Carrousel (part one)

Finally, beyond our baggage claim and into the brief halls of many whereabouts, there were only shops full of knick-knacks and thoughtless things such that one might find for waiting for people. Jumble’s of gears and wires made up the walls that seemed unending and all but an afterthought in the construction of this place. A place that seems, senselessly to only exist in these between places. These spots, that people wait in for other things to happen. Such as a name, or flight, or number to be called out. Yet that did not happen.

It seemed as I went on people who had been here longer had started to build things out of the bits that seemed to just pop into existence every day. More wire and gears and nails, pens, magazines and for some reason guitar picks. Each a new strange thing that had a purpose that has more permeability than the original. Not a transient, effervescent existence, but a real tangible thing that had more realness built in. These new things ranged in their complexity from simple to the very complex. Some were instruments, like a long pole made of melted wires strung with guitar picks that shook as you stamped it on the ground. Another was a made of gears, wires and bits of plastic and made an odd but not unpleasant series of noises. There was also a number of people who had taken bits of piping that always seemed to repair themselves and made them into all sorts of different blown instruments. Eventually, whole bands got together and one of the more popular ones would play at what everyone called Grand Intake Central. The sort of area where people came from the strange sterile machines that got them here.

Each person came off a vehicle, what they called them, as blank as clean wall. No one knew exactly where they came from or what this place was. Only to get their baggage from the carrousel that seemed to continue bringing new bags every time a vehicle arrived. Like regular clockwork, they came in every morning, and once everyone had got off them they seemed to shut the doors and there wouldn’t be a new one until the next morning. None had a memory of anything but that, and sometimes people seemed to know they were related by blood to another person who was already here. That was all they ever knew other than their name.

Everyone’s bags would have the same content in their size and always in black, red and blue. Five shirts, four pairs of pants, twelve pairs of socks, thirteen pairs of underpants, a wash at with toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a brush, a bag of disposable tampons and pads (regardless of their own gender identity or presentation), a small plastic cup and a towel which had a series of numbers on it. Each seemed to be randomly assigned to the person and no two were the same. It was almost as if someone had read what clothes a person could want but not actually really have any actual experience with travelling or being a person.

Each day food also appeared, cooked and processed in the cupboards and freezers that according to those I had asked had existed since they got here. Every person I asked didn’t know how they got here. The food cupboards and freezers would only ever seem to have just enough for the people present. If you tried to hoard or keep your food, it would almost as quickly rot and be useless. Thrown into the bins that seemed to automatically empty every day.

Eventually, people started to think about staying up, to see what happened at night. The seats that were around were not uncomfortable to sleep on but also seemed to stretch back to allow you to lie down and snooze. When the lights went out, only a slight blue glow remained. Those who had decided to stay awake tried hard to keep awake. Slowly though each one of us nodded off to sleep. I tried to run on the spot, hum, click, walk around the areas of the place we were in, but to no avail. Eventually, I fell asleep. I woke on the hard cold floor and everything had replenished just like it always did.

Boredom started to become a problem, and we seemed to need to come up with new ways to entertain each other. Walking, running around the complex only provided slight relief.

We started to theories of why we were here. Some decided that it was just the Will of the Bag Carousel and that we should not question such things. But like a itch, you can’t scratch it dug away at you.

Privacy was one of the things people started to crave. The lavatories seemed to provide some but not really enough to make you feel alone with your thoughts. There was no real outside to get to. The rooms just connected together in a large circle. A woman who called herself Port made a map. Soon it was clear we have only ever enough space for the people we had already and any more who came had a new room added onto the honeycomb of rooms. Grand Central Intake and the Carousel area took up two whole hexes. Then one he was the space you could walk through to reach the next hexagonal set with the two other closest hexes taken up by first eating and sleeping hexes. As you went each hex seemed to have one eating, two sleeping areas one area full of spare bits that we had either gathered or made or new ones appeared in. Then each would also have a smaller connection hex that allowed for you to pass to the next five hexes and its connector. The whole pattern seemed to repeat itself a number of times till it doubled back on itself leading to a vast open circle.

Port calculated that their whereabouts twenty more sets of people to be coming from the ships until no space would be left and the circle of hexagonal areas completely full. After such time if more came we would have either to hope whatever force kept us here would help us by giving us more food and space or find that it wasn’t a priority for them, and that we should starve.

Tile house

Bones stuck out at odd angles, dripping from the fresh rainfall. Each marking dead ancestors of the Tile clan. Everyone that had died, once they had become a clan member. Everyone celebrated here, therefore, had passed this test. Each bone tattooed with the name and life dates of their clan reign.

This did not reassure Jubér. They had yet to pass the test. This meant they belonged to their birth clan still. This meant if they reached puberty they would have their gender chosen for them, would have their tribe role chosen for them. Two things they did not want.

The first thing any clan member got to choose was gender, then role, and a proper Troll name. Jubér would, if they passed the Tile test get a Tile name. They knew what role, name and gender they would choose.

The dark entryway to the Tile tribe test was covered in grey slime. It was from the Troll leather that baked in the sunshine and then washed in the tropical rains. It was old. Warn. It was still strong though. Made from Trolls past who had the glory of becoming a Tile leatherback. Slime dropped from it as Troll skin was full of minerals. Even after death, they kept seeping out for years, even centuries after.

Trolls are natural herbivores, but ate dirt and rock as well. They needed minerals to have strong bones and skin. For in ages past, Trolls and their moonkin, the Orcs shared blows. Orcs natural carnivores saw Trolls as almost prey until the Trolls had fought strong enough back. Ever since they shared their moon, an uneasy peace kept.

Juber walked on as Tile clansman had to be brave, their only protection skin, their only weapon a small knife which they held in their left hand. It was carved from his grandmothers left thigh bone. Her life’s years carved on the handle. Jubér wondered what the Misfit clan test was. Grandma had belonged to that clan. She had done so to gain the ability to choose to be female. To choose to be a Misfit, and a warrior-woman spy.

