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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 105: Beam 29
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Previous chapter: Chapter 104: Brown 176
When the choice came, the white-haired man decided to go down, deeper into the ground. As Bron had said, there wasnít any compelling rush to leave this place of seemingly relative safety (infiltrator mechanoid notwithstanding), and the more he considered it, the more he thought that if there was an armory here it would be in the lowest levels. After all, if the bunker were overrun, retreat would likely be into the depths, and you wouldnít want to be cut off from your supply, so supply was going to be where you were going to be forced to make your last stand. Weapons and armor would be in the basement.
They found that elevators were not easily accessed, apparently requiring some kind of security key to prevent ordinary soldiers from using systems intended for product. Beam worried about getting his trolley down the stairs, but Bob easily understood and resolved the problem, lowering the wheeled cart as simply as he had previously lowered Beam and Dawn.
Continuing the logic that the armory would be in the most defensible place, the place of last retreat, Beam searched the lowest level of the compound moving away from the stairs and the service elevators. He was soon rewarded as he came upon a heavily armored secured metal door with an electronic locking system.
It had occurred to him already, dimly, that whatever weapons were here would probably be protected by some kind of serious security. He had not worried about it for a few reasons. One was that he was not certain there would be any weapons; if the compound had been abandoned, the troops might have taken all the ordinance with them on departing. Another was that he didnít figure there was much point in trying to work out how to get past security he hadnít even seen. After all, getting past a key lock and getting past a retinal scan were very different problems. This one was a keypad, symbols on it that might be numbers in some world. It was a matter of figuring out a code.
He stared and thought. There were twelve buttons. It was not impossible that the system was base twelve, but somehow he thought there was probably one button to clear the entry and another to tell it to accept the entry--a defense against someone running numbers randomly and hoping to get the sequence right somewhere in the run, that the hacker had to begin with a clean slate and tell the system when the last button had been pushed. That meant there were ten character buttons, but he didnít know which ones were characters and which were the clear or the enter.
The number of permutations was mind-boggling. He knew that if it was only a four-digit code there were ten thousand possibilities; a five digit code increased that number tenfold. He needed to get the door to open. He could, he thought, pry the cover off the lock and attempt to trigger the solenoids manually, but on a secure door there were probably measures to protect against that. He could attempt to blast the door open, but apart from the fact that they had very few bullets left and might not be able to penetrate, there was the danger that they might accidentally trigger an explosion if they hit something on the other side of the door.
ďIím open to suggestions,Ē he said, but realized that it was unlikely anyone would have any. He continued staring at the lock, the door, the frame. It was an obstacle he was not certain he could overcome.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #310: Versers Mobilize. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: