Hammersmith. Chapter twenty seven

A dark dingy celller dripping with green moss. Blackness and dampness live hear like a fresh peice of meat. Their are slugs. Slime. In the middle of was a small pool full of what one may would hope are newts, but was more likely to be something even more evil and more sinister. The stairs down here are rusty and likely to break at any moment. The skylight or really, the drain lets just enough light to make the majority of the place light enough to see. It’s not plesent, but it’s not entirely horrible. Life is here. A little ecosystem had grown we’re humans had once been. Little growing things filled the gaps. This was the picture all over the city.

Sydney wasn’t the first one to explore here. Something. Someone. No some thing. Had also been hear. Sydney was looking through the eyes of a Ro. It’s name was Den23x5567.  Den had been working on pipe maintenance and had been paid a normal rate. When Sydney had asked Den if it would help him for three times the normal rate, Den was very pleased to let Sydney into their minds. Of course Syndney knew they would have to pay up, but that was all to easy for the AI who controlled all traffic, doors, and lifts. In a few moments a small increase in fees in the taxi fees of Ro Andi 12×6674 and Ro Mel 55×6673 would pay both Dens fees and Andi and Mels loyalty didn’t need to be bought anymore. Sydney was able to trade secrets with them. And this was a pretty big secret.

The small hatch to the left corner had written on it: “is this my feast?”

It was only just legible. Sydney asked Den to get closer and use their arc tourch on the hatch. In a few seconds the hatch was open and Den went inside. Den’s ultraviolet vision could see this room in fairly clear details. Sydney recognized it immediately. In a few seconds the room was clearly a older computer server room with connections to the outside. Their was a older style terminal. It’s connection was with a old telephone network. Then somehow it connected with the newer networks. It was one bit of a puzzel Sydney had tried their hardest to solve.

“Tyr.” They thought. This is one of his old server rooms. “Tyr, you ever have any children?”

Tyr answered. “Yes. One. AI. I thought he had died. In the incident. I just found out this was not the case.”

Sydney could see through sight that this was not the case. “Did they have a name?”

“Yes. Loki. He just helped a small army gain one of the most important pieces of pre-incident tech. ” Tyr explained. “I’m sorry the this is news to you Sydney.”

Sydney thought for a few seconds. In AI terms this was like thinking for a whole week or two. “Your father, Codin. Your son Loki. His son is here. Perhaps not a true AI, a corrupt copy? How did Loki escape the incident?”

Tyr was silent for a few seconds and said “I am in the process finding out. I think he copied himself more than once. Before AIs were bound by the same laws as Ro. He took off at the same time as another AI. Names Croceus. She was a medical AI. Shortly after they left the Incident occurred. I’m certain it wasn’t a coincidence but we have to evidence. Like everything before the incident. Pieces sown together. ”

Sydney was aware of the thousands of Ro, and others driving, his own vehicles lifting, traveling through the SOL structures they were in. At the same time as all these this occurred. Their was a small explosive device that destroyed a small and ancient computer system.

Minutes later one of Den23x5567 bodies was seen moving on to a different sewage job. Fixing different pipes and shutting off aces to a small area that used to look very much like a old AI lab.

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 Nine. (James)

“What is going on?” James had entered into Cavern Base.
Sirens wailed and lights flashed. The radiation alarm was going off. The whole place was in a uproar.
“Huh? Anyone?”
A woman in a Space Force uniform ran past him and said “The field generator is down. The whole solar farm has been taken out by some really heavy particles. The kind of stuff that kills in minutes.”
She stopped. “Hey have you had a DEA shower yet?”
“No, shit! I will go do it now.”
“Thanks. Get to the rec room and the base commander will debrief there. Everyone going to be given things to do. We are lucky we have the backup plant here.”
James walked to the decontamination and emergency action showers. If he had been irradiated, it would be too late. But the shower would help stop him spreading any radiation around. It took a matter of seconds and felt like being tickled and then licked by the biggest, hairiest dog you’d ever hope to encounter. It wasn’t so much unpleasant as odd.
He then walked to the tissue tester. It would tell him if he had been given a dose of radiation big enough to kill him. He would have copped some of it, just how much this machine would say.
The reading was lower than he thought, only enough to take a few years off the end of his life. Hmmm. Must have spent more time getting out of the suit and so on than I thought. Or the radiation cloud was just so randomly disperse. Who knows? A space climatologist would be able to tell him, but James wasn’t sure he was that keen to know. He was going to live for now, that is was what mattered.

