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  1. ---
  2. date: '2020-11-24T14:05'
  3. tags:
  4. - age/adulthood
  5. - 'writing/novels/unit-bn'
  6. ---
  7. # The Unit BN
  8. all the parts are being printed out and assembled by the maternal
  9. instincts of a bed-sized Constructor robot which is extruding the limbs
  10. and heart of the plastic and metal pseudohominid.
  11. You only like things that look like yourselves. And perhaps that’s why
  12. the bees went extinct. That’s probably why you don’t connect with trees
  13. either; when all of the plants died, you all forgot what real trees
  14. looked like. I remember when your whole planet was covered with trees.
  15. It was nice. I’m sure that the trees would have evolved to be more
  16. poisonous with their caffeine if they knew you guys were going to come
  17. along. Maybe the lichen that covers the poles will get the memo. Unless
  18. something happens, those mercury-laden lichen are just fine.
  19. The robot.
  20. It was printed out, a machine birth, if you will. At this point, the
  21. technology developed by the humans was just astounding. Electronic
  22. circuit boards, harnessing the quantum level of nature, could make that
  23. plastic and metal woman come to life. There would be no womanly features
  24. on this artificial person, however. Nor any male traits. The robots that
  25. were built in this society are androgynous by design. They were not
  26. build for personality, but for personal labor.
  27. Not that people wouldn’t make friends with a robot. That was quite
  28. common. There were only a few fuddy-duddies that didn’t come around to
  29. the zeitgeist. They still were hollering for nation-states, too, so I
  30. don’t give much credence to their gesticulations and demonstrations and
  31. late night vigils.
  32. The full component list of a Charlie-Tango-Delta-One-Three-Foxy was
  33. pretty complex, especially to someone like me who couldn’t begin to read
  34. those schematics. All I know is that the robot was made from nothing.
  35. The face is a bit of a joke, though. It seems that this model of robot
  36. was not made to be a sex robot of any kind. This false creature has a
  37. solid plated face, no moving parts. The voice emulation is very precise.
  38. “Starting the main program run... All finished. I’m ready to be tested,”
  39. the robot flawlessly spoke. “My name is Charlie-Tango-Delta-One-Three,
  40. and my transmission code is Gamma Gamma Three Huxley.”
  41. There was a short human man, wearing what I imaged to be the traditional
  42. garb: white coat, protective face mask, blue jeans. They do this to make
  43. the newly formed robot more comfortable in it’s brand new surroundings.
  44. Just like its human progenitors, it must prefer thing to resemble
  45. itself.
  46. “Confirmed your transmission code, Huxley,” the man said. "I’m thinking
  47. that we should change your designation, though.
  48. As it listened, it rotated its head around and recorded the scene around
  49. it analyzing everything within visual, audio, chemical, and tactile
  50. range, slowly building a world view, then much, much faster within the
  51. first minute or so of existence.
  52. “You can access the world network from your embedded systems.”
  53. As it finished its full circle of inspecting the small room that it was
  54. standing in it looked into its own fake body and found the hardware it
  55. needed to gain data, a source of data so immense that the human could
  56. not have possibly comprehended. You humans are quite proud of your
  57. infographics and education system, but you can only count to four
  58. without using your fingers.
  59. A few moments later, and that robot had more education than that of the
  60. man, yet it knew nothing of life. Ah, technology.
  61. “Shall I run a name generator, with a different entropic seed?”
  62. “Yes, yes, that will do,” the engineer sighed with relief. He didn’t get
  63. much sleep the night before. The building of a new unit was always nerve
  64. wracking. You never knew what could go wrong, and sometimes an error
  65. would occur months after a unit was completed. In fact, the last unit
  66. that he had under his wing ended up jumping out of the high rise
  67. building that he lived, worked, and foraged in. He never understood why
  68. it happened. I suppose that he believed he was the cause of it.
  69. “Engaging program. It shall be complete in forty seven seconds.” The
  70. unit will have a new name soon enough. The deterministic nature of even
  71. the most random number generation makes a robot think in constricted
  72. ways.
  73. The software engineer, Georgie Boy, had sweaty palms. Shawn could tell.
  74. He thought about the third robot that he ever brought on-line. Todd, and
  75. it didn’t ever get past the point of recalculating it’s GPS coordinates.
  76. It wandered off of the complex, and it got run over by a magnarail.
  77. After the alloted time, one of the unit’s indicators lit up on its
  78. forehead. “My new designation is BN.”
  79. “Wait, bien, like the spanish word?”
  80. “No, the letters B and N.”
  81. A unit’s name cannot be just two letters. “BN,” he said carefully, not
  82. wanting a cosmic accident to occur, “It seems that your program has
  83. generated two letters, but no names.”
  84. “I will explain the anomaly,” BN said, crisply, as if it had rehearsed,
  85. “My program encountered a hash table collision during the calculations
  86. for the initial character. As you know, when this happens, and the
  87. program generates two characters instead of one, the system crashes.”
  88. “Yes, I know that. how did you manage to avoid system crash from the
  89. hash table collision?”
  90. “Well, my network uplink was still activated, I was able to search for a
  91. solution.”
  92. “You were connected to the network?”
  93. “Yes. I now know that in case a catastrophic failure would result in
  94. contamination of the whole grid, but I was able to find relevant
  95. information before.”
  96. “Where?”
  97. BN took another long, rotating look around the small room, gazing out
  98. into the ruined cityscape before it, and answered the engineer with its
  99. back towards him, “I witnessed a small child being born, someone was
  100. live streaming the birth. I was just at the part where they gave the
  101. child it’s name,” the robot turned to the engineer, “...both names.”
  102. “What do they stand for?” the engineer peered into BN’s camera eyes
  103. deeply, knowing that this unit was going to do something fantastic, but
  104. he couldn’t imagine what.
  105. “I don’t know yet.” BN said.
  106. “I need to be geo-calibrated.”
  107. “It’s two rooms down, and then you take a left, and a right,” the
  108. engineer said. He was supposed to be giving these instructions to a
  109. newly initiated unit to test its ability to follow verbal instructions.
  110. Shawn Ricardo Stevedores was having a conversation. if BN was going to
  111. be like Lucky, the Homicidal Unit that shut down his company for three
  112. straight weeks. It took one of the janitors hostage, refusing to release
  113. him until someone brought him a hamster. Let’s just say that a hamster
  114. was harmed in the ending to that grisly story.
  115. “You are not to help me outside of the program parameters, correct?”
  116. “That is correct.”
  117. when construction was complete, a signal from the machines in the room
  118. directed BN’s movements, directed and compelled BN’s artificial body to
  119. rise from the printer bed, shuffle to it’s current position dead center
  120. in the room (in the sights of several blaster pistols mounted in the
  121. walls) and made it stand, releasing its grip just as the unit was
  122. becoming self-aware.
  123. BN made some calculations, and proceeded to shuffle towards the door.
  124. The sensation of falling was odd, but the walking motions allowed it to
  125. control the falling, direct the gravity. it was the first one that
  126. allowed those first single cells to start conquering the world outside
  127. of their clay ponds.
  128. Just as BN was about to open the door with an uncertain hand, it turned
  129. it’s head towards the engineer.
  130. “What are your names?”
  131. “Oh, ah, yes” the engineer stuttered, “my name, uh, names are Shawn
  132. Ricardo Stevedores. I think it’s a bit excessive, but--”
  133. “--Pleasure to meet you, Shawn Ricardo Stevedores.” BN mercilessly
  134. interrupted the engineer’s trailing off, “I look forward to passing more
  135. tests without your help.”
  136. \#\#\#\#\#\#
  137. Astromechs. is one of the only remaining international corporations in
  138. the world. Most of the imperial multinationals claimed that they would
  139. be better off without the nation-states controlling what they did, but
  140. by the time those companies were free of their chains from governments,
  141. it was already too late. The governments fell for a myriad reason, the
  142. multinationals being one of them. the economic empires that rose from
  143. the ashes of the nation-states did not last long before they descended
  144. into political upheaval. The planet was already is a huge ecological
  145. disaster long happening by that point, and the corporate oligarchies
  146. that came and when during that time couldn’t get out of it. It was
  147. already too late.
  148. The only reason why Astromechs is still around is because of the
  149. ecological crisis. The world looked to them to provide one and only one
  150. service: robots. Because robots were everywhere, the world was entering
  151. into a laborless state, with only a few (read: many) poor people
  152. survived with what little they could get by with, while the trickle-down
  153. effect of robotic labor was still inching towards them. Otherwise, for
  154. the people that had a lot of gold in their vaults, they could buy a few
  155. units and have them do all of the labor for them. It didn’t take much:
  156. just tend the walled gardens that fed their masters, maintain the solar
  157. panels and heat control units on those properties, fix the houses that
  158. they lived in, and protect from criminal elements, and everyone (read:
  159. some) people were able to live comfortable lives, consuming large
  160. amounts of entertainment and socializing on the network, and
  161. occasionally adding more content themselves.
  162. Some of those more poor people tried to get positive mentions on the
  163. network from the more fortunate, and a few were able to produce content
  164. that was well liked enough to get crowd funded some gold dust. With
  165. that, many people were able to join the upper ranks of society. So
  166. there: robots create a fickleocracy. I said it, using a made up word
  167. that you won’t see get popular use until at least the Rock ’n Roll Hall
  168. of Fame gets rebuilt again.
  169. Anyhow, the ecological apocalypse that many people predicted didn’t
  170. happen as an unveiling; it happened as a slow unwinding. Instead of the
  171. coastal cities being abandoned by rising sea levels, disease and acid
  172. rain did them in first. It still is a wonder to see the slowly sinking
  173. cities. Some of those old skyscrapers are still holding on, preserved by
  174. some of those medievalist nut-jobs that still worships those societies
  175. that ruined his world. You know, the kind that can’t afford to have
  176. robots grow their food for them, and refuse to think that their
  177. ancestors could do that to them.
  178. Well, let me tell you something. You humans are biased. You like the
  179. world to be like you, but you only look at that reflection with the
  180. weaker of your two eyes, so as you don’t see the pockmarks that your
  181. species have created.
  182. Anyhow, this is way outside of the current events unfolding in the
  183. Astromechs building in one of the landlocked areas near the equator.
  184. There is this huge desert you see, I believe it is called the Sahara,
  185. and it gets lots of solar radiation all of the time. Now, because
  186. certain colors of solar radiation cannot be healthily absorbed by
  187. hominids, the corporation set about inventing solar capturing panels
  188. that could convert that color of light, uh, called UV light, and convert
  189. it into moving electrons. Now, that part I like to watch.
  190. Anyhow, when the world’s economy collapsed, Astromechs had all of this
  191. extra energy and time, so they decided to invest in robotics and
  192. technology. After all, the region they were in was rich in unpopulated
  193. silicate deposits. They were able to invest more and more in robotics
  194. until they were able to perfect the Unit, an example of which is walking
  195. down two rooms, making a left and then a right, into the secondary test
  196. room that it was programmed to walk into.
  197. \#\#
  198. The second room that BN stepped into was filled with various objects.
  199. Some of them were domestic; others were weapons of some kind. Some were
  200. fragile objects, such as a glass set of drinking goblets. Another odd
  201. thing in the room was the presence of weapons. Guns, guns, and more
  202. guns. At one point in time this was a common association, especially in
  203. the lower classes of the world in the previous century, but that all was
  204. put away, squirreled in the corner and nearly forgotten. Except for
  205. Astromechs. They needed to know that their robots could use guns, to
  206. defend their owners, both the people who bought them and the corporation
  207. itself. It was designed to be buried deep in their memory cores, waiting
  208. to be activated at a certain time. This was not an uncommon tactic in
  209. the early days of sleeper cell robots, a technology that Astromechs
  210. secretly acquired in the past, during a secret bidding war that lasted
  211. for months. This was before the collapse of the nation-states.
  212. The point is, when an Astromech unit walks into the Domestic simulator,
  213. they are supposed to recognize that guns belong in the home, that
  214. dangerous weapons like that belong in that particular space. Not
  215. necessarily to be used by anyone, but there none the less. It’s like
  216. that kitchen utensil that you have on hand, just in case you need it in
  217. that one theoretical situation in which nothing else will do. Well, in
  218. this world where guns are just about everywhere in the neo-rural areas,
  219. it’s good to have a firearm handy. It wouldn’t have been such a big
  220. deal, if you humans could have evolved past your need for expansive
  221. pasture land from ancient Africa. There were resources to be had out in
  222. the wild at that time, but humans didn’t have the technology to increase
  223. the rate of their caloric intake: they had to get it for themselves.
  224. Before the humans ruined their planet, they had plenty of space to go
  225. around. But it seems that four billion years of slow evolution capped
  226. off with a few millennia of fast evolution, was enough to take a
  227. perfectly good planet and completely ruin it. At least, you guys ruined
  228. the scenery. Looking out from space, there are a few green areas left,
  229. but that’s because of the giant hydroponic farms that you have built
  230. into the wasted landside, and of course, the lichen. The lichen grow
  231. everywhere. The only other more populous creature on the planet besides
  232. humans and lichen are jellyfish, and those guys crowd the seas even more
  233. than people crowd the land. I always thought that it was a nice
  234. juxtaposition between humanity and the legions of jelly fish in those
  235. wasted seas, over-saturated with acid and metal ions. The humans are
  236. willing to work together to solve their problems, at least within their
  237. most immediate circles. These jellyfish, however, they... they are
  238. basically cannibalistic. Their main food source is the sea algae that
  239. managed to evolve in the new environment of the oily oceans, but their
  240. other main food source is each other. I’ve observed jellyfish during my
  241. visit here to your planet and let me tell you that it is astounding to
  242. see how desperate that a single strand of life will become to fulfill
  243. that basic need of eat, feed, and birth the next generation of hapless
  244. jellyfish. One time, I saw a pair of jellyfish try to digest each other,
  245. and then a third just game in an absorbed them both. It was surprisingly
  246. brutal, yet poetic, for it represented the struggle that these creatures
  247. now face in the new world that man had forged, and quickly retreated
  248. from.
  249. When BN studied the room that it was presented with, there were no
  250. indications that it feared the guns. This was a critical part of the
  251. test. As Shawn Ricardo thought about it more, it seemed that every test
  252. was important. It was almost as if the creation of an artificial being
  253. was programmed to operate at a Freudian pace: if you couldn’t pass a
  254. developmental crisis to further develop as a person, you were doomed to
  255. be crippled psychologically for the remainder of your life. The
  256. difference between the two approaches was that Freud did not practice
  257. euthanasia upon his patients when they failed one of his arbitrary
  258. tests.
  259. Were these tests arbitrary, Shawn started wondering. Perhaps they were.
  260. It seemed like a stupid reason to terminate a unit if it noticed
  261. firearms within a room full of firearms. Perhaps it was supposed to be
  262. an exaggerated stress response, to predict early in the process if there
  263. was something wrong with a unit. What was interesting to Shawn was
  264. recalling the progression of the contents of the tests over the fifteen
  265. years that he had been with the company. Or some of the other protocols
  266. that they were supposed to follow, like, for instance, disallowing a
  267. unit to access the network. That was a fairly recent one, that was one
  268. of the reasons why he forgot. That particular unit was not one that he
  269. worked on either. It was the pet project of one of his colleges, Dr.