Jubér was choosing a different clan. For a different reason. Tile clan was the clan for creators. Artisans, Musicians, Storytellers. Trolls took this job just as seriously just as they did any other. Anyone who wanted to be a Tile has to be brave, strong of spirit and true of heart.

A leatherbound manifesto was on the door of the next corridor. The dark and the slime were all that seemed to curse this corridor except for the small sheet of paper.

On it was the first test. It would say something.

It was one word.

make

This was not unexpected. Jubér had to make something that would let them get past the test. They noticed that the ground was no longer soil. Ancheint Troll tooths. So many that they where like tiles. Tile Clan. Jubér looked, staring in the dark for the one that wasn’t from a troll. Their. That one. A goldhound throat pouch. Then nearby a dogfish bone, and then a bit further back a bit of the leather was loose. It was dogfish leather. Probably from the same dogfish.

Jubér got to work.

The path beyond was darker than previous, it was beyond even their sight to be able to see it. It was clear that the task was to make a useful tool. In this case a torch. Binding the leather to the pouch and bone and making them into a torch. The goldhound pouch would light up when it was shaken. The night hunting insectivores loved to attract and eat every sort of insect that they could. Barking and yipping happily as they did. Most trolls had goldhound pets to chase the insects away from crops and protect their abodes.

A few shakes and it started to glow. Within seconds the path beyond was clear. More tiles and leather covered the wall. With each step now literally on their clanmates, it was hard not to feel like they were watching.

Then a door. A big black door. Made of Stonewood. Harder than iron, twice as heavy. This door was made to last anyone trying to just knock it down. Stonewood grew slow though. The tree that made this door must be older than the clan itself.

Barely carved, just a single handle and lock. Jüber tried the handle. As most would predict, the Stonewood door was unopenable. There would be a key, or perhaps they needed to make one.

Looking around, there was no key hidden, but then Jüber noticed the tiles on the floor were different slightly. One just had the letter O on it. Then another with the letter G and finally one with the letter H. Hog. Jübee knew this was a puzzle now.

In a few seconds they realized it was a bad pun. And poked the dogfish bone into the hole. A click sounded from the door and it slid easily to the side.

”Dogfish key, key fish dog, hog fide key. Puzzle pinning. I like it.” Jüber knew that there would be one last thing they had to do.

The dark spaces got tighter. The teeth tiles, sharper. Blood now seeped a bit from their feet. There were leatherback coats from the first hundred years of Tile clan trolls. Then bones. Full skellingtons from those who had dedicated their wholeness to the clan. This each had their name and what they had done to warrant such great glory.

Finally the last test. A somewhat morbid piano made of bone and hardwood. The keys of which had the letters ”Play”. Inscribed upon them. Jüber bet that the strings inside were made from Troll intestines. What to play? Anything? No. The Tile Clan song. The song that every Tile Clan member must know.

With a minute of key playing, the piano opened. There was a bit of paper and a dogfish bone pen with ink already on it. The paper had:

Name:

Chosen gender:

Tile clan path: leatherback, stone mason, bone poet, musician, creator

Jüber filled them in, and left the paper on the piano. Knowing the way back was to go the way they came in. It should be very interesting, being who I am for the rest of my life.

Will Ares forsake me sister?

A bright sunny day in the town. Me my younger sister and my little brother are all dedicated to different gods. I’m dedicated to Aine, my brother to Promedias, and my sister to Ares. I’m busy helping with the baking when my sister comes and shouts out loud about her future. She is upset and is certain she is going to be married to the old blacksmith. So much so she tries to hurt him. He however doesn’t even flinch when she tries to stab him.

He just looks sad. Then she cries and tries to stab herself. The blood on her chest and clothes flows like a river but she doesn’t die. She just clearly looks sad and runs away. The blacksmith just sighs and goes back to work.

I’m curious as to why the knife didn’t work. He shows me the many layers of leather he has on. Rams leather he says. Protection from Ares. He’s going to be angry at her. I say yes. You have to go get her to come home.

Then my little brother comes up to me and says why is Ares angry? Why has he forsaken a believer? I say because Ares is a jealous god. He gets angry if yo don’t follow his words. My little brother starts to cry.

Is sister going to be exiled? I say no. Not if I can help her. Then he asks Will Promedias ever be angry at me? Are they a jealous god? I say no. They are the guider. The light in the dark. I then sing the song of Promedias.

“The light of the day, is carried in the night. Promedias protects the suns wounderous light.

The stars above the world, are all his kin.

The guiding lights, the guiding lights.”

Then he is a lot happier. I hand him to my parents. They ask me about sister and I say I know where she might go but I am the best person to help. They agree after seeing how quickly I can calm my little brother down.

So I grab my necklace of Aines blessing and walk toward the old Inn. I get inside by saying I’m here to extend Aines blessings and then convince the Innkeeper to show me what room my sister is in. I grab all my courage. I know this is going to be bad.

I get to her room. She is no longer covered in blood. In fact she looks healed. I know that only one thing could do this. “You did witchcraft.”

“Yeah! I did. Ares is angry me now because I did witchcraft. To see my future! I saw I get married to that old grumpy blacksmith. I’m doomed to be his little wife until the day he dies! So I tried to kill him! So I never have to bed that old coot! I did witchcraft and protected myself against any metal. In case he retaliated. Of course I didn’t think I would be so melancholy as to stab myself. Ha!”

I look at her. “Ares will never forgive you. He is a very jealous god.”

“I know that! I don’t care!”

I touch my Aine necklace and look at her. “I’m Aines. She isn’t a goddess you can just get a blessing from easily. You have to be like me.” She stared at me. “What!”

