Authors: J.S. Harbour
The Legacy of Earth
Book 2 of the Mandate Series
J. S. Harbour
The Lexington was still under general quarters when she entered a high elliptical orbit over the Moon, using gravity for slowdown.
“Still no response?” Captain Long asked, looking toward the comm station.
“Nothing, sir,” Devlin said.
“We’ve got them!” the XO said, “right
,” pointing to a blip on the horizon.
“Verified on RADAR,” CPO Jones confirmed from the navigation station.
“Very well,” the captain said, “slow us down to overtake and match their orbit.”
“Aye, sir,” said CPO Williamson at the helm. For a split second, Long could feel the reverse thrust of the engines tug him toward the front of the bridge. Everyone lurched for a moment then regained their balance.
“Slowing. We’re down to fifteen,” Williamson said. He continued to monitor the thrust maneuver, almost frantically monitoring their status on multiple screens. After two more minutes, he said, “Ten. We’re at ten.” Shortly thereafter, he said, “Six point two mps. Velocity matched.”
The captain punched a comm button and said, “Launch fighters!”
The Legacy of Earth
A benevolent AI, despised by humans, must save Earth from a neurotic alien race that’s convinced humans are a threat.
Dallas is just a typical 22-year old GMO human male with a high IQ and epic physique, looking to get ahead in life. But it’s not easy when
your age is just as smart and just as good looking, and the only organic humans live in religious exclusion zones. What’s worse, an AI has decided to eliminate most of the good jobs and take care of people—its own version of a socialist utopia . . . and no one can do anything to stop it.
Dallas chooses what many young men with uncertain prospects decide to do: he joins the military—the UNSC Defense Force. Hooyah! But, if Dallas had known that six months later he would be hanging upside down in a giant warehouse in Russia as part of the training, he probably would have followed his dad’s footsteps instead and become a preacher.
Warning: This novel contains mind-blowing speculative fiction and some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.
The Legacy of Earth
Copyright © 2016 J. S. Harbour.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written consent of the publisher, with exception to brief passages used for review purposes, and except where permitted by law. Violators will be captured by the UNSC Defense Force and delivered to Luna City for hard labor.
Cover Art by TheCoverCollection.com.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, planets, moons, alien races, historical events, etcetera, are solely the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Visit the author’s web site at jharbour.com.
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For Vernor Vinge
"God is what mind becomes when it has passed
beyond the scale of our comprehension."
Note: This book contains special features for fans of the Mandate series: Cast of Characters, Timeline, Glossary of Tech, and Military Ranks. Be sure to check out these resources in the Table of Contents. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
He built spaceships.
He mined the asteroids.
He colonized the Moon.
He made a smarter robot.
He transformed the economy.
They didn’t like him.
He broke their rules.
They stole his company.
He gave away his wealth.
They killed his beloved wife.
He left them in the dust.
My name is
Lyle Garner and I’m in a difficult predicament.
I’m standing in the lobby of an ugly federal building, feeling undignified and restless along with at
thirty other people, fighting the instinct to break formation and leave. And, like a ruddy child who has had too much to drink, my bladder is about to burst.
Such an ordeal just to get in this damn line. The metal detector, the chemical sniffer, the full-body imager, just to earn the right to let a bored government employee scrutinize two forms of identification. If I leave now to use the restroom, I’ll have to wait who knows how many more hours from the back of the line, and I’m only five places back now.
Already had to go back to the car once this morning to return my keyring pocketknife. Tell me, what am I going to do with a two-inch nail clipper? Jab it into someone’s artery? Should have just tossed it.
Look, if I’m that crazy, it won’t matter whether I have a little chrome knife or not. Someone that deranged will use an ink pen or something. Well, won’t they?
How stupid are these government people?
And that thought is not helping my battle of will to stay in line. To volunteer. If I break for the restroom, I’ll just up and leave. I know it. No way will I start over from the back. No way!
I’m at the back of the line again.
And damn pissed about it! Oh, I literally did that as well. I was nearly done after a two and a half hour wait. Now I’m twenty-something back.
twenty-something years old, and these puns are starting to grate.
Three more people joined the line while I was in the restroom. Sons of bitches. I asked the guy in front of me to hold my spot but he had gone through by the time I returned. Figures, more help arrives just as I break formation.
The burly chick at the front stared me down at ten feet away with her best
don’t even fucking ask.
I didn’t ask.
