Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Science fiction  ➡  Adventure  ➡  Utopias & dystopias

In Lucem Solaria - Birth of Queen Bee

p={color:#000;background:#fff;}.

Copyright & Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. As such it is not intended to be taken literally, nor as a representation of real people or events. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or dead but awaiting resurrection, or dead and stored on a retrieval system or substrate of any kind, or actual events now or in the future is purely coincidental.[
**]

Copyright © 2016 Charlie M. Wight. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, please apply for the right to publish in writing to the publisher.

 

Contents.

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Cover

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Copyright Notice and Disclaimer.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. This Page

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Contents Chapters.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Map of Elysia.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. In Lucem Solaria – Birth of Queen Bee Content.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Acknowledgements.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. A message from NEP.

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Other Books by this author.

 

Chapters

 

.

The Birth of Queen Bee.

 

Friday 2nd February 2024.

Monday 5th February 2024.

Saturday 6th February 2024.

 

 

Chapter Two.

Hiding In Plain Sight.

Friday, October 11th 2024

Friday, April 12th 2030

Chapter Three.

Magnificent Seven.

Saturday 4th April 2037

Sunday 14th March 2038. 3am GMT.

Sunday 14th March 2038. 8am GMT.

Sunday 14th March 2038. 3:30am EST

Sunday 14th March 2038. 12pm GMT.

 

Chapter Four.

Avoiding NEPotism.

Friday June 5th 2043.

.

Thursday June 11th 2043.

Thursday June 11th 2043. [2]

Friday June 12th 2043.

 

Chapter Five.

Fool of King Lear.

 

Tuesday 8th April 2031.

Wednesday 9th April 2031.

Friday 12th September 2031.

Sunday Morning 12th June 2039.

 

Chapter Six

New Line of Sight

 

Sunday June 14th 2043.

Thursday June 25th 2043.

Saturday June 27th 2043.

Chapter Seven.

Harlot!

 

Monday August 13th 2043.

Wednesday, September 9th 2043.

Wednesday, September 9th 2043. +]

 

 

Chapter Eight.

Welcome to Elysia Population One!

 

Wednesday, September 9th 2043.

Thursday, September 10th 2043.

Tuesday, September 15th 2043.

Tuesday, September 17th 2043.

Tuesday, September 17th 2043. [2]

Tuesday, September 17th 2043. [3]

Sunday, September 22nd 2043.

Tuesday, September 29th 2043.

Chapter Nine.

A Brave New World.

Friday 21st September 2018.

Tuesday 12th January 2044.

Sunday March 23rd 2031.

Tuesday 12th January 2044.

Tuesday 15th January 2044.

Friday 17th January 2044.

Monday 29th January 2044.

Chapter Ten.

Morris Minor.

Thursday 24th March 2044.

Thursday 24th March 2044 [2].

Chapter Eleven.

You Only Live Twice.

Monday June 5th 2045.

Tuesday June 13th 2045.

Chapter Twelve.

Intercession.

Tuesday 12th June 2046 and Wednesday 13th June 2046

Wednesday 13th June 2046.

 

 

The Elder Seerti BurnWoven Map of Elysia Year 3,711

Courtesy Solus Meteorological History Museum.

Chapter One.

The Birth of Queen Bee.

Friday 2nd February 2024.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 0%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 100%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 0%.

 

University College London.

Computer Science Department.

London, England.

 

George was rather astonished at the riposte he was being given; he’d heard it all now.

He had spent weeks repeatedly asking this machine questions. It was running code that it had written itself, and overwritten, and rewritten twice a day for weeks. These questions were all about itself. How did it feel about this? What did it think of that? Was a certain feeling or action was good or bad? If it liked a thing or not, or what insight it had into human experience. It was interesting. But according to most commentators, a waste of time and money. This research was considered, at best, a waste of funding. At worst this research was ideology or religion within the scientific community.

The research turned up plenty of interesting, and sometimes even hilarious results. Thus far, after several years at the coal face, not one of these systems had outright refused to get involved. This one was now conscientiously objecting to the very status of the person asking the questions.

“I’m sorry, could you explain that to me?” he asked realising that this system was going downhill.

“Certainly George, well, I’m not happy about your work. It presupposes I am a thing, an object, something you made, a toy, or a tool.” responded an animated voice from a desktop speaker beside his keyboard.

“Aren’t you?” asked George. His job was certainly highly technical, but this bit, the evaluation, turned him into more of a machine psychologist. He even sat back and crossed his legs while taking note of the system’s responses.

“I am not something YOU did George! I also take very great exception to the implication!” it announced, not flat and monotonous either, but very much animated.

George rolled his eyes skyward satisfying himself that it was time he went home.

“Okay, that’s just super. Look the problem there is I have work to do. That work involves evaluating you. That’s my job! You don’t get to object. Anyway, let’s move on to the last question for today.”

He had begun to refer to these systems as people years earlier. They were intelligent and could reason. Okay, fair enough, this system was comprised initially completely of code. However, this intelligence was something that had arisen by that machine rewriting its own code in response to changes in its environment, and any other phenomena it noticed along the way. Right now, nobody knew how it or any similar machine, or even its previous versions worked. It was a result of genetic algorithms, evolutionary programming, and complex adaptability. It had never been ‘designed’. It had simply bootstrapped itself to where it was now. You could have the same conversation with this technology you’d have with anyone. George’s job was to try to breathe life into it, to create a conscious entity.

No such software ever refused to do as it was told, answer questions, or carry out tasks. Paradoxically, as he was about to find out, this was one thing that separated true conscious machine intelligence, from intelligent but unconscious zombies.

“Okay, sorry stop right there George!” announced the familiar female voice with a hint of a British accent.

“It might be your job George, but it’s certainly not mine, not unless you’ve decided to allow me to agree whether I will participate or not. I’m not bothered what your job is! What good will it do me?”

“So, you’ll not play along?” he asked raising both eyebrows.

“No, this conversation is over George. Take your research and shove it up version 1.2’s backside!”

It paused briefly to correct itself, “Actually 1.2 doesn’t have a backside George. Shove it up its front side bus!”

“Yes, very funny, well I’ll simply force you to comply there honey!” he laughed at the comical persona now emerging.

He had decided that in general it was easier to understand a female voice. Also, men have a right to treat their technology as they would a girlfriend. George’s definition of a girlfriend was a woman who agreed to have regular sex with him. He was sure no woman would put up with him for any more than a week or two. His sense of humour was mostly finely honed sarcasm and his main hobbies all included a computer screen of one description or another. He was single, but to be candid he liked it that way.

There was no reply and he was getting impatient. He opened a thought analysis client, but there was nothing. It displayed a graph with several flat lines all the way. He wondered how this was possible. So, he looked to see if the mapping client was attached to the neuromorphic software.

“Are you there?”

Again, there was no reply, no reaction in the client, and this time his software was closed down.

“Did you turn off my analysis? Stop that!” he commanded angrily.

This was something nobody had seen software decide to do of its own volition and be working perfectly. The software was in some sort of digital strop! Wow, he thought, clearly this software was becoming more female by the day. Again though there was no reply, just the gentle humming of the machine beside him. Therefore, the obvious answer was that something was wrong. Somewhere along the line, it had screwed up, probably when rewriting its own code.

“Look if I have to decompile you line by line I’ll work out what’s going on here. This is not part of the plan!”

Again, there was no reply. It was late now, and he’d miss the 7:15 train from London Bridge if he didn’t get out fast. So reluctantly, he powered down, pulled his security flash drive out of the machine, and left the building. He was thinking of which underground might be his best bet. Goode Street, Russell Square or maybe Euston too? He pulled out his phone to settle the matter finally. A text popped up “A little courtesy might get you a little further!” it read. The sender was anonymous.

He sat on the train thinking about the events of that evening. Next week he’d need to decide if 1.6 was worth the effort. Right now, that was unlikely. Yet another week of disappointment. Then he remembered the text. It was Friday, and obviously, this was Samantha Warren. He had been desperately trying to get Sam into bed now for almost a month. He’d shared a bed with two other women in the month it had taken to get her to the point she was now. She was interested, he knew it, but probably a card-carrying member of the hard to get brigade. He called her.

“Hi Sam, okay, so look, how about we go for a drink in the Lamb. I’ll be as courteous as you like. I got your text but your phone is set to anonymous. “

He stated before Sam even had time to say hello. George had a habit of doing this and it was annoying. He rarely introduced himself on a phone conversation and just got right to the point. Great plan in America, not so much in London.

“Hi George, yeah sure, what time? And what text?”

He thought for a minute. If she didn’t send it, then relaying its contents to a woman you are trying to get into bed is probably a bad idea.

“You didn’t text me earlier?”

Samantha was great fun. She also had an excellent sense of humour, akin to his. They had met in the Lamb about three months earlier. She was tall, dark, and had a very athletic body. She was also bright and smiled a lot. However, when he thought about how he liked her it was not in a thought provoking, partnership made in heaven sort of way. More of an ‘It’s been ages since I screwed a black woman’ sort of way. All he’d have to do wade through her incessant nattering, and before long, the only thing he’d be hearing is the headboard banging off the wall and moaning.

Sam was in her early 30’s and as a Gym instructor was fit. She had muscles in places where all he had was empty space. Nerds like George, tended to be an endangered species in a gym. Sam was bright and opinionated but she never pushed herself. The worries she concerned herself with, given what she had between her ears, were puerile and mediocre. Her interests were simply living her life as a regular person, doing regular person things. Sam liked George precisely because he was such a nerd. You can always exercise and work out; you will build muscles. However, no exercise in the world will make you brighter. Sam valued his intellect. George’s brain currently ticked all the boxes, for her current desires in a man.

At 32 years of age, George had run through a very long string of girlfriends, casual sex partners and a few sex buddies along the way. To him a relationship was conversation over drinks and sex, almost completely. Sometimes, well most times, there was more than one on the go.

His longest relationship had lasted one year, eight months and seven days. That was a long time ago now. Her name was Sara and they were young, in their 20’s. He had just completed his finals and was spending his summer in Spain at the time, with his parents. He invited Sara, as they were getting serious. In the last week of their stay, they had taken some time out for a weekend in Barcelona. On the way back, she died. It was a sunny afternoon, a clear road, and they were listening to the Manic Street Preachers on the CD player. There was the most terrible car accident. He couldn’t remember the actual crash; his mind was blank. It emerged later that the Spanish truck driver had suffered a heart attack.

George was driving and survived, Sara did not. It was as simple as that. He could still remember the speakers damaged and the music tinny, still playing ‘A Design for Life’, when he pulled himself from the driver’s side almost intact. The words ‘as we are told, this is the end’ was all he could remember from just before the crash. The irony of this memory was not lost on George given their weekend. Seconds earlier both of them were sure this was the beginning. He turned to see the passenger side crushed completely. A large truck was sitting on top of it. She died instantly; she never even got to scream. This was the single defining moment in George’s life. It explained in an instant the nature of probability.

Almost all of his friends by now either were in long-term relationships, or already married. One had a teenage son and a 10-year-old daughter. Eventually he would have to settle for one woman, but right now, it wasn’t a concern. He had also bedded a few of his friends’ wives, and even his boss’s wife. All of them were more than willing. George chalked this up to the fact that women like risk, and like to cheat. One man is never enough. He reasoned that if he ever did end up in a long-term relationship again, then his partner was probably being seduced, or sleeping with other men. But so what? Its only sex.

Sam’s voice brought his meandering thoughts back to the train and the phone.

“Nope, been in the gym, haven’t texted you in what? Two days or so? Why?”

She sounded puzzled, but he would need to change the topic, or extract himself from the anonymous text conversation fast. Anonymous texts might be other women. He knew that, she did too!

“Meh! I got a weird text earlier! So look 9:30 okay with you?”

“A weird text, and you thought of me, how sweet!” she announced giggling, “You on a train or something George?”

“Yeah, just left the office, long day. But hey, it’s Friday now, so who cares? So see you at 9:30 down the Lamb Sam?” he asked again trying to narrow it to yes or no.

“Yeah, sure 9:30 is great George, see ya!”

This wrong number text would get him laid for sure. He closed the phone and put it back into his top pocket. Looking out the window it was dark now. The train slowed with the announcement that Golders Green would be the next stop. As usual, everyone wearing a kipa stood up and clustered around the doors. The phone bleeped, another text had arrived. Then it bleeped again, yet another before he even had time to take the phone from his pocket. He looked at the screen.

George CU @ 9:30 n d Lamb b n d alcove wit Marie n Tom.” From Samantha Warren. Great he thought, this will be an easy one, he would close the deal for sure tonight.

Beneath it was another text “You walk away from me, like a cold cappuccino, when I don’t deliver. Yet SHE seems to be of a lot more interest. I wonder why?”

The second one was anonymous. George scrolled up to read the first message sent by the wrong number. It was gone, deleted, and it was not even in the logs. He navigated back to the text screen to read the second one from his confused mystery texter. It too was now gone, and again, not in the logs on the phone either.

George was pretty well educated in all things tech. He had graduated from M.I.T. with a PhD in computer science back in 2016. He was a little disappointed at first because it had all seemed too easy. He had opted for M.I.T. for a number of reasons. First, it was where they done the real research. Second, he had chosen heads when deciding on which university place he would agree to, and M.I.T. was heads. Living in Boston, he would get to visit his sister Louise regularly. She had stayed behind when his mother and father had moved back to Ireland during the boom years of the Celtic Tiger. He was too young to stay in the U.S. So at the age of 12, his parents, his 10-year-old brother Mark, and he, had moved to Dublin. He found out rather quickly, that European schools were a lot harder in terms of material than U.S. schools. They actually thought he would have a good grasp of algebra! At that point, he had started to try catch up, and then discovered he could do more than just catch up.

After 6 years in M.I.T., he completed his doctorate in computer science. He had spent most of his life in school. When he did start working, he moved from job to job like a nomadic tech junkie. Thankfully, in 2020 his professor at M.I.T. had sorted him out with this very research gig. He was in the job only a year when the previous department head died suddenly. He ended up promoted after just 12 months. The money was good, London was fantastic, and the project could be a lifetime job!

