Chapter 1-A: Invasion At The Farm
I, James Upton, changed the future in 2008.
I was reassembling the carburetor when I heard video-game sounds: zheorr, zheorr! You’re not supposed to hear video-game sounds in a barn.
It wasn’t my barn, of course, but rather my aunt’s and uncle’s. At the moment, Uncle Pete and Aunt Linda and the farmhands were all in town, so I was alone.
It pleased me that my uncle trusted me to be alone with heavy machinery. (Of course, I was fifteen then.)
To the strange noises coming from outside was added a yell: “Goddamn Cybes! why couldn’t they stay in the 27th century where we belong?”
“Because they know that Jimmy Upton is alone in the barn for 2.6 more hours!” someone yelled back.
Since I am Jimmy Upton (call me James), I immediately thought What the fuck? and Who the hell are the “Cybes”?
I hurried across the barn to the west-side big doors. There’s a one-inch gap between the big doors, even when they’re shut. So without being seen myself, I was able to see outside.
Standing outside the barn, their backs to me, were men and women in jumpsuits of dark green, dark blue, dark yellow, and maroon. They were firing ray-guns—complete with flashes of light and strange sound effects. And as weird as that was, it was nothing compared to whom these guys were shooting at.
At first I thought they were robots, because I was seeing so much metal. These people, both men and women, each had metal that was covering parts of their legs and arms. But they had the trunks and heads of people—except that they each had a weird helmet-like thing covering the top of his/her head and eyes, and they each had some weird structure running across the front of his/her chest at the heart. Each of these guys was flushed, as though with fever. These robot-people looked scary as hell.
The biggest and most armored of the robot-men had things built into their left arms that blasted lightning at the jumpsuit-people. Most of the jumpsuit-people jumped out of the way, but two people in maroon jumpsuits were electrocuted. Meanwhile, the smaller robot-men and all of the robot‑women were shooting ray-guns.
One of my defenders yelled, “I’m fighting for the Planetary Alliance and its Space Navy. What are you fighting for, Cybes?” Sarcastically he added, “Welcoming?”
All the robot-people spoke as a chorus: “We are the Cybes. You cannot succeed, Space Navy. Defense is pointless.”
Then I heard pounding on the barn’s east-side human door, and a woman’s voice was calling, “Jimmy? Jimmy Upton? Are you in there?” I didn’t recognize her voice.
I was getting weirded out. I get a drop-in visitor at the same time as I have spacemen from the future battling outside? I went to the door but didn’t open it. “Who’s there?”
“Miss Smith, Jenny Smith.” When I didn’t say anything, she added, “I taught Computer Literacy class when you were in fifth grade. You invited me to your house that Christmas, remember?”
It didn’t occur to me till too late to ask myself, How’d she know where my uncle’s farm was? By the time I’d thought that, I’d already unlocked the padlock and opened the door.
The Cybe that had once been Miss Smith pushed her way into the barn.
She was naked, except for her metal parts. She was shorter than I remembered, but that didn’t make her less scary. Instead of a lightning-shooter on her left arm, her left arm was bare (and flushed red), with a box-like thing on the back of her hand. Metal tubes ran from that box to her pinky finger—
Her pinky finger had mutated. Instead of a pinky nail, it now sported a plastic-like cone that tapered to a needle. I did not want to get that needle in me. That “syringe” had to be filled with nanobots!
Once inside the barn, Miss Smith’s speaking changed, becoming flat and robotic: “The Overmind calms you. The Overmind frees you from emotion. The Overmind gives knowledge. We Welcome you into the Overmind.”
I ran away from her then—but I stayed inside the barn. The video-game and zzzap sounds were still coming from outside the barn, so trying to escape from the barn in either direction wasn’t an option.
She chased me all around the barn. She wasn’t as fast as me, but she never got tired. Fifteen minutes later, I was panting and sweaty, and she was still chasing me. I grabbed up a shovel and tried to knock her flat. A purple rectangle appeared in the air, three inches in front of her chest, as I was swinging. When my shovel hit the purple rectangle, it was like hitting a wall. Miss Smith seemed unaffected by it all. I dropped the shovel and ran again.
