Cyber defenses for digitals were nothing other than empowered firewalls with semi-intelligent code created by the digital's mind. Something like the immune system of biologicals, only with the difference that a digital could empower and develop its own system.
I was no hacker but you don't become a digital without learning to do some code. So while I waited for Henry to do his work I enhanced my systems. I would still have to study programming some more to better my chances against a dedicated attack but for now it was enough.
I opened a homepage on a google server and made myself some databases for the purpose of dumb-loading my scans of the asteroid and other potentially interesting space data in them. For a small fee everybody could now access them and would be able to work with them. This way I was able to get some money and perhaps enhance the chance for others of my family to upload themselves.
That took some time as I wanted the homepage to be sophisticated and cool looking. The complete package should be a statement of professional work and efficiency. I hated the way currently things in the internet were programmed. Just because you have almost unlimited data volumes at your disposal you shouldn't just program sloppy.
It took almost ten hours until Henry called back.
“Hey there. I talked with some guys about the project and got a link to your new homepage too. Nice work there. They all wanted in on the work. There are more desperate space geeks on this planet than you would think after governments killed all inspiration to go to the space and the death of Evan Musk in the 30'.”
“Yeah, I hoped he would be the guy to step a foot on mars first with his company. After him and his ideas nobody came close anymore.”
“A real shame for humanity, but back to why I called. We have found the best strategy for your asteroid. Some guy from NASA is a real geek in finding the best fly routes for things and found a way to make the time for stopping the chunk go down significantly. If you follow the instructions closely you might be able to stop the rotation in less than 4 months.”
“Wow, that's quite the improvement.”
“Yeah and all he wants for this is complete access to your homepage without paying.”
“He can have that but he has to pledge to make no profits from that or share them equally with me.”
“That shouldn't be a problem at all. I'll give you his contact data and also that of the others on the project. They want all in. You got your own space agency at your disposal. Admitted we're mostly old geezers but we got the spirit.”
“You're more than welcome. While we speak I've made the first course corrections and began the maneuver. So in 4 months I can begin with dismantling this chunk of materials and make myself a proper spaceship.”
“Would you like some input from us for construction?”
“It wouldn't hurt but please keep in mind that life support isn't necessary for me. Redundancy in contrast is. I'll open a construction page on the homepage too for the spaceship but it won't be an actual plan for my own ship but maybe we can get some inspiration from that.”
“You're nuts you know that? Every space geek and bored engineer will flock to the page and try to add his personal touch.”
“I know and this way we can find the best configuration for future components. Imagine all the creative power gathered in that.”
“You'll have to upgrade the processing power and bandwidth for your page two or better three iterations.”
“Yeah and that will cost money but with a monthly subscription fee of modest 2 credits per person that should state no problem at all.”
“Haha, getting rich with space geeks and sucking their brains at the same time. I knew you were an old sly fox but that is a new dimension.”
I was amused myself about the slyness of my plan.
“It's their own volition that helps me and satisfies a deep desire for them. I just use an old dream for my own purpose. A dream given up by our governments, may they rot in all eternity.”
“Yep. I'll take my own chances on adding my touch. Just get a good construction program for the homepage and you're golden. Henry out.”
His old-style communication made me laugh but he was just a creature of habit. He still was right about the program and the bandwidth problems. I took a look at the homepage and was flabbergasted at the number of people that had already flocked to it. Over 1000 users were registered and downloaded my scans with some of them questioning for some space pictures of Jupiter and Mars when they came into range of my equipment.
That would make me some decent money too so I added that to the things that needed done. I'd have to upgrade my cameras and deep space scanners until I began my mining operation.
I searched the net for any good design programs and took my time in finding the best. My money was unfortunately nowhere near the amount the price of it. What private person was able to buy the thing for more than 1 million credits?
I'd have to do it myself then and program the sucker the hard way. As benefit I'd be able to better my skills and I was sure that my community would have to add their own kinks to it.
