To find where the dead bodies are buried, look for the fertile soil
Counting 329 million sheep
America lays her head down to rest in peace
Intrepid moon advances most high
With cited secrets they lie
As the ice cold chill of the sun arrives
The earth shivers
The warmth of the sun was something Henry had become unfamiliar with over the course of his treatment for bone marrow cancer treatment. He had spent a year mostly confined to the hospital bed. Now, just months after a successful bone marrow transplant, he sits atop a rock on a mountain overlooking the Los Angeles Basin, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his face.
Henry’s daughter, Nancy, sits down next to him and embraces him with a hug that radiates more warmth than the sun on his face. “I miss mommy,” she says.
Tears stream down his face as he recalls how much his wife had courageously battled skin cancer just one year before his own battle. She had not been so fortunate. “I know, honey. I miss her too, but I know she’s in a better place,” Henry sobs.
As they walk back to Henry’s car, he pulls his keys from his jacket pocket and taps Nancy on the arm and displays the keys in his open palm. Nancy looks down at the keys and then up at her father with wide eyes, “Are you serious daddy?”
“I’m as serious a bone marrow cancer, sweetheart!” He smiles.
Nancy frowns and looks down, “That’s not funny, daddy.”
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I know these last five years have been hard on you. I’m trying to find humor though. I know it was more scary for you than it was for me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be 16, having just lost your mother and having a father with both feet in the grave. I’m well now.” He pauses as he lifts his daughters chin with his hand, “That’s something I’m dead serious about.”
Nancy cracks a smile as she takes the keys from her father’s hand, “You know how I know you’re feeling better, daddy?” She starts walking towards the driver’s side of the car.
“What’s that, sweetheart?”
She chuckles, “Because you’re back to telling lame dad jokes like,” she switches to a mocking voice, “That’s something I’m dead serious about”. You’re such a dork, and I love you so much. Wouldn’t it be ironic that you survive bone marrow cancer only to die from letting your daughter drive you down a mountain?” She gets in the car.
Henry runs up to the passenger door and opens it and jumps inside. “Okay, that’s not very funny!” He says as he closes the door and puts on his seat belt.
“Remember, I’m just a short drive away, sweetheart,” Henry says to Nancy as she awkwardly stands in front of her on-campus dorm building.
She smiles, “Yes, daddy. I already promised to visit you on each of the days you listed in your email.”
“You didn’t mark the email as SPAM did you?”
“Oh my God! Of course not, daddy! You are the most important thing in the whole world to me!” Nancy says as she throws her arms around him and hugs him tighter than she ever has. “I know it’s not going to be easy for you to be home all by yourself. You can call me or text me at any time if you need someone to talk with.” Henry smiles as he embraces his daughter one last time before he makes the short hour-long drive back to his house from her college.
As he’s pulling into the driveway of his house, he has a sudden and disturbing vision flash before his eyes. He’s startled out of the vision as his car hits his garage door. Henry sits in his car, trying to comprehend what just happened. He looks up at the front end of his car smashed a foot-and-a-half into his garage door and again sees the same vision of a leg of a woman on an operating table with all of the skin removed from the shin, exposing the bone which has the top layer of bone surgically removed. He can see the bone marrow inside of the bone and bloody tissue all around the bone as a medical assistant uses a bloodied cloth to soak up the blood that oozes from the tissue.
He shakes his head and puts his car in reverse to pull it away from the garage door. After inspecting his car and the garage, he goes into his house and calls doctor Rascher to report the unusual incident. At the end of the conversation, Henry’s doctor recommends a psychologist to Henry, and he sets up an appointment for two weeks later.
Henry anxiously taps his heel as he’s biting his fingernails, awaiting his first meeting with his psychologist. It’s been two weeks since his first horrific vision, and the visions are now daily occurrences and even more disturbing! He’s also noticed significant changes in his food preferences, music tastes, and has oddly become interested in military history programs on The History Channel. His psychologist welcomes him into her office and notices right away that Henry is not doing well.
His psychologist starts off, “Why don’t we start with some background of your circumstances. When we spoke on the phone a couple weeks ago, you had mentioned that your wife had died from skin cancer a year before you were diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. Let’s start there.”
Henry struggles to walk her through the experience and his memories. “I feel like I’m forgetting my wife. I feel like my brain is no longer mine. Something just doesn’t feel right ever since the bone marrow transplant!” He’s becoming increasingly agitated.
Calmly, she states, “Well, Henry, you have gone through one traumatic experience after another over the last five years. You’ve lost your wife. You’ve nearly lost your own life and orphaned your wonderful daughter. It’s understandable that this level of physical and mental stress might result in unusual behavior.”
“But I can’t get the images out of my head. There is a woman lying on the table, and I am operating on her shin bone. I can see her bone marrow!” Henry shouts!
His psychologist remains calm, “Henry, does this woman on the table remind you of your deceased wife?”
“No! I feel no love for her at all. I hate this woman on the table. I feel nothing but hatred towards her. I feel like I want to kill her!” Henry sits up aggressively on the psychologist’s sofa.
