Obsidian Command

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Data Echoes

Posted on 30 Jun 2024 @ 3:57pm by Admiral Zavareh Sepandiyar

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Admira's Ready Room - Obsidian Command
Timeline: MD26 - 1544HRS
2122 words - 4.2 OF Standard Post Measure

It wasn’t the same as his space on the Alexander, but it would do. Ever since he’d sent Captain Hawthorne out with his former command he’d felt isolated and without a tether, but he was slowly and steadily rebuilding that footing. He was more than his ship, and at his age and rank anywhere he went he had just as much authority as he did on the bridge of the Alexander. It helped that he had brought his sons aboard the station; having a relatively stable home life to end his day with was worth far more than he expected his sons knew. In the chaos of everything else going on, and despite the newness of their shared accommodations, having the routine of home life made it all that much more palatable.

If he was honest with himself, what bothered him most was that while he may have had whatever authority on the station to do whatever he felt was the right course of action, he wasn’t actually in command. Anytime someone said ‘Captain’, or inquired as to orders here on the station for the multitude of tasks Captain DeHavilland was ultimately responsible he nearly always felt compelled to respond and only his more pensive and thoughtful response time had kept him from stepping on the Captain’s toes. It had become enough a distraction for him that he was avoiding the CIC during Alpha shift, turning his office into the Ready Room he’d let steam away with Captain Hawthorne. It gave him the privacy he needed to take care of the multitude of issues a man of his rank and responsibility needed to, but it also gave him room to think and time to work through some things that had been gnawing at the back of his mind since Captain DeHavilland and the Pathfinder had returned.

Zavareh didn't pretend that he knew Corvus well personally, or really even professionally. He had a good sense of the woman from her personnel records and their dealings together; a woman that lived and breathed Starfleet and was not afraid to make the difficult decisions even when they impacted her personal relationships. She’d shown that with how she’d handled Commander Zahn. But even though he didn’t know her well enough to sense the subtleties in her demeanor if something about her had changed, he knew people well enough to sense that something was off and he’d set his mind to figuring out what that was.

It didn’t take him long to find out that the good Captain was in a budding relationship with the stations Marine Commanding Officer. While not specifically public knowledge, it wasn’t exactly a secret either - it didn’t need to be. The Marine CO was not in her direct line of Command, he answered to the Marine chain of command centered on Camp Falkirk under Major General MacTaryn. When he’d gotten that news, he put his mind at ease. The something that was off was a simple as a Captain wanting to keep her personal relationship out of the eyes and ears of her crew. Impossible as that was likely to be, he had to respect her determination to at least minimize it.

That sense of understanding was a relief. But. It was short lived.

Another few days passed and the sense that something was not quite right had returned, even considering what he knew now. It took him a fair bit of reflection to realize that it wasn’t necessarily Captain DeHavilland that was the thing that was off. He was just projecting it on to her. The thing that was really off centered around the Pathfinder and the Theseus and he was set on figuring out why. He had pulled every single report on their action leading up to their interaction with the Pyrryx and returning damaged. Every log, from section chief to crewman. Every internal scan, secondary diagnostic. Everything.

Zavareh had come up in the Fleet as an Operations officer so he knew his way around things better than most when it came to the mundane. Like a puzzle with ten-thousand pieces all the same color, he knew how to coordinate, arrange and ultimately put it all back together. Where most summaries and detailed reports painted a simple picture of the goings on aboard a ship in a given set of time, he knew how to arrange them into a veritable Rembrandt. As if he himself had been aboard the vessel. It was actually something he missed from his time as a simple officer on the line.

He had a few pieces out of place that he couldn’t find a home for. First, was the sudden departure of Commander Quinn. By all accounts, things were going well with the engineer, at least professionally. He certainly didn’t envy the personal issues hew as dealing with in Commander Zahn but that was his cross to bear and so long as it didn’t interfere with his work duties he saw no reason to be concerned. But that was just it, his work was immaculate, exceeding all Starfleet standards for engineering protocols. So, why had he left? It seemed odd enough on its own, but when he read that it wasn’t Commander Quinn that was in charge of Engineering when the Pathfinder returned he naturally presumed his departure was due to whatever injury he sustained. Yet… he could find no medical record of any injury in Doctor Corduke’s logs, or any medical logs for that matter, only deepening his confusion.

The mystery only served to convince Zavareh that there was far more to this than he was being told. He simply didn’t understand why Corvus would feel the need to keep that from him though. Had something happened between Quinn and Zahn aboard the Pathfinder that was somehow damning to both of them? Was she protecting them in some way? Were they protecting her? Whatever it was, clearly it was significant enough that Quinn was willing to depart without so much as a second glance back at Obsidian Command. It had to have been compelling, and so that was where he was focusing his attention.

