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Kali Nicholotti

Ensign Taybrim - Old Prejudices Die Hard

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(( Sickbay - USS Excalibur-A ))

Romjin: Alrighty guys and gal...I will just take this and see what I can get off it. I will send you what I find.

::Sal watched Shedet’s smile, thinking the weak imitation of the usually friendly gesture exactly mirrored his own feelings towards the intelligence officer at the moment. He looked towards Romjin as well, offered a wan smile, his dark eyes clouded.:: oOYou’ll send us what you find. Right. And when you do we’ll go sunbathing on Andor.oO ::He stayed silent and turned back to his work, waiting until Romjin had left before he got lost in his own thoughts.::

::Sal admitted, he had a bias against intelligence officers. It hadn’t started that way, but so far every single intelligence officer he had met fit the mold of an arrogant, self-absorbed [...]. Romjin seemed no different. Waltz in, ask a bunch of questions, take someone’s else's hard earned work, waltz out. Or limp out in this case. It didn’t matter. Intelligence officers as a whole seemed to treat others as commodities to be used rather than people. It rubbed his own people-centered counselor personality exactly the wrong way.::

::It didn’t help that he had yet to meet one that broke the mold.::

((Flashback, Beta Antares research center, seven years ago))

::She waltzed in as if she owned the place. Black hair worn loosely down her back, flaunting regulation style. She carried her chin up and her head high, as if to say her grey uniform meant she didn’t have to listen to the rules. She was outside the rules.::

::The entire research department hated her.::

::Lisa Ann Chapelle was her name, and if you called her Lisa she would burn you with a cold stare and inform you that should you do it again she could make your family disappear. And then laugh. As if it was a joke.::

::Sal loved joked. He hated Lisa Ann Chapelle.::

::To this end the researchers of artificial intelligence on Beta Antares called her ‘the Grey Witch.’ They didn’t quite know why she was around so often. What sort of devil’s deal had the research facility made with Starfleet? Probably something to do with funding. Researching artificial intelligence was many things; cheap was not one of them. It always felt like they had sold a little bit of their soul to the devil every time the Grey Witch appeared. An ever-present reminder that scientific curiosity and pure devotion to ideals meant little when your outcome could be bought, sold and traded to the highest bidder in an arms race.::

The Grey Witch: Why hello, boys. What do you have for me today?

::The voice was so sweet, lilting. Almost seductive. Not that anyone in their right mind would touch the Grey Witch. If she didn’t know some bizarre form of ‘I make your life miserable’ martial art, she could certainly make your life miserable in a variety of other ways. Or at least she insinuated it. Maybe it wasn’t true. Of the twenty seven researchers in the artificial intelligence lab, Sal was the only Betazoid and only he had a hint at the greater truth. He believed that somewhere under her veneer she was a struggling young woman, terrified of her superiors. Not that anyone else in the lab would agree.::

Senior Researcher Kensington: ::The tall dark skinned doctor smoothed his grey hair:: There have been no new breakthroughs in the cyborganic relays. It is still operating at a highly efficient level but we have not been able to teach it any sentient decision making.

The Grey Witch: That’s not what I heard, Mr. Kensington. ::She smile like a shark circling prey::

::Sal hunched over his console, he didn’t want to catch her gaze. Not just because he didn’t like her or her attention, but because today she was radiating desperation. She needed to find something here, her digging had focus.::

Senior Researcher Kensington: ::He coughed a bit and shook his head:: I don’t know what you mean, Miss Chapelle.

The Grey Witch: Oh, I think you do, doctor. I noticed you made a report to Director J’nel indicating cyborganic relays could process data and make decisions while implementing orders.

Senior Researcher Kensington: I sent that message to J’nel in confidence. That research is not ready for testing, it isn’t a suitable response for an artificial intelligence platform yet. ::His brows drew together in protest, as he took a step sideways to stand in between her and his own desk::

::Sal felt the desperation recede somewhat, and he flickered his gaze upwards, watching as the Grey witch drew herself up to her full height, suffused with arrogance::

The Grey Witch: Anything I think is pertinent information to my mission, doctor, is privy to me. You will give me the new cyborganic research materials.

Senior Researcher Kensington: It’s not ready yet. I will file a full report when it is completed. ::Kensington’s voice was soft, but firm.::

The Grey Witch: I don’t care. Move aside, or I’ll have you moved aside.

::She smirked as Kensington moved over fractionally.::

Senior Researcher Kensington: I would like to see the validation for you to take our research before we have released it.

The Grey Witch: I don’t need to validate anything to you. ::She pushed past him, digging her shoulder into the man’s chest and neatly grabbing every PADD and data device on the desk top:: Thank you. ::She smiled broadly.:: I will, of course, be accessing your computer banks shortly, you may experience some lock outs. Everything will be up and running again my this afternoon.

::And just like that she waltzed out.::

::Kensington swore under his breath, waiting until she was out of the room to slam his hand on the desk::

Senior Researcher Kensington: Of course, she had to come before we could process the data.

Taybrim: ::He looked up, edging over to his manager:: She must have been monitoring everything we did.

Senior Researcher Kensington: I’m sure she did. And now she’s got what she wanted all along.

::Sal frowned. The reason they hadn’t published their findings already was because the research hadn’t been useful for their own purposes. But they also figured out all too quickly the research had other – less savory – uses. The cyborganic circuitry was extremely compact and capable of processing a large amount of data, to the point where it could make basic decisions centered around a command. While it wasn’t promising for the creation of true sentient artificial intelligence, it would be devastatingly effective for things like weapons arrays that were capable of following targets or drones that could evade capture long enough to break enemy lines. The researchers considered the implications highly dangerous and wanted to test everything out thoroughly before making the proper reports to the Federation Science Council.::

::Obviously Starfleet Intel had other plans::

Taybrim: I think she was on some sort of ultimatum to get results.

Senior Researcher Kensington: I don’t care what she was on. She stole our research and you know full well it’s going to end up in a military application. Someday someone – maybe many someones are going to die, because a few idealistic scientists were trying to create a better AI and accidentally came up with a fantastic weapons guidance system.

::Sal winced. Kensignton had a point. For all his sympathy towards Chapelle, she didn’t seem to care one whit about what such things were used for, as long as she kept her superiors off her back. And it didn’t matter at all what the researchers said, they didn’t have any rank to pull over her and therefore they were second class citizens in her eyes. His throat felt dry as he leaned back in his chair, wondering what would become of this…::

((End flashback))

::It was Shedet’s voice that snapped him out of his reverie.:

Shedet: Wanna cross-check for that planet? As I said earlier, I have access to the planetary database. They may not have the location of the planet, but there might be enough puzzle pieces for us to make an educated guess.

Taybrim: ::He shook his head a little, to clear the memory from his mind. He didn’t even want to dwell on it:: Yes, I have the maps downloaded. Let’s see what we can find.

TBC

Ensign Sal Taybrim

Counselor

USS Excalibur-A

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