She knew I was ahead of her. I’d checked her out a few times during the last two hours and she knew it. Taking her standing-in-line frustrations out on
What did I do? She would have had to wait for me to go in before her anyway, so—oh, forget it. At this point, I’m determined. Feeling stubborn about it.
Maybe the tough-looking chick was irritated that I
hit on her? Maybe I would have but she looks like a bouncer with muscles in strange places.
* * * *
I had never considered signing up as a kid, even with Mom’s career front and center in the family. That was just her job,
thing. I had my video games and sports and girls and a sense of self-worth that did not include military service. What, waste all my talent mopping the deck of some damn Navy ship? Seriously?
Since I didn’t want to offend Mom, I didn’t even bring it up, kept those thoughts to myself.
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. My dad, Herbert Garner, is a traditional Methodist preacher of the fire and brimstone variety. My mom, Marjorie Baldwin, is a Navy pilot. Correction:
Garners and Baldwins pride themselves on being high achievers. No slacking off! Hard feelings don’t simmer, we get our problems out in the open. Some might call us a
That’s the theory, anyway. What we were told all our lives. I didn’t buy any of it. Load of crap if you ask me.
Between Dad pounding the pulpit and Mom kicking ass for her country, we were raised to be go-getters. No sitting around! No, sir! If the terrorists don’t get you, the devil will, so keep your guard up!
It was a pretty good childhood even with all the dysfunction. The one thing Mom and Dad had most of all was a sense of humor. They could laugh at themselves without getting pissed. Maybe that’s the only way it
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true, we didn’t give Mom or Dad much to be proud of since none of us followed in their footsteps. I think we’d had enough of the devil and the terrorists by the time we were grown.
Howie went into nano-engineering after college, worked his way up to project manager with a big company in Alaska, using nanotech to build ship hulls. He said they were converting steel manufacturing to some carbon stuff. I could get into that but I’m no engineer—not a STEM candidate. I have to keep my body moving or I get restless. It’s not that I
do it; it’s that I don’t
Leslie went into fashion design, making a name for herself with some design firm in London. Some might say she reached higher than the boys, and some might say she’s only self-serving with a career like that. I don’t judge. Hardly! I went to visit her once, hoping to go with her on a photo shoot. You know . . . try to hook up with a hot model. Or catch a few of them
between shoots. Or whatever. I was a horny kid so sue me.
Leslie set me up. She could see right through me! Didn’t try to talk me out of it. Encouraged me to go with her to the dressing rooms. Woohoo!
It was a
model photo shoot! I’m not into that.
Oh, I was so pissed, but she
, fair and square. I still haven’t paid her back for that.
Truth is, I’m standing in this line because I don’t like people, generally. Good friends are few and far between, especially for someone like me.
Turns out, the more I thought about the army, the more I liked the idea of belonging to a brotherhood, despite myself. I mean, soldiers aren’t annoying when we’re all in the shit together. Dad often said, “Let the church be your extended family. There’s nothing better than belonging to the family of God.”
It’s all just hooyah of a different sort to me. I don’t go for that sort of thing anymore.
Mom doesn’t talk about her career much. She has a job to do and doesn’t dramatize it. I had a feeling, though, that she was doing a lot more than she let on. Maybe it was a matter of national security, or maybe humblebragging just wasn’t her thing.
Figured I’d follow in Mom’s footsteps, more or less, and join the Navy. Might be the start of a new family tradition. Who knows, maybe it will catch on if I ever have a kid.
(Note to self:
If Mom was tight-lipped about her job, one thing that would open her up every time was talking about military hardware. New aircraft carriers, especially. She
going to christenings. She would talk your ear off about the Ford-class supercarriers. Their reactors, engines, magnetic catapults, flattop procedures. . . .
Then, one day, without warning, Mom surprised us to tell us she was leaving Earth!
The UNS Illustrious was the first ship of her class, with the second hull being christened the UNS Lexington, and Mom was nominated as commander of the air wing—or, whatever aircraft are called on a spaceship.
She told us all about it. Five ships were being built, with two already completed and the third hull underway. That’s public knowledge. After swearing us to secrecy, she told us all about this new space navy, and I just ate it up!
The line is moving along faster now.
I’ve got an education. Went to college. Business accounting and information systems. Practical choice these days, isn’t it?