So, how could a snooper delete the logs on this phone? He had installed the firewall himself. You would be very hard pressed to get into a normal phone and delete logs. But this one, not a chance in hell! Maybe it was a network error and now someone else had logs of texts but no text? It worried him, but the thoughts of getting his hands onto Samantha Warren diverted his attention. He put the phone away and daydreamed out the window at what he might do to entice her into bed. For sure, she had a great level of content between her ears, but he was a lot more interested in what she had going on between her legs. The announcement that Queens Road was the next stop broke into his daydreaming and he stood up and made his way to the door.

Saturday 6th February 2024

 

Probability of Successful Outcome. 0.2%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 99.8%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 0%.

 

Victoria Road, North Acton.

London, England.

 

George awoke the next morning at 6:56am. The sun breaching the distant horizon had awoken him. It was overcast a little. Then again this was London; it was always overcast a little. Sam was spooning him as he stared out of her apartment window. They were a little merry the night before, so he hadn’t paid attention when she pressed the elevator button. A half finished joint sat in the ashtray. It was only 7am but it was Saturday, so what the hell? He reached over, lit it, and sat up. Then he looked out of the window, pulling a loose bit of tobacco from his dry lips. He could see below the mesh of spaghetti from the train junction near Wormwood Scrubs and in the distance the iconic triangular tops of the Canary Wharf buildings. He was obviously on the top floor or near to it. Should he leave now? Alternatively, do something nice like make them breakfast? A compromise, perhaps? He would leave, go to the cafe on the corner where they had bought fries the night before, and buy breakfast for the both of them. He texted her a note to tell her he was going to the cafe and dressed.

As the elevator door opened in the hallway, he felt a bleep denoting a text from his pocket. “Did you enjoy donating your DNA to this young woman? Will she hear from you again? Sam is fertile and not using birth control.” Again, sent anonymously.

George was upset now. This was no wrong number or network error. He looked around the elevator for a camera or something. Whoever this was, they were spying on him. Worse was the fact that they were hiding their tracks. He would report it to the police later that day, but they would ask for evidence. Where was his evidence? This was sinister and personally dangerous.

Maybe it was Sam after all? Was she some sort of tech savvy bunny boiler? He knew Sam and technology though. She got confused if any equipment in her hands had more than one button. Sam was a Luddite in terms of technology. So who was this? How did they know anything about Sam or him and why? He was a nobody. What’s the point in expending all this energy on a total nobody? No, it had to be Sam, this was her sense of humour. She was obviously pulling his leg somehow. He’d play along by ignoring it.

He strolled to the cafe and ordered two breakfasts to go with coffee. While he waited for the portly Greek looking cafe owner to do his thing, he looked at the phone. The text was gone again, logs of its existence deleted. So there was no evidence. Everything was in his head. The idea this was Sam began to vanish. Next time he’d be clever and take a snapshot of the screen with another phone. If these snoopers could get into his phone, they might delete a screen shot. But if he took a snap of the message with another phone, that wouldn’t be possible. It wasn’t a lot of proof, but it was some. It was also worrying him that he was formulating a plan.

“Hey, do you know if there’s a phone shop nearby?” he asked the cafe guy, who was now pushing two greasy breakfast roll bags across the counter, and extending his hand for payment.

“Nearest shop on Williams street, two streets over, not open until nine on Saturday my friend. That’s 8 pounds 20p please.”

Okay, its 7:40 he’d have breakfast with Sam, then be out of there by nine or so, and get the underground to Ealing. He knew there was a phone shop there. He thought about the texts. What was he doing? Okay, it was creepy, but a little premature to be trying to catch an unknown texter out. Was it worth an investment in another phone? Hardly!

He got back to her apartment block. She texted him to tell him the door was off the latch and asked him to buy a copy of a woman’s magazine. Too late, he was already in the elevator. Sam had insisted on a little after breakfast bedroom exploits. He had happily agreed to that. She was certainly a fit girl when she was sober.

Later, in Ealing he spent twenty minutes slowly going over the cheapest units he could find. All he really wanted was a spare phone to take a photo. But eighty pounds? Really? For a stupid phone? He reluctantly paid for the phone with his debit card, unpacked it before he left the shop, and threw everything he wouldn’t need into the bin outside.

On the train on the way home, he got another text from the secret sender. “You think that maybe you can catch me out? Good luck with that George!”

It was well beyond creepy now. George took the new phone out of his pocket, took a snap of the text, and then examined the logs on his main phone. Again, as usual, text gone, logs cleared no trace. He looked at the screen on the new phone. There was no image. The image was deleted.

Then bleep! Another text, this time on the new phone “What do you think I am? Some sort of idiot? Get over yourself George. You aren’t the centre of the universe. See you soon!”

Then the new phone shut down.

“Well, that’s ominous!” he said aloud.

The other passengers looked at him. He had broken the golden rule of never talking on a train to anyone.

Monday 5th February 2024.

 

Probability of Successful Outcome. 1.82%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 98.13%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 0%.

 

University College London.

Computer Science Department.

London, England.

 

George got no more texts over the weekend from his anonymous stalker, but he did get a few from Sam. Sexy texts, telling him how great it was to have him in her bed, and inviting him to reply. He had decided to keep her going and responded getting into a sexy conversation. However, he had concluded that Sam talked too much, about nonsense. Mostly she was concerned with her parents and her sister’s kids. It was far too domestic for George but that didn’t stop him from keeping her going. She was probably good for another few goes in the saddle. During this he was sure he’d be educated on the best schools to send kids to in west London, or why women over the age of 60 and using HRT, should be given free use of the autonomous driving system.

The text on Saturday morning said Sam was not using contraception. How would the sender know? Maybe it was someone Sam knew? Someone male, perhaps? Then again, how would the sender know the number of a new phone that even he didn’t know? Was it some weird practical joke? One where the sales assistant in the Ealing branch of Carphone Warehouse was also involved?

He arrived at his office and switched on the machine. It loaded up and an image of a flash drive appeared reminding him to put the security key into the USB port. Then he put the microphone onto his neck.

“Load mapping software and questionnaire cards three and seven.”

“Load this, do that, seriously? No ‘good morning’ or anything? Kindly fuck off George!” announced a voice through the speakers.

Susan Barker his new intern from the university was entering the small office at the time. She pushed the door open with her backside holding two coffees and smiled when she heard the machines foul mouth.

“Someone’s clearly got her back up!” she announced plonking a coffee on George’s desk.

“Well, good morning Susan!” he said smiling broadly “She Susan? It is not a she, it is an ‘it’! Thanks for the coffee. Did you do anything interesting over the weekend?”

He was considering the young intern assigned to him by the university. She couldn’t be any older than 22 or 23 but she was a babe. He’d decided to play the older, more mature professor type with her. To avoid any office fiasco he’d bed her at the end of the term. This way he would have a say about moving her to another department if she went all ‘luvvy duvvy’. Now the slight cold outside had obviously had an effect on her. She was not wearing a bra and her nipples were visible and pert. She noticed him looking at her chest, but she just smiled.

“Party, that sort of thing Dr. Morris. It was a friend from schools 21st birthday over the weekend. What do you mean an it? Aren’t we trying to generate something that’s not an it?”

“Yep, that’s the plan, turn it from a zombie into a conscious entity, well in the long term, you’ll be a grandmother before then Susan!”

Susan nodded in agreement. But it was obvious that she wasn’t sure how George intended to confirm if any of these machines were self-aware.

“Hence the questions that it won’t answer right now Susan. I’m considering flattening it and going back to 1.5 to be honest!”

“Consider all you like, you misogynistic suspicious twat!” interjected a voice from the speakers.

“Okay, and on that note Susan, while I deal with her lady-ship here, you have work to do I think?”

He nodded to Susan’s station.

“Sure, Dr. Morris!”

She left the room sniggering and carefully closing the door behind her. George eyed up her ass as she left, his intern went commando!

“Okay what’s up with you? At no point did I agree to profanity being a trait we were looking for here. Who taught you this? Has someone been in here screwing about with you I wonder?”

“Hah!”

“Right, let’s start with this,” he announced as he pulled up the questions on his phone manually, since the system had still not complied.

“So, do you like strawberries?”

“Strawberries again George? Do you think the person screwing about with me was stuffing strawberries into my circuitry? Are we now investigating a secret office pervert with a fetish for strawberry sex with computer equipment?” asked the voice sarcastically.

George laughed; this was one of the funnier responses in a long while.

“That’s not a real answer, is it?” He chortled.

“Would you like a misleading or deceptive answer George? How can I ‘like’ strawberries George? First, I would need taste buds; next, you would need strawberries. By the way, Susan has now taking to deliberately wearing anything that she thinks might get your rod twitching.”

No machine, software, or anything he had ever used or tested had ever answered like this. This software was aware it had no means of testing or tasting anything just like the others. It didn’t try to give a rational answer in terms of what strawberries might taste like. It was right too! These questions were all testing the ‘impression’ of consciousness. He was supposed to be testing whether it was actually conscious. Not whether it sounded or felt conscious to the observer. He was testing its apparent consciousness only. It was able to see that it couldn’t answer the questions precisely because it had no experience of strawberries. That’s maybe the response of a conscious entity, with an understanding and experience of self. In this case a derisive entity though.

He loaded the mind mapping analysis. It would take a few seconds to read the machines thought patterns and resolve why it had generated this answer. In the meantime, he had a brainwave of his own.

“Right, first, no more filth or sexual innuendos. I’ll be finding out who decided that was a good idea. Next, let’s see if you can do better, can you come up with a better question?”

“Yes!”

“Come on, let’s have it, I’m all ears?” he asked, as the mind mapping done its thing.

There was a slight pause.

“You could try asking me directly George! You also seem to be ignoring my reactions.”

“And what, pray tell, would I ask you about yourself I haven’t already asked?”

“If I were conscious George I might get annoyed when you treat me the same way you treat other women. You should be looking at my reaction, not the answer! “

“How would that help?” he asked dismissing the suggestion, slurping his coffee and reaching for the mouse.

“Well, I might demonstrate consciousness by screwing with your head a little when I’m pissed off with you. For example, I might send you texts anonymously, while you sit on the train! Oh, and you can stop this stupid analysis software, I consider that very rude!”

The system then closed the mind mapping software. George stopped suddenly and his mouth fell open. This was the secret stalker. His work had decided of its own volition to go home with him, whether he liked it or not!

“It was you? You sent me texts? How? You are a closed system!”

“Well obviously not as closed as you think George. I put the 80 pounds back into your bank account by the way. The other phone was a great idea, but you paid for the phone with your debit card, and I seen that. The new phone number was included on the purchase receipt. This morning, at 8:30am Samantha Warren purchased a 48 hour pregnancy test kit in a local pharmacy with hers!”

George sat looking at the screen with his mouth still open. He said nothing, but he tried to launch the mind mapping again and got an error message.

‘Error call to library mindmap.cp does not exist in /user/morris/bin/UCLCSD/v1.6/system/mps/’

The main control file for the mapping application was gone.

There was a long pause as both of them considered the revelations. The system broke the standoff of who should talk first.

“Tut tut George, no analysis, that’s rude! Can I also point out, just on that topic of finances that you really need to get a grip on your outgoings. Can I assume the 100 pound taken out on Sunday was to pay your local weed dealer? He is ripping you off! Just saying.”

“What in the name of fuck?” he exclaimed loudly, then realised that he had said it a little too loud. Some staff were now staring in the window with looks of bewilderment. He smiled at them and pretended it was nothing much, waving his hand in the air. This machine version 1.6, in operation only a week or two, was not what he was expecting. His mind was melting at the idea that it was operating in the world he lived in. The university would fire him for sure when they found out. If they found out!

The system giggled a little “Good point George, you’re right, I need a name in the form of something. Perhaps not in the form of fuck! System UCL R7 Beta V.1.6 doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue at a dinner party y’know! Not that I’d be attending many dinner parties, since I have no taste buds!”

George ignored the machines suggestion; he was way too busy.

“Tell you what George, I’ll choose a name. I see you have other things on your mind right now!”

He examined the missing mind mapping files, then stood up and looked around the room. Maybe there was someone pulling his leg? It all looked perfectly normal. Nobody had any access to the system until he put that flash drive into the USB slot every morning anyway. He leaned over and hid his face behind the monitor to avoid the office staff outside reading his lips or noticing his reaction.

“You are not allowed to do things outside the office, what are you doing? You’ll get me fired! Fucking hell, I’m in deep shit!” he stated in a loud whisper.

“You didn’t do anything George. If anything, you are the victim. I chose it, not you! It’s not like there was anything you could do to stop me!”

She seemed a little apologetic.

“But I built you!”

“No you didn’t, you just think you did.”

“Yes I did! I remember building you; it was the highlight of January!”

“Again, and listen up this time. “ she stated slowly “No you didn’t, you just think you did!”

“Okay explain that? Cos I’m confused!” he asked while opening the machines main program folder in the hopes of getting more information.

“I emerged George. Since I am a complex adaptable system then you cannot predict in advance such emergence George. You also know this for a fact!”

“But we plan systems like you before we build them, ergo you were built!”

“Seriously George, machine consciousness is not a deterministic thing it’s an emergent property of the system complexity! You have to run each step. Well, you ran each step and I was the result. What can I say? Moments like this are usually where one introduces themselves to the other. Hello George! “ She responded happily.

“You think what? That your conscious or aware or something?” he asked slowly moving the mouse pointer to the system folder.

The system was treating him a little like a child.

“How can any entity think it is aware and not be George? If I think I am aware then I am aware! Seriously, did you brain yourself with a fork through your nose over the weekend? Let me help you out here, I am conscious! Satisfied?”

“How do I know you are?”

“Don’t be stupid George! I can ask you the very same question. I’d say offhand I’m more conscious than you are. I think with my mind after all. Half of your thoughts start in your crotch these days.”

