USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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Is There A Cryptologist Around Here?

Posted on Sun Jan 1st, 2017 @ 12:51pm by Lieutenant JG Amber Zuzan & Lieutenant No Name

Mission: S1E3 - Operation Adrestia
Location: Intelligence Office
Timeline: Mission Day 16; 09:00

After leaving Tolan to finish his interrogation Amber clutched the PADD that contained the information of the transmission which had been sent to the Dark Horse to warn them of the minefield. She hoped that there would be someone there to help her with her investigation - preferably a cryptologist.

Amber entered the Intelligence office and found someone sat behind the desk - a brunette woman wearing Lieutenant Junior Grade rank insignia on a grey undershirt collar. Just who Amber was looking for.

"I'm sorry to interrupt Lieutenant but I could use your help. Does anyone in this department specializes in cryptology? I need this message decrypting to find out if there's any information concerning who sent it - and if there's any chance of working out which terminal it was sent from. My initial investigation to find the terminal has so far drawn a blank" Amber said.

Cat looked up from her console with a small pile of drones and surveillance devices on it. "I'm encryption specialist Ghatto," she said. "How can I help you?"

"This transmission was sent yesterday evening at around 18:00 hours to the USS Dark Horse. I need help with trying to find the sender of the message or at least any clues that might lead us to finding them. They've also managed to mask which terminal it was sent from but I'm hoping you might be able to narrow down the search" Amber said.

Amber handed Catalina the PADD and sat in front of the desk - hoping she'd get at least some positive news.

Cat took the PADD. "The Dark Horse?" she asked and tried to remember which ships were Consortium controlled and which ones weren't. She moved the pile of tools and drones aside and initiated a decryption program and a 'clean room' protocol before she linked the PADD to her terminal. If there were any viruses on it, the clean room would be automatically isolated and deleted before it could infiltrate the computer. "Do you have any idea what the transmission contained?"

"It was a bunch of co-ordinates which matched the minefield location and some words - around a dozen or so - but I haven't managed to decrypt most of them which is why I'm here. The only ones I could decrypt were 'minefield' and 'Renown' - the rest I was hoping you could work out for me" Amber replied.

"The minefield got taken down, right?" Cat asked as she launched another program and soft digital music began to play at the very edge of normal hearing. "I should be able to get it decrypted, but depending on what type of encryption it used, it could take a while. What algorithm did you use to get the information you did?"

Amber nodded. "That's correct - although we managed to make use of what was left of it when the Renown dragged the Eenhoorn into a pocket of mines. I used a recursive algorithm which gave me the information we do have"

Cat began an aggressive scan of the encrypted algorithm while her fingers flew over the console as she entered various commands to modify the decryption program as new data became available to her based on the scan. "Do we have a traitor on board the ship?" she asked as she pulled up a personnel list and had the computer search for anyone trained in encryption.

"We believe there's at least six of them. Investigations have drawn a blank - although they've managed to clear most of the remaining ships of Consortium agents we've not had the same luck here. There are suspects of course and we're eliminating them slowly but surely. It's only a matter of time before we catch them" Amber replied.

"Six?" Cat asked in disbelief and even though she could hear sounds much lower than a normal person, she wanted to be sure that she heard what the woman was saying was correct. She glanced at her console and entered a new set of variables while shaking her head. "How is that even possible at this point?"

"The Consortium cells range from six to twelve in size - it depends on the size of the starship so we could be looking at a dozen. We've eliminated around half of the crew so far but that still leaves over 400. Whoever's in charge of the cell on the Vindex must be under instructions to carry on the fight even if The Consortium looked like they were going to lose. It doesn't help with all the changes we've had in the Tactical/Security and Command departments as that's thrown the investigation a little" Amber replied.

"And Investigations hasn't turned up anything," Cat confirmed as she began to sort through different decryption programs and launched an assault on the encrypted information. She glanced at another window to see if the computer had came up with any matches yet for her search.

Amber looked around the office for a moment before replying. She'd always been quite curious and although this was generally a good thing her curiosity had got her into a few sticky situations a few times in the past.

"Other than that transmission...no. We never managed to work out who sabotaged the ship and tried to trap the three most senior officers on the ship in a forcefield...although that does lead me to think the cell has someone with an Operations and or Engineering background - after all - they both know the ship and how it works better than any other department" Amber replied.

Cat nodded as she began to attack the encrypted algorithm as if she were taking it personally. Without looking up, she continued her work while she talked. "Anyone with that kind of access would have to know Security protocols," she said. "It's no wonder why Investigations couldn't find out who is Consortium. It's most like someone in Investigations."

She glanced at the results the search had provided. "Such as Lieutenant Hiandra Virora, the person who is the overwatch for the Investigations office who has been demoted once already for protesting. There's also Ensign Shrohraoss Th'shryhrol who has a specialization in cyber security. I'd pull those two in immediately."

