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The scenic coastal state of Compton plays host to one of the busiest infrastructures in the world. Home to the port and trade city of Seagate, and the Broadcom International Airport, Compton is a place where one can do nearly long as it goes through Central Processing first. But like any place in the world, things can sometimes go missing. Things might not behave like they're supposed to. Maybe one of its millions of files gets murdered by a virus. And that's where Marlowe.DLL comes in.


  • Marlowe.DLL - Marlowe is his given name. DLL is his honorific and job title. His job is to Find Files & Folders, but he also spends an awful lot of time poring through the Error Log and comparing hashes. With a little help from the Indexing department and a little palm-greasing from Central Processing, very little eludes his sight.
  • Central Processing - The state capitol of Compton, Central Processing is where all the important thinking goes on. It's said that nothing can happen in the state without being under their watchful eye.
  • Seagate - Compton's largest port city, with a population of over 50 million files. Bathed in a dim shade of turquoise, evoking a Windows 95 desktop.
  • Visual C (MSVCR120.DLL) - An old friend and frequent collaborator of Marlowe's, Visual C had the important job of being an interpreter during a fair handful of cases where programs don't necessarily speak the same language. Turns up missing on backup day, prompting Central Processing to once again enlist Marlowe's aid.
  • Broadcom International Airport - The busiest travel hub in Compton. Thousands of files enter and leave the state every day via its carefully directed air traffic. Its security setup is by no means perfect, though...
  • The Torrente family - Thought to be Seagate's largest organized crime ring, the Torrente family are thought to be responsible for the majority of smuggling operations into and out of Compton, making up more than half the daily air traffic through Broadcom on a daily basis. Central Processing tolerates their existence, despite rumors that they finance the Torrente family themselves.
  • The Taskbar - Considered to be most programs' home away from home, and Marlowe's first stop on any investigation. The Taskbar serves good drinks and better food to any program willing to hang around and socialize. Also home to a special VIP club, Système Très.

Initial text

There are over fifty million files living in the coastal city of Seagate. Most of them don't matter. They sit and wait, sometimes for days, until a program needs them. Some files just get forgotten about. Maybe it's a song nobody listens to, or a game that got installed and never played. They just sit there until their sectors go bad.

Me, I'm...kind of in between. You could call me a file, you could call me a program. All I care is that I'm the guy that gets called when one of those fifty million happens to turn up missing. You probably know the headlines well. "File Not Found." An example of the blunt newswriting that we see from the guys upstairs. Doesn't comfort anybody. It's just a reminder of how fragile life can be sometimes in Seagate. And speaking of reminders, I just remembered the case I was on a few months back.

It started mid-afternoon on a warm Tuesday. The CPU thermometer was reading a steady 55 Celsius as files were shipping in and out. I supposed that today was backup day, and soon enough things were going to calm down. That's when I heard a knock. It came from the other side of my door, its frosted glass reading MARLOWE.DLL - Find Files & Folders. Beyond the glass stood the silhouette of...I couldn't tell if it was a man or woman. They stood there almost motionless.

"C'mon in." The door swung open to reveal a tall, slender figure in a double-breasted three-piece suit, complete with black tie, and a pair of dark sunglasses to match. The face came to a point at the chin, thin but not weak. Sort of egg-shaped, overall. Still wasn't sure whether it was the face of a woman until she'd opened her mouth.

"You are Mister Marlowe-dot-D-L-L?" Her intonation was very polite, very English, but too perfect. She must not have been from Seagate.

"I prefer just Marlowe, ma'am. File names are too formal, miss...?"

"I'm an agent from Central Processing. We're looking for someone and your service has been requested." Stone cold. No reaction whatsoever. Pretty typical for a CPU. "We've looked into your search history and you may have looked for this file before." She handed me a leaflet of text; the header read, "MSVCR120.dll."

"What's ol' Visual C been up to these days?" I hadn't heard from MSVCR - his full name's Microsoft Visual C++ Runtime - since version 70. We were buddies in the old System32 projects; early adoption wasn't as big a thing back then as it was now. As time went on, the CPU needed him for more stuff, so he kept getting promotions and updates. That was about the last time that he and I had spoken.

"The last time he reported for roll-call was yesterday, on the occasion of a Steam First-Time Setup procedure." Everybody knew that Steam First-Time Setup was nothing more than a formality. It gets done so frequently that it often just wastes time. I'd wager that only one in every hundred of those actually manages to install anything.

I folded my arms. "Where was VC living?"

"MSVCR120.dll was last assigned to an apartment in SysWow64." It was really starting to creep me out how she never made eye contact. She wasn't even shifting around on her feet. She just stood perfectly straight, not even swaying back and forth. As if she never got tired of being on her feet. A CPU agent, through and through. They don't rest for anything.

"When was he reported missing?"

This page is pretty unfinished. Weasel plans to get to it eventually. Probably.