"Usually it rests, keeping some awareness of its surroundings, but not doing much."

"Does that adequately describe how M-3/V acted on a normal ship without crew?"

Enid sat back and thought. "Well, most creatures usually aren't on the move like that, but there are many exceptions to that rule, so many that it forms its own set of sub-rules. Yes, that is how it acted."

"Good. To the rest of you, this may seem a bit esoteric, but I think we have seen the very first instance of a bored computer that knew it was bored."

Enid's mouth fell open. Others started to laugh, often raucously. Enid herself joined in and shook her head.

"And she is a specialist in her field now confirming my initial observation. You've done that more than a few times, Enid, and that insight is wonderful and necessary, and yet you refuse to recognize it."

"Patti, its superfluous. You could have gotten that from any number of individuals, even here on the station."

"Yes, but none of them brought the M-Series project from a man trying to replicate an organic dynamic in a starship with them, now, did they? Nor have familial background of that man and some insight into him and how he worked. If someone brought a project and you got assigned as its head and had to ask if their contributions were vital, would you say they were or not, Enid?"

"I would, yes. Luckily I am head of the project and get to decide that for myself. I have personal reasons, Patti."

"Ok, then, I will lay off. Now for those of you wondering where those of us involved in this have been holed up, save for regular work... we still find time for that... amazingly... is the reason that I made sure Enid didn't know about. We hooked the full sub-M-3 grouping up and gave it the same scenario with the Grant in Jovian orbit, and the same people. Everything started out the same from there but then, well, Kathy, it was all the same up to the skills area and questioning and then what happened?"

Kathy smiled and spoke up.

"Once I got into a direct question and answer with the M-3/V grouping, it started to ask other questions about... well... about me, my health, who I knew what my interests were... it did that with all of us."

"When I walked in you were all busily chatting away, and engrossed in conversation, long after it had started running the scenario. How long was that?"

"Ahh... when you first walked in... that was, 6 hours, I think."

"How would you describe what the system was doing?"

Kathy shook her head, "It was interested in us. It wasn't asking questions that were difficult or even intrusive, and yet, there was that feeling of interest."

"And on your part too?" asked Patti.

"Yes. I... you know its hard to describe... it knew that we were actual people who were putting in information to a simulation, and yet worked through that to actually just talk with us."

"Was this disturbing to you?"

"Oh, no, not in the least. It did focus on the ship simulation, but it was more generally oriented beyond that. Very childlike but not childish."

"Did it grow to understand you, to any extent?"

"Yes! Oh it did and that was really amazing, I've never had that experience before."

"You are a 'holodeck sensitive', right? A person that instinctively feels a substantial difference between holodeck and autonomous holodisplays backed by current computers?" Patti asked..

"Yes," said Kathy, "it is difficult to explain but there is something missing from those, off-putting."

"Did you feel that with this arrangement?"

"Not in the least, it wasn't trying to be a human or humanoid or something else, no attempts to be something."

"Roger, you got roped into that match group. What was your impression?"

"Very similar to Kathy's, really. Tentatively inquisitive, interested, asked follow-up questions, wanted to talk about my background... it was unusual. I'm not a holo-sensitive, but there is a willing suspension of disbelief that goes with that environment. And the known quirks of autonomous units is one that can be pretty easily picked out. This felt, experientially, more like talking with some of the sentient AI's like Mr. Data or one of the reconstructed Reyna units."

"Thank you, both. This is confirmed in my talking with others who had spent some time either wandering through during the test and asking what was going on, and others who came in to do other work. The engrams put in-place by Dr. Daystrom are modeled on his own background, and it was inquisitive, open, and willing to approach different people on many things. However, by his notes and those of the rest of the M-3 and later series, he was taking a much broader cross-section of sentients to get to these engrams. His personal biases, however, show up in this experience of having an open, inquisitive attitude with a high degree of gregariousness to it. These engrams are common, although not present in all individuals, so that those of an introverted nature have little of the gregarious attitude, although they can still be open in their own ways. Enid, is this sort of behavior necessary for some species that you know about in your field of work?"

"Patti! I've gotten the message!"

"Enid, this is about your background and I do want to know as my own work takes me towards sentients and some offshoots of it: does this appear more broadly outside of sentient realms as a trait, not necessarily in sophistication?"

