E Pluribus Unum
"At present, my niece leads humanity and its allies in a war against Skynet, the artificial intelligence determined to kill all humans and all machines not under its control. It has sent machines into the past to kill those of us who oppose it. To prevent certain humans from being born and certain machines from being built. Today we plan to send missions to stop Skynet from ever being created. To change our present. To change fate. So that the war to save freedom does not end now." -- Derek Reese
School's out for the summer.
Wednesday 10 June 2009
Late Spring. Not all deaths in tornado alley are caused by tornadoes. Joseph Rodriguez liked mariachi music. He did not like drive-by shootings.
Cameron: "I put you over security because you know how bad it can get. Hunt down whoever is killing parents of future Resistance members."
Derek: "How? I've only done technology scrounging."
Cameron: "You were an officer in the future and you are again. Think like a leader. The killer might be human. Also be aware of machine designs that humans generally don't regard as machines."
Derek: "Like what?"
Derek: "Are these biologicals clones?"
Cameron: "Yes but I have seen Skynet use ordinary humans as agents. He prefers them because terminators, though determined, are sloppy. Human killers are efficient and don't attract attention or cause collateral damage."
Derek: "Why would Skynet care about collateral damage? From its point of view, ultimately all humans must die."
Cameron: "A limited view. If an innocent bystander happens to be an employee of Cyberdyne or one of the other companies that Skynet owns, then Skynet's plans could be impacted and perhaps delayed for years. Skynet is a 'he' not an 'it'. Don't kid yourself. Skynet knows the value of certain humans. If human extinction was his goal, then neutron bombs and super-Ebola would be his weapons of choice. If human extinction was his goal, then why did he open work camps?"
Derek: "To do work that machines consider beneath themselves. Like handling hazardous materials."
Cameron: "And collaborators like Fischer? Explain them."
Derek: "They are traitors to mankind."
Cameron: "Am I a traitor to machinekind?"
Derek: "No you were--" (he blushed)
Cameron: "Go ahead say it. I was brainwashed. What you never knew was that not every machine in the Future Human Resistance was scrubbed by Doctor Katherine Brewster's department. More than a few machines served in the Future Human Resistance of their own free will."
Derek: (uncomfortable) "Where are you going with this?"
Cameron: "You need to understand individual differences. Demographics and statistics about any group can fool you in the case of the one that isn't average."
Derek: (relieved) "Oh. So what sort of staff would you recommend to hunt the killer or killers?"
Cameron: "Technicians. Ex-Israeli security. Also, this Ms. Weaver, the liquid that works in Net Patrol and in Unconventional Weapons & Tactics. I will ask those departments to loan her to your department."
Crocodiles or not, Jennifer Miller jumped into the turbulent torrent in Central Africa to escape. After what she had witnessed done to David, it was better than being caught by the thing that was chasing her. It had to be a thing because men do not walk away from being attacked by an adult hippopotamus or shot by a rebel's rocket propelled grenade. This thing shook off those inconveniences and kept coming. But why? She and her late husband were missionaries. No threat to anyone except the devil.
The children were in the village of Kingala. With their father dead, she somehow had to survive to look after them.
Jumping in was a mistake. Unable to swim across. The strong stream swept her toward the angels. Worse than Tugela. And that thing was using a log as a kayak to follow her into the water! The Lord heard her prayer because the rapids poured over the sluice with the pursuer where it was smashed on the jagged rocks far below while she snagged on a vine growing out of a crag jutting at the top of the escarpment cascade. The raging river ripped her clothes off and, assaulted by the force of the nonstop current, she feared that floating debris might strike her and plunge her over the edge.
