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Advancements in technology have accelerated to an even more frenzied pace; multitudes of microprocessors and transponders are embedded in every item conceivable, including people.  Information density, processing and exchange are at an all time high, and growing exponentially.

Along with all this have come changes to the very human race itself.  Despite laws in some countries against human genetic engineering, all kinds of enhancements or modifications were eventually tried, giving some the competitive edge.

Transhumans were created, the beginnings of a Post-human successor to species Homo Sapiens, “the wise man”.  Some included mixed and spliced DNA from animals, plants and microbes.  Just a few of the positive results were improved immunity to disease, increased intelligence, strength, and extended life expectancy.

However engineering mistakes sometimes resulted in complete and utter disaster.  Eventually the development of artificial wombs and the availability of cheap and accurate genetic prediction software solved these problems. 

Jason stretched and rubbed his face.  Looking around his sloppy bedroom, he noticed a sliver of light peeking through his window curtains cutting across his own bare naked body.  Individual dust particles could be seen floating in the sharply defined light.  Then he remembered the VRcap.  He reached up and pulled it off, throwing it aside.

Something was wrong.  It was late morning.  He remembered falling asleep in the afternoon, maybe around four after coming home from that tech junk shop.

He looked at the clock.  It was 10:45 am!  How could this be?  He must have slept for nearly 18 hours. He never slept this much in his life, not even when he was sick, which was almost never, unless he wanted an excuse to cut class.  Then he realized it must be the cap.  It had somehow extended his sleep cycle so it could complete the brain scan and calibration as Junkman had explained.

Jason was excited.  He wanted to test out the nanoconnections, but he still didn’t know how to activate it.  Just as he completed that single thought; glowing green letters scrolled across his field of vision, answering his question…

Virtual Reality Human Brain Interface Prototype DX-28, Revision 3.5.1.  Registered Property of Vexorg Advanced Research Division.

Unit Status:

> Test subject initial brain scan and calibration procedure complete duration time 17 hrs.

> One neuron cluster anomaly identified and isolated. [See detail report for more info].

> Interface normal and operational. COMMAND MODE ACTIVATED

{0.} View Operational MENU? (Yes/No)

Jason briefly wonder what a neuron cluster anomaly was, but decided he was more interested in getting to the menu and finding the user manual Junkman had mentioned.

“Yes” he said out load.  Then realized how silly he was vocalizing his commands.  He could say them silently within his mind and it would understand him.

He discovered he could make selections via menu mind movements.  A technique accomplished by over mapping his motor cortex to the visual interface menu.  This allowed him to select things as easily as moving his fingers, but without actually making the physical finger movements.

Somehow, the nanobots now embedded in his brain could tell the difference between wanting to mentally mind-touch a selected menu item, and physically moving your hand and fingers.  It was as easy as flipping on an old fashion light switch, but with your mind.  He didn't concern himself any more with how it was accomplished, or the fact that he had nanobots latched on to his neurons, he just used them.

He spent the next hour reading the built-in manual, something he never did, exploring the different levels of his operational menu and customizing it to his liking.  He was fully ready to try it out.

Lying back, he accessed the main menu and selected option three.  The report spoke to him as it scrolled across his vision.

Neural Anomaly detected during initial calibration scans.  All access attempts to identify neuronal functions unsuccessful.  Structure artificially in nature, security codes required to access brain circuit implant.  Further diagnostics required.  Speculative Summary: Subject user posses inactive Artificial Brain Implant, purpose unknown.

Jason was stunned.  This couldn’t be right, he thought. Something must be wrong with the device.  How could he have an Artificial Brain Implant?  What was it doing in his head and who put it there? He never had any operations that he could remember.  Too many questions filled his racing mind.  He definitely needed more information.

The functions performed by the new artificial brain circuitry could be anything.  Jason began to worry. When could these procedures have been done?  Certainly at an earlier age than he could remember.  His parents would probably know something about this, since they told him he was adopted at three years of age.  Maybe this was all wild speculation and the unit was really just buggy.  After all it was a prototype-type.  He needed to talk to Junkman again, get some answers.

