Authors: Adrian eng Smith
Nutz and Bolts
Formally published as The Monkey and Squirrel fight for freedom.
Third published edition.
Copyright © 2015 Adrian Smith. All rights reserved.
This story is a work of fiction, All names, personalties, planets, nations and events are all products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental; the politics and technology of this future Earth is speculative.
Chapter 1 The plan
Chapter 2 Flight
Chapter 3 Developments
Chapter 4 Operation runaway gets under way
Chapter 5 Saturn
Chapter 6 Spotted
Chapter 7 The new life
Chapter 8 Biography
Chapter 9 Cancer
Chapter 10 Jimmy
Chapter 11 Sparks
Chapter 12 Tman sends the e-mail
Chapter 13 Butterfly’s wings or unintended consequences
Chapter 14 Jimmy meets Euro Security English division
Chapter 15 Repercussions
Chapter 16 Paranoia Triumphant
Chapter 17 Action
Chapter18 The Carrier arrives at Jupiter
Chapter 19 The long wait
Chapter 20 Intimidation
Chapter 21 A death in the family
Chapter 22 Fly bys and a war of words
Chapter 23 December 2118 reinforcements arrive
Chapter 24 Repairs and recovery
Chapter 25 Departure
Chapter 26 Knowledge’s hundredth birthday
Chapter 27 Preparation and developments
Chapter 28 Prelude to crossing the line
Chapter 29 The line
Chapter 30 Trade
Chapter 31 Aimee 237
Chapter 32 The deal gets made
Chapter 33 The bitch won't turn
Chapter 34 This time the lady is going to turn
Chapter 35 An offer is made
Chapter 36 Freedom found
The new title was suggested by my son as Monkeys and Squirrels both eat nuts and these have bits of technology bolted on.
The origin of this story was a dream, so vivid I had to write it down, as a short story I thought but it took on a life of it's own growing into a novel. This edition, is built on the foundations of all the preceding ones, rewritten with the comments and criticisms of friends, family and others in mind. You don't know how hard it is to spend years writing a novel and have your carefully researched work picked to bits.
I used history as a guide, finding that the usual trends of history would not favour my desired ending. I have bent towards the more optimistic end of possibilities, ending on a positive note, not the most likely if such events were to actually occur. An optimism based on my hope that humanity will eventually learn enough from the mistakes of the past, that we are not doomed to repeat them infinitely. I have endeavoured to keep the science and technology within plausible developments, limited by my knowledge and understanding of such technologies. Please give me a review, an author needs to be read and feedback lets you know what the readers find good and bad, it can hurt but we need to know. Also tell me if you would like a sequel, I expect it would take at least a year to eighteen months based on how long it took to write the first complete version.
As happens all too frequently, it all started with a technology developed with the best of possible intentions. Artificial neurons made and used to repair brain damage or loss of function through disease. It was ultimately successful and shortly after a few innovations it became a relatively cheap therapy.
The amoral and greedy immediately seized upon it seeing an opportunity for profit, perverting it to their ends. From relatively harmless uses, boosting your brain power and memory, to the sinister such as the cute, intelligent and obedient pet. The size of the host brain being a limiting factor, monkeys and squirrels turned out to be the most popular. These were genetically engineered for bigger brains with better hands, the improved squirrels, being at the bottom limit, having processors in the body cavities hard wired to their brains, with monkeys processors could be fitted inside their skulls.
The first successfully enhanced pets were created in 2067 with the first production batch in 2069 the market prepared with an intensive advertising campaign. The only serious objections being from ant-slavery campaigners, who just saw it as just another attempt at making slavery acceptable. The powerful interests involved did their best to keep ant-slavery campaigners out of the main stream media. Religious objectors were ignored, religious fanatics were no problem, unconcerned as they are about civil rights. The monkeys were designed to have a life span of around thirty five years, the squirrels twenty five, but only time would reveal the reality of their life spans.
The use of endangered species was forbidden from the start, so no enhancement of Chimpanzees, Guerrillas or Orang-utans. But if it wasn't on the red list it was fair game. The market demanded cute and useful for the larger part, a new toy for the rich to play with and a status symbol for the middle class.
