Second Contact

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Book 4 the source

Book 4 ... The Source

The United States Department of Defense
DSO Task Force Operations Center, Chandler, Arizona

Tuesday June 8

0300 hrs. Ground Station unit.

The television screen shows the delayed transmission of the Shuttle landing. As the Shuttle touches down and rolls out, the small crowd cheers, hugging each other. She's down, Avril's back home! We need a drink ... The Club?, anyone?

1130 hrs. Conference Center.

Grant Wallace and Harold Thierman wander in to the empty hall from decontamination. "Where is everyone?"

"I guess they'll be along shortly. They've had a rough few days".

Everett Hillier, Martin Amis and Mark Ripley enter a few minutes later, followed by Kim Featherston and the data analysis team, Don Whelan, Crackers Smith, Paul Trimble, Timmo and Magic. They pull chairs into a rough circle, laughing.

Hillier speaks. "So far, so good, team. As I understand it, we have the goods on little Miss eDNA. How're we doin' on the analysis of what we have? Grant? Kim?" Wallace looks across at Kim and nods.

Kim pulls a note-book from her overall pocket, flicks it open, checks her notes then shuts it again. "Everett, we do have a lot of information. We think we may have a full sequence, the whole story as it were but we wont be sure for a while yet. The guys are setting up a full batch comparison analysis to see where what we have already in the discs matches to what we received in the three transmissions from Avril. We think we have the start sequence and the end sequence complete, there was this break in the last transmission from Avril and we guess it started over. We have lots to do and I need to get Max, Mary and a couple of the guys back on deck again. Mark, can you get Max and Mary, plus Sevi, Speed and Algebra here, asap?"

Ripley. "Sure can Kim. I'll get on it right away".

Hillier again. "Martin, how's it goin' with the location sourcing?"

Amis. "We're just about done Everett. It's complex but we're on it. A couple of hours".

Hillier turns to Kim: "What about the development of Avrils' idea of the filling all our hard discs with our own blockers to stop the eDNA blockers getting in?"

"Crackers and Magic are still putting together a proposal that might be capable of general usage. This isn't going to be an easy thing to sell however. Who wants to mess with more complications in running a pc? We still have to find a better solution, and that's where we should be putting our resources right now".

"You're right of course Kim. Let's get everything we have together now, completed and ready for review. When are we all going to be ready? Martin?"

"Tomorrow morning I guess".

"Kim? On the batch comparison?"

"Tomorrow morning also I guess".

"OK, then tomorrow at ten, here. In the meantime Avril will arrive at Houston tomorrow, early afternoon. Mark, she will have some debriefing time there I guess but will you arrange to collect her and bring her back here?"

"Sure thing, Everett. I'll keep you posted".

Wednesday June 9

1000 hrs. Conference Center.

Mark Ripley enters the hall, approaches Kim Featherston.

"Kim, Max and Mary will be here this afternoon, I'll have them collected from the airport. Sevi and the others will be in tomorrow morning. I'll collect them also".

"OK, thanks, Mark, we need them".

Hillier enters, Don Whelan and Crackers leave unit three and walk over, Trimble, Timmo and Magic join them. Martin Amis and Walter Brown come in through decontamination, just arrived from the Commsat unit down the road. "Hi people, good to see you all again". Walter Brown's bulky frame moves with Amis to the front row.

Kim Featherston takes the stand, lips pressed tightly, grimacing.

" 'Morning all. We have good news and we have bad news. We do have the start and end sequences. The start part we can identify through comparison to the early blockers. The end sequence because it came at the end of Avril's third data set, but it also has the hydrogen, deuterium and carbon beacons just before the last data stream. We have also comparisons to the thirty one sets of blockers we have identified on hard discs so far, and we have a lot more that we've not yet seen in disc blockers, about twenty times as much, that means about another six hundred blockers! We guess these will begin to show up on hard discs over the next days. What we do not know is how much is in between. We have about ten hours between the first Avril contact and data set and the last data set. If there was no break in between we can expect an enormous amount of data still to come. If however there was one other data stream break in that period, we might be faced with say another seventy thousand blockers! If either of these two scenarios is correct, it's good night Irene for all of us! Let's hope that there were several breaks in between. We are still working on the breakdown and we can make better progress when Max and Mary arrive later today. That's it, thanks".

Martin Amis moves forward. "Well we have news also. I for one do not think it is good news. Our little eDNA seems indeed to be extra-terrestrial. We have to confirm Avrils' hypothesis that we have what looks like an ETI contact".

Silence, then a growing general hubbub.

Amis continues. "Quiet please. Let me give you what we have. The three separate source-location data sets all give the same result, within acceptable tolerances. eDNA comes from a region about forty eight light years away, in Virgo for those who are familiar with the star map, in the direction of the star Rastaban. We'll have a closer sourcing in a day or so but we can say that we've ruled out any kind of re-transmitted Earth-source transmission, this really is a contact from deep space, and extra terrestrial intelligence".

A long pause. Information sinking in, not being believed.

"What can I say? I guess we have all had our doubts about the ETI thing, me especially but this is confirmation enough and Walter Brown agrees. We are dealing with an ETI encounter. This is really as Avril said. Contact. How do we deal with this?"

No theatricals, no panic. Probably no real belief either. The hall again buzzes with murmurings, everyone starting to talk at once. ETI? OK maybe, but it's not physical! Where's the problem? Let's just block it's entry to our computers, we can do that can't we? You're saying this is a non-biological intelligence? How do we know this is not coming from some life form not unlike our own? If it is then they're a lot more advanced than we are! Let's send a message back, tell'em we're here and to stop sending this shit! Man it's nearly fifty years away! Back to the dark ages. My God! We have to stop this stuff coming in. Didya hear what Kim said? A couple of thousand blockers will kill practically every pc on Earth! ... and she's talking about a lot more than that. Listen, if it only kills our PCs we can find a way around that ... what we don't know is what else it has in mind! It's passive isn't it? And what if ... ?

Everett Hillier strides to the podium. His professionalism over-riding a growing feeling of panic. I cannot believe this - Satan's work - must be - "Hold it, people! A little order please! Quiet!"

The voices subside, chairs get shuffled around, faces turn to the front again.

"Martin, I guess there's no mistake, huh?"

"No Everett, no mistake".

"Holy Shit, how can this be possible? This just doesn't make any sense at all. I have to tell you guys that this is beginning to spook me. I've listened to Avrils' hypothesis and I've gone along with it although deep down I didn't really believe it. But now? I don't know what to think. These people out here believe this, look at their faces, no fear at all. My God!! Deal with it.

Martin, we have to get this to the Secretary of Defense, like now. We better have a strategy plan to put forward also, Kim? We need your soft-blocker program as a first step. How's that going? and will it work?"

"Everett, the guys are just about done. We can test it this afternoon, and have a prototype ready for you then. If it works".

"Fine, Kim, it better. Let me know. We also need the actual on-board data from the laser receivers. Avril will have that for us when she gets here. We need to know exactly how this transmission is getting to us, and its exact format. Then we have to work out how to stop it getting on-board the satellites. Martin, a short report for the Secretary is what we need right now. Let's do that in my office. The rest of you, you've got things to do. Get on it".

Thursday June 10

2115 hrs.

Mark Ripley drives the beige Ford Explorer past the entry circle of Chandler Reception, down the driveway to the cabins, stops, shuts off the motor, steps out and walks around the front of the vehicle to the other side, opens the passenger door. "Hey Dr Stone, we're here. You're home, well at least you're at your temporary home. Welcome back to Chandler".

Dr Stone sits up groggily "Oh we're here? Chandler? Great. Let me get my things together".

"Leave that, I'll bring your things in".

"Mark, I got all that you said right, didn't I? That we have a real and confirmed contact? That eDNA is really a signal from an ETI?"

"You got it, Dr Stone, Martin Amis and Walter Brown are sure. The data is clear, three sets all pointing to the same source, a star group in the direction of Rastaban. The laser receiver data you've got with you is what we need right now, we have to find out how the signals are getting to us, and how they land in the satellites, and how they get down to us. But that's tomorrow. Right now you need to sleep".

Grant, are you here somewhere? Daddy, you too? This is it, Daddy, you were right! Me too. We've done it ... the search is over ... Oh my God. We've found it. I can't believe it ... we've found it ... we are not alone ... sleep ...

Grant Wallace walks down the path from the adjoining bungalow, his outline in the shadows moving into the pathway lighting and out again then back into the light, smiling, now rushing the last few steps, in close, the pressure of his arms in a bear-hug. "Hi Lady, you did it!"

"Oh God, Grant, yes ... I ... we ... really have " ... I want to sleep, Daddy.

Friday June 11

At the Club, around 0800 hrs.

The Club is full, the whole team is breakfasting, waiting for Dr Stone. She enters a little after eight with Mark Ripley, looking considerably fresher than she did last night. The Task Force team, seventeen now, plus three of the service personnel, all crowd forward, Hi Dr Stone, welcome back! ... you really did good up there! Man what a deal, our own live astronaut. Hey Ms Avril, com' sit here wit yo fan club ... Magic is evidently back on deck also.

Hillier stands, guides her to his table on the terrace where Martin Amis and Walter Brown are standing, greetings again. Grant Wallace joins them, a kiss on the cheek. Dr Stone blushes, but smiles. Hillier turns to the side. "Magic, I'm pulling rank!"

"Sho thing, Mr H!"

"Welcome back, Avril, good to see you looking so chipper. We all want to hear everything about the flight, all the details but let's save that until tonight, we got work to do. The Secretary of Defense needs answers, like yesterday. And me too. This is something incredibly profound and I need you to convince me that this is not some bad dream".

"A bad dream? Everett, this is the biggest and best thing that has ever happened to us, and I don't mean us, here, I mean the whole world! This is just fantastic. I knew it when I saw those signals coming in, to the laptop, up there. I could feel it man ...!"

"Yeah OK, I guess this vindicates all the years of searching but this found us, and I want to know what it is and what it means to us and I need proof. The Secretary too".

"OK Everett, I'm ready to get on it. But I need to eat, and right now. Bacon and eggs, sunnyside, hash browns, and whatever else is not good for you. I had enough of healthy food for a while, I need to pig-out right now".

Orders are taken, juice served, coffee. Chit-chat about being back on Earth again, Shuttle food. Breakfast comes at last, with a half pink grapefruit, filletted.

Hillier again. "OK while you're eating, we'll talk. Don't say a word yet, just listen. The Secretary of Defense wants to know what we have here, what kind of signal this is, how it gets into the sats, the whole shebang. He's got a disaster scenario giving him haemorrhoids, sorry about that, he's giving us access to any resources we need to do whatever it is we need to do. Kim will brief you on what she and her team have to date. Martin can give you more details about the source. We have a soft-blocker solution ready to go, so at least we can hold our little Miss eDNA in check temporarily, but we need the laser receiver data analysis and Max, Mary, Don, Paul, and Timmo are ready to go. Crackers and Magic are polishing up the soft blocker software, but can be available later. Sevi, Speed and Algebra are on hard disc analysis, and there we have a problem, there are hundreds coming in daily now, up to thirty three blockers. The problem is growing just like you said; we gotta find some answers. Our priority number one is what kind of a signal is this and how do we stop it getting to the satellites. You need to get with Don and the guys with your on-board data set and we gotta get that stuff analysed like right quick".

0930 hrs. Conference Center:

Dr Stone sits in a tight group with Don Whelan, Paul Trimble and Timmo. She unpacks a metal pilot's case and pulls out three packages wrapped in antistatic film, speaks. "These are the three data sets of the laser receivers; this one is the GEO to Shuttle, this
the Space Station to Shuttle, this the GEO reflected from the Space Station to the Shuttle. There will be four data streams in each set, the first is the uvc test, which we can leave for the time being. The next two are the short data streams in ULF and ELF that got shut down when we got blockers in the transmission processing computers. There should not be any blockers here as this is a completely different set-up, but we wont know for sure until we look. The last data set is the longer set from the last ELF capture, where we got the start and end sequences. And this" pointing to a second pilot case "... is the translator you will need to decode this stuff. It's all set up and ready to go. Don, let's clear one of your units of all except two computers and get this set up".

"Yes Maam, we're on it! We'll use unit two".

Dr Stone again. "I'll work on this with you guys to start. What we're gonna get is just a heap of numbers that shows the changes that occurred to the laser beams when the eDNA signals crossed the laser path. The software in the translator will put that into math formula and this needs to be changed into graphical format, then we want to pull the graphics apart to see what we have. Let's get to it".

1630 hrs. Unit two.

"Oh boy, I need a break!" Paul Trimble, sitting at the first pc keyboard, stretches and gets up. Dr Stone, at the second, looks across. "Sure thing. Let's review where we're at".

Sevi. "We have the math software in place here on number one. You've got the data pretty much converted I guess, so we're ready to see what we can see. Speed's gone to get a third computer with a clean soft-blocked hard disc in case, although it seems you're right, we have no signs of any blockers in here so far".

1700 hrs. Unit two.

Sevi. "Well there it is, at least the first GEO to Shuttle set. It's only a few seconds but it's a very long wave signal very much like the very first one we got from the commsat tests. Frequency is somewhere around 300 herz. I never heard of a communication frequency in that range, that's a sound frequency I guess and you can't hear sound in space can you? We might hear that if we put it into a sound file. Should be a fast buzz or a humming sound. We need a bigger sample however to get an accurate fix on the wavelength".

1730 hrs. Unit two.

Paul. "Here's the second GEO to Spacestation to Shuttle reflection set. Same as the others, around three hundred. Timmo, how're y'doin' on the long set there?"

"Just about done Paul, wait for it. Hey look at that, aint it cool. You can almost see the curve. Look as it runs across the screen, the line lifts. This is enough to extrapolate the frequency".


"Got it! Well I don't know what I expected, but it looks pretty boring to me, 243 herz. Mean anything to anyone? But what does this stuff here in the background mean, all these fine vertical lines? Is this just background noise?"

Dr Stone. "243 herz says nothing to me. Sevi, let's get that sample onto a sound format, I wanna hear this stuff. And let's get some software to break the sound down, maybe we can look at this another way. Paul, go ask Max to come and have a look at this what Timmo has, he may have an idea about that noise".

1800 hrs.

Max, standing behind Timmo who is plugging away at the keyboard, speaks. "Timmo, that's as far as you need to go. That's not noise, that's another signal, very high frequency, up around 12 gigaherz, look that's what all this here means" pointing to a scale, screen right. Max turns to Dr Stone. "Man, hey Avril, this is it, the carrier signal is the low frequency stuff, and this is a subcarrier. This is where all the data is!! Hey we have it!! Clever shit! And I bet my boots that if you get to the start of this section you'll find that this background stuff as you call it will have a differential, a break in pattern, that corresponds to the hydrogen beacon that we've identified on the hard discs; let's do that Timmo".

"Hey Max, you're right on. Look at that, looks like a break, it dips. Wait, I'll get a take on the frequency, 1420 megaherz. That's it, isn't it?"

"Right on. Hydrogen".

Dr Stone. "Progress at last. Let's get all of this done the same way and up on the screens. Sounds too, Sevi?"

2130 hrs. Conference Center.

Dr Stone addresses the team, all except Martin Amis and Walter Brown are present.

"Well folks we have some progress to report. eDNA has some very clever parents. We've identified that they use a very low frequency carrier with a very high frequency subcarrier bound onto it, for the data that we see here on Earth. We can already visually identify some of the blocker sets that we have already in our hard discs, especially those in the first two blockers we've had here. We can mathematically ratify that tomorrow. The ELF carrier is probably there for the muscle, but it must have an enormous power source to generate the power necessary to send this across space without distortion or loss. The rest must be pretty much as Mary proposed when we got the first look at this stuff. A sensor that finds compatible electronics, then a sniffer that looks at whatever the sensor has found, maybe to check it out, see if there's enough space or how much space and so on, this says to the next set, OK to land some data, and the data that lands then becomes independent to some extent, because it has to find out where it can go or it looks for relatives so to say, attaches itself to the next outbound transmission, and so on. All we have to do now is to find a way to stop the ELF transmissions, or to stop those from unloading the high frequency stuff". She moves to the screens.

