Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Advancement of Leona Matic: September 7, 2184

In the 20th century, scientists began researching global climate change, partially in order to understand mankind’s impact on their environment. They discovered that industrialization, while a boon to the economy, was significantly detrimental to life on Earth. Research persisted for decades, with a correlation of consensus from legitimate experts, who increasingly urged the public to recognize the problem. Denial of these issues continued simultaneously, as the average citizen limited their beliefs to whatever echo chamber supported their suppositions. The truth was replaced with alternative facts, and inequality reigned. Things began to change as the middle of the 21st century approached, however. New generations of activists and voters demanded change on scales never before seen. Rich rulers of the old world finally died so they could no longer make things worse. A great deal of damage had been done to the planet by then, but despite many claims, it could be reversed. It would be a massive undertaking, but it was possible, and it was what happened.
As technology progressed, our ancestors’ ways of doing things no longer made any sense. Clean meat, harmlessly grown from cells extracted from a still living specimen seriously lowered the amount of farmland required to sustain the entire human population of the world. Likewise, vertical indoor farming allowed for controlled environments to support fruits and vegetables without the need for pesticides, or wasteful irrigation. Food scarcity had become a thing of the past, easily being grown in practically any location. Nanotechnology, and advances in material sciences allowed gargantuan structures to be built in a matter of days, aided by the direction of artificial intelligence, which was in charge of supporting nearly all other technologies as well. Additive manufacturing and drone delivery provided everything the average consumer would need to live healthy and happy lives, and universal basic income kept most people from needing to work. Immersive virtual reality enabled escape to literally anywhere they wanted to go. It was suddenly no longer chic to live in the largest and most luxurious houses. All most individuals needed was a bed, a bathroom, a closet, and a couple of 3-D printers.
This minimalist mentality gave rise to an entirely new way of living. No more would we live in sprawling cities, which destroyed the wilderness. Megastructures were constructed in strategic former population centers around the world. Tens of millions of people could live in a space of only fifteen square kilometers, raised above the ground to allow wildlife to thrive once again, as it was always meant to. Some were larger than others, each one falling into a logical class, according to standard populations. China and India housed Class A arcities since each one necessitated more than two dozen of them to support their respective populations. The first one of these kinds of habitats was built in Kansas City, leaving it to be in a class of its own. The rest of the United States and Indonesia belonged to Class C, along with more than fifty other nations. The more of these that were built, though, the less important archaic borders mattered. The only reason they were built on an international baseline was to serve preexisting geographic population clusters.
When Ulinthra was thrown unwillingly to the future, she found herself in a world she didn’t understand. She had no reasonable objection to the way things had turned out. She just saw her unique perspective as an opportunity to amass the power that she always dreamt of having. The smallest nations needed the least amount of housing, with many island countries being relegated to Class H, which meant if they wanted to change the way they lived, they would have to do it themselves. She decided to prey on the people still living in these places, using their own insecurities against them. Once they were on her side, she formed a union, predicated on preserving the cultures she convinced the smaller classes were being threatened by the larger states. The greater governments ignored her at first, thinking her power would die out when her constituents wised up to how much she was lying to them. But it never did. It only increased. She systematically gathered more and more support, and she was soon taking over the Class G nations as well, which only held tens of thousands of people.
Finally seeing the Arianation as a significant threat, the Class F arcities prepared for an attack. Knowing they would assume this to be her next move, Ulinthra started war with the Class Es instead, catching the whole world off guard. She used more advanced technology than anyone knew she had. Since a grand peace had resulted from all this progress, the majority of the population was not at all prepared for war, with even many adults not having seen so much as a minor skirmish in their entire lifetimes. Only the Arianation had pursued more and more deadly weaponry, since they were the only ones who felt they needed it. They began a monumental attack on all Class Es at the exact same time, which included Panama. When the leadership of these arcities tried to defend themselves, it was like their new enemies knew exactly what they were going to do. No one but Ulinthra’s most loyal followers knew that she lived through every single day twice, allowing her to learn from mistakes that would be irreversible for most, and change strategies during the second time around. She was practically unstoppable, and in less than a week, she and her people were in charge of nearly a five hundred arcities. This was the hardest part. Now she could make demands. Now the world would have to answer to her. Soon she would have everything. But first, she needed to reunite with a few old friends.
While Ulinthra had people to deal with each individual arcity on her behalf, The Panama Report was given to her directly so she could hear about the prisoner of war who was placed in confinement, then disappeared at the strike of midnight. She immediately moved her base of operations to that location, and waited patiently for a year, so she could be ready to see Leona Matic once more.
