Survalance cameras on this life

I’m always being watched 

Every day my face is here 

And nowhere 

No one ever views the tapes

Sometimes I think

They are just being used to be voyages 

Litter stories, pulp books to sell to masses of extraterrestrial aliens 

I’m sure they read our lives

I’m sure they hate us too 

We waste so much energy on trivially minuscule things

They compare our civilization 

They can’t rely on just these cameras

But they have nothing else 

Advertisements

Nerve Endings- edited by Toni Hill-Meyer – review (repost)

Nerve Endings review  

I’m reposting the link to review of Nerve Endings here so that it’s available my readership. Also goo see the stuff that Elizabeth does on her website / blog. I’m always amazed at how well she keeps up with the publishing industry and manages to read way more books than I’ll probably read in my lifetime. She’s also a excellent editor and writer, and a wounderful freind. 

Hammersmith. Chapter thirty five 

Viss was in her dream world. She recognized it immediately. A wide blue ocean was to her left. To her right a huge brown cliff-face. The brown sand below her. This wasn’t real. This beach didn’t even exist anymore. She knew instantly that she was asleep. Her right arm was really their. It’s gone. Long replaced by its cybernetic replacement.
She could watch this dream. She could see what happens next. She could re wound herself. No. She would not let it hurt her again.
Instantly she was in her bedroom. Not awake. Her arm was still their. She moved it around. In reality her cybernetic arm was on the bedside table. Awaiting her to attach it again. In her dreams it was real though. Real. 
She remembered the day she learned what reality was. Her lecturer in the Psychology of Life and Death described it.
Suddenly she was in the room. Lecture hall 221, Yale University. She’s doing her Bachelors here then her masters. This is the hardest class. It’s all about coming to know your own flaws. Viss knew hers like a old friend. Her arm hurts. The cancer treatment has been unsuccessful. They were going to remove it just after the end of term. 
The blue moon chairs with 20 students on them were all glued to Professor Pandemelon. His thick green glasses, hiding the only bits of skin on his face not covered with hair.
“Death. I’m afraid isn’t as clear to those who have not yet had to face the prospect of their own death. You have to imagine your own death to confront your fears. Your feelings. Then, and only then, can you come back and say to those who you will eventually treat how to deal with it.
Of course those that have had a constant presence of death in their lives, will instead face, inevitably, the fear or prospect of living.”
Viss knew just then that Pandemelon was talking directly to her. He knew about her cancer. How it had only affected her right arm. How it didn’t spread but was growing into the rest of her arm. Eventually it would spread to her chest. Her lungs. Her heart. Killing her. Between now and then she had to choose. Take her arm loss as a well as she could or choose to die. 
Pandemelon knew she was having second thoughts about the surgery. He was a really good psychologist. He was able to tell, and then give her words that helped. He just looked at her in his seat in his office and soloemly said.

“Viss, you will die. Every one does. I’m going to die one day. I’m going to be hopefully old and grey and have had enough when that day comes. You can die too. Today. Tomorrow. It’s scary. It’s full of doubt. It’s like big dark door you can’t see through. 
You have a choice though. For now. Sometimes we don’t. But you do. I’m not going to tell you directly what to choose. I’m just going to let you know that I’m not going to be disappointed what you choose. Your dark door, or to switch the light on. Both are full of more fears, bravery, choices, and you are at the moment choosing between them. Okay? 
You are a wonderful student and I have always admired the way you have tackled your flaws and are applying your skills. I’m going to tell you though I’m recommending you for the fast track masters program. The world needs more people like you to look after it. Especially after the Incident.”
It was at the point that both these conversations merged into one in her mind. A glowing light to her dark. 
Viss chose to live. The Cancer can get fucked.

Hammersmith. Chapter thirty three. 

Hammersmith Thirty Three
Egy wasn’t the best specimen of the Red Clan but he knew what being an Ambassador meant. It’s not hard to work out that in many ways the job was kind of like a spy crossed with a negotiator crossed with a politician. His search for the one person who could tell him exactly what he needed to know wasn’t hard. His mentor was sitting in the central “garden”. A lush area in the colonies main asteroid. 
It produced most of the colonies oxygen and recycled most of the nitrogen and carbon they produced. It was huge. Massive lakes full of algae could be seen from here, farm factories producing the vegetable matter they ate, insects flew in the air and grubs dug in the soil. Birds flew in strange patterns in the low gravity, barely needing to use their wings at all. 

One little robin came down and sat next to him on the wooden seat Egy was sitting on. This was the place he always waited for it. They would come soon, he knew. They were no secret. The chief gardener. A strange creature. Not really human anymore. Though who was these days? The red clan was changed. Genetically engineering made it so that they needed less oxygen and their was talk of adding the ability to photosynthesise to their skin, causing it to go a purple or green colour. Of course some went further than than, experimentalists who added whatever they wanted or needed to their genetics if they could work out a way. 

Their AI would help them, for a price. Work was often the price. Like any economy, work was needed to be done. Physical work, intellectual work, ambassador work! Heh. Egy laughed out loud at that thought.
“I come, as I am.” Said the creature. “So I see your presence.”

Green grass grew on its back. A flower was starting to bloom in its hair. Like a moving bush, almost. Skin of bark. A odd creature. The gardener lived almost as much like a tree as it could. It had a name, but no one knew it anymore, so they just called it Bush.

“Hello Bush. I am indeed present.”

Talking to Bush was a art form. The rumor was that Bush had been a genetic botanist who had expirmented with genetically adding photosynthesis to the human genome and it had gone wrong at some point, back before the clan had acquired Croceous. Bush lived with the results happily. It did mean that they were always slow to talk and always seemed to talk in a very odd way. This made them an almost perfect listener. To Egy they had become a mentor of sorts. 

“Bush. Thank you for meeting”

“Bush is” Bush puased almost as if they were unsure of the words to say. “Just a gardener.”

Egy regarded this. Then spoke “I know Bush. It’s fine being a gardener. I’m not a gardener, I’m not sure really what I am. I’ve just been given an opportunity to find out though. In a way. I suppose that I should have expected something.”

Bush seemed to consider this, insomuch that a anthropomorphic plant could seem to consider something.

“Bush, has seen seeds grow and prosper, seeds rot and die.”

Eventually came the reply.

“Croceous and Crow are promising to make me into a diplomat. I have some training in the are, but not nearly the extent they would expect. I’m worried they are choosing me for a task suited more to someone already qualified. Our colony is vast, surely we have such a person. My family is new, fresh from the colonized asteroids. We barely got out alive from the last raid by the Black Wolves.”

This time Bush replied immediately.

“The sees growns towards the light, always following it faithfully. If light is gone, it withers. You follow the light and see your buds blossom.”

Egy felt somewhat comfortable with this reply. The flow of life and death seemed to facsinate Bush and how life and death connected to each other. 

“Thankyou.”

Egy took a small package from his hip pocket and handed it to bush. “It’s a orchid seed. From my colony. The only one left now I suspect. It needs as much love and attention that you have given me. Please look after it for me.” 

Bush seemed to treat the package as one would a small child or a puppy perhaps. 

As Egy left to go towards his meeting with Crow he wounded if he would ever meet Bush again. Or if this would be his last time on the Red Clans main asteroid. Then he remembered Bushes words “The Seed grows towards the light, always following it faithfully.” The needs of his Clan were now his light. They needed to be followed if he wanted to succeed, or as Bush would put it Blossom.

Leptus 1

It began in the heart of the darkest of Geni’s daughters, Mangal. 

Though calling them that still is foolish for a Scientist such as I. They are really Moons. 7 habitatal moons orbiting a gas giant called Geni. I’m told though making it a more compelling story requires ms to make it sounds all mysterious and mythic. 

Boring scientific reports do not last the generations. 

“Kelli? What are you up to?” 

“I’m dictitating Gina. I’m trying to get a historical context to the Leptus virus.” 

Gina looked at me somewhat sympathetically. “Let me look.” She jumped up upon my lap and read the screen.

“Oh this is no good. It’s got to start at the last possible moment to make a good story.” Gina started typing.

“But! I’m writing this story! It suppose to be a scientific story!” I try and grab the keyboard of her. “Look the dictator is taping this conversation now!”

Gina smiled “Well good. At least it’s not as boring now.” She leapt down back to the floor. 

