Read Episode VI: Beta Test Online

Authors: Ben Winston

Tags: #Science Fiction

Episode VI: Beta Test (9 page)

I nodded. "That's why I asked all of you here. I was also hoping Janie and Jamie might be interested in signing up." I said looking at my mother and her friend expectantly.

"I could certainly do the research and begin getting the corporate framework established in the Alliance, but where would you like this to be based? How about manufacturing facilities?" my mother, Janie asked.

"I'd love to be involved, but I have no idea what to do. Remember, I don't have an advanced degree like the rest of you," Jamie said.

Ellie cocked her head at her mother. "I thought you were going to use the teaching system up here, besides, with your personality this should be right up your alley!"

"You are very personable," Shariline said softly.

Janie chuckled. "Okay, you guys talked me into it. I'll look into it."

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V
arious Locations

Planet Earth

Sol System

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W
hile Earth's leaders didn't want to let the Alliance on Earth, it was very clear that the majority of the people did. So the Ambassador simply began implementing the social improvements as if the leaders had agreed. Several sites were purchased through legally registered companies, and construction began on the first batch of clinics and hospitals. Each of those facilities would also have a recruiting representative available, at least for the time being, in order to expedite employment for those that wished to join the Alliance.

In the United States, since everything was being done according to the laws, the only thing the government could do was issue a warning to people that the medical services provided were not approved by either the AMA or the World Health Organization. None of the providers present were actual doctors since none of them held medical degrees from an accredited medical college. In order to avoid some sticky legal issues, the Alliance Doctors could not use that title while in the United States as 'impersonating' a medical doctor was illegal.

Another major issue was soon discovered the first time 'inspectors' arrived to examine the construction. Alliance Marines had been assigned to protect the workers and equipment that were not only building each facility, but that would be used once it opened for business. When the building inspectors arrived to check the construction, they were not allowed into the site. Before the Marines could get authorization for the inspectors to proceed, they called the police who tried to force the issue. Once again, the Marines, denied them access and once the Police saw that the Marines were armed, each facility was immediately surrounded by either National Guard units or units of the regular Army depending on who was closest. The military demanded the Marines surrender their weapons and allow inspectors into each of the sites.

The story was much the same in all countries where the new facilities were being built. In a few countries, the government announced it would arrest anyone seen to visit the facilities provided they could get past the military units that were isolating each facility.

At each site permission was granted for the building inspectors to enter and look around, but no one else. Each of the inspectors would only be allowed if the person was the same person that had held that office in the past, well before construction began. If that person was temporarily unavailable, then construction would be delayed up to a month to wait for them. At that time, construction would again begin and carry through to completion without inspection.

As for the Marines surrendering their weapons, that was flatly refused. Since the construction areas also had force fields surrounding them to keep the curious out, no one could sneak in, either, which really seemed to irritate the governments. The end result was that the facilities got built, but no one was allowed to use them until the Marines protecting the facilities surrendered to the Earth based military units.

As each facility was completed, staffed and opened for business. Crowds formed waiting to gain entrance to the clinics. Yet no one was allowed in no matter what was threatened. In some countries, riots ensued which were blamed on the Alliance and not on the government denying people access. It was a mess.

The Ambassador invited members of the World Health Organization to go to the Apollo Base in order to certify that their medical clinics were indeed for the treatment and care of the sick and needy. The offer was accepted and ten of the World’s best spies were quickly assembled. At Kennedy International Airport, where they were supposed to meet for transportation to the moon, Alliance representatives, in front of all the press including their own, exposed each person as the spy they were by reading the person's real biography to the public.

The 'live' broadcast event was quickly killed by their companies, but Sarah made certain the broadcasts continued. The Alliance Representative finished exposing all ten of the WHO 'Medical Representatives' and looked at the cameras. "Obviously the leaders of this world care nothing for the people of the planet. We have made honest offers to all of you, and this is what your leaders try to do. The offer still stands, but will not proceed until actual medical professionals capable of making a determination about that offer are assembled. This," he indicated the now obviously angry group of people. "Was a disgrace." He turned and boarded the shuttle, which then departed for the moon.

Take off clearance was denied and the shuttle as well as its crew were ordered to surrender to authorities immediately and several helicopter gunships were sent to surround the craft to prevent it from taking off.

The pilot laughed and informed the tower that they were leaving with or without clearance. He also advised that those gunships hold their fire in order to prevent damage to the terminal and any civilians in the area.

As the shuttle was lifting off, well away from the terminal just in case the idiots fired anyway, which is exactly what they did as soon as the shuttle tried to leave. Of course, the shuttle had shields and was using them, but it was an unarmed civilian shuttle.  Most of the video shot of the event was taken from cameras in the terminal, but Sarah had used some smaller probes to get better angles. Amazingly, as well as frighteningly, the United States military attack craft fired an amazing amount of ordinance at the craft. None of it actually did any damage to the craft, but considerable damage was done to the airport.

The United States, after editing the supposedly civilian captured footage, tried to show that the Alliance shuttle had not only fired first, but that the military helicopters were trying to keep them away from populated areas. The whole event had been streamed live on the Alliance web site, and enough cell phone footage existed that quickly proved how big of a lie that had really been.

Of course, the federal government then tried to deny that the military had been given orders to fire at all and said that a formal investigation was now underway as to why the craft fired. No one believed the explanation and there was a huge public outcry in favor of the Alliance.

