The Sandglass facility’s supercomputer room was two stories below the STAd room, cut into the bedrock below the foundations. The underground room was designed to solve two problems; cooling and security. Deep, buried limestone helped dissipate the heat generated by the massive computer and sealed off the sensitive information on it from the rest of the facility. Only one door opened onto the supercomputer room and Colonel Bosze kept a full squad on guard just outside it at all times. The STAd above it was top-secret, but the supercomputer and its data were the secret that built the secret.
By the Colonel’s own order, no-one but he and Benwright had access to the supercomputer room. Even the guards weren’t allowed in. The room was nearly always empty, except for when Benwright had to set up a simulation or check the results of one. The rest of the time, the computer hummed away quietly, digitally checking and rechecking its own results until someone needed them.
Benwright hadn’t checked on the supercomputer in several days, preoccupied with Colonel Bosze’ attempts to interrogate the time-travelers and Vančura. Simulations had failed to produce the solution to his problem and he was sure that the prisoners would break eventually. He wanted to be there when they did, so as not to waste any time learning how to fix the time-machine.
No-one went in and the armored door of the computer room was well-insulated, so no-one heard the soft grinding that would have been just audible over the whir of the computer and buzz of the cooling fans. Even the metallic clink as chunks of broken limestone fell to the diamond-plate floor went unnoticed. A hole, only a few inches across, had broken through the bedrock wall of the computer room, revealing the rotating, toothed wheels of a drilling head.
The drill-head began to pull back almost immediately, but it was still very slow. It had punched the last of the rock out of its hole just before Armelle and Eddie appeared, half-conscious, on the STAd’s platform. By the time the tiny, six-wheeled remote vehicle popped out of the hole that the drill head had vacated, Bosze had been staring unmercifully at Armelle for nearly five hours.
The little vehicle thumped to the floor with a rubbery sound, its tires taking up the shock of the three foot drop easily. Underneath it, a camera swiveled back and forth as the vehicle turned in a slow circle, radiating confusion. Then it stopped, and the body of the vehicle rotated. The six tires were arranged in two triangular sets – one on either side – allowing it to land on four wheels, no matter how it fell. A servo deep in the vehicle’s chassis rotated it, letting its remote driver turn the body and camera upright.
Once the camera was on top again, the little vehicle zipped around the room, its movements quick and sure. Near the display station, however, it halted. The body rotated again, tilting the camera up to survey the control board. Another servo buzzed, zooming the camera in.
Directly above the keyboard, a neat rectangle of metal and plastic was recessed into the computer casing. A USB port.
End Chapter 28 – Part 1
The Episode Directory will be back as soon as
I can get all the links reset. When I transferred
the website, the addresses all changed, so I’m
putting them back in order, one at a time.