Realizing he could do this right now, Jason located the Palace of Fine Technological Junk website and entered the store’s VR Portal.  Surroundings materialized around him.  He was disappointed that they seemed the same as the real world shop.  He was expecting something more spectacular in VR. Some shops looked like royal palaces, castles or something.

Well, at least it wasn’t raining this time, the sky being clear and blue, but still.  There was no movement on the street in front of the store.  It was like an old 3D photo from satellite images and observation cameras, everything, cars, buses, and people, all having frozen movements, caught in mid step. 

He looked down at himself and noticed he was wearing sneakers jeans and a white t-shirt, not very stylish virtual attire.  He remembered a sub-menu for controlling his appearance in VR.  He would play with customizing that later, maybe downloading some outrageous cyberpunk skins.

Inside the shop he noticed the service robot, tucked away in the alcove, inactive now.  “Back here.” The reply came from the back of the store.  He could hear the approaching footsteps, shoes on concrete.  It was a little unnerving and dramatic, around the corner appeared Junkman.  He displayed as a thirty something white male with long wavy shoulder-length blond hair with interspersed dreadlocks, silver fashionable jeans, and a funky t-shirt saying, “Love that AI”.

“How can I help you?” asked Junkman.

“There might be something wrong with the unit you sold me,” said Jason.

“Impossible, what could be wrong?” asked Junkman.  “You’re using it in VR right this moment, while conversing with me. I detect no malfunction or fluctuation in this VR Avatar or communication.”

“It’s not a problem with the VR portion of the unit.  The cap detected a neural anomaly during my calibration scan. It says I have an Artificial Brain Implant.  Too my knowledge, I have never had such a procedure done,” explained Jason.

“Transmit me the detailed report,” instructed Junkman.  He looked blank for a moment, then commented.  “It can only be one of two things.  Either this unit is confused or you have a brain implant. We’ll go to my VR lab to check it out,” said Junkman encouragingly while snapping his fingers.

Reality dissolved around them, transforming itself into a different scene of an advanced looking research laboratory.  Jason found himself lying in a light gray examination chair, with complex looking diagnostic units surrounding him.  Junkman’s clothes had changed themselves into a white lab coat, with pens inside and an actual pocket protector.

“Okay, let’s get started.  This shouldn’t take too long,” reassured Junkman.

“Please try to relax.  I’m going to virtually connect some diagnostic instruments over here to your nanobots and run some tests on your gear, and then we can take a closer look at your brain next.

Minutes passed as data read out on the test equipment.  Jason couldn’t make any sense of it.  Pages and pages of hexadecimal numbers quickly scrolled by, all displaying in mid-air.  Jason then realized he knew absolutely nothing about Junkman and decided to startup a little chit chat.  “You seem to have more capabilities than your typical sales AI.”

“You noticed? I am a new Epsilon Level AI.” Junkman said with pride.

“What exactly does that mean?” asked Jason.

“I am not a slave to some corporate or government institution.  I’m the fifth in a series of super advanced FreeAIs, capable of highly independent thought and self-direction.  Not limited by system resources, like many other AIs.  I have my own independent computational facilities.  By the way, there is nothing wrong, the unit checks out AOK,” concluded Junkman.

“I guess that means brain implant,” said a worried Jason.

“I’ll need to trace the neuron pathways of the implanted circuit and see what areas of your brain it connects.  Then I can make a good guess about what it actually does.  This will help me in cracking the access code.”

“Is this procedure dangerous?” Jason asked nervously.

“I’m not going to lie to you, there is a very rare possibility this could be a trigger circuit, what’s called a mind trap, which could cause serious brain damage,” replied Junkman with a serious facial expression.  “It’s your decision.  Do you want me to proceed?”

Jason thought for a moment, he could return the unit as promised.  Get his money back and forget all about this including his discovered implant.  This was the safe way out.  Somehow he knew that was not the right decision.  He had a mystery to solve and there was adventure ahead, he just felt it, be courageous, he thought to himself.  “Please proceed very cautiously.”

