(26b) Twenty-Six B

316-1118 to 317-1118

316-1118 : Jax (L-0303) / O / ?

Mich can be brought to consciousness for short periods from today.

It is suggested that they might want to do some hunting while here, to replenish their food supplies.

They have a formal debriefing in the lounge for the survivors from the Sir Walter Raleigh. Fostriades, Lia, Brock, Vana, and the Captain are conducting the session. It will, of course, be recorded.

The object is to try to determine what happened, and to eliminate (or confirm) the possibility of internal sabotage. They want to find if there was anything done on the bridge that triggered the computer, or whether it was triggered simply because the maneuver drive broke down.

The conscious survivors are the Navigator (Chloe Masters), the Pilot (Janet Russell), and the Communications Officer (Peter Hollow).

It is decided to start with the Commo Officer. Fostriades explains that they are trying to determine the sequence of events leading up to the explosion, and what does he remember starting with the period when he first realized that the maneuver drive had broken?

"Well, we heard there was a problem with the maneuver drive, which was indicated on one of the bridge displays. The Captain tried to talk to the engineering crew but got no response. I didn't see a lot of it. The next thing I did was hook up the feed for you."

"What else was going on on the bridge?"

"Not a lot. We just picked up your course correction, and people in Engineering were executing that. I was just keeping the communications open between the ships."

"The other two times it stuttered, were they immediately after course corrections also?"

"No. We pretty much stayed on course the rest of the time, this was the final correction."

"There was nothing else, even an incidental sort of thing, going on on the bridge? When we transmitted the course correction to you, at that time was it the only thing you were concerning yourselves with?"

"We were not really doing a lot. There's not much to do when you're cruising along."

Fostriades asks if he would be willing to undergo hypnosis in case there's something that didn't seem significant at the time, but Hollow does not want to do that. Fostriades thanks him, and asks for the Pilot to be debriefed next.

Janet Russell comes in, and is asked the same basic question.

"I was just making sure that the ship stayed on course. I monitored the course correction when it came in. It looked fine to me, so we fed it in and executed it."

"Did the ship actually make the correction?"

"It started to move, and then had some sort of failure and the maneuver drive stopped working. I didn't notice anything until the lights came on. It wasn't a controlled shutdown or anything, it just stopped."

"Was this the same as the other two times it stuttered?"

"Similar sort of thing, yes, except that they recovered after the other ones. Initially it looked much the same. I didn't really worry about it at the time, but then when we couldn't raise anybody down there and it didn't come back, that's when I started worrying. Everything was routine, everyone was doing normal routine stuff, no other procedures going on. Peter was keeping track of something or other on the computer, and the Captain was monitoring something."

Fostriades asks Russell if she would be willing to subject to hypnosis/drug questioning, and she says that provided her Captain does not forbid it, and provided one of her colleagues is there to make sure the questioning stays on subject, that's fine. She leaves.

Fostriades says that what they know is that both the Captain and the Navigator were doing things on the computer, so both of them become candidates. Vana expresses a concern about access to the Anastasia's computers, but Fostriades says that Linda has put protections in place and would notice instantly anything odd happened. Joe, as Security Officer, is monitoring against any physical attack on the ship's facilities.

Next up is the Navigation Officer, Chloe Masters, who gets the same initial talk.

Masters was paying attention to the course correction, because she was doing a lot of dead reckoning work ... the last time she had to do that was a first-year college exercise. She'd rigged up a video telescope on the bridge to take readings of stars as a primitive navigation aid. She checked the course correction and it looked fine, and she was correcting that when the drive went down. The computer was working just fine at the time.

"So," says Fostriades, "The engines began to alter their pattern for the course correction, and everything seemed to be normal, and then they stopped. Any indication of why?"

"No, I didn't notice anything."

"Was it the same sort of stop as the other two times it stuttered?"

"Well, I wasn't on watch for those, so I couldn't say for certain. Since it was the last course correction, I made a point of being on the bridge for this one, as this would have been my off watch as well."

"So when did you head for the lifeboat?" asks Captain Delaney.

"When the Captain called for Abandon Ship."

"So the engines cut off," resumes Fostriades, "and you were actually using the computer at the time. What happened?"

