How Dare They!
Mission: Mission 2.5: Intermission
Cipher was so livid that he could barely contain himself, which of course meant that it barely showed. His usual flat mouth was curled into a frown beneath eyes that blazed with the wrath that only an aggrieved individual could summon.
He didn't have to ask the ship's computer where the captain was. He maintained a wireless link to the mainframe via a special quantum interface that he used to piggyback on Starfleet subspace comms to surf the infonet.
And that was the problem. It was his interface. No one else's. The captain would see reason. He was odd but that was normal for his species. Surely he would take Cipher's side in this matter.
Walking into the ready room unbidden, Cipher began speaking.
"Captain Hunnicutt, I must report a problem with the computer network that requires command level authorization to remedy."
Pierce glanced up from the report he was reading- or trying to read, anyway. Reports were boring and the fact that he had to read them all was one of the down sides to being captain. “If this is about the hot plates in the officer’s lounge, pretend you didn’t see them,” he joked.
"No, this is a personal matter that may or may not affect cybersecurity," Cipher said plainly. "When I came aboard the ship, I installed a quantum interface to the main computer that would allow my parietal subprocessor to remotely access the computer as needed. Now it appears my interface has been subverted through unauthorized access and is currently infested with malware from this."
Presenting a PADD, Cipher pressed the button to play a video file. What commenced then was a grisly scene of several naked Klingons and Nausicaans who were eating gagh from one another's bodily crevices in a manner that could only be described as demented. Cipher tossed the PADD onto the desk where it continued to play the obscene video right beneath Pierce's nose.
"As you can see, this is most unacceptable." The taciturn expression on Cipher's face belied the wrath of his voice. His somber eyes were alight with fiery rage. "I require command authorization to initiate root level scans in order to identify the perpetrator and bring them to justice."
Pierce had all he could do not to laugh out loud. He bit his lips and wrinkled his brow, forcing his grin into a frown. "I seriously doubt this is malware," he said once he had thoroughly schooled his features. "It's probably a prank. Someone discovered your uplink and decided it would be funny to put this into it." He tapped the PADD, halting the video, but it was paused at a very precarious part, so he quickly turned the screen off. "It is, however, inappropriate," he continued. "Quite apart from hiring actors to impersonate Nausicans and Klingons- because I refuse to believe real ones would participate in... weird activities- it's against very basic moral code to force someone to watch it."
"No, you misunderstand, Captain..." Cipher took a deep breath and prepared his respectfully condescending voice. "The video isn't malware. The accompanying code embedded in the video is malware. Unsavory people create content such as this in order to slip malware into otherwise secure systems. Someone is a major pervert and their fetish has compromised the entire computer system because they used my personal interface to circumvent normal firewalls." Pausing a moment to let the silly captain catch up, Cipher concluded, "I can run a deep-level diagnostic that will require shutting down all major systems one at a time, but I had assumed you would be more than amenable to authorizing a command-restricted root scan instead..."
Pierce nodded slowly, mind working a mile a minute. "On one condition," he said. "When you find them, do not confront them. Instead, bring me their name. And then we're going to prank them back."
Of course Pierce would want the name. Cipher fully expected the captain to formally reprimand the perpetrator.
"Initiating root scan now," Cipher said with a twitch of his head.
The subprocessor that had replaced the parietal lobe of his brain dialed out to the ship computer via the quantum interface several decks away. His access was blocked by a challenge protocol which be rerouted to the local processor within the ready room.
"Authorization required to initiate root scan," the computer said.
"Hunnicutt, Alpha-5-4-0-2," replied Pierce.
Cipher blinked incredulously at the captain. "That... that is your command authorization code? Well..." The Bynar made a mirthless chuckle and shook his head in disbelief.
"Root scan complete. The unauthorized access to my quantum interface has been via the navigation subsystems... curious..." His eyes began fluttering as he processed the data. "Somehow the autohelm functions which collate short-range sensor readings into a course that diverts the ship around stellar debris without being manually guided has been repurposed into a backdoor for my interface."
Looking at the captain, Cipher said, "Whoever did this is a master programmer of unparalleled skill. And here is their face." He flicked a finger at Pierce's desktop computer display as he sent the personnel file directly to it with his processor.
The face that appeared was that of Ensign Sekhem chim Peth, Chief Flight Control Officer.
