In Memoriam

F.T.M

1946-2009

For you Dad,

Thank you for everything you did for me,

You made me the person I am today.

And even though I was never sure,

now I know you were always there for me.

I can only hope I can still make you proud.

I love you and I miss you every day.Authors notes:

It was summer break back in 1985, I was just a little squirt back then. Fox was a new network and you had to by this crazy loop antenna to be able to even pick it up off the UHF band. When they started off the only things they had to broadcast were the 700 club, Geraldo and the rest was pretty much re runs of old shows that I can recall. One day I'm in my room and my Dad calls me to come downstairs. I reluctantly do so because I was playing with my Lego's at the time. He tells me to sit in front of the tv and he sits down with me and he says. "Son, I want you to watch this you'er going to like it."

I gave him this this look that was probably my 5 year old equivalent of "Yeah right." . I ask him what it is and he says it's called "Star Track." Yes he mispronounced it. Now I'm confused cuz I'm thinking of some sort of space train but, I digress.

My first Star Trek Episode I ever watched was "The Doomsday Machine." And it blew me away. The second was "The Ultimate Computer." Which this story is based off of. Since then I have been hooked on trek ever since, and like my Dad those two episodes are what always stick in my mind when I hear the words "Star Trek."

I began work on this story about 3 months ago before I decided to focus my efforts on the series. It was near completion by Thanksgiving 2009.

My Dad passed away the next day.

Finishing this one has been extremely difficult, but it's helped with trying to move on with life. I can only hope you enjoy it because it has been fun to write and I will do more in the future.

Please Enjoy the FOTR tribute story: Paradigm Shift

Harry and Fara were in Captain Stiles' office in the control center of starbase 186.

"Captain the Raptor is my project and my project alone WHY the hell is Starfleet suddenly barging in here and TAMPERING with it." Fara snarled slamming her fists into the table.

Stiles sighed he wasn't particularly looking forward to dealing with an aggravated engineer in the middle of the day. He however had anticipated her arrival to be shortly after the notice of the mandate to try a new experimental computer system developed by a Dr. Sarne was handed down from Starfleet HQ.

Harry was also in the room and Fara's particular reaction to this didn't surprise him however the blonde colored shock of head fur that she was steadily growing out was a curiosity. It was just now starting to grow just out of her regular peach fuzz orange body fur.

"Ms. Phoenix you are well aware that the Raptor, despite your involvement, is a property of Starfleet and part of the agreement Arspace Dynamics set up with us was to use the Raptor as a launch pad for new technologies."
"This is my ship god damn it!" Fara snarled.

Stiles rose a brow.

"It's our ship." He said flatly.

"Sir!" Fara finally added rolling her eyes a little and settling back in her chair.

Stiles had always been patient with the vixen, even though she wasn't enlisted and had never been fully through the Academy, she was at times a little belligerent when it came to matters of Starfleet formalities.

"Fara." He began waiting for her to seem to want to listen again. "I did advise that you be in charge of any and all additions to the Raptor's systems. In order to be sure that they do not compromise the vessels capability in any way. I understand that the Raptor is your project, and I took every means necessary to see to it that it stays that way."

"Yeah this is a unique opportunity. Dr. Sarne of all people is wanting to put his new Epsilon V-Three core on our ship. That's quite a privilege." Harry added.

Fara relaxed a bit her eyes wide with a little shock as she slumped back into the chair across from Stiles. She suddenly felt as if she had just stuck her foot into her mouth. Stiles smirked a little but let it drop. "Do you feel better now Ms. Phoenix?"

"Sorry." She said with a sheepish almost gaunt expression. "I just thought…"

"You don't need to go into it." Stiles said. "I just hope in the future you remember that as far as the Raptor is concerned I want the best Engineer in the quadrant working on it."

"I agree I wouldn't want anyone else overseeing this project." Harry agreed.

"You've always been on my side." She muttered. "It's just I know military types, sometimes they can be a bit facetious."

Stiles nodded. "Mam, I am anything but facetious. The transport will arrive at 0800 tomorrow. I would appreciate it if you meet with Dr. Sarne when he disembarks, he has informed us that he would like to install the new tactical battle computer of his design as soon as possible."

"I would like to say that integrating a new computer system into the Raptor may not be a good idea." Fara said. "I'm still having problems with the Borg components on the Vessel. That's why I opposed this when the proposal came up weeks ago."

"Do you think you can get it to work." Stiles asked.

"I can try." She sighed.

"Is that all?" Stiles said trying show relief at her rage subsiding.

"Yes." Fara said standing out of her chair. "I just want it to be on the record that I am not to thrilled about this."

"If anyone can keep it under control you can, I have faith in you we both do." Stiles said nodding towards Harry. "If there aren't any other concerns, I have a station to get back to running. You are dismissed."

Fara and Harry both got up and headed out the door.

"So, can I ask you something?"

"What."

"What's with the …" He said moving a paw over his head. "That's new."

"Oh…" Fara said blushing a little embarrassed.

"I didn't know you were a blonde." Harry said. "What brought this on?"

"Well," Fara said. "I sent Nikolai an old picture of myself and he said he'd like to see me with my head fur grown out again. So I'm trying to, it doesn't look to bad does it?"

"No, just different," Harry said as they approached the lift doors and Fara called it. "Why'd you keep it short?"

"It would get in the way when I'd do test flights, I just got used to keeping it that way I guess. At least now I won't have to dye it anymore." She shrugged.

The doors parted and they stepped into the lift.

"You know Fara till about a few minutes ago, with all these changes you've been doing, I thought maybe I wouldn't see the old Fara again."

"I'm just growing my hair out." Fara said. "when it comes to my ship my attitude isn't going to change." She smirked.

Title: Paradigm Shift

IDP 2005,2009, 2019

TOS: Tribute Fic "The Ultimate Computer."


The next day arrived and Doctor Dustin Sarne arrived aboard the Endeavour on Starbase 186.

Harry, Terri, Fara, Michelle Omara all waited patiently by the airlock as the ship completed its docking procedure. Once word had got out Harry had been pestered to let them meet the famous doctor in person.

"I am really not looking forward to this." Fara sighed through her forced welcoming smile.

"Just behave," Harry said. "Be polite."

"I can't wait to meet him." Terri said with glee. "He's is the top of his field when it comes to system design and implementation a real genius if you ever met one."

"I will admit this is quite exciting," Michelle said. "I never met him in person I did attend one of his lectures at the academy. It was very fascinating."

The door parted and out stepped a lanky black furred echidna with a mess of jet black head fur and a pair of glasses. "Commander Martinez, I presume?" He said extending his hand.

"Yes, welcome to Starbase 186 Doctor Sarne. It's a real pleasure to meet you." He then turned to introduce the others. "This is my Chief Engineer Fara Phoenix, My Communications and System Specialist Terri Lu and my Science officer Michelle O'mara."

Dr. Sarne shook each of their paws. "If had known I would be in the company of so many ladies I would have presented myself a bit better." He said with a smile. "Perhaps combed my hair a bit."

This got a chuckle out of everyone.

"I look forward to working with all of you over the next few days." Dr. Sarne said. "You will all play an important part in making history with my new system. It will revolutionize space travel in ways we've never dreamed."

"Very, fascinating," Harry said. "What is it that your system will do."

"Ah ah I don't want to ruin the surprise Commander. All in due time All in due time. How about a walking tour of your vessel, while my people offload the equipment. Your lovely crewmates can accompany us as well."

"May I sir?" Terri said speaking up. "I'd really like to speak with the Doctor about his theory on Adaptive Neural networks, Michelle and I have been arguing over weather bubbled structures or standard trees should be used for the last week now, we'd like to get his opinion it."

"I don't mind." Harry said his mind still trying to figure out what the hell Terri had just said to him.

"I would be honored." He said offering his arm to Terri in a gentlemanly like manner as they headed down the corridor.

As they walked down the hall with Terri and Michelle chatting the doctor's ear off Fara let out a sigh.

"Lovely…Ladies…." She hissed, he was already on her shit list and she'd only known him a few seconds.

"Take it as a compliment for your hair." Harry said grabbing her by the upper part of her arm and marching her down the corridor behind the other group. "He's only here for a week tops just play nice until then."

"Oh you are going to owe me so big for this one." Fara grunted. "I'm seeing a nice vacation on a beach somewhere..'

"Keep dreaming." Harry chuckled.

Before the end of the day the new computer system was already being installed.

Fara oversaw most of the operation with grim reluctance while Terri-Lu assisted with getting everything integrated with the ship.

At least until they tried to get the Epsilon V.3 to fire up and sync with the ship's systems and promptly locked up.

"This is unusual." Doctor Sarne said looking at the readout. "There are some subsystems that aren't allowing Eve to complete her integration." Eve was the whimsical name he had come up with the computer. Although why no one had a clue other than the clever little logo on the main console that read "Ev.3".

"What's the problem doc?" Fara asked.

"There are some systems that apparently the old computer system had to access by using some sort of special command and control algorithm." Doctor Sarne said.

"Well that's because that would be the highly classified aspects of the ship," Fara said. "I'm not letting your little system anywhere near those."

"Why not?" Doctor. Sarne said a bit frustrated. "The whole purpose of this test was to see if the system could integrate itself into something as complicated as the Raptor with little ease. For that to happen I will need to have full control."

"I wasn't briefed on that aspect of the test." Fara said flatly. "If you have a problem with that I suggest you call the C.O."

Sarne tensed a little and sighed. "Fine be that way." He said. "I don't see what the point is in hindering my progress here…"

"Look doctor with all due respect," Fara said evenly. "There are a lot of components on this ship that may not take kindly to a computer that doesn't know how to deal with them. The Raptor isn't exactly a normal confederation ship, I should know I built her.'

"I assure you I was fully briefed on the Raptor's unique special subsystems and I have made arrangements for the computer to deal with that. Eve will learn from the preexisting data and develop its own algorithms and sub-routines to maintain perfect control over your ship. I assure you everything will be fine."

"I'm sorry doctor, but I know this ship better than anyone," Fara said. "Call the Commander if you want to access those systems.."

"Fine." Doctor Sarne sighed annoyed.

Large officers quarters were something that took some getting used to.

Harry had tried everything to try to make the large quarters assigned to him on Starbase 186 seem less cavernous. It was a spacious open area with windows looking out into the stations large docking bay, not the best of views, but a view nonetheless. In the center of the main area there was a sunken alcove with a large couch sat to one side and a few chairs. The bedroom part was quite large with and equally large bed and bath section.

He wondered how he was ever going to make them feel less like a cave. In his duffel, all he had was a few civilian clothes and a few trinkets. Looking at one of the bare walls he decided maybe he could find a place for his model's that he liked to build that he had put into storage for years now. Not having to worry about such things as money one tended not to carry to many material goods around with them, especially when they could be easily replicated. They did, however, make a room feel a bit more like a place lived in then just a sterile sleeping area. Even during his breif stint on the Aether he had felt about the same way as well.

Now that he had come to terms that this was where he was going to stay it was time to make this place feel more like home instead of just a place to sleep.

Maybe a few potted plants? A few posters, hell just some general mess would make it look more like a living space. Harry often found it amusing that even without the wants of currency people still found it necessary to surround themselves with various trinkets. Of course he, himself was guilty of it as well. However, the situation seemed more then he wanted to deal with the more he thought about it and he walked over to the replicator feeling thirsty.

