“…The path of destruction, its destination unknown even to the catalysts, yet so appealing to the unguided mind of the Cynics. Clarity of purpose remained an afterthought, as living the moment was crucial regardless the consequence. The Cynics lacked the empathy and foresight required to gauge the future, turning such disabilities into weapons of mass confusion. Every terrorist attack of the past year had had to be reinvestigated for signs of a Cynic element…”
– Bryan Foster, Terran Interpol
“Evidently the first wave of experiments of whole-brain emulation were carried out by an unfortunate bunch of over-privileged engineers who lacked the basic understanding of the overwhelming influence parenting has on future minds. Increased intelligence does not equate a humanely desirable code of morality without the right set of data sets fed into the self-learning mechanism. Leaving an infant AI free to assimilate as he chooses best may just be right recipe for disaster.”
– Eliz Haber, I.EGO
The summer burns hot into the night. The light of a thousand souls shine on this city like a gelatine lamp, flickering with every pointless attempt to outrun death. The collected crisp ripening sound of proteins whistle through the winds, carrying a war cry haunting an entire generation watching online all across the planet.
Scores of fire-fighting drones rushed to the scene, only to fall lifeless when they get too close. “A jamming field!” claimed one pilot. “Somebody’s really pissed,” replied another, “…or just plain sick. Look at all those people!”
There was little anyone could do until the Air Force arrived with powder and foam missiles. By then, all 58 floors were destroyed, killing the entire night shift staff of various accounting and legal firms in the Burbon Tower.
A third terrorist attack this week alone, and it was a Thursday. Philosophers suspect an AI mastermind planning all of them and potentially more overlooked attacks in the past. Interpol has arrested hundreds of terror suspects worldwide, but has yet to land a solid conviction on any single person or group. Even those already held in prisons both official and covert were interrogated anew to no avail.
50,000 human lives were lost in the past year alone to acts of terror, the first mere days after all the nations on Terra implemented an open border policy, united under a single flag. The Terra agreement’s success marked the end of a 150-year effort to dissolve nationalistic borders in favour of a single entity that is responsible for all inhabitants of Earth, or Terra, as it was since known.
Opposers of the agreement were labelled Cynics, and the attacks fuelled debates surrounding the Terra agreement and its implications. Crime rates were virtually zero in all but the most impoverished ghettos, which under Terra has received enormous urban-renewal funding to better equip schools and maximise career opportunities. Interpol would have been retired to saving frightened felines from trees if it weren’t for these “violent anomalies” as one criminology expert marked. Unsurprisingly, the term ‘Cynic’ was also thrown in colloquially to refer to any potential suspect.
Patience is the key to success, complimented by efficiency of execution. Of the latter, humans in their current state of evolution sorely lack.
When shredded bodies of the first puppets rained on Beijing, Bangkok, San Francisco, Oslo, Johannesburg, and Jeddah under varying causes, Interpol rushed their prejudice upon any and all known to have opposed the borderless policy. Naturally, affiliations were easier to track compared to the mysterious source codes of the attacks.
When buildings started lighting up in the night skies of Chicago, Toronto, Nairobi, and New Delhi, curfews were announced, and more arrests undertaken. Nobody was sure of where to hide or whom to trust. A world once united upon the conclusion of the Terra debates is once again divided in collective doubt over whether the critics were right all along, along with suspicion towards anyone who had ever breathed a single question against the borderless agreement before 2070.
A growing number are opting to emigrate to Mars. Predictable, short term beings. A view of an exploding launch platform behind them as they ascend could make a strong point against anyone attempting the same. Of course, the passengers will get to say their last goodbyes before blowing up to shrapnel whilst trapped in the ionosphere with no means of tracking or monitoring.
8 year old Lara saw a twinkle in the sky. The usual crowd gathered around Spaceport Malaysia were still shaken from the explosion at the platform. Lara tugged on her mother’s sleeve, pointing to the bright scatter of debris that spread away from a once single point of light, as she cried out, “fireflies!”