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Lt Zola & Ens Barnes | Little Big Probe

Posted on 2016-03-05 22:58 by Lieutenant Zola & Lieutenant JG Catalina Barnes
Edited on on 2016-03-06 10:21

Mission: Bonsai
Location: R & D Department

Once Catalina had everything tucked away with as much research as she could do on the Romulans, she decided to head down to Research and Development to see her roommate and ship specialist. The little Ferengi never ceased to amaze her with developments and she was looking forward to seeing what else she had came up with before the rest of the crew got wind of it.

She peaked her head into the department and looked around to see if she could spot Zola and sneak up on her before the sharp eared Ferengi heard her.

Zola heard the door, noted the pause before entering, and listened carefully. Barnes. Trying to sneak up on her. Zola smirked to herself, and continued her diagnostics on the Little Big Probes. While she'd been scanning for errors in the holographic program they'd been running during the away mission, she'd found that the communication standard hadn't been as secure as she'd thought it was. Thankfully the Romulans hadn't been tipped off to their presence, so they hadn't gotten close enough to the probes to have possibly intercepted the signals. She and Barnes hadn't yet had the chance to discuss improving the probes encryption, so she was glad it was her roommate who'd dropped in for the unexpected visit.

Catalina put her hands on the foremost workbench and knelt down a bit since Zola didn't give any indication that she had entered the room. She smiled as she flexed her legs and pushed down with her arms at the same time and Kong Vaulted over the bench. "Surprise!" she cried as she landed in the middle of the lab. "Super Cat is here!"

Zola let out a small yelp, partially having intended to play surprised, and partially because she was actually surprised by the entrance Barnes elected to use. She shouldn't have been surprised, Barnes did talk about her Parkour hobby occasionally. She couldn't help glancing at the contents of the work bench, and a small sigh of relief indicated she found all as it should be.

"Just the woman I needed to see," Zola finally said, picking up one of the little big probes, and tossing it towards Barnes.

Catalina caught it with ease, pleased that she surprised Zola. "What's this, Z?" she asked informally as she looked it over. "It doesn't appear to be a sex toy, so please don't disappoint me by saying it is. I couldn't handle it right now."

"Why would I be making a sex toy?" Zola scrunched up her face in thought as she genuinely tried to answer her own question. "It's one of my Little Big Probes. The encryption I installed is leaking like a spaghetti strainer. The key generation isn't working correctly and it's sending some of its data unencrypted. Thankfully the broadcast range is pretty short because they're designed to deploy in a swarm and use a mesh network to communicate, so I don't have reason to believe they were actually compromised when I used them."

"Well, let's get them on the bench and hooked up so we can take a look at them and find out what the problem is," Catalina said, secretly amused that she had thrown Zola off with the sex toy line. "When did you notice it happening?"

"It didn't show up in testing, but I guess I didn't know what to do to test the encryption properly, and I didn't have time to ask you about it because the command team sent Lieutenant Khan and I to sneak a peek at the evidence about the Praetor before it was too late. It only showed up in diagnostics after the fact, when I was checking on something unrelated." Zola picked up a PADD that was already communicating with the probes in diagnostic mode, and handed it to Barnes.

Catalina took the PADD and looked at the information on it with a tilt to her head. "It looks like there's a stack overflow in the code which is causing the leakage," she said. "I'll have to run an encryption algorithm on the key before I can give you a proper answer to that. In the meantime, let's get this overflow stopped. We don't want anyone getting the information, no matter how short a distance it transmits."

"Odd that the standard diagnostics weren't finding the stack overflow earlier, but maybe it was the quick patching in I did to get the holographics online. I suppose that would explain how unencrypted stuff is getting out..." Zola frowned.

Catalina took a moment to study it. "I think that's it exactly," she said after a minute. "It looks like there was an unresolved error which hid itself in the patch and manifested after the fact."

"I wish I'd been able to consult with Ensign Desai about it before I had to deploy the probes on the mission, but for some reason Hades, or someone above him, decided she was better suited being transferred back to a lab. Hopefully we'll get a new holographic specialist soon. Do you see a fix?"

"That's possible," Catalina said. "Perhaps she left something in her notes that we could use?"

"We can easily check," Zola said, moving stuff around on the work bench to clear an open area. She double tapped the surface with her finger, and a computer interface lit up. "Computer, did Ensign Desai leave any notes about integrating mobile emitters into my Little Big Probes?"

"Nothing matching your query is found," the computer answered, and Zola frowned.

"Did Ensign Desai make any notes related to the Little Big Probes?"

"One set of notations found for the main software. Displaying." The computer pulled up the notation file and the software specifications file, displaying them in the surface of the workbench.

Catalina moved to look at them and cocked her head. "Okay. The stack overflow was caused by patch. I don't know much about holographics, though. Perhaps if we re-applied it with the computer's assistance, it'll work better. In the meantime, I'd recommend they all be reintegrated with the holographics while I work on the encryption."

"I can easily roll back the firmware to before I patched it, then we'll reattempt the patch with debugging mode running," Zola returned, and her fingers danced across the interface in the workbench. "Hopefully that'll give us any warnings that wouldn't have stopped the previous patching, but may be the source of the problem. We can start with one probe, and then when we get that fixed, it should be able to push the corrected version of the firmware to the rest."

