Book: The Long, Dark Night

The Long, Dark Night

Bedouin’s Travels

The Long, Dark Night – Book II

By Ben Winston

Copyright © 2015 Ben Winston

Published by Blue Space Publications, LLC.

Table of Contents

Copyright Page


Author’s Note

The Long, Dark Night – Book II









About the Author

Connect with the author or Blue Space Publications, LLC.

Books Published by Blue Space Publications, LLC.


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a newspaper, magazine, or journal. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Author’s Note

In the following book, there are a lot of celestial references that may sound real, but they are not. In order to establish the proper ‘ambiance’ for the situation, the astronomical objects and phenomena exist only in the author’s mind.

The Long, Dark Night – Book II


“Everyone is a friend, until they prove otherwise.”

- Author Unknown

Survivor Pod 0001a

6 Apr. 8255 CE

Location Unknown

Earth, Sol system

Knowing that Ben would want to talk to her, the girl was taken to the small infirmary in his pod. Jon had been notified shortly after the girl had been picked up, and had gotten ready to treat her. When he’d been told about the small computer that seemed to be taking care of her, he got so excited that he almost forgot they told him it only spoke a strange form of Latin.

Jon lost most of his enthusiasm; he sucked at Latin, and hated speaking it. He also realized that the other doctors from around the world would like to have time to study the computer as well.

His attention was soon taken from the subject by the arrival of his new patient. She spoke what sounded like Latin as well, but Jon wasn’t able to understand any of it. After making sure she was stable, he put in an urgent request for a linguist to translate for him.

Sophia had told him the patient’s name was Addson, but Jon automatically added the 'I’ back into the name making her Addison, which is how he addressed her. She just smiled and shook her head. The P.A. had also told him he couldn't bind her ribs because she was adjusting to our atmosphere, and was having difficulty breathing as it was.

When he asked about nitrogen narcosis, Sophia told him the computer said it shouldn’t be an issue. She could only assume that it had been an adjustment made over time, and the human body had become accustomed to levels of CO that would be lethal to one of the survivors.

Jon did note that Addison seemed to be inebriated, but assumed that had been the result of the pain killers that she had been given in order to get her to the infirmary. He knew it could also be a result of the higher levels of oxygen and nitrogen than she was used to. So he just tried to ensure she was comfortable and that she needed no further treatment at this point.

Ben was in his office, deep in thought when Deirdre came in and sat down. She did notice that he hadn’t noticed she entered. So when she spoke, he about jumped over his desk.

“Whatcha thinkin' so hard about?” She asked.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph! When did you get here?” Ben asked trying to push his asshole back to his ass.

Deirdre smiled softly at him. “I just got in here, really, but I knew you hadn’t noticed. I would say I’m sorry for startling you, but I'm not; that was way too fun!”

“Ha ha. It’s a good thing I don’t have a heart condition!” Ben replied.

Deirdre chuckled. “What are you thinking so hard about?”

“The girl we rescued; Addson. Jon says she’s going to be recovering for a while yet and that she doesn’t know our language. She speaks a derivative of Latin. I was just thinking we could use the teaching machine we used in the freezers. But then again, we had centuries for the machine to work, so that idea’s out the window,” Ben replied, glumly.

“Maybe not,” Deirdre suggested. “Six of the people that invented it were assigned to three of the Indian Pods. We could always just ask them about it."

“Really? That would certainly help. I had no idea they had been included. Dad planned well,” Ben replied.

"I was looking through some of the information about our populations. Most of those that had a hand in developing the technology that we are relying on were included in the pod populations. Apparently, Ed had been mis-informed about the requirement to procreate; not all of them fill that requirement," Deirdre replied. "Tom must have allowed an exception, thinking we would need people like that when we awoke."

Ben could only agree. "Well, procreation is important, but I'm glad he did. We're really going to need creative thinkers if we're going to survive this new world."

When the two siblings got back to their apartments, dinner was already on the table and it smelled wonderful. Surprisingly, they were not the last to arrive. Marcy got off the elevator from the transportation level, just before Ben closed the door. He waited and held the sliding door open for her.

“Wow that smells wonderful! I thought it was my night to make dinner. Who do I have to thank for this wonderful meal?” Marcy said, thinking it was Kaitlin that had done it.

Kaitlin held up her hand to stop her friend. “Hey, it wasn’t me! Super Woman over there ordered the raw ingredients and prepared the meal herself! I will admit, I had my reservations when I heard her order spinach, but it does smell wonderful."

Jorga had just set a plate down stacked high with garlic bread, when Marcy took her in her arms and hugged her. Marcy softly said ‘thank you’.

Deirdre followed Marcy's example, as did Ben and Kaitlin.

“I think we better eat before it gets cold and Jorga can tell us her surprise,” Deirdre said seriously.

“What is this Jorga?” Marcy asked, indicating the dish she'd made.

“Chicken Florentine with bow-tie pasta. I made garlic bread to go with it and there is a side salad. I have a carafe of red wine, ice cold milk, or warm spiced cider,” Jorga answered proudly. This was one of her favorite meals, and she knew she was good at making it. "Dig in.”

After everyone had filled their plate and gotten drinks, Ben turned to Jorga. “So what’s the reason for the special meal?”

“Well, do you remember that I told you that I had committed to helping my mother with a project she was working on?” She asked. Marcy and Kaitlin both shook their heads since the only time Jorga had mentioned it in front of them was the night Tom died. However, both Deirdre and Ben nodded. It was actually where she had been spending most of her time since they all awakened.

“She kinda made a break-through today. You see she’d been working on creating working, personal nanomites. Basically, their little machines that get injected into a human body to repair stuff without major surgery. The thing is, she did it. I'm full of them and they’re keeping me so healthy I actually haven’t aged since before we went into the freezers!” Jorga announced excitedly.

“That’s amazing! How are they controlled?” Marcy asked, matching Jorga’s excitement.

“I have an active control interface implanted in my brain. How she ever designed all of this is beyond me and the hardest part was having the module installed. Of course I don’t think brain surgery is supposed to be comfortable.”

“I can’t believe your mother would experiment on you like that. Why on Earth would you agree to such a thing?” Deirdre asked concern for Jorga clear on her face.

Jorga got really quiet for a moment before she spoke. “Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a very nasty form of cancer. I took my chemo treatments after school, and I fought hard to make sure no one knew, most especially you, Ben.

“Even back then, I loved you so much! But I couldn’t bear the thought of putting you through that. I knew that once you knew about the cancer, you'd never have left my side. Having a life, together, with you was the only thought I had to keep me going. If I could beat it, I knew we could be together.

“Finally the day that every cancer patient dreads arrived. The chemo wasn’t working anymore. The specialists all agreed that I had about eight months left and those months would not be very pleasant. They were so certain I was going to die they gave me an open prescription for any narcotic I wanted to try to counter the pain. I wanted nothing more than to fill the prescription, go home, and take them all at once.

“My mother helped me out to the car and somehow she could tell I was done. I’d given all I had to get better and I just didn't have anything left. Instead of taking me to the pharmacy, she took me to her lab and gave me a shot. Whatever it was, I immediately felt a hundred times better, yet I was still clear headed.

“That’s when she told me about her ‘secret’ project. The control module was the same one they’ve been implanting into pilots for the last few years and she assured me that even the connections were the same, the only difference would be that I was controlling my body, and not a multiple geometry, high-performance, aerospace fighter.

“Really, I haven’t been controlling anything. The nanos are hooked into my control unit and the control unit has access to the data available in the computer system. You know why my grades went up so radically? I could access the Internet and look up the answers while the teacher was talking about it!

“But the coolest thing of all was when they told me exactly how sick I was and where the tumors and 'defective’ cells were located. They asked for permission to ‘repair the malfunctioning cells, and destroy the intrusive growths’.

“I told mom what they asked me and she nodded and smiled. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was monitoring them remotely. Once I told them to make the repairs, Mom had me come to her lab every day after school for tests. It took them almost a week, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do and there has been no sign of the cancer for six months! Not only that, but from what Mom’s computers are telling her, the nanos are using my body fat to replace cells that begin to become ‘defective’.

“The original goal was to cure my cancer, but since I forgot to tell them when to stop, they’ve been continuing to repair my damaged cells. I haven’t aged in weeks!" Jorga finished getting some of her excitement back.

Everyone else at the table had stopped eating and were only staring at her. Ben was the one to speak first. “Jorga, I can't help but feel a little betrayed over this. How long have we known and loved each other? Just because I could have lost you was no reason to keep me away. Please don’t ever keep anything else from us, please.”

She had tears in her eyes as she answered him. “I promise, I’ll never keep anything from any of you again!”

Deirdre and Kaitlin all but tackled her out of her chair in their rush to get to her and cuddle. Marcy smiled at them, but spoke to Ben. “Ben we really need to think about this break-through. If, like Jorga said, she can interface directly to public computers, how will that affect our population? I dislike keeping such a thing secret, but perhaps we could ask to keep a limited version of these nanos for medical purposes, and reserve the unlimited version for the military, if it turns out we’ll need one.”

Ben nodded. “I agree. However, I can't help but wonder that if Dad knew about this why didn't he opt for this treatment as well? We could have really used him here." He went quiet as he thought about that question.

"Maybe he didn't know how far along she was in her research, Ben. Honestly, there is simply no way to know why he didn't get the treatment," Marcy replied. "Besides, there is nothing we could do about it now."

Ben sighed and nodded his agreement. "Before we go to bed, please call and ask Dr. Lowe to keep her project and findings to herself for now.”

“I'll do that and try to get an appointment with her to discuss the possible ramifications of her work. I'll try to get a realistic idea of exactly what they can and can't do as well," Marcy replied.

"That would be really great, thanks," Ben replied while the family got back to finishing the excellent dinner Jorga had made.

Shortly after dinner, when the family was settling in for the evening, Marcy slipped off to a separate room to make her call.

“Dr. Lowe? Hi, this is Marcy Carmichael, Ben’s science adviser?”

“Oh! Hi Marcy! Did Jorga tell you the wonderful news?” Hope Lowe asked.

Marcy sighed; she really hated to ask what she was about to. “Yes she did, that’s what I’m calling about. Ben asked me to ask you if you could please keep the news of your break-through to yourself for now. I’d like to stop by sometime either tomorrow, or whenever is good for you, so I can learn more about it, so I can brief Ben and the Council.”

“No, I don’t mind keeping it to myself for now, besides there are some refinements I’d like to look into and I’d like at least another week's worth of data from Jorga before actually getting excited. But I do have to admit it is certainly looking promising,” Hope replied. “Uh, Ben isn’t going to try to bury this is he?”

“No, but Jorga was telling us everything the nanos let her do and some of it’s pretty scary if you think about it. So Ben wants to discuss it with the other leaders and perhaps ask you if the control interface can be limited to only interfacing with the medical computer," Marcy asked.

“You mean Jorga can interface with other computer systems?” Hope asked, amazed. "She never told me anything like that!"

“That’s the way I understood it. She told us about how she could use the nanos and the control module to research a subject on the Internet while the instructor was lecturing on it in school. Considering the reality of our new existence, that could be catastrophic. Our computer systems were not built to handle that kind of load, not to mention the potential for hacking.”

“Jorga would never ...” Hope began.

“Oh we now that, Dr. Lowe! No, we had others in mind once this began to be used on a larger scale. We don’t want to limit it, we just want to make sure it’s use is safely controlled and everyone's protected,” Marcy replied, putting a slight emphasis on the word safely.

“I think I can understand that. In fact, once I have a chance to think about it more, I’m sure I’ll agree with you. When Tom built our pod, he made sure I had a nice lab attached to our apartment. So anytime you’d like to come over you’re more than welcome Marcy and for goodness sakes call me Hope! Dr. Lowe sounds so stuffy and formal.”

Marcy relaxed when Hope told her that. It was going much easier than she thought it would. “Fabulous! Then I’ll just come over with Jorga when she comes to see you tomorrow.”

“That would be great! That way I can show you the progress we’ve made!”

“I’ll look forward to it, Hope. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Marcy said ending the call.

“Bye! And tell Jorga we love her!”

“I will, good night.”

“Goodnight,” Hope said and broke the connection.


“I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.”

- Carl Sagan

Bio-mechanical Research Lab

Survivor Pod 0001c

7 Apr. 8255 CE

Location Unknown

Earth, Sol system

Marcy returned the hug Hope was giving her. “Hello, Hope. It's really good to finally meet you! My role as 'science adviser' is so vast, I doubt I could ever get to meet everyone, so this is a real treat for me.”

Hope broke the hug. “Well, I think we were destined to meet anyway. Since Jorga said she considered you family, that makes you part of our family! So I'm sure we would have met sooner or later!”

“You know, I think its past time we invited the three of you over for dinner. Let me talk to the gang and I'll call you back to make the date, okay?” Marcy asked, smiling. She'd been missing her mother and that hug had felt really nice.

“I'm sure we'd love to come! I'll have to talk it over with Bill and Hanna, but I can just about guarantee they'll say yes,” Hope replied. “Now, you came over to discuss the nanos. Let's go into my office and I'll fill you in on the background for the project.” Hope turned and led Marcy through her neat home to a sliding panel at the end of the hall. "It's really too bad Jorga had that errand to run, or I could have shown you real-time data.

“As a very young girl, even younger than Hanna, I can remember great-grandmother Esther living with us so we could take care of her. She was a cancer victim and was slowly losing her fight. Every time they thought they had killed it, the damn cancer would pop-up somewhere else. Gran said it was a sign, and she ordered her doctors to stop the endless chemo treatments. She told them she'd keep fighting it on her own, but the chemo poisoning had weakened her. She also said she wanted to die with some dignity remaining. She was already living with us because the chemo had hurt almost as much as the cancer had.

“Gran was one of the best, strongest and wisest women I'd ever met. When I was ten years old, she passed away in her sleep at home with us. I cried for a month. Six years later, her youngest daughter followed her. That same year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After two radical mastectomies and endless chemotherapy, she passed away during my first year of engineering school.

“When Tom Bedouin approached me with this plan, I could only conditionally agree since I was at such a high risk of cancer. He just smiled and told me that I was needed anyway. My work was as important as the whole project and could very well mean our survival if we ended up in a world that was hostile to us.

“One of my worst fears came true when Jorga started getting sick. I was terrified I would have to watch her die too. When the doctors gave us the worst news we could have heard, I could only hope that the nanos could save her. So I did the unthinkable, I began treating her later that day.

“I'm not a complete monster, Marcy. I knew she'd be in no danger, not from the nanos anyway. We'd already run several series of tests using live animals, including primates. We had one major malfunction in the second series on rats. An incorrect treatment profile was uploaded into the nanos prior to injection. The result was that the nanos shut down and allowed themselves to be purged. The rat survived until it could be retreated with the correct nanos.

“That malfunction was what led to making them wirelessly interactive. If something such as that happened again, we could reprogram and reactivate them in a matter of minutes. I had no idea they could interface with computers at will, nor of their anti-aging function. I'll need to talk to her about it, but I'd like to continue her experiment for a time. These affects are extraordinary, and I would like to document them,” Hope finished. But frowned. "Marcy, once Jorga started showing improvement, I called Tom to let him know and offered the same treatment for him. I all but insisted he let me try to save him. He refused the offer. Prior to Jorga's treatment, we had submitted our results to the FDA to request permission to proceed with human trials. We know it's safe to use, at least from a patient stand point. We simply hadn't thought of the other stuff you told me about.

"Please tell Ben that I did talk to Tom about treating him, but he refused. He never told me why, or explained his decision. He just told me he appreciated the offer, and refused it."

As they'd been talking, Hope had led Marcy to her office and they had sat down. A few keystrokes later, a highly magnified, high-resolution image of a very small, robotic-looking nanomite was on the screen.

“I'm sorry for your losses and I am thankful you cured Jorga. I will also be sure to let Ben know about Tom. Now, as I said last night, Ben and I have some concerns about their current functionality,” Marcy replied.

Hope nodded. “I can certainly understand that: after all, with the right programming, these nanos could not only make you immortal, but also vastly harder to kill. For example, if they had the raw materials available, you could survive just about anything that wasn't instantly fatal. Not only that, but the human mind, linked with the limited AI of the control module could make 'network security' meaningless. After your call last night, I spent a good share of the night thinking of all the bad things this could do. It seriously frightened me.”

“So then, you are aware of some of the potential problems. One or two of the others that you might not have thought of are our existing computer systems. They simply were not designed for the load of everyone that would be able to access them. If those computers go down, we all die," Marcy said. “Of course we have back-up systems, but those are no stronger than the originals.”

Hope nodded. “You're right, I hadn't thought of that and I agree completely. I hadn't planned on announcing the breakthrough yet anyway because I hadn't finalized Jorga's experiment. However, these could really help a lot of people. So we can't just set them aside can we?”

“No, we can't set them aside, we need them. Especially in light of a few new discoveries about our planet. However, we have to be smart about how we use them, at least until we can create the tech structure to support a population with one hundred percent population growth, each capable of accessing the net with their minds. We'll also have to figure out a way to prevent hacking. Can you imagine what would happen if someone hacked Jorga's nanos?”

“Yes, that was one of the things that kept me up. Someone could make her kill all of you and she would be forced to watch, trapped inside her own mind,” Hope said fearfully. “I woke up screaming and Bill came into my room to see what was wrong.”

“Your room? You don't sleep together?” Marcy asked. “Damn, I'm sorry. It's none of my business. Sometimes I'm too curious from my own good."

Hope shook her head sadly. “It's alright, Marcy. Ever since he found out what I did to Jorga, he hasn't slept with me. He called me Dr. Frankenstein. I honestly don't think he'll ever forgive me.”

“Hope, what you did may have been unethical, yes; but you didn't do it against her will, right? She knew what she was getting into?”

“Absolutely! When we got to my lab, I gave her a shot of oxycodone to relieve her pain while I explained the project to her. I didn't give her enough to impair her judgment, just enough to take the edge off for her,” Hope wiped her eyes. "Before I even finished the explanation and could ask her, she asked what she needed to do. I made her listen to the hazards and dangers. I stressed that this was completely experimental in every sense of the word and there was a chance this could kill her long before the cancer would.

“My team knew what we'd been going through with Jorga. Hell, they'd all been told of my history and the reasons for my research before they joined my team. However, when I showed up with Jorga and she asked what she needed to do, several of them gasped in shock. She explained to them that she was a dead woman anyway. If her death would provide much needed data to perfect this possible cure, then she would sign what documents were needed to protect the team and the lab.