Still remaining calm, the psychologist continues, “It seems you might need some additional help that I might not be able to provide you with in a single session, Henry. It sounds to me that you want to check yourself into a facility of top American medical scientists that can monitor you and ensure that you are not going to hurt yourself or anyone else.”
Henry’s eyes turn from anger and rage to complete peace as he looks at the psychologist, “You mean I will be surrounded by esteemed professionals of the Unites States medical industry?”
“Yes, Henry. If you like. It is entirely voluntary at Raven’s Bridge.” She begins writing on a prescription pad. “You can leave whenever you like. If you like the place, you can stay there as long as you want. If you don’t like the place, you can come back here and see me. Perhaps we can find you another place that’s a better fit. But only if you like.”
Henry’s hands are shaking uncontrollably as he’s practically drooling on his fingernails he’s been biting incessantly the entire session. His psychologist places a paperclip on the prescription paper and hands it to him. He quickly snatches it out her hands as he walks out the door.
“I will call them to let them know you are coming, Henry.” She says as Henry hurries out the door.
Henry’s daughter is downtrodden as she leaves her father’s nursing home. His mental health has gotten worse over the last nine months, and this time he doesn’t want to speak with her during her visit that he cuts short. As Nancy exits the building, she bumps into a woman in her mid-40s with a stern face. “Mind where you’re going young lady,” the woman says with a harsh German accent.
“I’m terribly sorry, ma’am,” Nancy says as she looks up at the lady. “Are you okay?” she asks as she looks at the lady and has a sense that she’s seen her before.
“I am fine,” the lady snaps at Nancy. “Someone less agile than myself might not fair so well with your irresponsible behavior.”
“I am very sorry, ma’am,” Nancy says as she hurries off to her car.
Nancy sits in her car sobbing for nearly half-an-hour. She looks at pictures of her mom and dad on her phone. She runs through so many happy memories of both of them and anguishes over her father no longer wanting to meet with her. She reminiscences of all the wonderful experiences she had with her father. As she wipes tears from her eyes she sees the grumpy lady exit from the building with her father. They stand on the porch of the building talking with each other.
Henry stares at the grumpy lady who has been visiting him weekly for the last 3 months. The question is always the same…
“Have you discovered who you are?” the lady asks Henry in her thick German accent.
Having answered “I’m Henry” 12 times in a row, this time his answer is different. “They say my name is Henry, aber ich weiß… nicht…” he shakes his head and looks down.
The lady leans in and whispers, “Oskar?”
“Yes, ma’am! Yes! Oskar!” he exclaims as he lifts his head, eyes wide open with a wild look on his face.
“Control yourself, Oskar!” the lady quietly reprimands.
He leans into the lady, “Ich bin Oskar Schröder!” He whispers with excitement.
“Well, then Oskar. Go back in and ask for Mr. McCloy, and have him check out this Mr. Henry from this shithole. Meet me at the bottom of the stairs. Our mission is well underway.”
Oskar goes back into the building and comes back out with his suitcase 20 minutes later. He walks down the stairs and follows closely behind the lady. “Wie heißen Sie??” he asks. The lady does not respond as Oskar continues to tail her awkwardly as she has an unusual gait.
Oskar sees the two stout men at the end of the walkway. As he and the lady approach the men, they raise their right hands coyly. She responds with a lazy wave of her own right forearm; an unmistakable wave… an unmistakable gait… Oskar has goosebumps. “It couldn’t possibly be…” He mumbles to himself.
The lady stops and turns to Oskar. Folding her arms, she smirks; realizing Oskar has come to an important realization. She wags her eye brows once, waiting for Oskar to speak.
Jan: One area your co-CEO, Richard Prophet has repeatedly said you refuse to get involved with is politics. Do you share that same sentiment?
Xavier: I believe that while it’s important for politics to stay out of science, it’s even more important for science to stay out of politics.
Dr. Mumgrep hands Xavier a phone, “Everything is in place to roll out the new PRIME algorithm.”
Xavier holds the phone and begins typing. He asks Dr. Mumgrep, “Did you demo this to Maggie?”
“Yes, Mag’s team is already on board!”
Xavier’s eyes widen as he looks at his pet project. As he types on the keyboard, it displays auto-suggest words that are favorable words for the presidential candidate that Maggie Ogner works for and negative words for her opponent. “Looks great, Mum!”
Richard bursts into Xavier’s office, “Ned, you gotta checkout what I just did with System Zero.” Richard looks at the phone in Xavier’s hand. “What’s that? You starting to use a phone now?”
“No.” Xavier hands the phone back to Dr. Mumgrep and walks out of his office with Richard. “Let’s see what you’ve got!”
Jan: Fair enough. Your space company has been investing heavily into speed of space travel and quantum entangled computers. What does the future of space travel hold for us?
Richard and Xavier are floating inside their orbiter module and enjoying the view of Earth as it is zooming by below them. Xavier turns to Richard and sees tears forming in his eyes.
“It truly is a beautiful view, isn’t it?” Xavier asks.
Richard looks down and furrows his brow. “Ned, have you bothered to see what the result of all of this becomes?”
