Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
TITLE: Call Me Krea
By Kate Grey
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He stared at his wife. “You… have a name?” His words came slowly. “You know we’re not allowed to use names.” It was thought that names would make people too individualistic. The universe depended upon cooperation.
Their location made certain things, like church attendance, easier, but as much as possible the colony followed code.
“I know the code, but ‘Resident Microbiologist’ identifies my work, not me. RM is no better. I’m not merely a function—I’m a person.”
“But the code… How did you get… I mean, who…” Technology Director Two shook his head. “‘Krea’ isn’t even a normal name from back when our grandparents all had names.”
“Mother read it in a book.”
“I should have known it would come back to one of those antique documents.” He seemed amused as well as concerned. “RM, we’ll talk later? It’s time for work.”
TD-Two winked and stepped into the transporter. The doors closed.
Later would be fine. Now, it was time for work.
Arriving at the lab, RM brushed her finger across the DNA scanner to gain admittance.
She checked cultures and equipment, as well as the monitors and probes providing information from the Exterior on the other side of the biodome wall. The data was good: the Earth Reconstruction Project was on track. Her microbes were eating toxins, making nitrogen and oxygen, and rebuilding topsoil. Satisfied, she went to check the outdoor lab situated between the lab building and the biodome wall.
Five cultures were dead.
Praying while she worked, she typed the culture numbers into her Comm, added a command to check the status of the chemical probes and cross-reference that data with the cultures, and paged the biodome Director. “Director, we have a problem. Something is wrong with the biodome atmosphere.”
“You can brief us in the Situation Room. I’m assembling a team. TD-Two reports that our systems have been compromised.”
She was glad to hear that her husband of less than a year was already aware of a security problem and would be at the meeting. She stepped into the transporter.
Entering the Situation Room, she was not surprised to find the entire room focused on her. Atmosphere was rather vital.
“Some of my microbes are dead. These bacteria are very sensitive and provide an early indication of any problems in the atmosphere. I’ve begun an analysis to determine the exact problem. I would predict a pollutant rather than a failure of an Atmosphere Control System component, since only five of the cultures are affected.” She deliberately used the word “pollutant” rather than “toxin” to avoid suggesting the problem was purposeful. She checked her Comm, which was tracking the progress of her algorithmator. “Please brief me on the security of our systems.”
Traces of an unknown program had been found on the systems, but no one was sure yet what exactly had been run or why. TD-Two was checking the systems, several people were systematically running checks on each component of the compound, and techs had even been sent out to physically confirm the findings.
Briefings over, the room returned to a focused murmur of typing and Comm conversations. RM went back to her lab and worked from there, checking with the team frequently on her Comm and occasionally on the Visual so she could see the displays.
At first, there were only questions.
With time, however, there were known facts. The system had been hacked from a location on Saturn, the planet where the majority of the solar system’s citizens, as well as its government, were located. All systems were currently in working order, although they could not be presumed to be secure. The foreign element was the toxic substance Virdon. A few people had reported to the infirmary, and more complained of headaches and even joint pain.
RM was making progress at engineering a bacterium to clean up the toxin.
TD-Two sought admittance to the lab, and RM cleared him for entry.
Entering, he took a seat. “Is the room secure?” She nodded. “I’m going on a mission to Saturn. We located the source of the hacking. We think we can get into their system and disable the function, but we need to be onsite.”
He didn’t say it was dangerous.
He didn’t have to.
Too soon, she was bidding him Godspeed. “May our Lord hold you in His hand.”
“He does.” His next words were a mere whisper. “God bless you, my Krea.”
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