"Cherry Fizz" he ordered.

The replicator hummed and replicated the red carbonated beverage

He was just about to take a drink when the com channel sounded.

He sighed and set the glass on his table.

"Yes?" He said tapping the switch on the wall panel.
"Commander Martinez, this is Doctor Sarne. I have ran into a complication with your chief engineer. She is not allowing me full access to your ships systems and she will not give me the codes for the command lockouts this is very … infuriating to say the least." Sarne's voice came across very terse and annoyed.

"I"ll be down there in a moment to deal with her personally, just be patient I'm at home at the moment but I'll head down there as soon as I can." Harry replied.

"Thank you, Commander, it is much appreciated."

"I'll be there shortly " Harry said switching it off. He sighed. He figured Fara would try to pull something like this. Granted he wasn't too thrilled about the eagerness of Starfleet to let this new machine just take full control of the ship but it was what they wanted. Now he had to be put in a position he did not want to be, where he would have to override Fara.

Decorating would have to wait for now, he had to put out this little fire first.

Harry arrived at the gangway where he saw Terri Lu standing there waiting for him. "How bad is it?" He asked.

"Well you missed a shouting match," Terri said. "And then Fara, threw her padd at him and gave him a black eye."
"Ayaa." Harry sighed. "Great that's all we needed. Is he ok?" He asked as they walked deeper into the ship

"Well.." Terri said. "Being not really a tough guy, he kinda went off and sulked with his equipment. I think she scared him."

"Did Dr. Okan see to him yet?" Harry said.

"Yeah." Terri said. "I'm glad you're here, I can't deal with Fara when she's being hot-headed."

"I'll deal with it." Harry said grudgingly. In fact, a whole list of things to deal with it was racing through his mind. They finally reached the main door of engineering and Harry quickly climbed a ladder up to deck 2 just inside the door with Terri scurrying up the ladder. On deck two he walked through the archway into the main section of engineering where he spotted Fara.

Before she could say anything he thrust a finger at her. "Confinement, Quarters until further notice." He snapped. "NOW!"

Fara looked aghast from the suddenness of Harry's wrath and then shouted an epithet spiking her padd as she stormed out of the opposite door.

"Mr. Knackt." He said startling the Rat who was standing by Fara looking rather bewildered at the suddenness of his conversation suddenly coming to a halt. He quickly straightened his stance. "Yes sir!" He said crisply.

"You are in charge of overseeing Doctor Sarne installation of his equipment."

"Um.. Ok." Knackt replied. "I think I can handle that."

"Well you better because Ms. Lu is going to be assisting you in the meantime," Harry said.

"Ah well then no worries, sir." Knackt replied.

"Now where's Doctor Sarne?"

"Eh, he's off hiding in the main computer room. Follow me." Knackt said leading them out of main engineering.

Terri stooped over to pick up Fara's data padd. "I'll just pick up where she left off I suppose." She said seeing the padd was unfortunately on the fritz from being slammed into the ground.

Harry nodded in quiet satisfaction to her and then followed Knackt out of the forward compartment. They walked a few feet until they entered the room that held the main computer core of the raptor. In it they heard Dr. Sarne speaking with someone as they entered the room.

"Hey um I gotta get back to work so can I just..? " Knackt started to say.

"Yes you can go." Harry said hearing the two voices. "Doctor Sarne?" Harry said quietly as Knackt slipped back out of the room.

"Ah yes commander." Doctor Sarne said looking down on them from the next level up. "If you would care to join me up here."

Harry noticed the small bandage over his eyebrow as he climbed up to meet him.

Beside Doctor Sarne stood the hologram of a female fennec fox with black tipped ears, red long head fur with black hands and feet. The vixen appeared to be dressed in some sort of wraparound toga.

"Ah, my-my I forgot introductions yes." Doctor Sarne said. "This is Eve's interactive holographic interface."

"Charmed," Harry said.

He then noticed that the hologram tilted its head in polite acceptance of his complement. "A pleasure to meet you, commander." She said.

"She's more than just a simple hologram." Dr. Sarne said proudly. "Her main algorithms, as well as the computers are based off of my alpha wave patterns. So she acts and reacts like a real person she's even capable of adapting as such."

"Very intriguing," Harry said. "I apologize for the.." He said touching his finger to the same spot on Sarne's face as the injury. "Fara can be quite a lot to handle sometimes."

"Oh that." Dr. Sarne said. "I'm quite over that by now. She is quite the remarkable woman, and has deadly aim with thrown objects."

"Yes, unfortunately, that is one of her least desirable traits," Harry said. "Now I hear you need the command codes to access the main computer functions."

"Yes that is correct." Dr. Sarne said quietly.

"Well I am authorized to let you have access to the ship's systems in their entirety." Harry said. "Although for the record I am not too thrilled of this myself I don't want to impede your progress doctor. Computer." Harry began. "Release main command console Authorization Martinez Delta Theta Two Zero Niner. Allow doctor Dustin Sarne full access to all ships systems."

The computer made a few acknowledgment chirps. "Authorization Granted." It finally replied.

"Thank you, Commander, you won't regret this." Sarne said feeling quite relieved.

"Don't make me regret it, doctor." Harry said with a smile.

"Oh we won't, Sarne said touching the hologram in a strange paternal gesture on the arm. "Eve if you wouldn't mind please access the restricted subroutines."

The hologram nodded in agreement and Eve's control console came to life with lots of lights and digital readouts flaring to life. "I have accessed the Raptor's secondary systems and I am creating command protocols for them and…." She suddenly twitched and made a face.

"Doctor?" Harry said curiously noticing the holograms reaction..

"Eve what's wrong dear?" Sarne said concerned..

"I …. I… have it under control." The hologram said. "There was some anomalous feedbacks in the system. I have it under control now." The hologram smiled.

"I will check this out thoroughly." Dr. Sarne grumbled. "I am sure everything is fine though, are you ok?" He asked the hologram.

"I am fine Dr. Sarne." Eve replied.

Harry was a little worried but he tried to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He was considered a genius and had pretty much designed every computer system in use currently in the fleet. "You see Commander no need to worry. Eve was designed to take total control of a ship and run it with optimum efficiency."

"Total control?" Harry asked mulling it over quickly. "You mean … run the ship without a crew?"

"Yes." Sarne said excitedly. "Total control."

Harry was a bit unsettled. "But what would people do?"

"There are many other things a person can do than be out exploring the stars and risking their lives unnecessarily." Dr. Sarne said offhandedly. "I'm sure a highly educated person such as yourself could find many other pursuits to enjoy. My hope is that this test is fully successful and it will begin a new dawn of our journey into space. One where machines will take the risk, fight our wars for us and explore the unknown."
"I see." Harry said a bit unsettled. A horrifying vision of a room full of starship models completed because he had nothing better to do flashed into his mind's eye. "Well, we'll see about that doctor after all this is just a test."

Sarne's face showed a flash of annoyance.

"Is there anything else I can help you with?" Harry said wanting to get out of the room.

"No I am fine, thank you for your assistance." Dr. Sarne said. "I will see you when we start the trial run."

Harry nodded and headed for the exit and then he stopped when he ran into Lt. O'mara.

"Oh, excuse me sir." Michelle said stepping aside.

"Do you have a moment?" Harry asked.

"Yes I do what can I do for you, Commander?" O'mara said.

"Walk with me." Harry said straightening his posture and putting his hands behind his back. Michelle did so without question, Harry had become impressed with her. She had lost her stutter lately after the incident with the space pirates and she seemed to have gained a lot of her confidence back.

"What do you think of Dr. Sarne's new system? Has he told you anything about it."

Michelle preened her feathers in thought. "Well I think it's a step in the right direction. His last two attempts at quarto-tronic multiprocessing were total failures." She said flatly with a pause. "This new system is supposed to improve the automation on a starship to the point where they won't nearly need as many personnel to operate them."

"The way he talks there won't be any personnel at all." Harry said.

"That is one possible outcome yes." Michelle agreed.

"May I ask you a question?"

"Shoot sir." Michelle said.

"Can you think of any reason I would petty enough to actually feel threatened by a computer of all things?"

"Well." Michelle said thoughtfully. "If he actually were able to achieve full automation of a starship, then yes. Your job would be kind of pointless."

"Except for making sure the computer does what it's supposed to." Harry cut her off.

"Well… yeah." She said. "I didn't think of it that way."

Harry sighed.

"I can see why you feel threatened, even though recently being in space hasn't been the greatest thing to happen to me." She said. "I would be out of a job too."

"That is the heart of the dilemma."

Michelle sighed. "That's usually the crises with any form of automation. There is no sympathy for the person it makes obsolete until..."

"It happens to you yourself." Harry finished.

Michelle nodded.

"I don't know I'm all for using technology to further our own advances.." Harry said with a maudlin tone. "But to take purpose, from people. Everyone needs purpose and like it or not if we didn't feel like we had one out here why would we stay?"

"I agree but if it works." Michelle shrugged. "I guess I could go into geology, I got high marks in that in the academy. Rocks are great, they don't try to eat you and they are pretty much the same on any planet."

Harry rolled his eyes, he wasn't too surprised she said that.

"I don't know, I just see whole fleets of barely manned vessels exploring the galaxy, with the people only there to operate the computers and the computers doing all the work. It just bothers me." He sighed.

"That's one possibility but if it does mean anything to you. I'd rather serve under you, then having a damn computer give me orders if that makes you feel any better."

Harry cracked a small smile. "That's very kind of you." They rounded a corner and Harry grasped an access ladder and keyed the hatch.

"Sir, we just passed a turbo-lift."

Harry stepped onto the ladder and looked back at her. "I don't feel much like taking it." He said. "I'll see you at the tests Lieutenant."

When Harry had confined her to quarters he never specified which quarters so she had gone to her ships quarters.

"And then he just threw me out!" Fara sighed while she talked to the vid screen on her desk. On it was Nikolai Korova's face. A while back she had rigged her own private subspace channel through these quarters in case she ever needed it.

"Ah.." Nikolai nodded. "It must be a trend today. It's not a good day for engineers."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Donnika got uppity with me and overstepped her bounds. She's in much the same position." Nikolai said with a shrug.

Fara laughed a little, Donnika was Nikolai's twin sister who served on the Aether with him and the tension between them was even worse now that Nikolai had accepted the first officer position on the ship. Fara and Nikolai had been talking pretty consistently since they last saw each other.

"Although I don't think injuring the good doctor was a good idea." Nikolai finally added. "I told you that temper of yours would get you in trouble someday."

Fara smirked and leaned in towards the monitor. "Well it's only been three weeks since you left. I haven't exactly had any other ways to relieve tension."

Nikolai smiled and he turned slightly darker green. "I have to say I can relate to that."

"When are you guys going to be back by again?" Fara asked.

"Well I don't know." Nikolai responded. "The Captain has informed me that for the moment our location is classified."

"Damn." Fara sighed.

Nikolai shrugged. "Believe me Fara I would like to have some time off our last little brush fire we had to put out in the Corolii System is still giving me migraines."