I had a plan by then—a desperate plan, admittedly. I ran away to where the fire axe and the rubber gloves were kept, and tossed them into the storage loft. I was climbing the ladder into the loft when Miss Smith showed up. She started to climb the ladder.
In the loft were two objects big enough to hide behind. Miss Smith headed for the refrigeration compressor, because it was bigger. As she walked past, I stepped out from behind the irrigation pump. I was wearing the rubber gloves, and holding the fire axe backward. I swung the axe coming up from a low position, so that the axe’s pointy side hit her right where the base of her skull joined her neck.
She gave off sparks, as she began speaking the same seven words in a language I’d never heard before. Then she went silent, as she fell forward onto her face. I watched her for ten minutes, looking for any twitch of movement. There was none.
It was silent outside as well. I went to the west-side barn door and looked through the crack: I saw nobody. Nearly wetting myself with fear, I unbarred the doors and went outside.
Outside I found no spacemen, no Cybes and, oddly, no corpses. The only sign that there’d been a ray-gun battle here was a scorch mark on the barn. That, and an oak tree was burning.
I went in the barn and up the ladder to Miss Smith, who still had not moved. Now clearly visible was a boxy shape that was attached to her back, between her shoulder blades. An electric cable of some kind ran from the box to the base of her skull and into her brain. My axe-hit had cut that cable.
I cut off the box that was on her back, the box that had grown on her left hand, and her pinky needle. Then I buried the rest of her just outside the barn, underneath the hay baler. No ordinary animal would be digging up her corpse, under the weight of that baler!
I wept for the nice lady she had been four years ago. She couldn’t even change out a hard drive, but in fifth grade she’d gotten me interested in building computers. Hell, she’d made me feel like a genius. And now she was dead, I’d killed her, and she’d died looking and acting like a monster. Fuck.
I walked out of the barn, and noticed that the oak tree had burned itself out by then. It was while I was looking at the oak tree that I saw something strange happen in the air above the oak tree.
A black point appeared in the air, which almost instantly expanded in every direction, becoming a giant floating metal cube. A moment later, my ears popped.
The cube had grooves cut into each of the three faces that I could see. The cube, I realized, was a ship of some kind; each of the three faces had a big thruster-hole in the center of the face, with eight mini-thrusters surrounding each center thruster.
The cube-ship was in trouble. Even though the thruster on the bottom was shooting blue flame to move the cube higher, the cube was slowly sinking down. Also, the cube was wobbling and tumbling, and mini-thrusters on every side were firing short blue bursts to make the cube straighten up and fly right.
Most damning of all, all three faces had scorch marks; and the north-side face also had a spot where the metal had melted, filling in the grooves. The cube was giving off gray smoke and black smoke, and I saw two faces leaking a black liquid.
I knew I was looking at either the Cybes’ ship or the Space Navy ship, and I wondered what I should do if the ship crashed or exploded. Then I realized: I’m not obligated to help the fuckers who turned Miss Smith into a monster and tried to kidnap me.
But none of my worries came true. The cube quit wobbling; it stopped sinking. It rose in the air, as it swiftly shrank to a rising black point. A moment later, my ears popped again. After ten seconds, the black point vanished.
I watched for ten minutes, waiting for the damaged cube-ship to reappear. But after ten minutes of seeing only blue sky and clouds, I went in the house.
My uncle and aunt and the farmhands returned twenty minutes later, in a different truck than they’d left in. Uncle Pete said, “Yeah, the Ford threw a rod, so ‘a movie and fast food’ turned into a real adventure. How about you, Jimmy? What’s new?”
I pointed out the window to the oak tree. I said, “A lightning storm came through, and set the tree on fire.”
I shrugged and added, “Otherwise, it’s been a boring, ordinary day.”
Chapter 1-B: I Learn My Future
The summer ended, and I went back to Grand City and my parents. I brought with me the two boxes and the needle that I’d taken off Miss Smith’s Cybefied corpse.