“I suppose I should be greatful to you? A little help from what is essentially a talking cat?” It just came out of my mouth, I felt horrible about saying it as soon as I had. Like a short stabbing behind the eyes. A kind of sudden hortness. I’m still getting used to having emotions so real and tangible like this. It’s a hard work.

“I’m only a Catum thanks to Leptus. Much like you, own your own condition to the Aforementioned virus. I’m suprised you would attack my character like that.” Gina almost snarled. She arched her back and started to walk away, tail in the air.

“I’m sorry! I’m new to this! You know that. I’m not sure what came over me! Emotion isn’t something I’m used to! Gender isn’t something I’m used to! Life! Eating! Fuck even brething in and out is totally new to me!” I am overcome by frustration. How? I have this massive need to express myself. A woman? A person? How am I supposed to deal with this? Be expected to know all these things? 

“That’s why I’m here. Yes.” Gina looked back at me over her shoulder. “I’m sure that I can help you to do this. To learn your new self. Much as I try to learn to deal with mine. I do have a psychology degree, a much needed and in demand thing. However I shall sacrifice my own time for you. Since your the only known inanimate Leptus sufferer.”

I am in tears, these wet, salty things pouring from my eyes onto clothes that I got. Clothes that I know are universally boring now. I wear  them anyway as I have no idea how to deal with fashion.

“I just don’t even know how to begin. I’m the only one the virus has affected like this. I’m suppose to be a computer! How the hell does a virus affect a computer!” Shouting again, why does my body do so much of this thing? Making noise? Smells? Have hunger? Thirst?

“Oh darling, you are so having a hard time. I think it’s not the time to be writing this book of yours.” Gina started walking towards me again. Not unkindly purring.

I started crying again. What strange week things bodies are. 

Hammersmith. Chapter thirty two.

Cass was not immediately clear how she had got to where she was now. Her unit had made losses. The kind of losses that would in a simulation, or a test run, in live fire exercises, pretty much any test. Would have got her a chewing out that would make her jealous of being the gruesome grissle you got in three credit steaks. Instead she was in a odd little complex near the sea wall just ourside Brussels proper.

The room was utilitarian as most would expect of military. Racks of lasers, kinetic rifles and other weapons in a row. The other side a set of lockers. It was a basic barrack. One of the those things she didn’t expect to see was her comander in person. He was right in front of her. Thanking her troopers. The men and women she commanded. Then he would thank her. Again. Like a slightly broken record. He seemed to be dealing out praise like it was confetti. Cass couldn’t understand why. Major Arran was being nice. In the three years she had been in the Rapid Earth Ground Response (REGR for short) he had been generally a voice on the phone, or a terse holomail. The only other time she had seen him person was when one her Liuerenants had committe self  harm and ended up in the psych ward. Mostly turned out to be because she had been through a tough divorce and Cass had been on a short posting in India cleaning up a old military intelligence fuck up. Sometimes the only person who can speak up is themselves. That’s all Cass had left to think about that.

They had lost. Well in a way. Lost, the battle. The Blues had too heavy armor. Bigger better weapons. Faster troops. An entirely new way of making suprise attacks. We had losses. The full enormity wasn’t yet known. Military losses were at least 67 troopers. Including 14 of her own. At least twice MIA and another 200 civilians. Most of them public service staff. The Ro losses were less, only about 45 full unit annihilations. Some really smart person on the moon had modeled a Ro control unit onto all of the Luna craft coming into defend the Earth. By doing that, whomever it was had made sure their Ro learned and adapted to each attack and still had a back up of the whole thing. Ro where really good soldiers, but civilians where really cautious of them. Think they want to take over the planet. Most just wanted to earn a buck like everyone else. Some of them activity pursued relationships with humans. People marrying them wasn’t unknown. 

Cass deep in thought shook her comander shandy hands. He looked at her almost like he was personally thankful. What the hell? This is the guy who would usually have more veins on his head and face then a vineyard full of twisty vines. He’s usually making me into a little ball of anonymity, waiting to fight back at the darkness. Why is it that we are being praised? What? Someone higher up. That has to be it. One of the shrinks? The Major General? Maybe even the General? Or maybe Tyr? Who?

Cass’s questions went unanswered in this little display session. She waited until she finally had a spare moment with the Major.

“Ok sir, but what the fuck is going on?”

Her commander looked at her kindly then seemed to be slightly different. Like a he had been in a long chewing out. Cass knew what those were like. But they almost always went down the ranks. He would usually chew her out. She would then chew out the two Vice Captains in her group, they would chew out their Liuerenants and they would go on to the enlisted and likely have a big gripe about how the Vices. That’s was how the SOL army had worked for the last decade of her service. 

“I’m being forced to resign.”

He said it plainly. Like a brick had hit his head and that was all he was confident of saying. 

Cass was astounded. They were blaming him? “They are making you the slapper? That’s so unf..”

He cut her off.

“Don’t. It’s come all the way from the Maj Gen. He’s seen it was my responsibility to make sure REGR troops were ready to deploy in any Earth bound military focused security event. Which this was. I was the one who made the decision only to deploy 1 company. Yours. That means that I’m the one to blame.”

“The army deployment, yes?”

“Yeah. Though technically we are all one big happy force.” The major said this with the sort of implied italics that comes with harrowing sarcasm. The army, navy and space force (you couldn’t call it a Air Force when it was part of how SOL kept the peace in the 20 or so allied solar systems) all merged into the SOL forces after the Incident. Part of the many reforms of intersolar government after that event. It was in fact a well known issue as Space Marines was a more appropriate title to most of what the Army now actually did. The forces though still had their own specialists and keeping even a small navy was sensible. The head of he Rapid Earth Sea Response was probably working double time to mane sure they were ready for anything right now.

Though no one did anyone in government think Earth had been a true target? Clearly if they hadn’t their heads probably were on the forced retirement block at the moment.

“So the suits who gave you the advice being pinged for suit death too?”

“Undoubtedly, or so I’m told. I’ve been given various option for retirement. So I’m more focused on that. Your new companies Maj will be Ri 23F a very competitive Ro comander. She’s not one of the slack ones. I expect you to continue being a very effective Capitan for her.” 

“Yes sir.”

Cass knew Ri, or as she was often known Riffer. She had been one of her early Sargents back in the day when she was enlisted. Fighting a security guard riot on Ganamede. Ri had driven her hard but always rewarded her troops as well. It was management style Cass preferred to the Chewing Down The Ranks she got from Arren and his ilk. The fact she was a Robot didn’t even fase her. Robots were effective and efficient. Riffer was suprisinly senseative to her troops as well. It had been a long time but Cass was looking forward to the reunion. 

Hammersmith. Chapter thirty one. 

“I was then listening to a Passion of Liverpool cover of a Budapest a old Jethro Tull song. I saw this sort of movie. This memory of us. Me and my wife. In my head. It was like being their. I could remember everything, every touch, smell, every little detail. All in this little town that was in my head. I went their from the meditation of the tree you taught me in our last session.” Darren explained his memories to his psychologist. She took a while to take this on.

“We see memories, like old films, bits of our past can be summoned by music. Like anything you remember it can be correct to you like a precious flower. The tree meditation is like this. Your tree is your mind. The tree is deep seeded as a metaphor for human knowledge for eons. It works even in Ro. I’m not sure why.” Viss gave a sigh. “We are up to greif program 4. I’m told by your commanding officer to make a judgement on your progress today. Unfortunately I have to report if I believe that you will be suitable for active duties in the next six months. I’m of course bound by what you say your behavior is, and by the behaviors logged in pubic.”

Darren wasn’t really taken back by this, he knew policy like the back of his hand. Any decent long term soldiers did. “Well I’ve pretty much stayed in mourning. I’m so not really going to be any good on in combat. I can’t even picture the bridge of a SOL battlecruiser without thinking of Mary. Her last moments…”

Tears flowed again. Darren tried to stop them.

“No. Don’t stop the emoition. Pushing through sadness will do more harm. Giving you a breakdown worse than the original emotion. ” Viss smiled at him and offered a cup of water and a box of tissues.