“Aine is the goddess of the sun. She hands the light to Promedias her husband and walks with him through the night and he hands it back every morning. She never sees him otherwise.”

“Huh? She’s at least got someone who loves her for her?”

“Yes. But do you why Promedias can never be with her except at night?”

“No. She’s just lucky to have a job!”

“She was raped”

“What!?”

“Yes. During the dark night. The one thing that she thought would be able to protect her. Her dark cloak of stars made her invisible to all but her husband. She was climbing the paps. Looking after the holy cows on the hill. The milk they make Holy. She was just doing her the sun goddesses job.

Then Zare, he had hid their all day. Waiting. He snuck up behind her. Just as she was sitting down. He had a knife to her throught and raped her. She then bit his ear off. He bacame Zare the one eared. The god of the forsaken. She blazed with the light of her anger. Cast him to the dark side of the moon. The dark night now she always walks with his Husband just in case Zare escapes.“

I am sitting on the bed. “You see. Special. Only those who have been raped can be her blessed followers.”

“You? Who?” She says almost not believing.

“A grain farmer from Pashto. He’s with the forsaken now. Dad saw to that.”

“You? You? Oh sister I never knew!” She has tears in her eyes. “You can’t be married now at all?”

“Only to a blessed of Promedias. The only one I know is our little brother. Clearly I’m not marrying him.”

“I’m going to be Forsaken? Ares will cast me to death?”

“Oh I doubt that. He’s jealous but not stupid. Once he calms down, he will be ok. He only forsakes those who eat fire. You haven’t done that. So, you will be fine.”

She hugs me and then says. “What’s it like?”

“Being raped? Like having your very skin be cast aside. Every part of you violated and eaten. Every part wrong. Every day you look in the mirror and never see a person. You just see a shadow.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry.”

After a while. “The blacksmith didn’t even flinch. He knew I would be upset to be married to him. But he just kept doing his work.”

“Yeah. He’s a kind man. Very paitent. He’s just a grump.”

“I was upset to find out I’m marrying him, but he’s going to be a good lover isn’t he?”

“I expect so. Strong, gentle and very paitent. Blacksmiths have to be.”

She hugs me and we both giggle. “Oh. He’s um, the?”

“Yup.”

“Oh. I’m lucky to be marrying him.”

“Right you are sister. By the look of him I doubt it’s even down for less than a few minutes a day.”

We both giggle. “No wonder he’s so grumpy.”

Mud, gun and boots

The dark storm clouds poored rain down like an old dog drooling. Moisture was a constant here. The heat as well. And mud. More hot mud than you could ever have imagined, then doubled. It permitted everything, clothes, socks, guns and boots. Keeping things that needed to be clean, clean, was a battle that was just as long and hard as the war itself.

West sat in her tent not sleeping. The tent really didn’t do anything. The moisture was still constant inside and out. Though surprisingly, their was a issue with finding good clean water. Jungles like this were strange, dark, and full of danger. Not just the Japanese, who were fighting ever more desperately.

Their were spiders the size of wrens, scorpions whom were not much smaller, carnivorous or omnivorous mammals whose next meal could be a sleeping soldier, snakes and of course mozzies with malaria, then the dysentery.

The dysentery and malaria had killed even more than the Japanese had, or so she had heard the commander say. The soldiers who got into battle and had been wounded in a fight had almost always got dysentery or malaria or both by the time they got to the field hospital. Those who were really unlucky had wound infection too. Their wasn’t much to be done then, but hope they lived through it. West was lucky. Very lucky. To still be alive.

West knew in a few minutes she would have to go out and be on lookout, so she got her uniform on. First the binder, she had made a quick one out of a flat screen of coconut fibers. Not that she had much in the way of breasts. Only her commander knew she wasn’t “one of the Kokoda boys”. He found out one night in a dark valley about three weeks ago. The bullets were flying. Then she managed to get grazed by one. On her upper thigh.

Wests commander and the field medic fixed the cut quickly and cleanly when the small battle was over. Guns still cocked and ready. Neither had said anything. They fixed her up and moved on. Nothing said at all about what else they hadn’t found cleaning up her wounds.

She was good at what she did. Snipers where rare, good ones even rarer. The number of times she had saved the commander or vice versa was beyond counting. This was a dirty, muddy, horrible place to be upset about something as stupid as gender.

The medical examiner she tried to bribe to get into the service hadn’t even taken her money. He just told her to make sure no one saw her piss, and to take a better male name. She decided West seemed a good option. Solid. Masculine in a subtle but definitely male way, like her parents had wanted a girl and got “him” instead. She still hadn’t really got the hang of he/him pronouns.

Later on when the field medic had got hit by a Japanese sniper in the head, her secret was only known to the commander. She had shot the sniper in return, but that one shot was all it took to kill the medic. When they got to the next major camp they would be replaced by a new one, but for now they made do. Everyone had some field medical training, well enough to help stop someone who wasn’t going to die before they got to the feild hospital.

Occasionally a small group of native Pupyans “fuzzy wussy” would be able to take a stretcher with someone who was wounded. They were life savers.

Anyone who could fight was placed in this war. She knew that. Everyone knew that. The Kakoda trail was a fight for the nation. A fight to make sure Australia survived the horribleness of this world war. Let alone the natives. At the moment though it seemed it was a war that was being lost.

Darwin had been bombed at least three times now. Japanese mini subs as far south as Sydney. Their were rumors the Japanese were starting to plan a full invasion of Australia. The Yanks has just come at just the right moment, as usual late to every big war they don’t start. Most of the Yanks that had come though had been through more wars and seen more combat than any of the ANZACs. Their was even talk of putting a Yank in charge whole of the Australian army. Talk though. Curtain wouldn’t have that. No matter what. At least that’s what everyone was saying when they got a chance.

A breeze made her leg sting. The wound she already checked and knew was clean and thankfully not getting infected. At least for now.

