Chapter 1 UL-DL2142
“What? It is our best seller!” Eft NoToes called out. With a slight limp he took a step forward towards the overseer balcony. “I’m in the middle of filling a backorder of four of them.” He looked up towards Garly as his ears slowly started drooping.
“Aye, order are cancelled until we settle on a revision.” Garly replied as he turned away from the production floor. Three quick steps took him inside his office. The broken door hung open as sounds resumed on the factory floor.
Eft took a step towards the stairs then paused and went back to his work station. Briefly he set his tools into the lockbox and turned the key. Items secured he grabbed his cane and with a slight hobble he went to the stairs.
Slowly the limping goblin dragged his weak frame up the stairs. Ten steps up and a pause as he caught his breath and rested. Fifteen more steps before he stood next to Garly’s door. Lifting his cane, Eft thumped lightly on the door. A minute passed before Garly opened the door.
“No exceptions, stop production.” Garly yelled at Eft.
“Why are we halting the infinite door module?” Eft said then stood up a little straighter. “It has been our best seller for 5 quarters.”
“Eft, I know that module is important to you,” Garly said as he stepped to the side and closed the door behind Eft after he entered the office. “Don’t tell anyone, the module has been compromised.”
The little office was barely five by five foot. A thin wooden desk jutted out of a wall. A few papers lay scattered upon it, most of them referencing DR2142. The side of the desk furthest from the door contained a worn chair. Opposite of the chair on the other side of the desk, a little three legged stool..
“What…” Eft said and his face stopped working as the concept dawned on him.
“Yes, we have several confirmed reports and witnesses that show the correct path through has become general knowledge.” Garly said as he shook his head.
“Only those of us… on the floor know the correct path.” Eft sputtered as he tried wrapping his little goblin mind around the incomprehensible idea. “Even the troll installers don’t know.”
“Yeah,” Garly nodded as they both mulled it over.
“We could change the config,” Eft threw out the first solution he thought of.
“We’ve sold a little over 400 of them. Each would require an engineer to go and reconfigure on the spot. Taking a day or two not counting travel.” Garly said nodding his head then transitioning into shaking his head. “Production would be stopped completely for over a year. We cannot take that loss.”
“We,” Eft started to speak again but was interrupted by Garly’s head shaking vigorously.
“No refunds, will destroy us completely and Ventus won’t allow it.” Garly hesitantly touched his ear with the missing tip. He took a step backwards and flopped into a chair with practiced motion.
Eft deflated a little before he took a step forward. With care and slow motions, he sat on a little stool opposite of Garly. He rocked a little on the stool.
“Someone should fix this,” Eft said as he steadied himself on the little stool. His eyes suddenly opened wide as he looked at the stool beneath him.
“I put in a ticket months ago.” Garly replied not looking in Eft’s direction. He scribbled down some numbers on a blank piece of paper that had a scrawled ‘Bugdet’ across the top.
“So we can’t afford to send people out to change them,” Eft thought outlaid.
“Even if we changed them all, there is no telling the pattern won’t get out again. We’ll have to service them probably once a year forever.” Garly said as he seemed to deflate a little.
“What if we could get our customers to pay for the service calls?” Eft said. His eyes widened and he started to smile. “Get the contract for UL-DR2142,”
“That’ll take hours to dig it out,” Garly said between scrawling some numbers on the ‘bugdet’ paper.
“We need to check if our maintenance of it only includes physical repairs.”
“Oh,” Garly lifted his head up and a smile started to form on his face.
Several hours later, Garly and Eft walked down a long dark hallway. They had both bathed and now wore their finest shirts, the ones with the fewest holes and permanent stains. Garly held a foot long metal tube. Rolled up parchment was tightly stuffed into the cylinder.
The tunnel widened the further they travelled. The gentle slope down almost unnoticeable. The sounds of their footsteps echo’ing through the long hallway until stopping at two massive twenty foot tall doors. Each door was blackened wood covered in metal bands every few feet.
Standing on front of the two doors stood two ten foot tall armored figures. Black metal covered every inch of their body. Glowing blue lights where the eyes would be shone out of the vision. When the goblins were fifty feet away, both guards unsheathed equally massive swords from their backs. Eft slowly and carefully set his cane on the ground, then continued forward with Garly’s assistance.
When they were thirty feet from the guards, Garly and Eft stopped and knelt. Both pressing foreheads to the cold stone floor. Garly with one hand held up the scroll tube above his head as he knelt. Each of the goblins struggled with their instincts to flee from the giant armored figures.
Slow heavy footsteps made their way towards Garly and Eft’s kneeling and slightly quivering forms. Even with their eyes looking straight to the floor both of them caught a glimpse of a plated boot in front of them.
“You do not have an appointment.” A deep voice roared from inside the armored figure.
Slowly and only with little movements, Garly wiggled the metal tube continuing the parchment. Both goblins held their breaths and waited.
WHOOSH! THUNK! The point of the massive sword dove into the floor between Garly and Eft. The goblins jumped but did not make any motions to defend themselves. A little trickle of liquid dripped from Eft’s right leg.
Hands that could easily crush a skull grasped the metal tube from Garly. Once Garly felt a tug he immediately let go, then lowered his hand to rest next to his other on the floor.
“Wait here.” The guard said. The sword remained in the floor as the guard headed back to the doors. The other guard turned towards the door and thumped on it twice.
“Message for the master,” he called out after the two thumps. Three quick raps followed after his statement. The right door opened a crack and a single skeletal hand reached out. The other guard arrived in time to immediately place the tube in the outstretched hand.
The door closed with a thump. A second later two smaller thumps sounded as each guard resumed their previous location in front of the doors. Garly and Eft stayed in the kneeling position. Garly shifting his right leg a little so his pants would soak up any liquid as it tried to travel down the hallway towards the doors.
Minutes passed but neither goblin stood up. Quietly Eft was repeating measurements and figures regarding the modifications to UL-DR2142. As he mulled how to configure the extra dimensional space he was struck with an idea. Can heat be pulled from a bag of holding? His train of thought was interrupted by a quiet snort from Garly.
Garly, well practiced in waiting for an audience with his boss, quietly napped in place. His rhythmic breathing and careful angle of his head prevented him from snoring. At least loudly in the past. The slight shift he had done when he accidentally peed himself a little, allowed his head to move. This new angle caused a few louder snorts as he napped.
With his head still facing the floor Eft couldn’t see if the guards heard Garly. He could barely see Garly’s form, but he could see the sword embedded into the floor. Within his limited vision he could also see a couple of other holes from previous visits. Mentally he started working on an idea for a self healing floor.