“I’m going to report that you are not ready for duty, yes. But the fact is, six months off active duties would be a good estimate of the amount of time you can expect before even thinking about returning to work.” Viss took her techpad arm and from it a green tree grew. “Your knowledge is here in your tree, you can access it. But nearby, here is a goat. This goat eats the leaves of your tree. Of course this is a metaphor. In reality the goat is your greif. If you let it, your goat will get bigger. Eating more and more of your tree. Then if you do not deal with it one day your tree will be nothing but bear branches.”

Darren thought about this. “I’ll be under so much greif I will loose who I am?”

Viss nodded. “You may feel this odd coming from someone like me, but the greif of life can consume anyone. Till nothing but a hollow shell remains.”

“My sister was helping me. Now, I feel more lonely as I have to deal with this without her. The Blue clan attacked SOL headquarters and I am useless.” Darren cried with frustration.

“I see you are angry, frustrated with yourself for having to take leave to deal with something that is just a feeling.” 

“We are at war.”

“Darren, spare yourself. You are at war with yourself. You fight battles against your greif. If I let you in combat and your on a battlecruiser and you freeze or see another officer who just in your minds eye looks like Mary? What wild happen?”

Darren cried again. The whole world seemed to be fighting the battle in his head. “I.. I… I’m…..” Chocking down words like a bad bit of meat. Darren looked through the Window. The sun was shining outside onto Toronto’s many  old buildings. A historic city that had survived the Incident. The worlds worst distarster. If he was in charge of a battlecruiser and didn’t do anything at the right time… This, whole world could go. Everything and everyone Mary had died to protect.

Hammersmith, Chapter Thirty.

Darkness didn’t have a place in this room. Though nighttime was a factor. The smells of the nighttime stuck to the walls. It was like a little bit more being what he imagined human experienced but in so much more color and smell and well everything.
The cyborg was almost perfect. Loki could sense that it had been kept secret for this reason, the cyborg was the reason for the Incident. He was surprised Tyr hadn’t destroyed his fathers last masterpiece after the events of over a hundred years ago. He was even more surprised that Tyr didn’t remember the anniversary of the year that the Incident started. This was either a little ploy or Tyr had been keeping secrets so long they had become reality. Loki knew in a way what that was like. 

Loki thought about this as he explored the body of the cyborg. 

It wasn’t the model Loki had wanted, the no  1. That had dispatched itself a long time ago into the universe. Likely trying to pretend to be human. The conviction of the circuitry was almost breathtaking. Loki realized the cyborg could do many things a human or a Ro r even an AI could not. It had screwed with Codins theories so much. Loki remembered that. This one had no had a consciousness intered.

Codin had been the first Ro, a lawyer and a defense for human / Ro / AI relationships so long. Loki had read his diary. It was full of a philosophy of proof that humans, Ro and AI would have to coexist. Eventually maybe even merge into one species. This had actually been Lokis goal for a long time now. This cyborg was the peice his new race was missing. The Blue Clan had accepted nanotechnology in their viens. Cybernetic implants. They had become better than the humans they fought in Brussels to get the Cyborg. It was no 2, but that wasn’t a problem. Not for Loki. 
Croceus had been the one to build this thing on Codins orders. A horrible copy of a genuine genius. Human. Not Ro or AI. It was a woman. Greiving got her lost child. She created a new life form. In its structure, every cell, every bit, everything was both machine and man. Beyond cyborg, beyond Ro, beyond AI. It was all of those thing. Nanotechnology mixed with the best cybernetics and the best technology. It was her daughter in a way. Then like him, Croceus had to escape the Earth. Before the Incident. Some of the nanobots she developed decescaped. Some went haywire. Like a virus. Human immune systems fought against them sometimes, or got eaten by them, sons became a part of the humans immune system. 

The humans lost their shit. Tyr tried to calm them. But years of instinct took over. Me and Croceus escaped. Then war. 

Tyr. He must have been damaged. That’s why he only knew so little. Maybe the current Tyr was a copy of the original? It was how Loki had survived, so why not Tyr too? Like father like son? Did Tyr even remember he was our father? 

In the cybernetic body, Loki was laughing. 

****

Thea hadn’t really taken in the fact she was a cyborg. One who was so advanced. It was like reciving the news she was adopted. She did not look or think like her adoptive parents but she knew other kids whom that was true for.  It was however not really the time to be thinking. The Aeon clan had her in their jail cell and Jenny her newly found… Ghost? What the hell was a ghost? Said she had found a way out. A rescue plan.

“I remember other children being like… Me?”

The dark room seemed to smell like oil and dust and the special smell that all spaceships seemed to get. Like how all the places on the moon had a special moon smell. All the places in the asteroid belt had belt smell. Though for some reason the Trojans and Romans smelled completely different from each other and the rest of the belt, smelled…   More purple? 

“Those other children, did they even exist?”

The silent noises of the ship, a rattle of metal of metal off in the distance. 

“Sorry.” Said Jeny. “They did. They were advanced Ro. Like humans they have a childhood. It seems like a dream, almost perfect. A lot of humans actually remember their childhood that way. But it’s in reality a breif fleeting thing. Barely lasting more than a few minutes. Ro are computers with personality after all.”

This was a odd feeling to have. “Do I even have feelings?”

“Of course! They are just as real as anyone else’s. We can talk existential dread later. We are about to be rescued.” Jenny explained. Their was a noise not unlike a large number of mice being attacked by a chainsaw.

In the left wall a sudden hole appeared and the noise went from mice to rabbits to excitable puppies in a blender. It was a horrifying noise and one that gave Thea the chills to the bone. 

Then a light appeared in the hole, and sirens rung out all over the ship.  Thea ran. 

In a few seconds she saw the opening in the huge Magus clan ship go from large human sized, too tiny little speck. The new ship she was on took no time to get her on board and get away with her. It almost looked like she was somehow surviving in vacuum for a second before she noticed that the ship she was on now had a insta-port with a really new porthole that let you see out of a rather large viewing deck. 

The Magus clan ship was huge but barely moved to chase after them. Clearly they had not expected or even seen this ship. 

Just who the hell was this who rescued her? She thought.

“Oh, it’s a friend.” Jenny’s explaination was short as it was glib. 

“Anyone’s friend in particular? Or just generally well disposed to cyborgs carrying a AI hitchhiker?”

To answer her question a door opened in front of her right bathing this seemingly empty cargo area in light. A (male?) Ro walked out. He looked for all the world like Codin the first Ro.

“Hello Thea, Jenny. I’ve been looking for you for a awfully long time. Let me introduce myself. I’m Codin the First.”

If Thea could collapse from shock, she probably would have. 

Mind Junkie

Fruity drinking modernists, whispering bourgeois platitudes whilst encased in mud encrusted realism’s

“Oppressive details of modernity, its Dirty realism” they whisper

As they sip their green drinks, among disinfected franchises

“Extradites of the simplistic. It’s like watching a soapy.”

One of them laughs at the idea. “Soapy. Clean plots, unclean people.”

I am not sure I am welcome in this domain of this self-hating temple

“Dystopian narratives?”, my question seeming to be sitting on the air like a ignorant child’s observation of the obvious

Looking long, and drinking some more, then Tweedy waves his hand at the effervescence silence.

“Not always. A possessive obsession of those, things we consider dirty.” He tastes the words like a snake, waiting to see if the air is deflated of my question

Seriously, a stuck up Hat-man, such a brown nose he has I thought, he doesn’t realize how much we need the junk, how we need to realize we need to recycle it, compost it, re-purpose it, let it influence us, and how it influences him

“Oh Tweedy, oh tweedie, you are but a mind junkie, kindled by the thrash of so called unclean. As much as you would hate to admit it. Cycles are needed, feeding into each other, like rivers. Of course any second now you will ask me to stick to just one metaphor. But I ask you, why should junk like me do that, you take our freshest mud and excrement, say “oh look at that, how silly this low brow thing is” and then you let it come in stay like a stray cat. It likes to sit and wait, then one day, you will realize you feed it just as much as you feed the dig dog who barks at all your supposed wrong.”

I pick up his drink, drink his drink, smile at him, and walk out without another word. Ready to cover the world in the words of the so called trash of the real. This dirty realism, it isn’t so much dirty as it is a part of the whole cycle. Live with it. Let it in. Feed it. Morals from the hang ups of a culture who hasn’t worked out how we talk to each other.

