The slightly winded, overweight supervisor startled Pavan into focus when he demanded, “What did you do? Why do you have the gate locks wide open and the turbines on max while you are at lunch?
“No one has requested that we boost the hydroelectric output. Plus, with the drought situation, we need to conserve all the water we can. Again, what the hell are you doing?”
Jolted back to reality, Pavan stared blankly and blinked several times, then responded, “Here in Brazil, union rules clearly state that I get my full hour for lunch without a supervisor hunting me down or swearing at me. Now unless you want yet another union grievance to address, I suggest you calm down and try to make some sense. What are you talking about?”
The supervisor was now seething and angrily replied, “Don’t you feel the turbine vibrations or hear them whining at their high revolutions per minute? What did you do? Did you decide to launch everything on a mass destruction setting so you could come back and save the day after finishing your comic book?”
Pavan was now incensed as he insisted, “It is NOT a comic book! It’s a graphic novel, expertly written and flawlessly drawn to achieve…
“Hey, wait a minute! What’s wrong with the turbines? Why do they sound like they are ready to take off and leave the solar system?”
“That’s what I have been trying to tell you, Pavan! Come on. Let’s get back to the SCADA controls and try to reign in this looming disaster!”
They double timed back to the master control area that housed the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). Pavan stared in disbelief at the settings and then the output gauges. He’d worked at the hydroelectric plant for over three years and really knew the equipment despite his cavalier attitude of a few minutes ago. He’d worked hard to earn the trust and respect he had at this critical operations area. Pavan was extremely proud of how he contributed to the businesses and people of this region of Brazil.
Pavan clarified, “I personally set all of those turbines on low RPM levels based on the minimal water flow we agreed to this morning.
“These settings are… Boss, I can’t even get the settings this high through the SCADA terminal! How in the hell did the settings get amped up to one hundred and twenty percent? Basically every gate is wide open and the turbines are set to maximum output which will destroy their bearings if we don’t immediately bring everything back under control!”
Pavan frantically logged into the SCADA master control terminal, only to discover that the terminal wouldn’t accept any commands. Finally some words painted across the screen, Ghost Code-patent pending. The words sent an icy chill down both their spines.
The supervisor grabbed up a desk phone to make an emergency alert call only to find that the phone system failed to connect to dial tone. He reached for his cell phone. The hardened bunker holding the turbines made it nearly impossible to get any bars indicating cell service.
He looked at Pavan imploringly as he suggested, “I’m going up top to try and get reception to call in an emergency alert. You stay here and keep trying to login to the SCADA terminal to see if you can get the gates closed.”
Then the circuit breakers started tripping. Pavan looked slightly relieved as he mumbled, “At least the downstream power stations won’t start melting from all the extra power being pushed onto the grid.”
The phones were obviously back on, as one rang. The supervisor picked up the inbound call which, as it turned out, was from the home office.
An angry voice on the other end shouted, “What in the hell is going on up there? We got people downstream screaming that water levels are rising way too fast. The people upstream want to know if the drought is over based on all the water we are cutting free. The power division wants to bill us for all the sponges they have to buy and use to sponge up their melted power and switching stations!
“If it’s not too much trouble, can you stop screwing around up there and bring this mess under control now?”
Just as the frantic supervisor was about to scream help, Pavan looked down at the SCADA terminal with its familiar login prompt. He accessed the system and began corrective actions. The supervisor watched the activity and saw marked improvement as it occurred with each command Pavan entered. He witnessed the catastrophic pitch of the hydroelectric dam as it started to respond to the entered terminal commands. Slowly each of the systems was brought back under control. Their pulse rates in turn slowed as well. The supervisor almost calmly recounted the situation to the headquarters’ caller. It would take a few hours to restore everything to the pre-event operational levels, but they were past the danger point.
Then as system diagnostics were begun, Pavan’s SCADA screen cleared again and another message was displayed that read:
The Ghost Code exercise has completed.
Please gather up all your possessions and leave by the nearest exit. The theater management hopes you enjoyed the show.
The screen cleared and displayed a shadowy smiley face that dissolved after a few seconds back to the regular command terminal screen. Astonished, Pavan turned around to see that the supervisor had also witnessed the event.
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