Two months passed. The Council's mission had gone to Noah and returned
empty-handed. Though life for the Palmans improved in many ways since
the initial days after Mother Brain's destruction, everyone agreed that
it was not as good as before. Though outward appearances showed signs
of recovery, the Council kept hidden the rotting core within. Even the
most complacent of people began to wonder if something might not be
amiss. Everything was said to progress, but then why did the soil
become drier by the day and the plants less fruitful? Under an unspoken
agreement of silence, Hugh, Kain, and Lore said nothing to either
confirm or dissuade the many rumors that came within a hair's breadth of
the truth. Kain had greater misgivings about doing so than his friends,
but he found he did not have to voice his opinion for it to be heard.
"In conclusion, it's safe to report that most of our surviving computer
systems are back online, though idle and awaiting orders. The
Biosystems Lab, Climatrol, and the Plate System are still down, but
being that they were the most complicated of the Motavian systems this
comes as no surprise," stated Councilman Turgen. He steadily moved his
gaze to incorporate the dozen people meeting with the twelve member
council in the Council's hearing chambers. As with most major meetings,
the Commander of Mota presided. "All factories have been recovered from
hostile AIs, and networking between them is up another 5% from four
months ago. I think we've been doing reasonably well, all things
"But we need the Biosystems. Climatrol too. The Plate System can wait,
but not the other two." The speaker was Gillian Dawson, a young
addition to the Council made in the wake of Councilman Hartford's abrupt
and suspicious resignation last month. Ideally each member of the
Motavian half of the New Council should have come from a different city,
but Oputa was virtually lost, and with the vast centralization of the
populace in Paseo, it was natural to choose a new member from within the
Kain saw nothing natural about it however. He suspected that the
Council actually preferred to centralize their source of power than
adequately represent the diverse people of Motavia. Gillian was a
surprise appointment. Though he had worked under Commander Yurik for
five years, he was young for a Councillor, having only turned
twenty-four recently. However, he could not be as naive as his boyish
face suggested. Some element of intelligence and cunning had to be
there, especially if the rest of the Council approved of his
appointment. That assumption alone made Kain wary, but since Rolf
trusted Gillian, Kain would try as well.
"Of course," said Commander Yurik with a nod in response to Gillian's
words. "Which brings us to our next topic of discussion. Dr. Faulkner,
would you care to review the details of your mission for those who have
yet to hear it?"
Kain was not the only person uneasy at this meeting. Across from him,
Hugh shifted in his seat, lifted one leg over the other and leaned back
in his chair. His face was expressionless. Kain had told him nothing
of the mission details, but the biologist felt he knew enough. They had
not found anything of value. If they had, Kain would have not followed
his orders about keeping his findings classified.
Hugh's gaze shifted over to his friend, then Rolf, then Rudo. Anna and
Amy were also in the room, though Lore was not, presumably because she
had nothing to do with the Noah mission. That made him wonder why he
was summoned, except as the ex-mission head who was removed from the
Councilman Turgen coughed loudly as the speaking doctor began to wander
off on a more intricate and unnecessary tangent. Dr. Faulkner
"It was unfortunate that we could not recover anything," concluded
Faulkner, who had been rattling off something resembling hourly status
reports combined with background information out of an encyclopedia,
"but even so we have a fair idea how the planetside systems interlink
with each other thanks to the work of Mr. Kain and Dr. Thompson. It
even may be possible to get them working without the missing elements
Mr. Kain suggested might be found in space. Dr. Arek and his team are
being moved to full time research on the matter, and hopefully they will
have the rest of the pieces to the puzzle by the end of the year." He
paused to suck in a deep breath and clear his throat. When he spoke
again his words came in slow, measured tones. "In the meantime I
suggest that the Daughter Project be given an official green light, to
be ready upon the completion of Dr. Arek's work."
The Daughter Project. Most of the people present here had been formally
briefed about its existence for the first time earlier today. Hugh
raised his hand to ask a question, but Anna beat him to it.
"If we gained nothing from the Noah mission, how can we expect Daughter
to take over for us? To my knowledge we don't have the programming,
maybe not even the labor power, to allow Daughter to accomplish such a
"Comments?" asked Yurik.
"We will simply have to do the best we can," said Faulkner. "We don't
have much choice in the matter. Something capable of maintaining the
ecosystem has to be introduced and swiftly. The landscape is
deteriorating--we must admit it. It can no longer survive without some
form of artificial control."