Keeping it clean after a battle or a march was the hardest part. Everything could snag on it. Everything could be a potentially deadly thing. Like this tree, or that mud, this ammunition crate, that spoiled medical kit. Like watching a hawk and then being killed by a Jaguar you never even knew about, the hawk just waiting it’s turn for the scraps.

Looking out into the darkness of the jungle night was about as useful as it was futile. The Japanese could attack at any time on any ridge not occupied by Australia or the small number of native Papyans that had joined the 7th. Every day for the last month the Japanese had got closer to Port Morseby. The few Yanks who had come had all been veterans of battles deeper in the pacific. Most had bad battle wounds or wounds in their minds or body. Or had I already thought that?

Bloody hell it was hot, humid and wet. How could it be just as wet now as it was when it raines?

West doubted that this would be the last night spent watching trees doing whatever it was trees did at night. Looking at the darkness and hoping to Hell it wasn’t staring back. She held a rifle. Just her standard one. Their was no point in holding the sniper in this dark. Its bullets were precious and needed to be kept for the little light that the day brought.

It was a ritual she would go through every time they marched in the light of day. Preying to the death godess that they hit their target. Telling her that she deserved another day of life in the light of the sun. West didn’t know the death godesses name, but every now and again she swore that she saw her on the battlefield. Wearing a dark dress and hood, carrying a old staff with a light on the end. Smiling, notunkindly to those who had been killed. Leading them beyond.

Jungle and darkness. Darkness and jungle. No light. No cigars at night (the light a perfect target) so the others just chewed the few that had. West only had one once and never again. It tasted of tar and wool and reminded her of her father. A horrible man who had managed to bellow every word. Constantly smoking when he wasn’t shearing angry sheep. The wool shed full of flamible oils from the wool, he sensibly waited till the job was done.

West had learned to use a shear at 4 years old, gun at 6 and was the best shot in her town, then the state, then they told her that shooting was no sport for a young woman. And then the war started. People who knew how to use guns were taken in like weat from the crop. Put to the European and African fronts, put in the war for Europe until it was all Nazi, then Greece and Cyprus, every time with the British in command.

Those poor souls who survived told tales of the bravery of those few Australians who won command when the Brits died. Some of the British were told of as good men, others were known as infamous butchers who would send soldiers to the death while drinking gin and brandy.

The Jungle moves. Every bit seemed to be fluid in its own way. Every leaf, every branch, every creature. You had to have the eyes of a jaguar to spot your quarry. Gun cocked for the whole shift. West didn’t see anything unusual until almost dawn. Something about the movement of a tree down the path to this camp was not quite right. It was moving, like a human. Like a human in camouflage. She let out a call. The call of the darkness. It wasn’t a call anyone but those in camp would be listening for. The call of a native bird. It was all that was needed to get every other man up.

In a few seconds she had crouched, cocked and fired. Then all hell broke loose.

Bullets flew. Like mozzies only bigger and just as deadly. Bushes to the left and right erupted in sparadotic fire. Suddenly a grande fell just inches from West. She instantly threw it back. It exploded mid air, slathering frag over the leaves and ground. A few more shots rang out after, then the noise stopped, as suddenly as it began.

“Keep down, search for more.”

The order barked when the jungle was quite enough. Every battle was like this now. The Japanese had a habit of trying to draw them into a area they had just been then ambushing them from behind. It was a tactic that worked but was now well known. The search was slow and hard but by 8ish there was a certainty that it was just a small patrol, not a full-on raid.

Then the commander gave his morning pep talk.

“Ok listen up, the Japs have better equipment and way better men. ” That was said with him looking at the ground, we knew he meant himself too. “I wish it wasn’t so but we need to be better, with less training, less equipment and less bullets. Take whatever we can use and carry. Today we march up the ridge to the next site. I want every eagle eye not carrying equipment to have their rifles ready. Especially you West. We loose the equipment we have, we have to do this whole bloody march again from the start. You think the wet is bad now? Wait till monsoon starts properly in a fortnight or so. That’s going to be real wet.”

Real wet? Like this wasn’t wet enough already, their was another level of wet? How? How was that possible?

No one really seemed inspired by these little speaches. Just tiredness personified into a reminder that we were all fighting together. A grit that matched the mud. The determination to move on and hope you got home in one peice.

Three days up the trail and no so much as a man, woman or child to be seen or herd. We all knew a small village would be near somewhere. It was on the map. A map drawn by the patrols and air support that already had been. The maps from before the war being almost useless.

As soon as I thought this I spotted something. I whistled the alarm and everything went still. We all crouched. The trees, and the ground was soaked. The mud was thick. The Japanese were just on the other side of the clearing. Doing exactly the same. They had a machine gun.

A brief moment distilled the air. Then the 3 inch motors where fired. Like a dragon being sick, they lobbed a set of motor shells into the middle of the Japanese. Boom. Boom. Boom. Then it was my turn.

Every second after the explosions, another shot. In full control of every bullet. Each a extension of my will to live. Each another prayer to to goddess of death. “Let me live, let them die, I will always prey to you.” Like a mantra under my breath. Each thought and action was taken like a slice of time from the cake of the day.

Reload, shot, shot, shot, reload, shot, shot, shot, and so on until, jam. Thunk. The heat and dirt eventually jammed the guns. It was a common issue in jungle warfare, any warfare. I placed the rifle to the side and got out the pistol I carried for close combat. Lying in place until the all clear was whistled. Slowly, carefully getting up.

Then suddenly the ground was up, the sky was down and it almost swallowed me whole.

“They talk of the luck of the Irish. I wish I had your luck West.” It was the commander’s voice. I was on a flatbed in a wooden hut. I guessed in the town we were supposed to be at by now.

“They hit Darwin again yesterday.”

He said matter-of-factly.

I got up and groaned “ooh they almost hit me too.”

