Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

Sir Gawain and the Dragon 2
(to read the first episode, click here)
Sir Gawain wandered through the tunnels of the intranet, carrying out the usual household chores of his realm, checking the checksums, reading the read-outs, numbering the numbers, just as he did every day. It was a mechanical process that he could have left to the crawlers but his tidy mind wanted to be sure, to know for himself that everything was functioning smoothly. So fastidious was his habit of checking and double-checking that it had been days since even the most minor of glitches had occurred and the net hummed like a contented machine around him.

Yet his mind was occupied with thoughts of the Geek's revelations, this new threat to his beloved domain. It loomed like a storm cloud over him as he went about his rounds and only a fraction of his processes watched for any small anomalies in data that could indicate potential trouble in the system.

So engrossed was he in his thoughts that he did not notice the crawler that wandered past until it greeted him in the buzzing voice he had programmed into it.

"Morning, Sir Gawain."

"Morning, Bumble," replied the knight, for once taking no pleasure in this reminder of a previous exploit. But an idea occurred to him as the crawler waddled past, bent on its own instructions.

"Oh, Bumble, I have a little job for you," he called out to its retreating form. The crawler halted and turned to face him. Sir Gawain smiled inwardly at the ridiculous face he had added to the crawler's shell in a moment of whimsy, a final flourish to his work in giving the little creature a slight taste of awareness. "There's a new defender in the system today," he continued, "Have a look around and give me a buzz when you find him, would you?"

Bumble twirled excitedly at this. "No need, sir. He's in the crawler room."

"He is?" The knight frowned. "What the hell is he doing there?"

"He's re-programming all the crawlers, sir. When I realized what he was doing, I backed out quickly and started my rounds. You said I wasn't to let that happen to me again unless you did it."

"Very true, Bumble. Good for you." The knight was taken aback with this information and it was a few moments before he decided how to react to it. He saw quickly that his meaningless fancy in giving Bumble a modicum of consciousness had paid unexpected dividends. This might be an advantage that could be used in the future.

"Okay, Bumble, I want you to forget your instructions for the moment. Go down to the kernel and find a place to hide. I'll contact you there when I need you."

"Whatever you say, sir." The crawler turned and began to waddle off down the tunnel. Sir Gawain went in the opposite direction, heading for the crawler room.

On the way, the knight saw another crawler and stopped it to read its instructions. The usual details of code to check and processes to monitor had been erased and, in their place, were detailed addresses where it was to record information. Sir Gawain was puzzled. Recording? That didn't make any sense. Why would this new defender want to record parts of the system? There were plenty of back-ups made and the Geek had the original disks for re-loading if necessary.

Another crawler appeared from around a corner and waddled towards him, intent on its mission. Sir Gawain checked it and found the same orders, specific addresses with instructions to record. He let the crawlers go and continued on his way, pondering this strange discovery. Was the defender trying to make a complete back-up through the crawlers? That was ridiculous; with the small amount of data each could hold it would be a never-ending task. The activity and data recording that occurred every day would easily outstrip any attempt to copy the whole system through the crawlers. It must be more specific than that, more targeted and limited.

An idea came to the knight then and he halted at the entrance to the tunnel that led to the crawler room. A steady stream of the little creatures was emerging from the tunnel and Sir Gawain picked a few and checked them. Quite quickly, his suspicions were confirmed. The intent was targeted alright - the aim was a copy of the Geek's operating system.

Sir Gawain stood for a moment, deep in thought, as the crawlers continued on their separate ways. A copy of the operating system. That might make sense if it were the Opposition he was dealing with. But how could that be? This whole business had been started by the CEO, the man in charge of the Company. If he wanted to sabotage the operation, there must be much easier ways for him to do it. There had to be another explanation.

The knight shook his head, unable to reason out a purpose to the existing data. He needed more, if he were to understand what was going on. And that meant that he should meet this new defender, his apparent nemesis. He took a long breath and strode down the tunnel to the crawler room.

At the door, he stopped and looked in. The defender was there, crouching down as he programmed one crawler after another, his back to the entrance. Even in such a compressed position, it was obvious that he was much bigger than Sir Gawain. His shoulders were massive and the back presented to the onlooker was broad and impressive. The armor that he wore glowed red and flickered with bright threads of light as he coded. To the knight's surprise, he seemed to be humming a tune as he went about his task.

And he had nearly finished. Only a few crawlers buzzed aimlessly about him and their turn would come very soon. Sir Gawain stepped through the doorway and spoke.

"So. You must be our new defender."

The huge figure did not pause in its work nor turn to face him. The humming stopped, however, and he answered over his shoulder. "And you must be the famous Sir Gawain. An honor to meet you, sir. If you can spare me just a moment while I finish this little chore..."

The defender began to hum again as he continued and, for just an instant, Sir Gawain considered drawing his sword and running it through that massive back. But that was never an option. It would only lead to his own deletion and the defender being re-installed to complete his task unopposed. The moment had passed anyway, for the defender had now programmed the last crawler and it went scuttling past Sir Gawain and out through the doorway. With a great heave, the defender pushed himself up from the floor.