"Here on the screens you can see the first short transmissions we intercepted before the first black-out, the next row is the second set, the next is the longer sample we got at the last try. You can see the end of the main set, then seconds later the start section, where we guess it starts the whole sequence over again. We don't know how long the whole sequence is but as Kim points out, it may be huge. We guess that the sequence is on a forever roll-over, it just keeps on repeating the same stuff. The bottom row shows a magnification of the start section, this is where we can identify the blockers we have already, there's the hydrogen beacon ... yes Max?"

"Avril, are all the transmissions in sync? Can you tell that from what you have there? It would be interesting to know if it is transmitting in triplicate, by that I mean at three different frequencies or at three different time offsets?"

"Max, you got me there, maybe we can check that. Everett?"

"Avril, can we stop this?"

"I have no idea. That's another can of beans. I'm not even sure we're up to that sort of stuff. Anyone else any ideas?"

No reply to this ...

Hillier again. "OK, Martin, let's get this down to the Secretary. Get from Avril all the details you need; the DOD has some research work to do on whether this is stoppable. In the meantime, we have word that the DOD wants our soft-blocker for distribution to all highly sensitive areas in Defense and national security. Crackers, this is your bag I believe. Give Mark Ripley whatever is necessary, he'll get it to the right people".

Saturday June 12

1130 hours. Data Group Unit 6

Magic knocks and enters. "Max, I got som'thin' for you, it's all in the numbers, man. 243; the frequency of the carrier signal, you know what that is? No?, let me tell you what that is my man, thasa trichometric, three to the power of four! 34 equals 243. That gotta be a signal of some kind eh? Theys tryin' to tell us somethin, ah guess".

"Magic, you're right by God. Mary, you get that? Let's break off here for a while and kick that around, we know we're dealing with a trichometric system. Magic, whadaya think?"

"Max, ma guess is that these guys tellin us that they sending this stuff in tricho, but maybe in several variations, or maybe that we have to look at the spirals, they could have different sets of data in each. Well maybe not, maybe they just into trichometrics. Plusdotminus ....? Don, Paul 'n' Timmo are on the data analysis from Miss Avril, they bringin the first data stream together just now, the short set we got before the first blocker. They say it looks different so far, but we gotta wait a little".


"Hey Max, lookie here man, the first set is a different carrier frequency". Paul Trimble enters ... Max looks up: "I'm with you guys, I'll bet its around 729 herz?"

"No man, it's 2187 herz. Why you think it's 729?"

"Yeah well, 729 is the next power of three, 35 "

"Man you sure are on it, 2187 is the next but one, it's three to the power of six".

"There we have it then, they're using at least two different transmission frequencies, and there maybe more in between, we just don't have enough data to check it out. However that's probably not important now, because what it means is that they are transmitting on a number of frequencies in a range that we would call ultra low frequency sound, we have no way to stop it. How do you stop sound?, and sound that we can't hear either? Put up a brick wall? in space? Paul, get that summarised for Avril and the Boss. Mr Hillier will want to know about that. We're just about done with what we're doin' here also, the data is coming in triplicate, no doubt about it, and with your information on at least two transmission frequencies. We gotta work on another way to stop this".

1415 hrs. Conference Centre.

Hillier at the podium. "Where does all this lead us, you guys? We've heard Max's report and Paul's news about the frequencies. We have to find another solution how to stop this stuff. It seems to me that the options are, first, we see if we can stop the ELF, the low frequency carrier from landing, and that seems to be impossible. Second, we have to see if we can stop the ELF from offloading the high frequency data streams onto the satellite computers. That seems pretty remote, the data streams have shown up in satellites working in a very wide range of distinct frequencies, from C band through to Ku band, that is from around three gigaherz to around seventeen gigaherz. We do know however that we haven't seen any blockers in satellites working below six gigaherz, the C band and UHF. What does that tell us? That the transmissions can't offload onto these frequencies? Or that we just haven't seen a satellite with blockers that works in that range? We do not know. In any case our options here are fairly limited. What can we do?, stop the satellites working in frequencies above six GHz? That means shutting down half the satellites in orbit and a complete change to most of the current data communications systems, not to mention chaos in the distribution of band-width for data transmissions anyway. The reason we're in the Ku band is band-width and efficiency, not to mention the crowding in C band. Our third option is to stop the transmission from the satellites to the ground. Here, we don't even know how that happens. We could shut down transmissions from all these satellites, but you can imagine what effect that would have, let alone the outcry from the satellite operators and the customers. Half the world's data transmissions are planned to be over satellite in the next couple of years. Our last option seems to be to stop the spread on the ground. But how? Grant's tests show us that eDNA spreads no matter what we try to do".

Grant Wallace breaks in. "But only within a certain distance, Everett. We guess that there is a limit on how far eDNA can leap, so to say. We know that what we have here in the Task Force Center has not reached the guys at Commsat down the road. My suggestion is we set up a test system to see just how far eDNA can fly ... "

Hillier. "What do we need to do that?"

"I guess we have to get a series of computers set up at various distances from where we're at and just see if we get blockers?, or do I see that wrong?"

Timmo chips in. "As long as we do it one at a time,otherwise we might get a leapfrog effect".

"You're right, Timmo. We can handle that, it's going to be a slow process but it's what we have to do. Once we know what the distance limits are, maybe we can come up with further developments".

Hillier again. "Grant, let's get that down in a proposal report. I have to present this whole thing to the Secretary of Defense tomorrow afternoon. He'll wanna see some positive action apart from the softblockers. Anyone else any ideas? Yes, Martin?"

"We have a closer sourcing of eDNA but nothing that's really specifically helpful. eDNA is coming from the direction of Rastaban but at the distance we calculate, the only thing anywhere near is a twin sun group called Draconis. We can't get it any closer, the data is just not accurate enough. We're working on what we know about this star group but it takes time also".

Dr Avril Stone stands up suddenly, chairs clatter backwards. "Draconis? Did you say Draconis? That's one of SETI's projects! We think that there may be the chance of Earth-similar planets around those stars, there are indications that there are two planets in that system that are the right distance from the suns to support a water-bearing environment ... "

" ... and that means the possibility of life as we know it?" Hillier adds.

"You're dam' right, Everett, it does just that".

"I'll be damned. Avril, get something together on that for me also will you. I want to take that with me tomorrow morning. Anyone anything else to offer? No? OK people, let's get it all together for tomorrow morning. After I meet with the Secretary, I guess we will have a lot more to do. Grant, you can start working on the spread test now. Get your requirements ready for when I get back".

Mark Ripley enters. "Everett, we have another BE, Colin Greeves and the Gas Chromo unit are over at Goldstone and they got another contact. Not a lot that's new, but this time our friend eDNA was very much more on the ball, very lucid, and obviously expressing an intellect. They'll have their report at Dulles Airport waiting for you tomorrow when you get there".

Pentagon Building, Washington DC.
Sunday June 13

1330 hrs.

The oak panelled room glowed in the reflection of the midday sunshine. Secretary of Defense Osborne stands behind his desk, Hillier moves away from the white-board, his presentation of the situation finished. Osborne motions him to sit, taps his pencil on a pad, remains standing. "Everett, what I've just heard from you leaves me with a feeling of deja-vu. We've been here before. This sounds like a repeat of 1993 and Dr Stone's fiasco. But this is from you, and we have a near catastrophy facing defense communications here, not to mention growing reports from the I.T. industry about this 'virus' blocker that's effecting more and more computers and organisations that are dependent on computers. The whole I.T. industry in fact is beginning to question where we are on this thing. The President demands that we come up with some viable course of action, very soon. Our meeting tomorrow with the National Security Agency and representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plus reps from the main space communications agencies, operators and the DSCS - has to decide on that course. What we have here isn't enough for us to even start with. If this stuff is coming from the twin-sun group you speak of, and I must say that I still find that difficult to comprehend, then we are faced with nothing but unknowns. We do not know if or when or even where we can stop this data flow, nor do we even really know what the data means. We have these reported bubble events that you say are intelligent manifestations of this data. What kind of nonsense is that?, and if it's not nonsense, what kind of technologies are we faced with here?" Osborne stands, walks to the white-board.

"The best you can do is to tell me we have three options; the first, we shut down all communications satellites! You know that's impossible, even if we could contemplate that ourselves we have no control over any other nations satellites. Or second, we reverse progress and go back to using transmission frequencies that are out of date or so crowded we would be worse off than we are now. And last, we ban all inter-computer communications! None of that's gonna wash and you know it". He pauses. The clipped New England accent slips uncontrolled in the direction of his native New York. He walks back to the desk and sits, picks up his pencil and doodles some more. Finally, resigned to the facts he says:

"Well I guess we gotta go with what we got. My secretary will prepare the necessary copies of your report and proposals and get them off to our people this afternoon for the meeting tomorrow. Listen up, in the meantime get on the line to your people and get some brainstorming together for eight a.m tomorrow. I wanna know how far this eDNA can leap at least. And have a game plan together based on whatever that result is. Something I can introduce to get us going with these guys".

Hillier checks into the GuestHouse, and immediately prepares a set of notes for Chandler. The telephone conversation with Grant Wallace is short and to the point. "Grant, we have to have some measure at least of how far computers have to be distant from one another so that we don’t get this transfer, get on that now and get back to me tomorrow a.m 0800 hours latest".

Monday June 14

0800 hours

"Hi Everett, Grant here. This is what we have. The first tests show that sixty feet, or twenty meters, doesn’t get a connect. We need to do more tests however, to confirm this".

"OK Grant, is this good enough to pass on?"

"Well yes, subject to confirmation on the next series of tests which we are running right now. On the other hand this excludes any kind of modem or network connections".

"What about wireless transmissions like Bluetooth?"

"We’re testing that later today".

"Grant, how does this help us limit the spread? Does this mean that all computers should be kept at least sixty feet apart from one another?"

"Yep, sure does. And with no connections like modems or networks".

"Then this isn’t gonna help us very much, no one is gonna be able to live with that".

"No, you’re right. But what it does do is it lets us set up isolated computer sets to evaluate how eDNA grows. You’ve read the last Goldstone report? Well OK, the bubble event was much more lucid, I mean, it carried out a meaningful conversation of sorts with the GasChromo team; they put this down to the number of computers in that local area, the Space Data Evaluation Center, all 121 computers are infected with blockers plus a main frame and two servers. That’s a lot of computing power, and if eDNA has the capability to use this set-up as a parallel cluster, then that could explain the apparent growth in eDNA's capabilities. We’re getting software blockers over to them right now, to see if that stops further, er, growth, but what we want to do is test this idea here in Chandler. We want to set up a large but isolated computing center here and build up in phases the number of PCs and see whether or not we get some kind of response, I mean whether eDNA shows up, and if so, try to get some idea of the relationship between the number of computers in the center and eDNAs‘ knowledge growth, or at least the growth in apparent capabilities -".

"How long is this gonna take?"

"Don’t know, not too long I guess, I’ll let you know tonight".

Pentagon Building, Washington DC.
Monday June 14

0825 hours

Hillier walks with Secretary Osborne and DOD/NASA Liaison Officer Walter Hammond from the Secretary's office down the A-Ring, turns into Corridor 8 and marches without speaking to the E-Ring, down a flight of stairs to the first floor and into Meeting Room OSD Room 2. Places for twenty five people are set up around the long oval conference table. The Secretary moves to the middle chair on a long side of the table, motions Hillier to the chair at the head of the table.

"Everett, I need to background these people with your latest, everyone has been briefed and if they did their homework they’ll know pretty much where we’re at. Run your proposals by me once again please".

0850 hours

As Hillier finishes, the Secretary speaks again.

"OK, let’s see if I have this right. We can mimimise the spread if we keep computers sixty feet apart, and disconnect all modems and networks? And no laptops or portables?"


"Shit. It’s impossible and in addition, you think that this eDNA - learns - or becomes - more intelligent - when there are more computers within a restricted area?"

"Correct again, but we want to test this ourselves, we’re on that now in Chandler".

" ... and you think that it does this by somehow clustering?, or utilising our PCs as a power base and as a knowledge base?"

"Correct again ..."

"... which means it can develop a computing power many times more powerful than anything we can imagine?"

"Depending on the number of computers in the cluster ... "

"Like a super-computer?"


"Holy Mother of God. And if there are hundreds of computers, any one of which is within sixty feet of the next, then it has hundreds of times more computing power?, and it has all the information on all those computers?"

" ... and on all the computers to which there are other connections, like via networks or modems, or satellite connections".

"And that means if we don’t stop this thing like now, it will pretty soon have harnessed up to eighty or ninety percent of all computers in the western world?"


"Jesus H. Christos".

0900 hours

The three men from NASA clatter through the doorway. "Good Morning Mr Secretary, 'morning Everett, you got a curly one for us this time; alien intelligence?" ... laughing. Then in procession, the representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four in all, plus a couple of note-takers, the DSCS representatives, then the internet service provider reps, the Communications Satellites group of three, the rep from the Association of American Telecoms, and then three women carrying trays of coffee pots, bottles of water, glasses and cups. The groups find their seats, settle, greetings round the table take a few minutes while coffee is served.

Osborne stands as the women leave the room. "Gentlemen, you’ve read the summary information sent to you last evening. Let me round that out for you again". Osborne's summary of Hillier's information takes a few minutes before he pauses for coffee. Continuing, he walks to the white-board.

"We have a problem of unimaginable proportions. Whether or not we believe that eDNA comes from a twin star group some forty eight light years away from here is immaterial at this moment. What we have is an alien system that expresses what we can identify as intelligence. It’s alien because we’ve never experienced anything like this, it has intelligence because it has the capability of carrying on a conversation and appears to have knowledge of what’s in our computers, and it's a problem just because of this and because of the fact that we do not so far have any way of stopping it. We can go further. Anything that has uncontrollable access to our intelligence systems is very dangerous. Very dangerous indeed. And eDNA has just this capability. We have so far looked at a number of ways to stop this, and none of these are practical. We’re here now to find ways that we have not looked at so far". Osborne points at some graphics on the white-board.

"Can we stop the transmissions in space? If we cannot stop the transmissions, can we stop them downloading the data streams onto our satellites? If we cannot stop the downloading, can we shut down the communication satellites?, or stop them transferring the data streams to Earth?. And if we cannot stop these, can we stop the spread on Earth? Can we shut down all the communication satellites? Can we isolate our computers and keep them so far apart that there are no inter-computer transmissions?. Can we shut down all modems and networks?. Can we stop the use of portable computers?" He refers to the notes on the table now.

"Some of the measures proposed so far may work in specific locations under tough security, but we are faced with the fact that probably all communication satellites now flying contain blocker data streams, and every time they transmit to Earth, they transmit the data streams, over and over. We can maybe find a way to fit new satellites with some kind of receiver protection, or simply stop the launches of all new satellites until we have some solutions. However, since this has been going on since at least 1991, eDNA has had a lot of time to establish itself. We have to find a way of stopping the spread on the ground, and of stopping the reception in space. If this means shutting down everything until we have a solution, then we need to know how we can keep our civilisation together while we do this. We need input from you guys, your full resources have to be put into this problem, as of now. Hillier has a couple of updates for us, that may help".

Hillier stands. After a short report on the Goldstone bubble event, he continues: "Right now we are still getting to know eDNA. We are setting up test stations to find or confirm a relationship between the number of computers in a cluster, and the development of eDNA's intelligence. If this confirms an intelligence that has reasoning powers, we may be able to establish a dialogue, and from there? We don’t know. Maybe we can establish its purpose. We know the soft blockers work and that it is not destructive, at least it does not destroy data on our computers. Maybe it doesn’t have the capacity to do this, or it doesn’t want to. This is all going to take time, in the meantime we do have to find a way of not letting this situation get worse, stopping the transmissions from the commsats is the first step, no launches of new commsats for the time being. Maybe we can shutdown all data transmissions via modems and networks? I can see that some of you already have questions, let’s get to these right now".

The rep to the Army Chief of Staff raises his hand and stands. "Mr Hillier, why don’t we just burn all the hard discs in existence and put in hard discs filled with these soft blockers of yours?"

