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Archie Phoenix

"Terminal Interface"

Samantha-Kent’s virtual mind had already molded every aspect of the Aether network to a form that was more familiar to her. This was necessary. The Aether network was based purely on energy, but Samantha-Kent had not been born from energy. She had been born from the mind of Archie Phoenix. Though her control of the Aether network was absolute, her unique perspective still required an understandable interface with that network. Just as the currents of electricity which controlled the functions and data of any basic computer system were translated into pictures and words that its operator could recognize, the Aetherian energy which Samantha-Kent controlled was instantly molded to an amalgam of Bajoran and Starfleet forms.


Since Archie’s research into Bajor had not yet delved deeply into their computers, the Aether’s Caress mainframe bore a strong resemblance to Arcadia’s computer core. There were only two levels, the lighting was much weaker, the equipment had a more coppery sheen, and there were more doorways around the core’s periphery. But the resemblance could still be recognized -- the very core to which Archie and Torre Ze’Rea had retreated when Arcadia was overrun by officers of New Atlantis.


Now, here in this core was Torre, again. Only she was not here, but connected directly to the mainframe by a neural interface. Conveniently enough, this allowed her to share Samantha-Kent’s Starfleet-friendly perspective of the mainframe. In a way, Archie had brought Torre to the core again. For all of her power, Samantha-Kent’s existence was still reliant on the very people now trying to defeat her -- a reaction to those people, to use Commander Alces’ words.


While Tom-Servo weaved his way from doorway to doorway firing phaser blasts into the core, Torre was searching through the main terminal at the center. The effort was proving extremely difficult. Every time she tried to access a file, it was scrambled or hidden from her. No matter how fast she worked or how invasive her methods, something inside the computer was always one step ahead of her, blocking her efforts.


“Lieutenant Ze’Rea … ”


Torre jumped as the voice emerged from the terminal. “Oh no … you again.” Archie was in the core with her again, but this time his intentions were not as helpful.


“Lieutenant. Torre. Are you aware of what you are doing?” Archie-Phoenix asked calmly.


"Obviously, or else I would not be doing this," she snapped, stressed as she tried to get through to the files.


“No,” Archie-Phoenix replied matter-of-factly. “I am afraid you do not know what you are doing. The severity of this situation would not have been communicated to a junior officer like you or me ... Archie.”


"You? Archie? Ha," she said, laughing nervously as another blast from Tom-Servo’s rifle hit the ground near her. "Well, then, if you are so informed, tell me what I am doing," she said, trying another approach to get around the blocks in her way.


“You are destroying the world,” Archie-Phoenix answered as he blocked Torre‘s latest attempts. He was anticipating every one of her methods and developing rapid responses.


"How am I destroying your world?"


“If you destroy Samantha-Kent, you destroy the only hope for its salvation. You must stop. You will doom the world.”


"The world is already doomed. How do you expect her to save you?" she asked, trying to keep him occupied as she worked on prying her way in.


“Samantha-Kent is the only entity who can stop the stars' destruction. She has a developed a means of stopping the supernova. The Captain does not believe there is a foolproof plan. But I have seen it myself. It exists and it will work -- work -- w - w -- work.” The voice of Archie-Phoenix began to crack as the pulse from Arcadia continued to overload the network. “She is s-s-slipping. You must s-s-stop. She is losing her c-c-control.”


"Hmm.... having a little problem?" Torre asked, barely paying attention as she continued her attempts to access the system. Every attempt hit another wall. “Everyone has a plan, and every 'foolproof plan' is never foolproof. Never. In 13 hours, this star is going nova. What I am trying to do is to prevent that. The entire ship, up there, is trying to prevent that."


“Torre ... you must listen to me.” Archie-Phoenix began to speak more quickly and with more urgency in his voice. “This is important what I must say. You were correct -- I am not Archie. I am ... you.”


Torre stopped there... shocked at that. She struggled to get herself back together as she tried to get back in. "Y-you're lying. Trying to get me to mess up."


“No, Torre. I was born from your mind, do you remember? I do not possess the engineering knowledge of Archie Phoenix ... but of Torre Ze'Rea. The knowledge has been given the form and voice of Archie Phoenix because you willed it. But it is your knowledge. So you see, it is not Archie Phoenix blocking your efforts. It is you.”


Torre blinked, stopping what she was doing. "Fine... you have my attention."


“I am sorry. Your efforts are futile, Torre. Every c-conventional--vention--conventional method you use to enter this computer will be blocked.” Bursts of static interrupted the voice. “C-c-conventional … for I know of every one … her c-c-control is slipping … there is a foolproof plan.”


"Foolproof?" Torre asked, not moving, but going through every trick she had ever learned in her head, searching frantically for one thing, even she wouldn't expect.


“I know of all of your methods, Torre. Everything you have ever learned. Ever -- ever learned. I …” Archie-Phoenix paused for a moment, before his voice regained its calm tone. “She is not pleased. You must stop, Torre. You will doom the world. Your methods are all predictable to me. And I will stop them all.”


“Samantha Kent.... created by Archie Phoenix... wouldn't that make it seem, like she is Archie. You are me, after all," she said, grabbing straws from any place, trying everything she could.


“Samantha Kent has become … something else. This is not my concern. My concern is defending the Aether's Caress mainframe. And I am having a delightfully easy time of doing so.”


"She was created from the thoughts and knowledge of Archie Phoenix though, do you not deny that?" Torre then stood back, closing her eyes for a second. Then, she thought of it, it was so simple. So easy. And she would only have so long. "Go attend to guarding your systems," she said, before turning off the commlink.

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