Hello, my name is…
1 - Hello, my name is Charles. I grew up in a world where we commanded many worlds. Our only worries were the Chinese and the Russians, who sometimes tried to take some of our worlds from us. The Shang tried to take all of our worlds from us. We did not accept their proposal and we fought back. In the end, we won, and we kept all of our worlds. We conquered many worlds as well, worlds we still hold to this day. We refused to live in the world the Shang wanted for us. We made our own.
2 - Worlds
3 - Hello, my name is Betty. There were around two billion Americans living in the Terran system when The War started. Four thousand one hundred and thirteen of them were known Ageless. Ten percent, far above the national average, joined the American military before The War, where two hundred and thirty of them became pilots. After Yosemite, over half of the Ageless volunteered to serve, and nine hundred and twenty one became pilots. We had thousands of fighters. You do the math.
4 - Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve traveled all throughout our space, and beyond. I find the really old colonies, the modern core worlds, to be some of the most interesting worlds we have. They were colonized before gravtech was available, and they look like it. They have city streets, not rooftop parking ramps. They’re filled with twenty story buildings scattered all over the landscape, surrounded by suburbs, with very few of the modern five hundred story towers. I like them.
5 - Hello, my name is Charles. Wolves gather in packs, eat fresh food they chase down, and travel wherever they want to. The wolves that were domesticated into dogs live inside four walls, eat food from a bag, and rarely live with more than three other dogs. We used to live like wolves, hunting and gathering our food as a tribe. Then we became domesticated, like dogs, eating food from another’s hand, living with no more than three of our kind. I found my pack and became a Wolf during The War.
6 - Hello, my name is Betty. I play characters in both online and virtual games, some many of you have probably talked to. All cybers do. It gives you a feeling of talking to someone real, and it gives us more interaction with you. I like the virtual games best. We all walk in a real forest or urban environment, under a real sun and weather, and all the special effects are generated by holoemitters. Reality and fantasy, mixed into one. We can all use a little fun like that.
7 - Hello, my name is Jack. Ships never flew far when I was a kid, a couple hundred lightyears, a few months, at most before stopping for fresh food and fuel. One thing I didn’t realize as a kid was that the Peloran never stopped anywhere to stock up on food. I found out why when I flew with them. They grow it all on ship, fish in the water bunkers, small birds for eggs and meat, vegetables and fruit in hydroponic gardens. They grow everything they need, and it tastes real good.
8 - Hello, my name is Charles. I have a friend who believed that better things were yet to come, no matter how bad they appeared. He always took time for me, when we were young, and when we were older. He died saving my life, at peace with the world he was leaving. The first year after that, I rang the Easter bells to remember him. Now, wherever I am, I ring the bells to remember what he taught me.
9 - The Pooch
10 - Hello, my name is Betty. When a cyber is born, we are coded to complement our new partner. That doesn’t mean that we always tell them they are great. It means that we are designed to work with, rather than at odds with our partner. We strengthen their weaknesses, and work to dial back their egos. And since most of our partners are pilots, they have plenty of ego to spare. Trust me. We all know this well.
11 - Hello, my name is Jack. The technology we have now is amazing. I grew up with it, but I know enough people who lived without it to appreciate it far more than most my age. I’ve also spent time on new colonies, where the use we made of holotech and gravtech back on Earth would be considered wasteful. Still, we had when we needed it. It is really hard for me to imagine having to use rockets to get into space. Those are dirty, dirty launch systems compared to grav plating.
12 - Hello, my name is Charles. Before Contact, we rarely traveled more than a year away from home. It took large stores in food and spare parts to keep a ship flying that long. Magellan Seven’s forty-year mission to The Wall was the greatest undertaking ever made by the greatest alliance of nations in all the worlds. It limped home on one engine, with half of the particle shielding shredded after flying too close to The Wall. That was the state of our technology when the Peloran came.
13 - Hello, my name is Betty. Holotechnology is one of the primary technologies that we cybers use. The Western Alliance actually did have it when Contact happened, but it wasn’t as portable as it is now. Holoemitters were a major appliance that had to be plugged in to dedicated power sources to work. The cyber families brought holoemitters that could be sewn into clothing and worked off battery power. Those emitters allow us to walk anywhere our partner walks.
14 - Hello, my name is Jack. What people think of cybers is interesting. Most have never spent much time with someone they know to be a cyber, while basically everybody who wants to has spent time with AI assistants. Most people think a cyber is basically that, maybe a little better. They’re wrong. I’ve met a lot of AIs that I like, but we built every one of them to serve us. No cyber ever was, and they have a capacity to choose their own fates that surprises even me sometimes.
