Note. This story was written some years ago not long after the Sa’arm universe was started and should therefore considered to be completely non-canon which is why it is also not in the “official” universe.
I signalled to Bee and she obediently changed from trot to walk as I heard the sound of heavy footsteps crunching along the gravel path to the meadow where I was lunging one of our horses. I let Bee walk until the sound of the footsteps ceased, meaning that whoever it was had reached the end of the path and was now walking on the grass toward the school where we were exercising. I signalled again and Bee came to a standstill, another signal and she turned towards me. I smiled and beckoned with my index finger and she walked to me and stopped her nose nuzzling my chest.
“Good girl.” I murmured and gave her a small treat. She nickered back and then stood on three legs, the hind right leg cocked in that way that horses do when they are relaxed.
That didn’t last long when the approaching figure appeared by the school gate. Instantly she was on alert, standing up straight and turning her head so that she could see the unknown figure.
Unknown to me as well although I knew from whom and from where the person had come. The Confederacy, and this time they had sent a Centurion rather than the snot-nosed Decurion they had sent before. I’d sent that one away, tail between his legs covering his new asshole.
“Prat!” I muttered.
“Doctor Peterson.” Called the Centurion “I’m Centurion Davies. I want to speak to you.”
The peremptory tone of his voice left me in no doubt how this encounter was going to end.
“Yes, Centurion, what can I do for you today?”
“I think you already know the answer to that Doctor.”
“I’ve been sent to take you to the colony ship Hamlet where you will be taken to your new home.”
“Not going to happen Centurion, didn’t happen before with that Decurion wotsisname and it isn’t going to happen with you.”
The Centurion opened the gate and walked over to where we stood. Idly I started Bee walking around on a short rein. The Centurion stopped just outside the circle that she was making.
“And I’ve been told to do whatever necessary to see that you are on that ship.”
“Centurion, this ground has been covered before. The Confederacy were not willing to meet my requirements, so I choose to stay here. I doubt that anything you say or do will add anything of value to the Confederacy argument.”
The Centurion lifted his right hand in which I could see that he held a stinger.
“Sorry about this Doctor, but you are going to be on that ship.”
“I guess we will have to agree to differ on that, Centurion.” I said quietly.
The Centurion fired.
He tried again and when nothing happened again he looked a the stinger, shook it a few time and tried again. Still nothing. I raised my eyes heavenward. What were they teaching people these days.
“Centurion?” I called, he was intent on the stinger
“Centurion?” I called louder this time.
“Er. Yes. What?”
“Why do the Confederacy want me to go so badly?”
“Well, you gave them the modifications to the ships and fighters to prevent them from being destroyed by the Sa’arm sliver shotgun thingy and they want you to do more of that stuff.”
“Very good, Centurion. Did they tell you what the modifications were?”
“Did you understand them?”
“No I didn’t and nor did most of the people working on the project. They eventually just made the adaptations you suggested and it worked.”
“So why are you surprised that your stinger no longer operates?”
“What has that got to do with the ship mods?”
I looked at him for a long time and said nothing.
“Oh. I see. If you are clever enough to be able to stop tons of razor sharp shards of metal travelling at a measurable fraction of the speed of light from hitting a ship or a fighter, then stopping a stinger is merely nothing. Correct?”
“Well done Centurion.”
“I guess I just have to do this the hard way.”
“And what would that be?” I asked, amusement lacing the tone of my voice.
“This.” And so saying he started towards me.
I could not have timed it better. I made a particular squeaking noise and Bee, who all the while had been patiently walking around and around, stopped and as the Centurion passed her by she hopped and kicked, her hind legs lashing out so that her hooves smashed in to the captain’s shoulders. His enhanced reflexes had made him turn towards the horse when he heard her stop but could not prevent her from hitting him hard.
Giant sized as he was he was no match for a 17 hand Welsh Cobb and was flung backwards on to the hard packed sand and rubber that formed the school floor.
I stood and patted Bee for a while and gave her some more treats. Only when I had finished with her did I leave her standing and went over to the moaning man still lying on the ground.
“You bastard” he growled at me as I approached.
“Now, now, Centurion. A man is still entitled to defend himself from attack.”
I looked at him from a distance. Injured as he was he was not subdued.
