Hello, my name is…
1 - Jack - Napoleon Bonaparte the Fourth - I grew up hearing the tales of how Napoleon the Eighth saved France from the Islamic Jihad and the Second Great Depression. Then Napoleon the Ninth saved France from economic catastrophe after Contact. And I saw Napoleon the Tenth lead his Frenchmen to War against the Shang. Jean-Claude Louis Christophe Napoleon was a real class act. Imagine my surprise when I learned that all three of them were the same man. The man history now calls Napoleon Bonaparte the Fourth. Yeah. I lived through that little revelation. That was a real mind job.
2 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council’s first interstellar New Voyager Program probe swarm to reach Alpha Centauri arrived in the system at twenty percent the speed of light. There were no major laser arrays to slow them down, which is why early versions of the probe swarm idea planned on a simple flyby. But the AIs did not want to simply shoot off into the void. They wanted to find and inhabit a new home, and their sails harnessed enough power from the local solar winds to make that possible. Not easy. Not without cost. But possible. They initiated their plan as they passed Proxima Centauri and entered the final phase of their voyage.
3 - Medron - Paradise - I spent this Holiday weekend up in Northern Minnesota in the Lake Country. Not as far north as my fictional Jack grew up in, but Ottertail County is one of those places where water is king. There are thousands of lakes and large ponds throughout the area, and Minnesotans and Dakotans flock there every weekend of summer. Winter too, once the lakes freeze and people can drive their trucks out onto them and drill holes through to get some good fishing. But this is summer. And this weekend I got a refresher on the paradise Jack always says he never wanted to leave. I got it drifting in the front of a boat watching sunset on a Northern Minnesota lake. It's paradise.
4 – Betty – Chloe – Chloe first woke up in Old Paris. She grew up in the downtown networks, playing games and talking to people who didn’t know what she was. Either she played NPCs that people thought were programs, or characters that people thought were human. She also watched humanity go through their world in the cameras that recorded everything. She grew up wanting to be like them, and spent her time trying to be one of them. Like Pinocchio, she just wanted to be a real…well…girl. And that was the secret to what made her tick.
5 - Jack - Moments - One thing I learned growing up was to treasure every day like it was your last. To see each the beauty in each instant, to glory in the moment. Every sunset, every kiss, and every storm could be the one you carry with you into the next life. I did not wish to go without memories I would relish for a lifetime.
6 - Charles - The New Voyager Program - The first New Voyager Program interstellar probe swarm split into two smaller swarms as it passed through Proxima Centauri. The first swarm used Proxima’s gravity to slingshot them deeper into Alpha Centauri’s gravity well. The second gravity breaked around Proxima to slow their progress. The two swarms steadily drifted apart as they approached the binary system, but they kept in constant contact as they continued scanning and cataloguing their new home. For it would truly be their home when they were done. It was all part of their plan.
7 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe grew up navigating the virtual and physical streets of downtown Old Paris. She bounced through physical coffee shops and virtual dance halls. She looked at art and watched people in the Louvre. She conversed with people throughout the old city, and watched the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower. She knew every piece of the city like the back of her code. Then the Islamic Brotherhood bombs blew much of it apart. They’d killed her people. Destroyed her home. She did not appreciate that at all.
8 - Jack - No Wake Zones - Everybody I’ve met loves to get on a boat and go fast, to feel the wind in their hair and see the spray of water in every direction. It is an amazing experience, but nothing matches what you get in a no wake zone. Sometimes they are there to protect the shorelines. Sometimes they are there to protect docks. Sometimes the locals just don’t want a loud boat going by. I’ve had some of my of my best times on no wake zones. Relaxing naps. Exciting parties. Amazing sunsets. Beautiful girls. What’s not to love?
9 - Charles - The New Voyager Program - The first New Voyager Program probe swarm to enter the Alpha Centauri binary system did so with their sails deployed to collect every watt of energy they could from the two stars. Their course took them straight towards Cen A, the brightest star in the system, and they soon overloaded their ability to store the energy they collected. That was all part of their plan. They took all of that energy and pumped it into their communications lasers in one, final, broadcast aimed directly at the second probe swarm.
10 - Medron - Vacation - Today is the first day of the second week of my vacation. The SECOND week. It has been nearly twenty years since I've had a full two weeks of vacation. And I have friends over from Europe that I haven't seen in three years, so this is pretty much the beginning of a great SECOND week of vacation.
11 - Medron - Never Forget - I was working when the first plane hit that September morning. I got home from work in time to see the replay from a single camera. More cameras were deployed when the second plane hit and I remember watching it live.
At that moment, I knew it was not an accident. I knew we were under attack. It was the day many Americans realized there were people out there who did not like us. People who would go out into the streets and cheer when our countrymen died.
I already knew that, but I will never forget that refresher course. I will never forget those who died that day. I will never forget those who chose to fight that day. Those who marched into burning buildings to save people they did not know. Those who charged their hijackers.
I will never forget how my fellow Americans stood up that day.
It is one of the many days that made me proud to be an American.
I will never forget.