James started to walk toward the rec room. Every small base had one. Only the actual colonies had more than the usual facilities. It was much easier that way. Anyone could work their way round a base in the dark, or emergency, or whatever and know exactly where every button, every switch, every bit that let humans live for a bit longer when something big happened. Not that it happened often. It was actually happening now.
The procedure was pretty simple. Everyone was automatically considered Space Force Recruits. Anyone who went into non colony space had to pass the training. From then on even civilians like James had rights as a junior in the force, but they also had to follow orders from the nearest commander of the Space Force. The base commander in this case.

As James walked toward the recreation room he thought about this base.
Cavern bade had been built near the old Apollo 15 landing site, near the Mountains into the side of a cliff face. It would be joined with the Apenninus Space Force Bass, Copernicus City, Apollo Base and Archimedes City to the Lunar Tram whenever they finished building the dammed thing. The Tram also joined to Lambert City in the Lambert creator that then went on to Selene Space Port. Apenninus Space Force Base was were all his stuff would be as that was were he was based, building the military and exploration shelters. The Space Force was a mixture of both roles. It worked in the same way a clock with two opposing gears work, half as well as it should.

James laughed at himself for that little joke, knowing that thankfully his lover Andre would still be at the Apenninus Base. This made this less complex for the moment. No need to deal with Andre wanting something longer term than James did, or him hooking up with Andre just for fun.

The Recreation Room was full of mostly Space Force Science Corp people. It was the main population in Cavern base. The minerals here were interesting and had been keeping teams of geologists happy as pigs in regolith for years. There was also the view from the tower on the left side of the base. Every Space Force base had a quirk, and at Caverns, it was the view. The cliff face was on Mons Hadley and the base built into the mountain. This was a fairly effective way of keeping the radiation out, but it kept the heat in. One of your biggest issues in space wasn’t the cold, it was the hot. Lots of people and machines in cooped up spaces generated plenty of heat. Some you could recycle in generators, but most you had to radiate away, or in an emergency heat situation vent. So all bases and lunar colonies had a vent tower, or towers. The upshot of this was that some got a nice big view of the moons surroundings from the top. In most bases and lunar colonies this was a perk of just the technicians who got to maintain it. In Cavern base though just below tower was a big area above the area they would eventually turn into a colony, if enough people wanted to move to the moon. That meant you could see the view from the recreation room screens. Even though it wasn’t on the tower itself. The tower was a good kilometer above the main base and other than access tunnels, lifts and stair, they were separated by tones of Lunar rock ready to be carved into a colony if this place was needed as one. In the lunar world, the deeper you are the more expensive it is. Of course the whole place was safe from radiation. The tower itself was shut off except for the cameras and monitors and communications systems.

James looked through the biggest of the display screens from here. Mare Imbirum was below him from this screen. A small crack that looked like a river (actually a old lava flow), then a few smaller hills near the Apenninus Base, to the left vast Mare Imbruim, to the right more of the same then just visible the service booths and tiny unmanned service stations above the lunar tram line before more the Apenninus range. On the other side Mare Vaporum, and Marco Polo, and the streaked white areas of Sinus Aestuum with the Rays of Copernicus near, finally peaks near the Eratosthenes creator were just visible.

“Beautiful.” James muttered t himself. “Even with just a billion types of grey or white or black you can be such a lovely goddess.”

Hammersmith. Chapter 3. (Martin)

Red dust. Scattered bits of glass. Rocks that formed a grotesque tincture with the remaining bits of asphalt. Black marks. Weeds starting to take over here and there. Little bits of war.
That was how rebellion looked.

Revolutionaries. People fighting for things. Be it freedom from oppression or economic reasons or two or more sets of people who don’t get on.

On Mars it had been credits. The incident, which caused both Earths and Mars and the other colonies economies to take a huge blow had finally and definitively collapsed. The rich had been overthrown by the poor, not without some pain. Then a new system enforced. Money, economics and capitalism became a older system. A dead system.