During the next three years, I spent all my free time in my basement workshop.
Actually, it was my dad’s workshop—but he wasn’t there to use it much. He started “working late,” then my mom filed for divorce and he moved out. For a while, Mom didn’t get off the couch, then she went through a phase when she went out every night, then she started spending lots of time over at David’s apartment. I barely noticed, I was so obsessed with cracking the mystery.
The Cybes from the 27th century had come back almost to Y2K to grab me. They’d Welcomed my fifth-grade teacher, just to make sure I myself got Welcomed. Meanwhile, the other people from the future, my protectors, knew that the Cybes would come for me. Why? What did the future know about me?
Two years after I’d killed Miss Smith and robbed her body, I still didn’t have answers to my ultimate question, but I knew what the two boxes and the cone needle were for.
I learned exactly who the Cybes were. The Cybes were the terror of the 27th century because if you fought them, killing one of your men is not the worst thing that the Cybes could do to you.
Nope, your soldier might get Welcomed by them, and then everything that this soldier knew about your weapons, defenses, and tactics, the Cybes would now know, through the Overmind. Worst of all, this Cybefied soldier’s loyalties would get completely and instantly changed, and he would wind up fighting against you as an Overmind-linked drone.
Individual Cybe drones were organized into clans; all the different clans together made up the multi-planetary Cybe hive. This Cybe hive was made up of—
• 427 human-colony planets that had been 99.9 percent Cybefied;
• the entire planet of the Stone Age-level Mrraok (cat people); and
• one captured ship filled with Amigogi interplanetary traders.
While the Overmind gave all the Cybes an inhuman level of agreement in what they did, Cybes also had Cybe Alpha in charge. Cybe Alpha gave orders when a decision was needed quickly.
By the year 2652 (the year that this clan of Cybes had come from), there were (are? would be?) specialties within the Cybes. The Cybes shooting lightning at the Space Navy were Soldiers. The Cybes shooting ray-guns at the Space Navy, as well as the former Miss Smith, all were Welcomers.
I had guessed correctly, back at my uncle’s farmhouse, that inside the plastic cone and needle were billions and billions of nanobots, whose job it was to convert a human body into a Cybe.
The box and cable on any Cybe’s back that connected to that Cybe’s brain were to connect that Cybe to the Overmind, by uploading and downloading thoughts and memories.
But providing a brand-new Cybe with its orientation and initial protocols was discovered to be too taxing of Overmind resources, for too unimportant a task. (Translation: It slurped up bandwidth.) So instead of a new Cybe getting orientation from the Overmind, by 2652 everything that the new Cybe needed to know was broadcast from the transmitter on the Welcomer’s hand.
There was a third kind of Cybes, the Invisibles. Invisibles looked like regular humans (or Mrraok, or Amigogi) and mimicked the speech and actions of regular humans, thanks to their Turing Subroutines. An Invisible’s Overmind module wasn’t a box on its back; but rather, a small hemisphere on the back of its skull, easily hidden by hair or fur. Invisibles couldn’t Welcome, and they couldn’t fight like Soldiers could fight, but Invisibles could blend in perfectly, while reporting everything they saw and heard to the Overmind.
It was the Invisibles who made the Cybes even more terrifying in the 27th century. By the time the people in a human community ever laid eyes on Soldiers and Welcomers, chances were good that the Overmind already knew who that community’s leaders were, and what defenses they had. Entire settlements were Welcomed without their defenders being able to fire a shot.
Finally, there were a small fraction of Cybe Leaders. Leaders were red-skinned, unlike Invisibles; and Leaders had the armor and force-field generators of Soldiers, but didn’t have any built-in weaponry. Leaders weren’t artificially tall and strong, like Soldiers were; but this meant that Leaders weren’t quick-tempered like Soldiers were. Only a Cybe Leader could become Cybe Alpha.
One thing that the Cybes did not have, I noticed, was a “Cybe King” or “Cybe Queen”—
Meaning, someone who hadn’t been Cybefied, so that his/her thoughts couldn’t be read by the Overmind, but who could give orders to Cybe Alpha and to the Overmind both.