Catalina began to set up a revolving, ever-changing algorithm which was set to change the moment outside interference was detected so it switched to a different encryption key. "Okay. I'm pretty sure that anyone who intercepts one of these will either give up and destroy it, or will attempt to track down the creator and destroy them. Do you have self-destruct codes for them if they're captured?"

"A self destruct fail safe was the first thing I added when I started to adjust them for covert work. If they lose communication with their mesh network unexpectedly and fail to reestablish it soon enough, they erase everything but their core firmware and start writing noisy garbage data over the erased information to thwart data recovery efforts, and if they power off without the correct shut down sequence, the hardware failsafe loses the containment on the acid that's in there," Zola explained. "And since the mesh network is designed to be self healing, if one or two go offline due to a glitch, the network itself will stay in service."

"That is very impressive," Catalina said. "I have expected you to add that it had a micro singularity inside of it which would suck in everything around it in a ten foot radius. Maybe we can convince the Romulans to give up that particular secret for helping them with everything that we have." She made an adjustment on the algorithm she had designed and sent it to Zola. "I could slave this to it as well if you want me to."

"A micro singularity would draw too much attention," Zola dismissed, pulling up the code that Catalina had offered up. "Let's attempt the patch again first, then we'll look at integrating this." She executed the compiler, and status messages started to scroll across the screen. One stood out, and Zola tapped it to pause the scrolling even as the compiling continued. "That might be it. Looks like it's confused on the buffer."

Catalina moved over to look at the code. "Oh, that's an easy fix," she said, her fingers already in action as she made a few adjustments. "There. That's taken care of so we can finish running that patch and getting it all integrated again."

"That looks like something I shouldn't have missed myself," Zola muttered, shaking her head as she rolled back the firmware on the probe again. She started the compiler, and the status messages rushed past again, this time nothing unusual coming up. She ran the debugging software and there was no trace of the stack overflow. "Do you want to do the honors of adding your new encryption code in?"

"Sure," Catalina said. "And little snippets of code like that can be overlooked when you're working on several things at once." She got her encryption algorithm together and incorporated it into Zola's design in the probes and ran a diagnostic. "Okay. Let's give it one a full test while running it active and see if anything else occurs."

"We should probably push the firmware update to a couple more, let them run a live network to test," Zola said, reaching for a couple more of the probes sitting off to the side. She pulled up the control interface on her PADD, authorizing access with her secure key by a scan of her thumb print. After she gave instructions to the one they'd been working on to push its firmware to the other two, it wasn't long before all three were hovering above the workbench.

"Okay, what do you need me to do?" Catalina asked while Zola set the three probes up.

"You check the encryption while I make sure the buffer isn't leaking anymore."

Catalina went and began to check her encryption and scrolled through the code as Zola put the probes through their places. "Everything looks good so far," she said. "How did you come up with the design for these?"

"The command team on my last posting went missing on a planet with major signal interference. Thinking with my lobes," Zola indicated her ears as she said this, "I thought that listening for their heartbeats might work despite the interference. The mesh network gave us signal redundancy to compensate for the loss from the interference, and we just replicated enough to form a large swarm from the search area back close enough to the ship that we could receive the signal."

"I was probably still at the Academy at the time," Catalina said. "My brain was so wrung out by the time I graduated that I probably would have run around in circles screaming. Then I get assigned to disarm railguns and take a planet virtual hostage. I'm so glad I'm away from that ship." She finished checking the diagnostic and code. "Everything looks good. Do you want to do a swarm throughout the ship to get a virtual map of it and see if there's any leakage at a distance?"

"We should probably warn the command team before we do it, but I'm sure Waterhouse would agree to it," Zola answered with a laugh. She accessed the control on the PADD, turning on the remaining of the two dozen she had on the workbench, and initiated the firmware update being pushed to the other units. "Shall we start with the mess hall or the bridge, once we secure permission?"

"Who needs permission?" Catalina asked. "Let's send them through the Jeffries Tubes!"

"If you want to stare down the dragon when we get caught, you go ahead without me," Zola waved Catalina off, pushing the PADD into her roommate's hands.

"Nooo thank you," Catalina said with a laugh as she took the PADD. "I think I'm finally on her good side, but if she ever mentions Aperture, tell her you have previous plans."

"I'll try to remember." Zola laughed, taking the PADD back. "I'll ping Waterhouse while you pick something out from her vast holoprogram library for us to terrorize the rest of the crew with." The little Ferengi grinned wide, showing off her sharp little teeth.

"I hope you have a good hiding place for us," Catalina said as she began to search through the library. "We're going to need one."

"I know so many nooks and cranies in this ship that only my tiny frame can fit into, I'm fine," Zola answered with a smirk. "We can see if your parkour habit also teaches you how to get into tiny spaces when you try to keep up.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Lieutenant Zola
R & D Specialist
USS Joshua Norton

Ensign Catalina "Rocky" Barnes
Encryption Specialist
USS Joshua Norton


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