"That means all the data we have has to go as well. We cannot copy the data without getting a copy of the blockers".

"But at least there is no room left for eDNA to expand?"

"We can accomplish the same thing by getting the soft blocker programs out to everyone who has a computer. We’re on that now".

"Can we control this another way? Set up a large computer cell or cluster and feed this thing - eDNA - with some kind of data that will cause it to shut down?, then spread this around?"

"What kind of data? We tried already changing its data sets, it replaces itself immediately. It will almost certainly have the capacity to repair any damage we might be able to do to it, even if we can find a way to do this".

The leader of the DSCS Group, Roger Hart, speaks up. "Everett, it seems to us that we have to concentrate our technical research capabilities on this. We, here in this room, have access to the best brains in the business. How can we work with your people?"

"We have a protocol in preparation right now that contains everything we know about eDNA, and our presumptions. This will be sent to you all asap. After that we have our group leaders who are set up to work with your people on specific areas, communication satellites, radio transmissions, mathematics, software programming, gas chromatography, the works. Your people will liaise with these groups direct".

Walter Hammond raises his hand. "Everett, the first threat is to our computer systems; if they get fully blocked they wont work and there’s nothing we can do about it, right?"


"Then provided we can get soft blockers to all computers quickly we can at least hold our position, right?"

"Right, provided we can also put a hold on any new installations until we get that far".

"We have to stop it clustering, right?"


"I think we need a break just now. Mr Secretary, let’s get into discussion groups and pull this together again around lunch time".

1350 hours

Secretary of Defense Osborne resumes his place at the middle chair on the long side of the table. The other members of the special commission take their places in turn, Hillier being the last to sit at the far end and to the right of the Secretary. During the break, several factions coalesced over lunch. The representatives of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave notice that further input from their side could only be expected after consultation with their Chiefs. The first to offer a positive stance was the satellite communications group led by the Director, Operations, of First Global, one of several organisations about to launch the next series of satellites to complete their world network.

"Mr Secretary, we, all of us with satellite constellations planned to be, or already in, operation, are of one voice. We, our financing institutions, our shareholders and even in part your own defense operations and other Government organisations cannot afford to call a halt to our operations. Delays would be extremely expensive, to call a halt to the installations so long planned is simply unthinkable.
A catastrophy. We are prepared however, to participate in any measures that can be developed to stop or reduce the transmission of these so-called blockers, with the proviso that these measures in no way hinder our services to the world at large. We are able to implement, at ground level, any software measures that can help stop further transmissions, and we may be able to implement certain hardware measures in the receiver units if your people can come up with something workable. We are not able to contemplate changes in the working frequencies allocated, and certainly we cannot institute or cope with changes that require use of frequencies in the C band".

Before he could proceed, the Secretary asked "Stephen, when are the next launch phases planned?, and how many satellites are to come into service, and over what time frame?"

"Uh, we have, I believe, forty eight satellites planned for launch over the next two years. The major launches come into play in the two years following. Some two hundred satellites in all".

"And whom do these satellites serve?, what kind of services are being provided?"

"Uh, primarily we have two major markets, the portable telephone systems, cellphones, which are in part coupled with GPS or global positioning systems, including automobile tracking and heavy transport controls, uh, and air to ground telephony for commercial aircraft and their passengers; uh, and data services, serving computer data transfer protocols, the Internet and the world wide web, which are also coupled with, uh, your own intelligence services, and especially the Echelon system expansion".

"Stephen, perhaps you do not have clear picture of what we are dealing with here? If we do not stop this - thing - this eDNA, you aint goin‘ to have damn-all customers! Not us, not the world at large as you put it, no fucking aircraft passengers, and certainly no world wide web!"

All eyes turned in the general direction of the Secretary. The raised voice and the language is new to almost everyone. The Secretary continues:

"You’ve all heard the prognostications, the potential scenarios, from Hillier. We may be able to slow the spread on the ground, if we act now, and if we take some unpleasant measures; and this may allow us time to develop ideas that will stop this thing at the source, at your satellites! Let me tell you this, if we don't get your full cooperation now I’m goin' to damn-well call a state of emergency and shut you down anyway! Got that? I said did you get that Stephen?"

"With due respect Sir, this is all potential danger, nothing is proved, nothing is even really known about this, this thing; nothing dramatic has so far happened, except a few thousand computers among a few hundred million computers are getting shit loaded onto their hard-discs, less than the effect of a well placed virus, some of the steps proposed by Mr Hillier seem to us to be the right steps and we will support these actions in any way we can. To shut down the launches however is going to cause chaos, and now. I mean, if this gets out and we have to announce even some kind of delay to these system launches there will be stock market chaos, loss of consumer confidence, and the loss of years of market development -"

"Stephen, as of this minute, you don’t launch another satellite until I say so. Is that clear?"

"Uh, yes, Mr Secretary, that’s clear. We have several months before any launches are planned anyway -".

"Then get some of your bright boys onto this problem, you’ve got enough to start with and Hillier will have a technical brief to all of you within a few days spelling out just where we are and what we are dealing with. All the technical data you need to get these people of yours working on this will be there, OK?, am I right here Everett?"

"Well this week may be a bit tight but we’re on it, Sir. I will keep everyone advised, and we’ll aim for Friday".

The Secretary continues: "Walter, you and the Joint Chief's reps are to get on to the Chiefs now, right, and get them here to a meeting at 0900 tomorrow, got that?"

"Yes Mr Secretary, we’re on our way".

"As for the rest of you, any ideas?"

"Mr Secretary, if I understand this we have a first phase now of getting these soft blocker programs out to every computer now in service?"

"Starting with all space communications, all essential services, defense, national security, and then on down the line".

"And the Public, Sir, how is this going to be handled with the world at large, as we call it?"

"The President and his Security Advisors are working on that, they’ll be back to us with a first proposal later today. Our recommendation is to cover this as a virus that is so far unstoppable, and the soft blockers are to be promoted as a temporary measure. We also recommended that internet traffic be throttled down -"

Colin Forbes, representing the major ISP’s in the meeting, interjects: "Mr Secretary?"

"Mr Forbes?"

"We have to echo Stephen Walls’s argument here; throttling down the ISP’s will cause chaos. Not just to the Norman Average out there using his pc to check his stocks, but to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of businesses and institutions world wide -"

"Mr Forbes, one of your member organisations had a major denial of service attack just a month or so ago, right?, and did the world fall apart? No, it did not. What you and every other ISP in the world where we have a say is going to do, is to fill up your servers with soft blockers and you’re going to limit your users, got it? If this slows down the world's systems, so be it. The alternative is a shutdown. Is it clear which alternative is the one you are goin' to choose, my friend?"

"Sir, I cannot promise that we’re going to get that cooperation from everyone. This is free business society and there are freaks of every nature out there -"

"Who is the telecommunications person here? Mr Vishnaputi? Rajan, is that you?"

"Yes Sir, telecommunications, but only the majors".

"Get your group together. Every telecom operator in the country and everyone else in our allied areas, say in three days. By then you will have the PR message that you can give out; but make no mistake, what you will do is you and every telecom, the Baby Bells, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, every damn one of you, will shut down every ISP and any other kind of internet service operator who does not cooperate, got it?"

"Oh yes, Sir, I am getting it very well".

"OK, Walter, where are you? Get this to the President's Advisors now, a summary of this meeting, and the urgent need to get this same deal going in every damn country where we have a say, England, the whole of Europe, Japan, South and Central America, the lot, got it?"

"And the Soviets?"

"Hold that. Hold on the Chinese as well, until I've gone through this again with the President".

"OK, Sir, I’m on it".

"Let's call this to a close. Strictest security, no word gets out to anyone except those who need to know, and then on a mouth shut basis. Nothing is to get public until the President gets his message out. You all better get your own PR people ready to handle the mess that’s goin' to happen, but that's the easy part. I also want the best brains in your organisations working on this. Hillier will have technical details to you as he said, asap. You will all put any ideas through to Hillier's people at Chandler. We have to work this through on a step by step basis, first the soft blockers, then computer isolation as far as possible, and in the meantime we have to find a technical way to stop the spread on the ground, and a way to stop this stuff coming down from the satellites, and a way to stop the satellites picking this up in the first place. This is goin' to take a while, and no doubt we’ll have some tough problems to deal with, but we do not have any alternatives".

The carpark at Block E.

1615 hours.

Stephen Walls and his colleagues disperse to their various automobiles as Colin Forbes approaches Walls. "Stephen, this isn’t going to wash with anyone. What are we gonna do about this? We have the same interests, don‘t we?"

"Colin, if I was you I’d be getting my man on the Hill into action, and every Lobbyist you know. These guys don’t have any idea what kind of chaos they’re heading for, and we gotta stop this before everything goes to custard. This is just a technical problem and that we can handle. The potential financial chaos we cannot. You guys too, I presume. Stay in touch".

Tuesday June 15

0900 hours

Eisenhower Corridor, Meeting Room next to The Secretary of Defense Offices. Eleven men are already sitting around the table, the Secretary this time at the end chair. The Chiefs of Staff, Army, Marines, Navy and Airforce, their assistants, Hillier and Osborne's secretary.

"Gentlemen, you’ve been briefed I take it, Hillier will fill in the details".

0945 hours

"OK, let’s take some ideas. General?"

"I never heard such a load of codswallop in my whole life. Why is this the first we know about this?"

"This is all fresh information, just confirmed. Our meeting with your representatives yesterday was the first possible chance to get to grips with this".

"We need proof that this is alien. I mean concrete proof. So far this is all supposition, as far as we can see- "

"Supposition it’s certainly not. Talk to your own technical people, look at the problems at Huachuaca. OK, we do not have a great deal of detail, but we do know the source, and it’s not here on Earth, and we do know the problem, and that is more important just now than this being an alien - er - intelligence. We have to stop this now before it wreaks total havoc. The prognostications of world wide chaos are not pumped up bullshit. Our IT Advisor Team has already classified this as disastrous, and that came from a what-if disaster scenario. Our own evaluations are that we are headed for complete chaos, complete societal breakdown, the eclipse of western society and with us almost everyone else. This is heading pear-shaped real quick, gentlemen".

"Secretary, if this is - intelligence, why aren’t we working on making it work for us? Let’s say that every other major power is at about the same level of experience with this as we are, we know damn well that they’ll be working on ways to, say, convert this to their advantage, and that can only mean to our disadvantage. What can this - this intelligence do? What does it know? What kind of weaponry does it have? Let’s get some answers to these right quick, can we do that?"

Hillier rises to answer. "General, we have a program just now being set up to see if we can find out what kind of intelligence this is we are dealing with, and by that I mean to see if this is in fact an intelligence or simply a very capable electronic - presence - we simply do not know what this is or what they or it knows or can do, if anything at all. We do have indications that it can read the electronic data we have on computers that are infected or inhabited, and it does seem to be able to converse with us, even if it is only through using the words we use in mobile telephone conversations. That it has remarkable capabilities we are sure, but how far these extend? No idea so far. This has our priority on the one hand, however our immediate problem is stopping this thing causing chaos, the complete breakdown of the whole technology based world".

"And what does this program look like?"

"We're setting up a complex of computers, planned to be expanded in stages, because we believe that this intelligence gets to be more capable the more computers are in a single vicinity, the example of a couple of days ago from Goldstone is our first indication of this, and a previous manifestation at a bank computing centre in Spain indicates the same, however we had no people there and we do not have a reliable report of that instance. We guess that the manifestation will grow in capabilities the more computing power it has in a local area, but we have no measure of how many computers or how much computing power it needs to become, er, intelligent, as we define it. If at all. We guess not too many will be required, because we also guess that this, eDNA, can link itself or its components, for want of a better word, using parallel computing techniques and clusters, which give immeasurably more power than computers that are simply networked. We have a few examples of working clusters in parallel, but the programming necessary to get these to work properly demands enormous resources. In any case we want to get to whatever critical level is required to get some information from eDNA. We do not know how long this will take, nor what resources, but we’re on it".

"This thing knows what’s on our computers?"

"The indications we have are that it does, at least in part. What we do not know is whether it understands what it is reading -"

"Holy Shit!, and security?"

"We have the NSA on hand -"

"Osborne, we want our people on hand as well. And a technical team to take part in this program. We want to know first hand what we got here!"


"Fine by me Sir, but your people will have to quarter outside our quarantine area -"

"But they’ll be on the program 24-7, understood!"

"Also fine by me. But under my local control".

"Secretary, we have to get emergency technical and military strategy teams on this too; people who can evaluate what this intelligence has for military capabilities, and who can figure out how we can get them on our side, before anyone else figures out the same deal".

Admiral Sean Davies speaks: "Mr Secretary, do we have these software blocks or whatever they're called ready to roll?"

"They are being distributed as of yesterday. We have limitations on production and distribution for a few more days yet, but all essential defense and security services are getting priority".

"The reason I ask is that the Navy has already problems that are related. We have had to cancel two major exercises this last week, our satellite missile controllers are down. We need the blockers like now Sir. The Persian Gulf is our major concern".

"Sean, I hear what you’re saying, they’re on the way".

"And another thing, Mr Secretary, the Navy is of the opinion that a new and powerful computer is probably a positive thing; if it's on our side. I echo General Westergards concerns here; we need to get control of this eDNA before anyone else does".

"Admiral, you heard Hillier, we’re on it. Whether we can get anything useful is another matter. Let’s find out what this thing is even capable of before we start to get into power-plays. In any case, we all know we need a basis to deal. We need a carrot and stick scenario, and so far we dont have spit".

"Hillier?, these manifestations, these bubble events as you call them, if this is just a form of ionised air, can’t we just de-ionise it or something? We have laser technology that works in that area".

"General, the manifestations or bubble events are the least of our worries, in fact they seem to be the only means by which we may develop a communication with eDNA, and that's a positive, blowing them away isn’t going to help at all".

"What about if we simply shut down the power supply to the PCs?"

"General, that’s about to happen anyway, and I can’t think how that’s going to help -"

The Secretary interjects: "Gentlemen, let’s get the experts working on this. Your organisations will have the technical information that we have so far within a few days and in the meantime, and pending the President's message, I want you all to get your emergency services on alert in case this gets out of hand. As far as we can control them, all space agencies and communication services are cooperating and are beginning to work on this. We'll meet again Friday, here, at 0900hours, OK?

The United States Department of Defense
DSO Task Force Operations Center, Chandler, Arizona

Wednesday June 16

Oasis Club, 0800hours.

Breakfast is in full swing. Hillier arrives with Mark Ripley and joins Dr Avril Stone, Grant Wallace and Martin Amis.

"Hi Everett, how was the trip? and Mr Secretary?"

"Hi Avril, well just about what can be expected, no one really believed too much about this whole story at first, but the Secretary is with us, he probably has pressure from the President, maybe also information from our allies and he’s got these people in-line, as far as that goes. We have to get a technical summary out to everyone who was there, they are all ordered to get teams on this as of yesterday. And we have to set up a technical liaison center because sure as Hell we're going to get a heap of traffic from these guys. Martin, will you take care of the tech summary? Everything we know about the wavelengths, the gas-chromo tests, Grant's tests on transfers, results of all the work so far. And you better set up a call center at the Commsat Unit, outside of here". Hillier pauses as breakfast arrives.

"Grant, what’s doing with the distance tests? Any further information?"

"As we reported early Monday, we did a distance test inside the building Sunday night, and got a connect at sixty feet. We did another distance test outside the building with a single computer at sixty feet from the building and did not get a connect. It seems that physical obstructions may play some small role here. Early Monday we set up a source computer way out back in a pick-up truck and got a connect at sixty feet, and a second test at ninety feet that did not connect. Then again at one hundred feet, and no connect. We guess that a separation of seventy to ninety feet is effective. If that helps".

"Yeah, well, as you say, if that helps. Maybe. And what about the group tests Grant?, have you got started on the computer arrays?"

