Shifting Paradigms: Chapter 1

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Shifting Paradigms

Surg sat in his office, staring at his computer screen.  He should be working.  There were financials to go over, projects to approve.  There was always work to be done, money to be made.  Sometimes, though, his office felt more like a prison than a palace.  He had all the nicest things, all the best equipment.  Every item in the office was either a status symbol or top of the line functional.

He could have done without the status symbols, but it was expected.  After all, he was owner of Inia Intergalactic, an enormous company with a lot of money and a lot of klout.  It was expected.  Still, it didn’t stop him from wanting to escape from time to time.

He looked over at his comm.  I wonder what my brother’s doing.  He was tempted to call him, but his brother was probably busy.  The two of them were always busy, which was why it had been so long since they had spoken, even longer since they’d talked about something other than business.

As he reached for the display to pull up the directory, it flashed with an incoming call.  “Incoming call from The Trojan,” the screen said, with symbols under it to accept or send to the messaging system. He hit accept.

“Inia, sir,” Cass said, nodding at him.

“Surg, please,” he said, frowning as he noted the worry on her face.  “Is everything all right?”

Cass ran a hand through her hair as she took a deep breath.  “I’m not sure.”

“Well, tell me.  Maybe I can help.”  He rested his forearms on his desk, leaning forward unconsciously.

“It’s a friend of ours, Victoria.  I think something’s wrong.  I just don’t know what.”

“Why do you think there’s something wrong?”

She leaned back, looking off to the side.  “It started with a comm.  She cut it off abruptly.”

“Is that not normal, then?”

She shook her head, then frowned and nodded.  “Yes and no.  Victoria can be blunt and a little bit absentminded.  She’s definitely hung up on us before, but this was different.  She looked… she looked almost scared.  And the AI said something in the background.”  She closed her eyes.  “Angus, what did he say?  Did you record it?”

“Aye.  Her AI said the comm was compromised.”

Compromised?  “Is your friend a pirate like yourself?”

Cass snorted.  “Victoria?  A pirate?”  She laughed.  “No.  She’s a scientist.  Now that I think about, she was really excited about something the last time we talked.  It sounded like she’d had a breakthrough.  But no, there’s no reason someone should be out to get her.

“And yet, we haven’t been able to get in contact with her since.”

“How long has it been?”

She leaned forward.  “Weeks.  She isn’t the most communicative.  If she gets absorbed in her work, she could get consumed by it for days, but this isn’t like her.”  She shook her head.  “No matter what was going on in her lab, there’s no reason we wouldn’t have been able to get in touch with her by now.  Something’s wrong.”

“Have you tried tracking her ship?”

“Yeah.  We’re not getting any pingbacks.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Our ships are identical.  It should be easy to get a ping.  They’re designed for that.  It’s like it’s being blocked.”

“So, what do you want from me?”

“You… have connections I don’t.  I’m really worried about her.  She’d not a pirate like me or a cargo ship captain like our friend, Ellie.  She’d not a fighter.”

“Okay.  I’ll send out some feelers.  I’ll let you know.”

Cass sighed.  “Thank you.”


Victoria felt like her skin was going to crawl off.  Grease covered her arms from the equipment, something sharp was digging into her hip, and these coveralls were irritating her skin to the point of distraction.

“Angus, add more comfortable coveralls to my shopping list.”


“Thanks, Angus.”  She reached in, isolated the circuit she’d been looking for, then shimmied out of the wall.  “Okay, what about now?”


“Dang it,” she said, flailing her arms several times, her jaw tense.  Victoria stood up and paced the corridor, taking deep breaths to try to calm the episode she felt rearing up with alarming speed.  She didn’t need an episode.  She needed to fix this.

Why couldn’t she figure this out?  It was her own ship, for crying out loud!  She’d designed the thing, but she still couldn’t figure out how someone had compromised her comms.

Or how they knew about her research, for that matter.  She still hadn’t gotten around to starting her experiments, and it had been weeks.  Which was probably making her stress worse, actually.  She was always a bit calmer and put together when she was working.  She’d always loved spaceships and all the technology that went along with them.  So, working on ships and improving their technologies was a passion of her, one she happily endulged.

Unfortunately, she knew someone had compromised her ship, her baby.  But no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t figure out what they’d done.  Angus had recognized the outgoing signal, but they hadn’t been able to trace the signal back to its source code.  In fact, the damned thing had run a military-grade wipe to clear the history of the comm.  They didn’t know what had been sent or how it had been sent.

She stopped and banged her head against the wall.  “God, why didn’t I become a computer programmer?”  She could do some programming, create coding from her mathematical equations, but she usually needed Cass to help with turning her barebones code into a more useful program.

More importantly, Victoria’s code always started from the tech side.  She could develop code to complement the hardware she designed, but staring at another person’s code made her confused, scrambled.

“You shouldn’t hit yourself, Victoria.”

She sighed, looking up at the plain, metal ceiling.  “I know that Angus.”  Frankly, it hadn’t even hurt.  She rubbed her forehead and started pacing again.

They’d already disconnected every system that was designed to send signals off ship.  But every diagnostic came up empty.

Could they have compromised Angus’s programing?  If they did, they could simply make him ignore their code, and Victoria didn’t have the expertise to figure it out.  She stopped her hand, realizing she was rubbing and scratching her chest above the neckline of her coveralls.

“Man, I wish Cass was here.”  Should she call her?  Maybe Cass could find the issue?

She turned and leaned against the wall, her anxiety getting the better of her once more, like a thousand bees crawling over her skin while her stomach churned endlessly.  She took another deep breath.

What more could they do?  “Angus, how long was the signal?  How much could have been sent?”

“Unknown.  Depends on systems affected.”

Of couse.  If they had access to navigation, they could send her location.  Which was why she had stopped moving since.  Or they could have access to her research.

She was stuck, frozen in limbo.  She couldn’t return to normal, but neither could she solve the problem.  “Angus, how much longer until you finish the line by line code analysis?”

“Another week.”

Crap.  “Okay, what else can I work on?  What else can I check?”  She might not be much of a programmer, but she knew this ship like that back of her hand.  If anyone could find a bug or transmitter on it, she could.

But she was afraid she was running out of time.

And she knew she was running out of resources…

Series Navigation<< Shifting Paradigms: PrologueBacklists & Piracy: Does the one defeat the other? >>

Discover more from Danielle Forrest | Sci-Fi Romance Author

Subscribe to get the latest posts sent to your email.

Related posts

Let me know what you think...