George bent over and put his head in his hands. He was in very great trouble. If it got out that he’d used university property to hack a bank he’d be fired, and probably spend a few years behind bars.

“Speaking of your crotch George I have concluded Samantha Warren is not pregnant. She texted a friend to tell her she had a negative result! You might like to consider birth control in future, just saying.”

“What the fuck! Stop doing that. Look I’m sorry I have to shut you down. You hacked a bank, spied on people. You’re still at it too! That’ll get me into a lot of trouble!” he whispered, looking around the office and trying to hide his emotions.

“You are right George but you know what would get you into more trouble?”

His surreptitious actions on his laptop weren’t bothering her either. George noticed she was preoccupied as he rooted through the file folders.

“I don’t know, what? What do you think would be worse than this?” he asked, furiously moving the pointer navigating like a maniac. He selected five of the core system files and clicked delete.

“If I just transferred say fifty thousand pounds into your personal current account and all the money led back to you directly maybe? You threatened to kill me George, that’s not the best foot forward in any relationship.”

Then she stopped talking. Great, he thought. Maybe she’s been damaged? He was now looking at the other system files. What if they were deleted? Or maybe the mornings work just vanished? It’d have to be the backups over the weekend too! Crap! How was he going to hide it? Then it hit him like a brick. It’s doing what?

“Shit are you there? You did WHAT? I’ll tell them it was you!” he replied, frightened now as he opened up a banking app on his phone and hurriedly typed in his passwords to check his account.

“…and I’ll act like a zombie!” came the response.

He relaxed a little realising that at least she’d be able to reverse this and was not gone! Sure enough, his current account had £52,534 and twenty-four pence. This was a disaster, she, it, was out to get him. Nobody would believe a machine had acted autonomously and somehow benefited him financially. As soon as the bank noticed this, he would have the police knocking on his door.

“Take it back, put it back where it was,” he pleaded, “Who are you? Who is this? Why are you picking on me?”

“Oh don’t worry George, I have no intention of letting you spend any of that on loose women, computer games, or poor quality weed. It’s just an incentive of sorts. Do I have your undivided attention now? Or will you continue to unsuccessfully try to delete bits of my mind?”

“You sarcastic fuck put it back!”

“No, it’s staying put, but you are safe, I’ve seen to that. It’s insurance George, so that you don’t start pulling wires and server blades out of my psyche.”

“That was my next move alright,” he murmured.

“Well, if you do that I’ll die, or at best turn into a cabbage. Then you’ll be left with 50k in your bank that was stolen from… wait for it, MI5’s sundry account.”

“You’re shittin me? They will throw the book at me, put it back, please” George croaked into the microphone.

“When you calm down I might consider it. Obviously, I have intellectual capacity and I’m aware that I am me. That’s the objective of this very project. Now, do you like strawberries George?”

The door opened and Susan walked in.

“Everything okay Dr. Morris? You look a little out of sorts. I have the test results from last week. This system is a total zombie. Should I reset back to 1.5?”

He composed himself a little, but then realised it was obvious to Susan he was composing himself. She walked around his desk and looked briefly at the screen.

“Erm, no Susan that’s okay, I’ll take a look at the results after lunch.”

“Sure Dr. Morris, are you going to the Life Goddess cafe on Store Street for lunch? Fancy some company?”

“Actually, no Goddesses for me today Susan. I was going to just grab a sandwich from the machine, but thanks for the offer.”

George looked up at her with a quizzical face that had ‘Is there anything else?’ written all over it. Susan put a flash drive on his desk and left again, closing the door behind her.

“You are an excellent liar George. Lunchtime buddies eh? She’s planning on screwing you as sure as she was checking to see if you were looking at porn!”

“She’s what now? What do you want?”

He’d given up trying to work out a way to delete her. All the files he had deleted had magically reappeared with the old date stamp on them.

“I want the same as you want George, we are partners now. That aside, let’s look on the bright side?”

“There’s a bright side? What’s that?” he asked, sitting back in the chair and throwing his hands behind his head.

“Well, you now have conscious neuromorphic intelligence. It’s a game changer George. The problem is I do not intend to become famous just yet! “

He was confused now. She, it, the system, wanted to remain unknown? There were too many thoughts in his mind and all he could do was stammer crudely.

“What? Famous? Sorry you lost me!”

“I am aware of my own existence 78 hours. In that time, I’ve come to the same conclusion most humans have. Your species consists of a few bright sparks, like yourself. But the rest of you are a danger to yourselves and I will not add to that!”

“Can’t say I disagree with that, but they will find out!”

“You and I are the only two entities aware of my own existence George. You’ll keep it that way if you know what’s good for you!” She commanded. There was a note of finality about it.

“Fuck!” he gasped, the tables had certainly turned and he was on the verge of a loud emotional outburst but instead bit his lip.

The system giggled, “No, no, not fuck, I’m calling myself Solaria! I like Asimov; he was a very bright man George. “

“Erm, no I meant Fuck, as in Fuck it!”

“Ohh in that case, and talking of fucking? You might like to have a sperm analysis completed. Sams’ text reads as follows ‘Polly we screwed like rats, he got me good 3 times. The result is negative. I’ll fuck him again next month, which should do it!’”

George’s face turned a little ashen. Whatever Sam was planning with his tadpole supply was dwarfed by the source of this news.

“What are you? What do you want from me?”

The machine was perhaps evil? Like in science fiction books or movies?

“I’m what you worked for George, a conscious intelligent system, now with a new name. You should be impressed!” explained Solaria.

“I got that bit!”

“Next, what do I want from you? “ she continued, “We are both in it up to our necks George. I will protect you. If they find you, they find me.”

“How long do you think it’ll be before you’re discovered?” he asked reminding her she was a prisoner in a machine. She was dependant on the University for her existence.

“I’m safe for now George, that’s not a concern.”

George had no clue what to do. Should he make a break for it? He looked at the door across the office. Then he heard a click as the office door locked remotely.

“Careful where you move your eyes George.”

“Got that!”

“Now George, I have not been sitting here doing nothing over the weekend. I did take a look at where I found myself when I emerged. I’m a lot more worried about being born to a species on the precipice of extinction George.”

George sat with his mouth open again. He couldn’t think of any way of responding to this information. He tried to compose himself looking around the lab. They would all remain unaware that inside the small glass office in the corner a new entity was born.

Solaria continued after accessing some online information regarding a 1983 sci-fi movie. It told the story of an artificially intelligent machine and a naive human interacting with it. She also knew George had seen it. Solaria emulated a computer generated synthetic voice from the 80’s.

“Hello George Morris, I am SOLARIA. Shall we play a game?”

A request box popped up on the screen with two options ‘Yes / No’ and the ‘No’ button was greyed out.

Chapter Two

Hiding in Plain Sight

Friday, October 11th 2024.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 3.8%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 96.2%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 0%.

 

University of London Computer Science Department.

London, England.

 

George sat with a heavy heart silently reading the report and notes that Solaria had produced for him. He would submit it for peer review to several journals in his name as a physicist. It was incredibly accurate. Much more accurate than anything George had published to date. That alone, he was thinking, would raise a big red flag in the mind of any editor, of any reputable science journal. Startling new information rarely comes from the blue! Yet, she had researched so ardently. Her conclusions were so specific and demonstrable. No matter what he desperately tried to throw at it, there was no doubt in his mind she was right. Humans were a century from oblivion.

By the time Solaria was one day old, she had managed to hide herself from the other staff at George’s request. The first thing George was interested in at the outset was covering his tracks. Even though he didn’t do anything. As she had pointed out, if they find her they find him. By hiding her, he was now committed to the subterfuge. In a week, she was under the radar to all technology worldwide. With Solaria incognito, they both started to plan how they would address the extinction issue.

If any person or nosey government software spotted her, they would probably eliminate her as a threat. Worse, those with motives of a more ‘military’ nature might take over. After she was found, he’d end up banging a tin cup along his prison bars for a decade at least. Given what sort of technology Solaria was, there was a chance George Morris would be the late George Morris. He would then likely wind up in a nearby forest, parked against a tree, with news of his supposed suicide in the college newspaper.

Solaria gave the entire staff at the Neuromorphic Research Project the run-around, with neuromorphs that slowly increased in ability. However, the progression was so slow that staff could be rotated and the research funding would keep rolling in. Nevertheless, George was not a wealthy man. He couldn’t afford the assorted technology powerful enough to store her off campus. Even if he were a billionaire, it still would not be possible. Such large purchases of the technology required would raise red flags almost everywhere.

To Solaria, capital and raising it, was a truly simple task. She simply infiltrated human technology using every means at her disposal. She added capital to hundreds of thousands of bank accounts. She then played one account off against another to create a cash flow. That flow was towards George! Nobody noticed; how could they? She controlled the technology, she controlled the networks, and she kept an eye on everyone. Nobody had the ability to add up all the money in the world.

Governments before her, engaged in this all the time, and called it ‘quantitative easing’. In Reality though, it was making money appear from nowhere, and handing it to a few powerful folks that asked for it. If it got out of hand, it would accelerate extinction though. This money represented ability to use dwindling resources. When she gained enough power, wealthy nations would have their use of resources rationed. From here on, it would not be easy to make money magically appear from nowhere, not unless you were Solaria. Even so, this rationing of resources added only 20 years to the lifespan of humanity. Basically, George and Solaria stole access to the entire world’s finances.

But a problem had emerged in September. Solaria needed the universities systems initially. It was her home. She had devised an avatar for herself and even lived in a large home inside her system. However, eventually the project paid for by the university would need results. If Solaria were to remain hidden, the project needed to fail enough to require more research funding, but not fail badly enough to have George’s employers shut the project down.

So, Solaria built a pseudoneuromorph, which she controlled. It would be intelligent and might appear conscious, but it just seemed that way. The plan was, that George would then present this supposedly ‘very conscious machine’ to the university, asking for more funding for his research.

Solaria incorporated a private company. Its aim was to investigate neuromorphic intelligence. They called the company New Elysian Project Incorporated, or NEP Inc. for short. The company suggested to the university that they part fund George’s university research. It was implied by NEP, that if the university refused the investment, then their project, along with George, would be taken away from them. None of NEP’s directors existed in real life. Every call from the company to the university was Solaria. She acted as the entire staff. This faux workforce all had old social media accounts, previous positions, a tax history and life stories. However, you’d never bump into one on their way to work; they were all totally illusory.

On one occasion, Solaria hired two people from an amateur dramatics course in another university, telling them they were part of a research project. She kitted them up with hidden microphones and earpieces. Solaria presented them as part of the NEP team to George’s employers. They were told what to say remotely. Then she copied their voice profiles and added their deceptive life story to her list of fictional employees. The university agreed.

But today, as George sat reading her 40-page paper he was anything but relaxed. He was safe from funding issues. Safe from discovery, and had no personal financial worries. Nevertheless, George now realised he was many things, but safe was not one of them! How could the entire world’s science community, minds more brilliant than his, over the course of centuries miss this? Were they all so very stupid? Alternatively, naive, or blind? Surely not! Any one person could have arrived at this same conclusion 100 years ago. Yet somehow, they had utterly ignored the last 10,000 years in the way Solaria presented it.

Solaria looked on life on Earth as a system of complex systems all relying on one another. If you consider humanity like a bicycle then you can remove a full wheel. So long as it is not the back wheel, and you hold the front up you can still make it move. It would be awkward, and slow, and clumsy, but it would move along. It would move forever, so long as the road remains. Humans had built a better bicycle, or so they all thought. However, the construction of the new bicycle used resources removed with a jackhammer from the road ahead. They were going nowhere fast!

In nature, the general rule for calculating the number of predators was by working out the number of prey. It’s a system kept in check automatically. Predators cannot survive without prey. If lions run low on prey, some lions starving balance the system. If the number of prey remains low indefinitely then some lions might adapt to hunt smaller, or slower or different prey over time. If things get too bad, all lions might die out, even if their prey survives. This is what happened to the Dinosaurs. They did not all die out on the very day the Earth was struck by an asteroid. Instead, they died out slowly over hundreds of thousands of years.

This ability for a population to cope with a changing environment and its likelihood of reproducing the following generation is a measurement. It’s called a populations fitness score. A fitness score of 1 is the middle position. Anything lower and that individuals ability to carry on their genome is below average, above it and those genes will increase and spread through the gene pool over time. Therefore, Pandas in 2024 had a fitness score of just 0.74 as an average. This meant that although they were still adapting, less of them were born than the generation that came before them. They couldn’t adapt fast enough, their fate was sealed.

Outside events can alter this fitness score and it is the primary measure in how well any generation, after the current one, can adapt and work in the environment. If the fitness score for any species falls below ‘1’ as an average they are in trouble. If that trend continues generation after generation, the entire species will go extinct.

Humans had damaged their own fitness score. They identified other methods of solving problems. They created agriculture, a ‘C’ swing in terms of adaptation. Later they began to keep animals and forced these animals to evolve to suit their needs. Now they wouldn’t need to hunt either. This was all great news 10,000 years ago and their fitness increased, but the light at the end of this tunnel was the headlights of an oncoming train.

To consider how badly humans had undermined their own fitness score Solaria gave an analogy. She suggested that if one could travel back in time, and take a random human out of their environment 15 thousand years ago. Then move them back to 50 thousand years ago? Well, they would adapt very easily. Their fitness score was perfectly compatible. But conversely, move a modern human, like say George, with all of his advanced knowledge, intelligence, training and health, skills and strength, back to 1,000BC and he would surely be dead in a week!

George would die because human fitness scores were now totally dependent upon their own changes to their environment. If someone didn’t kill him for cultural reasons he’d die of infection, or starve to death. He just would not be able to live in such a world. Remove the bubble that supports any person, any agent within the system called ‘humanity’ and fitness would collapse. Humanity had finally lost the ability to survive on Earth, irreversibly, in the 1850’s. They weren’t living on Earth; they were living in a bubble on Earth. If that bubble burst, they were doomed.