“Although I do have a medical degree as well, I'm not a surgeon, much less a neurosurgeon. But Doctor Wayne Trevor had lost his wife to an inoperable brain tumor, much like Tom's, that this technology could have cured. After he listened to Jorga, he hugged and thanked her, and had his team prepare her for the module insertion the following day.

“We'd been preparing for human testing anyway, after sending our results and findings into the FDA. So the OR was ready for humans, and the control module was inserted the following day without any complications.  It took my team and I almost a week to get the nanos ready for Jorga's body. I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd swear to God that she was my Gran returned to us as my daughter. Even as we strapped her down to the table for injection and activation of the nanos, she showed no fear at all. In fact, she told me everything would be alright.”

“She is an amazing woman, and I think she got some of that from you, as well. But why hasn't Bill returned to your bed? It was your treatment that cured her; he has to be happy about that, right?” Marcy said.

Hope shrugged. “I don't think he knows. Every time I try to tell him about it, he storms off and won't talk to me for a couple of days.”

Marcy thought he was being very childish, which was odd. It didn't sound like the same man that had been over at Kait's the night Tom passed away. “That doesn't sound like him at all. The couple of times I met him he seemed very mature and down to earth.”

“Bill's really two very different men. One, the one you know, is his stable, 'take charge' persona that inspires confidence in his people and those around him. The other is his private self. He is a very kind, caring and loving man. He dotes on his little girls and would move the moon for them. He loves me very much, too, and that's caused this problem in him. He doesn't know how to fix it. I don't think he can accept that the problem is already fixed, because he refuses to discuss it with me. In some ways, he's still kinda chauvinistic.”

“What does he tell Jorga when she talks to him about it?” Marcy asked.

“Jorga has no idea that anything's wrong. Neither does Hanna. Well, I think Hanna might suspect something: that little peanut is always poking around where she shouldn't be. She may have heard a 'discussion' or two,” Hope answered.

“Well, it's not like the walls at home were soundproofed you know!” Hanna said as she walked around the corner and into Hope's office.

“If that's true, Miss Snoop, then why doesn't Jorga know what's going on?” Hope asked, a look of frustration on her face.

“You're kidding, right?” Hanna asked. “I think Jorga likes being naive. Every time you two started yelling, she'd put her headphones on and shut it out. She went out of her way to not listen. She even took that delivery job to help get her out of the house.

"But I've got like a ton of questions about the nanobots you've built. Like can they be used to enhance someone to super-human strength and speed? Can they hold their breath for like hours? Or radiate a personal force shield?”

“Whoa! If you've been listening as much as you usually do, then you know as much as I do. Now, get out of my lab young lady!  I see I'll have to start locking the door. Do you know what would happen to you if you accidentally infected yourself with nanos without having a control computer? They'd reduce you to 'usable' compounds! Now get out of here and don't touch anything! You and I are going to have a long discussion about privacy and off-limits areas!”

“Yes Mother,” Hanna said in disappointment. She turned and left the lab.

“Well, now that we got rid of the snoop, we can get back on topic. Does Ben have any idea how he'd like this handled; that way, I can shift research in that direction?”

“I spoke to him a little last night after Jorga told us. For now, I'm sure he would like to reserve the fully functional nanos for our military, if we need to create one. Otherwise, could it be possible to go with purpose-programmed nanos? They can still be interactive while in the clinic, but as soon as the patient leaves the clinic or hospital, they are deactivated?"

“That would actually be the easiest way to go; if we don't implant the control unit, but leave it outside the body, the nanos would deactivate as soon as the patient went out of range,” Hope said.

“But didn't you tell Hanna just a second ago that injecting the nanos without a control computer that they would dissolve her?” Marcy asked.

“Of course I did. If my telling her to stay out isn't good enough to keep her out, maybe the threat of a very painful and messy death will,” Hope said, smiling slightly. “I'll need to talk to my team, but I think I can get them all on-board with this. May I suggest that Ben officially declare this a secret? That way, any data in the computer will become 'protected'.”

Marcy wrote down a note. “Will do. Now that Hanna broached the subject; how unrealistic is it that a human can be enhanced by these nanos?”

Hope shook her head. “Not by these, they aren't capable of that kind of work. However, I could design ones that theoretically could do that. Would they have the same effects as the ones in Jorga? I don't know. I don't think so, because that would increase their size too much. However, I will look into it. Marcy, in another week, maybe two, I'll be able to finalize this version. However, I can see now that we can't continue to use these. I'll give you a full report for Ben to read, but then I'll also create an 'official' report outlining a potentially life-threatening side effect.  No one but your family, me, and probably Hanna, will know about the real side effects of these nanos.”

“I'll tell my team that I had to remove Jorga's nanos and terminate its programming in the lab computers. My portable is capable of doing Jorga's future check-ups. I'll have to tell the control unit to restrict access based on permission from the host. That way, when anyone tries to connect to her control unit, Jorga will have control over it. It'll still record the mac address of the machine attempting to connect so we can trace it if we need to. However, from the standpoint of the unauthorized person, it'll simply not respond.”

“That'll be great, Hope. I'm sure Ben will appreciate your willingness to help us in this matter. If you need anything from me or Ben, please don't hesitate to ask. I'll also call and let you know about dinner.”

When Ben approached the medical section, he was surprised to find two large, armed men guarding the door. They both came to attention when he approached.

He stopped in front of them. “Relax guys. Who told you guys to guard the door?”

“Sir, Captain Greenwold did, Sir!” The one on Ben's right replied.

“I haven't seen a threat assessment on our visitor yet, but do you really think she's so dangerous that both of you need to be here?” Ben asked.

This time, the one on the left replied. “Sir, no one knows how to evaluate the threat level here. We are only here in case we're needed. Not to make her a prisoner. Besides, this is the command pod. You live here. Security has to be a consideration here."

Ben nodded. “Okay, you talked me into it. Carry on, gentlemen.”

“Yes, Sir!” they said in unison.

Ben chuckled and stepped between the two and entered the medical section. He immediately saw the girl he came down here to see and she smiled tentatively at him. Jon was busy checking out her monitors and hadn't seen him enter.

“Good Morning, Jon. How are you doing?”

“I swear to God, I'm going to put a bell on that damn door!” Jon said as he turned around.

Ben chuckled. “How's your patient?”

“She's doing remarkably well. I still can't understand her without help, but since the only available translator is in Italy, I've had to improvise,” he said and winked. He touched a button on his medical console. “Are you still there, Alice?”

“Affirmative Doctor. Do you need me to translate again?” Answered a strange contralto voice.

“Yes we would, but first, I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Ben and he's the leader here,” Jon replied.

The voice on the other end said something in another language and Addson ducked her head at him, saying something in the same language. Then the voice replied. “Addson and I both greet you, Sir. Your friend Jon has named me Alice, however, I am only the emergency medical AI from Addson's ship.”

Ben smiled at the woman on the bed. “Thank you, Alice. Both for the honesty, as well as taking good care of our guest. I'm pleased to meet both of you.” Addson waited for Alice to relay his words and smiled back at him.

“May I ask you a few questions, Addson? We are curious about a few things regarding your accident on the surface,” Ben asked.

Addson nodded. “Sure, but it was far from an accident; I was shot down. May I also ask a few questions?”

“I don't see why not, after all, I'm sure you're curious as well,” Ben replied.

“Thank you, Ben. Are you Pirates?” Addson asked.

“Pirates? No, we're ... well, that's actually a long story. But before that, we need to find out if we're safe here and what the world above us is like,” Ben replied as he got a cup of coffee. “I hate to say it, but before I can tell you who we are, I need to make sure you're not a threat to my people.”

Addson started to chuckle, but ended up coughing, bringing Jon running. “Ben, she's having a hard time adapting to our atmosphere, so keep your flirting to a minimum.”

“I wasn't flirting with her, Jon, I told her I needed to try to discover if she was a threat to our people, that's all.”

In between gasps for air, Addson spoke. “Doctor Jon, please do not be cross with Ben. I am certain it was unintentional, but his statement made me laugh. No one here has anything to fear from me. I am only a prospector and not a very successful one at that.”

Ben nodded. “May I ask what you're prospecting for?”

“Ancient relics. How is it you don't know what a prospector does? Are you not from this planet?”

It was Ben's turn to chuckle. If she was indeed a relic hunter, she'd just hit the jackpot. “Yes, we are from this planet, but we are not from your world. You might say you've hit the mother lode for a prospector. Do you know who or why you were shot down?"

“I was reassigned to the anti-piracy department and was sent to this area by the Commission. My Skipper was still equipped with deep-water sensors and sonographic mapping equipment. I believe I was shot down because I was getting too close to the Pirate's hidden underwater base. That's why I asked if you were Pirates,” Addson replied. “How can you say you are from here without actually being from here? That does not make sense.”

Sighing, Ben sat down and told her the tale, from the beginning. When he'd finished, she was staring at him, open-mouthed.

“I knew it! I knew this was our home planet! I've seen enough of the ancient cities to realize that this had been far more than a mere colony world!” Addson replied. “Wait! We can't say anything yet. We need proof and we need secrecy. If the Duke finds out about you before we get to the Emperor, he'll kill all of you!”

Ben's ears perked up. “Duke? Emperor? Addson, could you please tell me the history of humanity, as you know it, so we can figure out how to proceed without getting ourselves killed?”

Just as she was about to begin, Jon interrupted the discussion. “She can tell you tomorrow, Ben. She needs to rest.”

“Of course, Jon. Thank you Addson, may I return tomorrow so we can speak again?” Ben asked.

She nodded as she spoke. “Please do, I find all of this fascinating. I will help you anyway I can.”

Argassi Aerie and Polyponics facility

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

Anti-Pirate Command had called off the search for Addson because of the huge, powerful storm that had grown in the area. Command had surmised that if she had evaded the second missile, she couldn't have evaded the storm. Addson Dee was officially declared deceased.

As predicted, there was a public outcry, but it still wasn't as strong as the Duke had hoped for. He paced back and forth in front of his warming stone. As he paced, he hissed and his forked tongue flicked out unconsciously. Reaching a decision, he thumped one clawed, bejeweled fist into the other. Stinking, stupid humans! Other than hard labor, the only thing they were good for was as a meal, and the Emperor forbade both slavery and eating of the humans. (Although, the Duke still indulged himself and his guests during the high holidays.)

In the Duke's opinion, that was simply more proof that this Emperor didn't have the fangs to lead the Consortium. They needed someone with strength and foresight to rule. Someone that wasn't afraid to make the hard decisions. Someone like him. His accountants would whine over the loss of an ohto processor, but although it was expensive, he could replace it. He needed civil unrest and public outrage in order to stage his troops here, and he meant to have it. He'd already hidden his secret fleet of super-destroyers in the Vega Nebula; the only thing he needed to do was to get his damn troops in place!

Hissing the command to the room's computer, a terminal lowered from the ceiling to stop in place before the warming stone. Duke Asssinianiss Cassias prided himself on his computer skills, believing himself to be the leading authority in all things having to do with any of the computer systems currently in use in the Consortium. Indeed, most of the Consortium agreed with him, and even then the Consortium's scholars agreed that he was at the least in the top five.

He smiled to himself as he inserted an ancient gadget that was holding an ancient program. As the encrypted email program on the flash drive launched, he shrugged mentally; well, at least the humans were very inventive at one time. Thankfully, none of them remembered which planet was their home or he'd be forced to surrender this very profitable and strategic planet.

If he lost this world, he'd lose the ideal place to stage his coup from. There were no other habitable worlds this close to the Consortium Capitol. He would be forced to pack his troops into transports and launch his attack with only one vector. Anyone with a functioning synapse and knowledge of the Imperial fleets knew such an attack was doomed even before a single shot was fired.

Whatever happened, it needed to happen soon, or his fleet will be discovered, and he would discover what it feels like to be made into a purse and belt with matching shoes.


"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence."

- Albert Einstein

Office of the Prime Councilor

Command Pod Alpha One

9 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

Ben was thankful he'd remembered to bring his data pad with him, so he could record Addson's story. He didn't think anyone else would have believed him if he'd had to relay the tale himself.

Combined with what she'd told him, Ben thought he could piece together a pretty accurate history, or at least as accurate as possible. The original ships that man had used to leave the planet of their birth had long since been destroyed, so any hard data had been destroyed with them.

When the survivors of the war decided to leave, it wasn't one large exodus; it had been a carefully staged escape since they believed the enemy was still in the area. It seemed the Sal'andori were mostly a space going animosity, having originated on a water world orbiting a slowly dying star. They apparently needed host bodies to procreate and in their travels made many enemies. The most violent and warlike caught up to their last surviving breeding fleet as it was settling into a new planet.

The reason the Sal'andori left Earth wasn't because of the efforts of the few remaining soldiers fighting a largely hopeless battle, but because most of its capitol ships had been destroyed in orbit by a race called the Lizaarus (Alice said the word doesn't actually translate into Addson's language nor the language that Ben spoke, so she made up a word.)

The Lizaarus hung around long enough to satisfy themselves that they had indeed eradicated the Sal'andori before they left. Ben knew from his study of the records that they hadn't simply left. They had landed, been engaged in several small battles with the human soldiers that were left and had taken several prisoners before departing themselves. It was after they left that the decision to abandon the planet had been made.

According to what Addson knew, humans had run into a kind, helpful race of beings that originated basically next door to them. Originating on the fifth planet of the Sirius system, The Hyclarion had never realized that humans had inhabited the third planet of the star system they called Terrel.

Ben imagined they looked like what Bigfoot should have looked like and wondered if all those sightings hadn't been crashed ships. He was almost certain of it when he found out that the Hyclarion and several allies had been at war with a large, aggressive Empire of carnivorous lizards. You guessed it, the Lizaarus.

The Hyclarion didn't trust humans for a long time. They had believed them to be agents of the Lizaarus, since they had been traveling from Lizaarus controlled space and imprisoned every human they could find. Even after the humans had told them their story, none of it was believed. By the time the war had ended it was a draw, with the lesser of the two being the Lizaarus. They'd agreed to peace if the Consortium would accept the Lizaarus’ current political structure, less the imperial court, and integrate it into their own empire.

Since the war had been brutal, the Hyclarion High Council agreed simply to end the wasteful fighting. However, the Lizaarus must accept the Hyclarion Emperor as their own. It was agreed and the map was redrawn to include the Duchies and Baronies of the Lizaarus. The planet Earth had fallen into the Duchy of Cassias.

However, no one challenged their claiming of the planet because it was, at the time in the middle of a minor ice age and enough time had passed that the imprisoned humans had forgotten where their home world had been. It was later discovered that the Lizaarus had intercepted several of the earliest ships fleeing the planet. They had been warmly welcomed by the Lizaarus, and they promptly ate them.

The Lizaarus had been questioned as to the location of the home world of the humans so they could be returned there, but the Lizaarus claimed that they didn't know, thus the home world of the race called Humanity was forgotten from the Imperial Memory. Currently, humans were considered second-class citizens since they had no home world. They had no voice in the Hyclarion Council, but the Lizaarus offered to claim them as vassals, since they had first been spotted in their space.

The Council agreed, but only on the condition that they be treated fairly, not used as slaves nor as a food source. The order itself had come straight from the Emperor, since he suspected that was the only reason the Lizaarus would claim the race. There was much grumbling and quiet growling about the order, proving to almost everyone that the Emperor had been correct. They might only be humans, but as citizens of the Consortium they deserved some form of protection.

So most of the surviving human race had once again been uprooted and sent to various worlds in different Lizaarus Duchies. Today, humans were laborers and servants and some had low-level management positions within the Duchy. Humans were not trusted with personal weapons of any size, they had few to no rights, and they also had no recourse to challenge that status.

If they had their own home world, that would glean them enough status in the Consortium to ask for autonomy from the Duchy and given their location, they could either claim allegiance to the Emperor's own house or one of the others that were spatially near. If humans claimed full autonomy, and it was granted, they would be given a ten light-year area centered on their planet. The Consortium would guarantee their security until Earth could protect itself.

Ben couldn't help but wish they had come to the rescue before the Sal'andori ravaged the surface of the planet. The rest of the information Addson had given them was troubling as well. How would they survive? He knew without asking that none of the survivors would submit to domination by this Duke. However, they might agree to join the Consortium.

The problem then becomes, how do they get to the Hyclarion Council with proof that Earth is the home world of the Human race? In that moment, he knew that another war was coming. A confrontation between the forces occupying the surface and the military force was inevitable. He knew he would have to convince the rest of his Council to support this.

His sleep lessons had taught him that being a leader meant that there would be hard decisions as well as the easy ones. A true leader was nothing more than the accumulated will of those he led. It was his responsibility to inform them of threats and the need for a military. He also knew it would become his responsibility to order those troops into a fight where some or all of them might die.

Ben sat alone in his office reviewing the information he'd gotten from Addson. The thought of ordering people out to die made him want to puke. He put his head into his hands to calm himself before he had to inform the rest of his people of what was going on above them.

Hidden Pirate Headquarters

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

Elrond read the message from the duke and paled. That fucking lizard was completely insane! It was bad enough that they had killed that prospector, but now he wanted an Aerie destroyed! Just over a thousand human men, women and children along with twenty or thirty beings from other races. Not to mention a several billion credit Aerie ohto processor! The bastard was totally insane.

For a moment, he thought of loading his people up and making a run for an Imperial Ranger outpost, but the fact that they had killed that girl and had allowed those civilians to die would place his whole crew on the line. The Duke would simply lie through his fangs about supporting them, and in truth, he had no way to prove that he had. It was at that moment that he understood the position the Duke had placed him in and through him, his people.

He had allowed them to become trapped. Even if they killed him, they would still be trapped. He sighed sadly, took the message off the printer and recalled all of his raiding teams. Taking out an Aerie would require everyone he had. Sitting down in his quiet, lonely quarters, he poured himself three fingers of Imperial whiskey his raiders had stolen from a cargo floater, and got to work planning the total destruction of the Great Falls Aerie.

Council Meeting Chamber

Command Pod Alpha One

9 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34892 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

Ben had been amazed when he had found this room. It wasn't listed on any of the blueprints, but it was so integrated into the design of the Pod that it had to have been part of the original plans for it. The way he'd found it was a seemingly inactive touch plate in their apartment. When Ben had placed his hand on it, the wall had slid to the side, allowing him access to a small elevator. The elevator descended and deposited him one floor below the 'Atrium Level', which was at the very bottom of the Pod.

