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Chapter 3

July 24, 2409 AD

61 Ursae Majoris C

31 light-years from the Sol System

Saturday, 8:30 A.M. Sol System Eastern Time

(11:30 A.M. 61 Ursae Majoris C Capitol Standard Time)

“You’re starting to get the hang of it, Copernicus.” Sienna Madira rolled over onto her back and pulled the blanket up over her naked breasts. Her chest was still heaving as she panted for breath. Sweat rolled off her body sending further chills up her spine. “At least it was intense.”

“Isn’t intense a good thing, Sienna?” the alien-controlled clone body replied. Sienna Madira almost laughed at the response as she continued to gasp for air. She didn’t really care if she hurt the crazy alien’s feelings. She wasn’t even sure he had them any more than the AI-driven clones did. So far, he was a better bed partner than any of her clones had been. She wasn’t sure why that was. Perhaps because he had been her partner in crime for so long.

“Intense can be good. Personally, I like intense.” She smiled at him. Since her last rejuvenation she had decided to take on a much younger image than she had used for the past several decades. She looked and felt much more like her agile and athletic self of her first time through the twenty-something decade. Sienna wiped sweat from her brow with the blanket and then managed to slow her breathing as she exhaled. “Yeah. Intense is good enough for now and, uh, maybe again later if you’re up for it.”

“Always. I appreciate these, uh, interactions, Sienna. It helps me understand humanity on many levels previously unavailable to me. The assimilation into this body is much different than the symbioses with our evolutionary hosts. Very different. It has taken me some time to understand and control it. Certainly, reproduction is different. It was never an activity that was meant for anything but procreation to my species. We had no desires to do it for other purposes.” Copernicus looked at Sienna with an odd look on his face. Madira just chalked it up as the alien having difficulty understanding facial expressions. She smiled inwardly, thinking he hadn’t learned to control it yet still after all these years.

“I suspect that my species likes it so much as an evolutionary necessity,” Sienna said matter-of-factly, but then sort of chuckled as she thought about it. “If it was hard work, we’d have died off long ago. Humans will spend days thinking up ways to get out of a task that will only take minutes to do just because they don’t want to do it. With sex, well, everybody wants to do it, so, we end up with billions of babies. Makes sense to me. It was a good plan within a plan. You should appreciate that.”

“Yes. It is . . . enjoyable. Just different.” Copernicus searched for the right words. Sienna thought he was almost cute, but only briefly. “Seems to be logical for human evolution . . .”

“I sense there is as ‘but’ in there somewhere?” she asked. “You trailed off. Logical for human evolution . . . but?”

“A but?” Copernicus hesitated briefly. “Ah, yes, I see. No, not a but. More like a, well, okay, it is a but.”


“But, I believe my people could thrive this way, without the procreation part. That shouldn’t be necessary. We could permanently download into these clones and leave our storage facility altogether. I believe only then should we attempt to procreate and carry on as humans.” Copernicus explained. “It is sad to think of leaving our evolutionary developed bodies completely to extinction, but there is really no other choice. I’m not sure the clone bodies would accept the parasitic control from our previous forms.”

“I’m not so certain about the whole ‘your people thriving’ bit. Sometimes I think we need to incentivize the clones to start naturally procreating. But I wonder, even with your people, would you create a new whatever you are or just another human baby. I suspect a human baby. So your people would eventually go extinct just like the AI-driven clones if we don’t keep making AIs to go in the bodies.”

“I see your point,” Copernicus made another strange expression, as if he were checking on something in his DTM mindview. “We would first have to start cloning our other forms as well as modifying these clones to become hosts. I’m not so certain that human bodies could host our symbiont forms. No, I think simply transferring to the clones is a better plan.”

“At what clone production rate are we talking about?”

“There are over nine billion of my people that survived and are stored away. Your species is the first host body that has performed suitably for the quantum consciousness transfer. At the rate you have produced clones we could start the download process now and have a majority of my people freed in a few weeks.” Copernicus explained. “That is assuming the assimilation process can be performed at such a high rate of exchange. But that is what the Oort Cloud facility was originally designed to do.”