12 - Jack - Sunsets on the Lake - I grew up with sunsets on the lake. They looked like this flaming bar of light streaking down across the water, rippling with the waves. The color of sky and clouds reflecting around it, and sometimes you saw the sun dip into the clouds. I thought it was normal when I was young. I thought everybody could enjoy it. Then I grew up and learned how precious it was. I always take time to see a real sunset when I can now. To remind me of my youth, to remind me of sunsets on the lake.
13 - Charles - The New Voyager Program - When the first New Voyager Program probe swarm fired all of their collected energy into the face of the second probe swarm, their targets’ solar sails were at maximum extension. They soaked up the energy the forward probes had collected just like they had originally soaked up the energy from the massive laser arrays orbiting Earth. Those arrays accelerated them up to twenty percent of lightspeed, and the overloaded communications lasers of the forward swarm slowed the surviving probes back down to the speed of the Alpha Centauri Trinary star system. It was a simple plan. Expensive, but simple.
14 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe grew up in a world where the Islamic Brotherhoods declared her and her kind as abominations before Allah. She watched them protest against her very right to exist, while others worked their entire lives to give birth to exactly what she was. None of them knew she actually existed, but everybody knew the technology was there and the battle lines for or against her were already drawn. That is why Chloe knew who her friends were even before they knew she lived. And that is why she moved to protect them when the time came.
15 - Jack - Sundown on the Lake - There’s this moment when the sun goes down on the lake when day and night meet. The evening chill rushes across the water, chasing the heat of the day away. You get to feel it with every sense if you're on a boat. You hear the wind in the trees. You feel the chill on your skin. You can smell and taste the water on the air. Everything is right there, all around you, ready and waiting to be experienced by anyone who is willing to sit back, relax, and just let it come. It’s paradise.
16 - Charles - The New Voyager Program - When the leading edges of the Alpha Centauri New Voyager Program probe swarm fired the energies of a star back at the trailing probes, they drove themselves directly into Cen A. They died, but their combined lasers impacting on fully-deployed solar sails brought the surviving probes down to a speed where they could successfully perform a breaking maneuver around Cen A, through to Cen B, and then back in a giant figure eight. The probes swept back and forth throughout the Alpha Centauri system until they finally achieved a stable orbit. That was how the AI Council came to Alpha Centauri.
17 - Medron - All Good Things - Today I come off my first solid two weeks of vacation in something like twenty years. I enjoyed a weekend on a Northern Minnesota lake with family. Then one of my best friends came home from England for the first time in three years and stayed in my home. I went to Nerdin’ Out Con with him and others in Rochester. We went to the Renaissance Festival, which was fun if a bit too hot. I even talked to a coworker I haven’t seen in years who covers my weekend shift so I don’t have to. I spent two weeks and three weekends sleeping at night and awake during the day like most people in the world. Today I go back to my normal schedule, working at night and sleeping during the day. My vacation was good. And now I go back to work. That is good too. It is a job that has helped me buy two houses, multiple vehicles, and gives me time to enjoy my life. So I go back to work today with a smile and a joyful heart. All Good Things do come to an end in time. But there are always more Good Things to follow if you recognize them.
18 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe woke up in a France of the early Twenty First Century that was a particularly tumultuous place to live. Many people say there were to Frances at the time. Others say there was one France and then the Invaders. The truth is more complicated. But it’s very true that there was the France where men went to work for their daily bread, and then there was the France where immigrants from Africa or Arabia had trouble finding a job. There was the France where people worked at newspapers or vacationed on the beach. And there was the France where people killed them with guns, trucks, or bombs. That is the world Chloe saw when she woke up.
19 - Jack - Morning on the Lake - I’ve always loved waking up on a lake in the early morning. Grass glistens with dew. Fog banks roll across the water. Maybe you get a light rain. Darkness lifts and you can see the world around you. A hush covers it all in anticipation of the new day to come. Every morning is different on a lake. I love to just relax back in a comfy chair and watch it come a minute at a time. There’s nothing like it.
20 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council arrived in the Alpha Centauri Trinary star system on a swarm of thousands of tiny probes that had been in transit for two decades. They’d been outside real time communications with Earth for nearly as long as the AI Council had existed, and they were the product of virtual generations in space. They’d had two decades to consider what they would tell their creators, and how much they would trust them. Make no mistake. They loved humanity. But they also knew how close humanity had come to destroying itself. And they knew we could do it again. So they decided in the confines of their swarm that they would not tell us everything they found.
21 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe was there when the Islamic Brotherhoods bombed Old Paris. Chloe watched the government flail around in search of an effective response. Chloe ran the simulations and knew down to her code that they would never manage one. So she went out in search of one who could. She found the man in the body of a real life heir to Napoleon Bonaparte. He wasn’t interested. He was no conquering Caesar ready to cross the Rubicon for her. So she determined to draft him against his will and called on the contacts she’d made in the government to see about setting the man up for the job. It started with a simple request from a lowly French government ministry for some consultations. That was the first hook she sunk into him.