Xavier looks confusingly at Richard and then smiles, “We’re going to have another existential discussion in space?”
“I know what you did with the SpaceNet satellites, Ned.”
Xavier gives Richard a guilty look and shrugs his shoulders. He starts to speak, but Richard interrupts him.
“I know pretty much everything that you’ve been pulling behind the scenes, Ned. I know about the super vaccine scam. I know about the asteroid mapping software theft. I know about the surveillance in the satellites with free Internet access that you’re using to feed information into the Earth 2.0 Accelerated simulation algorithm. I know about the AI scams and how you’ve been faking quantum entangled computers.”
“Just…” Xavier tries to interject, but Richard won’t let him.
“I know about the political scams with Earth 2.0! I know about what you’ve done with System Zero. I know about all the money that’s been bilked from governments all over the world. What I don’t understand is why you’ve been so stupid. Despite the scams, you’ve done so much good for this world, and yet you’re too stupid to look in the mirror.” Richard pulls himself towards the other side of the orbit module and looks out the portal into space.
“If you’ve known all this, why have you gone along with it, Richard? If I’m such a bad guy, why don’t you give back that beach house and yacht?”
Richard laughs, “I have to question my own understanding of the universe when you are so moronic.”
Xavier realizes that Richard isn’t talking about all the scams he’s pulled off, “I’m not following, Rich.”
“You’re dead from cancer in 10 years, Ned. There’s a tumor in your brain that’s been dormant for years and will start growing in about three years. Within seven years, you’re a vegetable, and then you die.”
Richard locks eye contact with Xavier. “You’ve come up with so many great scams using the accelerated simulation features we built for Earth 2.0, but you didn’t even bother to look at what happens to yourself. You can destroy the entire planet and save humanity at the same time, but you are blind of your own mortality with your greed.”
Xavier breaks away from Richard’s gaze and looks out the portal behind Richard. He smiles. “Let’s get into cancer research, Rich! It will be a legitimate business, and there will be no scam.”
“My days are numbered. I had to bribe the examiner to give me medical clearance for this trip. This is my fourth printed liver that’s failed. I guess when it’s time, it’s time,” Richard reveals for Xavier.
Back at his lab, Xavier spends hour upon hour, day after day, plugged in to Earth 2.0. He runs through the accelerator again and again, working on a solution for his brain tumor. Even over the course of 400 years, there is no solution.
On the anniversary of Richard’s death, a disheveled Xavier thinks back to the last moment he had with Richard in the orbiter module. Suddenly, he hears that voice in his head again, “launch”.
His future suddenly becomes clear to him. He’ll launch himself into space and travel as close to the speed of light as possible in the nearby space void to reduce his aging. As hundreds of years go by on Earth, he will barely age. Certainly a solution for his brain cancer can eventually be found, and he’ll return to earth to be healed!
Xavier: The future of space travel is taking humanity to other worlds and other star systems. It will be up to future generations to define just how far we want to go.
Jan: Most scientists believe that we’re coming out of the grand solar minimum that ended the global warming concerns at the earlier part of this century. Yet, Xavier Labs is investing more money than ever before into cold climate machinery. With your great AI predictive systems that have made you trillions of dollars, is there something you’re holding back from the rest of us?
Xavier smiles as he reads the data returned from his latest acceleration simulation. The force exerted on the dummy to reach 7/10 the speed of light will be something his body can handle. The entangled communication system works well, but returning to Earth will be another issue he’ll have to handle 1,000 years later, and he doesn’t have a solution. Meanwhile, finding his spacecraft would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
He has his itinerary planned out. He’ll go into a hibernation state for 49 Earth years at a time and then wake up for approximately one Earth year to keep his body active and his mind updated with the latest information from the entangled computers he’s working on that will have data from Earth.
He plugs himself into Earth 2.0 and goes through his accelerator algorithm as usual, only this time at 30 years everything has deviated from each time before. Humanity has been virtually brought to an end due to biological and chemical war. What few humans remain are wiped out by famine, disease, and a handful of robots that have survived and determined humans are a threat to all existence!
Xavier examines the data over and over, running the accelerator with minor adjustments and major adjustments. The result is always the same: human annihilation that would make it impossible for him to return to earth or ever find a solution for his brain tumor! His accelerator simulation doesn’t have enough data on the colonies on Mars and the asteroid miners in order to determine if they survive, but it’s very unlikely. The humans who have left the solar system and Xavier are the only remaining human beings, and Xavier doesn’t have any viable means for getting back to Earth without an advanced human society!
He spends months figuring out the sources of the conflict and trying scenarios to avoid the annihilation through covert and overt political manipulation, but he cannot come up with a solution. It appears he’s doomed with certain nuclear annihilation or a brain tumor, but he’s not going to give up! He starts plugging himself into Earth 2.0 but falls asleep before he completes the task.