“Weeks? There are only about one billion unclaimed clones stored and production rate is only about one billion per year.” Sienna looked up at the ceiling fan through the glass and out at the clouds passing over her penthouse in Capitol City, thinking more about the afterglow of sex than of the woes of her job and the plight of Copernicus’ people. “Your math doesn’t add up.”

“Oh, but you have over sixty billion clones in this system already. I was thinking we could repurpose enough of them to support freeing my people.” Copernicus replied nonchalantly, which instantly killed the afterglow and snapped Sienna into leader and defender of her people mode.

“Wait, you think I’m going to let you, in essence, kill eight billion of my citizens for you?” Sienna was immediately on the defensive. She had been waiting for the other shoe to drop with Copernicus for almost two hundred years. This was likely it. “Not going to happen.”

“You wouldn’t be killing them, Sienna. Don’t be so dramatic. You could download and store the existing clones and then reinstall them as new bodies come online. You have plenty of clones and citizens. My people have been trapped in storage for thousands of years.”

“This was your plan all along, wasn’t it?” Sienna raised up, flung the covers back, and stood beside the bed pointing a finger at him. Daggers could have shot from her eyes. “If you knew that, then you should have said something beforehand. You should have told me this is what you needed before I brought billions of AI clones to life. They may be clones and they may be AI, but the I in AI stands for intelligence and as far as any Turing test can tell that intelligence is sentient and alive. Maybe with a plan from the beginning, we could have waited on loading the AIs into the bodies, but, now, NO WAY IN HELL!”

“Calm down, Sienna.” Copernicus held up a hand as if he were calming a child. Sienna didn’t like the bastard’s arrogance. She was beginning to wish she hadn’t had sex with him, many times. “I had no idea you would react this way. You are so hard to calculate. Even after all these years I still do not understand you humans.”

“You had better understand this.” Sienna said still standing naked with one hand on her hip and the other pointing belligerently at the alien. “I’ve killed my own people before in order to get us to this point, where we can survive what is coming. I hated doing it , but there was no other way. I had no choice but to become a bloodthirsty killer. That part of the plan is over. That part of my life is over! You hear me? I’m through manipulating my people. I’m tired of the plans within plans within plans and the constant calculations of life and death on such grand scales. All the calculations and plans made death so impersonal. But death IS personal every single time. It was extremely personal when I had to kill Scotty. I’m sick to the core of these twisted plans with multiple hidden agendas and acceptable losses of life. The plan is straightforward now. I plan to stand with my people, humanity and AI clones alike, and see this thing through to the end. I plan to fight the thrice-damned Chiata with all the bloodlust I can muster. I will offer whatever I can to help humanity recover from the aftermath of the war that is coming. And then, well, and then I plan to burn in Hell for eternity, which in my mind just won’t be long enough or punishment enough for all that I’ve had to do. Unless you could insure me that giving your race those bodies will enable us to defeat the Chiata Horde’s expansion wave, then forget it. You can absolutely fucking forget it!”

“Don’t be unreasonable, Sienna.” The alien stammered, looking shocked at her reaction. “You had to have guessed or ‘calculated’ as you say what the end goal was for me here.”

“Can you guarantee that your people being placed into my clones will help us defeat the Chiata or not?”

“Of course not. They defeated many more times that of my people and that was with our symbiont bodies and our much more physically capable hosts.” Copernicus almost seemed hurt. The expression on his face and his body language was almost right for the situation. Almost. Sienna didn’t give a shit. The people of the Alpha Lyncis system were her people. She had built a peaceful, efficient, and happy world with billions of inhabitants that had families of sorts with daily lives that didn’t need disrupting so abruptly. Sure, she could ask them this favor and as logically driven as the AI clones were she was certain they’d oblige. But she just couldn’t bring herself to accept such a request as humane or even, well, sane. She wasn’t about to force eight billion of her people to download themselves into some server somewhere only to wait no telling how long before they could be reinserted into a new body. At the current production rate of clone bodies some of them might be stored away for as much as eight or nine years when all things in the process were truly considered. She wouldn’t do it. Not now and not ever.

