MD03 - sometime in the afternoon
Authors: Marcus Kallan and Alenis Meru (as holo-Meru)
A strange contraption, looking to be the combination of part of a main computer core with yellow-green iridescent memory cubes sticking out of it in a seemingly haphazard fashion, about the size of a kitchen rubbish bin. A sleep-deprived and paler-than-normal science officer on-loan from the Daystrom Institute. A hologram with emergent sentience. "Combine and whisk together. Let sit overnight to chill," Marcus muttered, apparently following some hidden dialogue in his head as he hooked his improvised memory module up to the exposed holo-arch interface. Cables snaked in and out, looking more like an H. R. Giger piece than standard Starfleet engineering.
Wiping his hands on his uniform trousers, Marcus gave the device a once-over. Standing, and pulling off his uniform jacket, he said to the ceiling, "Computer, activate the hologram formerly occupying the Emergency Medical Hologram's matrix space."
"Please state the nature of the--" Alenis froze mid-sentence, immediately recognizing the teal-shirted officer in front of her from the last time he had activated her program. "Oh. It's you again," she said in a tone which was more cross than enthusiastic. "You know, I don't interrupt your afternoon naps."
"Cute," Marcus replied sarcastically. "So, I have a present for you." He indicated the contraption to his right. "This is a rated series-twelve holographic memory matrix. Your program is experiencing compression lag, because it's far larger than this bucket of bolts can maintain in active memory." Likely meaning the Portland. Ouch. "And, if my initial calculations are correct, your program is going to grow the longer it remains active." He looked at the module. "Not exactly pretty, but I wear blue, not gold."
"The longer it remains..." Alenis trailed off, realizing what that might imply. Having more important matters to talk about, she brushed off the little shit at her ship. "So, does this mean that I've convinced you that I'm a real person and you're not going to delete me?"
Marcus gives a dry chuckle, shaking his head. "Why does everyone think I'm the bogeyman? I don't have the authority to delete you, as you're not my property, nor are you my responsibility. Admiral Washington had me come here to study you. To measure your degree of awareness, and whether you have the potential to be sentient. And I wouldn't have put in this effort --" Indicating the contraption again. "-- if I didn't think there was more than a fifty-fifty shot that you are. But whittling down the chance that you're just a sophisticated, horribly cross-linked mess will take time. And proper living quarters. Computer," he said, eyes drifting towards a corner of the holodeck. "Access tertiary memory module designation Kallan-One. Allow current running program to utilize tertiary memory. Limit to..." He eyed Meru. "One thousand kiloquads. And limit to decompression space. I don't want her matrix decompiling due to untested hardware."
"Wait, you want to study me?" asked the hologram. "As in, poking around my program, talking to me and seeing how I react? And living quarters? For how long? Weeks? Months?" Alenis shuddered at the thought of being mentally poked and prodded by Marcus of all people. "Are you sure decompiling my matrix isn't an option?"
Marcus sighed. "Was Captain Alenis so literal in life, I wonder." Shrugging, he said, "Your matrix is starving for memory and algorithmic processing time. The Portland's holo-systems are fairly modern, but they weren't designed for a program of your complexity -- and disarray. This module will allow your program some breathing room, so to speak. Don't you feel better already? Less fuzzy? That's your programming decompressing into the tertiary memory space."
The hologram paused for a moment. She was definitely feeling something thanks to the hardware upgrade, though not like anything she felt before. It was as though her thoughts were given some clarity, after the fogginess of the past few days since she was created. "I am feeling a little bit better," she admitted.
"As for decompilation, no, that's not possible at this stage," Marcus explained, casually examining a small display on the device, checking its performance. "Your software is so mangled, a decompilation would lose any of the emergent AI created by the crosslinking and psychotricorder scan. It would be like..." He paused, considering Meru. "I'm sure you've heard of Vedek Bareil, being Bajoran." Uh. "Well, sort of."
"It was a joke, Lieutenant," replied Alenis with a hint of a smile as she walked over towards Marcus. "But, thanks anyways," she said, patting him on the shoulder. "I'm not sure I totally understood all your technobabble, but I think that gadget of yours just saved my life... or program... or whatever..."
Marcus seemed genuinely surprised at the physical contact. But he didn't leap away, just quickly glanced down at her hand and his tired eyes widened a bit. "Don't thank me just yet. We still have a long way to go. I still don't quite know what you are, but one thing is certain: I can't let them delete you without more study." Smirking, he asked, "Was that less technobabbly for you?"
"Much less," she replied before offering him a smile. "You know, there was a favour that I wanted to ask you..." she said, looking at him with her dark, expressive eyes.
"Go on," Marcus said, turning to gather his tools in preparation of departing.
"Could you please reprogram my greeting line? It just feels weird to wake up to myself saying 'please state the nature of the medical emergency' all the time."
Chuckling, he nodded. "That's a remnant from your original template. Here. Computer," Marcus said towards the ceiling. "Copy all existing Emergency Medical Hologram templating in the current running program to a separate file for archival purposes, and de-prioritize EMH routines. Also, eliminate standard EMH greeting." Turning to regard her, he had a brief look of consideration on his face. "Also, rename this program to 'holographic copy of Alenis Meru'." Once the computer acknowledged him and made the necessary chirps indicating the changes were complete, he said to Meru with a snicker, "Can't wait to see the look on Ensign Barclay's face when she tries to call up the EMH and it fails."
"I'm sure she'll be suitably distressed," replied the hologram. "Thank you, Lieutenant."
Raising an eyebrow at the hologram's display of empathy, Marcus grunted quietly. He then turned his attention to gathering his tools and leaving.
"One more thing!" called out the hologram as Marcus headed for the door. As he turned to face her, holo-Meru offered him a smile which was slightly nervous as she didn't want to impose. "I could use a nap, do you mind deactivating my program, at least for a few hours?"
"Well, I don't see any harm in this," Marcus said, before ordering the computer. "Computer, alter the Alenis Meru program to allow it to deactivate itself." Looking back at holo-Meru, Marcus appeared to conflicted about something, but he nodded at her and then turned to go.
"Computer," called out holo-Meru, "set timer for three hours and end program."
Chief Operations Officer