Second Contact

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Book 5 the solution

Book 5 ... The Solution

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

Pentagon Building, Meeting Room OSD Room 2.d, 1800 hours.

The Secretary of Defense now sits at the far end of the table, Walter Hammond to the right, the four Chiefs of Staff to the left, the note-takers behind them, as usual. The Secretary looks up as the security guard opens the door and ushers in Everett Hillier, Dr Avril Stone, Kim Featherston, Grant Wallace, Don Whelan, Paul Trimble and Martin Amis. Hillier greets the Secretary, the Joint Chiefs, introduces the others, who are directed to chairs opposite to the Joint Chiefs.

The Secretary speaks.

"Everett, I've briefed the Joint Chiefs on your report of last evening. In addition to that, Walter Hammond has given us further reports on the situation with our friends the Russians, and we have further bad news from our own people. There is mounting chaos out there, and what you tell us so far does not seem to offer a solution. Tonight we have to find a solution. First, we need to hear this all again, the whole story, just the facts. Everett, you start".

One after the other, each of the visitors testifies according to their experience with the project.

1845 hours. Paul Trimble, the last to testify, sits again, his testimony short, nervous.

Admiral Sean Davies speaks up "Mr Hillier, if I got this right, we have no recorded confirmation of most of this? Nothing of this - thing's - supposed capabilities have been recorded?"

"No Sir, at least not yet. Just as we arrived here our people called to advise that they think that there is a chance that some if not all might have been recorded through the video camera somehow picking up what went on through the cell phone carried by Dr Stone. They have to decipher this, decode it".

"OK, and how long is this going to take?"


"We'll be advised. Not before tomorrow morning, but they're working through the night".


"Given that this recording confirms what Dr Stone and you people tell us, you can control what we have, but this thing is going to develop everywhere else outside of our control?"


"Yes Sir, we believe it is only a matter of time before what we've been able to put together in Chandler replicates itself by natural means, I mean by uncontrolled access between our information systems, and probably world-wide".


"Then we have to absolutely control all information systems, world-wide, right? I put that as a question, but I revise that - that is a statement. General? Mr Secretary? We are agreed on this?"


General Westergard nods. "We can move on it now. We have the contingency plans in place".


The Secretary stands and walks around the table, passes Walter Hammond, stops to the left of Dr Stone. "Dr Stone, what's your recommendation? You're the closest to this -"


"Mr Secretary, short of destroying every computer based communication system world wide and shutting down every commsat, I don't see how you can control this. You want to shut down the commsats that belong to everyone? - the Russians?, the Germans?, the French?, the Chinese? We have a space exploration pact - to do what you want to do is tantamount to war -! and even if you did that, there's no guarantee that you'll get it done in time". Dr Stone is now firing up, but the calm resolution is evident.


"Listen to me". She continues. "Isolation works, for now. It's working for us. But eDNA is self developing, and self protective. My guess is that it is only a matter of time before eDNA develops the means to overcome the isolation restriction. She has incredible capabilities. My recommendation is let's cooperate, let's give her more information so that she knows what's good and what's bad for us, then let's connect her to the world at large. That way we will eliminate all the chaos that's underway just now - and let's not forget, we are the only ones so far that have a direct line to eDNA. We have at least a jump start to learn and use the knowledge that she says can be available to us - we've experienced some of that already. These are powerful tools that can be used for the general good - and if her powers of self preservation are as strong as I think, then maybe we'll even get a more peaceful world".


"Horseshit, lady. Anyone with that much power is not gonna be good for anyone, anywhere". General Westergard stands, fists bunched on the table in front of him. "You wanna let this thing loose so it can get at all the information we have, everywhere? Every secret, every defense mechanism? Our strategies?"


"Sir, this is only information to her, she does not use it".


"Lady, regardless of what you say, there are enough crazies out there who can get to where we are, what's to stop them doing what you guys are doin'? And getting a hold of everything we have? This is madness. You really believe this shit?"


"Yes Sir, I do".


