Doall’s revelation was met with thoughtful silence as everyone contemplated her words. Deary and Jardin cursed themselves for their folly while blaming Basil for putting the idea into their heads. LaFuentes was appalled that so dangerous a virus was still able to penetrate his HuFleet’s systems. Captain Tiberius was rubbing his behind – because it still hurt from his fall, but if people thought he was praying, he was fine with that.
The humans were all wondering whose ear had fallen off while the Logics were hiding their grimaces of sympathy for their afflicted crewmate.
LaFuentes broke the silence. “So let’s destroy the NO-BRAINR.”
Before Ellie could protest, Basil said, “That’s what I’m saying. And then we need to destroy that star. We’re going to need another warp core.”
“We are not giving you our warp core,” the captain of the Rational Plausibility said.
Jeb added, “Don’t look at us. But it seems to me if the NO-BRAINR is causing this, we should use the NO-BRAINR to stop it.”
“We don’t even know how it’s programmed wrong,” Deary protested. “We checked everything before it deployed, and it worked perfectly.”
Ellie nodded. “That’s the problem. It is working perfectly, just differently than expected – just like every other bizarre thing that’s been replicated. So, it’s not rewriting the laws of physics, but regulating a different set of laws.”
“And in order to regulate them, it has to enforce them in our universe,” Jeb concluded. “So, if we remove the enforcer, will our universe reassert itself?”
The captain of the Inconceivable spread his hands. “The universe does have a way of healing itself.”
Jeb nodded. That did explain why they didn’t continually encounter their mirror universe selves. He turned to Ellie.
The science teams had already discussed this and other alternatives, and come to the same conclusion LaFuentes had – blast the troublemaker into oblivion. Now, under the expectant stare of her captain and crewmates, she felt a trickle of doubt. Still, what alternative did they have?
“It’s our best shot, sir,” she said, “but I can’t help but feel like it’s too easy.”
The Captain nodded. “All right. Keep thinking about alternatives in case you’re right. LaFuentes, prep the phasers. You’ll have to compensate for the weird pockets of inertia outside the ship. Deary, Jardin: Can you replicate a second NO-BRAINR?”
“Aye,” Deary answered. “But I dinna see how that wouldn’t make the problem worse.”
“Oh, we’re not turning it on. I want you to replicate it, then take it apart and scan every inch. Get down to the thread level if you have to. Do the same with the TP and the running shoes and any other wonky thing. And get Sisco and Rurr to assist. Person or persons have tampered with our replication systems, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
Basil cleared his throat in a parody of politely interrupting. “Excuse me. Shouldn’t we consider the problem at hand?”
“I am – and if Ensign Doall’s instincts prove true, we’ll need a Plan B, and that means we need to learn why things are acting the way they are, and how we can influence them.”
As Ellie expected, Basil rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath about her instincts, but she didn’t let his sarcasm sting her. Instead, she basked in the faith her captain placed in her…and in the admiring and thoughtful gaze she believed she felt coming from Lieutenant Fle’ek.