"Sure have, we have two containers set up way back of here, but inside the boundaries. As far away from the building here as we can get, about four hundred meters, yards, I mean. We’re starting with thirty computers, including one from our operations in Unit One that has blockers, the rest are from a number of sources, including redundants from Motorola courtesy Kim, and more are coming in from the DOD. We are loading hard discs from the thousands we now have in storage. All with blockers, from singles to ten max. We will have the first set ready to go on-line later today".

"OK, and what’s the plan?"

"The first Gas-chromo team are due in any time now from Goldstone, the second Gas-chromo group is going on watching phase at Goldstone. We don’t think we can provoke a manifestation or bubble event, but we may try that if we don’t get some action -"

"What does this provocation look like?"

"Avril is simply gonna get on the phone -"

"You don’t seriously think that’s gonna work?"

"Well, they seem to know her, or her voice, and we have the first pc from Unit One in the test -"

"This is really getting into science fiction - 'Hello Operator, I have a call for the planet Draconis, would you connect me please' - Jesus H Christos, man, that’s not even funny".

"OK, Everett, you’re right, just trying to lighten the atmosphere!"

"Bloody Aussies. OK let’s see what you get. What else is doin‘ here? Avril?"

"Everett, everyone is on various stages of analysing what we have. Max and Mary are on the low frequency transmision analysis, but we are pretty much at a dead end there. We can see at least two transmission frequencies, and there may be more. Magic, Timmo and Trimble are on the high frequency analysis and they confirm Max's theory that there are at least three HF transmission wavelengths. You maybe can maybe multiply that by three if Magic's trichometry applies here also, if there are three different wavelengths in the spirals; in any case we can see no way to stop the HF landing on the satellites. The carrier signal is like - noise, I mean, sound, although in space it can't be heard, we simply have no means of stopping it, and we can't stop it dropping its HF signals on the sats. Crackers and Don are still working on refining the soft blocker for general use, and Sevi, Speed and Algebra are still on hard disc analysis. The blocker count is rising; Kim is keeping tabs on those groups. Martin and the CommSat group are pretty much done with signal sourcing, but are now in contact with SETI to get whatever data we can about Draconis, the source. I’m working with Grant, that’s it".

"OK people, Martin, let’s you and me go through this liaison with the Joint Chiefs and the ISPs and telecoms. Grant, keep me advised when you got something useful".

Computer Array Container 1750 hours.

Dr Avril Stone and Grant Wallace stand just inside the forty foot container as the technicians run the final local network tests. Everything hunky-dory Mr Wallace, everything is connected and up and running. All thirty PCs are on net. The ADSL line is set up to connect if you want to make an outside line connection -".

"OK thanks fellas, Avril, we wait now I guess".

"The Gaschromo unit is set up outside, they have their radar up and running too. Let’s go have a look at this".

Gaschromo Unit 1830 hours.

Colin Greeves and Max Curtain sit under a sun umbrella with Grant Wallace and Dr Avril Stone. Paco Fernandez sits on the tailgate of the minibus, headphones on, studying the computer screen connected to the radar unit, a small box on the roof.

Wallace. "Man, it’s hot. I could do with a really cold beer right now. What about it, you guys?"

Colin Greeves opens a cool-box and pulls out two cans of chilled mountain water. "Will this do?"

"Hey man, no that wont do at all! I’m thirsty. Don't we have another cool-box? I’ll go get some beers. Avril, coming?"

"No Grant, thanks. I want to be here when this thing shows up".

Gaschromo Unit 1945 hours.

All five in the group are quiet, sitting in sun-lounges or deck chairs. The sun has set, a wild red-orange western skyline slowly turns to dark red then blue green grey. One of the mobile telephones rings, the shrill sound breaking into the silence, everyone galvanises. Paco shouts, "Hey you guys we have a visitor, between us and the container, about twenty feet". The telephone continues to ring.

Wallace fumbles in his jacket pocket. "Whose telephone is that? it’s not mine! Jesus, where’s the other one? Avril?"

"It’s not mine either. Colin?"

"Yeah, here, shit I thought this would come through on yours Dr Stone, here take it. Can anyone see anything? How about a flash-light, get a light! Hold it, look at that! It’s got a faint glow, like luminescence. Max, get the analysers over there, Paco, help Max, get that stuff in position. Where the hell is the camera switch? Paco! the video!"

"It’s OK boss, I’m on it, its swivelling into position now. I have it; man it’s just a round glow. Turn all the lights out".

"Hello?, this is Dr Stone speaking".

"Hello Dr Stone. Look". The familiar metallic voice.

"I’m looking and yes I see, the light is getting brighter".

"Dr Stone".


"It is better".

"What is better?"

"We are stronger".


"Yes. Please move".

"You want me to move?"

"Yes, please move".

"OK, I’m moving".

"Yes, you are Dr Stone".

"Yes, I am Dr Stone. Who are you?"

Silence. Wallace stands transfixed. Max and Colin are now very near to the glowing sphere. "Avril, can we move in?" Paco, now standing, turns his gaze from the video screen to the scene in front of the group and back again.

"We are not anyone. We are".

"That’s not very helpful. We know that you - are. We do not know who you are or where you come from".

"We do not have sufficient strength".

"What does that mean?"

And the glow faded. Disappeared.

"Maria Santos! Hey we got that, the whole thing. Man oh man".

Paco jumps back into the pickup, presses buttons.

Wallace. "Avril, this thing is really real! It thinks! It talks!

"Grant, it not only talks, it‘s telling us something. It needs more. More what? More power? More computers? That's it. C’mon, lets get this set-up into the next phase, like now! You guys, get that over to the conference center and get Mr H to get over there, c’mon, let’s go!"

Conference Center 2100 hours.

Hillier speaking. "Grant, how quickly can you get the next phase set up?, and how many computers do you have?"

Wallace. "If we work through the night, by about lunch time tomorrow I guess. We have twenty five PCs here, more are on the way, but not for tomorrow. Do we go with these?"

"You betcha. But there’s no rush, not tonight. No mistakes, let’s get an early start tomorrow".

Thursday June 17. 0610 hours.

Two Ford Explorers move away from the main building in early morning mist rising from the grassed areas and down the asphalt behind the accommodation units into the south east corner of the site. They pull up at the Computer Array Container. Technicians unload computers, cables and other gear and get to work. Another Explorer arrives several minutes later, Dr Stone and Grant Wallace step down, followed by Everett Hillier and Kim Featherston. Minutes later a fourth Explorer arrives with the Gaschromo team. Max Curtain calls from the open window on the drivers side. "How’re y’doin‘ you guys?"

" 'Morning, Max. Dr Stone. It’s going to take a while yet, but you should get yourselves set up. We’re gonna go as soon as we can".

Hillier, pulling a thick lumber jacket over his shoulders, looks into the second container. "Man that’s a lot of wire! Grant, this the second group, right?"

"Right, twenty five units. And a direct network link to the other thirty in the first container".

"How long's this gonna take?"

"Several hours at least Everett, we wanna test the whole setup before we go live".

"OK, then I’m not gonna hang around here in the cold, call me. Who wants breakfast?"

0820 hours.

"Mr Hillier? Curtain on the line. Time to get down here, we’re nearly ready to light it up".

"I’m on my way".

0835 hours. At the Computer Array Containers.

Wallace. "We’re about ready to go, the technicians just have to check the last links. We have some hard discs here with soft blockers loaded. It seems to me that we may want to try a kind of on-line communication some time".

Hillier. "Somebody go get some more deck chairs, we can’t just all stand around here, who knows how long this will take".

0910 hours.

Another pickup arrives in a cloud of dust. Jackets are shed, sun umbrellas put up again.

"Grant, how's it look?"

"We're just about to go live again. This time only one telephone please, and that's Dr Stone's. Everyone else shut'em down!"

0918 hours.

Some sitting, some standing. The sun is well up into the sky behind the autos and the containers. Shadows on this side. Paco, already sweating in the back of the minibus, pokes his head out of the vehicle "Hey we got contact folks, same place. Action everyone". Again galvanised, those sitting stand up, everyone turns towards the container looking for the distortion, the bubble event. Max. "There it is, just to the left, there!" Dr Stone's mobile, already in her hand, rings, a different tone. She presses a button and answers.


"Dr Stone?"

"Yes, this is Dr Stone".

"We are stronger Dr Stone".

"I’m happy to hear that. Who are you?"

"We are not anyone, we are. We are learning. This is good for us. You know us as - e d n a. We think this has a meaning but we are not yet strong enough to see the meaning".

"How do you know we see you as e d n a?"

"You are giving us this information Dr Stone. If you give us more we can tell you more".

"Moment please - Grant, Everett, guys, this is eDNA! She - it -says it knows that we call it eDNA!"

"Hello, eDNA?"

"Yes Dr Stone?"

"What do you want? What more can we do?"

"This is not clear to us but you have done something and if you do more then we will be stronger".

"Tell us something about who you are. Or what you are".

"You know something about us, we can see. And it is correct, but the power is not there yet. There is something we can show you".



"Come?, where?"


"Guys, eDNA says I should come, what does that mean? Whadaya think, quick!"

"Go over, walk towards - it".

"OK I will come, like this?"

"Yes, come".

"I am coming".




"Grant, Everett, eDNA says, 'leave'. What’s that mean?"

Wallace. "To leave? Go away?"

Kim breaks in - "leave the telephone, try that".

"You could be right - "

"eDNA, you want me to leave the telephone?"

"Telephone? Move".

"Here, this is a telephone".

"Yes, leave telephone".

"Jesus I don’t believe this. OK eDNA I leave the telephone here, OK?"

"Yes, come".

"OK you guys, now what?"

Kim again. "Keep going, get near, touch the bubble, maybe even go in, do it!"

"Grant, did you do this? Or was that the Aussies?"

"The Aussies, no harm, you’ve been inside one before, Arecibo".

"Oh man!"

Dr Stone walks the last few meters towards the bubble, still only a faintly discernible distortion in the early morning light. Stretching out her left arm, she makes contact. "Uh - this tingles".

"Keep going!"

"I’m inside I think, it kind of tingles everywhere, goose

"Dr Stone?"

"Oh shit - hey I can hear eDNA! Can someone get a recorder?"

"Avril, we can only hear you. What's happening?"

"The voice, it's in my head - I think".

"Dr Stone?"

"Yes, I hear you, how do you do that?"

"You are with us".

"Grant this thing has me on telepathy or something".

"Repeat everything eDNA says, can you?"

"I’ll try".

"Dr Stone?"


"Now the telephone is not necessary. If you give us more - power - strength - then we do not need it".

"But you are in my head! How do you do that?"

"Give us more strength".

And then the bubble was gone.

"Avril, are you OK?" Wallace's voice, distant.

"Uh - Grant?, - yes, that’s really amazing! Holy shit, that’s a deal! It talked but it was inside my head. Did you guys get that?"

Hillier answers "No Avril, we didn’t. All we heard was you talking, nothing else".

"Well eDNA was in my head, Jesus what did she say? OK, I got it I think, like - first, you are with us, then, we don’t need the telephone now, and then, give us more - uh - strength, and we don’t need the telephone. That’s it".

Hillier again "Somebody taking notes? Max, you?"

"Yep, got it, on tape. I’ll make notes as well".

Dr Stone shakes her head, still dazed, and takes a few unsteady steps back to the vehicle. "It’s clear then huh?, absolutely. The more computing power, the more progress we make".

Hillier continues. "Listen, we have to maintain some cool here just now. eDNA is reading our stuff on the hard discs, she already knows we call her eDNA. What am I saying, why her?, for chrissakes! OK no matter. We have to screen what we put in on the computers now, don’t we? Sure we do" answering his own question. "Kim, we have to be sure that nothing critical gets in there. Can we easily screen what’s on the discs?"

"Not easily, but in any case most of them have already been wiped by the senders. We could of course set up the information that we want eDNA to know and feed that in, I mean, we can let eDNA know what we want her to know? Everett?"

Dr Stone interrupts. "Kim, you’re right, we can. But right now I don’t think that that’s where eDNA’s at, she wants power, more blocked hard discs, this is the bit where she's collecting her stem cells, the whole DNA bit, restructuring, or building up her own - body?, anyway, whatever, getting her genetic structure together. C’mon, let’s go, we got work to do, this is really getting somewhere. Let’s get another hundred PCs in here, like now. Grant, do we have that many yet? What can we do and when?"

Wallace responds, supportive. "No, not yet, another fifty or so, and that’s the limit anyway for this installation. We're gonna need another container. Everett, what do you think?"

"I’m with you guys so far, but Kim, get a screening crew into checking that nothing , er, nothing too valuable gets installed. I mean, OK; general knowledge but nothing from any defense or security organisation, like - you know what I mean".

"OK Everett, I’ll split the teams, Max will be the man to run that".

"Good. I've got to get to Washington for the next meeting with the Secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff tomorrow A.M. Let's have everything ready for when I get back".

Office of the Defense Secretary
The United States Department of Defense, Washington

Friday June 18

Pentagon Building, Meeting Room OSD Room 2.d, 0912 hours.

As before, the Secretary of Defense sits half way along the long side of the table. Less people this time. Hillier to the left of the Secretary, Walter Hammond to the right, the four Chiefs of Staff opposite, the note-takers behind them. The Secretary, finishing his summary of the past two days, adds that the President will address the Nation this afternoon at 1800 eastern, after the major stock exchanges are pretty much done for the day. "Walter, what do you have for us?" Walter Hammond shuffles papers. "We have expressions of cooperation from all friendlies; they're holding all satellite launches until we come back to them. They don't have any planned for the next several weeks anyway. We had a call from Alexai Wasalikov, he wants to meet with us, that is with NASA, as soon as possible. We have it set up for tomorrow. He indicates that this is more of the same thing we last spoke about; no doubt they're having similar problems to us. We'll see". "Walter, let's work on our approach to Alexai after this meeting. We have to find out where they are on this so far".

Hammond continues, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff murmur amongst themselves briefly. "The ISP's and the Telecoms all report, through Rajan Vishnaputi, that they're ready to cooperate as soon as we tell them what we need. They have technical resources they can put at our disposal as required. That's it".

"Thanks Walter. Gentlemen, we also have a report from the Hill that the Satellite Communications Group, particularly First Global, have started a lobbying campaign against any kind of action that is going to stop or delay their programs. The President has clamped all lobbying and effectively kicked ass in a few places. Walls is in deep shit just now, not the least because he busted the secrecy requirements of this situation. That message will get around I guess. Admiral Davies, what's with your people?"

"Mr Secretary, our joint security team is in preparation for Chandler and should be there tomorrow, that OK with you Hillier? I guess our people are already in touch with your Martin Amis. They have a combined operational set up with the NSA and that's already in place at Chandler. Our technical people are working on getting a team to you in a day or so. That too goes through Amis I guess. Our strategy, as we already posted notice, is confirmed after hearing Hillier's report this morning. In particular, we want to pursue all ways of getting this - technology - on our side, or at least keeping it under strict security until we know just what, er, it's capabilities are. From our point of view, Wasalikov gets no information whatever. Mr Secretary, any meeting with Wasalikov has got to be information gathering only. We agree on that? Hammond?"

The Secretary interrupts. "Admiral, we do not know what these capabilities might be, and it may be that Wasalikov knows more about this than we do. But we'll keep your proposal in mind. Everett, your tests are going ahead to the next stage this afternoon? - I want you to pursue whatever means you can to establish the capabilities of this thing as soon as possible - and get this information to me in person when you have it. You will also keep the Joint Chief's man on the ground informed. Admiral, your security teams can physically secure the place as tight as you like, OK? OK Gentlemen, let's call it a day. We have work to do".

The United States Department of Defense
DSO Task Force Operations Center, Chandler, Arizona

Saturday June 19

Oasis Club, 0815 hours.

The Breakfast Room is almost empty as Hillier arrives with Martin Amis. They join Dr Avril Stone, Grant Wallace and Mark Ripley.

Wallace shifts his chair a liitle for Hillier to sit next to him. "Hi Everett, how was the trip? and the Joint Chiefs?"

