Who said Programming was Easy?
Garfalox stares at the screen, numbly pressing keys and watches the light bars go up and down on another screen. Sighing deeply, he checks the clock. Only another minute has passed since he last looked. This was going to be a long day.
Garfalox was a Marble Grundo aboard the Virtupets Space Station. He could do this job in his sleep. His solid fingers tapping the keys in intricate patterns only he knows. In his younger years, he was a programmer under Dr. Sloth, but times had changed. Somebody needed to keep the systems of the space station up running so it didn’t fall apart. Lately though, the station was just plain boring. He was once a programmer for one of the greatest (evil) minds in all of Neopia! And now? The space station faced little problems on the day-to-day that Garfalox really did not want to concern himself with. He couldn’t help but recall some recent tickets sitting in his inbox.
“Hi, the food rehydrater in my cabin isn’t working. I tried pressing every button at once and it just shut off. Can this be fixed?” One message read.
“Hello, I need help. I must press the door button twice when I am moving packages from Hangar ZQ2 to Hangar ZQ5. Every other door I only need to press open once. This slows me down!” another complained.
None of these were as offensive as Garfalox’s personal favourite: “Hi, I have a problem and it needs to be fixed,” while also not even listing the problem at all! Usually, when he got messages like this, it would be a whole day’s endeavor to get a response from the clueless pet who made the initial request. Garfalox put all those tickets on the back burner and waited until their problems solved themselves. Maybe a pet will submit the ticket again if it was urgent. If he was feeling really vindictive, Garfalox would close the ticket with a “FIXED” as the solution and do nothing. Sometimes, he’d even get lucky enough and never hear back about it!
However, today was different; there were no crazy tickets, no annoying messages, not even a simple, “Have you turned it off and on again?” needing to be sent! The space station was in perfect harmony for once. Everything and everyone seemed to be good for the moment, and Garfalox’s attention was only needed for the usual station maintenance.
Booster check? All good. Hangar bays? Check and check. Oxygen levels? A steady level. Gravitational fields were strong as well, every test he ran looked average. Any other day, Garfalox would take this as a win, but looking at the clock again, he swore it was a minute BEFORE he last looked. This day would never end.
“Hey Garfalox!” Two knocks on his doorframe. “Still keeping an eye on the systems? Are you sure we can’t head out to Grundo’s Café for a bite quick?”
Garfalox looks up and sees the smiling face of his friend Falvinx II, the Alien Aisha standing in the doorway of his office. That was one thing about Falvinx, he was always smiling. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world. It wasn’t a bad thing, that was just his personality. There was only one thing the Grundo wanted to do and Falvinx was the perfect friend to help. He wished he could be anywhere but where he was right now, and that smiling face would help him achieve just that goal!
“If we are quick, sure. Everything here seems fine,” Garaflox began. “I am sure I won’t be missed. Not like anyone really comes down to this section, either. Unlike some nosey Aishas,” he jokes. Grabbing his coat and standing up, he walks over to Falvinx. “So, the usual then?”
“Yup, this nosey Aisha has no plans of changing his schedule anytime soon.” Falvinx replies with a laugh. “Come on, let’s go.”
The two friends leave the cramped office and start walking down the corridor, catching up on each other’s morning of dealing with all of the crazy pets in the space station.
Just as the door shut, a red blip began to flash on Garfalox’s screen.
Down in the depths of the station something was brewing, or more accurately, machines were humming. There was no brewing and bubbling of magical energies here at all, just the clicks and beeps of technology working. As the circuitry chugged along, something went amiss. A few wires seemed to spark and melt, and suddenly a hidden door opened. Slowly, something carefully rolled itself out of the long-forgotten door. Light sensors activated and scanned its surroundings, while gears spun and whirred. It took a few glances up and down the corridor through telescopic lens. No one else seemed to be this deep in the station. These halls looked empty, dusty, as if there was barely any foot traffic through them in years. Maybe it would get lucky and have some time to itself to access the situation and explore. Maybe the only warning would be a flashing warning on the desk of one pet who had just stepped away to eat. This mechanical being had no idea that was happening, but it didn’t matter, it had a job to do.
Back upstairs, many levels past tubes and pipes, and a few Meepits stuck in the works, Garfalox and Falvinx were eating. They had managed to miss the lunch rush so their food came out after just a short wait, and luckily tables were easy to find.
“I’m telling you, sometimes these pets complain about the craziest things! One Aisha was going on and on about how no one was doing their job right, and that’s why her order wasn’t going through, but I had to show her that she was the one who put the wrong material on the order. She was so mad that I’m pretty sure she’ll never send me a ticket after this one!” Garfalox recalled, catching Falvinx up on his recent tales of programmer conquest. There was a strange satisfaction in showing that he did know what he was doing, even if he was just complaining to his friend. This was especially satisfying when other pets blamed his program for their own goofs.
Falvinx shakes his head. Taking another bite out of his food he smiles broadly as he thinks back to a particularly grievous ticket. “I once had to explain how rounding worked to pets. Now that, that is hard to explain! Two pets could not agree on a final total for the energy usage for these housing units. One took each day’s numbers, rounded them, and added them up to get two decimal points. And the other pet totalled up the day’s numbers and then rounded them at the end. They were both off by a point oh one difference. I don’t know why I got called in for this electrical dispute, but they both thought the meters must be malfunctioning. Yet I had to go in and explain they were both right and wrong at the same time. I swear they left feeling more confused than ever. I just told them I would get the correct numbers for them and be done with it.”
“That one is crazy. That is just basic math! Not sure I can top that, but I think the worst one was when a ship was trying to dock and kept saying the bay doors wouldn’t open, and wouldn’t you know it, the bay doors were just working fine! The ship never sent the docking codes, and I got a talking to afterwards for pointing it out,” Garfalox shares.
Shaking his head in shared annoyance, Garfalox got up to clear his tray. After scraping all of the trash into one of the nearby bins, he headed towards the door to start his journey back to his desk, Falvinx following close behind.
“At least I don’t have to worry about any door malfunctions for a while now,” he says as they walk back towards their desks.
The Mechanoid Warrior V4 takes in the sights of the corridor. It seemed things had changed since it was last powered on, but where is Dr. Sloth? Where is the Grundo army that should be guarding the station? Something isn’t adding up, how long had it been powered down? Connecting to a terminal, the V4 plugs itself into the space station to access information on what was going on. The last memory file it had showed the current date as being the Month of Hiding Y3, and now it was…
Month of Sleeping Y26??? This wasn’t good. Dr. Sloth had hidden it away for an emergency purpose, but now it looked like the V4 had been stuck in the station for far too long, as if everybody forgot about it. This would need to be rectified. The Mechanoid Warrior V4 quickly got to work downloading all the logs it could about the current configuration of the station to enact its orders.
To be continued…