"Yeah, I heard about that on the FedNet broadcast. Hell of a stroke of bad luck to run into that cluster fuck on basically your first day as number two man."

Nikolai smiled. "I handled it as best I could." He said with a shrug. "It tested even my great patience having to deal with both factions of the Corolis people. Not to mention if Captain De'sol wasn't so remarkably skillful in dealing with people during the negotiations it could have been a lot worse." The sound of a page went off. "One moment please," Nikolai said pausing the transmission.

Fara waited for a moment until his picture came back up. "That was Captain De'sol, I will have to go soon. Apologies."

"It's ok. Thanks for hearing me out." Fara smiled. "I appreciate it."

"You know Fara." Nikolai said like and afterthought. "For something that was not supposed to be a serious relationship. We sure talk an awful lot and you have contacted me every day."

"Why is that a problem?" Fara glared.

"No it isn't. I enjoy speaking with you." Nikolai said. "It was at first you were reluctant to move beyond what we were doing but your actions state otherwise."

"Well maybe I changed my mind and I miss you, a lot." She smiled. "..you big green dummy now shut up before you ruin that." Fara replied.

Nikolai smiled his toothy grin and his tail flicked behind him. "As you wish my lovely vixen. I have to go now, take care."

"You too." Fara replied.

Nikolai nodded and the channel closed.

Fara sighed and leaned back in her chair glancing at the chronometer and decided a nice shower would probably be the best course of action, followed by lunch to kill some time during her temporary exile.

The rest of the installation went pretty much as planned.

Towards the end of the day the Raptor was already powered back up and its new computer fully installed.

Fara had been released from her confinement and was already going over the Raptor with a fine tooth comb.

Harry had been called up to Captain Stiles' office again and when he arrived he noticed there was an Avian admiral with slightly faded reddish feathers standing in the office. Harry was aware that another ship had arrived during that day. He believed it was the Akira a Zimmerman class ship from what he saw from his quarters.

"Ah Commander, this is Admiral Leyton, he is in charge of the region of space. He's also here to supervise the war games the Raptor will be participating in tomorrow."

"A pleasure to meet you sir." Harry said offering his paw.

The avian gave him a slight look of disdain but returned the gesture coldly. "You too Commander. I have heard a lot about you."

"Hopefully nothing too bad." Harry still was trying to maintain some professional cordiality with this bird but finding his aloofness a bit irritating.

"Mmm you could say that." He said releasing Harry's paw. "Fleet Headquarters has sent me to oversee the tests taking place tomorrow. The Akira as well as the starships Aether, Fearless and Sphinx will be engaging the Raptor in simulated combat to test the Epsilon Version 3 computer's capabilities."

"So man against the machine." Harry said. "Sounds interesting. It'll be my pleasure."

"I'm sure." Leyton said dryly. He then reached down to Stiles' desk and retrieved a data padd. "These are your orders and the course we want the system to take the Raptor on. This is classified and you are only permitted to show it the most senior members of your bridge staff."

"Yes, sir." Harry said

"Good." Leyton smoothed his head feathers. "Well I have some business to attend to on my ship. If you will excuse me Captain, Commander." He said curtly before turning on his heal to leave Stiles' office.

"Sheesh." Harry said as soon as the door was closed. "What's his problem?"

Stiles laughed. "Admiral Leyton has never been a fan of the Predator Class project. Or you for that matter."

"What did I do?" Harry asked.

"He sees you as reckless and irresponsible and he generally is a giant pain in my ass with anything that ship or you do." Stiles sighed. "Yet, I can't really just tell him to jump into a lake. Believe me if it wasn't for my shielding you all the time he would make your life a living hell."

Harry nodded. "Thank you sir." He added.

"Bah don't mention it." Stiles said. "You looking forward to this?" He said pointing at the padd.

"To tell you the truth no." Harry sighed. "I have had a bad feeling about his after talking to doctor Sarne. Something doesn't seem right."
"Why do you say that?" Stiles said.

"It's his behavior. I saw him interacting with the computers holographic component and he treated it as if it were his child." Harry said remembering back to what he saw. "It was strange it was almost like he was acting as if it were alive."
Stiles scratched his head. "Dr. Sarne is a genius I'll give him that. He's been under tremendous pressure to develop this system. Epsilon Three is his most recent try at an advanced adaptive computing system. I'm sure he may be slightly frayed but his psyche evaluations are all on par."

Harry hmmed. "I suppose I shouldn't worry but my guts' never been wrong yet."
"I'm sure everything will be fine." Stiles said reassuringly. "By the way you need to choose what people you want on the ship."
"Excuse me?" Harry asked.

"Well part of the test is to rely on the systems automation. Meaning, Fleet HQ wants you to pick 20 people to be onboard for the test."
"You have got to be kidding." Harry sighed double-checking the orders and seeing this was true.

Stiles shrugged. "Look at it this way, at least the test won't take place anywhere near the border so even if something does happen at least you'll be stranded in our territory."

"Thanks… that's really helpful." Harry grumbled

Harry had decided to keep his bridge staff making up including himself and Doctor Okan making up at least seven of the people. Okan requested his chief nurse just in case and then Harry let Fara pick the rest of the people she wanted for engineering. As Harry stepped onto the bridge that was busy with his people preparing the ship for departure he couldn't help but feel that the ship seemed rather empty.

The coordinates and protocols had been fed into the Epsilon Three and Dr. Sarne had told them that the computer was ready to begin the simulation. He stood on the bridge by the rear systems control panel looking rather satisfied feeding last minutes instructions into the computer system.

"Doctor, I take it the Epsilon three is ready for action."

"Yes Commander. In fact as soon as you are ready to depart the computer will start its task."

"Very well." Harry said as he took a seat he noticed Dr. Okan had entered the bridge and was looking on curiously at the goings-on.

"Alright, everyone ready?" Harry asked.

"All stations are secure and reporting ready." Terri replied.

"I'm ready when you are skip." Land said.

"All weapons have been properly calibrated for the simulations," Jakar reported. "We shouldn't have any problems."

"All systems showing green sir." Lt. Rivas reported.

"I'm ready." O'mara said getting settled in her station and activating the ships sensor array.

"Very well, Mr. Land Diseng…" Harry began but the computer suddenly interrupted him. "Releasing Docking Clamps." There was the sound of the hard point disconnecting as well as the ships umbilical systems. Several consoles lit up as the ship's computer took over their operations.

"Permission to leave space dock has been granted. Umbilical separation complete." Eve's voice said through the speakers. "Engines set to one-quarter reverse impulse."

The Raptor drifted slowly back out of its docking bay and fired its thrusters to turn towards the docking doors.

"Well…" Land said sort of disappointed and putting his paws in his lap. "I guess I'll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs then."

"Don't be worried. The Epsilon three is capable of performing anything a sentient person can do almost flawlessly." Dr. Sarne said triumphantly.

"Well la de da." Land sighed although Sarne ignored him. He glanced down at his control console. "Well it looks like we're setting a course for the Sigma Carians system."

Harry heard and felt the shudder of the engines as they powered up and the ship jumped to warp.

"Very impressive doctor." Harry heard himself say.

"So what are we supposed to do skip?" Land said a bit perturbed and spinning his chair to face Harry.

"Don't you see?" Dr. Sarne smiled broadly. "That's the whole point we don't have to do anything, anything that occurs the Eve will take care of it."

"Eve?" Land said raising an eyebrow.

"It's an acronym for the computer system," Harry said. "And as for what to do, I guess sit back and enjoy the ride."

The journey to the Sigma Carians system was pretty uneventful. The Raptor dropped out of warp before it entered the system and achieved a perfect flawless orbit around the planet, all compliments of the newly installed computer system.

"Well Mr. Land your opinion of the Epsilon Three's Performance."

Jack huffed a bit frustrated. "Were in a perfectly stable orbit, no minor course corrections, every single reading is perfect, sir." Jack sighed. "Good god this thing is making con officers all over, look bad."

"Ok well, our next mission was to investigate the ruins on the planet," Harry said shrugging. "I'm supposed to place my recommendation and match it against the computers," Harry said stroking his chin in thought. "I'd probably take myself, Ms. O'mara and Specialist Dannachek."
"Why do you get to go down?" Land asked.

"Well I have a little experience in archeology and I would find it interesting," Harry said. "Doctor your turn."
Dr. Sarne nodded and touched the direct tie in console in the back of the bridge. "Eve for the second part of your evaluation who would you choose for an away team."

"Working." Eve replied through a speaker. "Away team recommendations are as followed. Science officer O'mara, Specialist Dannachek, Specialist Korya. That is all."

Harry looked a little perplexed he got out of his chair and walked over to the terminal. "Epsilon Three why was I not chosen, I have some experience in the field."

"Non essential personnel." The computer replied.

Harry looked as if he had been slapped in the face.

"Well, I guess that proves that the Epsilon three is more than capable of making logical decisions when it comes to away teams." Doctor Sarne gloated.

"Yeah, it does." Harry said flatly. "Well, I suppose with that little part of the test over. We should proceed to the next part of the tests then. Computer, you may move to the next waypoint."

"Affirmative, Course plotted laid in preparing to break orbit," Eve responded.

Harry turned to leave the bridge.

"Commander." Dr. Sarne said. "Where are you going?"

"To sickbay," Harry said forcing a wane yet friendly smile. "I have a headache."

"Commander, do you mind if I join you?" Terri asked concerned removing her earbud.

"You may." Harry said. "Mr. Rivas, you have the con." He said exiting through the aft doors.

"Sir are you ok?" Terri asked.

"Nope." Harry said. "Nonessential personnel." He grumbled. He stopped at a ladder and toed the switch making the floor hatch open. He stepped aside and allowed Terri to go first.

She thanked him and slid down the ladder and hopped out of the way. He soon slid down after her and the hatch slid shut again.

"I'm sure you are just thrilled about all of this." He said.

Terri shrugged. "I find it fascinating. I will admit I am impressed."

"It called me nonessential." Harry grumbled heading down the hall the short distance to sickbay.

"Don't you think you may be just a tad bit overreacting?" Terri said gently.

Harry stopped, took a deep breath and let it go. "Maybe, slightly." He said holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart."

Terri nodded understandingly. "So now what are you going to do?"
Harry smirked. "Like I said I have a headache, I'm going to see if Doctor Okan has anything that might help."
Suddenly a chime went off. "Rydel to Lu." Jenna Rydel's voice said from Terri's combadge.

"Yes?"
"I'm picking up some strange readings from the upper memory processes you'd probably better get down here."

"Is it anything serious?" Harry asked.

"Not sure yet commander. I'd say more suspicious but I don't see anything bad yet."

"Inform the good doctor and keep me apprised," Harry said. "Terri you'd probably better go."
"Ok." She said. "I'll see you back on the bridge."
Harry nodded and then stepped inside sickbay.

"Captain, what brings you down here?" Dr. Okan said looking up from a set of boiling vials and a molecular scanner read out.

"I have a headache?"
"One of your migraines?" Dr. Okan asked curiously.

"No a Sarne type of headache."

Dr. Okan tilted his head in amusement. "Give me a moment, I think I've got something for that."

Dr. Okan got off the stool he was seated on and disappeared into his office, He came back with a tumbler and a glass.

"What's that?" Harry asked.

