“Come here,” Nick called to Doug over his shoulder. Today, the work room smelled more like fast food than body odor. Doug put down his wacom stylus, and had the decency to glance at the progress of Nancy Bayer’s virus scan before walking over. He tried to remember that his grandma had the same inane problems. He loved his grandma.
“Double check this for me,” Nick said when Doug finally arrived. A week earlier a machine that needed more RAM displayed ‘It’s ok, we’ve got this’ when it booted back up. Nick’s crusade was to find out where the message came from.
To Doug, the data looked like a digitized spike on a utility meter.
“It wasn’t from the computer, man,” Nick said. “Remember how the computer’s net connection flashed right when it booted up?”
“No,” Doug replied. It was a week ago.
“Well, I checked the connection. The message was the only thing that came through,” Nick said, clicking over to another window, “so I traced it.”
“Where’s the ‘trace’ key?”
“Har har.” Nick was proud to have served Anonymous in his day. “Point is, the message didn’t come from ‘a’ computer.” The window displayed a graphic that looked like a vast web. “It came from every active electronic device. Even the damn Voyager craft contributed a bit,” he said, zooming way out to reveal one last point in the web. “The Tech sent it, man!”
Doug spent a long time in silence, pouring over the data. His eyes stung by the time he was done. He took a breath.
“All of It?”
“But that was before,” Nax said, throwing the handball to a friend. He was a Great People, 9 feet and 600 pounds of flesh as pale and solid as marble. He had no hair. He was the strongest of the group, and the fastest once he had his momentum. His heart would give out with strain when most of the other People at Prenoon Recreation were hitting their prime, but that was the nature of his breed.
“It’s what they wanted, anyway,” Spatial Resonance Data Confirmation chimed in. SpaR was a Caster, with a body no larger than the handball Nax was throwing. Her name was proof that Development Techs had some quirky personalities. “I picked up a Casting between Central and my Tech just before it fed me this morning, and I checked it twice.” A Caster didn’t need to check things twice. “There is no life outside the Module, but even if it was true–so? Proto-humans didn’t trust the Tech, and look where it got them.”
“What were they thinking?” Breeze said from the pool. The Twainer breed didn’t end up much shorter than the Protos, but Breeze had gorgeous blue skin and pure grey locks of feathery, beautiful hair. His voice was magic. “My mom’s been sick, so my Tech surprised me with six of the most thoughtful messages ever yesterday. I love him!”
“Exactly!” SpaR returned. “64 years of life–a whole quarter-cycle–and I still can’t comprehend why the Protos didn’t want to hand the management off into better hands. The myth of malevolent Tech was one of the most damning historical contributions ever.”
“B-[Streams of data coalesced and broke off on their way to the buzzing drones and scrutinizing subroutines of Tech Central. Development was proceeding well, with Eatstuff and Recreation numbers consistent with data from the previous 15 cycles. Of greater priority was that People were as happy, healthy, and fulfilled as they had been for almost a full 32 cycles. The algorithms that tracked Stasis were growing more complex by an order of magnitude, but there was room for another 5 cycles before the planet reached full entropy, and another 2 cycles before Module 8’s sustainability was comprised by a lack of People eligible for recycling. That was 7 cycles for the construction of a last shuttle to Kepler-62f. The spontaneous recalculation of data was the closest Tech could come to excitment; predictions for the survival of the Module’s population were finally within an acceptable margin. Even if all these People were lost, the Modules already on Kepler-62f were thriving as of last transmission, and Tech would still be able to provide for their creators somewhere.]-ut that was before.”