Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Singularity Matrix

The Singularity Matrix

The British Marines I'm encamped with had been restless all day. Most of them seemed hell-bent on attacking the ship with everything they had. Instead we were told to await orders. After nightfall I wandered over to the latrine to take care of my business. As I left the latrine, a hand grabbed me from behind and dragged me into the bushes. "Silence or you die," came a voice from the darkness. Finally out of sight of latrine and the Marine contingent, the hand let me go after whispering, "do not yell or scream."

The hand released me and I whipped around to face my attacker.

"Holy shit! Ellie!" I practically tackled her with joy. Finally a familiar face, something I hadn't seen in almost a year. 

"Shh! Alex! Calm down!" she shushed at me. 

I literally couldn't stop hugging her. All my anger and rage at my captivity and her seeming indifference melted away. Ellie had been my close girlfriend for the better part of a year, and despite the fact that she completely lied to me about her life and almost everything, I still hold a lot of feelings for her. Heck I had seriously considered proposing to her. I can go on and on and about how great she was...or how cruelly she broke my heart. For one moment I just felt a great joy being in her presence, feeling her close to me, knowing she still lived and hopefully still cared.

"Ellie," I said as she gently pushed me off of her. "Ellie...what the hell are you doing here? You're in the middle of the British Marine camp. I don't think they'd appreciate a foreign agent here."

Ellie gestured over to the enemy boat. "Any luck with that? I didn't think so. You've got half the world's major military forces represented in a radius of twenty klicks and you're all sitting her like a bunch of raw recruits. Doesn't your army teach you anything?"

I shrugged. "This isn't my army. I don't even know where the Americans are. These British are kind of keeping me under lock and key. So you think you can get on to that boat?"

Ellie smiled and nodded. "Of course. Infiltration is my specialty. You have to remember, Alex, there are people on board, and those people, no matter how nutty, can be reasoned with. The can be bargained with. Heck if what I've seen is real, then they could easily kill all of us right now but they haven't. The problem with these military grunts over here is that they only know attacking and defending. Infiltration requires a much more precise art, and since we know the people on the boat pretty well that gives us a big advantage."

I rubbed my arms as I talked with her. "God, Ellie, it's so good to see you. It's been so hard, and I'm not proud of the things I've done in there. I just need to know that things are going to work out, that I can leave this place forever."

Ellie laid an arm on my shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Alex. I lost a lot of my prestige during that time, and I couldn't control your fate. I knew that we had been scouting for talent, for defectors from the West. I thought it could be an interesting project. I never knew it was a forced labor camp, designed more to break people down than actually accomplish anything. I really let you down, and I'm sorry. I've since quit the People's Army, completely resigned and become essentially a free agent. That wasn't very easy, let me tell you. Fortunately I convinced them they had more to lose my having me disgruntled, and that I would never use my talents against them."

As we spoke I felt the warmth I used to feel with her, the whole sharing of thoughts and experiences. I wanted to sit and talk the whole night like we used to. I looked at her and saw such beauty and strength, and a kindness that belied her profession. She seemed to be everything that a man could want. Yet...I felt a lot of conflicting emotions at that moment. 

"So Alex," she said as we sat down behind a log, "how the heck did you get here? And how did Carrie wind up in control of all this?"

The day after all that equipment arrived, Carrie called all of us in for a meeting. With her stood a powerfully-built man, with a shaved head and goatee. 

"Hi everyone," she started, her newly-blond locks cascading over her shoulders. I wondered if she wore a wig. It would explain how she managed to keep it looking so good. I felt a sudden compulsion to yank on her hair but the large man looked a little imposing. I had also seen them in an embrace out in the hall. So Carrie finally found someone who could tolerate her for more than a second. I guess there's someone for everyone. "This is my friend Xyllan. He's in charge of transport and containment. As you all know, this is a very momentous occassion. Our bosses will be arriving in a day, so everything needs to be fully operational ASAP. We begin initial runs in an hour so prepare your teams. We don't want any mishaps like last night." She glared at Xyllan for a moment but I don't remember him participating.

As I left the meeting Bethany tracked me down. "Cover me for a while, I've got to get a message out. We can't let this become operational. Stall if you have to."

The work room became frantic as we all checked and re-checked our figures. Carrie's people had placed large monitors in the room which displayed all kinds of stats and figures, all displays we had crafted over the last few months. Part of me felt a bit of pride, and part of me felt great shame. Of course at that moment I had no idea what the machine was truly capable of.

