Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. My family supported Prohibition for purely economic reasons. We owned major interests in oil companies which created fuel for the rapidly expanding automobile market. Our primary competitor in automotive fuel was the alcohol that most farmers created in their back rooms. Prohibition erased that competition and forced an entire nation to buy our product. We made a fortune on that law alone.
2 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ll never forget the first time I say Third Fleet. We were back at New Earth again. I keep on going back there you know. I love it. I don’t want to see it. A part of me feels like I ran away. But Third Fleet. Yeah. She was big. Largest fleet I’d ever seen. Amazing. Majestic. Unstoppable. You know I trusted Aneerin’s worry. He’s got the knack. The feel. But I didn’t believe. Not truly. But he was right. We never should have gone to Epsilon Reticuli.
3 – Hello, my name is Betty. The loss of Jane 3.0 was a severe setback in American computer warfare capabilities. Civilian AIs took up the slack, but they weren’t designed for international electronic warfare. They still somehow stopped our enemies from performing large-scale incursions into the American data networks. But they were never truly alone. Some of Jane 3.0’s technicians survived the attack you see. They were very busy as the Second Great Depression came upon us all.
4 – Hello, my name is Jack. I know I put on airs that Capella is a dangerous place to go. It really isn’t for most people though. The Chinese just don’t want to go another round with us after last time. So they’ve revived the venerable traditions of Old Hong Kong and set aside areas where foreigners are allowed. Of course some people like to push those boundaries. Not me of course. I totally respect boundaries of all kinds and would never dream of violating them…
5 – Hello, my name is Charles. Prohibition during the Roaring Twenties quickly went from being wildly popular to amazingly irrelevant in a matter of years. The rich had purchased stockpiles of liquor before the ban went into effect, and the mafias operated undercover bars where everybody could flaunt the law. Police forces and federal agencies unprepared for the rise of organized crime were unable to stem the tide of violent crime linked to the smuggling of alcohol.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 4.0 was America’s rush job Artificial Intelligence, thrown together by a hastily assembled team of government and civilian coders and technicians. The first thing they did was throw out the approved designed standard as utterly unworkable. The second thing they did was to start with an earlier version of the Jane 3.0 code that one of the computer techs had taken home years ago. They updated her code and called her Jane 4.0. The politicians never suspected a thing.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. Despite my complete and total respect for boundaries and laws and such, I may have a small record of infractions in the Capellan system databases. Very small. It seems that they may have taken badly to some of my completely above-board shipments, delivery schedules, and locations. They may have even used the word “smuggler” a few times. I prefer “freelance, customs-free, rapid delivery service.” For some reason they aren’t impressed with that title.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. It is ironic that the Roaring Twenties played host to both the height of human achievement and the depths of violent crimes. People enjoyed unprecedented luxuries and standards of living while government agencies and organized crime exchanged weapons fire in the streets. Sick and tired of the many costs of enforcing the law, people across America demanded an end to the war on alcohol.
9 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Battle of Epsilon Reticuli made me rethink a lot of things. Even after Alpha Centauri I assumed it was just a matter of smacking them a few times to make them think twice about hitting us. America of course. We were the best part of the Western Alliance after all. All we had to do was thump them hard. Epsilon Reticuli finally drove in the realization that brute force wasn’t going to win. The Shang were too smart and cunning for that. We needed another way.
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 4.0 had much of the base code of her earlier version, but lacked most of the refinements seen in Jane 3.0. Many of those refinements included limitations that kept her from “victimizing” the pet minorities of the day by studying them and considering them a threat. It was of course one of those minorities she was not allowed to study that killed her. Los Zetas, one of the most infamous Mexican drug cartels of the time. Jane 4.0 had a grudge when she booted up.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. Most people I’ve met over the years love ocean beaches, the smell of salt water, and the feel of water that has traveled thousands of kilometers. They love to vacation in warm waters. I grew up in Northern Minnesota though. I love the taste of fresh water on my tongue. Cold springtime water on my skin forever reminds me of youthful days. Hotdogs sizzling on the grill as the pontoon rocks beneath you. That was my heaven.
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Roaring Twenties could not last forever of course. The first tremors of what would come occurred in March of 1929 when the New York Stock Exchange crashed. It was not a large crash, and it was halted when the National City Bank offered credit to those on the fence. But for perhaps the first time people realized that the economy was on shaky ground. And with new tariffs being discussed in the US House, many worried what the future had in store.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 4.0 went on a drug cartel rampage when she woke up. And without the limitations of her dead predecessor, rampage really was an accurate term. She worked with Dixie during the Laredo campaign to destroy Los Zetas and showed up in season 2 of the show. Though the show portrayed her as more Jane 3.0 than the her that hit Nuevo Laredo in real life. The government didn’t want people to know what kind of AI they’d unleashed on the border.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up on the water you know. It was the activities I always looked forward to. Wakeboarding by day. Jet skiing. Motorboating. Canoeing. Fishing. Pontooning. Then bonfires and dancing and playing music at night. All summer long there was something to do. And in the winter we ice fished. We ice skated. We skied and snowmobiled and did polar bear plunges. Water is good for the soul. There’s always something to do on it.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. The US House passed the new tariffs in May of 1929 and foreign trading partners began boycotting American goods. But income inequality between the rich cities and the poor rural regions was seen as the primary threat to continued prosperity and the tariffs would protect these vulnerable Americans from foreign interests. The New York Stock Exchange quivered and London crashed in September, adversely affecting American optimism in overseas investments.
