Playback: Malfunction

From the Story Arc: The Essence of Life

Previous Story in the Arc: Hello Star by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Next Story in the Arc: Recall by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

(posted Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Fullerton finished entering the request into the computer and said, “It’s ready now, sir. If you’d just look at the screen for a second, you’ll see what I mean.”

The images on the monitor bank swam together and merged, forming a lattice of glowing lines. Fullerton gestured at the screen. “This is what we’d normally expect to see in a subject but in this one there is an anomaly.” Fullerton pushed another button and the image swam again, zooming in this time, passing through some of the lattice and focussing on one part of the image.

“Where? I can’t see anything?” said the Doctor.

“Well, neither could I at first but that static got me thinking and, when I mapped it to the image above, I found this.” Fullerton tapped a key and stepped back with a triumphant expression. On the screen a red line appeared and began tracing its way between the lattice work. The line moved across the screen, brushing the edges of the intricate structure and, gradually, arced back upon itself until it formed a sphere.

The Doctor walked up to the monitor bank and stared at the image. “A nice discovery, Mr Fullerton – very nice indeed. I take it there are no flaws in this... structure?”

“No, sir, not at all.” Fullerton manipulated the image, rotating the view around the red sphere. “It looks completely flawless.”

“So it does, I wonder if the other subjects had something similar...” the Doctor mused, his voice trailing off. “Well, Mr Fullerton, let’s see what it is, shall we?” he said, rubbing his hands and walking back up towards Fullerton.

“The scans aren’t penetrating properly and there are no known functions in that part of the makeup so I’m not sure quite how to proceed.” Fullerton said with a grimace.

“It’s as you said, there are no important functions within there so we can just push our way through. Yes, yes,” he continued, seeing Fullerton’s concerned expression, “but remember she wants this to work correctly and, at the moment, it isn’t.”

“As you order, sir, I’ll start the probe.” Fullerton said then, after a second continued, “It’s not working, there’s too much distortion and the beam is scattering.”

“I didn’t realised you were such a defeatist, Mr Fullerton; increase the power output and–” the Doctor glanced at the gauges monitoring the subject, “yes, lower the containment field; it’s too far gone for the field to be needed and that’ll reduce the diffraction.”

“Yes, sir.” Fullerton pushed a button and the field dropped, letting the scans run over the subject without interference. He then retargeted the probe and began again. “It’s piercing through this time but there’s still some resistance – increasing the power slightly and running a parallel probe should help.”

“Well done, Mr Fullerton,” the Doctor murmured, walking back up to Fullertons workstation, “there’s hope for you yet. Now, what do we have in there?”

They both stared at the results of the scans appearing before them. So intent were they staring that they failed to notice one of the gauges slowly begin to rise and a light start to blink...