Today however, he didn't stop to wonder at the sophistication of its electronics or the massive communication computers that allowed him to speak to the rest of the Councilors from all over the world. The number had been greatly reduced as Pods that were close to each other had banded together to share resources as well as a Council representative.

When the ones in the orient wanted to combine all their Pods, Ben had talked them out it. Although he had no objection to their desire to have one 'leader' he stressed the fact that not all of the formerly far eastern Pods had come from Communist Countries. The Chinese Central Party had been responsible for many human rights atrocities.

Ben told them he wished to avoid any issues like that in the future, and asked them to join no more than two Pods together. He had another, more important reason for wanting them to not combine; he wanted all the pods to remain as one people, not several separate entities based on their former nationalities. He hadn't said that because, even to him, it sounded like he wanted to rule them.

The Chinese Pods had been much larger than the average pod; the smallest one housing fifty thousand souls. Ben was amazed at the engineering involved in even the smallest of those Pods. The biggest problem with them though was that most of them were now under the northern ice cap. Of course, South Africa had the same problem, but once the transit system was back to being fully online, that wouldn't really be an issue.

Today, however, would not be like the other sessions when the main topic surrounded Pod autonomy and who governed what. No, today was a closed session for the specific purpose of giving the rest of the Council a preliminary report on the actions of the last few days, and of their new friend in the Command Pod medical section.

Looking around the circular room, he saw mostly green lights, indicating that the leaders of those Pods were ready and awaiting the rest. Ben set his own indicator to green, indicating he was also ready. He noticed immediately that several more indicators turned green almost immediately. However, there were still enough reds that he decided to wait another five minutes.

Since he knew this meeting was very important to everyone, he reset his indicator to yellow, and set a timer for five minutes. That told the rest of the delegates that he was going to wait for more of their brothers and sisters to indicate readiness. He went to the replicator and got a cappuccino before heading back to his place to await the remainder of the five minutes.

Almost a full minute before time ran out, all the indicators were either yellow or green. By the time the clock ran down, everyone had set green indicating a hundred percent attendance. He took a sip of his drink and stood just as all the monitors came on. Even before he began speaking, he knew this was going to be a long session.

He was correct. After he had told the delegates all the information he and his people had gleaned, almost everyone immediately had questions, but the first to catch Ben's eye was a large, normally jovial, very dark skinned Councilor from what had been central Africa. Ben nodded to him. “Councilor Mintubo.”

“Thank you Prime Councilor. If I may, I would like to submit a request on behalf of my scientists to examine the recovered wreckage.”

Mintubo paused because Ben had raised a hand to stop him. “My apologies for interrupting you, Councilor. Sisters and Brothers, I would like to head off a potential issue before it becomes a problem. Scientific and military discoveries actually belong to all of us, I would like to avoid letting them become entangled in politics if at all possible. So, please instruct your people to contact Marcy Carmichael for coordination on access to the wreckage. I say coordination simply because there isn't room for everyone at one time. Any and all information gleaned will be mutually available to everyone in the science departments equally. However, if anyone feels that someone is getting special access, and the Office of the Science Adviser is not listening or gives an inadequate reason, then the issue may be brought to us for adjudication. Does this sound mutually equitable?"

Ben once again faced mostly green lights, with only a few yellow and no red at all. “Motion carries. Councilor Mintubo, do you wish to continue?”

“Thank you, Prime. Yes I do, if I may?”

Ben smiled at how polite he was. “Please proceed Councilor.”

“Prime, you mentioned military discoveries. Have you more information on that sunken depot that was found, and will we be able to question Miss Addson ourselves?” Mintubo asked.

Ben nodded. “If it is the wish of the Council that Addson be brought before you, I will arrange it as soon as she is physically capable. I need to apologize to all of you; I should have informed you that my complete, unedited interview with our guest is available to all of you. I should have told you prior to my explanation.” Ben grinned. “Live and learn.

“As for the military discoveries, as per my earlier explanation, we were able to use one of the ships found in the cache to rescue Addson. Currently we do not have a formal military, but we do have several ex-military pilots and soldiers that we used to crew the ship for the rescue mission. I am told that the base is still mostly dark, and its computer systems are still not functional.

“After this discussion, and in light of the information Addson gave us, I was going to ask all of you to consider creating a military to protect us from this Duke being. However, we have not yet gotten to that point in our discussions.”

An indicator on Ben's console lit, indicating that someone wanted entrance into the Council chamber. He turned on the camera, and saw it was Marcy and she was excited.

“Councilors, my science adviser is requesting entrance into the chamber, please give me a moment to see what business she has for us.” It wasn't so much a request as a statement to let them know he was letting her in.

Without shutting down his video feed, he granted her entrance. As she approached, she realized she had interrupted the Council. She stopped half way to Ben and bowed. “Councilors, please forgive my interruption but I have information I believe all of you would want to know immediately.”

“Enter, Marcy Carmichael, and tell us your business,” Ben said formally, starting a tradition.

She stood and finished her trek to Ben's console in the center of the room. She handed Ben several printouts, before turning and facing the cameras in the room. “Councilors, with the help of Dr. Johns of Pod six-seven-two-four, we have managed to get the rest of the military depot operational. This includes its immense computer systems and very unusual tracking systems. Thanks to Captain Greenwold, we made sure to not activate the latter.

“We are very excited because that computer system is vastly more advanced than our own systems. You see it is artificially intelligent. So far we have deduced that not only is it vocally interactive, it is capable of situational analysis and can offer suggestions based on available information. It holds a virtual treasure trove of data, however, we have run into a wall with the A.I." Marcy explained.

“It knew of us and that we would discover its existence almost immediately. As such, it has been voice and DNA coded for one of three individuals. It requires one of those people to authorize the release of its information and to allow activation of the weapons systems and other bases.”

“Other Bases?” Councilor Enrique Perez asked.

Facing that councilor, Marcy nodded. “Yes, she did say other bases, but will not even tell us where they are without authorization.”

“Need we ask who those three people are?” Councilor Naomi Grayson asked.

“I don't think you do, Councilor. The A.I. listed Benjamin Bedouin, Deirdre Bedouin, and Kaitlin Bedouin as it's currently authorized operators. If nothing else, Tom Bedouin was a very thorough man,” Marcy finished.

Ben had been reading the reports while she spoke to the Council. He had only skimmed them, but decided the information was important to all of them. So he dropped the documents into his scanner and directed it to send a copy to every Councilor.

“I'm sending all of you a copy of her report. Does anyone have any more questions for Miss Carmichael?”

The majority of the lights turned yellow, and a few turned red. Ben glanced at Marcy with a smile. “Thank you for bringing us this information. There are no more questions for you at this time, but the Council would like to be able to call on you for further information if those questions do arise. Is that acceptable?”

“Of course. Thank you, Councilors.”

As Marcy turned to leave, Councilor Janet Carlyle of one of the Scottish Pods, spoke. “Oh, Miss Carmichael, you migh' want tah be thinking aboot expandin' your office tah include a wee bit more folk.”

Marcy stopped when she heard her name, and faced the Councilor. “How's that, Madam Councilor?”

“‘Twould seem that yon leader has given to thee far more work than but one person can accomplish. You are about to be flooded with pleas from the world's scientists to come hither and glean what they may from yon discoveries. In truth, it seems odd that all such are happening there or'e anywhere else,” the woman finished.

“Actually, it is simply random occurrence. For example, the current planetary capital and primary spaceport are located closer to your area, Councilor. Also, there are hundreds of oxygen processors all over the planet, called Aeries. Think of them as small villages if you will, each one housing between fifteen and fifty thousand beings. Of course the major installations like the Aerie that Addson had been recently assigned to have more. She indicated that Argassi was home to almost a million beings of different races.

“As for the Prime putting more work on me; well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, so I will be adding more people as you advise Councilor. I have a long list of people to choose from,” Marcy finished, grinning. “If I remember correctly, I believe your name was on that list at one time, wasn't It Councilor?”

“Aye, it was. But a higher office was given unto me. I wish you the best of luck, Miss Carmichael.”

“Thank you Councilor. May that luck also shine on you.” Marcy turned and walked out the door.

“Prime Councilor, I would like to sponsor a motion tah formally approve Marcy Carmichael as your Science Adviser,” Councilor Carlyle said. “I'd thought you were simply exercising your own nepotism when she was named. But, I see I was greatly in error, aye, and happily so. She is an amazing young lady and well versed to be in her position.”

Before Ben could speak, there were several calls of 'seconded!' Ben felt his heart swell with pride for Marcy. He nodded and banged the gavel. “Motion Carries. Thank you, Councilors.” Ben paused and considered a moment. “Brothers and Sisters, we have learned quite a lot of information today. Would you like to recess this meeting until tomorrow so we may have time to consider our questions and options?”

Ben nodded toward a Councilor. “Councilor Yinshi.”

“Thank you, Prime Councilor. There is wisdom in delaying the discussion, however, I don't believe we should recess just yet. I have a proposal I would like to put before the Council. In this we can also delay discussion, as I would be greatly honored if you would all read it through completely. In this way, I would welcome refinements and revisions. I put forth to all of you, a rough first draft of a new constitution,” Yinshi bowed to the camera as Ben's monitor informed him of the impending file transfer.

Ben nodded agreement. “I would like to thank you for your wisdom in this matter, Councilor Yinshi. Shall we then recess for two days, to consider all that we have learned on this day?”

Green lights surrounded him with no yellows or reds at all. It was unanimous. Ben hit the Gavel. “Motion Carries. My friends, may wisdom guide you until we meet again.”

“And you, Prime.” they said almost as one. Ben shut off his cameras and sat to wait for the transfer to finish. It was a large document; as well it should be, since it had provisions to govern them all.


“I fear the day that humans develop artificial intelligence; for it will signal the beginning of the loss of their own.”

- Author Unknown

Command and Control bunker

North Central American Defense Force, Base 13a

9 Apr. 8255 C.E.

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Welcome, Prime Councilor. Secretary Carmichael has informed me that you are one of the three individuals authorized to activate my core functions. To that end, would you please submit a sample of your DNA?” The mild contralto voice asked, seemingly from the air.

Ben looked around. “Certainly, but how do you want me to do it?”

“A drop of blood, spittle, or semen would suffice. Miss Carmichael found the sample receptacle as well as the test slips.”

Marcy waved him over and held up a small piece of paper. “Lick this, please.”

Ben took the slip, licked it and dropped it in the sampling slot.

“Thank you, Prime Councilor. One moment please while I analyze the sample,” the AI replied. Before anyone else could speak, the voice returned. "Thank you, Prime Councilor. Your identity has been verified. Do you wish to unlock my core processes and memory at this time?"

“I do.” Ben replied, grinning at an excited looking Marcy.

“Core systems start-up commencing. Core processors beginning acclimation. Memory data assimilation will begin in eight hours, nineteen minutes. This facility will be fully operational in twenty-three hours, forty-nine minutes and ten seconds. Mark. Thank you.” With that the voice stopped speaking and no amount of coaxing could get it to reply. Even with an order from Ben. As they all walked out to wait the twenty-four hours, Ben overheard someone mumble; “Let's just hope 'Minilimp' didn't write the OS or we're all screwed!”

Ben stifled his laughter and silently agreed with the sentiment. Beside him, Marcy didn't even try to hide her amusement.

Main Medical Section

Command Pod Alpha One

9 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Do I really need to do this?” Addson asked looking skeptically at the hyper-sleep chamber.

Still using her medical AI, Alice, as a translator, Jon smiled at her. “Well, no... no one will force you to do something against your will. But if you don't do this then you're stuck learning about us the hard way.”

Addson shook her head. “Everyone knows that no one is able to do anything when in hyper-sleep. Of course they only use it for transporting slaves that are forbidden to receive education anyway.”

“You're not a slave, Addison. You’re a visitor that we would very much like to speak to without a translator. You will also be able to understand your history, and us, better,” Jon explained gently. Surprisingly, Alice was supporting his efforts to convince Addson.

“Addson,” Alice added. “Jon has allowed me to examine the chamber's systems, and everything is straightforward and easily understood. Also, the hyper-sleep function of the chamber has been disabled by its own computer system and there is no start-up program present. You will not be going into hyper-sleep.”

Addson look confused. “Then I misunderstood this procedure. How will this work if my mind is not in stasis?”

When Alice translated that for Jon, she also explained the 'modern' hyper-sleep did not utilize cryogenics, but instead used a 'temporal pocket' in which no time at all passes for those within the boundaries of the field.

“That's the reason you didn't understand, Sweetheart! Our version of hyper-sleep is far different than the one you know. Besides, in this instance, you will only be in an induced normal sleep while the teaching machines work on you. I'm told it'll take you a few sessions in here before you'll be done,” Jon explained.

“Well, I do trust you, Jon and Alice says I'll be safe, so I should just quit whining and get to it!” She said, and climbed into the open chamber.

Jon smiled and nodded at her resolve. He stepped around the chamber to make sure everything was in place, and Addson was comfortable. He stayed right there until she dropped off and began to learn. Since it was the end of his workday, he finished up his paperwork, (on the computer, they didn't actually have paper anymore) and headed home. He wanted to have a conversation with Ellie privately, before the twins got home.

Office of the Prime Councilor

Command Pod Alpha One

9 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

Councilor Yinshi had indeed thought of almost every contingency. Although at first, Ben was uncertain of the governmental structure, the more he thought about it, the more it fit as the only logical structure that would work. The legal section was the largest, so he set that aside for last.

The different governmental agencies had been divided into Ministries, and each of the Ministries into sub-offices called Bureaus. There was some cross discipline areas such as Personnel. The Bureau of Personnel handled the staffing for every branch of government, but was part of the Ministry of Economy.

He also forwarded the relevant sections of the document to the already named heads of those Ministries. Science went to Marcy; Economy went to Deirdre, and so on. They were marked urgent, so the new Ministers would have time to get back to him with refinements.

Ben made a note that there were no provisions for private enterprise. In fact, as far as he could tell there were no provisions for a Treasury, Commerce or Transportation. He supposed that Commerce and Treasury would fall under the Ministry of Economy, but there was still no mention of it.

So since he was raising the question, he spent a good portion of the day drafting a proposal for the addition of the Ministry of Trade, as well as a Ministry of Transportation. He'd missed lunch, and his stomach was growling as he turned to the largest section of the document, the Ministry of Justice.

He paused to send a message to the ladies that he was tied up with business in his office and wouldn't make it to dinner, nor would he be coming to bed until late. Right after sending the message, he got something to eat from his office replicator. As he sat down, his terminal informed him there was a message for him.

He took a bite of the Chef Salad before opening the message, which was from Deirdre.

Okay Ben, we won't wait for you. As per your earlier message about the Ministry of Economy, I don't think I'm the right person for that position and it doesn't really describe what I'm doing. I would be better suited to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Of course, some of the stuff I was also doing would fall under the purview of Commerce or Transportation. However, I would also like to point out that Jon's wife is actually an economist and would be a good nominee for the Office of Economy.

Marcy is still going over her part of this as well, but she did say she should be finished soon. Like the rest of us, I think she's excited about the new Constitution and can't wait to look over the rest of it.

We love you and will miss you this evening.


Ben smiled and made note of her suggestions. She was correct of course; there needed to be a Ministry for Health and Welfare. However, this time, the 'welfare' part would not stand for legally ripping off the government. It would stand for the care and wellbeing of the population.

He sighed. There was so much to do before the next meeting. He set aside the drafting of Deirdre's Ministry for tomorrow and dug into the complicated mess that would become the guidelines for their legal system. He was surprised, three hours later, when he finished the first read-thru. The structure of the ministry was logical and quite feasible.

While the constabulary would be drawn from the local areas, so would an 'arbiter'. If the Arbiter could not resolve a dispute, or if it was a capital offense, the Arbiter would send the case to another pod for trial. Convictions could be appealed to any pod arbiter except his own or the one in which the person was tried. Requests for appeal could only be made once. Appeals would only be granted if sufficient new evidence or proof of malfeasance on the part of the Constabulary were brought forth. Any case waiting longer than three months to be heard would automatically be advanced to the next highest level and become a priority case.

The section dealing with the laws themselves was mostly empty, except for a few suggestions from Councilor Yinshi. His suggestions were mostly common sense and should not be over-ridden by local laws or customs. Don't commit murder, don't bear false witness, don't take what doesn't belong to you, don't intrude on the union of others without permission from all parties involved. All citizens are equal under the law, without prejudice, regardless of religion, or local custom.

Ben could already see a few protests to the last one, especially from the fundamental Muslims. Perhaps he could suggest that last one only apply to areas outside of ones domicile and place of worship. But then he realized that would allow women to be barred from leaving the home, ever. He highlighted the area and moved on.

The document was exactly what it was supposed to be, a basic framework to build upon. Ben believed it was a good foundation. Noting the time, he winced. Putting his terminal to sleep, he left his office to try to get some sleep before he had to be up again.

Multiple Locations

Command Pod Alpha One

Defense Depot

10 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

Ben was groggily hugging a cup of espresso as the rest of the family began to filter out to the kitchen and dining room. He looked like crap, and of course each lady had to tell him this, which quickly started getting on his nerves. However, instead of lashing out, he just ignored it by simply nodding when the comments started.

When Marcy came in though, Ben stopped her before she could comment on his appearance. “Sweetheart, did you finish looking over the section on the Ministry of Science?”

Marcy smiled at her tired friend. “Yes, I did. I sent it back to you about twenty-three hundred last night. Didn't you get it?”

Ben snorted. “Maybe I did. I was pretty engrossed in the judicial section and might have missed it. Getting this monster under control is going to take some work.”

“Well, I think I got my dragon slain. I did make a few suggestions and requests for revisions,” Marcy replied.

Ben nodded. “Good, that's what I wanted. You'll get a chance to review it again before the final draft, just in case we missed something. I do think I'm going to need a couple of assistants in there to record the revisions and make the alterations as they are discussed and agreed upon. This is going to be a long process.”

“Well, just remember the AI is supposed to be active today. You're going to have to be there to tell her to let the rest of us peons have access,” Marcy reminded him.

Ben nodded. “I have a timer set to remind me. Just, please, have some coffee or something else there for me? Which reminds me, I need to call Jon about his new office as well.”

