It was raining on Magen three months later, the dismal, sleeting, heavy blatter that always came as the months wore on towards winter.
But the planet’s perpetual, churning overcast existed at a considerably lower altitude than the 995th floor office of Lyrith Kazesh, TriDyne’s Vice President of Computation. The bright sunlight streaming in the window from Magen’s unfiltered yellow-white sun, however, did nothing to ease the mind of Vark Reth-1928, waiting in the VP’s outer office while the future of his project – and more immediately important, his personal future – was decided.
* * * * *
Six hundred floors below, where the rain was beating hard against the outer walls, in the dedicated lab space allocated to the Project, Terek 318-1224 went about his business, emptying the trash receptacles and ensuring that document and media waste, and any discarded hardware, was properly routed to the confidential incinerators. He hummed as he worked, oblivious to the looks of annoyance from some of the operating staff – his clearance to work in the secured machine areas of the Project had meant a significant rise in per diem for a worker of his classification, and all was well in his little world.
* * * * *
All was anything but well for Vark, in Kazesh’s office above, receiving the VP’s tirade. “You received your present classification, and authority over the Project – not to mention your options – on the basis of your performance with parallel architecture machines. You assured me, and I assured the Board, that you could crack the proteome encoding on the — on the samples we recovered.”
“What are you bringing me instead? A fiasco. Nonsensical output, computations that differ every run, requisitions for replacement hardware? A two month overrun?”
“Last chance, 1928. Make it work. You have two weeks to make your pet cluster deliver what you promised me, or else the Project is scrubbed. And you go back to being listed among the assets. Now get out.”
* * * * *
And down below in the lab, where a cooling fan had plucked it out of the air and whirled it to rest between one golden leg of cluster processor 83-12-17 and another, a thin carbon film wound around a hair fragment shorted those circuits, flared to life just long enough to scramble a few bits of data, turning the results of a handful of operations to incomprehensible garbage, and then vaporized.
And elsewhere in the cluster, another.