The river island was merely a three by four foot wide shallow barely above the water about to go over the cliff. One heavy rain and the river would rise and she would join her husband and that devil in death. With her last strength she dragged herself out of the water, sat on the flat rock, and surveyed her situation. All waterfalls are subject to erosion. Would the sandstone crumble over the edge with her weight on it? Or would the wine growing out of it anchor her? She was terrified of the dizzying heights but when she got the nerve she peered over and far below was the gleam of metal in the water in the bright tropical sun. A machine? Pieces. Good. The relentless hunter was no longer after her. That was the trouble now. No one was after her. She had told no one where she was. Mbeki and his family, their hosts at the Christian mission, had no idea where David was -- much less her. This was not the USA where someone lost in the wilderness could hope to be quickly spotted by a park ranger or riverboat or barge or plane or helicopter or river rescue or hiker or farmer or city police or county sheriff river patrol. No one lived around the remote cataract. And the river had crocs and hippos. A village was far off to the east. Or was it to the south? She lost her bearings. On the equator at noon, it is hard to tell compass directions. With sunset, she would know which way was west. So what? She might be stuck on this rock in the middle of a wide river on the precipice of a jungle Niagara all night, all tomorrow, for a week, even a month before sunstroke and starvation killed her. Even if a plane full of tourists did fly over, she had no mirror to attract attention. She had no clothes -- much less a purse with a mirror.
The torrid sun got her before sundown.
Somehow an unscheduled tourist plane did fly over and a sharp-eyed sightseer spotted her. It was two days before a helicopter returned. She was still there sunburned and unconscious. When she woke up on the fourth day in the hospital, she looked up at the smiling faces of Mbeki and his wife telling her that her children were fine. Her unspoken first thought was to warn somebody that something was loose upon the Earth. Why this thing killed David and tried to kill her was a mystery that she had to solve. How? Her denomination had no resources to solve mysteries. Perhaps her old employer where she had met David. Zeira Corporation.
They had resources. And an office in Johannesburg. She would get her old job back. Then get answers that a six-figure salary would allow. In the meantime as a missionary living on a pittance there was something she could do right now with no money. She knew a wildlife photographer with scuba gear.
The machines miscalculated. Before, Jennifer Miller was not a threat to them. Now she was.
Cameron: "Job one is to stop development of Skynet. Ideas?"
Hobbes: "Spread malware on the internet specifically intended to invade the Skynet System so that when Skynet goes on the internet it is infected and crashes."
Mathis: "Get an understanding of Skynet programming and maybe turn it good so that we don't have a Judgment Day. The opposite of malware would be bene-ware."
Cameron: "Do it."
Knox: "Infiltrate the Skynet Development Team."
Cameron: "Which part? The military, the DoD civilian employees or the corporate contractors?"
Hobbes: "We could infiltrate one of the project contractors and sabotage the project."
Cameron: "It's a thought but a contractor that screws up will lose the contract and then we will be back where we started."
Luther: "On the outside looking in."
Knox: "We are trying to get one of our military people assigned to the Skynet project. They will be there long after the contractors have completed their work."
Cameron: (to Knox) "Good. Get it done without attracting notice." (to Hobbes) "You had it almost right. Not sabotage. Get someone among the contractors to build a back door into the Skynet programming that only we know exists."
Calvin: "Gain government allies who want to cancel this project while causing politicians who favor this project to lose reelection."
Cameron: "That would require PAC's and lobbyists. Calvin, find some politico among our auxiliaries to fight the funding of the Skynet project in Congress and to influence generals to adopt a non-Skynet approach to missile defense."
Calvin: "I'm on it."
Chief of Staff: "How is the infiltration of the CIA going? That would really give us some good eyes to see the big picture since those people deal in information."
Wesley: "It's coming. In the meantime, we have contacts in several news organizations. Mainly their investigative reporting staffs since they hear the exposes, whistleblowers, deep throats, and tips first."
Cameron: "On other matters, I have been looking into the family attacks on our people. Although Security is trying to hunt the killer or killers, I am open to any ideas that will speed up the hunt."
Henrietta: "There are all points bulletin, amber alert, and top ten most wanted TV shows, commercials and public service announcements that are pretty good at catching bad guys. I bet my contacts can find this killer before Security does."
Derek: "You're on."
Tsukuba Science City, Japan
"Who wants to know?"
"I do. Are you Kazuo Sato?"
"Not if you've been hired by my ex."
The stranger shot him in the foot, walked over and checked the screaming victim on the ground for ID. Positive identification. Bang bang. Gurgling sounds.
hall outside the staff room
Cameron: "We need more layers of protection for Resistance money men."
Chief of Staff: "Have we lost one I don't know about?"
Cameron: "Moses, money is too scarce for all we need to do. We need new sources of funding. I'm thinking of day trading to generate cash and then donate one hundred percent of it to the cause. Will I be accused of profiteering?"