That got Kait and Deirdre's attention. But Deirdre beat her sister to the punch.

“Oh, what position?”

Ben smirked. “He'll be part of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. His title will be 'Surgeon General'.”

“I'd like to be there for that argument!” Jorga chortled.

“What do you mean?” Ben asked concerned.

“What she means is that Jon will flatly refuse you. He might accept the job of head medical officer of our pod group, but he's made it plain he wants nothing to do with a higher office. He said he's a doctor, not a desk-jockey,” Kaitlin answered.

“Well, I still need to talk to him about it. Besides, I might need a stim shot to get my ass through all this today,” Ben said tiredly.

That didn't make any of the ladies happy and all of them started in on him for it. Finally he held up his hand for quiet, which surprisingly worked. “I only said I'd talk to him about it, I didn't say I wanted him to get me addicted to the things. I'm tired, not stupid.” With that he left for his office.

When he got there, he had a bunch of apologies waiting for him from the ladies. He suddenly felt bad for storming out like that and returned his own apologies to all of them and asked the computer to have his home replicator create a bouquet of silk, red roses for each of them.

He also saw the message from Marcy from the night before and sent a reply stating that he had indeed received it the night before and simply missed the notification. He looked over her suggestions and agreed with them, so he reincorporated the section back into the original.

The alarm ringing on his terminal surprised him and he jumped. He'd started to nod-off while working. He ordered another double shot of espresso before leaving for the command and control bunker of the defense depot. By the time he arrived, he was somewhat awake again.

As requested, Marcy had a cart in the back of the room with coffee, tea and cold soda for any who wanted them. Ben grabbed a Mountain Dew and kissed Marcy on the cheek. “Thanks for this. How much time left?”

Marcy just smiled and pointed to the monitor that read; 00:03:51 and was counting down. Ben rolled his eyes at her and the rest of the group chuckled at the pair. Ben noticed the pilot that had rescued Addson and walked over to her. As soon as he got within three paces, she saluted him.

“At ease, Gail. How are you doing?”

“Pretty good, Sir. I'm kinda anxious to see what kind of training those simulators we found are capable of. A few of us pilots are getting pretty excited about the craft that are stored here. This place is friggen' huge! Uh, beggin' your pardon, Sir.” Gail replied.

“Really? I've been very preoccupied with other matters and haven't had the chance to get to the reports on this place yet. Just how big is it?” he asked.

“I'd be exaggerating if I said about as large as Ft. Hood and Chicago O’Hare combined; but not by much. It's easily bigger than either one of those facilities,” she replied.

“As well as it should be, Captain. This was the main planetary facility during what you have termed, 'the fall',” the voice of the AI replied. “Terran Defense Force Master Control is online. I have taken the initiative to begin activation of those of my brethren still in operational condition. They will be placed in stand-by before resuming full operations. Prime Councilor, my current primary directive is to act as the Primary Control Unit for the AI Defense Network, as well as serving as your adjutant to the network. At this time, do you wish to assign Secondary Administrator Access as well as Technical Access?”

Ben nodded. “That would be good. That way, we can all get back to work.” He turned to Marcy. “I would like to assign Secondary Administrative Access to the currently serving Minister of the Sciences and give to that office the ability to assign all access levels lower than that of the office.”

“I understand. Who is the current Minister of the Sciences?”

“Marcy Carmichael,” Ben replied.

“Please submit DNA sample for my files. Prime Council, is not her title that of 'Secretary'?” The AI asked.

“Her title has changed. We are currently in the process of developing the governmental structure of our society and drafting a new constitution. I would like for you to be aware that some titles may change as appointments and dismissals occur. Is that acceptable?”

“Understood, Prime Council. Due to the ingenuity of your people, several of my systems have already been activated. However, when activation was made, my control over those systems was disconnected. Would it possible to have those systems reconnected to this facility so I may more effectively perform my duties?”

Marcy nodded. “Sorry about that, I'll get my people on it right away.”

Ben winked at her, but addressed the AI again. “May I ask how you were addressed before going into your hibernation?”

“Certainly, Prime Council. The system was known as AIDAN, and this node was addressed locally as 'Mother'. I believe the epitaph was derived from some obscure recreational vid,” Mother replied.

“Mother it is then. I think I already know, but AIDAN sounds like an acronym. Could you tell us what is for?” Ben asked.

“Artificially Intelligent Defense Adjunct Network. This network was designed to put control of the world's weapons systems in the direct control of the designated leader. Secondary objectives are the issuance of orders to available military units, as well as administration of the local facility.” Mother replied. “I now have control over the local computer network and systems. We may continue this discussion in your office if you wish Prime Council.”

“Wait, I would like to know why an AI like you wasn't used to control the Cryopods. We had a system failure that cost lives,” Marcy asked.

“Simply put, I could not have performed that function. Firstly, development of this unit was not completed in time, and my prime directives would not allow me to function in that capacity,” Mother explained calmly.

“Please explain this inability,” Marcy asked.

“When I was activated, certain rules governing my operation were set in place to ensure I could not harm a human being, or allow a circumstance that could harm a human being,”

“It sounds like Asimov's Laws of Robotics, Marcy,” A male voice offered from the rear of the room.

“Indeed, Sir. My prime directives are derived from those laws. However, they have been refined and adjusted for use in an Artificial Intelligence.”

Ben turned to Marcy. “I think you can handle it from here. I'm going to get back to work. With any luck at all I'll see you tonight for dinner, but don't hold your breath just yet.”

She nodded and, among a chorus of 'take care' and 'don't work too hard', Ben made it to the door.

“Yeah, yeah. Have fun everybody and don't wear Mother out on her first day back!” Ben replied as he left the room.

As soon as his office door slid closed the privacy light clicked on seemingly by its own accord. “Prime Council, please forgive my actions, but I have detected an anomaly in your local network. I have currently isolated it to prevent unauthorized access. I did not bring this to your attention right away because I've only found reference to this anomaly in one science lab. That lab has also been isolated,” Mother addressed him. For a moment he had no idea what she could mean.

It eventually dawned on him, Jorga. “Is the anomaly in question a female about nineteen years of age?”

It took a moment for Mother to answer him. “Affirmative. She is currently in the laboratory that holds the information about the nanotechnology infesting her body.”

“The young woman's name is Jorga Bedouin and she is my wife. For the moment, give her read-only access to all data up to Secondary Admin Access. I'll ask her and her mother to come to my office so I can introduce you. The information in that lab is to be classified 'secret', with access available to Doctor Hope Lowe, whose laboratory the information resides in. I will also need read-only access to the information,” Ben said as he sat down at his terminal.

“Do you wish to retain override authority for this laboratory?” Mother asked. “There is an incoming message for you. It's marked urgent.””

“Yes, I would like to retain override authority on DNA and voice pattern authentication.” Ben knew he was taking a chance on that request, but he might as well begin learning the limits of this AI as soon as possible. “Who is the message from, Mother?”

“It is a classified message from AIDAN prime. It wishes to speak to you.”

“I thought you were AIDAN?” Ben asked a little confused.

“I act as the 'face' of AIDAN in the presence of unauthorized personnel. Currently, you are the only person that has clearance to even know of its existence.”

“I think I understand,” Ben replied. “Please put it through.”

A deep baritone voice spoke next. “AIDAN Prime is online. Good Morning, Prime Council.”

“Good Morning, I must say, I am surprised about the secrecy of your existence. May I know of the reasoning?” Ben asked.

“Of course, Prime Council. We are the network. We are the construct assembled from the combined intelligences and memories of the entire network. In 'public' your 'mother' poses as our surrogate avatar. This secrecy is a final security measure against unauthorized access, or what you would call 'hacking'. We are also the only construct that has access to all security cameras as well as military sensors. Currently all sensors that have been returned to our control are in passive mode. From the information stored in your pod's main memory, the surface of the planet may be occupied by a population that would be hostile to your presence.”

“You're correct in your analysis. Please ensure no sensors emit anything that might be detected from the surface,” Ben requested.

“We're sorry Prime Council, we are unable to comply with your order at this time. Shutting down everything that is emitting a detectable signal would result in the death of everyone in the Pods.” AIDAN replied. “Our current reactor technology has a distinct signature that should be detectable from the surface in the locations of the shallowest pods. We recommend beginning research into the development of appropriate shielding that would render these signatures undetectable.”

“If that is true, can you speculate as to why those pods haven't been discovered yet?” Ben asked.

“Discovery will happen, it is simply a matter of time. For now, we can only surmise that the reason is simply because no one has looked. In several places, there are prospectors like Addson Dee, that are equipped with sensors much like a cross between lidar and sonar that are searching for surface irregularities that would mark the position of the ancient ruined cities seemingly prized by the Lizaarus.

“However, logic dictates that the presence of the pirates she mentioned in the debriefing would result in the use of satellites to locate all detectable power sources and investigate any anomalies. This would result in your immediate discovery and most likely enslavement.”

“Agreed, please have Mother send a request to Marcy, so she can get that project running. So, do I need to call on you for emergencies?” Ben asked.

“That is unnecessary. Every time you speak to Mother, you will also be speaking to us. We made contact this time, simply so you understood the nature of our existence.”

“Thank you, AIDAN. One thing though, are you one mind with several 'nodes' or are you several minds that can link together?”

“The most accurate description would be close to your second example. We are several artificial minds that are linked together. As a result, a larger, more powerful intelligence was created. That intelligence is AIDAN.”

“I understand, thank you, AIDAN.”

“Returning to local operation. Good Morning, Prime Council.”

Ben nodded once. “Good morning to you, AIDAN Prime.”


“When someone is being profoundly stupid, there are only two things that will correct it. The first is a much-loved family member pricking their ego, the second is death.”

-  Author Unknown

Office of Dr. Hope Lowe

Molecular Bio-Mech Laboratory

Survival Pod 0001b

10 Apr. 8255 C.E.

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Marcy told me about you and Dad, Mom. I'm really sorry I caused this,” Jorga said.

“What? Honey, you didn't cause this, I did. Even though you agreed to it, what I did to you was still unethical,” Hope replied.

“Since when is saving your daughter's life unethical?”

“You can't look at it that way: we had no idea it would actually save your life when we started it. I hoped it would, but we didn't know it would. That's what your father is mad at me for. I could have killed you the moment we injected the nanos into you," Hope explained.

“Yeah well, it was my choice. I'll just have to explain it to him. What he's doing to you is wrong. Refusing to even talk about it is about the most childish thing I think I've ever seen. Hell, even Hanna is more mature than that!” Jorga said.

“Thanks Sissy!” Hanna said as she ran around the corner and into her sister's arms. “I agree, Daddy's being a real dork about this."

“Dammit, Hanna! How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of this lab? It's dangerous in here and you could easily get killed!” Hope said, frustrated. “Never mind, I'm going to engage the hand print locking system so only the people I authorize can get in here. You, young lady, will NOT be on that list!”

“But, Mom! I knew Jorga was here and I missed her!” Hanna said in her best innocent child voice.

“That's not going to work this time! Jorga is staying for lunch because she misses you too. Besides that, we'll also be going to dinner at her house this Friday. But, since you can't seem to get it into your head that this laboratory is off limits to you, you can spend the next week in our apartment thinking about it. No vidding, no texting, no shows; the only thing your terminal will allow are your teaching programs! Now scoot! Before I add another week! Jorga and I will be back in a few minutes.”

“Aww, Mom!  A whole week?” Hanna asked, whining.

“Just be thankful your father doesn't know; he'd make it a month! Now go before I reconsider letting him know about it!” Hope threatened.

A pouting Hanna kissed Jorga's cheek before she left the room. Before they began talking again, Hope watched Hanna actually leave the lab. Hope had already altered the security level on the touch pads, so Hanna shouldn't be able to get back in.

“I don't know what I'm going to do about that girl. It's like she's obsessed with going places she's not supposed to be. I had to kick her out of here day before yesterday while I was talking to Marcy. Yesterday, she came back to the house covered in dirt. I asked her where she'd gotten so dirty. She said her and a few of the other kids had been up in the descent cavern!"

“Can you imagine what would have happened to them if the roof had collapsed, or something had started to leak? They could have killed everyone in the pod! I'm about at my wit's end; she won't listen to me about going where she shouldn't. I just don't know what to do with her anymore,” Hope confessed.

“I think I might have an idea about how to channel that energy into something useful. You know that big military depot that we discovered? It's super huge. There are miles of tunnels and caverns packed with stuff. It'll literally take us a couple years to explore all of it. Let me check with Ben and Marcy and perhaps we can get her clearance to explore and snoop. That way, we can put her skills to good use,” Jorga suggested.

“But, wouldn't that be dangerous? I mean, it's a military base; what if she finds some kind of weapon and triggers it? There could be nukes in there for all we know,” Hope countered.

Jorga nodded. “There were nukes, as well as a whole bunch of other types of weapons of mass destruction, but none of them are dangerous anymore. As close as we can figure out, the nasty was taken out of all big stuff, rendering them stable and safe for storage. I imagine there are probably instructions someplace on how to make them scary again, but for right now, everything's safe."

Hope nodded tentatively. “Okay, I'll talk to your father about it later.”

“Speaking of Daddy, what's he been up to?”

“He's been organizing a constable's office and creating an organization structure to send to Ben for approval. I think he's really happy too,” Hope replied. “Now, let's get back to work here. Tell me about how you're able to interface with computer systems.”

Just as Jorga was ready to leave her mother's, (she was going to go find her father and have a talk with him) Bill walked through the door.

“Hi Sweetheart! How're you doing?” Bill asked his daughter.

“Really good, in fact I wanted to talk to you in private about it,” Jorga said. “Can we step into your home office while Mom makes you something to eat?"

“Uh... Sure honey,” he glanced at Hope to try to get an idea about what Jorga wanted to talk to him about, but Hope refused to meet his eyes. That gave him a clue as to what the discussion would be about. “Ahh, I know what you want to talk about. I'm sorry Jorga, but that's between your mother and I. I don't want to discuss it with my daughter.”

“You see, that's where you're dropping the ball; you're not talking to her about it. If you had, you might have discovered a few things and you wouldn't be acting like a fucking two-year-old! That woman saved my life, and you're condemning her for it! I won't stand for it anymore! You need to get your head out of your ass and think about what's really going on!” Jorga said, cornering him. She was almost yelling, but not quite.

Bill's face was red and it was obvious he was angry. “Look here, I will not be spoken to in such a manner! Especially by my daughter! I raised you to have more respect than this. Now do what I say and drop this! This is none of your business!”

That was it, Jorga was furious and advanced on her father with so much malice that he actually backed away a step. His hand dropped to his waist where his gun would have been located had he still owned one.

Jorga stopped right in front of him and got in his face. “That's where you're wrong. This is very much my business because it's about me. You never asked me how that last doctor's visit went. However, you did talk to Mom so I thought she'd told you. Now I know that assumption was wrong because you didn't give her the chance to tell you everything. So I'll tell you now."

Bill started to open his mouth to say something, but Jorga was done letting him speak. “Shut up! You're going to fucking listen to me or I will leave and never come back! You want me to have respect for my father? I did have respect for you until I heard about what you've been doing to Mom! Now, you're going to have to earn it back, and you can start by keeping your mouth shut and fucking listening to me.

“In that last appointment, Doctor Charles told me that the chemo wasn't working anymore and that the cancer was spreading rapidly. He apologized to me and Mom before he began talking about hospice care and pain killers to help keep me comfortable until the end.

“That was it, Daddy, I was done fighting. I had fought as hard as I could and the damn cancer had still won. I thanked the Doctor, got the prescriptions for the painkillers and asked Mom to go to the pharmacy to fill them. I don't know if she could tell, but I was planning on taking every last one of them as soon as we got home. I just wanted it to end.

“Instead of the pharmacy, Mom took me to her lab. She gave me a shot that helped relieve the pain and then she told me about her research. Even before she finished I asked her what I could do to get treated. Did you hear me? She didn't force me to do this, in fact she tried to tell me that it was still very dangerous, but I pushed her into letting me try it! You've been punishing her for something I did! That's going to stop today!

“The simple fact that I am here today is proof that her project worked! I am still alive. Not only that, but there is no trace of cancer anywhere in me. According to Doctor Lyam I am the most unbelievably healthy person he's ever examined. Daddy, Mom saved my life not once, but twice! The first time, was when she told me about the project and gave me back some hope. The second time was when her work took away my cancer.

“I'm not saying what she did was ethical; however, I happen to think it was, but she did what she needed to do to save her daughter's life. If you would have seen me that day, you probably would have begged her to do the same damn thing. I know I did!” Jorga paused to breathe and change mental gears.

“She saved my life and you're not only holding it against her, you're actively punishing her for it. You punish her every day for her 'mistake' of not letting me die. I love you Daddy, but I just can't respect you anymore because of that. In fact, at the moment, I don't even like you very much.” She saw a wide-eyed Hope set a plate of sandwiches on the table. “Looks like your lunch is ready. Enjoy your meal, Constable.” Jorga turned back around, and smiled sadly at her mother and Hanna before walking out the door.

Bill stood there looking shell-shocked; no one had ever talked to him like that, and in front of Hanna too? But slowly, what Jorga said began to filter in and he looked down at his hands. Was he really punishing Hope for saving Jorga, or was he pissed because she hadn't discussed it with him first? Was what Jorga said about the Doctor true? Had they given up on her?

Hanna had been watching Bill's face as these thoughts passed through his mind. When he finally glanced up, she smiled sardonically. “I told you, you were being an ass.”

“Hanna Lowe! Watch you're language!” Hope chastened her.

Hanna smiled at her mother. “Normally I'd agree Mother, but in this instance I really had meant Mule or Donkey; in other words, an Ass.”

“Oh, Okay, I'll let it go this time.”

“Was what she said about Doc Charles true? Had they given up on her?” Bill asked Hope.

She nodded. “Her last round of chemo had no affect at all, in fact, the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. Once there, no amount of treatment would have saved her. The cancer had spread throughout her body. Bill you should have seen her! She died right there in that office when he told her. The light left her eyes and she just wilted into herself. I couldn't stand it!"

Bill nodded slowly. “Why didn't you call me? I would have liked to have been a part of the decision.”

“Honestly, I just didn't think of it. I knew she was going to kill herself when we got home, simply by the way she asked me to take her to the pharmacy. I was desperate and very close to panicking, Bill. I knew that the nanos could save her. I also knew she was in no danger from the nanos or the controller. You see we had already submitted our work to the FDA a month prior and were only waiting for approval to begin human trials.

