D6 Space - The Mark of CAIN, part one

ARRIVAL

Epsilon Station.
The crew of the Nautilus arrive on time. Diegos, Mark-Ivan and J'kara have been contracted to deliver an important datachip containing an experimental program to the United Republic.

Doctor Reinhardt greets the trio at the loading docks and escorts them with a servo droid into the production area.

"We're very excited about the development. The Mark of CAIN will revolutionize artificial intelligence," the doctor explains.

Diegos had been surveying the area, but he directs his eyes to Reinhardt as his interest is piqued. "Mark of CAIN?" he asks.

The doctor pauses in front of a very shiny door and faces the group. "CAIN... Centralized Artificial Intelligence Network. The 'Mark' designates the 'hive mind' if you will.
"With the Mark located at the United Republic home station, it can be used to control AI remotely throughout the galaxy if they're linked to it."

"Fascinating!" Mark-Ivan exclaims almost impulsively.

Diegos holds back his own excitement. He had to fabricate quite a few details to land this job. But if he and his crew can get the datachip to the UR, and in record time, then they'll have no problem getting more lucrative contracts.

Mark-Ivan's surprise at the idea of the program wasn't totally unexpected. Being an artificial intelligence, himself, he's come to be grateful for the freedom Diegos had introduced him to many years ago. While he is somewhat put off by the idea of a central brain for controlling AI, he understands how important this job is to Diegos.

J'kara, meanwhile, is just waiting for it to be over. Clearly Diegos only brought her along because he needed a more capable pilot. There's surely only two reasons why he would request her to join him on this mission. The first would be an attempt to win her back now that the divorce is far behind them. The other reason was the most likely. That of needing a pilot. And although she had no desire to be involved with him again, part of her would be very pleased to know that he did still care.

The door opens with a 'swish' and Doctor Reinhardt leads them into an immaculately polished room.
"And here we are... The Mark of CAIN."

Opening an ivory box on a table in the center of the room, Reinhardt's face contorts slightly. "No..."
"It's... It's not here. It's not here!"

Almost immediately, a holo-recording appears of a man that begins to speak.
"I do hope you'll forgive my rudeness. I really couldn't stay and chat. I do thank you for the datachip, however. I can assure you that it will be put to good use."

"Do you know this man, Doctor?", Diegos inquired as he drew his blaster.

"His name is Verge. He's a criminal from Talos."

The recording continues, "Do not feel too bad, though. I did leave you a couple parting gifts."

J'kara tenses up as she senses movement behind her. The servo droid that had remained by the door was moving towards her, its eyes glowing red and its blaster rising up to target her.

"You've undoubtedly noticed one of my gifts by now. The other is under the table. It's not much, but it'll cripple production for many months. Wouldn't want you creating more of these. That would decrease its value!"

"Ivan," Diegos calls out, "there's a bomb under the table. Can you disable it?"

"I'll try my hardest, Diegos."

Reinhardt's voice is heard as the heroes begin to work on neutralizing the threats.
"Verge has been spotted heading towards the loading docks! If he gets away, we'll never get the program back!"

"I'm on it, Doc!" Diegos responds as he turns toward the door. "J'kara can you handle the robot?"

J'kara flashes a sly grin. "I'll know shortly, dear."

Next: J'KARA AND THE ROBOT

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