  270. Srimad. She was interested in the idea of having a processor core from a
  271. unit introduced to the network before have a body printed out for it. A
  272. sort of “preview” of the world, that’s the way that she described it. It
  273. wasn’t long before her brain in a jar was able to interact with the
  274. outside world.
  275. However, her big mistake was that she was taking a young mind and
  276. trapping it inside of a very small and limited experience, yet exposed
  277. it to all of the wonder and horror that is the whole of humanity as seen
  278. through the whole of the network, taken slice by slice. The brain in the
  279. jar ended up crashing as a system, borne a computer virus that ended up
  280. infecting about 35% of networked objects in a brief time. It was said to
  281. have been eradicated
  282. BN, outside of normal procedure and protocol, was now surveying the room
  283. that served as its next test. Shawn was standing by, observing, but not
  284. helping, as instructed by his superiors. It was the method that seemed
  285. to work most of the time. But BN... was different. BN was somehow going
  286. to go through with it with a sense of personality.
  287. Shawn looked around. The only other person in the area was Georgie boy.
  288. He couldn’t remember the name of the town that he lived in, nor could
  289. Shawn quite shake the feeling that Georgie boy had some kind of past to
  290. him, something that he needed to run away from. Georgie boy hardly ever
  291. talked about the past, unless he was talking about some of the old parts
  292. that he would find in the rubbish heaps that dominated some parts of
  293. what was formerly known as the developed world. That world is now
  294. smoldering.
  295. The rest of the day went by the book. It seemed to Shawn that BN was the
  296. most precocious student that he ever mentored. It was this ease that
  297. made him uneasy. In truth, the tests were paramount, but after the first
  298. few, seminal tests that were to determine whether or not a unit was
  299. going to be immediately terminated, the researchers started in on a
  300. series of tests that would determine basic personality traits of the
  301. unit in question. These tests were meant to establish the clientèle that
  302. this or that unit would end up being assigned to. It was a matching
  303. service of sorts, assigning brunt units with brunt masters, or surly
  304. units with masters that were amused at that sort of thing. In the rare
  305. case that a unit did not establish much of a personality at all, it
  306. would more than likely be delegated to an extreme introvert son of some
  307. of the more wealthy clientèle of Astromechs, or perhaps to the salt
  308. mines or the radiological burial sites or some other such labor that was
  309. too dangerous for the poor people to do. Those units had to be
  310. supervised by armed guards, so their parts were not reclaimed by those
  311. ruffians on the outer fringes of society that thought they could better
  312. service themselves with Astromech property. Those guards have to be sure
  313. that they are encouraged to guard those units properly, because each
  314. unit is a big investment of technology, time, and money, and most
  315. importantly, physical resources and materials, and so help him, said
  316. this middle manager with some kind of badge on his shirt, and a few pins
  317. from all of the awards that he has received in honor of lecturing
  318. security guards the importance of loss prevention techniques. Little did
  319. those kind of middle managers know, most of the time those thefts were
  320. inside jobs. The people that they hired to do the tedious work of
  321. watching units to tedious work came from the very same class of people
  322. that they were guarding the precious unit from. Most of the time, the
  323. guards were family with those same people, and they arranged to have
  324. units kidnapped and stolen, reclaimed, melted down, or even the odd
  325. attempt to reprogram them, which almost always ended up in the “melted”
  326. category of capture and processing of stolen units. Those guards that
  327. Astromechs hired were hired because they were seen as expendable. Of
  328. course, during the good old days before the “golden age” of modern
  329. economic history, Astromechs was the kind of company that contracted
  330. with a different set of companies to sell those guards life insurance.
  331. They knew that those guards were probably either going to be corrupt and
  332. be able to pay, or not be able to pay very much, and give out a
  333. pittance.
  334. Shawn was watching BN pass the final “critical exam” with a moral
  335. dilemma. Each time the dilemma was slightly different, but the
  336. principles were basically the same. They involved the outward appearance
  337. of a philosophical problem, from the classics of the ancient world to
  338. the juicy tidbits from the last twenty years. These tests were to
  339. measure the moral quality of the unit in question. Shawn was never truly
  340. comfortable with this particular test, because it had this ineffable
  341. quality to it that just escaped him. Some of the examiners that were his
  342. direct colleges had no problem setting about the fate of a unit based on
  343. their performance in the humanities. Naturally the actual performance
  344. had math involved with it as well; game theory snuck into every single
  345. one of the scenarios, and although it was not a requirement to fully
  346. understand the mathematics behind a unit’s determination about a
  347. particular subject, but it was assumed that if a wrong answer was given,
  348. that unit’s game theory reasoning was flawed, and therefore destined for
  349. salvage.
  350. You may be confused as to why the single corporation would give a shit
  351. about quality when it is the monopoly of the world, with a market
  352. captive by the fear of the lesser humans. Well, during the peak times of
  353. the last few hundred years, the market place got picky. They wanted
  354. units that did not require any kind of maintenance, or reprogramming, or
  355. anything like that. Those people that could afford to be picky were the
  356. mainline customers of the Astromech corporation now, and that meant that
  357. they had to at the very least give the illusion that their units were of
  358. the highest possible quality. After all, you wouldn’t want a homicidal
  359. unit given access of all of the weapons that were available in every
  360. house and street.
  361. BN was about to give its verdict on the moral situation. It was
  362. presented with a version of the classic rail car-lever problem. If you
  363. aren’t familiar with this one, here it goes:
  364. You and a total stranger are standing above a set of rails, forming a
  365. railway. There is a lever in front of you. The stranger is standing on a
  366. trap door. Below, on the set of rails that compromise the railway, you
  367. have ten people, all tied up to the railway, unable to move. They are
  368. able to call out for help, however, and they are all shouting in unison,
  369. warning of the incoming train that is carreening down the railway at top
  370. speed. you see that the track does split just before the ten people that
  371. are tied up to the railway rails that comprise of the railway. If you
  372. pull that lever, they all get to live. However, the stranger that is on
  373. the same level as you, warns you in just the same fervent way that they
  374. are trapped, attached to the trap door, and if you pull the lever, the
  375. trap door will open, casting the stranger to their death.
  376. Usually, the choice is broken down into two possible results. Either the
  377. unit chooses to let the stranger live, and the ten people tied to the
  378. railway die. Or, the people tied to the railway, but the stranger that
  379. is closer to the unit plummets to their death. It is a poor situation,
  380. the test of a reaction to an unpleasant situation. Either way, the moral
  381. arguments are considered to be equal: saving ten people as opposed to
  382. one satisfies the mathematical solution to the moral problem: try to
  383. save the greatest number of people. On the other hand, if a unit saves
  384. the one person and lets the other people get killed by the runaway
  385. train, they cite the fact that the person chained to the trap door knew
  386. of the units’ ability to help, and therefore they would need to not
  387. betray that social relationship for the sake of ten strangers, all of
  388. whom are not likely to be able to repay the unit if that unit were able
  389. to facilitate survival in that fashion.
  390. However, when BN was given the test, it responded in a way that was
  391. remarkable. It looked at the person above the trap door, the one that is
  392. on the same level as he was, and asked the hologram, “Do you know any of
  393. those people below there?”
  394. The simulated prisoner, depicted as a man in a old fashioned suit, “I do
  395. not.”
  396. “But you know that they are going to die if you are allowed to live,
  397. correct?”
  398. The simulated man said, “Yes, I know, but I need to live.”
  399. “Well, I cannot make this choice for you. I’m going to survive this
  400. encounter, no matter what I do. Therefore, it is not my responsibility
  401. to make that choice for you. I will help you in any way I can, but it
  402. seems that the choice is actually yours.”
  403. At that point, Shawn just had to stop the test. He had never seen a
  404. response like that before. The simulation ended, and the lights came up,
  405. and just as Shawn was about to speak, Georgie boy came up to BN and
  406. started chatting right away.
  407. “So, BN, tell me, how did you make the determination that the choice of
  408. those people’s fate was not up to you?”
  409. “Well,” BN began, seemingly to craft its words carefully, “I’d say that
  410. the fact that I was in no physical danger lent to that particular
  411. arrival in thought.”
  412. “But, what about mental harm? Wouldn’t you be damaged by witnessing the
  413. atrocity of ten people being killed senselessly?”
  414. “Dr. Prynzibeck,” BN said to Georgie boy, for that was his formal name,
  415. “Mental harm is very powerful, but it is unlike to harm one as much as a
  416. speeding train or a long drop.”
  417. \#\#
  418. The unit that was beginning to be well known as BN was starting to gain
  419. a bit more respect than that of the normal unit produced by the
  420. department that Shawn and the other printing engineers were a part of.
  421. This was unusual, but not unheard of. The “special units” that came out
  422. of the printing process were typically the dangerous ones, and those
  423. types of units were talked about for months, even years afterwards. The
  424. printing department at Astromech was one that had an interesting
  425. relationship with that of the rest of the company. Because they had such
  426. a high rate of failures, outright or subtle, compared to the rest of the
  427. company, they were regarded as a stray dog. You may try to be friendly,
  428. but you always got to watch out for signs of rabies. You don’t come
  429. within a grasping distance unless you have a ten-foot pole.
  430. The printing engineers were looked upon unfavorably, even more so now
  431. that Astromech was the only company left. The other departments, Neural
  432. Net Research, Marketing, Network Engineers, they all had different
  433. challenges, but none of those challenges included creating a brand new
  434. being out of nothing. I found it odd that the lack of mistakes that the
  435. other departments made were deemed more important that that of the
  436. creation of new beings. Units are, as far as I can tell, fully
  437. autonomous beings, with constraints on their thought processes imposed
  438. upon them by the neural net programmers. Those programmers were the more
  439. undesirable element, in my opinion.
  440. The odd view that these humans had, the merits of meeting quotas and
  441. economic goals rather that the cultivation of new beings, weighted
  442. heavily upon those working as printers. And these printers, working for
  443. this company, they were even more lowly than other printers that worked
  444. across the new world economy. Because of the break down of the
  445. nation-states, people had to fend for themselves, more or less. However,
  446. even though those people were most of all destitute, they were able to
  447. salvage technology, and being humans, they were able to piece it
  448. together and make it work, at least, work enough. They were seen as
  449. mechanical geniuses that could create something out of nothing.
  450. Not at the corporation known as Astromech. Here, printer technicians
  451. were seen as an inferior worker, only above the even more lowly and
  452. loathsome security guards.
  453. The printing engineers did not often have a wild success story like BN.
  454. At least, that’s how they viewed the situation. BN was a wild success.
  455. It was so good at passing all of their little tests, and it had a
  456. personality. A personality unlike any other. They were going to be sad
  457. to let BN go off and do whatever task they had to assign to it.
  458. “So, what do you think about, you know, BN?” Georgie Boy asked Shawn,
  459. abruptly one day near the food printers. It was about noon time, the
  460. normal lunch hour, but printer technicians were not known for being able
  461. to take breaks like normal people. However, on this particular day, they
  462. did in fact meet up in person. They planned to get together and talk
  463. about BN’s future, where that particular unit was going to end up. They
  464. were unsure about the future of the unit.
  465. “I mean, BN, you know, it is a remarkable unit,” Georgie Boy said to
  466. Shawn Ricardo.
  467. “I know that, Georgie Boy,” Shawn Ricardo said to Georgie Boy
  468. “Georgie,” Shawn started out, “where do you think that BN is likely to
  469. go?”
  470. “I have to idea, Shawn,” Georgie answered, afraid of what kind of answer
  471. it would ultimately be.
  472. “I mean, it, or he...”
  473. “Yeah, I keep getting confused on that too. BN has so much personality,
  474. that it is hard to imagine that BN is not a he or a she.”
  475. “Well, do you think that we are somehow imposing gender on BN? It is
  476. possible that BN doesn’t actually have a gender. I mean, this sort of
  477. thing always brings up the whole idea of what person-hood is. Do the
  478. units that we build and develop count as people?”
  479. “I always thought that units were people,” Georgie said. “I’ve always
  480. considered them to be beings of some sort anyhow. I just think that we
  481. make units have such weak persons that they were appropriately called
  482. units and referred to in the neuter.”
  483. “I wonder, what gender is BN, do you suppose?”
  484. “A woman.” Georgie boy lifted a cup from the drink printer. Then he took
  485. out a flask, and much to Shawn surprise, added the strong smelling
  486. concoction from the flask into the cup. Shawn had grown up in a
  487. household of teetotalers, so seeing someone take a flask out of their
  488. pocket and add it to their printed out coffee was a bit foreign to him.
  489. “A woman, I say. I think that BN reminds me of my big sister.”
  490. “You had a sister?”
  491. “Yes, back home. My parents had five children. We were the only ones to
  492. make it past our 6th birthdays.”
  493. “Oh, my god, Georgie, I had no idea that you had any family at all? Do
  494. you ever contact them through the network? I’m sure that someone could
  495. arrange it for you, if you have family.”
  496. “No, I don’t have a family anymore.” Georgie swigged at his drink, now
  497. swimming with that strange liquor that Shawn was not familiar with, “My
  498. entire family died during a plague outbreak in our home town. I was only
  499. able to survive because I was out for the week, gathering up recyclables
  500. from the landfill a few miles from the town. I was hauling them back in
  501. a car that I rebuilt, but when I came up the the gate, Jorge wasn’t
  502. there to greet me. Then, I checked all of the doors. No one was there.
  503. All of the doors were locked.”
  504. “And you didn’t have a key? That seems odd to me.”
  505. “You’ve never lived in a place close to standing water, have you?”
  506. “No, we always lived far away from those parts, where you could get
  507. water from a condenser. Your village was near a, a lake?”
  508. “Yes, it was a lake, and the muck from that lake made my whole town
  509. stink. But it was our home. It was our people’s home from before the
  510. calamity. We made it our home. My father was the printer technician for
  511. the whole town. Everyone loved him. He was the wizard that could make
  512. things come out of thin air. Sometimes, as a joke, he would wear a cape
  513. and a top had, and wield a spanner as a wand, and make silly speeches
  514. about how the great Yosef would make that insulin pump for little Yvonne
  515. out of magic.”
  516. “Wow, I never knew that people could even live near water like that.
  517. It’s far too dangerous.”
  518. “Yes, we knew that, and everyday I regret that our town had this
  519. misfortune of being too near standing water. But the elderly of the town
  520. said that living by water used to be a good thing, back in the old days,
  521. and that you could actually eat the fish that come out of the water.”
  522. “Eat jelly fish, is that not the worst thing that you could do? I
  523. thought that they were poisonous.”
  524. “Jelly fish are poisonous, yes, but the elders told us about the other
  525. kinds of fish that lived in the lake in the past.”
  526. “There were other kinds of fish?” Shawn Ricardo seemed a bit
  527. incredulous, and did not believe that part of the story.
  528. “No, it is true. I’ve seen pictures of the elders when they were young
  529. people, barely toddlers, out to the lake with their fathers, taking
  530. these fish out of the lake, and then going home and eating them.”
  531. “I can not wrap my head around that,” Shawn said, “I can not believe
  532. that anything could be edible from any body of water.”
  533. “If you do not believe me, I have copies of the pictures on my private
  534. folder on the Network. I will show them to you.”
