It's not me

"There comes a time when the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place,
and the universe opens itself up for a moment to show you what's possible."

-Phil Alden Robinson

"Were you always this evil, or did you take lessons?"

"I took lessons."

That throws me a bit. Although being tied somewhat stereotypically to a chair in the middle of a still-more stereotypical cargo shack in the middle of what can only be described as a lair, has done plenty to that end since the beginning of the day.

"I've got to hand it to you, it was wise putting me here. You don't have the vanity of a typical bad guy. So there's that."

It's classic super-villain. I'm on an island jutting with concrete constructions so numerous it looks like a pile of earth was dumped over the battlements of a citadel thrusting up from the ocean floor. The island is shaped like an atoll, and I'm looking out into the lagoon it circumscribes.

He glances away, evidently listening to his earpiece, then walks off one side of the screen. It’s an enormous high-definition panel that almost fills one wall of my cell. I can see the lagoon distantly through the windows of a control centre-type place displayed therein. People and consoles are dotted about.

"The bricks are all red? Excellent. The Archenovians -- they are in progress too?" His voice rings slightly off-screen.

God knows where I actually am. On the tip of the haze-draped peak on the screen? Underground or underwater (I'm sure this place doesn't stop at sea level)? I've been assuming I'm actually on the island, but I wasn't awake while I was brought here so I guess I have no idea. Being sealed in a concrete enclosure with no apparent means of escape from either is bad enough, but I could be beneath Giza for all I know.

"Yes, sir." A third voice. "Militude have also been in contact. All processors contacted so far have responded as expected."

"Wonderful news,” he says. “Did you hear that, Samantha?"

"You know I hate that name." He knows I hate that name.

He's shrugging as he walks back into view. "Well,” I continue, “not wanting to embody some kind of homage or parody of every action film ever, but is this where you describe your evil plan prior to my inevitable death, escape or rescue?"

“No. You can watch and learn, like the rest of the world.”

"How did you even find out what you're about to do could be done?”

“Oh. Yes.” He’s tapping distractedly at a tablet computer in his hands. “That.”

He seems to be savouring the pause. I look around my cell again. I can’t even see a door.

“We discovered an ancient stone monument in the desert.” He puts the tablet down. “Instructions were carved on it for activating a machine that would give us control of the galaxy.”

“You have got to be kidding me.”

He looks back at me for a moment, poker-faced, then grins. “Yes. No, there was no monument, and no desert, in fact. Actually, we discovered that--”


“This will go faster if you let me talk.”

“I doubt that.” Villains love the sound of their own voice.

“A couple of astronomers got in touch with us about some intriguing findings, which we decided to investigate further.” He absent-mindedly waves a minion away.

“During our investigations we discovered language encoded in the positions of stars. Pairs of stars within an arcsecond of each other all represent a one-bit binary number, based on the distance between them. Stars greater than 4.3 light years apart represent a one, stars closer together represent a zero, and...” he stops for a second. More chatter in his ear, tantalisingly audible but frustratingly unintelligible.

“Yes, we found the whole sky could be read as a spiral binary ‘tape’ of sorts, starting at the poles and reading down clockwise towards the equator.”

“Why 4.3 light years as a cutoff?”

“Presumably because that is also the distance between Earth and Proxima Centauri, the closest star. There were two tapes, one each for the northern and southern hemispheres, although it took some time to determine where the demarcation was because everywhere on Earth faces the night sky at a slightly different angle each day.”

“The data density can’t be very high. You’re only talking a few thousand visible stars.”

“Certainly if we restricted our readings to stars visible unaided, the data would be garbled nonsense. However, we did not. With the telescopes at our disposal we were able to gather several gigabytes of data. In 10-point text it would fill one of our vaults.”

“How did you know you’d gathered data and not just noise?”

“Because there was a sequence, page numbers presumably, of binary numbers that occurred roughly every 10,000 characters. It was this that showed us there were multiple layers to the message. We picked up some page numbers out of sequence and after some experimentation found that the message was layered, again by distance. The closest stars to Earth formed the first layer, then the spiral reversed and stars slightly further away formed the next layer, and so on.”

I have to control my excitement. This is just like the old days. I'm trying not to wonder what happened to the astronomers. “How long is this...tape?”

“We do not know. We are somewhat limited by our optics. It took three years to record and analyse the data we have at this point, and it is still coming in. What we do know -- and this is the only possible conclusion -- is that the stars--”

“Were arranged deliberately around our star system,” I finish.

“Oh, not just our star system," he says. "Every star system. Or at least, the inhabited ones."

“You’re...” A hired thug has appeared, disconcertingly, beside me. “You’re telling me that the galaxy was made to deliver this message? Who is this?”

He looks slightly amused. “More than that. It delivers a slightly different message everywhere. There is also presumably a time-sensitive aspect, because stars are always moving within the galaxy. We do not know if this changes the message after a given period, or whether races are only given a small ‘window’ -- say, a few tens of thousands of years -- in which to spot and act upon the message before it disappears. The whole business casts light on concepts of determinism and free will that are, to say the least...interesting."

The goon puts down a bowl of soup and a glass of water and vanishes, which makes me flinch. The soup smells delicious. I sigh. He presumably could have teleported a bowl of soup and a glass of water in here without the goon, but that wouldn’t have demonstrated his control over me as effectively.

“This is all fascinating --” people usually say this in condescension; I was fascinated “-- but it’s just a spin on tablets in the desert. How did you know this code was there to find? How did you know 4.3 was a key?”

“Actually, we were told. Evidently the others got tired of waiting for us to figure it out. It is fortunate that I was there to act on the information.”

“Yes. Lucky us.” He similes thinly. “You’re playing the pronoun game again. Tell me about these ‘intriguing findings.’” I can tell he’s enjoying drip-feeding information.

“The astronomers who approached us had received what turned out to be a signal from space. It came from Groombridge 34, one of our closer neighbours. There has not been sufficient time since then for any reply of ours to reach them, but in any case the message instructed us not to reply under any circumstances, and to continue broadcasting. It also identified humankind specifically, in English.”

“Continue broadcasting what?”

“They did not specify, but we presume they were talking about general radio emissions from Earth.”

“And why shouldn’t we reply?”

“Again they did not say, but we suspect the senders were trying to marshal us without drawing attention to us or themselves. Any reply could be intercepted, and any cessation of activities would also be a signal to others.

“Interestingly, we could only detect the signal at certain times of day. Once we had ruled out sabotage or hoax it was clear the signal was highly targeted - which over 11 light years takes some doing, not least because Earth would be in a completely different place when the signal arrived - and is unlikely to have been detected elsewhere unless it was intercepted en-route.”

“What else did it say?”

“It described the method for reading and decoding the Tapes, and also informed us that they -- the transmitting civilisation -- have Tapes of their own. It went on to say that they have contacted or been contacted by other civilisations. in the same targeted manner, and described how to construct a device to relay the message to others.”

“How can we pass the message to anywhere else? We’ve never received messages from anywhere else.”

“The message also included a ‘directory’ of places to relay the message, as well as the communication protocol being used so we can relay any future messages to their recipients. This part of the message seemed boilerplate at the time, and it will soon be clear why.”

“So we’re relaying messages to unknown civilisations, based on a message from an unknown civilisation, to achieve an unknown objective.”


“Following the Pied Piper like obedient rats.”

“Don’t be fatuous, Samantha.”

“I’m strapped to a chair in a concrete bunker in the middle of god knows where while you execute god knows what insanity. I believe I’ll be as fatuous as I damn please.

“I don’t even understand what you’re doing, but I’m assuming that it’s going to be disastrous in some way for the rest of us and probably, considering the language you’re using, all of us. You’re like that dude in Fifth Element. Bad guy helps Ultimate Evil destroy all life in universe. Also, bad guy is alive. Hello?

“At least when you win the lottery you can buy lots of stuff. What are you going to do with this? Grab your mates Andromeda and M87, cruise the Milky Way down to the Leo Supercluster and mosh with the Great Attractor?”

“I could spend all night describing the contents of the Tapes to you, which obviously I am not going to do. However, I will say that it contains certain--”

“Instructions,” I squint.

He smiles warmly. “Instructions.”

“For a power-crazed maniac you’re remarkably good at following those. I wish you’d exhibited such discipline earlier.”

“If you had exhibited it, there would have been no need to remove you from the Department.”

“You can’t seriously have expected me to do nothing. You wanted to abduct the entire population of Bull sharks from the Gulf of Thailand.”

“Yes, about that.”

“Yes. About that.”

“The Tapes described layers of reality above this one. That the universe exists within another reality, much as we exist within the universe. This continues 'upwards' for an unspecified number of layers. The Tapes also described, amongst other things, how to bootstrap the galaxy to establish contact with the next layer.”

“What are you going to do when you--” I stop and rub my eyes. “Never mind. What were the instructions?”

“The message from the Groombridgians alluded to this, but it was greatly expanded upon in the Tapes. In short, a series of conditions must be satisfied, specific to each civilisation. We satisfy ours, the others satisfy theirs, and the galaxy should then ‘activate,’ for want of a better word. The message said that in fact we are the last, and not to put too fine a point on it, could we get a move on.”

“What kind of conditions?”

“There appears to be no relationship between them, other than the extremely low probability they will occur on their own, which presumably is the idea. Thankfully, they do not have to be executed in any particular order, or -- and this would make it impossible, for all intents and purposes -- simultaneously.

“Our first reaction, besides the obvious, was to wonder how would know we had achieved a condition. The Tapes described earthquakes as the method for this. Of course earthquakes also occur for...other reasons -- “natural causes” is clearly a far less useful term than we thought -- but they are also, when of a precise magnitude, a notification mechanism. Of course, the Tapes use a different reference scale to our own, but it converts easily enough. A magnitude 7.81 earthquake denotes the successful achievement of a condition, and we have been gradually whittling down the list over the past year or so.”

This takes a few seconds to absorb. “So most of the earthquakes I’ve heard about recently...have been caused by you.”

He doesn’t respond, clearly on a roll. “The most baffling and unsettling aspect of this is the number of contemporary references in these conditions.” He’s grinning the way he does when he finds a cool new keyboard shortcut.

“For instance,” he continues, “one of the stipulations is that all vertical surfaces in the town of Fountain Hill, Arkansas be exactly 11cm in length.” He pauses for a moment, before adding, “We found it simpler to just remove all of the town’s vertical surfaces.” I close my eyes and exhale slowly as he continues, wondering what happened to the inhabitants.

“Another requires the placement of a purple bobble hat on the North side of the Ellenabad bridge over the Indira Canal in India.” He looks a bit embarrassed, which is really weird. Well, weird for a megalomaniacal fanatic; not weird at all for Darryl. The corner of his mouth twitches, he blinks, and he’s back.

I arch my eyebrows. “How on earth could anyone possibly know--”


“Or that there would be a town called--”


“ believe that you’re simply playing into some predetermined order.”

“I would prefer it to be me than somebody else. So should you.”

A pause.

“It’s me.” He says this very slowly, and swallows.

“Yes. It’s you,” I reply, folding my arms. “I probably don’t want to know,” I continue with a sigh, “but how do sharks fit into this?”

He takes a deep breath. “One of the conditions is that a shark has to fight a polar bear.”

“A shark has to fight a polar bear.”

“Not just fight,” he says. “The shark has to win.”

Somehow, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all day.

“It was far more difficult than we expected. One would think simply putting the two together would be sufficient; bull sharks are known for their aggressiveness. In fact, most died from hypothermia before they got near the polar bears, and the others became weakened and were slaughtered. Introducing polar bears into a temperate environment was no more successful, so we gathered a second batch of sharks and designed thermal jackets to give them a fighting chance. We are releasing this second batch now.”

“Is this...”

“The last condition? Yes.”

“And we’re the last civilisation to meet them?”

“Seemingly, yes.”

“So before whatever the fuck happens happens, there isn’t much time.” It’s getting dark outside.


“Let me out of here. If I’m going to have a front row seat for...whatever, I’d like to see it firsthand. Am I on the island too?”


The general pace of activity in the background seems to have increased. A few more red lights are flickering, and the ambient light level has decreased. His little tablet is lighting his face quite dramatically from below.

“Where are we?”

“The Pacific.”

“Then I can’t possibly get to the Arctic in time to do anything. Let me out. I don’t want to die.”

He looks at me wordlessly for what seems like a long time.

“I don’t want you to die either, Sam.”

“Let me out, Darryl.”

Another pause.


Just like that I’m on the beach, sloping towards the lagoon. I hadn’t noticed it in the cell, but I’m not wearing any shoes. Sand is tickly and warm between my toes. The stars are out. Dim light reflects off jutting concrete revetments. Small waves are washing up. No animal sounds, which is odd.

I look down and see my shadow cast in front of me in a weak, frosty light. A monitor is squatting in the sand behind me. Further up the beach, a row of full-length windows glare balefully from between the layers of a thick concrete sandwich. Support pillars rise up from the beach beneath and sprout thinner branches where they meet the building. It sports a shock of antennae, and a few communications dishes, all facing in the same direction. I see him standing with his hands behind his back, and wonder if he designed the place. He glances at me, then turns to addresses a minion at a console.

I look down at the little screen. The picture has changed from the control room view to a mosaic, evidently of camera feeds from individual animals. I can’t tell which animals are which, although a few lurching across snow and ice are obviously the polar bears. Compasses and rows of constantly-changing data are overlaid on each feed. Most feeds are just dark blue with the odd light-coloured speck.

“Can you still hear me?”

“Yes,” he says, his voice tinny through the monitor’s speaker.

“Why are you doing this?”

“Because I want to be the one. Whatever happens, I want to be the one.”

Another voice, echoing in the background, says, “Two coming into conflict now. 30 metres. 25.”

“Wasn’t it enough?” I’m looking at the stars again, and I don’t understand. “We had it really good. What was missing?”

“You couldn’t give me what I needed. Nobody could.”

“Most humans don’t have a hole in their emotional security that can only be filled by an entire galaxy. I’m not even going to go into the ethics of concealing an epoch-defining event from the rest of the world.”

“Is it dead?” He’s not listening to me. God.

“No sir, but it’s sinking. Body temperature is dropping fast. Wait!”

“What is it?” His voice has gone up a notch.

“Number 17!” I can’t see identifying numbers on any of the blue tiles filling my little screen, but one of them blacks out for a moment, before blue wipes across the screen again. It is near enough the surface that I can see filtering sunlight, and that source is rolling around the borders of the window. The anonymous tech continues, “Number 17 has engaged. Stand by.”


“Please, be quiet.”

I clench my jaw. “Darryl! How can you trust any of this? You have no idea what’s going to happen! You’re trusting the senders of this message over everything else!”

“I have no choice. Somebody has to do this, for all of us.”

“‘For all of us.’ Please don’t try to pretend this isn’t for your ego. I knew you before you were like this. I remember when treehouses and toy helicopters were enough for you. I remember you being frightened by empty buildings. Let others be part of this so we can learn something before we endanger everyone! We’re the last. The galaxy can wait for us.”

“It’s too late for that.”

The camera view, which has now zoomed to fill the whole screen, is tilting and shaking crazily. A flailing grey and orange shape repeatedly swirls onto the screen before whipping away. I catch a flash of fin and passing gill slits as the video stream stutters and tears. There might be more than one shark there. I can’t tell. The screen fills with orange; it’s one of the life jackets. The bear has clamped its jaws onto it, but doesn’t seem to have done any damage. A splash of white as it wraps one of its huge arms around its attacker. The view twitches and whips around; it seems to be a head-mounted camera. My god, it’s surrounded. It doesn’t have a chance.

It turns back and bites again at the shark it has hold of, but it just rips off a mouthful of life jacket, and the shark disappears. The bear flails at the attackers and the view twists and shakes as it lashes and bites. Snouts butt the camera, and I can see shark tails thrashing.

The movement of the feed continues lurching and jerking spasmodically, but the movement slows to a drunken pace. The orange disappears and is replaced by blue. The light is at the top of the screen again, but gradually fades. The blue darkens. Blood swirls in the water. I feel deep thuds from beneath the sand, and I look up into the night.

