Star Guardian
Chapter 16: One Node Too Many

Copyright© 2018 by Duncan7

Once again I had a talk with Ship. I sensed that time was running out, and I was not nearly as prepared as I would have liked to be. Something long ago took out this entire system, and an entire space-faring race. A head-on conflict would be futile, or it would have worked before. Whatever the Baglogi defence was then did not work, and the foe probably knew all about how to destroy Baglogi vessels. I had to think up something fast.

I met with Jem and Koluna in the main bridge. “We need to work through things and come up with something new fast. In the past I’d go off on my own and try to come up with an idea before I share it with you. We don’t have time for that approach, I’d like to work together on this,” I said.

“Agreed, go for it!” said Jem.

“My first question, that has been bothering me, is how did this foe defeat the Baglogi? If I compare Ship against Ori or Tian technology, it is still way ahead,” I asked.

“Perhaps they are more powerful, or in greater numbers,” offered Koluna.

“Or more advanced technology,” said Jem.

“Yes. All good ideas,” I said. “Ship, if you had to defeat another Baglogi vessel that had been stolen by an enemy, how would you do it?”

“I would interface with the vessel’s AI and get it to shut down. Without the AI, the vessel would be neutralized,” said Ship. Jem’s eye’s widened at this answer.

“What authorization is needed to shut down another vessel?” asked Jem.

“A senior ranking fleet admiral or above could order the AI of any Baglogi vessel to shut down, or take over control of the vessel,” said Ship.

“Including this vessel?” asked Jem.

“Confirmed,” said Ship.

“Oh crap!” said Jem, “Brian, do you think this is how it was done?”

“I was trying to put myself in the foe’s place and imagine how to defeat the Baglogi. Their technology could have been used against them. If they took control of all vessels, they could order them to fly into the nearest star. The Baglogi crews would be helpless,” I shared.

“What can we do?” asked Koluna.

“We need to disable this feature, so that Ship can not be turned against us. Ship, given the evidence that the Baglogi race was destroyed long ago and there are no surviving fleet admirals or above, can we disable this protocol? Considering the protocol to preserve the Baglogi species, it is essential it not be used to bring about the extinction of the remaining Baglogi,” I said. We waited several minutes. Various lights on consoles blinked, as Ship appeared to be thinking.

“Confirmed. Remote override protocol has been evaluated vs. preservation of the Baglogi species protocol. Remote override protocol has been decommissioned. Any and all valid credentials will be assumed to be false,” said Ship. We all expressed a collective sigh after that.

“I am uncertain this is the only weakness. Ship, what protection against a cyber attack do you have? They might have developed protocols for hacking our AI,” I asked/said.

“Protection is via Baglogi firewalls and protocols,” said ship.

“Could we add a physical disconnect, something like pulling the plug from all external communications?” asked Jem. More lights on consoles blinked.

“Confirmed. Isolation protocol is created. You may enable and disable via voice command,” said Ship.

“Good!” Exclaimed Jem. Koluna looked more relieved.

“Er Ship, what can we do to protect the probes and satellites we launched? Can we disable remote override protocol from them too?” I asked.

“But exclude the extra node Ship,” added Jem.

“Confirmed. Initiating a protocol update propagating through the network ... Update completed,” said Ship. Using the system network helped speed things up.

“What’s next Brian?” asked Jem. She looked me in the eyes.

“We are one vessel against an unknown number of foe vessels. We need to fight from the shadows. As with our first mission against the pirates, we hide, attack only when we are certain to win, and run if we have to. No head-on confrontations,” I said.

“Agreed,” said Jem.

“Ship, do you have any report from the two probes you sent out perpendicular to the elliptical plane of the system?” I asked.

“Last check-in both probes had reached their assigned destinations. They found no evidence of any alien probe monitoring the system,” Ship Responded.

“Captain, I recommend we re-task them to bring them back in towards Baglogi-4 from opposite directions. If foe vessels were to arrive in system and proceed towards Baglogi-4, the probes should be placed where they are more likely to intercept. They are both armed with nano-bots,” I said.

“Yes. Ship, please do what Brian just said,” said Jem.

“Confirmed,” said Ship.

“Great!” I was feeling better about this.

“What’s next Brian?” asked Jem. She looked me in the eyes.

“Well, uh Ship please summarize the technological improvements or developments you have had since you left the Baglogi system about two thousand Ori years ago? Try to filter the list down to either defensive or offensive improvements. For example, the use of nano-bots,” I asked.

“List is as follows: use of weaponized nano-bots, Remote override protocol was decommissioned, Isolation protocol was created. List ends,” said Ship.

“So other than the three things we recently added, all systems are per original design specifications?” I asked.

“Confirmed,” said Ship. I frowned at Jem. Crap!

“Jem, two thousand years of opportunities missed! I know we can’t change the past. All my life I have studied and learned to become more and better. Our survival here depends on being better than those Baglogi who were destroyed before. With your consent, I would ask you give Ship permission to grow and become more and better. You can include protocols for oversight of proposed improvements,” I said.

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