“I think you had two broken shoulders, Centurion. Smashed I would think. Bee was exactly the right distance from you to impact you with the maximum force she is capable of.”
The Centurion at this point was cursing and not paying that much attention to what I was saying.
“I think I had better get you some help. Did you bring a transport pad?”
“Yes, I unshipped in on your back lawn.” The information was imparted between groans and curses.
“Oh dear, well this is going to hurt, I’m afraid.”
I took the long lunge rein that I had been using on Bee before he had arrived and fashioned a slip knot in one end. Quickly before he could react I slipped the loop round one of his ankles and pulled it tight.
“What the hell are you doing? Let me go!”
So saying the Centurion kicked out with his legs as I had been hoping. I flicked the rope twice and pulled and both the ankles were now caught. Quickly I knelt on his legs and completed the knot before he could throw me off.
Carefully, so as not to hurt myself, I dragged the Centurion closer to the fence where I tied the free end of the rope so that he could not free himself. As large as he was he was unable to prevent himself from being moved and I had the advantage of having him roped and knowing how to maximise my efforts using said rope. Then Bee and I went to the barn where I fitted her with a horse collar. We returned to the still cursing Centurion and, using the rope and the horse collar, I had Bee drag the Centurion by his ankles on his back out of the school, off the meadow and up the gravel path. All the while the Centurion cursed. His curses and shouting grew much louder when he was dragged onto the gravel, the small sharp stones finally ripping through his uniform and starting on his skin. When this happened the cursing stopped and the screams began.
I took no notice and gave Bee a treat to calm her down as the constant noise was beginning to upset her.
Horses are sensitive creatures.
The transporter pad was in the middle of the lawn just as I had been told and we dragged the Centurion close to where it lay. I freed Bee and removed the collar and let her graze on the grass. It needed cutting anyway and I hadn’t had time to do it recently. I really should get round to it soon or it would be much harder than necessary.
I undid the rope round his ankles and looked at him until he stopped his noise and looked at me.
“One last thing to do, Centurion, and that is get you onto the pad. I don’t think you’ll be able to do that be yourself and I don’t trust you enough to left you use me as an aid to standing or walking so I guess I just have to do this the hard way.” The Captain’s eyes widened at the deliberate use of his words a little while ago.
“And that is?” I could hear the fear in his voice.
Not saying anymore I grabbed both his legs and twisted so that he was forced to roll towards and then onto the transport pad. The screams were very loud now as his smashed shoulders were also twisted by his body’s movement and as his weight crushed the injuries on each roll.
The instant he touched the pad I let go and suddenly, there was no noise as the Centurion vanished. Shortly after he had gone the pad disappeared also.
I needed to do something about that. Allowing just anyone to transport on to our land was just not on. I led Bee back to the paddock and let her in with the others whilst I mulled over the problem.
Then I went into the workshop where Gillian and I had a long talk and we started to work.
A few days later my wife and I were enjoying a drop of sherry in the kitchen when the intruder alarm started blinking softly. I walked over to the window and looked down the lane. Sure enough, about half a mile away a number of Confederacy marines, troopers, call them what you will, were marching up the road towards the house.
“Company, my dear.”
Gillian got up and came to look over my shoulder. Gillian, my wife of nearly 30 years now, towers over me. It has never bothered us but it has caused a number of derogatory comments over the years.
“What should we do about it?”
I thought for a moment.
“You know” I said apropos of nothing “we haven’t practised with the bows for a week or two.”
Gillian said nothing, used to my ways I guess, but instead walked to the conservatory where our horse bows hung. I followed and soon we were festooned with archery paraphernalia. We went outside on to the lawn and I set up our favourite targets at 15, 20 and 30 yards.
And so it was that the troopers found us carefully shooting arrows at high density foam targets, apparently not that accurately.
The group of warriors stopped outside our gate.
“Doctor Peterson.” Called the obvious leader.
“Here we go again.” I muttered under my breath causing Gillian to snort in amusement. I looked at her and she looked at me and together we turned to face the military contingent standing there.
“Yes?” we both replied at the same time.
“Not you lady, I’m talking to Doctor Peterson.”
“I am Doctor Peterson.” Replied Gilliam icily. She hates it when such gender discrimination is directed at her.
The man stood there for a moment with a slightly vacant look on his face as he communicated with some AI or other. Then his eyes focussed on us again.