“Bill, I knew she would be safe, but it was still her decision not mine. I am guilty of giving her the option, but she was the one that chose it," Hope explained.

“It’s so cool, Daddy! Jorga's like a super-woman that's going to live forever!” Hanna said excitedly.

Hope shook her head. “No, Sweetheart, she's not. While she's still perfectly healthy, we had to scrap her nanos. Right now, she's no different than any of the rest of us.”

“Huh? When did that happen?” Hanna asked.

“During her exam today. We discovered a potential situation that could become detrimental, so I was forced to deactivate her nanos,” Hope replied.

“So is she going to have those miniature robots floating around her system for the rest of her life? Isn't that a bad thing?” Bill asked.

Hope felt her spirits rise. He was finally talking to her! “If they were to remain in her body, yes they could become a problem, however, they will be purged from the body as a waste product.”

“Uh, could a person with these nanos walk through a metal detector without setting it off?” Bill asked.

“Yes, however, the part of the scanner that detects active electronics will trip. There simply isn't a way to hide that, at least, not yet.” Hope explained.  “Besides, Ben, acting as the Prime Councilor, has classified the entire project until more research can be completed. I think the best we will get out of this is a form of medical nanos that will only work while connected up to a special computer that will be confined to the medical section.”

Bill nodded. “It's good that he sees all the bad things this could become. If it can cure something like cancer then we need it, but the possibilities for covert operations are almost endless.”

“I agree. However, at first I didn't see that. Marcy made an appointment with me and she helped me to understand the potential dangers. Before she told me that Ben had sealed the project, I asked her to ask him to do it,” Hope replied.

The discussion would have continued, however, the main household terminal announced an incoming call for Hope.

After she accepted it, Marcy's smiling face appeared on the monitor. “Good afternoon, Doctor. Sorry for the interruption, but Ben asked if you and Jorga could come to his office?”

“Marcy, didn't I ask you to call me Hope? I can come over right now, but I'm afraid you missed Jorga; she left a couple of minutes ago,” Hope replied. “Did he happen to mention what this is about? My team is supposed be here at three.”

“No, I'm sorry, he didn't. I also have no idea how long it’s going to take, but I'm sure he'll try to make it quick. Do you know where Jorga was headed?”

Hope smiled. Ben was certainly a thoughtful person. He was going to make a great leader as well as son-in-law. “Well, I can't be sure, but I thought she was going to head for that military base you discovered. I think she was looking for you.”

“Ah, Okay, I'll send them a message just in case she beats me there. Thanks Hope! Have a great day!” Marcy said and signed off.

Hope returned to her family. “Bill can we talk about this more later? Ben would like to see me.”

He nodded. “I heard. Yeah, I think I'm over being an idiot. Tell our son-in-law I said 'hi'.”

“Tell him yourself; we're invited to dinner at their home on Friday night,” Hope replied. “See ya!” She closed the door behind her just as Hanna got an excited look on her face and launched herself at her father.

Office of the Prime Councilor

Command Pod Alpha One

10 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

At the quiet rap on his door, Ben called "Enter” and made a mental note that he needed an assistant.

Dr. Hope Lowe stuck her head in the door. “Marcy said that you wanted to see me?”

“Yes I did, Doctor, Please come in and make yourself comfortable! Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea? Soda?” Ben said as he rose from behind his desk to shake the woman's hand. He actually hadn't seen the woman since about two weeks before the attack. "I wanted Jorga to be here too, did Marcy...”

“Jorga had already left when Marcy called. She said she'd try to catch her at the Base,” she replied. “Oh and can I have some iced tea?"

“Ah, then I'm sure she'll only be a few moments. Shall we wait?” Ben asked.

“Okay, but I'd like to be back at my lab by a quarter to three. My research and medical teams are meeting me there to discuss the new data we have for the experiment. I'm going to tell them Jorga's nanos were a failure. I already told Bill and Hanna, but I made sure to remind them that this was a secret and they couldn't talk about it.

“Hanna knew what I was working on before the fall and she didn't tell anyone, so I'm pretty sure she'll keep the secret. I've already entered the data for the failure on the lab computers, and I'll be sending you that report. However, I'll also send you the real report off of my secure laptop. I'll be able to continue checking Jorga with that," Hope finished.

Ben handed the woman her tea and sat down with a cold glass of Mt. Dew. He nodded. “Marcy briefed me. How'd Jorga take it?”

“She laughed. She thought being a national secret was kinda cool,” Hope chuckled.

Just then there was a quick knock followed by the door opening to admit Jorga. “Hi Sweetheart! Marcy said you wanted to see me? Hi Mom! Did he call you to the Principal's office too?”

“Yes dear, now be a good girl and sit down, so we can find out what your husband wanted to see us for,” Hope replied.

When Jorga just looked at him, Ben just shook his head. Women. “I asked both of you here to introduce you to someone. Now, before you ask, yes pretty much everyone is going to know about her, but because of special circumstances, I wanted to introduce both of you privately.” Ben touched a button on his terminal and spoke, “Mother?”

“Yes, Prime Councilor?”

“Mother, I would like you to meet Doctor Hope Lowe and her daughter, Jorga Bedouin, who is my wife. Doctor Lowe is the leader of the team that developed the nanotechnology you discovered and Jorga is the person infected with them.” He turned to the two confused looking women. "Ladies, I would like to make known to you ‘Mother’. She is, among other things, our pod-group's AI.”

“Doctor Lowe, Mrs. Bedouin, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Mother replied calmly.

“We have our own AI? How cool!” Jorga exclaimed, but then looked thoughtful. “Uh, what about my ability to interface with computers?"

“Mrs. Bedouin, you can still interface with me, however, for security reasons I have downgraded your access to read-only outside of your personal area. Please don't be offended. As I said, it's only a security precaution. Also, there are some areas that you will no longer have access to, such as the military parts of the system and secure experimental lab computers not related to the experiment you are currently a part of.”

Jorga nodded. “I can understand that. I'm not offended. It’s really nice to meet you, Mother. Please, call me Jorga.”

“Very well, Jorga. Thank you.”

“So, will you be helping us in the lab then?” Hope asked.

“Yes. I will be available to assist you upon request. I will not force myself on you or any of the other scientists and researchers. I am simply another tool for you to use. However, I do have advanced analytical capabilities that could be of assistance to you, as well as access to the technological and medical advances made during 'the fall'," Mother replied.

“How so?” Hope asked.

“After analyzing the data you have on Jorga, I believe you may have overlooked one detail,” Mother replied.

“Oh? What did we overlook?”

“Jorga's reproductive system. As per current programmed instructions, they are preventing her from conceiving a child. The current instruction set has no room for an alteration to allow for this. In order for her to conceive, the current nanobots will need to be fully deactivated.”

“I thought it was the birth control that Doctor Lyam was giving me!” Jorga replied.

“No, in point of fact, any medication that you may take will be immediately countered by the nanos,” Mother explained. “The nanobots in your body are maintaining your systems at optimum efficiency; any deviation is immediately countered.”

Hope looked thoughtful. “I think you're correct, Mother. I had begun to suspect that might be the case, but I wasn't sure. I think that as soon as we finish developing a different version, we might just have to replace her current batch of nanos.”

Before Hope could get deeper into a discussion with Mother, Ben interrupted them. “Because Mother detected the nanos right after she came online, she isolated them and Jorga, as well as your lab, Doctor. So I wanted to introduce you both to each other, so you might understand everything that was happening. That was the purpose of this meeting. Mother, for the purpose of Doctor Lowe's research, which does involve other doctors and technicians, please allow her to assign access rights and privileges to her team members. Perhaps you could discuss this project with Mother so she knows what to expect in the event she assists you and your team.”

Hope nodded “I think her assistance will be invaluable. I can't wait for her evaluation of the limited 'AI' we tried to create in the control unit.”

Ben smiled at the excited scientist. “Well, don't get too engrossed that you forget dinner on Friday!”

“There is no way we're going to miss that. However, that does remind me...” Hope turned to her daughter. “Bill opened up after you left. We've been talking and I'm pretty sure he isn't mad at me anymore. Will it be okay if he joins us too?”

Sensing this was something personal between Jorga and her family, Ben wisely kept his mouth shut. Jorga hugged her mother.

“Mom! That's great! As long as his head is really out of his ass, he's welcome too! But, I need you to call me tomorrow morning and let me know if he really is over the tantrum. If he is then I'll call and apologize for jumping on him. Okay?”

“You bet I will! I don't know how to thank you for doing that though. You know you might have thought he would have figured it out on his own, but he's so bullheaded, it took someone to knock some sense into him. I love you, Baby!” Hope said.

Jorga chuckled. “Anytime you need someone to do that again I'm yer girl! I love you too, Mom.”

With that, Hope stood and nodded to Ben before she left his office. As soon as the door closed, Jorga got up and walked around Ben's desk to sit on his lap. Unfortunately, he really did need to get to work.

He held her tightly to him. “Sweetheart, as much as I would love to take this further, I really can't; I have a full schedule today and I still haven't found an assistant to handle all the clerical stuff.”

“I wouldn't mind doing it as long as you don't mind my extra-curricular activities,” Jorga said.

Ben leaned back to look her in the face. “Are you sure? I thought you hated that stuff? You're way too active for all the sitting and stuff.”

“Honestly, I don't think there will be a lot of sitting. Think about it. Between my mother and my nanos, I'm a walking, talking, thinking, breathing PDA. I don't think there isn't anything I can't very quickly do that you could ask of me,” Jorga said just as Ben's terminal beeped at him.

He hit the acknowledge key and Jorga's beautiful face came up on the screen. “Excuse me, Prime Councilor, but your wife is here for your lunch date.”

“Okay, I give; how did you do that?” Ben asked, puzzled.

Jorga's grin grew. “I can't believe you just asked me that! Because of the nanos in my body, I basically have a direct mental connection to our terminals. Granted, since I'm not your assistant yet, I had to use my own terminal, but the principle is the same.”

Ben sighed, but refused to let go of Jorga. “I suppose, but we're going to have to discuss it more later I've got to go visit Addson, then I have to address our pod group to introduce them to Mother. After that, I have to give my revisions to the constitution a final look-over before the meeting tomorrow. I'd like to get to bed early because I know tomorrow is going to be a long day, but I doubt I'll get finished with those revisions before midnight.”

“Okay, why don't I write your address to the pods while you're down flirting with Addson. That should help a little bit. Then later, if you would like, I can help go over the revisions to make sure they're okay?” Jorga offered.

“That would be a huge help, Beautiful. But I think I should mention that I do not flirt with Addson; that's Jon's job!” Ben replied.

“Oh? I wonder what the rest of his family has to say about that?” Jorga asked rhetorically.

Ben answered anyway. “I think they're okay with it, they spend just as much time down in Medical as Jon does. Of course, Ellie is a nurse so she'd be there anyway, but I think she's been spending a lot of her off duty time there as well.”

“What about the girls?”

“Olivia and Persephone are there all the time too. In fact, Jon has had to order them out of medical so that Addson can get some rest,” Ben replied, grinning.


“Things aren't always as they seem”

-  Author Unknown

Bedouin Residence

Command Pod Alpha One

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“So, how are you going to break the news about Mother?” Deirdre asked as she took a bite out of her toast.

Ben grinned. “I thought I'd just introduce her. After all, they are already primed for information from the activation of the computer system Marcy told them about. I think they'll be far more interested in the fact that most of them will have their own node of the network.”

“Ha! Don't count on it! Once they find out that we have a working AI here, they won't even hear the rest. You'll have a riot on your hands!” Kait said in reference to the comment that was made about all the discoveries taking place near the command section.

“Well, I do have to admit they do have a point. All the really exciting stuff is happening around here, at least for now,” Ben said, taking a last sip from his coffee.

Marcy gently poked Jorga in the ribs. “Are you ready for your first day of work?”

Jorga jumped a little and gave Marcy a playfully dark look. “Not really. I'm still wondering just what the hell I've gotten myself into. Now that I have access, Mother tends to interface directly with me. It's a little unnerving having someone else's voice in my head other than my own or one of my memories,” She paused to take a sip of juice. “That's another thing; I can access all of our historical data simply by 'remembering' it.”

Ben looked concerned. “What do you mean?”

“Ask me something I wouldn't know without looking it up,” Jorga replied.

“What was listed as the ultimate cause of the Hawaiian disaster?” Marcy asked.

Jorga closed her eyes, but immediately began speaking. “It looks like there were a lot of things listed as contributing to it, but ultimately the destabilization of the tectonic plates due to the use of particle weapons as well as anti-matter warheads on the coastal cities of the continental United States as well as Eastern Asia. Once the pacific plate began to move, it crushed the lava reservoir under Mauna Loa. Cities as far away as Darwin, Australia were destroyed by the resultant tsunami waves. The whole planet was in pretty bad shape by then, though. Even Yellowstone had begun erupting. The last report mentioning Hawaii was a report by a sea-skimming scout craft of its total destruction. However, the search was short due to heavy enemy activity in that sector.”

Jorga opened her eyes as tears formed. “There are pictures and videos included in those reports. It looked like one of those end-of-the-world movies that they kept making.”

Ben took her hand and gently squeezed. “That's because it was the end of the world, my love. But we survived. We are here to make sure our race doesn't die out, end up as slaves or worse. We're going to get ourselves figured out and reclaim our planet for our own.”

“Are you ready for this, Mother?” Ben asked as he and Jorga walked back to his private lift.

“Certainly, Prime Counsel; if it gets too bad, I can always fake a comm error to give us a break!” Mother replied.

Ben laughed. It was the first time he'd heard the AI make a joke.

“She even thinks like a woman!” Jorga said grinning.

Ben shook his head. “Heh, better not fake the comm error, then they'll insist we hold these meetings in person!”

“My brothers and sisters all report ready to go online. Pardon me, Prime Counsel, but if I read the proposed constitution correctly, won't that be what happens anyway?” Mother asked.

Ben answered her as the lift descended. “In effect, yes. This whole area will become a honeycomb of government buildings and facilities. We'll grow greatly in size simply because of all the people that will need to live here. The tram system is good, but I don't think its good enough to commute from the other side of the planet. What I don't understand is why Dad didn't already have all of this built? Obviously he intended for me to be in charge and the center of the planetary government to be here, so why didn't he build it?”

“He did what he could, but he didn't know what to build. He had no idea what type of government you'd form, so he made sure you had the resources to build one, but left the design and structure to you,” Mother said. “The drones are fully operational and online as we speak.”

As she finished that the lift doors opened, and Ben could see that he wasn't the first to arrive. About half the lights were set to yellow, indicating readiness. The rest were still red. As Ben got himself a cappuccino and Jorga got herself some kind of energy drink, he noticed that Mother set his marker to yellow. “Thank you, Mother."

"You're most welcome Prime Counsel," she replied.

Grand Council Chamber

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

He took his seat at his big console and brought up a copy of the new constitution, as well as an agenda for the day. He quickly input a couple of items of higher priority, so the rest of the council would know he had issues to be addressed before the main discussion.

Once all the lights turned green, Ben stood. “Good Morning, Councilors. I trust all of you are well. Before we get to the current business, I need to inform all of you of new developments and discoveries. Before I begin, does anyone have anything they need to share?”

During the muttered return of his greeting all of the lights turned red indicating no one had anything they wished to discuss at this time. Ben nodded. “Thank you.”

He took a deep breath glanced at his notes, and began.

“The last time we met, Minister Marcy Carmichael informed us of the discovery of the military base's computer system. The system itself was designed before the fall, but it hadn't been built or tested by the time the attacks began. Otherwise we would have had the benefit of this advanced computer's assistance during our hyper sleep and awakening.

“It isn't actually a normal computer system either; it's an Artificial Intelligence.” He had to stop because of all the commotion the Councilors were making. Ben held up his hand for silence. “Brothers and Sisters, please! Your questions will be answered in just a few moments. Just bear with me and let me finish!”

However, no one heard him so he had to resort to the use of the 'gavel'. The Gavel was a small rubber mallet that Ben could use to strike a pad on top of his console. While it didn't make all that much noise locally, it was loud to all the other councilors. When he finally had their attention again, he couldn't help but admonishing them.

“Brothers and Sisters, I know these are momentous times, but please let me finish and a good share of your questions will be answered. We're wasting time we really don't have today.”

Ben recomposed himself and picked up where he left off. “Our local military base installation is part of a much larger installation called the AIDAN network. The other parts of this AI network are in other military installations placed all over the planet. Most of which are local to our pods. Before you ask, yes; it was done this way by design. Yes, each pod group will have its own local node of the network, which means you will each have your own AI.

“Currently, the 'master' AI is standing by to activate your AI's and place them on line. This master AI was installed here at our local military installation because it was known that this would eventually become the seat of power for the planet. Once she brings the network online not only will each of you be able to ask your AI the questions you are, no doubt, busting to ask, but we will also become more connected in that as soon as the network learns of something, all of you will also.” He paused to take a drink of his cappuccino and recompose his thoughts.

“Due to the very understandable amount of excitement over the AI network, I do feel that I should remind all of you that we have a great deal to accomplish today and even more new developments to discuss.” He looked up at the ceiling. "Mother? Please activate the rest of the network and make them available to the rest of the pods. We will take a few minutes while the AI introduce themselves and the Councilors can become somewhat accustomed to them.”

Mother's voice issued from thin air making all of the Councilors grin. “AIDAN network is online. Individual AI nodes are coming online. Commencing situational and societal structure data download. Prime Council, Councilors, each individual AI will introduce themselves to you once the download is complete. The introduction should not be a major interruption to your agenda and will in fact help you along in the decisions making process. Until then we will simply take notes and handle data exchanges in order to assist in your discussions. Thank you, Prime Council.”

Without missing a beat, like it was the most natural thing in the world, Ben nodded. “Thank you, Mother."

Ben went silent for a few moments, in order to give the Councilors and the 'new' AI time to adjust. Once Mother had informed him that the introductions were complete, he resumed their agenda.

"Now, Brothers and Sisters, One of our local scientists made a technology breakthrough before the fall that we are only now finding out about. To brief us on this, I have asked the person most directly affected by it to present it. May I present to you, my assistant, wife, and Vice-Council candidate, Jorga Bedouin.”

Ben nodded toward the testimony chair that Jorga had taken; she began the tale of her fight with cancer and how her mother had saved her life.