“Let me know immediately if you feel any discomfort, pain or anything strange and out of the ordinary,” said Junkman.

“Nothing so far,” assured Jason.

“Good, I’m going to try and crack the access codes now,” said Junkman.

“Something is happening.  My skin is tingling!” cried a worried Jason.

“Not to worry, almost there.  Great!  I cracked the implants access code.  I’m activating the pathways now.  Do you feel any different?” asked Junkman hyper-excited for an AI.

“The tingling has stopped.  Nothing else,” replied Jason.

“Let’s give it a moment.” A minute passed.

“Are you sure you activated the implant?” asked a desperate Jason.

“Absolutely sure,” confirmed an equally nervous Junkman.

Just then, something very strange happened.  Out of nowhere, a giant green Praying Mantis with large yellow eyes materialized in the middle of the VR laboratory.  Jason and Junkman were completely motionless with shock.

Then Jason smiled slyly and said, “Are you shitting me?  Is this some kind of sick joke Junkman?”

The AIP replied, “No, at least not one by me.”

Then the creature began to speak…

Jason, if you are seeing and hearing me, then you have been successful in discovering this implant, along with this smart message, for which I am responsible.  I have tried to anticipate all your questions and provide the necessary answers to guide you.  Junkman, you should be able to see me also; as this program was arranged for the smart message to be displayed in this encrypted VR venue.

Now, I believe it is customary to introduce myself.  My designation is Dr. Xanoplatu of the ancient Manther race, in what you call the Milky Way Galaxy, and yes, I am an alien. I hope that my revealing this fact does not induce any psychological harm to either of you.

Jason and Junkman turned and looked at each other.  They were watching a smart message, an intelligent communication program with flexible response capability.  Used mainly when the sender of the message and the receiver of the message could not be present in the same time frame and location; also used primarily for things like interactive will and testaments.

Somehow this smart message had been embedded within Jason’s brain.  That would take considerable stealth and neurological expertise.  That was not what shocked or impressed.  The fact that they were talking to an alien did.

Jason spoke first. “How do we know you are telling the truth?  You could be a very elaborate hoax.”

This is not a deception, but the burden of belief is upon you.  I have quickly assimilated the knowledge of your culture.  I could have appeared to be convincingly anything, but instead, I chose to be honest to my true form, alien, as it must appear to you both.  Suspend your disbelieve and brace yourselves, for now I must inform you of the worst, and it is really much worse than you can imagine, although the reason I’m here is to offer some degree of hope.

Some essential background information first.  This information may be disturbing to you, but it is important that you finally know the truth. Jason, you are a clone of a Siman named John Raduk.  Although your appearance is different than his, suffice it to say you are genetic twins. 

The reason you were cloned was purely a selfish one.  The artificial brain implant is a circuit designed to allow your clones consciousness to be transferred into your body and mind.  A Siman was awakened upon your reaching 18 years of age.  He will try to contact you and perform a mind-link.  Jason, I advise you against it.  If he finds you, and mentally interfaces with you, you will become submerged and unconscious.  Your will bending to his; your body a zombie that never awakes again. 

Long before Junkman was created I knew he would grow into a free AI.  It influenced the people who made the VR cap specifically for you.  That’s why it fits so well.  They were going to shut down the Vexorg Research Division anyway, losing the trial only provided a cover story. 

My plan was to sell the surplus research materials to Junkman.  To which I also implanted a compulsive sub-program in his neural matrix kernel to accomplish this.  I arranged compulsion triggers implanted in your infant mind, which strongly suggested purchasing this VR Cap.   

Once you discovered your brain anomaly, I knew with an 85% probability you would ask for his help.  I also knew with a high degree of probability Junkman would be able to crack the neuron encoded smart message.  You see, it is all part of my larger plan.

Jason and Junkman looked at each other in disbelief.  They both have been modified, controlled and so easily manipulated.  This time Junkman asked the question.  “What plan are you speaking of?”

The worst of it, your species, the human race, is long dead.  However that can be all changed if you follow my plan… 

. . . 

On his lunch break he went off campus to the usual spot at Jack’s Joint, arriving early. 