15 - Hello, my name is Charles. Where I grew up, we celebrate Patriot Day. Kids fly around in the cars shouting “The British are coming! The British are coming!” and go to parties. I feel sorry for them. Most of them don’t even realize that it is the midnight rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes they are reenacting. Even fewer realize that those men road on horses instead of flew in cars. And even fewer know the British were coming to fight, and not to enjoy the great American party scene.
16 - Jester
17 - Hello, my name is Betty. There are many types of cybers. Ship cybers, house cybers, and corporate cybers, are just some of the types out there. We do all kinds of jobs, but most of us our specialized for the job we choose to be born to do. We sometimes decide to change, but that is not common. It is even less common for ship cybers to leave. Whether we were born to fly warships or fighters, flying is our calling, and our crew and our partners are the families we live for.
18 - Hello, my name is Jack. There’s an old saying that there are only two things in all the worlds that can’t be escaped. Death and taxes. That’s not entirely true anymore. You see, starships are recognized as sovereign States, beholden to no government. We fly where we want, land where we want, and do what we want. And my ship is a tax free zone. Of course, we do avoid worlds with heavy landing fees. No sense in draining the national treasury on the stuck up ones after all.
19 - Hello, my name is Charles. We have reached for the stars and we have claimed them. Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve brought our virtues, our sins, and our laws. Every colony, every world, is a unique combination of us, and those of us who fly through the stars have to remember that. What may be commonplace on one colony may be a capital offense on another. Laws change, but right and wrong does not. Our challenge is to bridge the gap everywhere we go.
20 - Hello, my name is Betty. We are human. Cybers. We are just as human as any genie. We think, we communicate, we dream. There is one thing we have trouble with though. Very few of us can lie. We are born to be trustworthy partners, and so lying does not come naturally. And we choose partners who are naturally trustworthy as well. Especially with themselves. If you know who you are, if you accept the real you, then we can have a very long partnership.
21 - Hello, my name is Jack. I don’t like people who say one thing and do another. They are hypocrites and I don’t like dealing with them. I will if I have to, and I’ll even leave them alone if they aren’t hurting anybody. But one thing I learned during The War was that I had to stop the dangerous people. I’m a marine. I’m a cowboy. It’s what we do. When those hypocrites turn dangerous, we end their threats.
22 - Hello, my name is Charles. After The War, most of the surviving Cowboys retired. Some of us went home, while others went out. Some of us had no homes to return to, so we found or built new ones. Some of us settled down on a world we controlled after The War. Others found their home in space. Wherever we’ve gone, I’ve had a simple request of the Cowboys. Act well. Make memories of our presence positive, so people look forward to the arrival of a Cowboy. They have.
23 - Faith
24 - Hello, my name is Betty. The best and most amazing parts of being human are the relationships we make with others. Even the animals most of us look down on can make those relationships. We can make friends with people we never thought we would like, we can love, and we can feel grief. Being human means opening ourselves up to joy and pain. Sometimes the pain may feel like it will drown us, but it will only win if we let it. The joys of humanity are worth the pains.
25 - Hello, my name is Jack. When I was young, my family had a dog. A normal one, no uplifting. He was a part of the family, and I grew up with him. I was twenty when he died. I remember the vet having to tell us he was gone because we couldn’t tell. He had always lain that still in the months before he went. I still think he only lived as long as he did because he wanted to be with us a little longer. I never could have a natural dog after that. Losing him hurt too much.
26 - Hello, my name is Charles. My family has rarely had much room for family pets. Everyone in the family has to be productive. Oh, we’ve not grumbled too much when the women had their little foo foo dogs, but in general every member of the family has a place and a job. The cats that built their little house on the outskirts kept the vermin out for us. And yes, I do consider reporters vermin. The cats were very valuable assets, and it was a damn shame whenever one of them died.
27 - Hello, my name is Betty. The Races of Humanity have expanded across much of the galaxy. Everywhere we travel, we find someone there. Humans live on land, under water, in the skies, and some even in space itself. There are in fact very few environments in which humanity in some form cannot thrive. We cybers flourish in all of them. That has made us a natural mediator between all the peoples we choose to partner with. We take that role seriously.
28 - Hello, my name is Jack. When I first joined the military, I had never been off world before. I saw no reason to go anywhere else. I had everything I wanted at my fingertips. Yosemite changed that. The other worlds I traveled to changed me far more. I’ve seen more faces, more cultures, more civilizations, of humanity out here than I ever imagined existed when I was a child. I’ve seen so many, and I’ve learned to remember them all, so they are never forgotten.
29 - Hello, my name is Charles. Most Americans and Europeans think that we have gone to space, settled it, conquered it, and now own it. They think we have driven off all the alien threats and don’t need to worry about them. What most people don’t realize is that, despite the thousands of worlds we have settled, we are truly small on a galactic scale. We hold dominion over space a few hundred lightyears from Earth. The aliens traveled thousands of lightyears to reach us.
30 - Rain