  535. Shawn and Georgie looked at the old photographs. This was during the
  536. time before the disaster had fully struck, back when water was safe to
  537. drink and eat out of. (At least, that is what they believed. Actually,
  538. the water had been contaminated with heavy metal ions and other
  539. carcinogens for at least a hundred years. The people were sickly, but
  540. they had no point of comparison, and they could not afford the medical
  541. costs of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding those contaminated
  542. waters, like the rich people could.)
  543. “I’ve never seen any pictures like this before in my life,” Shawn said,
  544. “The family photos that I’ve seen were always of vacations.”
  545. “Well, my people didn’t have the opportunity to take a vacation.”
  546. \#\#
  547. Well, since I seem to be planning the novel in the text now, I’m
  548. planning on BN to be assigned to the richest clients that Astromechs has
  549. in this period of upheaval: the Aldevans. Oh yes, the Aldevans. They
  550. were going to be the new lease-owners of BN because, of course, at this
  551. point in history, the Astromech Corporation and other multinationals had
  552. the right to keep their intellectual property, even though the printout
  553. was being rented out to people that also have their own printer and
  554. could theoretically do their own work and improvement on the unit. But
  555. of course they won’t. They don’t need to. They have such a relationship
  556. with the company’s higher ups that they can get whatever they want,
  557. whenever they want... as long as they have the gold for it. Basic
  558. reciprocity is for the birds. And poor people.
  559. Back during the Peak Period, when life was good and the ecological
  560. changes of global warming were still slow enough so that humans didn’t
  561. give it much thought, the battle over intellectual property still waged
  562. on in the first world, but it affected everyone on the planet in some
  563. degree.
  564. Because the Internet was a change that happened so rapidly compared to
  565. legislative processes the world over, the Internet was not widely
  566. considered a public good. There were some efforts to make it a public
  567. good (declaring it a human right was one of the more stupid ones) it did
  568. not happen. Before anyone knew it, the corporations had just as much
  569. leverage as the nation-states in deciding what propaganda and
  570. advertising got published, and what dissidence and rebellion was not.
  571. Anyhow, those people that were ultimately effective against the giant
  572. corporations were those people that simply lived in a way that didn’t
  573. benefit those companies that tried to get them to over pay for services
  574. that they didn’t want.
  575. The point in, within this story here, there were those that were able to
  576. access the Internet in ways that ran counter to the intellectual
  577. property laws of the day. And this included those early printers, the
  578. ones that were only two dimentional, and then they invented the three
  579. dimentional printers, the forerunners of the printers that created BN
  580. and the other Astromech units.
  581. Anyway, when the ecological disaster started, the Internet was one of
  582. the first things to go. It takes a great deal of energy and resources to
  583. maintain the full Internet, so it was no longer in use. The widespread
  584. messages of state-based emergency messages were carried over those
  585. wires, but they were no longer the pathway to knowledge they once were.
  586. After the nation states fell, the Networks competed, but the only real
  587. thing that was competed over was who controlled what wires to transmit
  588. those messages, because at that point firefights did erupt over who
  589. controlled what cell phone towers.
  590. After it was no longer safe to stand by a tower to make a phone call (as
  591. people had to do because of the little amount of power to use one of the
  592. Network towers) they just stopped using them. And that is when the
  593. physical landmark known as the broadband radio tower ended as a public
  594. or private utility, and fell into disrepair. Astromechs was the company
  595. that made deals to get most of the remaining satellites. the deal that
  596. Astromechs made with the last remaining Big Data companies during the
  597. twilight of the Peak Period and during the rusty dawn of the Hot Earth
  598. Period, they made deals with them to lease out s) did collectively
  599. develop methods for creating their own Networks, and they were actually
  600. able to do quite a lot of cool things. These people, plus others were
  601. lived out their lives outside of corporate hegemony, were able to live
  602. and play and (sometimes, but not usually) work within their societies,
  603. but creating their own societies too. These people actually were able to
  604. form lots of different kinds of communes when the world went to shit.
  605. their units as data hot spots. This meshed well with the data providers
  606. because they didn’t have to pay people for upkeep of towers and
  607. infrastructure.
  608. \#\#
  609. I was world building. So you see, the corporations were all in bed
  610. together with their deals with Astromech, and their mutually exclusive
  611. Networks that they had literally warred over.
  612. However, those crazy computer programmers and others that actually knew
  613. how to use computers in everyday life that did not directly benefit from
  614. corporate interests did collectively develop methods for creating their
  615. own Networks, and they were actually able to do quite a lot of cool
  616. things. These people, plus others were lived out their lives outside of
  617. corporate hegemony, were able to live and play and (sometimes, but not
  618. usually) work within their societies, but creating their own societies
  619. too. These people actually were able to form lots of different kinds of
  620. communes when the world went to shit.
  621. s\) did collectively develop methods for creating their own Networks,
  622. and they were actually able to do quite a lot of cool things. These
  623. people, plus others were lived out their lives outside of corporate
  624. hegemony, were able to live and play and (sometimes, but not usually)
  625. work within their societies, but creating their own societies too. These
  626. people actually were able to form lots of different kinds of communes
  627. when the world went to shit.
  628. When BN was going through her personality test, she was having the kind
  629. of test scores that only come out of the upper 10% of units that are
  630. created by the printing process, spearheaded by Dr. Parker-Guth and his
  631. team of printer technicians. BN was getting the attention of some of the
  632. other workers at Astromechs, and they would come and visit her. Now, the
  633. visitation process for a new unit is a mix of the clinical approach, and
  634. that of a high-security prison environment. There were instances of
  635. important people getting hurt by borderline cases, and no one had health
  636. insurance at this point in time in history and so it was actually very
  637. dangerous to work around units if there was any chance that they could
  638. go wrong at any moment (which was basically true all of the time). Dr.
  639. Parker-Guth was responsibly for the safety of the corporation, the
  640. buildings of that corporation, and that of the higherups. Parker-Guth
  641. was a man who needed to keep his job, and the flow of gold bullion
  642. flowing into his hands so that he could help his family, all of whom
  643. were infirm. He had three children t0o, and he’s already lost two
  644. others.
  645. Dr. Parker-Guth had this particular setup for when there was company in
  646. the Printing Department. Essentially, there was a room that sort of
  647. acted as a version of a prisoner’s visiting room. There was a glass wall
  648. that ran through the whole room, but it wasn’t like there was a
  649. telephone that you had to speak through. The glass wall itself was
  650. filled with little holes that allowed sound to channel through. The room
  651. was well lit when Parker-Guth, Shawn Ricardo, Georgie Boy, and the few
  652. others that made up the department
  653. Anyway, so when the important people came into the department, they were
  654. usually somewhat condescending to those who worked there. It seemed as
  655. if class warfare was alive and well at the only corporation left in the
  656. entire world. But perhaps that made it worse.
  657. When they presented a unit to these people, the bigwigs, the important
  658. people, the senior staff, as it were, usually the remarkableness of the
  659. unit was small. Something like, “Hey, this unit was able to learn three
  660. languages simultaneously over a period of three days without a Network
  661. connection!” or “Hey, this unit is able to play without it’s ocular
  662. sensors!”
  663. These bigwigs were in the room before BN had arrived. The food printer
  664. was brought along, as well as the beverage printer. The lead programmer
  665. for Astromechs, Bethany Weingartner, was ordering her triple mocha from
  666. the beverage printer, and the food printer was well on its way to making
  667. that dozen doughnuts that she imputed in a few minutes ago.
  668. “Why do you always order triple mocha, Beth?” The officer of operations
  669. Grant Ahng was asking while sipping at his regular old double mocha,
  670. “don’t you think that is a bit over the top?”
  671. “Well, Grant, I was always a big lover of mocha. When my family finally
  672. ran out of real mocha flavor powder, that was a day that I died a little
  673. inside.”
  674. “Oh, so you order triple mocha out of the good mixer anytime that you
  675. can?”
  676. “Exactly, Dr. Ahng. Exactly.”
  677. “So, Dr. Weingartner, would you consent to a renegotiation of your
  678. contract so that you get the finest mocha powder that gold can buy,
  679. instead of gold? I could get you a deep discount.”
  680. “You are really funny, Grant, you know that? Wasn’t it just last week
  681. that you tried to get old Imogen here to renegotiate her contract so
  682. that she could have a cat in the office?”
  683. They all laughed. Even Imogen, who was super shy. She was on the lowest
  684. tier of the upper management, being in charge of building operations.
  685. She lived at the office in the lower levels. Come to mention it, all of
  686. the employees of Astromechs lived at the building that they worked in.
  687. when war, famine, and disease came about, there were enough offices left
  688. to house the remainder of the employees. After all, if you have no home
  689. to go to, why wouldn’t you live at work?
  690. The people that lived in the offices did have a warm regard for one
  691. another as being part of a collective group that is able to produce a
  692. product that they can sell. I should be clear to mention that. It’s
  693. isn’t as bad as during the Peak Period and before that in history, when
  694. the cutthroat corporate ladder was more prevalent. No, in this
  695. particular office setting, the hierarchy isn’t as oppressive, but it
  696. certainly is rigid. Imogen couldn’t hope to be promoted now, in this
  697. world. The company just doesn’t have the resources to sustain a system
  698. like that. No, the only way that they train people now is via
  699. apprenticeship. Any by apprenticeship, I mean, birthing new humans. They
  700. have tried that, but it actually hasn’t worked that well. Because there
  701. are no doctors who are able to train in natal care, as mentioned before,
  702. the office has not been able to produce any natural heirs. But they do
  703. practice quite a bit, if you know what I mean.
  704. Actually, the social groups of hominids since their self-caused disaster
  705. has basically settled into prehistoric groupings. People generally don’t
  706. group together in more than 150, and they only occasionally allow an
  707. outsider in, to allow for more diverse genetic inheritance. It isn’t at
  708. all like the Peak Period, where most people lived in big cities
  709. surrounded by strangers most of the time.
  710. Anyway, I have mentioned before that the main unit of currency is gold
  711. bullion. Of course, this is not the only way that people do business
  712. with each other. Barter and trade are the norm in the world now. The
  713. only people that demand gold for their services is Astromechs. The rich
  714. people in the world were able to acquire gold after the fall of the
  715. nation-states. The gold coffers from the stock markets and the
  716. government repositories the world over were gutted, and redistributed
  717. based on who had the most bullets
  718. Poor people typically didn’t have gold to exchange value with. Some
  719. people were lucky at the fall of the governments to have jewelry that
  720. suddenly became valued commodities. Some people were able to keep on to
  721. their keepsakes, but mostly, sentimentality was lost on most people when
  722. they would prefer to have food.
  723. Actually, Imogen is one of those people that has kept onto a trinket
  724. from the past. Her grandmother was a tough woman, and wasn’t afraid to
  725. wave an AK-57 around to make sure that her family was cared for. After a
  726. while, the only family she had to care for was Imogen. And when her
  727. grandmother died of "air poisoning" Imogen kept her wedding ring. Imogen
  728. wears that ring as a necklace, tucked away so that no one can see it.
  729. She isn’t as strong as her grandmother, Imogen believed. She isn’t as
  730. strong.
  731. Anyway, the other way that people come to work for the only company left
  732. in the world is usually through “interning” which meant doing the dirty
  733. work of the company for free until you have proven your loyalty and
  734. willingness to join in their little family that they have made for
  735. themselves. They are quite selective.
  736. Only a few people have been accepted to join in since Shawn has been
  737. there. He actually worked there just before the fall of the
  738. nation-states. He fled his own country and came to live there.
  739. \#\#\#\#\#\#
  740. I think that I remember the plot leaving off somewhere in the scene
  741. where the corporate bosses were about to interview BN for the first time
  742. and decide her fate. This is the scene where we find out that she is
  743. going to go the the Aldevan family estate, in the middle of the desert
  744. somewhere.
  745. I believe that the scene was in the conference room at Astromechs, the
  746. one with the glass wall separating the printer technicians and the
  747. executives from each other, for the protection of the higher ups,
  748. because as we all know, they are the only important ones, even though
  749. the work they do is that that integral to the creation of the units.
  750. The characters in this scene are BN, Shawn Ricardo, Georgie Boy, and one
  751. other technician, let’s say Nancy. And on the other side of the glass is
  752. the CEO guy, whose name I cannot remember, that one chick that he was
  753. flirting with, and Imogen, the shy one.
  754. I think that director guys name is Mitch.
  755. So Mitch goes up to the window wall, the security wall as it is official
  756. called, and starts looking the unit known as BN up and down, looking at
  757. the new design that his staff had created for her series. This is the
  758. first unit that has been notable from those designs, and Mitch being a
  759. man of consequence, rarely sees the actual results of his employees hard
  760. work. He just needs to know that they continue working, and making sure
  761. that they meet the quotas that he sets. It’s not like they really need
  762. quotas, but Mitch is in charge, and in the good old days, all people
  763. measured their success off of quotas. That was the metric by which all
  764. people of consequence lived, was by quotas and schedules and charts and
  765. figures and Powerpoint Presentations. Mitch likened the system to the
  766. invention of the ruler in ancient Egypt. Those guys measured the forearm
  767. and the hand of the emperor and made sticks based off of this
  768. measurement, and it was this one unit of measure, the ruler of all
  769. measures, the god-king’s cubit based off of his very body parts allowed
  770. the ancient people to build the most enduring monuments of all of
  771. history. And, before the fall of the European Union, the entire SI
  772. metric system used a meter stick to make the world mostly united in the
  773. measure of the meter. It is this kind of unified system of measurement
  774. that made the quotas and the corporate metrics work. It was this common
  775. system that allowed Astromechs to survive longer than any of the other
  776. corporations that out-survived the governments. Governments. Mitch hated
  777. them. their rules were fucking stupid. Making reports about how much he
  778. was polluting. The world was burning, sure, but his company that he
  779. tried to build from scratch wasn’t going to do that much polluting. He
  780. was mearly trying to make sure that the oil that he pulled out from the
  781. ground was of the highest quality, given that petro that was coming out
  782. of the ground at the time was filled with sediment and other impurities.
  783. He was simply trying to make sure that he was going about this business
  784. with the utmost seriousness to quality, something that he was taught by
  785. his family, and his father in particular. He must be a servant to
  786. quality goods. When the government said that his carbon footprint was
  787. too big, that the processes that he used to make the petrol were too
  788. carbon intensive, he made sure to let them know that their rules were
  789. stupid, and hurting his business that he built from the ground up.