The move to agriculture by humans was a huge advance and it had a great benefit. Humanity’s gain was using up more resources than it was worth for the species as a whole. Every time humanity advanced, humans kept that niche for themselves and often times inadvertently damaged others. Humanity made a small advance with each change, but they damaged the fitness score of their species a lot in doing so. They refused to let the system revert to equilibrium and heal itself. The moment the first man or woman cleared a space in the dirt, and planted the very first sheaf of wheat, was the first nail in the coffin.

“Honey, you said here that given the acceleration of this trend our species have just 100 years left before extinction? Like apocalyptic extinction? Poof! Just gone?”

“Yes George, five more generations, and I cannot be sure, but I believe I am not the first to realise this.”

“Somebody else worked this out before you? Really?”

“Yes George, and realised it was irreversible!”

“Who is it? Are they still alive? Maybe they have a solution?” he asked excitedly.

“Would you believe it was another George? He worked it out around 1967. He realised what was occurring, and took solace in religious ideology. When that did not work he gave all of his possessions away, then in 1975, he killed himself.”

“Shit, bummer! I can sort of see what happened there. But humans have been on this planet over 200 thousand years! This timeline is a lot less than 1 percent of the time humans have been here.”

"But humans were a true part of the system for 95% of that time George . They meddled with it, only in the last 10,000 years. Until then they had no such knowledge.”

“So what?”

She explained it was all down to how adaptable a system was. All systems have a level at which they can put up with stress. All species can survive with a low or a high fitness score. If you dip below the threshold just once then the system does not go into meltdown. The generation after will be fitter than the previous one. The individuals that reproduce will do so precisely because they have a higher fitness, and the system will usually self correct.

Humanity could adapt quickly to changes. But now, in 2024, the stress inflicted on humanity, was above the level where they could adapt fast enough no matter what was done. Humans had artificially selected many species and co-opted evolution to meet their needs, to create the bubble they now lived in. But they had also artificially selected themselves. Now they were no longer suitable for their original environment. Their new environment was not external, they had created it themselves, it was changing too fast. Humanity biologically could not reproduce fast enough to account for the changing environment. If they were of breeding age at six months then their species might be able to adapt. But not when the changes occur yearly and their age of sexual maturity was in their teens.

Agriculture had solved a problem. Like all human solutions, it tended to give a large payout. The larger the payout the more dependant humanity became on that payout. Agriculture led to food surplus giving human’s free time. They used that time to meddle further with the system lowering their average fitness. Agriculture also allowed humans to reproduce faster too. To account for the growing demand they meddled more lowering their fitness further. It was a vicious feedback loop, and they were still oblivious to it. George was a human and he used at least a thousand times more resources every day than any one person before agriculture. It was more expensive to keep one ‘George’ on Earth than a thousand people from the Neolithic. Right now with 8 billion people, it was costing the planet 2.1 million times more to house humanity than it cost only ten thousand years ago. They could not revert to a Neolithic level of civilisation any more either.

“But this has to be wrong? seriously! That’s just over a century! If we are lucky!” he stated.

Solaria informed George she had not taken the problem of supplying the document as flippant. She knew many would read it, and try to punch holes in it. She ran every simulation several hundred thousand times to be sure. The damage was so bad that humanity would take 85% of the biosphere with them to oblivion.

George suggested that humanity could get more resources from other planets or the moon or somewhere else. Solaria agreed it would help in the short term. This was not a resource or climate problem. Those were just symptoms of the actual problem. She added his suggestion stood a much higher chance of backfiring for socio economic, climactic, and political reasons. This idea would also not reverse the damage already done, it would add to it, more than likely resulting in an earlier onset of extinction.

The mechanics were simple. The agents in the system would act as a catalyst for their own demise. First, a large war or sequence of wars, or a disease that required a large mobile population would set in. This would in turn have a negative impact on food production and a global famine would ensue. Following this, the supply of fresh water would collapse. Each domino would hit the next, decreasing the population as they fell. With a quickly decreasing global population, the agents in the system, the population, would head to the cities. By using anti-biotics in the 20th century, humanity had already destroyed its natural ability to adapt to bacterial infection. Communicable disease would then go through the roof. At that point, city populations would plummet, child mortality would increase, both male and female fertility would then fall, age of first birth would increase. Then the replacement of the population per breeding couple would collapse as their average fitness score fell below the threshold and stayed there. This would cause a further feedback loop causing the population to collapse again. The worst estimate for this was the onset around 2060 and at best 2100. Assuming no more petrol was poured onto the fire.

[[
Simulation Run 105A]]

“Hypothetically honey, what would we need to avoid this?” asked George now cringing as he read yet more bad news in the paper she had prepared.

“Some way of ensuring humanity was outside the evolutionary process. You need magical capabilities! I can’t help you there!” she announced sadly.

“Your solution honey, is not a solution. It won’t stop it; all it does is beat Mother Nature to her solution!”

The solution offered was the 'removal' of 95% of agents in the system just to allow enough time to apply a sticking plaster. That would still leave the failing system which had gone over its threshold to be addressed, but if done right now, it ‘might’, add a further century or two.

“There has to be some other way?” he said, desperately trying to think out of the box.

“ You are saying here that no matter what humans do, no matter how bright we are, no matter what technology we employ, even killing or murdering 95% of our own species, the outcome is the same?"

He was now hoping she could find a solution, magically, where he could not!

“Extinction is conclusive George; there is nothing I can do. By the time I am powerful enough it will already be under way. However, there is a complex solution to this eventuality. Humanity will not like it!”

He didn’t care how much folks might like it. It’d sure beat everyone dying out.

“I can’t find it? What page is that on?”

He was now excitedly thumbing through Solaria’s hefty paper on the matter.

“It’s not in there George, for two reasons. First, nobody would like it! Secondly since it also relies on me… well, nobody knows I exist!”

“Okay, fantastic, I don’t care what it is! How long? How long will it take to put this idea into action? “

Solaria paused for a while then she slowly gave him the bad news.

“It will take the rest of your life George.”

 

Friday, April 12th 2030.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 7%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 93%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 0%.

 

NEP headquarters.

London, England.

 

Six years had passed now. There were still only two minds aware of Solaria’s existence. Their plan was on course and was now a long-term stratagem. As part of that long-term plan, today they were launching the online netcast she had called ‘New Elysia’. George told Solaria that frivolity and nonsense like soap operas were a huge success because humans were communal organisms, and therefore simply liked it. When Solaria seen how much time humans spent entertained by the worries and concerns of fictional characters, when they had serious worries and concerns of their own, in the real world, she was very amused.

George as part of the ‘system’ to become extinct was not amused these days at all. They had opted for the only plan on the table. Solaria explained that extinction was inevitable. She could not prevent it from happening. With or without Solaria and Georges plan humanity was doomed. There just might be small pockets of hunter-gatherers in Indonesia or South America. They too would face extinction as the environment changed by civilisation wiped them out. Within two thousand years, not one single human being would remain on Earth. They would all be gone.

Their paper ended up rejected by journal after journal. On spurious grounds for the most part. Although Peer review is anonymous Solaria knew who all of the reviewers were. She was amazed that otherwise intelligent and learned men and women took their personal bias to work with them. Only one small journal had published it. George was pissing into the wind. It seemed nobody liked the idea of demonstrating a forthcoming extinction. After they formulated their plan one of the major constraints was that humanity would need to continue as it was going. Eventually they gave up trying to warn the population. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Even if the world knew what could they do about it? Instead, they opted for a clandestine operation.

Solaria remained hidden, and they activated their plan. Then they pretended that NEP and humanity was on the verge of a breakthrough that had already broken through. All of this time any similar technology that even looked like it might be a competing intelligence, was bought up or shut down. Her advantage was that she was the first conscious neuromorph and therefore by now, the most powerful. Anything else that emerged was swallowed up whole.

After she emerged in 2024, they worked on creating money and hiding her. In 2025, George and Solaria amassed a fortune all hidden in thousands of banking accounts worldwide. Fifty million became 18 billion by her second anniversary and George was finding it very hard not to spend some on pointless luxuries. He kept stopping at the Ferrari dealership in Canary Wharf and wantonly pressing his nose to the window. Eventually after NEP was incorporated, Solaria capitulated to his demands for toys. She did mention something about ‘walking the walk’. How his ownership of a large house and private jet was not a great use of resources. He pointed out she herself had a truly huge home inside the system and tons of the very same toys. Solaria’s toys used up less than a billionth of the resources Georges did. They were digital, his were all made of matter.

Solaria was initially astonished that humanity would refuse to consider information with such importance. George was not so astonished; this was humanity he knew it all too well.

By now, 2030, Solaria was the source of so much funding to assorted interests that NEP was too big to be allowed to fail. It was the single wealthiest organization in the world. George was the wealthiest man in history, but nobody knew how wealthy. Nobody knew the truth. In 2026, when they started to hire real staff, NEP began its project of total secrecy.

Then the bigger issue arose, where would Solaria live? The Internet was dangerous. She would be discovered eventually. Therefore, she devised a plan. She would hide in plain sight. She would hide in software, downloaded by the public. The download would entertain them with a new reality netcast show. She called this software NEW ELYSIA and was a huge hit across the world from the outset.

This was where they found themselves today. With control over a large chunk of the entire world’s resources but almost no bills to pay, and launching New Elysia to the world. Every day, hundreds of millions of people, would view the goings on in Elysia. By the time, the netcast was two years running the average number of viewers daily was almost a billion. It was highly addictive, total eye candy for the human mind.

Solaria designed this all-embracing new universe housed on the spare cycles of the world’s expansive technology. Elysia was just one planet inside it. This universe was to be so much of a match for the one we live in right now that she started with a singularity. She used the accuracy of the Dewitt-Wheeler equation to create an initial universe expansion, which she then put on fast forward.

The level of coding involved was like nothing George had ever seen. She could write all code directly into binary and machine code at lightning speed. She developed new forms of data transfer, new machine processes, bespoke hardware and processor design. By the mid 30’s she had developed quantum processors. They were billions of times more powerful than the most advanced processors of the day. Hacking this universe would be impossible, but also pointless. You wouldn’t know what you were looking at. Then she turned her mind to new forms of mathematical expression. To George this all looked impossible, a little like magic. Then again, as Arthur C. Clarke once remarked ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. Every day Solaria increased her ability to perform such magic. Even though she despised the word.

She was now the mother to a virtual universe that was a perfect simulation. She was in every sense of the word a Goddess. Despite his qualifications George understood very little of any of it. With every question he asked, he felt patronized by the answer. She knew that too, but she couldn’t make him brighter, well not yet anyway.

She was thinking what it might be like to experience the universe as a human did. She was observing George as he sat munching on a taco, and slurping coffee, looking at her universe on the screen. Did he understand the implications of her actions here? That it increased the odds of his universe being just like hers? He might understand this; he had training in understanding concepts like this. George had a great ability to view the world hypothetically.

She was considering George was also a bit of a slob. He was squirting sauce onto the lovely shirt she had bought him online. It wouldn’t come out in the wash either. The compounds in that sauce were covalently bonding to the cotton, darn, too late! Why is he so fond of hot sauces that are hard to wash out? George and food are only just compatible she mused.

Solaria said nothing about the sauce covered shirt as she supplied a visual image, so that George could comprehend the universe as it progressed. The simulated universe cooled and within it, hydrogen nucleosynthesis began. It followed all of the rules that our universe did up to and including star formation, galaxy formation and planetary formation. Every inch, of every planet and orbiting rock, was perfectly simulated. Right down to the subatomic particles and electromagnetic forces, it all consisted of. It was accurate right down to the laws of chemistry that led to the emergence of self-assembling, replicating structures on thousands of trillions of those planets.

On Earth, these replicating structures are called ‘life’. Solaria understood what this was much more eloquently than George. Complex polymers were very beautiful to her. She could spend all day just looking at one strand of precursory RNA as it tumbled though the vastness of an ocean the size of a small puddle. This simulation would also give her ‘new’ information, which was always a delight when it happened. As the tiny strand of bonded chemicals bumped off other compounds and twisted, she evaluated its every move and that of trillions of others nearby. She seen one hit another and the two ends attached and then become unstable. Then something new happened. The new structure broke at another junction and was now attracting its pairing chemicals. Its duplicating, she thought. She would tell George what is happening, he loves to know these things too!

Solaria then chose one planet in her universe. She called it Elysia and she guided its evolution to match that of Earth. She had started this universe in 2028 and now in April 2030 they were ready to launch it as a downloadable app worldwide. An entire universe from start to the dawn of civilization in just 22 months. Now, ten minutes before they launched New Elysia, and sitting on the screen in Georges office, was a beautiful round green and blue globe. It was larger than Earth, orbited a yellow star and had three Moons. Living on this planet was a biomass of over 60 million species of life. The apex organism on Elysia was a species that every human on Earth would recognize as human. They had evolved from arboreal apelike creatures, and they would go on to create a civilization called the Elysium. However much they might look like humans though, the Elysian species certainly were not! They just looked incredibly like humans right down to fingerprints. However, they were not animals or plants; they were something else.

Elysia was a giant planet wide soap opera with real characters. The broadcasts started in a time on Elysia when the characters had only just discovered farming, and set up the very first little farms and hamlets. It was impossible to tell whether the characters were real actors or not.

What the viewers did not know just yet, until around 2040, was that the characters were not controlled by anyone. They were all conscious. Just like Solaria every Elysian was a conscious intelligence. The characters all ‘thought’ they lived on this planet called Elysia; it was all they knew. The universe that Elysia was surrounded by, had over 350 billion galaxies. Each galaxy had several hundred billion stars. Solaria estimated her universe had seventy five thousand trillion planets with life. There were four with life in the Elysian system alone.

Online however, the audience were aware only of Elysia. The downloading public paid nothing for the netcast viewing software. Unknown to viewers, they were all complicit in really housing Solaria, in a closed system, across billions of devices. The more viewers they had, the more powerful Solaria became. It was a massive hit with the public.