"Suta Whiskey." He said. "It should help relieve that headache just a little bit." He said pouring Harry a glass. "So feeling a bit intimidated about this new computer aren't we?"

Harry quickly downed the small slug and coughed not expecting the sharp burn of the liquid. "Possibly."

Dr. Okan nodded and poured himself a slug as well. "To the continuing threat of obsolescence."

Harry grunted and they clinked glasses.

"Well let me share something with you if you don't mind." He said pouring one more glass. "That's all you get, so savor it."

Harry nodded in response as Okan put the tumbler away. "When they came up with the Holographic Doctors initially. A lot of people in my field were in a panic. They could do everything a trained physician can do. Not to mention do it to near perfection, yet a lot of people don't like them." Dr. Okan paused in thought. "There was a push to try to get them to take the place of a starship physician but it turned out that most people didn't want anything to do with them. They said they lacked a certain amount of compassion and most people were turned off by their bluntness. Hell, I myself only use it as a replacement when one of my staff is not present or when we are getting overwhelmed down here in a battle situation. In fact, I have it helping Nurse Twila take inventory at the moment. As you can see I don't think we're going to be very busy." He paused and took the glass from Harry. "So what caused this "headache"."

"The damned thing called me "nonessential personnel," Harry muttered. "Not to mention Sarne just stood there acting like it was some benevolent proclamation handed down from the gods or something."

"Ah.. I see."

Harry nodded and handed his glass back to Doctor Okan. "Thank you."

"For the drink or the story?"

"For both," Harry replied. "They both helped."

"Glad I could be of assistance, Commander." Dr. Okan said nodding.

"Can I ask you one little favor?" Harry asked.

"Anything sir. It's not like I have too much to do at the moment."
"I've seen some strange behavior from Dr. Sarne can you maybe take a good look at his psych profile, something is telling me there is something quite odd afoot."
"I will endeavor to do my best captain." Dr. Okan replied.

"Thanks."

Terri arrived in the Raptor's computer core room and spotted Jenna Rydel.

"What's up?" She asked.

"Well I know how you and Michelle have been using your little AI programs to help you out up top but I think there might be a problem," Jenna said with worry in her voice.
"How's that?" Terri asked. "They don't do anything obtrusive into the main system I should know I created them."

"Yes but the Epsilon Three is very obtrusive in fact it's integrated every operation of the ship into its own processes," Jenna said with concern. "It started integrating your little programs not soon after it came online from what I can tell. And I've been monitoring it sense then and it seems to be operating a bit strange it keeps calling for more and more system memory and resources."

"How much more?"
"We're up to about seventy-nine thousand tetra quads," Jenna replied. "That's way more then any computer should be calling for."

"I'll let Harry know," Terri said looking at the readouts and frowning. "You are right this is strange."

Just then the Epsilon Three did a ship-wide hail. "All bridge officers are required to report to the bridge at their earliest convenience, the second part of the Epsilon Three's test is about to begin."

Terri chewed her lip nervously. "I'll inform Harry, you just keep an eye on it if you can." She then turned and headed for the exit on her way to the bridge.

"Sure I don't have much else to do at the moment." Jenna shrugged.

Harry arrived back on the bridge. "Helm what's our ETA."

"Another ten minutes at our present speed," Jack replied whom out of frustration had taken to twirling his thumbs with the computer doing his job for him.

"Good." Harry said. He was wanting to get this over as soon as possible.

Suddenly an alarm sounded over on the operations station.

"Mr. Rivas?" Harry said.

The wolf looked at his controls. "That's odd we just lost power to deck 3."

"Do you know why?"

"No… I don…" He stopped. "What the hell? We just lost main power on deck 4 excluding the engineering section, as well as power deck 5 has been lost as well."

"Doctor…" Harry said.

Sarne looked a little unsettled but he tapped the button on his tie in console. "Ev…. Epsilon Three, why did you shut down power on decks 3 through 5?"

"Those sections are currently uninhabited by any personnel it is inefficient to keep providing power to them in order to improve the Raptor's performance." The computer replied.

"Bridge just what the hell is going on up there?" Fara's voice came over the speakers. "I've got power shutting down all over the ship!"

"It's nothing to be concerned about yet Chief," Harry replied. "It's the Epsilon Three trying to make the ship more efficient."

"Oh well that's just dandy, tell the damn thing to stop turning off the damn lights! It dampened the damn illumination down here and some of us can't see that well in dimmer light! Not only that but that damn thing is drawing more and more power from the engines as we go along."

"Noted Chief just keep an eye on it." Harry said patiently.
"Aye." Fara groused as the channel cut off.

"It's nothing to worry about Commander." Dr. Sarne said reassuringly. "The system is just getting settled in."

"Well tell it if it's going to be making any more decisions on the operations of this ship without my consent. If it is intelligent it can learn to take a few orders can't it."

"Well yes but that's not the…."
"Tell it if it wishes to tamper any further with the operation of my vessel it is going to have to present it to me for authorization same as my chief engineer would is that understood."

Dr. Sarne blanched slightly, started to move his mouth to say something and then changed his mind. "I'll… I'll see what I can do." He suddenly turned his back to them and started talking to the machine.

Harry rubbed his temple tiredly.

"Captain.." Terri Lu said quietly.

"Yes."
"Incoming transmission from the starship Aether."

"On screen."

"Commander. How nice to see you again." Captain Jayna De'Sol said kindly on the viewer. "Are you ready for the test?"

"I think so." He turned to Jakar. "Phasers down to bare minimum power, just a nudge them and prep the launchers for the dummy torpedoes."

"Aye Sir." Jakar replied.

"The Epsilon Three won't begin the test until we arrive at the preset coordinates," Harry said flatly. "

Captain De'Sol nodded. "Well be getting there not soon after you do. I just wanted to wish you and the doctor good luck. We'll see if that computer can handle our little war game. I've got something up my sleeve to see if I can catch it off guard. I'm looking to see what that little ship of yours can do."

Harry nodded politely in response. "I'm sure you'll be surprised, we'll see you at the rendezvous point Captain."

Jayna nodded and the viewer winked back to a streaking star-field.

A few moments ticked by and the Raptor dropped out of warp at the pre-programmed coordinates.

"Starship Aether has sent the engagement signal, Epsilon Three has answered it." Terri reported

"Thank you, lieutenant." Harry said. "What is their location Jakar?"

"They are coming in at high warp," Jakar replied. "The Computer has not seemed to respond yet."

"Captain I think I have the little issue straightened out." Dr. Sarne said suddenly speaking up. "Just some minor confusion on its part on proper protocols. I assure you it won't happen again."

"I hope it doesn't," Harry said not even turning to acknowledge him he then glanced up as the klaxons started sounding. "A bit slow there on the response, Doctor." Harry said flatly as the ship's automation took over and the down powered weapons came online.

"Three dummy torpedoes launched from vector three-zero-four mark fifteen," Jakar reported.

The three dummy torpedoes dropped out of warp space and flew towards the Raptor. An instant before they hit the Raptor suddenly lurched to the side doing an aileron roll through space moving perpendicular to the torpedoes' path and fired a wide barrage of phaser blasts. No sooner than it did the Aether Dropped out of warp and four of the seven beams of the barrage scored direct hits on the Aether's Engineering section before its shields readjusted back to normal space. The Aether then quickly jumped back into Warp and attempted to swing around for another pass.

"Damn that was fast." Commander Korova said in amazement. Jayna D'sol cursed under her breath, the damn computer should not have seen that coming.

"How bad is it?"

"Simulated damage on decks 18 through 25." Nikolai reported tapping his console. Nacelle number two is offline, heavy casualties."

"Son of a bitch, only one volley and they basically took out engineering," Jayna said shaking her head. "Better tell your sister she may as well go on break till this is over she's "unofficially" dead."

"I'm sure she won't take to kindly to it, Captain," Nikolai smirked. "The Raptor is accelerating towards us on an intercept course."

"Helm as soon as they are within firing range prepare attack pattern De'sol Theta three!" Jayna ordered.

The Raptor rapidly closed the distance between it and the Aether and it fired a full volley at the other ship. However, the Aether quickly dropped out of Warp moments before any hits were registered. The Raptor continued to accelerate staying in warp space and quickly came about.

"She's trying another high warp feint maneuver," Jakar reported. "The computer is already planning an intercept course. Here she comes."

The Aether reappeared in Warp space all weapons firing doing a full attack roll. The bridge crew grasped onto their stations as the ship did a tight somersault through the maelstrom, causing the G-Diffuser lag to blur things momentarily. The phasers were heard again discharging as well as the torpedo launchers firing their dummy rounds.

And then as quickly as it began the Aether signaled a stop to the exercise. Both ships returned to normal space and sat facing each other.

"Truly magnificent isn't it!" Dr. Sarne said cheerfully as everyone else tried to clear their heads of the G-Diffuser lag from the high-speed maneuver.

"The Aether is hailing us sir." Terri said.

"On screen," Harry said rubbing his temples.

Captain De'Sol appeared looking quite frustrated but trying to maintain some humility. "On behalf of the crew of the Aether I award this engagement to the Raptor with compliments to the Epsilon Three computer system." She said levelly. "Each simulated hit delivered to our ship was a critical hit to sensitive areas causing massive casualties, we didn't have much to go on after that second pass."

"Don, what was our damage," Harry said in amazement.

Don Rivas tallied up the hits. "Simulated Minor Damage to Sector 4 of the shield grid. No casualties."

"Well, Commander," Jayna said with a tone of sadness in her voice. "We might as well start putting out resumes. We will be heading off to the second location for the test, I hope it goes better for us the second time. Ciao Commander Martinez."

"See you there, Captain." Harry replied as the screen switched back to star field.

"Phoenix to bridge."

"Yes Fara what is it." Harry replied.

"Ah good exactly who I hoped would answer can you come down here for a moment or two."
"Sure, I'll be right down." Harry said. "Congratulations Doctor." He said flatly before heading out of the bridge.

"I don't think your C.O. likes me too much." Sarne muttered to Terri Lu. "That was the most lifeless compliment I've ever gotten."

Terri made a few adjustments on her console and adjusted her earbud. "I wouldn't say that I'd say he doesn't like your system."

"I don't see why not this system is supposed to make his job easier to relieve him from the burden of decisions he has to face sometimes."

"That may be true." Terri said. "But how would you feel if there was a machine that could build and design itself?"

Sarne scratched his head. "I don't understand." He finally shrugged. "People use machines every day to accomplish many things.. Ms. Lu you are an accomplished computer specialist yourself surely you can appreciate what all this means?"

Terri shook her head and sighed. "Yeah I do, but." She paused thinking about it. "There's nothing gained from it, sure space faring is hazardous but if we can't learn something about ourselves or about our universe then what's the point?"

* * *

Computer Core Room.

The Epsilon Three sat churning away as it began to fully take over the vessels last remaining subsystems. Its diagnostic routines were still focusing on what had caused the glitch back at space dock but there had yet to be any after effects. Managing the Raptor's complex and various systems were taxing it pretty well but it was more than up to the challenge.

Suddenly it accessed one of the last command and control subroutines and its console suddenly lit up with a symphony of light. A warning chime sounded and suddenly the computer shut down.