"Isn't that the Tellarite who vomited all over the bridge when we first arrived in Messier 4?" Cipher asked, brow raised. "I take it back. She must have an accomplice. Or perhaps her ident-credentials were spoofed."
“With what we just saw, I would have thought she’d have had a stronger stomach,” muttered Pierce. “Maybe she’s smarter than we give her credit for? It’s not easy to hack credentials. I think the only two people on the ship who could do it are in this room. And I don’t trust one of them. Humans are tricksy characters, after all. You can expect us to use that knowledge usefully.”
Cipher shrugged. "Whatever the case, she needs to be punished. Shall I notify Security or do you wish to have the honors?"
"I have a better idea," said Pierce with a wicked grin. "Here's the plan...."
Strolling into her quarters, Sekhem felt her stomach rumble. It had been a few hours since she last ate, so she was starving. Well, she did have some catchup work to do, but first thing's first.
"Rigelian sausage," she told the replicator. "Double linked, heavy on the hot sauce, side of pickled daikons, side of steamed clams, and clagclod soup and visceral meringue pie a la mode."
One after another, the various dishes and bowls appeared in the replicator. Sek pulled them free and set them onto a large platter that she then carried to her table. Sitting down, she pulled a napkin out of her pocket and wrapped it around her neck. The smell of the meal was...
Well, no, it wasn't tantalizing. Not at all. In fact, as Sek took a bigger whiff, she found the smell of it rather revolting. She took a closer look at her full spread of food, and the texture looked right. The sausage. The soup. All of it was the right size, shape, color, and everything. It just smelled like vole shit.
Taking a nibble off one of the sausages, Sek nearly gagged as she spat it back onto the plate. "This tastes like vole shit!!!" She tapped her combadge and said, "Peth to Ops. I need a technician down here right fuggin' now so he can tell me why my fuggin' replicator is feeding me vole shit!"
"I'll be right up!" answered Lieutenant O'Reilly. "Give me... two minutes. And fourty-five seconds."
"Make it snappy!" Sek barked
Once admitted to Peth's quarters, O'Reilly approached the replicator. "So what seems to be the problem?" he asked.
Sekhem flung the shit platter at the technician. "I done told you the problem!" she shouted. "So here's a face full. Now fix it! I don't want any more shit coming out of my replicator!"
The reason O'Reilly was chosen for this particular task was because he had almost no sense of smell. Yes, he smelled what she described, but only just barely. "Hm," he said blandly, looking at the mess on the floor around him. "Smells okay to me." He turned to the replicator and called up the settings. He scrolled through the code for a bit and then said, "hm, I think I see the problem. Have you been downloading porn through a wireless interface?"
"What?!" Sek put her webbed hand against her chest and gasped in offense. "Excuse me, sir, but I am a LADY! How dare you?!"
"Come on!" replied O'Reilly. "Everybody watches porn from time to time. Ladies or no. Even the stuffiest nobility from the stuffiest planet. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Unless, of course, you downloaded it while on duty. That might get you in trouble."
"Keep talkin', Fats! I'll report you to your chief!" Sek threatened. "There is no porn in here, so fix my fuggin' replicator already!"
"It's just that, you know, when you watch shit, everything turns to shit," started O'Reilly nervously. "It-"
He was interrupted by the door chime.
"Who in the tittyfucking hell is that?" Sek shouted. "Go away, whoever you are!"
But the door opened of its own accord, obeying a command prompt from the Bynar who had overridden the controls.
"It's okay, O'Reilly, we'll take it from here," said Pierce as he entered with Cipher. "Miss Peth," he greeted somberly.
"Captain Pierce..." Sekhem said, taken aback at the unexpected visit. "Who's the purple twink?"
"I am designated Cipher," said the Bynar, "and you have aggressed me."
Sekhem pulled at her braids and screamed through gritted teeth. "Ugh! All I want is to stuff my face in peace! Captain, can you please make this dumbass fix my replicator?"
"I'm afraid there's only one person on this ship who can fix it," Pierce said regrettably. "But we need to have a chat first. Sit down." He nodded to one of the chairs by the little table.
Without a word, Cipher stood behind Pierce. He and Sek were near the same height, and he wanted to look down on her.