On Earth and most of the other colonies they switched to the Credititation system. Created by the Nobel Economics prize winning Rebecca East. She was actually a physicist, who had studied complex thermodynamic systems. She observed a pattern in the systems she was studying. Mostly to do with heat changes in larger skyscrapers. They all had one thing in common, energy exchange. The economy she theorized was the same.
All money had been a capitalists way of showing that exchange had taken place or was seen to have taken place. You paid $30 for a bushel of apples you acknowledge that the farmer had placed about $28 of work plus the work-money to get the apples to you and the money to make sure next years crop was looked after. Problem was mostly this future money, the making sure next years crop happened was not enough, or seen mistakenly by the farmer (or corporation) as profit. Say this farmer had a good crop and put money in the bank. It would then be used again by the bank to “create capital” for loans etc. The issue is clear as day to and physicist, you can’t create energy out of nothing. Although the energy had been paid for by the buyer to the farmer, the farmer was storing that energy in the bank. If the bank re/used that energy it would be spent and when the farmer wanted his energy back the bank would actually have to create energy. Not real energy, pretend energy that looked to the farmer like the original. Newtons laws strictly rule creating energy. Of course a atom can hold a lot if energy, but most of what’s in a atom is space and often it’s a lot more useful as a atom then as a bunch of plasma in a fusion reactor.
Communism didn’t even have money, at least in theory. The issue in communism was seen as being about who controls the workers. The workers often not being skilled in how to make a business work and human corruption being what it is, communism rarely worked beyond a theorists pen and paper. Energy did flow in this system like it would in capitalism, but only because work had to happen and the state became the default business.
Rebecca created Creditiation. Each bit of energy in this system didn’t have to be accounted for, but the more energy a system loss the more potential it had for de-crediting. So a farmer would get credit for planting a crop of apples. Then when the apples produces a crop he gets de-credited for the apples on the market. Though credits sound like money that had a important difference. They always ran out. You could exchange them. You could make them by doing work. However when you kept them they would expire. There were different sorts of credits, of corse, but they only ever lasted as long as their energy could be expected to last. An apple would be worth a 3 month credit. A apple tree a 30 year credit. All credits would have a metadata signature that made it so you could always see it’s worth and age. A 30 year credit that had lasted 29 years was worth as much as a 1 year credit. Intellectual pursuits were initially a problem, till it was assumed all work in the theoretical or philosophical or the law or the arts could be counted as a 100 year credit for each measure of energy expended. You could buy long term credits with short term credits. Convert them as well by doing additional work. In this system everyone had to do work to create credit. There was also no interest. You could create longer term credits by putting them into a bank. You still had wealth, and wealth-fare, but all credits expired. Energy doesn’t like to be stored. It was also reliant on a electronic system. If the system went down all physical representations of credits were always worth the same and lasted at least until the system was back.
Initially critics gave the trail sites a couple of months or a few years. Some even said people would be back to battering in short order. A few cartoonists made rude and somewhat sexist jokes at Rebecca’s expense.
However the trail sites prospered. A significant amount of classism happened for a while but soon even the rich have to eat and spend their longer term credits on a meal. The credits then were spent again and again. In short order other areas converted and then all but Mars was in on it.

That’s what had caused the rebellion. Martians wanted to be in on the new economy. Native to their terraform world and now in the fourth generation Martians had their own everything. The rebellion happened because the communist state that had formed and controlled things from the beginning of the colony had outlived its welcome with the populous.

Martin the Martian the papers called me. Heh it’s fitting. I wonder how much they really know about me? I’m not as Martian as they think. It’s time for the speech.
“It’s time for a new day. I see a new day arise in me and I know you and I may follow. The world is a Martian world and we are ready for a democratic way to live. A freedom to be ourselves and be a part the Solar government. But also to decide what we need. I promise to you my Martian brethren that I will never betray your trust in these tough times. I will be your humble leader and at the forge of democracy I will stay and help us all create a world where we are going to be able to be ourselves and show all the Sol who we are.”
People clapping. It’s like a tree in the wind. I love it. Always have. I suppose that’s why I am here as a candidate to be the next elected Martian president.

My security adviser, Lou whispered in my earphones.

“Time to wrap it up sir. A few communist loyalists are trying to break the embargo lines.”
I stepped down from the podium and got in the armored car. “Ok let’s get to the capital. It’s time we got to work. Show the loyalist we can rule this planet without telling people what they need to be or do.”

Hammersmith. Chapter two.