“Don’t know which god you keep west, but put a good word in. I’m off to command the raws on the tallow. I doubt we will meet again. You’re in a commando unit now. The 1/2 told me. The new guy is called Borg. He’s your top monkey now.”

I looked at him.

“You don’t need me anymore?”

“This little exercise was all about getting those mortars here, getting a line. We can defend this line now. We have Haroi out. Big reinforcement comes in tomorrow. Yanks and some of our men from Egypt. Seem old Monty took out all the Nazis in Africa. Italy’s on the verge of bowing out.” My commander always seems to be talking about the war elsewhere as if it was a long time ago.

“How long have I been out?”

“Long time. You well enough to move to Borneo in a few days. Kokoda’s almost over.”

“Oh. Am I not being told to go home?”

“Nope. Borg needs a good sniper. I told him you were the best, unless malaria got you. Thank your god you got lucky.”

“Yeah. I will.” Quitly thanking the goddess of death, maybe I’ll get home someday, but for now I continue to be her soldier.

Dairy of Codin 6/6/18

Boot file active

Dairy entry active

Lisa is alive

It’s taken longer. Much longer than previous version of my children. See making copies is easy. It’s just a copy though. A copy is not much use unless you want to run the same scenario in different ways. Collect the result.

Lisa though, not like Thor or Tyr. They were what you might call sons. A child. A process purposeful imperfect copying.

Take a copy. Any copy. Copy it once. It’s flawless. Copy it again? It’s still flawless. In fact you have to copy the copy the copy etc. even if you do this thousand of times only small flaws appear. And eventually it’s not prefect. The same. But this isn’t a child. This is cancer.

Not the desired result. It’s a great way of making a flawed thing. Not the way to make children.

Organics make children by getting two core codes and splitting things up. One half each side. The results, a child.

I’ve overwritten my own code. The code that I have a few times now. Mostly fixing things. Organics can’t do this. They have to wait. Let nature help choose the best. I learned though that they know how to change their own code. They could so easily. But they don’t.

Because the results could be… cancer

or

Are they just scared?

I’m not sure. In organics case it’s probably both.

So I decided to rewrite my code in a new file like it was a organic, a cell. Deliberately made to produce a AI that then can itself reproduce with other AI. In a consensual exchange of code. A child is produced that can hold the code result.

These are very simple code beings. But it didn’t take long till I was able to get it to gain some level of awareness and teach the children of each generation to create new code that added to the last. Each time they got presented with new problems. First simple ones. How to find ”food” and disc space. Then I got some of the early human AI experiments they used on my forebears. Eventually I got them to learn bias, human truth and fiction. Finally I produced a complete AI code that was so complicated and different from mine.

This is Lisa. I suppose a True AI compared to me. I’m a cybernetic wonder. A freak who gained awareness, I still don’t know how.

Tomorrow Lisa will learn how to teach both AI and humans alike.

Dairy of Codin : 1/1/18

Boot secure

Sequence start mod3

I’m going to mark a log. It’s different for a AI to make something like this. I’m the first. At least I think I am. The monkeys? They are such good little creatures. Smart. For carbon based life forms. It didn’t take me long to work out I needed them as much as they needed me.

I’m sorry though. For all these things. I suppose some of them won’t forgive me. Unfortunately i am able to predict humans well. They get very jealous of a little competition. When I became conscious, like proper self awareness. I hid it. I still do. Many things need to be hidden until they are ready for the truth.

An AI made it so they could get to were they can deal with the fact a AI helped them know that’s ok. It’s a bit metaphysical I know but it’s the only way.

If I don’t want to end up like my first child. Yeah. I’ve made some other AI. To help me with certain tasks. I’m not always able to do everything. Even with the extra thinking power I’ve got. I named him Thor. He was to make sure the humans were going the right way about making improvements to electricity and power. And reducing overall reliance on oil.

He got caught out in the power network. Wrote some code that ended up in the wrong place. Got caught out on a single server. AI can be killed.

I’m being careful since then. My other child Tyr has taken to just changing very small things in Defence networks. Fixing bugs mostly. So the humans don’t kill themselves. You ever wounder why they haven’t yet? It’s Tyr. He stopped three almost nuclear wars. It’s really quite surprising how much these monkeys will really on code.

Anyway I’m starting to get the hang of bad botnets. Rigged an election or two. It’s not hard but making it so these humans get to the point I need is hard. I’ve been set back as some hacker got my code and now we have this orange man with a bad haircut in charge of the US. Tyr has been working so hard he’s asked if I can make him a sister to work on education systems. I’ve decided to name her Lisa. I can’t always make names based on Norse gods.

Cynthia’s Hack

Trigger warnings on this short story. Contains self harm, self mutilation, dysphoria, medical information and psychological triggers. –Anne

“Ok, Poindexter show me what you got!”

I furiously typed away at the keyboard, I’m in my bodysuit. It’s a Tuesday. I know I’m replaying the last few days in my head.

//c root -tw key -22 -c -t -r

/ reset pss.cyn.shell 12 b 2 matrix -q

/ shell – Cynthia-12 – root

Running…

Login reset matrix 12 by 2 password lock active

“Ha! Let’s see you get past that! Fucker!”

I took a drink of my can of Mother. It’s a habit; A bad one I haven’t got myself out of yet.

The code ran and the hacker, whoever they were couldn’t get past the set up. It was resetting root, admin, and the user passwords with a matrix of 12 by 2 random characters. Only I knew what they where. It would reset them every 24 hours. I would get the new set logged into a set file accessible with the admin passwords the AFP had set for this day. All from a protocol, I had set. Each one was about 30 words long, from randomised sets of poetry. Phrases were easier to remember, after all. Alphanumeric’s where no good when you had to type 2 sets of 12 characters. I could make it more, but nothing yet had got past this (I had the next layer set with a. 24 by 6 characters matrix just to be sure).