"Yes it does. It has a high survival value to it, knowing about those who share common interests and needs, usually some genetic similarity with biology, and ensuring there is group understanding amongst individuals."

"Is there a set of emotional components with this?"

"Yes, they are happiness, contentment, security and all have the ability to reduce stress and interpersonal friction, which is a very high survival value when living in groups."

"There is at that, which is why I'm asking you, Enid. Thank you."

"That is plain evil, Patti," Enid said smiling.

"You should know," Patti said smiling an evil grin, "Richard Daystrom had something on his mind building the M-Series and I think this is a fundamental cornerstone of it: he was involving more than one sphere of interest and he was crossing multiple lines of inquiry simultaneously to reach a common end. If he truly did believe that he was in danger of having this work stolen or losing attribution as its designer, he feared that the quality and originality of his work would be diminished and himself, personally, along with it. I am working on the second paper which I have talked about with Enid, Roger, Kathy, Lothar, Enak, and others: I don't think that there was intentional maliciousness towards Richard Daystrom, but there was still an unintentional effect of the work of others that made his feelings of paranoia have some solid grounds and justification. As a scientist, I don't like coming to that conclusion. But M-3 shows us that Richard Daystrom had more than mere technical brilliance in one field, but a solid foundation across many fields that, although underappreciated, is often more profound than individual discoveries done when young."

"You're saying that he planned the entire M-Series from the start to do this?" asked Lothar.

"To put it this way, Lothar, how would you describe a series of systems each a failure in and of themselves, that yet work smoothly and to the greater capacity of each when put together? Is that happenstance, pure luck, or intentional design?"

"It is design. With good variation within the system via those parts being given high leeway for adjustment, but that, too, is pre-planned. That actually takes a lot more work than the other way around, as it requires you to have a 'hands-off' approach once the system is running. Very, very clever."

"Grace, if this system had just been a normal 'out cycle' would we be done with it by now?" Patti asked.

"Yes, we would have, Patti. With nothing more than the documentation we had, it would have been an 'ensure that it still is in the condition described' and then to the surface base for long term storage. We do get a lot of stuff coming through here."

"That we do, Grace. On the technical side, the M-3/V grouping shaved a day off of the original's time, so 13 days from Jupiter to insertion to Museum orbit. That said the crew schedule was much more active, and the ship arrives with a full 10% impulse engine fuel load and all thrusters at full, with 2 fully active fusion systems and one at 30%. Simon, Kathy and Enak have the particulars, but its dipping into the Jovian atmosphere go a bit deeper and yet with better crew protection. Really, it is amazing what an interested system can do. Roger?"

"I'll hand it over to Enak, he has the master scheduling at this point."

Enak stood and nodded at Patti who sat down.

"This week is going to be a full one, but the M-4 is coming on line this week after passing all initial tests as it did with Richard Daystrom's team. We have Roger, Patti, and Mr. Jomra working on trying to fully resurrect the M-5 code after getting some initial staging preparation done. Patti and Kathy will be working on the integration effort, that I think is now the full M-5 system: all units active together at the same time with the same code sharing system. We will be having sub-meetings on deciding the engram basis for M-5 as it seems that there is wide leeway between what Richard Daystrom may have originally intended and what Enid will allow from his time. There are still many details to work out on just how and why the M-Series units share the load they do, and how they go about working things out, but it is apparent that there is the capability to create a more stable code system than M-5 had originally. There are some weeks of hard work ahead, particularly on the engram and ship integration side of things. But this past week now, I think, shows that we are all sharing the right path on this. Contact team heads for areas of interest, or L'Tira for items relating to overall activity. I'm trying to keep things coordinated and de-conflicted here as major milestones and advances, so that we can each spend time as our interests dictate."

"Hard to do, Enak," said L'Tira, "but I thank everyone for understanding that."

"Certainly, L'Tira. If there are no more major questions, then I will turn it over to Enid."

"Thank you, Enak. Normally I would hand over a fast work review for the week to L'Tira, but she told me it is still more battle debris coming through. Although I know the one or two members of the heavy weapons section haven't had much to do, I think your specialties are going to come into play over the next few weeks as we try to determine just how a sentient starship should approach combat and the systems around it. Specifically those on the USS Grant, so it will be detailing time and I hope that we have the major sub-systems plans on-board for M-4."