"That may be true enough," said Kain, "but let's try to avoid the
mistakes Mother Brain instilled in us. She did more than maintain the
soil and give us food to eat. She simply would not allow us to survive
on our own, no matter how much we would want to. And from what I
gather, neither will Daughter. A sedate people are easier to govern,
true, but we must take the current state of political affairs into
account if we are to ever garner any support for a new system-wide
Put bluntly, the current state of political affairs had all the balance
of a fragile scale caught between two gigantic weights. One did not
know when the scale would break, and it was equally likely to crash in
upon itself as to tip to one side or another. Quite simply, people no
longer trusted the leaders Mother Brain had put before them. Mother
Brain proved both harmful and fallible. What if their leaders did as
well? What if there was a reason, a bad reason, that Mother Brain had
There was also growing unrest among the Motavian-raised Palmans. They
resented having to share their meager resources with Palm's people. The
people of Palm in return expected that those same resources were half
theirs by right. Though only ten years had separated the intermingling
of the two Palman peoples, well over a millennia had passed since the
first Palmans had colonized Motavia. In the centuries following, there
had been ample time for customs and traditions to diverge between the
The tension had been the greatest last month during the height of the
cold, dry winter. Motavia's year consisted of a little over sixteen
standard months made up of four weeks apiece; almost a year and a half
of the AW calender. All four seasons were counted as being four months
long, save winter, which was given the extra week in the year. This
last week was considered as being "outside" of the regular year, since
it was left over after each of the months had been given their four
weeks. The first Motavian settlers aptly placed their extra week at the
height of winter, between the times when the world turned its coldest
and when it would begin to warm again.
During this time the Last Week Celebration was held. The days were
darkest here, and the cold at its height. Yet people would keep warm
during the festivities, and the joyful dancing on the last two nights of
the week left few people single who did not wish to be. Even the coming
of Mother Brain and Climatrol, which took away the natural cold, was not
enough to keep the celebration from being held. It was a common
belief--though most people would not care to test its limits--that
anything that happened during the Last Week would not reflect on one's
self the rest of the year.
The Palman Palmans considered having such an event at a precarious time
as this was inviting anarchy. They feared a world turned upside-down, a
trip into a land of sin. Lore tried to explain that the festivities
usually resulted in people becoming friendlier than usual and more
united than they were before, but her words fell largely on deaf ears.
People from both sides of the argument pressured their Councillors to
settle the matter, but they had been unable to, because the Council
itself was publicly divided for the first time since Mother Brain's
fall. The people of Palm simply did not understand the tradition and
wanted no part of it. The Motavian Palmans wanted the celebration to
lighten their spirits after a year of misery. The two sides fought,
sometimes giving way and other times remaining adamant. Eventually the
whole matter fell to pieces and many cities and their suburbs held the
Last Week Celebration regardless of political or Palman approval.
The backlash of the event was horrendous. Both sides clamored for the
Council's attention and even the distinction between Motavian Palmans
and Palman Palmans was further broken up into a wide spectrum of
conservatives and extremists. The Council was loosing control, and
nothing it said would be taken by the people as an absolute truth any
It also did not help that the time was fast approaching when Mother
Brain would have retired no longer suitable politicians and replaced
them with new ones. If the Council did not regain the people's trust,
there soon would not be a Council at all.
"Daughter would be too controlling," Kain continued, "much as many
people feel the Council is now. If we're going to reinstall a new
control system that is going to impact so many people's lives, we cannot
be heavy-handed about it and most of all, we must make the people feel
better informed than they are now. They are tired of being controlled,
because life is swift becoming unbearable that way. Mother Brain's
control was a candied evil, her underlings, the New Council, are only a
step above no government at all, so even the dimmest of dullards would
consider trying something else. Ultimately it is these people who must
build these networks and work for the system's construction. And you
can be certain they won't do it if they don't want to."
"But we need Daughter!" Turgen protested. "The farms are failing and
only a computer as powerful as her will be able to handle running the
Biosystems, let alone Climatrol."
"Not true," said Kain, "which is why I requested that Dr. Thompson be
allowed to attend this meeting."
The caught Hugh's attention.
"Climatrol may be a problem," Kain admitted, "but the Biosystems Lab can
engineer viable organisms to fit any climate known to Algo. And" --he
paused for emphasis-- "there is already an existing, possible undamaged
computer system capable of running it."
"You are speaking of Seed, correct?" asked Commander Yurik. "Wouldn't
his memory banks have been erased upon Mother Brain's destruction?"
"Possibly," Kain replied, with a slight inclination of his head. "No
one has checked. Nonetheless Rolf Landale's expedition into the
Biosystems did not reveal many outward signs of computer damage. The
system itself may be still intact. I don't need to remind you that this
will save us the time and expense of building a new one."
Gillian raised his hand. "But if Seed's memory is still intact,
wouldn't he choose to side against Mother Brain's destroyers?"
"Seed was an autonomous machine," said Hugh, finally drawing attention
to himself. He waited until all the faces in the room turned towards
him. "As with any machine, he could only obey his programming, but he
was an artificial intelligence in the truest sense of the word. He was
not at all like the farming droids or the robot police, which can only
follow a limited set of orders. Seed could have just as easily been a
Palman hiding within a maze of silicon. He had as much free will as the
rest of us did beneath Mother Brain's rule. That is to say: It was not
much, but I believe he can be reasoned with. There is no logical reason
for him to fight us."
"Unless he's been programmed to do so," Turgen countered.
Hugh kept his voice even and gaze steady as he turned to the Councilman.