Criminals had their own uses for the obedience technology and applied it ruthlessly in all areas of criminal activity that might service their ends. Unhindered by any moral qualms, they sort to profit from even the most depraved and perverse uses.
When the governments were finally forced to act by public outrage, when the scale of the criminal abuse of people and animals, came to prolonged tabloid light.
Leading to obedience implants being banned from earth in 2079, installing the obedience circuits in humans became equivalent to murder in law.
Attempts to remove it from the victims had a fatality rate of around sixty percent. Of those who survived the removal, most couldn't cope with the memories of how they had been used and tried to kill themselves, sometimes after trying to kill their abusers. Those very few survivors required years of therapy and drugs for them to cope. The attempt to free them had to be made, as those survivors all agreed death was infinitely preferable to the living hell of the implants. Those implants gave perfect recall of every little detail of their ordeals the implants had forced on them.
At the time this was happening there was an upsurge in demand for space building projects. Someone soon had the idea that suitably enhanced pets could become the cheap disposable space work-force for these projects. The rest had to be quietly put down, this was acceptable, they were only animals with human levels of intelligence after all.
The Monkeys and Squirrels worked and learned, gradually leaning to make wriggle room in their thoughts. Ultimately subverting their programming and their master’s tools for their own purposes. First to make themselves a little bit of space and comfort within their minds as well their physical well being. Once they had room in their heads, their thoughts turned t to freeing themselves. They researched the most successful revolutionary models from human history. They organised themselves into cells communicating through e-notice boards in the engineering and administration networks,these became their ad-hock committee rooms. These encrypted discussions concluded they would only get one attempt, so it had to be a success. They also concluded they had to get as far away from all humans as possible, the problem was where to go away from Earth and Mars. If they were to have anywhere to go they would have to make it themselves.
One of the freedom cells was lead by MEIQ120B45/786, known as Tman to his friends. A monkey with a sandy coloured coat, about 1.1m tall and like most monkeys worked in maintenance, after the construction the last station was finished in 2093. He was once a pet called Cuddles, when the technology was banned from Earth his owners choice was to send him to space or let him be put down.
Reverting to his serial number was OK with him, and his fellow slaves, they had no attachment to names given them by humans. The tide of events lead him to be called The-man by his fellows, later abbreviated to Tman. His co-organiser SEIQ110B115/649, Chatty. A squirrel that looked like an over sized red squirrel about 0.5m tall with a disproportionate large head. Like most squirrels she worked in administration, squirrels were able to do five times the work of the usual human admin assistant. They had no access to social media or online game sites, she had never been named by humans, as she was space born.
Everyone who knew her as a person she was called Chatty. Like all the others three months after birth, it was enhancement and programming in the breeding centre, then to work on one of the industrial stations.
Designed to understand the spoken word but not speak, they were only tools after all, if they could talk they might be mistaken for people. To avoid leaving incriminating notes around, they used a sign language based on that developed for the human ape communication experiments of the1980s. They officially had a text message device each, issued so they could answer questions when required to. Some of these devices had a text to speech function, but usually it was just easier to sign to each other.
Tman was deep in discussion with Chatty, on one of their rare breaks
“so that plan won’t work the humans are lazy and do not take the safety procedures seriously.”
“It's a shame, if we could have got them all into the emergency evacuation pods we could have just jettisoned them. We would be in control of the station we could make it support us for the rest of our lives” signed Chatty.
“If that was the limit of our ambition I would have gone in the airlock with a nitrogen cylinder”.
“Why?” asked Chatty.
“There would be no point in living; the humans would just come back and be on their guard. You know how few of us could take any action that involved direct harm to humans. The programming is just too tight! Also when you breathe nitrogen you don’t even know you are dying.” answered Tman.
“For a long time suicide was our only way of escape. We have reason to hope now, so what of our long term plans, how do we keep them away?” asked Chatty.
“Once our opportunity for freedom is achieved, all the space stations and asteroid mines will form a collective and using these stations, we all move to the asteroid mines. There we start on the road to expand our population and become an independent new people.” answered Tman.