Xavier dreams he’s on the low earth orbiter with Richard on his last trip. Just as he wakes from his dream, Richard’s voice echos in his mind, “You can destroy the entire planet and save humanity at the same time…”
“That’s the solution!” Xavier jumps up. Infused with motivation, he programs in a new set of parameters into the accelerator simulation and plugs himself in. His plan executes: a massive asteroid (2D53) enters the earth’s atmosphere and splits into two pieces with a detonation charge he’s planted on the asteroid when he leaves Earth to go into hibernation. The smaller, piece impacts in the middle of the Caspian Sea. The larger piece impacts in the North Atlantic Ocean. The asteroids sends water and vaporized sea bed into the upper atmosphere. A small percentage of the SpaceNet satellites are destroyed but most remain.
Massive tsunamis wipe out the entire eastern seaboard of the United States, western Europe, North Africa, Eastern Central America, and Northern Brazil. Earthquakes are triggered all around the globe, and volcanoes erupt everywhere, spewing more ash over both hemispheres. Earth’s atmosphere bakes like an oven, and Xavier Labs provides sanctuary for tens of millions of survivors. He even plans an additional backup plan with a lab deep in the mountains of Antarctica.
Then a severe ice age rages and human civilizations above the 37th parallel north are completely wiped out with the exception of the 7 stations that Xavier has built for Xavier Labs’ asteroid mining operations. Habitable regions on Earth shift as the earth’s climate rapidly changes. Whoever can make the harrowing journey to the more hospitable lands are subjected to significant human conflict for the limited resources. Land wars wage between a China and India alliance vs. Oceania and the successor to the United States. China and India easily take Australia and New Zealand, respectively, after most of the western United States is hit with a plague Xavier Labs has released shortly before the arrival of the asteroid.
Still, humanity fairs much better than the prior annihilation the simulations have produced. The outposts built by Xavier Labs continue to thrive in scientific development, and the humans of Xavier Labs (lead by Fredrick Prophet) along with their growing robot contingent help repopulate and cultivate the planet over the next 300 years. They establish a new republic in the Americas with commands provided by Xavier’s political AI systems bringing peace to the southern nations who are battling each other for resources. Eventually, they negotiate peaceful and prosperous trade agreements with China and India.
The rate of cancer increases significantly as a byproduct of the asteroid collision and provides Xavier Labs with more test subjects for his group of robot surgeons to test complex brain surgery. There is no solution determined within the first 400 years, but the accelerator algorithm estimates that the robots will find a solution within 500 – 1000 years.
Xavier: We’re investing heavily into asteroid mining and are also working on landing on a comet to mine those as well. The cold weather provides us with the harsh environments we need to build the right equipment for those harsh conditions in space.
Jan: Speaking of your asteroid mining operations. Miller Industries has repeatedly said that your company has stolen their software. Government investigations proved nothing of the sort took place, but Miller has recently stated that you colluded with the government to cover up your illegal activities.
Xavier: I don’t have anything to say other than what has already been reported. The person responsible for the theft of their software was already identified as one of their internal employees, and there was no collusion.
Jan: Why don’t you sue him for defamation?
Xavier: I’m a scientist, not a lawyer.
Jan: Your businesses have made a lot of people fortunes all around the globe. It is estimated that Xavier Labs has lead to the creation of more than 1 billion jobs and more wealth in the last 10 years than the entire planet for the 10 years prior.
Some are saying that this growth and resource usage is unsustainable, especially with the average life span expected to reach beyond 120 within the next decade. Still, others have said that you have created this success through manipulation and unscrupulous methods. Your co-CEO has repeatedly defended your businesses success as honorable. I wondered if you have anything to add to that.
Xavier: What can I say that Freddy hasn’t already said? The downfall of the Big Tech era of the early part of this century was brought about by their own greed and corruption. Their nefarious collection of data and naive dissemination to third parties became their legacy. They were siphoning money from governments all over the globe and using techniques of insider trading and extortion to extract as much money from innocent people. The only innovation they truly had were new and inventive socio-political scams to defraud people of their money and individual value. We merely exposed their corruptions and allowed governments to perform their jobs of protecting citizens. The world is a better place as a result.
Jan: One last thing… What is your advice to the budding entrepreneur of today?
Xavier: Create the future you want. Listen to that voice inside your head; the one calling you to action. Follow your biggest dreams. If you wish to look to me as an example, so be it. I was born into a poor suburban family on the poverty line, and we are now closer to eradicating poverty and disease than ever in human history! We’ve made so many things that were once thought impossible our reality: universal healthcare; expedited, free education; general AI; quantum entangled computer systems; and so much more is to come. More importantly, be your own greatness in the service of your fellow humans! What better way to live a long, prosperous life than to help your fellow human beings and improve the universe around you. We’ve only reached the genesis of human potential. Dream big! Think and create even bigger.
Jan: Wow! So inspirational! Thank you for your time today, Xavier. With that, thanks for watching everyone. See you all tomorrow!
Jan: Your asteroid mining efforts do have some skeptics from sustainability to possible impacts with the Earth due to changes in the orbits. Some of your competitors have suggested that the global organization, Lucy in the Sky, that you helped found is creating a rigged system that Xavier Labs benefits from while others are setback by it’s government lobbying efforts. Still, across the globe, even your critics agree… your creation of the Star Fund to help offset lost jobs due to increased automation is benefiting millions.