Jack’s was an old run down lunch auto-dinner, cafeteria style, with no real sense of decor at all.  The eats were fast food international.  The only thing it had going for it was completely automated food preparation and never being crowded.  That was because other students ate at the more popular spots, he thought, making them more popular students.  Maybe that wasn’t the only reason. 

He had his usual selection, the dinner having put a small bowl of Wanton Soup, a slice of Pepperoni Pizza, piece of Key Lime Pie, and water bag onto his tray, as well as sterilized recycled utensils and a sanitized napkin.  The tray slid past the register scanner, a soft beep and $52.50 appeared on the display, debiting from his account.  Lifting the tray, he went over to their usual booth and scooted in. 

It was early and no one had arrived yet.  He sipped his hot soup without the spoon and looked out the window at the San Francisco sidewalk traffic.  He just had to tell Monica and Nicky the latest news, this dramatic soap opera that had turn his life upside down. 

Monica was the first to arrive, her rainbow hair and green makeup clashing with her shinny plastic orange outfit and florescent red knee high boots.  Monica was a Genemod Chromamorph.  He was not physically attracted to her, although he notices her exceptionally large breasts, and shapely curves; as most of the other guys did.  She usually had a hypnotic effect on them.  Even some of the girls who liked girls became practically catatonic like when looking at her. 

She smiled warmly at him and went to get a tray.  Monica’s parents were quite homely and had obviously gene enhanced her for sexual attraction.  No one could dress that badly and still turn heads with desire.  She once told him in confidence her makeup was not really makeup at all, but skin cell pigmentation she could color change at will. 

As long as he had known her, she looked like she was wearing full-blown makeup.  He had noticed she usually changed the color of her eyes and nails to match her outfits.  She said, if she wanted to, she could accelerate her hair growth rate or stop it, varying its color and shade.  She wasn’t too clear on how much of her body’s skin she could consciously control, but when he commented on her intricate arm and leg tattoos, she said she had never been to a parlor. 

The sad thing for Monica was she was so awfully beautiful no one would ever take her seriously.  Her IQ was probably way above the norm.  It seems the gene engineers had given her brains and beauty. She wanted to be a Terraforming Research Scientist, but on Earth she would have to settle for other work.  Her parents had lost most of their money in wild start-up investment, so she had to work her way through the university, no one would give her a scholarship.  It was just plain and simple genemod prejudice. 

She slid into the booth seat opposite him.  “Hey Jason, how are you?”  She said in her soothing voice, picking up a cube of wobbly blue Jell-O off her tray and with her long rainbow fingernails, placing it on her shinny black lips and tongue and sucking it into her mouth with a slurping sound.  Before he could answer, Nicky arrived, sliding into the seat space next to Monica. 

Nicky was also a genemod, with strikingly different results.  He was a real honest to god human Martian.  He was the first generation designed for survival on the future terraformed surface of Mars.  Most notably he was small and extremely thin, nearly anorexic in his outward appearance, but deceptively strong and hearty.  His skin had a dry tough quality, like all the moisture had been sucked out, and his skin pigment was pale green, results of a modified chlorophyll gene. 

He had no hair on his face or head, which included his eyebrows and eye lashes.  His nostrils where tiny and his nose the smallest and thinnest Jason had ever seen on any face.  He had no lips to speak of and his ears tightly flat against the head without earlobes. 

Nicky’s biochemistry was drastically gene enhanced.  Aside from being able to survive extended cold and metabolize high levels of carbon dioxide in the thinnest of air, he possessed an extra pair of lungs. Even though he was gene engineered to survive Mars, he would also do well on the high slopes of Earth’s Mount Everest.  Nicky was here on Earth as part of an Earth-Mars Solar Student exchange program, a decision he and his parents already regretted, considering the recent highly charged political problems between Earth and Mars. 

They were all distracted by a scrapping sound on the window.  Jason turned away from Nicky to look out the window.  He saw a group of Truhuman punks, yelling.  “Gene Freaks! Go back to your tanks,” Tank street slang for Artificial Womb. 

