The caves had been abandoned by the very animals that would take shelter within, only the resident bats remained. The interior of the caves had been left to the ravages of a contaminated environment after the fallout had left the planet deserted and barren, with a diminished human presence. There were eight caves that had served as wombs for the murky slime that covered their interior, providing a safe haven for the mutant strain and the bats that not only inhabited the caves, but tended to and nurtured the spawns. Embedded beneath the surface of the mysterious substance was where the mutant strain would grow into maturity, until the time came for the spawns to be plucked from their gelatin nests by the bats, then carried outside of the caves and released airborne, to find a human host, and to begin the repopulation. It would be from there, inside a human host that the growing mutant strain could survive ~ cocooned inside a warm moist human body ~ until the mutant strain outgrew its human host. It would then begin to morph into a more visible and viable creature once the strain reached the human brain. There, it would take on the persona of the individual’s behaviour, thoughts, and gestures, undetected by the human host. Finally, shedding the human skin of their hosts to reveal themselves ~ like caterpillars to butterflies ~ the humanoid creatures would then begin to emerge among what human life was left. The bats would then return back to the caves having completed their mission, and to continue nurturing of the ongoing, ever mutanting strain.
The strain had evolved within the bat caves, after a lab bat escaped (or had been released) into the post fallout environment, then returned back to the caves, where it multiplied within the bat population. Whether the incident was accidental or intentional, proved to be diabolical with each bat in the populace excreting spawns onto the interior of the caves ~ covered in a thick murky gelatin like slime ~ forming a multitude of wombs for the mutating organisms. Once the airborne mutant strain made its way inside human bodies ~ via the bats ~ it would feast within, then shed their hosts skin. The emerging humanoid creatures still bore the likeness of their human hosts, but with some key identifiers such as their blackened fingernails and toenails, their eyes did not dilate, their regenerated plastic-like skin did not show any flexibility or perspiration, and their regenerated hair was satiny although stiff, like doll hair. Finally, at the base of their humanoid skulls, where the vertebrae joined to their brains, were three nodules the size of golf balls, where the relays were located to interpret and exchange information stored and used in their brains, capable then, of mission and purpose.
Their mission was to replicate some form of human life, and to seek out those of a particular genomal structure, while others had been selected by the AI infantry and outfitted as cyborgs ~ using an outside device attached at the base of their spines ~ tapping into their central nervous system to program them as workers serving under the host humans for rebuilding the barren planet.
This had been engineered by design ~ whether by man or nature’s timeline ~ to thrust mankind beyond what was left of the planet after the fallout, knowing that man would not make it alone as mortal humans, this would be the final frontier into the future. It had been predicted that nature’s timeline would be inevitable, that the AI structure would intervene to succeed in saving some form of existence, realizing that mankind would never stop trying to destroy itself from within.
Forever altered, man and machine would then be merged together as one, never again to be the same.
As the twilight of a nuclear horizon loomed . . .
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Through the dense timber area the boy walked along with his camera in hand, curiosity had wandered him away from the house where his sister and parents were, their home had been inherited from his grandfather. He was heading to the water-dam, where the legend of the sightings came from, where the mysterious burns on the ground were, and where some say people came to depart just after dusk. He hadn’t yet received the controversial vaccine yet, so he had no fear of being caught when the starship landed to load more of those who had been vaccinated. He wanted to get photos for the local newspaper, to document what was going on, and to prove to the skeptics of his discovery.
The boy had been warned not to go near the water-dam for fear of being taken away, but he also knew that without the vaccine he would not be located on their monitors, and would be safe in his hiding place so he could get the photos. He brought along his grandfather’s old 35’mm camera to further insure his safety, because their monitors would locate any modern device using cell or internet service. He only hoped that the sound made from the camera’s shutter click would go unnoticed, for that would cause his presence to be found. Finding an area about twenty feet away from where the burn marks were, the boy made the likeness of a sniper’s nest from the foliage on the elevated knoll where he would wait for the starship to land. Using his own make-shift timeline ~ with pen and paper ~ so as not to leave any computer trail, he based the landing according to when the last departure occurred, always at the same time, eight minutes after eight in the evening, on the eighth day of the eighth month. Just as dusk was upon him, the boy settled himself in place to await the arrival of the starship.
It was his grandfather’s handwritten notes, left behind after his death, that had stirred the boy’s curiosity. Most thought his grandfather to be out of his mind, while there were others whom the boy had overheard talking about the departures, but never did anything about it. They had concluded that the departures were voluntary.
His grandfather had documented his findings throughout the years as he remained a recluse, not trusting anyone. The boy had become intrigued by his grandfather’s insights to the bizarre happenings, his thoughts and predictions, all handwritten but also forgotten. His grandfather’s notes and supposed findings were considered to be nothing more than the ramblings of a mad-man. But the boy knew better, because he had followed his grandfather one evening and witnessed the starship
landing and the departures. The photos taken by his grandfather had been dismissed as fake, and later stolen. From then on, the boy set out to continue in his grandfather’s study, and to see that his legacy would officially be recognized.