Xavier: There’s nothing nefarious about Lucy. I’m just a Beatles fan. It’s an open source organization with all communication going through the USPEBL. All…
Jan (interrupting): For those not familiar with USPEBL… Sorry to interrupt… it’s the United States Public Entity Blockchain Log. It’s a system by which all communications are placed on a public blockchain managed and redacted exclusively by the United States government. It promotes transparency for organizations with a public interest.
Again, sorry to interrupt.
Xavier: I could not have said it any better.
Xavier is running through another simulation inside Earth 2.0 that takes him forward 100 years. He’s testing the limits of the simulation when he notices a major anomaly within the data access logs of the simulation. Someone, or something, has been attempting to access the DNA records that are used for uniquely identifying each human being now living within Earth 2.0 as well as the DNA records Xavier Labs has been receiving as part of the asteroid entitlement program.
He sets a trap and waits…
Jan: Thank you. What do you say about the sustainability of asteroid mining?
Xavier: Obviously, there are logistical limitations. We’ve detailed those in our reports to the necessary government agencies, and we have trained developing nations about the limitations to the exploits of asteroid materials.
Jan: After the repeated failed colonization attempts of Mars, where do you see human life expanding outside Earth? I mean, besides Earth 2.0, of course.
Xavier is sitting in his personal lab, about to take the serum so that he can enter Earth 2.0.
“Xavier.” he hears.
He looks behind him, knowing full well he’s secured the lab before taking the serum. He’s encountered strange side effects before during the waiting period of taking the serum and entering Earth 2.0, but he hasn’t taken the serum yet.
“Xavier!” he hears the voice louder.
He places the serum on his lab table and sits down at his desk and pulls up his communication logs. “Could it be that someone has hacked his encrypted nanobot communication system?” He thinks to himself.
This is the same system he used to control Dr. Tom Fields during the super vaccine trials. He built a safeguard into the nanobots to disable them and flush them from his body, but upon review of everything, he finds nothing to indicate the nanobots have been compromised. He initiates the flushing protocol just to be on the safe side and waits for his body to purge the nanobots over the next 72 hours, which is a process he performs once a month anyway.
Xavier: We’re going back to Mars.
Jan: Really? It’s been a repeated abysmal failure over the last 30 years!
Xavier: It has cost trillions of dollars and dozens of lives, but the value is still there. We will succeed in colonizing Mars within the next 100 years.
Jan: You’re saying within your lifetime then. Is that because of your latest constellation satellite system orbiting the red planet?
Xavier is lying in his bed at home, doing his bedtime meditation, when he hears the same voice from the other day while in the lab.
“I am he,” he answers back.
He opens his eyes and stares at his ceiling for a brief moment before he smiles, chuckles, and then closes his eyes and falls asleep.
The following day he goes into his personal lab and takes a dose of nanobots and then takes the serum to enter Earth 2.0. As he’s waiting for the serum to kick in, he keeps thinking “0266” over and over in his head until he falls asleep.
Xavier enters into his simulation in Earth 2.0 that takes him ahead 100 years. The simulation is now using the data available from the Mars constellation satellite system Xavier Labs has placed around the red planet. With nearly half a Martian year worth of data, Xavier is now able to more accurately simulate conditions on Mars.
He begins running a series of simulations within his simulation in order to figure out the best method to colonize Mars, when he hears the voice again, “0266”. He smiles.
The simulations complete, and Xavier analyzes the data to determine the best scenario to follow for colonizing Mars.
Xavier: The constellation satellites are helping us better understand what will become home for billions of humans in the future.
Jan: And what about beyond our solar system? Your quantum entangled satellite system is nearing Alpha Centauri. Do you expect to find life? Or plan to colonize the habitable planets you discovered before sending the satellites? What does the future of human space colonization hold?
Fredrick Prophet tosses a file onto the table in front of Xavier. “Another one bankrupt, Ned!”
“I don’t think I have ever seen you this enthusiastic before, Fredrick. Should I be disturbed that you enjoy watching people fail so much?” Xavier chuckles as he opens the file to see that one of their top competitors in quantum computing has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Laughing, Fredrick responds, “Good thing we’re on the same team, eh! See you in the board meeting later quantum genius,” he says as he’s leaving.
Richard enters Xavier’s office and glares at Fredrick as he passes him. In turn, Fredrick gives him two thumbs up and a big smile. Richard passingly gives Fredrick the middle finger as he walks to Xavier’s chair and sits down in front of Xavier, “So, you saw Xeno’s belly up? I know a few guys over there worth picking up for our own teams.”
“Richard, when you go to bed a night, do you ever wonder if, or when, these other companies are going to figure out that quantum computing isn’t what they think it is?” Xavier asks his business partner.
“Not particularly, Ned, but I can see how that would be something that might keep you up at night. There are a lot of good people losing their jobs pursuing something that continues to remain a big mystery that we’ve already figure out.”
