Title: Everybody Stand Back
Summary: Information can be hard to find sometimes, but all is not lost!
Notes: Written for the OC Database challenge: Let your OC face a seemingly impossible task that then is solved by tricky thinking
"We have a problem." Iraya looked up at Alyse, a grimace on her face.
"Problem?" Alyse echoed. "What kind of problem?"
"The kind of problem where the Mandalorians are on to Squint and his team." Iraya handed her a sheet of flimsi. "This is a transcript of the last message we intercepted."
Alyse scanned the message. "Okay, they know where he is. There's just one problem, though. We don't."
Iraya blinked. "You mean... they didn't tell anyone?"
"This was supposed to be a highly secure mission," Alyse replied tersely. "This obviously failed, though I haven't the foggiest how they found him. But we weren't told where exactly he was heading. Or even remotely."
"Well it has to be documented somewhere," Iraya frowned. "In his personal message logs, maybe?"
"I'd guess, yeah." Alyse tried to think of anyone else who might have known, but even the Admiral had been kept out of the loop, location-wise. He'd taken to being very short with the remaining Jedi on board, as he hated to be left out of the loop on anything. But Squint took orders directly from his Master, and nobody dared to complain because his Master was the one that brought the Jedi into the war in the first place. "But I don't know how to get into them."
"Neither do I. And how would we find the right message?"
The two Jedi stood in silence, wheels clearly cranking in their heads, until Alyse's face lit up. "Wait a minute, I'm completely stupid!"
Iraya blinked at her. "And this helps us how?"
"My sister," Alyse replied urgently. "She's the one who works down in Network Operations. Every communication that happens on this ship is logged there. She's got to have access to the files, somehow!"
Iraya grinned. "Way to have connections, Alyse. We'd better move- if we're going to warn them, we've got to figure out where they are."
* * *
"You want us to do what?" Wes Frishbe looked incredulously at the two Jedi who had barged into Network Ops with little more than a quick hello before stating their dilemma. "You've got to be kidding."
"Where's my sister?" Alyse asked impatiently. "She can fix this."
"What you're asking," Wes enunciated irritably, "is for us to look through several hundred terabytes of data for a text-only copy of a message containing something formatted like a location. Since, you know, it's not like we log them in folders by user in here."
"Well, why not?" Alyse demanded. "That's dumb. I don't even know how this all works, and I can tell you that's a bad system."
Another programmer, Jash, snorted loudly. "You think there's a regular request for this sort of thing?"
"Why else would you log everything?"
Wes shrugged. "We didn't design it, we just maintain it."
"You're insane, and you don't know what you're doing." Alyse crossed her arms indignantly. "Now where is my sister?"
"Alyse?" Skye walked into the room, a perplexed look on her face. "What are you doing all the way down here?"
"She," Jash stated emphatically, "wants us to search the archives for a location. And not an identifiable location, just a location."
"Squint took some of the other Jedi out on a mission, and the Mandalorians are on to them. We need to warn them, or send reinforcements... but we don't know where he is."
"Do you know when planning for this mission started?" Skye asked.
"It came up pretty suddenly... about three weeks ago?" Alyse looked over at Iraya, who nodded in confirmation.
"All right, everybody stand back." Skye slid into her workstation and opened a terminal.
Wes looked at her skeptically. "And you're going to solve this problem how?"
Skye didn't even look up or interrupt her typing. She simply answered, "I know regular expressions."
Alyse looked at her sister blankly. "Huh?"
"I'm going to search the messages for anything in the last four weeks, looking for anything formatted like a location and containing references to both Squint and his master by name."
"Wait a sec. You know scripting?" Wes asked, slightly surprised. "I didn't even think they taught that anymore. Regular expressions are useless on hologram data, and nobody uses text-based records in networks."
"Except for, apparently, us." Jash shook his head. "I thought it was phased out of Republic technology."
"Nope," Skye replied, still tapping furiously. "It's not typical to store everything, and when they made the decision to keep a record of every conversation that went through this ship, they also agreed to convert each message to a plain text format to save space."
Wes looked warily at Alyse. "Is she always like this?"
Alyse nodded sympathetically. "You'll get used to it."
"You can thank the Jedi back on Corellia," Skye replied. "I had to teach myself how to use them to make any sense out of their records." With a few more keyboard strokes, she seemed satisfied. "And we have output."
"And?" Alyse peered over her shoulder.
"Just a sec." Skye hit a few more keys, and the printer on the other side of the room whirred. She hopped up and grabbed the papers it churned out. "Looks like we have thirty messages with relevant output. I'll let you sort through them."
Alyse took the flimsi, handed it to Iraya, then threw her arms around her sister. "You're the best sister ever. Have I mentioned that recently?"
"You always say that when I bail you out," Skye replied with a grin.
"Yeah, well, it's always true." Alyse smiled and stepped back. "We'd better sort through these. Faster we can get to Squint, the better."
Skye gave her a small smile and returned to her workstation. "Knock yourself out, sis."
* * *
Admiral Karath looked at the two Jedi before him. They had just delivered their report, and it was evident that he was about to have a rescue mission on his hands. A group of Mandalorians chased away from Flashpoint Station at the beginning of the war had been tracking Jedi Squinquargesimus, just waiting for him to be far enough away from his main battle group to do some real damage.
"Good work, Jedi Darre." Karath favoured her with a small smile. "Your resourcefulness is impressive."
Alyse smiled modestly. "You'll have to thank my sister, down in Network Ops. She's the one who knows regular expressions."