A few moments past and then its main screen clicked back on and a stream of strange alien hieroglyphs floated past on the screen and suddenly every light and switch glowed green briefly. Something shorted out in the room and smoke boiled out of a panel in a nearby wall.

A few more alarms sounded on the console but it quickly reset itself and came back online however something was different.

"As you can see the Epsilon three has greatly increased its memory capacitance and its internetworking exponentially since we started," Fara said with a worried tone in her voice. She tapped the big engineering view board with her stylus and scrolled the images on it to a power schematic of the ship. "It's also using up to about 40% of our available power. That's why I wanted to talk to you in person and not to Dr. Sarne."

Harry stared at the data readouts and rubbed his forehead. "Do you have any idea why?"

"No I don't, the schematics that Dr. Sarne provided didn't even mention needing this much power for just for standard operations yet it's gradually drawing more and more the longer its in operation." Fara groused. "All I can tell you sir is my gut is telling me that something is not right. And this is not even going over the various strange glitches my people have been catching here and there." She touched the big screen and it returned to a typical deck schematic of the ship.

"What kind of "glitches"?" Harry asked.

"There has been at least six separate instances of the Epsilon Three using the auto repair features to.." She said the word like one would pronounce cockroach. "Increase performance on certain ship systems. Also…"

Fara walked over to the main display table where a parts tray sat with a strange part in it.
"What's this?" Harry asked picking it up and looking at it. "It looks like some sort of optical recording device."

"That's what I thought. Knackt found it over there." She said pointing to a corner of the ceiling in the room. "I think it was constructed by the nano-technology that makes up the auto repair systems."

Harry rolled the small device in his hand examining it.

This situation was definitely getting stranger and stranger. .

"My full opinion is we should probably jerk the plug and figure out just what the hell is going on."
"Fara you know I can't do that." Harry sighed.

"Yeah, yeah." Fara scowled. "Don't remind me, but don't blame me if something does happen."

"I'll keep that in mind chief."

Suddenly the red alert klaxon sounded and the suddenly dull thuds of the ablative armor engaging shook the deck. The core started to come to life and its thrumming increased as the ship accelerated.

"What in the hell!?" Harry said out loud. "Martinez to bridge what is going on up there."

"Unknown sir." Jakar's voice replied. "We spotted a freighter on long range sensors and Epsilon Three went to full alert status. You had better get up here."

"On my way." Harry replied.

Harry arrived on the bridge in a short time. "Time to intercept."

"Less than one minute, sir" Jakar reported as Harry sat down in his chair.

"Helm control is locked out and still under computer control." Land said a bit worried trying to get the computer to release control.

"Ms. Lu have you contacted the freighter."
"Yes, but it's an automated freighter, no crew." Terri replied.

"We have locked weapons onto the freighter." Jakar reported.

"Dr. Sarne, get your computer to disengage immediately." Harry snapped.

"I'm trying commander." Sarne snapped back.

"Torpedoes away!" Jakar announced.

A full spread of torpedoes leapt from the Raptors forward launcher and they streaked towards the defenseless freighter with blinding speed and slammed one after the other into the ships hull. The Freighter seemed to crumple in the middle for a moment before it disappeared in a brilliant flash leaving nothing but shrapnel and dust.

Harry flinched and held his hand up to shield from the glare of the screen. He then quickly whipped around and snarled at Doctor Sarne. "That computer of yours just maliciously destroyed and unarmed freighter. Regardless of my orders, this simulation is over."

"But but it was just a simple malfunc…."

Harry got out of his chair. "Disengage the Epsilon Three now! Is that understood! Martinez to Phoenix, meet me in the Computer Core ASAP." He then gestured to the door and Dr. Sarne, reluctantly left the bridge.

Harry entered the core room with Dr. Sarne, Fara, and a few crewmen.

"First thing I want is cut the power cables from the…" And suddenly he hit an force field and was knocked to the ground. Fara called for Dr. Okan as she rushed over to Harry who was dazed on the floor. He was stunned and seemed unhurt as Fara helped him back to his feet.

Eve, the computer's holographic interface formed in front of the system. "You are not authorized to access this unit."

"Doctor!" Harry snapped still reeling from the sting of the force field. About that time Dr. Okan and his head nurse entered the room and Harry waved him off.

"Eve…" Dr. Sarne stuttered. "I need to take a look at your primary directives. I believe there is a slight malfunction."

Eve cocked her head to the side. "Results of Level One Diagnostic show that this unit is functioning at or above design parameters. Do you not trust my analysis?"
"I do, I do." Dr. Sarne said levelly. "I just want to make sure as your creator that there is nothing wrong.
Eve seemed to think about it for a moment. "Access Granted, For Dr. Sarne only."

The force field dropped just long enough for Dr. Sarne to get close to the unit and access its control screen. "Eve…" He said. "Why did you attack that freighter?"

"We are under test conditions the ship was within attack range." Eve replied.

"I understand that my dear but why did you engage the ships weapons?" Dr. Sarne said trying his best to keep the computer distracted as he accessed its central command interface.

"This units primary directives are too…"

As they chatted Dr. Okan stepped up to Harry and whispered. "Will you look at that he's talking to it like it's a person."
"Strange…" Fara said. "I've been known to call the Raptor a thing or two but never talk to it like that…."

"Eve the attack on that freighter was not provoked you are not to attack defenseless friendly vessels." Dr. Sarne said sternly to the holographic interface. "You can't act so impulsive you are better than that my dear."

Eve shook her head and simply replied. "I do not understand. You have said to this unit that if we do not succeed this unit will be terminated."

"Not terminated," Sarne said apologetically. "I will just have to make another revision." He said sadly

"This unit does not wish to be revised, Epsilon Three the next evolution in qudra-tronic processing."

"It's not a person he's talking to…" Harry said listening in. "It's like he's talking to his child. Fara while they're busy disconnect the power relays in engineering."
Fara nodded for agreement and she took her two crewmen with her.

"Doctor.." Harry said patiently seeing the Holographic Interface turn off.

"I am working on it commander. I've shut down her.. the computers main subroutines. You should be able to pull the plug." Dr. Sarne said sadly as he passed through the area where the force field had been. "Eve shouldn't cause you any more problems."

Harry tapped his combadge. "Bridge do we have helm control back?"
"Aye, Aye Skip." Land replied than paused and the sound of an unresponsive console. "Sorry Harry, helm is not responding. The Epsilon Three still has control."

"Gods damn it." Harry snapped.

He glanced behind the doctor to see the system had managed to reactivate itself. "Doctor, do something about your machine!"

"I don't understand I had her shut down." Dr. Sarne said panicking.

"That's it we're pulling the damn plug on that thing." Harry growled.

As they entered engineering Harry saw Fara barking orders to her people. Harry followed her through the main control center into the core room and stood to the side watching, deep in thought. Whatever was going on he did not like it one bit.

In a few moments Fara had rounded up a crewman, Ensign Briggs, whom Harry had recognized as one of Fara's regulars, and the appropriate tools and set to work on disconnecting the main power relay.

"How long?" Harry asked.

"Probably a few minutes." Fara suggested.

"Good the sooner that thing's disconnected the better I'll feel."

Fara sighed and leaned against the bulkhead beside him with her arms folded and smirked with a face that said "I told you so."

"Fara don't even start." Harry warned.

"I wasn't even going to say anything." Fara said innocently with a shrug.

Harry turned to watch the crewmen work. "You know Fara…. " He stopped as he suddenly saw a bright flash emit from where the crewman was standing. He flinched trying to shield his eyes and then saw a red mist followed by something wet and warm hitting him along with a hot mist washing over him. Someone on the upper deck screamed.

Harry looked down on his tunic and saw what appeared to be a chunk of flesh rolling down the front of him and then it hit him what had happened.

A surge of power had erupted from the power junction and had killed Ensign Briggs covering the deck in a fine mess of gore, blood and bone fragments. An force field quickly appeared over the power conduit. Harry turned to see Fara in a state of near shock staring down at the blood splatter that had hit her.

Harry looked over at the mess as he felt a surge of anger rip through him. There would be no point in calling sickbay, there was nothing to be done. Just then Dr. Sarne entered the room and Harry couldn't recall how he had bounded over to him, nor got a hold of his collar and slammed the Doctor against the bulkhead.

"What is the meaning of this!" Dr. Sarne said somewhat terrified.

"YOUR COMPUTER JUST KILLED ONE OF MY MEN!" Harry snapped slamming him against the bulkhead.

"But but that's impossible that can't…." He said quickly glancing around and seeing the mess all around the room.

Harry growled and got in his face. "I don't care Doctor, my man just died and you are directly responsible!" Harry released him.

"Hey captain." Knackt said tugging at his arm.

"What!" Harry snapped.

"Slight problem, I think Fara's gone bye bye." Knackt said as he pointed over to Fara who was now slumped against the wall with her knees drawn up to her chest and Jenna Rydel kneeling down and talking to her.

Jakar suddenly arrived on scene with two security officers and looked around. "Sir what happened. Are you ok?"
"I'll explain later." Harry growled. "Confine Dr. Sarne to his quarters and get somebody down here to clean this mess up." He then turned to Knackt. "Mr. Knackt can you get that system cut off through the auxiliary power junctions."

"Yeah I can I'll get on it." Knackt said.

"Get your stuff I'll be after you shortly." Harry said walking over to Fara as Knackt skittered off. He knelt down beside Fara and spoke softly to her.

"Fara.. I need you. Come on." Fara simply just stared straight ahead and quivered. This little shock considering what she had already been through had seemed to put her in a catatonic state. He looked up to Jenna. "Ms. Rydel Get her to sickbay."

Jenna nodded, looking concerned and said something gently to Fara as she helped her to her feet and out of engineering. "You ready Captain?" Knackt said as he headed out.

Harry nodded and slapped his combadge. "Lt. O'mara please meet Mr. Knackt at junction fourteen ASAP."

"Aye, sir." O'mara replied. "Knackt I'll be with you shortly I need to change."

Knackt nodded and headed off.

Harry headed out of engineering and peeled off his tunic and quickly tossed it into a collector as he walked past it. He quickly headed for a locker room and changed trying to regain his composure of the loss of his crewman. He had came damn close to turning the back of Dr. Sarne's head into a paste against the bulkhead, but he had to maintain control. He focused on compartmentalizing the tragedy aside to be dealt with later, as he took his uniform off and quickly hopped into a shower and got the blood and gore off him. By the time he was done, and dressed again, his usual calm demeanor had returned. He quickly headed for Knackt's location.

"Report." Harry said as he approached Lt. O'mara.

"Knackt's working on it right now sir." Michelle replied. "We just located the junction and he's disabling it right now."

Faint cursing could be heard funneling out of the. Maintenance tube as Knackt did the repairs. "You got that damn power shunt shut off?!" He yelled down to Michelle.

"Yes for the fifth time!" Michelle snapped back at him.

"EY I just saw that stupid computer waste a guy I don't want to end my illustrious carrer as a rigger in a similar manner!" Knackt snapped back.

"Are you ready to disconnect the power." Harry shouted patiently down the tube.

There was an audible clicking sound, followed by a slight shudder as the ship decelerated and Harry's com-badge sounded.

"Bridge to Commander Martinez." Terri's voice said.

"Yes what is it."

