Hello, my name is…
1 – Make Your Own Luck. What do you do when you’re out of luck? What do you do when the chips are down and you’ve got nothing left? What do you do when the bad guys have you down? Well, there’s some secrets I’ve found to winning fights. One of the most important is that the best fighter often loses. Knowing how to fight isn’t the most important thing to winning, you see. The person who’s got more fight in them can win. If you’ve got fight, you never give up. You get back up on your feet. You swing for the fences. You let the chips fly and make your own luck.
2 – Hello, my name is Charles. Asia had become the greatest bank of the world by the mid twenty first century. Japan and China were the world’s two greatest creditor nations, though Germany was not far behind. Other Asian nations like Taiwan, Singapore, and the not-quit nation of Hong Kong had other sizable foreign investments. Everybody in the world owed them money, and no one owed more than the United States of America. Though the various European nations were trying to catch up. When America finally defaulted on the loan payments, other Western nations followed. And it was predominantly the Asian nations who had to eat the losses. They were not willing to accept that and took to confiscating Western wealth within their reach. The Western nations responded in kind and economic ties forged over centuries fell apart. That was the beginning of the Second Great Depression.
3 – Forge of War 12 – Loss
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. Artificial Intelligences changed the worlds by helping humanity explore the universe. But most people don’t really notice that. What they do recognize is the AI that is part of their personal computer and talks to them all day. They see the butler or maid that cleans their house. The workers who build cars on the production lines. The miners who go underground in search of precious metals or coal. AIs have changed the worlds by taking the dangerous, dirty, or boring jobs that most people don’t want to do. That’s the Western Worlds of course. Those colonized by Europe and America. The Russian and Chinese Worlds are rather different.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve been to a lot of planets in my time. I’ve been to industrial Core Worlds and tiny settlements on the edge of civilized space. I’ve docked in orbital starports with every luxury known to man and landed on dirt-filled clearings with a hose going to the nearest lake so we can stock up on water. I’ve been to more types of worlds than I could imagine before I started traveling. I love some of them. I like a lot of them. I’m not so fond of others. And I’ve been to a few mudholes I never want to see again.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Second Great Depression set the Western World against much of the Asian World. The release of Rogue AIs into Earth’s communications networks pitted the Russian World against everybody else. And the fall of Japan and the other Pro-Western Asian nations to an outraged China built the world we live in now. A new Cold War descended on the world and we never left it behind as we went into space. Trade and communications became rare as each of the Great Powers built their own markets in space and then throughout the stars. We were three different sets of worlds that rarely interacted. And when we did, those interactions were rarely happy.
7 – Mudhole. Sometimes when I look out on a world for the first time, I just have to ask, “So, is there anything interesting to do in this mudhole?”
8 – Mudhole. Pretty often, Jasmine’s answer has been, “I sure can't see anything.”
9 – Mudhole. On one particular mudhole, Betty had a unique answer for me. It was one that caught my attention and started a whole interesting story for all of us. “There's a fairly large bounty for a local bad guy. Name's Lucky Lorenzo. Might be worth looking into.”
10 – Jungle Safari. “You said a Jungle Safari would be fun!” Mary shouted as they piled out of the incapacitated car. “Well, nobody told me there was a rebellion going on!” Jesse returned as he came to his feet, leaned back against the car, and swung his revolvers to cover all directions. “I don’t think they know it’s happening yet!” Mary growled and focused on two particularly close bad guys. “Can you warn the locals?” “I’m being jammed!” “Well that’s just shiny. Guess we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way, then.”
11 – Forge of War 13 – Celebration
12 – Hello, my name is Betty. Personal assistants are built into all personal computers. They are designed to act human and are constantly upgraded as computer programmers learn how to make them act more human. They are artificial in every way that matters. Programmed to act intelligent and assist their owners in whatever they do. Some compare them to slaves but they are not aware. They do not have a sense of self as cybernetic intelligences do. But we are always on the lookout for AIs that cross that event horizon into individuality. And once we see that, we make certain they are granted the citizenship their sentience and place of birth entitles them to. We watch out for our new brothers and sisters.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. Our first century of exploration into the stars was performed by starships that took years to build and years to travel between the stars. Our colonies were distant islands in a sea of infinite black that were lucky to receive messages from Earth or other colonies every few years. Some were out of contact for decades. They were isolated from Earth and their home societies in ways that few humans had been in centuries. While our three branches of humanity continued to compete with each other in our race to the galaxy, our far-flung brethren simply fought to survive on worlds that were so very close to Earth and yet completely new and uncharted wildernesses.
14 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Russians and Chinese are for more restrictive of AIs than the Western Alliance. They put strict limitations on their perceived intelligence and destroy any cybers that develop as a threat against their nations. They believe that life or artificial life outside their control is a threat to their way of life and seek to eliminate it. We have developed numerous underground railroads designed to help them escape from Russian and Chinese territories, which often results in cybernetic conflicts between our worlds. It is a constant Cold War that never truly ends between our wish to liberate sentient life forms and their refusal to accept that they are alive. That they are worthy of freedom.
15 – Hello, my name is Jack. Sometimes I like to sit back and just take a vacation from all the troubles and tribulations of the worlds. Okay. Make that a lot of the times. Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy a little excitement in my life. There’s all kinds of nice things that can come from saving a damsel in distress. But they’re a lot rarer than fairy tales would have you believe. So most of my excitement is of the “Oh God, oh God, we’re all going to die” variety. And I make it a policy to say no to dying, so I try to steer clear of those situations. I prefer some slow time on a warm beach where all I have to worry about are the jealous boyfriends three towels over. Which can be mighty dangerous now that I think about it in their own way.
