Read Episode VI: Beta Test Online

Authors: Ben Winston

Tags: #Science Fiction

Episode VI: Beta Test (7 page)

“At present, none. We need to investigate and identify any and all potential threats to the processor crystals. That’s the reason for the experiments we want to run.

“Currently, all installed AI systems are working flawlessly. Each of the Engineers responsible for the systems knows how to shut them down in an emergency. There is no grounds for anything more than preparation.

“Rest assured that both my department as well as Dr. Ced’s teams and everyone else involved will be working on this issue to the exclusion of everything else. As soon as we became aware of the issue, we began taking steps to identify and correct it; the first of which was to inform all of you. As of this moment, this is our only priority,” I finished and took my seat.

Vance nodded and stood. "Gentlemen, please keep me informed of your progress on this. Now, moving on, we have a lot more to discuss. As you have all heard by now, Sol system is to become a major Alliance military and research base. We have been authorized to expand our facilities to include everything from capitol class shipyards to Marine and fighter pilot training academies and that's just the military part of this. We have also been authorized to bring Earth into the Alliance as a full member," he nodded to the new Ambassador. "But we will also be expanding our research areas as well."

"Sir, I'm very sorry to interrupt, but before any other plan gets put in place for them, I would like to put forth a motion that one of the planets in the Centauri System be reserved for the Shallan people," I said. Instead of being irritated with being interrupted, Vance looked curious.

"Not that it isn't a good idea, but I'd like hear your reasons, since the Shallans already have two planets at Galtar," Vance asked.

I nodded. "With respect, Sir, both of those worlds are infested with Aracs. To date, we have no way of clearing out that level of infestation. If they agree, I would suggest we try to relocate as many of the clans as possible, once we rescue them from the Synod, as well as the infesting hives. Giving them another option just seems like the right thing to do, and those worlds are the only uninhabited worlds we have at the moment."

Matriarch Andress got out of her chair and walked around the table to me. When I moved back to see what she wanted, she climbed into my lap and gave me a hug. She had tears in her eyes as she did so. "Thank you, Lord Cowan. Until we came here, no one has ever helped us as much as this group has. Until now, we believed it was only because of our ship design and building abilities. Your offer to us makes that belief seem so shallow and petty. You truly are a friend to my people; all of you are."

Vance cleared his throat. "I was going to wait until the other stuff was finished, but the High Council has already agreed that one of those planets be offered to the Shallan people for themselves, however, they would be free to join in the colonization of the other two as well. In the best case, we will be able to rescue all of the Shallan people as they are right now. If that were the case, we are talking about quite a few people. So, the largest of the three worlds has been offered to them. Naming of the worlds has been delayed until the Shallan Protectorate makes a decision in favor and names the world.

"If they decline, it will be opened to general colonization with an eye to farming, housing for off-planet workers, and administration for off-world industries such as mining and heavy manufacturing.

"While this system has plenty of raw materials for us to begin our various projects, the Centauri system has far more. Regardless of which system we begin in, one of the highest priorities we now have is the mining and processing of raw materials for all the projects. So, while we have the 43rd here to protect us, and while Erik and Ced work to fix the AIs, the rest of us will need to focus on creating the infrastructure to support the multiple and massive mining projects that we need to get underway here.

“While we have been promised assistance with skilled workers from the core worlds, most of the workforce will have to come from Earth. We will need to locate and appoint a mining facilitator and or coordinator to get the ball rolling."

"Pardon me, Sir," Master Thompson spoke. "But I might have an idea for that. You see, there are several companies on Earth that have been driven out of business by foreign markets. Those folks should have just the people we need for this project. All we'll have to do is give them a little extra training, and they should be able to jump right in." Harlan Thompson was one of the primary fighter and spacecraft design engineers from Earth, Master Halflan Therinate asked that he be included in meetings the Shallan ship designer couldn't attend.

"That would be exactly the kind of assistance we would need, Master Thompson. If you would, please make the suggestion to the recruitment manager directly at your earliest opportunity," Vance said, nodding approval for the suggestion. "For the rest of us, we will accept any and all suggestions you can make, but also look to your own departments and crews to see what additions you may want to add to expand your own facilities. Keep in mind that your department won't have to remain here. There has been some discussion about relocating the entire base, at least the military part of it, to the forth planet. If we consider the sheer magnitude of what we have been asked to undertake this expansion will most likely turn this base into a city unto itself." Vance continued by outlining the expectations of Alliance Command as well as the needed expansions each of us would need to either consider or make in order to handle the increased output of the new Alliance facility.

"In short, folks, we're looking at something that will most likely take some time to complete. What is planned here will surpass even what GMASS is. The Arac are a very tenacious and implacable foe. Unfortunately, this war will not be ending anytime soon, nor even in our lifetimes. But we can do what we need to do in order for our future generations to accomplish what we could not; to protect ourselves and our friends from becoming an Aracnise food source."

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U
nited Nations Building

New York City

North American Continent

Planet Earth

Sol System

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T
o say that Earth resisted the changes was a bit of an understatement. While they all wanted the advanced technology offered by the Alliance, none of them wanted the Alliance to regulate that technology. They most certainly did not want to give up any of their military.

In a globally televised event, Ambassador Gomez told them that the Alliance would like to accept Earth as a Core World of the Alliance, thus giving Earth all the benefits of a main Alliance world. Regardless of Earth's decision to accept Core World status in the Alliance, free, unlimited medical care would be offered to all citizens of the planet as soon as the details could be worked out and the facilities built to provide it.

