Sera and Nikki
Engineering, USS Portland
Mission 3, MD6, 1030 hours
Authors: Lt. (JG) Sera Williams, Ensign Nikki Barclay (played by Alenis Meru)
Seated at a terminal, Nikki Barclay rubbed her eyes in pain. After hours of staring at LCARS displays, trying to stabilize the holo-program, the numbers and letters on the screen seemed to all jumble together and float off the screen. She had a massive headache, and the lack of sleep she was suffering from didn't help much either. It was all just too much for her.
As she heard the doors whoosh open behind her, she swiveled in her seat to face her friend. "Sera!" she exclaimed, glad to see her. But her smile turned to an expression of concern as she saw the look on her face and the dirt on her uniform. "You look horrible! Are you okay? What happened down there?"
As Sera's feet crossed the door's tracks into Main Engineering, it took all of he remaining strength to not collapse onto the ground and sob. Sera's eyes connected with Nikki's, but for only a moment. The only words Sera could manage were, "The... Captain..." Her head gave the no shake.
Sera practically fell into the chair beside Nikki. With a very shaky sob and running both hands through her hair, a stronger voiced Sera continued, "I just really need to save a life... and I need a friend." Sera forced a smile as her hands went to the console.
"You'll always have a friend in me," replied Nikki, leaning over and putting and arm around Sera to try to comfort her. She knew something bad happened to the captain, and whatever it was, Sera couldn't stop it. She held her friend close for a moment, offering her a shoulder to cry on. "As for the latter," she added, trying not to start crying as well as she released her arm from around Sera, "I do need your help with the hologram."
Sera smiled warmly at her friend, "Thanks Nikki, you are a good friend." Sera dried her eyes with her uniform's sleeve, then took a look at the data display. Sera scanned the series of letter and numbers and pointed a finger at a certain string of information, it looked a bit out of place. It could be nothing, but Sera decided to ask. "Is that data from the merge? Or is it new data picked up from her self-improvement subroutines?"
"That's the tricky part," explained Nikki. "The program is active right now, in her -- well, the captain's -- office, and this is the data which has been created since this morning. Memories, emotions, personality adjustments, that sort of thing." She pointed at a data cluster on the screen. "The problem is that it isn't properly compressing and integrating into her program. If we don't do something about it soon, her entire holomatrix could destabilize and undergo a progressive cascade failure." Taking her sore eyes off the screen, Nikki reached for her coffee. "I'd consult the EMH diagnostic program, but we've taken its boot sequence offline in order to repair the captain. Or whoever she is."
As soon as she spoke, Nikki regretted her reference to the captain. She knew it was a foolish thing to say, and the very mention of the captain could traumatize her friend again. Mentally, she kicked herself for her stupidity.
Sera was able to keep it together, though it was hard. The freshness of the situation helped a bit in that it kept her from truly believing that it was all real. With a sigh, Sera began to talk in a fast voice, "I'll tell you what happened, but I can only get through it once. We were on the planet and the Captain had been taken over by a Pah-Wraith. The only way to stop the wraith was for the Commander to... end it."
Not really giving her friend a chance to respond, Sera jumped back to the task at hand, "Maybe we can transfer her program to the holodeck. We can create a control panel like this one so we can work on her programming while she's in front of us. We could then control the environment... at worst it'll slow down the degradation."
"That is a good idea," replied Nikki, grasping her friend by the hand tightly. She was even having difficulty keeping everything together upon hearing about the death of the captain. "Lets just make sure we don't tell her anything about the what happened to the captain. We don't want to overload her emotional subroutines."
Seeing Sera on the verge of tears, Nikki quickly changed the subject back to what they were originally talking about. "I tried using a Kardashev shunting algorithm to help with the database integration, but it hasn't been working." Standing up, grabbing an armload of PADDs under one arm and still holding Sera's hand with the other, she started heading for the door. "Come on, lets get to the holodeck."
Holodeck 2, USS Portland
"...so, this has two effects." Nikki was rambling on, having talked all the way from engineering to the holodeck in an effort to both explain to Sera the problem with the hologram and distract the two of them from the sadness of the situation with the captain. "First, it makes her database very unstable. We could have a fatal error at any time, which would have cascading effects throughout her entire program. Second, it means that her short term memory isn't being converted to long term memory. Which means that, if not repaired, she will start having severe memory loss regarding everything that happened since the console incident. Though, I imagine there might be a few things in there which she may prefer to forget."
Nikki ended her ramblings with a slight smile, emphasizing her little joke. Seeing Sera not laugh, her face turned to one of horror at the inappropriateness of her comment. Stupid, she thought, god, that was so stupid, Nikki. "What I mean is... well... erm... do you have any ideas?"
While not exactly in the mood for laughing, Sera appreciated Nikki's efforts. She took the moment to step through the doors into the Holodeck. The familiar black box room with the yellow lines making a pattern of squares. It was a testament to when the holdeck was installed as the newer versions left the various circuitry and devices more exposed. Sera said, "Computer, created a mirror console of the one still logged in under Ensign Nikki Barclay... authorization Williams one-one-alpha-two."
