Technology Is Wonderful... When It Works
Tecna, in her laboratory aboard the Ambasatari, is having a fit of rage that even Timmy wonders if he would be taking his life into his hands if he should dare to ask her what is the matter.
“One year, three months, two days and 5.59999 hours of work totally wasted!” rages Tecna, struggling to keep from banging her fists on the table then throwing the module she’s working on across the laboratory to smash against the wall.
“What is wrong with them?” asks Timmy while massaging Tecna’s shoulders to help her relax.
“I gave them the specifications and schematics for the ‘fuzzy-logic’ chips that Stormy and I had designed and told the manufacturers on Binos that these are exactly what I wanted used in the upgraded modules for our central computer,” huffs Tecna. “When I got and installed them, my diagnostics were showing me that they were not giving anything even close to the results I require. I finally opened a few to have a look see for myself and have found all the fuzzy-logic chips have been replaced with standard logic chips and the circuitry rearranged.”
“Simply put, they sent us two billion solidi worth of ballast,” growls Timmy, now feeling Tecna’s upset.
“And my head is going to roll for this,” continues Tecna, “when I tell Shego that we’ll be set back at least a year until I can fix this debacle.”
“It’s not your fault,” Timmy tries to reassure her. “Maybe you are overreacting a tad.”
“In a very real way it is,” she replies, taking his hand for comfort. “I should have supervised the manufacture of these upgrades myself instead of delegating it to the factory supervisors but hindsight is 20/20 as Bloom would say. And Shego… she’s a Witch with Plasma Dragon’s Fire and a temper to match so I’ve seen. There’s no telling how she’s going to react. I think that’s scary enough.”
“Has Stormy had a look at them?” asks Timmy.
“No,” says Tecna, shaking her head.
“Maybe you should let her take a look,” is the reply. “Maybe she can use that warped logic of hers to salvage something.”
“Knowing her,” says Tecna, “she’ll find some way to use them to make bee hives,” then they both laugh.
The next day, Tecna with her stomach in knots and a lump in her throat finds herself standing before Shego and awaiting her immediate execution by green plasma.
“What kind of damage has this done to the mission?” asks Shego, tapping Tecna’s report on her desk.
“As I said in my report,” replies Tecna, “it will put the mission behind a year while the faulty modules are removed, the new modules assembled and installed and diagnostics done. The central computer will also need to be down part of the time while this is going on but nothing that will cause a life-threatening situation. But, if the Vailiynkee have launched a mission, this will give them that much more time for a head start.”
“Can this time be shortened in any way?” asks Shego.
“No,” replies the Faerie of Technology. “The new modules still have to be assembled and, in this case, I strongly suggest we make haste slowly. I’ll personally supervise operations. And nobody will get so much as one rusty asus until I deem the job done right.”
“Very well, carry on,” says Shego, indicating that Tecna may leave.
Tecna hesitates completely baffled and confused by Shego’s reaction.
“What?” asks Shego.
“Well…,” begins Tecna.
“You were expecting a reprimand or a beheading?” laughs Shego then Tecna is even more confused.
“Not going to happen,” Shego reassures her. “You are a professional and I have every confidence in your abilities. It’s not your fault that some idiots planet-side can’t follow instructions. All I want from you is to get what needs to be done, done and the mission back on track. Just give it the Gallic shrug then get moving on fixing this.”
“Will do,” replies Tecna, making a note to herself to ask Bloom or Kim what on Alfea is a ‘Gallic shrug’ but feeling much relieved. “I would recommend that, in the meantime, an additional thorough shakedown of the ship be carried out while we are still in friendly space. Odds are even that if there is this then there will be that. Let’s try to avoid the that becoming a major problem.”
“Good thinking,” agrees Shego. “I’ll set up teams to work on it right away.”
When Tecna gets back to her lab, she finds Stormy with Timmy examining the faulty modules.
“Can you find a way to salvage anything?” she asks the Storm Witch.