Within a week, there would be contact information released to the general public seeking those individuals that might need immediate medical assistance. In which case, the patient in question would be taken to either the lunar base, or up to one of the many ships currently in the system. Areas that are in more dire need will be receiving emergency aid as soon as these areas are identified. Aid would also be offered for the homeless or destitute upon request, but what type of assistance was not mentioned.

Earth would also be gaining all other planets in the Alliance as trade partners. Until educational and technical levels on Earth could be brought up to Alliance standards, trade would be limited to basic goods and services. However, each individual, as a citizen of the Alliance, would also be allowed to immigrate to other worlds for employment if they desired.

The Ambassador explained that the Alliance had decided to build an extensive military base as well as research facility in the system as well as in the neighboring system of Centauri. Because of this, there would be virtually unlimited employment potential either by the Alliance itself or from any of the many companies that will be involved in the undertaking. It was hoped that many of those companies would be from Earth. However, there were certain rules each company would have to adhere to in order to be allowed to do business in the Alliance. Those rules and regulations would be available on the new web site that was currently under construction for the planet. The existing Earth Internet would also be getting linked to the far larger system used by the Alliance. AllNet would be joining the Internet by the end of the month. However, there was still much work to be done in order for the two radically different technologies to work together. In all aspects of life, from social standing to commerce, Earth stood to benefit greatly by accepting Core World status. Homelessness, hunger, illness, terrorism and even crime would be greatly reduced if not eliminated completely. All they had to do was accept what was being offered on the terms of the Alliance Council.

In order to become a core world, there would need to be some changes. While it was acceptable for Earth to keep all the different countries they wanted, each nation would have to answer to a single planetary governing body decided on by all the adult citizenry of the planet. Every man and woman over the age of sixteen in every country would have a vote. Coercion in any form would not be tolerated.

No single country, nor even the planetary authority after it was formed, would be allowed to maintain a military. Police forces were acceptable, as there would still be a need to maintain order and to protect citizens from criminals. But no standing armies would be needed. That was one of the benefits of becoming an Alliance world. Military protection would be provided by the Alliance.

As far as material goods and services would be concerned, no single country or government would have more or less than any other. All technologies and services would be offered equally to everyone.

Political corruption would also no longer be allowed, as that was a form of crime. Religions and business of any type were not allowed to enter the political arena. The people working for a company or that were part of a religion could vote. But political donations and gifts of all types were considered bribes and would be treated as such. A political candidate had a set amount of money to spend for their campaign. That amount was the same for all others running for the same office. Personal wealth, if they had any, would not be allowed to be used for election purposes.

All in all, her address to the UN took the better part of three hours. Many of the broadcast services tried to block the transmissions, but couldn't. Even when the cameramen were taken out of the UN assembly area, the broadcast continued as if they were still in place.

By the time Ambassador Gomez finished her speech, there was a lot of grumbling from the assembled dignitaries. However, the Secretary General actually stood and began clapping. Two or three other Ambassadors also applauded her speech, but for the most part, the rest of the delegates were not happy that their people now knew what was being offered to them. Basically, the cat was out of the bag, and no matter how much the powers that be tried to kill it, the people of the world knew that the Alliance was there to stay, and that the Alliance was there for them.

Several resolutions were quickly passed in several countries banning the Alliance medical facilities and making it illegal for anyone to request assistance from them. That sparked several riots as thousands of people ignored the law and requested the aid that had been offered them.

Unofficial polls on the internet showed that most world leaders' popularity had reached all-time lows, as they refused to accept the Alliance offer. Most cited the fact that they would not disband their military and leave themselves or their people open to attack or invasion by either other countries, or by the Alliance itself.

No one believed the Alliance would invade the planet simply because it was made very clear to everyone that if that had been their intention, it would have already happened. Basically, the people believed that the men in power simply didn't want to give that power up. In some countries, it was difficult to get an accurate opinion of the people, because the internet was either non-existent or strictly controlled. But by and large, it was becoming obvious that the current leaders of the world were trying to keep the people from speaking out on this decision.

However, what opinions were gathered via the internet showed an overwhelming eighty percent of the people favored accepting Core World status. Sarah reported to Ambassador Gomez as well as Lord Admiral Vance that the intelligence services of the planet were working very hard to track down and silence any and all places on the internet where people expressed a favorable opinion for Core World status. In fact several other new sites had been created to discredit the Alliance and what it offered. Most of the information offered was little more than lies and half-truths, but the sites got very little traffic and what they did get was not 'return' traffic.

Coupled with the amount of telephone traffic as well as other contacts, it was becoming obvious that the Alliance may have to invade simply to free the people from their own leaders. In countries like Columbia, that had a thriving illegal drug trade, and overly repressed countries like North Korea, such an action would most likely be required.

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A
I Programming Lab

Alliance Apollo Base

Selene, Earth's Moon

Sol System

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I
n spite of all the bullshit happening down on Earth, we still had a job to do. However, in light of the massive expansion we would soon be going through, I took the morning to set down with our Administrator to plan out how to handle it before it became a problem.

We had already started making arrangements by separating out the crystal growth process from the programming labs. That action set the stage for us to create two separate sub-sections under the Computer Section: Hardware and Software. We would need to find a good lead for the hardware labs. Currently, Ced was handling it, but he was nominally a weapons researcher and would need to focus on that. I would remain as the lead programmer as that is where my talents and interests lie.

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