The cauldron bubbled as the colloidal data gushed from its rimy transfer hose; mixing with the liquefied quartz storage solution. It became a seething sea of froth and foam, as icy, crystal white tried to mix with lurid, actinic green. The fibre optic inlet pipes strobed with a terabit storm of code, but the two liquids still resolutely refused to be miscible. The internal clock was megahertz below spec, and the run-cycles remained irregular and off-pattern.
It wasn’t working.
“Ugh, the SysAdmin Magus is not going to be happy,” Delthani v7 sighed and swept her sweat matted hair out of her eyes. “I don’t think I can face another neural flensing.”
Dejected, she slumped to her workstool, head in hands. Her eyes drifted up to the side of the cauldron. Beneath the patina of defrag slop, and carbon slag, she could still see the glimmer of her grandmother’s name in faint bronze letters:
~ Bionic Alchemy ~
~ Cyber Witchcraft ~
v5 wouldn’t have put up with the SysAdmin’s outrageous requests. Her mother – the infamous v6 – would have broken the asshole’s skull right across the quantum write-head mooring. But no. v7 was a people person, she wanted to please. She wanted to be helpful, even if it landed her neck-deep in some datamancy which couldn’t work either practically, or theoretically. But she’d always had a hard time saying no to people, especially the ones in the fancy computation-hats of the lead Ops team. Ye Gods, she wanted one of those hats so bad.
She wished her mother was still here, not a kiloserver sectors distant. She could have gotten her out of this mess. Hell, if v5 was still around she probably could have gotten this mess to work! She played by the old rules, the ones from back before the BIG patches.
Delthani wanted to cry, but she couldn’t. The cauldron was sucking all the moisture out of everything. Hydroscopic little shit that it was. She supposed she should clean this all up and try again. She stood up and went to fetch the tungsten pail of bit-quench from the shelf. Next to it sat a slim vial, no bigger than megabyte ampoule, glimmering purple and iridescent in the cauldron-light.
Where had she gotten than from again?
It had been a gift from that mad, old net-hag in the exchange burrows. She’d promised that it was “the total antithesis of a problem.” Delthani had mostly taken it just so that it would keep the old hag happy. She was a nice sort, and exchanged old ero-chat logs for pastries and calculation off-cuts.
“Well maybe just a soupçon. A cheeky little dash. What’s the worst that could happen?”
As in trickled in the cauldron flashed hard red: boot failure. But before she could curse, it flashed pale blue and held. The status feed flashed.
# Compile Complete #
“Well bugger me…”