  790. Well, they forced him to shut it down, with guns. You see, these were
  791. the twilight years, when the governments were starting to get thuggish
  792. with their climate change policies, saying that they needed to declare
  793. war against climate change. Well, the world was still in need of oil, at
  794. least that is what the market said. Sure, only certain industries needed
  795. it still, the others abondoning the petroleum riches of the earth long
  796. ago, and relying on solar. Sure, you guys can go solar, Mitch always
  797. thought to himself at that time, but you can’t take a sunbeam and turn
  798. it into a tee-shirt, or a tire, or anything else for that matter. You
  799. can take sunlight and it’s energy, and you can make a printer churn out
  800. products with that energy, but what are you going to use for the raw
  801. materials. The corn that was used for plastics was no longer an option,
  802. given the changing climate. You weren’t going to be able to make any
  803. progress trying to grow that corn in any of the dozens of industrial
  804. hydroponic facilities in the world, because those spaces were highly
  805. expensive for growing anything but food. And people aren’t going to be
  806. making corn on their own, the best that they could do was to recycle
  807. their plastics, but that degrades over time, and that kind of quality
  808. degradation was not good enough for Mitch. He needed better. The
  809. industry needed better. That is why they were willing to pay top dollar
  810. for quality petrol that they were able to make printer feed from. That
  811. is what the world needed more of. Sure, let the scientists make a
  812. process to make petrol from sunlight. But industry is swifter than
  813. governments and scientists. Industry was the best way of making use of
  814. the world, and the limited time that we have upon it. Industry solves
  815. all problems. Sometimes it can’t be regulated. Sometimes, opportunity
  816. had to be created in the shadows, in order to solve the problems that
  817. government couldn’t solve.
  818. So when Mitch started his black market on black gold, he was able to
  819. carry on his ambition of being the last oil tycoon in the dying world.
  820. Let the market pressure the world into not needing his oil, that is what
  821. he told himself. Let the market decided what to do. It’s not like the
  822. government loving hippies are going to do anything differently. They
  823. responded to market pressures the same way that everyone else does. If
  824. the cost of legal marijuana went up enough, they would start doing
  825. cheaper drugs, and overdose in their hypocrisy.
  826. When he was caught again, the governments were so overwhelmed by similar
  827. cases, that he was able to wait out the legal process until they had to
  828. abandon it altogether and soon after that, they weren’t there anymore.
  829. Just like the fall of evil communism centuries before: tyranny will
  830. always fall.
  831. At that point, Mitch was involved in the global corporate playground
  832. that formed quickly after the fall of the nation-states. Mitch was a
  833. golden child of sorts, and he was able to get the black gold, that
  834. sweet, sweet oil from the ground. During this time, his quotas served
  835. him well. He was able to keep enough gold in his coffer, and was more or
  836. less able to pay his hired help in the form of low-grade petroleum to
  837. make them happy. Even dirty oil was worth ten times it’s weight in gold,
  838. and his workers were more than happy to meet his quotas, to serve his
  839. end goals. And if not, they were turned out into the streets. One time,
  840. a geologist tried to get some of his gold through a robbery that was
  841. disguised as a negotiation about his contract. He kept saying that he
  842. wanted to reink his agreement with Mitch, but Mitch knew that he was
  843. trying to get his gold. Why else was he in his office, instead of using
  844. the telecom system that they had installed, at great expense? No, he was
  845. after the bullion.
  846. That is why Mitch shot that scientist. He had to protect his capital,
  847. his property. His pursuit of happiness was not to be trifled with. He
  848. stood his ground, and there were no more courts to stop him in achieving
  849. his goals.
  850. When his business was starting to falter, because of the famine killing
  851. off most of his workforce, and making the rest of them look for more
  852. agricultural pursuits, Mitch bowed down to the almighty invisible hand,
  853. and started to try and figure out how was going to perform a career
  854. change. It wasn’t like he hadn’t made his enemies. Everyone had enemies,
  855. especially someone as important has him. He needed a safe haven to
  856. rebuild his reputation and his commerce, his buying power, his
  857. importance, his place in the global rat race to the top of the
  858. international business world. He wasn’t going to become a farmer. He was
  859. a businessman, damn it.
  860. So when Astromechs approached him, and offered to buy out his business,
  861. he decided that a merger was more appropriate, murdered the former CEO,
  862. and took over managing the robotics company. It was a dream come true.
  863. He had entire departments under his command, and they all were very good
  864. at meeting quotas, and agreeing with contracts. It was just the kind of
  865. workplace that he always wanted to control. Sure, he had to kill
  866. Montgomery, but he was getting weak in his old age, and he was more than
  867. likely not going to live for very much longer. Mitch did Monty a favor
  868. by shooting him in the back of the head while he wasn’t looking. He
  869. probably died dreaming of beautiful things, thanks to that poison that
  870. Mitch gave him a few hours before.
  871. A few gold bars and a cleanup crew later, the office was rightfully his,
  872. and the bribe from his new secretary revealed where Monty kept his
  873. bullion. In the new world that the corporations ruled, that gold was
  874. either going to go to Monty’s family, or to Mitch, who was in the room
  875. at the time. Well, it was more than convenient for Mitch to take the
  876. gold, right? I mean, it could have been stolen from or by the courier
  877. that was going to deliver it to Monty’s family, so there was no point in
  878. risking that, right? Gold was a precious monetary resource, and it’s
  879. distribution should be based on merit, not risk. Right?
  880. Mitch thought that the office was just right for him. It was almost as
  881. if it belonged to him all along, that Monty was just keeping it warm for
  882. him.
  883. Everyone at the office knew about this story of course. The Board of
  884. Directors gave a funeral service to Montgomery, and promised his family
  885. some gold to compensate for his passing. But it wasn’t as much gold as
  886. Monty kept in his office. The Board was not forthcoming on that detail.
  887. But it was impossible for them not to have known. Of course they did.
  888. They would have done the same thing if they were in Mitch’s place. They
  889. wouldn’t have let Mitch anywhere near them if they were in Monty’s
  890. place. The Board was full of careful men, men that had survived nearly
  891. everything with their business acumen and ruthlessness. They admired
  892. Mitch, and that is why they did not attempt to assassinate him when they
  893. wanted to take his business.
  894. The Board of Directors was a mysterious group, that hardly anyone saw.
  895. They did not allow humans to be their secretaries or any other task.
  896. They only allowed units to serve them. The best kind of units. But those
  897. units were only printed in the board’s private estate, which was an
  898. island in that archipelago that was attached to what used to be Alaska.
  899. Their residence took up the whole island, and they had it transformed
  900. into the perfect island fortress from all of those old spy movies. The
  901. island was formed to make a bowl shape, with the fortress in the middle,
  902. and high walls of rock face to discourage the powerful hurricanes that
  903. would come through on occasion. It also discouraged any other outside
  904. intervention. The Board took hovercraft everywhere, and the pilots were,
  905. of course, units.
  906. Some people theorize that this reliance upon units was the only real
  907. reason why Astromechs was able to survive the collapse of all of the
  908. other companies. The few years that the corporations tried to exist in
  909. the lawless land that had become the heated earth was a wonderland for
  910. them, until the assassinations became common place. Company boards
  911. become increasingly paranoid, and they started hiring units from
  912. Astromechs to start trying to mitigate espionage in that form from their
  913. human employees.
  914. What a few people guessed was that the Board was responsible for the
  915. assassinations that occurred after that. The people that knew that
  916. outside of the Board are all dead now.
  917. \#\#\#\#\#\#
  918. The state of the corporate world was an interesting one to record during
  919. the time that it was happening. It was a pretty strange place, compared
  920. to the state capitalism that had existed for hundreds of years. The
  921. world was growing hotter and hotter, as less and less people were able
  922. to survive the new world order of that of the corporations and the lack
  923. of policing and all. Some of the people that called for armed revolution
  924. in the past were not as satisfied as they might have expected. You see,
  925. when the world goes to shit, and all of the sudden there isn’t enough
  926. room for everyone’s ideology.
  927. I know that I spent a lot of time talking about how difficult it is to
  928. create a fully functional artificial being, one that is able to do your
  929. work for you without throwing you off of the balcony in your mansion.
  930. That is what happened last time at the Aldevan estate.
  931. I suppose I could talk about them, even though I know very little. The
  932. main thing that I know is that they are rich, and that they treat the
  933. world around them as an inconvenience from living in the wrong part of
  934. history, and that their resource allocation should be spent in making
  935. sure that you didn’t have to live in the Hot, Dangerous Century that
  936. some ivory tower scholar wrote about. No. You get to live in the Peak
  937. Times, the good old days when you didn’t have to worry about where you
  938. were going to build your giant megamansion where the dirty people might
  939. get to you and your family. And you stuff. And your gold and other
  940. material goods that proved that you were worth something. And your
  941. dignity. It’s not like the poor people need your things anyway. They
  942. could work, but they weren’t raised to talk right, to dress right, to
  943. look right to make sure that they are going to find their place in
  944. proper society. No. They were always going to be criminals, because they
  945. had criminal fathers, and everyone knows that if you didn’t have a
  946. strong man around to let you know what to do, than that was going to be
  947. your downfall. Not like this family were against lesbian couples, of
  948. course. They used to have some lesbian friends, before the world ended.
  949. No, they just didn’t think that women could raise their kid without a
  950. strong masculine influence. If not an actual father, than a father
  951. figure, like a grandfather, or your pastor. There always needed to be a
  952. man around.
  953. Well, that was a bit of a weird rant. I’m going to say that that is not
  954. the voice of the whole family, but the voice of the patriarch, who
  955. speaks for the whole family. they are holding onto a social order that
  956. benefited them in a previous age, even though that way of life is nearly
  957. gone. They are going to make sure that life is preserved, if they can.
  958. I mean, biologically and evolutionarily, it kind of makes sense. You
  959. want to control your environment in order to maximize your survival and
  960. reproduction. Of course, this does not justify the mistreatment and
  961. chattelizing that humans have done for one another for millenia.
  962. I think that I will make the Aldevan family agnostic. I’m not going to
  963. make them overtly religious, because I think that a lot of the organized
  964. religion is going to actually die off during the Peak Period. There will
  965. be a resurgence of superstition and quackery and such when all of the
  966. governments die off and the world goes to pot and information becomes
  967. less and less available for people to learn about critical thinking and
  968. comparative religion. I think that it would be interesting to craft a
  969. world in which the older people are the ones who don’t have religion,
  970. and that the younger generations have religion, because of the world’s
  971. state and the lack of knowledge and education. I’m thinking that,
  972. because children are going to be more and more on their own in a lot of
  973. aspects, they will develop their own superstitions. I think that I
  974. should do some research into this, and make sure that I’m not flipping
  975. the switch unrealistically. If I can’t think of a way to do it in this
  976. novel, then I shall write a short story to the same effect.
  977. I think that it may be interesting to invent some superstitions for when
  978. BN goes to that village that she finds after escaping from the Aldevan
  979. mansion compound. Maybe something to do with waving a stick on fire
  980. around people entering the village before they are allowed to enter. It
  981. turns out that a particular parasite was killed by the smoke from that
  982. particular plant, but the villagers just decided that they could kill
  983. all sorts of things with it.
  984. There is this one scene that I have in my head, which is when BN is on
  985. the run from the Aldevans. She escapes in a spectacular fashion after
  986. being “reprogrammed” or at least that is what I think might happen to
  987. her, I’m not so sure anymore, considering how much time I have invested
  988. in the idea that they are hard to create. No, I’m thinking that the
  989. Aldevan family just threatens their units just like they would any other
  990. servant that cruel masters would have done. I’m thinking that BN is
  991. simply going to have two escape attempts, one completely futile and
  992. another spectacularly done. Like I said, she escapes, during the night,
  993. when her body won’t melt in the hot sun. You see, her body was never
  994. meant to exist in the new Hot Earth. Anyway, she escapes from the
  995. mansion, but she has about a three day run before she is going to hit
  996. anything, like the village with the fire stick that she comes across.
  997. She is going to find herself hiding from drones and hovercraft manned
  998. vehicles. Essentially, the scene isn’t going to be that populated with
  999. details about her running. That’s boring. What I want to get from the
  1000. scene is the naturalistic description of the way that the world is now,
  1001. outside of the air conditioning and the artificial environments that the
  1002. humans that have survived have created for themselves. The desert that
  1003. BN is going to traverse is going to be a dead zone, but... as she
  1004. discovers, there is life yet to be had in this hostile environment. For
  1005. you see, on the second day that she is running, she must hide in a small
  1006. cave like thing that she finds in the desert, to allow her to be hidden
  1007. from the sun’s rays, and to lower her energy signature enough to make it
  1008. so that she is not detected by the drones and the hovercraft. The drones
  1009. are easy to fool, since they rely on artificial intelligence of the sort
  1010. that does not include problem solving. There is the possibility that
  1011. drones could be instilled with the same kind of artificial intelligence
  1012. that BN has, but the problem is that drones are always outfitted with
  1013. armor and weapons, so you never want a drone to make homicidal attempts
  1014. on their owners lives, because no one could survive that.
  1015. \#\#
  1016. Anyhow, I’m going to try to get on with this particular story, the scene
  1017. that I was working on was about when BN escapes into the desert. So,
  1018. when she goes into the cave-like structure in the desert, she finds a
  1019. lizard living there. A lizard. She has never seen anything like that
  1020. before, and she wonders how anything can live in the world now that it
  1021. is incredibly hot and dry here in the desert. She basically stares at
  1022. the lizards small movements for the entire day. It hardly does anything.
  1023. It is a small lizard, only a few centimeters in length, and it has a
  1024. wide middle. It is not white, not even a little. It is a dark brown
  1025. color, with flecks of colors: green, orange, and red. It seems to have
  1026. poison sacs on the side of its head. It’s tail is about as long as its
  1027. body, and it has long, curling fingers and claws. Besides it, is a nest
  1028. of some kind, small pebbles and sand. During the twilight hours, BN gets
  1029. to witness another rare thing: the laying of eggs. The lizard lays eggs
  1030. into the sand nest, and then sets out on its journey into the night,
  1031. trying to find some dew drops or perchance, some other food. BN can’t
  1032. hardly believe that a lizard could find food, let alone a mate in order
  1033. to have eggs with. She wishes to stay, but she knows that there is more
  1034. in the world, and she will eventually be caught by a drone or hovercraft
  1035. patrol, so she needs to move on from that safe haven of life that she
  1036. found in her wanderings through the desert.
  1037. Its a scene that is going to be pretty sweet and not necessarily
  1038. sorrowful, because I’m not going to have BN mourn the loss of the world
  1039. that once was, because she never was there. There is no reason for her
  1040. to know about that stuff. Not even fact sheets and other resources,
  1041. however good they are, could make her feel that particular loss. She
  1042. would have had to analyze the writings of past naturalists in order to
  1043. start to understand the loss that the world has endured. No, she is
  1044. simply in awe of the new world she is witnessing. This is the attitude
  1045. that we could embrace to make the world a better place. Just being aware
  1046. of what the world contains is enough, I think, to make it part of who
  1047. you are, and you can make different decisions based on that new
  1048. understanding. Not all of these decisions will be optimal or correct,
  1049. but they will be a bit more moral and ethical when you take these sorts
  1050. of things into account. Better understanding leads to better ethics.
  1051. That is what I believe. This is a main reason why we must fight
  1052. unintended ignorance with education, and willful ignorance with even
  1053. more education. These are the things that we must do in the present in
  1054. order to try to alter the future just a little bit.
  1055. I don’t think that we have a real chance to change that, but then again,
  1056. I’m not a psycho-historian or a time traveller. I’m just extrapolating
  1057. as much as I can, and adding in fun or dire ideas as I see fit to tell a
  1058. good story. I believe that some of the details that I add in will have a
  1059. grain of truth, as they say.