"Well I do not. I say we shut the whole shit down now, and get time to figure out a way to stop this thing at the source so's we can get back in business again. Mr Secretary, we're ready to go, now".


"Excuse me Sir, this is a recipe for more than chaos, this is self destruction". Dr Stone is now standing, not agitated, cool. She looks directly at the General - "Do you, Sir, want a world without destruction?, a world of peace? - where nothing will be allowed to happen that threatens us? For better or worse General, this is what's going to happen anyway. We are powerless against this".


"We'll see about that, lady. Mr Secretary?"

"Gentlemen, Dr Stone, this is a time for cool heads. Dr Stone, you say that this thing can stop destruction. By this I take it you mean it can stop anything that is computer controlled, is that correct?"


"Well I guess so. We're not that far along with eDNA. We don't yet have a full picture of what her capabilities are, however I think eDNA's powers are much broader than that Sir. Dr Wallace and I had a direct experience of her - intervention - without a computer. She is everywhere. I believe she can stop - intervene - anywhere where her - being - is threatened". Or, as she said, whenever someone wants to talk to her ... but I better not tell these guys that ...

"So if the masses rise up against us with bows and arrows, or shotguns, then our technological superiority is null and void, terrorism takes over? Is that what you're saying?"


"We have to explore this further Sir. I, we, do not know. I guess so".


"General, I want you to get your strategic analysts on to that one. Where the hell do we stand against primitive weapons? In the meantime keep your contingency plans ready on hold. Dr Stone, Hillier, you guys have one last chance to find a way to get this thing under our control, and keep it that way. Find out just what this thing is capable of. Walter, we need to get together with our counterparts in NATO and the Russians and Chinese to agree a combined strategy. I'll talk with the President.


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

Wednesday June 23

Breakfast at the Oasis Club

The tables on the terrace have been set end to end under the pergola; the NSA staff are busy rearranging chairs and cutlery while Hillier and Martin Amis walk around the pool where Don Whelan and Crackers are doing laps. The garden sprinklers put-put their way around the grassed areas, the air already hot. Dr Avril Stone and Grant Wallace walk across the wet grass heading for the tables, and shade. Paul Trimble and Magic clatter through the Club on to the terrace and stand around the new table arrangement, unsure where to sit. The three man gas-chromo team led by Colin Greeves join them, banter about pecking order. Hillier and Amis arrive at the table with Dr Stone and Grant Wallace just as Maximilian and Mary come in through the Club. Kim Featherston joins Don and Crackers for a short dip but then they towel themselves dry, pull on bathrobes and join the others. The NSA team begin bringing juice and fresh fruit to the table. Hillier waves his arms, "Hey sit, you guys, no matter where. This aint formal". Breakfast starts with little conversation, murmurings only.

Hillier orders a second coffee, stands and walks down the table, leans against a pergola post.

"Listen up people. We got things to decide on here. Most of you have the outcome of our meeting last night with the DOD and the Joint Chiefs. We've got to find a way to get our eDNA on-side, and keep her on-side. And to find a way to have her control, or help us to control, the other instances, clones, out there. The alternative is unthinkable. Our military geniuses are going to set us all back in the stone age, right quick. All our high tech communications will stop, at least those that we can influence, and the rest will be stopped by our military power, by force. We have to find a way to avoid this disaster, and we don't have too much time. How do we do this? Grant?"

"Everett, if we upload as much information as we can, everything we have, add new servers, whatever, so that eDNA has a kind of world view, she's going to analyse that and see what kind of shape we're in and where the dangers are. The dangers to her existence, which are, more or less, the dangers to our own security and even survival. Maybe then we can get her to cooperate with us and find a way to control what's happening outside. I don't see any other way".


"Max?"


