Authors: Charles Lamb
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Alien Invasion, #First Contact, #Military, #Space Marine
By CW Lamb
I would like to dedicate this book to my brother Chris, who has shown us all what the true meaning of hero really is and to Cindy, who was by his side the entire time.
Copyright © 2015 by CW Lamb
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the Author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
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– Artificial Life: Intelligent Computing Environment
– 32, 6’ USMC Capt., divorced orphan, a wise ass, sarcastic.
– Blonde, 5’ 7”, 27, oldest of 3 sisters, strong leader, Jake’s second in command.
– Blonde, 5’8”, 21, middle sis to Sara, quiet, reserved, Mother to (Julie). Texas Commander
– Blonde, 5’4”, 18, little sis to Sara and Bonnie, outspoken, chip on her shoulder, medically inclined.
– Brunette, 25, 5’5”, computers and logistics, Mother to Tracy. Nevada Commander
– Brunette, 21, 5’6” medically inclined, Mother to Timothy.
- Brunette, 16, 5’5” Public Relations, communications specialist.
– mid 50’s, Prosperity town Mayor, full beard, easy going, a good-natured guy.
– Red head, 19, 5’ 8”, from village of Kern, strong, aggressive, strapping, very physical
– early 20’s, 5’ 6”, married to Jason, Human Relations, and acting house mom.
– early 20’s, 5’ 8”, married to Karen, strong technical abilities.
– 20, 6’4”, just Joe, big, strong, complements Abby, Team Bravo lead.
– Strawberry Blonde, 28, Freckles, ambitious, pregnant, Commander in Alaska.
– Brown, mid 24, Commander in Eastern Washington.
–Brunette, 18, medically inclined.
– late 20’s, 6’, strong character, quiet type.
- part of Robert’s original team. Second to Sharon in Washington State.
–22, PHD, combat analyst, Jake’s great, great, great, granddaughter.
– 24, PHD, Engineering, Jake’s great, great, great, grandson.
early 30’s, family farmer.
Major Jake Thomas was sitting in the command chair of the battle cruiser
. Leaning forward in his seat, he stared intently out the bridge windows. The focus of his attention was the repair activity surrounding the newest addition to earth’s space fleet, the yet unnamed mammoth alien battleship captured just a month earlier. At about two miles long, he could not actually see both ends from this location, but that was not really an issue. With their limited resources, this was destined to be a section-by-section endeavor anyway.
As he watched, two of Earth’s other battle cruisers identical to
, hung in space just off the battleship as well. These two were functioning as working platforms, assisting in the repairs. To be completely honest, those cruisers were actually in the midst of refitting as well. Both needed conversions to support human life, instead of their previous occupants. Collectively the four space ships, all captured, made up the entirety of Earth’s space fleet capital ships.
With the help of an occasional glint of reflected sunlight, Jake could just make out the little figures moving in space between the three ships, each figure hauling equipment or performing some form of repairs. The figures were all robotic automated attendants or “bots” as Jake liked to think of them, controlled by eight artificial life forms on earth.
Each of the Artificial Life: Intelligent Computing Environment systems resided in one of eight underground facilities distributed throughout the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii. Collectively, they were ALICE. Rather, they were prior to Jake’s involvement, as he now promoted the concept of individuality. He hoped to encourage their uniqueness though not all the locations had embraced it.
Slightly more than one year ago, ALICE-1, the original ALICE, released Jake from an experiment that had started 153 years earlier. It was never the intent for the experiment to run that long, but the facility he occupied had suffered a low bidder faux pas. That accident isolated the lab, and him, from the rest of the world. There he lay, in stasis for years, lost and presumed dead. That was until ALICE-1discovered him. Growing as she developed her newfound self-awareness, she found him in exploration of the facility she managed.
An unintentionally created artificial life form, ALICE-1 was an advanced computing environment made up of a hybrid containing both terrestrial and alien computer components. Originally built with the intent of only controlling the facility that held Jake’s experiment, she now ran the entire operation. Developed to be an Artificial Intelligence, she became so much more. Once ALICE discovered Jake, with no instructions to the contrary, she continued to maintain the experimental stasis field around his body. He had already been stuck in there for many years, so she continued to preserve his life. At first, it was just a maintenance task for her, but in later years, it became a matter of her own survival.
