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Tangled Matrices

Posted on Mon Feb 6th, 2017 @ 6:38pm by Captain Enalia Telvan & Captain Farenia Meowlith & Commander Jennifer Matthews & Akira Zhuri

Mission: Mistaken Honor
Location: USS Hera Holodeck Six
Timeline: After Critical Failure

[BRIDGE]

As the Hera moved through space at a whopping warp four, a call came in. =/\="Captain, this is Ensign Gestalt at Holodeck six. We're having a bit of trouble separating the entities in the holodeck from the background program. We could use the help of someone from the Katana that knew a bit about all this."=/\=

"Roger that. I'm sending them your way." Enalia replied to the call before nodding to Farenia and Jenni. "Do you two mind lending some help?"

Farenia nodded as she headed for the turbolift. "Not at all. Send a message to the Merlin though, if you could. Ask for Andy and Maica and explain the situation to them. We should be able to do a sort of telepresence setup with them and get their help too."

Jenni had been working to collect herself for the past few minutes, and somehow she managed to hear the call from the holodeck. Entities...? Her eyes shot open as her mind instantly thought of Ari and Akira. She hadn't even thought of the possibility that they would have to be pulled out of the ship's computer. Her heart sank further as she realized how much she'd forgotten her friends and had cared so much about the ship itself. Hopefully, this was a chance to correct a grievous error. She rose to her feet and followed her Captain into the turbolift.

[HOLODECK SIX]

By the time Farenia and Jenni arrived at the holodeck, Master Chief Petty Officer Andrea Carter was already present as a holographic projection, working with Crewman Greenfelt and Ensign Gestalt on an open panel to access the holodeck. The entire matrix was incredibly fragile at this point and they couldn't yet isolate the Zhuri's from the lab program, but the hope was that once they got inside the holodeck that they could piece the living entities back together, assuming they could even get inside without crashing the program.

"Jenni!" Andy exclaimed when she saw Jenni walking down the corridor with Farenia. She strode over to the woman to give her a hug. "I'm so glad you made it out okay," Andy said, her voice sounding raw, like maybe she had been crying. Then she stepped back to brief Jenni and Farenia. "Uh, Maica will be joining us later, she's a bit emotional right now and... if Ari or Akira are as bad off as I think they are, I don't want her seeing them that way. Besides, she's got a ship to run. Anyway, I think we've almost got the lab program stable enough to enter, but timing will be crucial once we're in there. We need to extract Akira and Ari as quickly as possible in case the program implodes. Hopefully once they're in a more stable environment we'll have a better idea of what's going on with them. We're getting intermittent life sign readings, sometimes we only see one signal, sometimes two, and sometimes we can't read them all..." Andy was trying hard not to sound defeated, but this was a deep hurt for her; she and Maica had just learned they had a daughter, had just met her, and now it was possible that she could be gone, along with Ari who they loved like a brother. She knew Jenni would be hurting over this loss as well, but Jenni was the only other person who knew the intricacies of Ari's code, he trusted so few to help maintain him, so Andy needed Jenni here now.

Jenni wished it was the real Andy, not just a hologram, but seeing her red-haired friend was enough. She instantly detected Andy's raw voice, and she was certain that the next Jenni voiced herself, it would be just as raw. She nodded as she joined the engineers by the door to take a look at what was going on inside the holodeck. "It's like their lifesigns are like frequencies. Merging, overlapping, and sometimes inverting the other," she remarked, trying to stay focused on the task at hand.

"That's what's been making this so difficult," Crewman Greenfelt replied with a heavy sigh. "But I think we've got the lab program as stable as we're going to get it; enter at your own risk," he cautioned.

"Alright then, open it," Andy said, taking a deep breath to steel her resolve. "And remember to keep the doors open so my projection can continue to run off the ship projectors, otherwise I could destabilize the program."

"Got it," the crewman replied with a nod, then sent the command overrides to open the door. The great doors parted and the Engineers could finally see the mess of what was left of the program. The lab was a disjointed mess, pieces phasing in and out, entire chunks of the room missing and displaying the holodeck grid, and what was left was just... wrong, misshapen and twisted. At first glance, neither Akira nor Ari appeared to be in the room, but Andy stopped short as she entered, seeing a coil of light through her eyepiece only that represented the core of what was left of Akira and Ari.

"Be glad you can't see what I can see," Andy said, looking visibly pained by what she was seeing. "It looks like they've sacrificed non-essential functions to preserve their core matrix, the essence of who they are, so there's no visual component left, just raw data," she explained as she circled an area that seemed to be otherwise empty, but she was simply getting a better look at this raw data floating in the midst of this broken program. "They are so twisted up in each other, I bet he was trying to protect her..." Andy had to swallow back the bile she suddenly tasted, even had to wipe away a stray tear that somehow found it's way to her cheek, then she cleared her throat and forced herself into action.