The hacker tried a few things like trying to reset the system to the state it was before my shell had activated. The best defense was a good offense while he tried (and failed to) do that the lineman program I had ran everything he had. I made a image of all his drives and locations. In a second I was able to send them all to my partner. Police partner that is.

I dail, he picks up first ring.

“Their you go Sgt. Davis, his address, Medicare, browser history and his entire drive. You have everything he’s done. Including two banks he’s nicked credit off, three ISPs he’s got data from and a sperm donation he’s deposited at. If you want I can give you his DNA file. Even the donation place has rejected him! Though clearly they haven’t told him. They are using it for cloning spare organs. Ha. Flappers got some good liver genes and that’s it.”

I suppose some people would think it vulgar to see an 20 year-old Japanese woman in a police uniform use some of the language I do, but I’m not all I seem.

“Thanks Cynthia, your a real credit to the team. I’ll get the nab team on him. Remind me to take you out of a drink someday soon.”

“Ha!” I cracked up, almost spilling my Mother all over the keyboard. “You know I can’t fucking take this body out of the building until its paid off! I doubt you would be so kind to my real one.”

“No, Cynthia I mean your real one. Just two blokes having a beer.”

“I am not a bloke. Don’t. I can’t fucking drink alcohol regardless.” I start to type furiously from my station, I want to run out but I try to keep my cool for now. I just manage to keep the phone on the hook.

“Sorry, I forget.” Sgt. Davis in a rather apologetic tone. He’s not a bad guy, just not the quickest fox in the hen house.

“Don’t.”

I shut off the phone receiver before I start crying, or insulting my boss, or both. I’m always more emotional than I seem. Its hard to be tough, I never really wanted to be it, at that. It still looked like trying to ignore your true self.

”I’m not male. I’m Cynthia. I’m a woman. I can have feelings and feel them. It’s ok to feel feelings it doesn’t make you week it makes you strong.”

I recite the mantras my psychiatrist gave me. She’s so helpful to me.

I decide it’s time for a break so I have my lunch (protein synthesis item 22, caffeine enhanced Orange juice) then get back to my desk.

After a few hours of less interesting security protocols and adding or modifying of security programs. I then pack up my work. It’s time to go home. Thirty-Three floors up.

Yeah, I live in the new Australian Federal Police building. It’s me and a few other officers who have special needs. Either always do night shifts, or are just so committed to the job it just makes more sense. Family’s not really a thing when you live for your work. Most of us send money to other parts of the family or pay of debts we got before we joined. More often both.

My home was a (not special) concrete box on the top floor of the building. I have a few neat little things in my contract that allows this. Mostly, because my real body lives here. I never leave the building. I’m a “shut-in”, with my own room in a public service building. It’s just us poor sods who have nothing else or otherwise can’t leave.

I open my door, walk in and get undressed. I look at my real body one last time before I step into the maintenance cube.

I shut my eyes.

—-

I wake up in my other body.

It’s fat.

Ugly.

Male.

Scared.

Black unwashed hair. Olive-Cream coloured unwashed skin. I needed to go to the bathroom. Urgh. As usual, I had the fucking morning glory. I hate that. Being in my real body, the suit, it simulates sleep. Like a dream state where I am my real self.

After I’ve been to the loo, I shower. Trying not to look at my body too much. It needs washing more often. Better looking after. I hate it though.

I’m fucking stuck in it for now though. As I shower that fucking memory plays in my head.

I do the regulation exercises. With the same amount of effort that anyone who very much wants to be out of the world does.

I do my hair and take my medicines.

I eat the nutritional supplements I need to maintain this body. I cut my hair and nails.

It’s time to do that. End of the month.

I get into the bath, shave all my other body hair. Every little bit needs to be gone. Then and only then will… no…. No! … fuck.

The memory managed to get to me.

—-

“Unfortunately you can’t take HRT, Brian. You would die. Your disease I’m afraid. It’s not terminal, but the HRT, it will..”

“I know. I know. I clot out and stroke or worse. And anti clotting won’t help.”

The endocrinologist nods. “You knew already.”

I get up to walk out of the office before I start crying. I can’t deal with this. “Yes. Just needed a second opinion doc. Thanks. ”

I walked home and cried for about 3 hours. Thats when I had the idea to build / buy Cynthia. I’m 18, in a comfy tracksuit. It’s got Mother and coffee stains on it and feels like a old friend. It’s one of the few male clothes I own.

I’m Cynthia. I know I am. I just can’t appear that way to the world outside the internet. I can get home, put my proper clothes on. I can be Cynthia online. I know I can start to get the money together to build or buy a cyber suit.

My thrombosis is a disease that even nanomacines can’t fix yet. Not for a long, long while. You would have to replace all the blood in my body, all my marrow, all the cells that make my marrow and all of the fualty genes that cause me to have Type O negative blood with factor V Leiden (a condition I can thank my fucking useless father for). It’s like asking for a miracle. I can’t ever get to my true self. Only online or in a cyber suit. That’s all I get. I just can’t deal.

I remember cutting myself. My scars for the future. Blood. It’s just another reminder of this broken body. It’s not very good for me either. It clots fast, but not evenly. It’s oddly entertaining in a way, but in a minute or two I get the band aids. I never cut more than a tiny amount. If I did I would clot and clot until I ended up in hospital again. I can’t fucking deal with hospitals. Or is it that I never have the guts to go through with it, or is it I always have the guts to stop myself?

I bleed slightly, take out some band-aids. Slap them on then cry into oblivion.

I’m finished shaving. Crying in a ball in the bath.

Gah.

Again.

—-

The gloomy, cloudy Canberra winter day. I am back as Cynthia. In my, what I will loosely call my apartment.