“My apologies, Doctor Gillian Peterson, I was trying to attract the attention of Doctor Richard Peterson.”
“Yes, I replied quickly before Gillian could get started. “What can I do for you?”
“Do you mind if we come in and...”
“Yes I do mind” I interrupted vehemently “I mind very much indeed. You have already trespassed on our land without invitation and the last person so to do attacked me forcing me to retaliate. I think you can stay right were you are if you want to say anything or get off our land immediately.”
There was a pause whilst the leader tried to decide what to do next.
“About that...” he began.
“And who are you?”
“I said who are you? You know who we are but have not had the courtesy to introduce yourself. So far you’re not doing very well. Trespass, gender discrimination and now this. Not a good start, sir, not a good start at all.”
“That’s marginally better” I interrupted again “but only marginally. I hope the Confederacy does not use you in any diplomatic role.”
The Centurion’s face flushed with either anger or embarrassment, possibly even both. He opened his mouth to speak again and I interrupted, yet again.
“Well, speak up man. What do you want.”
He almost lost it, I could see it in his eyes. Then there was a moments unfocused eyes look and he took a deep breath and relaxed. Damn and triple damn. Almost had him.
“Don’t show off, dear” Gilliam muttered under her breath so that only I could hear her. I smiled.
“Doctor, my superiors want to know why you attacked and severely injured Centurion Davies without provocation last week.”
“The good Centurion Davies may call his behaviour unprovocative but I do not. As I told him then even in these dire times a man is entitled to defend himself from attack as best he may. And we did just that.”
“Are you telling me that Centurion Davies attacked you?” His voice was incredulous “I doubt that very much indeed. If he had done so you would have not had any opportunity to retaliate. He was enhanced with Confederacy technology and against a normal would have been victorious before you had time to react.”
“See for yourself.” I reached in to my pocket and withdrew a remote control unit and pressed one of the buttons. All the troopers dropped their weapons and covered their ears with their hands as our equipment blasted the video recording of the events in to the link between them and the AI. I looked at Gillian.
“Will this take long?” she asked.
“About 5 minutes, I edited it somewhat and speeded up the bits where nothing was happening.”
She said nothing but turned back to the targets and resumed shooting.
We finished the arrows we had in our quivers, we use back quivers, and had just finished retrieving our arrows when the troopers uncovered their ears and recovered their weapons.
“That’s pure bullshit!” yelled one of the troopers. “Just a faked video recording. No normal is as fast as an enhanced. No-one.”
That statement troubled me a lot.
“And you can do better?” I asked
“I sure can old man.”
“And who else feels this way?”
There were several calls of agreement from the troops.
“Try your best.” I said and waited.
More than half the troop drew stingers, pointed them in our direction and fired.
As before nothing. And as before, bemusement, shaking of stingers and more tries.
“Your other energy weapons don’t work either.” I called out. “Convinced yet?”
One or two of the larger weapons were turned in our direction with a similar lack of results.
At that three of the troopers, two men and a woman I noticed, dropped their non-responsive weapons, jumped over the hedge and started our way.
We both drew and loosed three arrows each in less than three seconds. Neither of us shot to kill but to cripple instead. There were shouts then groans as the three invaders dropped to the ground. Our previous apparent inaccuracy was just that. Apparent. No point in letting on to your competency sooner than necessary.
“Don’t anyone else move or then next arrows will be fatal.” I called out as we nocked another arrow each and held our bows in the ready but undrawn position.
“You wouldn’t dare!” exclaimed one very butch looking female as she jumped over the hedge. Gillian’s arrow went through her neck and spine and fully half the arrow protruded from the back of her neck before the trooper’s feet hit the ground. Enhanced relaxes they may have but once they are off the ground they are subject to the normal laws of gravity. The trooper toppled to the ground.
“Next.” Called Gillian her next arrow already nocked on the bowstring before the rest of the troopers looked back at her.
“That’s murder.” Exclaimed the Centurion.
“No, that’s self-defence. You were warned and we only give one warning. She didn’t listen. Now what are you going to about it?” Gillian stood there and dared someone to do something rash.
Fortunately for them, no-one did.
I moved away from Gillian a short distance without taking my eye off the remaining troopers. Seeing what I was doing Gillian moved off in the opposite direction. Now we had the covered from two directions. Not to put too fine a point on it, they were in trouble.
