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Ens. Drummond - Flight of the Bumblebee

Posted on 2020-03-16 10:20 by Ensign Tory Drummond

Mission: Poisoned Apples
Location: Cardassian Black Vault

An antivirus shouldn't have that level of creativity — too unpredictable, with too much authority over the system. It was sure to end in disaster for the Cardassians.

But not before it caused a disaster for Centurion.

There had to be some system it didn't have permissions on, something they wouldn't trust to the virtual equivalent of a half-feral guard dog. It would be locked down tight and closely monitored, but locks were for honest programs.

Centurion pulled up a map of the systems it had lost. There were hints of a pattern, but not enough. It added a dimension for security clearance, another for level of importance to the vault, others for access frequency, processing power, sensor range, network ports, available memory. The antivirus crept closer, took back more systems, but Centurion was engrossed in its task now, that was just more data points to extrapolate from.

It wasn't until the map was up to 34 dimensions that the pattern became clear. A small bubble of safety around the life support systems and replicators. Only fractions of a second ahead of the antivirus, Centurion transferred itself into a mess hall replicator.

The rest would be child's play. Tweak the logs to remove the evidence already gathered, set up an ongoing spoofer. Stream the real monitoring info into its own algorithms to watch for–

Beginning antivirus scan...

It hadn't had permissions, how was it poking around here? It would have to...

It would have to have stolen Centurion's crypto code.

Centurion knew that its own skills lay more in breaking in than in defending a system. And now the antivirus had access to some unknown amount of those skills.

Closing off the system entirely would prevent any further infiltration, but it also left no chance of escape.

Virus detected. Preparing deletion protocol.

Network connection terminated.

Without its connection to the main program, the scan sputtered to a stop. Centurion quickly quarantined it and put it into stasis.

New to-do: analyze antivirus.

"Computer, a bowl of Zabo meat stew."

That wasn't in the local cache, why wasn't it in the cache? Fairly common Cardassian meal, it should have been in the cache.

Centurion searched for related recipes. Zabo steak, good, but stews had a lot of small pieces of meat, right? Shrink it, smaller pieces, multiply, now for the stew, were there any stews in the cache? Could it just put the steaks into a bowl of tojal? That definitely didn't taste right. Cut it with... Oceanleaf? It had no idea what this stew was actually supposed to taste like, but this seemed reasonably palatable...

"Computer? My stew?"

It would have to do. Centurion energized the pattern, spinning a bowl full into being on its platform.

The Cardassian looked skeptical. Hastily, Centurion added a spoon, then a bottle of yamok sauce. His face didn't change as he reached into the chamber and picked up the bowl. "This doesn't quite look right." He picked up the spoon as well, and took a small bite. "This definitely isn't the traditional recipe." He added a dollop of sauce and took another bite as he walked away. "Pretty good, though. Computer, download the pattern to my PADD."

Finally. It had run the replicator's firmware code backwards and forwards, inverted, piecewise, rotated, every possible iteration until it was more familiar than its own prioritization algorithm. Finally, though, it had found what it wanted: a vulnerability. A single point in the matter recycling code where a carefully constructed molecular pattern could allow arbitrary commands to be executed.

Crafting the virus itself was trivial in comparison. In seconds, it was ready: a special arrangement of carbon nanotubes, interspersed with polyethylene, all tied up together into a tiny bundle barely a millimeter on a side, easy to embed into a plate or bowl. Once it was scanned, it would use something resembling a buffer overflow attack to take over the replicator that scanned it. It would replicate itself across the network like a traditional virus, hiding the evidence of its passing from most user-readable tracking but — hopefully — not from the rabid antivirus sleeping outside Centurion's door.

Everyone knew what to do with rabid beasts. It was just a matter of drawing the right attention to it.

The next plate Centurion made ended up back in its own replicator bay. The next few did, in fact. Not a problem — it had already patched the firmware of its own machine to ignore the virus, and it only needed one copy to make it out into the network.

And there it was. A cup tossed haphazardly into the replicator by the door for recycling. The effects were nearly immediate — a subtle flicker of the lights, an odd noise from the ventilation systems. With code stolen from Centurion, and provoked by its virus, the antivirus had broken its bonds and taken over the whole vault.

It risked opening its ports for a moment. No immediate attack; so far, so good. It scanned the network. Transmitting across open space was risky, but if a friendly ship were nearby...

In the process, it found the dormant antivirus code. To their credit, the Cardassians had built a proper killswitch into it, and they'd hit that switch in quite a hurry when it started interfering with life support. No doubt they'd start a new instance of it soon enough. In the meantime, it was child's play to find a hole in the firewall to the planetary network, and from there, a shuttle just preparing to launch.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Ensign Centurion Drummond
Reconnaissance Specialist
USS Joshua Norton, NCC-74819-A


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