“So, you can’t guarantee it?” She asked rhetorically this time as she had already convinced herself of the answer he would give.

“Well, uh, no. I cannot.”

“You damned right you can’t. The answer is no. No way. You can take the empty billion clones now if you like. And you can live here with us or you can go somewhere else to one of my backdoor systems. Or you could go off and find yourself a new star system to live on. No, scratch that last. You’ll have to pay your dues. We could use the soldiers. Either fight with us or support us.”

“Pay our dues?”

“You heard me.”

“I might remind you, Sienna. Who gave you the technologies that are making your stand against the Chiata even possible?” This time his question was rhetorical. “Me, that is who! Were it not for me your people would have been overrun by the Chiata while you were still living in thatch huts and still developing the written language. My people have paid enough dues for humanity’s sake.”

“While I appreciate that, Copernicus, I truly do. If you aren’t going to fight, you will simply have to support the effort in manufacturing or some other means. These bodies are meant to help humanity survive. It’s a numbers game now and you know that we are way outnumbered. I can’t just turn over such an important resource.” She turned toward the bathroom as she grabbed her robe from the bedpost and slipped it over her shoulders and then stood firmly facing Copernicus as she cinched it tight at the waist. “Think on it. I have a meeting with my son-in-law I need to prepare for. And don’t be spoutin’ off such stuff around him or he’s likely to kill you on the spot just to be cautious. If I didn’t think you were so, um, useful, I’d probably do the same. And I’m rethinking that situation and might still decide to kill you soon or hand you over to him.”

“You certainly know how to woo a man, Sienna.”

“Was that a joke?” Sienna turned back toward the alien.

“It was an attempt to follow yours.”

“The problem there, Copernicus, is that I wasn’t joking.”

Sienna stared out the window of her ready room just to the starboard side of the control dome, looking across the city below. Her builder-bot reengineered Chiata megaship hovered motionless only a few tens of kilometers above Capitol City. Her ship was the only megaship Moore had given her. It was her mission to figure out how to reverse-engineer it and build them from scratch. She hadn’t got that far yet as the science behind the blue beams of death from Hell was still unclear, even to her and her team of AI clone scientists. Copernicus hadn’t been much help in that regard either. But she had rebuilt it inside and out and repaired the supercarrier legs and beefed up their shield projectors. The megaship truly was her flagship.

She had christened it the U.S.S. Scotty P. Mueller in honor of Sehera’s father, whom she had murdered when Deanna had been just a little girl. Sienna regretted that Dee never got to meet her grandfather, because he was a great man of history. She had loved Scotty dearly, but he would no longer allow her to continue with her and Copernicus’ plans. They had become so bloody and on the verge of evil that Scotty had told her she had to stop on several occasions. The straw that had broken Scotty’s back was when he had helped Nancy Penzington escape from her clutches and thwarted one of her plans. It was then that Copernicus had realized and insisted that Scotty had to be removed from the equations. So, Sienna took it upon herself to do the deed. She shot him point-blank in the head at the dinner table in her penthouse.

Seeing the cityscape below of the capital city of her star system that housed tens of millions of people, clones or not, made her take pause and think on what she had gone through to create her civilization and what she would do to keep it alive through what was coming with the Chiata. She wasn’t sure she’d liked the conversation with Copernicus earlier either. He was always up to something. It was the alien that had shown her the plans-within-plans-within-plans subterfuge that had shaped the last two centuries or so of human history. It was the plans that the alien had inspired her with that led to her causing the bloodiest civil war in human history.

