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Cmdr Traenor - The Circuitous Backtrack

2020-05-14 03:23:53


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*((Computer Access Room - USS Constitution))*

It was an odd couple indeed that found themselves deep within the port
computer core of the USS Constitution. Only by the nature of their recent
arrival aboard the ship were they afforded the privilege of scrutinizing
important log material at its basic source for information to assist the
trial of Fleet Captain Jalana Rajel.

Traenor: Let's start with the most relevant sources, and work our way into
more obscure logs. ::winking:: We don't want to snoop in somebody's
personal logs if we don't need to. Start with transmissions to and from the
ship with Command, especially those with data packets appended. Then we can
work into mission logs and department logs in an appropriate timeframe.
Emphasis, of course, on Jalana's communiques and logs.

For obvious reasons, Maxwell surmised. Jalana was the one on trial, so if
there was miscommunication between her and Command, it would be in those
transcripts and logs where it would be found. Putting on his Cade Foster
hat for a moment, he also knew that those would be the files most likely to
be tampered with as well. In the interim, Maxwell would have to be content
to sit back and watch the master at work. Chip was the star of the show for
now, and Maxwell would wait until his verification skills were needed.

Foley: Optimal! Let's begin, then! Oooh, this WILL be fun! Starfleet's
officer log archival system is an absolute masterpiece of macro-relational
databasing. I'm going to take my external visual input offline for a
moment, Commander - just tap my shoulder if you need something before I'm
done!

Maxwell sat back; he was between his responsibilities at this point and he
would need to be content in letting the engineer take over. This was
exactly why he had asked for Ensign Foley to join him, besides the obvious
benefit of being above reproach in Jalana's court proceedings. Chip showed
such an enthusiasm and passion towards what many would consider to be a
mundane task. Traenor himself would likely blunder through some boolean
search parameters, instantly mire in the complexities of the search, and
flounder in frustration. 'Focus on your strengths and delegate for
weaknesses' was a catchphrase that was ubiquitous throughout Starfleet
command training, and it was a mindset that had transformed Maxwell into a
rounder, more accomplished officer once he accepted that tenet.

Watching Chip, Maxwell observed him raise his left hand to a console, and
nearly gasped in shock at its inhuman gesticulations until he remembered
that it was a bionic appendage, like so many other parts of the engineer.
Maxwell had never met anybody as enhanced as Chip before, but his outgoing
personality certainly helped temper the dissociative effects that his
prosthetics might otherwise garner. Maxwell hardly noted them anymore, only
having his attention drawn to them when Chip did something funky like his
hand trick, or when he stared at Maxwell for any length of time and he was
forced to focus on Foley's eyes. On cue, Chip's eyes did... something...
before he faded into what had the outward appearance of an oblivious state.

Difficult queries to the ship's computers could take an extended time to be
resolved, so Traenor imagined that it might take some time for Foley to
come up with any sort of resolution to the search he was conducting.
Indeed, it took several minutes before Chip snapped out of his virtual
trance state, startling the complacent scientist in the process.

Foley: Ooh, that WAS interesting! I've found some curiosities I think we
should review.

Traenor: ::scooting his seat closer:: Let's see what you found.

Foley displayed a list of relevant log entries, which he referenced to
bolster the concerns over the results of his search. Traenor listened
intently, starting to formulate a concept of what they were looking at
while reserving the right to be influenced by anything the ensign beside
him might yet say.

Foley: I believe these may be worth investigating further. I'm quite
curious about them - for these communications with Captain Rajel
especially, where one would expect an official record of the mission as
assigned by Starfleet Command, that record exists. But the metadata of the
comms file indicates it should be more extensive than the actual packet
appended is.

Maxwell looked at the information closely as highlighted by his colleague.
It was a masterful find, as the log on its own merits looked completely
valid. But there was definitely a discrepancy between the content of the
log and the transactional value given to it. It should be a larger amount
of data within it. Several other computer entries blinked below it in the
list, so a similar discrepancy looked to be mirrored several times along.

Traenor: This... ::tapping the display thoughtfully:: shouldn't be possible.

Foley: Precisely! I'm FIZZING with curiosity as if the inquisitive emotion
was some sort of effervescent tablet. I'm not sure if that's too much
levity for the situation at hand but I can't actually prevent it at this
point! We have so much to learn!

Traenor: ::chuckling:: I think we can accept that level of enthusiasm! So,
all these files are similarly affected?

Foley: Yes, sir! Optimal concision. So what impression do you get from the
encoding?

Maxwell bellied up to the console proper, laced his fingers and stretched
outwards, causing his fingers to crack. He then applied himself to his role
in this task. Rank had privileges, but Commander could only get you so far.
Thankfully, between vestiges of responsibilities he had maintained in more
robust roles earlier in his career, and the special dispensation afforded
him by Commander Maddox in his actions on behalf of the court, there were a
few tricks the veteran could bring to bear.