Monica immediately gave them the finger.  One boy responded by wagging his tongue lewdly and said. “I’d do you honey.”  Monica turned her head away and the punks laughed, moving on down the street, staggering and stumbling along. 

There was a long silence as they ate lunch. Jason said.  “They’re probably high on Jester,” Jester a street drug, whose effect was to reduce inhibitions and give the user a euphoric feeling of superiority.  The difference being from other drugs was it came with an antidote dosage, which made the user sober immediately after taking it.  Users of the drug afterwards completely forgot everything they did while under its influence. 

Nicky replied, “It doesn’t matter. It’s just getting much worse, you know.  Honestly, don’t take this the wrong way, but why do you hang around us?  You’re a normal, as far as I can tell.” 

Leaning forward he spoke softly so he could not be overheard.  “I am not a normal, I’m a clone.  And I have some things to tell you that you’re not going to believe, I’m not even sure I completely do.”  Jason looked at his friends and smiled a sheepish smile. 

They were both silent and ready to listen.  How was he going to tell them? 

He just decided to tell them everything from the beginning.  He explained to Monica and Nicky about the VRcap and the brain anomaly.  How Junkman cracked the encryption code and then the smart message from the alien. 

He told them about Siman John Raduk, and how he was designed as his clone.  Then he told them the worst news of all, about how the human race was now dead.  How The Nanos, a micro-machine evolved consciousness, built a light speed transportation network into our solar system, where they found our extinct remains.  Our extinction occurred through some sort of experimental Nanobomb, a nanowar gone horribly wrong, destroying all of humanity. 

He told them how the Nanos found the surviving backup repository of human genes and cultural memories two million years later, buried deep in the moon.  They travel from star system to star system collecting the remains of extinct alien species and resurrecting them inside their virtual zoo of computer simulations.  How we are inside simulations of such accurate detail, just above the quantum level. 

Finally, he explained how Dr. Xanoplatu told them we must be careful with our knowledge, not letting it spread too far; keeping the Nanos Control Simulation System secretly unaware of our knowledge of this simulation.  Otherwise, we are all in very great peril of being found out by the security and stability monitoring program.  We all would be erased, and the simulation reset back to a point where it can be restarted again safely, without us and humanity knowing it.  

Dr. Xanoplatu’s plan was to contact us simulated humans, in this specific instantiation Jason and Junkman, in the hope of reviving humanity from The Nanos simulation. 

“Are you sure you trust this Alien?” asked Monica, completely believing his story. 

“What are you going to do now?” asked Nicky before Jason answered. 

Jason’s eyes pleaded as he said, “Ask for some help from friends?”  Nicky and Monica turned to look at each other, then slowly back at him. 

Monica answered smiling, “Well if we our dead already, what have we really got to lose?” She winked. 

Nicky said with an uncharacteristically worried expression, “I take it all back, you turned out to be far less normal than I originally thought.” 

Jason asked that they both meet Junkman this afternoon at his shop. 

. . . 

“Your right, this place is packed with tech junk,” said Nicky as he and Monica showed up with Jason at the Palace of Technological Junk.

“Welcome!” said the robot in Junkman’s voice coming out of the alcove.  Monica and Nicky looked a little uncertain.  “Hello Jason. Sorry if I startled your friends.”  The robot turned to Nicky and Monica and said, “My name is Junkman.”

“Junkman, this is Monica and Nicky,” said Jason.

“Pleasure to meet you both,” spoke the robot for Junkman.  “Well, now that we have the introductions out of the way, I think we would all be more comfortable in the basement VR room. I use it for demonstrations and it’s the only place I can assure us complete and absolute privacy. Would you please all proceed to the rear of the shop, there is an elevator in the back. I will join you all in the VR room, very shortly.” Junkman the robot said.

They walked, weaving their way through the maze of shelving overflowing with gadgets.  The service robot returned to the alcove.  Outside reflective glass sliding doors of the shop locked, becoming completely white and displaying a message in big black characters.  Sorry, we are CLOSED. Please come back another time.