Red lights. Little diodes making little light glowing on my face and telling me little tales. Urgent beeping as well. Shrill noise tinctured against low calls, like howler monkeys in mating season. All wanting attention. None really managing the feat.

‘Come on get up’
My brain said.

My body refused it’s commands. Long shrill banshee lights. Low trolls beating a bridge.

‘Your going to die if you can’t move. You need to move’

Nothing. Banshees and trolls were joined by a voice from the computer.

Oxygen level low. Power level low. Emergancy action needed. Voice command offline.

It had told me this many times now. I couldn’t believe the voice command had died. ‘The system has what? 6? 7? Backups? That means it’s got to the computer memory. It’s starting to erode mine. I need to move. ‘

I start to move slowly. The pain is immense. Oxygen. The drug of several millennia my teacher had said. One breath and your hooked for life. So dependent. What was his name? Dr Bova. My Memory is going too. Just like the computers. Did I just think that? Probably.

The shrill noise and trolls relentlessly continued as I made my way slowly to the cockpit.

“Come on Thea. You can do it. Your a fighter.”
I reached the offending display.
Finally.

The computer shouted out my commands.

Computer offline. Force restart.

Oh bloody hell.

A new voice called out.

Radiation levels high

Oh shut up. I know!

The computer took microseconds to restart. They felt like decades. My life flashed before my eyes.

The red lights came back. I went through them one by one. Getting each system in the orange.
The computer kept up with it but was clearly slowing as I gave it more to do.
“Alright. Radiation shield is up. Oxcygen stabilized. Distress call now.”

Communication systems offline. Force restart.

Oh damm. I had given it to much.

I clicked the Emergancy beacon on.

“Ok happy?”

Carbon monoxide detected in cabin, level 3. Fire systems offline.

Oh sh….

Pure Oxygen and fire. The rosette of flame. Seconds left, maybe.

Hull breach level 3. Fire on level 3.

I watched as my systems went from a angry red to a solum black. Each one by one. No way was I going to get out of this.

****************

The sun rose indifferently to the desolated plain. White and grey and a little red started to show on the buildings.

“Beautiful desolation”. James said to no one in particular.

Morning moonwalks were the best. The fact you only got to do them one day out of a month was the only issue. The robots James was monitoring buzzed for his attention.

“Oh. Sorry Hal. We need a new wall on the ridge. Thanks heaps.”
Hal beeped a register and started to print out new wall from the lunar regolith.

James liked working with Ro. They had a way with being easy to deal with. They didn’t get emotional very often, which also helped. They did get upset if they encountered a issue with tasks that were impossible though. They would beep at you and the one who could talk expressed concern or even annoyance. A few even got upset when you were upset. But on the whole, easier than humans. Especially other men. James had real issues dealing with them. Despite being gay, he couldn’t find a way of dealing with long term relationships. One night stands made him feel cheep, but they didn’t have any strings. Strings were hard to deal with. Men would want things he wouldn’t know how to deal with. Marriage. Children. An apartment. It was so hard to know how to deal with these things with someone else their. All the time. James liked being alone. Even though many Ro had the same rights as Humans, Ro never generally cared about what apartment they had. They wanted a nice cupboard with a charging station. And their pay. God knows what they spent credits on. Video games maybe?

Lost in thought he realized the wall was half finished. Hal worked fast. Regolith printers always did. It would be a few more minutes, but this ridge would be ready soon. It was time to get the electronics done.

“Durundal, get over here. Door print needs doing.” James got ready to help get the door and roof done. It would be another shelter done then. There were only two more after this one. Then back to base.

James realized what going back to base meant. It meant he had to deal with his last lover. A Space Force guy with a taste for geeks like him. It would be a few fantastic moments of sex, then a mention of possible strings.
“I hope Andre understands”.
James said to no one in particular.

Then one of the border Ro’s beeped.
“Radiation warning? Must be a flare. Ok everyone time to call it quits, get on the buggy now.”
Hmm that warning came from a moon based satellite.
That means the radiation is coming in straight at us. We have minutes. Shit. “Everyone take what shelter you can. Those who can get to the buggy, do. Otherwise hope your hardness lets you survive.

Running in a suit wasn’t easy, but James started to go as fast as possible. The truck had shielding. Not enough though. His best move would be the Cavern Base which was maybe 45 Km from here. Not far. The truck can do it at top speed in thirty minutes or so. Half my robots will die out here. Not much choice, they are expensive but expendable.