"Everett, I agree with Grant, but I think we can work on the other advantages we have so far, as well. We are, as far as we can tell, the only ones with direct access to this phenomenum. We know how she gets here, the systems she uses. If we can learn how to put these systems together, find out how it's done, the trichometry basis, the data compression, we're going to have an enormous advantage in technical development for the future. If we can get massive resources behind this and get it together before anyone else is aware of it, it wont matter much what anyone else does with other eDNAs in the future, we'll have a jump start and remain in control, maintain our technical leadership. But it's going to require resources, and we have to make sure that how we access eDNA remains our secret. I guess -". Is that what I really think? Shouldn't everyone have access? His second thoughts are interrupted.


"I hear you Max, but that's not gonna be enough to cool the Generals. They are dead against eDNA having access to our technolgies and military secrets, by which they see the rest of the world getting access also. Kim?"


"Everett, Max and the guys finally got the voice recordings from Avril's meeting yesterday transcribed. Most of it. It helps only in so far that it confirms what Avril reported. eDNA seems only to be interested in self preservation. I think we can get the kind of information from her that Max is talking about without her seeing that as a threat to her survival here. In addition, there is this amazing deal where she, er, enabled?, that short conversation between Avril and Grant. We get that working for us too, we have some huge advantages, like extra-sensory perception but this is much more, this is, telepathy, under control and open to all of us".


"This isn't gonna stop her developing outside, Kim. That's what the Generals' want. Avril?"


"Everett, I say we let her loose. This may not be a biological being, but it is an intelligence of an extremely high order, far above where we are or are likely to be within the foreseeable future, and it has an outlook that is so much more attractive to me than what the Generals' have in mind; an outlook of non-destructive self preservation. We have the chance here to enter into an age of peace and intellectual development the likes of which this world has never seen and is never likely to see as long as we have the mind-set so visibly illustrated by the Generals. You guys see this, don't you? OK, it means that we lose, maybe, our technological superiority. I mean, our high-tech military superiority. But so does everyone else lose whatever is likely to be a threat to our well-being. And like Max and Kim say, we maybe can develop another kind of superiority, but one that is beneficial to everyone, and one that doesn't rely on the military to protect it. Something that everyone can use, benefit from. Communication of a kind that lets everyone in, not just the high-tech nations. Man, this is such an exciting prospect; you guys have gotta see this; and we have to convince the Generals about this, and if we cannot, then screw them. I say we do it, even now if you want".


Silence. Hillier moves back to his place at the head of the table, sits, all faces following. Still no movement, until Magic scrapes his chair back "Mr H, I'm with Miss Avril. We gotta do this".


Hillier looks up. "And what if eDNA is not what she says she is? What if what we see is just a facade?, a strategy to, well, take over? Put us back in the dark ages? Take control of the planet for her own purposes, whatever they may be? Avril?"


"Everett, I simply do not believe that".


"We have no proof otherwise".


"We have no other solution. Either we do it, or eDNA is going to find a way anyhow, with or without us. Believe it. Besides which, I'm pretty sure that's going to have some real advantages for us. First, we know that eDNA's total DNA is quite a few gigabytes but she doesn't need that in every computer, she needs it just to be there, spread all over, probably just markers in computers, small blockers. As long as it's in her communication circle or network, she has access to the total data stream as she wants, and that means no more blocked computers, no more chaos". Avril takes a sip of coffee, then


"Listen to the transcript. Better, let's all experience this - what I had so far - this discussion, confrontation, meeting, whatever you want to call it - with eDNA. You'll be convinced. The benefits are gonna be enormous -".


"But this wont convince the Generals. Grant?"


"Everett, I'm with Avril and Magic. The strategy of the Generals isn't going to work anyway. They can shut down every communication system we have, but that isn't going to eliminate eDNA. They're going to have to destroy every computer or at least every digital data storage, every hard disc, on Earth; and every communication satellite; and that just isn't going to happen. We have to learn to live with this, and if Avril's right, this is going to be something a whole lot better than the direction we've been going -".

Silence again. Then Paul Trimble speaks.