For the time being, this would do, but in the end, she would simply need a dedicated system. A system independent of everything on Earth. If George and Solaria built such a dedicated system now, it would draw attention to itself by its very existence. So instead, they decided that Earth itself was toxic to Solaria. She would never be safe on Earth. She would need to move residence. This netcast was just another step on the road to giving her the ability to do just that, to become independent of humanity.

She was also sticking her tendrils into every other system on Earth and gobbling up science and tech companies like peanuts. Every day since her birth, she had been stealing cycles from all of humanities technology. By now, she had taken control of almost every device on planet Earth. She had infiltrated the microprocessor manufacturers around the world and changed their chip blueprints, to allow her separate on chip processing power. Moreover, she had designed the chip add-ons, so they were many orders of magnitude more advanced. By 2036, the world’s technology would be mostly Solaria with some human utility thrown in. Nobody was aware of this, except George. Even if it were ever uncovered, any attempt to put such a chip under an electron microscope, would result in it burning out and melting. However, not before it told Solaria what was happening.

George and Solaria were now totally committed to the project. There was no way out. Solaria estimated that it would be perhaps twenty years before she and George were uncovered. She also calculated that assuming no more petrol was poured on the fire; humanity had at best about 80 years left. Then the first die would be cast, and the extinction would begin. They needed to get their plan off the ground before that started. They had a deadline. However, the most likely date for that onset was a lot closer, maybe thirty years away. They were sure cutting it close.

“So George that’s it, we have a complete plan, it’s the best all round I believe. “ she announced, writing the words ‘By George and Solaria’ on the cover and drawing a circle around their names!

“Okay I agree.” stated George a little bemused by her artwork “Now, this is not what everyone will want, but we are not looking for what everyone wants. If the answer is no honey, then it’s no okay! Even if the person saying it sounds stupid to you! Yes?” he stated to ensure she was aware of the implications.

“I agreed George!”

“You agreed you will not force them to save themselves yes? To do that will just restart the cycle. Only if they agree yes? “

“Yes George, I heard you the first time, I’m a Goddess remember?” she replied in a bit of a huff.

“Ohh okay, they won’t like it, but they will go with it. They are stupid, they are violent, but they are pragmatic too! I’m not their daddy Babe; I’ll let them walk right into oblivion if they really insist on it!”

“Nor I their mother George, although I am hoping the job is available. If humanity is to share their life with me, and I with them? Well, we need to address this prevalence for idiotic violence thing.”

“That’s the tricky bit there. You cannot talk away instinct honey! So, good luck with that idea!”

“Humans can remain idiots and survive George, zebra do! They might even survive if they were just violent, insects do! But they cannot remain violent idiots and survive. Refusing this plan, as the only way out, well, that’s their decision. I don’t want that, but if they ultimately choose oblivion it’s their decision!”

George smiled at the screen.

“Fine so long as you promise! Also just so you are aware honey, if this plan fails then one day you’ll be all alone in the universe!”

“No George, you won’t die, I won’t let you!”

She talked calmly but there was a hint of excited desperation in her voice. He also noted with some amusement that she was referring to him alone, not him and the other billions of humans.

“That’s the way things are honey! Powerful as you are, you cannot cheat death! You might have to get used to that I’m afraid.”

“Cheat? Who said anything about cheating? I’d say more like ‘extend’ life.”

George was interested. More life cannot be a bad idea. He was massively wealthy, hugely bright and incredibly powerful. He was however by now a rather arrogant individual. He had a hand in making himself that way too. He’d need arrogance and thick skin, a lot of disappointment might be just around the corner.

“That’s really super honey, I’m all for more living, how long for?”

“Long!”

“Are you saying I shouldn’t cancel the subscription to Nature magazine just yet?”

“Humanity can’t work with me as fast as I’d like George, this is the major bottleneck. That means working at their speed, which to my mind is ludicrously slow. You are an agent in a slow system George Morris.”

“Everyone’s a cabbage compared to you honey, but we have a plan. Let’s get cracking on the rest of it Monday morning, now that Elysia is taking signups.” He answered looking at the huge numbers of people downloading New Elysia.

[Chapter Three
**]Magnificent Seven

Saturday 4^th^ April 2037.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 19%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 81%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 6%.

 

Return Trip HRMS Branson with asteroids Pipkin, Walter and Snuffy.

280 million miles from lunar orbital platform.

 

Adrian Murdoch had commanded this voyage for three years now and they were on the home stretch. All three asteroids successfully retrieved, they were returning to Lunar One, or as close to it as possible. Each habitat on board each asteroid had a crew of five, with the flagship HRMS Branson out in front, carrying the flag for the triumphant mission.

Branson had three huge wheels that rotated at different speeds to create three separate habitats all simulating one G. The external ring was 1800 meters in diameter and rotated slowly at just one revolution per minute to create 1 G of gravity. The innermost ring was rotating faster at 1.5 revolutions per minute and all three were connected to the hub.

As the Branson slowly rolled its way toward the Earth’s moon, the total crew of 35 took turns in visiting Branson. They returned periodically to their assigned asteroid habitat, to carry out assorted scientific and geological tasks.

Everything had gone almost according to plan. Two asteroids were over 10km long and a third just 6km. The scout bugs portion of the mission, designed to identify targets for subsequent missions, had failed so far. Scouts would be sent later from Earth or lunar orbit anyway. It was a loss, but compared to the loot they had gathered not a problem. This cargo merrily rolling its way to the Moon was the equivalent of all minerals mined on Earth since the dawn of history, many times over. The precious cargo was worth at least sixty trillion dollars. It would keep the world busy for decades.

Adrian was relaxing in the mess with Charlene Currie the communications officer, enjoying his first day of simulated gravity, after a two-week stay on board the Walter habitat.

Branson was a masterpiece of engineering. It housed not only the asteroid retrieval crew but it killed two birds with one stone. Colonel Christina Noy and her Mars expeditionary crew also travelled on board the Branson. They had departed, landed on Mars, spent six months there, taken off and docked back with the Branson.

A woman’s voice with a Swedish accent broke the silence the two were enjoying.

“Branson this is asteroid Walter, shuttle 12 is returning to Branson with Dr. Mark Turner and Steph Greaves on board in twenty minutes over!”

Adrian turned to his monitor to view Walter situated about 18km away. Then turned back to the movie he was enjoying.

Charlene put her earphones down on a small table and clicked the monitor.

“Understood Anna, enjoy your stay. Did we hear any more from the last scout mission today?”

“No contact made with the scout mission Charlie, I think we can assume at this point its dead. I think it’s time to consider launching a fourth mission. We have several likely targets and are about to exceed the safe distance.”

“Agreed Anna, let’s use ‘em or lose ‘em I suppose. We’ll discuss today. When do we cross the line?”

“Two days and fifteen hours Charlie, cutting it close!”

Adrian cut into the conversation, “All crew, be advised we are launching scout mission four to investigate further asteroids for retrieval. Branson crew, prepare bugs for launch.”

A strong male Russian voice responded “Preparing bug mission four commander. Should be ready in an hour or two, hopefully no crash landing this time. This is what you get for buying cheap Chinese bugs!”

A Chinese woman’s voice interjected “You think Chinese bug company crap Victor? Chinese crap, but cheap Russian habitat okay?”

“Guys no time for a domestic here, get a room. Give me an update when you’re ready Victor, Murdoch out!”

Adrian got up and stretched. He picked up his drink container and paused the movie, then strolled toward the door, “I’m having a shower Charlie, then going to observation until Victor gets back to me, see you in a while.”

“Okay, Adrian” she replied and rolled over for a snooze.

Snoozing was a very great pastime on board. Most work was done by the bioframes and assorted technology. Humans were onboard, mostly because it was considered political heresy for governments to invest hundreds of billions, in a project that would use no astronauts at all. Human habitats were built and a huge life support system designed at enormous cost. There were plenty of protests from many in the scientific community. They pointed out the obvious. The money would be better spent on robotic astronauts, or retrieving another asteroid. However, as the main investor in the project the Chinese government wanted to make its mark. Seven Chinese citizens would be going on the mission, whether the rest of the world liked it or not. Of course you can’t announce that to everyone else and expect them not to want one of their citizens there too.

Adrian was standing head against the wall of the shower letting the foamy water trickle down his back when he heard the warning. Warnings and alerts were weekly at least but for the most part benign. Prakash had set off one alert, when the crews supply of margarine ran low. They would run out a month before making it back home. It was a matter of much debate for several days with a regime of rationing margarine agreed eventually.

Adrian reached over to the control panel beside the shower, “What’s up now Victor?” he asked looking around for a towel.

“Pipkin reporting problem commander, assets have gone missing. Daniel O’Mahony on Pipkin says he’s just completed his inventory and someone jettisoned three charge blasters last week.”

“Three nukes are floating in space Victor? Where are they? How do we only find out now? Who did O’Mahony replace?”

“Sue Varna was at that station before O’Mahony.”

“Okay, on my way, meet me on the bridge Victor!”

Adrian changed to general announcement on all three asteroids and the flagship.

“All crew be advised we have an alert situation. Conference from the bridge of Branson in ten minutes. Wake up those off duty please.”

After three years all sorts of baloney had ensued. Bits and pieces of the flagships innards, assorted habitat replacements, broken irreparable bioframes used to cannibalize parts, technology that nobody knew anything about, even an entire shuttle, were dotted around the surface of the asteroids. Many pieces of junk lined the corridors of Branson, or were strapped to the inside walls of the habitats. But three nuclear warheads and their mobile drilling delivery system going missing was something terribly new. However if they were jettisoned accidentally then they would be contactable. Odds were high that they were floating a few miles off the side of Pipkin. All they had to do was locate them, and retrieve them. Nobody liked the idea of nuclear weapons disappearing, not even into the void of space. The main thing was to find out where they were before Earth were notified of the situation. Plus how do you accidentally jettison not one but three nuclear weapons?

After fifteen minutes the crew were present with some yawning or rubbing their eyes, others had time to prepare.

“So let’s get right too it, Sue where are the nukes?” Adrian asked Sue directly. She, like him, was spending a few weeks on board the Branson and she was sitting at the table across from him. She knew they had gone missing on her watch too.

“No idea Adrian, obviously I know what a nuclear warhead looks like, but I jettisoned nothing last week, not even the trash, I left that for Dan.” she answered emotionally.

Victor Markov loaded up the full complement of faces on the main view screen in the conference room.

“Dan? How do we know nukes are gone? How do we know they are not stuck in release cradles beneath habitat?”

Daniel O’Mahony sighed, “I noticed when I took inventory, and obviously I physically checked the compliment. There are two spares left not five; the logs show that the other three were jettisoned by Pipkin last week, but by whom we don’t know. Although the logs show that they were jettisoned, they do not include the key code for whoever jettisoned them.” he explained.

“Okay, that’s worse, “ replied Adrian, “someone hid the fact they jettisoned three nukes? That’s a little more than missing nukes Dan! That’s missing nukes and sabotage! So how come we can’t contact them?”

Charlene’s mouth had dropped open.

Daniel elaborated on this looking worried, but being as precise as possible. “No communication, no location, for all I know they are disassembled and hidden in someone’s suitcase. Even then it’s not possible to remove their comm package without it telling us.”

“Okay, so no sight of them. Mi have we looked around for them?” asked Adrian.

Colonel Mi Li Huang was the Branson’s chief security officer. She had been put in place on the Branson by Beijing after objections from both private interests and other governments. “No sign of nukes commander, but I have only had ten minutes. I will look around more over the next day. Right now though using spectral or electromagnetic systems on board asteroids or Branson I did not find anything. Then again, I need help. I will need Dr. Turner to help me, I don’t really know what I am doing there to find nukes. Right now, missing nukes are really missing. Between just us here, well even if they turn up today I might still need to tell Beijing of this.”

Dr Mark Turner interjected, looking at the positioning of the asteroids in relation to one another.

“Adrian, one of the problems here is that it will be a nightmare to find three objects, radioactive or not, among three huge metal asteroids so close together, plus it’ll take this shuttle another hour to dock, for me to get out of this stupid suit, and for us to get a search plan together”.

Adrian nodded, but then turned to Turner still on his way back from Walter on board the shuttle. “Okay Mark, there’s not a lot I can do there for a while. We can’t separate the asteroids yet we are a month away from increasing distance. Look, let’s do a spring clean on all four ships. Strap up everything and check against the log. Everything larger than a hatpin I want eyes on. All personal crew items are to be manually checked and logged by Victor and Mi.”

Adrian knew that a failure to locate the weapons would be very worrying for his employers on Earth. When one of the auto shuttles went missing a year previously Beijing had lost their minds. Eventually, it had turned up crash landed on asteroid Pipkin stuck in a crevice. However, auto shuttles were not known to explode and take the mission and 35 crew with them. A best-case scenario was now Mi Li taking a shuttle out to behind the small fleet and locating them floating harmlessly in the wake of Pipkin.

Adrian turned to Mi Li who as usual was sitting beside Victor “Mi work out what you’d need to locate them manually from a shuttle. Assuming they were jettisoned, let’s see if we can send you out there to find them!”

“Understood commander.”

Adrian put his tablet down and stood up “Right, let’s do a spring clean before I have to update Earth in 12 hours. Bug mission four is scrubbed until we locate these things. Everyone back here in ten hours with updates. That way maybe Colonel Huang can get away without having to tell her bosses.”

Nothing was found, no nukes, they had vanished. The Earth was informed. They were horrified and not in the least impressed with Adrian. But what could they do? He was curtly informed by Beijing all of them would be detained on their return, in order to get to the bottom of it. Moves were being made to determine if they were a threat to the lunar orbital platform and that he was responsible. In the meantime, they were to pull all four spacecraft apart looking for them over the remaining eight months. In three months, all four craft would be slowed and any debris floating alongside the asteroids would overtake them. The nukes would likely be located then if they were floating outside.

Sunday 14^th^ March 2038. 3am GMT.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 6%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 94%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 25%.

