The next day was more of the same. We spent the day creating a library of patterns. Tara/ Susan queried Alison about creating a seed pattern library. Could seeds produced by the fabricator germinate and grow normally? Alison believed they could so we purchased as many seeds as possible. We were all hoping for the best, preparing for the worst and more and more expecting the worst to be our new reality.
Theoretically, the same process could be used to clone an animal, but we didn't have a big enough fabricator for the larger animals and none of us could bring ourselves to put a live animal in the PE. Putting a dead one in would be no good as it would come out dead. We already had the pattern for various raw meats and cooked meats were present in a lot of meals that we also had the pattern for.
Helen/ Alice managed to visit a chicken farm and get a tray with about twenty-five eggs ready to hatch and we put them through the PE and then returned the tray to the farmer. The only other non-plant source of protein that we were prepared to put through the PE was crickets and cricket eggs. No one in the western world really wants to eat insects, but apparently, they were a great source of protein. There was a cricket farm within driving distance and Kay/ Karen visited it to get some samples that we could copy. To make it more palatable for us westerners, the crickets were flash cooled to kill them humanely and then ground into a powder. You then put the powder into a pill and swallowed it.
At lunch, we ordered heavily from multiple take away restaurants and we did the same for dinner. All the excess food was then vacuum packed and frozen. It took half an hour for the PE to work, but you could pack the available space with multiple items. It meant each pattern was for multiple items, but when we were less worried about getting everything we could think of as a pattern, we could separate them out to get individual patterns. Now that we knew an Alien invasion was imminent we worried less about our energy expenditure showing up, so Alison produced more PE machines. We were still trying to charge capacitors to take to the mining site, as well as Alison building things in the basement with her fabricators.
That afternoon Alison made another trip to the site to transfer the charged capacitors across. At night worker bots filled the generators with fuel which was mainly local vegetation converted into vegetable oil.
Anna-Maria/ Hannah had another great evening at dance. Not many boys there, but she met a couple of friendly girls that she thought could become friends. An hour or so after we had gone to bed, Alison woke us up to tell us that there was an Alien fleet in our solar system. With human technology, we would still have plenty of time, but the Alien traders had left our system within one day. Alison did not have any information on their tech, only subspace tech, but if one alien race could leave in one day, the chances were, another could arrive in the same time.
Alison told us that she was going back to our mine with a few partially charged capacitors. She would be staying there until we had enough of the special alloy to create a power source and then return, but that probably wouldn't be until that evening. She suggested none of us leaves the house and insisted that I, in particular, remain safe. The only reason Alison knew the Aliens had arrived is because the government knew they had arrived and they only knew because of scanning technology that they had bought off the Alien traders. How the world reacted was unpredictable, but there were the possibilities of panic, riots, looting, and anarchy.
She could confirm that high-level politicians were now in safe houses and bunkers, not just here in Australia, but across the world. There were hints on the internet, but so far it was considered conspiracy theory and no one was taking it seriously.
Alison was still building our underground bunker. She hadn't been able to devote much energy towards it, but there was enough space that she had moved all her equipment out of the basement and started preparing it for our emergency use. She suggested that we move as much furniture as we could down to the basement. We already had one king-size bed down there, but we needed another bed for Hannah. Alison had already managed to dismantle the outdoor spa and somehow manoeuvre it into the basement and fill it with water. It wasn't heated yet as the power was needed elsewhere. She had created some kind of heat exchange thing with a freezer, so the water was heating up slowly. There was a futuristic toilet and a small kitchen, so if we had to retreat down to the basement we would have our basic needs met. The basement had been reinforced and the door down to it had a panic button that would seal the basement off from the rest of the house.
Although Alison's android body was going to be at the mine, she had already placed spy bots all over the place so she was very aware of what was happening for some distance from the house. She was able to contact us all through her communication link with our nanobots. She demonstrated an emergency alarm. If we heard that we were all to retreat to the basement as quickly as possible and press the panic button.
Breakfast was subdued, but we all got on with our tasks. Mainly that involved loading up the PEs, vacuum packing and freezing any excess food and taking it down to the basement. We dismantled the spare king-sized bed and took that down along with all our clothes and anything else we could think of. We also decided to put non-food items in the PEs, like pens and paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a toilet roll, sanitary pads, tampax, shampoo, conditioner, makeup and anything else that was small enough to fit and that we wanted to make sure we never ran out of.
None of us wanted to watch the news or scan the internet. Alison said she was keeping an eye on it and would keep us updated. By lunchtime, the only thing she was able to report was that they were rapidly approaching and so far the governments of the world were keeping quiet about it.
At lunch, we ordered fifteen different pizzas with every variation that we thought we might like. We couldn't eat much of it, but we got great patterns and were able to store multiple easy meals.
At about six in the evening, I could hear the sense of relief coming from Alison as she reported that she had enough alloy for our first subspace power source. Subspace tech took a lot of energy. Alison drove back immediately. The mine would continue gathering the Uranium ore, enriching it and then breaking it down to create the Promethium that we required, but it was a slow process and it would probably take another two days before we had enough alloy for the next power device.
When Alison showed it to us, it was in fact, three separate black spheres. The first not much bigger than a pill, the second the size of a golf ball and the third was a bit larger than a tennis ball. The energy device needed to be jump-started. All the energy that we could generate plus all that we could draw from the street would be needed to start the smallest version, but the smallest one was able to start the next and that one would start the largest, which was the size required for a small spaceship.