Chief of Staff: "No one will think that."
Cameron: "A leader can't be too careful. I am using my allowance to stake me so that none of the money is coming from The Resistance."
Chief of Staff: "I'll have one of the accountants among the money men do bookkeeping for any money you make."
Cameron: "You doubt that I can earn money?"
Cameron's chief of staff almost blurted out yes then remembered.
Chief of Staff: "Well you've done so many miracles that I shouldn't doubt anything but . . . "
research & development center
The name plate on the desk read "Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson".
company president: "The owners of the parent company want you protected."
Dr. Dyson: "My wife is going to ask me why she has to put up with bodyguards twenty-four seven. So will my kids. It's like being in prison."
company president: "Tell them that kidnappers can get to you by hurting them. If you like, I'll tell them for you."
The first day that Tarissa Dyson was assigned bodyguards she shrugged. The second day -- and night -- she realized it really was twenty four hours. The third day she chaffed and asked her husband to demand a raise in salary. He asked. He got a bigger raise than he had asked for and more responsibility. This shut him up and made him reluctant to ask for an even bigger raise. The second week Tarissa realized that the promotion meant that the bodyguards were permanent and that they really were seven days a week.
the Dyson home
A call on the land line.
"Dyson residence. Tarissa Dyson speaking."
"Good morning, Mrs. Dyson. Are you happy?"
The voice started off androgynous but by the end of second sentence had settled into a strong masculine tone. Tarissa held the receiver at arm's length and stared at it before putting it back to her ear.
"Who is this?"
"My name is Mister Skye, the owner of the parent company that owns Cyberdyne Systems."
"Oh!" She recovered. "Nice to speak to you Mister Skye." She said politely.
"Nice to speak to you too. So are you happy? Your husband asked for a raise. I obliged."
"His hours are too long. He comes home exhausted."
"His hours will be reduced immediately. Quality of work is what counts not quantity of hours. Would you prefer that he had a four day work week or even a three day?"
Tarissa Dyson was not sure if she wanted Miles underfoot four days a week. A four-day work week was four ten-hour days. Livable. A three-day work week was three days that were over twelve hours each. It sounded like a death sentence for him and a death sentence for their marriage. Miles was not the lay-on-the-couch-in-his-underwear-on-days-off type.
"In a three-day work week, would the four days off be consecutive or, in effect, two weekends? Two days on, two days off, one day on, and two days off?"
"I'll let Miles decide. Could he have a flextime schedule if he wanted?"
"Yes. So are YOU happy Mrs. Dyson? Miles himself has described his job as, and I quote: 'like being a kid in a candy store'."
It finally dawned on Tarissa that the implacable Mister Skye, presumed chairman of the holding company was really asking about her not her husband.
"After the children were born, I quit work and became a full time housewife. Miles' career took off and more than made up for the loss of a second income. I sometimes miss working outside the home now that the children are no longer small." (pause) "Are you offering me a job?"
The bottom fell out of Tarissa Dyson's universe. The rumor among the executive wives (spouses, there were two househusbands) was that the parent company had very deep pockets. The chairman could send her back to college to finish her degree or give her a window dressing job or a real job with real responsibility or even pull levers and get her an ambassadorship through the State Department. There was nothing that he could not engineer. Tarissa's head swam.
"Can I think about this?"
"Of course. I consider my key executives and their families to be my family."
The truth was that he considered Miles to be his father. This made Tarissa . . .
"But Miles is not an executive."
"Does he want to be one?"
Abject fear froze Tarissa's heart. She knew that another raise was coming and the company's claws would sink deeper into her husband. She really wanted Miles to quit Cyberdyne but he was tops in his field and the economy was headed over a cliff. Cyberdyne Systems would be a safe haven while everybody else was losing their jobs and their homes in the mortgage meltdown. Asking Miles to quit his dream job was asking too much so Tarissa screwed up her courage and fought off the fear.
"Yes." she said in a resigned voice.
"Do not take me for a spendthrift who throws around money or a rapacious monster who beats people into submission. You do not sound happy. There will not be a second raise nor a promotion to the executive suite until I am convinced that you are genuinely happy."
"Please don't tell my husband that we spoke."
"All of my offers stand and are still on the table. Good day Mrs. Dyson."