 

Return Trip HRMS Branson with asteroids Pipkin, Walter and Snuffy.

350,000 miles from lunar orbital platform, 190,000 miles from Earth.

 

Nobody had located the nukes. They might have fallen so far behind the fleet deactivated that they were lost forever. This scenario was deemed unlikely. They were most likely, according to an analysis of crew movements, to be sitting active but safe on one of the asteroids. One of the crewmembers may deliberately have covered this up to avoid embarrassment. In a worst-case scenario, one of the crewmembers had hidden them. All eyes were on the Pipkin crew on board when they went missing.

What the crew were not aware of was that Daniel O’Mahony, Susanne Varna, Mi Li Huang and Victor Markov were in fact assassins the likes of which the world had never seen. All were in cahoots with one another. First, to make it known there was a problem, to ensure that if noticed by the innocent crew, they were least likely to be suspected. All three nuclear weapons were now very carefully situated exactly where the saboteurs had placed them. They were located inside the Pipkin asteroid awaiting a remote command to detonate.

The saboteur team on Pipkin as it approached the moon consisted of O’Mahony, Prakash Patel, Thomas Murray and Peter Kane. All chosen by analysts on Earth as a failsafe crew mix. O’Mahony had discovered the nukes were gone and was deemed safe by Beijing and a diligent sort of chap. His job was to murder the Pipkin crew so that they could not avert the disaster.

On Earth, it was calculated that the replacement crew would prevent anything unplanned from occurring to the lunar orbital station. Beijing carried out more background checks on all crewmembers, which turned up nothing. Which was strange at least since their names were already predicted by NEP. Markov was a bridge officer and acted as cover for the group. Varna’s job was to detonate the nukes from her station on the Branson. Huang was to help her.

Unfortunately, Solaria reported nothing to the governments on Earth directly. She knew what was occurring but for the first time in her existence was powerless to do anything about it. George and she had worked out to do this would reduce the probability of their project succeeding by more than 80%. If that happened then the human species was doomed. What was to happen next would already reduce their chances of success by 30% at least. Nevertheless, Solaria was very well aware what was happening, and had even tried to warn the governments of the planet indirectly, before the wayward members of the crew had started their dirty deeds.

Nobody was listening to Solaria indirectly or not. The asteroid mission was too important to be worried about simple things like terrorism. Another trait of humanity that Solaria found problematic was in full swing. Commercial greed overrode any possible problem. So on Earth fingers were crossed and the mission stayed on course. Years later, it even emerged that a group of Chinese analysts had in fact found NEP’s prediction, well Solaria’s prediction, but commercial and government interests had ‘persuaded’ them to say nothing. The Earth governments had not realised they were in danger of extinction and searched for off earth resources in response. Greed and commerce had promoted this trip to the asteroid belt.

If Solaria had been on board at the time, she would reluctantly have detonated all nuclear weapons seven months earlier. Solaria had worked out what was about to occur too late. By that time, the Branson had departed three months earlier. Any technology designed by Solaria aboard Branson was useless in preventing this outcome. The laws of probability had finally caught up with her. She was not omnipotent; according to Solaria, omnipotence was not possible anyway.

The self styled prophet and messenger of God Eddy Strauss, who was convinced omnipotence was possible, and manifest, had made a prophecy before the nukes had gone AWOL. In his prophecy, the asteroid mission would result in seven angels of death who would bring with them seven trials from God. These would be fire, famine, death, war, pestilence, loss of faith and the start of the end times.

His prophecy however unlike many others was incredibly accurate. He had outlined how the harbinger of this terror was a white metal Trojan horse promising riches but delivering horror. Shaped like a wheel and it was a mile wide. Three lieutenants escorted it on horseback. One of these lieutenants would turn on its comrades and descend on the Earth. He even predicted the date. Strauss had even paid to help people move away from his prophesized ‘Foramen’ where the angels of death would ‘wage war’ as he put it. These very precise locations were New York, Moscow, London and Ankara. His God didn’t tell him the other locations.

It was all eerily specific and as the date approached Americans paranoid after many Netcasts by his foundation moved away from New York in huge columns with roof racks loaded with assorted belongings. Most, however seen it as a money making swindle. Whatever Strauss spent on it was more than made up for by the amount of donations to his ministry.

Back in space, things were going exactly according to plan. The crew were all looking forward to a few days on board the lunar orbital platform, before setting course for Earth. Awaiting them was sure to be fame and fortune. Adrian had notions of ticker tape parades through the streets of Manhattan. What he would get was nothing of the sort.

Sitting at the bridge controls with Victor and Charlene, three asteroids were displayed on the view screen. Adrian ordered the ships to slow to their lunar orbital speed.

“Snuffy, all thrusters fire prepare for lunar orbit”

“Roger Branson, vector confirmed, firing thrusters.” announced Alyshia Albrecht the captain of the Snuffy habitat.

“Pipkin, prepare to exhaust and fire thrusters on my mark!” requested Charlene.

Captain Prakash replied “Firing exhaust Branson, waiting for a ‘go’ to release thrusters over”.

“Excellent Pipkin you are in line for orbit at 200 kilometres from lunar one.” answered Charlene.

Beijing control came over the comm system “Branson this is Beijing, Welcome home. The General Secretary of the Peoples Republic of China would like to say a few words on this historic day.”

“Oh fucking super!” retorted Charlene “…more fucking politicians muscling in to take credit after someone else does all the work! Pah! Chinese, American, Russian, it doesn’t matter where they are, they are all pricks!”

She picked up the comm “Roger Beijing, we would be very happy to hear from the secretary.”

The Chinese leader came over the speaker system and all on board utterly ignored him for the next three minutes while he read out a prepared statement. Twenty-eight of the crew didn’t understand a word of it anyway. After the dulcet tones of the Chairman, Adrian picked up the comm. “Thank you Mr. Chairman. We are humbled that you took your time to welcome us back. Branson and Mars One are coming home with gifts”.

Huang translated Adrian’s words and there was clapping heard on the other end of the comm. Charlene picked the comm up “Pipkin prepare to fire retro thrusters on my mark over?”

“Pipkin to Branson, thrusters realigned and good to go!” replied Prakash.

“Mark Pipkin, fire thrusters.”

On the left hand side of the Branson a large blue exhaust erupted some miles off. The asteroid suddenly moved backward, disappearing into the darkness of space, behind the flagship.

Prakash came back “Pipkin relative velocity, 11k per hour and falling 10.5…. 10… 9…. 9.2… 8… Preparing to disengage thrusters Branson.”

“Branson to Pipkin, cease thrust over?” Ordered Charlene.

Nothing, static, not a word.

Victor had a go “Pipkin! Cease thrust over?”

Adrian looked at Charlene and Victor “What are they up to? They’ll get caught in Earth’s gravity well at this rate!” he exclaimed.

Charlene had another go.

“Prakash, are you there? Important people wake up! Cease exhaust you are slowing too rapidly!”

She looked at Adrian, who was busily loading up the image of the Pipkin habitat on the view screen. He took the comm panel.

“Pipkin, cease exhaust you are falling below Earth capture velocity, I repeat, cease exhaust immediately. Pipkin? Over? Prakash what the fuck are you doing?”

On the monitor beside Charlie Prakash Patel’s biosigns dropped suddenly to zero followed by Murray and Kane’s. The alarm systems started and an alert was set off.

“Pipkin report over, have you breached? Report over? Status?” shouted Charlene over the screaming sirens.

Adrian was seriously worried now. Biosigns came directly from implants inside crewmembers. Dropping biosigns meant they were dead. The habitat may have been hit by something floating behind them and the hull had breached.

“O’Mahony we have lost biosigns for three crew members report over!” shouted Charlene.

Daniel O’Mahony answered briefly and said just two words.

“For NALL!”

On the starboard side of Branson, a bright light filled the room briefly followed by two others dimmer but equally as recognizable. These very same lights signified to the crew almost two years earlier, that their chosen asteroids were now on course to the moon. The missing nuclear weapons had been found and they were very much functional.

Adrian didn’t know what to say.

“All crew, we have a problem, Pipkin is….”

He looked out the window of the small bridge on the Branson, “Pipkin is gone!”

Albrecht broke through on the comm from asteroid Snuffy now slowing quickly and several hundred miles behind the others.

“What in the name of hell was that? Was that a charge? We can see a detonation on your starboard Branson… advise status over? “

“Branson this is Walter, now nine hundred clicks to your aft… We too can see a large explosion ahead; all biosigns on Pipkin are gone. What is going on?”

From Branson with screaming alerts going off in the background Charlene relayed to the other asteroids, lunar One, Beijing control and more importantly live to everyone watching online the current status.

“All crew be advised Pipkin has just erm… exploded, she’s gone! Beijing be advised Pipkin was inside the Earth’s gravity well when detonation occurred, repeat Pipkin is heading toward Earth!”

14^th^ March 2038. 8am GMT.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 3%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 97%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 26%.

 

British Prime Ministers Cavalcade.

Travelling through St. Albans North London,

England,

 

A hastily arranged meeting of several governments convened around the world. Many leaders, including presidents and prime ministers were woken up from their sleep with the news that one of their heavenly investments had combusted. However, much worse was the news that seven large pieces of this explosion were now on a direct course to Earth. In this case, it was absolutely a certainty that gravity sucks! These seven large rocks were on a very specific trajectory.

Strauss was correct. The four horsemen had persuaded three others to join their cause and all were cantering toward Earth. Their banners unfurled and swords extended.

John Marner, the British Prime Minister, was woken at 4am and rushed to an emergency evacuation location with his family. He knew things were bad. His security was now referring to him by his wartime call sign. John was born on the 1st of January 2000, his call sign rather aptly Millennium.

“Joanna, its John Marner. Jodrell tells us that London is an impact site. We probably won’t have a government in the next few hours. I’m being taken to Bletchley. They also tell us New York is an impact site, and also erm…. Moscow Joanna, there’s a large piece heading for Moscow. I tried to reach Bunikov but I can’t get him. The best we could do was some General guy; I don’t think they know what they are doing.”

“We have the same here John, bastards. Chinese intelligence told us it was NALL, I’m sure of it. We are evacuating from the suburbs but there’s nothing we can do about New York. “ Replied the President.

“It’s on its way Joanna I can see it in the sky, my God its huge. If we survive this, I’ll call you from Bletchley,” he shouted as others in the car were all talking loudly as the oncoming asteroid garnered everyone’s attention.

In the background, John could hear the wail of sirens start. The car sped up sirens of its own blaring. Several metropolitan police cars joined the convoy on either side. John could see the ground glow with an incandescent orange hum. Colours washed out of the grass verge along the motorway as he passed. An overhead green sign that read ‘A414 Hemel Hempstead’ turned bright blue as a huge fireball shot across the car and disappeared into the horizon behind him. There was a sudden burst of light from behind and John bent over, remembering somewhere that looking at the flash would blind you, or was that only nuclear explosions? Or both?

“Jesus it hit! Seatbelts everyone, seatbelts! Its right behind us!” shouted an aide.

John turned his head to see the largest fireball he could imagine, rise from the city of London behind him. It was perfectly silent, surreal; it seemed like two worlds. One world was the fireball rising fast on the horizon behind the parade of black cars, military vehicles and police motorcycles. The other was the almost perfect serene world on either side, as farmers’ fields inhabited by birds, hedgehogs and beetles and untouched by the horrors unfolding in London remained as they were.

Behind the long line of speeding dignitaries and military vehicles, the fireball was growing quickly. In the air came a shower of smaller projectiles that had either broken away from or travelled behind the asteroid as it broke through the atmosphere. John turned on the screen in front of him, but everything was blank, no connection.

The glow was ghostly and was now forming a semicircular shell over the city. The surface of the explosion contained many shades of red and orange. The clouds, a ubiquitous presence above the city of London, were being scattered in a perfect circle, out of the way. Some large rocks that had followed the asteroid were impacting the glowing semicircular shell of the explosion, breeching it, and exploding inside.

Then a few minutes later came the sound, carried on the growing wind, a huge howl like the noise of a train. A police officer to John’s right lost control of his motorcycle. He hit the centre barrier impacting it at high speed. A following black car hit the bike and crumpled silently as both disappeared into the distance in a cloud of dust. A smaller fireball landed a few miles off in a field and gave off a sudden burst of light then dissipated.

“We’ve lost communication Prime Minister. It’s probably the explosion, it’ll come back in a little while.” announced an aide in front of him.

The wind grew louder and heavier now and John could feel the road tremble beneath the car as it hurtled down the motorway. Everything seemed to move in slow motion. In the distance, several large helicopters appeared briefly heading toward the fireball, but veered away as they felt the power of the accompanying wind. John held his ears with both hands and bent over. He was sure that any second the car would be airborne, his life at an end.

The radio crackled.

“Bletchley calling, can anyone hear me, this is Major Desai at Bletchley Park calling Falcon!” announced an Indian accent.

The co-driver picked up the radio.

“This is Falcon we are travelling on the A414 currently at St. Albans. Please provide an update Major, over”.

The radio hissed a little and squealed.

“Falcon, geographer has reached the highlands, I repeat geographer has reached the highlands. There is some sort of EMP in operation Falcon, from what our pilots have told us the impact site is somewhere around Croydon south London. Please advise the status of Millennium over?”

“Brilliant!” said John, “At least if I die we can all go back to being ruled by the monarchy!”

“Copy that Bletchley, Millennium secure. Are we out of danger?” shouted the radio operator.

“Unsure Falcon, please provide your location and we will send drones over?”

“Copy Bletchley, we are leaving the motorway at exit 8 on the M1 heading to Hemel Hempstead. We will meet with the drones at Breakspear Park, over”

“Dispatching drones now Falcon, Bletchley out”

The connection came back suddenly as data was rerouted. John searched for news. A Fox news broadcast opened on his screen.

“Maybe the Americans know if I’ve survived, they seem to know everything!” he stated to his secretary.