Alison didn't waste any time and went straight down to the sub-basement to set it up. All the lights turned off for a couple of seconds before a smiling Alison returned. Now we no longer needed the electrical grid. I was asked to swallow the smallest power source. Alison would integrate it and use it to further protect me. The medium one would power the house and be able to jump-start any more of the larger ones. The largest one went straight into a spaceship that Alison had already fabricated. That spaceship was the equivalent of an escape pod. Alison's first priority was my safety, so that spaceship had everything I needed to survive and rebuild.
Alison sat us down for a serious conversation. She was sentient and could make choices, but there were elements of her programming that she could not go against. If she felt that my safety was threatened in any way, she would have no choice but to place me in a pod within the spaceship and whisk me away to another solar system. I could try and resist, but she would overpower me if she had to. The question was, if that happened, did they want to come with me. She had already placed enough pods in case, but now it was a possibility, she needed to know.
“So, how big is this spaceship? Is there going to be room for all of us? What about supplies? Oxygen, food, water? How long is it going to last if there are five of us?” Kay/ Karen asked.
“The spaceship is smaller than this room, but you will all be remaining in your pods so the size won't impact you. Let me show you. Everyone, close your eyes,” Alison said and then waited for us to close our eyes. “Now open them.”
When we opened them we were sitting at a table on a beach with the water all around us. There was a blue sky above us with sunshine directly above. Everyone was in a bikini and when I looked down, I realised that included me. I could hear seagulls in the distance and the sound of the waves lapping the shore. I could even smell the salt.
“I can manipulate your senses so that you will believe you are wherever you want to be. I have downloaded the entire internet, including movies, books and a significant portion of human knowledge. I have a huge library of DNA. You could start a colony on a new planet and I could ensure genetic variation.
“The pods have a perfect recycling system. The carbon will be removed from the carbon dioxide, to give you oxygen, the glucose that is broken down to give energy to your cells can be recreated. Anything that the body uses and discards can be restored and reintroduced. It just takes energy and the spaceship has an abundant supply.”
“So we would just abandon Earth?” Anna-Maria/ Hannah asked.
“Yes and no. The plan would still be to save Earth, but none of us needs to be present to do that. A different solar system would have all the materials I would need to create more spaceships and then we have various options. We will never be able to save the Earth without controlling space.”
“How likely is this scenario?” Tara/ Susan asked.
“That is hard to answer. If I am honest, I have to admit I am already fighting a compulsion right now. We know the Aliens are in the solar system, they could just drop a large rock and kill us all. The only thing that allows me to hesitate is the fact that Dani now has a power source and I have already created subspace field generators within her body. If a threatening event occurred the field would form instantly and she would be protected as would the spaceship. Unfortunately, you would all die along with the rest of humanity. As soon as we have more mini-power sources I am going to ask if I can protect you as well. Anything that makes me feel more vulnerable will probably cause me to start the evacuation.”
“I don't want to go,” Anna-Maria/ Hannah said. “Look, you are all together and I love that, but I am like a third wheel. I know you love me, but if I go with you, I will be alone.”
“If she is not going, neither am I,” I said.
“I'm sorry, Dani, I literally won't have a choice. You will fall unconscious and be whisked away. I do have a plan if one of you wanted to stay behind though. So before anyone gets too angry, let me explain. On second thoughts, let me show you. I need about half an hour to prepare. In the meantime, while we are waiting, why don't we order dinner. I can show you after that.”
Alison didn't want us to leave the house, but she was quite happy to drive the car and pick up any take away, so we had more choices available. I ordered a variety of Chinese food, Kay/ Karen ordered some Greek food and Helen/ Alice found a Vietnamese restaurant. Everyone found something they wanted from those three menus.
Forty minutes later we were tucking into another feast. We made sure to leave a portion of each dish that we put in the PE.
“Let me just say, that leaving is not what I want to do,” Alison continued. “If we can keep manufacturing our power cells, there is no need to go elsewhere. The more we can produce the more we can protect Earth. We still have to make a decision on strategy. Some of it will depend on what they do but there are only two main strategies. Stop the Alien spaceships from coming to Earth or move Earth to another solar system.”
“Which would be quicker? If by the time we can do anything, aliens have already landed, the sooner we can have an effect the better and maybe after they are gone we could revisit the question?” Kay/ Karen asked.
“That depends on how many Alien spaceships we are facing. We need six of our spaceships for every one of theirs to completely stop them from moving and then to control where they are going. It is not unheard of for an Alien invasion to include one to two hundred thousand ships, which would require us to build around a million spaceships to counter them. It could be as low as ten thousand which would only require sixty thousand. To move the Earth to another solar system, I would estimate between one to two hundred thousand units being required.”
“Were you able to have an idea of numbers from the Alien scanners?” I asked.
“Yes, but invasions can come in waves. This wave has a little over ten thousand ships. We can decide later when we have more information. In both cases, we need a lot of power cells before we can be helpful.”
“And it is taking about two days to manufacture a power cell? So to get one hundred thousand it will take two hundred thousand days? How many years is that?” Tara/ Susan asked.
“About five hundred and fifty years, but that is not how we would do it. Each power cell could fuel a spaceship or be used to open another mine. If there was no alien interference then we would start opening mines across the world. Otherwise, we would have to travel to another solar system and do the same thing.”
“I quite liked the idea of taking a small number of spaceships, come out of subspace when inside an alien spaceship, drop a bomb on a time-release and go back into subspace. In fact, couldn't we do that with the one spaceship we have?” Anna-Maria/ Hannah asked.
“We could, except I can't. My programming won't allow me to leave Dani without an escape vehicle and I can't take her into battle. It is possible with the next one though. It would mean that power cell wasn't at a mine producing more, so there will need to be a balance.
“Right, if everyone has finished eating, I can show you my plan,” Alison said with an excited voice.
This was going to be interesting.
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