DigBee’s three counterparts were currently traveling to him from the other Habitable Zones, having completed their last encodes. Potts, Sheepman and Drew.
The last window for encoding would take place in four hours at 16:00 at his location. It was 1000 years since the digital reset when all electronics were destroyed, the magnetic chaos erupting from the earths core finally strong enough to disrupt every shield ever made against it. Much of the critical tech belonging to Digital Earth Factions already made it to the Moon Domes, while those choosing the path laid out but Another Destiney were onboard huge space Juggernauts, some already full and moving slowly up to their terminal velocities ready to leave earth behind forever, AD1 the command vessel was a cruising speed and long gone, although because of the use of quantum tunneling for predictive communications no one except need to know higher ups knew that. DigBee and his crew, the last encoders, would be included in the final encode event if they wanted to be. Everyone was given the choice. Stay and fry or choose a side and hope for the best. Digital Earth or Another Destiny although, people referred to them as simply DE or AD. Since the digital reset the sense of humor of much of the worlds population had reason to be sour, while encoders were sworn to neutrality. Whatever war, religious or political differences existed round the encoding system and its vast processing engines of people into tech and back out, the encoding technology itself remained available to all people, part of a parcel of tech, found in an abandoned old FBI building around the time of ATMOS-ZONE failure. The only message left within it warning that it was for everyone’s access not the privileged few, and it could just as easily be taken away. The hype and stories around how the technology came about and who invented it was fever pitch for many years, some of the stories even persisting today. The encoders were not allowed to mention their preference towards DE/AD until the day of choice, although these four had been at it for so long now they pretty much knew. Two of them were for AD, and two for DE but it never seemed to matter to this strange band and they remained friends.
There were the “freedom”, cities underground who had declared themselves independent of DE or AD. At first people flocked to them, thinking some kind of other salvation rested there. But it soon became apparent that they were fanatics who refuted the clear scientific facts or believed that some “other” race was going to come and save them.
The next several hundred years, after the digital reset had witnessed the collapse of the ATOMS-ZONE without AI’s to control it, and the surface of earth had become too hot. People had waited for the early expansion cruisers to send word they had found other worlds and they were coming to get them but word never came.
Then there were the rumors left over from the strange northern light show, earth had witnessed in space not long after the the digital reset. Vast plumes of light that could have been energy explosions were witnessed night after night. They carried the same physical signature as atomic explosions, but further away and smaller. Then; after the first person had burst into flames due to the heat on the surface people clung to a hope that there was life out in the stars and someone was coming to save them. Populations became more divided than ever before in human history and as much at war.
DigBee was the Chief here today, they had been rotating the chief privilege every month. Truth was no one wanted to be in charge. He was inside his hostile environment rebirth (HER) vehicle which was just inside earths protective heat shields, but he pulled up a top side view of the toxic surface. Directly above him was desert, vast poisonous seas of sand that covered 80% of the surface of the earth. The last carbon based habitat moved below ground over two hundred years ago. Seventy miles into the earths crust, which was now riddled like a giant honeycomb. Populations centers were carved out using acid explosions, very effective city space creators except once the cavity was created, the toxic waste had to be spewed out onto the over heated surface of earth.
DigBee remembered all too well his first assignment to investigate a failed acid explosion that no one took responsibility for. He absently rubbed his arm at phantom acid scars long since removed by regrow worms. Even having given up his body to cloning a rebirth years ago he still felt the phantom pains.
He was aware of his other three colleagues vector icons approaching his position at sub-light speeds somewhere in the back of his overly augmented mind. He was staring down the ramp into the huge encoding arena. The other three arenas that his fellow encoders had just left had already been destroyed by missiles launched from some space platform way above them.
DigBee Lay back and closed his eyes, not sure who or what to think on but so many parts of his life were troubling him right now.
He was getting to know the feelings of different displacements now. The NEST had feelings, Hector had feeling and then his own existence when he was occasionally left alone in the GOO had feelings. This one was the most troubling.