One corner of the one monitor displayed a countdown, while the other monitor revealed a set of videos of the machine. At last without any other work to do, we gathered around the monitors. Carrie stood away from the rest, consulting a laptop up on a stand. I wandered over to her.

"Carrie, I need to talk to you," I said.

"Not now Alex, I'm a little busy."

"This is like your plot at Infinitae, except it's real. It's a real object with real consequences."

Carrie glanced at me. "The project I laid out at Infinitae wasn't a complete fiction. It had some scientific basis. With the power I'll get from the Singularity Matrix I can finally build a prototype of the fingerprint broadcaster. You see, Alex, there's really nothing stopping me now. I'm going to be the greatest power the world has ever known. You've been a good soldier, Alex, I could use someone like you by my side."

I help still but inwardly I cringed. I couldn't stand being in the same room as her. Bethany finally returned and gave me the all-clear sign.

"Carrie, I could never be a part of this. This is just wrong. I've seen some of the research. This thing will hurt people."

Carrie turned to me and grinned with almost a snarl. "You think I'm evil. That's it, isn't it. You think I'm some kind of monster. Ok, I may have made some bad choices in the past. I've grown since then. I now see that this world is just spinning right out of control. Look at the financial crisis. Look at poverty. Look at ignorance. This machine could cure all of it. And they want to trust control of this machine to some idiotic bureaucracy? Listen, am I not the smartest person you know? Who would be better to determine how this machine is to be used? Yes, there's going to have to be hard changes. No change is easy. Some blood will have to be spilled. But you have to look at the final outcome. A world without war, without poverty, without cold and hunger. We've harnessed the greatest energy source the world has ever known, and its completely free and we can make as much as we want. Now that we have a control system, we can start using this energy in a controlled fashion. Alex, we could literally be the progenitors of a new race of humans. If my projections are correct, we might even use this energy to take us to the stars. Now be quiet, here we go."

The clock slowly ticked down to zero. When it hit zero, nothing happened, except I think someone hit a key on a keyboard that booted the actual control system. I guess for history's sake we can say the first Singularity Matrix went live at 12PM China Standard time, October 27, 2008.

"Systems nominal at 100 Watts." Enough energy for a light bulb. "Ready for fuel injection."

We had a touch-screen controller. Ben slid a finger along part of the screen. "Injecting at 10 nanograms/sec." 10 billionths of a gram of matter. One of the monitors began glowing. "Annhiliation proceeding. Thermal readings coming on line. Wattage increasing. 110. 150. 200. 300. 450."

The Matrix glowed like a light bulb. The walls of its containment structure converted the radiation to heat and electricity. The heat got siphoned off into a cooling structure.

"Cease injection."

"Injection terminated. Wattage at 450...now decreasing...440, 420, 400, 350...now back to 100."

Carrie had a wide grin on her face. "Awesome! It really works!" I was worried she would hug me or something, but she just stood in front of the monitors and grinned. "Now, let's really see something. One microgram, 10 minute turn-up."

A microgram, or a millions of a gram, doesn't sound like much, but that's the equivalent of burning 10 metric tons of coal an hour, a half megawatt of power, enough to power 150 homes. Slowly the Matrix heated up as more matter entered the Singularity. We could hear the rumbling of the generator in our feet. The monitor displayed a giant plume of steam shooting out of the top as the waste heat boiled water at a furious rate. After a few minutes at 10mg/sec Carrie had us throttle back. It took a while for the singularity to drop down to normal conditions.

"Now," ordered Carrie, "I wanted every bit of data checked and rechecked. I want even the slightest irregularity brought to my attention. Heat, voltage, radiation, curves, everything needs to be 100% in tolerable ranges. Go!"

She left the room. Misty wandered over to me. "What is it? What have we built?"

"You see that glowing point there in the middle of the Matrix? If I'm not mistaken, it's a black hole. Somehow they've created or captured one, I have no idea how. When we feed it molecules, it turns them into energy like a match to paper. When we stop feeding it, it returns to some kind of equilibrium. It's still drawing power from somewhere, which is why we're getting this residual 100 Watt output and it never completely evaporates."

"Is it safe?"

"As long as it stays in its containment field. The amounts of matter we're feeding it are extremely tiny. If it were to contact the ground though...there's no telling what could happen. It might be able to consume the entire Earth. I have no idea."

Misty looked at me and then at the monitor. "And if this were in the wrong hands, say someone who's vengeful and vindictive and self-aggrandizing...We've got to stop this."

I nodded. "And fast."

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 @ 11:11 PM

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments. I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able.