“In my mind ‘Science Fiction’ is an important part of the process of visualizing possible futures thus helping shape that future building process. As such especially hard fact based science fiction is important to the process of futurism and for me Transhumanism with this in mind I’d like to encourage such work as it helps the Transhumanist community define where we are going and along those lines we hope to see more transhuman related science fiction and share it with you.” ~DavidJKelley, T.net Editor
As Humankind spread out from the Solar system and into the Orion Galactic Spiral Arm of the Milky Way, the great Silk Road of old occurred in a new form, in a myriad of paths traced not by feet and wheels, but by the Star Ships.
Lumbering and slow, they bent space at first crudely and painfully time consuming by contemporary standards. Colony ships, then trade ships of various rare ores and even rarer pieces of other worlds, the Star Ways crowded as the Silk Road.
The Main Orion flight paths pushed centrally along the Orion Arm, and also inward toward the Sagittarius Galactic Spiral Arm, and the Central Galactic Region.
Where the two great conglomerations of flight paths merged sat Ophelia System and Ophelia’s World. Rivaling Deneb IV in sheer economic juggernaut, Ophelia’s world quickly evolved a certain pomp and Baroque Flourish.
The Aristocracy there, keenly aware that they represented the largest aggregation of Human endeavor at the far end of Space, made an extra effort that their cities and developing industries were ever more covered with a patina of artful ornamentation. A hundred and fifty story tower housing state of the art computing and manufacturing would be clothed in the architectural embellishments of applied ornamental sculptures, and alighting from deep space a traveler might be greeted by angels in the architecture…
-Princess Clairissa Maggio, Caldris-
“Ophelia’s World, Gilded Oasis of the Galactic Starways
Their ship the Colossus, a brilliant white Sunrider 2400 gunboat, was greeted at the system outskirts with a formal fireworks salute and several dignitaries. Lourdes was a little surprised, but it turned out her appointment was more than mere research and the good doctor back at Deneb IV had made her Director of the Institute which now granted her a certain status.
She watched Ophelia’s world come in to view from the command deck of the mighty Sunrider, and saw the vast solar power array panels in wide orbit. They gleamed in the star’s light-a plethora of stations and service ships buzzing about, like insects around a great hive. She realized the worlds she knew, the great burgeoning civilizations Humankind was creating among the stars, were all but oases in the deep void. Still, the Herculean engineering of the stations and power array dwarfed a mere Human by the gargantuan scale. Still, their complex machine geometries fascinated in their gem-like mirroring of the organic. As the great Sunrider made its slow descent down world, its mighty gravity repulsion in a calculated trigonometry of navigational ease now, she glowed with a certain pride and determination to be part of this grand adventure in progress that Humanity was achieving.
Dr. Scalotta had chosen her to direct the research and archaeology at the alien base for a reason. He saw something in her-something to stand against the tide of wicked chaos that was also accompanying Humankind’s progress in the galaxy…
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
“‘Tis the fairy Lady of Shalott.”
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
-Lord Alfred Tennyson
As a rule, Lance Purusha didn’t care the politics of his marks. He was a professional, and his work was to take them out of this world. The rationale behind his client’s desired kills interested him not at all. Something about this target bothered him, however. She was apolitical, a research scientist in medicine, and there was something dirty in the notion of killing her that quite simply couldn’t shake this time. Watching the massive Sunrider make its way down to the luxurious hotels along the shore, he reviewed his info on her again and again looking for something she had done that could justify taking her out.
There wasn’t anything. She had recently been appointed Director of innocuous research on Artificial Intelligence and Human computer interfaces. His clients saw all Artificial Intelligence as a threat, he himself did not. It just made better robots to fix his house chef systems or change the grav units in his aircar. In as many centuries as people had been predicting the doom of mankind from AI menace, nothing had transpired but mundane menial tasks, or equally mundane sophisticated data processing easier.
His molecular disruptor, a top of the line custom job, commonly referred to as a “Disser”, included a silencer and a scope, with a tight beam focus and half a kilometer range, if his interface was spot on. The same interface technology his employers railed against, they saw no problem in using to destroy those creating the technologies.
He had seen the likes of his employers on the hypercasts, though he would never actually meet them since he was hired through an intermediary. The anti-technology and anti-AI movement, glowering back at the main thrust of Human civilization from backwater worlds, were always completely comfortable with utilizing the technologies of the current day while lamenting earlier, simpler times. The hypocrisy was so thick you could dance on it.
The atrocities they propagated on lawless worlds abounded with as much variety and imagination as one could create-accept that, truly you couldn’t make that stuff up. You just had to dig in to the news casts. Cults abounded where child brides and Human slavery flourished, in the name of ideology, or religion. Basic Human Rights, common for millennia even before the dawn of the Space Ages, ignored and violated with impunity.
Those were the people who were now paying him to get close enough to kill the dashing, lovely woman, so much better than they in every way-intellectually, socially, ethically. They were the people now paying him to point his weapon at her lovely brain, to fire the molecular disruptor and take that small, beautiful mass of some the most well organized organic matter in the universe and quickly boil it into nothing, and leave her a steaming mass of horror.
It was a job, just a job. He could even make out port holes and command windows on the gallant Sunrider now, as it eased into the water of the inland sea adjacent to the grand hotels. Perhaps she even now looked out in joyous apprehension, anticipating the wonderful future he was about to steal from her.
It was a job. He had run a hundred such hits. Ever and always before though, they were scoundrels every one-mobsters, rival cult leaders, dealer in illicit substances. This was the first time he was actually killing a worthwhile person, innocent of any wrongdoing. There was something dirty in the notion of killing her, something ugly and wrong, that even his hardened heart, born fighting, raised in the random violence of the frontier, something even he couldn’t shake.
He didn’t like this, didn’t like it at all. It was, however, his job. He ran a cloth over his disruptor, Old Painless, and wondered how long this kill would haunt him.
Scalotta 2X, the younger and strikingly handsome version of the older good Dr. Scalotta, eyed the bay and hotels from a variety of security holo-screens with a certain inhuman patience. The old Scalotta had graced with Military training programs and he carried with him various skills and experiences he hadn’t actually lived, but which felt second nature. Thus his mind was an amalgamation of Colonial Marines, hardcore Space Navy Rangers, and a variety of seasoned Detectives. He knew this was one of the highest risk points of the journey, for various reasons.
Ophelia’s world was a symbol of everything the Independent freebooter colonies despised. They hated its ties to the older economies of Deneb IV and Sol System. They loathed the Central Federal System’s Authority. Ophelia’s World, to them, was too Liberal, too technocratic, too corporate, and too godless. Its wealth and flowering prestige stood out in elegant contrast to the hardscrabble frontier’s savagery and grim Warlords.
Artwork, Angel Alonso
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