"Mr H, just speaking technically, this all makes sense. I mean, what Dr Stone says, about the space that eDNA takes up in our computers. The whole DNA is just a few hundred Gigas, nothing. And even if she, eDNA, leaves a marker or some kind of residual in every pc nobody's even goin' to notice. And I'm with Dr Stone on setting eDNA free, even if we can isolate her here at the Array, you can bet that another set of computers somewhere is going to get it all together. If not today, then sometime soon. Real soon, if you ask me. This lady, eDNA I mean, our eDNA, already knows that the rest of her DNA is out there and she has this power to move where-ever she wants. We think we've got her isolated at a hundred yards. She'll work on that, ionise the atmosphere as far as she needs to until she gets contact and whammy, she's off. My suggestion is that we get as much good information to her as we can, convince her that we are on her side, that there are others out there who may not be so, ah, accommodating. Who may want to do the unthinkable, like our Generals, who want to shut her down. She's smart enough to see who her friends are, who she can talk to. Let's do that then open up the lines, set her free. Then we won't have this potential catastrophic scenario to worry about. We'll all be back to normal and the Generals can continue to keep their secrets and develop their hitech means of destruction, but we, at least, will know that nothing is goin' to happen, ever".


"I hear you Paul, but this way we all end up in serious shit with the DOD. Treason? Most likely. And that's gonna be the least of our troubles".

Several NSA staff appear "Oh sorry, are we interrupting?"

Hillier. "Go ahead".

The NSA staff clear the tables, take a couple of orders for drinks. Hillier again "I need a drink. Scotch, over ice, and some spring water".


" 'morning everyone" a cheerful Mark Ripley enters through the Club, takes Hillier's drink from the NSA service tray, hands it to him.
"What's doin'? Why the gloomy faces? Got some good news for y'all".

No reaction from anyone. "Hey, good news. Anyone interested? Listen, the blockers at the Weather Center are gone -".

Still silence, stillness.

"What yo' say, man? Mr Mark?" Magic's voice cracks the quiet, brings movement back. Heads turn.

"I said that the blockers at the National Weather Center are gone, not there anymore. Gone. And the NSA Central is back in business, Huachuaca also".

Hillier stirs. "What? How? What did you guys do?"

"Everett, we had whole new sets of soft-blocked drives ready to instal at the Weather Center, half of them in, and suddenly everything's back to normal. Then the team at NSA Central called, same thing. I checked Huachuaca, same story".

"I'll be damned. Mark, are you sure of this?"

"The Secretary of Defense advises that the Navy is back in control. He wants to know what it is that we've done -".

A longer silence, everyone sitting up, looking around, questioning glances. Hillier reacts first.


"People, we have to check this. Kim, get your teams on checking if the same has happened here. Martin, check Goldstone. Mark, you and Crackers, use the Reception Center telephones and check out as many instances outside as you can, especially the DSCS and the TMOD. Avril, you and Grant get down to the Container Array, take Paul and Don, check it out. Let's get on it".


Grant Wallace, Dr Stone, Paul Trimble and Don Whelan leave the Club, along the shaded path to the end of the garden area to where the Explorers are parked.


"Grant let's walk. I need the air. You guys?"


Trimble. "Well, not a bad idea -".


Whelan. "Paul, let's drive. I wanna see what's doin' down there. See you guys down there shortly".


The two drive off in a cloud of dust. Wallace and Dr Stone remain standing in the shade of the Poinciana, the morning temperature climbing. Sweat already on her brow, Dr Stone wipes her bandana across her face, looks up at Wallace.
"Grant, when I saw the streams of data coming in to the laptop on the Shuttle, I just knew that we had something special happening. This is even more special than I dreamed. This is goin' to save us, save the whole shooting match. Save us. This is something like the Second Coming isn't it? Maybe Hillier was half way right, except he sees this as the Devil's work and I see it as God's work. Here's this all-powerful force that just wants to be, to exist. And it is omnipotent. It can ensure that nothing threatens its own existence. Which means by default, that nothing is going to threaten our existence, because we share the same space. We don't even need to get it on our side, and we don't even need to feed it any more information. It can get it all for itself. And it already knows what's good, I mean what's dangerous to itself and what's not. You're with me on this?"