"We know you've been using Cipher's uplink to download porn while on duty," continued Pierce. "I don't know why- porn isn't illegal. You can download it into your quarters any time you like. I also don't know how. But, that's beside the point. I'll give you 24 hours to get rid of any contraband you may have that helps you get into mister Cipher's uplink. At that point, I will authorize a search of your quarters. Make sure they don't find anything."
"I don't know what you're talking about and you can't prove nothin'," Sekhem quipped with only mild indignation. "So until you get some proof, you and your purple peepee eater can shut up and get the fuck out of my quarters."
"I'm going to ignore the insubordination," Pierce advised. "But just this once. As I said, you have 24 hours to get rid of it. We have enough proof to search your quarters now, but I'm giving you a chance to keep a clean slate. Or would you rather we search now?" he added in a bored tone, raising his eyebrows at her.
Sek stood up to her full height, which was still not saying much. "YOU WON'T FIND NOTHIN'!"
"Are you sure about that?" asked Pierce, completely not intimidated in the least.
"You can't prove--"
Before Sekhem could complete her additional outburst, Cipher pulled a device out from behind a light fixture he'd detached from the wall. "Found it," he said with droll condescension. "Hiding it behind the light fixture might have fooled a tricorder's general scans, but anyone who has ever worked on a starship infrastructure would know how to separate power emissions from transceiver signals."
The Tellarite's face paled. "That isn't mine," she said through a grimace.
Pierce sighed. "Great," he said. "Now we have to have you arrested."
"Shit! Not again!" Sek squealed.
"Captain Hunnicutt, if I may..." Cipher leaned forward and whispered into Pierce's ear.
Pierce nodded slowly, expression remaining stern. "Not bad, not bad at all," he muttered. "Yes, I think... Miss Peth, I have a proposition for you."
"Captain, no!" Sek exclaimed. "Not since the Academy, so you just keep that snake in its cage!"
"Nothing like that," he assured her offhandedly. "No. I might be willing to defer the charge in exchange for information on your supplier."
"But snitches get stitches," Sek whined. "Okay, fine. There was this Orion on Canopus Station who hooked me up nice. Said that if I could find an unsecure comms relay then I could run my own private subspace channel. When I saw the eggplant's quantum interface, well, I figured that would be even better since it ain't even a stock part of the ship, is it?"
Cipher narrowed his eyes at the Tellarite. "No, but it's still approved. Unlike this." He held up the damning device. "I'll be holding onto this for safekeeping until we return from our cruise, at which point I'll have hacked it to pieces inside and out and have a full report for the cybersecurity division of Canopus Security." Leaning over her, the Bynar said, "From now on, stay out of my stuff!"
"Jeez, you already got my shit! What more do you want?" Sek snorted.
"For you to promise to stay out of the relay," answered Pierce. "And download porn to your own quarters on your own time."
"Is that an official order?" Sek asked. "Are you going to sign off on it and put it in my file with your name on it?"
"If you'd like, but I didn't think recreational activities needed orders," answered Pierce. "Just keep it off duty."
Sekhem glared at the man. "Yeah. I think I do. I want you to put your fuggin name on your stupid order not to download porn. Make sure it gets all the way back to Earth where everyone gets to know how you run a tight, prude ship."
"Those weren't my orders," replied Pierce. "My orders were to only download porn on your own time and in your own quarters."
"But that's exactly what I did!" Sek shrieked. "How many times I gotta tell you?"
"Except you hijacked my interface to do it," Cipher said, "and it entered into my dreams while asleep. I...I can never unsee some of it."
"Yes, stay off the uplink," added Pierce. "I don't know why you felt the need to be sneaky about it. Porn is legal. Just download it the normal way."
Sek's eyes darted back and forth between the captain and the Bynar. Suddenly she looked very suspicious. "Fine. I will download porn like a normal person from now on," she said almost robotically.
"Don't worry," Cipher said. "Whatever you were really doing when you exposed my quantum interface to your degenerate filth will be uncovered during my forensic diagnostics."
"You won't find anything!" Sekhem blurted like before.
Cipher had heard enough. "Save it for JAG," he said, turning around and heading for the door with the device in hand.
"Good luck, Miss Peth," said Pierce, slowly following after Cipher. "You're going to need it; he's very determined."
Sekhem watched the captain follow the nosy Bynar out of her quarters, at which point she pounded the table. "FUCK!"