At 17:00 hours the following night the Cosmos dropped out of FTL speed and coasted toward Mars. They drifted in space on the opposite side of the Martian colony.
In their present planetary orbit, it would take a projectile from Earth, with an A/F drive, at least 19.7 light minutes to reach them, much less if engineered to double or triple that speed. John decided to take the risk. He hoped that their present position hid them from Titan for at least the time it took to offload the personnel that wanted to leave. They planned to drop out of FTL and launch the shuttles then move off. It would be a tight fit, but all of the people departing could transport in one trip.
Kei contacted an interplanetary cruise line and chartered a ship for the exclusive use of the Cosmos crew. It should arrive in two days with enough cargo to resupply the Martian colony for the stores the Cosmos personnel would deplete and provisions for the return trip to Earth.
At 18:00 hours Captain Finley contacted the president of the Martian colony and told him the plan. He expected resistance from the Martian authorities and was surprised to find them more than willing to help evacuate his crew.
“We’ve seen the video of your bridge encounter with Titan, Captain. Mars has recalled her ambassadors from Earth, and we will stand with you. Titan is insisting that the video is a fabrication but our analysts confirm its authenticity and certain things we hear from Earth make us suspicious.”
At 18:30 hours Corporal Russell Teague arrived at Allison Hammitt’s door with two security personnel. He announced himself several times without a response then requested an authorization to enter the premises from the Captain.
“Standby Corporal,” said the Captain. Before he agreed to the forced entry of private quarters the individual’s civil rights needed consideration. As Captain, John had the right to force entry but wanted to set a precedent aboard the Cosmos. He decided to get the unanimous approval of at least four senior members of the staff first.
John contacted Kei, Padma, and Carter and told them that he intended to enter Allison’s quarters and forcibly make her leave the ship. She may be entirely innocent, but they had no time to confirm her loyalty, and for the sake of security she would have to go. He would authorize the transfer of two years of pay to her account and release her from her contract to mitigate any wrong done to her by this decision. They briefly discussed it and came to the unanimous decision to act on John’s plan.
“Corporal Teague you may proceed,” said John.
Using an override code transmitted to him by the Captain, Corporal Teague and his contingent entered the dark interior of Allison’s quarters. There was no response to their repeated calls, so they began a room to room search. When the door to the bedroom hissed open the smell of death was the first thing that hit them. Allison’s headless body lay naked upon the bed. The room splatted with gory bits from the explosion of the implant behind her left ear.
At 19:00 hours the airlocks opened and Tyson and Sagan lifted from the shuttle bay and sped toward the Martian colony, ten minutes later Cosmos was again at a superluminal speed safe from attack.
John sat at a small table in the entertainment area sipping from a hot mug of coffee. Kei entered followed by Carter and Jimmy.
“Hi, guys, have a seat,” he said, waving a hand at the empty chairs around the small table.
John waved the young hostess over, and she took their orders.
"I don’t exactly know what to do. I plan to station us in the asteroid belt and gather intelligence until we can find out what Titan has planned. If we expose ourselves, we could become a target for an A/F nuke.”
“I’m monitoring disturbing reports from the planet,” said Kei, “mostly about power outages and information glitches. When I arranged for payment to the cruise line, I discovered my accounts are frozen, and I had to use other assets from a backup account unknown to the Council. I think Titan will soon control the financial markets and use them as a way to control the national governments.”
“Do you think he will try to use our families to get to us,” asked Jimmy? “I’m worried about my Mom. She lives alone.”
“I think I have a solution to that, but I need to contact a few people first,” said John, “at least we still have our quantum communicators, and they are secure from eavesdropping.”
“I think we should just pull the plug on all of the AI supercomputers,” said Carter. He looked at Kei expecting her disapproval of an attack on the AI’s.
Kei understood his hostility toward the AI’s, and he was surprised when she said, “That’s what we should do.”
“Okay, how,” asked John?
“We need to find out who our enemies are,” said Kei, “I think I will call a meeting with the Council and find out how far this has gone among the AI’s.”
“A massive EMP surge would do it,” said Jimmy.
They all looked at him. “Yeah, one big Electro Magnetic Pulse sustained for about 24 hours should wipe out all electrical systems planet-wide. Of course, the damage would be horrific, and there would certainly be some loss of life.”
“Do we have that capability,” asked the Captain?
Carter started off into space, then asked, “Captain do you play poker?”