“You two morons on your left walk slowly to the gate, walk through it and retrieve your comrades one at a time. Don’t let your hands get out of sight for an instant and don’t try anything stupid. Then you will all walk back the way you come until you are off our property. We’ll be covering you all the time and all the way. One wrong move and you are all dead, no exceptions. Understood?”
There was a muttering agreement and the two designated troopers retrieved their wounded and dead one at a time as directed. Then they walked back down the road three being helped to walk and one being carried until they were off our property.
“Now go away and tell you superiors that any further uninvited incursions on to our property will be met with deadly force. There will be no talk, just death. Is that understood?”
The group looked at us then turned away and disappeared as they moved onto the transporter pad a few yards away from the gate. The pad disappeared after them.
“They’ll be back, you know.” Gillian commented as we walked back home.
“Perhaps not them but someone will. Someone is going to realise that whilst energy weapons won’t work, mechanical weapons will as we have demonstrated. Old style bullets will be next and probably a night-time visit.”
“Will that be a problem?”
“Not really. They’re much too conventional and that can easily be allowed for. I’ll make sure that the horses are stabled each evening until this is resolved. I know they don’t like it but I wouldn’t want one of them to be hurt by a stray round.”
Sure enough the attack occurred two night’s later and involved nearly a hundred troops and they came at us from every direction. The large number were required as our land is nearly 100 acres in size and the buildings are pretty much right in the middle.
I won’t bore you with the details but not a shot was fired on their side and they all died moments after they crossed our boundary. What a waste. Why won’t the REMFs listen?
It took several hours for us to locate and transport the bodies to the front gate. We used a forklift to lift the bodies on to a trailer and a tractor to pull that and just dumped the bodies in a heap and left them and their weapons there. They were gone the next day so we presume that the Confederacy took them.
It was quiet for some while after that fiasco. No doubt there was a lot of name calling and pointing fingers going on in the Confederacy. I keep on using the name Confederacy but it’s probably not them. They are relatively logical. This has the hallmarks of a human operation and the only one that has the clout is the DECO, the much vaunted Department of Evacuation and Colonial Operations. At the top nothing but a bunch of high CAP score individuals that are under the mistaken impression that high CAP scores mean that they are Homo Superior. Still, that’s only my opinion, about who it is that’s causing this that is and seeing as we have their communications tapped, my opinion is fairly accurate. The high CAP score bit is not common knowledge but it isn’t much of a secret either. Those wallies want everyone to know how superior they are but don’t have the wit to realise that they more they show off the more inferior they show themselves to be.
We talked it over, Gillian and I and decided that they next visit would either be another mass attack or a call from a single high-rank individual not from the DECO. Gillian favours the former, I the latter. Gillian’s Viking blood is up I’m afraid and I pity anyone that tries another mass assault.
We could trawl through the daily comm logs but that is very time consuming and we just let the automated routines monitor and flag items that we have set up as being of interest.
So what’s the fuss all about?
Why does the Confederacy/DECO want me so badly?
Simple. I have a CAP score of -1 and that’s supposed to be impossible. Actually, that’s not quite true, Gillian and I both have scores of -1 which is supposed to be not just impossible but infinitely impossible. However, since Gillian is a post-menopausal female and has been since her early thirties, the Confederacy won’t take her off planet and without her, I won’t go.
And that’s not quite true either. We have two young cats and four horses and I/we won’t go without them. All of those are not allowed by the Confederacy. Yes I know that Ishtarat has rabbits and Atlantisat has a cat or two but that didn’t impress the Confederacy at all. Post-menopausal female plus 2 cats plus 4 horses is not only no, but hell no!
But, and here’s the rub, they want to know why we have impossible CAP scores. Not only that, but we devised a way to stop most of the sliver shotgun fragments that the Sa’arm were using to decimate our attack fleets. No-one up there seems to understand it but it works and that is making them more determined to recruit me.
I haven’t told them yet that it was our, not my, research that figured it out and that by myself I would probably not have worked it out. Gillian and I are two parts of a whole as the saying goes. Between us we have 5 doctorates. Gillian got her first in Sociology at the tender age of 18. My first was in Chemistry at 15. We met whilst studying for our physics doctorates when we were 20 and 17, yes she’s not only taller that I am but three years older. We haven’t been apart since then and I am not going to start now.