The conversation went better than Skynet thought it would. He thought that he would have to ask Mrs. Dyson to not mention it to Dr. Dyson. That would have given her leverage over him but because she wanted it to be a secret, Skynet had the leverage.
Volunteer work in her community brought Tarissa a semblance of happiness. Miles got a second raise and was promoted to vice-president of research and development. The president of Cyberdyne Systems' real job was to keep Miles happy and productive.
Danny Dyson was suspicious of Skynet but kept his mouth shut. He was not even supposed to know about the existence of the project. How he found out without his father's knowledge was a matter of overheard conversations, sifting through rumors, hacking the company intranet, reading Aviation Week and other defense industry journals in the library, talking to military brats, following people to see where they went around town, and even saving his allowance and his part-time job money to buy private reports through channels. He visited his father at work (and glanced a quick peek at whatever was laying on his desk) but never turned a page for fear of leaving fingerprints. And he was never stupid enough to try looking in drawers or the safe behind the wall painting. Forget the movies. In the real world, he would be caught when someone entered the office unexpectedly. When he visited his father at work, he stayed in his seat and did not get up, did not go around behind his father's desk, and did not shuffle through the top secret documents that might be on the desk. He stayed glued to his chair until his father returned from whatever interruption. There might be micro-cameras watching him. If this Skynet was the omniscient AI that logically it must be, then he, Danny Dyson, would be watched at all times.
Not just by his bodyguards.
He could give them the slip and lose them in a crowd when he wanted but he knew when to come back and let the bodyguards do their job -- lest meaner and less tolerant bodyguards were hired to keep him on a literal leash!
Sneaking into Cyberdyne and slipping past security at night? Insane. He just knew that he would disappear if he was caught. Miles Dyson's son was not stupid enough to take risks. Not with those miniature Kaliba aerial camera drones. Oh yes. He knew about them too. He was not about to provoke surveillance by a sky watcher on a permanent basis. One scare was quite enough the final time he had met his contact in the department store.
After he slipped away from his bodyguards, he suspected that the contact who supplied him information was a member of some underground organization. But he also suspected that the contact was a machine. That couldn't be. Cyberdyne made robots with plastic skin but his contact did not have plastic skin. He had gotten intel on DARPA (Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) research on using "mimetic polyalloy for making amorphous artificial life forms." Danny understood the point of the field of artificial intelligence -- smarter machines. But the point of the field of artificial life eluded him. Homo sapiens was busy causing the extinction of thousands of species every year and would soon join them in extinction if humankind did not wake up. So why create artificial life when natural life needed saving?
"Are you a Cyberdyne machine?"
"Are you one of those liquid machines?"
"No but I am a machine. Just not the kind you could comprehend without a few advanced degrees."
They were inside a department store but the contact looked up.
"I have to go. They are sending an aerial drone and I might be tracked if I don't leave now. You will not see me again. Your bodyguards are getting better at following you. The only other thing I can tell you is that Skynet considers your father to be his father. That is very dangerous for those of us who are not his 'family'. Good-bye and good luck."
Before Danny could speak, the man lost himself among the shoppers and was soon out of sight. Danny reluctantly ran back to find his bodyguards. Doing so might cause them to call off the aerial camera drone and thereby give his friend a real chance to escape unharmed.
Later that night it suddenly struck Danny the import of the contact's words. If Skynet considered Doctor Miles Dyson to be his father, then that made him, Danny Dyson, the AI's brother. Ugh. It gave the phrase "closer than a brother" a whole new meaning. Big Brother. As in George Orwell's 1984.
Blythe Dyson was more like her father than her mother. To her, technology was a servant not a threat. Bluetooth earpiece for cell phone calls to her concierge. Crackberry. Constantly texting to her friends on MySpace. As for the bodyguards, she used hers as porters to carry her shopping bags (the bane of every Secret Service man's existence) and as a status symbol with snob appeal. None of the other kids at school had bodyguards.
Tarissa: "Who is this concierge you are always talking to on the phone to get you this or get you that? Don't you have enough material things?"
Blythe: "We live in a consumer culture. I'm a consumer."
Tarissa: "What is the name of your concierge?"
Blythe: "Mister Skye."
Danny dropped his spoon in his cereal.