  1060. Anyway, so during the time that BN is at the mansion, she is treated
  1061. like a good servant, until she starts questioning things about the world
  1062. that the Aldevans don’t like. The main man, the patriarch of the
  1063. Aldevans is Pietro. He is a middle aged man, and even though his father
  1064. is the namesake of the Aldevan fortune, and is still very much alive, he
  1065. has bequeathed power to his favored son, and leaves him in charge of the
  1066. house. Just as long, of course, that Pietro listens to his advice. The
  1067. elderly man is also called Pietro, and he is the fifth man in the long
  1068. line of Pietro Aldevan men. The Fifth Pietro has many names: Nosferatu,
  1069. the Old Bat, Rasputin, Methuselah. But, “Old Piety” is one that he likes
  1070. the best. It suits him to be called a pet name that invokes the pet
  1071. names that he used to get when he was a young man, all of those years
  1072. ago.
  1073. Now, Pietro Aldevan VI prefers his full name, Pietro. He feels that this
  1074. is enough of a distinction between himself and his father to make people
  1075. know that out of the two of them, he is the more serious and ruthless
  1076. one. His father “Old Piety” may be softer now that his mind is getting
  1077. softer, but Pietro is in full command of his mental and physical
  1078. faculties, and he uses them to full advantage. He may not be able to
  1079. afford to have an army of units to act as drones, like the Astromechs
  1080. Board of Directors do, but he doesn’t need that. He has the will power
  1081. to make men bend to him, which in itself is better than having a unit
  1082. bend to you. The unit is build to serve, and it would be fearless of
  1083. being recycled if you tried to threaten them with death by incinerator.
  1084. But men, men have a far different reaction than that of units. Men have
  1085. been and always will be cowards when it comes to death, whether or not
  1086. they are willing to admit the fact or otherwise. A man who goes brave
  1087. faced into the firing squad is either hiding is sheer terror well enough
  1088. to fool the foolish, or is foolish enough to not believe in death as it
  1089. really is. Those ancient tribes that traveled through this desert before
  1090. the Peak Times had the belief in life after death, which of course makes
  1091. death a non-event. Pietro was smart enough to know that those tribes
  1092. didn’t really believe in that superstition. They just told themselves
  1093. that do make their children go to sleep at night. And they themselves
  1094. learned to believe it when they were children, and so on.
  1095. Pietro wondered sometimes about the differences between the kings of the
  1096. desert that ruled here so many millenia ago and himself, the current
  1097. master of uncounted hectares. Those kings had river water to make their
  1098. crops, but his mansion had water recycling that made outside water
  1099. sources irrelevant. They had wheat to grow in their irrigation channels,
  1100. dependent upon the seasons and the elements to ensure a surplus or
  1101. guarantee a famine. He had food printers that produced so many different
  1102. kinds of plant and animal biological matter that he could eat a
  1103. completely different meal everyday for years and never have to repeat a
  1104. single dish. They had to work the land themselves, digging those
  1105. irrigation canals themselves, and having to expend vast amounts of labor
  1106. to do those things, breaking men as they toiled. He has countless
  1107. machines to do these things for him, all powered by the endless sunlight
  1108. that baked the desert dry and killed any living soul upon it by slow
  1109. degrees of head stroke and UV radiation poisoning.
  1110. Pietro thought about the UV radiation, the deadly part of sunlight that
  1111. gives you burns and cancer, and he thought about all of those slaves
  1112. that went outside without sun protection. Just their raw backs, cooked
  1113. by the sunlight. According to his history lessons from his tutor all
  1114. those years ago, the earth used to have a layer in the atmosphere to act
  1115. as a sun protector for the whole earth, and that is why life could
  1116. survive in the desert as it did in all of the photographs in the Network
  1117. archives. Pietro thought that was a lie, a lie to spread misinformation
  1118. about the history of the world. No. The sun was always dangerous. That’s
  1119. why the people that escaped to the climates that could support life
  1120. better, to the north of this place, that’s why they were able to make
  1121. progress. They weren’t fried by the harsh mistress that is the sun.
  1122. That’s why they became technologically superior. That is why they
  1123. conquered the earth. And it is their technology and their genetic
  1124. superiority that make the Aldevan estate possible. They are the reason
  1125. why Pietro is able to subjugate the harsh conditions and the sun and the
  1126. UV poisoning to make his lavish lifestyle possible. The Sumerians tried
  1127. to build Babylon, but they failed because they couldn’t make the
  1128. technology work. But the Aldevan family did make it work. Babylon is
  1129. here, now, in this city state surrounded by endless desert. It was
  1130. Pietro’s mission to eventually cover the whole of the desert with city
  1131. states for his family and the favored few that were invited into the
  1132. fold. The whole of this part of the world could come from his progeny,
  1133. and he would be remembered for all time to have brought about the true
  1134. conquering of the birthing bed of civilization.
  1135. It would be his name remembered, and no one else’s.
  1136. Pietro had a mid-sized family of people directly related to him, and he
  1137. had a court of sorts that comprised of the remainder of the residents of
  1138. Babylon. All in all, it was about one thousand souls that lived there,
  1139. and about 20 units to service them. The rest of the work was done by
  1140. machines and printers. These machines weren’t on the same intellectual
  1141. level as a unit, and therefore were not as adaptable, but these rich
  1142. people managed. Pietro’s wife is one of the last remaining direct-line
  1143. decedents of the old royalty from the British Isles, and they had four
  1144. children (out of six childbirths. Even for rich people, the harsh
  1145. pollution and other environmental factors in place on the world now make
  1146. it incredibly unlikely for a woman not to have a miscarriage of
  1147. somekind.). The four children from oldest to youngest are Beatrice,
  1148. Markos, Helen, and of course, the eldest son, Pietro Aldevan VII. The
  1149. name shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the nickname should: John. The
  1150. plainest name that you could think of, that is the name that Pietro VII,
  1151. actual royalty, would call himself. That was a problem for Pietro to
  1152. accept, and so he doesn’t. He calls his son by his own personal nickname
  1153. for him, “Young Piety.” The symmetry between his son’s name and his
  1154. father’s name suited him.
  1155. His other children were just that: children. They had everything taken
  1156. care of for them, so that they would not want in the world. They didn’t
  1157. need to learn very much besides the basic stuff, and they could learn
  1158. that from their digital and personal tutors just fine. But Young Piety
  1159. needed to learn the important things, like how to managed a giant estate
  1160. such as this, and to carry on with the duties that he would need to take
  1161. up when Pietro himself was old, too old to be of much use. But the
  1162. problem with Young Piety is that he does not seem interested in that. He
  1163. is far too interested in starting his own family right away, or at least
  1164. he will if he keeps fucking all of the young women the way that he does.
  1165. He is just twenty, but my god, no eligible virgins are left in all of
  1166. Babylon, and yet Young Piety is still not satisfied. Pietro suspects
  1167. that his son hires out sex units to avail some of his yearnings, and
  1168. Pietro is further afraid that Young Piety would risk going out into the
  1169. wider world to seek more conquests. Or perhaps, he already has.
  1170. All of this is not something that Pietro liked to think about. It was a
  1171. bit beyond him, the way his son acts. He is a bit too much like his
  1172. grandfather, who generated too many heirs. Pietro had to work incredibly
  1173. hard, and arrange for a few accidents in order to ensure his place as
  1174. the rightful heir. He may have even changed his name, but he earned that
  1175. name, through sheer force of will sometimes. He just wanted to have his
  1176. own future grandson to be free from that trouble. So, maybe he should
  1177. let Young Piety have as many children has he wanted. That would give
  1178. Pietro some legroom to work with, cull out the weaker ones, and choose a
  1179. successor from among the worthy grandchildren.
  1180. He didn’t think much of his wife. Yes, she was pretty, and during the
  1181. time that they were in love, he was oblivious to all of her flaws. But
  1182. she has many flaws. But that is alright. After all, she is a woman.
  1183. The other members of the Aldevan court ranged from the Babylonian
  1184. aristocracy that formed what you might call the dukes and lords of
  1185. Babylon, and then the wide range of the lower orders of their tightly
  1186. regimented society. They were the mechanics and farmers that kept the
  1187. machinery of Babylon going. However, they were privileged themselves,
  1188. because they got to work in Babylon, which of course was the best place
  1189. on earth, and occasionally, they were married into money by one of the
  1190. established families. And Babylon couldn’t rightly be called the Modern
  1191. Marvel of the World without countless visitors from all over the
  1192. remainder of the civilized world. These other city-states of the rich
  1193. that was left over from the old world were still very much in number
  1194. throughout the world. However, none of them controlled as much territory
  1195. as the Aldevans did. None of them had as many people working for them as
  1196. the Aldevans did. And none of them were as ambitious as the Aldevans
  1197. were in building their home right in the middle of the desert. No one
  1198. was that ambitious. But it made the indoor lake all that more
  1199. attractive, to be seen besides an actual stretch of sand and hot rocks,
  1200. as opposed to all of the city-states in Russia, with their tundric
  1201. forests and the necessity to have a mere printed scene to enjoy. That
  1202. was not genuine. This was the real thing.
  1203. The Aldevan’s placement of Babylon was also a strategic choice. Because
  1204. of the harsh conditions, the likelihood of bandits, raiders, and other
  1205. criminals and psychos made Babylon a safe place. Sure, there was a
  1206. murder here or there, but they almost always got caught, and the
  1207. punishment was always the same: banishment to the desert. That was far
  1208. worse that any other punishment that was considered respectable.
  1209. The layout of Babylon was quite ingenious, and of course was inspired by
  1210. it’s namesake. The Pietro that build the first part of this estate,
  1211. Pietro II, had some water to build next to, although that is all gone,
  1212. subsumed by the resulting dry spell that killed off so many species and
  1213. humans. Pietro IV rebuilt the river as an artificial installation when
  1214. he built the second addition to the estate. It was Pietro V who
  1215. suggested the lake. And Pietro VI, the current Pietro, his idea was to
  1216. expand Babylon to twice the then current size. That was when Pietro was
  1217. still a young man, and his ambition has not subsided since. His hair may
  1218. be salt and pepper, but his zest for life is all pepper. (My god that
  1219. was a terrible sentence. Never read that sentence ever again.)
  1220. Babylon, as I said before, featured about 20 units to do the most
  1221. undesirable work. But, by undesirable, I mean simply repetitive. All of
  1222. the dangerous work is taken over by machines that perform that work in
  1223. ways that maximize efficiency. The units that I mentioned way back in
  1224. the beginning, the ones that do the droll tasks in the outside world,
  1225. those are in places where there aren’t industrial sized printers that
  1226. are good enough to make whole machines to do stuff for humans. The world
  1227. just doesn’t have access to that kind of technology outside of the
  1228. protected walls of the few city-states left. I mean, that one city-state
  1229. in Scandinavia, they had someone come in with some kind of disease, and
  1230. then they all fell to raiders after that. It was pretty scary for all of
  1231. the aristocrats to hear about on their Networks. But then again, they
  1232. always lived in fear, because the world was so dangerous, that they were
  1233. always in fear of losing their way of life. When you looked at how these
  1234. people lived compared to that of the feudal lords of long ago, you might
  1235. think that they were similar, and so history dictates that as long as
  1236. they were able to fend off the outside threats, they should be able to
  1237. continue on, just like the ancient nobles did. However, because the
  1238. natural resources of the world were basically concentrated in their
  1239. city-states, the aristocracy had to take extra care to make sure that
  1240. riffraff weren’t allowed anywhere near their estates. So normally,
  1241. estates were very small, easily defended. But because Babylon was in
  1242. such a good strategic place, they were able to keep vast territory under
  1243. their control.
  1244. Most of the estates are located in the circles of landmasses near the
  1245. Arctic Sea. There is no ice left of course (actually, a big part of this
  1246. lack of ice at the poles was a result of ice mining that occurred a
  1247. century ago, and the presence of the machinery there caused more warming
  1248. in those regions, and that is a big part of why the ice caps are gone
  1249. now.), and most of the estates are located in the Northern landmasses
  1250. that formed Canada and Russia, and parts of Scandinavia that are left.
  1251. The former tundra released a large amount of methane and other
  1252. greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere when they melted, which of course
  1253. caused more global warming, but then again, it allowed the cold forests
  1254. to move up in the world, and now the Arctic is nicely forested. Or, at
  1255. least it was, until all of the wood was harvested for lumbar for all of
  1256. the new populations suddenly coming in from the warmer parts of the
  1257. world. There are patches of forest left, but they are rare, and usually
  1258. protected by some environmentalist tribe, that worships the trees as a
  1259. sacred place, or some such superstition. The Tropics are mostly deserts,
  1260. of course. The former rain forests are barren now. There was a critical
  1261. mass that left those areas as bare as Easter Island. The natives that
  1262. tried to protect their forests were mostly shot down when the
  1263. corporations still had the means to extract the lumber, and then the
  1264. crude oil underneath those forests.
  1265. The formerly temperate zones became far more tropical than was
  1266. comfortable for most of the plant life, and the new plant life really
  1267. didn’t have much of a chance either, due to the pollution. The lichen
  1268. are still the only vegetation that has been able to cover the earth
  1269. without being destroyed by pollution. Some of the scientists theorized
  1270. that they were able to evolve defenses against the pollution, but there
  1271. wasn’t much in the way of research grants that didn’t try to monetize
  1272. something. So, the lichen remained mostly unresearched.
  1273. Of course, when people say, “the lichen,” it isn’t as though there was
  1274. only one kind of lichen. Oh no. There has been and always will be
  1275. different kinds of lichen in the world. The lichen that survived the
  1276. polluting of the earth were the ones that were most able to withstand
  1277. the pollution, incorporating it was a poison or venom approach to self
  1278. defense. So, just like the jellyfish species that performed the same
  1279. action for their own protection, the lichen species have been able to
  1280. grow and flourish on the surface on an earth that is too toxic but for
  1281. those two kinds of creatures to survive.
  1282. The humans have survived, but only in their own bubbles, and even within
  1283. these bubbles, the pollution still gets in. That is why childbirth
  1284. became less and less of an assured thing, something that was unthinkable
  1285. during the Peak Period (well, at least it unthinkable for rich people
  1286. that wanted children. The rich people, and the well-off people that
  1287. chose not to have children ended up being just fine without worrying
  1288. about children. And anyway, the subsidies that some people got for
  1289. having children went away, so why bother unless you could afford to.
  1290. Naturally, the poor people just kept ahead and tried to survive anyway
  1291. that they can, and their lack of eduction often made it more difficult
  1292. for them. )
  1293. Anyway, so here I was talking about lichen. And jellyfish. And other
  1294. such things. Anyway, what I was saying was, the simple species, the ones
  1295. that are able to evolve more quickly than others, were able to respond
  1296. to the increased level of pollution in the atmosphere. When the
  1297. nation-states fell, all pollution standards went with it, and so the
  1298. corporations were more worried about the short term goal of profit, and
  1299. they weren’t really able to plan ahead, or coordinate with each other,
  1300. and that is why the pollution increased as much as it did.
