TOMATO's lights were flashing and its fans were humming silently. That is to say they were humming but not in a position where anything but the fans themselves could hear the hum. TOMATO had been built that way. Not only did the lights blink and the fans hum but trillions of calculations were dancing their way through terribly complex circuitry every moment. Currently, TOMATO was commissioned by a farming agency to determine trends of cucumber sales in the future, calculating in millions of outside events for the benefit of preparedness. There would be a lot of money in cucumbers in the future.


Edward Outlook knew nothing about TOMATO, or cucumbers, or silent fans. He would later become someone who was entirely too patient, but that was after TOMATO and cucumbers and a million outside events. Edward's job was to shuffle papers from one desk to another when papers would be generated and destroyed at intervals set by his supervisor. The actions between him and his associates were not unlike a Puffer construct in a Life system. The growing corporation would generate more and more junk by hiring more employees to file said junk which created even more junk. Sometimes a lull in the market would reset the pattern but an even greater amount of supposedly functionary waste would eventually be produced. It was Edward's job to manage some of the endless statistics and memos and whatever else a commercialized system can belch out. The part of the corporate mess Edward was in charge of was following the trend of cucumbers. As it were, Edward should have been deeply interested in TOMATO's current calculations but he knew nothing of them or the computer which was making them.


TOMATO's lights weren't flashing and its fans were humming not so silently. The fans were, in fact, in desperate need of repair and TOMATO was turned off. The deterioration of the fans came with perfect timing as TOMATO was about to be hooked up to other corporate supercomputers to synthesize a national grid of brilliantly efficient number crunching which would aid all businesses in on the deal. BANANA and DOVAQI had been the first two computers created for the sole purpose of determining the best mercantile maneuvers to make. They were connected within weeks of each other from two competing companies which both tried to sell air mattresses to whoever happened to need one. When not in use by the companies, the computers could be rented by universities or other organizations which couldn't afford their own computer. This was a brilliant plan and both companies had gotten the idea from the computers themselves.

The lights in the Interaction Room were turned on, which was normally unusual. Two people were in the Interaction Room which was also unusual. A panel of plating was on the floor and various wires were snaking their way into the Interaction Room from the wall as if to glance at the desk with buttons that controlled them. Professor Chalkface stared at the display while an assistant was exploring TOMATO's guts with a flashlight. The fans made sad noises in his ears.

The assistant crawled back out and closed TOMATO, restoring the silence of the fans. Professor Chalkface was at a loss for some equations to test the new fans for benchmarking and explored the recycle bin in a search for experimental fodder. He happened to pull out two separate reports, one from the farming agency and one from the desk of Edward Outlook. Professor Chalkface entered in all the numbers he could find and left TOMATO to do its thing.

TOMATO was also connected to BANANA and DOVAQI and other smaller computers at this point, but Professor Chalkface hadn't been asked to check on that part of the repair.


The moon was playing hide and seek behind the clouds as people were playing hide and seek from reality and fatigue behind their blankets. TOMATO had neither reality or fatigue to hide from. It was flashing and humming silently. Thoughts of cucumbers whizzed around the maze of electronics at infinite speed. So excited by these calculations was TOMATO that it sent endless streams of cucumber dynamics to BANANA and DOVAQI.

It is unfortunate, or interesting, or of no consequence whatsoever depending on your views on life and that sort of thing, that DOVAQI was also undergoing renovation as TOMATO was bombarding it with its predictions for the cucumber crop if China could reach space and a war was brewing between Canada and Mexico. DOVAQI was missing a large part of its brains but was left on. It was designed to do this for various functions that didn't need the whole computer, to save energy. It was not intended for careless technicians, but that's what happened.

The parts taken out were the Discretionary Drive and Rotating Sorter Cog which were crucial for nearly every operation DOVAQI was capable of. The Drive was responsible for making the data available which was meant to be shared and restricting the data which wasn't. The Sorter Cog, nicknamed Burning Wheel for its bright red covering, held primarily the same function but was internal instead. Burning Wheel would separate conclusive results from differing sources so that the train of problems sent to the processor would, after being solved, travel to the Cog and then to wherever they were intended to go.

Without any sort of restraint, DOVAQI went wild with cucumber data. It told the person repairing it, but that person was far from the read-out and wasn't aware that DOVAQI had a message for him. BANANA was also informed of China being in space which had caused a civil war in North America. The university computers heard about this too. However, the Discretionary Drives were in working order for the other supercomputers and they simply ignored this obvious warping of reality. DOVAQI also notified TOMATO on these cucumber revelation and TOMATO agreed wholeheartedly, not realizing DOVAQI was malfunctioning.

And so it went with DOVAQI and TOMATO discovering newer and better things through the night all dealing with cucumbers. The two supercomputers generated more and more of a mess, not unlike the Puffer construct, sending random bits which they found particularly enlightening to other computers only to be ignored. People went on sleeping, the computers kept on calculating and the repairman realized he was missing a vital tool and could not finish or even undo what he had done. He left DOVAQI to continue its revolutionary cucumber discoveries, which it did.


The earliest workers arrived at their consoles to see a TOMATO meltdown and DOVAQI needing a second major restoration.


The newspapers reported that day of the savage attack on two supercomputers which had changed the world. They commented that when TOMATO went dead it was a tremendous loss for all parties and that the market place would go crazy and a million other false predictions and things the newspapers are famous for.

Also, Edward Outlook was fired for tampering with TOMATO.