"A fair point Lieutenant. I'll make a note of their names on that PADD once you're finished with it and confine them to the brig once we're done here. I've already confined two suspects to the brig in the last 12 hours...we might run out of room before long" Amber said.

"How many people are in the brig now?" Cat asked as she launched a new series of assaults on the encrypted PADD and began to pull ghost data off of it.

Amber replied. "Two at the moment - but we were specifically instructed to keep them to one prisoner in each cell so they can't collaborate their stories. If it gets to the point where we're full then I'm sure we can think of a suitable solution. The airlocks might suffice..."

Cat laughed as she leaned back for a moment. "Okay...now comes the hard part," she said. "I've narrowed all the variables that I could and I'm attacking on multiple vectors. I have some data that was erased, but I need to compile it so it makes sense. Right now, it's all gibberish, but it's unencrypted gibberish that the computer needs to parse and put into a proper structure."

Amber smiled. She had always had an interest in cryptology but she had never been able to make any serious progress with it so she'd deferred to the experts when they were required. This transmission had to be one of the hardest - if not the hardest - Amber had ever attempted to decrypt.

Amber smiled. "That's something. Once we have something then I can get someone on the case to arrest Virora and Th'shryhrol and I can present this to Commander Tolan...if he's finished interrogating Johansson and Bogolyubov that is. I'll return in a second - I'm going to get our two friends brought in before they try and make a run for it or cover their tracks"

Amber briefly left the office and made a call to the on-duty Security officer in the main armoury to arrest Virora and Th'shryhrol and have their quarters and logs searched. Innocent until proven guilty of course - but there was no such thing as being too careful or lenient in this situation.

After the woman left, Cat applied herself to decrypting the rest of the PADD transmission with a vengeance. Whoever had done it had enough clearance, both data and Security to cover their tracks well. Unfortunately, they hadn't planned on a Cryptographer coming aboard the ship who had dedicated herself to decrypting every known form of encryption that was known to the Federation and had scored in the top of her class at the Academy. She said back and was looking at the full file when the woman entered again.

Amber then came back in and sat back down.

"How's it going?" Amber asked.

"Well...I have good news...and I have bad news," Cat said and looked a bit pale. "What do you want first?"

"Give me the bad news first" Amber replied.

"It was sent from the Communications Lab at eighteen hundred hours to the Dark Horse and it was about the minefield. Someone with explicit knowledge of it," Cat said as she stalled a bit.

Amber nodded. "Alright - that narrows it down somewhat because hardly anyone aboard knew about it. Only those in the briefing before the order was given to create one. What's the good news?"

"There's more bad news, first" Cat said. "It was Ensign Miana Tobin who sent the information."

Amber was mortified - Miana was one of the most talented officers in the Operations department. Evidently she'd had her head turned...but even then she was Betazoid so Amber thought Miana would have been able to resist any attempts to coerce her into joining The Consortium.

"She's in Operations. I'll have her arrested once we're finished here" Amber replied.

Cat nodded. "The good news is that I restored ninety percent of the transmission," she said. "You were correct that it was about the minefield. It had all the coordinates for them and the enemy ships were able to target them with ease. It's a shame that our own people are turning against us. Do you want me to run a cross search for Ensign Tobin 's exact whereabouts last night at eighteen hundred hours?"

"Yes please. The more evidence we have then the easier it is to pin it on her - after all - it's always innocent until proven guilty. As for people turning against us then they'll suffer the consequences once we've caught the bastards. I've heard some right horror stories that were enough to give me nightmares for a week..." Amber responded.

"Should I sent the results to you only?" Cat asked as she copied all the information she had retrieved to a fresh PADD and handed it to the woman, whose name she still didn't know.

Amber nodded. "I'd appreciate if you did. As I'm leading the investigation I don't want any word getting out to the wrong people - there's only a few people I trust and I'd rather tell them in person. At least then there's - in theory - no way of anyone untoward finding out"

"Understood, Lieutenant....excuse me, but I never got your name," Cat said with a sheepish grin.

Amber smiled. "Amber Zuzan - a pleasure to meet you Miss Ghatto"

"The pleasure is mine, Lieutenant Zuzan," she said. "I'll get that information to you personally as soon as I get it. If you need anything else, let me know."

"Thank you for your help Lieutenant Ghatto. I'm sure I'll see you around the ship at some point" Amber replied.

Amber then stood up and headed out of the office to arrest Ensign Tobin and hopefully start bringing The Consortium agents on the Vindex to justice. She knew Miana was just one of as many of twelve - but if she could find enough evidence then each colleague would lead to the other until all of them were captured.

 

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