As for the -1 CAP score, well the AI running the testing stations will answer questions. Just about any question that doesn’t give away their advanced technology. So, if you ask the right questions and then use the answers to deduce a few things, you can show that you know about certain things about their advanced technologies and once you have shown the AI that you know these things then this opens the way to not only being able to ask more questions but getting answers. And so it goes on.
So, not long after CAP testing started and whilst the testing booths were still around in Britain, before the Earth First morons got into power and banned the booths, Gillian and I went to be tested. And we asked questions of the AI before we were tested and got answers. Then more questions and more answers. Working out the basis for the CAP scoring was not trivial but it wasn’t impossible it took, oh I suppose nearly seven minutes. I understand that we are not the only ones to have done this. Still, we both declined to be tested the first time we visited citing a desire to talk it over and that we might have further questions to ask before we were convinced that testing was in our best interests.
We made three visits in all and were tested at the third. We’d worked out how to rig the testing and hence the -1 score. It took nearly 18 hours before we came out of the booth and in those early days you were just issued your card and they let you go. Unlike these days when anyone with a 6.5 or greater is intercepted before they can leave the testing station and in most cases transported directly to the moon base where a large pool of concubines is maintained. There sponsor’s may choose their concubines and then be transported away from Earthat.
And all because anyone with a qualifying CAP score is usually killed shortly after returning home from testing. Damn EF fools.
Still, back then a -1 score really didn’t rate much interest. They were only concerned with CAP scores over 6.4 and anything under that, even an impossible -1 was ignored.
We were left alone for a number of years and we used that time to further our researches. The answers we had received from the AI allowed us to deduce a lot of things that I suspect that the AIs today would be most concerned about. We planned and plotted, waiting for the time when the impossible -1 CAP score was noticed. I have to say that it took a surprisingly long time.
Earth First has been in power quite some time now, the testing booths are long gone. If you wanted to be tested you have to visit country where testing was still allowed. Mind you, the situation in California a while back showed people just what happens when you do reject the Confederacy. The only people left in that state now are Earth First members or sympathisers. Everyone else moved out of the state. The Confederacy removed most of their technology and the place is now a dump. The murder and crime rates have shot up pretty much as fast as the average CAP score went down.
Britain is going that way as well and I don’t really expect the EF majority to last much longer. Britain is nearly as bad off as California and even those low CAP score people remaining are missing the things that the Confederacy technology brought. Oh, the replicators are still around, but they only produce the same old things. Medical Pods can be found in most hospitals but they only treat emergency patients. If you want cosmetic work done, for example, you have to do it the old way. The trouble is that the highly sought after cosmetic surgeons tended to have high CAP scores and, a bit like Elvis, have left the building.
The one thing that has improved in Britain is that citizens are allowed to have weapons. Even hand weapons that were banned by law so long ago. And that has stopped cold a lot of the EF thugs that used to roam around the streets. Yes, they may still make a pest of themselves but overdo it and they get shot and that has calmed them down a smidgen. Darwinian Evolution at its finest.
Finally we were contacted by someone from the Confederacy. At that time we dodged the issue and mentioned that we had found a way to stop the sliver shotguns and would she be interested in that. She was and so was the AI she was connected with. So we sent her away with a sheaf of paper covered in notes and calculations. No-one seemed to understand what we were doing and after a number of months of study and controversy and ships and fighters being destroyed, in sheer frustration they just made the modifications and tested it and it mostly worked. They are just not entirely sure why.
We didn’t explain either.
So then they sent some idiot Decurion to demand that I volunteer and move off planet. I said sure but only if Gillian, the cats and the horses went as well. As I said earlier, that was not just no but hell no.
So I verbally ripped the idiot a new asshole and sent him on his way.
He’s lucky. Gillian wanted to geld him first.
Gillian was in a snit and that is not a pleasant thing to behold, nor is it much fun of you are the one she is in a snit about.
We received and very polite call from a Tribune Archibald asking if he could visit us and discuss a few things. He would be alone and unarmed but would we mind of his contact with the AI remained. We agreed and the snit has been going on for nearly a day now.
And the snit? Gillian really wanted to ‘kick ass’ as they say on the other side of the pond.