When I finally solved the mystery, Why me?, I was eighteen, and it was a week after my high-school graduation. I tell you, if I’d been legal to buy liquor that night, I would have gotten myself blotto on the nastiest, cheapest rotgut I could find. But forced to stay sober, I watched my Ghostbusters DVD five times in a row.
In my place, you’d have done the same thing. You see, I created the Cybes.
Once upon a time, around 2050 or so, there was a professor of nanotechnology named Jimmy Upton.
Compared to the 27th century, nanotechnology in the 2050s was primitive. You built the nanobots outside the human body, you loaded every nanobot with the same program outside the human body, and you injected all the nanobots into the human body. Then every nanobot followed the same program, whether it was inside the heart or inside the hand. Each nanobot could sense only hydrogen ions, hydroxide ions, and carbon dioxide. Like I said, nanotechnology in the 2050s was “primitive.”
In the 2050s, what did nanotechnology professors do? They tried to figure out how to stuff a few more computer instructions into a nanobot’s brain, or how to make the nanobot a little faster or a little smaller. Everyone accepted the “limits” of nanotechnology: Every little ’bot has to behave the same as every other ’bot.
But in 2055, “I” (my older self) published a paper declaring that it was possible to create a system in which every nanobot in the body could report back what it was finding, and could receive tailored instructions. This could be achieved, “my” paper declared, by building a little transmitter/receiver into every nanobot.
To put it bluntly, “my” paper was laughed at. For a nanobot to work right, it has to be small enough to pass through blood capillaries. It was gleefully pointed out that even the smallest transmitter-receiver that was imaginable in 2055 would make the nanobot way too big for human capillaries.
Imagine an astronomy professor, who has a Ph.D. and an observatory, claiming that there are men on Mars and that the Martians want to meet us. A nut case, right? That’s how “I” was viewed within the nanotechnology community.
“I” persisted. Yet instead of persuading anyone, I was labeled a crackpot and fired from the university. And for the rest of “my” life, I remained in disgrace, a national joke—when “I” died, only my elderly Aunt Linda came to my funeral.
“I” died in 2064 with my reputation a joke. But in 2314, the anti-tachyon microtransmitter was invented. Soon after that, someone remembered my “ridiculous” theory, and the CNS (Coordinated Nanobot System) was perfected in 2331.
Nanobot breast-enhancement became commonplace overnight. Near-eternal youth became possible; within a few years, it became affordable. By 2354, comedians were making jokes about great-grandparent/great-grandchild incest. Women over a hundred years old became call girls—and stole clients away from young whores.
Meanwhile, unnoticed by anyone in the news media, the men and women being sent to the gold-mining prison planet Tizurka IV were getting their bodies nanobot-modified, so that they could live and work on the planet without spacesuits. As part of their modifications, their projective-telepathy psychic abilities were enhanced.
In 2419, Rachel Toyomachi was convicted of hacking Earth’s planetary-defense computer system. To “make an example of her,” the judge sentenced her to Tizurka IV. Once there, she proved herself to be a skilled hacker but a poor programmer—when she hacked into the nanobot-control computer, she accidentally created the Overmind.
In 2427, two mine-collapses occurred on Tizurka IV within the same month. The Tizurka miners declared the mines to be unsafe, and declared a work stoppage. Thanks to the Overmind, that work stoppage was 99.9999 percent effective.
Interestingly, there were fourteen miners on Tizurka IV who kept working, in order to toady up to the warden. They were part of the Overmind, but they didn’t obey what the Overmind said.
Anyway, in 2427, gold-mining on Tizurka IV came to a halt. Halliburton PanStellar immediately demanded that the Space Navy “do something.”
The Space Navy, not understanding what it was dealing with, sent a squad of Epsilon Force Marines in spacesuits to “neutralize” the Tizurka IV leadership. Alas, the Space Navy never asked itself the question, “What happens when a man who needs a spacesuit fights a man who doesn’t?”