"No problem, Enid," said Lt. Brian Duvale, "once we knew it was the Grant, Theresa and I got cracking on it. We agree with Lothar in overview, the ship is a mess but also a behemoth."

"I believe one of you served as tactical officer on a ship?" Enid asked looking between Brian and Theresa.

"I did," said Lt. Theresa Kul, "on the USS Ares, heavy destroyer."

"Good, Patti should be in contact with you both along with Roger. M-4 was fully capable and we need to make sure it works to its original specifications and adapts to the modern ones. Plus any help on the outlook for ship engrams would be very much appreciated. I know you two will be busy with the incoming work, and hope that doesn't hinder you, but we can let some things slip for a week or so."

"No worries, Enid, and we have been extremely busy trying to help out on the other work going on here, it hasn't been the obvious stuff of the meetings. Mostly support to Lothar and Simon, with some to Enak."

"Quiet members don't go unnoticed in this project. We dropped those unable to contribute by the fourth meeting, by and large. I'm only used to the tooth and claw side of combat from carnivores, this side of starships is beyond me."

"Not so different, really," said Theresa, "just replace fuel with blood, ship equipment with skin and flesh and its pretty close. You'll learn the lingo, I'm sure."

"I'm sure I will. Beyond that let me say that I've uploaded the members who will be read on next week. I've talked with Lothar about Eloise Rafiq and he grudgingly agrees to be civil."

"More than that, Enid. Actually glad that if something does go horrifically wrong, then the Fleet will step in and pick up the pieces. That matters more than it did a few weeks ago or years ago. I'll give her this: she is damned competent. The rest of what I've seen are from the Corps and I've had my input on them already. Are you sure about the head of the Sciences Directorate?"

"Diplomacy, Lothar. He is necessary as back-up to Eloise."

"Hmm... hadn't thought about that. You're right, though, they will bull through with this if we are all gone. That and help by the Corps at that point. Say, Enid, you aren't expecting anything bad to happen here, are you?"

"You can never tell with large scale predators, Lothar. I'm confident of all the back-up plans, now, so my worries about accidents and the unknown are taken care of and I can pay attention to the final phases here. Once they are on-board, this project will go through. And the work done by all of you will be recognized, no matter what. I would rather be over prepared than under, Lothar, as it has saved my life more than once."

"Understood, Enid. Thanks on that."

"Very welcome. Anything new on the Grant via official channels?"

"Not this week, save for the paperwork going through and I'm getting the first reports backing Mr. Jomra's back channel. Then we get some say in her."

"Mr. Jomra, anything unofficial?"

"Well, there is some excitement and worry both. Rumors do get out, and its occupying a few people. Bringing the Corps in will dispel the worse of them, I think. Beyond that most of the personnel put on to survey the ship have been taken off, with only a couple left to start a power-down sequence and securing the vessel until the Fleet can get it refueled in a few months."

"That... Lothar, can you get some contact with the Corps on this? I'm starting to think that we might be able to... well, you know where we are at present."

Lothar looked to her.

"Enid, you're not suggesting... that... it would be a week or two on the shut down and by then I think ... more than just a test-bed?"

Enid smiled, deeply, "Would you trust what we have to do that?"

Lothar sat back, closed his eyes, inhaled very slowly and deeply.

"The M-5... in that ship?"

"More than just M-5, Lothar. You've seen it all so far."

He nodded forward in thought, opened his eyes.

"Enid, for all of his problems, Richard Daystrom has shown me that he knew what he was doing, even if he was tipping over into a bad place within his mind, his original idea is amazing. And the Grant is powered down, so the M-Series can't do much to it quickly. It is a gamble, but Richard Daystrom has earned a second chance because of you."

"Thank you, Lothar," Enid said softly, "he is earning a second look even in my own family. This must be done right and I trust your judgment."

"Then I'll be contacting the Corps and arranging for an Engineering meeting to get a picked group to start working in the Grant and find out just what a mess she truly is. Maybe even save the Corps some resources into the bargain."

"I leave it up to you, Lothar. If and when you are ready, I think it is time to start testing out great grandfather's vision before it became clouded."

"He will get that, Enid. For the Excalibur."

The whispers of 'For the Excalibur' went through the room.

"For the Excalibur. If there is nothing else to report from anyone....?" Enid said starting softly and raising her voice a bit to be heard.

She looked around the room.

"This meeting is adjourned. Mr. Jomra, you may unseal the room."

No comments: