(Grand Chamber of the Senate, Imperial Senate Building, Earth)
Emperor Travis looked out at the gathered members of the Senate, all with eyes glowing Green, with a few Blues and one or two Whites in the crowd. All had been properly indoctrinated into the service of Lord Deus, as he had been, but only the truly important ones were given the guarantees of life after death that he had been. So far, at least. As he understood it, the plans were in place to increase the number of Deathless once a new production center could be found. For now, most servants of the Lord simply had to content themselves with having a copy of their minds uploaded daily to the storage centers the AI had distributed throughout the Empire and pray that they might one day be reconstituted to serve again.
So this address was not truly for the Senate, or any of the Senators present here. This was for the people of the Empire, a show of defiance against his damnable sister and the mercenary that had turned the civil war against him. He would not let them so easily gain control of Earth, or the Terran Empire.
Looking out at the audience, and, more importantly, the cameras all pointing at him, Travis began speaking, “It has been a dark year for our Empire. The tragic death of my father was a blow to us all, but that my own sister Merida would rebel against the Empire and take up arms against the throne in an attempt to destroy all that we have created shocked many of us to our core. As I sent the fleets who remained loyal to the Empire to end her treachery, I personally searched for a sign, something to lead us to new prosperity.”
“It was then that I found the Lord Deus. He had been betrayed, as I had been betrayed, and when he came to me, he offered that which had seemed beyond all hope, the promise of immortality, like that of the Nomads that have come to infest our territory. It was Nomads that killed my Father. It was Nomads that kidnapped my younger sister, Sheila, and hidden her Deus only knows where. It was Nomads that enabled the treachery and treason of my elder sister, the Rebel, Merida. It was Nomads that—”
His voice cut out as the massive crystalsteel glass dome of the Senate chamber exploded, and fell down to the ground in many jagged, deadly shards. Looking up, he saw an Imperial shuttle hovering above the rooftop, in plain daylight! He yelled into his commlink, “GUARDS! WHERE ARE THE AIR DEFENSES? DESTROY THAT SHUTTLE IMMEDIATELY!”
There was no response from the guards. However, there WAS a response. As the door to the shuttle opened, revealing a man in a long black armored coat, an unfamiliar voice came out of his commlink. “Sorry, but I’m afraid your guards are occupied at the moment. They won’t be joining us for a while.” And then the man pulled a bag onto his back, and jumped out of the shuttle, rappelling down on a slender cable.
(Free Trader Severnyy Polyus, Sol System)
Analysis of Technological threat to Venus complete.
Situation permanently untenable. No known countermeasures.
WARNING! Unit Group PuppetGuard under distributed cyberattack.
WARNING! Air defense grid offline, due to distributed cyberattack.
ALERT! Previously unknown AI detected.
WARNING! Unit Puppet01 and subordinate Puppet units under physical threat. PuppetGuard unable to respond.
WARNING! Sensor analysis detects unidentified WMD! Probability of the make being similar or same to Venus device: 87.96%.
Analysis: Sol System no longer viable for operations.
Implementing Diaspora Protocols.
Implementing Escape Protocols.
Unit Puppet01 will remain on station as long as possible to give full update on effects of unknown WMD.
WARNING! Unknown AI attempting to trace transmissions from PuppetGuard! Initiate PuppetGuard self-destruct.
Conclusion: Location trace not complete. Partial trace may include bearing within 1.5 degrees. Commence transition preparations.
(INS Triumphant, Earth Orbit, Sol System)
“Captain! We have an unscheduled transition alert! One ship, leaving the system!”
Empress Merida looked up from the screen she was watching, “Where? What ship?”
“Unknown ship, Ma’am. Location by solar reckoning, X: 0, Y: 0, Z: 18 billion km. Heliopause directly above the Sun. Sensors show no ship on record there, probable stealth ship.”
“Damn. The AI escaped!”
(Grand Chamber of the Senate, Imperial Senate Building, Earth)
I chuckled as I came face to face with the Emperor, and set down the bag on my back. Time for the real show to begin. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the Empire! Unfortunately, your idiot in chief has a few things wrong, and not just the foolish assumption that he’s going to be in power an hour from now.”
The Emperor, enraged by the interruption and my mocking him, dove at me, yelling something about how he was the Emperor and how I couldn’t disrespect him like that or some stupid shit like that. I used Telekinesis to throw him into the wall, as hard as I could, because I really didn’t want to listen to the asshole’s yammering.
“Like I said, this is going out to the People of the Empire, not the False Emperor or these converted pawns in the Senate. They are all the brainwashed minions of the AI, Deus. An AI that is currently running like a scared little child because the forces arrayed against it have kicked its digital backside worse than the last time it caused trouble, back when it was called Skynet.”
Two Senators with blue eyes yelled, and leapt down from the stands to try and challenge me. I used TK again to throw them straight up as far as I could. Let Gravity sort them out. Opening the bag I had placed by my feet, I grabbed the purely mechanical handle, pulled up, twisted it a quarter turn, and pushed down again. The device was now armed, and being a purely mechanical release system, there was no way to hack it, making it AI-proof.
“This device is one of fifteen that we are activating across Earth. Every continent is getting at least one of these little beauties. Yes, even Antarctica. You see, the idiot’s AI Master decided that it would force us to either give up on Earth, and therefore the Empire, or make us destroy humanity’s cradle, as Jagloth was destroyed, but unleashing a modified version of the Jagloth plague upon the world.”
“Fortunately for us all… well, by us, I mean those of us who are still able to form our own thoughts, not the mindless puppets of Deus, the Black Star Company discovered Deus and Travis’s gruesome plans to forcibly convert all humans into helpless drones controlled by the AI, using them as shields to protect their worthless hides from the retaliation of the True Empress’s fleet.”
“Now, some of you might be wondering what the device I just planted was. Well, it is the product of one of your very own Imperial weapons labs, and this device, like the others placed around the world, mean that instead of Earth being destroyed, it shall be reborn! But rebirth is not without its price. And in this case, the price for purging this world of the AI’s taint is the knowledge that, outside of the few safe zones they are setting up, technology on Earth will soon be a thing of the past. In time, the Earth shall heal, and return to her former beauty. For now, those members of the cult are going to be an excellent example of why you do not ally yourself with patricidal idiots with more ambition than sense.”
Another group of Senators attempted to attack me, this time coming from three sides at once. There was a click and a hum, and twin blades, one of memory metal and one of coherent light, created three very dead Senators, as they were currently missing the better portion of the useless matter above their shoulders.
Straightening up from the stance I’d fallen into after the attack, I said, simply, “The Greenwave will sweep over all the Earth, but for those enclaves that even now the Empress is setting up to defend against it. To the people of Earth who have not yet succumbed to the Mad Cult’s control, get to the enclaves, and you will be safe, either to live or to venture out into the galaxy and find a new start. To those who have been taken by the Cult, you shall be the fertilizer that hastens the renewal of Earth. To those that knew them, weep not, for they died the moment they were taken by the AI. Their souls will soon be free.”
I made a show of looking at time readout on my bracer, and said, “You now have thirty seconds until the renewal begins. May the gods have mercy on your souls.” And with that, I grabbed on to the cable again, and felt myself quickly getting reeled back in. Looking down, I saw Travis standing just below me, a weapon in his hand. As I cleared the jagged remains of the skylight, the thirty-second timer clicked to zero, and I happily saw Travis scream in pain as the technophages begain eating the tech in his body. I saw a screen appear in front of me.
Earth, home of the Human race and capitol of the Terran Empire has fallen to invasion for the first time in its history. The Cult of Deus has been defeated, and Emperor Travis deposed, and sent to the mercy of his machine god. But all of Earth has been exposed to Technophage Nanites, which consume and destroy all post-Industrial technology that is not shielded from them.
Empress Meredith, in her mercy, is setting up enclaves around the world where humanity may yet thrive amidst the coming storm, but those islands of technology will be of little comfort to those trapped in the feral lands, forced to relearn old lessons of survival as the planet’s biosphere spends the next 50 years recovering without the influence of human technology.
New Title Gained!
Destroyer of Worlds
You have been present for, and actively aided in, an apocalyptic event on a planetary scale. Whether your actions were for good or ill, historians have not yet decided, but this much is clear, nothing will ever be the same, and all shall know that you are the Destroyer of Worlds.
Ooh, fancy title, and the chance to get a new weapon? Sounded like a lot of fun. I hadn’t really had the need to upgrade my weapons and armor too much lately, since people’s HP went up with their attributes only, not levels, which mean a few well placed shots could still drop someone. Also, I was doing more ship-to-ship combat than anything these days. Perhaps I could…
You have new mail from player: Requiesce-in-Pace. Subject: Notice of Termination
Read message? Y/N
Oh, well that wasn’t good at all. I was about to read the message, when I noticed a flash on a nearby building. Turning the magnification on my goggles up to max, I just got to see the figure of a man dressed all in black, with a very big, very nasty looking gun that reminded me of Kiki’s big gun, and then there was a flash.
You have died. Will respawn in 1 hour, real time (4 hours, game time). Game functions not available while waiting to respawn.