Authors: Ben Winston
Upgrades – Episode VII
By Ben Winston
Copyright © 2016 Ben Winston
Published by Blue Space Publications, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a newspaper, magazine, or journal.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Upgrades – Episode VII
Alliance Apollo Base
Selene, Earth's Moon
With Earth now a core world, the jobs available in Alliance facilities being built in Sol Sector were now being posted worldwide. At first there was an over-whelming number of applicants for those jobs, but after a month, applications began to fall off. Some of it was due to a lack of education for the 'better' jobs, but I felt a lot of it had to do with people's fear of leaving the planet. There were a lot of dangers involved with living and working off-planet.
However, with the entire planet being changed over from fossil fuels to cleaner and safer hydrogen fuel and cold fusion reactors, there were a lot of displaced energy workers looking for work as well. Most of whom were simple folk that had worked the oil fields and coal mines all their lives and didn't know anything different. They were hard-working, god fearing people that, while they would never admit it, feared the change and what it would mean for their families.
Although it would take longer, it was a goal of the new government to relocate most of the heavy industries such as smelting and ore refining off-world as well. Strip mines were immediately shut down, but most of those workers were re-employed in the reclamation effort that had begun. There were a lot of jobs being created on the planet as well, which also accounted for part of the drop in applications. There was a lot of work needed on Earth, and the way the displaced worker program was set up was to try to fill those positions first.
Some of the 'professions' on Earth had to undergo a major upheaval as well. The medical profession was one of the hardest hit for retraining. But, it was more along the lines of additional training since the skills the people of Earth had were the basis needed for the advanced medical knowledge.
The legal system on the other hand was greatly shaken up as all legal professionals had to learn Alliance laws as well as learn the new changes to local laws. I held the opinion that it wouldn't be all that hard for them because most of the alliance laws were simply common sense, but that was only my opinion. I heard it was pretty difficult for a lot of them.
One of the new changes that some folks didn't like all that much was the creation of a maximum security prison on one of the system's dwarf planets. Although it does have minerals that the Alliance could use, the small planetoid was ideal for a penal colony. Escape would be virtually impossible, and the residents could serve out their life-plus terms working in the mines. Inmates sent there were considered deceased.
Due to the influx of workers, a good deal of the projects actually got back on schedule and several quickly exceeded their schedules. The first major project completed was one of the huge mobile mining and ore processing centers that moved slowly along the main asteroid belt. There were six of the mammoth facilities planned. Ore from all over the system would be brought into the super-factories for processing and refining.
The foundries were kept separate from the huge processors due to mass issues making the mobile units too difficult to move easily. The processed and refined materials would be shipped from the asteroid belt out to these foundries to be made into the large frame support pieces and the hull plates the ship yards would need.
For now though, the refined ores were being sent to the construction ships building the rest of the facilities that would be needed to undertake the mission for refitting the entire Alliance Navy.
One of the things that surprised me the most was that the Shallans, as well as the other race’s ship designers that had come, decided to build the ship yards in orbit around Jupiter. They cited multiple reasons for it, but the primary points were the composition of the planet as well as the availability of using the planet's perpetually nasty weather as a source of external power in addition to the power systems of the yards themselves.
Most of the administrative staff thought they would want to build the large facilities in the Centauri system close to their planet so the decision had come as a surprise. However, the Shallans had asked that all the salvaged equipment from the GMASS facility be dropped near Jupiter long before the decision to build there had been officially made.
The evacuation of the Galtar system had progressed very quickly. Alliance scientists, working on data recovered from the Veranorian Synod, discovered a way to control the Aracnise hives on Galtar. So a lot of the heavy lifting and loading of equipment was done by Arac drones under the watchful eyes of very heavily armed Alliance Marines.
The Aracnise Grand Hive had remained quiet while the evacuation took place, although several probes had been detected and destroyed before they got very close to Galtar. It took the better part of six weeks, but the Alliance Navy and every commercial ship they could find moved the entire race and all their belongings. It was decided to leave the system defenses active and armed in order to force the Aracnise to expend ships and drones in taking the system. It was believed that the Queen of the Grand Hive would have the Galtar hives killed since she didn't control them. Several monitors and other systems were set up to keep an eye on the world for when the Grand Hive did arrive.
The next closest Core World to Galtar was Novalus, however, there were several dozen colony worlds of different races along the way. After they hit Galtar, it was believed that the Grand Hive would slowly expand outward taking these colony worlds as they went. The shipwrights now residing in the Sol Sector were doing their best to upgrade and rotate ships out to keep those colony worlds protected in case the Aracnise did something unpredictable. Each refitted capitol class ship that was sent out had the new armor systems for their troops. The Aracnise would find the Alliance ships to not be the easy targets that they once were.
What the Alliance needed the most though was information on the Grand Hive and what it was doing. The closest a probe could get to their ship yards was almost a light month. Even that far away, it was clear that the hive had been very busy.
Where the Veranorian Synod had built three large shipyards, there were now ten. And there were almost a thousand ships guarding the area of a type and design no one had ever seen before. At Veranor, where the Queen had established her main hive, there were so many ships in the system that many astrophysicists wondered how the increase in mass had not affected the orbits of the planets. One thing was abundantly clear to everyone; the Queen was building up to invade the Alliance, and she was doing it quickly.
