Fantasticoe Spring 2011


Christopher Tidd

Wires buzzed animatedly in the server room. Only vast arrays of dimly blinking status lights cast the slightest light into the dark chamber. Rack upon rack of servers, with accompanying rivers of wiring, stood in neat rows with aisles between them. DG3, diagnostic machine, moved along guide rails among a mass of her compatriots, each drawing electricity from the central power supply. The rails hung from the ceiling, and the mobile diagnostic machines clamped to them, following an intricate labyrinth of connection and intersection to their destinations.

DG3 stopped. She spun her rubber wheels frantically, reversing course. Above Rack 307, a flashing strobe indicated an emergency alert. Moving swiftly, DG3 selected the shortest course, other diagnostic machines dodging desperately out of her way. There was a growing din in the room, the former quiet slowly escalating with the squeak of rubber and clank of hasty movements. In contrast, the routine actions in the background hushed to noiselessness.

"Capacity overload on 307-16," alerted a harsh, metallic voice, which resounded through the server room, splintering against sharp, hard machines into an even more metallic din. DG3 redoubled her efforts, reaching the rack a few moments afterward. She lowered her graspers and plugged into the system. Once in, the overload was momentarily quenched, and DG3 was free to analyze the problem.

Although the servers were more than capable of performing ordinary analysis, it could take up to five hours to reboot a rack, and overtaxing 307-16 would bring down all of rack 307. There were adequate backups to cover for a few downed racks, but a single failure could, however unlikely, cascade across the network. DG3 would not be responsible for this.

The interlink whirred and spun, pushing a flood of data between the server and DG3. DG3 sent a message to the central control unit: SELECT 307-16 FROM servers; COMMAND poweroff; WRITE distributed service denial, vectors unidentifiable. Radio signals blasted the message through the air as a string of packets, spanning several frequencies.

Everything stopped. The transmission cut short before the last packets were sent, and only an awkward radio silence remained. Then destruction.

Shrapnel, not radio waves, filled the air. Small fires flared into being. A dark carcass, a metal skeleton, was the unrecognizable remnant of a machine formerly known as DG3.

RG17 moved alongside the wreckage and began to pick up the pieces.