Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 1

  "Nightland. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you a staggering new project that no other nation has imagined. Nightland. Why do I keep saying that? Nightland is a beautiful dream. The largest orbital colony ever attempted, to last the ages. That's what I'm asking you to invest in. "Where? La Grange position 5 of Earth's orbit- that's right. The largest orbital colony that will never be in a direct line with Earth. It'll orbit the sun on the opposite side of Earth's orbit. Imagine that. A colony that doubles the access to colonies on Mars and around Jupiter. "Nightland. Its a dream, a vision. Have you ever seen that? Can you imagine it? New tranquility in our time to be had there." -Amanda Blaine, CEO of the Nightland Colonization Corporation United American Democracies conference on future colonies, circa -245 UE. SAMUEL I panted as I ran away from the Machine. The drone was the most local version of law enforcement to be found around Shiloh, at least, the official kind. Most of the folk hate it when they decide to come by. Shiloh wasn't town that loved machines or most tech. Most of Nightland was sprawling cities, but Shiloh wasn't. Tiny town on the edge of it all. So when my friends and I did our little deed, we ran when we saw the drone coming. We didn't manage to pull it off. The drone had detected that, coming to stop us from doing something "dangerous." Machines. Damn them. That's one of the reasons we formed our little band. Tired of the same old men in Shiloh telling us what to do and think, but never having the balls to it themselves. So we decided to try and to something. "Where is it?" Charles whispered. He look up from the logs we'd jumped into to hide. The Preserves are forests, with trees growing and falling this way and that. Shiloh is nestled in a bunch of them, its hills made more remote because of the forests surrounding it. "Did we lose it?" I paused for a moment. "I'm not looking, Charlie. You look." Augustine sighed. "Samuel, really?" "What? If I look, the damn machine is going to see me." "Its going to see us either way, you know. Those things can see in infrared and all that." Augustine pointed out. "Its alright, I'll look myself." Charlie said, gazing over a nearby log. "I don't see any sign of it." "Sweet." I retorted. "Lets get back then-" Charlie laughed. "Race you guys!" Charlie bolted. He lept over logs and running back for the forest road. The old paved road connected Shiloh to all the core cities of Nightland. "Damn cheating jabai." I muttered under breath. "Well, you work for a father who logs for a living, then you get to run around in the forest without breaking your neck." Augustine added. "Still..." I smiled. We both followed Charlie, tripping and trying to do our best to run. My dad didn't log, that jabai spent most of his time being oging drunk, so I didn't have any special experience with running in them. But the three of us had been living in the hills of Shiloh most of our lives. So we raced. I was too young and too stupid then. But, everyone has regrets. I wished we'd bothered to look up when we had hidden that day... ***** KENSHA "Wow." I observed. "They really couldn't bother to look up? How dumb can they be?" The Drone had a primitive artificial intelligence. But that was on purpose. Police drones were designed and uploaded with dumber A.I.s to force them to consult human advisors before making decisions. Smarter A.I.s were great for military drones, which had to adapt to situations. But police drones needed to be guided in some ways, especially in areas like Shiloh. Not that I ever lived in Shiloh. I was miles away, doing my apprenticeship thread in Roosevelt. Like everyone my age, part of my education required me to consult for drones. I had experience with it too, ever since I first started doing it when I was fourteen. "Consultation: No answer to question. Rephrase?" The drone's chirped back at me. The response scrolled into my head as a bit of audio. Of course, the drone didn't have a response to my sarcastic observation. I tapped some fingers on my thigh. I accessed the app that gave the drone communications. The bionics in my hand and head worked in tandem as I spoke, informing the drone of what it had texted me to ask. "Disregard last statement. Question: drone, do you have a personal designation?" The drone sent a quick negative. That registered as a bleep in my head's internal augments. "I'm calling you Suzanne, Drone." "Affirmative." Another bleep, this one more positive sounding. "Suzanne, here's your consultation." I upfeed the data I managed to get on the three vandals. "All three of these are juveniles, and are the same culprits that vandalized the water station." Data streamed across the data filaments in my eyes. I saw the profiles for each, all three were bare bones as profiles get. But they were from Shiloh. A Luddite settlement that thought machines had taken over. "All three are from Shiloh." One's profile interested me a bit more, Samuel Maenad. His mother had been a doctor, originally from Havoc around Mars. That made me blink. Most people in Shiloh were third or fourth generation luddites. "I think their leader is Samuel Maenad. Obtain and take them to their guardians. Suggest leniency; three teenage boys being idiots. Give them a first time warning and scare them. No violence, please, Suzanne." Suzanne took a moment to pause. Then she spoke and said something that reminded me that most machines are people too. "Yes ma'am. And thank you for the name. I like it." "Of course." I disconnected from the drone. My chronometer bleeped in my right eye. It told me the time. As I was in eleventh grade, one of my exam classes was about to begin. "Geez. Can't a girl get a break?" Exam classes were a fun requirement for graduation. I remember reading once how long ago people used to test people over and over to see if they'd learned anything. Exam classes weren't like that at all. I got to the room just as all the little kids finally managed