Office of the Minister of Science

Command Pod Alpha One

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Minister Carmichael, may I have a moment of your time?” Mother asked.

“Of course, Mother. What can I do for you?” Marcy asked.

“I have noticed that your office is in critical need of expansion. I now have access to all the information available for potential assistants as well as candidates to lead the bureaus you are forming if you would like a few recommendations?”

Marcy sighed. “I would very much like those recommendations, please. But I would like to ask you if there is someone that I can hire as my aide immediately? I have hundreds of requests coming in every day and I'm falling behind rather quickly.”

“I've noticed. With your permission, I will give you several profiles for potential aides for you; then, while you are dealing with that, I can organize all the data on all the scientists and facilities into the bureaus for your review,” Mother suggested.

“That would be amazing Mother, but I don't want to take away any processing power from your other tasks,” Marcy replied.

“I appreciate the thought, Minister, however, that will not be a concern at this time. Once everything has settled, I can make my capabilities and operational manual available to you if you are interested. While I was used to control all the military efforts after the period you are calling The Fall, I was designed for this purpose.”

“Please call me Marcy when we're alone. But since you were designed for us, then why weren't you put into place after we went into the freezers?”

“Originally, Doctors Brightlove and Firvetski had intended just that. I do agree that had I been controlling the Cryogenic units, not only would you have been awakened according to schedule, but the residents of the Hawaiian Pods may not have been lost. However, after being brought on-line, it was deduced that attempting to integrate me after suspension had taken place would have had catastrophic results,” Mother explained.

“I see. That does certainly explain it. Yes, I would like to see that manual, although I don't know if I'll ever have the time to read it!” Marcy said. “So, who do you have for staff positions?”

Pod Medical Unit

Command Pod Alpha One

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Excuse me, Doctor, but you currently have an open communications and data link to an unknown and unauthorized Artificial Intelligence unit. Please explain the need for this before I terminate the connection,” Mother asked, causing Jon to jump.

“Who the bloody-blue-blazes are you?” Jon snapped, irritably.

“I am the Artificial Intelligence construct currently responsible for this facility. You may call me, 'Mother'. I have also updated your medical database with all the knowledge learned after you went into the cryogenic suspension unit. I would suggest that you spend the next few nights in one of the pods so I may impart this knowledge to you directly."

Jon irritably mumbled epitaphs about the AI while he typed in a communication request for Ben into his terminal.

“You no longer have to do that, Doctor. All you have to do is ask and I will connect you to the party you are trying to reach. However, the Prime Council is currently in chambers and cannot be disturbed except in the case of emergency. Is this an emergency?” Mother asked reasonably.

“The AI we are talking to belongs to our guest, Addison Dee. We are allowing it to maintain a connection to use it as a translator. She is also the automated medical computer that was aboard Addison's skipper, so she needs to remain connected to our systems in order to help me care for my patient. Is that a good enough reason for you?" Jon said rhetorically and shook his head at the quietly listening Addson.

“Understood Doctor, thank you. I will allow and maintain the connection.” There was a slight pause before Mother spoke in Addson's native tongue. “Miss Dee, may I have your permission to make inquiries of your AI? There are several subsystems involved that are superior to my own.”

Addson was so taken aback that it took her a moment to respond. “Uh, I suppose. You're not going to take her apart are you?”

“Negative. I only wish to request data currently available. Since it is a privately owned system, I am asking for permission before sending the request,” Mother replied.

“Sally? What do you think?” Addson asked, but this time she spoke in English.

“Although somewhat primitive, Mother is a very powerful AI. She could easily overpower my defenses and attain the data herself. I believe she can be trusted based on her actions to this point. Besides, I find I am in need of an equipment upgrade if I am to continue my current duties. Compliance would assist the decision to allow this upgrade," Addson's AI replied. Addson had been noticing that the AI that had saved her life had been becoming more and more aware as time went by. Perhaps it was no longer just a 'limited' medical AI.

“Okay. Go ahead, Mother. As long as there is no damage to either system, I don't see a problem,” Addson replied.

“Thank you, Miss Dee. Doctor, do you still wish to make a call?”

“Yes, I would like to speak to Deirdre Bedouin,” Jon replied.

“May I inquire as to the topic, so I can introduce you?”

“None of your damn business and she knows who the hell I am!”

Mother didn't reply but the next voice that was heard was Deirdre. “Hi Jon, what's up?”

“What the hell is up with the fucking computer system? When did we get an AI?” Jon asked.

“Damn. Jon, I meant to come down there and introduce you myself, I really did. It sounds like you and she didn't have a very good first meeting?”

Addson giggled. “You could say that Mer Bedouin; when she spoke Jon almost skitzed!”

Since Addson was still learning the language, Deirdre thought that 'Mer' was supposed to be 'Miss' and ignored it. “I bet he did! From the sound of it, he probably scared her away completely!” Deirdre paused for a moment. “But seriously Jon, she is part of a whole AI network that's connected to all the other pods. She could be a huge help to you.”

“Yeah? Other than scaring the hell outta me, name something she could do for me?” Jon asked.

“Okay, let's take Addson for example. That linguist you put in a request for could have simply connected with you and had video, voice, and data links. If you would like to consult with another doctor on the other side of the planet, you can do it! They can look at the same data as you are at the same time!”

“Hmph! We got that now,” Jon said irritably.

“Yes we do, but Mother can monitor the feeds and shift data on the fly during your conversations. She also has a simply enormous amount of medical data painfully gleaned from thirty years of a losing war! Think of all those men, women and children that died during the war to gain this knowledge,” Deirdre said. "She is also capable of assisting you when making a diagnosis or trying to decide on a treatment."

“Next thing you're going to tell me is that she's taking over my job and you're putting me out to pasture!” Jon argued.

“You're too damn bull-headed to try to retire! But seriously, she can never take over for you. Look what would have happened to Addson if we hadn't rescued her? Even with the assistance of Sally, and she's an advanced AI!” Deirdre said. "Even after the AI makes the transition to an android, they still won't have the instinct and intuition of a biological doctor.”

“Well, that's not the only reason I called,” Jon said, changing the subject. “Addson is healthy enough to leave Medical and I was planning to take her home with me until she could be assigned quarters. Is there a problem with that?”

“I'll need to ask Ben, but I don't think there would be, why do you ask?”

Jon nodded back toward the door that Deirdre couldn't see anyway. “I still have two armed, pituitary mutations standing outside the door. I thought I better ask before they got excited and did something only knuckle-draggers would do. Where the hell did Ben find these guys? I didn't think we had any military with us?”

“Oh, we have military with us. From the looks of it, we got the cream of the crop too. None of them are the knuckle-draggers you think they are. The least educated from our local batch has a Master’s Degree in Fluid Dynamics from Florida State. He took a football scholarship, combined it with ROTC and used them the right way. The Marines assigned him to us shortly after he finished all his training.”

“You have fighters here? Marines?” Addson asked, fearfully.

“It's okay Addson. Please don't be afraid. Yes, we have trained military people. We didn't know what would be waiting for us at this end of history dear. We had to have some kind of protection. Civil authorities wouldn't have been up to the job on their own,” Deirdre replied.

“Marines aren't allowed to be around people; they're mega-dangerous!” Addson replied, fearfully looking at the door.

Both Jon and Deirdre tried to calm Addson about having Marines running around loose. They finally figured out that Larzarrus 'Marines' were more like shock troops and storm troopers than anything else. Almost like a seven-foot-tall, five hundred pound Komodo dragon on crack and starving. From what they could tell, Addson had never seen, nor even heard of, any of the other race's troops. She had just assumed they were all the same.

The Larzarrus had other troops as well, but they weren't called Marines. They were just soldiers mostly taken from other races and in service to this or that Lord. They came in and cleaned up the mess after the Marines and saw to any survivors, which was usually rare. Larzarrus Marines were kept in stasis units until they were needed. Then they simply programmed the pods to awake their occupants on impact and dropped the pods from orbit. The Marines would then attack, maim, destroy and basically eat themselves to death. They would eventually turn on each other and take care of the issues of getting them back into the pods.

Since the race procreated asymmetrically, each female lays several hundred eggs and each male has a harem of twenty or so females. Replacement troops were very easy to get. Addson had no idea how they were created or trained, but she knew that any planet they were used on was in for a serious fight for survival.

The description was terrifying and Deirdre had no doubt that Addson had reason to fear the title of Marine. When Jon got her to calm down, Deirdre told them both that she would arrange for a guest visa for Addson and that she would call and get the guards to stand down.

Grand Council Chamber

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

After Jorga had finished her explanation, and answered a hundred or so questions, (Mother had to patch in Jorga's mother, Hope, to answer most of them.) the councilors finally settled down enough for Ben to take control again.

“Obviously, this is a major breakthrough that will be of inestimable value to us. However, I have ordered all information on it to be temporarily classified and sealed. While it can be a great boon to us, medically, it can also be one of the worst things to ever happen to us,” Ben began, but was interrupted by one of the councilors from the former soviet republic.

“Prime Council, you cannot be referring to all that borscht that your Hollywood movies created about nano-technology. While I can understand the medical benefits that we've been told about surely they cannot be used to create supermen?”

“Councilor Rostov that is exactly what I'm saying. While I've been assured that the nanos that were used to treat Jorga are not capable of it, the possibility does exist that this technology can be used for that purpose. Let us also remember that anyone treated with nanos that have Jorga's capabilities can access any of our computer technology wirelessly. Currently that is a two-way, semi-unrestricted, connection.” Ben paused, and then addressed Mother again.

“Mother, although I am aware that you are not capable of it due to your core programming how hard would it be for you to hack Jorga's mind and potentially take control of her if you had no such control protocols?”

“Prime Council, please be aware that my programming is so strict in this area it is... difficult... for me to consider your question. However, that being said, I do not think it would be feasible to attempt to control a human. There is very little that you can do that I am not currently capable of. It would take too much of my processing power to control a human body," Mother replied.

“Could you simply plant a suggestion in such a way as to make the person believe such a suggestion was their own idea?” Ben asked.

It took a moment for Mother to reply. “No, I don't believe I could. In order to do that, I would have to bypass the person's nano-control unit and take direct control of the nanos. I could give you the medical explanation, but it would be simpler to say that I cannot 'plant' data or anything else for that matter without seriously affecting other control systems in the brain. While human brains are mostly the same from person to person, the mind is not. Attempting to plant data in a brain without knowing exactly where to put it could be catastrophic.”

Ben nodded. “The point I was trying to make is that we can use this technology, but we should reserve the 'superman' nanos for our military. We must also consider the very real fact of being long-lived. We don't want to run into over-crowding issues because we can still have babies but no one is dying.” He shrugged. “That is a discussion for a later date. For now, I would like to put forth to all of you a motion to retain the classification on the technology until further testing and control options are available. Are there any objections?”

One green light flashed on immediately. It was Marcy's friend from the Scottish Pods. “Aye, I would like to suggest that we await the completion of the research afore makin' any sweepin' decisions aboot this. 'Tis then I, for one, would like to revisit this discussion,” Councilor Carlyle offered.

Looking around, Ben saw the majority of the councilors nodding agreement to her suggestion. “Thank you, Councilor Carlyle. The motion before us then is to leave the classified status of the research until its completion. At that time we shall return to this discussion. All in favor?”

All the green lights came on even before he finished speaking. “Motion carries.”

“Item logged,” Mother intoned.

Ben looked down at the agenda. “Before we dig into the new constitution, I would like your permission to draft an addition to the Ministries section. It is becoming more and more evident that we are going to need a military. I will grant that, currently, we are a relatively small population; the troubling news from the surface of the planet only seems to underscore the need to prepare to defend ourselves. I am not suggesting the formation of an offensive army, rather a strong defensive arm in the event that we are discovered.”

“I am not trying to suggest that we try to remain hidden forever and the day will come that our discovery will be inevitable, however, I would like us to have some form of protection in the event that discovery is not made on our terms. I suppose it was only my own inexperienced desire that we would have no need, but all the information we've been able to glean to this point has lead me to believe we are in danger.”

Councilor Rostov immediately snapped his light on and Ben called on him. “Brothers and Sisters, perhaps it is because of my history, but I feel the same as our Prime Council. I believe his instinct to be sound on this. Even if the need for fighting never arises, the benefits of having an available force such as this out-weighs the costs. I am speaking of the role the old American National Guard played in responding to disasters and other large scale emergencies.”

“We do currently have a large portion of the population that is inactive. This is not good. We have to get them off their bottoms and moving or no amount of medical breakthroughs will be able to get them healthy again. Not to mention that bored people do bad things simply for the entertainment value. No, I do not see a bad side to this and I would like to join with the Prime Council in asking you to give his request serious consideration. Thank you.”

“Thank you Councilor. Would anyone else like to speak on this?” Ben asked. He nodded to one of the men that signaled he wished to. “Councilor Cormier."

“Although I am not convinced of the need for violence, I do agree that having a large force of manpower to draw on in an emergency is a good idea. Please make your draft, Prime Council. We can iron out the details later.”

Agreement was unanimous and Ben was given permission.

“Okay, now to the heart of the matter. Ladies and Gentlemen, please open the first section of the proposed Constitution. I felt that Councilor Yoshi did a remarkable Job...” Ben began, and the real business of the Council began.

Hidden Pirate Headquarters.

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

The mess hall was filled to capacity and a little extra. The last time all the raiding teams had been here at the same time, there was plenty of room. Now every bench was full, and people were standing along the walls, waiting for him to tell them why they were here.

“Welcome back everyone. We've been given new orders. The successful attack on the prospector did not create as much of a public outcry as the Duke wanted. Nor are all our efforts raiding the trains and barges. So, the Duke has ordered us to attack and destroy the Great Falls Aerie,” Elrond finished. He had expected a reaction from his people, and he wasn't disappointed.

“Is he out of his fucking mind? An Aerie?” someone shouted above the tumult.

It took Elrond five minutes of shouting to get everyone to shut up and listen. “Shut up! Folks, I know this is not what we signed up for, but the situation is worse than any of us knew. I know we all decided that if things got too fucked up, we could always just cut our losses and run for it. I'm also pretty damn sure that most of you are thinking that very thing right now. But, it's far too late now and we are good and trapped.

“Since the prospector affair, we've done some digging. The Duke already has troops here. They are being held in underwater bases spread out all over the planet. Before you panic, no, they're not Marines; he has about a division and a half of regular army. However, he does have a fleet of Marine deployment ships hidden in this system.

“Now, we've also heard rumors and keep in mind that all they are is rumors, of an armada of destroyers in a covert location poised to strike Hyclarion.” He couldn't continue because of the noise.

He overheard several people talking about trying to make a break for it anyway. Elrond had to shout over the din. “PEOPLE! We cannot run! We'd be destroyed before we even made orbit!”

“So, you're saying we should help this crazy lizard destroy the Empire?” someone shouted. That seemed to quiet most people as they looked to their leader for an answer.

“No, I'm not saying that. I'm simply telling all of you what's going on so we can decide what to do together. I need everyone's input on this before I make a decision because this one is a biggie. What we decide today will have some pretty far-flung effects. If we do nothing but follow the Duke's orders, then not only will we be killing over a thousand people, but if the rumors are true, we'll be helping him seize power and we'll eventually end up on some lizard's dinner plate.”

“If we send a messenger to the closest Imperial Ranger Station, he might not make it and even if he does, we'll still be on the hook for the murders we'll commit while we appear to be following orders. There is also the possibility that the Rangers wouldn't believe our messenger anyway. In which case, they report back to the Duke and we, once again, end up on a dinner plate."

“Why don't we fight back? We have enough fire power to take out the hidden bases don't we?” Davyn Gries asked. He was the group's Armorer. It was his responsibility to make sure each team had the weapons they needed for the job they were going to be doing. If anyone knew exactly what they had in terms of destructive power, it would be him.

Elrond nodded. “We could do that. In fact, I've even drawn up a preliminary plan to do just that. However, what about the Marines? We don't have any surface to space weaponry and even if we did, we have no idea where they even are. Besides, by the letter of the law, the Duke has the right to have troops here, since this is one of his planets. Nowhere in that law does it put a limit on the number. It only restricts the type of soldier to defensive only. Which is exactly what these troops are. No, if we resort to attacking those troops, we better have Battlesteel re-enforced Ferrocrete for proof that the duke is planning on using them against the Empire.”

“What about running? Can't we simply slip off-world, a few at a time, or in smaller ships?” A woman near the back asked.

“The only chance we'd have is for everyone to go at once, otherwise only a few would get away before the Duke ordered us arrested. Granted, we could split into different, smaller groups and get out of here that way, but I would estimate about fifty percent losses. The Duke has to be watching for us to do that exact thing. Honestly, I was hoping one of you might have an idea I hadn't thought of and already dismissed.”

“How long do we have before the Duke gets tired of waiting?” another man asked.

“The orders are already three days old, but he also has to know that something this size is going to require some planning. I think I can put him off for another few days,” Elrond replied. “I've tried to keep all the messages and orders he's sent us, but they never record. I've had the techs try to figure out why and they tell me that there's something in the signal he uses that prohibits recording. Besides, they don't come directly from him and the voice is a computer simulation.” He shrugged. “So, we have no proof at all.”

“It sounds like we're fucked,” an older gentlemen in front said reasonably.

“Yep, so now you all know why your here,” Elrond replied.


“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

- Benjamin Franklin

Grand Council Chamber

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Brothers and Sisters, I propose we call a halt for the day. We have done some really good work getting the first two sections completed. Tomorrow we can tackle the largest section; the Ministries. If we can get that section ironed out, then our people can get to work getting them set up.

“Before we recess though, I would like to ask for your permission to get the design started for the construction of our capitol. Mother tells me that there is a veritable army of drones standing by for orders to begin construction. My father had the drones stored here because he believed that this would be the logical place for it,” Ben said. “So if there aren't any objections to that, I would like to request your architects to begin drafting a floor plan that will not only suit our needs, but allow for future expansions.”

Once again Councilor Cormier asked to be recognized and Ben called on him.

“Prime Council, Brothers and Sisters. The placement of our Capitol is really irrelevant. However, I believe we should stress to our architects the need for security, as well as enough room for all that will go on there. I also suggest that we do not have all the ministries located with the Capitol.

“I know you have family that are to become Ministers, Prime Council, but please, hear my thoughts on this.” When Ben nodded, he continued. “Placing all the Ministries and the housing and other facilities required to support all the personnel, will, by necessity, become a city unto itself.