"Everything worked just fine."

"But you could no longer raise Engineering, and you could no longer do anything about Engineering from the bridge."

"Yes, the Captain was trying to raise Engineering."

"What had the Captain been doing before then?"

"I'm really not sure. I don't know that there was necessarily a failure in the communications system, just that the Captain called Engineering several times and nobody answered."

"Who should have been in Engineering?"

"Two engineers, including the original Chief Engineer."

"Was he on duty for the other two stutters?"

"The engineers had taken to living in Engineering. I think they were switching watches, and if anything was scheduled to happen they'd both be on duty."

"How did the download for the course correction go?" asks Vana.

"Seemed fine, as far as I could tell."

"So, the maneuver drive failed," Fostriades says, "How quickly did you call Engineering to try to raise them?"

"The Captain called them right away."

Fostriades asks about the jump drives.

"An indication came up on my board that there was a problem, and I believe we reported it to you pretty much right away."

"Did you notice it as coming on before or after..."

"It didn't really come on, it was just taking a bit of power, sort of like a leak or something. Like it was a short or something. It didn't really turn on."

"Relative to the stutter in the maneuver drive engines, when did the power drain to the jump engines begin?"

"It was after the failure of the maneuver drive. I assumed it was caused by the same thing."

"Was it before or after you tried to raise Engineering?"


"So the sequence was," says Fostriades, "The maneuver failed, the engineers do not respond, jump drive begins to draw power, in that order."

"Yes. It wasn't really taking full power, it was just taking some."

"Did it expand how much it took?"

"Yes, it started to draw more a bit, but I wasn't really monitoring that too much because the engineering aspects aren't my department. I have a read-out of the state of the system, but not in any great detail. The First Officer was monitoring Engineering."

(The First Officer was picked up by the Anastasia, but was already dead when her pod was recovered. The causes of death were consistent with damage to the escape pod by the explosion. She had not suffered any injuries before boarding the pod.)

"The Captain was doing something but we don't know what," muses Fostriades, "The computer at no time showed signs of misbehaving... Tell about when you realized the Engineering controls were locked."

"Well, I didn't notice that until the Captain told you. The First Officer was doing all that."

Fostriades asks Masters about submitting to "enhanced" interrogation, but she doesn't think it would be appropriate for her position. He thanks her for her information, and she leaves.

Since they can interrogate the Pilot, who agreed to the use of drugs. Captain Delaney authorizes them to go ahead and do it now. The Navigation Officer agrees to be the representative for the Sir Walter Raleigh.

Fostriades explains that they are trying to find out what the First Officer and Captain were doing, and if they may have done anything which could have been interpreted by the computer in a weird way.

The questioning follows much the same pattern as before, and nothing additional is really brought to light. It looked like a failure in the maneuver drive system. The Pilot checked the interpreted course correction sequence (they can now determine that this corresponds to the one they transmitted) she fed it into the system and it was executed at the proper time. Everything seemed normal until the maneuver drive problem, and even that didn't seem to be something that would cause the ship to blow up. There had not been any other odd behavior from the computer; there had never been a time when anything was locked out or shut down during anything that could be considered an alert or a crisis. There was just a regular security system installed.

"How long did the stutters last?" asks Fostriades.

"They were just about 15 seconds maybe."

During the previous outages they were able to raise Engineering right away, but it was possible that this time the engineers were busy. So does this suggest that the engineers either were deliberately not communicating, or had been put out of action at a time when it was still possible that the maneuver drives might have recovered?

So now they have found a distinct difference in this third stutter. If it was the computer, it would obviously allow short stutters, but this time it failed before that time was up.

"This time," says Fostriades, "the maneuver drive failure looked exactly the same as the previous ones."

Unless the engineers had done something to fix it the other times?

"That may be exactly why they were put out of the way this time. Maybe they had been put out of the way before the maneuver drive failed," suggests Fostriades, "When was the last time you spoke to the engineers?"

"We talked to them maybe half an hour before the course correction," answers Janet Russell.

"So anybody could have walked in, killed them both, waited for the course correction, shut down the maneuver drive engines, and started whatever they wanted. Where was the rest of the crew? Who was on or off duty?"

