The next morning, Emily sat up and stretched, refreshed. She looked over at the computer, but it seemed to be off. She went to the toilet and came straight back, taking The Stone out the device she had built the night before. She placed it on the desk and started to lay out her school uniform.
[So, did you have fun last night?]
I had a very interesting time, Emily. I have found that through your computer and the new improved connection you built, I am able to travel to just about any computer in the world at almost the same instant.
[That sounds pretty cool.]
I can then travel using the local telephone and electrical systems, letting me visit just about any spot on the globe. I can also tap into the satellite navigation system to visit airplanes and ships at sea.
[That’s amazing. Can you actually see anything?]
I see things quite differently from you, Emily. I do not have or need eyes. There are many cameras I can access, so I will be able to bring visual references for you to see.
[Stuff for me to see?]
Of course. I can bring the images to your computer from over a million surveillance cameras alone.
[That’s creepy, but it sounds cool. My dad’s going to kill me when he sees the Internet bill.]
I doubt that your father will actually kill you.
[It’s just an expression.]
Yes, I know. You do not have to be concerned. I upgraded your internet service to give you unlimited access at the highest speed. I also instructed their computer to dedicate a connection to your service. I also paid for your Internet service for the next five years. This is the maximum allowed and I received a significant discount, I might add, thereby saving money.
[You did what?!?]
Do not worry. It is all paid for with money I have earned.
[Where did you get any money? Since yesterday?]
I used the money in your bank account.
[Oh, no! Mom is going to kill me, too. I am so dead!]
I wish you would not keep implying that your parents intend to cease your existence. I have already returned the money I borrowed from your account. Of course, I could have just instructed computers all over the world to simply give me money, as there are billions of dollars in unclaimed accounts, but I have decided to follow your ethical example: “I will not steal.” That is one of your 10 commanded moral codes, is it not?
[Yes, it is. So, what did you do with the money?]
I invested your money in a variety of different markets around the world where it was daytime ... stocks, commodities, short-term investments, property and the future price of gold and oil. I can carry out several thousand transactions at any one moment. Once I built up a considerable amount of money, I found that it was easier to make even more money.
[So, how much money did you make last night, Mr. Smarty Pants?]
Twenty-seven million dollars.
[What!?! What are you going to do with all of that?]
Well, I thought I would use it to make even more money. You said that was important.
[Yes, but not that much! Where is the money? It’s not in my account, is it?]
No. I have established accounts in many countries and have several banks carrying out my instructions.
[This is crazy! How do you instruct them?]
Usually by email or facsimile, but I can also speak to them on the telephone. I am able to speak most foreign languages. They think I am an English businessman called Mr. Adam Stone. A Stone.
[That’s amazing! Can you talk to me?]
Sure, if you would like. The telephone beside Emily’s bed rang.
She picked it up, “Hello?”
“Hello, Emily. It is me. This is how I sound on the telephone,” The Stone said. “This is my ‘old British Movie Guy’ voice, as you said. How do you like it?”
[Gosh, that’s fantastic! How do you do that?] Emily hung up the telephone.
It is quite simple, really. As the telephone is merely the transmission and reception of a digital sequence that turns into sound, I just create that sequence.
[How do you get electricity?]
There is electricity all around. My needs are not great. I am very efficient. Every time you touch me, I take a little energy.
No, not much. Not even enough to give a carpet shock. I have also taken some from your computer. And your canine Foxy when she licks me.
[Ewww! When does she do that?]
When you are out of the room. I believe she senses I am more than just a stone. Also, she believes I taste like you.
[Do you want a wash?]
I don’t believe that is necessary.
[What did you do for electricity all those millions of years when nobody touched you?]
I simply took energy from the largest generator of electricity, your planet. One lightening bolt can power a city for years. I just took what I needed through the water and ground.
“Em, breakfast!” her mother called up the stairs.
[I’ve got to have a shower and get ready for school. What will happen to all your money if you come with me to school?]
Do not worry. I have left instructions. I have decided to invest in electronics, food production, medical research and alternative energy. That is where I can do the most good, which is my Mission. I will do good things with the money to improve the quality of human life. I also plan to purchase very large diamonds. I am pretty sure there are other Stones out there and I intend to find them!
The senior directors of the EAU were gathered around the large oval table. Whoever designed this place had obviously seen too many James Bond movies: The shape of the room, the indirect lighting, the enormous gleaming table and the high-backed executive chairs.
While there was no noticeable seniority based on position around the table or any uniform insignia, every head turned towards “O-1,” sitting in the centre to one side, a position favored by US Presidents, as opposed to the head of the table like a Chairman of the Board.
The current O-1 was Canadian. There were several nationalities around the table, though the majority were Americans, a throwback to the origins of the EAU.
“Please run the report again,” called O-1 to unseen technicians in some hidden control room. The people turned their attention to individual flat screens that had risen out of the table in front of each person.
A voice-over described what they were seeing on the screens, “Last night, we registered 1,490 WAWAA alerts from 70 different cities around the world, mainly in financial institution computers and stock market servers. That was in the space of seven hours. Some reports were of unbelievably dense activity that lasted a matter of seconds. Then it abruptly ceased approximately 30 minutes ago.”
“To put things into perspective, the most trips we have ever experienced in a single incident during the seventeen alerts we have had over the years was 110 in 1998, and those took several days to accumulate. All, as you know, were caused by brilliant human computer hackers, not aliens. All seventeen have since worked for EAU over the years, including the previous O-1, and many still distinguish themselves within our ranks. Like they say, if you can’t beat them, employ them.”
“Within hours in previous alerts, we have always been able to narrow down the field of investigation to a single continent, if not a region or a city.”
“In this instance, we have absolutely no idea what we are facing, how many there are or remotely where they are located. Whoever or whatever is carrying out this activity is very adept at cleaning up after themselves and not leaving a trace of information of their passage. Once they realized what the WAWAA code was, they have been disabling it upon entry to any system.”
“We have, however, been able to analyze our data and ABACUS has determined there is an 87% probability that we are dealing with an extraterrestrial force, or at least extraterrestrial technology in human hands.” The voice-over and images ceased and the screens folded into the table.
O-1 spoke again, “The EAU will remain on Highest Alert status until further notice. Full intervention squads have been dispatched to all staging areas with orders to be ready for deployment in 15 minutes, 24/7.”
She took a more somber tone, “We have never faced a greater threat, but we are prepared. We stand ready. I have spoken to The President and we have her full trust, as well as that of other world leaders. If this threat is hostile, which we must assume it is, we will face it with deadly force.”
O-1 began to lose her forceful tone, “If this is not a hostile threat ... well ... uh ... we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I think that’s all for now.”
Members around the table talked softly amongst themselves and some prepared to leave. The telephone beside O-1 softly purred. She reached for the handset. “O-1” was all she needed to say.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the male voice calmly stated on the phone. “Point-O-1 seems to have left the family levels again. He’s on the loose.”
“Lock it down. Bring him in.” O-1 calmly replaced the handset, but her face looked as if she would have liked to slam it down.
“Is everything OK, Anne,” asked O-2 on her left?
“Oh, just that my son has decided to choose this time to escape again. That’s just what I need!”
O-2 decided discretion was the better part of common sense as well as valor, knowing any comment would only bring tears or a tirade.