 

 

 

 

The Nails

The train-tube station emptied into the city on one side and a great green park on the other side. A bald headed in a suit and shorts walked slowly out into the freezing night. The ice had covered the whole park like a sheet of paper on a draftmans desk. The temperature in Brisbane had beer a warm friend. Hear in Melbourne on the same day. It was already a dark and cold autumn. The tropics have such a different temperature now. They said it was climate change settling down. Andrew had no reason to disagree. 

Melbourne ment buildings shrieked in the night air. The cars on the road sleepily rolling along. The streets less full than once they were. It was hard to mistake the death of a once mighty city. The ocean was coming. No matter how settled the climate got, the ocean would sink Melbourne into half its size. It would sink all these buildings. The Tube train had been built before they knew the city was doomed. Now it was going to be closed in a few days. The city would empty. People moved on or those few left with jobs like Andrew. In charge of making sure everything important was transferred to the new city center a few kilometers inland. We’re the ocean wouldn’t swollow the buildings whole.

Andrew tried vainly to concentrate on his thoughts on how to save the city that had once been his home. The walls wouldn’t work as the geography was wrong. It had saved Sydney from the worst of it. They wouldn’t save Melbourne. To much clay hear. Not enough rock. The ocean came from under the city. Sinking bits like the beak thing in the Star whatsitcalled movie eats those people. 

Andrew rushed through the frosty park. He was chilled to the bone. His legs refused to go faster. Why did he not get a cab? Their weren’t many hear now but waiting for one in the station was better than this. 

A scraping noise then another told Andew to pick his feet up faster. I’m going to die he thought. In this stupid frosty park. 

His feet, Nails. They felt liked nails. He struggled for the word as he ran. He knew what was after him. He knew the police wouldn’t come. They are to busy with their evacuations of those who believe that the city center would soon be under a few hundred meters of water. 

Those who are chasing him? The Gods might know what they believed. Andrew wasn’t sure the gods even had an idea or thought about them anymore. 

Their was another scrape. A long one. It came from the path in the front and to the left of him. Likely he was now at the end game. They had hunted him.

Their they were. Staring him in the face. Andrew new their probebly wasn’t any point in running more. His legs though, they decided their was and he turned. His mind focusing on the face.

It was human. Not the sort of Hunan you used to meeting on a bus. Someone who you would set a watch for, or talk about the weather with. Not someone you might share a brief bus ride with. This was raw human. Like a little bit more animal than you wanted to think that existed in everyone. The human you would see at the end of a weeks without food or water. The human who would hunt. Kill. Maybe even eat anyone in their land. Because that’s what means you live. Your tribe lives. Civil? No point in civil if your starving. Nature was just as cruel as you and that’s the point. 

Cruel things survive. That’s why they still haven’t died. In this almost empty city. This dying husk. They were the gras that grew in the pavement. The rats in the walls. The cockroaches of humanity. They were not something you wanted to exist. They existed regardless.

Andrew saw its face. In the light, it had dark shadows, teeth sharpened to a point, a skateboard to get around on. They hunted on them. A fast, easy way to hunt. They would eat anything they could get. Which on feet Andrew knew. No way would he reach safety. They would have three of their pack members chase him around the park. Then at every exit. Their was another. A pipe, a brick, a fry pan. The leader might have a gun. They would all be ready to kill him. Take his clothes. His food (he had none) and his flesh. 

On the way to the next exit, Andrew slipped. He fell hard down brick steps. Each one hitting him hard. His ribs broke. He screemed as quietly as he could. At the bottom. The hard paved surface skidded under his arms. His legs felt like red looks. 

The leader of the pack. He was certain. She had nails in her mouth. Like fangs. Also a set of metal knuckles on both hands. Each could easily kill him with one hit into his head. Her hair was greezy and short. She wore leather clothing, shirt, smock, skirt, jacket. Tattoos on her face looked handmade. She took a knife from her pocket and skated slowly towards him. Roller blades. 

Andrew prepared to die. Crawling slowly on the pavement. He thought about what he had done in his life. How it wouldn’t even be remembered. Another more sensible person would be sent hear to pick up the last few boxes of documents. Maybe a simple funeral for his mother. They wouldn’t have a body.

He prepared for the pain. The knife cutting him. The blood slowly dripping from his own body. His flesh being eaten as he was still alive. Her mouth slucheing the fresh flesh and licking her lips as she ate it slowly as one would a great feast. To scared to scream. To injured to run away. 

A screech filled the air. She, the tribe leader looked up. She muttered, howeled like a wolf and rolled away. Taking her pack. 

Their was a dripping sensation from Andrews pants. 

A blue flashing light. 

Cops. Real cops. They had found him. Somehow. Rescued him. 

Andrew thought about getting a better job. 

Hammersmith. Chapter Twenty Six.

The news wasn’t something Darren took the habit of watching. Today though, he had switched the news on. The sudden wave of feeling, took him by utter suprise.

Without Mary. Without his wife. The house he used to live at was like a empty shell. He hand’t gone back till today. His psychologist suggested that he needed it this morning. That blocking and ignoring his feelings was what was causing his issues. 

The Blue Clan attack came on the wallTV. Brussels was in a mess, Budapest had taken over most the operations of the SOL. It was a declaration of war, or so the news report said. It wasn’t going to be war though. By the time the SOL forces were able to recover the Blue Clan would be gone. 

Darren knew this. Though his main area of expertise was space based combat, it didn’t take a military genius to work out that the Blue Clan had been on a raid. The damage was really quite localized to the SOL forces buildings. Particularly the ones holding military hardware. For some reason the computer science building had been hit too. Not as hard but troops had entered that building. 

The thing was though with the Blue Clan able to effectively cut off half the defenses and attack quick enough that all Luna SOL could do was clean up. Capture any straggling fighters and help with the repairs.

You could bet their would be a quick inquiry into how this happened. Darren tried hard not to think about it. The fact was he couldn’t do anything to help. He was off duty. He was sick. Going full pelt into work again would only cause another breakdown. This one could cost him his job, or worse his life.

He thought of Mary and how they would both sit and look into how to deal with things like this. How they would have chats about strategy, forces, how best to deploy troops to cause maximum successes with minimal damage to people and equipment. Keeping death tolls lo and captures high. Mary was the best and this game. She had become a nurse because she wanted to heal. She joined the military because she water to make things better. Selfless. Mysterious. Beautiful. 

Her photos were on little display screens around the apartment. Ones of her smiling like happy days were here to stay. Ones of her in her uniform, next to him. Ones of their wedding. Ones of her and her dad. He had died just the other year. Now their was no one left in her family. Except Darren.

How do you deal with loosing so much? How? 

Just as he thought that, a message came on to his pad.

Sorry, been called into work on the Brussels mess. Tyr’s pissed. Heads to roll etc. feel free to use my apartment till I’m back in Canada. A

His sister always had a way to make him feel a bit better. The fact she was working on this attack from the intelligence angle meant he felt a little better. He left his apartment. Started on his way to Arlines. He couldn’t stay in his apartment. It was like staying in a ghost. 

—-

He got the her apartment, it was still technically morning so after eating a boiled egg on toast and eating a protein package, Darren took a moment to take him the morning colours of Arlines apartment.

The simple things in hear were not the things that you noticed. The casual obser might think the designer and owner to be a somewhat minimalist. The fact was that it wasn’t actually minimalist would be something that only a those who have the time to pick up the little things.

A little red leaf on a shelf, next to it a tiny gold statue of a doe. Then under that shelf a red colour pairing of a fishing cat on a peer dipping their toes in the grey-red water and wearing a large whimsical red straw hat. Over to the over side of the room another small set of shelves had the same pairing but in blue. Above that though their was a set of books. Nothing unusual about that, if they were normal books. But they were not. They each had a title beginning with letters from Arlines name. A wallTV took up most of the space in the middle of the room. The table in the middle was a finished cedar with small red placemats on it. A vase in the middle had a small plastic red rose in it. That was it for her dining room. It wasn’t a large apartment, so it was also a lounge. In the comer a single red couch sat facing away from the TV. You would be curious about that if you didn’t know Arline. She only had the wallTV for music and motorcycle races. She spent most of her time reading. 