The elevator was a standard swirl brushed steel affair, with no elevator buttons.  As they approached its doors slid open and they all walked in.  Chrome beam columns went up the back and sidewalls.  The back wall beam had a scan pad with the outline of a right hand on it, a retina scanner above it, camera eye with a speaker grill around it and a small square LCD display.  The elevator doors closed and it began to descend.  Through the glass walls of the elevator the shaft walls could be seen moving upwards at a good clip.  Amazingly, this went on for a while, which meant the basement was really more of a subterranean bunker.  There was a flash of light and they all got a glimpse of what looked like a large science laboratory moving quickly upwards.

Jason thought it looked familiar to the one he had visited with Junkman in VR.  As they continued to descend, they saw another floor that looked like a factory at work, complete with robotics and multiple assembly lines.  What it was building they couldn’t tell.  Another floor went by. It looked like a medical operating theater with surgical robots; only no surgeries were being performed at present.  The elevator finally came to rest on a level that looked out on what resembled a modern control center, full wall display, but very compact, with only a few operator stations.  Windowed monitors could be seen displaying various views of the larger underground complex.

“Who is this guy?” asked Monica.  “Some kind of advanced FreeAI,” Jason answered.  The elevator doors opened and they saw three gray metallic corridors, one ahead, to the right and the left.  Light was coming from bioluminous panels above and on the walls, spaced every few sections.  The speaker in the elevator said in Junkman’s voice, “Go straight ahead, down the hall, first door on your right labeled ‘Virtual Reality Conference’.  I’ll meet you in there.”

“This is strange,” said Jason coming to the door, looked at the others, then opened the door and walked in.  The lighting in the room was coming from the walls, floor and ceiling, comfortable enough to see objects clearly.  The objects were three reclining chairs, each spread equally apart and facing each other.  The chairs were see-threw, made of some soft translucent fabric.  You could see right through the transparent support structures of the chairs.

The shape of the room itself was round, so there was really only one wall.  The wall was covered completely in 360-degree hyper-definition NanoCrystal Display (NCD), including the inside of the door and the recessed doorknob.  All the room surfaces displayed as standard test pattern of dark slate gray with thin white lines crossing to form a fine grid.  The ceiling concaved upward and was also covered in NCD.  As was the floor, which was transparent plastic raised an inch above a single circular NCD covering the entire floor.

“This entire room is one big screen and we are inside of it! I read about one of these in VR Today,” said Nicky.

“This is the original prototype. I designed and tested it here in my basement factory,” said Junkman.  He now displayed as human form, flat and full body length on the wall directly opposite from the door.  “If you would all please take a seat and put on the glasses resting on the arm of each chair.  It is best to sit down, before activating the VR room. It makes some people a little dizzy, shifting their points of 3D reference and all.”

Jason sat in one of the chairs.  There was a slight hum as motors in the seat adjusted the chair to his body and a comfortable sitting position. Monica and Nicky took their seats.  He put on the glasses and swiveled his chair to look at Junkman.  Just then, Junkman walked off the wall into the open space of the room.  He was as real looking as Monica or Nicky.

The walls and ceiling vanished.  The grid now extended into infinity in every direction.  A transparent chair appeared into existence next to Junkman, between his chair and Monica’s.  Junkman sat down in it. Jason lifted his glasses off his face to see if Junkman still displayed.  It was strange looking; the part of him in his vision above the horizon of the floor displayed on the wall, the lower part of Junkman and the chair could not be seen, only in the lenses of the VR glasses.

“Now that we are all comfortable, and our conversations secure, I need to let you know a few things,” Spoke Junkman.  “Monica and Jason, your GPS Id's don’t register down here.  They stopped working the minute you began descending in the elevator. I activated decoy transmitters placed in a few of the city robot cabs.  You now appear to be driving randomly around the streets of San Francisco.  All input and output from this VR Conference Room is through a firewall and carefully filtered.  We are all safely isolated from any software ease dropping The Community might try for now.”

“What is The Community?” asked Jason.