“Cool story, bro,” Leona said dismissively after Ulinthra was finished explaining this all to her. “Tell me, have you never seen a movie in your life? When the evil megalomaniac tells the protagonist about their dastardly plans, it always comes back to bite them in the ass.”
“I told you nothing of my plans,” Ulinthra countered. “I spoke only of what I’ve done.”
“You told me how this was all part of the plan; that you tricked all those Class H countries.”
Ulinthra shrugged. “I didn’t need to tell you that, you already know who I really am, including my real name, so you would be able to use it against me either way.”
“That’s true,” Leona had to admit.
“What is this thing?” Ulinthra held up the ardusite dagger.
“Family heirloom.”
“Bullshit.”
“It’s just a work of art. A friend gave it to me a few days ago,” Leona lied.
“You mean a few years?”
“Yes.”
“What does it do?” Ulinthra asked.
“It’s decoration. It doesn’t do anything.”
Ulinthra pursed her lips and studied Leona’s face. “Then you wouldn’t mind if I break it?”
“No, I would mind, because it has sentimental value. Like you said, it was years ago. My friend is dead now. You can keep it while I’m locked up here, but I would like it back when I get out.”
“What makes you think you’ll get out?” Ulinthra laughed.
Leona waited to answer to foster the anticipation. “I always get out.”
She smiled. “I believe that.” She paused as well. “Harrison,” she called over her shoulder. “Would you come in here?”
“Harrison?” Leona asked. Harrison was an android with artificial intelligence who worked for a different version of Ulinthra in an alternate timeline. He never really liked it, and ended up getting out from under her thumb when he had the opportunity. If an android named Harrison existed in this reality, then it couldn’t be the same one. There was no way an AI shared any similarity to an alternate counterpart. The differences in programming between the two of them would be so much larger than the personality of an organic lifeform under the same circumstances. Right?
A man walked into the room that Leona didn’t recognize. That didn’t mean anything, as it could just be a different model he was using. Ulinthra handed him the dagger. “Break this, please.”
“No, don’t,” Leona begged.
Harrison took the the dagger in both hands, and slammed it against his robot knee. It didn’t break.
“You still tryna tell me this thing doesn’t do anything?” Ulinthra asked.
Shit. The fact that a superstrong android couldn’t break it meant that it couldn’t just be some random artifact. On the other hand, at least it wasn’t destroyed. Leona exercised her right to remain silent.
“I know Paige and Brooke,” Ulinthra said, switching gears. “Who is that other woman with you?”
“It’s been a year, you didn’t just ask her yourself?”
“I felt like it would be better to speak with you before doing anything. I’ve not said a word to them. Far as I know, they don’t know I’m involved.”
“Brooke and Paige are superintelligences. They know.”
Ulinthra seemed to agree to this. “Who is she?”
“Just a friend.”
“Who is she?”
“She’s your daughter.”
“Leona.”
“Okay, fine, she’s your mother.”
“Leona!”
My mother?”
“Goddammit, Leelee.”
“She’s from another planet!” Leona finally admitted, not thinking Ulinthra knowing this would have any impact on their situation. “That’s where we’ve been since we last saw you. We had pick up a passenger from a rogue planet, and bring her back here. We met Ecrin there, and she came with us. There’s no big conspiracy. I had no clue what had come of you until a half hour ago.”
“I was just wondering,” Ulinthra said, feigning offense, “gahh.”
Leona sighed.
Ulinthra sighed.
“I’m just wondering what you think you’re accomplishing by taking over the world.”
“You just answered your own question. I’m taking over the world. What more could one want?”
“World peace?”
“War is necessary. For now,” Ulinthra opined.
“I heard the guards talking before you arrived,” Leona said. “Israel is fighting back.”
She shrugged. “Israel always fights back. It’s just one battle, and sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”
“Jesus Fucking Christ, Ulinthra, a fucking Nazi first said that quote.”
“What can I say? He was my favorite president.”
What the hell did that mean? “What are you talking about? Trump wasn’t president in this timeline. He didn’t even run.”
Ulinthra acted coy, and didn’t say anything.
“You had your brain blended,” Leona hypothesized.
“The Warrior owed me a favor.”
“Son of a bitch.”
Ulinthra made a grimace. “Yes, this is going to be a lot harder for you, isn’t it? You thought you had an advantage having known my alternates. Well, I know them too, and I know the other yous.” She stood up and opened the door. Harrison left, but Ulinthra waited there for a moment. “You’re free to go. You can meet your friends back on the beach where they found you.”
Leona was, of course, reticent about the offer. “Why? What’s your angle?”
She snickered. “I love games.” She took a beat. “Catch me if you can.”

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