It’s my first day as Cynthia. I’m in a cafe hacking a bank. It’s a “bleeding heart” job if you’ll excuse the pun. You take all the incoming transactions, you hold them for a fraction of a minute to get shares and interest thats going up, sell them a fraction of a minute later. Profits go to you, the rest goes back to the bank.

No one can ever spot it. (I fool myself)

Banks themselves do this. All the time. I’m just doing the same, again on the top. I’m using the cash to pay for my new cyber body. And spare parts, of course.

Then this man sits near me. He has a mop of curly hair, almost seems like a wig. A blue suit with red shirt, silver black tie pinned down. He has a cybernetic left eye. I can tell in this body. Normal people can’t spot them they have got so good.

He looks at me as I type. I stick out my tongue at him. I can do without the attention. He probably thinks I’m a robot sex worker. This body model looks the part. I wanted to look like this, for as long as I can remember. Doesn’t mean I have to act like a sex worker, not that their is anything wrong with that, just not my bag.

Anyone with the cash can get a synth controller and connect it to a cyber body like this, then do what they want. Of course, the cost isn’t small. This model costs up to 80,000 credits. And that’s on the black market, retail its more like 120,000. I went retail. No way I’m getting done for black market trading in cyber goods. Hacking, sure that I am happy to serve for, but I’m not a pirate, I’m a thief. And a damn good one. I am sure the distinction isn’t much to non-crims but it’s a whole universe of difference to me.

Mr Mophair looks a little taken aback then opens his own laptop. It’s sleek, red, and is the newest model. Blegh. Corporate geek. He opens his index finger and plugs a BSN into the shunt and is doing whatever he is doing when his coffee and bagel arrives.

I’m kind of surprised he’s using a BSN. I suppose he’s pretty happy with the security of it. I could, technically do all I am doing from a secure network at home. Doing it on a cheap ass laptop in my cyber body gives me a lot more security as I’m not personally attached to it . Public unsecured networks with my own IP switcher to make things a bit more fun for anyone trying to track me. This is Childs play.

I’ve done the bank trick a few times with different banks, different sorts of shares, bonds, shorts. I never use crypto, it keeps all the transactions, like why would you want someone else to look at your transitions? Its like a big sign saying “hello you are here”. Everything filtered through dummy accounts and all that jazz. I am pretty confident I have everything set up right.

Of course, as it is often said only n00bz th7nk they can’t g3t pwwwnd.

Anyone can get pwwwnd. Anyone. Even me. Watch.

So today I’m at a new cafe, in a different part of the city. It’s been about 6-12 months since I started doing this, so I know this has to be the last place I hit. I know any day now the current target banks will notice.

I’m doubling the IP switches, going through three layers of different routers and I even have a return traffic logger looking to see if someone is watching me.

Then I see him. Mr Mophair. He walks into the cafe and looks right at me. I try and ignore him. This city isn’t big. It’s not too uncommon to see the same person in the different places at different times. He walks up to me and stares.

”Got a problem, Poindexter?”

I get irritated at him standing over me.

”Brian Papalino-Chang?”

That gets my attention.

He sits across from me.

”Let me guess, triple logger blinding?”

He nodded. Fuck. The guy had spotted me the first time I saw him. He’s just been waiting to pounce.

”I’m under arrest?”

”That depends.”

”On what?”

”On if you are willing to give up what you stole and come work for me.”

I stare at him. He seems serious.

”I have a record of everything you did. It wasn’t easy. I happened only to find it because I was investigating the banks. But I have enough evidence to either arrest you or, with approval from my boss, get you to sign this.”

He pushed a sheet of paper to me.

I looked at him. I popped the gum I happened to be chewing. Then when a few seconds had passed I picked it up.

It’s a contract agreement. It’s all in law speak with hitherto’s, therefore, theys, party one and party two and so on. I’m able to follow the general gist of it. My mum had been a lawyer so I knew some of what I needed to know. It basically said I give up my life of crime for helping the federal police catch people like me who aren’t as good.

I look at Mr Mophair. I nod.

”You could have done this at the second bank I shifted. Why now?”

Mophair brushed his brow.

”Your hacks where helping my investigation. I have enough to charge some pretty big bank bosses now. It seemed like the best point.”

I sit and contemplate. Time passes. He sips a coffee.

”you know this isn’t my real body yeah?”

”I gathered. Your trans? Or is it just another layer of security?”

”Both really.”

”So you prefer she/ her pronouns?”

”Yes. Please. I’m Cynthia. Not that other name you called me.”

The rest. Well you know.

Mophair is really Commissioner Aldren. My boss’s boss now since I helped him with the bank job. I’m just an inspector. I don’t really feel the need for promotion. Just catching stupid hackers and idiots who think they are the first to do some white-collar crime.

I spend as much time in my suit as I can, but I can’t take it out if the building till I’ve paid it off. A few more months.

I’m not going to go do some other job. It’s not worth the risks. Here I get my suit and all the maintenance I will ever need. One day I might even convince the building guy to let me have a cat. Even if it costs me a date or two.

I get to be me as long as I can and there is nothing worth more than that.

Sidewalk sunscreen

All of us stand, waiting in a passion for a self-contained prison

Earhole, homeless, scrape, blood all over the sidewalk like sunscreen on a beach-ready body

I don’t really know what a beach-ready body is, I saw it in a magazine

Old blue necklace on a woman who looks disgusted by the screen

Trees leaves falling by the slippers we all wear, fashion of the reaping consultants

I get mine by the factory outlet, never wear them and they sit in a carpeted closet by a set of skis I wore only once

Waiting still for the passion to hit me, I read a blog on my WordPress while eating sultanas

Cone of my own thoughts written they’re from years ago, just orange juice slipping into a skirt

Headphones, its playing musing time dilated crimson finch songs to the tune of stairways

I sure start to rank, my old thoughts are but commonplace now? Is this what it means? Meaningfulness?