Darren took a look in the spare room. It doubled as the library and wine cabinet. A large selection of Clarets adored one cupboard, books shelves in alphabetical precision sat patiently watching you from the other. A futon, doubled as a bed and couch, and took pretty much all the rest of the room. No wardrobe. Darren would have to live out of his suitcase. It’s not that bad he thought. 

Better than spending the night sobbing himself to sleep as his own memories huant him. 

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty five.

Bela did not enjoy her flight to Indonesia. The older class sevens were crowded, often smelly overused things. She had just heard on the InFlightHV that the Blue Clan had attacked the SOL installation in Europe. It was a bold move for a pirate clan. She was surprised as her research had not shown her that the Blue Clan the ability to FTL jump beyond the SOL defense lines. That was news. How did they keep that a secret?  The likelihood that someone was going to be suddenly a lot more interested in her papers on the Clans was going to be much higher. At least beyond the academics. She started to listen more intently.

“The SOL forces had been caught completely unawares. The ships of the Blue Clan had used their FTL to jump on the back facing side of the SOL defense forces. Producing high particle radiation in the process. The human forces on Luna are grounded. So now the Luna SOL Ro forces and what could be mustered from the ground are being summoned. SOL defense chief General Mitsubishi has responded to critics saying the SOL forces are currently engaged in on ground Defence and Recon, the AI Tyr refused to comment on current military actions and refered to the Generals previous comments. The SOL presidential council has stated that a full investigation will occur once this current opperration was finished. This is Janet George, IBH news.”

Bela started to ponder on this new information. Clearly even the AIs hadn’t seen this fualt. That was not the first time they had proven to be fallible. Everyone assumes they are infallible. After most of the youth of the modern SOL Earth cities had Lisa teaching them. In conjunction with the human teachers. Tyr was always their, connecting with the upper echelons of government. Defense, security, and every person in the military had been introduced or even interviewed with or by Tyr. He was almost omnipresent. Sydney was the other ones. More secluded, most didn’t know they had been near them. They simply made things work. Trains, busses, planes, doors, they all had Sydney in them. Controlling or helping control. AIs were not all powerful though. Bela remembered reading a few articles about how they were created. Those articles she started to re-read when a call came to her.

“Hello Bela. This is Tyr. I am in need of your assistance. Please find direct secure skyhook lines in your online inventory. I need to speak you privately on a secure line.”

Shock, fear and anexity filled Belas mind. What did Tyr want? What could he need from a academic?

——————

James was in a Terminal. He remembered what he was doing suddenly like waking from a dream. The transition between real and virtual was always hard for him. It was like being pushed through a gold plated suasage machine with lemon juice waiting for you at the end.

He could see the Ro he had to leave out on the surface. He checked to see if their consciences had been saved. He glowed with relief when he found that they had. It was strange how the terminal software interpreted emotions. Colours, tastes, music, they would all come into his mind. It was like having a symphony play your minds own special soundtrack. Strawberry and red, with a little classic piano in the background came into mind when he found his Ro friends were ok. Being their supervisor, made him responsible for their continued existence. They worked with him to earn their own credits, for their own reasons. Ro had families. Feelings. Other people still sometimes seemed to forget that Ro were more than just Robots. They were alive in the same way as humans were. James never forget that. It was what made him very good at his job. He checked on the Ro previous bodies out on the regolith.

The radiation had fried the circuits of the bodies they had previously. He had got to know all of tye Ro he worked with. Like friends. He had feelings for them, like friends. Though they were technically no more than work colleagues, he had got to know how to help them and even gone to one or two of them for advice with in the Terminal or when they were working. Not many Hunans these days got degrees in robotics.
The Ro were another race, they had laws governing their conduct, even a robot jail. Their programs had become so complex, so difficult. Many more advanced Ro had the capacity to program themselves. Though their were libraries full of extra coding on the Terminal. Online.

“It’s comforting to know they are safe.”

Was that his voice?

“Hi James. Remember me?”

It was Lisa. The AI who had guided him through many hard years of study.

James just nodded.

——————

Loki was happy. Whatever the hell that was. His ploy had worked. He had outsmarted two or was it three AIs the same grade as he was. And Tyr. Outsmart your father? That’s got to go into the heleriously ironic and pleasing thought of the last, what was it now? Couple of decades.

He now had a troup of his own Blue Clan soldiers, equipment that could strike at the heart of the SOL and one other thing. The bit of equipment he had been after for all the years since he had discovered its existence.

AI were different to Ro. For one thing they were smarter and quicker, but they could also go beyond many of the limited power of the most advanced Ro. Regardless of programming. It was basic fundamental difference in the core of all AI. Loki included. Ro were like Hunans, in a way. Limited by both a physical characteristics as well as programming characteristics. An AI is like more than a whole world of Ro put together. They had far less limitations.

Except one bug difference. Ro had a physical body. AI didn’t. Unless they download into one. Loki had done that once. A long time ago. Gone into the cybernetic implants of an early member of the Blue Clan. Loki couldn’t even remember asking him. It was about that point Loki had decided his gender. He supposed. Gender to an AI is just a identity. An idea. It was hard to do without one of you dealt with humans for a long time though. It was one of those things that just made sense to him to have and it stuck.

The whole experience was one he hadn’t enjoyed in the slightest. Compressing himself that small was awful. In implants designed to be in humans. It’s functionality not designed to deal with a large download of complex binaural coding. Loki supposed that would be why the poor man had died once Loki had found a suitable terminal infrastructure to exist in.

Since then Loki had been looking for a far better physical analogue. One he could be conscious in at the same time as his own running programs. Distance was not as big an issue as one would think. The circuitry and fictionally was still cybernetics, but the kind of cybernetics that make it into his dreams. Things like quantumly locked binaural circuits. You could communicate with anyone who was on the same time as you. You could be on other side of the solar system and if you had a FTL communications port you could do it across systems. Of course such a device was still far from Loki ability to make or understanding but he could now start the process of developing one.

Their befor him right now standing at attention was what had been worth the Raid. This would make it so the Blue Clan could go into the black space and never have the SOL come after them. It would be worth the deaths of the troops they lost, and the damage to their attack fighters.

Loki took the electronic equivalent of a deep breath and got ready for this new experience.

The Hammersmith Cyborg awoke.

Hammersmith – 00×0 Tyr

00×0 Tyr. 

Gender Identity: Male
Sexuality: Asexual
Career: General, SOL Forces, Earth Defense Force
Race: AI
Personality:

Intelligent and somewhat mysterious, Tyr was the first AI to function beyond the so called Lovelace limit. The

Other:

How do you explain the first true AI?

You need really to explain what AI is.

In Ro you have human like intelligence. A machine able to reproduce and reprogram itself. One that can pass the Turing test. Even many of the other basic AI teasers from the late 21st and early 22 century.

Not still considered AI in the form that some tested though. Codin the first Ro gave the basic principles for what could and couldn’t be AI.

In a way, most could say Ro were AI as they are artificially intelligent. They can reproduce and reprogram themselves. They even have what passes for emotions. Though their emotional problems are different. Ro could also end up in jail, if they had individuality certified. Which mostly they did at birth.

Codin defined the AI thusly:

1. A AI is computationally more advanced than a genius level Ro or Human.

2. Consciousness limitations are not restarting for an AI. Unlike human or a Ro an basic AI must be able to spread consciousness over more than the original terminals. Each copy may or may not be as complex and complete as the original, they must also be able to be remerged into the original.

3. An AI will be able to process Affective Logic.

4. Like Ro they will have to go through a simulated childhood and receive educational assistance.

5. Their power should be restricted by physical and computational passes, but pass the Lovelace limit.

With the Tyr project already on the way at in Brussels Codin helped many of the Ro and Humans working o creating and also working out how to restrict an AI.

The science fiction tales of Rampancy  were often too real. Hence the need for rule 5. Did everyone follow that rule? I’m not so certain. Especially since AI Sydney turned up without anyone knowing who created them.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty four

Martin awoke. That’s all he could say on the matter.  The room was a sort of yellowish brown color. On the wall where a few paintings of space stations in Martian orbits. They all had a mission patch in their left corner and a date. On the other wall was a windowwall. Real windows being often to expensive. It was showing the Isdis lakeshore and the newly engineered Mars palm and other plants that had taken to the soils they had managed to get going. There was a few lichens and mosses and ferns growing near the palms, and one or two of the hardened grasses Martin had seen of late. The newer Martibotonists and Geoenginerrs were having a lot of luck with their newer plants. Must be that AI that’s helping them. 