Chip had been thorough enough to decode the subspace transit data on the
logs in question, which pinged the route that the messages had taken coming
onto or leaving from the Constitution. Each subspace relay or interim
starship that was part of the chain of relaying the message could
ultimately be tracked using the data, right back to the ultimate originator
or recipient. Much like the data packet size, the transit info for the
message they were looking at seemed far too large for what should have been
a straightforward relay. It was as if it had taken a few laps around the
quadrant before completing its voyage, even though the transit packet data
'claimed' to have used the most efficient route. As well, the timestamps
were... odd. Subspace communications occurred at a more or less constant
superluminal speed, and didn't slow or accelerate data between relay
points. According to this transit packet data, the message had done just
that. Barring the results of major galactic disaster-causing rifts in
subspace (which would have been noticed, surely) then the data had been
tampered with.

This was where Traenor could use his 'lockpick' abilities to dissect the
transit data and query relays for archival reference. Using the log
regarding the mission assignment from Starfleet Command, Maxwell set the
computer on its sleuthing trail and watched it dissect the data.

Traenor: Look at this... The relay archives support the original tracing of
the message... but then... hmm. The data packets aboard the Conny were
altered on this stardate. ::pointing at the display:: That's why the
metadata suggests a larger file size than what is present in the local
computer. There is digital fingerprints of remote alteration... tracing the
timestamp of the alteration, we see this lone suspect transmission to the
Conny... follow that back...

Foley: ... that is EXTREMELY sub-optimal.

The trace had followed the suspect transmission right back to Starfleet
Command, initiated right after the reports of the aftermath of Zeltion IV
would have been received by whoever had something to hide. But who? Or
what? On a hunch, Maxwell ran the same traces on a transmission log
between Minister of Trade Anastasia Duvchenko and the Constitution's Trade
Representative, Salzaar Valys. It was with a mixture of both triumph and
regret when the results came back to the same location and circumstance as
the previous query.

Traenor: This is no coincidence. There is an individual in Starfleet
Command who knows enough about the Zeltion IV mission to not only alter
military records, but also UFP governmental records as well. Plus the
ability to actually do so. That's no Lieutenant with an axe to grind. That
requires a flag officer.

It was hard for Maxwell to fathom what stakes exactly a flag officer would
have in Zeltion IV that would justify, in their minds, destroying the
career of another highly decorated flag officer like Jalana. It sickened
him to think that this individual might get away with it too, if they
couldn't find them and expose their machinations.

Foley: Well! Is that ... hmm. What DO we do now? This is a purely
explorational area for me - political intrigue at the Fleet level seems as
lethal as ionizing radiation without as much as interesting opportunity for
studying neutron decay.

Traenor: ::wan smile:: This is the exception that proves the rule, I
fervently hope. We will certainly disclose our findings to Commander
Maddox, and she can decide on the disclosure to the court from there. Even
without knowing who is at fault for this falsification of the logs, the
proof that they have been falsified might be enough.

Foley: response

Maxwell would love to find the person responsible, of course, but he had to
be soberly realistic. What were the chances they would be so lucky? There
had to be tens of thousands of terminals in Starfleet Headquarters.

Traenor: Okay. Let's say we even could track the source of the
falsification down to a single terminal in San Francisco, would that lead
us any closer to the culprit? It would be a nice treat, but I doubt a Vice
Admiral or Commodore was nice enough to send these from their own office.
And I just don't have the skills or clearance level to glean any
identifying patterns from the data.

Foley: response

Maxwell paused for a second, fixing Chip with a scrutinizing stare. He
hardly knew the man, but he had made a favorable impression on the
scientist in the short time they had worked together thus far. He was going
to take a chance, gambling on both the measure of Chip Foley and the risk
to their contribution to the trial, and he hoped that it wouldn't be a huge
miscalculation.

Traenor: Strictly off the record. Suppose there was some way to
reverse-engineer the data-stream, to break Starfleet encryption protocols
to their core and search that for identifying patterns within the falsified
data. Highly illegal, I'm sure. But it might lead one to the perpetrator,
no?

Foley: response

Traenor: ::with a sly grin:: Hey, I didn't ASK you to do it, and I
certainly didn't hear you OFFER to do it...

Stealing Chip's own beloved affectation, Maxwell made sure to emphasize
those two key words not only verbally but with the engineer's signature air
quotations.

Foley: response


((OOC: Fluent in Technobabble Achievement - Chip made me do it by proxy, or
osmosis, or peer pressure, or something!))



--
*Commander Maxwell Traenor*
*Science Officer, **USS Constitution*
*A239111MT0*

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