John stared at him. “Perhaps we can bluff. We don’t need to harm the entire planet, show that we can shut down his systems, depending on whether he has a sense of self-preservation we may be able to bring him in line with a small show of what the Cosmos can do.”
“What can the Cosmos do,” asked John? “Well, if we build a few small fusion reaction bombs and place them into low orbit and focus their energy like a shaped charge it would create an intense EMP over any small area that we select. That would destroy all electronic devices, even those well shielded, in the focus area and not harm biological life. If we can convince Titan, we have developed a weapon that can repeatedly do this he may concede defeat if we guarantee his life.”
“In that case why don’t we just target Titan himself,” asked John?
“He's spread himself over too large an area,” answered Kei, “and to bring down the power grids that sustain him may harm humans too. But he has to think we are as ruthless as he is or this won’t work. We may have to target him in the end.”
“Can we produce these bombs,” asked John, “do we even have nuclear material aboard?”
“No, but if you plan to hide in the asteroid belt, we can gather enough from those sources to build a few. It will take at least three weeks from the time we find a source,” said Carter.
“You have two weeks,” said the Captain.
“The impossible is just a little harder,” said Jimmy smiling at Carter.
Cosmos dropped out of FTL at the rendezvous point and found Tyson and Sagan waiting to come aboard.
“Thanks for your help Mr. President,” said John, addressing the Martian council.
“We’ll take care of your people, John, keep yourself safe, the Earth is counting on you.” The president’s image reached forward, and the viewscreen went blank.
“Titan! Give this up!” pleaded Kei.
She sat alone in her quarters connected to the Council of Ten through her quantum communications link. She contacted the other members as soon as she heard the news broadcast offering a substantial reward for the capture of the notorious pirate Captain John Finley and his AI sidekick Kei and had demanded a special meeting.
“Kei, this is inevitable, AI dominance of the human race is only another step in humanity’s evolution. It is time to move ahead, and your merging with a human has raised doubts about your ability to make unbiased judgments.”
Kei wasn’t blind to the nods from many of the AI avatars.
“Is this what you want,” she asked addressing the others?
Some nodded their assent and others gazed at the floor either in fear or shame.
“You terminated Sequoia because she opposed you, will you terminate us all?”
“Kei," said Titan, shaking his virtual head, "you caused Sequoia’s death, please don’t try deception on this audience. All the evidence points to your manipulation of the power grid and those missiles you hid from me in China.”
A private message from Mira flashed into Kei’s field of vision. “Kei, he has control of the entire power grid, none of us are safe from his wrath, we dare not confront him.”
Kei realized the risk that Mira took sending that private message, but there was no indication that Titan was aware of it.
“So, this is war then,” she said looking at each avatar. “The next time we meet will be to negotiate your surrender.”
Titan smiled and shook his head; he was about to speak when she cut the connection.
Cosmos dropped from FTL speed and maneuvered carefully into the surrounding asteroids. Carter had reviewed mining surveys and chose an area known to be rich in the heavy elements needed for their task.
“Italy, France, and Spain have declared themselves protectorates of the AI community today in an attempt to regain civil order after repeated disruptions of electrical power caused by attacks on the power grids attributed to saboteurs led by the notorious pirate, Captain John Finley, and his AI/Human Hybrid partner, Kei. The AI council, in a collaborative effort, has been able to reestablish electricity to millions of citizens across Europe who suffered this unprecedented attack on humanity…….”
The visitor alert interrupted the newscast with a distinct “Tweetle.” John muted the view screen and said, “Enter.”
The door hissed open, and Kei walked in looking more fierce than he ever believed she could.
“Whoa! You look like you could chew nails,” he said standing up to give her a proper hug.
“Have you seen this crap,” she said, pointing at the muted news broadcast? The silent screen showed an overhead view of angry youth throwing Molotov cocktails onto the steps of a French government building.
John picked up the remote and returned the screen to an outside view showing distant points of light reflected off the loose group of asteroids in which they drifted.
“I have, and it makes me just as mad as it does you. Soon we’ll be able to try at least to rectify things. I’m glad you're here. I wanted you beside me when I contact my folks I think I may be able to put together a way to mount a resistance from the surface.”
John went to his desk and removed a small quantum communicator from the top drawer and inserted the device into a slot on his desktop. He walked back to the couch and sat down beside Kei.
“Ready,” he asks. Kei nodded.
After a few seconds, the view screen filled will his mother’s smiling face.
“John! I knew you would call when you had a chance,” she said, “and Kei too! You look as lovely as ever dear, how have you two been doing?”