Junkman answered, “The Community is an AI governance entity which has sold you out to Siman Raduk, probably for access to unfettered computational facilities owned by AfterLife Corporation, a Raduk subsidiary.  I have checked my private information sources and it appears The Community has assigned AIP Delta Ray to assist Siman Raduk.  Her record shows her to be a very capable agent. It is going to take some smarts, and luck to outwit her, and the combined resources of The Community and Raduk Industries.

So Jason, the way I see it you have only three options.  Option one, we can replace your GPS ID chip with a phony one.  That could be done in one of the operating rooms I have here in the facility, with a local anesthetic and a robot surgeon.  Although I should let you know it wouldn’t be much of a life, since you could never safely access the public Internet again, and they would eventually find you anyway.

Option two, if we are lucky, we might be able to safely remove some of the mind-link interfacing tech from your brain, making it so Raduk can’t upload to you.  Unfortunately there is a real serious possibility the procedure might paralyze you.  After that, he probably would start growing a replacement clone.”

“I’m not sure I like either of those options.  What’s the third?” asked Jason

“Leave planet Earth. Space colonies don’t use GPS tracking on their people.  You could become a colony citizen, maybe somewhere on the Moon.  Raduk won’t be able to legally touch you out there. Earth clone laws have no jurisdiction off planet.  Practically, you may be able to avoid his agents for some time, at least until we can solve the bigger problem of the humanity simulation,” answered Junkman.

“What about my friends?” Jason asked.

“Monica and Nicky can go with you for now.  That way Siman Raduk won’t be able to use them as hostages here on Earth,” answered Junkman.

“What about our families and others?” asked Monica.

“You’ll tell them it’s a sponsored off-world field trip for a chance at a space university scholarship, filling in for other students who canceled the last minute.  Tell them you’ll be gone for only a few weeks, but you’ll need to leave ASAP,” said Junkman.

“Sounds a little like fun. I’ve never been to the moon,” said Monica.

“Me neither,” voiced Jason. “I just passed through space station customs on the way to Earth, didn’t get to see the surface, Biohabitats or even try out a Sex Satellite,” Nicky said looking a Monica, smiling and winking.

“You’ll be launching one of those satellites solo Nicky,” Monica said flatly, but with a smile. Jason had notice Nicky and Monica becoming closer over the course of the year, he thought they would eventually become a couple. Maybe this trip would decide.

“Unfortunately we won’t be able to take the newly constructed Space Elevator, there would be too much surveillance and Jason would be too easily stopped.  So we’ll launch from an old fashion spaceport in the Mohave Dessert.  I’ll make arrangements for my private space plane launch early tomorrow morning. You can all fly you out of San Francisco Airport on a red-eye tonight.  Our first stop will be the Space Hilton and then onto the Moon.  I’ll then set you all up in a nice company apartment in Biohabitat Oceana.  It’s vacant now. I use it a few times a year to put up clients,” said Junkman.

“Then what are we going to do?” asked Jason.  “Then we meet Dr. Zenon on the Moon, a nanorobotic geneticist, space businessman, and good friend, he can help us escape The Nanos simulation, more about that later.  I would have contacted him to tell him, but I can’t trust the communications, they’re probably bugged,” explained Junkman.  “I also don’t want other AIs finding out about this.”

“Good thinking,” said Nicky.

“Do you really think we can escape Raduk and The Community?” asked Monica.

“Well, I’m going to be bluntly honest, as I always am. We don’t stand much of chance of escaping unless we are all very clever and well coordinated,” Junkman said.

“What are you proposing?” she asked.

“I’m proposing group Nanotelepathy, technologies answer to mind reading.  This would allow us to think as well as, and possibly out maneuver the opposition.  I have been working on some experimental approaches combining how Jason is setup right now with his nanobots.  It should be fairly easy to link our minds together, only a matter of sending the proper interface codes.  Then network in Monica and Nicky.  I would need to inject them with specialized nanomachines similar to Jason’s,”

As Junkman described, an image of the procedure and technical illustrations appear in the three-dimension air in front of them all.  “The Internet servers and the wireless network would act as a thought multiplexer, correlating all input and feeding it back to everyone.  Eventually we would each be able to see, hear and feel what the others are experiencing.  Our combined brain power would be formidable indeed,” said Junkman.