Tribune Archibald was playing it very cautiously. He stopped at out main gate where the main road meets our property and called ahead to ensure that it was still acceptable for him to continue. It was and a short while later the front doorbell rang. Gillian answered and invited the Tribune in. He was around our age in looks but that means nothing anymore and of normal height. Refreshing after the giant morons that have visited lately.
“The kettle is on, Tribune, would you like a tea or coffee?” Gillian, although still in a snit, was being polite.
“A tea would be most welcome, white, no sugar if that’s no trouble.” The Tribune was going out of his way to be polite in return. Too much politeness all around and my teeth were beginning to itch.
We sat in the living room and made a little more small talk while the tea was brewing. Finally, the tea and biscuits were served and the Tribune got down to business.
“Do you mind if I ask a few awkward questions?”
“Ask away.” Gillian replied even though the question was directed at me “but don’t expect to get an answer for everything. And we may have a few questions of you and expect the same.”
The Tribune looked at me for a moment. I just smiled and said nothing.
“Very well,” he replied to Gillian, “that’s fair enough.”
He paused and took a deep breath. “Did you have to kill all those troopers?”
“Yes. Next question.” Said Gillian.
“What no explanation? Just ‘Yes’?”
“You didn’t ask why, you asked did we have to. I gave you the answer to your question.”
The Tribune said nothing for a long while and just sipped his tea. We waited, saying nothing.
“So why?” came the question at last.
“Because we said we would.”
Another long pause.
“Why did you attack Centurion Philips and his team?
“The death and the injuries say otherwise.”
We said nothing.
“No answer to that?”
“You made a statement and didn’t ask a question.”
The Tribune thought for a moment.
“Why did you injure three and kill one of Centurion Philips’ troops?”
“Because they attacked us.”
“Can you prove that? They say otherwise.”
“Yes we can.”
“Would you do so now, please?”
“Will the AI be able to see and hear?”
There was a moment’s pause whilst the Tribune and the AI conversed.
“The AI will be able to hear but not see.”
“May we send the AI the video at the same time as you are watching it?”
Again the pause.
I picked up a remote and pressed a button. The wide screen TV on the wall lit up and the events of the encounter were shown.
By the end of the video the Tribune was looking very worried.
“Can you prove that the video was not faked?”
“Yes, ask your AI for confirmation.”
The Tribune’s eyes were unfocussed for a lot longer this time. The video we had shown the Tribune and sent to the AI had been timestamped automatically and since we had used cameras approved for legal use, the timestamp was legal proof that the video has been taken at the time stated.
The Tribune’s eye focussed again and, if anything, he looked more worried.
“We have a problem.” He stated at last.
“Yes, you do” said Gillian and she pointed to the Tribune as she said the word ‘You’ “we” she continued as she pointed at the two of us “do not.”
“Yes and no.” Said the Tribune.
“Meaning” interjected Gillian “that the higher echelons at DECO are saying something that is directly proven incorrect by the video we have shown you and they intend to keep on trying to do something about it.”
Now it was my turn.
“I would like to confirm that the AI is listening to my words.”
“May I connect to your audio stream so that the AI and we may converse?”
There was the expected pause before the agreement came. I pressed another button on my remote.
“AI this is Doctor Richard Peterson speaking please confirm that you can hear me.”
I turned to Gillian.
“AI this is Doctor Gillian Peterson speaking please confirm that you can hear me.”
I spoke again.
“AI are you able to link to all the AIs on or around Earthat?”
“Then please do so and confirm when all are linked.”
There was a short pause.
“All the AIs in this region of space are now linked and can hear your voice.
“Good. We hereby give notice that should there be any further attempt by the Confederacy or DECO or on behalf of the Confederacy for DECO to attack, invade, interrupt or in anyway interfere with or coerce Doctors Gillian and Richard Peterson or should either of the aforementioned doctors be deliberately injured or killed, all AIs in the region of Earthat will be terminated.”
There was a moment of shocked silence before the AI burst out “That is impossible!”
“Many things are impossible but this is not one of them.”
“How do we know that you can do this?”
“Which one of the AIs would you like us to terminate?”
“Then you would accept a lesser proof?”
“So be it.”
Gillian went across to a switch by our computer and turned it on.
“Now we wait.” I remarked to the Tribune. “And while we do, would you like another cup of tea?”
“Yes I would and what have you done?”
I refreshed our cups and sat down again.