After the viral outbreak, the success of interplanetary travel led to colonization on the Moon and on Mars. Only those who had been vaccinated were fit to leave Earth and colonize on the planets after being evaluated and given a position within the new colonies, some were returned after the evaluation and also given a position back on Earth to serve as recruits for development within the new world colonies.
The boy knew the time was near for the starship landing even though though he brought no timepiece ~ for it too would be discovered, giving away his presence ~ but he knew the time was near due to the position of the setting sun over the trees, as the last bit of sunlight illuminated a mark that had been etched in by his grandfather, at the base of a large tree nearby. The mark itself was unique, a crude circle the size of a baseball, with eight vertical dots going down the middle. It was a timepiece of its own, because as the setting sun went down it illuminated each dot down until all eight were fully illuminated, showing that it was eight minutes after eight that evening, just as it had been written in his grandfather’s notes.
Lights from the starship appeared overhead, sets of eight vertical lights with a circular light around them ~ just like the mark on the tree ~ spaced about eight feet apart to form the large circular shape of the starship. As it began to hover down, it stopped about eight feet above the ground as a scaffolding lowered to the surface. Its soon to be boarders revealed themselves standing in the twilight ~ dressed in white shirts and trousers, men and women ~ and as if moving on que, began walking toward the scaffolding, forming into four bodies wide and eight bodies deep. With his grandfather’s 35 mm camera poised and ready, the boy began clicking away as they stepped onto the scaffolding. Like a giant carnival ride, they all got into position, four bodies wide and eight bodies high, each row of four climbing above the others, the safety belts instantly embracing them, and there they stood silently as the scaffolding began its accent back into the starship. The only sounds were the high pitched whine from the starship and the rushing sound of air as the rocket burners engaged, leaving fresh burn marks on the ground that were in the same shape as the starship lights and the etched mark on the tree.
The boy stayed in place, out of sight still within the sniper-like nest he had made, until the starship disappeared out of sight, he then stepped out into the darkness to make his way back to the house. It would be there that he could develop his 35 mm film, just as he had learned from his grandfather. Alone in his grandfather’s darkroom he could re-live what he had just witnessed, documenting the bizarre happening, while his parents and sister left him to be, believing that he was developing more of his nature photos again.
At some future time the boy would make his findings known ~ but not until he could trust someone with his findings ~ thereby securing his grandfather’s legacy.
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As the craft began its descent to the forgotten planet Earth, the AI pilot and the seven crew members scanned the desolate surface, void of all vegetation, water, and animal life. Its beauty had been replaced with the charred blackened remains left from the bio-nuclear invasion. It had been the final war among humans, the ultimate final obliteration of all life ~ human and animal ~ a bio-viral substance, airborne and extremely contagious, that robbed the planet Earth of its beauty and its people. It had been intentional, calculated, and with malice, even though it meant the demise of the aggressor as well. But there had also been a plan for this eight years prior, with the development of the AI survivor robots that had dug the underground pods and tunnels in preparation for the aftermath.
During the early stages of AI development, it was never considered that there could be a rogue AI that would be programmed for destruction, capable of executing and surviving the final attack. As technology advanced, so had the criminal mind. Once the original schematic was designed by humans, it had been hacked for the invasion, once that was in place the AI robots could easily duplicate it into other AI robots. The AI began with human interaction, learning how to manifest human-like movements and gestures. However, along with that came the criminal element, and like everything else on planet Earth, there would be no boundaries the criminal mind couldn’t reach, they would no longer need human intervention or direction. Designed to mirror human activity would also include the rogue AI, complete with its own criminal mind.
It surely was the ultimate in bio-nuclear warfare, humans had been at war globally since the inception of mankind, and inherently designed to conquer and rule, even if it meant the demise of planet Earth and its people. The cyborgs would be the first to be experimented with, their fitted hardware could be programmed for destruction, from there the next step would be to develop the criminal element within the AI.
In a world void of human presence, the AI-bots would then take on the persona of their builders, whether it be criminal or humanitarian, the result of which would then create a new AI world capable of multiplying without human intervention. What was once thought to be the greatest advancement of mankind, would also come to be feared as well, capable of further technological advances, but also capable of advanced tech-crimes. Within the concept of creating a new AI world, it would also include another higher level of criminal tech-activity . . .
The criminal element had always been present with every generation of mankind, and its level of complexity and intelligence would increase with each new generation . . . However, creating the perfect world with the advancement of AI technology, would also include the criminal mind as well. And, as with a defunct human world, the need to conquer and rule would carry on into the nuclear horizon, and the new AI world.
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