I should have gone for a bachelor of arts: English lit, sociology, political science, philosophy, music. Those fields will never be replaced by a damn algorithm. Taking care of other people is what people are best at, what can’t be reverse engineered.
Kid going to college soon? I’d tell them to go ahead with liberal arts. You’ll get work—plenty of need for teachers, mentors in the academic fields.
leave those jobs to us. I’m smart, flexible, adaptable; I can manage to find work. I can even go back to college and pick up something in the humanities if I want.
No thanks to that goddamn AI!
We should have been celebrating this great achievement—the first bonafide AI. Who created it, anyway? No one seems to know. Popular theory is some irresponsible Silicon Valley startup. But, the AI started messing with everything before anyone was aware it existed.
There’s no question, it’s self-aware. News of that was a sensation when I was a kid. Everyone was freaking out about doomsday—the end of humanity. Freaking scaremongers.
Except, they were kind of right; the attack was just indirect.
Wonder if they’ll make an officer of me since I have a degree? Doubt it. That degree isn’t worth anything today. Massive increases in productivity, elimination of sweatshops in the overpopulated countries, and all the resignations and suicides when government leaders everywhere were exposed, their corruption and crimes laid open like a book for all to read.
The AI got into
That’s great stuff for an anarchist; even libertarians were high-fiving the “end of corruption.” But, can our world survive that much disruption? At a certain level, don’t we put up with corruption as a necessary grease in the gears?
I’ll ask you another question: How does a man react when he’s given everything he needs in this socialist paradise? Good food, nice clothes, comfortable apartment—furnished with faux hardwood floors and faux leather furniture? A man can read, watch movies, listen to music, play games, go fishing, hang out with friends. Sure, we have idle entertainments.
You can go into the city to find more exotic forms of entertainment, too—also sanctioned and provided. Alcohol, hookups, designer drugs, you name it. Drugs? All the kick you could want, none of the addiction—none of the danger or black market. Getting laid costs more but it’s still plentiful, healthy, legal, and disease free. There are even dopamine pills—invented for astronauts.
But, know what? That damn AI throws a wrench into my rant when I think about it. I
resenting my world because
didn’t get a choice, it was forced on me. On us all. Is that a good thing? I don’t know. Can people vote properly? I don’t know. The past half century doesn’t seem to back that up, with one puppet president after another and a cadre of useless bureaucrats surrounding them.
Maybe force was the only way to break up the old system. After all, how can the government declare war on an AI? It’s impossible, like going to war with a tsunami.
Kind of pulls the rug out of the whole underground, though—know what I mean? Where’s the fun in illicit stuff when it’s
? It just wasn’t the same when the black market got legalized. I think the danger of getting caught was the main reason it was so appealing to many people. But, with drugs that can’t kill you, we have no more bipolar celebrities offing themselves with drug overdoses.
Now, if you ask me—and I know you are—when a fella can’t off himself properly, that isn’t freedom!
Everyone my age is so
today. Even those who aren’t . . .
. Everyone has everything you could want.
Except for true freedom.
I’m not sure if absolute freedom is a good thing. So, what do you do when all the old vices are cheap and easy? What’s anything worth when it’s cheap and easy? Not much. The bar gets raised.
“Right here, man.”
The port authority clerk—or enlistment secretary or whatever the guy’s exaggerated title is—looked me up and down with a serious expression and nodded. I didn’t know what that was supposed to mean—was he checking me out? It’s not like you need a good physique to sit around all day doing nothing. Everyone my age looks as good as I do—chiseled and in perfect health. Well, there’s
the AI did right. I look good . . . like everyone else my age.
“What’s the deal, kid? You look all spaced out.”
“Yeah, I’m here, man. Standing in this damn line too long.”
“You’re here to join the military, and don’t like standing? Maybe this isn’t
for you, eh buddy?”
The clerk wasn’t getting to me. I was too distracted.
“Enter through that door, please,” the clerk said, pointing to the right.
I opened the door and walked through, feeling a tangible change as I entered the recruitment office. It gave me chills, going through that door. Crossing the threshold. The checkpoint.
A man greeted me beyond the door. “Dallas Lyle Garner?”
“The one and the same.”
I figured this was my last chance to mouth off at a military guy without getting court-martialed or something. I’m still a civilian. Civvie. He’ll be trying to scare me off before I sign, and I’ll be trying to piss him off in order to throw me out. Double jeopardy. The funny part is, we’re both aware of it, but he’s had more practice.