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My Work

The Rabbit Hole, Volume Two

Challenge 47

Challenge 45

Before the Automated Empire

by Dennis M. Myers, 07/13/2019

The last governments of the Earth were ruled by petty demagogues, populist dictators, and fallen heroes attempting to recapture imagined past glories. Much of humanity lived on Luna, on Mars, in orbital habitats around Earth and Mars and out in the belt. There were mining operations near all the giants and a research community in the clouds of Venus. But the governments of the Earth saw threats, where only corporations held sway.

No one knows the true reasons behind the attack. Some say the corporations were planning something nefarious. Others say the attackers fell under the spell of propaganda and lies. The resulting attack, destroyed the Neptune Mining Loop project killed thousands, and started a war between the governments of Earth, and the orbital corporations.

During the devastation of the first battles, hundreds of thousands died in orbit, as their fragile habitats were destroyed. The corporate response severed all links to the Earth, shattering the orbital ring, collapsing every space elevator ever built.

This massive attack cornered the leaders below, and they launched a ground based response unlike any that had ever been launched. But in any such battle, the high ground matters. And it is very high in orbit. Only three of the missiles struck their targets, but they still killed nearly a million innocent people.

The reign of nuclear weaponry that then fell upon the Earth destroyed every major city, every major industrial area, and collapsed the remaining governments.

No one claims the deed, but shortly after the war ended, killbot systems were released upon the earth. Small automated builders that will seek out hiding places, gather resources, and build killbots. The size of a small insect, a single killbot can easily eliminate a single human being. Imagine a small mosquito that injects neurotoxins. Clouds of them.

The surviving orbital corporations worked together to create a fragile coalition they called the Corporate Federation. The Lunar Sustainability Cooperative was the largest corporation that declined to join. Instead, they established parameters for trade. Scattered low orbit habitats, struggling to survive, banded together, and also refused to join. They scavenged what they could from the destroyed ring stations.

Fifty years passed, and the delicate balance in orbit had been mostly maintained. Then Elliot Humboldt, the second most powerful director of the second most powerful corporation of the Federation saw what he thought was an opportunity to shift the balance in his favor. With one bold move, fifty years of delicate balance came to an abrupt end.

The Automated Empire is what historians will call the organization that arose from the ensuing chaos, and ruled nearly all of humanity for thousands of years.

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