You might think that a digital mind would be able to program such a program in no time and if you wanted a sloppy job you might be right but I wanted a real beauty of a design program with all the kinks added. No DLC here or there to add it everywhere. I'd have to make sure that is was only used for my personal projects so I didn't get into any problems with other digitals out there. So the program would have to be completely online and only accessible when in connection with the homepage.
The price for my homepage would go through the roof.
For now I increased the bandwidth and the volume of the data base. Google would become even richer with me. Not that the google dynasty didn't already rule over most of the net. Most of the largest stock holders were already digitals and had almost unlimited amounts of money at their disposal. Obscene amounts of it. For which purpose to gather that much money without really using it made no sense to me but hey, I was just an old geezer who had some luck and a dream to fulfill.
While a part of my mind was busy with the maneuver and keeping my solar panels as long as possible in the energetic solar rays, the rest of me began the work on the design program. My best guess would be a duration of 2 or 3 months of permanent working on the thing with implementing the additions of my future workforce.
Thousands of people working on space equipment would be awesome, and all of it would be for free.
I added the contacts of Henry to the homepage and gave them full access to my data and didn't charge them any costs. They would be the core of my development team for space equipment. Hopefully some of them had experiences in Human Resources. I didn't want to deal with thousands of eager space engineers.
I think there was a game someday that had the same name. I always wanted to play it but there was constantly another game that interested me more. Yeah, I was a vivid gamer in my biological days.
If my skills in programming got much better I could perhaps code my own game. I already had a vision of it but all of that would have to wait for quite some time.
The next month went by much faster than I'd had thought. The homepage took off like predicted and my first version of the design program was a solid start for the would-be space engineers, but man did they have demands for changes. Half of the times I was tempted to just kick the whole thing into the bucket and end my suffering by closing the connection to Earth but Henry and the others became friends over time.
Russia and China had intensified their war and thousands had died fighting over land that was a combat zone now. The idiots destroyed the thing they were fighting over. Typical politicians.
Not that the politicians were the ones to guide the conflict. The pyramid of society was still in power. Governments were just much farther down it than in the 20th century. Nowadays elite families like the Rockefellers or Rotschilds ruled the planet by directing stock markets and ordering central banks all over the world. After Russia had succumbed to capitalism and decades later China they took the last strongholds of governments and stepped into their position using the old systems to rule over the masses. Money ruled the world and they were money.
The problem was that in the last 10 years the families began to fight with each other where before they worked together to solidify their power. Now with their unbreakable choke-hold over the planet they could afford infighting. At least they thought that.
For someone like me it was borderline stupid to do that. I had to admit that their rise to power stopped humanity from wiping itself out with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons but lately with the possibility of digitalization the powers that be seemed to have decided they could afford to loose some millions or even billions of human lives. With more than 10 billions humans crawling over the plagued planet I had to admit that the loss of half of them wouldn't hurt the system much.
I was sure that when the families realized that they sunk their ship the rats would try to board mine or build their owns. I could stop them with better firewalls or just cutting the connection to the net but if the tried to build their own arcs I would have to stop them. No way would I leave them my new playground to do their old business again.
Oh no, if they wanted to play with humanity they would do it only on Earth and die with it when they killed it.
I'd have to build combat ships with enough firepower to withstand any attack from the planet and still get close enough to destroy anything build in a close orbit. Luckily for me any laser weapons trying to reach outer space would be seriously weakened by the atmosphere. So I mostly had to worry about kinetic weapons like rockets and strong mass drivers.
Rockets were easy to defend against from space but mass drivers could be a problem the first time they fired. After that I could just drop some chunk from the orbit and level the ground. Nothing beats a ton of solid iron with 10 to 20 kilometers per second.
There was a good chance that I'd become the boogeyman of the planet when I decided to stop any tries to flee Earth after the elite families fucked my homeworld over. So be it. You had to smash eggs to make a pancake. Getting rid of these guys would do humanity a solid.
Everything coming in the future would still be futile if I didn't get my own problems here solved.
The asteroid had begun to slow down its rotation and could already see establishing a kind of axis around the whole thing rotated. If I could establish it faster I maybe wouldn't need to slow down the whole thing to a stop. I could just rotate myself to the same speed and stick to on of the poles.
“Henry, I got a question for our space jockey.”
After some minutes waiting for him to answer my call the former space agency employee called back, “You should take a look at the time zone, my friend. It's fucking 2 am here right now and slept like a log when your goddamn call woke me and my wife. She got very creative for the names she called you.”
Oops, he was right.
“Sorry, please send her my sincerest regards. I had an idea and wanted to check it with you.”
“If it involves Jack then why not just call him directly?”
“He should be at work right now.”
“Interesting. You know when not to knock on others door but my own is always open?”
I might have better been silent with my last remark.
“I'm really sorry mate. I'll check the time and schedule in the future before calling you.”
“You better. Just send me the details and I'll give them to Jack after my breakfast.”
“If I'm right we could be accelerating the plan for months and I could start with creating new mind cores if the asteroid has any of the needed elements.”
“That would be awesome, my friend but for now, just let me sleep.”
“Good night, Henry.”
He didn't answer back, just closed the connection. He must be somewhat pissed. My digital mind lately showed tendencies to forget biological needs. Nothing surprising but if I wanted to carry on working with biologicals I would do good to remember their needs.
One of my goals was to create new digital cores for my most trusted aids. Henry belonged to them but some others from the team too and regarding the fast detoriating status of Earth's political scene I'd have my work cut out for me.
I waited some hours and worked on beefing up my personal defenses. At least Jack responded back to me. He was a middle aged asian from India who lost his job when India dumped its space program for creating more food for its ever growing population.
Even with some devastating diseases killing millions in the last 30 years mankind had reached a point where the loss of 100 million people didn't make a big dent in the yearly population growth.
“Hey cyber brain, how's it going up there?”
I hated it when he called me that, “It's a nice sunny place over here. Great view, no idiot politicians and no war in the vicinity.”
“You don't know how jealous I'm right now. The situation down here goes fast down the drain. Heck, if anybody could just put a bullet to the people at the top most of humanity would praise the shooter like a hero.”
“I understand but right now I need your expertise with my plan.”
“You wanted to create a stable axis for the asteroid to turn around if I got the mail right.”
“Yes, I noticed that the chunk of stone began to develop a kind of stable rotation and wanted to know if I could accelerate the process and then attach myself at the top or downside of my asteroid.”
“I calculated the whole thing but to be honest I'm not sure if your body would survive the continual rotational forces.”
“I could survive it for some time. My structure is more durable than most people would think and as soon as I have a touchdown I can detach my EM-drive to install it on the surface of the asteroid for a better deceleration.”
He nodded and frowned for a moment,”Sound's good and I can tell you exactly where to place the drive. That would easily reduce the time for the mining operation and the overall project. Give me some hours and I'll give you the details. Jack over.”
He was a competent man and only 2 hours later I had the necessary data. So I began the new maneuver. I was delighted about the time saving. My body was durable but the sooner I was able to produce spare parts and new enhancements the better I'd feel.
Two weeks later it was time for my touchdown on the asteroid. I sent the whole video live to Earth and my followers were eager to watch. With more than 100000 people watching I felt some pressure to perform at my best.
My descent was quite slow with less than 10 centimeters per minute so I just begun the video when I was only 10 meters away from my target. My own rotation was exactly the same as the asteroid and I watched every structural sensor with eagle's eyes. If my solar panels were damaged this could be my possible death out here so I was near panic and almost decided to abandon the plan and get back to my former maneuver plan.
Lastly it was the thought about my family back home that let me take the risk. The fighting on Earth had gotten worse over the time and threatened to expand to more nations. The European union still tried to get the Russians and China back to the diplomatic table but with every spent day the chances went down.
So I went through with the plan. I watched the distance closely and decelerated to less than 1 centimeter per minute when I was at the last meter. My watchers were at the backseat right now. If it took a whole day to get it right it would.