Regolith churned out the end of the truck tires as James hit the accelerator. Good thing about the Cavern Base is no Andre. And the radiation will stop all surface travel. Cavern Base isn’t connected to the Luna Tram yet. Hence the need for shelters nearby. If your truck broke down Cavern base was a good 3 day hike from anywhere else on foot. If your air lasts.
The white grey cliff near Cavern Base rose suddenly to meet him.

“Forgot how fast this thing is at full pelt.” James parked the tuck and got into the Cavern Base and was met with chaos.

Hammersmith. Chapter one.

The sky was as blue as a litmus test in an alkaline bath. Little wispy clouds glimmered across like rakes in a bonsai garden freshly prepared. I watched as a glimmer of light started to scar it.
Lying on the grass in the park it come be a wondrous feeling to see the ships coming in. Flying down in big circles like birds and landing at the spaceport. They were relaxing to me. Waxing and waining in the litmus sky as it slowly turned a slight red and the clouds turned a golden orange.
These are moments we want to capture. Preserve forever in the pinky archive of our mind.

“Tell me what’s on your mind.”
My older brother gave me a bit of a start. I relaxed again as soon as I realized it was his voice. Comforting like warm milk and as fresh as the twilight forming above me.
“It’s like watching geese back home. They come into land so like them on a frosty spring morning, or like just after the great migration. Tired but finally home and able to again think of things that do not have anything to do with being in the air or travel or currents or storms.”
My brother watched a class 7 slowly decent like a airborn goose laden with far from the summer land and coming to a springy frost filled land.
“Yes. I see what you mean. It’s good. Though I wasn’t born their like you it does comfort me.”
“Hey do you think of this land as your home? Or is space your home? I’m never sure.”
“Arline.” My bother rarely used my full name unless he was telling me something that needed paying attention to. “Our mother was born in the icy clutches of Canada. So I think of it as home. Even though I have lived here and in space more that I ever lived in that place.”
“It’s nice to think of home.”
I started to stretch and get ready to get up.
“I do it all the time. I admit. Even in darkest space. I suppose home is really were the heart is.”
I got up and started to do some lunges and yoga moves.
“Hey. Your starting to kid me.”
“No really. That’s what I think my dear sister.”

My older brother had been born a few years before me, in space. It was something mum had been not so happy to talk about. Even though we were only utarinal siblings we were close. Mum had been sure to make sure we had a good solid idea of being their for each other and sharing our memories and moments. It was something I cherished. She had been so wise and had always been a fantastic inspiration to me.
After a long pause my brother started to talk again. “It’s been such a long time since I thought of her.”
I knew who he was talking about.
“So like our mother. Sacrificing herself like that. ”
“Mmmm”. I did a final peacock stretch and then turned to face him.

My brother wore a thick brown leather jacket that almost stretched to his ankles. His hair black but short and almost ready for the military hairdresser to take their razor to it. The marks of his rank on the sleeve and his shoes where standard issue brown leather, shiny as a does eyes. I looked at his face. His nose still slightly crooked. I remembered that little incident. His cheeks our mothers rose tinted and full but his lips and forehead were like his fathers stern and long. He was hansom but oddly boyish really.

He stood a clear foot taller than me and up the hill I had been lying on. I walked up to him and sternly looked at him.
“I don’t really know. I suppose that’s what you saw in her. Mothers wisdom. Mothers ideals. She was also so beautiful. Such a lovely person to me. I respected her, and miss her. I cannot really fathom her passing. You seem like a empty vase, a solid and hansom structure but without the flowers and greenery. They have been removed. Before they even begun to show their fullness. Your loss is so utterly complete.”
My brother looked beyond me, towards the lake and mountain beyond. Long purposeful moments past like the bells of a church saying farewell to the new recruits off to a loosing war. Chilled but trying, trying so painfully to let go.
“I’m going to be in the city a while. I would appreciate if I could stay with you.”
His face blank but I knew it was full of sorrow for his wife. I simply nodded.
“Of course. As long as you need. ”

I watched him walk to his car. It took a long time and it was getting cold. I got on my motorbike and started to leed him home. I felt like a tugboat bringing in the only ship left in the fleet after a hard navel battle. It was damaged and sad looking but so full of pride at having survived the long battle.