The defensive satellite system developed for Earth was quickly reproduced and sent out to as many worlds, core and colony alike, as could be done. It wouldn't stop an invasion fleet, but it would prevent a seeding mission by stopping every asteroid that came close to the inhabited planets. Construction had also begun on a new Command Station in the 'Brier Patch' of Saturn. The new station would be almost an exact duplicate of the existing station, except it would have all the upgrades developed since the construction of the original station, incorporated into it.
We still had a lot of work to do to get ready for the Aracnise, but we were well on our way there. Only time would tell how well we had prepared, but the longer the Queen delayed her attack, the better off the Alliance would be.
Office of the Lord Admiral
Mars, Sol System
"So what do you think of the new office, Eric?" Vance asked grinning.
I'd been to Mars since the move for meetings, but Vance had always had temporary office space as that part had not been finished yet. Now it had been and this was much larger and nicer.
I nodded my head as I looked around. "Nice, I'd be jealous if I actually spent much time in mine!"
"Which reminds me, I was going to ask you about the AI you set up here. I do approve of her, although I've heard some of the Marines talking. They are referring to her as 'Grandma'," Vance asked grinning.
"I was shooting for 'Matronly' but I suppose "Grandmotherly' will do. It's along the lines of a psychological experiment. Most of the Marines you'll be training here are from Earth. As such most of us were taught to respect our elders and we automatically defer to them in most cases without thinking about it. I spoke to our resident mental health folks at Apollo and this is what they recommended. She'll help the Marines learn and they will subconsciously try to do better to make her proud of them. When they come back after a difficult mission, she will be here to welcome them back.
"A few of the psychologists believed that my usual younger female avatars were too attractive to elicit a similar response and as such recommended a form that would elicit the same general responses without the subconscious sexual component. She will function almost exactly as Sarah did, although her personality has been tweaked slightly to maintain that subconscious response," I explained.
Vance nodded in understanding. "I can see that. I can see that it's working too. I actually thought you would break with tradition and develop a male avatar for this installation, but I think your choice might be the right one."
"Tradition huh?" I asked grinning. "Actually, if remember, I was going to make the Simonian AI all Males, but they asked for authoritative females. I'm not biased against a male avatar; it's just that most humans tend to want to listen to a pretty female. Since I am human, that's the path I ended up going."
"Well, no one has complained about it, that's for certain. I doubt anyone ever will really. Even the female captains and admirals in the Alliance seemed to like the choices made for them," Vance replied. "I'd heard you have gotten back into research and let your department handle the production of the AI. May I ask what you're doing research on?"
"Actually, it isn't so much research as it is re-education. Myself and a few of the other AI programmers as well as a few of the new psychologists are delving into the world of AI psychology. The issues with Athena showed us something we will eventually have a need for. Whether they are a new form of life, or not, there will still be a need for someone the AI can turn to for assistance for moral or ethical dilemmas," I replied.
"What does Sarah think of it?" Vance asked.
"She's been very supportive. She's even let the Psych folks question her endlessly; well past the point a human or another sentient being would be able to tolerate it. I've also asked a few of the other AI to assist us in a like manner. Although they cannot agree on true sentience yet, they have agreed that each AI has a unique and individual personality. It's pretty interesting for us, but I imagine it would bore the pants off most people."
Vance could only nod in agreement. "I've never been able to tolerate much of that psych stuff myself. I wanted to ask you, before the rest of the Admin Council arrive, how is the overall transition going at Apollo? When we moved all the military stuff out of there, it had to have left a very large hole in the society."
I smiled. "We miss our friends and relatives that moved here, but for the most part it's going well. As you know, Halflan and Hanson built an experimental fighter facility. We also have new labs specializing in a bunch of different areas from hyperspace theory to terraforming. I've heard a rumor that the theoretical folks are working on a form of hyperspace gate that would all but eliminate travel time between gates. Another lab is working on developing Christy's nanocytes for commercial applications such as mining and toxic waste cleanup.
"That's only the research stuff going on. There is a huge commercial sector building up as well. Apollo is handling all the cargo routing between Earth and the rest of the Core Worlds. I was really surprised when I was told about how much is being sent back and forth. The Alliance may not have needed Earth for food production, but they sure seem to like the food stuff produced down there. I’ve even heard that General Motors and two other old car manufacturers will be producing aircars for export in the next production year. I do know that they are building a huge spaceport down there capable of handling the big freighters."
Vance nodded his agreement. "For the most part, things have calmed down on Earth. We are still having some issues with some radical religious groups, but by and large, everything is doing great. I'm actually surprised the transition went as smoothly as it did. I would have thought there would have been more resistance, given the planet's history."
"I think most of the folks down there were ready for it because of the entertainment vids produced in recent years. There were folks that believed that Earth was being primed for the knowledge that Aliens existed. Of course, those are the same folks that believed that the governments of the planet had been secretly working with the 'Aliens' for years." I grinned deeper. "They had it at least partially right."
We chatted for a while longer while the rest of the Administrative Council arrived and took their seats. Vance called us to order and we got down to business.
That business had changed from the earlier days. Now it was more of status reports and manpower requirements for this project or that new facility. Master Halflan had just begun outlining the goals of a new fighter concept program when the base AI, Helen, interrupted him.
"Please excuse me, Master Halflan. Lord Admiral, there is a flash priority transmission for you from Lord Admiral Healis.