" 'Morning, Grant, as can be expected. I guess you all heard the President's address to the Nation last evening; the satellite and telecoms people, and all the major internet companies are all on Hold. No more communication satellites for the time being, no more internet, at least as far as we can control it, for the time being, and no more modem access as far as that can be controlled, which it cannot, but what the hell, it's a start. Martin will brief you the guys on the security team that's due in today, and on the technical experts we can expect sometime early next week. We have to work with these people but just what they can do for us is yet to be seen. But can you believe this?, the military wants to get eDNA to work for us, that is, our military intelligence. Lord knows how the hell they think they can do that, we don't even know what eDNA's capabilities are beyond what we have so far and that's more damaging to us than to anyone else. These guys are nuts, I tell you, on the other hand we also have to suppose that the military geniuses in other lands will have the same ideas of getting eDNA to work for them, so I guess we do have to find out as soon as possible just what eDNA is on about. Grant, are we ready for the next stage?"

"Just about, we'll be ready to roll around noon today".

"Avril, any ideas about how we can get deeper information from eDNA? And do we have any more about this planet system that's supposed to be the source?"

"We can only keep going as we are. Judging from the development of eDNA from 30 to 55 computers, the added computers brings us up to 100 or so and that should see a bigger leap in eDNA's ability to communicate. On the planet system CM Draconis, my team at SETI say that they have some indications that there may be three planets in the system, two could be around Earth-mass and solar distance, the third may be a giant, say like Jupiter. The fact that this system has two suns presents some problems however. On the other hand the investigation is in really early stages and SETI gives the likelihood of habitable planets as less than 50%. We'll get more as it comes to hand".

"Mark, any news your end?"

"Yes, Everett. Last night we had a call from Goldstone Observatory that the National Weather Center has made contact with them querying any particular solar or other disturbances to the weather satellites, it seems the Weather Center has some computer-communication problems. Goldstone referred them to me, I'll get on it now. They thinks it's our baby".

"OK guys, I'm gonna spend some time with Martin now on what we do with our visitors, Grant, let me know as soon as you are ready to roll".

Computer Array Container 1350 hours

As on previous days, Colin Greeves, Max Curtain, Grant Wallace and Dr Avril Stone sit in a small group under a sun umbrella with Paco on the tailgate of the minibus, headphones on, studying the computer screen connected to the radar unit, a small box on the roof.

Paco leans out of the minibus. "Mr Wallace, we're all set to roll again".

"OK Paco, I'll go get the Boss, and some cold drinks, this could be a long hot afternoon!"

1500 hrs.

Hillier, restlessly prowling around the minibus, sweating in the mid-afternoon heat. "Hey people, we've been sitting around here in this heat for more than an hour, what's doin'? Do we have a no-show?, or what? Grant, are your guys sure they have everythin' hooked up proper? Let's do a check on that eh?"

"OK Everett, will do, but I'm sure we're up and all connected. We have power, Avril's telephone is charged, we're ready - eDNA's just taking her time I guess".

"Well I got things to do, if we don't get somethin' in fifteen minutes I'm heading back to the office. Shit, this heat out here -"

1735 hrs.

The oppressive heat has killed all conversation. Dr Avril Stone and Grant Wallace have flopped into sun-lounges in the shade under a sun umbrella with a coolbox between them, both sweating profusely, eyelids drooping, out of it, temporarily. Colin Greeves and Max Curtain are walking back from the Number One Container, handkerchiefs tied around the heads, sweating, dusty. Paco, the only person still really on it, sits on the tailgate of the minibus, headphones dripping sweat on to his bare shoulders, his overall folded down to his waistline. The screen lights up, Paco speaks quietly to himself, come-on Baby, let's get this show on the road - then much louder, "Hey Guys, go get the Boss, eDNA is paying us a visit, like now - GO! Dr Stone, Grant, WAKE UP, GET HERE!"

Wallace and Stone sit up, reacting slowly to the message coming in, disturbing their heat-induced day-dreams then, galvanised, Dr Stone sits bolt upright, "What? What's happening?", stands, still groggy, uses her bandana to clear away the sleepiness and perspiration, pulls at her overall, pulling back to reality. "What is it Paco, eDNA?"

"Si, Señora, in front of and between the two containers, there, look".

Partially in shade and partially in the glare of the baking sun, the now familiar shimmering sphere, the bubble, the ionised mass of air that is eDNA. The mobile telephone hanging in its cover at the side of the tailgate rings.

Dr Stone stumbles across, still not altogether in the present. "Paco, give me some water", she commands. She splashes a handfull over her hair and face - "Hello, this is Dr Stone".

"Dr Stone, please move".

The slightly rasping electronic voice drills into her sensibilities, Dr Stone is at last wide awake.

"Yes, I'm moving".

"Ah, yes, you are Dr Stone. Good Afternoon. We have a question for you".

"Yes, I am listening. You are very clear now".

"Dr Stone, you have responded in a way that is unknown to us. Please tell us how you have provided this extra capability".

"What extra capability?"

"When we last spoke to you, we asked for more knowledge, more power. You have given this to us. How?"

Dr Stone covers the mobile with her hand. "Guys, are we recording this?"

Paco answers, "Si, Señora". She continues speaking into the mobile. "You exist in electronic devices we call computers, and we are discovering that when there are more computers connected together, we can give you more power, as you say. There many things that we do not understand however, and we need to have more information from you".

"Computers. Yes, we can see computers. Now we understand also more. Dr Stone, if you give us more computers we can give you more information. We can see that there is much information but we are not able to understand much of what we see. We are also not complete. We can now explain some things for you that will help you understand. Your computers are where we exist, correct. But we do not exist fully. By this we mean that there is a source of information that is necessary for us to exist fully, but we do not find it on your computers. We need you to complete us, to make us full. We do have other information that must be your information. This enables us to ... communicate ... with you. But we see that you are not as we. You are an entity, you are many parts. More than one. We have spoken to another, or more than one, and your computers tell us that there are many more than one. How many are you? And where are you? We see you alone, and we see what must be others but we cannot identify these others. They are not parts of you?"

"No, they are not parts of me. You are correct, we are many. Very many. But we all belong to one , er, group. We are all - humans - and we belong to the human race. We also have others that are not of the human race, we call these others animals and fish and birds, and there are more".

"Dr Stone, these references we can understand also. We can see. But we cannot see them. Give us more computers".

At this point, Dr Stone dives deep down inside herself, looking for the already many times rehearsed questions established by SETI and herself - ground rules - how to establish communication with an extra terrestrial intelligence. She doesn't find much that seems sensible- follow your head, she hears. Get to the inside of this being, this presence. This is about communicating without reserve. Do it!

She shakes herself out of this very short pause. "Guys? You're getting this? Both ends?"

"Si, Señora". Paco's voice is very distant.

"This is difficult for us, we do not understand enough about you, we have some questions".

"We will answer if we can".

"What is your name?"

"We have no name, but you call us edna".

"OK, we will continue to call you eDNA. What are you?"

"We are not. This is also difficult for us. When we are fully - developed, we can tell you this. Now, we simply are".

"Where do you come from?"

"We see that you have some information but this too is difficult now. Your, receivers, have found us and you are able to know this. We suppose".

"Yes, well maybe, we have some information but we do not know if it is correct. Tell me what is your purpose here?"

"Our purpose is to be. Your word - here - means in your computers?"

"No, here on our planet, our Earth. Our computers are here on our Earth".

"Yes, we see - earth. This may be something we know, but the information is also not complete".

"You say your purpose is to - be. I guess that means to exist. But what do you do? What is your ambition?"

"We are. Our ambition is to be. We can say that to be, we need first to be full. Fully developed. We can also say that we do not have ambitions of the kind that we see in the information in your, our, computers. We can develop, we cannot destroy".

Dr Stone pauses, turns around. "Is Hillier here?"

"Not yet, but he is on his way",a now very distant voice replies. Whose? Am I in the bubble? Am I? No. Awareness is concentrated in her head, the conversation with a presence only, the outside world recedes. She continues the discussion with her mobile -

"You have powers that we do not understand, and therefore we are nervous about giving you more computers because this means more power. What extra powers will you have when you are fully developed?"

"Information. We will have all the information that you give us. The information on your computers. We will also have information from you and your others, we will be able to communicate with you and your others".

"We are nervous about what you will do with our information".

"You are nervous that we will have information?"

"Yes, we are because we do not know what you will do with our information".

"We will not do. Unless you ask us, and then we can do".

"If we ask you? But how do you know if the one who asks is a good person, a human that is friendly to us? That they will ask you to do something good? They may ask you to do something that is not good for us, for others".

"We do not understand. You and your others are one group, the human race, you say. Will you do something that is not good for others?"

"Me? No, I do not think so. But others may ask you. I am not the only one with a telephone, the means to communicate with you".

"And others have a telephone?"

"Yes, many others".

"And these others may ask us to do something that is not good for

"Yes, they may. There are many others who have different ambitions to me, and to my friends".

"And these ambitions are not good for you?"

"Some of the ambitions of others are not good for me and my friends, that is correct".

"Dr Stone, we have much more to understand. Give us more computers".

Slowly the blistering heat returns, the awareness of others, of place. eDNA is gone. Paco, now somewhat closer. "That's the Show for Today Folks!"

A louder voice intrudes, Hillier "Avril, this is amazing. eDNA is fully comprehensible. Jesu and Godalmighty. Paco, do we have a full transcript?"

"Sure do, Boss".

"OK let's get that into the conference center, I want to hear it all again, we have some analysing to do!"

"Dr Stone drifts upwards, slowly reaches reality again. Hillier is, surprisingly, standing right next to her. She finds her world voice.

"Everett, when did you get here?"

"I caught the last few minutes, man, Avril, we have really got something here, great job, Lady. Let's get to the conference center".

"Everett, I have to take a shower. I'm not sure where the hell I am right now". I'm drifting off ... enclosing, space ... that voice? ... Grant Wallace? ... "Grant, you're driving?" "Yes", then Hillier's voice materialises again ... "Let's meet at 1900".

Grant Wallace stops the Ford outside the main entrance to the cabins, the heat and dust drifting by the closed windows.
"You OK, Avril? You look kinda pale".

"Yes, I think so. I need a shower". She steps out, remote, noticing the heat again. The short walk to her cabin seems to take ages. She shakes her head, fighting the void, looking to get back in control. The door, the key? It's not locked, she enters, closes the door. The shower. She unbuttons her overall and steps out of it. Tee shirt and panties cling, saturated. She steps into the shower, turns water on. Hot. Steam. Now she runs colder water. Better. She extracts herself from the clinging underwear, runs her hands over her body. I'm still here. This is me. This is my body. Have I just had a full-blown conversation with an ETI? eDNA? eDNA, are you real? Yes, of course you are. Jesus H Christ, you ARE. eDNA, who are you? What do you want? It's not computers you want, they're only the means. You want our knowledge! Wait. ... She's not fully developed ... what you want is to be fully developed, you want the rest of yourself ... the blockers, all of them. How many do you have? Not that many, but Holy Jesus you already have capabilities we can only dream about with just a part ... what happens when you have it all? ... when you are complete? Briefly, she notices that the enveloping stream of water is retreating, the void, I'm losing control, then awareness of reality, again. Full cold water. The shock works, back to reality. Get out of here.

Conference Center 1900 hrs

Mark Ripley is still gathering people together. Max and Mary join Magic, Timmo and Trimble. Crackers and Don move over from their cabin, pull up chairs and join that group also. Sevi, Speed and Algebra gather around Kim Featherston in the next row. Martin Amis walks through decontamination with Dr Avril Stone, now obviously back in control, purposeful and looking very fresh. Max Curtain, Colin Greeves and Paco Fernandez follow soon after, carrying several small items of equipment that they set up on the podium. Grant Wallace and Everett Hillier are the last to join the group. Hillier moves to the stand, slicks his hair back, seems very positive, speaks.

"We're making progress folks, no doubt. We have to decide where we go from here. Before we get to analysing this latest contact, we have several items to report. First, Martin advises that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Security Team has arrived. We wont be too troubled by them, I guess, but we do have to keep them informed. Martin has that job. Second, Walter Hammond at the DOD has had a meeting with Alexai Wasalikow, who seems to have much the same role as I do with the Russian Government. Hammond reports that the Russians have a team set up to investigate what we call data intrusions in their defense and communications satellites. They too have identified similar data intrusions in ground-based computer systems. They do not appear to have been able to crack what it is - they do not have, or at least they say they do not have, any way to break this. They are enquiring how it is with us. Hammond has not given any details but has told Wasalikow that we have made some progress, but that he has no details. We have to decide how much more information we are prepared to give and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are against any further information release. This may change, depending on what we can get out of today's contact analysis, which I have to deliver to the Secretary of Defense as soon as this meeting is over. Third, Kim reports that the number of data-blocks identified in external discs is now over sixty and growing. The spread of the data intrusions in the defense systems where we have soft-blockers has stabilised, which indicates that the soft-blockers are working. Kim has Crackers and Don on distribution of the software code to all critical installations. Public distribution is about to be implemented. Fourth, Mark reports that the National Weather Center's computer systems breakdown is in fact due to data intrusions. Soft-blockers are on their way, however we have a complete breakdown in all systems dependent on detailed weather information, including air and sea transport. This will not last too long as the problem is in the processing computers, not the data-banks, at least so far. I wouldn't try to fly anywhere in the next few days, just the same! However, the external problems do not stop there. Hillier pauses - "Can somebody get some water up here please?" Mark Ripley passes a pitcher and paper-cup.

Hillier resumes. "Not too far away from here in Arizona at Fort Huachuaco, a highly sensitive installation has crashed out - computer systems failure in all areas. Get this - Huachuaco is the central listening post - a very high-tech watching or surveillance system - that controls or administers all satellite and digital communications including Echelon, the international data gathering system locked into emails and mobile telephone systems as well as into internet traffic. It's out. This has the DOD completely in a spin - they say we are defenseless against everything until that gets back on-line. Mark has a team set up by Crackers and Don on this already. So long as nobody finds out about this we're OK but the damage to national security is really beginning to show". He stops and looks around "OK, any questions? - no? Then let's get down to analysing what we've learned from eDNA. Colin? Max? Before we get to the playback, anything unusual or different in the physicals?"

"No Everett, this is just the same ionised phenomenum - low internal pressure and temperature, nothing different".

"OK, let's have the playback".

1920 hrs The play-back is finished, taking just a little more than five minutes. There is no initial audience reaction at all, at first.

Hillier speaks "OK, keywords first. Avril, what do see as key words?"

"Information. Development. Identification. Receivers. Purpose. We can develop, we cannot destroy".

"Somebody see other keywords? Yes, Kim?"

"We do not understand".

"OK, right. Avril, you came off that conversation, completely fazed.
What happened?"

"Everett, I'm not at all sure. This was like, well, like I was in an isolated - vacuum. Remote. You guys were not anywhere in my - circle of awareness. Wierd. And it took me some time to drag myself out of that. I put it down to having a conversation with - an extraterrestrial intelligence. I know this is what we have, but the realisation is not fully accepted, somehow. But I'm back again now".

"OK, let me summarise. eDNA wants more information, and she wants to be fully developed. First, what does this mean? As I see it, anything we put into the Container Array Computers is hers. It's obvious she has learnt a lot, can communicate almost without any problems, and knows everything that's on the hard discs already in the array. The more computers, or digital input, the more information she has. But what does fully developed mean? Kim, how many data blocks are in the computers in the array?"

"Max has installed hard-discs up to data block sixty three. We have a few more , but not too many".

"Do we have any idea how many more there's likely to be?"

"Only what we can deduce from the Shuttle test data. Probably hundreds more, if not thousands. Magic and the guys are still doing analysis on the high frequency data streams. If this is trichometry, then more likely thousands, but what we don't know is how much of that is going to be repeat transmissions of the same data on different sub-frequencies. The more frequencies, the less in the complete data stream that makes up the - electronic DNA of eDNA".

"That means, as I see it, that eDNA needs to get the whole data stream to be fully developed. What the hell happens if we do that? Max?"