“Not a chance,” growls Stormy but then lightens up a bit. “Have you checked the entire shipment?” she asks.
“No need to,” replies Tecna. “If a certain percentage of the modules are defective then the chances are 99.99% that the rest are defective as well.”
Stormy looks at Tecna, creasing her eyebrows and confused. “Okay, if you say so, but I think we should go through the entire shipment. What? There are three remaining containers that haven’t been checked?”
Without a word more from Tecna, Stormy opens the remaining containers taking five modules from each. She goes to the work table and opens them for inspection. “These appear to be alright,” she tells Tecna, showing her the fifteen modules she had opened.”
“Yes!” confirms Tecna, feeling herself beginning to unwind even more.
“Great!” replies Stormy. “All we need to do is go through each container and separate the good from the faulty.”
“It’s going to take forever to open every module to check it,” groans Tecna.
“Duh!” snarks Stormy, banging Tecna’s forehead with the heel of her hand. “Just look at the number stamped on the bottom of each module. The good ones are 60-S and the faulty ones are S-09. The line under each shows which is which – it couldn’t be simpler.”
“Tec, I told you it wouldn’t be so bad,” says Timmy – a smile breaking across his face. “All this worrying and fretting was for nothing.”
“Well,” says Tecna somewhat crossly, “now we’re wasting time. Let’s get to it, shall we?”
“Hey now, that’s more like the Tecna I know,” Timmy whispers into Stormy’s ear.
Tecna is pleased to find that many hands make work light when Musa, Flora, Bloom, Spika and also Kim and Wade come down to lend a helping hand. Stormy is pleased that her hunch was right when only one of the four containers contained faulty modules but keeps her satisfaction to herself.
Timmy and Tecna study the schematics of the main computer and conclude that they could start replacing some of the old modules with new without much disruption or causing any disasters.
Two days later, Tecna receives a page from Shego. “It seems that part of your shipment of 60-S modules got switched with a shipment of S-09 modules. Your modules ended up at a major food processing and packing factory,” she tells her, laughing. “Now the factory managers are wondering why their well-behaved robots are suddenly not obediently accepting orders with ‘By your command’ but with ‘Let me think on that and get back to you’ and writing ‘Down with the establishment’ and other such graffiti all over the factory walls.”
Tecna calls the manager of the factory who is now in a desperate state because every attempt to shut down the rogue robots resulted in a chorus of “Can’t Touch That!” There is a group of them now playing “squash” with dew melons while another group has doused itself with motor oil and is singing a raunchy version of “Slip-Slidin’ Away” in loud, inebriated sounding voices.
“And I thought I was having a bad day,” thinks Tecna.
Tecna organizes an away team of Stormy, Timmy, Wade, Kim, Ron with Rufus and herself to head down to the factory. When they arrive, they find most of the robots packing wedding cakes with “You’ll be sorry!” inscribed on them in blazing red icing while a lone robot is building a castle out of soup cans.
Tecna reaches for a remote from her tool belt which she sweeps around the factory floor shutting down all the robots. Then it is teamwork with powered screwdrivers to unscrew the access plates and exchange modules. Four hours later, they are reclosing the access plate of the last robot.
“Well, let’s switch them on,” grins Stormy.
Tecna activates the first robot using a different button on her remote. The robot whirrs and beeps to life, does a slow scan of everything then in a robotic voice exclaims, “Oh, my goodness gracious! This place is a mess!” whereupon the factory manager promptly faints.
“Stormy!” growls Tecna upon turning to see the Storm Witch trying to stifle her laughter behind her hand.
“Sorry, Tec,” gasps Stormy now doubled up laughing, “but I just couldn’t resist it. It won’t say it again.”
Tecna reactivates the remaining robots and, satisfied that they are working as they should, she packs her modules into a shipping container and has them sent ahead to the Ambasatari.
“Wade,” smiles Tecna, “while we’re here, my parents have been burning to meet you. You are all invited to spend the night at my home then tomorrow I’ll give you the grand tour of the city.”