Rising, 1st Evolution

Original article was published by John J. Sanders (Sandwolf) on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Rising, 1st Evolution

Chapter 17, Children Are, part 2

James smiled as he spotted Christine standing just inside the entrance. There beside her stood a tall, beautiful redheaded woman. James saw Christine comment something to the redhead and the redheaded woman looked directly at him making eye contact. Her eyes were the lightest blue he had ever seen. James had never seen such a beautiful combination of eye and hair color, and her light complected skin. Her height, he figured would put her nearly as tall as he was.

From behind him, he heard Dominic say, “You going to walk on in, or stand here gaping all night? Ms. Sands is hungry.”

He gave himself a mental shake and said, “Oh! Sorry.” He proceeded to walk up the walk to the front entrance where Christine opened the door and smiled up at him.

Once inside, Christine introduced, “James, this is Dominic’s long time friend Lacey Gist from Cali. She is a dendrologist.”

James smiled at Lacey, taking her hand and shaking it, he said, “Very pleased to finally meet you. Dominic has mentioned your name, but not much else, other than you manage a forest. I’ve always wanted to know how an AI robotic CEO met a person like you.

All three women laughed, Dominic looked disgruntled. James looked around confused and said, “Did I say something funny?”

Lacey said with a slow drawl, “No Dearie. Just a good story behind how I came to know Nic.”

James suggested, “Maybe you can tell me over dinner.” He queried, “Nic?”

She said, “My pet name for him,”

Dominic mumbled, “I may eat alone.” The three women laughed again and pulled the two men into the restaurant.

The others landed, and came in and Dominic looked to the hostess. She led them to a back area that could accommodate them all.

After their drinks had been served and their choices for dinner were ordered, Dominic sat smoldering as his encounter with a great sequoia tree was told to the utter delight of the whole group. At the right moment when someone asked about the aerocar, he put in, “Still there.” And more laughter followed his comment, which actually lightened his dark mood about the story being yet told again. He realized these people were friends and family, and he trusted them.

After everyone had a good laugh from Lacey’s story, the conversations turned to the journey ahead of them. The air was filled with electricity, as each person buzzed with the knowledge that they were all going to be traveling into the unknown in a way that no one had ever done before. Dominic could only think of one other possible adventure that could equal this, the idea of traveling to another star. He asked to no one in particular in the group, during a quiet moment in the conversations going on, “Could the portals be used in space?”

The table went dead silent, and all eyes turned to Dominic. The concept would have sounded like utter science fiction hours ago if they all hadn’t witnessed the test vehicle vanishing into a black hole portal. He continued, “If you can travel between two fixed portals on earth, why couldn’t you enter a black portal that is in space while taking your exit portal with you and then deploy it when you have traveled the desired distance? The problem is coming back because the portal is back where you started.”

James scratched at the side of his head as he considered the idea. He said, “I suppose if you had a way to introduce the black portal in front of the ship and then the white portal in front of the ship when you reached your destination it might be possible. You would need to have containments for paired portals, kind of like a magazine clip for a gun. But, we would need more data just to understand what lies in between the two portals. Is it part of this physical universe or maybe a sub-state? Do the same laws of physics here work there?”

Christine, sitting next to Lacey and across from James, said, “I would love the opportunity to engineer and build a spaceship that could travel between the stars.”

James looked at her hard for a moment and stated, “There is more to you than you put on.” Christine smiled at him. He added, “Maybe you should be more involved in the current project?”

Laira spoke up, “There is more to her. She holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering, masters in language and linguistics, an MBA, and the list goes on.” Christine was blushing at the same time she was giving Laira a look that pleaded for her to stop.

James’ mouth opened and shut several times before he finally said, “My apologies if I made certain assumptions concerning your involvement in your father’s company.” An ashamed look colored his face as he apologized.

Christine waved his concerns away and said, “Everyone assumes that a woman of my age and background couldn’t possibly be more than a rich brat. And don’t get me wrong, I am a rich brat. I like to be pampered and treated like a queen.”

Looking at Jack, Ashley put in, “What girl doesn’t? It’s just that some men never get the hint.” She could see Jack pretending like he wasn’t listening, but she knew he was.

Their waiter interrupted them with their food. Shogey’s was one of the few red meat restaurants in the Anchorage and Eagle River area. Shogey’s specialized in smoked barbecue and sides more commonly found in the former lower states of the North American continent. It was rumored that the original owner was from the former state of Oklahoma from a town called Stillwater. The waiter laid before them a selection of sliced smoked brisket, ribs, smoked sausage, potato wedges, barbecue beans, and coleslaw. Laira became aware of the group, watching her as she looked to see which food she wanted to eat first.

She glared at everyone and stated, “That is enough of that.” Laughter broke out amongst her friends gathered around her. She could feel the warmth of their laughter toward her, she smiled, enjoying their company, and, of course, the food.

It was the morning of the scheduled one hundred year jump. Four days since the test vehicle had returned. The analysis of the vehicle data logs took two days to scrutinize for errors. Calibrations were made, and the coaches were readied. Dominic had sent everyone home for two days to put their affairs in order and to make sure they were committed to the journey ahead. The ornate mahogany and stained glass clock on the nightstand showed four in the morning, and she couldn’t sleep. Last night, Laira and Dominic had spent the earlier part of the night making sweet, gentle love. Afterward, she slept only briefly and then for the rest of the night, fell in and out of sleep. After hours of this, she found herself awake watching the minute hand slowly move around the dial. Lying there next to Dominic was comforting, but she found she was too restless just to lie quietly. As carefully as she could, she slipped from the bed, grabbed a housecoat and left the bedroom, headed for the study. For a time, she stood there not moving, listening to the silence in the house. In the silence, she found noise, unlike when she was digital. There was the air system in the house, quietly moving air, little creaks as the house shifted with her movement across the floor, and the quiet sound of the antique Frank Lloyd Wright clock ticking. Finally, she sighed and walked out of the study to the French doors leading to the sundeck. The sun was still well below the horizon and wouldn’t be up for several more hours. She opened one door and tested the cold outside. She stepped out and sat down facing north out to the valley. With her back to the door, she had left ajar to listen for anyone else getting up, she watched as the stars slowly began to fade. She looked at a bright blue-white star beginning its descent into the western horizon. She wondered to herself, “Is this the star that Dom had pointed out to me on the train?” Memories of that first night returned to her. His pain, his sorrow, then his passion and love. She let the memory wash over her and let the emotional chemistry flow through her, leaving her with a warm sensation. These feelings alone caused her to believe that evolution from the digital world to this world of the breathing was worth every risk she had taken.