The drone operator was a large, burly fellow known only as Mohawk because of his heavily moussed orange Mohawk hairdo. He looked up from the console and offered, “Actually, mate, I do need you to drive for a while since the lease is up on all that rented coffee you’ve been bringing me. So here, you drive for a while and try not to turn the drone into a burrowing device like the Badger.”
George now reveled as he handled the high-tech drone control with some short instruction from Mohawk. As Mohawk began to exit, George mischievously commented, “Now I did mention that I am somewhat nearsighted, so can you help guide my hands to the control stick, if it jumps out of my hands? And, um, what do all these little numbers mean on the screen anyway? Are these important or can I just turn them off? Oh yeah, how do I restart the game if it looks like all my adversaries are going to shoot or destroy me?”
Mohawk clucked his tongue and grumbled, “Mate, if you’re going to be a DWEEB, you could be acting like one, or bugger-off.”
George’s smile deteriorated into a puzzled look as he asked, “DWEEBs?”
Now it was Mohawk’s turn to smile mischievously as he clarified, “That’s right, mate, DWEEBs. Directional Wheel Entities for Enterprising Blokes, or DWEEBs. If you’re flying a drone you’re a DWEEB.”
Mohawk left for the toilet, laughing out loud, while George graciously accepted the hazing from the encounter and enjoyed the experience. His formative years of playing electronic games essentially qualified him to at least steer the drone without hitting Badger.
George intently focused his attention on the monitor that was giving him real-time visual feeds from the site. He liked the optics from the drone, and the controls were every bit as responsive as he had imagined. The drone could pull back on its field of view or telescope in on one of the trucks to see the little hula girl fastened to the dashboard. It was at this moment that he noticed something odd going on in the pit. He quickly scanned the other monitors in the operations center to see if anything was showing an unusual set of circumstances. He rubbed his eyes to correct his vision, but when he returned his attention to the drone’s optics it still showed the same thing.
Mohawk wasn’t back yet, and he was not quite sure what to think of the drama unfolding in front of his eyes. He looked around and quickly noticed the operations duty manager wandering through the area. McLaren was casually checking the duty rosters and the sensor monitoring systems which made the situation even more incongruous. Finally, unable to reconcile the activity he was viewing and the business as usual sensor output, George called McLaren over.
McLaren stated, “Hey, George, what’s up? Mohawk strand you at his post like every other visitor to this facility? Did he use the old the lease is up on the rented coffee routine again?”
Now somewhat concerned, George asked, “Can you double check my visuals here? I’m seeing something that simply is NOT being reflected in the mountains of equipment sensor output here in the data center. I don’t want to be an alarmist here, but can you verify what I’m seeing on my monitor?”
McLaren smiled in a paternal way and offered, “Of course, Laddie! You stare into these things long enough and you begin to hallucinate. Let’s see what’s going.”
The smile quickly faded from McLaren’s face, but his calm disposition wouldn’t allow him to panic. After a few seconds he asked, “How long has this been going on, Laddie?”
George, now emboldened with McLaren’s concern, reported, “About four minutes. I saw one of the front-end loaders simply upend one of the dump trucks and move it into a corner of the pit. It almost reminded me of children taking their toys out of the general playing area and putting them away to be safe and then returning for more toys.
“So I am not hallucinating? You’re seeing this too?”
McLaren was now ashen and nodded his head as he confirmed, “You’re not hallucinating. Four minutes, hmmm. I’m seeing our million dollar pieces of equipment turn on each other as in a school yard brawl, yet none of the sensors in this operations center are barking at us saying that something is wrong. The obvious question is, what’s wrong with this picture?”
The concern was now fully engulfing them both, but before McLaren could say anything else, the drone screen went dark but showed itself in a stable orbit around the Kookaburra compound. George read the digital output and described, “The drone is saying everything is nominal, but we can’t see the video feeds any longer. Is this like the other equipment that has their sensors telling us everything is wonderful, yet is apparently spiraling out of control?”
Before McLaren could respond, all the monitors simultaneously displayed the same eerie message.
You shouldn’t have ignored our money demands. Let us know if you want to recover from this downward spiral but the price has been raised to $100 million Euros.
George looked to McLaren who commented while staring at the message, “We need your analog pilot in the air on his way to the site now, using our old, displaced technology. How long to get him airborne? No, strike that! I want him in the air now, because we need reliable visuals as soon as possible. I need all hands on deck running diags to see what went wrong and why nothing was reported by any of the sensors.”
George swung out of the chair at a fast click and over his shoulder confirmed, “On it!”
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