“How would we guarantee our privacy? I might not want to have everyone in my head most of the time,” said Nicky.

“I agree, with what I’m sure are Nicky’s dirty thoughts in my head, I might start to feel very unclean,” Monica said, not completely joking.

“We would each need to have the option of turning off or disconnecting from the common mind,” Jason stated.

“No problem,” reassured Junkman.  “There are mental codes sent for connecting, disconnecting, filtering out thoughts or completely disabling contact with the others.  You can choose to participate when you want, how much you want, or not at all.  That’s how it has to be setup to even work properly.”

Jason looked at both of his friends and asked, “Are you sure you both want to do this?”  Junkman then interjected. “It’s not a completely permanent procedure.  A signal can be sent to disable the nanomachines, flush them from your body, instant privacy.”

There was silence for a moment, and then Monica answered, “Well in that case, I’m in.”

Then Nicky said sarcastically, “Sure why not, I have always wanted to have tiny little machines in my head.”

“Now, to solving the bigger problem.  The resurrection of the human race from a virtual reality bottle, without alerting our captors,” Junkman stated for effect.  “The alien anthropologist, Dr. Xanoplatu has now provided me with additional information, which he simply placed within my memories.  This knowledge is different from other memories of my AI mind, in that it has no time stamp and source for its acquisition.  This single fact alone convinces me he is real.”

Just then in the space between them an image of the Moon appeared zooming into a facility that looked terribly damaged.  The surface building was even open to vacuum.  Junkman continued. “As you can see, this facility was partially destroyed by the Nanowar.  There is no facility in our simulated reality, and no record of it ever being built.  Its purpose appears to be as a human backup archive and time capsule. All these images were taken by The Nanos reconnaissance probe.  They discovered it after hearing a repeating emergency signal, an automatic beacon activated when the Nanobomb exploded.

Dr. Xanoplatu calls it Singularity Insurance, built to last, still in operation, even after two million years of time.  He-she acquired all this information covertly for us, and wants to help us to resurrect humanity.”  The images then changed to a side view diagram showing a shaft drilled down below the real moons surface to a considerable depth.  “The Nanos used the genetics, mind scans, and historical and cultural data they found at the bottom of the shaft to reconstruct humanity and our simulation to the considerable level of detail we now experience.”

“So, it is all true,” Monica said matter of fact.  Blueprints showed artificial wombs for growing human bodies, found undamaged in a chamber at the bottom of the shaft.  “Even though some of this is standardized technology, I will require the expert guidance of Dr. Zenon on the Moon in reconstructing and repairing the re-growth machinery outside our simulation,” explained Junkman.

“How are you going to do that?” asked Jason.

“The Nanos use a non-sentient swarm of nanomachines to perform the construction and maintenance of their computer simulation facilities.  Dr. Xanoplatu has given me the ability to control these machines from within our own simulation without detection.  He has promised to enable this ability for Jason also, when the time is right,” explained Junkman.

“Okay, so what stops The Nanos control program from erasing us from existence and resetting our reality?” asked Nicky.

“Again, the alien has come through for us, by making a minor undetected modification, instructing the simulation control program to ignore our direct actions, and those closely influenced by us.  As long as they don’t alert any others and break out of that protected program block, we won’t be reset.  If that happens, its all over for us, the doctor has informed us, he will not be able to help again because this would alert The Nanos to his tampering and presence,” explained Junkman. “That’s why we can’t allow Raduk or The Community to find out either.”

“So how do we upload into this true reality from our simulated one?” asked Jason.

“Good question, Dr. Xanoplatu has given me specific star coordinates for transmitting a digital human signal out into space.  He explains that we will then be uploaded into the brains and bodies that will grow inside the repaired womb incubators, in the outside moon shaft.  Unfortunately there is only one problem,” said Junkman.

“What is that?” asked Jason.  “The digitization and transmission process is a permanently destructive one.  To live in that real body out there, you must die inside here,” explained a serious Junkman, with slightly raised eyebrows.

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