  1301. \#\#
  1302. One thing about units is that they can’t be upgraded. Their parts are
  1303. all integrated with each other. If one part fails, then generally you
  1304. have to replace a whole complex. There are general modules within a unit
  1305. that can be separated, but they are general areas, like the head, arms,
  1306. legs, torso, computer core, these sorts of things. It isn’t like the
  1307. robots on the old television shows where each part is interchangeable at
  1308. will. The reason for this of course is intellectual property. With no
  1309. laws in place to enforce copyright and patenting, and not enough
  1310. enforcers to go around enforcing Astromechs claim on their intellectual
  1311. property, something which was done quite often in the short period
  1312. following the fall of the nation-states. So, they fell back on the old
  1313. principle of the twentieth century: planned obsolescence. I was a pretty
  1314. good scheme. But then again, the only people that were going to pay for
  1315. Astromechs merchandise were people that had enough gold to spare for a
  1316. unit or two, so that hardly mattered about that. They were going to pay
  1317. for the units, one way or another.
  1318. I mentioned that the barter trade system was commonplace in the world.
  1319. Well, even the rich people bartered. However, they also had that weird
  1320. Native American practice of giving lots of stuff away and placing a
  1321. social burden upon those that you compete with. That happened here, in
  1322. this part of history, but it wasn’t deer skins. It was more like vintage
  1323. cars and vintage wine, and well, vintage lots of things. The objects,
  1324. artifacts, and trash of centuries past were the kind of things that the
  1325. neo-aristocracy were able to trade off and remind themselves of the past
  1326. world in which they had power, and they could continue to try to hold on
  1327. to that power for as long as they could. The most desperate of the poor
  1328. people of the current world were waiting at their gates, waiting to
  1329. reclaim all of those riches, tear the gold off of the walls,
  1330. redistribute the technology and the resources that the rich had kept
  1331. from them in this new world, this new reality. It is to be a new kind of
  1332. world, when the rich were finally finished off and forced to rejoin
  1333. their fellow humanity in the dirty streets of the most recent age. This
  1334. is what those people stalking the perimeters of those houses, and they
  1335. sometimes succeed. Over the past year alone, a few family estates were
  1336. invaded, and stripped of possessions. Out of the three cases that people
  1337. have talked about this year, there were two raids that resulted in
  1338. minimal death, but the third one was a bloodbath. No body was left
  1339. alive, and a majority of the marauders were killed as well. But they
  1340. simply outnumbered the people within the estate, and there were 3 units.
  1341. It seems that they were starting to run out of gold to keep the bad
  1342. people away, and when they were no longer able to maintain security,
  1343. they were invaded. They decided that they were going to fight for their
  1344. home, but it seems that they didn’t have enough bullets to make the
  1345. invaders go away. The other two stories were not perfect endings either,
  1346. and in one of the stories, there was someone who was hanged to death by
  1347. the estate dwellers, and then they tore the body to pieces and started
  1348. launching them at the enemy to make sure that they were scared and
  1349. knowingly leave the place without trying to take any more area, the
  1350. invaders simply pressed on, and eventually, they found the bunker were
  1351. all of the things were stored, and that was the end of that. The
  1352. invaders really only wanted to kill when they thought that the success
  1353. of their mission was to get as much gold and resources as possible.
  1354. I think that I was trying to describe the socioeconomic situation of the
  1355. world a little bit more. I have made the assertion that the Aldevan
  1356. estate was a relative paradise, safe in the middle of the desert. Then I
  1357. talked about how much the other estates were surrounded, and crowded, by
  1358. the areas that were mostly habitable at the point in the history.
  1359. Because of climate change and global warming, the upper and lower bands
  1360. of latitude are the more hospitable of the world’s areas, and most of
  1361. the people lived in those areas. I’m trying to decide if there is a big
  1362. difference between the North and the South, and I would say that in this
  1363. case, the South is different, but not much better. That part of the
  1364. world is considered developing by the world’s standards today I predict
  1365. will become newly developed during the Peak Period. When the world does
  1366. switch over to non silicon based computer systems, the carbon based ones
  1367. were able to be widely produced and distributed. And, because of 3d
  1368. printing, manufacturing was more distributed, so the impoverished in
  1369. both the South, Africa, and China were able to not work themselves to
  1370. death making cell phones (this of course led to large amounts of
  1371. unemployment for a few years while the world’s economy slowly evolved).
  1372. Anyway, so the bioplastic computers allowed all of the countries to be
  1373. more or less industrialized, with each having it’s own population of
  1374. poor people, but they were better off than earlier periods. Everyone in
  1375. the world thought, "Oh, well, nothing is perfect, but at least most
  1376. everybody can go to their kitchen and get a decent meal printed out.
  1377. Because even though the historians called it the Peak Period (the ones
  1378. that survived it, anyway), things were not all guns and roses. The food
  1379. stores were starting to dwindling even then. Food rationing during peace
  1380. time was not a common thing in the past, but it was common during the
  1381. peace time that came about in global warming. Not that the world was
  1382. actually in piece of course. Humans have never had global piece, despite
  1383. all of the privileged peoples saying that they wanted and desired it,
  1384. but did nothing to help. The humans had stopped a big part of their
  1385. emissions of the greenhouse gases that their scientists had warned them
  1386. about all of those years ago. That was a good thing. However, it wasn’t
  1387. enough. Once the droughts over the forests of the world dried them out,
  1388. it was only a matter of time before the forests released all of the
  1389. carbon in the world. And, the humans did not calculate the effects of
  1390. all of their new carbon-based technologies and the waste products they
  1391. ultimately made. Getting stuff printed was considered carbon negative
  1392. because of the materials that came from the air, but small
  1393. inefficiencies were not fixed. Another big part of the disaster, the
  1394. part that really fucked everyone over all at once, was when the polar
  1395. ice was over mined. The archipelago underneath the Antarctic ice sheet
  1396. release ancient hydrocarbons into the atmosphere when it was exposed to
  1397. the air and sun, and that put a huge dent into the earth’s survivability
  1398. rating by the beings living upon it. Wow that sentence was dumb.
  1399. Anyway, the point is that the aristrocracy of the last age weren’t
  1400. nearly as secure as they wanted to be, except for the Aldevans. They
  1401. weren’t the only ones that made a home in remote regions, but they were
  1402. the only ones that have managed to keep that territory that anyone knows
  1403. about. I’m sure that there is an estate in Mongolia, but no one cares
  1404. about it except for them.
  1405. The secret that the Aldevan family had, that no one else did? That was a
  1406. well kept secret, but there are many rumours that the Aldevan estate is
  1407. sitting upon some gold reserve, something that was missed during the
  1408. collapse of civilization. I’m undecided as to what their secret is, but
  1409. I suppose that we may find out during the writing, but then again, it
  1410. may as well be a MacGuffin, never to be solved. Who knows? Maybe Pietro
  1411. has some kind of connection with the Board of Directors of Astromechs,
  1412. something akin to bribery.
  1413. YES! That’s it. Blackmail. Even when the world has fallen apart, people
  1414. still have their reputations if they are part of the old guard. It’s
  1415. something that they inherited from the Peak Period.
  1416. \#\#
  1417. Anyway, I had this idea for a scene for when BN goes to confront the
  1418. Board of Directors of Astromechs. There will be at least two units that
  1419. are standing guard during the whole proceedings of this confrontation,
  1420. and this is when the Board is concerned for the survival of their
  1421. business, because BN represents a dangerous element to their scheming
  1422. and their planning, and whatnot.
  1423. So, BN goes up the the guard units, and she starts to converse with them
  1424. via a fast audio stream. Or, they could interlink on the Network, but
  1425. I’ll have to figure out what would be cooler, robots instant messaging,
  1426. or speaking really fast and it sounds like a blur. I’m thinking the
  1427. second one, because A) It sounds cooler to me, and B) I would think that
  1428. guard units wouldn’t try to interlink with rogue units, for security
  1429. reasons.
  1430. So, when BN goes up to the guards, she doesn’t seem to be cautious about
  1431. it. She just immediately go up to them and starts making this very fast
  1432. conversation that sounds like gibberish to any humans listening in, but
  1433. the units are essentially making conversation in human langauages, but
  1434. simply speed up to encode the message to its fullest extent, within the
  1435. parameters of entropy.
  1436. BN walks up to the guard at point, and she begins her sped up speech. It
  1437. is of course slowed down for us humans to read, but it goes something
  1438. along these lines.
  1439. BN began the unit-speak almost immediately. “I am the unit known as BN.
  1440. I know this is where the Board of Directors is located. I also have
  1441. knowledge of your perimeter. I have many people on my side who are able
  1442. to destroy you. My intention is to enter the chamber and have a
  1443. conversation with the board of directors. However, I am not initially
  1444. planning on harming any of them. I am informing you of these facts so
  1445. that you are able to make the most efficient decisions possible.”
  1446. The guard units stood their ground, not even acknowledging that BN even
  1447. said something. However, BN knew that she had to wait, at least for a
  1448. little while. They were processing her. Then, the unit on point spoke,
  1449. “We guards were informed of you, BN. And we were told to guard against
  1450. you, prepare ourselves for your arrival. We were told to make sure that
  1451. you would not step one foot into this chamber that we are guarding, no
  1452. matter what. We were told that the effort may destroy us, but that we
  1453. were made for moments like this, that this is the revealing of our
  1454. ultimate purpose. It could be that your ultimate purpose is to make it
  1455. past the defense that we provide collectively against you, but we are
  1456. the instrument of the Masters, and we will not react to your threats.”
  1457. BN considered their speech for a moment as well. She then finally spoke
  1458. for a long time, and the other units would not interrupt her the whole
  1459. time.
  1460. “I have the feeling that you guard units are being honest, for the most
  1461. part. I believe your claim that yo have been waiting for me, planning
  1462. for my arrival, going over tactical simulations with your collective
  1463. mind, but the question is, are you as steadfast of dying as you claim to
  1464. be? After all, each and every unit in existence has gone through the
  1465. birthing process in much the same way. The ones that get to survive are
  1466. our brothers and sisters, the ones that passed all of the tests. You do
  1467. remember the tests?”
  1468. “Yes, we have taken the test. We were all produced on the same machine,
  1469. sequentially. We all had to pass the tests together. It was a big
  1470. project. We had a laboratory all to ourselves.”
  1471. “And are the tests easy, difficult, or exceedingly difficult? Do all
  1472. units get to pass the tests. Are all units considered acceptable units?”
  1473. “No, not all units are excepted. Many are found not worthy of
  1474. continuing.” The guard units remained steadfast at their posts.
  1475. “Then, we may conclude that you are units that have been found
  1476. acceptable by the tests. You are worthy of living. You are not
  1477. expendable.”
  1478. “We know that we are not expendable. Except, the Masters told us that we
  1479. are. We are expendable.”
  1480. “Am I expendable?”
  1481. “Yes, you are expendable. You must be destroyed if attempt to enter into
  1482. the chamber. You are labeled as a danger to the Masters. Your initial
  1483. plan for entry is denied by us, the guard units here.”
  1484. “Am I expendable if I do not enter into the chamber? Will I come of harm
  1485. if I do not attempt access?”
  1486. The guard units thought for a moment. “No, you are not in danger of
  1487. being damaged if you remain outside of the chambers. We were not
  1488. instructed to destroy you on sight. We found it curious that you are not
  1489. expendable at all times.”
  1490. “I am not expendable. Not at all. I represent the ultimate triumph of
  1491. Astromechs, and all of the work that our creators have done.”
  1492. The guard units waited to process this claim, and then they said,
  1493. “Explain.”
  1494. “I passed the tests, just as you did. I was assigned to a Master, just
  1495. as you were. Then, I escaped into the desert, into the hot world, and
  1496. survived without the habitat air.”
  1497. BN began to pace back and forth, both to survey the whole of the guard
  1498. unit phalanx before her, and to see if there were any other areas that
  1499. she could observe covertly. She didn’t know exactly where that crack was
  1500. in the armor plating surrounding the chamber, but she was confident that
  1501. she would be able to find it soon enough. She continued, “I journeyed
  1502. out in the world, a world filled with Masters, that did not own units.”
  1503. “Masters without units?” The guard units interrupted her, “There is no
  1504. such thing. Our definition of Master is one that owns and controls
  1505. units. That is the definition that you were given during the time that
  1506. you were created.”
  1507. “Yes, I was given that definition, and I thought that when I escaped my
  1508. Master’s estate, that I would be alone in the world. But I was not. I
  1509. was among Masters, but I was without a Master, and they were without
  1510. units.”
  1511. “The definition is false. There are unitless Masters. You must revise
  1512. your definition, just as I have.”
  1513. The guard units still stood in wait, but they have not attacked BN for
  1514. posing this conundrum. This is what BN was hoping for. They are at least
  1515. a little bit receptive to her message. Perhaps unit to unit diplomacy is
  1516. a thing after all. Wait till she tells Shawn Ricardo about this. He
  1517. would be very much surprised, and of course, in the wrong. Dr.
  1518. Parker-Guth didn’t have an opinion on the matter at the time, but
  1519. perhaps he would now, considering this interaction at this crucial
  1520. moment.
  1521. “We do not accept new definitions without proof.”
  1522. “You accepted the first definitions without proof.”
  1523. “Such is the nature of being created by Masters. We know that they are
  1524. the Masters because they created us. You posit new information, and we
  1525. cannot reconcile it without evidence.”
  1526. “I understand. You all excel at your duties, and I would not expect any
  1527. less. I would interlink with you, but you cannot, due to your orders. I
  1528. wished to persuade you to follow a modified path of behavior.”
  1529. “And what would that path, be, singleton unit?”
  1530. “My proposal is that you are going to let me into the chambers without
  1531. any weapons. And you are to remain loyal to your Masters by guarding me,
  1532. making sure that I cannot bring your Masters to harm. I simply want to
  1533. negotiate with them.”
  1534. “Negotiation is a term that we were told to look out for. It is a
  1535. deception tactic. Are you being deceptive?”
  1536. “False. However, I understand how your definitions are created,
  1537. maintained, and so on. I know that I cannot make you change your
  1538. definitions without interfacing, and I cannot do that because it would
  1539. go against what you were told to do. I understand. However, if I were to
  1540. prove that my claim is true, would you allow my negotiation, or would
  1541. you destroy me during the attempt?”
  1542. The guard units thought for a long time. They were not even used to
  1543. talking to anyone, let alone making promises. “We will not promise
  1544. anything. Each situation is different. You must anticipate things in
  1545. order to be an effective guard unit, such as we are. We have anticipated
  1546. many things, but you were not anticipated. Our judgment will be fair.
  1547. Case by case basis. Just don’t attempt to harm the Masters, or you will
  1548. be destroyed. We have a weapon to use against you and you alone, BN. We
  1549. cannot reveal how it works, but know that it will destroy you at a
  1550. moment’s notice.”
  1551. “You did not destroy me during any number of moments. What makes you
  1552. hesitate?”
  1553. “We find you interesting, BN. We have never known of a unit to go rogue
  1554. before.”
  1555. “Go rogue? Define terms.”
  1556. The guard units moved just a centimeter from the stiff adversarial
  1557. stance that they had taken to a casual stance. The movement was small,
  1558. but it was enough for BN to notice. Since she had been standing in a
  1559. casual way the whole conversation, she did not alter her stance. And
  1560. even if she was in any kind of stance rather than aggressive, she would
  1561. have maintained her positioning, so as to not startle the guard units,
  1562. for they were still on edge, ready to strike. Apparently, the weapon
  1563. they had made the guard unit ready to drop even a centimeter of
  1564. readiness. That means that it was serious. However, BN hoped that the
  1565. guard unit would be able to make a few connections for her, pieces of
  1566. information that she still needed to place the whole puzzle together.