to file in. None of them were older than nine or ten, but they were just as eager as me for this class. I remember when I got to be a exam class when I was their age. "Hey guys." I bowed to the room of ten kids. "What's up?" They giggled. Most of their A.I. teachers never talked to them like that. Molly, a red-haired girl in the front waved a hand. "Just go ahead, Molly." I told the kid. "No need to be polite." “Did you have to go through exam classes too?” “You mean, get to have a bunch of older kids come in a couple times a week to teach my class?” I smiled. “Yeah. My favorite part was rating them. It was great.” “Aren’t you… nervous?” A boy, his hair a glowing green asked. “A little… but that’s part of the point I guess. One of those kids who taught one of my exam classes explained it to us when I asked. I was nervous then… scared to ask, so I did. She explained how its a exam class for us older kids, really. We’re being tested. And we are getting to learn from you guys too.” They all smirked at that. “I’m not kidding.” I chuckled. “Teaching a thing teaches you as much as first learning it. That, and you guys always think in ways I never could have. Your good teachers too.” After a moment, I continued. “So, I guess we continue the lesson from before. How our system works. You all remember what we talked about last time?” A very tall girl, obvious descended from parents from a low-grav colony, answered me. “You told us about the Unification War and the old governments before autogov.” I nodded. “Yeah. The old nations used very old systems of government, declining to implement newer innovations at the time. Fear of machines drove them to keep all forms of artificial intelligence from having any power. “They were afraid that their own creations would one day usurp them. They were kind of correct, but not in the way the old nations thought of.” ***** SAMUEL So stupid. It really hurt when the drone caught up to us. Or to be accurate, me. I'd fallen behind Charlie and Augustine. Augustine had tripped me. Charlie laughed at me from atop the nearby bridge. Awesome. Great. Soaked to the bone, I was trying to climb up the bridge when I heard it. The machine's loudspeaker shocked me, causing me to slip and fall five feet back into the water. I scuffed my legs on some rocks under the water in the process. It wasn't until I was back out of the water that I managed to process what the officer was blasting at me. "Samuel Maenad of Shiloh, please hold still." I froze, obeying the drone on instinct. I cursed myself for automatically snapping to as soon as the drone had ordered me. My leg still hurt. “I am officer Suzanne of the Preserve Authority. You are hereby detained Samuel Maenad of Shiloh. I have confirmed your identity.” A humanoid shape hovered in the air above me. A orange-tinted holo of a woman’s face was projected over its head. It had no legs, just a single hover unit that held it aloft. “Please acknowledge and come with me.” Suzanne? A machine named Suzanne? Who ever heard of that? “Stupid fekking machine.” I muttered. I glared up at it. “We want to be free, you know that?” “Please acknowledge and come with me.” The machine offered me a robotic hand. My leg hurt. I couldn’t really outrun this machine. The part of me that wanted to fight wanted me to rip her down, to break the machine. Another part of me, I guess the mature part of me, grabbed the machine’s hand. “I… I acknowledge.” I told the machine. I realized that I was looking at the holo of the projected face. A woman’s face. I dimly wondered what it might be like to be able to choose what kind of face you showed others. Old memories of being confused bubbled up in me. I was a loyal believer in the ideals of Shiloh and the other human settlements. We stay human, we keep the Machines from managing our every moment. But I had memories of being able to admit who I felt I was inside. But that was before my mother died. That was before my father killed my dreams. How he couldn’t have a son with those kinds of issues. I was his son, not my mother’s daughter. The drunk jabai killed that dream. And here was a machine, able to do what I felt too afraid to do. “Acknowledgement accepted. Let’s get you home, Samuel Maenad of Shiloh.”
*****
Central Net Archives: Nightland.Wiki.Archives/Amanda_Blaine Amanda Blaine (born on April 7th, -294 UE, Shiloh, Tennessee) was the founder and one of the most important creators of the Nightland Project. A CEO, philanthropist and prominent pioneer, she was instrumental in convincing the government of the United American Democracies to help found the colony of Nightland. Blaine proved herself to be an excellent guiding force. She helped to found multiple orbital colonies around Earth and Mars, including Havoc and Tennessee. In -249 UE, Blaine began a short term as a Senator and returned to earth. This political career would end shortly, when Blaine left her job as Senator to pursue the Nightland project in -245 UE. Nightland would prove to be the biggest project of Blaine’s career. Spent the rest of her life trying to make it real. She would manage to convince the UAD senate to fully fund the project. Blaine’s dream became manifest in -230 UE. She would be the first colonist to move into Nightland. Being the colony’s first president, Blaine laid down the foundations for what future residents of Nightland would recognize as important features. Because of its sheer size, Blaine was able to have entire orbital parts of Nightland converted into wild preserves. These forested areas thrived in the centrifugal gravity of Nightland. Her work would also create the cities of Roosevelt, Lee and Singh. Blaine continued to work until her death in -190 UE. Blaine contracted for massive expansions on the Nightland network of orbitals, creating bigger spaces. Her legacy continues on in the pioneering spirit of all those in Nightland. Her foundational policies continued until Nightland converted to autogov, but even then many of them remain unchanged, as autogov continues them as reasonable policies. Next Part |