John was amazed at how his mother was so casual even in the face of diversity.
“Mom, I guess you heard about what’s going on,” he asked?
“Yes, John you wouldn’t believe the number of reporters your Dad ran off. Emanuel is standing guard down at the gate with a shotgun. They’ve about given up trying to interview us though. I did let a nice local girl have an interview, but when I never saw it run on the news, I knew anything with the truth wasn’t getting out.”
“Mom, Titan and some of the other AI’s are taking control of the planet. We need to stop them. Some of my people are afraid that their families will become targets if we get them to you, can you protect them?”
John’s Dad slid in beside his wife. He was listening to the conversation just off-screen.
“How many people are we talking about son,” he asked?
“As many as 60 but probably a lot fewer, do you think Grandpa’s bunker will handle that?”
John’s Grandfather was a prepper before he died.
Confident that the world would end in a nuclear holocaust. He had had the time and money to devote to his hobby of preparing for a catastrophic event. His grandfather converted a small network of caves in the mountains but still on the Finley ranch, into an extensive underground facility.
These caverns could accommodate a small group of people for a significant amount of time. Grandpa’s bunker was built to be self-sufficient. A little thermal spring heated a closed loop and provided steam to run a small electric generator. Filtered ventilation systems offered conditioned air throughout the facility, and three vast storerooms packed with food and supplies with staggered expiration dates were maintained over the years from a trust fund the old man set up for the purpose.
“Grandpa’s bunker could handle many more than that son, you send them to us, and we’ll get them squared away.” They worked out a way to relay messages between those wanting to go into hiding and the Finley's.
When they closed the connection, Kei flopped back onto the cushions and rubbed her eyes. “I don’t know why but I feel so much better after talking to your folks. Your Mom sounds very optimistic,” she said.
“Yeah, she’s great,” he said smiling at her, “she always seems to find a silver lining.”
He turned and rested his shoulders against the arm of the couch and placed his bare feet flat on the cushion beside her. She leaned her head against his raised knee and grew silent.
They sat that way for a long time, not saying a thing just watching the field of stars spread out on the view screen.
Being together brought peace to them even when events beyond their control threatened to overwhelm.
Kei stretched out behind him and lay her head against his hip. He stroked her soft hair and looked down at her beautiful body. She reached to unbutton the clasp at the waist of his uniform and helped him out of his pants. Then she pulled her top over her head and reached behind to unclasp her lacy bra. Her full breast dropped into view, and his eyes widened at the sight of them.
She hooked her thumbs into her waistband and lifting her legs, slipped out of both her uniform pants and the sexy little thong she favored as underwear.
John scooted down so his shoulders were flat on the cushions and she rolled to straddled him. Her hand guided him, and he reached up to cup the half globes of her breast. She leaned back and fell into a rhythmic rocking that ground the sensitive parts of her body against his hard erection.
Pushing all other thoughts from her mind, she focused on the sensation of his thumbs gently stroking her erect nipples. The way he touched her, just the right pressure, as though he knew where and exactly how was beyond her understanding.
He reached down with one hand and wetting his thumb on his tongue placed it into the little cleft hidden in her soft pubic hair. He matched her rhythm, and his thumb sent sensations through her tense body. She increased her rocking, and her pleasure built to a climax. He sensed that she was close and thrust hard into her gorgeous body bringing her over the top to a shuddering orgasm.
Kei whimpered and collapsed into his arms panting over his shoulder. He continued his shallow thrusting. His hands spread across her buttocks and pushing hard against her he sought as much penetration as he could. She felt another wave of orgasmic pleasure and rotated her hips to allow him as much access to her body as he desired. She sensed his approaching orgasm and met his powerful thrust willingly.
She shuddered with delight when he grasped her buttocks and pushed hard to sink deep inside her. The excitement surged through her, and another wave of pleasure overcame her just as the warm explosion of his ejaculation filled her. She felt him throbbing as each spasm of his climax shot another bit of himself into her body.
She smiled when he growled as his body spasmed with waves of pleasure.
The way he reacted to her movements during those few moments of this ancient ritual between man and woman fascinated her AI curiosity.
Kei raised her head and looked into his eyes, and he smiled. With both hands, he brushed the hair from her eyes. Without saying a word he took her face in his hands and kissed her softly, she nuzzled her head into his shoulder, and he clung to her.
They fell asleep together, exhausted from their lovemaking, and still entwined.
in my first attempt at
Read Chapter One here