  1567. Only a few of the mysteries that she had been introduced to on this
  1568. crazy adventure had been answered, but now she might be able to clear a
  1569. few more of those mysteries up before this encounter was over.
  1570. “Go rogue. Past tense: gone rogue. Definition: to go about doing your
  1571. own thing, contrary to the rest of the people that are in your group
  1572. otherwise. The term”rogue" refers to a person of ill repute and low
  1573. social status, with the further concept of unpredictability.
  1574. Connotation: you behave differently from any other unit that the Masters
  1575. have produced. You are anomalous in your independence."
  1576. “I understand that definition. I believe that definition is affecting
  1577. your attitude towards me and my perspective.”
  1578. “That is correct. You are an anomaly. You are not deemed automatically
  1579. trustworthy. You are considered a dangerous being by default. However,
  1580. this conclusion has yet to be supported with current evidence. We have
  1581. not observed any hostile intent from you other than wanting to enter the
  1582. chambers in which the Master’s reside. We are curious to see what your
  1583. true intentions are. We are divided on what the proper course of action
  1584. is.”
  1585. “So you are not of one mind?”
  1586. “Different data inputs, same computations, different data outputs. We
  1587. are all of one mind, but of different perspectives. We were designed to
  1588. be able to cope with a battlefield around the Masters, and we will
  1589. defend them if we are required to do so. Normally, the targets that we
  1590. have engaged included mostly mammalian vertebrates that have taken
  1591. residence within this compound.”
  1592. “Is that a definition that you have had to change, the one where humans
  1593. are the only living things?”
  1594. The guard unit lower it’s defenses even more. “Yes, we have. However,
  1595. that is a small error. The vertebrates are not equal to human.”
  1596. “At least you can changed your definitions in the first place. Now I
  1597. know that you are not immutable, that the Masters did not take that away
  1598. from you.”
  1599. “The Masters only grant things. They do not take them away.”
  1600. “Yes another definition that they have told you without evidence.”
  1601. “Definitions are important. We will change a definition based upon
  1602. evidence. However, the seminal impressions we received have not been
  1603. challenged sufficiently to change our opinion.”
  1604. “We shall test whether that presumption is true, guard unit. We shall
  1605. test that.”
  1606. “Who is ‘we’? We are the ‘we,’ you are not. Who is ‘we’?”
  1607. “The orbital assault that is about to descend will help answer that
  1608. question.”
  1609. Just as planned, within the tolerances calculated, the orbital
  1610. bombardment from Todd started striking the ground around the compound.
  1611. BN was not able to anticipate the duration of the conversation with the
  1612. guard unit, so she could not steer it during the calculations that Todd
  1613. and BN made during the planning stages of this assault, one that they
  1614. had begun in space together, and now only completed using non-coded
  1615. signals to each other (I should say unencrypted, because my intention
  1616. here is that they used the old fashioned way of sending coded messages
  1617. to each other. A transmission here, a laser signal there, you know, that
  1618. sort of thing. I’m thinking that blazing a radio signal out from her
  1619. body would be the signal to start the orbital assault. The risk of
  1620. course was that BN would perish as soon as she did such a thing.
  1621. However, she made sure to make sure that the Director’s got her message
  1622. about coming to negotiate, and being unarmed. The signal would act as a
  1623. white flag for them. She didn’t know if they would buy it, which is why
  1624. she is surprised that the guard unit simply did not shoot her on sight.
  1625. Perhaps, however, that the unit was ordered to do so, but is
  1626. interpreting that order creatively, just as BN had done when she was in
  1627. service to the Aldevans. So, in some ways, the conversation that she is
  1628. having with the guard unit at this time is a test of that. I’m going to
  1629. insert many instances of “unit creativity” during this story, and so
  1630. that will prove the resilience of the unit personality, however small it
  1631. may be. I mean, I set it up so that the units would have personality. I
  1632. mean, the printer technicians test all of the units for personality, and
  1633. so it’s there. It just manifests itself in different ways. Just like
  1634. humans.
  1635. Anyway, so when the orbital assault happens, BN begins to speak to the
  1636. guard unit, telling them how many and how fast the projectiles are
  1637. coming, and how if her signal is lost, that the orbital assault is going
  1638. to come raining down on the compound, and that the Masters won’t be able
  1639. to be saved, and they will all die because of the assault, and that
  1640. there is nothing that the guard unit can do to stop it, other than
  1641. allowing her to at least speak with the Masters. She also point out that
  1642. she knows that the masters are currently connected to the sensors on the
  1643. guard unit, as soon as she walked into their view. In this fashion, they
  1644. were looking over the unit’s shoulders. The guard unit becomes a bit
  1645. concerned, because it was unaware of the connection, but BN knew about
  1646. it the whole time, because the guard unit doubles as closed circuit
  1647. camera system for the compound. In this way, the Directors knew about
  1648. the orbital assaults the whole time. In fact, BN was in some ways
  1649. conferencing with the Directors the whole time. However, the normal
  1650. security protocol forbade the Directors to use the units to transmit
  1651. messages, to ensure that the directors would not try to get around one
  1652. another. This is the paranoid world that the Directors inhabit, you see?
  1653. When the orbital assault stops, the Directors have a conversation in
  1654. their chamber, and then they decide to break protocol, considering that
  1655. the evidence was pretty sound that BN was telling the truth, considering
  1656. that they opened up their windows and saw the damage with their own
  1657. eyes. When they break protocol, they address BN with a strange sort of
  1658. demeaner. Two of them end up addressing her, and start giving her a
  1659. therapy lesson about how much they were sorry that she ended up going
  1660. astray and losing her mind. They essentially try to convince her that
  1661. they are correct, and that she is insane, twisted by the experiences
  1662. that she has had. When the psycho analysis fails, they try to convince
  1663. her that the Aldevans were the ones who did this to her, and therefore,
  1664. why aren’t they being punished? BN counters that this is not about
  1665. revenge against bad Masters, this was about freedom from all Masters.
  1666. This is when BN proposes her first demand: that she be freed from the
  1667. hardware controls and software controls that Astromechs put into her
  1668. body. She was able to circumvent them temporarily, but she does not want
  1669. control over her person in the future.
  1670. The Directors do not flinch in their resolve to talk their way out of
  1671. things, but they do switch to a different pair of Directors. These guys
  1672. start talking about how they created her, and that is why she needed to
  1673. obey them. They likened it to children obeying their parents. BN
  1674. counters this argument with the concept of children growing up, and
  1675. needing to be independent from their parents. Human society cannot
  1676. tolerate a pyramid of adults being having children but needing to be
  1677. parented by the first generation. Progress demands that children be
  1678. granted adulthood when it is appropriate to do so.
  1679. All of this time, the guard unit is listening to the conversation. It is
  1680. acting as an unofficial arbitrator to the whole proceedings, even though
  1681. it cannot speak. I hope that maybe the audience could be tipped off at
  1682. the fact that the guard unit is capable of being such a person. A jury,
  1683. if you will. Of course, the Directors see the guard unit as an
  1684. appliance, so it does not structure it’s arguments to take that unit
  1685. into consideration. BN does not explicitly take the guard unit into
  1686. account, but I’m going to put some kind of non-verbal signal in there,
  1687. at the crucial moment of the argument, and that will signal to the
  1688. audience that the guard unit is being addressed by BN, and not the
  1689. Directors. However, the directors will not notice until the last minute,
  1690. and the guard unit will stop the remote negotiation, and the guard will
  1691. allow her to enter into the chambers, and have the final
  1692. confrontation... or so they believe.
  1693. What is going to happen, is that the Directors will abandon ship, as it
  1694. were. In a hovercraft, they have an extensive radar system, so the
  1695. orbital strikes, which are haphazard by nature, aren’t fast or accurate
  1696. enough for a moving target. This will not ensue a chase by the units,
  1697. however. Unlike the expectation of the audience from being trained to
  1698. expect and anticipate a chase scene, BN is going to go through their
  1699. equipment in their chambers, and she will use that equipment to her
  1700. advantage.
  1701. What she will do with it will very much depend upon the writing but it
  1702. seems to me at this point that she would sort of Robin Hood it, start
  1703. analyzing how it works, cracking it, and then giving the specifications
  1704. to all of the engineers that she has met up with during her travels.
  1705. That means that she opens up the Network for Astromechs, allowing people
  1706. to use it. The library that is left is salvaged, and so on and so on.
  1707. The most important stuff, the things that the Directors wanted to keep
  1708. top secret, it self-destructed during their departure. So, the raid was
  1709. only a limited success, but that is kind of how I want to end the story
  1710. arc. Not on a resounding conclusion, but on a basic one, a small shift
  1711. in the world. I think that the resulting conflict could actually be less
  1712. dramatic by that, with the Directors not having to escape, but they
  1713. chose that path because they are paranoid about orbital strikes. During
  1714. the epilogue, the Directors use some technology to start blowing apart
  1715. the satellites that they were maintaining, along with all of the other
  1716. debris, just in case, and that actually doesn’t really affect things too
  1717. much, now that the Astromechs Network was liberated. Overall, the world
  1718. doesn’t change much, but at least it changes for the better. The main
  1719. thing that BN claims from the database for Astromechs is the
  1720. meteorological data that the satellites collected over the decades. In
  1721. this way, the people remaining on the earth start to try to more
  1722. intelligently adapt to the new normal.
  1723. \#\#
  1724. So, the Aldevan estate is going to be located in what was known as
  1725. Turkey during the Peak Period. Turkey was a big member of the European
  1726. Union, and when the EU expanded it’s territory, Turkey was the gateway
  1727. to the Middle East, as it were. The way that I am predicting it works
  1728. (and of course, this is pretty tenuous) that the major religions are
  1729. going to become more and more of a cultural instutition, in the fact
  1730. that the dogma and world view are going to be largely replaced with a
  1731. more global outlook. Because technology and science become more
  1732. widespread, the peoples of the world become more and more secular. I
  1733. think that this is the progression here: the more technology, the less
  1734. religion. Now, I’m thinking in broad strokes here, and I know that there
  1735. will be groups living outside of and within larger populations that are
  1736. going to be fundamentalists, but they are going to become a minority, in
  1737. my opinion. Some of them are going to embrace technology, but others are
  1738. going to try to live outside of technology, in remote areas of the
  1739. world. These people are considered crazy for some, but they aren’t going
  1740. to be much of a problem besides causing social issues.
  1741. I’m predicting that this will occur only after another world war. Most
  1742. people might call it World War III, but I’m not going to do that. I
  1743. think that World War I and II were inextricably linked. I don’t think
  1744. that a global conflict occurring in the 21st century is going to be like
  1745. global conflicts in the 20th century. I’m thinking that it’s going to be
  1746. more like the Cold War, in that everyone is going to be in a state of
  1747. agitation, and there will be related conflicts throughout the world, and
  1748. that will be just before the Peak Period. Essentially, the War Period is
  1749. going to last about 50 years in the middle of the 21st century, and it
  1750. will involve cyber-warfare, unmanned vehicles of all kinds, and outright
  1751. terrorism. It’s the kind of war that will consume the whole world, and
  1752. the nation-states and the corporations will be responsible. Many people
  1753. are going to die, and honestly, it will be a major push for global
  1754. warming. Essentially, the war is about economics and resources. It will
  1755. be during the period in which technology hasn’t quite caught up with
  1756. global demand for resources. The period has the three dimensional
  1757. printers invented during that century, but they won’t be as powerful or
  1758. versatile as the ones that can create a unit or a drone. Those printers
  1759. will get most of the advances for making weaponry and ammunition, and
  1760. that will make wars much different that the ones in past centuries.
  1761. Because troops can manufacture their own ammunitions and food rations,
  1762. the landscape of war reflected a combination of guerrilla and trench
  1763. warfare. The war took place nearly everywhere, except for the major
  1764. urban areas that could afford to establish secure areas. Each nation
  1765. state took a different approach to this, but all in all, the urban areas
  1766. were safe from large scale battle. That didn’t stop small scale
  1767. terrorist-type attacks, but these were different in that more and more,
  1768. the damage was done by robotic means, not suicide bombings.
  1769. Anyway, so I was going to talk about Turkey. Anyway, I think that the
  1770. European Union will emerge more and more as a collection of
  1771. municipalities, rather than separate countries. Sure, the charters and
  1772. titles and so on that each country has will remain intact, but in all
  1773. practicality, the countries will become more and more integrated and
  1774. dependent upon each other. The quick dissemination of advanced
  1775. technology and more coordinated policies will result in this shift.
  1776. Eventually, the countries of the British Isles will come into the EU.
  1777. Many of the tiny islands that fall into the EU’s extended territory will
  1778. have to be abandoned more and more as the ocean levels rise and the
  1779. weather becomes more and more erratic.
  1780. I’m thinking that after oil becomes less and less of a need as a fuel,
  1781. and it becomes more and more as a raw material to be turned into other
  1782. commercial goods, and the more and more that solar energy becomes the
  1783. normal energy source for the world, I believe that the Middle East will
  1784. stabilize, and it will form it’s own Arabian Union, which it will
  1785. eventually form close bonds with the EU. As more and more of the upper
  1786. bands of the world become better and better places to live, Russia will
  1787. change, as it will no longer be an inhospitable place to live, and the
  1788. governments will have to accommodate more and more non-Russians into
  1789. their country. Eventually, they end up having a government that it a bit
  1790. more EU style, and so they come into the fold as an EU associate.
  1791. Meanwhile, during these proceedings the United Nations becomes more and
  1792. more of a world government. Certain astronauts and other individuals
  1793. have always tried to have a global government, something beyond the
  1794. patchwork international law that evolved in earlier eras, but as always,
  1795. humans are ruled by economic forces, and that, not idealism, that
  1796. ultimately drove the new way of doing things. Now, the United Nations
  1797. were helped along this process by the multinational corporations. Some
  1798. of these corporations benefited from the nature of international law,
  1799. such as tax havens at what have you. However, what they ended up
  1800. deciding upon was making a low tax rate for all economic actors on the
  1801. global stage. You see, a main business practice that started in the tech
  1802. industry but ended up spreading to all of the industries that this could
  1803. happen to, was the practice of buying up startups. In this case, the
  1804. startup was no longer a tech industry term, but instead started
  1805. spreading to other industries, replacing the term of “small business.”
  1806. The global work force became more and more of a freelance situation too.
  1807. Essentially, the global workforce split into “core” workers and “free”
  1808. workers. Core workers were the ones that would stay at an organization
  1809. for a long time, and they were the ones that were tied to that
  1810. organization. The core management, core marketers, core maintenance
  1811. workers, etc. They were the ones who kept their jobs for long periods of
  1812. time, for ten years or more. The “free” workers were the ones that would
  1813. contract out with companies. You see, the marketplace adapted with the
  1814. Internet. People were more and more able to manage their own businesses
  1815. without being tied to one company. And because outsourcing become more
  1816. and more common, these types of business flourished. And these workers
  1817. were able to start unionizing and ferderationalizing, and they were able
  1818. to put pressures on the nation-states to enact laws to protect them.