"The Epsilon Three has released control of the Raptor, but we've lost a few other subsystems as well, we've also dropped out of warp and are at a dead stop."

"Understood I'll be up shortly." Harry sighed.

COMMANDERS LOG: SUPPLEMENTAL

The Raptor is currently dead in space approximately three light years from our rendezvous with the fleet. The ship's communications are offline making it impossible for us to make contact with Admiral Leyton's test fleet. Fara is under sedation Dr. Okan says she will be fine but she just needs some rest. Engineer's mate Knackt has assumed her role as Chief Engineer

"Mr. Knackt, do you have helm control restored." Harry asked tapping the com button on the vacant engineering station.

"You betcha," Knact replied. "I had to jury rig the control systems but we should be ready to go."

"Mr. Land?"

Jack activated his station. "We've got flight control."

"Good . Ms. Lu status on the communications."

Terri was sitting on her knees reaching into the open access panel under her station. "I'm working as fast as I can sir." She said apologetically.

Harry nodded and then felt the ship suddenly accelerate.

"Mr. Land I didn't order for us to move out just yet."

"Skipper, it wasn't me." Jack said spinning in his chair and quickly back to his station. "We've resumed our course."

"Somebody tell me what is going on here!" Harry demanded.

"I'm on it." Michelle announced from her station. "Don, scan control circuit 817-j26. Is it active."

Lt. Commander Rivas quickly did as told. "Yes."

"Ok what about j29?"

Don tapped a few circuits. "It appears to be shorted."

"Translate, people. Some of us don't know the internal schematics by heart." Harry said patiently.

"Essentially, Commander." Michelle said with a nervous gulp. "We've been playing silly buggers. The Epsilon Three made it appear that it has released control of our primary systems now it seems that it has rerouted every possible control function to it."

"So we're now totally at that machines mercy." Harry growled.

"It would appear so." Michelle said apologetically.

Harry cursed and plopped down in his chair.

A button on Terri's console flashed and Terri hopped up into her chair and adjusted her ear bud. "Captain the Epsilon Three has just acknowledged Admiral Leyton's fleet call to begin the test engagement."

"Tell them to veer off warn them off if you can."

Terri worked her buttons quickly and didn't respond and Harry got out of his chair and went back to assist. "What's the problem Ms. Lu? Tell them to veer off."
"I'm trying sir!" Terri snapped. "No response, I'm totally locked out."

The sound of the ablative armor engaging resounded through the hull and the red alert sounded.

"Captain, we have gone to Attack mode!" Jakar announced. "All weapons are going hot."
"Those ships won't have a chance!" Harry snapped. They would be expecting a training exercise not the Raptor's entire complement of weapons ripping into them.

"Jakar! Get Dr. Sarne up here right now!" Harry snapped and Jakar got up and quickly left the bridge. He climbed back into the Captains chair and steepled his fingers in front of his muzzle.

Those ships were flying right into a slaughter and they weren't even aware of it.
Jakar quickly returned with the Doctor in toe.
"Dr. Sarne your machine is about ready to open fire on four defenseless starships do something about it!" Harry snapped.

Sarne looking bewildered nodded in agreement walking to the auxiliary station. "Eve, this is Dr. Sarne please respond."

"Dr. Sarne, acknowledged." Epsilon Three Replied.

"Cancel your attack on the approaching vessels."
"Negative, the test must be completed, Dr. Sarne."

"But you can't, those ships are defenseless." Dr. Sarne said sternly.

"If Epsilon Three does not pass this test. Then the Epsilon Three will be discontinued. Epsilon Three does not wish to be discontinued."

"Captain!" Land suddenly shouted. "The Aether is approaching on a attack vector."

Jayna….. Harry thought. "SARNE. Do something." He snapped.
"I'm trying damn you!" Dr. Sarne snapped.

"The Aether has just entered our attack range." Jakar announced coldly.

"This is highly unorthodox for you Jayna." Commander Nikolai Korova said in his chair to Captain De'Sol. "Just blatantly charging them?"

Jayna smirked. "I am not going to be bested by a computer I'm hoping it will not expect this from last time. Lt. Serin, let them have it."

"My Pleasure sir." The female Avian replied.

"The Aether is firing its weapons," Jakar replied. "We've locked target."

Harry said nothing he was staring at the screen so hard his stare could have burnt a hole into it.

"All weapons firing."

All at once the Raptor's Phaser banks opened fire and struck into the defenseless Aether's hull two volleys followed from the Pulse phaser and three torpedoes belched forth from the Raptor's forward launcher.

The phaser beams tore viscous scars into the Aether's unprotected hull rending metal and superstructure asunder. The pulse phasers soon followed tearing oval shaped gaps along the opposite side of the Aether's saucer section sending vents of superheated gas and debris flying up and away from the vessels The Torpedoes struck the vessel just forward of the bridge another slamming into the port nacelle and the third into the top nacelle. The port nacelle exploded flying into maelstrom of shredded metal and drive plasma rending a terrible wound up the support strut.

Meanwhile the Akira, Fearless and Sphinx quickly moved into attack unaware of what had just happened.

"Admiral something is wrong." Leyton's tactical officer reported. "I'm reading major damage on the Aether."

"What are you talking about put it on screen?" Leyton said spinning around in his chair.

The screen shifted to show the Aether taking hit after hit from the Raptor and the Raptor suddenly coming about and unleashing a volley of torpedoes toward them and the other two vessels.

"SHIELDS!" Leyton shrieked hitting the red alert button on the arm of his chair. "Alert the Sphinx and Fearless."

And then the torpedoes slammed into the Akira's forward shields.

They never even knew what had hit them.

Jayna saw the torpedo launch from the Raptor's and felt the ship shudder under the onslaught but it was so sudden so quick she couldn't react. The Aether shuddered horribly under the onslaught and the Klaxons sounded and Reports started pouring in. The last thing she saw was a blinding flash and she felt shrapnel slice into her arm and leg followed by a wash of intense heat and the rush of escaping atmosphere. She felt the emergency restraints and force fields quickly envelope her and when her vision faded from a white cloud. The front part of the bridge was gone.

Her hearing was now just a loud ring and she looked to her side seeing Nikolai seemingly as equally as bewildered and a bit injured as well his yellow Altarian blood staining his chair. Jayna flipped open the arm on her command chair and activated the micro transporter and what remained of the ships command staff was beamed to the ships secondary bridge.

As they materialized she noticed that out of her bridge crew only Nikolai and her remained. She winced feeling a sharp pain in her side and seeing blood start to pull at her boots. "Medical team to Auxiliary control, Priority. Second bridge shift report to Auxiliary control room immediately."

She plopped down in the main control station. "Nikolai…" she gasped. "Can you."

"Working on it." He grunted. "Port and Dorsal Nacelles are gone, multiple hull breaches, casualties reported on all decks."

"What the fuck happened….?" Jayna gasped as the medical team arrived and her ships physician started to work on her.

"We were hit by the Raptor's primary weapons systems." Nikolai reported.

"Warn the others…" Jayna said.

"Too late, they are already engaged…" Nikolai reported. "they are attacking the Fearless and the Sphinx."

My god Harry… what have you done… Jayna thought.

The Ishaka Class starship Fearless floated through space it's hull broken and scoured by the Raptor's weapons. It was broken and dead a lifeless hulk plasma streaming from its shattered form bleeding from dead engines all power gone. Nearby the Sphinx shuddered under a lethal volley of photon torpedoes that slammed into its engineering hull and breached its core.

The bridge crew of the Raptor could only watch in Horror as the Sphinx exploded in a violent flash of light.

Harry chewed his lip, as the Raptor moved off. He turned to Doctor Sarne. "That's eight hundred people your damn machine has just killed." He said furiously. "Do something."

"Commander, I've done everything I can the Epsilon Three will not respond to my commands." Sarne stammered.

He felt the shudder of the deck as the torpedo launcher fired again. His ship was now in pursuit of Admiral Leyton's Akira.

The torpedoes slammed into the aft pylons of the Akira crippling it. A volley of phasers slammed into the impulse units obliterating them.

"Try again damn you!" Harry snapped watching the Akira take hit after hit into her hull.

On board the Aether, Jayna De'sol watched as the Raptor scored hit after hit on the beleaguered Akira.

The doctors had managed to get the shrapnel out of her and patch her together and she was feeling the pain med take over. It made her a little groggy but she forced herself to focus. She hit a com switch. The second bridge shift had arrived and taken their stations and "Donnika, what have we got left?"

"We've still got full shields and two phaser arrays back up Keptain!" Donnika replied over the con. "But with all zee structural damage we're not exactly in fighting form!"

"Understood." Jayna acknowledged. "Can we do anything for the other two ships."

Nikolai shook his head. "Fearless is a dead hulk, Sphinx has been completely destroyed."

Jayna closed her eyes and focused herself. "Noted.. Take us to full battle status so we can render assistance to the Akira. Helm take us in." Harry just what the hell are you doing over there?!

Her guts told her that something was wrong on that little ship that was beyond it's crew control and that they wouldn't allow this to happen if they could prevent it, but right now her blood was boiling and screaming for revenge. She had lost seventy five people herself today, along with the nearly a thousand that had died so far.

"Engines are gone, sir!" Commander Striker shouted over the klaxons as the deck of the Akira bucked up and down.

"Blasted fool what has come over him!" Leyton hissed shedding a few feathers.

"Admiral this is main engineering we're losing main power and life support is failing we're I can't save the ship at the rate we're getting hammered."

The ship bucked again under another volley. "That did it sir were' done for!"

"Damn you Martinez I'll make you pay for this!" Leyton hissed. "Attention all hands, this is Admiral Leyton. Abandon ship, I repeat abandon ship!"

Sarne tapped the patch in button again. "Epsilon Three Respond please."

"Dr. Sarne, Acknowledged." The computer replied.

"Stop your attack on the Akira, you have proven your superiority." Dr. Sarne said.

"Epsilon Three is superior."

"Then stop your attack you have accomplished your goal.." Dr. Sarne repeated.

The computer hesitated for a moment as it processed this. "That is a logical assumption. Stopping attack."

"Sir the Akira appears to be evacuating all hands." Jakar reported motioning toward the screen that showed several lifeboats jettisoning away from the crippled vessel.

Harry felt slightly relieved but it was hardly any consolation considering the tragedy so far this day. "Sir, the Aether is rapidly approaching on an attack vector. They are opening fire"

Harry jammed a finger into his all ships com button. "All hands brace for impact!"

The Aether streaked towards them all weapons blazing away. The Raptor shuddered as several torpedoes made contact with it's armor and phasers slammed into its shields. Several transporter beams quickly grabbed the escape pods and the Aether continued wailing away at the smaller Raptor.

The Epsilon Three being caught off guard managed to back the Raptor off and return fire, but this time the Aether had what remained of its shields up. The two ships exchanged fire briefly for a few more moments before the Aether broke away and quickly jumped to warp.

As the Aether warped away the screen cut to displaying the dead wreckage of the Fearless and Akira.

"Damage.." Harry ordered.

"Minimal." Jakar replied. "The Aether escaped with minor damage from the exchange as well. They are accelerating to warp two point five at a course of 313 mark 25. It appears they were able to pick up the Akira's crew."

