PIKTAR SYSTEM – An artificial intelligence aboard Outpost Alpha was badly damaged after various attempts at merging it with a deadly program called Mercy.
Commodore Heather Westhaven had requested the USS Columbia to investigate incidences of computer and robot malfunctions on Outpost Alpha. As soon as Columbia approached the outpost, it was contacted by Goxac, captain of a Ferengi marauder called The Sons of Ferenginar. The Ferengi seemed to have been tipped on the events concerning Outpost Alpha, and they did all they could to steal the outpost’s artificial intelligence.
An away team from Columbia went to investigate the outpost and came across Lt. T’Sai, who turned out to be at the head of the A.I. project. This unique project used a seven-year-old girl, whose dead body had been donated to the outpost to be subsequently connected to their computers.
The A.I., called Providence, managed to partially control the Columbia, using a musical cypher, inadvertently played by Lt. Cmdr. Silveira. This code had been sold to him by a Ferengi. However, during his diplomatic ventures, Ambassador Gavin MacLaren had also come across the same sort of file. Thankfully, upon discovering that the A.I. was meant to be united to a destructive program called Mercy, the crew managed to reason with it. While doing so, they interrupted the merging process, which unfortunately badly impacted Providence’s program.
“It is the other half of the circle. You are speaking to Providence, and that is Mercy,” said Providence, the A.I. from Outpost Alpha. “One cannot exist without the other, but the link is not complete.”
On the outpost, T’Sai made a desperate attempt to reunite Providence with Mercy, but while this was happening, a mysterious woman contacted Lt. Cmdr. Brek, giving him an ultimatum: if T’Sai couldn’t be stopped, then the outpost would self-destruct within minutes. With so much at stake, Brek fired at the scientist and then stopped her program. Unfortunately, this damaged Providence’s matrix even further.
When everything looked settled, The Sons of Ferenginar fired on Columbia. They had better weapons than the Columbia crew had surmised, and they managed to create substantial damage to the Federation ship. It took the ingenuity of Captain Livingston, along with the tactical, science and engineering departments, to put into action a plan that wrecked the Ferengi marauder. Unbeknown to the Columbia crew, “the mysterious woman” discovered that those Ferengi had been in the pay of the Tal Shiar.
Once everyone was back on board, Ensign Tatash questioned the scientists from Outpost Alpha. When it became clear that none of them were entirely aware of the ramifications of Project Providence, Tatash requested the help of Ambassador MacLaren to devise a protection plan for them.
A few days later, with the ship repaired thanks to the diligence of Ensigns Theo Whittaker and Nuvia Oori, the crew was invited to a holodeck barbecue, where the food was being served by two impromptu chefs: Captain Livingston and Ensign Tatash. The crew then discovered that their chief counsellor, Cmdr. Karynn Brice, had given birth to a healthy baby girl.