"There were two in Engineering, and on the bridge were six of us."

The last time there were communications with Engineering, all the bridge crew were on the bridge except the Navigator.

"Where were you?" Fostriades asks the Navigator.

"I didn't feel the need to get there early. I was having a cup of coffee."

"Who was with you?"

"I was just by myself."

"And then you went on to the bridge."

"Yes. I got there about ten minutes before the course correction."

Fostriades talks to the drugged Pilot again. "Were there any anomalies in the life support system?"

"I don't think so. I wouldn't have noticed, anyway, but the First Officer would probably have picked up on anything. He was monitoring the ship's status."

"Did you make any physical attempt to contact Engineering?"

"Their captain sent a maintenance crewman down there. No report came back, but there was probably not enough time to get down to Engineering before the ship blew up."

Rufus asks about any computer downloads or data transfers they had from other sources.

Vana and Fostriades are unanimous that it had better not have come from the Anastasia!

"Since the refit on Karakus, all we had were communications with the Anastasia -- course corrections, and the jump instructions out of the battle when we lost our sensors."

Fostriades asks "Were there any changes in the crew?"

"No, we were continuing in the normal manner. Of course, after we lost some in the battle the duties doubled up a bit, but it was the same organization."

"Did you lose any senior personnel in the battle."

"No-one in a command position."

"So there wouldn't have been any change in command procedure?"

"No, just the extra duties."

"Who was your security officer?" Fostriades asks.

"John Tallak."

"Who was in charge of day-to-day ships operations?" asks Vana.

"The First Officer, who was on the bridge monitoring the ship's status."

Rufus also asks if they had any personal communications since Karakus, but they hadn't.

The interrogation is finished.

Of course, Helen and Fostriades had the opportunity to sabotage the Sir Walter Raleigh, when they went over to fix the drives.

"Helen?" asks Vana "How's her computer skills?"

"Helen is the Flight Officer," replies Fostriades, "She is not who she says she was. Her name is Christabel, or one of her names, anyway. We have three or four names for her. 'Robin' is in there too somewhere. Anyway, when I was over there, I found nothing unusual. I didn't come into contact with anyone but the engineers, the Captain, and the First Officer. We need to talk to the Captain! It might not be a bad idea to increase the guard on the Captain, in case anyone gets any cute ideas."

Vana points out that there are two marines in battledress in Sick Bay at all times, and that the marines loaf around in all sorts of places. Fostriades suggests to Vana that maybe she might like to tell them where to be rather than leaving it up to them, and this provokes great laughter from Vana and a short sarcastic discussion.

Fostriades says that up until this interrogation the feeling was that it was almost certainly not deliberate sabotage, and that these people were presumably innocent victims ... but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't keep an eye on them.

Fostriades suggests that they invite the Navigator to a bean juice party, and interrogate her there, since she won't submit to drugs.

"So what was the object of the last party?" asks Vana.

"I don't know," replies Fostriades, "It appeared to be Brock's idea."

"I was wondering why he was asking so many shitass questions."

"That's why I launched into a boring engineering story to see if it was possible to deflect him that way. He appeared to be after the Captain."

"Our Captain? I thought he was more after Helen."

"That too, but only after she fell down drunk. Helen has a problem with these parties. She's revealed more interesting things about herself at these parties than she has anywhere else. I have a great deal of faith in the interrogating powers of bean juice."

Of course, she might have revealed too much about the character she wanted them to believe...

After this paranoia-inducing session, Fostriades says he will install a rear-view mirror on his battledress. He also will not go anywhere without his dog "and I don't mean Lia!" Vana will keep a very careful inventory of all weapons on board.

Fostriades then performs a detailed search of Engineering for anything that may have changed. It takes him six hours, and he finds not one single thing out of place.

While he's doing this, Kara suggests he might like to go and detail the pinnace?

Fostriades takes the joke seriously, and checks the pinnace. It is in perfect shape, but the search takes seven hours.

317-1118 : Jax (L-0303) / O / ?

Fostriades finishes the pinnace check at 01:00. He then checks the auxiliary bridge until 02:30, which looks fine too.