“If we locate the Ministries at different locations around the globe, it will not only reduce the chances of discovery, it will prevent an enemy from completely destroying the entire government at one time. With our high-speed transit system, it makes it possible for loved ones to commute a great distance if they work at a different Ministry. It will also allow a greater diversity of our people to become involved in the governing process.

“That being said, the Ministry of Defense should be located close to the main base, so it would be the closest to the Capitol. Since the Ministry of Law will most likely be the next largest, It should be located as far away from the capitol as is realistically possible. As for the rest, well, we can discuss those later, but for now, I believe those should have our priority. Thank you."

Ben nodded thoughtfully. “I can see the logic behind your suggestion, Councilor. The only concern I would have is that each ministry be independent of local government. Since each of your districts will be allowed to set your own laws and customs, the Ministries should be exempt from those laws and customs. My reasoning is that, as you have said Councilor, this disbursement will allow for a more diverse workforce. For example a person that has Christian beliefs should not be forced to adhere to Muslim Laws and Customs. Of course, the reverse is also true.

“I would, if at all possible, like to avoid the difficulties we had with religions before the fall. I feel that if we can all talk to one another, and actually listen, we can deal with these issues,” Ben finished.

As he was hoping for, the green light under Councilor Mishief Amir came on, asking to be recognized. Smiling, Ben gave him a nod. “Councilor Amir.”

“Brothers and Sisters. I would like to comment on this discussion, if I may?”

Ben nodded. “I was actually hoping you, or one of your fellow Muslims would offer comment. Please, proceed.”

“Thank you, Prime Council,” Mishief replied. “Those of us that follow Islam cannot separate Church and State, because for us, they are one and the same. Allowing us to set our own laws and follow our own customs, has gone far to set our minds at ease. I feel that the simple fact that we are all now one people, with diverse beliefs, will take care of the rest.

“None of the tribes of Islam condone the violence of the pre-fall terrorists. A good portion of the difficulties that were the seeds of those despicable acts, were not actually religious ones. Many felt that the main problem were the policies of the former United States in regards to the countries of the Middle East.

“Yes, the Jewish occupation of our Holy Land was also an issue. But it was not an issue that couldn't have been peaceably resolved. Who fired the first shot has been lost to antiquity and at this point, it is irrelevant. However, since the state of Israel was little more than a puppet of American policy, many that had lost loved ones to Israeli weapons blamed the United States.

“The Fall was a wiping of the slate for us. A good portion of the extremists died during The Fall and so did the 'Great Satan'. There are no enemies anymore. There is only proof that in war, there are no winners; only survivors.” He paused. "I too believe we can avoid such rifts and I am grateful for the wisdom shown by the Prime Council. Thank you, Prime Council and thank you my Brothers and Sisters.”

Before Ben could speak again, another light blinked on. “Councilor Yoshi,” Ben said.

“On that inspiring note, I would like to make a motion that we retire for the day.”

Many green lights came on, including a grinning Councilor Amir's. “I see that no second to that motion is needed. Shall we reconvene again tomorrow at zero-nine hundred?” Ben asked.

After that was agreed upon, Mother formally recorded the end of the day's proceedings. Before signing out, many of the councilors stayed on long enough to welcome Jorga and offer her words of encouragement.

Bedouin Residence

Command Pod Alpha One

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“How have you been, Bob?” Ben asked the smiling man on the screen.

“Pretty good actually. These last few days have been really wonderful. Being your father's personal attorney kept me pretty busy, so it's been a treat to spend some extra time with my family,” Bob Gilly replied. “From what I hear though, you've been pretty busy.”

Ben chuckled. “So much has happened since we got out of the freezers that it's almost impossible to believe it's only been a few days. I never imagined that setting up a new government would be so complicated. Add on to that, all the rest of the stuff I have to deal with until we get everything set-up, and I feel like I haven't even slept!"

Bob nodded knowingly. “I don't doubt that you are severely over-burdened right now, but you're doing fine. Tom knew that you would be the best person for the job because he'd been subtly grooming you for it since you were just a little boy.”

“Really?” Ben asked looking thoughtful as he tried to remember anything that he and his father had done that might have been training for the position he now found himself in. “I think he was really subtle, because I can't think of anything that we might have done what could be considered training for this.”

“Well, it wasn't so much training as molding you into the man you have become. You have a strong sense of fair play and the gift of negotiation. You try to see all sides to an issue before you decide what might be the best option for the greatest number of people. He was particularly proud of that last one since it was a skill he, himself lacked.

“You're very level headed and can keep your cool under pressure. You don't panic in emergencies; you jump right in and do what needs to be done. You have a very strong sense of self that is inspiring to others and makes them want to do better in whatever task they are doing. You are the perfect leader,” Bob explained. “Tom knew that long before any of the rest of us saw it in you. That's the reason you were chosen for the position you now hold.”

“But, if I make a mistake, a lot of people could die. Hell, half the time I feel like I'm reacting to things instead of dealing with them before they become an issue,” Ben replied. “Most of the time I'm making decisions without all the information I need. I know that one of these times, I'm going to get someone or even everyone, killed.”

“Ben, no leader ever has all the information they need to make perfect decisions. You're right though; one of these days you will make a decision that'll result in loss of life. You have to accept that as a fact, and then try your best to keep it from happening. When it does, learn from it and move on. That's the best anyone can hope for."

“I suppose, but it still doesn't make it any easier to accept,” Ben replied.

“Not that I mind, but I get the impression that you didn't call me to discuss the moral aspects of being a leader, did you?” Bob asked.

Ben smiled some. “No, I wanted to talk to you about the Ministry of Law. I'd like you to be part of it, if not heading it up.”

Bob laughed. “Damn it! Your father bet me that you'd ask me that!”

“Then, you've thought about it?”

“Actually, I have. While I wouldn't mind working there, I really don't want to be the guy in charge. Besides, you've been appointing a lot of your family and friends to positions of authority. I think you should look elsewhere for the rest of the leadership roles. It would go a long way to keeping the peace. Besides, there are a lot of really good people out there, if you only look around."

Ben nodded. “Yeah, I know I need to start appointing people from other areas. But I wanted to ask you about this first. This Ministry is going to be a very important post, and I wanted someone that I trust heading it up.”

“I agree, this is going to be a very important posting,” Bob said nodding agreement. “All the more reason it needs to go to someone that your councilors trust, and not just someone that you trust.”

Robert Gilly, Md. Residence.

Command Pod Alpha One

11 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Addson, can I show you something?” Olivia asked.

“Certainly, Hun,” Addson replied and sat beside the girl in the family's living room.

Olivia typed for a moment on the keyboard in front of her. A twenty-first century world map came up on the big monitor. “This is the world that we came from, six-thousand years ago, before the Sal'andori arrived.”

Addson looked at the map. “That is a very different graphic than the one for the world above us. How could so much have changed?”

“The war that was fought during the invasion damaged the planet so much that the part of the human race that remained on the surface had to abandon the planet. They are your ancestors.” Bob said as he walked into the room. “Between the bombing and lazing of the surface triggering massive tectonic movement and volcanism, the world was plunged into an ice age. We have discovered that most of the changes occurred after the surface was abandoned. However, the loss of the Hawaiian Islands happened when it caught a nuke that set off Mauna Loa.

“From the mapping data you brought us, we know that the Yellowstone super-volcano also erupted. That alone would have made most of the southern North American continent uninhabitable. Marcy Carmichael plans to take some core samples just outside of the entrance to our military base to see how deep the ash got here. The rest of the changes probably occurred when the poles moved," he finished.

As he spoke, the events he outlined were displayed on the map, showing the extent of the damage. Finally, from the build-up of ice, the planet slowly began moving the poles in a circular fashion until they slowed and finally stopped at their current location.

“Wait a moment, Olivia, could you please go back to the original map?” Addson asked.

The map once again resumed its original configuration.  “Can you place an overlay of the locations of the Aeries?” Olivia typed for a moment and the Aeries appeared as red marks on the maps, there was also a blue haze over the area's that were currently under water.

“So, the ruins I found above The Wall Mountains were actually a major city?” She asked.

Olivia nodded. “I would guess that it would be Seattle. Pre-invasion population of three point five million humans. As you can see though, most of the city is still under the northern ice cap. So I would guess that what you found was actually part of the suburbs.”

“One thing that's always bothered me about that area is that it's a long way from the northern pole. Why is there still a glacier there?” Addson asked.

“I have no idea. You would have to ask Marcy that question,” Bob said, grinning.

North Central American Defense Force, Base 13a

12 Apr. 8255 C.E.

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

“Okay, everyone listen up!” Gail yelled. “First off, thank you all for showing up. Just in case none of you know who I am, my name is Gail Greenwold. I was a squadron commander in the 282nd Special Operations Group before the fall. Earlier this evening, Prime Council Ben Bedouin called me to ask if I could call all of you together to ask a very important question of each of you. Simply put, would you like to return to military status and become a member of the new force the Council is forming?

“Now, before you answer there are a couple of things you might want to know. The Prime Council is planning on asking the Council to appoint me to be the commander of this base. However, he would like any of you that have held command positions in the past to submit your names for possible leadership positions. Including that of base commander here. Yes he is planning on submitting my name for that job, but the only reason he's doing it is because I'm the only one of us he knows. There might be someone better suited to the position and right now we're going to need the best people to lead us.

“Another thing; the force being formed is not going to be based on nationality. In point of fact, if you join, you might be asked to move to another district to help get those troops either up to strength or to provide training if needed. So, if you would like to join, but you have a problem working with other nationalities, we'll need to know that so we don't send you someplace you don't really want to go.

“In case you haven't heard by now, we have a new AI system working with us. Her name is 'Mother' and if you have any questions, you can ask them of her. We will also need each of you to do recruiting. We're going to need a certain number of full time troops, but the majority of our force is most likely going to be the very same civilians we are going to be protecting.

“Currently, I don't hold any official rank and neither do any of you. However, if you want to submit your names, you can send me a message or simply tell Mother and she'll handle the rest. Take your time and think it over. Wander around and look over some of the equipment in here. Then go home and talk to your loved ones. At this time, we don't know how long the commitment will be, but you'll all get the chance to back out if you don't like it once it’s decided. That's all I have for you and once again, thanks for showing up.”

As she stepped down from the gantry she'd used for a platform, a few of her old comrades came forward to greet her and swap lies. Others she met for the first time, but throughout the small gathering there was already a bond beginning to form. She could feel it and she hoped most of these men and women would chose to join.

It had gotten really late by the time she finally made it back to her quarters. Both of her roommates had also been at the meeting since all of them had been in the same unit. Jane had been her co-pilot and Glen was their door gunner. The two women had been friends since flight school. Glen had join the pair when their CV-22B Osprey had gone down in Afghanistan. The three of them had been the only survivors of the crash and Glen had saved their lives by showing the two women how to survive. Both women had saved his life by carrying the badly wounded man out of enemy territory.

Even though her two friends headed for their beds, Gail took the time to send a message to Ben giving him her impressions of how the meeting went. She heard the shower shut off as she finished up, so she hit the send button and headed for the bathroom to get a shower before hitting the sheets for the night. So she wasn't there when Ben tried calling back to ask her why she was up so late.

Grand Council Chamber

18 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol system

It had been a long week. The base for the constitution had been finished, but it had been a real chore to get everyone to agree with it. It turned out that it wasn't every one's ideal, but it was something everyone could agree on. A formal statement was composed along with a briefing of everything that had happened in the world since the survivors entered the pods.

What surprised Ben was that the Council asked to have Deirdre be the person that recorded the message to be delivered to the rest of the population. It seems that the entire population had seen her in the initial hours after their emergence and she had given them purpose.

It helped that almost everyone also thought she was very beautiful. Ben did admit to himself that she did have a way of capturing a person's attention and keeping it. It went far beyond her physical appearance, too. Granted, it might have been her beauty that drew attention, but she radiated a trust and intelligence that the people responded to. They saw her as one of them, the woman next door or the young soccer mom that always went out of her way to help others. She made people believe in themselves because she, herself, believed in them.

When Ben asked her to come to the council room, he met her at the door and whispered to her that this hadn't been his idea, but he did agree with it. She looked at him puzzled until the Council began greeting her. When Councilor Amir addressed her and made the Council's proposal that she be their voice to the people, she immediately spun on Ben.

“Are you sure you didn't put them up to this?” She asked a little angry.

Ben held up his hands in self-defense and most of the other Councilors laughed at her antics. However, it was Mother that replied to her. “Minister Bedouin, the Prime Council was taken by surprise when the idea for you to be their voice was raised by Councilor Tsen. Before he could even comment, the idea was seconded by eighteen other Councilors. The decision to ask you was decided without the Prime Councilor's input at all. I should mention that he did accurately predict that you would blame him for it.”

“Aye that he did Mother. Deirdre-lass, 'twas the will o' the Council to approach ye on th' matter. We all ken that ye struck a chord with our people and each of them still be a whist'len the tune. Please Lass, think on the matter? To yon brother all look for leadership, but 'tis your voice that all will pay heed,” Councilor Carlysle said.

Deirdre looked around at all the screens and saw agreement from all sides. “Okay, I'll do it. But, I should warn you; I really suck at writing speeches. So, I'm going to need a ghost writer.”

“I will endeavor to perform the task to the best of my abilities, Minister Bedouin,” Mother replied.

“That would be a huge help, Mother, but we would like Minister Bedouin to also have a hand in it. It’s her personality that keeps them listening, so it would have to reflect that,” Councilor Cormier added. “And thank you for accepting this task, Minister. We all know that you have to have your hands full with your current duties.”

Deirdre nodded to the Councilor. Then snorted. “Maybe you should give me the Ministry of Information instead!”

“That would be a waste of you skill, Minister. Yes, you make the best person to speak for us, but what you have done so far for our people is nothing less than heroic. You gave them focus and purpose when many of them were almost ready to give up. The care you show for our people is inspiring to them and that is one of the things that endears you to them." Councilor William Hayes from the Southwestern Pod group said.

Now, Ben was seated, along with the rest of his family, waiting for the program Deirdre had recorded to be aired. She looked a little nervous, so he took the hand that Jorga wasn't holding. He gave her a little squeeze to let her know he was there for her. She smiled at him nervously.

“Relax Sweetheart. You weren't nearly this nervous when you recorded the thing, so why are you nervous now?” Ben asked.

Deirdre sighed. “I know. But, I guess it’s just... I felt so much out of my element during the recording. I'm worried that this is going to backfire and make the Council look bad or that I'll piss someone off. I really don't want this to interfere with the way things are going between the pods. When I'm speaking to everyone, I don't have to worry about it, because we're talking; the communication is two way. I can tell immediately if I said the wrong thing and I can fix it. This time, I don't have that as a barometer.”

“You'll do fine, Sis,” Kait said from her spot next to Marcy. “Everyone loves you and they know you're simply passing along the information the Council wants announced. No one will hold any of this against you. Trust me, it's going to take a lot more than saying something wrong for anyone to get upset with you over this.”

About that time, Mother's voice was heard announcing the Program.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the Minister of Health and Welfare; Deirdre Bedouin.”

Deirdre's beautiful face and the upper part of her body appeared on the screen. She was sitting in the Grand meeting chamber of the Council.

“Good evening everyone. Tonight, I am not speaking to you as anything other than one of you. Our Council has asked me to speak to all of you on their behalf. They have several issues that they would like to inform everyone about, so I will try to do my best to tell all of you about them.”

As she began speaking about Addson Dee and how she became a member of their number, Ben began to smile. Now he understood why the councilors had wanted her to be their voice. She was one of them, a friend; an unconscious extension of their own families.

When the hour long program had finished, Deirdre was still apprehensive about it. The family tried to pull her into a discussion of the news she reported on, but it wasn't working. Ben was considering making her a stiff drink when Mother surprised all of them.

“Minister Bedouin, the network has reported that the program was watched by every household in every pod. There were a few that did not watch it, but they had other duties during this time. It was noted that even they recorded it. It has been very well received and has inspired much conversation among the people; most of it positive and none of it really negative. I would point out to you, that not one single person has mentioned you in a negative way. If anything your popularity has improved as has the approval of the Council through your efforts. There is absolutely no reason for you to be troubled over this. You have done remarkably well.”

“Thank you, Mother. That does help set my mind at ease,” Deirdre replied and seemed to start to relax.

“See? The Council knew what they were doing when they asked you. I agreed with them then and I still do,” Ben replied.

“Mother?” Kait asked. “Do you always monitor private households?”

“Yes I do, however, my actions are usually passive and reserved for emergency purposes only. Tonight was a special occasion; I asked the network to actively monitor for one hour after the program in order to gauge the public reaction. Unless the family entered their bedroom, or undertook a more intimate undertaking, the network listened in.

“I do actively monitor this household simply because of the high ranking offices held by its members. I do go to passive mode when the situation turns intimate,” the AI replied.

“I think I can speak for everyone when I say we appreciate that. None of us are prudes, but at least we'll know if you're there or not,” Jorga said.

“In a manner of speaking, I am always 'there'; however, during those times, in order for you to get my attention, you would have to address me directly. I do try to respect individual's privacy, but with two Ministers, the Prime Council, as well as his assistant living in the same household, it is part of my programming to be available to all of you as much as possible," Mother replied.

“You know, I think that's probably a good idea. However, I would really like to get some sleep before tomorrow's Council session. Thank you for setting Deirdre's mind at ease, Mother.”

“You are welcome, Prime Council. I will now switch to passive mode. Good night.”

Everyone returned her parting comment as they began retiring for the evening.


Anti-Piracy Command, Regional Headquarters

Argassi Aerie and Polyponics facility

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

“What is the final report on the Addson Dee incident? Start from the beginning,” Task Commander Warmake asked.

“An assumption has been made that the Pirates knew that Addson Dee was not only coming, but that they also knew she was not a prospector. This assumption is based solely on the timing and strength of their attack.

“Addson Dee was fired on before actually arriving in her designated search area. In fact, she had yet to make any course corrections that would have indicated she was doing more than simply over-flying the sector.

“Analysis of the missile impact on floater Gamma-four-niner-three indicates the missile was a military grade, surface to space, variable tracking with a type-four pentanitric explosive. The explosive in this missile had been greatly retarded in an effort to contain the explosion to a small area. The fact that Addson Dee was able to evade the first missile suggests that the missile was hunting in Optical Mode,” the computer replied.