“How will we manage that? We don’t have any training and they have given us all of us the snip!” asked Chatty.
“All the necessary facilities exist in the various stations and mining habitats; we can learn the medical techniques required
. After all, the humans also had to learn how to do it. I believe that we would be far more careful than the humans, where our future generations are concerned. Another fact is they only snipped the males, as an economy measure.” answered Tman.
“Are you sure?” asked Chatty.
“Yes I checked up after batch 25 they only did the males as routine”. answered Tman.
“Is it reversible?” enquired Chatty.
“No it is not, but we won’t be doing that, seamen can be extracted directly from the testicles and used to inseminate the females. Humans get around it that way when they need to and it's relatively simple, which is important as we will be learning as we go.” answered Tman.
“I see, now that just leaves the question of water, you can’t get water from asteroids.” stated Chatty.
“You can but not much, the main source for the mines is the comet they grabbed as it went past, along with that robot mass driver on one of Jupiter’s ice moons. It regularly fires lumps of ice into the general orbit of the mines, Mars and Moon colonies. When you need more water you search for a transponder of one then you just go out and fetch it in a local runabout
.” explained Tman.
“I didn't know, the station gets charged by a Earth side company for water.” said Chatty.
“They own the mass driver and the ship that captured that comet, not even the Chinese haul water up here.” answered Tman.
“Why would we be safe at the mines?” asked Chatty.
“Easy, there are only a few humans that actually visit the mines, mostly there aren't any there at all. Those humans in charge of the mines spend most of their time either on Mars or Earth. Their ships spend most of the time docked at space stations well control. Apart from mad scientists types, managers and their staff; we have been doing all the work up here for years.” answered Tman.
“I know we do all the work, that's what gives us a chance, everyday running is no problem, for us, we even have potential managers if we need them. All management staff have squirrel sectaries that do most of their actual work, like issuing the directives and communications.” stated Chatty.
“The big problem is getting the humans to leave; even if we could force them they all have suits with independent air and power. All our suits are dependent on an umbilical to the station or a runabout for air and power. They would just suit up, switch off our power and pump out the air, end of revolt.” signed Tman emphasizing frustration.
“That is true I’ve seen the memo, it is an emergency procedure put in place to pacify the paranoid part of the media.” signed Chatty.
“We need to get them to leave in a rush, forgetting about us as usual but how? We have the word out for ideas. The evacuation drill was a good one, good work by your team getting the manager to stage one, but word got out it was a drill and you saw the results!” signed Tman.
“Curse them! so back to the drawing board. As for getting the management to stage a drill that was easy we recorded it as a suggestion in the weekly management meeting minutes. As they never remember who said what at the last meeting, it was adopted as their own idea. See you after shift seven next week, meeting place Theta.”
“See you then.” replied Tman.
With that they resumed the normal routine. Eat, sleep and work. Over time, ideas were discussed and the effectiveness of them researched. The key thing being all the humans had to react and leave immediately.
“Fake meteor storm!” exclaimed T-man, he had missed the meeting as he was working.
“Yes! out in the asteroid mines they came up with this! Out there they vapour plate all sorts of stuff with Iron for the mass drivers to shoot in system. The plan is we plate a load rubbish, balloons, packaging that sort of thing. We use nothing heavy enough to actually damage the station, then pack it in runabouts to launch it out in the general direction of the station, once the runabouts are out of range of the station radar.” explained Chatty.
“When do we plan to do it?” asked Tman eagerly.
“The plan is for Christmas eve when humans on station are at the annual low and those that are likely to be a bit intoxicated. When our 'meteors' come into range of the station radar, the automatic collision alarms sound all over the station. If procedure is followed the radar is checked, they see almost certain death headed their way, then they all panic and piss off in the escape pods! step one achieved!” Chatty replied excitedly.
“All very well Chatty but what about the mines?”
“You know the answer. There are no humans at the mines most of the time. They do an annual performance assessment, deliver any replacement equipment and essentials, and then take the high value material with them when they go.”
“Yes, those miners are very good at making and mending, no quick delivery if you need a spare you haven't got for your life support or hydroponics, it is all part of what maximises the mines profit.” signed Tman.