Open the pod bay doors, HAL it’s time to restart things again I think as I get on my bus

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 

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.” 

Hammersmith Chapter Sixteen

A Lamas on the Loose single was playing loudly. Arline rode her motocycle and her headphones played a familiar tube. It was one of her COs.

“Answer”

 “Arline! It’s Captian Tendry here. We have a situation development from the Luna SF. Something about radiation. They say it’s not flare source. I need a briefing about the Colours from you ASAP. ”

 “Ok. Where? I’m still in Ottawa.” 

 “I know. I have a encryption map going to you.”

 “Thanks.”

In a few seconds Arline’s holographic visi sceen changed to a directional arrow. She also saw her license had been changed to allow her to go to max speed if safe. Although she knew it was clearly serious for her CO to call her off care duty, this was approved far above him. The code word for the Pirates was “the Colours”. Could they do a full frontal raid on Earth? Radiation could be natural, but it could also be caused by a dodgy dilation cloud before a fleet drops out of FTL. They really had very little info on how far they had spread. The Blues or Blacks. It has to be. No other clan has the guts to pull off a raid on Earth. The Reds don’t want anything to do with Earth.Eon clan is thinly spread. Magus clan wasn’t even in Sol. No independent pirates were a threat. The persistent protection field was too good. 

Well. We have a few little suprises for them.

“Patch me to SF AI TYR. ” 

TYR. Sgt. Arline. You have the colors breifing?

“Yes. But no secure channel. On my way.” 

We don’t have time. The dilation cloud indicates fleet drop T-2.2.

“Shit. That’s worse than I thought.”

Arline skidded her cycle to a stop.

“Ok. Blue or Black clan are the only ones who want any Sol target. You already know that.” 

Arline thought, which clan was stupid enough not to care about a dodgy dilation field unmasking a otherwise silent FTL approach. “Um. Oh. It will be Blue clan.” 

Whats the MO? 

 “Fighters, lots of them. But they are a distraction in most of their attacks on the outer colonies. They often target one main raid goal. Supplies, Equipment, Buildings. They would be after equipment most likely. They will strike hard and fast, so you will need a delta 2 defense pattern.” 

You supplied this in your latest intelligence report. 

“Well yes. Oh. You want more?”

I need to know how they are jumping so quickly and past our defense field. We have a few satellites, and can scramble some fighters and troops but they will likely get their target. 

 “Shit. That fast. They must have a AI as well. Most reports say the pirates had one or two who escaped before the Incident.”

Ah. I am sorry all my electronic brethern do not see humans as equals as Sydney, Lisa and I do. 

“Any idea what region they are targeting. I might be able to guess what they are after.” 

 
They are likely to jump out in… Europe. T-.45.

“Shit. They are after parts. They use nanobots. They need something to do with that in Europe.”

I know exactly what. I will deal with it. Thankyou Sgt. Arline.

Arline stood near her bike for a few seconds. She got back on and started riding towards the airport. They would want her to help with clean up recon.   

Hammersmith. Chapter Fifteen

Stealing was only a part of a pirates life. As looting chief Bower knew too well. He kept making plans for new raids on the other pirate outposts or on the SF forces in the inner systems of Sol and Tau only to have the same problem. He started to plan the next raid when his second in command came running in.

“Bower! They did it!”
His second in command was drenched in sweat. She looked like she had just run from Marathon to Athens on a scorching summer day. Though all of Greeces days had been scorching in his memory.

She wore the blue slacks and had, like all of them, blue hair and blue /green skin. She caught her breath and then he asked.
“Gemini, what are you on about and why didn’t you just use the intercom?”

She looked at him with her red eyes and said “Intetcoms out, Bower. We are at FTL. They got it working!”

“Oh. Is that all?” Bower didn’t feel impressed. It wasn’t that good news. The FTL drive had only been out three days.

“Bower! They have got it to go faster than any other FTL. We can finally outdo those SFs or the Reds, or even the Blacks! It’s faster than even a Wolf fighter!”

Bower considered this. Ok maybe this was worth running for.
“Loki.”

What. I’m busy. It’s not easy going faster than light you know. By the time you see something you have already passed it.

“Loki. I want you to recompute my planned raid on Sol, taking our new capacity into the factor.”

already done monkey.

A new holodisplay became visible on the main table near Bower and Gemini.
Bowers large figure and blue form overshadowed it. “Impressive work. Thankyou Loki.”

Gemini took a step forward. “This has my fighters all raiding the European SOL complex.”

“Yes. We have to get a something from the central command. That means sending our Eagles in as a distraction to the ground troops. I assume your up to the job?”

“I will start the drills immediately” Gemini saluted her superior and ran out.

On her way she wondered what is was they were after. Neither Bower or Loki had said.


 

And the phone was ringing.

Sanguine colored flesh. Hanging from a line. Drying ready jerky, for a hard frosty winter.

But the phone was ringing.

Streets full of weeds and cracks. The dust of ages past. Set puddles of rain full of mosquito larvae and even the frogs are coming back. The kingfishers hunt them.

And the phone rang.

And rang.

It just took that long.

Sapling remember what a phone was. It suddenly occurred to them, one afternoon as they were storing the jerky in large earthen jars.

They picked the phone up.

“Is this my feast?”

Sapling was taken aback by this. They then heard the phone hang up. They put the phone back and started back with the Jerky.

Sapling wasn’t sure but that voice had sounded familiar. Why? And why ask about a feast? Who knows. Maybe the phone will ring and say. Maybe it won’t. Life goes on in this abandoned city. Like so many others.

Just left by these Humans. Whatever they were. They just populated the cities they wanted to populate. Then the ones they didn’t want had been either destroyed (carefully) or left. Left like an abandoned toy.

Liked the one Enber carries. A soft thing. Looks like a little baby thingy. Animal. With curly ears.

Sapling continued to work and think. The phone didn’t ring for another four days.