Protect her... Those two words echoed deeply in Jenni's mind. While she first nearly panicked at the sight of Andy circling the empty holodeck, she was proud of Arivek for not abandoning his daughter. She knew all too well how concerned he was as to Akira's existence, and his involvement with her moving forward. This was proof he indeed had a heart.

"Computer, recognize new command, Teleconference Exclusion," Andy started, doing her best to turn off her 'mommy' emotions so she could play Engineer for now.

"Command recognized, state parameters," the Computer replied.

"Isolate Communications hologram Carter Alpha One-Two and exclude from all holodeck related commands; treat entity as a biological entity," Andy rattled off, already having made a similar command prompt for her holodeck so it would know when and when not to act on commands.

"Parameters accepted. Run command?" the Computer replied.

"Affirmative," Andy stated, and the computer chirped in compliance. "Now, I need a bounding box," she stated, and again the computer chirped, with a blue wire frame cube appearing before her. She began to move the box and reshape it, adding new points to help the box fit around the swirl of data she saw. "Computer, render the data inside the bounding box as visible to biological entities," she said as she continued to work. The computer gave a long drawn out chirp as it struggled to comply with the command, but soon everyone else could see what Andy saw, a twisted swirl of light. Occasionally a second light could be seen within this torrent of data, but it was dim and fading fast, and in this form there was no way for anyone to know if it was Ari or Akira that was fading...

But now that the Zhuri matrix(s) were visible, Jenni and the crewmen were able to join in to lend a hand, reshaping the box to ensure that it contain every last wisp of data so it could be isolated from the rest of the broken program. Ultimately, it was up to Andy to ensure that they were ready to move forward as she was the only one who could see if there were any bits outside the bounding box, but once she was satisfied, it was time for the next step, and all they could do now was hope and pray that whoever was still alive in this broken form wouldn't give up on them now.

Jenni happily and eagerly worked with the other engineers to modify the bounding box, hoping with every adjustment that she'd see a shred of familiarity of two of the people she loved the most. She wouldn't give up. Not now.

"Computer, isolate data within bounding box, close everything else outside the box," Andy said. Again, there was another struggling response from the computer, but soon the fractured lab space disappeared so that all they had was the Zhuri matrix conglomerate and an empty holodeck grid. And of course the computer recognized the earlier command Andy had entered, so she remained in the holodeck as well. "Well that's one hurdle down, where do we go from here?" she asked, feeling more emotionally raw than she had been before; this was hitting her harder than she had expected and she didn't know how much longer she could hold herself together. She looked to Jenni to see if she was willing to take charge of the situation for a while.

"It's the data patterns," Jenni whispered. With a stronger voice, she offered, "Like DNA. The computer can't distinguish between the two matrices because there's too much of Arivek in Akira. The Katana's computer used a backup of Maica's matrix, Arivek's matrix and whatever you had lying around in the Engineering lab to create Akira. If Katana's computer could create life from the three, then we need the same raw stock in order to help the computer distinguish Akira from Ari."

"I made a lot of backups of Maica when her old body is failing, so there's no telling which one was use to make Akira, let alone if it was some sort of amalgamation to create the spark of true awareness!" Andy replied, running a hand over her mass of fiery curls. "But..." Andy looked thoughtful for a moment and then began making motions with her hands like she was at a computer terminal accessing information, which in her holodeck she was. "I do have some data on Ari's matrix from when I was helping him with his sensory upgrades, and then they sent me an image of Akira's matrix shortly after he informed us of her creation. Neither cover the full expanse of their matrices, but it might be enough to help the computer separate them. I'm uploading the data now," she said.

Jenni instructed the Hera's computer to create a computer workstation of her own so that she could monitor the data transfer. She also made sure each of the sample matrices were isolated before running a quick diagnostic so that the computer would know the differences between them. "That should do it," Jenni remarked.

As the computer began separating the two entangled matrices, it looked as though the efforts to untangle them were successful, but just as the two were finally starting to pull apart, and series of warnings and errors began to flash across Jenni and Andy's workstations.

"Fuck!" Andy blurted out as her fingers flew over her console to ascertain the problem. "We're losing one of them!" And right before their eyes, the light representing the essence of life for the smaller matrix dimmed and flickered out before either Jenni or Andy had a chance to stabilize it or halt the separation, leaving one sad and lonely matrix, rattled but stable, next to the lifeless stream of data that had just been extracted from it. "No..." Andy said, feeling like all the air had been sucked out of her; when this was all over, she was going to need a lot of alone time with Maica to even begin to deal with this. Alerts were still sounding off on their consoles, but Andy couldn't even hear them anymore; like an out of body experience, this all simply felt too surreal to be real.

"Shit!" Jenni shouted, seeing the same thing happen. Her fingers began to fly across the console, trying to undo what was just done. Sadly, very little was left. Tears welled up in her eyes. She didn't know who just died, but her gut already made an assumption. Jenni would refuse to accept that inclination as she did her best to help the computer reassemble the remaining matrix. "Integrity at eighty percent and rising!" Jenni shouted. "We should be able to reinitialize momentarily!" she called out to Andy, trying to make eye contact. "Andy!"