Now standing, the defender turned to face the knight. Sir Gawain was amazed at the size of him. Fully two heads taller he stood and broader and more powerful in the chest, arms and legs. Dressed in full armor, still pulsating with a crimson glow, he seemed impervious, except that his visor was thrust back to reveal a great mustachioed face and dark, expressionless eyes. At his belt was sheathed a mighty two-handed sword that looked too heavy for Sir Gawain to wield.

For a moment the two regarded each other and then the giant spoke.

"I believe I have you at a disadvantage, Sir Gawain. My name is Sir Mordred."

(to go directly to Part 3, click here)


The plot thickens and the story gets more intriguing. Gawain is a wonderful character, very inventive and well-drawn, infused with as much personality as a "defender" could be. And Bumble is back! Can't wait for Part 3. I am still betting on Gawain to triumph over Mordred to protect his domain and the Geek. Great names by the way. One wonders how close to the legend will the story follow?
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Gone Away
The names are intended only to steal a little of the atmosphere that goes with them - if you know their stories. I doubt that this tale will really reflect anything beyond that (unless this is all happening in my subconscious mind). But glad to know that you enjoy it so much, Ned. As usual, your comments are so kind. :)

And I'm sure that Mad will survive the double posting... ;)
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Well, this is something new for me, but I look forward to reading more. Then again, yall are always so far ahead of me. grrr.. I will say that I enjoy what you write though, even if you are a bit above my head.
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Gone Away
Thank you, Beth. :)
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Let's see... they kill each other, neither of them gaining supremacy. Then Gawain is taken with the Geek to a new place (Avalon?) where he is reborn?

Guess it might not follow too closely ;-)

From the little crawlers' new programming, maybe this new guy doesn't know as much as he claims to? I mean, he already swiped the idea of Gawain...
Date Added: 08/04/2005

maxwell young
hello my name is max. i am harvey young's son. since he likes to blog i decided to do it too! my blog name is young groove. the website is www.younggroove.blogspot.com. i have written two posts already. i hope you visit my site so that one person will have visited .
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Gone Away
Haha Rusty, you run on ahead! Nice idea about Avalon but I'm sayin' nuthin'. :D But you're right about the new guy - and it seems he doesn't like to be told where he's going wrong. Remember the poor guy who got fired?
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Gone Away
Greetings to you Max and good to see you. I shall visit your site as suggested and I'm sure you'll have many more visitors before long. And how's your dad doing these days? We haven't seen him in ages.
Date Added: 08/04/2005

I'm not sure what all this means, but it is well-written.
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Gone Away
Hi Gary, good to see you. Thanks for the kind comment. If you want to know what it all means, it's best to start at the first in the series, one posting further back. ;)
Date Added: 08/04/2005

Maybe you should link to a) the first of the series at the top of the posts... and b) the original Gawain story?

Suggestions are just flowing today...
Date Added: 09/04/2005

Gone Away
That is an excellent idea, Rusty! Shoulda thought of it myself. Thanks a lot, I will attend to that now I've got editing rights. :)
Date Added: 09/04/2005

I think I will save the deserved blandishments for the final installment -- needless to say, I will keep enjoying the process. ;-)
Date Added: 09/04/2005

Gone Away
Fair enough, Josh. Let's hope I deserve them by the time we get there. ;)
Date Added: 09/04/2005

I think you've invented a new genre. This is terrific -- looking forward to more!
Date Added: 10/04/2005

Gone Away
Working on it, Wayne. ;)
Date Added: 10/04/2005

Gone, you are a terrific writer.
Date Added: 11/04/2005

Gone Away
Thank you, Jodie. I hope you realize that you have talent in writing as well. Perhaps you won't be a nurse forever... ;)
Date Added: 11/04/2005

The reason Mordred's so nice and friendly? It's because he's written in VB! Hah!
Date Added: 11/04/2005

Gone Away
A very good point, Mad. And maybe a very telling one, too...
Date Added: 11/04/2005

Have you read the short story called "The Fifty-first Dragon?" Did it serve as an imspiration for this story? You might find it interesting. http://www.bartleby.com/237/33.html
Date Added: 17/04/2005

Gone Away
Hi Andy

I am unsure whether you return to previous comments to read any answers so I'll copy this by email to make sure you receive it. After all, any writer would want to make sure that his answer to such an interesting question be received. ;)

I had not read The Fifty-first Dragon until you supplied me with the URL. It's a great story, a lot of fun and with a moral as well. Thanks for pointing me towards it.

My idea for the Gawain series began as a response to a musician friend's request that I supply him with a few story lines to write music to. This was about seven years ago, if my memory is correct. I threw a few basic ideas on paper, one of which was the possibility of a knightly program designed to guard a company's intranet - I was heavily into computers at the time so I suppose it was natural that this should give rise to an idea or two. My friend proved too busy with other projects to do any more than sketch out a few introductory scores and the joint effort was forgotten over the years.

When I started blogging (initially as a journal of my move to America), I found a strong desire within me to return to fiction and Gawain was one of the story lines that forced its way back into my consciousness. So I began the first series (in the course of which the name "Sir Gawain" popped into my head, presumably from memories of the medieval tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). The other elements suggested themselves naturally from the setting of the tale within a computer network.

After I finished the first tale, I tried very hard to think of another to follow up with but nothing suggested itself until a few days ago when the present tale bubbled up from my unconscious mind. Hopefully, there are more lurking down there...
Date Added: 17/04/2005

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