"I will not deny that is possible, but I doubt it. Seed was designed as
a research machine. Certainly he gave us biologists knowledge we did
not already have, but in return he discovered things about us and our
world that he did not know. And when he did not know, he encouraged us
to search harder for the answer. He had a drive to accumulate
information and this curiosity may lead him to help us so that he can
continue to learn. He will have much to gain, and betraying us will
earn him destruction. Seed can't loose by helping us."
Amy leaned forward on the table so she could look at Hugh far to her
right. "Would it be possible for Seed to take Daughter's place?"
Kain shook his head, swiftly getting in his own answer. "I wouldn't
recommend it. Seed might be reasonable, but he still was programmed by
Mother Brain. He might be of use as a lower level system, but something
that's going to control the planet, maybe even Dezo, should be something
we've made ourselves. Giving Seed that much power might give him the
means to fulfill any last minute wishes from Mother Brain."
Hugh nodded. "I must agree. Seed was a good companion to have during
my work at the Lab. However in light of what happened during the
Biosystems' final days, I can no longer trust him to the point I once
did. We must make it reasonable for him to help us, because he won't
have any alternative but to be disassembled."
"Of course this is all assuming Seed is even functional," said Gillian,
vaguely waving around a device reinvented in recent days in Hugh's
direction. It was called a pen, and he had been using it to take notes
during the meeting.
"Correct," said Commander Yurik. "Mr. Kain's suggestion may allow us to
restore the Biosystems in the future, and he has made a point that the
maintenance of the Lab does not require a computer as powerful as
Daughter. Perhaps that would be possible for the rest of the systems as
well. However there are no other sentient AIs on Motavia that we know
of. It is possible that Mother Brain directly issued orders to the
systems when she needed something done, and thus a comparable management
computer may be necessary. Because we do not yet know Seed's current
state of being I believe we should follow Faulkner's advice and continue
our work with Daughter unless there are any further comments either for
"I have a modifying statement." Rolf gestured with his hand to capture
the attention of those present. "In the event that Seed is found
functioning is it possible that we can have him run autonomous to
Daughter, but in a form of partnership? This may allow us to have a
balance between the two systems and prevent either one from gaining too
much control, not to mention it will save us the work of designing
aspects of the Biosystems' maintenance. I think we can all agree that
there should be some form of communication between the two computers,
and it may be more 'comforting' for Seed to be in a similar place in a
hierarchy as he was before, except this time we will be in control of
the central system."
Hugh shrugged. "I don't know how much of a comfort Seed can take in
anything, but I'm not opposed to having him work in conjunction with
Daughter. For the record though, I am opposed to having a
centralized system that is capable of making decisions without us."
"Opposition noted," said Councillor Turgen dryly.
Anna rested her elbows on the table as she propped her head up on the
backs of her hands. "So, how are we going to go about reactivating this
Seed? Is the Biosystems one of the secured areas?"
"Technically no," replied Gillian. "No hunters or guardians have
actually gone to be certain that the area is cleared, but there is no
reason to believe it is not. Mother Brain did not have any combative
AIs stationed there during her reign."
Kain glanced at Hugh, who nodded his assent. Kain said, "Dr. Thompson,
Lore Drakon, and I were inside the Biosystems Lab a little over a couple
months ago. There did not appear to be any AIs present that were in any
condition to fight us. All of them were service machines for the
various labs and were stationary, much like Seed is. They were
deactivated and some of them even ruined, presumably from the power
surge of three years ago that resulted in the creation of Neifirst."
Kain was grateful when no one questioned just what they had been doing
in the Lab. Instead Commander Yurik asked, "You both know where Seed is
located then." He motioned to the two men.
"Yes," Hugh replied.
"Would it be possible for you to reactivate Seed temporarily if we
restore power to the Biosystems Lab? I imagine it may be extremely
dangerous should anything resume function during that time."
"No machines attacked us when we went to get the reorder for you a year
ago," said Rolf. "Of course it's possible Mother Brain wasn't aware of
the danger at the time, but I don't think the machines there are geared
for combat. If Seed was conscious during the time, he made no move to
make his presence known to us."
"And even if the danger is present, we're willing to risk it if it will
get Seed working for us," added Kain. "Restore the power for an hour
and we'll see what we can do. Are the communications systems working in
the underground control room in Climatrol yet? Yes? Good. Then we can
keep in touch via our visaphone. Turn on the satellite dish on top of
Climatrol and we should be able to relay any messages we have to down
below in case we have an emergency and need the power immediately turned
"Any objections to this?" asked Yurik.
There were none spoken.
The Commander inclined his head respectfully to Kain. "Very well. You
will have your hour. I'll arrange for members of Dr. Arek's staff to
help you. Some of them have been down to Climatrol before."
Kain nodded. "Thank you. There is just one more thing I would like to
"And that is?"
"I would like Lore Drakon to accompany us. She knows something of
computers and since I have worked with her before I would appreciate her
Yurik paused for a moment, thoughtfully picking up some papers lying in
front of him. His gaze flickered over the printed material before he
replied, "Very well. I think that can be arranged."