S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
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Mystery Woman pt 2

Posted on Monday December 7th, 2020 @ 17:07 hours by Lozen Nachtnebel & Mayterial Droz & Kala Marika

Mission: Safe Passage
Location: Cargo bay 2, Deck 3, S.S. Fawkes
Timeline: MD07, 1920 hours

Previously in 'Mystery Woman':

"The Hirral man had come in and..." Keith looked around carefully before stepping up and pressing down on the side where Hirral had stood, suddenly a panel lit up, "like that..." He couldn't quite make out what the console said, probably written in some form of Trill, and he definitely wasn't familiar with the Trill script.

"Wait, I'm not sure we should--"


Before Keith could pull back his hand he had already pressed down on one of the pulsing words. It had turned green and the lid of the box came lifting out of the contraption again.

The hum got deeper and louder, some sort of lights came on, a soft spoken voice bounced around the cargo bay; "Thank you fo-" a beat, "You're not Kala."

Lo fairly jumped out of her skin at the sibilant echo that slid through the air, bouncing off the cargo bay's metal walls. Behind her, a figure stepped out of a patch of shadow created by a stacked column of metal crates. What the actual hell?

A Trill woman, a little taller than Lo, stood there, clad only in a thin green dress that shimmered like silk. Her Trill spots, black on her dark skin, began at her temples slipped beneath the fabric of her dress to reemerge down the sides of her bare ankles and feet.

"Hey," Lo said, "you're not on the manifes-- wait..." Lo's eyes widened as her mind caught up with the bizarre situation. "You know Engineer Marika?"

"That's the woman I was talking about, Liliah," Keith stepped closer, she had jumped out before when they had disturbed the container, "Is Hirral coming?"

Liliah was confused, wondering if she had perhaps given away her true nature, hoping that these would be as understanding as Kala, "I've spoken to the Engineer before, after your friend and one of his mates knocked the container around earlier." She answered the woman that seemed to be the more inquisitive of the two. She then turned to Keith, "Not unless you've called him."

Lo glanced at Keith, met his gaze. "O-okay, looks like we need to have a word with our new Engineer." Lo thought to what little she knew of the woman. She liked Kala, had enjoyed bonding with an ex-Fleetie like herself, but that didn't explain this. Besides, the woman's sudden appearance had sparked something, a memory that was quickly growing into a suspicion.

She pulled out her comm unit and pressed its activator with her thumb. "Quartermaster Nachtnebel to Engineer Kala, I need you in Cargo Bay Two... asap."

Kala looked up from the console she'd been checking in engineering when the quartermaster's voice came over the comms. Cargo Bay Two? She wondered. Oh! she said to herself as she realized where they were. The box, and the hologram. "On my way," she said, grabbing her tricorder.

---

Entering the cargo bay, she saw the quartermaster, along with a deckhand and Liliah. She smiled at the hologram as she came up to the group. "Liliah," she said, nodding to the Trill hologram. "I'm guessing you called because of her?" she asked the quartermaster.

Lo couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at that comment. "Well... yes."

Liliah waved sheepishly at Kala when she looked

Lo glanced at Liliah. Time to see if I'm right in my suspicions. "Are you a hologram?" she said aloud.

"Well. Not exactly." Liliah looked over at the box next to Lozen, "I'm whatever that is, this is simply a visual representation that Hirral felt was fitting for me."

Lo shrugged, the higher concepts of AI engineering were beyond her, but either way it hardly mattered. Liliah might not actually be crossing the divide into illegal, but she certainly straddled it. "Kala, you should have told someone that she was aboard. This is the sort of thing that could cause real problems for the Captain... for all of us."

Kala really didn't want to argue with Lo but she knew she had to go to bat, for herself and Liliah. "If we want to argue semantics, under Federation law Liliah is not a being, she is a self-aware holographic construct. As such her transport does not fall under passage laws surrounding passengers, she is cargo."

It hurt to hear Kala talk about her like that. Liliah knew that technically speaking she might be right but that didn't stop her from feeling hurt by the comments about her being.

"I inspected the container she is being transported in, confirmed that she posed no threat to the crew or cargo, her transport container cannot interface with our systems, so as the chief engineer of this vessel, and as a former Starfleet officer familiar with the technology, I deemed her transport safe."

