“So,” Tikva said as she stood in the safe holographic void with Mac and Gabrielle, all standing around the spherical recreation that was happily spinning before them, “while we couldn’t make heads or tails of it, it apparently has started to co-opt our own computers?”
Gabrielle lifted the actual artifact up to compare with its recreation, her head tilting to the side as she shrugged. “I mean, it seems like it? I don’t understand how really, but empirical evidence does point that way. I’d love to figure out how though. It’s a virus payload that can run complex instructions on completely unknown hardware and software.”
“Didn’t something like this happen somewhere before?” Mac asked.
“Geez, which incident really? Enterprise, Santiago, General Chleem, Yamato?” quipped Gabrielle as she looked around the holographic expanse. “Why recreate our position in the galaxy in the holodeck though? Heck, why even use the holodeck?”
“Who knows,” Tikva answered. “All I know is this is playing merry hell with my ship and worse, we sent a copy of this back to Command.” Then she sighed, somewhat defeatedly. “We sent a copy of this back to Command. Oh man, if this is happening to them as well…”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Mac said. “Besides, no point worrying about that right now. Gabrielle, did we share the scans with the Va’th by any chance?”
“No sir, not yet. They said something about waiting till we got to their homeworld, let their Central University receive the scans directly.”
“Well, that’s a relief at least. Cap, if you don’t mind I,” Mac started but was suddenly interrupted by a chime from the ship’s computer.
“Positive identification of Facility Bastion 13,” a voice, most certainly not the main computer, announced from all around the three present in the holodeck. The holodeck starscape zoomed across the vastness to bring a red dwarf into the center, the holographic Tkon relic replaced by the star. Two planets were in orbit, both terrestrial and in tight orbits of the star. The one planet out was barely a blip, but a dark green circle was created around it to highlight its presence in front of Mac, then an arrow to pinpoint a single point on the planet’s surface.
“Priority alert, beacon network failure detected. Proceed to effect repairs immediately,” the voice announced once more, this time it’s voice taking on a somewhat officious tone. “Your vessel is being commandeered by the Tkon Empire to facilitate galactic safety. Your compliance is required. Your vessel will be returned when the present crisis is resolved.”
“Uh, excuse me?” Tikva asked. “This is my ship. I give the orders around here.”
There was no response from the new voice.
“Tikva to Engineering,” she said after tapping her comm badge. “Tell me the warp drive is still secure.”
“Maxwell here ma’am. We’re…well…ma’am, we’ve just lost control of the Engineering computer. We’re working on restoring control now ma’am, but whatever has taken control has been making modifications to control programs and the navigational deflector. We’re trying to stop those as well.”
“Control of stardrive systems achieved. Classified as a continuum distortion drive system. Course laid in for Facility Bastion 13. Distance 21.6 light years. Estimated arrival time is twenty-four hours.”
Both Gabrielle and Mac turned on Tikva, who was busy doing the math in her head before she did a double take. “Uh, that’s just under eight thousand c. Over three times our design specification.”
“That,” the voice said once more as a figure misted into being, the holodeck shifting from the void of space to the planetary surface alongside, “is well within the material demands of your quaint vessel Captain. I do apologise for my tardiness, but other directives take priority.”
The planetary surface they found themselves on, the scene broken up by the arch which remained visible with Tikva’s insistence the door stay open, was barren, blasted rock, a red glow from an ever-present monster of a star in the sky, it’s proximity the contributor to its size. Thankfully some artistic license had seemingly been applied as it was possible to look upon it and not be blinded, or suffer in the vacuum of space.
But just ten meters past the figure a circular foundation of jetblack material stood out in contrast to the chalky grey-white terrain. The foundation was about ten meters in diameter, standing a meter in height. Atop it was a pillar of similar material, five meters across and standing twenty meters in height, or so Tikva reckoned.
“Who are you?” Mac asked before she could, having taken a position to place himself between the clearly holographic character at his captain.
“Commander Charles MacIntyre, I am Architect Seven-Six-Nine. I apologise, but I really do require your Captain’s ship.” The figure was a tall woman, taller than Mac even, dressed in a purple robe that piled around her feet. The woman, a guess at an unknown species’ genders admittedly, looked to be in her later years with a matronly look to her face.
“Why though?” Tikva asked as she stepped around her XO. “It’s okay Mac. Besides, we’ve already been hijacked.”
“I’m sorry Captain, but time is off the essence and this crude interactive form is not a priority,” the woman said. She turned to face the pillar. “Bastion 13 is a beacon located on a small world nearby. It has stopped communicating with its siblings. Repairs must be made immediately.” The woman turned, smiling like a caring mother talking to her children. “That is my purpose, to keep the galaxy safe for child species like yourself. Why the Empire hasn’t resolved this already…”
“The Tkon Empire hasn’t existed for nearly six hundred thousand years,” Tikva said, walking closer. “You’re enacting orders from a dead state.”
“No matter,” Architect replied. “I have my purpose, your ship will be my tools, your crew instruments of galactic safety. Then I shall return it to you just as I found it and wait till needed once more.”
Tikva looked the hologram over for any sign it would continue before she walked back to Mac and Gabrielle, leading them both outside the holodeck and down the corridor, keeping her voice low when she finally spoke. “Gabrielle, get your team scanning that planetoid, I want to know everything about it. And then I want you to get some sleep. Mac, nap for you as well.” She stopped his protest with a raised hand. “I’ll buzz you in a few hours, then get some sack time myself. I’m going to go down to Engineering, hopefully before Velan does and has an aneurysm.”
Gabrielle nodded, made her excuses and departed, with the relic in hand once more. That was going back into storage and likely once Atlantis made it back home disappeared into some research facility forever.
Mac however stayed, waited for Gabrielle to leave, then spoke his piece. “All of this from a detailed scan of a relic we had no idea about?”
“Hey, how was Camargo to know this would happen?”
“I…yah. You’re right. She just did what any good scientist would do with a curiosity. You know though,” he said, turning to her. “This is all kinda coincidental. We get orders, we dig a relic up, we get hijacked. What’s going on Cap?”
Tikva sighed, then patted her XO on the arm. “Would that I could tell you Mac, would that I could. Though, in a few years’ time when Command gives you your fourth pip, I’ll catch you up.”
“They’ll have to give me a solid third first.”
“When this is all done, remember we’re going to go steal some pips from the Commodore.”