After that embarrassment, the Space Navy sent an entire company of Space Marines to the surface of Tizurka IV. It took those men longer to die.
The Space Navy took time to consider its options, then sent an entire battalion to Tizurka IV in 2428, under the command of General Karl Mbomo. But when the battalion arrived on-planet, they discovered that the Overmind-connected Tizurkans had concocted a new defense.
A Private Chong was the first offworlder to be Welcomed. A Major Lech!-Chich was the second. General Mbomo was third.
When General Mbomo got Welcomed, the Overmind-linked people on Tizurka IV became the first Cybes, and Mbomo became the first Cybe Alpha.
And all this happened because in 2055, “I” wanted to prove how smart “I” was by publishing that damned paper.
Well, one thing was for sure: This Jimmy Upton wasn’t going to make that mistake!
Even though I now knew how to build and to program my own Cybe-making nanobots that communicated with each other by anti-tachyons—thus proving that “my” paper was correct.
Or so I resolved. I would have kept this knowledge quiet—never publishing it, never using it—until Mom’s boyfriend’s daughter Stephanie spoke fateful words at Thanksgiving dinner.
David’s daughter Stephanie stood up from the table, her plate in her hand.
“What are you doing?” Mom asked.
“The stuffing’s too cold,” she said. “I’m gonna nuke it.”
“Honey, don’t do that,” Mom said. “You’ve got cranberry on your plate. Cranberry is a dish that is best served cold.”
“It’s my food, Ellen,” Stephanie said. “If I want to microwave it, I’m going to microwave it, and you can’t stop me.”
“Go ahead, Steph, if you need to,” David said.
“Hot cranberries?” I said. “You’re weird, Stephanie.” Understand that when I said this, I was making a joke.
Stephanie looked down her nose at me. “Whereas you are a loser, and you’ll die a loser.”
That hit too close to home, because of what had happened to my other self in 2064. That’s when, in my anger and hurt, I crossed a line in my mind.
“I” had died in 2064 being called an idiot, a fool, even crazy. Well, this James Upton would show Stephanie—no, I’d show them all!
Chapter 1-C: Queen Stephanie-1
It really doesn’t matter why I did everything I did, does it?
After Stephanie’s insult during Thanksgiving dinner, I spent months in my workshop, rewriting all that nanobot programming.
But the nanobot hardware, this I left alone. Mechanical engineering in the 27th century is a wonder to behold, and comparing Cybe electronic engineering to what we have now? Resistors are feudal.
Listen here, have I told you about Exnillo packs? They’re not much to look at—one of them is about the size of two shirt buttons glued together—but they’re amazing technology.
An Exnillo pack takes energy from. . .the universe, basically. Year-2011 science says this baby can’t exist, and yet I’ve got one powering the Cybe computer I stole. Keep using a ray-gun till its Exnillo pack is dead, and the sucker will recharge itself in 24 hours. In the 27th century, fossil-fuel technology is thought to be “quaint.”
Here’s what I’m proud of: I figured out a way to grow an Exnillo pack inside a woman, as part of the bimborg-ization process.
This is a big achievement. For one thing, Cybes don’t have built-in Exnillo packs. Cybe Welcomers take their energy from little battery packs inside their armor, while Cybe Soldiers use big battery packs. But either way, the battery pack only gets recharged after a Cybe has spent the night in a Recharging Chamber.
My bimborg, whether Pleasure Units/Welcomers, Ass-Kicker Babes, or Spy Babes, don’t need no stinkin’ Recharging Chambers.
If I want to have an orgy at 3 a.m., my Pleasure Units aren’t standing in a box then. You want to send a squad of Special Ops guys to attack me at 3 a.m.? My Ass-Kicker Babes aren’t standing inside a box either.
Yeah, there’s a big design tradeoff. Besides being much weaker than a Cybe Soldier, a bimborg Ass-Kicker Babe can’t shoot lightning bolts like a Soldier can. On the other hand, at three a.m., an Ass-Kicker Babe is ready to fight, while a Soldier must stand in his box and recharge.
