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  1. Viral Exhaustion After a grueling 38 hours of dealing with false red alerts and lockdowns, replicators that served coffee without end, false emergency medical calls, and countless other glitches that seemed to multiply exponentially, Captain Chirakis and the crew yielded to the expertise of 30 plus engineers sent from Starfleet to relieve them. After an hour of debriefing, the crew of Aegis dragged themselves to their quarters for a long-awaited rest. At 0500 the next day the captain stepped off the lift and gave her usual pause for assessment. Not surprisingly, a cadre of engineers was checking various areas of Command and Control, and one engineer in particular caught her attention. Commander Eli Drexler, commanding officer of Starfleet Command’s special operations engineers, hovered over a console, tricorder in hand, working with the lieutenant next to him. Captain Chirakis would not have given the engineers a second glance except that their uniforms were a deep blue, their shoulders bore the insignia of Starfleet Command, and clasped on Commander Drexler’s collar was the gold insignia of Starfleet Command. As soon as her presence was noticed, the overzealous Officer of the Watch came to attention with, “Captain on deck!” His call brought CnC to a screeching halt until Kirel casually responded, “As you were.” Drexler turned with the others, stopped working and responded with a crooked grin as the captain approached. “Commander Drexler,” she said, her hand outstretched in greeting. “I knew Starfleet was sending engineers, but I had no idea that Starfleet Command was in the mix.” “Jolan’tru, Riov,” he said, stepping aside to take hold of her forearm as if he were Rihannsu, which he definitely was not. Fair skin, blond hair cropped to regulation, and a sturdy muscular build betrayed his full Terran ancestry. Of course, his crooked smile helped. “Your Rihan is improving, Commander… if only slightly,” she quipped with a glance at the console he had been checking. “Have you found anything new regarding the glitches?” Drexler sighed, shifting his weight to nod toward the console. “Unfortunately, not much more than your officers have found. You wanted to know why they sent Command? Well, there’s more to this situation than meets the eye… but I’m sure you already know that.” “Indeed we do, Commander. If you have a moment, we can discuss this in my office.” “Yes, ma’am. Jim, take over,” he said, passing the tricorder to the lieutenant. “See if you can pinpoint and trace that last red alert.” “Aye, sir,” he responded as the office door closed behind them. “We are still dealing with red alerts?” asked Kirel as she waved him into a chair. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied as his eyes swept the office. “We’ve been able to mute the false klaxons, but the false lights still engage. In a real emergency, the klaxons will sound.” “Excellent, Commander. Coffee?” “Probably a good idea, ma’am. It’s been an… interesting night.” “More interesting than our first 38 hours?” She asked, handing him a cup of coffee then pouring one for herself. “Not sure, ma’am. If you tell me what you’ve experienced so far, maybe we can put two and two together and get more than… one and a half?” The coffee seemed to console him as he settled on the couch. “And it would be helpful if you could toss me what your engineering team suspects... or whatever ideas they have, no matter how bizarre they sound.” “What do they suspect?” Kirel mused as she relaxed in her office chair. “Several things, one of which is that the origin, or the source of the glitches is somewhere on the station. “Commander Coleridge suggested that the virus could be a red herring or a smaller part of a larger offensive such as getting physical access to our systems and bypassing security. “Another? The virus is a programming virus, and someone could have planted a device on an unsuspecting individual and brought it into our systems. Or someone could have used the material as a vector for smuggling the virus into the station to avoid our security checks. “In any event, security is searching for suspicious activity that began in the past few days. They are targeting potentially vulnerable access points. "Should I go on?" "No, ma'am. That's pretty much what we've decided. So far, anyway. Our biggest problem is finding and losing. We start tracking something, almost get it, and bam, it disappears into something else, almost like it has a mind of its own. It moves to some other area or morphs into a different glitch altogether. One minute it targets the replicators, the next minute the replicators are fine and the klaxons start blaring. Like kids playing a game.” Kirel put her coffee aside and relaxed in her chair, mulling that over. “Captain,” Drexel continued thoughtfully, “has anyone outside the station reported glitches like this? Or anything similar?” “Not to my knowledge. However, I will investigate the possibility. USS Calgary has been working with us to rectify the problem on station. However, USS Missouri is due to replace them today. I will certainly ask.” “Good. Good,” he replied wearily, relaxing into the deep leather of the couch. “Is your billeting acceptable?" asked Kirel, noting his weary condition. "Oh, it's fine, ma’am. In fact, it's better than we expected, new station and all. Can't wait to test the bunks. Brand new?" "Indeed they are. And you will be able to make use of them within the next hour. Which reminds me that I am expecting a conference call in a few minutes. However, before you go, pass the word to your crew that all restaurants and bistros on the commerce deck are available and will be expecting them. As you are aware, the replicators are fickle. Among other things, they have a tendency to interpret steak as gagh.”