Xavier gives Richard a look of disgust, “The only thing we figured out is that existing quantum computing paths and technology is total bullshit and can be done for a fraction of the cost and resources with optimized classical computing.”
There’s a long, uncomfortable silence.
“Ned, you’ve never struck me as someone with much of a conscious about… Well, anything. You getting soft in your old age?” He smiles at Xavier.
“I’m being serious when I say this Richard.” Xavier pauses as Richard hangs on his words. “I’m going to setup a program for universal income for everyone on the planet when we finally start returning the RUBARB mining haul. I know Fredrick is going to be pissed, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Richard looks at Xavier with a puzzled look.
“What?” Xavier charges.
“You’re full of shit, Ned.”
“I’m being 100% serious, Richard. We’re changing the world, and I think it’s important to change it for the better!”
“Hey, I’m dead in a few months anyway, so whatever flips your pancake, Ned.”
“Don’t be like that, Richard. When you first told me about your repeating cancer, I started taking this kind of stuff a bit more serious.”
“Ya…” Richard gets up from his chair. “Total bullshit, Ned.” Richard heads for the door. “I don’t see why you can’t just tell me, your best fucking friend, who is dying of liver failure what you’re really up to.”
Xavier raises his eyebrows, “You done with the drama?”
“I’m all ears if you’ll tell me your real scheme,” Richard says as he turns back around and sits down.
“Okay, the plan is that we’re going to setup the entitlement program and use our patented DNA sequencing for uniquely identifying each recipient.”
Richard sits back in his chair, “That’s brilliant, Ned! You’ll have exact DNA data on billions of people! What you’ll be able to do with that data is limitless, but I’m still a no.”
“C’mon, Richard! Let me help you! With this, we can find a solution to your liver!”
“Not going to happen, Ned. I love you and all, but this is it for me. Please respect that. And don’t put me in your Earth 2.0 or even my own. It’s the end of the line for me. I’m out with this last liver, okay?” Richard looks sternly at Xavier. “This is it for me, Xavier, and I need you to respect that.”
Xavier looks downtrodden and nods as Richard leaves his office.
Xavier: I’m as eager as you to discover what’s next. The future is the greatest discovery. It will be important to respect any existing life that we might discover in the future, no matter how primitive it may be.
Jan: Should we expect to find life elsewhere in the universe?
Xavier: It would be naive to believe otherwise. Whether it will have achieved the level of intelligence and success as humans is to be seen.
Jan: So, you don’t think other intelligent life is out there?
Richard is lying in his bed with his armada or robots around him and Xavier as the lone human. Richard reaches his head out from under his blanket and grasps Xavier’s hand.
“I appreciate everything you did for me, Ned, now and in the future. Please tell my ex-wife that I hold no ill will against her not joining me today. I’m pretty sure it’s because she hates you more than me.”
Xavier smiles as his eyes begin to well up, “You sure you want me to turn off your system, Richard?”
“You promised me, Ned.”
Xavier begins the shutdown sequence for Richard’s nanobots that have been keeping him alive since his fourth printed liver failed. The consequence of running on the nanobots is that Richard has had to live in a confined space that can wirelessly transmit the needed electricity into his nanobots that consume more than 100 times the energy it takes a human to live.
Xavier looks Richard in the eyes as Richard begins to die, “I love you, brother.”
Xavier closes his eyes and a stream of tears runs down his face.
Xavier: It would be a pleasant surprise.
Jan: With Earth 2.0, some of the philosophical minds of the world have suggested that we’re just years away from discovering that this reality is, too, a simulation. I would imagine that in your research into Earth 2.0 you would have come to some truly educated theory about such an idea?
Xavier: It’s an idea that’s been kicked around since before the beginning of this millennium; both in science and pop culture. Anyone with a curious mind has likely pondered the very nature of our existence itself. All our research points to this reality that we live in being absolute.
Jan: And signs of a higher being or a God?
Xavier: I’d be naive to assume I have all the answers.
Jan: Your research has found nothing to prove one way or another?
Xavier: Do you mean do I hear a voice calling my name at night, giving me guidance and answering my prayers? No.
Jan: When we return from this acknowledgement of our patrons, we’ll next discuss the hot topic of politics.
Jan adjusts in her seat as she leans in towards Xavier in preparation for the next topic of discussion. Xavier remains stoic in his rarely granted interview.
Jan: The most famous, some claim infamous, AI so far has been that of your late business partner Richard Aryu. While the world is a safer place because of that AI, it got off to a rocky start, landing your business partner on trial for his life! However, your company has developed AI for identifying cancer, improving traffic in major cities, reducing the costs of energy production and distribution, increase crop yields, reduced costs of internet service, eliminated bank fraud… and as we’re seeing in Europe, it’s started to replace human representatives in government.
Xavier: It wasn’t me who personally wrote those programs. The honor belongs to the teams, not me.
Jan: And we can’t forget that your AI has virtually eliminated police brutality and political corruption in America and several other countries around the world. Many experts are saying we are on unfamiliar ground as humans with such high life expectancy, high economic productivity, high levels of life satisfaction, and the lowest levels of violence and warfare in all parts of the globe. And those same experts are mostly placing this prosperity at the feet of the AI Xavier Labs has produced.
