The End of the World

He had twenty minutes until the end. Twenty minutes to try and stop this—and he didn’t know if he could stay awake that long. End of the world or not, his eyelids were dropping every minute or two, only to startle him when his head fell forward. But those brief moments of adrenaline lasted only for seconds…

Where was he? Right, the secondary matrix. There was a bug in the secondary matrix. Actually, there were probably hundreds of them, but most of them were old and friendly residents who had been dealt with years ago and did no harm. This new one was different, having reared its ugly head less than two days ago.

Thierry went through the loading routine again and tried to understand where the failure sat, from where it caused the secondary matrix to influence the manoeuvre thrusters, something that should never ever happen. Yet it did, turning the solar power station ever so slightly away from the sun. Half of a degree per hour, but by now that seriously threatened the station’s power output.

Thierry took another sip of coffee, but he was long past the stage where that actually helped. The same was true for really loud music and really cold water.

It was 31 hours since the station had started to turn away from the light and 27 since Thierry had awoken to the threat of a total power failure. He had already traced the fault from the routine update three days ago to the tertiary environmental systems, only to find that it had triggered a completely unrelated bug there, which had been in the system for years as well.

Thierry cursed. Of course, this had to happen exactly now. Not a week ago, when three other programmers had been aboard. Not next month, when the installation of the orbital cable would have been completed. It happened now, when Thierry was alone and the station supplied the one process with energy that no earth-bound power plant could stand in for. The Indian cable weaver depended on the energy from Sol II that it had bought with a 100% delivery guarantee.

Sixteen minutes until the power would drop under the 25% mark and the weaver would not be able to hold the lift cable anymore. It would simply drop down to earth and might even take the weaver with it.

How much of Earth’s surface was actually covered with water? Thierry hoped that it would hit the ocean but in his mind he saw the cable hitting Kolkata, splitting the city in half and leaving only ruins.

The secondary matrix hadn’t been updated for three month. But the controller unit of the energy couplings had been recently. Thierry sighed. What else could he do? Get out in a suit and push?

Twelve minutes. He pulled up the diff file of the last checkin and started glancing over the changes.

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