Both Jake’s abandoned experiment and ALICE herself came from years of research and development extracted from a crashed alien spacecraft. The discoveries derived from its dissection advanced human technologies across the fields of engineering, medicine, energy creation, storage, and so much more.
However, these same advancements eventually alerted the original owners, an alien race not known for sharing, to the experiments the humans were conducting. In response to these activities, the NeHaw gave the earth an intergalactic one-two punch.
The first came in the form of an ultimatum, to destroy the ALICEs, whose creation was due in part to NeHaw computing components and to return all their property from the crashed ship. This would roll back several advancements the humans had not been able to replicate, and without continued access to the alien technology, they would cease to function. Next, the earth received a planetary wide bombardment when the response had been to try to negotiate with the aliens.
The bomb’s effect, intended to destroy the specific alien technology that helped give the ALICEs life, were devastating. As the NeHaw were unable to detect exactly where the ALICE systems were located, they bombed everywhere. They assumed a planet wide bombardment would completely eradicate all traces of the technology.
Fortunately, all the ALICE computer rooms were unintentionally located beneath large underground stasis fields. These fields protected the storage areas, acting as a preservation mechanism, which in turn blocked the destructive emissions.
Unfortunately, the exposed human staff, left open to the unfiltered emissions, was killed instantly. The global impact of the bombing was devastating as well, reducing planetary technology levels to the equivalent of the 1800’s. The attack obliterated most of the technology infrastructure as well as delivering a massive population reduction. Dams, power stations, and large industrial areas all took major hits.
No human in any of the eight underground facilities survived the attack, rather no one but Jake. With none to counter explicit standing orders to remain hidden from the outside world, the eight ALICEs went into a facility maintenance mode, waiting. As some critical components began to fail, parts the ALICEs themselves were unable to replace, the decision to wake Jake became top priority.
As the last surviving member of the existing US military chain of command, Jake became the de facto commander for all eight facilities. This was something he would not learn until several months after release from stasis. Once released from his subterranean prison, he set to tasks defined by ALICE that stabilized and restored her precarious state.
With ALICE stable for now, Jake then embarked on a quest to reinstate some level of recovery to the world, recruiting carefully screened outsiders, a few at a time, to aid in his efforts. As the new team member’s influence grew, so did the challenges.
Through all this, the ALICEs had subtly manipulated Jake’s every move, nudging him in directions they deemed necessary. Eventually, they informed him of their multiple existences and enlightened him about their wishes. They had a critical requirement for him to produce offspring to ensure command authority continuity.
With so many hurtles for Jake to overcome on earth, one would only expect the NeHaw to come knocking again. Alerted to the activity on earth, when a routine maintenance task at one of the sites unintentionally set off sensors left to detect a possible recovery, the aliens initially sent a single powerful warship to investigate. Success in dealing with this first ship only led to more challenges. After fending off wave after wave of hostile efforts, mostly by sheer luck, Jake and his staff found themselves with four captured alien ships to convert to human use before the next
As Jake was considering the daunting task of transforming the battleship before him into a human friendly transport, the acting captain of
whose chair he had usurped, spoke up.
“Major, Sir,” she said, “We are receiving a transmission from Alice-4.”
as it was currently the only habitable ship, housed an assignment of a temporary six-person crew. The goal was to start giving selected staff hands on experience in space. To do so, a rotation establishing time for trained personnel to come aboard was put in place. Each crew would live aboard for one week.
After the week, each crew would go home, as another replaced them. Once onboard, each crew performed eight-hour training shifts with breaks, as ALICE really controlled all activities. ALICE validated any action taken by each training crewmember before execution. Off Duty periods for the crew left the ship entirely under ALICE control.
An acting captain, from the previous rotation crewmembers, gained assignment for the next rotation. It was a position coveted by all. This overlap was to help transition the next group and ensure a continuity of duties. The ALICE staffing efforts had grown so much, that none of the current crew were familiar to Jake, other than a passing introduction when he came aboard the day before.
“Please put it on the main screen,” Jake requested.
The window Jake had just been watching all the repairs through became a video display, and a rather frazzled female face, also unknown to Jake, was taking up most of it.
“Major, we have an issue here,” she started “somehow four men compromised the last recruitment drive. They managed to gain access onto the helicopter transport we sent to collect the volunteers. Upon return, they were uncovered inside the hangar. There was a shootout and several people have been shot.”
Jake sat up straight and asked, “Where are they now?”
