When: After "Late Night Carbohydrate Snacks" and Merry poking at Nerys' program
Where: Cybernetics Lab
Who: Nerys and Marcus
Marcus hurried into the cybernetics lab. "Computer, secure the door. Senior staff entry only." Once the computer applied the necessary security lock, he unfastened his uniform jacket as he walked over to the console devoted to research on Nerys' program. It was constantly streaming data, although lately he hadn't been bothering with studying things. Her program had more or less stabilized in its chaos, although it was still a chaotic nonsensical jumble.
He tapped his combadge. "Marcus to Nerys. I've secured the cybernetics lab," he said.
"Good," replied Nerys' voice, still shaken from the incident before her physical matrix shimmered into existence inside the lab. "There was someone trying to look at my program... a Cardassian..."
"Gil Meriatha Korat," Marcus said, apparently familiar with said Cardassian. "She's an exchange officer aboard. Has been aboard since Trill. What was she poking at?" He tapped at a few panels, checking the passive diagnostics that continually run on Nerys' program.
"I don't know exactly..." Nerys walked over a little closer to Marcus and looked over his shoulder. "Seemed like she was poking around in the computer and came across my program. She opened some of my subroutines and... and..." Nerys signed and held her head in her hands for a moment. "I just felt... violated..."
Marcus looked at his displays. "I don't see anything wrong," he said, missing the point. "But in the interest of being thorough, I'll run a diagnostic. You may experience some photonic unfocusing." He tapped a few commands into his console, then glanced up at Nerys. "I can't do anything about her. I'm sorry. She's a part of Washington's xeno freakshow, or he owes a Gul a favor, or something. Rouse tried to get her kicked off after I reported she was disruptive to ship's functions and he got stonewalled."
Nerys sighed and sat down on one of the office chairs in the lab, her physical avatar shimmering a few times as the diagnostic did its thing. "So, we're stuck with her?" she asked.
"She's here for a reason," Marcus said, sitting back in his chair, glowering, but also looking thoughtful. "When she gets what she wants, she'll leave. Or, rather, her Cardassian superiors will pull her out." He glanced up at Nerys, and sighed. "I think she's after my research. Specifically, how you were created, and how to replicate the process. Fortunately, you came about through a combination of bad decisions and dumb luck, and Cardassians rarely make bad decisions. No offense. And while I can press the issue with Commander Rouse, I don't think Starfleet is going to be too upset if a Cardassian exchange officer absconds off with experimental, but flawed, holographic technology." He frowned. "Also no offense meant. Dangit."
"Well, I suppose a number of flesh and blood people were created as a result of bad decisions and dumb luck," mused Nerys as she waited for the diagnostic to finish up, assuming that the tingling feeling she felt in her chest was normal. "Not to mention that you are at least as flawed as I am." She turned her head to either side, cracking her neck to stretch out her stiff holographic muscles. "Why not make her think she has what she wants? When I was a kid, all I wanted for breakfast was Flotter and Friends crunch cereal, but my mother always said that there was too much sugar in that. Until one day, she got her hands on a box and filled it with Healthy Heart Bran Flakes. It took me six months to realize that she had tricked me into eating healthy breakfasts."
Marcus snorted. "I'm pretty sure Cardassian conditioning would trump a cereal trick," he said, unconvinced. But then, his facial expression changed. He had an idea. "Computer," he said aloud. "Begin an unobtrusive copy of the Nerys holographic matrix database. Authorization Kallan-Kappa-Five. Store it in... uh... I don't know..." He rummaged through a pile of parts on a companion desk to his. Producing a holomatrix cube, he plugged it into his console. "Here. Use this series-eleven active memory." And he tapped on his console, activating the device.
=^= "Warning," =^= the computer chirped. =^= "Nerys holomatrix is unstable. Static backups have a ninety-nine-point-nine percent chance of being nonfunctional upon restore." =^=
"That's okay," Marcus muttered, authorizing the transfer with a few more taps on his screen. "It doesn't need to." Glancing at Nerys, he said, "You won't feel anything. The backup will increase in bandwidth when you're offline or running virtual. When you're actively projected, it'll slow to a few kiloquads a second."
"Okay, I think I know what you're doing, but..." Nerys paused for a moment as she stared at the glowing cube. "I'm not thrilled about this zero point one percent chance. Mathematically speaking, the crew of the Portland has a nasty habit of beating the odds."
Marcus didn't flinch. "Don't worry. It'll be fine," he said. Not very reassuring. "Besides, haven't you always wanted a sister?" He joked.
"Yes, but..." Nerys sighed and trailed off. "You really think this will work?"
"I have no idea." Marcus watched the data stream pour megaquads into the active memory cube. It would be some time before the copy would be complete, especially with Nerys as active as she is. "If she takes the bait, and the hologram is actually a working copy, then my entire research has been invalidated and I'll be a fraud. However, if she absconds with, effectively, a burning garbage dump of a holomatrix --" Marcus always had a penchant for flowery phrasing -- "and then she leaves? Everyone wins. I'll take that bet."
Nerys smiled. "You sure you don't want to slip a little good riddance message into that thing? You know, as a parting gift?"
"Oh, don't worry," Marcus answered. "I already have something in mind."