A bored tech makes a bleeding-edge seismograph.
|Imagine you had been able to breeze your way through school by never having to read the material more than once and getting among the top of the class in scores during any testing. Somehow you ended up babysitting a solid-state server with a literal warehouse of spare parts and pieces to be able to build additional servers or repair the current ones many times over. There were also older server parts going back all the way to the dawn of servers.
Different sections had personal computer parts that could also be traced from the sample units of yet to be mass-produced chips to the off the shelf PC or laptop motherboard. Everything was installed and ready to be plugged right into a case or laptop body with again the best and greatest available to ensure performance at all costs. Someone had clearly taken the time to test everything before sealing them in their static shield bags with their specs and serial numbers to be read or scanned by anyone taking inventory.
I had received a bonus for going five years without leaving or breaking any rules by sending out signals of any kind. I knew going in that I would have to rely on whatever media I brought with me and couldn't talk to anyone about what I did or where I did it. Since I had no friends or family and hadn't even used my phone other than for two-factor authentication for things like voting or taxes in the past year before I was approached about the job. They had gone through my background and my digital footprints and determined that I would be perfect for their needs if I was willing to live on call at work for the next decade.
The pay was absurd but honestly, the job itself intrigued me. If I only did five years I would be walking away with over a million but the pay increased by fifty percent each year after the first five and those numbers really got me calculating. I spent most of my time reading or working already so doing the same thing for a ton more money with the only downside being I can't interact with the world? Sign me up.
That is how I ended up babysitting a septuple backed up server system with automatic switching and alarms in the event that anything ever goes wrong. Since I had installed the thermal cameras to monitor the servers, I had twice caught a fan heating up as something inside started going bad. I had been able to swap out the offending fans and filled out the appropriate forms noting which parts I used and all of the lines with a blank had to be filled in. In the last one for any suggestions for possibly discovering the problem earlier, instead of writing none, I theorized that I might be able to detect a fan motor going bad by having vibration sensors in the server to hear the change in pitch as the motor bearings wear out.
I didn't think anything would come of it but I was woken up to the sounds of an automated delivery bot beeping as it backed up after dropping off what turned out to be sound and vibration sensors with equipment of every imaginable brand and model I could wish for to use it all. I went a bit overboard and ended up putting as many sensors in my domain as possible in order to try to account for vibrations coming from outside the server versus the ones coming from the inside and eke out a few more orders of magnitude of sensitivity.
I set everything up and had it run for a few days to get some testing out of the way. The rumble of the delivery bot has by far the greatest outside vibrations that I needed to account for. A thirteen-second long rumble would come through every now and again but I couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason in where it might be coming from, or what might be causing it. The length of the thing couldn't be natural.
I let ut worry me for a few days but eventually forgot about it until a few months later one of my reports came back with questions about the anomaly. Some had noticed the timing and wanted me to figure out more about where it is coming from and what might be causing it. I had a blank check for materials or whatever I might need. I asked for more sensors and turned my project on its head.
I started using my system not to listen for changes in the spinning fans but to filter them out and listen to things not in my domain. I filtered out the bots, my breathing, heartbeat, and pulse, and even the lights and power systems around the warehouse and workshop. I reworked the programming to enhance everything that wasn't in my area and let it run for a week.
I went through the recordings and two or three of the recordings had rumbles that stopped before the thirteen seconds were up. I focussed all of the software I had my hands on around these changes to the pattern and had different parts running as audio to my headphones when I heard someone talking. I couldn't tell what they were saying at first but the AI in these programs wants to help and started massaging the data until the words were clear enough even if it wasn't in English.
I filled out the forms and submitted my findings along with the samples of the cleaned-up audio that went along with the interrupted rumblings. I didn't know who that guy was or what he was talking about, but it was clear that someone was using a phone on vibrate and it almost always went the full time before it stopped shaking. The few times when someone was around to answer it, the words were caught by my sensors.
Impossible or not someone was using a cell phone deep underground in one of the most heavily shielded locations I could imagine there could be. The sensors determined that the offender must be almost four miles away and around six hundred feet deeper than my domain.
This news seemed to distress my superiors because before I knew it, a request for a copy of my data was waiting for me when I returned from a bathroom break. I dutifully provided a copy and waited.
That night a crew showed up and advised that I was now released from my contract and that my bonus was well earned for my timely warning. I wasn't really sure what he meant but was looking forward to reading something new for a change when I caught a glimpse of someone who had written many of the programs I used daily. I couldn't believe my eyes but sure enough, he came up and started talking to me about me having a choice of staying at the comprised site or going along to help set up the new site.
He said that I could name my price either way and run things however I want as far as he was concerned. I asked what this was all for and he told me that he had unlimited wealth and wanted to make sure that humanity had a backup of the important things in the event of a manmade or natural disaster. He created numerous locations around the world and stocked them with computers, parts, and a few people that understood them well enough to rebuild the world if it was ever needed.
I asked him how he had unlimited wealth and he just laughed and asked how hard it would be for me to change the bank balance of any account with my name on it if I wrote the software. It didn't trip any flags because it was buried so deep but it allowed him to do whatever he wanted without worrying about accumulating wealth like most of his peers had started obsessing over.
This man had cracked the code and was living in god mode as far as computer systems were concerned. Instead of using it on himself, he was using it to protect us from a loss that could destroy humanity as we know it. He is my hero and he just asked me what I would do given the same powers.
What would you do?