As the working console appeared in the center of the room, Sera responded to Nikki, "I have a few ideas. The first, some of her information... maybe the memory conversion sub-routines, were lost in the sick bay incident. The other is that there may be some sort of block left over from the merger with the EMH diagnostic, our EMH was altered significantly from it's original programming afterall."
"Hmmmmmmm, you might be right," replied Nikki. "I checked her memory conversion subroutines; they're there, but they might be damaged. Hmmmm..." She looked at Sera for a moment, and then at the console. "Computer, transfer EMH program to Holodeck 2."
"Please state the nature of the..." called out the hologram of Alenis as she materialized in the holodeck. She paused, looked Sera and Nikki up and down, and sighed. "You know, it's polite to call before beaming me halfway across the ship. I was just in the middle of feeding Ko-ko." In the two junior officers in front of her, she could see starkly different emotions. One of them was looking as though she was intimidated, and the other just looked overwhelmed. "What did the two of you bring me here for?"
"I'm sorry, Cap--... I mean, Ms. EM--... I mean, Meru?" stammered Nikki. Even though she wasn't the real Captain, Nikki's anxiety had skyrocketed as though she was. "We had to... we were looking at your program and... your database..."
Sera ran a hand through her hair. She took a tired look at the EMH. She then finished for Nikki, "We noticed an issue with your memory subroutines." The sight of the Captain was a bit overwhelming, and Sera had to feign clearing her throat to stop the tears that were at the ready. "We saw that the programming that moves the short-term memory to the long-term is non-functional and we are trying to determine a solution before you... forget everything since the incident in Sick Bay."
"Oh." The hologram furrowed her brow in puzzlement. She wasn't at all familiar with this sort of technical mumbo jumbo. "That... sounds serious."
Sera replied with as much of a smile as she could muster, "No need to fear, you have us on the case." Sera gave a short shrug to Nikki. Sera's hands went back to the display, then commanded, "Computer, isolate the memory conversion subroutines, and then show the programming that is linked to those subroutines." With a beep, then display changed into a complex looking map of programming language and subroutines."
The hologram leaned in between the two of them to look at the screen. Of course, she couldn't make heads or tails of the figures and bits of code on it, but she wanted to see what they were doing anyways.
"Hmmmmmm..." mused Nikki, as her fingers darted across the control panel, bringing up various displays. "Why won't this damn thing work!" she exclaimed, bringing her fist down on the console." She had spent the last several hours staring at code, trying to fix various problems with the EMH, and the more she stared at the code, the more irritated she became. Her lack of sleep no doubt contributed to her irritation. "Argh!" With that, she placed her head in her hands, desperately trying to avoid sobbing long enough to clear her mind.
"Too bad we can't just take her to Sick Bay to have her head examined........" Sera let the last part trail as an idea crossed her mind. She was struck with a moment of insight that only desperation can bring. Her fingers danced along the console as she muttered mostly to herself, "That's it... the EMH diagnostic was meant to compliment the default programming of the EMH Mark 1."
She changed a bit of programming and sat back with a heavy sigh. "Because her original programming was altered so much, the diagnostic boot sequence no longer fit. I made a few alterations to make the square peg fit in the round hole." She looked over at Nikki, "Are the memory conversion subroutines still degrading?" The was a glimmer of hope in Sera's voice, one that she had not felt in what seemed like forever.
"I think so... replied Nikki, looking back up at the work in front of her. New connections were being made, and data was moving back and forth across her subroutines. "Only one way to find out," she added, before turning to the hologram. "Captain, my favourite colour is blue and my favourite food is chocolate ice cream. Computer, end program."
As the hologram disappeared, Nikki turned to her friend. "I think you got it," she said, excitedly. "We'll just give her program a couple minutes to compile all the data before reactivating her." Nikki reached over and gave her friend a hug, tears streaming down her cheeks as she thought of the captain again. "Thank you. Sera, thank you so much."
Out of relief, or possibly the hug, the dam broke behind Sera's eyes. She began to cry, it could've been the relief, the hug, or the reality of what was happening in Sickbay with the Captain finally hitting... perhaps a mix of all. Wiping the tears from her eyes, Sera looked over to Nikki and said, "Thank you too, Nikki."
Sera then looked at the display as she did a silent countdown, as silent as tapping on the desk to count each second could have been. Once the number of tapped seconds equalled Sera's goal number of ticks, Sera commanded, "Computer, activate the EMH program." As the computer beeped it's acknowledgement, she held her breath to see what would emerge from the fizzle of the holo-emitters piecing together the Meru clone.
As she reappeared, a very cross expression was present on her face. "You know, I'm not an expert on holo-etiquette, but it seems to me like it is very impolite to--"
"What's my favourite food and colour?!" blurted out Nikki, interrupting the program.
"Chocolate ice cream and blue, respectively," replied the hologram. "Now, Ensign--"
"You did it!" exclaimed Nikki, turning towards Sera.
Sera gave Nikki a flying high five, then hugged her friend. "I think we could all use some chocolate ice cream... maybe in some blue dishes?"
"That sounds wonderful! Lets go to the mess ha-- aaaahhhhhh," replied Nikki, her excitement punctuated by an irresistable yawn.
Capt. Alenis Meru