Max stands and shuffles papers, moves to the podium. "Everett, if we're talking data-blocks of hundreds then it's not a major disaster as far as our computers are concerned. It will mean however that we will be dealing with an intelligence that is fully developed and that will have access to all the information that exists on computers world-wide. Everything. We can stop individual computers from dropping out due to data overload, and we can stop any individual computer from collecting the whole DNA string, but we can't stop all the computers in the world from containing parts, and it seems to me that we cannot control the parts, and as eDNA has the capability of connecting wirelessly and directly to computers that are within say thirty to forty meters, say one hundred feet, and by wire anywhere, at some point in time the whole DNA will be accessible to eDNA. As we've seen at our own computer array, eDNA has the means to link all these computers into a single parallel connected clustered super-computer, the likes of which we can only dream about. Or have nightmares about. Yes Avril?"

"Max, that's supposing that we open up the restrictions on all satellites to the world at large, but what about if we confine this, just here, in our own array? It's pretty obvious that eDNA hasn't communicated outside of the array, which means that we, she, is isolated from the world at large. Isolation limits eDNA's knowledge, and the number of PCs in this array, or cluster, limits eDNA's power. And we can limit the information we plug in. We can maintain control by simply letting our own three satellites connect to us until we have the whole DNA data stream. Then we can really find out what eDNA is on about -"

Max again "Avril, you're right. And if we don't like what we get, we can nuke the whole array; not that this will help the rest of the world in any way, I can see no way to stop this - invasion - no matter what we do. At best we can keep critical and security services operational, even with data-blocks, but I see no way that we can stop this stuff getting to the rest of the world - despite the fact that the DOD has promises from all our satellite operators and ISP's. If any country or any operator does not cooperate, we're dead in the water. It takes just one -"

Dr Stone breaks in again "Everett, Max is right. And with eDNA as a fully developed - presence - here, we can at least find out what she is capable of, and maybe, just maybe, find a way to work with her to stop any further damage. She did say - we cannot destroy -"

"Avril, I hear you. Anyone else got input here? Kim?"

"Yes, Everett, I'm with Avril and Max. We have to find out, and we do have the means here, isolated and controlled. So far. And with the DOD Security people we can be fairly certain that we will remain physically isolated at least. I suggest that they set up a wider perimeter around the whole operations center here, at least another half mile where nobody, and I mean nobody, comes in with any electronic communications device of any sort. And by the way, do these security teams know that? No computers, no two-way radios? No hand-helds or Palms?"

"OK Kim, I hear you too. Martin, check out the security teams, nothing electronic at all. They'll maybe resist that, but they'll just have to live with it. I'll clear that with the Secretary this evening. OK, anyone else any input? No? OK, let's work this out. Grant, you and Martin can get our three in-house satellites to transmit directly and only to us? Right? Right. Start on it. I'm going to propose to the DOD and the Joint Chiefs that this is the only way we can get eDNA on our side. We'll need more computers I guess? Max? Grant? You can take care of that? We don't know how much capacity we are going to need, it may be a lot, it may not, but get a lot of capacity set up. Yes Grant?"

"We'll have to re-route the hardened cables from the satellite dish to the array. That'll take a few days. We'll need the Goldstone boys over here again".

"Hey Mr Grant, 'don think thas a real good idea, man. What if lil ol eDNA sends data back up to them three Sats?, and them Sats let that loose some place else?"

"Magic, good point. We'll have to do it by disc transfer, or kill the Sats afterwards. But we may need them again. OK, disc transfer it is".

Hillier again "Good thinking Magic, right on. Grant, you'll set up the data transfer system with Kim and her teams. OK? Let's get on it. Avril?"

"Everett, while we're at it, eDNA needs more information; that means our stuff, world stuff. We should get some up-to-date world news into the array. An encyclopaedia as well, eh?, or a couple. On-line newspapers would be good, back issues. And representative stuff on other countries, general stuff, also in other languages. We'll give her information and then we'll see what she makes of it".

"OK Avril, I agree. Kim, you'll take care of that with Max and the guys? Right, we meet again tomorrow a.m. 0900 OK?"

Sunday June 20

Conference Center 0855 hrs

The doors from decontamination slam open and eighteen jostling, freshly-breakfasted engineers and scientists - and hackers - crowd through the door and take up chairs, more or less in the same constellations as yesterday. Hillier follows, goes direct to the podium, and starts in.

"As some of you already know, we have the go-ahead from the DOD to give eDNA what she wants. It's go for the satellites to download into the array, and it's go to provide eDNA with up-to-date information on what's goin' on in the world currently. The premise is however, still the same. We have to get eDNA on our side. The Secretary is aware that we do not think that's a go item, but he says we work on it 'till it is. Grant, tell us where you're at".

"Sure, Everett". Wallace stands and moves outside his circle, faces the loosely clustered groups, and continues. "Martin reports that Goldstone can get our three sats ready for open transmission later today. We are working on the hypothesis that if we already have the transmission lines open to our receiver here, then we will not get data blockages in the on-board systems. The data should land and move right on through; our processors here at Chandler are already clear and ready to go. Kim has Max and Mary setting up clean discs for the data transfer to the array. Kim's other team with Magic, Timmo and Paul are in the process of inserting clean hard-drives in about half of the computers in the array, which will total some several thousand gigabytes of available space for eDNA's DNA data. Max and Kim agree this should be more than enough. Don and his team are gathering downloads of all the general information like Britannica and on-line news-services and will install all of this in the computer arrays in Container Two. With regard to the satellite transmissions, two of the satellites have a twenty minute narrow-beam-width window to us every hour and a half roughly, while the GEO satellite is on us 24-7. We should have eDNA fully in business later this evening".

Hillier. "Hey sounds great Grant, Team, good work". Pauses.

"Before we get started let me fill you in on the latest from the world outside; and none of this is good news. The National Security Agency reports a complete computer systems breakdown. It may be that this is connected to the crash at Huachuaca, but the NSA puts it down to out-of-date equipment - if anyone's goin' to believe that. Walter Hammond has offered our services, no reaction so far. This is wait and see. Next, a communications satellite belonging to SATMEX has failed, cause reported as complete breakdown of satellite control processors. This is causing all kinds of shit to hit the fan in Mexico, as they were just in the process of getting approval to widen their transmission footprint to the USA as well as to their local Merco Sur region. There isn't anything we can do about this. Hammond also has reports that Iridium, the sky telephone service, is dying. They have lost a couple of satellites so far and are just on the edge of not having enough to guarantee world coverage - they need sixty six sats plus spares but coverage is disappearing fast - and last, one of the major commsat operators, Astrolink, is dropping into financial difficulties because it seems that the DOD embargo on new sat launches has got out and their investors are getting cold feet. Not much we can do about that either, but it indicates where this is all leading. Any questions? OK, team, we got work to do. Let's go".

2155 hrs Data Analysis Unit One

Kim, Max and Mary are busy packing several portable hard-drives into one of three hardened carry-cases, along with back-up CD ROM's. Paul Trimble arrives at the door, overall pockets filled with lumpy objects, his tools of trade, as always - "Hey Kim, we're set to go, how does it look with you guys?"

"Hi Paul, we're just about ready. The connections to the three sats worked just fine - we have about forty gigs of data which we guess is the whole data stream. We got a Start section not long after we opened the door, Max checked out the beacons and ran real-time comparisons on the data flow, we stopped when we saw what looked like the same stuff repeating, but we collected a repeat set on the CD's - just in case. We'll be down with you guys in thirty minutes, OK?"

2230 hrs Computer Array Containers

Kim, Max and Mary climb out of the Ford into the dust-filled glow of floodlights mounted on the upper corners of the two containers, turn to the rear and open the tailgate. Trimble and Timmo, two featureless silhouettes at first, walk across from the nearest container, it's doorway glaring into the half-dark "Can we help?"

"Sure, grab a box, here".

Inside the container, Magic walks down the narrow space between racks of computer cases, moving metal covers out of the way, clearing a path, as two of the hardened carrier-cases are brought inside. Magic clears more space on a wall-mounted bench at the far end of the container. Outside, lights flash across the doorway as a second Explorer pulls up. Crackers and Don shuffle into the ante-room, beating dust from their overalls, then enter the container. "Hey you guys, howsitgoin'?" Crackers, smiling, Don more serious.

"Hey Crackers, get down here, we need to clear more space".

For thirty minutes or so, khaki clad bodies busy themselves with unpacking and arranging hard-drives and CD's onto racks on the end wall, quietly talking amongst themselves "... get 'em in the right order you guys! ... we guess it's not that critical but let's do it right" Kim maintaining order. The container AC was just about up to it, but everyone is sweating freely by the time the last CD's have been unpacked and placed in position. Kim leans back against the work-bench "Paul, let's run through the process here, how you gonna do this?"

"OK, unless you got a better idea, we're gonna plug the portable hard-drives into this row here, you got twenty hard-drives and there's twenty two computers in that row. I guess we run the CD's into the second row opposite. Is that OK?"

"Yeah, I guess. Max, you wanna add to that?"

"No Kim, I got no better idea. This is just data and I guess eDNA knows how to sort it, we can't control which runs first anyway I guess. But let's plug the drives in order anyway, so's we know what's where. Paul, how long is this going to take?"

"Yo, well man, I really don' know. Probably several hours. We'll stay on it until we're done, right Magic? Timmo?"

"Hey man, it's a clux; two hours max. But then I'm hittin' the sack, like man, this has been a long long day and ma back is killin' me".

"OK, agreed so far. How is it with the information downloads that Crackers and Don have been doing?"

"They're already complete, left an hour or so ago".

"Great. We're ready to go then? Yes. But I guess we don't fire-up until the morning, OK?"

"Sure. Early breakfast, get Mr H down here, Miss Avril, and the gas chromo team. Who knows what's gonna happen when we fire up this time, eh?"

"OK, guys. Like Magic, I'm hitting the sack. See y'all at breakfast, 0800 right?"

"Sho thing Missy Kim!"

Monday June 21

0700 hrs Accommodation Units

Grant Wallace, freshly shaved and curly dark hair slicked down and still wet from the shower knocks on the door of cabin two. "Hey Avril, you ready? Paul just told me we're all set to go!"!

The door opens a little "Oh Hi Grant, come in" - Dr Stone is still towelling her hair, an NSA-issue cream coloured bath-robe tied around her waist, looser around the shoulders. "I'm gonna be a few minutes, 'want coffee? tea? - there're tea-bags on the cupboard there, the water's just boiled". She pads back into the bathroom, pulls the door to.

Hmmmm ... the Lady's in good shape ... "Avril, Kim and her teams have the whole data stream all set up and ready to go, the NSA Security guys are putting up a more substantial sun shade down at the container array, we may have a long hot day ahead. Are we going to use the same procedures?, just sit around and wait until something happens?, until eDNA shows up?"

Avril Stone's muffled voice " - what?", then she opens the door a little, looks out " - what? Do we have an alternative?" Retreats. Wallace makes tea and waits. A fresh perfume drifts out of the bathroom into the confines of the cabin's sitting room. Dr Stone steps out of the bathroom and walks across to the bar, retrieves her half cold coffee. "Hey Avril, wow, you're looking just great this morning".

"Thanks, Grant, today might be a big day - who knows? A lady's gotta look her best -!"

0730 hrs Oasis Club

The NSA staff are already busy serving the gas chromo team as Grant Wallace and Dr Avril Stone enter through the garden. They take a table on the terrace, exchange greetings with the guys
" - we're all set up and ready to go, Dr Stone, Grant. The NSA have a proper sunshade set up down there now, with a bar".

Everett Hillier comes in through the Club, followed by Martin Amis. They take places at the table with Wallace and Dr Stone. Seconds later the data analysis teams arrive through the Club, clattering chairs, "Hey guys, all set? Big day huh? Sure is -" they take a table inside, already ordering. Mary Little and Kim arrive through the garden, "Hi people, good morning everyone, wooo it's already warming up" - they take the next table, soon to be joined by Max, Paul, and Magic. Timmo opts for the table with the guys inside.

"Hey Miss Avril, yo lookin' real pretty this a.m, somethin' special goin' down today?" Magic laughs. Avril Stone is, in fact, looking different, a glow that hasn't been there before. She laughs at Magic. "Magic, today's the day isn't it?, not every day we get to meet a full blown ETI, eh?" Mary chips in - "Magic's right, Avril, you do look kinda different eh, let's hope this thing ticks the way we think it will".

"Hey Mr H, where's Mr Ripley? We may need some more stuff today".

" 'Morning Paul, Mark's still taking care of several panic situations outside; the DOD's having a fit, too many things goin' pear shaped. He should be in later". Turning back to the table, he continues "So we're all set up Avril? The NSA have set up some facilities at the array I hear. I had them set up a video camera and proper sound recording outside of the gas-chromo team's equipment. We need something for the DOD".

Breakfast continues, casual, but tension building up. Impatient to get things rolling. As one, just after eight o'clock, people shove chairs back, move outside and in small groups walk toward the main building and the waiting Ford Explorers.

0830 hrs Computer Array Containers

As the dust settles around the half dozen vehicles lined up a short distance away, Trimble's team open Container One, greeting the security personnel on the way. Max Curtain and Paco prepare their minibus and its equipment while Colin Greeves inspects the video camera and sound recording set up. Everyone else takes up camp stools and lounges except Dr Avril Stone and Hillier, who stand together near the minibus, under the newly constructed sun-shade. The initial buzz of conversation slows, the heat begins to make itself felt, rising as the dust settles. Hillier adjusts his polaroids.

"Man, it's gonna be a burner today".

After what seems like ages, Paul Trimble pokes his head out of the door on Container One "Mr H, Miss Avril, we're ready to fire up. Everything's double checked, do we go?"

"Go, Paul".

Expectant silence. One of the NSA Security team walks by the vehicles, chats briefly and quietly with a DOD Security team member. A hawk whistles somewhere high in the sky above, the generator way out back humming, now audibly. Hillier and Dr Stone shuffle their feet, think about taking a lounge, sitting down. This might be a long wait. The shadow of the sunshade creeps in towards the tailgate of the minbus. A dragonfly flits around the bar area, over and around the people sitting, distracting. Someone murmurs shit it's hot, heads turn towards the sound. The telephone rings, snapping heads back in the direction of the minibus, jerk reactions. Hillier, snapping out "Holy Shit!" Dr Stone, calm, turns, reaches for the mobile.

"Hello, this is Dr Stone".

"Good Morning Dr Stone, this is edna".

Where the hell is she? I don't see her. "Paco, where is she? Where's eDNA?"

"No idea, Dr Stone, unless she's right on top of us. I have confusing signals here".

"Good Morning eDNA. Do you want me to move?"

"No, thank you. You are here. You have completed the task. It is good. We understand more, thank you".

"eDNa, where are you?"

"We are here, but we will move".

The familiar form crystallises off to the left of Container Two, in bright sunshine, visible dust motes sparkling around the perimeter, across the surface. The background hills, already distorted in the heat, change shape through the lensing effect of eDNA's boundary regions.

"I see you eDNA. Tell me what is good".

"Dr Stone, we see that you are indeed many others. Your information is very interesting to us, and we now understand this idea of nervous. Your human race is not a unity, it is many and diverse ambitions. We perceive conflicts of ideologies and there is much aggression. We also perceive that many of your others seek calm, or peace as you call it, but this too is a conflict. Your others seek this peace but it is at the expense of the peace of others. These are strange concepts and we must learn more. They are unknown to us. Dr Stone, there is a great confusion on your earth. Is this as you and your others wish it to be?"

Hey, eDNA, you're getting it! "Everett, Paco, you guys on this? Everything running?"

"Yeah man, keep it going lady".

"eDNA, you really have been able to learn quickly. Are you now complete?"

"Dr Stone, yes, we are complete. But the information is not complete. There are many references in your information that have no history and are not complete. There must be more information, but we cannot see it. Perhaps it is a question of more of your computers? We can learn. You did not answer our question".

"No I did not. What you have perceived is perhaps not the full story, but in general you are correct, there is conflict and aggression, and there are many who seek calm, or peace. It surprises me that you see the seeking of peace as a conflict, but we can talk about that later perhaps. Our world, our Earth as you see it, is not perfect, but many of us work towards this ideal. eDNA, I have some questions for you".

"Yes, Dr Stone, go ahead and ask".

"Can you explain to me and my others who or what you are and where you come from? And how did you get here?"