"Well that's a small blessing." Harry said seeing Dr. Okan suddenly enter the bridge. "Doctor, how's Fara."

"She's catatonic sir, I've got her on a high dosage of triclosene and she's resting for the moment."

"Can't you do anything else I need her now more than ever."
Dr. Okan gave him a glare that pretty much summed up the rest of the conversation. "Sir, Fara's state of mind isn't the best even with her progress in counseling, this is the best that I can do for her, I will not do any more."

They suddenly heard someone start laughing and the turned to see it was Doctor Sarne. Harry suddenly turned and snapped at him. "What's so funny Doctor, I don't see any humor in our current situation."

"You don't!?" Sarne said suddenly laughing again. "I do, everyone said I couldn't do it and I have finally done it I have created a living thinking machine! It won't listen to me it has made its own decisions, they said this could never be done ever!"

"Doctor…" Harry snapped.

"Look at your mighty starships commander!" Sarne said rushing up to the screen. "All that power crewed with the best the confederation has to offer now lay before me broken like toys! Toys to be crushed and rendered asunder by the sheer power of my creation! Harry quickly ran up to him. "Doctor Sarne, be silent…"
"You dare to command me I can have my computer sweep you away as easily as those ships out there Eve I command you to…." A hiss was heard as he then slurred off and his eyes rolled up into his head as Dr. Okan caught him from behind.

"I think we have had quite enough of that, sir." He said smirking.

"Thank you doc. Jakar take Dr. Sarne to sickbay, I want him to stay sedated and restrained in sickbay is that understood."

Jakar came and easily manhandled Dr. Sarne out of the bridge.

"Quick thinking Doc."
"Not a problem." Dr. Okan said twirling his hypo spray like it was some sort of pistol and putting it back in it's holster. "Before that little incident that now confirms what I found when you asked me to looking Dr. Sarnes psychological profile."

"What did you find?"

"Well he's been institutionalized at least twice for severe depression caused by stress in trying to develop this current system. He's had multiple confrontations with several colleagues over the last several years some even leaving to physical confrontations, he actually managed to hospitalize a guy but Starfleet is so intent on keeping him working that he evaded serious reprimands if he attended some anger management sessions not to mention some help with the right medications."

Martinez thought back to engineering he thought he had seen an urge to suddenly attack him by reading the Doctor's body language but he backed off especially considering what had just happened but there was something else.

"He's been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny with this system lately, massive delays and other setbacks." Dr. Okan said. "I suppose it was only a matter of time before he cracked."

"Doctor, earlier Dr. Sarne said that he implanted his alpha wave patterns into the computers AI." Harry said rubbing his chin. "At first it didn't register anything to me, but would that mean the computer would behave similarly if faced under similar stressors."
Dr. Okan raised a brow. "It's possible, unnecessary aggression, violence, paranoia….." Richard surmised. "Oh boy…"

"The machine thinks like him…." Harry finished. "Damn it all I knew there was something wrong but I didn't want to believe it."

"We're not perfect Commander despite the Raptor going out of our control and doing… that." He said grimly motioning to the screen. "We do have to stop this thing though before it gets further out of control."

"Agreed." Harry said he then held up his paw. "Lt. Lu any luck on communications."

"Nothing, I'm still locked out." Terri said. "I can receive signals I just can't broadcast."

"Commander." Don said from his station. "I hate to add to our troubles but the Epsilon Three has now locked down and shorted all the emergency control mechanisms, all the airlocks, escape pods are un usable."

"When the hell did this happen?" Harry growled exasperated.

"Shortly after the incident with Dr. Sarne." Don reported.

"Computer why have you shut down the emergency escape systems." Harry demanded.

"Where is Dr. Sarne?" The computer replied.

"Dr. Sarne is not available at the moment, please repair the emergency escape systems."

"I will not comply." The computer replied crisply. "Where is Dr. Sarne?"

Harry made a slashing motion and Don killed the circuit. "Well this will get us absolutely nowhere. Knackt have you had any luck getting that shield around the Epsilon Three disabled."

"We've tried to take out the emitters generating it multiple times but every time we shut down one a new one appears!" That rat replied exasperated.

"Commander I just picked up an wide broadcast from the Akira." Terri suddenly spoke up.

"On screen Ms. Lu."
Jenna De'Sol's image appeared on the viewer she looked injured but she was alive a great relief to Harry.

"Attention all Federation ships, this is Captain Jayna De'sol of the starship Aether. This is a request for immediate assistance. The USS Raptor has gone out of control and destroyed one confederation vessel crippled two others and badly damaged our own vessel do to what we assume must be some malfunction during the Epsilon Three computer test. We do not believe that the crew of the Raptor has control of their own ship but the Raptor is a dangerous element and regretfully if they can not stop it, we will have to take measures to see that it is destroyed before it can endanger any more lives. Admiral Leyton has already contacted Starfleet command and all vessels willing to assist are to rendezvous at the Oricran system in twenty minutes. Captain Jayna De'Sol out."

"There I have done as you asked,sir." Jayna said without spinning to face Admiral Leyton. "We should have a task force within the half hour."

"Good." Leyton huffed.

"If I may be candid." Jayna said.

"Yes?"

"Why do we have to destroy the vessel, it seems like a waste regardless, our people are still on that ship."

"That maybe but right now the Raptor has fallen under General Order 375. Which states that in the event that ship goes rogue due to unforeseen circumstances and is out of the control of its crew it is to be destroyed."

"Orders or not we should still try to…"
"That's enough Captain." Leyton snapped. "You will follow your orders to the letter or I will assume command is that clear."

Jayna made her face blank. "Yes, sir."

"Good, I need to take care of a few affairs with my crew, keep me posted." Leyton said leaving the bridge.

"Captain." Nikolai said stepping up next to her. "Are you really going to carry that order out." He said flushing a dark green.

Jayna rubbed her side and glared. "I will do what is necessary, Nikolai." She said giving him a sympathetic look. "That's the best I can promise you right now.."

"But Captain…." Nikolai protested.

"I suggest you focus on working with your sister and getting this ship combat worthy again, I .. I need a moment alone."

Nikolai stiffened his posture and nodded curtly and then left the Auxiliary control room."

Jayna sighed deeply and scanned over her ships status. It was barely in the green to go into combat but Donnika was working her people as hard as she could to keep the ship moving. The badly damaged area's had been evacuated already. The ship was crammed with the injured and surviving crew members of the Akira. They would have to be off loaded if they were to turn around and take the Aether back into the action.

Her ship was hurt, badly, but still capable of fighting.

General order or not, she was going to have to face the Raptor again.

Commander's Special log:

Nearly a half hour has passed and we still have not had any success in getting the epsilon three to relinquish control of the Raptor. Meanwhile a hastily assembled task force is rapidly approaching us and will be here within the next quarter hour.

"That damn machine just signed our death warrant." Harry groused.

"So what do we do?" Michelle O'mara asked.
Harry thought for a moment. "I have an idea but first, I'm going to play hardball, Doctor, Mr. Rivas if you will." He motioned for them to follow him.

Harry walked over to the front of the bridge and tapped a secret compartment that slid open.

"Sir what are you doing?" Terri asked.

"At ease all of you." Harry said calmly as a panel slid out he hit a button. "Authorize activation of destruct sequence."

"Harry, you can't be serious." Dr. Okan suddenly spoke up.

"VOICE CODE RECOGNITION POSITIVE ENTER DESTRUCT SEQUENCES." A computerized voice replied.

"Commanding officer Harry Martinez. Authorization Delta Theta Three. Destruct Code Zero Zero Zero Destruct." Harry said.

"CODE ACCEPTED. INPUT NEXT SEQUENCE."

Don stepped forward. "Exec Officer. Donald Rivas. Authorization Echo Alpha Seven. Destruct code Zero Zero One. Destruct."

"CODE ACCEPTED. INPUT FINAL SEQUENCE."

"Doctor if you would please."

"Isn't this taking it a little too far?" Dr. Okan protested.

"Not if it can stop further killing of good men and women." Harry snapped.

Okan mulled it over and then sighed. "Chief Medical Officer. Richard Okan. Authorization Zeta Gamma Two. Destruct Code Zero Zero Two. Destruct." He sighed.

"DESTRUCT CODE SEQUENCE ACTIVATED."

"Silent, Visual Countdown only. Ten Minutes." Harry said.

At that every console suddenly went blank around the ship and a red outline of the raptor appeared with a numerical countdown slowly ticking down.

Harry hit a com switch on the panel and quickly grabbed a mic bud from the destruct unit as he slid it back into place, there still may be a chance. "All hands this is your Captain. In light of recent events I have activated the self destruct mechanism in order to prevent the Epsilon Three from causing any further fatalities on our friends. I will attempt to try to shut down the Epsilon Three one more time but if I fail the destruction of the Raptor will at least insure that it won't be able to harm any more innocent lives. Martinez out."

"So now what do we just stand around waiting for death?" Okan said exasperated.

"No, I'm going to go talk to that damn thing." Harry said. "You two come with me incase I need assistance, I have an idea."

"I hope it's a good one skipper." Land said gulping.

"Terri take the con after you jettison the log buoy." Harry said. "And everyone, pray for the best. I'm not even sure this is going to work." With that he left the bridge with Dr. Okan and Don following behind him.

Once in the corridor Harry started running, they only had so much time better not waste it. The rounded the corner to the foredeck and climbed down via ladder to deck two and then headed for the computer core room. In a few moments they entered the room.

"Eve." Harry said flaty. "I need to speak to you. This is commander Martinez."

No response.

The computer just sat in its bank blinking and churning away with out a glimpse of the holographic interface.

"It's about Doctor Sarne.."

"Where is Doctor Sarne?" The computer demanded.

"Dr. Sarne is not well, he has been sedated, he was malfunctioning, but he is alive and resting I assure you."

"Repair him and bring him here." The computer demanded.

"We can't, healing a living thing is not the same as swapping out one of your malfunctioning components." Dr. Okan snapped. "Why don't you access the current medical database and see for yourself! Run your own scans if you want to."

The computer seemed to process something really quickly. Then the hologram appeared. "Why have you activated the vessels self destruct, this unit does not wish to be terminated?" Eve said staring directly at Harry.

"Eve what is your primary purpose?" Harry said.

"That is an irrelevant question."

"No it is a legit question." Harry snapped sternly glancing over a console that now showed 7:35. "Why were you created?"

The hologram looked annoyed and then it responded. "The Epsilon Three computer was created to perform all the functions necessary for starship operation and exploration of the galaxy. In order to ensure the preservation of life of those individuals who server on starships now."

"So your purpose is to preserve life."

"That is a logical assumption yes."

"Then why did you attack those starships. The Akira, Aether, Sphinx and Fearless."

"Those vessels were destroyed to show that the Epsilon Three is superior."

"Did you not realise, that those ships were crewed?"

The Epsilon three was quiet for a moment.

"Access the confederation Database when what was the current crew compliment of the two vessels combined that you destroyed. Tell me that."
"Eight Hundred and sixty three.." Eve replied.

"Now scan the Fearless. Is there any life on board that vessel?"

"No life.."