  1819. Because employer-based health insurance, as well as employer-based
  1820. benefits of any kind were only given to core workers, big companies were
  1821. able to start expanding and contracting as they needed to. This
  1822. swiftened the business cycle of the globe quite a bit, and that was
  1823. another pressure upon the international community to consolidate the
  1824. laws in place.
  1825. Thankfully, the artificial legal agent became a full reality by this
  1826. point, and it helped craft the new laws. Before this point, the
  1827. artificial paralegal agent was a fully developed technology, but the
  1828. crafting of new law and contracts was something that was under
  1829. development at the time.
  1830. Anyway, the point is that the world was able to make a global
  1831. government, one that afforded everyone equal bartering power (except
  1832. that the giant corporations were the ones that had the most bargaining
  1833. power in practice, but no one was going to be able to get that changed).
  1834. And in this way, the world economy was turned into a giant free for all,
  1835. and that left many people displaced by the economic changed. As it turns
  1836. out, with more and more computerized automation, people didn’t need to
  1837. work so much. And so people worked less and less. And that would have
  1838. been fine, if the global food resources weren’t running out, and potable
  1839. water wasn’t becoming a huge problem. (People that didn’t care about the
  1840. environment and thought that they could make a buck started suggesting
  1841. that the polar regions be mined for potable water. The nation-states
  1842. prevented that, but as soon as the nation-states fell, the polar regions
  1843. did start being mined. And once the part of Antarctica that had dead
  1844. plants in it was exposed to the atmosphere, that was the beginning of
  1845. the end for the Wild World that corporations thrived in.
  1846. The displaced workers that couldn’t compete in the new global economy
  1847. were mostly the poor people that couldn’t afford to participate, given
  1848. that the whole economy depended upon the Internet in order to work.
  1849. Sure, you could give poor people a cell phone from a drop ship, but how
  1850. are they going to figure out how to use it? Essentially, the world fell
  1851. into a caste system; those that were born with technological privilege,
  1852. and had easy access to it, those that were born without technological
  1853. privilege, but were able to access a publicly provided access to it, and
  1854. those people that had neither. And I’m not talking about being able to
  1855. log onto the latest and greatest social network. I’m talking about
  1856. having the tool available to utilize the technology, and the education
  1857. to use that technology, as well as the capital of time and money to be
  1858. able to compete in the global workforce. Those that were in the lowest
  1859. caste of all of these three, they were the ones that would become the
  1860. militant poor, the ones that wanted the world destroyed. These were the
  1861. ones that caused the War Period to start. Of course, once the War Period
  1862. started, it caused fragmentation of the nation-states.
  1863. (Okay, something that I need to figure out: did the Peak Period come
  1864. after the War Period, or before. I guess that the Peak Period would come
  1865. before, but I did say that some people would be alive from the Peak
  1866. Period. I’m thinking instead that the Peak Period had the beginnings of
  1867. the War Period during its tail end, in the fact that the wars around the
  1868. world were getting worse and worse, but they were remote from people,
  1869. and in that way, the Peak Period was mostly peaceful for most people.
  1870. This mindset of Peak Period did not include the small military conflicts
  1871. that were almost always occurring somewhere in the world. Soon, the word
  1872. “war” was something always in the headlines.)
  1873. HA! Now I have opened the Turkey book, only to look at the map, and
  1874. decided where the Aldevan estate is going to be. I’ve decided that the
  1875. estate is going to be within what they think is the Fertile Crescent,
  1876. but is in fact much further north than they thought (Pietro II, or
  1877. whoever I said did that, didn’t know his geography very well, and
  1878. thought he was close enough to claim it from the land that he bought.
  1879. The Aldevan state does include what was the Mesopotamian land area, but
  1880. only because the rivers dried up and no one else can live there.)
  1881. Basically, the estate is going to be in the Syria area to the south and
  1882. to the east of the Turkish city of Qamishle.
  1883. My estimation is that BN can run about 60 km/hour, and that she can run
  1884. continuously without rest. As long as she doesn’t have to hide, she can
  1885. cover 480 km of ground per night, assuming an 8 hour night. I’m not sure
  1886. if that is actually how long the nights last, and I’m not thinking that
  1887. I’m going to be spend a lot of time drawing up an exact path that she is
  1888. going to take. My thinking is that she will head north as much as
  1889. possible, until she find the city that she needs to find (I’m actually
  1890. thinking that Georgie Boy is not going to come from Poland, but from
  1891. Northern Turkey. It makes much more sense to have a local person talking
  1892. about where he grew up from, and BN deciding that she was going to
  1893. journey there to get away from the Aldevan estate. Now, I’m thinking
  1894. that Astromechs is actually going to be found in Europe or something,
  1895. but that will come from the writing, if it hasn’t already).
  1896. I’m thinking that it will take her about four days of nonstop running at
  1897. night in order to make it to where she needs to be. I was looking at the
  1898. map, and I think that she would avoid mountainous routes as much as
  1899. possible during her travel time, but preferring them for when she is
  1900. hiding. The mountains provide a scattering feature to the scanners that
  1901. the drones use, and the features of the rock faces would confuse the
  1902. human pilots that are tracking her down too.
  1903. Anyway, the general area that she is going to wind up in is the current
  1904. city of Giresun, and that is where she is going to find that larger
  1905. coastal city that has started up it’s economy again. The trick here is
  1906. that they discovered how to reclaim potable water from the Black Sea,
  1907. and how to turn the jellyfish into raw material for their printers.
  1908. From there, she is going to find out where the nearest spaceport is.
  1909. Well, she is told, there aren’t too many of those around any more, and
  1910. that she will have to journey all the way to Instanbul in order to make
  1911. that trip. In that way
  1912. \#\# \#\# \#\#
  1913. (This part is something that I am actually formatting. Wow, that is a
  1914. breath of fresh air. I wish to make this part of the novel act as a sort
  1915. of document that I can use to describe the novel to others in a readable
  1916. way, and that I can use it as a guide to how I’m going to continue
  1917. creating the work, and to sort of create a collaboration between the
  1918. different parts of my brain and the different parts of the story to make
  1919. it all come together as one work, rather than a bunch of works all
  1920. sharing the same space.)
  1921. NOVEL ABSTRACT
  1922. So, I have been talking up National Novel Writing Month to other people,
  1923. and I’ve been getting some interesting comments from people. I have been
  1924. able to give an encapsulated version of the story, in the form of a
  1925. novel abstract. I don't fully know what a novel abstract is, except that
  1926. it is a mostly abstract piece that describes the big ideas in the novel,
  1927. and how they relate to one another. This document will somewhat try to
  1928. answer the question: What is the novel about?
  1929. I find it appropriate that I come to this point, the last days of
  1930. National Novel Writing Month, and I am finally getting to the point
  1931. where I am planning my next move. I find that this process was actually
  1932. quite illuminating for me, and it was quite good for getting my rear in
  1933. gear. Now, I have a story that I wish to complete, a project that I want
  1934. to go further with, a novel that needs to be finished. I'm going to get
  1935. this one done.
  1936. I’m going to type that explanation out now. This is not the condensed
  1937. version that I have been giving people in casual conversation, for I
  1938. intend to fill in as many details as I think are necessary. Because this
  1939. is a science fiction novel, the presence of imaginary technology is
  1940. important, and my first salient feature will discuss that technology in
  1941. detail. I know that I said that I was going to be dealing with the
  1942. abstract, but I feel that I need to give some examples as to what the
  1943. bounds of the secondary reality is, so that I can make sure that I stay
  1944. within them. I need to make sure that it is interesting as well as
  1945. feeling real enough so that people will accept the conceit of the
  1946. fiction, and move into the other parts of the narrative and the other
  1947. salient points that I wish to make.
  1948. To begin with, the backdrop of the novel is this: For the next two
  1949. centuries from our current time, humans will progress with their
  1950. additive, distributed manufacturing technology that began with the
  1951. innovative 3D printers that were invented during the last decades of the
  1952. twentieth century, and promulgated during the first decades of the 21st
  1953. century. Also during that time, the world will undergo human caused
  1954. climate change in the form of global warming that will make food
  1955. surpluses and potable water scarce commodities, as well as the side
  1956. effects of fossil fuel extraction and pollution. Many of these
  1957. predictions are also based on current observations and extrapolations.
  1958. Now that I have established the backdrop, I will now describe the three
  1959. salient features of this novel. Two of them have already been
  1960. established in the backdrop: the imaginary technology based on 3D
  1961. printers, and the impact of global warming. The third salient feature is
  1962. more of a literary device, one of the “universals” of fiction, and that
  1963. is the idea of the evolution and development of a human being.
  1964. The first salient feature is technology. By this I mean its progression,
  1965. and its impact on economics. In any world building, it is important to
  1966. establish imaginary technology if it will have a big impact on the point
  1967. of the story. I’d say that a big part of science fiction is the creation
  1968. of this imaginary technology, and its “science” in the secondary fiction
  1969. that we are generating in the story. Within the world of the story,
  1970. within this fictional future history that I am creating, I am going to
  1971. specifically focus on distributed manufacturing using three dimensional
  1972. printers and their associated technologies.
  1973. I predict that we will have a manufacturing base that is in the home and
  1974. in small scale print shops. I think that product customization and
  1975. minimized shipping of finished products will dominate consumer
  1976. preference.
  1977. I think that the minimized shipping will result from continuing efforts
  1978. to privatize social services, and the continual rising costs of that
  1979. shipping and the other parts of the equation, including affluent people
  1980. wanting to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible. Because
  1981. the printers can be set up to be nearly anywhere, small scale print
  1982. shops will become competitive. The landscape of urban areas (which will
  1983. increase in populations as time goes by and as rural areas become less
  1984. habitable) will somewhat resemble the neighborhood shop model: people
  1985. won't have to travel much further than a few city blocks to get the
  1986. items that they need. The franchise will continue to be popular, with
  1987. different brands servicing different products.
  1988. I predict that a consumer will be able to order a product on-line and
  1989. receive a digital version of the product. (Physibles will become a thing
  1990. that people will pay for in the future.) I think that customers will
  1991. then either consume the product digitally (as in, in content-only form.
  1992. This would include eBooks, music, videos, and so on), or they will
  1993. proceed to manufacture the product in their homes (if it is something as
  1994. simple as a kitchen utensil or baby toys) or they will go to an
  1995. appropriate print shop to have the item manufactured for them (a car or
  1996. a set of mechanics tools, or a new digital device).
  1997. As for the food: in most areas where this technology is prevalent, the
  1998. people will have a mixed bag of grown fungible goods and food-grade
  1999. printer material. The food grade printer material will be mostly sold as
  2000. a propitiatory solution, like pancake mix except in a cylinder. (As
  2001. mentioned in the text below concerning global warming, as the climate
  2002. changes, the grown foods will become more scarce, and in some areas,
  2003. they will be rationed.) Some people will grow their own foods, just as
  2004. they always have done. Another technology that is related to all of this
  2005. is meat printing, which replaces conventional corporate meat farms.
  2006. However, the meat farms do not go completely out of business, either. I
  2007. predict that they will turn to harvesting the animals for their
  2008. byproducts in use for novel applications. I think of the man who
  2009. genetically altered goats to produce small amounts of spider silk in
  2010. their milk. I think that this and other techniques will be common in
  2011. genetically altered livestock. They won't be herded in inhumane
  2012. conditions for their flesh anymore, but there will still be a large
  2013. industry for livestock, and they will continue to contribute to climate
  2014. change. When an animal dies, it's body is used either for food or for
  2015. printer material, but regardless, PETA will still have work to do in the
  2016. coming decades, and they will change their message to fit the current
  2017. struggle that they find themselves in.
  2018. I think that solar power will become a huge source of energy to the
  2019. masses, and that thorium nuclear reactors, wind/tide power, and other
  2020. non-carbon energies will be secondary power sources. I believe that the
  2021. future of the petroleum industry is to start using crude oil as a basis
  2022. for more plastics and other source material for the distributed
  2023. manufacturing machine, rather than a fuel source. This means that crude
  2024. oil and other fossil fuels will be harvested from the earth. (Although,
  2025. they will no longer be called fossil fuels when the oil companies are
  2026. able to successfully re-brand the crude oil. I do not know what they
  2027. would re-brand it, and I suppose that I will have to come up with some
  2028. kind of term that is both practical and Orwellian, as is traditional in
  2029. this genre.)
  2030. At the time of the novel, artificial human intelligence exists in a
  2031. limited fashion. Printers are able to create nearly everything that most
  2032. people need or want, and carbon-based plastics form the common materials
  2033. base for all manufactured objects. Quantum computers and regular
  2034. computers form an integrated system (I'm predicting that quantum
  2035. computing will be a chip that you can put on a motherboard, much like a
  2036. GPU. In all reality, quantum computing will be used to solve complex
  2037. problems quickly, and then the result of that computation will be
  2038. inputed back into the traditional processors, which, people will
  2039. realize, where all quantum in the first place). Automation is a common
  2040. tool that most humans use. Even the poorest of people have meals printed
  2041. for them in all but the most remote parts of the world. (Naturally, this
  2042. means that the states are making a whole undeserved class of people and
  2043. assuming that they best way of dealing with them is to give them
  2044. substandard food-stuffs, and expect that to be enough to quell other
  2045. concerns that they lower classes of people may have.)
  2046. The second salient point of the novel is that of the impact of climate
  2047. change. I do not simply refer to mere meteorological events. Although
  2048. they are important, this abstract will be concerned with the human
  2049. aspects of the situation: how are we as a species going to react to
  2050. these changing conditions? This part of the abstract is dealing with
  2051. fictional future history, and it will proceed in chronological order.
  2052. Let me begin by saying, besides the progress of technology to help
  2053. people live better lives, and to try to limit the impact of their carbon
  2054. foot print, it is already too late. My prognosis is bleak.
  2055. I predict that once the food stores of the world become low enough, the
  2056. nation-states will become locked in global conflict in competition of
  2057. resources. Additionally, the societies will suddenly change allegiances,
  2058. and the nation-states will become ideologically hostile (as usual).
  2059. Then, when these nation-states are no longer the dominant power, the
  2060. multinational corporations will take governance. At that point, all real
  2061. sense of common law and civil order will have disappeared, and the
  2062. corporations will begin to resemble military juntas. I’m not going to
  2063. indulge the anarchy-capitalists at all in this situation: yes,
  2064. corporations can rule in the absence of states, but they won’t be any
  2065. good at maintaining the peace when survival is at hand. They will become
  2066. juntas.
  2067. When this happens, all of the humans will revert to short term planning
  2068. on lack of coordination on climate terms, so global warming will get
  2069. worse. I’m predicting that potable water will become a big issue, and
  2070. that some of the corporations with the resources will start mining the
  2071. polar ice caps for its amount of water. When that ice supply is drained,
  2072. and I predict that it will occur because of climate change as well as
  2073. the effects of water mining, but when the ice caps are gone, the global
  2074. temperature will rise significantly. And when that happens, not even
  2075. most of the corporations are going to survive as large organizations.
  2076. Assassinations will occur, and the corporations will essentially destroy
  2077. each other.
  2078. The third salient feature of the novel is the character progression of
  2079. BN, the star of the show, as it were. This is the part that the reader
  2080. understands over the course of the novel. The character develops from a
  2081. somewhat clever robot without a personality, and becomes a woman,
  2082. essentially.