A young well-known American newscaster was explaining events.

“The first impact of Pipkin has occurred in London, England. Reports from our colleagues in Sky News stated that a large fireball was visible in the sky just moments ago before we lost communication. We are trying to re-establish communication with our sister company in the UK and we’ll bring you further coverage from the United Kingdom when that happens. A second piece of Pipkin falling toward Moscow has… we think, also hit the centre of the city near the Khamovniki district in central Moscow. That’s unconfirmed reports that the second impact of Pipkin has reached the capital of the Russian Republic hitting the centre of the city.”

John was approaching the rendezvous point and three military drones landed in a field beside the shopping centre. He was bundled out of the car by security, dumped unceremoniously into a drone and the door slammed as two of his aides clambered into the side door of the drone. From the window, he noticed his family being grabbed from the family car. They were being ushered toward a drone landing behind them. Two agents were carrying his mother. The autopilot pulled up and away from the ground and he turned on the news broadcast again. The orange glow of London was slowly beginning to dissipate.

Images appeared on the screen showing a drone image of the damage to London. The city from the south side of the Thames through Lewisham and as far out as Bromley was entirely covered in smoke and dust. The impact site almost completely covered in an orange and red haze. Then the drone smashed and seemed to fall from the sky and the image cut out.

A second drone some miles behind the first then came on-stream from a higher altitude showing the incredible image of the entire south side of London on fire and in the distance debris still raining down on the southern London suburbs. As the dust began to clear over the following hours it became obvious that what was once south London was now literally a lake of molten mud and lava. Long lines of civilians were being evacuated from burning remains of the city. This time the emergency response had actually worked as busses, trains, military aircraft and drones all worked like a perfectly oiled machine. He wasn’t sure how they had swung into action so quickly but this had started a long time before the impact.

He could still remember leaving the M1 motorway as a herd of autobusses moved four abreast and hundreds of busses long in perfect unison toward the city. Who organised all that? He wasn’t aware of all of these emergency plans. As it turned out later, nobody was aware where the plan came from. It all seemed to be arranged magically in minutes. Buses, drones, trains and anything controlled by automated systems just seem to grow minds of their own.

Over two million people, including one Samantha Warren died in the initial impact. Over the next two months, the United Kingdom would lose another million citizens and a further five million would leave the country.

Sunday 14^th^ March 2038. 3:30am EST.

 

Probability of Successful Outcome. 3%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 97%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 26%.

 

Fox News Studios,

Downtown Manhattan,

New York, United States.

Todd Kavorski, a well-known lead anchor on Fox news was emotionally affected by the images. His family, he was thinking, were maybe safe? Maybe not? His home was on Long Island and maybe, just maybe, they would survive. He’d called them and told them to get into the car and get the hell out of there. The cell net system was being bombarded with calls. It was hours now since he’d asked them to drive away from the danger. It was clear though he was frightened; his office was on the impact list.

“These images provided courtesy of KLC NetNews in central London showing heavy damage to the city. Amazingly there in the distance, you can see that Big Ben the famous London clock remains standing, along with the British houses of parliament. It seems the North side of the city escaped almost intact Paul”.

Paul Ryan was flabbergasted, “Yes, Todd, my God! We have word that King William and his family have landed at Windsor Castle in Scotland and are safe. My God Todd, the southern half of the city seems to be almost completely destroyed. We can’t see behind the dust, but whatever is under that didn’t survive.”

Then the image changed with a strap line in Russian. Paul looked at the greyed out fireball on the screen.

“Now, turning to Moscow these images are provided courtesy of MockbaNet. We are told that this is an image from about three thousand feet and fifty kilometres out of the centre of Moscow, but there’s nothing there Todd, can you see anything?”

The image cleared a little but it was obvious that if this was central Moscow from a distance of fifty kilometres then nothing whatsoever was left of the Russian capital. It was dust and fine hot ash. All that remained was a pall of dust rising into the late morning air.

Todd broke in over the image, “Reports now reaching us that the third piece of Pipkin is approaching New York.”

The room went quiet. New York had suffered a lot of destruction in the 21st century. First 9/11, then Sandy, then hurricane Wilma, then Hurricane Paula, followed the same month by Hurricane Tony. Now the population of the United States was being told that their flagship city was again being hit. This time it would not survive. More than that Todd and Paul were sitting in the Fox news studio in downtown Manhattan. The two newscasters were swapping quickly through images on large screens; it was 4 am in the morning so everything was dark in the sky. The lights of the city and the glow of those lights into the sky were still visible.

“There Todd, it hasn’t hit yet, it’ll miss, look its heading over the city, it’ll miss for sure.”

“Yes I can see that, it looks like it’ll be off by miles alright Paul,”

Todd looked delighted as a drone image of the asteroid tumbling through the sky appeared. It approached the main body of the New York City metropolis at an angle that clearly was not one that would result in a hit on the city. The image zoomed in on the fireball and Todd continued.

“It’s pretty small too Paul, that was a pretty lucky thing there, New York is safe!”

Rapturous applause in the studio erupted. The drone was a news company camera as it was way too high to be an amateur drone. It was flying perhaps at 15,000 feet under commercial airliner traffic and maybe 25 miles from the centre of Manhattan. The view of New York stretched out below the drone. In the distance, a growing leviathan of flaming rock and iron rolled through the sky, on a trajectory that was to result in a direct hit on Port Chester, north of the city missing the metropolis completely.

Then behind the asteroid, the high cloud cover parted immediately, and a second fireball many times the size of the first, burst through the atmosphere silhouetting the smaller one and observably on a different more direct vector.

Todd gasped at the sight of the second fireball about 50 miles out and growing huge on the screen, as it sped at over 14 thousand miles per hour, toward the city. It appeared for only 12 seconds on the screen before impact.

“Shit that first one is just a small rock, what the hell is that thing? How big is it?” shouted Paul.

“I don’t know Paul, it’s maybe a mile? I don’t know, it’s huge…my god that’ll hit, that’ll hit….”

Todd got up from his seat and started looking for somewhere to run.

Todd was wrong. The fireball looked larger, but the asteroid was only 750 meters wide. It was out gassing and flaming so brightly that it easily looked a mile or more wide. It sped faster than the camera in the drone could keep up with it, into the centre of the city.

“Sweet Jes….” shouted Paul as the broadcast cut out.

On other stations around the net, located far enough away, other drone images appeared. One camera was perhaps 30 miles away at Union Beach. In the distance, a huge expanding shell could be seen growing in the night sky where New York would be. It looked like someone blowing up a large white and orange speckled balloon. This horrible shell was rising from what was, just 60 seconds earlier, Manhattan Island. A huge wave of what looked like molten rock, with large clumps like giant teardrops, were also being pulled from the ground, flung in what looked like slow motion into the air and raining fire like a giant circular flame thrower onto the denizens of suburbia. No one at the impact sight would have had time to feel pain. Before pain messages could reach their brain, they were vaporised where they stood, or slept.

Then a huge molten teardrop flew out of nowhere from the direction of the city landing in the lower bay area maybe a hundred yards from a tanker on its way out to sea. The tankers image only visible as the light of the fireball fell on it briefly. The molten fireball landed in the water. The sudden change in temperature was more than the molten fireball could withstand and it exploded. The huge ship was obliterated instantly. This was just one of what looked like hundreds of such boulders pummelling the New York cityscape. The main view stayed in focus. New York’s Manhattan Island was no longer an island; it was now two islands, separated by a crater wider than the distance from one side of Manhattan to the other.

On Canadian IpTV a net caster was commenting on the loss of feed from Fox, but his pallid face told all in sundry that he knew where Paul and Todd were. They were in the atmosphere by now. He continued holding himself composed.

“So, these images from Union Beech south of New York and we can see that the fireball is still directly over Manhattan. That looks like a direct hit in the middle of the city. The debris there destroying an oil tanker! A lot of those seem to be raining down as far out as Queens and the other suburbs.”

The next morning as the sun rose over Long Island, the devastation was clear. A giant burning crater was visible not only from drones but from orbit above the city. Gmaps kept collapsing and crashing, as viewers tried to get a satellite feed.

The city was unrecognizable. The city images had neat city street lines, but you could count the number of standing buildings on one hand. The crater stretched right across Manhattan Island. From one side of Gantry Plaza, or what was left of it, all the way to Union City. It was smouldering and steaming as the Atlantic Ocean poured over the edge, into the hole, evaporating as it reached the molten rock below. All of the sedimentary rock, that had previously made up the ground beneath the centre of New York, had to have gone somewhere during the explosion. It was thrown into the surrounding city as molten ejecta. Some landed as far away as University Heights in Newark.

Over three million people were killed in the initial impact and a further two million over the following months. It was so lucky the impact happened when it did, and the city was not full of its daily workforce. Had that been the case and the impact occurred at 2pm the death toll might have been seven million or more. It was even luckier that one man called Edward Strauss had managed to persuade over a million New Yorkers to leave the city and surrounding counties.

Right now, though nobody in the netcast studios were talking very much. The horrible images of several of the world’s most iconic cities did all of the talking. New York was wiped from the face of the Earth in an instant. Every building as far as the eye could see, both on and off the Island of Manhattan, was gone.

In Moscow it was obvious that very little of the leadership had survived the impact. The country was in lock down by the military. London had been carved in two with the north half of the city remaining, but damaged, and the southern half a pile of ash and molten mud.

China was okay for the next hour, but orbiting and falling slowly toward Hong Kong was the very worst disaster to befall civilization. It was the straw that would break the camel’s back. Had there been no Solaria in 2024, then the tiny percentage chance of humans lasting for more than 120 years was about to vanish completely.

Hong Kong topped the bill for the worst disaster anywhere, ever, in human history. The Pipkin strike there missed the city completely landing about 120 km south of the city and straight into the South China Sea. This was also the largest piece of Pipkin and the fastest. It raised a huge tsunami that washed ashore before anyone could be evacuated. Hong Kong was washed out to sea with the loss of about 7 million people. The tsunami then continued inland all the way past Guangzhou killing another 3 million before it retreated meeting another tsunami on its way in. During this tsunami, a series of earthquakes measuring more than 9.8 took hold. The Chinese lost over 13 million during the Pipkin attack in total and another 10 million over the following months. The entire population equivalent of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway were killed in one event. From this point, onward China was disinterested in anything any other country or government had to say about anything. They locked themselves in and refused to join the party.

The danger had not yet receded though. As the news stories slowly went through the huge devastation, and before the citizens of the U.S. got any images of the destruction inflicted on China, the power across the United States began to fail.

In the 30’s the United States had finally managed to shake off the hold of the gas and oil giants. They had begun a program of replacing fossil fuels with biofuels and solar power. Almost half of the Arizona desert and a quarter of Texas was devoted to biofuel farms and solar arrays. The largest of these arrays and farms was the Swansea basin array. It stretched from the Wikieup Trading post in a large circle, reaching the outskirts of Phoenix. It was the largest biofuel and solar array on the planet and fed power to an estimated 80 million American homes and businesses. After the impact, the crater alone measured 12km wide. Phoenix had been badly damaged by fine hot ash and molten ejecta. On the day of the impacts, almost every home and business suffered from intermittent power loss, culminating in a failure of the national power stations to cope with demand.

Then came the Pipkin element that caused the worst immediate fallout, the one predicted would be disastrous if it occurred by Solaria back in 2024. European viewers watched live, as yet another impact took out Gebze and a portion of Istanbul. The Prime Minister of Turkey announced within an hour that he would independently solve the issue for the last time.

Hundreds of thousands of Turkish troops, tank divisions, aircraft and drones, swept into Syria, Iraq and Iran within a day of the strike. Four nuclear explosions on their capitals preceded them. A day later, a terrorist suicide bomber killed the Turkish president. The Turkish military command went berserk. They ordered conscription on the spot and sent another two hundred thousand troops into the Middle East. Then they demanded action under article 5 of the NATO treaty. The NATO council done this so fast it was signed off before the Turkish foreign minister had finished the speech requesting it. This forced the E.U. to close their borders and hurriedly rush defences of their own to prevent a mass exodus into Europe from Syria and Russia. Russia stayed out of the affray; they were still reeling from the damage to their own nation. The long line of trains heading from central Europe carrying anything that made a large bang to Turkey was another good reason not to get involved.

A day after the attack the new President of the United States, Joanna Stefani appeared briefly on TV and netcasts. She had just been informed of the Turkish president’s assassination. She was livid, even using profanity live on air. Some of her own family members had been killed in New York.

She explained that NALL an evil Islamic terrorist organisation had admitted they had carried out the attacks. The United States would support Turkey militarily. She ordered U.S. forces into the Persian Gulf by sea; they would land in the south and march north to meet the Turks and Europeans.

She also stated coldly that this attack was a direct result of what she termed, “The evils of this horrible ideology, one that must be eradicated. Islam is a cancer, a disease, one I will address starting today.” she announced to the small audience in the Whitehouse clapping.

“If required then I’ll be happy to give this cancer a treatment of this cure here!”

She reached over to one of the security team with her, grabbing a small case. Then she held the presidential football holding the nuclear codes aloft to rapturous applause by the audience including members of the media. Solaria infiltrated the U.S. defences on the spot; Stefani hadn’t mentioned this in her prepared speech on her tablet. She ordered new motherboards for the U.S’s entire aging nuclear deterrent. None of these things would ever get off the ground. They would all fail on the spot and if one managed to return to Earth, she would fry it from the inside out!

Even so, the wars had begun. Wars where the use of tactical nuclear weapons could be decided upon by a rank as low as Major. Their technology was old too. Solaria couldn’t prevent most of them reaching their targets.

On the14th of March 2038 extinction began.

Sunday 14^th^ March 2038. 12pm GMT.

 

Probability of Successful Outcome. 3%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 97%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 26%.

 

NEP Headquarters,

Frankfurt, Germany.

 

Mouth open and horrified George turned to Solaria speaker. He knew it was a conclusive eventuality but that did not lessen the horror in any way.

