keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 53: Brown 189
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 52: Hastings 180
Derek had been working at the computer for over an hour, but he wanted to be certain the coding was right before he activated it. He checked it once more, then said to Vashti, “All right, let’s have a bit of fun. Sit on the bed and watch the door; I’ll be right there.”
He hit the button to activate his routine, and moved to the bed while counting seconds backwards softly to himself, “Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen--” He settled on the bed, still counting.
“What are you counting?” Vashti asked.
“Six, watch, four--” She looked at him, then turned back to the door.
His countdown was apparently a bit fast, because he said “Zero” and nothing happened, but less than a second later the door closed. “So far, so good,” he said.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Well, first we’re going to find out if that guard actually does know how to open the door,” and the door opened, “and the answer is yes. Smile,” and he smiled and waved to the guard, counting down once more in his head. “Say goodbye,” he said.
She obligingly responded, “Goodbye?” and the door closed.
“What’s it doing?” she asked.
“I’ve created a routine by which our door is marked as normally closed. If anyone opens it from either side, it stays open for fifteen seconds, and then closes itself automatically.” The door opened again, and the guard stepped inside and looked around. He looked at the door control panel. The door closed, and he whirled around, threatening the air behind him with his spear. Derek smiled again. He supposed that the expression on the guard’s face was probably a scowl, but the guard turned back to the door controls and opened the door again. He looked at it, looked around the room, walked outside, turned to look where the control panel would be on the other side of the door, and the door closed again.
“This should teach us a lot about them,” Derek said. “For one thing, are they going to keep opening the door, or will they eventually give up and just let it stay closed? For another, do they have someone who can work with the computer code, who can figure out what I did and undo it? I’m working on the assumption that they don’t, but if they do this is our first shot at finding out.”
The door opened again, and the guard stared through it, watching it until it closed.
The next time it opened there were several armed indigs there, apparently summoned by the lone guard to help figure out the problem. They watched while the door again closed itself after fifteen seconds, Derek and Vashti sitting with smiling faces on the bed across the room.
Derek struggled to keep from laughing at them.
The door opened, and two of the guards entered and positioned themselves near the door. They watched it close, and waited several minutes before one reached out and activated the open command.
“The really interesting thing,” Derek said, “is that they haven’t even looked at the computer or the access panel. It’s as if in their minds the doors aren’t connected to the computer access panels. I don’t know if they use those access panels for anything, but I’m inclined to think they don’t understand what they’re for.”
“What are they for?”
“Probably everything, depending on who you are and what your job is on the ship. I expect that normally they control environmental conditions in the room and serve as information and communication devices, but already we know that they’re connected to the entirety of the ship’s systems. I could probably activate the self-destruct, if there is one. With some effort I could alter the course, pretty much do anything. The thing is, they can’t do anything with them at all. They open doors; they don’t even know that the computer is connected to the doors. I reprogrammed our door through the computer. If I wanted, I could probably make every door on the ship do what this door does. The question then would be, would they think that because it started here we did it, or would they think that because it’s happening everywhere it has nothing to do with us? And how would we know?”
“Read their minds?”
Derek tilted his head and half smiled. “Maybe. I suppose that’s the way to start. The question is, do we want all the doors doing this? It’s a big ship. Let’s hold off until we know more.”
The door opened again. The guards were still puzzling over it, but by this point Derek was confident they were never going to figure it out.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #338: Verser Missteps. 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: