Cris leaped out from her sleeping quarters and strode to the console. Sitting in the chair—barely beating Myall, who had attempted to race her into it—Cris pressed the Accept button. She began to read the Intelligence report when the console’s viewing screen flickered and static obscured the report.
Cris frowned. “What’s happening?”
Myall forced down a mouthful of burrito before saying, “There must have been some kind of power fluctuation at DoDAEG! Hang on.” She knelt down and yanked on a side panel of the console that had clearly seen many such yanks before. “I think I can increase the power flow to our RC if I cross these wires.”
The inside of the console was a mess of wires, and also a rat skeleton, leading away into shadows that seemed just a little too dark and vast, even for a machine as large as a console. Metal boxes were suspended from the underside of the keyboard, and others were rising from the floor, all with tangles of wires interconnecting them all or leading to the monitor above. Some wires hung limply with only one end plugged into something. Others were suspended in midair, plugged into themselves. Numerous circuit boards were leaning against one another, with motherboards accompanied by fatherboards and babyboards, all held immobile by the tractor beams of mothershipboards. A tower of miniature subwoofers occupied a near corner, stacked atop each other and leaning against the console’s casing and the various wires and boxes and circuits. In the dead center of the space that the console actually appeared to inhabit was the CPU, a shining metal canister covered in removable panels with lights like those on a Tron suit racing all around it. Occasionally, small bolts of electricity arced outwards from the CPU, and the smell of burning rubber was slowly beginning to fill the air.
Myall reached inside, and Cris watched in confusion as she started rearranging wires with one hand, since the other was still holding the half-eaten burrito. “Oh, that leaves too many ports exposed. If I open this panel, I can get some more wires from the inside to the outside, so long as this doesn’t start sparking. I wish we had remembered to pick up that bag of fuses before we left that deletion! I’ve never seen this before, I wonder mah mah mum mum.” Her speech degenerated into mumbles as the burrito found its way into her mouth once again.
Impatient, Cris rolled her eyes and looked back the console, hoping to see some sign of life from the machine. A red glow in the corner of her eye caught her attention instead.
“Uh. Myall. I think I see the source of the problem.”
Myall snickered. “No offense, Cris-y, but a PPC console is a very delicate piece of equipment, and—”
“And a toaster, by contrast, isn’t. Hence why it tends to cause problems when someone puts spoons in the bread slots and turns it on.”
Myall peeked out from behind the console, a bit of lettuce hanging out of her mouth. “Problems?”
“Yes, problems, like futzing with anything else nearby running off the same energy source.” Cris rolled herself over to the toaster with a push against the front of the console and yanked the toaster cord out of the wall.
After a moment, the console’s screen once again displayed the intelligence report for their new mission.