Liliah her mood lifted a bit, it was good to know that Kala was at least on her side still, "and if I'm causing too much trouble I don't mind being put back into stand-by." She remembered a passage from an ancient earth play. She hated the feeling of being completely shut down, and it disoriented her a lot when things came back online, "To sleep perchance to dream." It wasn't right in the context, but she lacked the understanding of the full monologue to realise that.

Lo's gaze snapped to Liliah. She felt an overpowering sense of pity for the hologram welling up inside her, or whatever she is. Maybe it was all code, or maybe there really was something within that collection of microprocessors and plasma that could be called 'alive,' something that could project its will upon the world in the form of beautiful and complex arrangements of light. There was precedent in the annals of Starfleet for such a thing. How could I ever, in good conscience, shut something like that down? It would make her Starfleet oath a lie. And I never did stop being Fleet, did I? Even if it stopped being what I believed it to be.

Lo sighed. "Look, that's not what I want. I don't think any of us were thinking that." She looked to Keith, wondering what the man might be thinking.

Kala shook her head almost as soon as Lo spoke. If there was one thing Kala hated, it was treating self-aware AI like it was merely software. True as that was, biological organisms were no different in many ways, they were programming running on hardware if one dug down that deep. "Liliah. Please do not shut yourself off. As messy as this is, you have every right to be here."

"Listen, Liliah, we just need to know more about why you're here. Who is this Hirral person, why is he transporting you like this? We don't want you to come to harm, but we've got to think of the ship first."

"Hirral is... my father." Liliah frowned a bit, it was, of course, more complicated than that, "he's the father of the Liliah I was fashioned after. He's been working on it ever since he lost her in the Borg incursions in the early eighties." She shook her head, it was clear that she was mentally hurting, "I'm not good enough though..." she lowered her head.

Lo felt unmoored for a moment, she gaped openly at the hologram. "You're a copy of his daughter?" A slow horror filled her at the thought. The pain that Hirral must feel, the incredible complexity and deep-burning insanity of such a task, and the realization of what this creation before her must be struggling with under such conditions made her freeze. Despite what the holos said, instances of exotic problems like this were rare, even for Starfleet crew. Some ships, The Enterprise, Voyager, encountered more than their fair share of strangeness, but most of Fleet life consisted of healthy routine.

"I-I'm so sorry," she said at last. She felt Keith stir beside her, glanced from him to Kala wondering what thoughts occupied them in the face of such a confession.

Keith simply stood there, mouth agape, not knowing what to say. He looked over to Kala to get her insight on the matter. The other two were Starfleet, at least in the past, and they probably dealt with this sort of thing before. All he knew was that artificial life was outlawed, and he should probably report this to someone, "do we need to get the Captain?"

"We'll have to tell her eventually," Lo said. "She needs to at least know what's going on. But..." she looked back at Liliah. "But maybe we should know more beforehand. Liliah, what's Hirral doing with you? Why are you going to Betazed?"

Liliah shook her head a bit, "I don't know, he doesn't really share that sort of stuff with me." Her head hung a bit, "I think he has some friend there, a counsellor, or something, he keeps saying that I'm not responding correctly, that something must be wrong with my programming." Her shoulders slumped, as if she was trying to make her frame as small as possible, "I'm not at all what he wanted me to be."

"Daughters rarely are," Lo said before she quite knew why she'd said it. "Liliah, what are you... what does he want you for, in the long run? Do you know?"

Again the hologram shook her head, "he lost his daughter, I'm his attempt of getting her back," there was a bit of a sigh from the woman, "I don't know how long he's been trying, but I know that my memory has been wiped before," she looked at Lozen, "I don't want to die again."

"Then you won't."

Lo looked quickly at her fellow crew. "I'll bring this to the captain personally, just... just give me a day to figure it out. We've still got two before we get to Betazed, there's time. In between now and then," and here she looked directly at Kala, "think we could keep Mr. Hirral off the communication's array?"

Kala nodded, "The Comm's array has been acting up since we left port, I may have to take it offline for a period of time to diagnose and troubleshoot. And if I can't find parts to repair it..." She shrugged her shoulders, "It may remain offline till we reach port."

END




JP by

Mayterial Droz(as Keith Emerson and Liliah)
&
Kala Marika
&
Lozen Nachtnebel

 

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