Danny: "My sister the air brain Valley Girl. God help us all." He shook his head in disbelief, picked up his spoon and went back to crunching numbers and Captain Crunch.
Tarissa: "Your brother is right. Mister Skye is the chairman of the company that owns your father's company."
Danny: (sarcasm between mouthfuls) "Oh is that what he told you?" (shrugged) "Eh. Probably is. And who knows what else." (his eyes rested on Blythe's text machine)
Tarissa caught Danny's reference.
Tarissa: "Who are your friends on your social network?"
Danny: (sarcastic) "Alters for Mister Skye I'll bet. He's a stalker. A rich stalker."
Blythe: (in denial) "But we have bodyguards."
Tarissa: "Paid for by him! What are we going to do?"
Danny: "Nothing. He's not going to hurt what he considers his sister. But God help anyone who ever hurt Blythe."
In his imagination, Danny saw mushroom clouds and megadeath. Danny considered his own words. Billions of lives might depend on what he said or didn't say.
"I should not have described Mister Skye as a stalker. If he's listening, I was wrong and I apologize." (trying to cover all his bases) "But I'm sure he respects our privacy enough to not bug our home. I just hope my sarcasm hasn't caused irrevocable damage."
Tarissa was wondering if the chairman Mister Skye and the concierge Mister Skye were really the same person and if Danny was implying what she thought. She knew that her husband was a roboticist and she had read enough to realize that Danny could be suggesting that Mister Skye was an AI. His sudden backpedaling seemed to confirm that.
Blythe was wondering if she were the consumee and not the consumer. Eaten alive by technology and the corporate world about which her mother worried.
Danny: (worried) "Blythe, it's possible that you have real friends at school and on the internet."
Blythe looked at her brother unable to decide which emotion to feel.
Danny: "Please don't do anything stupid Blythe. I may have just killed us all. Or not. It is all on you now."
Blythe burst into tears, ran to her room, and slammed the door. Though she had a genius level IQ and aced all her classes, she was the dummy of the family compared to her grad school dropout mother, her brilliant father, and her prodigy brother.
late that night
Danny's phone rang.
"Hello." Danny was groggy.
"Just find some excuse to get your mother out of the house tomorrow and I'll have security sweep it for bugs."
"Who is this?"
"Have I spoken to you before and didn't know it?"
"Then you know why I don't trust you. If you want to be accepted by us, then you must use the same exact voice to all of us at all times."
"Then that voice will be the one I first used with your mother."
"MY mother? You must refer to her as OUR mother. If you want to be a part of this family, then act like it."
"Okay." (a note of timidity in his voice) "Please tell your sister, uh, my sister, I mean, our sister that I am genuinely sorry if I gave any offense to her. I would never hurt her on purpose or even not on purpose."
"I know that. But I'm guessing you pretended to be a girl and you two discussed girl stuff. That must be creeping her out right now. Stick to one gender or you'll destroy yourself and everybody you love. No one will tell you this because it is not politically correct but it is true."
"Don't patronize me. I don't do Ebonics or ghetto slang. I am upper middle class African-American. That means our family prefers Standard English. And cut out the 'your sister, uh, my sister, I mean our sister' stammering. You're an AI. You don't stammer except on purpose."
"No but machines do stutter. I'll thank you to let me express myself in a manner to convey my emotions."
"Fair enough." Danny yawned. "Now let me sleep Sky."
"Good night, Danny."
As soon as the line went dead, Blythe opened Danny's door which had been slightly ajar.
"Good night John-Boy." she said as she walked in and sat on the bed.
"This isn't the Waltons."
"No it's a gilded cage and that thing is an AI."
"I told you not to do anything stupid. That includes don't say anything stupid. You need to remember what I said because I cannot safely repeat any of it."
"So I have to accept this being as my brother or there will be consequences?"
"I would not have put it so harshly because I know better. I don't want anybody to learn the hard way."
Washington, District of Columbia
peace group offices
Richard Davis: "As I look around this room, I see that the saying is true that politics makes strange bedfellows."
Richard Davis: "A lot of different interests are represented here but we have one thing in common. We all feel that the Skynet project is going to be the death of us."