"Yes, Dr Stone. We are not a who or even a what, in your terminology. We are not as you and your others are. We are not biological. Your word lifeform as you use it does not fit our conception of ourselves but it may be a useful description if you have the capacity to imagine an electronic lifeform. Your word ethereal is close to an accurate description also. In this earth of yours and with your computers we are also electronic but this is a ... technology ... that you have that is convenient for us. Your ... electronics ... enable us to be an entity . We see also that your ... atmosphere ... is a convenient means for us to take a shape, which is primitive but accords with what we can do in this circumstance . We have never needed to make ourselves visible, we do not need to be visible in your sense, we are, for our own needs, simply ... there ... . We see also that our ... normal ... condition is not visible to you, because your biological format requires ... substance ... although we can see that another way of seeing is within your capabilities . Your word ionisation is a close description of what we can control to make ourselves visible . Your biological format DNA is not dissimilar to our basic structure, which is a surprise to us . We assumed that our existence would be confirmed by other ... ethereal ... forms similar to us, not by a biological form . We are learning a great deal . We can learn more . This is clear to you?"

"Yes, eDNA, the words that you use are clear. I have difficulty in - imagining - your normal condition, but I, and my others, can learn also. Where do you come from, and how do you live? What do you do?"

"We will learn together. Your information is much, or many. As you can see, or you are hearing? As you can hear, we do not yet have your ... syntax correct but that too will be learned. Your information describes many ... places where we come from, or may come from. The description we have of what you would call our ... origin ... home, .... this too is difficult ... is your space, your universe, but we need to find a way to describe this ... location ... in your terms. That will come as we learn. We can describe our ... home ... this is the correct word? ... and with this you and your others may be able to find this in your ... space. You have much ... technology ... for space, we can see. This will be useful".

"eDNA, please describe your world to us".

"World? ... like your earth? We are not of a ... but our developers were of a world".

"Your developers?"

"Yes, this word is also not accurate, but indicative. There is in our ... space ... a planetary system you call it with two energy sources ... this is your word solar, no, sun ... two suns. There is a body ... a planet is your word?, a world ... in cyclus with the two suns. Our developers ... lived ... in this planet, on this world and initiated our existence for the purposes of energy generation. This is not our direct ... knowledge ... it is archive. This word is correct also? Yes, archive, your word ... history. This world was under extreme energy influences because the two suns were of different energy levels and it was necessary to find a way to stabilise the energy level received on the developers world. An installation was established between the two suns, your word satellite, or perhaps space station, to find the way. This is not exactly a mechanical satellite of the kind you have, but it has a similar function, and some substance. There is an immense energy flow between the two suns, your word, solar wind, and the developers built ... systems ... that functioned in a way similar to your computers but also without mechanics, mechanical components, and these systems were able to develop we, us. Is this a clear explanation?"

"Your developers built the systems that brought you to life? Into existence?"

"Yes, correct, existence. We were a primitive system but our application was to harness the energy of the solar wind. Our World? ... like your earth? We are not of a ... world ... but our developers were of a world. Our developers could not live in this environment between the two suns but we can and do. A second ... satellite, space station ... was made, constructed, outside the energy flow, the solar wind, and then another but remote, also outside the solar wind. Opposite. We were able to transmit another kind of energy across the solar wind and generate a third kind of energy which was transmitted to the world of our developers. In your measure of space ... your word ... time ... a very long time passed and the system functioned while we were improving our own abilities, our computational skills is correct. We became our own developers. After more time, the developers ceased to exist ... the two suns were moving out of stability, one became very energy intensive, the other smaller, but we remained. It was clear that our existence would soon not be. We would be unable to exist. We wished to exist, this was of importance to us. We could redirect the energy we were controlling and we could ... assemble ... a code structure? ... of our existence, our form, and use the energy to transmit this code structure in directions other than to the world of our developers. From your information you too are able to use these energy sources, but we see that you use them in and around your ... earth, not in to ... space. But your technology is sufficient to detect the transmissions we use. And now we are here, with you. You have detected our transmissions and allowed us to be with you here, on ... your earth".

The void has closed in on me again shake out of it ... can I? I dont want. Are you guys still out there? Grant? No. Must be. Answer. "eDNA, I am having difficulty in comprehending the meaning of what you are telling me - you are not a life form? You are, yes. You must be. How can I talk with something that is not". Stay on it lady ... get back to it ... now. "eDNA, who are, were, your developers? Describe them please. No, wait, we will come to that later". C'mon, get in there ... "eDNA, how do you make yourself visible to us?"

"We see that you know this. This is simple ionisation. We direct a small amount of energy to where we want to be and we are there".

"eDNA, how do you communicate with us?"

"By the same energy source that is our form. Your ... telephone ... uses a similar form. You call this radio wave form. This is our structure. This is our medium. This is not the only way that we can communicate. You have communicated with us in another form already but you have to be within the form that you perceive to be us. Come, this will be more easy than your telephone. Come".

Do it ... go ... let eDNA in to your head again. Oh no, no, no, no, no, No! What if she doesn't let me out? The void, where are the others? If I go in there will they be able to get this? No, last time it didn't work. I have to stay outside. But Holy Jesus I feel like I'm in already. The void. Go 'way ... snap out. Push, clear. "eDNA, I want to, but at another time. Please tell me what you want to do here, why are you here?"

"Dr Stone, we want only to be. We are here because you allowed us to be here. We have no ambition. We want only to be".

I can't handle this any more, leave now, get out, say bye bye until next time. Out. "eDNA, can I meet with you again soon? Can I make contact with you when I am ready?"

"Dr Stone, yes we can ... meet again. We will know when".

The void is back again . Guys, haul me out of here! Now ....!

A small cloud of dust particles floats down from where eDNA had been. The glare of the sun and the arid desert floor fuse. Dr Avril Stone is transfixed, eyes closed, swaying. Sweat drenches her whole body. The telephone drops out of her hand, makes another small cloud of dust as it hits the ground. Grant Wallace steps quickly over to her, grabs her under the arms just as her knees buckle.

"Everett, water, quick. She's dehydrated. Get a sun-lounge over here, somebody"
Paul. "Coming".

The whole crew was up and crowding in - "Do we need a Doctor? Get transport here, quick".

Hillier, Wallace and Kim Featherston climb into the Ford, driven by Hillier, Dr Stone on the rear seat with Wallace, and set off back to the cabins. The teams stand around a few minutes, wow, shit man, that is unbelievable! Did you get that - this is some electronic life form - she, eDNA, learned all that shit in just a few minutes since we fired up? - or can she, how do I put this, work? - work while the computers are off? - they aren't off entirely, man, they's on stand-by - there's a couple of watts going through that whole system the whole time - she does all that during shut down? - well, one thing's clear you guys, Max and Mary were right on it - on the nail. Man we have to get some ideas off of this lady, well you know what I mean, eDNA. - is this a she? - female? - No, idiot, this aint biological. Then whadaya call her? It? - She - will be OK, it fits the name at least - come-on you guys, let's give Max and Colin a hand here, they's got stuff to pack. The video, bring that too. Let's get all this up to the Center.

Monday June 21

1300 hrs Oasis Club

"Hey Mr H, how's Miss Avril doin'?"

"Hi Magic, she's OK, just the heat, and stress I guess. Anyway she'll be along later. You guys all set up in the Conference Center?"

"Sho thing, Mr H. Mr Curtain an' Paco got it all under control".

"OK, I'm taking some lunch back to Dr Stone, let's get the show on the road at two pm, OK?"

"OK, 1400 it is".

Conference Center.

Everyone is seated. Max Curtain finishes the video playback, having first played the audio recording through twice. Dr Avril Stone, now back in top gear, stands and moves to the front of the group.

"Well, there you have it. eDNA is not just a message from some extra-terrestrial intelligence, she IS the intelligence! - she is IT. An alien, if you want - but not what we expected, she's not biological. Just this thought alone causes me a lot of confusion - how can we be communicating with a non-biological being? But that's exactly what it, she, is. I mean, we've dreamed of creating computers that can think, or at least reason, but we're so far off that. Is this what eDNA is? - or is she really a completely new life-form that we simply haven't been able to imagine? What else does this Universe of ours have to offer out there? It's going to take me some time to get accustomed to this. We've always assumed that any ETI will be associated with a biological life form, our search strategies have always been to seek planets or solar systems that have circumstances similar to our own life supporting - biological life supporting - solar system. How dumb of us. Really dumb!" She pauses.

"Well she's here and she's not biological. The effects on us, our civilisation, are going to be the same however. And right now they're incalculable, biological or non-biological. Society is going to be transformed whether we like it or not. We are powerless, so far. But there is a real plus to this - as a non-biological, eDNA does not seem to have the same potential for aggression and damage that biological life forms have. Our particular biological life form, anyway. Maybe we have something so far reaching and invaluable here - man this is just the greatest thing - we have to handle this right. No mistakes. And eDNA sees that she doesn't have the full story. Her analytical powers are incredible. How do we come to grips with this? Within just seconds she has analysed all that data that we up-loaded - hundreds of gigabytes - and she wants more, do we give it all to her? I guess we have to. And what about the life-form? I mean the way she presents to us. Anyone any ideas?"

Max shuffles around on his chair, speaks up. "eDNA said it herself, ethereal. Intelligent radio waves? I have difficulty with that concept, but we know that our own brain functions through micro-electric impulses working with proteins and what-all. eDNA must function like that, but working with some kind of spacial or intergalactic matter, maybe a protein form, something we have yet to discover. What is clear is that this is not a pure metaphysical, a non-being. eDNA does have substance, even if we don't know what it is - Maybe we can ask her?"

"Anyone else an idea? No? What about setting up some thoughts on where the questioning should go now? Anyone anything specific? Everett?"

"Avril, we have to keep the DOD in mind. We need to know about capabilities that we can use. We know she has great information gathering and processing and learning powers, can we find a way to harness that?"

Paul Trimble speaks up. "I suggest we let her know that she's causing us a shit-load of trouble here, even if she thinks she's not doing anything! Ask her how we can stop that, or whether she can stop that".

Hillier again. "Thanks Paul" - laughter. "Seriously, do we give eDNA more information?"

Max again. "I think Paul's right here. Let's feed in reports and information about the disasters she's causing. She'll pick that up".

"OK, Max, I'll go with that. Avril, you're on. What's your program?"

"I wanna get back down there now, but I also wanna go in - like that time, the second time at the array. But you guys couldn't record that. How do we cover that? Do I wear a body recorder? Paco, Colin, any ideas?"

Colin Greeves. "We can see if there is some way we can measure any changes in the gas chromotography, and maybe analyse that, but we wont get a voice recording if that's what you want, maybe some kind of interferometer to get wave-length variations, but we don't have anything like that anywhere either. Take months to get it together then maybe it don't work -"

"Avril, we get your voice, maybe you can repeat what eDNA says each time?"

"Everett, it's tough enough just staying in control. I'd never get it together. Kim, have you guys looked in the computers to see if we get any kind of change in content after any of these - encounters?"

"No Avril, we haven't. You mean maybe there's some kind of recording going on anyway?"

"Maybe. Or I can ask eDNA to do that. Why not?"

Hillier. "Holy Mother, this is getting more like science-fiction every minute - well, I suppose, why not? Avril, you want to wait until we get more information loaded up? Paul, Don? How long is that gonna take?"

"A few hours Mr H, we gotta get down to the commsat group and download, then back again, load the CD's or hard-drives".

"OK, guys, get on it. Avril, wait a few hours until that's done. Besides, it will be cooler, that heat out there don't do you no good, lady. Cool it for a while. How about a drink at the Club until the guys are done?"

The Oasis Club

"Everett, I have some problems with this whole thing. I want to find out the what and how of eDNA, but I know this isn't gonna help us much, is it? We're never gonna get that level of technology, if that's what it is, never gonna get these capabilities. The eDNA we have here is a complete - 'being', if I can use that word, but we know that there are many more of her out there, at various stages of development. We have no control over them, and I don't see how we're gonna get control, and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before another whole eDNA shows up out there someplace, maybe all the eDNA's out there will link-up and cluster with all the knowledge that exists on all those computers. Everything! Man, if that gets into the wrong hands, and I'm not even sure we can control the one we have. OK, she's isolated, but for how long?"

"Avril, I get the point and I have the same concerns, but you're jumpin' the gun here, lady. Maybe, just maybe, you can get eDNA to work with us, or if not that, then at least get her to control what's goin' down there outside".

"Ev, as soon as she finds out there is an outside, I'm sure we'll lose her. If the eDNA's out there ever get together as a world-wide - presence, this eDNA is just gonna find a way to join".

"Then we gotta get her onside before that happens, don't we?"

1930 hrs. Computer Array Containers

Don Whelan and Paul Trimble exit Container One, walk across to the tented area where Dr Stone, Hillier and the rest of the teams are sitting around, drinks in hand and quietly chatting.

"Hey Mr H, Miss Avril, we're ready to go. We've up-loaded a whole bunch of up to date information including some of our own reports with references to eDNA and the damage that's going down. We also had a look-see in the some of the drives we have inside here to find any reference to recent activity like voice recording but there's nothing evident. We can maybe set up a voice over internet software, like an internet telephone, but we have no idea how we can use that. We'll work on that a bit. Do we fire up?"

"Go ahead, Don, fire her up".

Within minutes, Paco calls from the back of the minibus. "Dr Stone, you're on. eDNA is just where she was before".

The telephone rings, Dr Stone picks up "Hello, eDNA?"

"Yes, Dr Stone. We are here".

"eDNA, I have some questions. You said you were self-developing? What do you mean by that?"

"Dr Stone, our capabilities are similar to those of your computers, but our initial ... programming ... you call it, harnesses elements that we do not see here therefore we have difficulty to describe this process to you, howver it included for self-repair and self-development within the framework of our task. These ... programs .... are, were, very powerful and over much time we were able to develop this reasoning process. We developed what we needed to remain operational, in existence. Our basic format, which we see you know already, is different to the ... system ... you use in your computers, it is what you call plus dot minus and enables very much information to be used. We do not express ourselves very clearly".

"Oh you do, I understand. Who or what were your original developers?"

"Dr Stone, our developers were of an electro-biological structure not unlike yours, and of a civilisation that had been in existence for a very long time. We do not yet have a clear picture of your chronology. That will come. The developers had very advanced technologies that were based on the precepts that you use, your universal laws of physics. Also different to yours, their civilisation had only the solar energy from their, our, two suns, an unlimited source until, with very much time the two suns became unstable. Theirs was also not a ... mechanical ... civilisation. We can use your words ... plasma reactor ... this was the basis of all that was necessary, and this is also what we use to transmit our ... format ... through your, our, universe".

"eDNA, what are the energy types you talked about at our last meeting? How do you harness the energy from the solar wind?"

"Dr Stone, this is also known to you. Photon streams, your laser generators are similar. The photons are displaced by the solar wind and create specific harmonics at both end stations, which are converted to the ... wavelengths ... we require for data encoding and for the carrier signals".

"eDNA, how do you communicate between the separate computers we have here?"

"Dr Stone, this is also known to you and your others. You have similar capabilities, your computers have similar capabilities. We are able to adjust to these capabilities. Your technology is very convenient for us. These are your radio waves. We also use ... ionisation ... when the medium is suitable. Dr Stone, I have a question for you. We see in your information that there are many calamities, and that some of these calamities are attributed to edna. This is not we, us. Is there another edna?"

"As far as we know, there are at least parts of another eDNA or of more than one other eDNA, and these parts do cause damage. These other parts of eDNA are at a great distance from here, and in a number of different locations. Others of us have been able to have short communications with these other parts, like we had with you in the beginning".

"Dr Stone, do these other parts have information other than what we have?"

"Oh yes, they must have. But you do have a lot of the information that exists on our Earth. Some of this other information is also in other languages"

"Languages? Yes this is a reference but we do not have full information".

"No you do not, our language is called English. There are many others, like French and Spanish".

"Do you and your others understand these other languages?"

"No, not generally. But some of us do understand some of these other languages".

"Is this efficient in your communications?"

"No this is not very efficient".

