A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Somnabulence, Part II

The Potemkin was still at the mercy of an erratic, seemingly possessed computer that had stopped the ship dead, claiming that it was trying to protect "the Builder" (Warp) from meeting the same fate as "the Maker" (the still alive former CO Sierra).

Warp ordred the senior staff into the observation lounge to discuss the situation and options. The engineers suggested a hard reboot of the computer, but it would leave the ship even more defenseless and dead than it currently was, and there was no guarantee the presence would be gone afterward. And faking Warp's demise to convince the computer it had failed was scrapped because there was no way to predict how it would react.

Various other options were mulled over, including Arkins's of switching the computer to the secondary core to trick it while the endeavored to fix the primary one. Warp agreed to reboot the computer, asking Fuller to enact his plan to spread shuttles around the ship to act as a sensor net to detect any problems while the main computer was offline. Arkin and Rollands were to try and uncouple the sensors from the main computer. Finally, Jordan and Arnet were tasked with distracting the computer while preparations were made.

The engineers, including Prax, gathered in main engineering and laid out plans to access the primary core for the hard reboot. Meanwhile, Jordan and Arnet seemingly roused the computer from intense concentration and ask it random questions, such as how it gained sentience, what were endorphins, and the meaning of life. Fuller finished disconnecting the shuttle systems from the main computer just as Rollands and Arkin got to work.

But the multi-prong attack hit a wall when the system stopped answer Arnet's questions, and the whole engineering group, plus Rollands and Arkin was beamed to Cargo Bay 1 - about a meter up in the air. The computer became responsive again, telling Arnet that it had "higher priorities" that interrupted its response.

Realizing the computer was onto the plan, everyone in the cargo bay huddled to discuss how to reenact their plan, but without tipping their hand to the computer. This was complicated, however, by the fact that the computer had locked down the cargo bay, including doors and Jeffries tubes, and wasn't tricked when Prax, as the "apprentice" asked to be taken to the computer core to carry out the Builder's wishes. Up on the bridge, Arnet was trying to coax the computer into revealing more about what happened with the ship that had exploded, but found himself going in circles. Fuller and his team successfully exited the Potemkin and were setting up the sensor net around the ship.

Arkin tried to get herself and Rollands transported to another area of the ship, only to be told they were "not authorized." Further queries revealed that the only authorized individual was the Builder, which it identified as "First Lieutenant James B. Mitchell." Arkin then contacted Warp, asking him to order the computer to transport them. Unfortunately, in connection with the continual questioning by Arnet, the computer simply quit responding to requests.

After an uncomfortable silence, the red alert klaxons went off, forcefields raised on all the doors, and the lights were brought up to full. "UNABLE TO LOCATE THE BUILDER. ENTERING EMERGENCY LOCKDOWN MODE," the computer blared.

The ship was on complete lockdown, with the comm system also disrupted. As the various trapped crew members scrambled to escape from where they were, they computer started panicking, calling out:

"UNABLE TO LOCATE LIEUTENANT COMMANDER CLEWAN ERIC, BUILDER. UNABLE TO LOCATE FIRST LIEUTENANT FRANK HERNANDEZ, APPRENTICE. UNABLE TO LOCATE CAPTAIN ALEXANDER O'BRIEN, MAKER. UNABLE TO LOCATE COMMANDER EILEEN SHODAN, ASSISTANT."

The panic continued, and the computer went further and further into the Potemkin's past:

"UNABLE TO LOCATE CAPTAIN B'NOT-EL MONDOX, MAKER. UNABLE TO LOCATE COMMANDER ALEXANDER O'BRIEN, ASSISTANT. UNABLE TO LOCATE FIRST LIEUTENANT WIT PAZAAR, BUILDER. UNABLE TO LOCATE LIEUTENANT CLEWAN ERIC, APPRENTICE."

With a final "UNABLE TO LOCATE CAPTAIN BRANDON CONNERY, MAKER," the whole ship went dark.

Sensing that the computer was becoming more and more erratic, Arkin decided to upload a virus she had designed to disrupt logical operations. With lights out, she groped for a console to upload the virus through.

She wasn't in the dark for too long. Slowly the lights came back on and the panels flickered to life. But the computer now yelled "ALERT STATUS RED. SHIP IS UNDER ATTACK," and the ship suddenly moved away from the shuttles. It armed weapons, raised shields and doubled back toward the smaller vessels, ready to attack. But in the next moment the whole ship went dark again, and went into a gentle tumble.

When the ship came to life it again a warning rang out: "THREE MINUTES TO WARP CORE BREACH. EVACUATION PROTOCOLS ENABLED."

Fortunately, Arkin's virus was beginning to take a effect and the audible warning became slurred: "TWO MINUTES TO WARP CORE BREACH. EVACUA-TIO-NNNNNN.... P----ROT------O------C-------..."

All the internal force fields shut down and the doors opened, but the silent countdown on all the consoles still read a warp core breach in 1 minutes and 45 seconds. Warp, Arnet, Prax, and Bom all ordered the ship to eject the warp core, but the computer made no reply and the countdown continued. The engineers rushed into Main Engineering and, with 15 seconds left to go, they managed to eject the warp core into space.

The core tumbled through the void but did not explode. The ship went dark again, but when it came back up the computer said "UNABLE TO COMPLY. DESTRUCTION PROTOCOLS DISABLED; WARP CORE IS NO LONGER PRESENT." It continued "ENGAGING FALLB------------," but the lights winked out once again.

This time the lights came up and all consoles showed their usual readouts; the red alert was no longer in effect.

The computer said "COMMAND PROTOCOLS UNASSIGNED. IDENTIFYING HIGHEST-RANKING OFFICER FOR TRANSFER OF COMMAND." After a moment it stated "IDENTIFIED FLEET CAPTAIN JAMES B. MITCHELL. COMMAND PROTOCOLS TRANSFERRING. PLEASE STATE ACCESS CODE."

Not sure what was going on exactly, Warp hesitantly stated his access code. And, to the relief of everyone, the computer replied "CAPTAIN JAMES B. MITCHELL RECOGNIZED AND AUTHENTICATED. JAMES B. MITCHELL IS NOW IN COMMAND OF USS POTEMKIN."

Warp thought Bom had managed to reassert control, but the chief engineer noted he hadn't done anything beside eject the warp core. It's possible Arkin's virus had done the job, but he couldn't be 100 percent certain about that. In any case, there was plenty time for diagnostics while crews performed the laborious task of reinstalling the core. Warp ordered Fuller, now finally able to contact the ship again, to retrieve the tumbling core.

With the major crisis behind them, Warp turned to Arnet and said "Well... It looks like we're going to be here for a while."

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Somnabulence, Part I 2008 Season
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