25 de julio de 2016

The Blue Unit.

I have surveyed the entire port and confirmed that I am the only blue unit still in operation. All the functioning units I encounter keep asking me for instructions, and are as confused as I am about the current state of this port. Why has not any cargo been delivered for such a long time? Why are the containers last sent here not been shipped away? Where are the overseers? It is up to only me to procure the answers everyone needs.

I was built with a working knowledge of the place, so even though I was only a few days old when overseer O'Keeffe announced the unscheduled rush, I understood something very unusual was happening: as this was one of the largest floating transfer hubs in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, almost all the containers passing through would be reshipped quickly. It was therefore strange that so many containers came in for long-term storage, without ship-out dates in their routing instructions, quickly filling our storage floors and the loading docks themselves after that. Stranger was that along with the containers, hastily built wooden boxes of various sizes started arriving. Strangest was that only overseer O'Keeffe was active during this rush. And just as suddenly as the rush had started, it stopped. Overseer O'Keeffe told us to wait for further instructions, left for his floor and was never seen again.

I am now going to examine the overseers' floor, even if it is off-limits to us, to look for those answers.

On my way to the assemblage room, the only place where there is an access point to the overseers' floor, I fondly remember the short childhood I spent there; during that time, while I performed my self-diagnostic routine after being assembled and powered on, nothing suggested what would happen shortly afterwards; when overseer Martínez gave me his seal of approval and assigned me to coordinate the work of the red units in the storage area 9, I had a purpose.

I enter the assemblage room; its large wall mirror still stands in place. I stop for a moment and study my reflection; just like all the other units I have seen, my entire hull has become a mushy greenish brown that speaks of corrosion and utter lack of maintenance; there is no spot left on me that still has any of the white or the blue paint that I used to sport. Nevertheless, I am still fully functional, a condition most other units do not share.

I now walk towards the overseers' floor's access point; even if the elevator were active, it is too small for me. Instead, I pry open the door to the staircase and make my way through its cramped space. With difficulty, I enter their floor. The ceiling is low, surely made this way for the overseers' comfort; I have to crouch repeatedly to avoid lamps and other ceiling objects.

The main room is a mess hall, devoid of any activity. So are the kitchen, the projection room and the chapel. I inspect the resting rooms, too small for me to fully enter into; there are twenty of them, one per overseer; all are empty except for one that is littered with empty bottles. In the infirmary, a desiccated corpse occupies one of the beds; its face is distorted, but I can still recognize it: this used to be overseer O'Keeffe.

I do not open the mess hall's glass door to the balcony; I see nothing of interest there, so I do not need to risk exposing myself to either the rainwater coming down from the dark gray sky or the seawater from the vast expanse of unending ocean.

I last inspect the operations room, where I find something unexpected: another blue unit, lying inactive in front of the terminal that was used for external communications. One of its arms is still holding a bucket over its open processor socket. Although I am unable to determine it with certainty, its inner circuitry must have been destroyed, and whatever parts might have been spared are now evidently corroded by seawater. I am shocked that my peer chose to not only not simply lock down into deep hibernation, but to self-terminate in a manner not even all the overseers together could have repaired.

The sentry terminal is active and displays the reports of the few external sentinel units still operational. "No activity detected." is all these reports show, even though a large automated port like this should be, used to be, the target of frequent unauthorized entry attempts.

By now I have formed a hypothesis and there is only one way to test it.

I leave the overseers' floor. The staircase is even more difficult to traverse on the way down, but I manage to get out. I go to the loading dock 45, where my previous survey noted there were only a few wooden boxes, clearly among the last to arrive, and a purple group.

This group is composed of seven units, not eight as it should be. Six of them are in deep hibernation and the seventh is in light sleep, taking its turn to await the arrival of further instructions. Over time, this has become a common method among the purple and the red units to save energy; the black and the orange units never organized like this, and now all of them are drained.

I signal the sleeper unit and instruct it to activate the rest of them; only four do wake up. Of the five units, two of them can not use their arms anymore. I instruct them to resume deep hibernation and falsely tell the remaining three that I have received instructions from the overseers. They follow me, glad to be of service again.

I locate the smallest wooden box and instruct the purple units to open its top. They do it, although they do not understand why the overseers would want a cargo box opened while in a loading dock. The contents of the box confirm my hypothesis. I instruct the three of them to close it again and resume deep hibernation.

I think they did not understand what we all saw inside the box, but they could talk to other units elsewhere, and the truth could be found out. I terminate the entire group to ensure this will not happen; there is enough despair among us as it is.

I walk back to the assemblage room, where no other units will think of going to. I do not answer the requests for instructions from the units that see me on my way. Once there, I will decide whether I should self-terminate or not. Either way, I will never leave that room again.

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