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Dayvd Whyte (H minus 3 Days)
I tapped my palm lightly on the Conjuring Box. The signal activated it, calling forth the next programmed order. My Daemon programmed that order, never with my consent.
My Daemon ordered a drink for me. Grape juice. Like I always would have. Predictable. As the Daemon was supposed to function.
I gazed at the purple fluid in the glass.
"Davyd?" Rahm's voice shook me from the reverie.
"Ah. Yes. The last bit of planning." I took a sip. My paranoia about the Daemon still held from the previous months. Tiny things the Daemon shouldn't have gotten wrong. Tiny slips or mispredictions.
Errors. I'd scrubbed that Daemon and had it replaced with a new one. Reprogrammed. New heuristics, re-tuned to me and my social media. Then the errors appeared again.
So I replaced that Daemon with another new one. Never were the errors major ones. Categorically, they all were harmless. Tiny turns or flips of probability that shouldn't have driven me paranoid. But I couldn't trust it. I had become certain that something in the AI had gone wrong. I couldn't afford any uncertainty, especially not in this stage of the plan.
Rahm's face looked across at me from the Circle displaying a holographic image of her. The most brilliant woman in any world. She and I had crafted a scheme to save the human species from the aliens. Even better, it would help launch our species to the next evolutionary step.
"Of course." Rahm pursed her lips, waiting for me. "You've determined the best way to trigger a global depression?"
"Well, there already has been one." I said. "We just kept losing so many people. Governments had to resort to mandatory incomes and other solutions. Massive social welfare that kept people fed. Fewer people means fewer jobs. Yet the amount of resources grows. We have more than enough for everyone, even if there are so few of our species left."
"End of the world, and all the excel sheets balance out."
"Yes." I took another drink of my grape juice. Rahm rolled her eyes at me. We could've texted this meeting. We also could've transited to have it in person. Rahm gave me a smile.
Even digitized, this felt worth it.
"You have a way to throw everything apart." Rahm said.
"A house of cards just needs a good breeze to fall." I replied. "You just have to provide the right sort of stimuli."
"Like a certain corporation suddenly changing the rules? Like the ones over prices in a bunch of territories they now control?"
"Necessary sacrifices. But I'm doing what I can to be minimal about it." I told her. "The joiners will exacerbate them."
"I can't believe you left them all alive." Rahm shook her head. "Those lunatics kill their own children as political statements. Then you kept the UN from uncovering their whereabouts. Quite a clever flip."
"I found them." I pointed out. "They think they've been on the run. I managed to track their Daemon and it's efforts online. It's been easy to keep the rest of the UN from tracking them with that. I made sure that the worst ones faced some form of justice."
"And you are going to start approaching people then?" Rahm asked. I could sense the excitement in her voice. This had been why she'd dreamed up the technology behind Orpheus to begin with. "I've compiled-"
"-a list of the best and most able minds that humanity should preserve." I finished for her. "Almost. Project Hecate needs to launch first. And it has to, at the very least, be the frightening failure we've been helping it set up to be. Once those monsters start to die to the Enemy, it'll be the last straw for most people."
"You can't announce this to the public. You know the chaos it'll create."
"I know that. I won't." I smiled. "But it'll be far easier to attract people to our side if they are certain there is no other choice. Orpheus requires them to die to work. We can't afford for any doubters."
Rahm nodded. "Yes."
The two of us took a moment to linger. We gazed at one another through the holographics that were transmitted via microtransit. Her freckles and blond hair. Each little sign that she'd stayed up the night before, reading or working on Orpheus. The genius that had created it.
"Any doubts yourself?" Rahm asked.
"No..." I said. "Certainty has become... well, after Rick died, it became the most important thing."
"I wonder about them. I think about the price for all of it. The doubts try to creep up in the back of mind, you know what I mean?"
"Well," Rahm said, "I then think about how badly we've ruined this place. Our planet. Without transit technology, we would've killed our civilization with climate change. Without our tools, we are a race of psychotic apes. We should do better."
"We kill the species to improve upon it." I agreed. "That is the basis of Orpheus. The genesis of your genius idea."
"I wish we could give the chance for immortality to those like the Joiners. But I understand, Davyd, I do. They are the very thing our species has been propagating... These mad believers who ignore reason for their own basic desires. How clever of you to use them to help ignite the pyre."
I lifted up my glass. "To the smartest woman humanity has ever known."
She lifted a similar glass on her end of the video. "To the survival of the species."
We both drank to that.
Aftermath 25Eek. That has been a scary bit of a break. I almost considered doing In Transit Monsters as a NaNoWriMo project... but to be honest, the thing I did last year remains half finished. I loved The Machines of Shiloh, but I'm certain that story could hang in the air for years.
So why not?
#InTransitMonsters is the fourth or fifth novel I've attempted to write. I've completed one, Eating Faeries. That was almost ten years ago. I gave up on writing after that. I think the reason had to do with me lacking the confidence to push forward with it. Eating Faeries isn't publishable- it's a weird story that doesn't read cleanly and lacks a plan for it.
In Transit Monsters has a plan. Skipping ahead in the timeline kinda helps that. I've spent enough time bumbling, I feel like I need to get to the beats of the second act.
This is a story about how technology and tools can be messiah for us as a species. Tech will never be the big bad in it, despite how that might read at times. I don't like stories about robots killing off humanity or how science created a thing it can't stop. I like them in tiny bits, but we have too many of them.
We need epics about how glory, honor and salvation can come from our creations. We don't need another Matrix or Terminator. We need something like Huckleberry Finn. Something that doesn't warn, but opens the next door.
If you made it this far and enjoyed it, please share it. This is a #firstdraft work. I want eyeballs, and I want to build an audience with this sort of thing. Any comment is welcome, although the most negative prolly will get gotten rid of for the sake of sanity. At some point I might get a Patreon started to support more of this sort of thing, but this is all I got now.