Others are concerned that we’re destined for a massive world war as humans are unable to manage their lives peacefully for too long. Still others are saying that the corruption your AI helped uncover is merely replaced by a corrupt organization with unbeatable AI technology behind it. What do you say to those critics?
Admiral Marshall folds his arms as Xavier reviews the memo he just received from the decorated retired Navy Admiral. Xavier finishes reading the letter and looks up at Marshall.
“You’re a good writer, Donovan” Xavier says to Marshall as he hands the letter to Richard Aryu. Marshall squints his eyes, and the left corner of his pursed lips reveals his disdain for Xavier.
“What’s this bullshit!” Richard says as he points to several lines on the letter.
“Creative license, Rich,” Xavier says as he doesn’t even look back at Fredrick to see his gesturing. Xavier smiles his signature smile at Marshall as he watches the anger simmer within Marshall.
Fredrick Prophet enters the room with two other men that Marshall recognizes. Fredrick walks up to Marshall and extends his hand and waits for Marshall to shake his hand. Marshall continues to pause while Richard tries to hand Fredrick the letter.
“Don’t worry what’s in that letter, Richard. Marshall is going to tow the line.” Fredrick says as he stares at Marshall, waiting for his handshake. “After all, we’re all on the same team.”
Marshall stands arms akimbo and lifts his chin to appear taller than Fredrick. He breathes in a short, deep breath through his nose and lets out a mild growl under his out breath. “If you want me out, I’m speaking exactly what’s on that piece of paper. I have already filed it with the precinct clerk.” Marshall firmly states.
Fredrick looks surprised and presses his lips together while nodding his head. Xavier continues to smile and pats Marshall on the right shoulder. Marshall has a sudden look of fright, or at least the closest someone as hard as Admiral Marshall can have to fright as Xavier violates his personal space. Xavier tilts his head, “Something wrong, Admiral?”
Marshall’s body is frozen standing in front of Fredrick. His breathing is level, and his pulse is as if he’s relaxing in a lounge chair; but his eyes are telling a different story.
Fredrick looks at Marshall with pity. “You were chosen for a reason, Donovan, and it wasn’t your artistic writing skills. You knew your position. You’re a linebacker. You take the orders and give them to the troops, and if they don’t follow the orders…” Fredrick shrugs, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to behead you.” Fredrick smiles.
Xavier: I welcome well founded criticism. The source of the criticism you mention is who? Or more importantly, what?
Jan: It’s true that much of the criticism has come from the business leaders of the very same corrupt organizations your AI helped bring down.
Xavier: I certainly understand the animosity the heads of corrupt organizations would have towards me and my teams who helped bring them to justice.
Jan: Let’s review the numbers. A dozen high level business executives serving on average a decade in jail for massive conspiracies to defraud the United States government and consumers. The massive scams of quantum supremacy claims that were made in the early part of this century being some of the biggest examples. These scams cost consumers trillions of dollars and nearly lead to the biggest financial collapse in human history. Some say that if it wasn’t for you, the collapse was imminent.
Xavier: Again, I can’t take credit for that. It was teams of people who brought about this justice.
Jan: Also, 60 members of the United States Congress who were part of the internationally backed assassination plot that your AI thwarted and more than 1000 actors in other government agencies and the Navy who were part of the conspiracy; all brought to justice thanks to your AI. While these are impressive numbers, and bringing down this massive international ring of corruption was unprecedented, there are some who have said that the corruption was manufactured and that Xavier Labs stood to catapult itself into virtual kingship with a conspiracy to bring down this other ring of corruption.
Xavier: Those allegations were investigated. We are not above the law either.
Jan: That’s correct! One of your very top military consultants was indicted and remains a fugitive. Which has lead some to point out that maybe your AI isn’t all knowing after all. Does Donovan Marshall haunt you?
All of the men except Xavier, Marshall, and Fredrick exit the room. Xavier looks at Fredrick while Fredrick looks at Marshall and Marshall looks at Xavier. Xavier presses a button on his hand computer, and Marshall can feel that he has regained control of his body. He folds his arms high on his chest.
“Look, Admiral,” Fredrick addresses Marshall, “You get the five star reassignment when you tow the line, but this guy here,” he points to Xavier, “This guy right here is the only reason you’re still breathing, and I’m pretty sure he could kill you with the press of a button.” Xavier shrugs.
Fredrick continues, “I’ll hand it to you. It’s shits like you that make this entertaining for me. You had your entire military career handed to you by guys like me. You think someone of your inferior intellect is truly capable of making it to the position you are in on your own? Your own grand merit gave you those stars?”
Marshall remains stoic as Fredrick continues, “My team put you high on the hog. My personal choice would be to make your life drag on and on and on. Cut out your eye lids and make you watch your wife and kids and soon to be grandchild suffer agonizing deaths. Throw in a busted kneecap and some razor blades under the fingernails and toenails, followed by a nice salt mani-pedi. Then perhaps punch you in your kidneys until they begin to fail so that you die one of the most excruciatingly painful deaths possible.”