But let’s be honest, huh? I didn’t cook up these improved designs so I could have more deadly bimborg bodyguards. Nope, I designed things this way so that any Pleasure Unit would be truly “a 24‑hour fucking machine.”
Eventually my work was done; the day came when I showed up at Stephanie’s apartment, supposedly to apologize for something I’d said.
“Is the wine chilled?” she demanded to know. “Or did you leave it in the trunk of your car?”
“It just came from the refrigerator,” I replied. “Even I know, wine is a drink that is best served cold.”
My left hand held out the bottle of amontillado that was my supposed “apology gift”; my right hand was in my pocket. As smirking Stephanie took the bottle from my hand, I stepped forward and, using the cone-needle Cybe thing as my syringe, injected her in the back of her neck.
Stephanie pushed me away, too late. She grabbed the bottle of sherry by the neck, intending to use it on me as a club. She screamed at me to get out—or rather, sheintended to scream at me.
She couldn’t utter a sound.
Panic replaced anger on her face. That quickly was replaced by calmness.
When five minutes and 27 seconds had elapsed since I’d needled her, I said, “Administrator command: Mute override.”
Stephanie paused, then replied in a calm voice, “This unit senses no others. Is this unit the first bimborg unit?”
“Correct,” I said. “Your unit number is 1.”
“Who is Alpha? Is this unit Bimborg Alpha?”
“I am James Upton, Bimborg King. I am in command. You are in command of all bimborg, subject to my orders. Your function is Bimborg Queen; I don’t like the termAlpha.”
“Understood. What is Bimborg Unit-1’s designation?”
I almost got smart-aleck and said Stephanie of Nine West, since she was such a shoe-buying fiend. Instead I said, “Your designation is ‘Stephanie-1.’ A unit’s designation will be that unit’s Solitary first name, followed by her unit number.”
“All units will comply.”
Now comes the good part, I thought. Hopefully. Aloud I said, “I call subroutine Turing-Bimbo.”
Her expression and body language changed completely. “Ooh, Jimmy, you are sooo sexy! Let’s drink some of this wine and then, like, I’m gonna make you see stars.”
“Call me James from now on. Even in front of my mom or your dad.”
“You got it, James. So, tiger, is there, like, anything you want to do now?” Her voice sounded like a phone-sex operator.
“Yes,” I said, “I want you to get naked. And while you do, tell me your standard orders as Bimborg Queen.”
“Sure thing, lover.” As she unbuttoned her blouse, she said, “As a bimborg I’m to, like, fuck and suck you silly whenever you tell me to, and, you know, otherwise obey your every command. I will always dress to get you so totally hot; also, I’m to act, you know, sizzling hot and horny for you, but like totally uninterested in every other guy. As a bimborg, I must, every moment, do the whole ‘Three Laws of Robotics’ thing when it comes to you.” Pulling down her skirt, she added, “As Queen, I’m to Welcome the first Pleasure Units/Welcomers, Ass-Kicker Babes, and Spy Babes, and make sure that every unit acts totally like a good little bimborg, you know?”
I said, “Supplemental Order One for the Bimborg Queen: Cover all traces of everything we do, so that neither the military nor any level of law enforcement notices anything unusual.”
“Ooh, I will comply,” she said in a sexy voice.
“Supplemental Order Two for the Bimborg Queen: Subject to the limitations of Supplemental Order One, if you see a way to make my life better, then do so.”
“You got it, stud muffin,” Stephanie said.
“Arouse,” I said. Her nipples popped up. I put my hands on her tits, and she smiled at me. I said, “Your tits feel burning hot.”
“Will they get bigger?” she asked.
I nodded. “And your hair and fingernails will get longer soon.”
She said, “Good. Big tits please you.”
I took Stephanie to bed—
She lay on the bed, legs up and spread, and her arms reached for me. “My wet, eager pussy wants you, King James. Fuck me! Fuck me with your hard, throbbing cock!”
Stephanie-1 was indeed wet and eager; she was also agreeable and inexhaustible. She knew a trick with her pussy muscles—Wow.
EDIT: Added 2013.05.03—
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