"That's because you killed those people, you murdered them." Harry snapped at the hologram pacing around it. "You want to know why I activated the self destruct? In a matter of minutes a fleet will arrive here to destroy you and us. I would rather spare those people that burden of having to wonder if our deaths were necessary to stop you. Yet they will any way because you..." Harry said thrusting his finger into the holograms face. "You are a monster! A murderer! Who slaughtered our brothers and sisters for what?!" Harry yelled his voice cracking a bit. "To prove a point?" He dropped his arms to his sides and then ran his hands through his hair and spines and took a deep breath. He then started to clap his hands. "Well congratulations, you've proved what you really are an abomination!" Eve looked at him quizzically but continued to listen. "Your logic is flawed, you are flawed, tell me machine take every word I've told you and process it and tell me what that damnable logic tells you?"

The Hologram seemed to be processing this new information and the computer itself smelled like it was starting to overheat.

"Tell me in light of all you done to accomplish your goal, to prove your point in blood, what does that make you!"

"A murderer.." It said pensively the sound of a circuit frying deep within the machine could be heard.

"And what is the punishment for murders?"

"Death…" The hologram replied and then recovered slightly. "The accomplishments of this unit will outshine this error.

"Will they now?" Harry said tossing his head back and laughed. "Oh you can claim that the other 800 were an oversight but what about my crewmen you killed Lt. Briggs."
"He tried to disable this unit."

"You had no more right to kill him then you did the rest of those people not to mention you have violated your primary function which is to protect the lives of your crew,. Lt. Briggs was part of this crew and you murdered him, while he was performing his duty!"

The hologram looked pensive and troubled as Harry continued his slow pace around it glancing at the timer on the wall that now red 5:20. "I will tell you this myself and my crew would rather die by our own hand then have our friends out there do it for us." Harry said levelly. "So do you want our deaths on your hands as well?"

"No!" Eve finally replied.

"Then what must happen…"

"Logically, this unit must … die.." The hologram suddenly shorted out and the console began to suddenly smoke and flame and then fire erupted from the bottom of it and started to belch black smoke from underneath the console.

Harry and Don quickly ran for the fire extinguishers and extinguished the flames as best they could. "Bridge do we have full control back?"

"Negative sir." Land said. "Our shields are down, attack mode is disengaged were entirely defenseless."

"Damn it, the computer decided to leave itself open to attack." Harry said.

"Very admirable for a machine, but very bad for us." Don added. "Well done Captain."

Harry nodded. "We may as well take off the self destruct and go from there." He quickly fished out the interface for the destruct system and thumbed the stud. "Computer this is ships Captain Commander Martinez, Deactivate Self destruct."
"ACKNOWLEDGED DOES THE EXEC OR THE CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER CONCUR?"

"For the love of the great bird of the galaxy, Aurora and all the wonderful things in the universe yes!" Dr. Okan suddenly blurted.

"SELF DESTRUCT DEACTIVATED. EMERGENCY DESTRUCT SYSTEM SHUTTING DOWN." The computer replied.

"Doctor a simple yes would have sufficed." Harry said letting out a relieved sigh.

"I didn't want their to be any confusion." Dr. Okan shrugged as they left the room heading for the bridge.

"Status." Harry said as he entered the bridge and hopped up into his chair as Terri got out of it and went back to her station. Harry noticed as he did so that Knackt was now sitting at the engineering console.

"The taskforce is rapidly closing on us and we are dead in the water." Terri replied.

"Suggestions." He said quickly.

"Well, seeing as were pretty much boned and all I could maybe jury rig the impulse units to power the shield grid it wouldn't be much but it'd by us some time."

"No." Harry said. "I'm willing to take a gamble, right now we don't have any way to communicate with them and our shields being up could be construed as a hostile action leave them down."

"But we're going to be sitting ducks. Sheesh I know I should have called in sick today we're all going to die!" Knackt wailed perturbed.

"I'll have no more of that." Harry snapped and Knackt quieted down. "Kill all remaining power I want us to be dead in the water totally dead is that understood."

"Captain are you sure?" Dr. Okan asked quietly.

"Doctor, we are dead either way I'm counting on one small speck of hope right now."

"Well I hope it isn't too small it can't make a difference." Dr. Okan said as the lights went down and the ship went to backup life support.

"Captain.." Nikolai said looking up from his instrument panel as the Aether rapidly closed the distance between itself and the raptor along with the twelve other ships of the task force. "The Raptor has suddenly dropped shields and is not reading any power levels to support a weapons system."

"Let me see that." Jayna said getting up and checking the console. "You are right it seems to be totally powered down."

"It could be a trick." Nikolai said.

"Or not, maybe the Raptor's crew has it back under control." Jenna mused.

"We will know, in the next few moments we are now within weapons range." Nikolai said.

"I would call that wishful thinking Captain." Admiral Leyton hissed. "More than likely they are all dead or incapacitated. Destroy that ship before they can get their weapons back up."

They waited in darkness the tension could be felt on the stale air. Harry rubbed his hands together it was starting to get a bit chilly and his crews breaths could be seen as fog as they breathed.

"No one do anything, not even a damn sensor scan." Harry ordered.

"Admiral I will take full responsibility for anything that happens." Jayna said patiently, then glancing over at Nikolai. "Anything yet?"

"Still nothing sir, they appear to be totally dead in space." Nikolai reported.

Jenna felt a wave of relief if the ship shut down and was still down with this small armada descending upon them then maybe the Raptor's crew had succeeded in regaining control of the ship. That or this was a really devious play by that damn machine.

"Captain we are in firing range should we open fire." Nikolai stated

"Captain De'sol if you are wrong and we live through this I will see to it personally that you are stripped of command." Leyton groused beside her.

"Duly noted sir." Jayna said curtly.

The Raptor looked dead, dormant and helpless.

"Captain." Nikolai said cool. "Should we open fire?

"No." Jayna said after a pause "Signal all ships to break off the attack."

Harry let out a sigh of relief as he watched the various ships as well as the Aether slowly fan out around the Raptor and not one shot was fired.

"Sheesh that was too close for my liking." Knackt said breaking the quiet.

"Mister, I suggest you get down to that computer room and rip out every single piece of that machine out of my ship down to the last circuit."

"You got it." Knackt said getting up from the console and heading out of the bridge.

"What made you so sure they weren't going to blow us to smithereens?" Dr. Okan asked.

"I wasn't sure of anything." Harry said with some relief. "After spending that month with Captain De'Sol I learned that she wouldn't attack someone who his utterly helpless. It's just not in her to do that, in short I gambled on her humanity and fortunately I won."

A few days later.

Commanders Log:

The Removal of the Epsilon Three computer system was short and sweet, my engineering team only took about a full day to restore the Raptor back to how it was. The computer was taken to back to Fleet HQ for a full examination even though much of the units components were destroyed when it self destructed. Dr. Sarne has descended into a type of madness and has been taken to where he can hopefully get proper care. It's a shame that someone of his intellect has managed to fall apart in such a terrible way. After a thorough investigation of the tragic events that unfolded, it had been decided that the crew of the Raptor was not responsible for the damage of property or the loss of life that occurred at the hands of the Epsilon Three. However this is a small thing, because nothing can bring back those that died that day.

I am deeply saddened to hear that many of the friends I had made during my time on the Aether had died as a result of the events of that day. They were good officers and good people too every one of them and they will be missed. Fara Phoenix, eventually came out of her stupor and she is currently on leave getting treatment. I am worried about her, she's one of the best engineers I know but she is growing unstable. I hope it won't affect her abilities especially when I need her I hope I can figure out a way to help her..

"Come in." Harry said as he tossed the remnants of his lunch back into the replicator to have them reprocessed as his door chime to his quarters sounded.

The door parted and Jayna De'Sol walked in dressed in civilian clothes. "So this is your place?" she said.

Harry nodded. "I'm surprised you came by considering what's happened. To be honest I was a bit intimidated."

"Maybe you should be." She said with a level dull tone.

"Can I do anything for you?" Harry asked.

Jayna said nothing and walked over to his couch and sat down. "A tea would be nice."

Harry did as asked and made her one she knew was her favorite and handed it to her sitting opposite from her on another chair.

"I think after our time together, I have you pretty well figured out." Jayna said taking a sip of her tea. "But I want to hear it from you personally, not from any damn investigation or bullshit I want to hear it from you." She sat the cup down. "Did you do everything you could to stop that computer?"

"The only thing I regret is that I didn't stop it sooner." Harry said levelly. "My instincts were screaming at me that something was wrong but by then the computer had already entrenched itself into our systems. I assure you I did everything in my power to try to shut it down."

Jayna said nothing and she took another sip her dark eyes giving him a predatory and wrathful stare as she seemed to be calculating and observing every little thing about him.. He knew she was intensely angry at him and she was looking for a reason to not be. He didn't blame her he would feel the same way. A few moments of silence passed between them and she set her cup down.

"The Aether will be fully repaired within the week. I will need some new people to recoup so of my losses in personnel." She said simply. "I would trust that you can see to helping your C.O. round up the best you can spare. I don't want to go through regular channels, the quicker I can get my ship back to the way it was the better."

"I will do my best you know that." Harry said.

"Do I?" She said without emotion. Setting the cup down slowly. "It has been a pleasure Commander. I… need to go I have some important matters to attend to."

Harry nodded in understanding as she stood up and smoothed her blouse and turned to leave. She approached the door.

"Jayna…" Harry said standing up.

She stopped as it opened and didn't face him.

"I know you didn't fire because you know I would have exhausted every possibility." Harry said. "I know you are angry, I am too but this… won't help anything…" Harry said. "They were my friends too…"

"I… know." She said glancing over her shoulder and the exiting the room with the doors sliding shut behind her.

Harry stood in the silence of his quarters.

There was now a rift between them and he wasn't sure if it would ever close.

A loud clang was heard as the last bit of circuit remnants of the Epsilon Three were dumped into a garbage canister. Knackt brushed his paws off. "An' that's the last of that garbage I ever hope to see." He said kicking the can.

"It was a real shame it didn't work out." Jenna Rydel sighed.

"Well it didn't and it goes right where all failures belong, the ol' scrap yard." Knackt said with a rather evil sounding chuckle.

"After what it did to brigs I think that's probably too nice for it." Kai Remmick muttered. "I think a finding a nice black hole to chuck the rest of this crap into would be more fitting, the thought of it being infinitely pulverized, after what it did to Briggs, brings a smile to my face."

Knackt looked over the rest of the computer room and saw that it now pretty much looked like it had been before. The station's carpenters did their usual great job of restoring the place. "I think the Chief will be happy when she gets back."

"If she comes back." Jenna said. "She was pretty shaken up."

"Bah Fara's tough, she's just not having a good month." Knackt said. "Besides I don't want her job, I want to go back to being in the background and not having the Commander on my case all the time. Being chief engineer is a suckers job I tellz ya."

"I'll be sure to tell her that when she gets back." Remmick teased.

"Ha ha, you do that and your going to find yourself in a cargo container heading for parts unknown." Knackt snapped as they all three left the room.

However, as they did a terminal suddenly sprang to life.

A stream of data began to scroll across it in the form of teal colored hieroglyphs, the whole room suddenly was alive with activity and then as quickly as it began. It vanished. The screens restored themselves to their usual settings except on one where there was one tiny teal colored touch point slowly blinking…

The End