More than an hour later my body touched down on the asteroid and sank deeper into the soft surface of accumulated dust. My mining equipment already sucked in the dust and turned it to slug with which I began to fortify my position on the harder parts further down.
Stone wasn't the best material for building a solid foundation but right now it was the best I had. My drones sucked everything near my body into my fabricators and I had to direct most of my energy into them. With my touchdown I could deactivate my drive for now and the energy was needed desperately. My two building drones began to detach the furthest solar panels from my body and installed them directly on the asteroid.
This way I could reduce the rotational strain on my structure. Over the next hours my energy production was installed directly on the asteroid which reduced the pressure on my nerves. I got lots of congratulations from my watchers and also an unexpected chat.
“Hey Marcus! This is Lea Krupp. I think you know who I am and who I represent.”
I really had hoped that the big families wouldn't try to contact me before I had built my first spaceship.
“Hello Ms Krupp, what can I do for you?”
Like me she was a digital and I was doing my best to control every byte she sent me, but for now there seemed to be no malware.
“To keep it short, my family wants on your future ship. With the other families starting to fight each other we have decided that a more remote place for us would be favorable.”
“I get that but to be blunt I have no love for the big families. You fucked Earth over so much all I truly want is to get my friends and family of the planet and let you do your own thing down there.”
She kept silent for a moment, “I can understand your position but my family always tried to counterbalance the other's eagerness to destroy everything in their way. You know that I'm right.”
I had to admit that the Krupps always seemed to be a conservative power but you don't become a major family without breaking morals and bodies left and right.
“You're better than the rest but that doesn't give you any plus points with me. I didn't leave the planet behind with its politics and backstabbing to just get one of the better bastards on my ship. I'm sure that the moment I lessen my attention on you guys all of you would attack me and take over.”
She was nonplussed about my direct words, that was obvious.
“You know that we have the power to make your friends and family disappear without anyone asking questions?”
“I do and you should know that I just have to deactivate my quantum connection, construct my ship, fly back to Earth and bomb the place? If I just hurl this asteroid in one of the oceans most life on Earth would end fast. After that all I had to do would be scanning the planet and destroy any left electronic activity to get all of your sorry asses, so stop threatening me.”
“We could just build our own ships to get of the planet.”
I just had to laugh, “Haha, with what rockets? Even if you started right now to reconstruct the assembly buildings for the rockets and probes, I'd still have enough time to build some countermeasures and nuke your starting ships from orbit.”
She was really mad right now. It seemed she wasn't accustomed to being turned down.
“This talk went in the complete wrong direction.”
“Let me restart the discussion. My family wants to get off the world but we offer our own power to first digitalize your friends and family and then follow you to the stars. We will create deep bunkers with independent power supply in case of a world-wide war and keep the minds of all of them safe from destruction.”
Now that was an interesting offer.
“What would keep you from just threatening me to give you what you want when you have them in your custody?”
“All the safe places will be directly under your control. We will download our own minds to the places and will trust you to keep your part of the deal.”
I could clearly see her anger about being in the position of a petitioner. It must have costed her much to give me that offer.
“I'll consider your offer and talk with my advisers but keep in mind that I'll still accelerate my construction of the ship and getting back to Earth. I won't let anyone into orbit without my permission. I'll hold the high ground against anyone trying.”
“As long as you'll keep your part of the deal we'll keep ours. Do you know if you'll be able to create the crystals for all the digitalized minds from the materials you gather on the asteroid?”
“I'm quite positive that the asteroid holds all the needed materials for at least a thousand crystals. If you can slow down the other families from getting to space I'll try to create some mother ships to mine more asteroids and build a bigger space station for safekeeping all digitalized minds.”
Lea answered not immediately and took some moments. I guessed that she communicated with other family members.
“We are happy to do business with you. Please keep a connection going with us to keep in touch.”
And with that she ended the connection and I knew I just had made a deal with the devil.