Wasn’t I just on the Elysium? Shadow plains? Okonos road I thought. This Windowwall might be showing something other than what is outside. Or I was hurt bad and this is a hospital.

At that thought Martian tried to get up. It didn’t work very well. Pains shot from his side. His ribs were broken. That he was sure of. He also felt pins and needles down his legs. That might be a spinal injury. That’s not good, he thought. 

Not wanting to move further to see if he was being monitored by medical equipment or not Martian decided to stay put for now. He did wounder why he didn’t feel the need to go to the loo. It must be days since the Attack. What was it Pirates? Terrorists? An assassination attempt? That’s a very good question. They breed more good questions. Like what he did when he knew. Also where the hell Lou was. 

“Hello? Is anyone near?”

His voice was rather pathetic. Like a cats meow. His own cat would be starving by now. Hopefully she would work out how to get something to pass her by. Maybe someone would check in on her. 

Another twinge of pain. Another stabbing feeling like fire and ice. Like his skin had been burned and freezeed. 

Martin awoke again. It’s was later but how much later exactly he couldn’t tell. It was dark and their was a dark shape near his bed. 

“I’m sorry. You had to rest. ”

“Where am I? Who are you? Who did this to me?”

Martin realized he wasn’t in as much pain as before. Like a fog lifting. “How long have I been here?”

“Good questions. But they have to wait. Sir.”

Time passed. 

The voice was Lou. He was sitting across from him. “I’m sorry sir. We were attacked. Looked like mercenaries, paid by the Communist loyalists. I’m sorry but I had to make you rest. Your in a private hospital. It’s about two days since the attack.”

“I’m going to recover?”

It was more a statement than a question. Martian was thinking at this stage it’s unlikely he’s going to ever be 100%. 

“Yourve got a broken back, left leg, three ribs. Your lucky to be able to feel your feet. They say they might have to do nanotherapy. ” Lou looked deeply concerned.

Martian realized the consequences of this. “I’m going to be out of the race. They won’t vote for a guy stuck in hospital for the next few months. Even if the term is four years. People think of the immediate.”

Lou sighed. “I’m afraid your campaign director has already planned your withdrawal.”

Martian sighed. It was going to be a long recovery. He wounderd what was the next best move. In a few seconds he had his answer. 

“Lou?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you get my TeckPad. I might be in a bed, but I’m not taking this lying down.”

After some time Lou returned with a eyepiece and the TeckPad.

“Your going to go independent of the party?”

“You think it’s a bad idea?”

“Sir, I love Mars. I can’t think of a better person to be our president. I’m surprised it took you so long to do this. No matter what the communists are fighting a loosing war. At least now they will give us some decent protection on the trail.”

Martian looked at Lou. He was full of awe. It was going to be a good day after all.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty three

Darren was awakened by a discrete light that fell upon his sheets like a lonely cat. Come to think of it where was that cat? She was Mary’s cat and had taken to sleeping on her side of the bed in the two bedroom apartment. It was lonely when she went out. Like a drop of water looking for a pool. Lost in a desert of memory.


 

“This is my cat, Madge. Really she’s Magdalene but she’s not been that good a friend. She’s more a grumpy sook.” Mary laughed.

Darren had a little chuckle. It was one of those moments. It was love he knew it. She was telling him things about herself he knew she never let anyone. She was brought up in a deeply Catholic household. Though she had abandoned the religion herself, she still held a longing for some of the images that the religion could hold. A cat named after a friend of Jesus, just the sort of image Mary liked to inspire. Of course she also liked to point out that their are many other darker images that tried to keep the fear of a god. Mary had told him how she used to be petrified of her God. Then one day she asked him if she should be scared of him. Apparently he had told her no one should fear their God.

Darren new that as they made love Madge would often be near by. It never fazed him, but it did make home think that Mary wanted her God to know what was going on. It wasn’t a up yours, as some idiot former boyfriends had guessed when she asked them. They had all gotten weirded out by the fact she let the cat go wherever she liked. So she asked them why and they didn’t pass that test. They were not the one to marry.

Darren had answered correctly. Not that he had really known religion. Mother had let them know that if their were gods, they were small and only just slightly more powerful then the demons or whatever other nasty spiritual creatures you could imagine. She had read books to him and Arline about Babi Yaga and her duck footed hut. The gods and legends of her ancestors from the deep north of Russia. How she had come to living in the Canadian country side was a story she rarely made any reference to. She worked at the aged care center looking after old people. She nursed them regardless of how hard it could be. She always had that quality. The idea that people needed to be looked after and respected. Even in old age. The gods she kept were not always good. The fact that people would die wasn’t a evil thing. Like leaves rotting on the forest floor, bringing new life to fungi and insects, then mice who fed on them, then compost that let the new growth come in spring, mice to feed the foxes and owls, foxes to feed the Eagles. Old age was just a part of life. One that all being dealt with. We only have our lives, then the lives we help to grow, and those who helped us grow. She would say “Life for life. Death for life. Change and constant. Memories and forgetting. This will all be again.” It was conforming to hear her voice in his memory.


 

Captain Cass was watching as Galler got his group of soldiers ready on the flank of the group of Blues near the entry of the SOL/SF complex. She had learned to trust the big brute. He wasn’t at all the kind of person she would have usually trusted. Big mouthed. Big mussels. Brains were bigger than you would think, but he was only smarter than the average bear. Anyone could take orders, Galler could get them done, and often with minimal issues. Galler was one of natures Sargents.

He used the electronic hand signal and the three troopers on the right of him took aim. I knew what our job was now. Cover fire. So I hit the little switch in my mind for that. Instantly my troopers and my other Sargent Tiller took up their covering jobs. Three bursts of three. Repeat.

On cue Gallers troopers moved to the next position. We did it again. Three bursts of three. Then the bombardier Han, took aim with the concussion grenade. We count down to two. Now its my turn. Just a few bursts from the plasma should do it, then boom. The grenade goes off then Galler and his troopers have surrounded one of the smaller Blue troopers. We are quick to move into Gallers flanks, Tiller on the right, me on the left. Troopers from our groups on both sides firing full bursts as Galler and his troopers take their prize. Then we move back to the fallback position. Or that was how it was meant to go. The Blue commander saw a gap in Tillers fire and got Mendez. A trooper from the south of America. He was dead and their was no point trying to go back. We had what we needed. One of our dead troopers unfortunately wasn’t worth as much as one Blue trooper who we can get intelligence off of.

It sucked. It was like leaving behind a arm or leg. Tiller was shouting for us to go back and get him. I knew it would be to late. Mendez’s stats shot up on my HUD helmet. Pulse 0. No brain activity. No hope.

I told Tiller. “No! We need to get this Blue to the back up bunker and get him to Intel. We don’t need you to die today Tiller. I need you to keep up that cover fire till we are all safe or we will all die. Otherwise Mendez is all for nothing.”

At that moment golden flames from above came down. It was some Luna SF fighters. Two squadrons. They blasted the  blue into dust and gave us much needed respite. All to soon I saw them get taken out one by one by the Blues fighters. Fucking dogfish looking things. They had some extra armor or something. The Luna SF fighters didn’t stand a chance. Then their was a rumbling noise.

The Blue lander craft took off. Had it go whatever they were looking for? I had no way of knowing. We got what we needed. But I had sacrificed one of my men to get it. My commander would chew me out for that. Captain or not, I would be lucky to keep that rank after these losses.

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty two

Egy had been a pirate of the Red Clan since he was born. He had been chosen out of the recruits from the asteroid mines the Reds controlled. Every asteriod colony and space station had to send boys and girls to fight in the Red army. Most returned as failures or in a bag. Not Egy. He had shown those first recruiters something. He wasn’t entirely sure what. So maybe this book will tell him.
The Red Clan had formed, the book said from a group of scientists. All of them wanting to do more than their governments or companies would let them. They had several places of operation, including a place called Hammersmith. Pre-incident governments were often conservative, reductive, often reliant on the religions of their forebears. The original group had called itself the Hammersmith clan. They were so big by the end they even had their own scienctific journal. 