He opened his eyes to find himself on a perfect simulation of the AD1 Command Space Cruiser. This time he was standing looking out of a forward window simulation of a space moving past or towards him at near light speed. AD1 had been the first to depart the Milky Way worried for the safety of those on board. The Command Ship. A female officer stood next to him with her hands behind her back, looking at the same scene.
“As part of the NEST, do you all hang out in these simulations because your human AI mashups, or its it more ephemeral when your not entertaining?” He asked SarahPragmaticForesight. An AI, Human Mashup went by both the Human and the AI name, but they chose which one was their preferred salutation.
“It’s more complicated than that, I am sure you are aware. We use a predefined visual representation when needed or if some of us prefer it when more than one NEST is together. But its not necessary for us to function. A lot of the time we start with these formal representations, like this one,” she indicated turning left and right but leaving her hands behind her back. “But after some time we all usually end up as dormant avatars as the clumsiness of human speech just slows us down and we retreat to more efficient forms of communication.” She said turning to appraise him. She wore the very fit frames of a mid 40’s athletic female, 5″10 with mousy brown hair just long enough to be tied into a small pony at the back but nothing indulgent. Eyes hazel, she was to all intent and purposes near military perfect in her AD uniform, slim fit to show her own fitness but not sexual in any way.
“Why am I here again Sarah, I though we agreed last time given the nature of my role that these meetings are highly irregular and even against AD treaties. I am BlackOps, persona no grata, don’t exist, erasable in one thought from the NEST.” She silenced him with a wave of a hand, replacing the hand back behind her back.
“As we discussed last time, Mr nobody, I am not comfortable that all the NEST’s are playing by the rules of transparency and that things are going on in the AD GOO banks that are being deliberately hidden. My NEST, is technically in charge of the treaties being followed per the agreements. We follow these duties out with full transparency.” She paused.
“Unless you don’t want transparency then you call me, or others like me.” He felt hot, which was irrational.
“No, I personally only use you and its because I know you’re here to keep an eye on us for Hector, that distrust means I know I can trust you.” She looked once at the floor and back up.
“Ok, all that Hector bullshit is your own imagination at work but we discussed that at our last meeting, and I don’t know how you get me here, or put me back. But is there a point to this meeting or are we just chit chatting? Cause back on your home world were about to fry unless we encode ourselves and get moving.” He paced around now, amazed at the real life detail of the command deck. How walking, smelling and even hearing were the real thing here. He guessed the senior member of the senior NEST had access to good stuff in the GOO.
“There are a group of, disillusioned AI, or dystopian AI that sit dormant in various parts of other AI or NEST clusters, we house them out of respect. A few even claim to be in the DE GOO or their own space ships.” He shrugged at her, he knew what she was referring to but wasn’t giving anything up here he didn’t have to.
“Some of them sometimes contact me, us.” She slow rolled. “Contact can be very complex or what you would describe as unorthodox or odd. But I listen when I can and sift through it for any useful data.” She paused again.
“And?” He asked impatiently, pressing some mapping buttons he recognized to see if any of the equipment was real. Only to be surprised as galaxy spirals and star maps spilled into the air around him.
“One of the AI, The RealTimeWaster contacted me telling me that an AI from the future had warned him that Martin and Digital Earth had compromised us already and a confrontation like no other was on the horizon.”
“OK.” he paused, he knew of and had had some dealing with the RealTimeWaster, a really fucked up AI claiming to be a profit of the future.
“Although odd, and may be eccentric, some of what the RealTimeWaster has told be historically has been true. So I need to you make contact and find out if this is.”
“Why cant you do it?”
“Because I thought that my interactions with it were being monitored long ago so I stopped communicating. Now it won’t respond to me. Please DigBee, I am not asking you to admit anything but just try.” This time she held his gaze.
“Ok Ok, ill try, but I don’t know anything ok, you know the rules better than me.” He walked back to her, unable to switch of the multiple holograms he had woken. She smile at him.
“Thank you DigBee.”