The thought that they could hack a living computer was almost laughable. I know they had smart computers too, but one that was completely free to think independently was something new to them. They were trying to hack into Niracina while we were hacking into them, which made us realize we had an easier way in. We had Niracina feign hackability and once they thought they were in we used this link to infect their computers with a small virus that would give us absolute control when the right transmission was received. We then realized we did have a problem, once they were in the system we had opened up to them they began trying to take control which meant Niracina had to fight a bit more to maintain herself. They would never gain full control over her but they could distract her from some of the systems she wanted to be maintaining. In particular they were attempting to shut down our shields, both the ones on her and the shields surrounding the system. This was a logical maneuver but not one they would be able to accomplish. The area they had been able to get in to actually was for maintaining the garden area of the ship and had no available connection to the other systems due to the limitations she had put in place when she opened it up in the first place. It was like gently massaging someone's foot and hoping that they would spill all their secrets from the pain of the experience. It just wasn't going to happen. I did, however, have to go and manually turn off some of the systems in there as we didn't need them destroying our source of food. Once the systems were turned off they began to realize their limitations and tried again to hack a different system.
We allowed them to keep trying, we had already done what we needed to, they believed they would actually make some progress doing this and so we just continued to wait for the virus to make it to the other ships. It was a slow process, there were many systems to infect and it had to avoid detection long enough to propagate. While this was going on we began focusing our actual hacking on gaining information on their technology, we wanted to complete our knowledge of them while the systems were in use by beings that actually knew what to do with them. This gave us quite a bit of information, including ways of extracting the probes from the stars that were infected, it would just require an upgrade to their drives to get them out with all the technology still intact. We also found within their technology ways to improve our drives, defenses, simulations and teleportation technology. It appeared they had a very large repository of technological information from various alien races but they didn't know yet how to use it all. Some of the most valuable data we got was the tests they had run on this information which would help us utilize it a lot faster. Things were going well in our hacks, though they never lasted long, but this didn't matter, we were likely going to be able to gather the information later from the ships when we had captured them all anyway, however there was one bit of information I saw that I desperately desired but was pulled from my grasp.
I had run into the files concerning project Shrang and was about to pull them when they disappeared. From what we could get of the logs the files had been uploaded to a device that looked very familiar. They had taken the information and put it into an implant chip, which meant they were going to hide it inside one of them, I would be unable to get it without actually figuring out which one had it. I tried to find a backup of the data somewhere, but it was wiped clean, they knew we were stealing information and wanted to make sure they kept something that would give them leaverage against me. When I realized I wasn't going to get it I checked the progress of the virus, it had made it to all the ships and we could capture the rest. As they sent a mocking message to me about having hidden the information on my life I smiled, it didn't matter that much to know the details of the experiment, all that mattered was the single command I sent. They had but a moment to respond, the image of their faces with such a look will forever be in my mind, entertaining me, that simple puzzled look when they didn't understand what I said and why I said it with such confidence. The ships were all gone, each one finally captured and the data being sent to the virtual world we had constructed for them. In that world they were winning, they would think they were about to overcome our defenses and suddenly a much larger shield would activate, trapping them in a small part of the universe.