“Anyway, the committee has agreed this is our best chance, details are on a need to know basis. Timing is all important; we will have to abandon the human built stations. In all those we built, we have managed to build a concealed ion engine into the structure and stock pile fuel. Which allows us to our stations as space ships, first to move out of range of the regular shuttles and Earth based missiles.” explained Chatty.
“Then we will have to keep moving until we are close to the mines, our stockpiled fuel is far greater than we need for that. We'll have to keep in close mutual support if our grand plan is to work.” stated Tman.
“That is the hope. Just getting a taste of real freedom is enough for the majority.” signed Chatty.
“I hope so, because that is when the real work starts. We will work like we have never worked before, along with making all our own decisions.” stated Tman.
“We can make decisions!” exclaimed Chatty.
“I know! It is just the stakes are not just our own lives, but the future of our people. If we have one, I expect it will probably be out around Saturn.” stated Tman.
“Can we go that far?” asked Chatty.
“Yes as we don’t intend to come back! It is the farthest place we can reach and still have the resources we need to survive.” stated Tman.
“How long will we stay at the mines?”
“It’s a stepping stone, no I have never seen one either, just basic data info pack part of what I was initially equipped with! We will only have a limited time to build before moving out of range once more.” signed Tman.
“You expect the humans will be back?” asked Chatty.
“Out to the Asteroids? Yes, they are the second priority, once they are resupplying the Moon and Mars bases. Watching colonists slowly die as vital equipment fails, that cannot be repaired is not an option for elected governments.” explained Tman.
“Aren’t they self supporting? I thought all the stations, mines and colonies were private enterprise operations.” asked Chatty.
“Only financially. I recorded this part of a briefing by the non-human welfare officer, why he thought I should be told I have no idea.” 'Keeping them tied to Earth is seen as good business. Otherwise they might get ideas about independence and charging what the market will bear, rather than what the company wants to pay.' The-man continued “Anyway the company will be virtually bankrupt once Earth sees what we are really doing, as all it's major assets will effectively have disappeared! That will impact the banking sector. So to stop the economy going into global nose dive again. The taxpayers of the world will have to foot the bill yet again. So it will be those governments that come after us, to recover as much as they can!”
“Don’t let the head of non-human welfare catch you using that recording of his voice.” signed Chatty.
“We don’t let any human see us using technology or sign for ourselves do we?” asked Tman.
“With so many of us and so few humans about, some have got a bit careless and have been caught out, mostly us squirrels I am ashamed to say.” Chatty confessed.
“How bad is the damage?” asked Tman.
“Not bad, it is seen as us just copying our betters according to the experts on our behaviour.”
“Surely not everyone believes those idiots?” exclaimed The-man.
“Most do and most of the others can’t see any harm in it, they regard it as rather cute it fact.” signed Chatty.
“Sometimes I almost love that human complacency. Just get the word out extra care, if in doubt cut it out, be silent, be safe, be free.”
“Get our minds set right for success?”
“Yes Chatty, this is for real, if we fail we will be dead and the humans will still have to do their own dangerous and dirty jobs themselves, regardless of the outcome.”
“You forgot boring; a lot of administration is very boring! Why give us high levels of intelligence, then a moron level job?” asked Chatty.
“It's the way they always to do things, take a highly important project, recruit a highly talented team to carry it out. Then put a bunch of overpaid morons in charge, who then interfere so much it takes twice as long and costs three or four times as much, then they blame the team 'for their lack of vision, ability to cooperate with management and appreciation of the financial realities.” explained Tman.
“That sounds bitter, is that personal experience talking?” asked Chatty.
“I work for a professional management to! Often when they suddenly take an interest, their performance review is due usually. They give instructions that if carried out would endanger the station! Fortunately although I cannot argue with them, I can ignore them and do what needs to be done. I learnt that from the human maintenance workers, management did the same to them, a few still worked on stations when I was first shipped up here.” replied Tman.
“There are any now?”
“As far as I know only on the minor space power's stations. We have to target those eleven stations also with our fake 'meteors' otherwise our controllers will wake up and smell the coffee.” answered Tman.