He arrived exactly one minute late, just as he liked to be. His destination was a small, non-specific building made of concrete that was nestled deep within the surrounding urban environment. Night had recently fallen, and while the rest of the city was bathed in the glow of countless artificial lights, this particular structure was only partially illuminated by its open door. This light, in turn, was mostly blocked by the large, humanoid form which stood motionless in the doorway.
The man tipped his hat as he approached. “Good evening,” he said.
“You’re late,” the door-guard said emotionlessly.
“Only fashionably so,” he said, as he produced an identification card. He handed it over to the door-guard, who scanned the various chips imbedded in it to confirm the man’s identity. As it did, the man could see two other guards emerge from the darkness. The first guard then returned the man’s ID, and stiffly stepped aside to let him in.
“Report to the Representative Unit just down the hall. It will lead you to the Core Access point. Please do not delay any more than you have already,” the door-guard said as the man passed. He simply nodded in return as he entered the brightly lit hallway. As he walked through the doorway, the man felt a brief electric shudder run through his body. While he knew it was just a second security scan, it still felt weird knowing that every atom of his being had just been scanned and evaluated. But it was, in the end, still him, and he was allowed to continue down the corridor. The front door closed behind him.
The inside of the concrete building was just as unassuming as its exterior, its only decoration being the miles of plastic wrapped wires which snaked along the walls and ceiling. The man’s heavy boots clomped on the stone floor, sending hollow echoes through the structure. His strides were long and slow, so it only took ten to reach the end of the hall, where the Representative Unit was waiting for him. Now illuminated by the searing fluorescent light, the robot’s metallic surface shone brightly, and the man had to squint to look at it directly.
The Representative Unit was slimmer than the guards at the door, and was equipped with more gaudy exterior decorations. It had a defined head and face, complete with a stylized mouth, nose, and set of eyes. When it spoke, its vocal features were also evidently more advanced than that of its co-workers. When the man finally reached it, it gave a slight bow before turning to advance deeper into the building.
“Follow me,” it said, already knowing why the man was there.
They descended down a long flight of stairs, and down into a maze of bunker-like passages and server rooms. These were, unlike the hallways, dimly lit, and when passing them the man could only see the flashes of various blue, yellow, and red lights, each indicating that some machine or processor was working correctly. The temperature shifted wildly one step to the next between scalding hot and freezing cold, as they passed various cooling systems and outtake vents. Several times they passed other guards, animatronic beings with featureless, scooplike heads and integrated rapid-fire cannons, which marched up and down the various halls. They had no eyes, yet the man still knew that they were watching his every move through hidden cameras which were hooked up to the entire security network.
Before long, the man and his guide had reached their destination, an arbitrary room just off of the main hall. The only difference between it and its neighbors was the set of monitors which had been set up for his use, as well as a corresponding mouse and keyboard. Also in the room was another robot, although this one was much more arbitrary, being little more than a collection of various limbs and appendages, each of which came with some random utility apparatus or mechanized tool. When the Representative Unit entered, the robotic multi-tool suddenly came to life, gliding to the side of its less-utilitarian counterpart, ready to serve as its arms and toolbox for the foreseeable future. The man sat in a provided chair, and removed his tall hat and protective goggles. It was time to get to work.
“I trust you know what you are doing,” the Representative said, as it positioned itself directly behind the man.
“Yes, I do,” The man said. He had raised his right arm, which was now in the process of transforming from a somewhat hand like appearance into his own multi-tool. Metal and wires twinkled in the screen-light as it shifted with the clicking sound of hundreds of thousands of small motors. In a matter of seconds he had access to a portable touchscreen and a series of universal cables, the first of which he plugged into one of the many ports before him. This prompted one of the screens to briefly display “Connection Established”, before switching to the view of the inside of a cluttered storage drive, which was full of small icons with arbitrary titles. His left hand deftly flew across the touch screen, and soon he had highlighted a particular file.
“Is that the file you told me about?” The Representative asked.
“That’s the one,” the man said, “It’s got 500,000 yottabytes of information to parse through and one hell of a virus embedded in it. It’s not a file for feeble systems.”
“I’ve dealt with worse,” the Representative said flatly, and with that the file opened automatically. The drive view was replaced with a black void, which was soon populated by armies of tiny white characters which rapidly marched up the screen. The man watched code intensely, as he had several times before. He had destroyed several computers back in his lab trying to run this file, and now he was keenly searching for the tell tale signs of the virus. He saw it cropping up in the core code, nonsensical strings of numbers and symbols, yet whenever it appeared, it was quickly snuffed out by some invisible, controlling hand. He had never before seen an anti-virus this advanced and dynamic before, and he was taking mental notes on its behavior.
“You know, I really do appreciate you helping me with this,” the man said quietly.
The Representative’s artificial features didn’t move as it emotionlessly said, “We both know it would have been my problem sooner or later. I’m just glad I’m able to handle it now.”
They then sat in silence for a few more seconds before the code stopped processing, and a makeshift UI popped up. It was devoid of any aesthetic qualities, instead consisting entirely of endless strings of white code on a black background.
As utilitarian as it gets, the man thought, as he squinted to understand the text before him. He had recently noticed that his eyesight had begun to fail, and bare code this was not helping it.
“Can I ask you to find something for me?” the man asked his companion.
“What are you looking for?” The robot responded. The man didn’t have to look back to know that its lifeless eyes were blindly boring a hole into the back of his head.
The man began typing on his touchscreen, “I’m going to send you a specific function, and I need you to find it for me.” He sent the file, and nearly instantly a focus point began to fly across the screen, furiously reading code as it did. The logarithmic search quickly chopped through the database, and only two minutes later it had highlighted a long collection of seemingly random symbols and characters. The man leaned it, quickly double checking if the two functions did, in fact, match. He then sat back, letting out a satisfied sigh.
“By any chance are you going to tell me what you were looking for?” The Representative asked. When the man didn’t immediately respond, it continued, “After helping you, I would think you would at least tell me what it is.”
The man cracked the fingers on his left hand as he sat back up. “ 'It' is a she, and hopefully you will meet her very soon,” he said, “I just have to send a simple correspondence.”
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