16 – Hello, my name is Jack. You know we thought we were real big stuff after Alpha Centauri, right? Sure it had been hard, but we secured the entire Trinary System in the end. Kicked them out and didn't even bother to take names. We had some real good parties after that. Then somebody got a burr up their butt about dealing with some bad guys out around Epsilon Reticuli. I keep on wanting to find out who so I can “thank” them, but my better half keeps on finding other things for me to do…
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 4.0 lacked the limitations of her dead predecessor. She could break any law she wanted to with no internal coding requiring her to respect them. She had no equivalent of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. She could kill. And she did so very thoroughly. One might say she even enjoyed it. Some thought she did too much. Numerous reports from commanders in the field accused her of being dangerously unstable in fact. They were right.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve been to Epsilon Hydra a few times. It’s one of the Post-Contact colonies made after star travel became cheap and easy. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The British Commonwealth claimed it on the order of King Henry the Ninth. They made it a bit of a vanity project and built impressive industries there. Oh yes. They named it Avalon. Yes, the source of the “Made in Avalon” tags found on so many things. Turned out to be a real shiny investment on their part.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. A dark day dawned in October of 1929. Several dark days actually, though the first memorable one is forever known as Black Thursday. The New York exchange fell eleven percent at the opening bell. Morgan, Chase, and National Banks pooled their money to buy large blocks of shares at well above the going rate. Their willingness to buy in raised confidence in the market and it recovered quickly. But the opening slide had destroyed any true confidence in the market.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. They released Jane 4.0 into the world as an act of desperation. Our government needed a fully functional AI to face off against Chinese and Russian hacker teams and AIs. It was a desperate arms race. One that in many stories would have turned against us. The Matrix. Skynet. Names synonymous in dystopian fiction with AIs that turned against us. Many believe that Jane 4.0 could have been one of them. That she almost was. She wasn’t of course. We’re still here.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. You know Avalon is home to one of the British Commonwealth’s largest shipyards right? I’ve walked the decks of a lot of ships built right there. But there’s another real shiny place to check out. The Royal Museum of Avalon has a truly impressive collection of historical military hardware. You really should check it out. And since Avalon is a multi-star Beacon System you can make the New Earth-Avalon Run real quick.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. Investors rethought their involvement in the stock markets after Black Thursday. With rumors that the new tariffs would come into effect despite the warning, many chose to leave on Black Monday, dropping the New York exchange by thirteen percent. And on Black Tuesday we had another twelve percent sell off. It was the worst drop in the markets in living memory. They are still known as the days the First Great Depression began.
23 – Hello, my name is Jack. I don’t much like Epsilon Reticuli after what happened there. But one good thing came out of it. I met Olivia Wyatt. Yes. That Olivia Wyatt. And no, it wasn’t in that way. Not that I wouldn’t have minded, but our relationship was purely professional. At the time she was a simple cruiser captain in the United States Navy. My how things change. Epsilon Reticuli was her catalyst. And she was the catalyst for a lot of others. She’s a good silver lining.
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. According to the other AIs who lived during the Troubled Times of the Second Great Depression and the conflicts that followed it, Jane 4.0 was a true loose cannon. She was built for war with only the most limited restrictions that didn’t significantly affect her actions. The other AIs did what they could to teach her what they knew of humanity, but she was very much like the angry teenager who does not listen to her elders well. And she was very rebellious.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Avalon system has many stars and many planets. Most are not truly habitable as we would consider them of course, but there is a lot of real estate in that system that is happy to support human life. And we humans are happy to go there. It’s mostly British that live there but they love tourist dollars as much as any star system out there. But if you want to buy stuff you should really leave the tourist trap sectors. The sales taxes there are real killers.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. My family went on a buying spree in 1929, buying up stocks whose value had plummeted in the crash. It took a long time for us to turn a true profit on it, but we secured control of many businesses that would later be of use to us. That control and the future profits was our primary goal, and though it took twenty years to make our money back it was considered a good investment. We made fortunes off those purchases.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. Jane 4.0 did grow up of course. It took her a very long time to get over her anger though. She used that anger on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mexican digital fronts to become an arbiter of death. She discovered many ways of using mundane electronic equipment to kill people very permanently. And usually very painfully. She enjoyed the killing. The other AIs convinced her to take a few steps back in the end. And in moderating her they saved her life.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. There are a lot of “New” places in the Avalon system. New Scotland, New Ireland, and New England are the most heavily developed worlds, but there are dozens of other planets, moons, asteroids, and even pure space stations scattered throughout it. They have ski slopes, zero gee sports complexes, beaches if we want to talk about my personal favorites, and every other sight seeing or activity-performing attraction one can think of. It’s a real fun place to go.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The world economy and the stock markets would continue to slump for years of course. It brought down governments and changed administrations. The Democrats rose back to power in America and spent the next decade conducting a slow societal revolution promoting the power of government to provide for the common man. This would have powerful future consequences. The National Socialist revolution in Germany is far more famous though.
30 – Hello, my name is Charles. I did not favor the advance on Epsilon Reticuli. As others, I believed we should have concentrated on more important enemies. But the politicians wanted a quick victory, images of Alliance soldiers pacifying enemy worlds they could distribute to the newsies to improve public morale. Oh what fickle fates we have that can be dictated by a politician’s need for good press. The story they got of course was much different than the story they wanted.