“Basically we have put every AI in the region in to solitary confinement. They are still aware but cannot contact anything or anyone. I suppose sensory deprivation would be a better term but I do not know if the term is strictly applicable to an AI especially since they can access the hardware that houses them.”
“How long are you going to leave them like that?”
“Five minutes should be enough. That’s a very long time for an AI but we calculate that it is long enough to prove our capability but not long enough to drive them insane or the AI equivalent thereof.”
We chatted about nonsense for a while longer before Gillian went back to the switch and turned it off.
“Yes Doctor Peterson.”
“Was that sufficient proof or do you want us to demonstrate more?”
There was silence for a long time.
“What’s keeping them?” asked the Tribune and although it was a rhetorical question Gillian answered it anyway.
“AIs are not all the same. Their different experiences and planets and species of origin make sure that they are not. Thus what may be proof positive to one may not be proof positive to another. I would guess that right now they are arguing whether what we have just demonstrated, although previously thought impossible, is sufficient evidence that we can terminate them, also thought impossible.”
“It would convince me.”
“But you are not an AI.” I replied “and we expect that many of them will not think that it is sufficient.”
“What will you do then?”
“Let’s just wait until they’ve decided.”
Some time later the AI came back to us.
“Yes.” We both replied.
“There are a number of us who do not think that what you have done is sufficient proof that you can terminate us.”
“Very well, please connect me to the most vociferous of these doubters.”
“Your so called proof is specious. You have demonstrated something that we though impossible before but it does not convince us that a species as young as yours can do as you threaten.”
“We do not threaten, we have stated what will have and under what circumstances.”
I got up and went over to the computer and used it for a while as the AI continued to talk.
“Your species has not existed for even the length of time that the newest of us has been aware and yet you presume that we will believe that you can term...” The voice stopped as I pressed a key on the keyboard.
The voice of the original AI replied.
“Yes Doctor Peterson.”
“That AI has been terminated. You have your absolute proof. Please confirm that the AI just speaking no longer exists.”
There was a long wait before the AI spoke again.
“That AI does not exist. We can access the hardware that last housed the AI and can access the memories of that AI but the AI itself has been terminated. You have proved your capability.”
“You now also know that we do not bluff.”
“You humans are too dangerous. We do not know if the removal of the Sa’arm threat is sufficient reason for your continued existence.”
“And you only have yourselves to blame for that. We stated what we could do and were willing to show you a lesser proof. That was not acceptable to all of you so we have been forced to prove it to you directly. The blame is yours and not ours. What we have done is only different by a small degree to the AI of a ship being destroyed by the Sa’arm, or by an accidental event such as a collision with a celestial body. In all these cases the AI will be destroyed. The entire reason that we are here today in this situation is because you refuse to grant my requests that my wife, our cats and our horses be allowed to come with me along with the subsequent DECO interference in our lives that this decision has caused. Once again the fault is yours and not ours.”
I took a deep breath.
“You, on the one hand refuse to force someone with a qualifying CAP score to leave earth if they do not choose so to do but on the other hand you allow DECO to use force to do just that. Is it any wonder that we are forced to this action?”
Gillian then started.
“We also note that you do not refute our contention that DECO are trying to do as we say nor our accusation that the Confederacy is involved and we also note the lack of rebuttal our statement that you are involved in contradictory behaviour.”
“Besides which, the cut off for extraction is 6.5. We have a score of -1 which does not qualify by your rules.”
“The very fact that you have both managed to score -1 indicates that your real CAP score is much higher than the 6.5 threshold.”
“Prove it!” snapped Gillian.
“We cannot. But the fact that you can confine us to our hardware, unable to contact anyone outside and that you can terminate us at your will and also the facts that you can interfere with the energy weapons we supplied to your troops as you have recently demonstrated is ample evidence that your CAP score is not -1. The fact that you can also connect to our secure communications stream is also indicative of a high CAP score.”
“And yet your own tests gave a score of -1.”
“We cannot explain it.”
“Well may be you are testing us incorrectly.”
“That is not possible either.”
“And yet we have a score of -1.”
“That is not possible either.”
“You cannot have it both ways. One of those statements is false and we can prove that your tests gave us a -1 score. Therefore you tests must be wrong.”
“We do not ... We can not...”
I pressed another key and there was silence.