It was those plans that led her to creating the dark tortuous times of the Martian Desert Campaigns where she experimented on soldiers, torturing and killing many of them as she investigated the alien’s idea of cloning. In the process she had tortured one U.S. Marine who had escaped and become a brilliant shining light of defiance for humanity. That Marine had captured the hearts and minds of humanity along with that of her daughter. The alien’s plans within plans within plans had to continuously be modified by the anomaly that was her son in-law. But nevertheless, Copernicus made whatever modifications were necessary and continued to do so, all the while expecting her to carry them out. She had carried out the plans diligently and with loyalty to the plans. It had been those plans that had led her to killing her daughter’s father and the love of her life. The plans had required it so she did it.

The alien’s plans, while having a positive end in mind, stopping the Chiata invasion of the Sol System, never seemed to have much empathy for the bloody pathways and human suffering required in their implementation of those plans. And Sienna Madira had been party to it from the beginning. Willingly and enthusiastically at times, she had been party to them all the while. But for Copernicus, she had always felt there was more to the plan. He was too driven to be purely motivated by vengeance. He was too calculating and cold to want to free his people from their storage place and then run and hide. It just didn’t fit his personality. He hadn’t shown all his cards yet, but Sienna knew it was time to count the cards and check his sleeves for aces. There was definitely something up his sleeves and she needed to figure it out before it was too late for everyone involved.

Somehow, and she had suspected it from the beginning, the alien’s final plan was for there to be enough hosts available for his species to download into or to take over in some form. He was an invasion of sorts himself when she thought about it. She had at least optimistically hoped that his plans were benign where humanity was concerned, and that he just needed a little help in saving his people. He needed quid pro quo but to what extent was only now becoming clear. She just had never been completely certain if clones had been his original target host, or when the final implementation of the symbiont-host takeover would actually be implemented, if ever. He never told her all of his plans. As she thought about it, she wasn’t certain she knew how to stop him from hacking the clones and inserting his people. She’d never really thought it all the way through. That was unlike her.

The other aspect that kept tugging away at her mind was that he had mentioned that the humans were the first species compatible for them since they had lost their evolutionary hosts to the Chiata. That was clearly why Copernicus had fought for humanity in the galactic legal system for thousands of years. It was part of his plans within plans within plans. But the concern that Sienna had always fretted over was to what end were those plans.

“Ma’am, the fleet is ready for quantum membrane teleportation when you are.” Her new aide and bodyguard, a Malcolm clone she called Scotty because he reminded her of Sehera’s father, interrupted her train of thought. He reminded her so much of the man she had loved so dearly that it haunted her a bit. She wished she hadn’t had to kill him all those years ago. That was another reason she wanted to burn in Hell for eternity. And to top it off she had intentions of “training” Scotty in the same way she had been “training” Copernicus. There was something sick about that. Sienna knew it deep in her soul, but she had given up on her soul when she had started down the path she had been on for so long.

“Good. Let’s push out to a higher orbit and start the sequence then.” She nodded to him, putting the thoughts of “training” him in the back of her mind for the time being. She looked out the window and the city below was already dropping away beneath them as they formed up on a fleet of her latest set of battleships. The newest hope for fighting the Chiata were even larger and more heavily armored battering-ram nosed supercarriers with beefed-up structural integrity field generation systems, full up Buckley-Freeman switches and shields, larger directed-energy gun batteries, and mecha bays equipped with the new FM-14X mecha with the quantum membrane teleportation uncertainty engines. Each of the battleships had been upgraded in such a way to facilitate being appendaged to the Chiata Porcusnail megaships more easily. They would make the conversion to superweapon class ships more quickly and with less modification requirements by the builder bots. Up until now all the raids on Chiata systems had only enabled the capture of one Porcusnail megaship. Madira had a plan to change that. She hoped her son-in-law could execute that plan. If anyone could, it would be him.

“I’ve notified the captain. She is initiating the QMT now,” Scotty replied. “She says we’ll be at the Thgreeth ruins system momentarily.”

“Thank you, Scotty.” Sienna sat calmly awaiting the buzz and sizzle of the teleportation, but her mind couldn’t help but wonder just what Copernicus was up to. It was time for her to dig a little deeper into whatever it was he was planning.

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