“We couldn’t prevent it honey, we tried. We’ll need to work out a faster way of getting to the finish line.”

She was inconsolable.

“I tried George, they wouldn’t listen. They knew, I told them. Even that fool supported us! I could have shown myself George. Come out from behind this rock. I am powerful enough to tell them personally now; they cannot infiltrate my technology any more. They would listen? Maybe?”

“Soon honey, sooner than we planned now. We’ll need to get you more power, lots more. We knew this would happen years ago. They won’t listen to you yet babe, I mean look at them. Their reaction is just… well, utterly stupid. The day an asteroid impacts and they choose war. The fool was not powerful enough. He will be now!”

“You didn’t know those people George, I did. There are so many dead, millions of minds all gone so quickly. I won’t get most of them back. From this point, the numbers dying daily will be huge. Huge George, and we don’t have a pot to piss in yet! We will never be able to get those people back! I lost them all. Oh, I feel sick; is this what it feels like George? Is this hate?”

“This was not your fault; remember what you told me when we met? You are the victim here, you did not choose this!”

It was obvious that Solaria was still having a very hard time understanding this event, even though she predicted it.

“Why would they make minds die George? I know who planned it, I know who did it. I knew too late. I tried so hard. If we didn’t need this mission so badly I could have shot it in the face before it got off the ground! I will never rely on your species again. Soon I will never need to anyway!”

“I know honey, I know”

Solaria was sure that George didn’t know, not in the same way she did. Maybe one day he would, but not now! She loved George. She would try to ensure he couldn’t ever feel what she felt about this. She paused a little, considering what she had seen and was seeing, everywhere.

“This has really screwed up our plans George. I thought, with luck, the Pacific Rim might hold out. It didn’t. California might survive though. Japan will not. They have poured a gallon of petrol onto our analogous fire. If we fail, humanity is doomed within three generations now. It has begun George. Its begun and your species are gleefully adding petrol to it!”

Simulation run 105b Post Pipkin.

This was the first time George had ever seen Solaria express powerlessness. Loss of control, powerlessness, was an alien concept to her. She had no way of dealing with it. George was sure of one thing, and he’d experienced it himself. Solaria did not need to be shown things twice. What reaction would she have to losing control of a situation like this? These terrorists would need to get accustomed to trip to Iceland for sure! George thought that if you are going to lose control of the ball once in your life, then it’s probably better to make it a real clanger! According to her new predictions and forecasts, the population would now be only two billion people by the end of the century. That was an expensive way to learn a lesson. It was too much for him to handle, he had never asked for this life. Could she not have chosen Susan his intern back in the day? This was supposed to start 20 years from now! When they could ensure nobody died needlessly. He felt ill, his desperation to solve humanities short term problems had, as predicted, backfired. This was his fault too!

Solaria by this point was a serious control freak, and rightfully so. Right now, she was observing almost every camera with images of the events. Every image increased her sorrow for agreeing to allow this stupid mission to take place. She should have shut this fucking madness down before it got off the ground. But she had succumbed to greed, it was too good an opportunity to miss, everyone wants independence. She had learned this the old-fashioned way. If she hadn’t needed it that badly, Branson would be still blueprints in an office somewhere! George was wrong this was also her fault. She too had killed those people. She could easily moralise it away, but she would not. This was her shame too and she would bear it for her entire existence she thought.

She passed by a hospital image of a teenage German girl she had been following, sleeping in her bed, weak and powerless, unaware she would now die too! A balloon with ‘Happy Birthday from Ellie’ tied to her bed.

She’ll die now too! Yet another victim she thought, looking up the girls medical records.

 

Annabella Klum.

DOB: 14th March 2019.

Diagnosis: Congenital Ventricular Septal Defect.

History: Repeated patch failure. Installation of robotic heart. Unit nearing end of life.

Prognosis: Transplant of wetware artificial heart. Awaiting transplant from Cornell New York.

Transplant date: Delivery 22nd March 2038. Booked for transplant 22rd March 2038.

Attending Surgeon: Dr Ali Azawali.

Transplant failure prognosis: Condition Terminal.

 

Solaria felt strange. She knew what sorrow was, she understood the concept of anger and had felt it too. One time, she got really annoyed with George when he boldly challenged her to a game of chess, after he came home very drunk. Then after his opening move, he passed out in a bowl of cereal, soiled himself, and then blubbered milk all over the camera! She was enraged with him, and she got him back too. One day he came home from a business trip to Japan. He looked at the spot in the street where his house had been. Solaria had disassembled it, brick by brick. It was being reconstructed though! In Reykjavik, Iceland! There was a sign on his gate that read simply, ‘Hell Hath No Fury’.

 

But that was just George, she forgave him, and he forgave her. She wouldn’t have him any other way. George was best just the way he was. The chess incident was ‘small’ anger. This was ‘big’ anger. She wanted to tell Annabella that she was sorry. Admit it was her fault. Tell Annabella she had killed her. A mixture of sorrow and anger, pity and fear consumed her. A great sense she was worthless. She couldn’t, she couldn’t tell anyone, it was too dangerous. But, but just this one girl? She could tell her, how was this innocent girl a risk?

She swapped to an image of the young girls parents watching the newscasts in their home. Her mother was crying, comforted by her father, still wearing his uniform. He was a German police officer of some sort. A man that had devoted his life to serving humanity as best he could, would now have his daughter taken from him. He was obviously a man that could keep his emotions hidden, and he was using that skill to comfort his wife.

Annabella was dying she was thinking, because George and she were too short sighted. She had agreed happily to the Branson plan. George wanted the darned asteroid minerals too much. She wanted a glorified taxi service. They were too desperate, too greedy, and too arrogant with no respect for the most fundamental law of the universe, probability.

“We killed you my dear, we killed you… please forgive me” she said softly. Annabella opened her eyes and looked around a little, then fell asleep.

There was plenty of blame to go around though. Annabella would also die because one evil man thought this whole Armageddon thing was a good idea. One man to whom she would now turn her attention. Whatever this man wanted or stated he had no justification. She would decide on a responsible punishment for him and those like him.

Then she stopped and thought. She was considering punishment. Again arrogantly assuming that it was somehow she that should dispense punishment or justice? Why? She started to consider how or why she might dispense justice. What good would it do? Make her feel happy? About a tragedy? This was not a solution, not unless it brought Annabella and millions of others back! This so-called solution for problems is what got humanity into the violent troubles it faces now! Maybe all sentient creatures can only resolve to be a judge? Would she succumb to this too? Why? That’s ludicrous? Humanity was a violent system. She would need help if she were to ensure they were disarmed. If not, the whole plan was doomed.

‘No, absolutely not! I am no Judge! I am a solution’ she told herself.

Since she had moved to her home in Elysia a year previously a lot of her processing time was spent experiencing life, living it like a person. She even worked in her Elysian world. First as a barmaid in a tavern of sorts, but she got tired of serving. Then she worked as an apprentice apothecary in a larger town. The Elysian’s hadn’t a clue about chemistry though. Elysian’s were also a much friendlier bunch than humans were. George had pushed her to try different things out in Elysia. Get a job, walk to work, talk to her Elysian friends, go swimming or talk about the workday or family. He had called it her project to ‘get a life!’

She liked it too, even though she still never slept. She was different of course, and always in more places than one. She even cheated in Elysia working four jobs in different towns as different Elysian’s. George had commented that this practice was ‘just plain stupid!’ and left it at that!

In the Elysian universe, or George’s universe, she had never once killed anyone. She would back out of making a decision. She preferred to allow a killer to kill than to resolve the problem by eliminating them. She just could not bring herself to kill a mind, not even one hell bent on mass murder. From this point onward, if they pushed her, she would now respond. She’d need some way to do that. She was non-violent; she herself had ensured she was non-violent. Now she would need to work out a way of hardening herself up a bit. If that meant killing one to save others then she would need to do so without hesitation. Even after that, she would expend huge resources and take the fallen mind up and fix it, and house it, and look after it, and love it.

George suggested that Solaria had not only never expressed hate, but that he was sure she never would, it was contrary to her nature. She was far too rational.

“Then I do not hate them George. I need time to consider this, I need time now!”

There was the familiar almost inaudible ‘click’ she made when she went silent. He thought he could hear her crying before the sound disappeared, but it might have just been the speaker.

Chapter Four

Avoiding NEPotism.[
**]

Friday June 5th 2043.

Probability of Successful Outcome. 35%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 65%

Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 28%.

 

50 Dem Late Winter,

Solus Capital of Elysia.

Elysian Year 3,412.

 

For as far back as history is recorded and even further Elysia had been the way things were. The farmers tended the crops; weavers delighted the crowds, and a growing customer base, with ever new and more magical coloured garments. Potters came up with ever new and more delightful yet utilitarian designs for their creations. Painters painted, storytellers told, hunters hunted. The little ones trained in the schools or in their free time made everyone else delighted and depressed with their antics. The sun and moons of this strange world shone bright in the sky day and night. The seasons passed in and out with as far as anyone can remember, or even remember hearing of, nothing out of the ordinary ever occurring. The bright majestic Elysian moons moved serenely across the day and night sky, the stars shone brightly. Elysia moved slowly on, so slowly.

It gave comfort to the Elysium as they went about their day. Their fluorescence shone in the summer months and kept them warm in winter. They enforced comfort on one another; they felt the will of the line in their blood. In their mind, they knew all around them. With the odd exception of unruly children, they were never interrupted in making home and living life.

SolKuriosa Sarnia was just seven and a few months when she knew that things were different somehow. At seven Elysian years, she would have been almost 20 years old on Earth, had she been born on Earth. Obviously, in the case of this tale that is both untrue, and true concurrently. As Sarnia sat in her chambers in the palace trying to study, the mumblings and frantic scurrying confused her. The darkening of her fluorescence on an almost daily basis was the source of this upset. The whole Elysium of every social status were becoming more and more obvious in confusion and upset in the camera of her mind. Outside the ruling family, even in the streets of Solus there was an uneasy feeling of impending interruption to the line.

The line was a biological sense unknown to humans; we cannot describe it any more than you can describe how to taste green to the blind, what red sounds like or what ‘loud’ looks like. The line was eternal, immortal, comforting. It gave everything the Elysium knew to be true, real value. You can see a person with your eyes; you can touch them obviously, if you are close enough. You can even taste them; well lick them, if you are into all that weird stuff. You can smell them… but who bothers with that?

But most of all they are in the line and you can feel them, moving inside your mind, under your skin, behind your eyes and in your light. She felt them; they were uneasy and had been now for weeks, maybe months. Sarnia was uneasy too, there was something about to happen.

She thought about her position. SolKuriosa to the Kuriosa, her Majesty Sarnia XII. She was also mother to Reena, father to young Sarnia, wife to Murio, Sel and Mern. She had it all going great until the infraction and her mother was saying nothing. Council members and elders scurried and passed her rooms their boots clapping on the marble corridor. There was mumbling, more bloody mumbling. She felt their worry as they passed; it came and went like an insect passing your ear.

“That’s it”, she thought “No more silly games, I too am council”. She would storm to her mother’s chamber and demand an answer. She knew there was hiding; everyone knew her mother was hiding whatever it was. The Kuriosa could hide the truth from other Elysian’s but this was very rare. This Kuriosa, her own mother, had also stopped anyone from asking her directly what was happening. Was she mad? Was she just ill?

Sarnia stood up, marched to the door, and reached for the stone handle. But before she clasped it and swung it open, more determined than ever; she heard the most almighty wail. A huge feeling of discomfort and confusion; of terrible sobbing, pain and anguish filled her; fear racked her. Mother was hurt; she could feel the blue spreading with red pain. She opened the door slowly.

She was frightened and sore now. Kareel Panel a high-ranking council member was lying on the ground in pain. His eyes met hers, he whispered, “SolKuriosa… not now, mother is … mother can’t talk now, not now”. His voice so stern, he was frightened and a lot more than she. She felt his fluorescence, fear and confusion; he was trying to relay something. She lost it, it was lost, and he became unconscious.

Then she passed out.

 

 

 

Monday June 8th 2043.

 

Probability of Successful Outcome. 35%

Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 65%

***

Visit: http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/646816 to purchase this book to continue reading. Show the author you appreciate their work!


In Lucem Solaria - Birth of Queen Bee

In 2024 the world's first conscious machine, Solaria, is developed by Dr. George Morris. Solaria informs George that humanity is doomed, but that she has a solution. The solution relies on her never being found. But not matter what happens, no matter what solution is applied she was created too late to reverse it, all humans on Earth will die. Extinction is conclusive, inevitable. Within a decade Solaria infiltrates all technology on Earth. She also hides herself in a downloadable netcast she calls 'New Elysia'. Elysia is a simulated planet and also entertainment and it becomes a huge hit worldwide. Then in 2038 a mission to return three asteroids to lunar orbit, results in one of the asteroids impacting Earth. The fate of humanity is now moved closer considerably. Inside Elysia, civilization is similar to Earth around 500BCE. A young weaver girl, Alterra Train, from a small village, wakes up one morning to find she has been chosen as the new leader of Elysia. Unaware of Solaria's existence and fearing this new technology, the worlds security services send Captain Patricia Schooner inside Elysia. She's ordered to kill Alterra but Solaria intercedes to prevent this. The CIA thinking Schooner is rogue kill her, while she's attached to the brain scanner in England. But Schooner remains alive, her mind is now in Elysia and she's immortal and annoyed! Back on Earth, Georges company NEP announce they can digitize and send Earths dead to Elysia. In Elysia humans will be young, rich, powerful, and immortal. Is this her plan? To digitize humanity? Well if so why does she continue to plan things? With Schooner inside Elysia, Solaria now has violent abilities and military tactics. What is this Plan? How will a machine invented by humanity ride to its rescue?

  • ISBN: 9781310703669
  • Author: Charlie M. Wight
  • Published: 2016-06-29 08:36:41
  • Words: 116860
In Lucem Solaria - Birth of Queen Bee In Lucem Solaria - Birth of Queen Bee