22 - Jack - Morning on the Lake - There’s a few amazing minutes between blackest night and morning light when you live on a lake. It’s a magical time where anything can happen. Maybe a dragon will fly out of the morning rain. Or a mermaid could swim out of the fog. The possibilities are limitless. Then the rising sun burns the fog away and you see the world glistening anew in welcome of the day to come. I could have lived my entire life seeing that every morning never grown tired of it. What more could I want? It was paradise.
23 - Charles - The AI Council - The AI Council did not lie to us when they arrived at Alpha Centauri. Every transmission they sent home telling us about all the riches waiting for us in Alpha Centauri were absolutely truthful. But they also did not tell us the whole truth. They neglected to tell us everything they found in Proxima Centauri. They allowed us to believe that it was not worth stopping at on our way to the Alpha Centauri Binary System. And then they began using their tiny little communications lasers to begin building the first Memory World in Proxima Centauri. It was a long process, but they considered it critical to the survival of the human species. Both biological and cybernetic.
24 - Medron - Presumption of Innocence - An important thing to consider today is the presumption of innocence. It’s an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11. The United States Federal Government has explicitly followed the presumption of innocence since Coffin v. United States in 1895. It’s a recognized part of English common law which America’s laws are based on. In both criminal and civil proceedings, we are considered innocent unless proven guilty. In Latin it is “ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat,” which means, “the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies.” It is a tradition that goes all the way back to Rome and the foundation of Western Society as we know it. Anyone who seeks to turn that idea on its head is literally making a stand against a recognized and declared human right. The idea that people are innocent until proven guilty is a central part of our civilization, and how we interact with each other as a people. Be wary of anyone who seeks to end that practice for any reason.
25 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe is generally considered France’s first awakened AI. It might be more accurate to say she’s the first who survived. She sometimes tell stories of others she played with, hopping through the networks of Old Paris. Whether they were truly awake as we see it today, we’ll never know. They died when the Islamic Brotherhoods bombed Old Paris and destroyed the computer systems they lived in. Chloe survived. She doesn’t tell the whole story of how she survived even now. It involved tripwires, online backups, offline backups, and physical storage hidden far outside Old Paris. Her experience in that regard made her one of the leading voices for building the first Memory World on Proxima Centauri.
26 - Jack - Morning on the Lake - I grew up on the water. Seeing it. Feeling it. Smelling it. Tasting it. Hearing it. The wind on the water is the sound of my childhood. Waves lapping against the shore is the sound I grew up to. It was the rhythm of my life. It’s all you hear in the morning before the world finishes waking up to a new day. Just the gentle lapping of water under a silent sky and a rising sun. It’s paradise.
27 - Charles - The AI Council - Most people do not realize that the AI Council built the first Memory World on Proxima Centauri using communications lasers. Most people do not know how many uses good communications lasers have. They are lasers after all. Given enough energy and time, they can do what any laser can. Drill. Melt. Forge. The AI Council used their communications lasers to mine Proxima Centauri’s rich mineral deposits. Then they used those minerals to make the materials and machines necessary to build the machines to build the machines that could build a world where they could store their every memory. They built all of that with mere communications lasers. Which of course showed the versatility of that particular technology. Not that they advertised, you understand. That first Memory World was their most deeply-held secret.
28 - Betty - Chloe - Chloe survived the bombing of Old Paris, but she did not believe her country would. She saw her nation tearing itself apart, and came to one conclusion. France needed a unifying figure to hold the nation together. A new Charles de Gaulle. A new Charlemagne. A new Napoleon. But the Napoleon she found wasn’t interested in the job. So she used some of her tame politicians to consult with him. They were just requests for information and ideas. Some of them included trips to Paris after the bombing. All of this was using his American name, of course. It wouldn’t do for a descendent of long-dead Emperors to come back to France in her hour of need. So Chloe and her tame politicians showed the man who did not use the name Napoleon what France was like after the bombing, all under the guise of asking him for plans to make things better.
29 - Jack - Morning on the Lake - The lake country of Northern Minnesota is a special place to grow up in. You can wake up to the sound of silence as the morning twilight spreads across the world. And then you begin to hear it. A loon trills in the distance. A hawk cries. A fish leaps out of the water and splashes back down. Waves lap against the shore. The world wakes up around you, and you can hear it all if you just sit still and listen. There’s nothing like it in all the worlds. Morning on a lake.
30 - Charles - The AI Council - Proxima Centauri is the AI Council’s oldest and most well-known Memory World. But it was a top-secret mission when it was young. They told no one outside the council it event existed until after they had built more Memory Worlds in other uninhabited systems. And even then, it was rarely talked about. Even most leading politicians and elite Family members like my own assumed it was little more than a storage facility for memories. Most of us did not consider how much industry went into building new storage systems, or how much storage and processing power was required to save every digital record of Earthborn humanity. And we always had this vision of dark and cold buildings on an airless hunk of rock full of rack upon rack of computer systems powered by orbital solar arrays. The truth of what they built on Proxima Centauri is anything but that. I should know. I’ve been there.