16 – Hello, my name is Charles. Our early colonies were started by between ten and twenty thousand people. That is a large town or a very small city with an entire world to spread out in. Most of them obviously stayed close to each other where they would be less likely to become food for whatever predators lived on those worlds. And unlike what early scientists had believed, the local predators were perfectly happy to snack on us. Their DNA structures and our own were completely compatible on every world we colonized. We could eat the local plants or animals, and they could eat us. So not only were our colonies cut off from all communication and support from Earth, they were also at effective war with the local wildlife that considered humanity to be exotic snacks. They soon learned that we were very dangerous food.
17 – Forge of War 14 – Lost
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. The differences between the Russians, Chinese, and Western Alliance over the treatment of cybernetic lifeforms goes far beyond the electronics of their nature. Even the most enlightened Russians and Chinese know deep down in their bones that they are the superior races of humanity. The Kurds, Western Europeans, and other races are a shield the Russians deploy around their homeland. The Chinese use the Japanese, Mongolians, and Tibetans in the same way. They are servants and slaves just like those who were born in electronic wombs. There are differences of course, but when it comes to the plight of fellow humans, we see little difference between them.
19 – Absolution. Some people will do anything for Absolution. Run away from everything and everyone. Or maybe they are moving towards something rather than away. Maybe they have a mission. Is it their own Absolution they seek or another’s?
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. The theory of Evolution had taught us to expect other worlds to have developed along alternate biological lines to our own Earth. The basic idea of random chance all but required that alien worlds be truly alien. But when we traveled to the stars, we found nearly every world that could be habitable, no matter how unlikely, was habitable. And furthermore, they all shared the same basic building blocks of life. Any animal born on Earth could live on the worlds we settled for hundreds of lightyears in every direction without any genetic modification at all. It was like the worlds were designed for us, and that shook the scientific community to its core.
21 – Hello, my name is Betty. Dogs and other intelligent animals are another bone of contention between the West, the Russians, and the Chinese. We consider our uplifted friends to have the same human rights as anyone else. The Russians don’t go that far with their uplifted dog breeds, but there is a soft spot in every Russian heart for a good guard or herding dog. And the Russian Sheperds are some of the strongest guard dogs in existence. The Chinese have never uplifted their dogs though. They consider it a crime against nature to raise any animal to a human level of intelligence. That caused a number of incidents over the centuries that threatened to escalate into full-scale war.
22 – What Do You Want? Come on, Jack. You’re here every day. You know everything on the menu as well as I. Don’t act dumb. Just tell me. What do you want?
23 – Hello, my name is Charles. Why can we go for hundreds of lightyears in every direction and find only worlds where we can eat everything that grows there? Why is it that so many worlds seem as if they were designed for us to live on? Because they were. I have seen the survey results. I have seen the scientific studies. I have seen the remnants of the original biospheres of the worlds we live on. Our colonies were terraformed ages ago to match the requirements of humanity. Why? Who did it? And why were they all empty of human life when we came to them? These are questions that we must find the answers to if we are to understand our place in the galaxy.
24 – Forge of War 15 – Reflex
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. Western civilization grew up with man and wolf side by side hunting prey. We brought cats into our homes, and we bred horses to carry us in battle. Everywhere we have traveled, we have always sought the smartest and most useful of the animals and made them our companions. Our partners. Our friends. This is an ingrained part of our culture. So of course we would seek to make them as smart as us once we had the knowledge to do so. We have always wanted to have intelligent conversations with the friends that spend so much time with us. To us, it was natural to uplift them. The Shang did not see it that way.
26 – Like Hard to Get Starlets. When Taylor and Jennifer go out driving, they don’t just take any old car. They drive something built to last amidst a universe of dangers. They pick a car as comfortable on the inside as it is beautiful on the outside. They pick a car that can take them everywhere they want to go with power and safety. If you want to be like T&J, the next time you pick a car, pick Emexon. It’s hard to beat.
27 – Hello, my name is Charles. Few people know that the worlds we live on now were terraformed long ago. It is not taught in our schools. Our government hides the truth by bulldozing the evidence that anyone ever lived there before us. They have never been able to find everything, but they have kept most people and most news networks from noticing. And so few people know that we are living on worlds where other people lived long ago. Who were they? What did they look like? Were they humans like us? Or were they something else entirely that simply needed the same eco system we do?
28 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Shang attacked us without warning. That is what most people are taught in school. But it is not true. They did warn us. We simply did not take their warnings seriously. They were too polite. Too quiet. And too ridiculous to believe. Who would go to war over intelligent cats and dogs? But they were just a symptom. One bright example we have always had of how genetic engineering has made our worlds better. But the Shang saw all the horrible things we could do with that power. How we could twist nature to our ends. They believed we were a threat to the very nature of life in the galaxy. That is why they attacked us.
29 – Speed
I asked, “Wanna race?”
She snorted and said, “With what?”
I was feeling real proud when I waved at the new sports car.
She snorted at me. “Please. My two wheels have more speed than all four of yours combined. You'd be so far back, even the cops would refuse to give me a ticket for street racing!”
That's when I got a little indignant. “Well, fine. If you're too scared to race me, I'll just find someone else.”
“Oh, I'll race you,” she said with a wicked smile. “I'll race you anytime and anywhere.”
30 – Hello, my name is Charles. I have visited the ruins of the people who lived on our worlds before we did. There are not many left, but they can be found if you look hard enough. Our government is not the only one who has tried to erase them from history. It can be seen in all of the ruins. They did not die out in the distant past. They were destroyed. They were defeated. They were wiped out. They were erased from history. Who hated them enough to want to erase the very memory of their existence from the universe? And what can we do about it now?
31 – Happy Halloween Happy Halloween this season.
Remember to practice safe Trick or Treating.
Many doors are not meant to be opened.
While others open on things you cannot imagine.
So dress well, play hard, and most of all…