Later on, Mich is brought round for a short conversation. Fostriades brings him up to date. He says that it looks like what happened was that they last spoke to the engineers about half an hour before the course correction. The course correction came through correctly, it was put into the computer correctly, and took place correctly as far as anybody could tell. Right after the course correction, the maneuver drives failed. There was an immediate call to Engineering from the Bridge, as there had been the other two times the drives failed. Normally the engineers would respond on the first call, this time they didn't. The Captain said aloud that perhaps they were too busy to respond, and they didn't begin to really worry for another couple of minutes. Next the jump drive began to draw a certain amount of power. At this point they piped the feed to the Anastasia. The computer locked out Engineering, so that Engineering could not be controlled from the bridge. The engineers, apparently, were unable or unwilling to do anything. The computer then switched on the jump drives and blew the ship up. The original postulate by the Captain was that this was some kind of computerized anti-capture device that had been installed without the crew knowing about it. Unfortunately for that theory, this doesn't seem to account for the change in behavior in Engineering.

Mich points out that Linda worked directly on this computer control. She went through it and she is sure there was no such program there. Linda does not believe that she could have put such a thing in and hidden it so that she could not find it. The data stream showed no sign of such sabotage. She could hide it from someone with Computer-5 skill, she says.

Mich says that there's probably no-one on Karakus who could have installed such a thing, although the Professor could probably have done it. This obviously points to Linda, as if either Mich or Fostriades did it, Linda would have found it. Did Linda have the expertise to do it herself?

Fostriades says that the jump drive had already begun drawing power when they got the data feed, so they missed the beginning of it. He says there are two possibilities: the engineers did it, in which case if the jump drives had turned on they would not have turned them off because they wanted it to happen; or since they had last been contacted half an hour before the course correction, they had already been rendered incapable in some way, possibly before the course correction.

"So someone very familiar with the jump drive and the computer caused the system to go haywire," says Vana, "and it's beyond the capabilities of anyone here or on the ship at the time."

Fostriades also thinks it's beyond the capabilities of the cockroaches.

"Oooh!" exclaims Fostriades, "I've just thought of someone it might not be beyond the capabilities of -- the Zhodani, my favorite enemy!"

"So you think we have some Zhodani spies?" asks Vana.

"We may well. The cockroaches are moving towards Zhodani space as well as Darrian space."

"The other odd thing," says Mich, "is that we two and Linda have been working on the same sort of problem and we can't do it. There's not enough computer control of the drive on our ship, but we are familiar enough with what is going on on their ship that we were able to recognize it early."

Vana suggests that the program was already on the ship before the crew came on board, but it had to have been someone with hands-on experience of the Sir Walter Raleigh, or possibly the Anastasia. Fostriades and Mich still think it is beyond anyone on the Sir Walter Raleigh.

"This is the weird thing," says Fostriades, "They were a unit, they'd been together all along with absolutely no signs of dissension and suddenly the ship blows up."

Vana thinks they should mark it down as an Act of God.

There was no indication that anything was strange before the jump drive came on, except that the engineers didn't answer, which could be explained. Apparently the engineers were dealt with and Engineering was locked out faster than the time of the two previous stutters. The implications of the Communications Officer is that the reason the engineers didn't respond was that they couldn't or wouldn't; and if the Captain was responsible, he was known to be on the bridge while the engineers were alive and well...

The Anastasia's sensors picked up a small explosion in Engineering, but that might well not have been noticed on the bridge of the other ship. That would be a circumstance that was a difference with the previous times, and make it consistent with a self-destruct.

Mich says the readings are consistent with a small explosion like the one that hurt himself and Paula. He also points out that it was the Anastasia who kept insisting they abandon ship.

Maybe they should get the doctor to work on a time machine instead of a teleporter, suggests Vana.

Vana suggests that there was a self-destruct that the Sir Walter Raleigh's engineers ran across by accident. Fostriades says he went through Engineering, but the device could have been hidden -- he not only announced he was going over, but also spent the first 15 minutes talking to the Captain, which would be plenty of time to hide it. Vana suggests that there could have been a black box, simple to install, that ran the destruct process.

Mich tells Vana about the black box they found on Spirelle.

Mich is put back under the SlowDrug.

It is now 10:00.