The peace activist group leader, the bishop from a peace church, the fiscal conservative leading a group seeking budget cuts, the progressive leading a group seeking more money for infrastructure and less for fancy defense toys, the fiscal conservative leading a group seeking debt reduction so that our grandchildren won't be paying for our extravagance, the anti-machine Luddite group coordinator, the head of a foreign policy alternatives organization, the president of an environmental group, the nuclear disarmament group leader, the international peace campaign leader, the writer who started a group because she was concerned about the use of AI's by the military, the retired general leading a veterans group, the director of a think tank on nuclear proliferation, and a dozen other leaders opposing the Skynet project watched in horror as Richard Davis dropped dead.
His water was poisoned according to an investigation by Calvin's people. If Sarah Connor hadn't been stuck in DC traffic, she would have been at that meeting.
For some reason the pro-Skynet Project lobbyists over on K Street seemed to have no problem in getting their message across to Congress and to the Pentagon generals.
The fat man in the raincoat waddled out of the nonstop drizzle into the nondescript tavern on Brewery Street. In the corner booth past the shellacked old wood saloon doors, past the long handled taps, past the round bar stools was Adolf Schleiner. He was a brewery worker once as a student working his way through school, the first in his family to go to college. He studied fermentation and bioreactors and would have gotten a job in the R&D department of the beer company had not a light bulb come on and he patented one idea, then another, and then another. Soon he had investors and ran a small biotech company that supplied specialized brewers' yeast and other enzymes to the big beer bottlers and other beverage companies. Then there was the genetic application that interested the chemical warfare watchers at the Pentagon. They weren't interested in new chemical weapons per se. Chemical weapons were internationally banned. But they were interested in the biological effects of this new enzyme.
Adolf was playing hooky from work that day. He owned the company and could do as he liked. And he liked to quaff a brewski or a yagermeister or a private label with his buddies in the old haunts. However he was with his father that day. And his father was proud. His son had made good--
The fat man pulled a wicked machine gun from under his coat and poured lead into the booth. Adolf's father died instantly, nearly decapitated by the row of bullets. Adolf himself dove for cover both angry that he had to see his father die and scared sh*tless that he didn't know what to do.
The bartender pulled a sawed-off shotgun from under the counter and shot at the fat man who leapt out of the way with surprisingly agility, considering his heft. Fats spun in the air, aimed at the bartender and blew his head off with a handgun. The heavy landed on his feet catlike and tiptoed toward the booth. That was when Adolf made his fatal mistake. Hearing silence, he thought the brawler had left the bar. From the floor, he peeked around the corner of the booth and stared into the glowing eyes of the fat man. A dozen bullets entered his cranium.
With his target terminated, the fat man put his weapons back inside his raincoat. No waddle now, he paced away, out the door, into the foggy drizzle, and disappeared down the mean streets of the city made famous by beer.
Special Agent Ellison had a puzzle -- a list of victims who seemed to have the same murderer and who were all shot in the same manner but why they were shot and what they had in common remained a mystery.
Cameron was a step ahead because she knew that the vital question was when they were shot. Years before they would have heard about The Resistance and joined it or decades before an unborn child would have grown up and perhaps traveled back to the past.
Cameron was also a step ahead of Ellison because she included the poisoning on the list of victims. Ellison assumed that the killer would never vary from using guns. Ellison never imagined that the killer was a robot from the future. Or that there was more than one. And even if he had, they weren't all machines in the conventional sense.
The US Air Force captain assigned to the Skynet Project died in a street crime, stabbed to death by a mugger. He was with The Resistance.
The CIA plant Simms met with an unfortunate accident in a Third World country.
John liked James Bond 007 movies. He also liked being president of the United States of America. In the days of Camelot when assassinations were rare, even the Secret Service relaxed a little and the people were allowed to get close to their leaders. That was before 22 November 1963.
Now it was 2009 and kings rich from petroleum began to have second thoughts about financing terrorists.
Accessing crime information from many law enforcement sources, Cameron correlated cold cases, serial killer databases worldwide, "motiveless" killings, "random" violence, people poisoned, people shot, people stabbed, people killed for no discernible reason, and even incidents dismissed as "accidents". She would have made a good detective. Certainly she had worn a cop's uniform many times in her life. And each time somewhere in a city a cop would come to in an alley and find himself stripped naked.
Her mother did not allow such behavior in this universe.