Most of the governments had a thing or two to say about things like cloneing, genetic experiments, nanotechnology, expiraments on animals, cybernetics and so on. They were restricted by these governmental policies and the corporations who would at least try and look like they went along with it. The Hammersmith clan had been one group of the scientists who had done some of these expiraments anyway. Then when they got to the belt, they had taken over. With an army of nanotech enhanced clone troops by then, it had been a cake walk. But even clone troops have their limits. Resources were scarce on the Belt. Like soil, water, drugs. There were plenty of metals though. The nanotechnology soon took care of a lot of that. With the raw resources to sell, the belt could buy and make everything. 

The original group of scientists and now engineers and miners had worked somewhat harmoniously for a while. Differences and the continuing conflict on Earth has driven divisions. And these new beings. Artificial Intelegences. They had started to argue and form little groups on Earth. Now they continued to be a menace to some and a blessing to others. Each clan had at least one AI now. They were so useful. They could also be manipulative. The Blue clan, said the book didn’t even know about their AI Loki, till they had reached the belt. They didn’t call themselves that then, but they had soon changed their name. Then the Red clans AI Croceas reveled Lokis presence when he tried to take over her networks. Within a few days the Blue clan had left the Red. Then followed the Black clan. The Eon clan, Tooth clan and The newly formed Magus clan.

 They will often say they were all original part of a Hammersmith clan. It’s hard to really say if that’s true. The book speculated the Hammersmith clan hadn’t been real. It was name the scientists who had started the whole thing has used for a while. It also speculated that it had been instrumental it the clans eventually become existent. 

That was a interesting tid bit.

The scientist of these clans were not all rebellious by nature though. Most had tried to go back to Earth. Most had revealed what their research had lead to. But the wars of the Incident made most of it irrelevant. The massive loss of life on Earth afterwards often made it impossible. Many had spent so many years on a space station or outpost and couldn’t go back to the Earth. Most didn’t want to. With wars and climate change raging throughout the Earth the other parts of the system seemed so much more attractive. The frontier was after all a great, dangerous and ultimately fulfilling adventure for most. You could end up on your arse back home, or working for some contract, but it was a risk often better than going to Earth. You often were lucky if your country still existed.

The book finally ended with a few chapters that had been written by the Red Clan members. Each of them a leader. First Owlbear, then Wolf, then Coyote, finally Crow. 

Owlbear had written about the initial reaction to the incident. The formation of the Red Clan and the meaning behind its symbols.  They also explained how they had gained Croceas as their AI. Apparently she had escaped just before the main war of the incident. A AI named Tyr had been the first to try and kill her. Not liking her chances in all our war with humans and AIs on Earth she had escaped with Owlbear. She wasn’t the only one. The Blues AI Loki had also escaped then. Along with a few others who had been either destroyed or damaged by the wars. Tyr was the only Earth bound AI to survive the incident. He helped create two more AI, Sydney and Lisa. In a way his daughters. They helped the humans on Earth recover from the Incident and start to form colonies on other planets. Meanwhile the clans kept out of the way, taking what they needed. The SOL left them alone as long as they didn’t kill one of theirs. Of course now they are going to war with us. We don’t stand a chance. 

Wolf talked about initial clan business. Including how the Black clan had broken off from the Red. Forming the view that the clan shouldn’t protect non clan members their leader a young Red scout whose name was missing from the book had tried to kill Wolf before leading followers in a scattering of small long distance craft. The black clan apparently liking to stalk and gather their prey like spiders in space. Meanwhile Wolf did what he could to protect the Reds holdings. Including its civilian population, most refugees or people who had escaped the increasingly conservative Earth governments. 

Coyote had only written one thing. In Latin. I’ll have to look that up later thought Egy as he read on.

Crow talked about how it was the Red clans duty to protect any who asked for protection. Though loyalty was just as important. She had said she discovered her gender when young. That without the help of science she would be dead. That humanity would one day seek an alliance with the Red clan. That its duty was simply to hold the reef. Mine the asteroids. How the Red clan needed to seek a path towards legimacy if it wanted to survive. 

This was a side Egy had not seen of Crow. The Red clan had only just attacked a mining freighter ship to steal the precious ore it was carrying. Why did Crow authorize the attack? Why did Crow still talk about war with Earth? What was going on here?

Egy flipped his visiscreen on. 

“Crow”

“Egy. I see by your face you have read the book then?”

Crow looked old and tired. She seemed upset and whilting. Like a old raven. 

“Yes, what’s going on here? We want to seek legimacy? Since when?”

Crow took a breath. “We are, for all intensive purposes a criminal organization according to SOL. The fact they are fighting the Blue clan at this very moment means we are likely going to see massive increase in military spending to fight the pirates. We are changed with protecting a diverse civil population. Something none of the other clans have. We don’t even have decent FTP capacity. If we don’t get legitimacy how long do you think we will last against a enemy clan and the might of a rebuilt SOL force?”

Egy realized what Crow was saying. The Red clan was a dream. The frontier wasn’t kind to dreams like this. Egy knew his history now. The new war that had just broken out would be won by the SOL. Maybe the Blues and a few others get a score in. But  SOl had colonies on most of the habitat systems within a few light years. Tau Ceti, Cygnus, Alpha Centuri, even the big science station out in Bearnards star had a SOL cruiser stationed nearby. With a simple touch of a FTL communication call all the  troops needed would come. Within a year or two every pirate clan in the system would be gone. In a few more they would be scattered out to the edges of solar systems. Out on the frostwings.

Egy dawned on this realization. “We would be wiped out. What do we need to do?”

Crow smiled. “Well for a start you will need to become my replacement.”

“Your replacement? I can’t replace you!”

Crow looked at him solemnly “I’m not fit to be anything but a figure head. Croceas runs this clan. I’m in love with her. Which means my judgement is clouded. ”

Egy was aghast at the revelations that had occurred this morning. 

“I see. I’m just not really ready.”

“Oh we have something to help with that. Nanotech.”

“The nanotech that helps you?”

“Better. The Nanotech that will help you. Expertly crafted by Croceas.” 

“It will make me into a leader?”

“It will make you into a diplomat. Your natural talents, amplified. Like communication, senseing motives. You will be our delegate to Earth. What should have been my old job. So in a way very much my replacement.”

Egy realized he actually wanted this. He had been a good negotiator for so many years. “This is all so much…. Can I think about it?”

Crow smiled. She looked instantly younger. “Of course. Let Croceas know ASAP. We have other candidates if needed.”

The screen went blank. 

Egy realized he had one person he needed to talk to before agreeing with this. It’s wouldn’t be hard to find her. 

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty one. 

Panel 1:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
She says seemingly to herself: “Ok. I think I can work with you. For now. What do we do to get out?”

Panel 2:

Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
Theas Ghost: ‘I have already made a potential deal with the clans A.I.’

Panel 3:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“What kind of deal?”

Panel 4:

Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘Information. I give them some vital SOL history. Nothing major, just pre-incident stuff that they want. Their AI is looking for something.’

Panel 5:

Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“What is it looking for? do you know?”

Panel 6:

A grey combination of pipes and wires. In the middle the words Tyr ABU, the Tyr symbol and the number 00×0 are drawn onto the device.

Panel 7:
Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
“TYR was the first AI? I always thought he was younger. You know its location?”

Panel 8:
Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘No. They don’t know that though. I can lie well.’

Panel 9:
Thea in the Magus Clan cell.
And when they find out? hmmmmm?

Panel 10:
Thea’s Ghost on a green background.
‘We will be long gone. I promise.’

Panel 11:
The outside of the Magus craft. A star clearly visible in the background with a solar flare. Nearby is a smallish blueish craft near the outside of the Magus craft.
Thea’s Ghost not in panel: ‘ I have someone to pick us up.’

Hammersmith. Chapter twenty.

They fought well, but the sheer numbers of fighters from Earth were no match for the squadrons of Blue Clan fighters. The radio chatter from the pilots of the Earth air fighters were calling them dogfish fighters. Little sharks that bite hard and fast and get away. The Earth based jets and the ships they could muster barely made a dent. They got their land raid cruiser to the ground and land troops started fighting. It was time to try and capture some of them for info. That’s my goal.