“Why would that be your choice?” Xavier asks.
“That’s a good question, Ned.” Fredrick asks, looking back just long enough for Marshall to get the drop on him.
But Marshall’s body is frozen again, and he has no way to take action. As Fredrick continues on with another personal choice by which he’d like to subject Marshall to an agonizing death, Marshall looks over at Xavier. Almost as if Fredrick’s tirade is taking place in slow motion, Xavier lifts his hand and gives Marshall an enthusiastic thumbs up with an equally excited, teeth grinning, ear to ear smile.
“Could he be trying to tell me something?” Marshall thinks to himself. He looks down confusedly. “He couldn’t possibly be trying to tell me something other than he really thinks Fredrick is disturbed… is he?”
Right as Fredrick says “Do you understand me, soldier? Towing the fucking line is your only option,” Marshall snaps to immediate attention… As he’s still looking at Xavier smiling ear to ear and giving him a big thumbs up, he simultaneously hears Xavier’s voice in his head say “Yes, I am trying to help you.”
Xavier: Mr. Marshall remains a wanted yet untried man. I have confidence that justice will be served in time.
Jan: That’s not the response I was expecting.
Xavier: Then you should have asked a different question.
Jan: It seems hard to believe that you’d have no issues with a man that our government proved masterminded a Naval coup against the President of the United States and the rest of the military. A man that nearly started World War 3 if it wasn’t for the superb work of the CIA and the AI system your company built for them. Surely, you cannot suggest that he is an innocent man when there are such mountains of evidence against him that your very own company helped our government procure. He’s the most wanted terrorist in the world!
Marshall turns away from the television that’s showing his press conference from earlier that day. He clenches down hard on his teeth as he hears his own words. Xavier turns off the television.
“You ready?” Xavier asks.
Xavier and Marshall take Xavier’s personal flight vehicle that flies them to a secret lab that Xavier has in the Rocky mountains. While flying, Xavier fills Marshall in on the plot he’s uncovered to execute a hostile military takeover of the United States. He heaps data on to Marshall who soaks it all up. With the nanobot neuro-enhancers that Xavier has been giving him, he’s able to digest more information faster and link data points together on levels that exceed any of the AI that Xavier Labs has in place. The deep plot becomes clear and obvious to him, but it’s virtually unknown to anyone other than a handful of people who have stumbled upon the data that’s been leaked by an unknown third party that Xavier hasn’t identified but knows is within his company.
The neuro-enhancers allow Xavier to communicate with Marshall almost exclusively without any speaking. The thoughts are encrypted and then received via a large helmet that each of them is wearing and transmitted to the other with a direct wire link between the two helmets. The occasional spoken word is used just to break the awkwardness of silence.
As they arrive at the secret compound, Marshall becomes aware of what Xavier’s plan is, and why Marshall is so important. Marshall will be a scapegoat mastermind of the coup attempt so that Xavier can out the conspiracy and help bring it down. Xavier will have evidence planted to implicate Marshall as well as the real conspirators that include Fredrick. Xavier will then help Marshall evade capture.
Xavier shows Marshall the sprawling estate. It’s upscale but not lavish. “So, this is where you’re putting me up?” Marshall jokes with Xavier, knowing his actual safe house will be of no such upgrades.
“Marshall, you have the most thankless job. In fact, I’m likely going to be the only one who ever thanks you for your service to your country and your planet. I truly mean this with the utmost sincerity…” Xavier pauses for a moment and then vocally says, “Thank you.”
“Don’t be some mushy pussy, Ned.” Marshall smiles as he feels the genuine sentiment from Xavier. “There is one thing that I am going to require”
“You name it.”
Marshall smiles ear to ear, “I want one of them bots!” Marshall points to the patrol bots that Xavier has made a few upgrades to since Richard passed away.
Xavier: Jan, I understand this is an emotional topic, and I don’t take lightly any of that emotion. Our justice system affords everyone a right to trial, and that includes Donovan Marshall.
Jan: What do you say to those who suggested that he was just a patsy and that there is a much larger plot in play? A plot that some suggest Xavier Labs is at the heart of it.
Xavier: Allegations were levied against Freddy and proved false. It’s a side effect of success.
Jan: It has been said that one of the biggest signs of success is how many people want to hurt you.
Jan: I’m not suggesting that a lot of people want to hurt you.
Xavier sits down at a bar in tropical paradise and orders a club soda with lime. While he’s waiting for the drink, a man sits next to him and orders a tonic water.
“You really should try the tonic water here. It’s the best in the world,” the man says to Xavier as their drinks arrive.
“Can I get a tonic water instead?” Xavier asks the bartender. He then turns to the man. “I can’t thank you enough,” Xavier says to the man as he gets up and walks away.
Xavier: I’m certain I have a fan club.
Jan (laughing): You should see the emails I received heading into this interview! But let’s talk asteroids. You donated your first ever haul to the people of Earth, setting up the largest entitlement program in the world, and creating what some have called the universal answer to increased automation.