“They’re still holed up in the hangar. Once the shooting started, they retreated to a collection of heavy transport vehicles parked to one side. ALICE-4 has the vehicles locked out so they can’t take them anywhere.”
“Why can’t ALICE just take them out?” Jake asked.
After a pause, she replied “Major, they took hostages.”
As Jake was considering his options, the face in the display added, “Also, Lieutenant Sharon is one of the wounded. She was there to greet the new arrivals as facility’s commander and took one of the first rounds to the abdomen.”
“I’m on my way” Jake replied as he sprang from his seat and headed to the passageway behind the captain’s chair.
“Captain, the ship is yours” he finished over his shoulder as he passed through the opening.
The passage held a ladder that lead below decks. He remembered this as the same one he and Sara had used the first time they boarded the ship. That was after the very first space battle with the NeHaw. Then there had been no artificial gravity, so they had just floated down.
Sara was one of the first six people the ALICEs had identified for Jake to recruit and she was now his Executive Officer. These same six were the core of Jake’s command team and the root source for the women the ALICEs had convinced to bear Jake’s offspring. Without Jake or one of his biological children, the ALICEs were incapable of continuing the relationship created by the repopulation of the facilities. ALICE only acknowledged a member of the original command structure or their offspring as authorized leadership by their pre-disaster authentication programing. All original command was by Presidential appointment and succession thereof. Even though he was now the elected President, a purely manipulative event, not even ALICE knew for sure if Jake-created appointments would remain valid after his passing.
Jake continued through the passages until he reached the hatch for the hangar deck. Passing through, he saw his fighter, still painted in the Marine Corps scarlet and gold. The fighter was waiting right where he had parked it earlier, the canopy still open and his helmet on his seat. Climbing inside, he barely noticed the hatch into the hangar he had just passed through, closing to allow his departure. Once his helmet was on and the canopy closed, he requested “captain, please open the outer hangar door.”
“Verifying inner door's integrity,” was her reply, as Jake passingly recognizing the proper protocol for opening the outer hangar door to space. Allowing the outer hanger door to open before the inner doors sealed up tight would cause the entire ships atmosphere to evacuate, killing all aboard.
“The panel is green, evacuating hangar,” was the next message, indicating all inner doors were sealed.
Hovering, Jake put his fighter in a slow flat spin, turning so he faced the outer door as the artificial gravity shutdown in the hangar and he became weightless. Once all the air evacuated from the hangar space, the outer doors would safely opened. As if the captain had just read his thoughts, he heard, “evacuation complete, opening outer door.”
As the outer hangar door opened, Jake inched his fighter forward until he could safely pass through the opening. Once clear of the cruiser, he nosed down and headed to ALICE-4, located in what was eastern Washington State, at a decidedly unsafe approach speed. The fighters had internal inertial dampening that protected the pilots from the forces generated by rapid acceleration, deceleration, and high speed maneuvering, but you can only bend the laws of physics so far.
Calling ahead for the facility to open the hanger doors, he finally did a hard brake. Actually overshooting his approach, he had to loop around in a wide banked turn, scrubbing speed in the process. Finally slowed enough to attempt a landing, he spotted the rectangular opening in the ground ahead of him and slowed, then stopped in a hover. Dropping vertically into the opening, he immediately identified the two factions. As he did a side slide away from the antagonists, he started taking fire from the cluster of parked vehicles on the far side of the hangar.
Once he was far enough away to be out of the direct line of fire, he settled down and climbed out of the cockpit, keeping his fighter between himself and the aggressors. Helmet still intact on his head, he stepped out and saw several similarly suited individuals, rifles in hand, headed his way in a crouch.
“Jake, am I glad to see you,” the first suited figure exclaimed.
By his size and the familiar voice, Jake knew the speaker before seeing his face “OK, Joe, so what the hell happened?”
Joe was one of the later recruitment additions and if he was here, Abby was not far away. Recruited at the same time, the two were quite an item, inseparable and absolutely made for each other.
“We were out on a standard recruiting pickup,” he started, “we’re work’in with a little town North East of here called Republic. There is actually a large general population there as it became real popular after the alien attack. I think it’s because of all the ranches and lakes nearby. Anyway, we were there to pick up 12 recruits, almost all women. Well it’s cold here now and everyone was all bundled up. I guess these four guys snatched four of them girls and dressed up in their clothes. By the time we discovered them, we were in the hangar here and when we tried to grab’em they started shooting at everyone in sight,” he finished.