The event caused the Alliance's Terran contingent to do a massive rethink on how they were going about this. It was decided that a few massive facilities be built in each hemisphere of the planet and the Alliance would provide transportation to anyone requesting to be seen by an Alliance doctor.

Several thousand acres of land were purchased in North and South America as well as on each main and sub-continent and new construction began immediately. These new facilities were completely isolated from all outside forces and each government that controlled the area was told that the airspace above and near the facilities was restricted as Alliance shuttles would be coming and going very frequently. Each facility was protected by strong force fields, and a small garrison of Alliance Marines that would be later replaced by Terran recruited security forces.

Of course, as soon as each of the areas was identified by the separate governments, they were surrounded by that nation’s military in an effort to stop the construction or restrict the people’s access to it. However, because the shuttles would be going out to pick up the patients, blocking access to the facilities was no longer very effective. In several cases, shuttles would simply land outside the military blockade in the area were the civilians had begun arriving and pick up people so they could be seen. This was countered by small assault groups trying to intercept the shuttles on the ground while fighter craft did the same thing in the air. Neither option worked.

Alliance Marines simply stunned the assaulting forces. Made certain they were in a safe and comfortable position, loaded up the potential patients for the hospital, and took off as soon as the assault team began to wake up. When the military began impounding cars, the Alliance began airlifting them into the protected area. However in in the Middle East, an explosive device was detected in one of the vehicles. The vehicle's occupants were arrested, the vehicle was sealed in a force field, and the explosive detonated.

It took the intelligence services about two days to figure out they could get someone on the inside by simply calling in and asking to be seen.  When the agent was picked up, he was placed in restraints, examined by a medical professional, treated if needed, then returned to where he was picked up before being released again.

Earth officials didn't like it, but the Alliance's Terran contingent had figured out how to successfully get improved medical treatment to the people of Earth without the permission of the world leaders. The next item for the Terran contingent would be cheap, reliable and very fuel efficient vehicles for the general public using nothing more than technology already available on the planet.

Surprisingly, the first facility to establish a civilian security force was the South American Medical Center. The force was issued non-lethal weaponry and highly maneuverable hydrogen powered hover vehicles. The vehicles were of the same style as used by civilian security forces in the core worlds of the Alliance. Even the thousands of shuttle pilots used by each facility eventually came to be manned and flown by civilians recruited from the planet. The people had accepted the offer of the Alliance for improved health care as well as employment opportunities.

Although the governments refused to surrender their military forces, Alliance forces prevented any of them from being used offensively against anyone else. Very few, or in most cases, no Terran soldiers were injured in the action. Fighters and Marine assault shuttles would fly over an area and use a wide field stun effect on the force in question. Then the forces were picked up, using tractors, and returned to their own nation. Several larger vessels had to be used in the one and only naval confrontation that took place in the South China Sea. Alliance destroyers and light cruisers entered the atmosphere and, after the crews were stunned, lifted the ships out of the water and flew them back to their home ports. In the case of the United States Navy, the entire seventh fleet found itself back in Pearl Harbor.

China, thinking they had been given free rein in the area, proceeded to lay claim to the entire sea. They were very surprised when they discovered that their people assigned to those islands had been returned to the mainland along with all of their equipment. The islands themselves had been returned to their original state. The reason for this was environmental. By covering the reefs used to create the military bases, China had altered the ecology of the entire aquatic ecosphere in a negative way. It would take years for the damage to be undone, but it would eventually revert to 'normal'.

Several other smaller nations in the area were having problems caused by rising sea levels, so the Alliance offered to assist. The help was gratefully accepted by the people, but again the government wanted to get their hands on the technology used by the Alliance. So, while the help was rendered, it had to be done in such a way as to ensure no one from the planet was directly involved in the actual work. When the Simonian work boss explained this to the Earth born, civilian project head, the man was upset, but understood the reasons.

Several other projects got underway to help clean up the planet and help the people. Some of them took place in international areas like the middle of the ocean, which was outside the jurisdiction of any nation. That didn't stop the nuclear submarines of several nations from threatening the projects. In all cases, the projects were protected by Alliance shield technology, so the threats were simply ignored.

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A
I Programming Lab

Alliance Apollo Base

Selene, Earth's Moon

Sol System

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A
thena had passed all of the tests we could think of, which was actually more than we had put Sarah through. No deviation or instability had been found, so Athena was shut down and readied for transport to the High Command’s station at Novalus. Our next major project would be several planet class AI as well as a few specialized AI for things like communications and air traffic control.

In addition to those, we still had to write and prepare the new AI for the ships once the tests on the crystals were finished. The ship AI would not take all that long though, as the base framework for most of the classes had already been finished. The AI itself could be copied, modified for use in the specific ship class it was to be installed in and then it would be ready for testing.

The testing of the crystals was going along fine so far. They didn't seem to be as delicate as I had originally feared them to be, as long as they were shielded. Unshielded, like our original test crystal had been, they were very delicate and susceptible to everything from magnetic fluctuations to temperature variations.

The hyperspace test proved to be the most informative. The test ship had two crystals mounted in it. One was mounted and powered up, but had no AI inhabiting it as it was unshielded and simply secured in the hold of the ship. The other was a standard crystal AI installation that had been done to all the ships at Apollo. However, the test ship was completely remote controlled by one of the heavy cruisers from the 43rd Task Group that hadn't gone through a computer upgrade yet. The AI on the light cruiser was a clone of Sarah installed just for this purpose. If the test was a success and there was no damage done to the AI or the crystal, the clone would be removed and the real AI installed and hooked up.

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