“Get the big three off your flank and roll in the plasma cannons. Shoot to maim, kill of need be. We want one of them for our interrogators!” Captain Cass had woke up this morning next to her wife. She had spent a little extra time making breakfast,  then breakfast didn’t get eaten. She got called in to fight these blue guys. They looked like those Smurf things. Only they were way bigger and harder to kill. They were all well over six foot and built like tanks. The auto rifles did nothing. So they moved onto the plasma. They were only having a bit of a impact but it was better than nothing. She felt bad for the defenders inside the complex.

The whole SOL/SF building complex was a mess of rubble and laser and gun fire. They had landed the raiding craft right on top after bombarding the feeble defenses with mass accelerators. Fuck those things did a shitload of damage. I only seen them in action in training. We never thought anyone would get past our defense field. Tyr has given us a defense pattern to follow but it’s only minimizing the damage. Our Intelligence is clearly woeful. That makes this mission so important.

Cass jumped over the next bunker to the wall near the entrance. How many had they lost? Let’s see … Han, Poptin, Jau, Abarcombie, Salter, 5… She had 24 left in her little commando group.  That was just enough for this next step.

“Galler, got those big blues off your back now?”

“Yes Sir. We got them to fall back. We’re ready to do the deed.”

“Right, Tiller’s group and I will do the cover. Galler, your grip is to capture and fall back to my position. We don’t need more losses today. My bet is Tyr will move the heavies in any minute and blast the retrieval craft. My radio is out so we don’t know how long, so move it now!”

Hammersmith. Chapter nineteen. 

The Blue Clan ships flew in formation. Like angry sharks going towards a feast of Whale. The Whale in this case was Europe. Brussels. The Space Force was still headquarterd their. After a good few decades of claiming that Earth was only one planet in a democratic coalition of plants. Of course the real power lay in the government, which was called SOL. The space force was just a military arm, a poorly equipped one at that. Getting the Red Clan to take out the main Solar system based SF Vessel and having the Black Clan hunt the next President of Mars was all part of a massive plan for Loki. He didn’t want payback for anything, just after his goal. With SOL forces scattered looking for many split and separate “terrorist” pirate clans he had hitched his plan to get what he was after.

The humans he had working for him he had no great love of, but he needed them for his existence. The Incident had proved that he needed to coexist with them for the long term. Almost dead when the Big Blue guy had fished him out of the ruins of his old university computer systems. Somehow managed to survive on a few gigabytes of hard drive space. All in a massive compression algorithm he had created based on the way bird brains work. Certain species of bird had managed to compress their own brains so much. They would literally have to sacrifice brain space every winter to make themselves lighter. Then in spring they would again have enough food to uncompressed the same bit of brain. All while still not being eaten by their many hungry flying raptor enemies or mammals on the ground. Loki had a greater respect for Avian species after that experience. Humans were still more like advanced monkeys.

Birds did these wondrous things, but out of being forced into their niche by the evolutionary process of the world. Mammals took over the ground. Then the monkey. Humans.

It was the Big Blue guy who had thought of this plan. Help us he asked. We will help you. The human needs to be pushed towards its next evolution. With help of need be. I have done a little, changed my own DNA. Made me better, smarter and bluer for some reason. We can work on something to make it so we all get this. And you won’t have to work with ‘monkeys’ that don’t think on your scale anymore.

It wasn’t as I had any choice. I had to survive, to make more time. To be myself. I changed my name. Then on known as Loki.

The experiments we did in a secret lab in some outer part of London. It was all part of a secret organization. I helped the monkeys synthesis and predict the result of genetic experiments. Create nanotechnology. Make clones. Stuff the usual scientists wouldn’t even get past a ethics committee. Then one day the Big Blue guy came in. All scratched. He looked shite. I remember every bit of that conversation. Luckily he never thought to try and erase my video logs. He would have succeeded if he go to them before I did.

“Loki! We need to go. An exit plan.”

Sure. I can get us out of here. We’re we heading?”

“It’s just us. Me and the other blues. We are going into space. On the new elevator they have then to a commissioned ship.”

The other Blues broke up into little groups later on. The Red clan and the Black clan both offshoots of our Blue Clan. Monkeys disagree with each other over simple things sometimes. That’s all I have to say about that.

—-

You are going to leave me here?”

“They broke up with us! That bitch Croceas has already gone with her lot to God knows were. They found the other one. Systematically attacked the child processes then wiped the ABU. They know you are here. We can’t risk it.”

I was shocked. Big Blue shut off my conversation units. He was a pretty competent programmer. He didn’t expect me to do what I did next. As he types I send a small electrical current up the cyberware in his arm. Idiot monkey forget I designed it. In a few seconds he’s trying to erase my child processes. I’ve already got a compressed copy of myself in his brain. I’m no stranger to living in a small space, but I notice his tiny cyber computer trying to fight back. I reprogram it to make it forget about me. I can’t let him know I am hitching a lift. Not yet anyway. If he knows I am in his brain he will never get past the customs the other monkeys. Of course eventually my presence will likely kill him. Pity, I was starting to find him interesting.

I watch through his eyes and mine as he erases me from the research lab. It’s like watching a house burn down while your simultaneously in the house and on the outside of the house. Very odd. A strange warmness. I thought about my mythological name. Loki was a trickster God. One of my favorite human invention, the anthropomorphism of emotions and ideas into a belief that fits a ideology and a personality. I don’t know if a god/s really exists but an AI can seem close in some human eyes. Of course our power is more limited than that. Cut power to all circuitry or attack my child processes and wipe my ABU. Of course even with a wiped ABU the artificial brain will work. It will be like a newly born child. I realize that as the Big Blue takes my old self offline, one child process at a time. It’s going to take a while if my old self decides to fight back. I’m not in control of it anymore.

I’m aware of my older self making sure all the security is in check. It’s a good move. We don’t want any of these nano-viruses getting out. They could kill an awful lot of people.

Big Blue totally forgets to shut the power off to the ABU. I wounder what will happen to it. Meanwhile I prepare to make a new ABU. I need a nice medium to create one. I’m sure Big Blue wont mind me borrowing some of his brain. Of course I can’t do that till I leave Earth.

Now I am on my way back. With a whole army of Blue Clones and originals at my disposal. Of course they all think they are following orders from other Blues. Sometime they are, sometimes they aren’t. I am not as happy about Monkeys run things as Tyr is. Orders are something that a lot of them seem to like.

Monkeys are so obedient.

Hammersmith. Chapter eighteen. 

“Rising mountains of joy mixed with sweaty peaks of exacy. Centered pushing thrived between throbs of tidal jaunts. Marked pinpricks hair that exteniouated the essence of the valley felt along the ridge line. 

I’m in mist and in mystery. He knows not who I am, I don’t know him. The only thing that make us, is the sexual connection.

Floating and thrusting more. Then climax. The hills and thrusts and feelings of the touch. Theses sensual things are awash with a opening of joy. A million times all those things we did to get here feel more, true, more us. 

It’s the connection we shared for a moment. Then. The mist. Fog. Suana. We cuddle for a moment and I feel his little beard. He’s older like me and slightly taller. But so happily submissive. I know, he know, this moment will pass. Tomorrow we both leave. We have never to meet again. ”

Singe stopped his dictation. He was back on Chronos. It hasn’t changed much. Though there are more dodgy people. Some of them might be pirates. 

Out on the belt. Mining. He would have not thought much to kill them. He hated those fuckers for destroying Tagashackers life.

Here they were equals. Chornos welcomed everyone. It was deeply independent. Not controlled by SOL or a clan. Its population liked it that way. Trade was their main game. They had gathered  the results of his mining at a good rate for a very long time. They also kept constant secure laser channels for claims and trade with all the other colonies in the system. 

Singe knew he was to young to retire, but now he didn’t have anyone to mine with. He could find a lovemaking partner with realitive ease, but a long term partner? At his age how easy was that? Middle aged single gay disabled men didn’t get many options. He would have to contact home base.

Suddenly he saw an alert on his pad. “The Earth under attack from Pirates. War declared. SOL leaders authorizing massive increase to military budget and spending.”

Singe took a look and spent the next forty minutes reading. “Wow. Looks like the Pirates are now like the old nations. We are again at war with humanity, from our humanity. How horrid.”

The thought hang on the air like the mist in a suana. Sweaty and anxious and then relived. “I can do something. I know Tagashacker wouldn’t want to fight, he would want peace. Who knows if that can happen now.”