UES Enterprise. Rexus System. 29th April 2151 "Mind if I join you, Professor?" Hoshi Sato asked as they left the briefing room. "I'd like to see how my sparring partner is getting on." "Certainly. And please, call me Polly. If I wanted everyone calling me Professor all the time I'd have stayed in the University with my students." "Sure. And call me Hoshi." Hernandez caught up with them. "I'll tag along too. If there's a problem with the weapons I ought to know about it." Polly nodded. "Certainly Maria. I may call you Maria, may'nst I?" Hernandez hesitated. "Ah, no offence Professor, but I'm not sure that's appropriate, given my position." Polly shrugged. "Suit yourself. Actually, now we've got a moment, there was something I wanted to ask you." They reached one of the main bulkheads. Hoshi pulled the hatch open and held it for the other two. "What is it Professor?" Hernandez asked. Polly waited for Hoshi to catch up. "We've recovered a lot of debris, both from the station and from the T'dara Len. Using a similar technique to the one we used to identify the small arms fire, we should be able to do the same with the ship mounted weaponry. It'd be impractical to do it for real, but computer modelling should give us ballpark results. So I'll need full details on all the Enterprise's weaponry, plus that of all other Earth ships. I asked Captain Archer, but he said that this is your territory." Hernandez was shaking her head. "Out of the question. That information is classified." Polly regarded her silently for a moment. "Commander, I need that information." "I'm sorry, but the answer is no." For several long seconds the blonde scientist stood perfectly still, deep in thought. Then, a decision apparently made, she turned and walked to the nearest communicator point. Taking the handset she tapped in a number. "Hello, security? Hi, can you send someone to, ah, corridor A-4, please. No, no, just one. Oh, OK. No, nothing serious." She put the handset down. "It seems they don't go anywhere alone, so they're sending two of them." Hernandez glanced at an equally perplexed looking Sato, and asked "Professor, why do you think you need a security team?" "I don't. You do." said the Professor, smiling slightly. She put the sample case down, leant against the nearest wall, and stretched one long leg out. With a sudden snick! a metallic spike suddenly appeared under her foot. She put her foot down, testing that the high heel would support her weight, before repeating the process with the other leg. Hoshi was watching this time. It was almost too fast to see, but it seemed as if the length of the heel had been folded flat against the underside of her boot. It wasn't just a few centimetres of height. All right, a lot of centimetres of height. Polly seemed to have gained some confidence, some....Hoshi searched for the word. Backbone. Yeah, that was it. Backbone. Hernandez was shaking her head slightly, not quite knowing what to make of it all. "Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, Commander. I need the data on the ships weapons. I intend to get it. Now I hope that you will see reason and authorize...ah, here are the security people." "What's the problem, Ma'am?" one asked, addressing Hernandez. It was Polly who answered. "The first officer here would like you to place me under arrest." she said, cheerfully. All trace of the lethargy that had afflicted her earlier seemed to have fled. What the Hell are you doing? Hernandez thought to herself. Out loud she said "No, no I don't want her arrested. This is all some misunderstanding." Polly turned to the male security officer. "Now, concentrate, because this is something you'll want to remember. Especially when talking to your friends, and when you're in bed tonight. Put the handcuffs on me. Go on, put them on.". She held her hands out in front of her, wrists together. "Put the cuffs on me." Looking rather flushed, the officer glanced round at the others for guidance. "Don't do it." Hernandez said. "I don't know what her game is, but, just...just go. Go back to your duties." "Yes Ma'am." the female security officer said, grabbing her colleague by the elbow to guide him away. "Spoilsport." said Polly. Hernandez folded her arms. "OK, I'll bite. What was that all about?" "Commander Hernandez. As a matter of professional courtesy I have asked your permission to access the data I need. You have denied my that data. I'm telling you now that I intend to get it from the main computer. And if that means attempting to gain access to the secure files without your authorization, then I will make such an attempt." She pointed in the direction the security team had gone. "You shouldn't have sent them away, Commander. The only way you can stop me making an attempt is to put me under arrest." Hernandez squared up to Partridge. "It would be a bad idea to try anything Professor. Quite apart from being illegal, it'd also be futile. The computer security is state of the art. You may be smart, but I seriously doubt even you can bypass it." For long seconds the two women stood face to face. Hoshi scarcely dared breathe, unwilling to affect the outcome. Who will blink first? Polly took a step backwards, and cocked her head to one side. "Oh well, worth a try." Hernandez smiled slightly, and gestured along the corridor to sick bay. "Shall we continue?" They'd taken no more than a dozen steps before Polly said "You place a lot of faith in the security system, don't you?" "Shouldn't I?" Hernandez asked, holding open the next hatch. "I was just--thank you--I was just wondering, how effective do you think that security system would be against someone who helped programme it?" Hoshi was halfway through the hatch at the time, with Hernandez right in front of her but facing away. From her vantage point she could see the hairs rise on the back of the XO's neck. "What do you mean?" Polly's expression gave nothing away. "I was wondering, if one of the original programmers attempted to bypass the system, do you think they'd be able to do so?" Again, Hoshi found herself a bystander to a contest of willpower. She watched both women carefully, looking for the faintest twitch or change of expression. Hernandez took a deep breath. "Are you saying that you were one of the programmers?" Polly spread her hands wide. "I'm not saying that. I'm not saying anything. I'm not suggesting or implying or hinting at anything. I am not making a definitive statement of any sort. I am merely...asking. I have a great curiosity about the universe in general and am interested in your opinion. On this matter, at least." For a moment Hoshi was convinced that the XO would call back security and have the Professor arrested. Instead Hernandez inclined her head, as if in acknowledgement of a game well played. "All right, Professor. I'll authorize the release of the information you require, if you agree to certain security protocols regarding the viewing and dissemination of such--" "Protocol Sixteen Alpha? I've got the forms right here." Polly said, pulling a pad from her case. "Remind me never to challenge you to a game of chess." Hoshi smiled. "You think too far ahead for my tastes." "Oh, no applause yet. Wait till I explain why the gun blew up. Then you can bask in my brilliance!" She was still giggling when they reached the sick bay.