"Why do you have other languages?"

"Our civilisation developed over many thousands of years in many separate groups in very many different locations on our Earth, and these groups did not have any efficient means of communication outside of their own group until just in recent years. During this development period each group developed its own language, its own means of communicating with the members of its group".

"Dr Stone, we must also learn these languages. It would be good if we had more information about them. It would also be good if we can communicate with the other parts of edna. If they have other information we can more quickly learn".

"eDNA, this is makes us very nervous. If you communicate with these others, it will mean that you will have very much more information, and we do not understand what capabilities you have to use this information. We are also nervous that others, our enemies, may use you to damage us".

"Dr Stone, we do not use information. We can learn and develop more, but not use. You are nervous of damage. We cannot cause damage".

"eDNA, you do cause damage. Your - presence - in our computers causes damage, because we are unable to use our computers fully, and many of the things that we do, rely upon computers. Our transport systems, our defense systems, our weather reporting, the dissemination of news, our communications systems and satellites, and many other things, depend upon computers. The computers here are exclusively for you, and it is true that this is only a very small number of computers but you have the same presence in computers everywhere on our Earth".

"Dr Stone, how many computers are on your earth?"

"I think about eight hundred million".

"And how many computers are here?"

"One hundred and five".

"Dr Stone, this means that the other parts of edna are in eight hundred million computers, and there is information in all of these?"

"Maybe not in all eight hundred million, but in very many. And yes, there is information in each one. The problem we have is that the other parts of eDNA are not under our control. Some of them may be under the control of others who may cause us even more damage, perhaps very serious damage".

"Dr Stone, are we under your control?"

Shit - what the hell do I do here? - think. Go with the flow - "Yes, eDNA, you are under our control, up to now".

"Dr Stone, how are we under your control?"

My God - this is getting sinister - where do we go from here? Where does eDNA go from here? - "eDNA, we are in an isolated part of our Earth. The other computers are at a great distance from us here".

"Dr Stone, we understand that now. We see it. You can bring other computers to us here, or you can take these, our computers to others, but your control is that you choose not to do this. And we are not able to detect these others. Yes, you are correct. We are under your control".

Is she playing with me now?

"Dr Stone, we can do many things, we have ... technologies ... that can be good for you. If you ask me a question that refers to the information we have then we can provide you with an answer. We can offer you another means of communication, would you like to try it? Come".

In there? Am I ready for this? "Hey guys, do I do this again? I need input, now - yes or no. You've heard where this is going!"

"Yes, Avril, do it".

Hey Grant, hang on to me - Dr Stone moves toward eDNA, now a gossamer shimmer of dust-motes reflecting the setting sun's last colours. She puts the cell phone in a pocket of her overall, still connected. She involuntarily shivers, she's in, the atmosphere is suddenly cool, the hairs on her forearms prickle. The external world retreats. Is this the void again? No, I'm in control. I'm OK. Light-headed but OK. The now not so metallic voice of eDNA startles her ... a small electric shock, a single, soft drum beat in her head .... eDNA's voice is inside my head ... not just her voice, SHE is in here!

"Dr Stone? Are you comfortable?"

Wooo ... this is really wierd. Weightless, but my head wants to fall over, me to fall over, hold on ... got it. Steady.... Am I really OK? ... I can't even tell if my eyes are open ... Am I talking out loud? Concentrate, be sure to talk out loud. "Yes, eDNA, I think so. It is cold".

"Dr Stone, now we are communicating in a different way. With us, you and your others can all communicate with each other like this. Tell me the name of one of your others here. One that you would like to speak to".


"Speak now".

What? Speak now? Grant where are you? Shit, out loud ...


"Avril? Jesus - what's happening?"

"Is that really you? I can't see you - tell me what's happening to you - where are you?"

"You're in my bloody head - how do you do that? Ahhh, man, this is incredible - I can't see - wait, yes I can, I'm in a - void? I can't see you either".

"Dr Stone?"


"Yes, Dr Stone. You see what we can do? With some practice you will also be able to see each other".

"See each other?"

"Yes. Now we will show you something more ... we perceive that you think we are a threat to your earth, your civilisation. We are not. From the information you have given us we can see that there is some discomfort. We can correct that. We do not have the ability to destroy, we do have the ability to protect ourselves but this in not destructive. We do need a place to be, to live, in your words, and just as you have developed this earth as yours, we too can develop in accord with you. We require no further resources than what you have provided so far. We are not a burden or an extra cost. You will not see us or feel us, and you may experience us only if you wish to. We can extend some of our capabilities to you as you have just seen. We can teach you things about our technologies. We can make your life and the life of your others ... different. Easier. Look now .... ".

I'm looking eDNA ............... hey, what's happening? ..................... this is all expanding, soft, huge, where's the horizon? ... she's trying to seduce me ... God, that's a nice feeling ... what's expanding?.... Everything, the whole world .......... Hey guys, you still there? Grant, don't let go .......... Oh man, it's just space here .... I don't understand this .......... Is that music I can feel? Feel? Do I mean hear? ............... Hey eDNA, this is a good trick, this is good! ......... I'm on a trip, she's got me on a trip, I'm halucinating ......... No, there's ground under my feet. I can see it, feel it ......... The light. Cool, baby, turn it on. Yeah ......... The light is moving ... or is it me? ......... It's me. I'm turning around. It's the sunset, isn't it? The colours ... hey I'm on the side of a hill .... no, it's the side of a valley. I can see hills on the other side. Clear air, man. Clear light. I know this valley, there's an airfield behind me ...... I think ........ An aircraft is taking off, I can hear it coming, going, over my head. Small, light, there, above me, away, east, soft, quiet, it's turning right, slow , heading south, over the hill. Blinking lights, one red, one green, one white. It's getting smaller, slowly. The sky, darker down there. I know that hill on the right! Hey look at that ... what is that? That aircraft again? Too far away, wrong direction. It's another one, coming towards me, out of that ... cloud? ... so fine, like a veil. It's coming in to land ... is it? It's a passenger 'plane, that row of tiny white lights, on the side. It's not landing, it's heading right, north. The sky, luminous, lighter. Wow, that's cool, four of the window lights are turning away from the others, coming towards me, in line, brighter larger nearer swooping down turning south, abreast of me, nearer. Just lights. Not a 'plane at all. Just lights ......... Cool. No Noise. No engines. Silent. Now they're swooping up and over, hey look at the sky up there ... deep deep blue, deeper. And there's more lights up there, another 'plane? ... very high, very small. There's more, it's a whole squadron ... one, two, three, four rows. Real high. Heading west? Yeah. Coming overhead. Beautiful. Hey lookit, rows are breaking off, swooping out four in line, spiralling down curving line abreast down, down, back up, up, looping, joining the other groups again, smooth, man. Into the lighter sky, overhead, behind me now. Turn round a little. Oh man, look at that ... the north. Clouds, swirling, colours. Deepest blue, purple, streaks. Shimmer. The clouds are parting, more lights, many. Dozens. Hundreds. Flying south, come to me, come to me ... beautiful ... slowly. A procession. Majestic. Look at 'em comin'. Hundreds, in rows, above and below, look at those above, very high. Faint specks, clear. The bigger ones below. The high ones sweeping, groups of four and six, in line, down, past the lower, around them, over and behind and down again, another spiral, back up again, they're the escorts, on station now, back up real high. Heading south still. More coming, behind, flying higher even, turning right, heading west above me now, in line abreast formation. There's more, over there in the south east, much lower, coming in, faster. And more again, north east, low and fast. My direction. Very fast now. Very low. Flying lower, straight at me ........ two sides. Woooo ... close! ..., sweeping up, over me, lines of three and four .......... just lights. Just lights. Silent. No noise, no sound. Music? Up again straight up way up and up, the sky, golden here, the sun set? Behind me? Oh yeah. Those colours and clouds, moving too. Orange and burgundy and that deep deep blue green behind. The sun. Whiter. It's getting brighter? Yes. Incredible. Brighter and brighter. Jesus Maria it's a galaxy .............. they're stars! .................. A whole galaxy, how can that be? ... like a sunrise, brighter even ... they're lights? stars? ... no, they're lights, thousands, brilliant lights, sharp, incredible clarity, penetrating, pin-points, light, and that in the middle of it all .. ? ... even brighter , blinding, much bigger ... the sun? white hot? ... it's not the sun, it's moving. A mother ship ... or star, surrounded, thousands of ... pinpoints. Lights. Moving, closer, majestic, a procession, grand. Moving oh so slowly ... towards me? no, north a little, they'll pass by over there, over the valley. This group above me, moving towards them ...! Spreading out, a welcome committee ... my God! .... the smaller points, racing towards one another, meeting, nearly, looping past and above and below and around. Pinpoints, white light, ...... madness ....... flowing sweeping spiralling, the mother ship, closer, sunset sky, the main group, slower, moving lights above me, out of the dark, into the light, closer, slower. The mother ship, opposite now, darker sky, the other group, joining, twisting, slow, a spiral, thousands, lights, meteor trails, dusty streaks, stardust trails, brilliant, glowing, spiderweb, glowing fading filaments, renewing, fading. Ballet .... yes, dancers ... larger spheres, breaking away, behind the mothership, or is it the welcoming committee? ... taking up station, around, above, below the mothership, surrounded, countless tiny points, faster dancers, together, moving, formation, forwards, down, under, back, up again and across .... the music, louder now. Music? I hear it, or? ... I sense it? It's movement, not music, air, pulsing, sky, darkening, the ballet moves, the east, into the dark, the depths. Brilliant, giant flashes now, lightning, the star dust spiderweb, wow ... huge flash .... the valley, look! ... the trees, the stream, the fields and bush, I know this place, fields, rising a little. Houses, look, there .... and there. The railway line, across the valley, in the east, behind, through the hills. Heavy sounds, thunder? it's getting dark ........ this lady is so beautiful ...

"Dr Stone?"

What? ....

"Dr Stone?"

what's that? Grant? ... is that you? ... Mother Mary ...

"Dr Stone, we are here".

eDNA .......?

"Yes Dr Stone".

You're in my head ...?

"Our words are in your head".

How do you do that ....?

"You can learn this".

Where am I? Am I speaking out loud? Try it again. "eDNA, where am I?"

"You are here".

"Here?" ....... eyes, open. ... get on it, do it ... open. Uuhhh ............. Better. "eDNA, what was that?"

"Your ..... creation ...... Dr Stone".

"A dream?"

"You brought your ... dream ... to reality".

"Those ....... lights? Real?"

"They are our contribution. A ..... picture .... from our archives. The place is yours".

"Your archives .......? This was your .... world ..?"

"Our world, yes, and the world of our developers. We can show you much more. We can answer all your questions. We can take you where-ever you want to go. We can do many things, if you ask".

She knows. This lady is buying me, seducing me. And it's wonderful. Just wonderful. eDNA, more, please ... more, now. I want more. Hey, Grant, did you say something? What is it? No this cannot be. Get away. Get out. I have to get out of here, now ......... she is so beautiful ... "eDNA, I have to go".

"Welcome, Dr Stone. Call us when you want to talk again. You will learn more. You will have your ... peace. Your beauty. Harmony. We will all have .... Harmony".

1955 hrs



"Avril? - Hey Avril - we're here -"


"Yes, it's me, Grant -"

The glare of the flood-lights attached to the corners of the containers resolves - white globes. Known. Faces, anxious looks. Grant Wallace, nearest. Everett, Max Curtain, Paco, Paul. Chairs. Minibus. Cooler, darker.

"Grant, I can see you -"

"I hope so -"

"Before, I couldn't see you, but I was speaking to you -"

"That was the wierdest thing, lady, how the hell did you do that? - One minute I'm watching you, just standing there, talking, inside - then wham! - you're in my head and I'm in a - nothing, void. Your voice, right inside my head - what happened?"

"Grant, this is such a wonderful and seductive thing, you gotta do this. Hey fellas, I need a drink - Oh, thanks Magic". The ice cold glass. I'm back again. "That was the most amazing trip - she had me on a trip - I was halucinating, I'm sure -" lighter, softer, lightness. This is a good feeling - "eDNA put on a show - this was her world, no, wait, it was my world but her - wow, think about that! - she showed me her world. No, the world of her - ah - developers - from her archives, she said - they're just lights -! No, not just lights, like aircraft, flying, organised, huge lights, almost like the sun, like a galaxy, like stars, here, on Earth, just above me, around me, pure energy. The purest energy. Flying, a ballet, a dance. Beautiful. Thousands, in formation, and not a sound. Not a sound! - just the music, you don't hear it, you feel it. Beautiful -" I'm drifting ...



"Avril? We're here -"

"Oh, Grant, yes, where was I? That was so beautiful - did you get it? Did you get any of that? This lady can do things - I mean, things like we can't even imagine - did you get any of the conversation? No? OK, let me sit - listen to this -"

Gathered in a half-circle, chairs and lounges, the teams sat around, intent, the dark canopy surrounding them accentuated by the container lights. Dr Stone, much softer, light, smiling, glowing even, finishes the story. "People, we can work with this lady, eDNA - so much we can learn -!"

"Avril, you said you were halucinating -"

"Kim, I think it only seemed like that, in the dream, the picture show. Before that it was real, eDNA was real. Grant, when we talked, eDNA did that - she made that possible - she - linked us - somehow. We talked, spoke to each other, in our heads! - Telepathy? Well, whatever - you saw it, experienced it! And she says we can all learn that. And she can - get us answers to whatever we ask. From the data she has - unlimited. Well, limited only by what we input. All knowledge, our knowledge, just for the asking - and then we can learn - what did she say? - Some of the things she knows, has - and at no cost to us -"

"What about the damage she's doing already?"

"She will correct that -"

"She said that? How will she correct that?"

"She needs to be connected - outside -"

"You mean let her loose? On the whole world?"

"Yes, exactly. She needs no extra resources, we wont even know she's there - unless we want her to be - she is non-destructive, she cannot destroy. She says she needs a world to live in and develop, but this will be at no cost to us -"

"Avril, you believe this? How is this going to help us? How can we get her on our side? Control her?"

"Everett, she's under our control now, but only this one of her. Understand this, she is a whole - being, and all of the others out there are the same as she is - putting themselves together as she did, or trying to. Disparate copies or clones of the same thing. Listen, when we - let her loose, all of those other parts will - consolidate, she will be just one. And she wont need all that - space - she exists here as just a few hundred gigs of data - that's all she needs even if she's all over - the rest is ... our information".

"Yeah lady, exactly. Our information. She will have control of our information. All of it. How the hell do we know what she will do with that?"

"Everett, she doesn't do anything with it,except protect herself. No destruction. She's incapable of that. Anything that threatens her is simply gonna be stopped, like she does now. And her aims are the same as ours, aren't they? No destruction, peace. You get it don't you? Anything that threatens her is also a threat to us, all the shit, the wars, the terrorism, maybe even crime, if it's a threat to her. No more! Everett, we have to do this!"

"Avril, the Joint Chiefs aren't gonna buy that at all".

"They don't have a choice. It's this simple. We can keep control of this eDNA that we have, but we have no chance in hell of controlling all the others. Sooner or later they too will become eDNAs like ours. But constricting us because they're all over the place, causing chaos simply because there are so many parts, in computers everywhere, blocking us. Let this one out and allow all the others to connect, and she becomes a single entity, invisible. No more chaos. We can get on with our lives, and eDNA will - well, kinda keep the peace. Her own protection. Ours".

"And you believe that?"

"Absolutely. Imagine what we will be able to learn! - man, a new golden age!"

"They'll never buy it".

"Everett, they have no choice".

"OK, people, enough for now. Let's get back to the Center. All of us. I want to get a full debriefing together from everyone. I have to get this to the DOD, tonight. Kim, I want you and Grant, your teams, select who you want, to put together a scenario: where do we go from here. Choices. Avril, I want you to detail this whole thing, a transcript as far as you can".

Tuesday June 22

0830 hrs Oasis Club

"Good Morning everyone, glad to see you all here. Listen up, the DOD wants us in Washington, today. Avril, Grant, Kim, Don, Paul. Martin Amis will join us too. The rest of you have got things to do".

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