M.A.I.D.S. Episode 1 - Homecoming
The Finishing Room of Wyoming Biomechanic Manufactory #2 was, as an image, very different than the typical factory in which consumer goods were manufactured. It was devoid of noisy fabrication machines, nor was it abuzz with technicians. The vast room was bathed in soft light, was lightly scented, and the air gently pulsed with the humming of electronics. Beautiful artwork adorned the walls. There were a hundred stations laid out in an orderly grid, not chutes and assembly lines typical in other factories. Instead of an influx of raw materials that were turned into identical finished items, each finishing station had only a base model hooked up to a monitor and connected to the central network. Product information was downloaded to the stations, where the base models were modified to meet customer specifications. Once the inputs were entered into the finishing station, the station was locked out and the finished product would be ready in six months. There was no such thing as a “stock” model; every product was unique.
The night guard made his rounds in the Manufactory, just like he had every night for the past six months. He admired the artwork on the walls and was soothed by the gentle sounds coming from each finishing station. As he made his rounds he admired the objects being produced. There was one product in particular that he always looked forward to seeing. This product was more unique than the rest, and because the order came in on his first night of work, he had been able to monitor its progress during every shift he worked. He thought himself fortunate, being able to see one of these rare items as it was molded until it matched the customer's preferences. He had access to the order form for every finishing station, and he was able to watch this order as it changed over time. It was almost six months to the day from when that order came in.
The Finishing Room was always cold, regulated to 7.25º Celsius. The guard did not mind the cold, finding it oddly titillating as he made his way past each finishing station. His item was near the middle of the Finishing Room, but he was disciplined enough to inspect every finishing station in the room first before stopping to check his item's progress. He walked a serpentine route through the rows and columns of stations, making sure to save his for last so that he could spend some time watching its progress.
“This one's levels are all wrong,” he complained to himself as he stopped at finishing station #73. He recorded the anomaly in his report file, then set to work. Night guards were trained to run specific safety functions on the finishing station machinery, and Adam was proficient enough at his training to be allowed to run up to Level 3 tests. He ran a series of Level 1 tests first, but unfortunately they were inconclusive. The Level 2 tests were more in-depth, and finally they yielded some information of importance. Acting on that information, he initiated an intrusive Level 3 test. His test pinpointed a minor manufacturing defect in the product, displaying results both on the station monitor and on his personal computer gauntlet. He shook his head as he read the results.
“Anomaly detected. Finishing Defect Code 1914:010621. Recommended action: abort. Possible salvage option: increase CSF levels by 10%, monitor for 24 hours. Projected success rate: 26%. Product is 47% complete.”
Company policy dictated that any product less than 55% completed with such a low rate of successful recovery was to be aborted. With a sigh, Adam eyed up the finishing station. It was little more than a long, cylindrical tank set horizontally in place. At the foot end of the tank was the monitor and mechanism where Adam stood to do his checks. The lambent tank slowly pulsed with energy as the customer's order specifications were applied to the base model. Though the fluid in the tank was thick, the product within could still be seen, a silhouette in the energy-rich liquid. Adam visually confirmed that this model was incomplete. It was poorly defined, nondescript and flawed, though that last detail was not readily apparent. Adam pulled up the customer's order specifications, comparing the details to the object in the tank.
“Nothing. Funny, he was making those abnormally long, maybe that's what did it?” he murmured to himself as he brought up the abortion sequence on the monitor. Terminating production required Adam to go through TIGER, the Global security system: first, he placed his thumb on a pad. Once his thumbprint was accepted, a miniature camera rose from the tank's mechanism to perform a retinal scan. With a few quick clicks on the keypad, Adam input his unique Individual Identification Number into the system. A shiny confirmation tone signaled that his information was accepted by TIGER and that he could proceed.