Sepandiyar figured he’d start that analysis with by breaking down what it was Quinn was last doing as Chief Engineer on the Pathfinder before his mysterious injury. He replicated a steaming pot of water, poured it into the silver teapot and let it steep as he settled down into the mundane reports that the LCARS system generated. It wasn’t a glamorous report to review. It was mostly written in a sort of technical code that the system would parse and present in more readable formats based on directed queries but, if you wanted to, you could see it in its raw format. Zavareh had learned in his tenure as an Operations Officer that the data was much more useful when you looked at it in its base form. Anytime you started to filter it or look at it through a certain ‘lens’ you degraded it. You had to start from raw form and then step back in layers from there.

As expected things were quite mundane. Standard statistics being reported across the board every few minutes just as it was designed. Minor fluctuations in systems as expected and that coincided reasonably well with the timeline of events as he’d been told of them. Reading carefully, he found the reporting timeframe where the system indicated the officer in charge of Engineering and isolated when exactly Commander Quinn was no longer the official Chief on record. There was nothing in the logs that indicated what it was that had happened to make that change but he naturally presumed that was something innocuous enough not to be in the engineering logs but enough to put him out of commission. Just not enough to send him to medical. Figuring that was the thread to pull on, he went back to that time frame and began cross-referencing that data against Doctor Corduke’s logs, trying to find the common denominator between them.

Sipping his tea slowly, Zavareh began to frown. The longer he looked, the deeper his frown became. He set his tea down and sat up in the chair, drawing the medical log closer along with the raw engineering dataset. The Admiral shook his head and shuffled through the PaDD’s on his desk, quickly looking for the bridge log. Once more he shook his head, sitting back slightly trying to figure out what was going on.

These reports were mundane and overly detailed, but the system kicked them out like clockwork every thirty seconds. They lived in the data core where they were used for all sorts of other statistics, but they were kicked out like clockwork no matter what so long as the system was functioning. It was a variation of the ‘black box’ that aircraft of old used to have. But what was strange was that these logs were present for every moment of the Pathfinder’s time away, but the data from engineering, medical and the bridge all had the same issue: a blank report for nearly three minutes. The report was there, not triggering any issues that the system would be looking for in erroneous reporting, yet all of them were devoid of data. It was something no one would have noticed if they weren’t looking directly at the raw output which only reinforced his belief that the filtered data could only be trusted when verified.

Zavareh sat back, trying to consider how all of the raw data feeds could all be missing data at the same time. The only thing he could come up with at this point was that it was a system glitch of some variation - one that was resolved within that two minutes and change but that made that data unrecoverable. To validate that, Sepandiyar began pulling every other sub-function data feed to validate the missing timeframe, thus confirming that it was a system glitch. If he could substantiate that theory, he could cast it aside and keep on his research. These things happened. The system was designed to catch them, fix them and move on without affecting operational efficiency. The Nova-class was a slightly dated class of vessel so it was more believable that it’d have these issues.

Quickly comparing them all, he began to nod with relief. Everything was showing the same system gap. From flight control to hangar controls. Everything was reporting it the same way. Zavareh was about to write it off as a standard system hiccup when the cross-referencing algorithm he’d written began to chirp that it’d found a mismatch. He sat up in his chair, the hair the back of his neck standing up in concern. There on the screen was a system that didn’t show a variation. No lack of data, no glitches, the standard detailed data set that accompanied every raw data feed. But it didn’t come from any major system, it came from Hydroponics. According to the duty roster and system logs, hydroponics was offline. But clearly, despite the station being offline, the system was still recoding the logs.

As a redundancy, each system included in its snapshot a redundancy copy of the others. It was a lot volume data file so it wasn’t an issue. That meant that the hydroponics file had a sort of ‘echo’ of the other files in its data, meaning that Zavareh could look deeper into the dataset and actually pull out the redundant reports from other stations. If it was truly a glitch that somehow hadn’t impacted hydroponics, then he’d see a blank data set for all the other systems. Perched on the end of his chair, he accessed the data and went straight into the engineering logs - where this had all started. He stared at the data in front of him… and felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand upright again to match the chill that ran down his spine.

The data was not only there, it was substantial. Substantial not only in substantive data, but in what the data was telling him. He had always told his Operations teams that ‘data never lied’ and here it was, the truth laid bare in its simplest form.

Captain DeHavilland, Captain Callum and the entirety of both of their crews were lying.


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