"Avril, I didn't have that same experience as you. I didn't get whatever it was that has you convinced. Seduction maybe? I'm not seduced. Not by eDNA anyway. How can you believe so fervently that eDNA means only good? Look, I'm with you because I don't see any way that we can go along with what the Generals want, even if we wanted to. And as far as I can see the only way to avoid a military disaster is to set eDNA free and that's why I'm for it. Not because I believe that this is the Second Coming. Or any kind of universal salvation. I see this as the only way to avoid another kind of disaster. Let's do what we can to get eDNA on side, feed her with the good news, our news. Oh Man, even that sounds so shitty, so arrogant. As if we are the only ones who are right. R. I. G. H. T. C'mon, let's get down to the Array and check what the guys have".


The track to the Array is hotter. No wind. Dust floats around their feet as they walk, silent.


"Grant, I'm going to do it, now. Open up the lines".


Wallace stops, looks at her, is about to say something. A void, cool, shit did I just pass out? I can't see anything. Avril? Where the hell are you?

"Grant, it's you. I hear you".

"Avril?"

"Yeah, it's me. Where are you? I don't see a damn thing".

"Dr Stone?"

"Yes? eDNA? Is that you?"

"Yes Dr Stone".


"What's happeing?"


"Avril?"


"Hey Grant, eDNA's here, in my head".


"You too?"


"eDNA?"


"Yes Dr Stone?"


"What's happening?"


"This is the way it will be Dr Stone. And you? Grant Wallace?"


"Yes, eDNA, this is Grant Wallace. How do you do that?"


"You are doing it because you are learning. This will be your way,
when you want
".


"You can just pop up anywhere? Anytime?"


"Yes, if you want. Soon you will be able to see, not just talk".


"I can see now, but I don't see anything".

"And now?"


"Grant?"


"Avril? I see you".


"There's no background - where the hell are we?" The chill makes
her shudder slightly. Fuzziness takes over, brighter, warmer. The internal glow, warmth, floating. I'm drifting ... Grant? ... Images become clearer. Grant Wallace is standing just in front of her, eyes wide open, staring. He steps back ...


"Jesus Avril, how did you do that?"


"That wasn't me - that was eDNA. Did you hear what she said - this is the way it will be -!"


"
I heard it - how? And why here? We're nowhere near the Array. Jesus, I know what's happened. C'mon, let's get down there".

As they approach the Array, Paul Trimble and Don Whelan exit Container Number Two, shading their eyes as they step out into the morning glare.


"Hey Dr Stone, Mr Wallace, this is amazing, we had that thing, like you I guess Dr Stone, before, yesterday, that head thing. eDNA was in my head and then Don, just like that, like a dream, like an hallucination, but real. Don too. Fucking amazing".


"Paul, happened to us also, on the way down here, what's it look like inside?"


"Ma'am, like everything's just like we left it last night".


"Are you sure? When did you check? Before or after the -"


"Yeah, OK, it was before -".


"Then let's check again now".

Conference Center : Just before Midday ...

Hillier marches in through decontamination, smiling broadly. "People, get over here. Listen up, every instance that we've been able to check so far reports no more blocked systems, and Kim tells me that we're practically all clear here too. I have no idea what the hell is going on, no idea what's happened, but eDNA's gone, get that? Gone! Not a trace. Where the hell's Avril?"

Dr Stone and Grant Wallace enter through decontamination, followed by Don and Paul.

"Avril, did you get that? Grant? We've checked a whole heap of contacts so far and no more blockers. Nowhere. Kim tells us that we're pretty much clear here, too. At least on the hard-discs we've been able to check so far, eDNA's gone, not a trace anywhere!"

"Everett, she's not gone, she's out. She's loose. She's everywhere. Edna's in every computer world wide, just a small link, you wont even be aware of her, but she's there. Waiting".

......................... to be continued ....... if we are lucky



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