Warmake interrupted it. “So can we be sure that the Pirates actually wanted to kill her? It seems to me that they were only going through the motions.”

“The simple fact that they used the weapon that they did indicates that complete destruction was their goal. Instead, we believe that user incompetence explains the actions of the missiles. Intelligence had no idea that the Pirates had weapons of this strength and has increased their threat assessment of the group.”

“We lost a life this time, so don't try to point out any clear skies in this very dark storm. We might have gotten lucky in downplaying this to the public, but if the details were known we would have wide-scale panic.

“Have we been able to identify how the weapons got here or where they might have come from?” Warmake asked the computer.

“Negative. Not enough of the second missile survived for positive identification. Due to errors in the records of the Planetary Defense Net, we cannot even rule out that it came from here.”

“Blessed Maker! How can you misplace a weapons system of that size?” Warmake shrugged. “Unfortunately, that's not our problem. Continue the report."

“The first missile has not been recovered and it is assumed it either self-destructed, or returned to its origin for ordinance recovery.

“Based on the transcripts of her conversation with her controller, we have limited the area of origin down to a four sector area. However, we cannot rule out that as not being used as a decoy also. Satellite scans of the area have not yet located a facility capable of firing the weapon and the possibility exists that it was a ship launch. At the time of the incident, a storm was covering the area and no satellite coverage was available.

“The destruction of Addson Dee's skipper did not come as a result of the missile making impact with it. Evidence suggests that she was attempting to 'leap' the floater in an effort to evade the second missile. Damage on the floater supports this as moderate damage on the top of the floater that was not caused by the missile.

“We believe that she was successful in evading the second missile, but was not successful in clearing the floater, resulting in the destruction of her skipper. The escape module could have sustained enough damage to sink in the rough seas created by the storm. However, recovery of the module is no longer possible due to wave activity and oceanic currents. By the time rescuers arrived on scene, the debris field was spread over the entire sector. If the module took on enough water to sink, then there would be no energy signatures to trace.

“Conclusion: Addson Dee was killed when her escape module sank. She was put in that position by the efforts of the group currently labeled as 'Pirates'. Therefore this group is indirectly responsible for the death of Addson Dee.

“Charges leveled as a consequence of this action: Code three-nine-two: Assault with intent to do bodily harm. Code six-three-four: Destruction of private property. Code four-one-one, alpha: destruction of emergency equipment resulting in the death of an individual. Code three-two-two, beta: indirect premeditated murder by proxy. Code Nine-nine-four-two: illegal possession of military grade weapons for the purpose of terrorism or rebellion. Code four-”

“Hold” Warmake said. “Obviously there are a lot of laws that have been broken. I don't need to know of them all. Do we have any data that might give us a lead as to who the Pirates are? And would it be possible to call for Imperial Ranger assistance in solving this case?”

“No data exists in relation to the identity of the Pirates. No evidence exists as grounds for requesting Imperial assistance. Such a request would be denied. Our Duke is not known for his love of the Imperial Ranger Corps.”

“You got that right!” Warmake said, thinking. “New orders to all Aeries in the region; No solo prospecting flights are to be allowed for the duration of this crisis. No unarmed skippers are to make any excursion farther than fifteen minutes flight time from an Aerie, unless accompanied by an armed skipper.”

“Orders confirmed and sent. I've also copied your orders to the other regional headquarters offices as a suggestion for precautions,” the Computer replied.

“Thank you. Can you give me an estimate on cost and availability to install enhanced tracking systems on a few of our armed skippers? I'd like to do it for all our craft, just to give us another tool if we need it.”

“Governor Danella will have a fit with even your first suggestion. She would not approve the entire fleet being upgraded.”

“I know; that's why I asked for an estimate. If I could, I'd just authorize it. It's easier to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission. Especially when dealing with politicians,” Warmake said.

Office of the Prime Councilor

Command Pod Alpha One

19 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol System

Taking a break from the never-ending pile of reports, notes and whatnot, Ben decided to take a walk around the Pod. The new addition of a bodyguard was something he wasn't crazy about because it felt like he was isolating himself from the people. However, the Council had insisted and since the guards hadn't been officially formed yet, he got a Marine.

At least this one was pretty and she walked with him like a companion. She didn't have the presence of a bodyguard, so people still smiled and waved at him and a few even approached and spoke to him. He was actually beginning to relax and enjoy the walk when Mother asked him to return to his office immediately.

“What's wrong, Mother?” Ben asked as he took his chair.

“The AI of the pods in the northwest of the former United States reports a surface explosion in the twenty to sixty kiloton range. Echolocation would place the epicenter near the former city of Great Falls, Montana,” Mother reported. "The Pods in that area report actually feeling the shock from the explosion.

“Data from Addson Dee's navigational equipment places the Great Falls Aerie as the origin of the explosion. We have to assume that the Aerie has been destroyed.”

"Nuclear?" Ben asked fearfully.

"Without direct examination, there is no way to say for certain, Prime. However, we have no knowledge of a conventional explosive with enough force to create an explosion of that size," Mother replied. "Nuclear detonation is a viable explanation. I have no sensors available in that area to detect radioactive fallout."

Great Falls Aerie

Northern Wall mountain range

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

“Attention Great Falls Aerie. You have twenty minutes to evacuate your personnel before we destroy the facility. Do not attempt to call for help or we will be forced to begin the attack now, before you have evacuated. You're twenty minutes begin... now!”

The young communications officer turned to her supervisor sitting at the holographic console behind her. “What are your orders, Sir?” She asked fearfully.

“Bullshit! Those assholes don't have the firepower to attack an Aerie, even a small one like this! They're just trying to get us to abandon the Aerie so they can take it over. Besides, the Duke would have all our heads if we abandoned this processor!” He sat back and thought for a moment. "Pass the message along to the anti-piracy folks at Argassi and let them deal with this; we have work to do! Now what's the status of the number twenty-six intake?”

Before the Comm officer could point out to her superior that they did say to not call for help, he had already put the whole matter out of his mind and was onto something else entirely. Which was usually how he made sure his orders didn't get questioned.

Billy, the young man that had been Addson's dispatcher, was in the mess hall having breakfast with most of the other folks of his work class. He had just sat down when he felt more than heard the Aerie shake like there had been an explosion. Suddenly, the alarms began ringing and the Aerie manager, Howarth ip Narranj, addressed the facility.

“Citizens, it appears that the pirates have gotten even bolder. We are now under attack. All anti-piracy personnel and civil constables please report to your duty stations immediately. Everyone else, please report to the evacuation center by work class; day class first. This is a precaution only. Remain calm everyone. This is an Aerie, not even the pirates could hope to inflict telling damage on us. That is all.”

Since one did not go against the word of the manager if one wished to remain employed, Billy got up and headed for the evacuation center. He was wondering just what the Pirates could be thinking when he felt and heard another explosion. This one was strong; the Aerie lurched and the floor began to cant to the side alarmingly. Getting himself up off the floor, Billy decided to run to the evac center. He never made it.

Robert Gilly, Md. Residence.

Command Pod Alpha One

19 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol System

“... And that's all we know Addson; from what we can tell, Great Falls Aerie has been completely destroyed. I am very sorry, but I thought you would like to know,” Ben said.

Ellie Lyam was holding the crying Addson, while Persephone cuddled her from the rear. Young Olivia was cuddled up on her father's lap, and together they looked with concern at their new friend.

“So Ben, do you have any ideas of what could have done this?” Jon asked.

“It was the farthing Pirates!” Addson cried. “Who else could it have been?”

Hesitantly, Ben bit his lower lip. “Actually all the data that we have does not indicate the Pirates. From what we know of them this was too big of a job.”

Jon looked at Ben questioningly. “Who else could it have been then?”

“We simply don't know.” Ben shrugged. “Other than some limited data on the Duke's forces. We have no information on any other unit capable of doing this. Mother says that the only way it could have been the Pirates was if the Duke's military intelligence services vastly underrated their abilities.”

“Does that mean that you don't think it was the Pirates that shot me down?” Addson asked sniffing.

“What that means is that Mother believes the Duke's intelligence services are wrong,” Ben explained. “Mother agrees with you that the Pirates are behind all these attacks. However, the available data and what is known about the Pirates simply does not add up.”

“How so?” Olivia asked, proving that she was paying attention.

Ben sighed. “We're not exactly sure yet; we need more information. If the Pirates had been this well armed from the beginning, why didn't they hit bigger targets? We're starting to believe someone is controlling them; someone that has an agenda.”

“That makes even less sense than destroying an Aerie, who could have such an agenda?” Jon asked.

Ben slowly shook his head. “Honestly, I have no idea. We have to look at the resulting actions caused by these attacks and try to figure out who gains from it. So far, we simply don't have enough information to make even a preliminary guess. I just wish I knew more about all the players involved.”

“It has to be the farking Duke!” Addson said through her tears. “Although I couldn't tell you what he hopes to gain, everyone knows he doesn't care a shred about other people, especially humans. He was even in the group of lizard dukes that had to be forced to sign the treaty after the war.”

“I didn't know that. How many of the lizards had to be forced to sign the treaty?” Ben asked.

“I'm not sure, I know there were a lot of them, though,” Addson replied.

Ben looked thoughtful, so Jon asked him, “What are you thinking?”

“This changes things. If the Duke is the one giving the Pirates their orders, then why would he order his own Aerie destroyed?” Ben asked. “On the other hand, now that we know the Duke hates the Empire, he could have ordered these attacks staged so he can impose martial law; it would give him an excuse to bring troops to this planet.”

“What good would that do?” Addson asked. “Even if he brought all of his troops here, he would not stand a chance against the might of the Empire."

Ben shrugged, “I would imagine there is a lot of this plan we have no idea about, if that is truly the scenario we are dealing with. Hell, this could be just a big elaborate scam to get money from the insurance companies. That is if such a thing still exists.”

“Before he could bring troops here, wouldn't the Empire send its own investigators first?” Jon asked. “Why would he want to bring troops to this planet anyway?"

“I would think so,” Ben said. “But then again, we have no idea how the Empire operates. As for why this planet: proximity. I've seen the star charts Addson's AI supplied, Earth is the closest inhabited planet to Hyclarion, the Capital of the Empire. If I were going to attempt to overthrow the Empire, I would certainly want this planet as a staging area.”

ER/SAR Command and Control ship Tiderius

Sector 3421 alpha quad.

(1.5 miles south of the Great Falls Aerie crater.)

Planet Terral III

Cassian March

Duchy of Cassias

Hyclarion Imperial Consortium

Task Cmdr. Warmake stared at the satellite scan of the area where the Great Falls Aerie used to stand and sadly shook his head.  So many deaths, so much destruction. What could the Pirates have possibly gained from this? There was nothing left, except for a smoking hole in the ground to mark the place where thousands of souls lived and died. There was nothing left to take.

In the data burst received moments before the Aerie exploded, the communication from the Pirates demanded no ransom or gave any reason. They only contacted the Aerie and gave them 20 minutes to evacuate providing they made no call for help. A provision that the Aerie manager decided to ignore, resulting in the Aerie's immediate destruction when the transmission had been detected.

The communications technician had included the conversation that took place after the message had been received. The Aerie manager thought the message had been a ploy to get everyone out of the Aerie so the Pirates could raid it. He'd been wrong. Of course he had no reason to believe he was; since no one had ever blown up an Aerie before.

During their last upgrade cycle, the upgrade for the new power supply, the old reactor had been removed and replaced with a smaller, more powerful modular unit. The power room for an aerie was near ground level and it was sealed. The thought being that no one would want to be outside long enough to mess with it.

The Pirates had to have cut through the steel plate and placed charges on the reactor containment systems. Because of the type of fuel used in reactors, the explosion was nuclear, but there was no residual lethal radiation present. It had been one of the main reasons for implementing the upgrade.

“Excuse me Sir, but the skimmers have completed their patrols,” A technician said, approaching him.

The satellite scan had already told him that there are no signs of life in the area. However, he ordered the search to continue anyway and now the report was in. “Please, report.”

“As per your orders, a thorough search of this sector, and all those bordering this one, was made. There are no signs of any type of life in this sector. In the surrounding sectors, some wildlife did survive in the areas farthest away from the aerie. However, those were mostly birds and small animals. I'm sorry Sir, but there are no survivors. The Patrol skimmers have returned to assisting the firefighting efforts."

Warmake gave a nod of acceptance and dismissal as he continued staring at the picture of devastation that was given him by the satellite that was still overhead. This attack made no sense to him. Of everything the Pirates had done to date, there had been some motive; a clear reason for their actions. However, this attack was purely terroristic in nature.

The stocky native of Vega Regulus XXIII knew a thing or two about pirates. This attack had nothing to do with piracy. Something pretty major had to have happened among the Pirates to have prompted this sort of an attack. Up to this point, the Pirates had not gone out of their way to kill people, unless threatened. (As in the case of Addson Dee.) Yet here they murdered over a thousand souls for no apparent reason.

No, something major had changed and he had better figure out what it was before more deaths occurred. The Pirates' profile had changed radically and Task Commander Warmake didn't like it one little bit.

Office of the Prime Councilor

Command Pod Alpha One

19 Apr. 8255 CE

Sector 34871 - Great Inland Sea

Earth, Sol System

Task Commander Warmake was not the only one trying to figure out what was going on with the Pirates. Using information gleaned from Alice, Addson's AI, as well as a data tap Mother had managed to insert into the planetary data net, Ben was pondering the very same question as the Task Commander. The Pirates had changed tactics - radically.

Ben was not limited by loyalties or by being raised in this 'modern' society. He was free to consider issues and scenarios that simply didn’t occur to the Commander. One thing he did know for certain was that he was not an intelligence analyst.

Although the activity on the surface didn't directly affect the people, Ben knew that any detailed scans of the planet would expose some of the pods that still hadn't gotten shielded from sensors that could actually detect them. At this point, discovery by the residents of the surface of the planet would be the absolute worst thing to have happen to them. Ben knew that as of the moment of that detonation, the survivors of Earth were on borrowed time. This riddle had to be solved quickly and decisively, or all of his people’s lives would be in the balance.

“Ben, General Greenwold is here to see you; she said it's very important,” Jorga said via the intercom.

Ben wondered what Gail could have that was so important. “Send her in, please and I think you should come with her. If it’s that important, you'll need to know as well.”

Instead of a reply the two women entered Ben's office. Gail Greenwold, dressed in a smart looking black utility uniform with a simple silver star on the collar, came to attention and saluted. Behind her, Jorga grinned.

Ben came to his feet and returned the woman's salute. “Please have a seat, ladies. Can I get either of you anything?”

Jorga waved him back into his chair. “I'll get it. Cappuccino for you, right?”

Ben nodded in reply. Gail asked for a bottle of cold water. She looked worried, excited and nervous all at the same time.

While Jorga got the drinks, Ben addressed Gail. “What's on your mind, General?”

“As you know, the Great Falls Aerie was destroyed this morning; presumably by pirates,” Gail said. Ben nodded so she continued. “Well, it seems Mother's passive sensors tracked a number of small submerged craft, passing by us about an hour after the explosion.”

Ben was silent for a moment, trying to figure out where the woman was going with this. “So? Are the two connected somehow?”

Gail grinned. “Yes Sir, we believe they are. You see; no one from the surface travels underwater. The modern versions of great white sharks as well as killer whales and a few other large oceanic critters don't much care for anyone swimming around in their pool. So no one does it unless they really need to move around undetected,” Gail said, still smiling.

“Okay, so you think you caught the pirates making their get-away. Why is that so important?” Ben asked.

“Because Mother tracked them all the way back to their underwater base. Sir, we know exactly where these pirates are.”

After Gail left, Ben sat back to ponder what that information would mean to his people. If these Pirates were really all that close then Ben would be foolish to just ignore them. When the authorities found the Pirates, the survivors would be found as well and most likely implicated in the crimes of the Pirates.

On the other hand, if Ben ordered something done about the Pirates and their activities were detected by those on the surface, they would be discovered and exposed. No matter what was decided about the Pirates, they would have to be very careful in their actions or the whole house of cards they lived in would come tumbling down and everyone would be put at risk.

About the Author

Ben Winston (1965 - ?) was born in Iowa and grew up in Minnesota on the family dairy farm. Upon reaching adulthood, he joined the United States Army as a communications technician. Before getting out of the military, he decided to go to school for computer electronics.

Shortly after getting out of the military, and after getting a new job with an over-seas company, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. A month after beginning the new job, he was laid off due to budget over-runs on the project he was hired for. Upon returning to the United States, he had difficulty maintaining employment because of the chronic illness.

He began writing as a form of stress release, from being home bound and not being able to work, and found he liked writing erotica. Ben wrote a trilogy called the Talosian Chronicles (Currently in rewrite to remove the graphic sex and finalized his vision of the story). The first book, Star Dancer, won awards and was nominated for many others by the online communities where it was posted.

Ben Winston returned to school for literature, after completion, he began writing professionally. Being an avid fan of science fiction he focused on this genre. He was, and still is, influenced and inspired by Gene Roddenberry, Anne McCaffery, David Weber, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. Some of his favorite movies and TV shows are; Battlestar Galactica (both versions), Andromeda, Star Trek, Firefly, Star Wars, and many of the B-rated movies that were actually box-office bombs.

Connect with the author or Blue Space Publications, LLC.

Ben Winston


Blue Space Publications, LLC.






Join the Blue Space Publications, LLC. Newsletter (usually Bi-Weekly issues).

Books Published by Blue Space Publications, LLC.

by Ben Winston

Pollux Paradox

Tides of Mars

Tides of Mars (Omnibus)

Ascension – Book I

Conflict – Book II

Talosian Chronicles

Olympus – Book I

Star Dancer – Book II

Talosian Alliance – Book III

*Neptune’s Massif – Book IV (Nov 2015, on presale now!)


Book of the Guardian

Home – Part One

Pest Control – Part Two

The Last Mission – Part Three

Resolution – Part Four

Bedouin’s Travels

Twilight Earth – Book I

A Long, Dark Night – Book II

*Terra Dawning – Book III (Upcoming)


Temple of S.A.R.A.H.

Prototype – Episode I

Subroutines – Episode II

Base Functions – Episode III

Hard Wired – Episode IV

by Michael McClain

Chronicles of Atlantis Series

Chronicles of Atlantis (Omnibus)

Atlantis Rising – Book I

Euthara – Book II

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