Jenni had to call her name once more before Andy finally snapped out of her daze. "Oh, r-right," Andy said uneasily once she realized what Jenni was trying to do. "Computer, create an avatar for the surviving matrix; humanoid, blue skin, gender neutral. We can fix the appearance once we know who survived," Andy remarked as they worked. The computer chirped in affirmation and created a blue humanoid form around the surviving matrix. "Integrity restored, initializing matrix now," Andy said, waiting with breath held to see who was going to wake up.

It took a while for the blue skinned hologram to do anything; even though Jenni and Andy had managed to stabilize the matrix, there was still quite a bit missing that the computer as well as the life within had to recreate to be able to function properly. Minutes ticked by and finally its eyes opened, only to fill with tears at the sight of the dead matrix still floating nearby.

"Father..." Akira said with a sob.

Jenni's heart sank. That one word from the matrix informed them all the unfortunate truth. "Computer," said Jenni, fighting back her own emotions. She knew she wasn't going to keep it together too much longer. "Apply these changes to the visual avatar," she muttered as she entered an image of Akira into the computer's active memory.

With her last bits of strength, she used her panel to collect the data that was once her best friend to save into a file. As she typed in Arivek's name, Jenni lost it, tears streaming down her face once more. First the Katana, now Ari. It only took a heartbeat to realize that someone else was affected more than she. And, with that revelation, Jenni abandoned her console and embraced Akira, offering a moment of comfort to someone who'd lost her father.

Akira held onto Jenni tightly as she sobbed. Andy didn't know whether she wanted to go scream or cry or just go catatonic, so she did the only thing she really knew how to do: she made an excuse. "I, uh, have to go tell Maica what happened," she said simply, wiping away tears in her eyes as her form blinked out of the holodeck.

Seeing one of her mothers disappear like that made Akira cry all the harder as she struggled to come to terms with what happened. She had been so scared, and even though Jenni was holding her she felt so alone now.

"Why did this happen?" Akira asked Jenni.

Jenni took a moment to glare at where Andy's form once stood. She only hoped that meant Andy and Maica would soon arrive. "Something happened on Katana," Jenni said, stepping back. Jenni pressed both of her hands on Akira's shoulders for no other reason but to keep herself steady. "The computer just stopped... We lost antimatter containment..." Jenni shook her head. "Katana's gone. There's nothing left. I wish I knew why."

Akira's lip quivered as she sniffled and nodded. "Father.... Father protected me as everything began to fall apart around us. I tried to get us out, I tried my best, I really did, but I couldn't do anything!" Akira said, trying her hardest to be brave, but by the end of her plea she couldn't hold back another pained sob. But then she remembered the remains of Ari's data that Jenni saved. "Can- can I have his data?" she asked.

Jenni nodded. She backed away from Akira and returned to her console. After having the computer replicate a data core inside the holodeck, Jenni transferred what remained onto the translucent cube. As she held what remained of Arivek in her hand, Jenni stared at the object for a moment. For the first time, she could actually touch her friend. In fact, it was rather depressing, knowing that Arivek had to die to return to some sort of physical form. Jenni returned to Akira and held out the cube.

It was then that one of the Hera's science officers came up to the until now silent Farenia with a PaDD. Nodding to the offer she took it and began reading the Hera's sensor logs regarding the incident. Stepping forward, she addressed Akira and Jenni. "The Hera got some good scans of what went wrong and it lines up with what we could make out on the bridge. Apparently, the EPS conduits that came from the universe that the Katana originated from started depolarizing and the quantum signatures started forcefully aligning with those in this universe. Being one of the largest, the one feeding the main computer went out first, causing a chain reaction. It doesn't help much, but... At least there's an explanation. I'm sorry."

Knowing didn't make any of their losses any easier, but the understanding that came from this knowledge would eventually give them the means to accept and come to terms it. Akira looked down at the little cube of data in Jenni's hands, all that was left of her Father, then she reached out and touched the cube, absorbing all the data into herself directly. She flickered out once as her matrix figured out what to do with this data, but she snapped back almost immediately, and though there were no changes to her appearance, there was something different about her now. She looked at Jenni with the same guarded gaze that was a trademark of Ari's features.

"I know you," Akira said to Jenni. "Or he did, quite well, and in two universes..." Akira closed her eyes, shaking her head as she resolved this dual sense of self that occurred from absorbing Ari's data. "He wanted you to know he was sorry for leaving, and for all the things he had trouble saying; you were a true friend, thank you."

Jenni could only offer a weak smile. She had no doubt that her words were genuine. "I have been," she said weakly, knowing that there was a bit of Ari still alive within Akira, "and always shall be your friend." True strength began to mount behind her smile. As with all children, there were hints of their parents in their mannerisms, emotions and actions. In this very moment, she saw a spark of Arivek behind Akira's eyes. His life was not lost, it was his sacrifice that opened a new universe for Akira to explore.

 

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