“I hate you.”

The stars go out

I honestly did not have it in mind until shortly after I finished this, but I feel I should at least doff my cap to sam512 for the deliberate punctuation omission he may well have pioneered. Osmosis.

For anyone that cares, this was a response to the following challenge from a friend of mine: "Write me a story about polar bears and sharks. It has to have a protagonist too. Things have to happen, then they have to stop happening."

I'm one of the few left who knows how all this happened. I'm one of the few left at all. I don't feel responsible, I'm just shocked at how easy it was for things to turn out like this.


If you look back, there's a long history of well funded, often government sponsored, research going on at the edge of science that hasn't been restricted by public morality. If you find my story hard to accept, just remember that.


Back in the mid 20th Century, resources began pouring into fields that hadn't ever been taken seriously before, mind control, psychological warfare at the international level, 'unconventional' weapons development in an unbelievably diverse sense. I'm talking about things that have been out in the open for a long time, projects like TROY, or MKULTRA, but nothing changed, and the further time went on, the bigger these budgets got and it never seemed to matter very much when pieces of classified information got out. The stories were buried, or dismissed, or just blew over. 


It's ironic how despite being hidden in plain sight, the electorates never engaged with what what was going on in the political-military-industrial sphere, everyone was just kept a little too busy to demand or worry too much about the excesses that they could get their heads around. Maybe it was the scale of the problem - nobody really understood the power or resources that were being disposed of, maybe cognitive dissonance was to blame, or maybe no matter how reliable the source of the information was, the facts just looked too . . . unrealistic. As a species, we never really got to grips with our ability to change our environment, our reality, even when it was obvious.


I remember reading as a youngster about an ATO soldier and low-level data analyst named Manning. Manning had access to a huge amount of classified material, which he broadcast, believing that the information belonged in the public domain and hoping that it would be used to fuel a shift toward greater accountability in government. Manning died in jail, and the changes he wanted didn't come about. You can think of me as a reincarnation of Manning, a doomed recorder of the current apocalypse. His story probably influenced my life more than I realised until now. If people like Manning had been able to make more of a difference, we wouldn't be dying out.


I half remember another story, one my older brother told me . . . I just remember the story and that he told it to me, no context except that it was true and that he found it funny in a way that unsettled me as a child. The story was that one of the Atlantic powers had spent a huge amount of money and effort training sea mammals for military operations, mine sweeping I think. The animals performed extremely well, until one of them (just one) made a mistake involving high explosive while on active service and was destroyed. Somehow, the other animals seemed to know what had happened and this was enough to break their conditioning. The entire program was closed down. Every single seal, dolphin, even the otters, either disappeared into the deep ocean or refused to work. I remember my brother laughing, I think his point was that the animals deserved the Earth more than we did, that the story illustrated . . . something about what we had lost as a species in our flight from nature. Now I wish I could have been like one of the animals that turned away from horror. I wish we all could have been.


I was recruited from the Institute into the Information Security Branch of Combined Forces Command (ATO) in 2083, not long before the war with the Eurasian Federation turned hot. Like Manning, my rank was Specialist and my work gave me access to a wide variety of startling information concerning the "peacetime" activities of the Atlantic government, its allies and its enemies. By 2083, everyone in CFC-ATO knew that global theatre war was inevitable. Tensions were higher than ever. Huge rises in the sea level and ever accelerating global cooling along with the accumulated negative effects of the associated social collapses, had compounded the resource problem while unsettling the global distribution of power. Our planet became more hostile and billions died, our immediate future was insecure. Our species was trapped in a feedback loop we had created.


During our training we were told that the coming war would by necessity be "more total" than any other. If we didn't win sufficiently quickly and completely, the scenarios shifted to mutually assured destruction. CFC-ATO was preparing for a decisive and overwhelming first strike. Our technological and economic base had managed to quietly sustain an edge on our competitor. The myth of peaceful coexistence was a front designed to cover the intense preparations of war and defence on both sides. With hindsight, the early strategic advantages of nation-states of the Eurasian Federation counted against them in the endgame. Sometime around 2012 ATO internalised the truth that it was being quietly overrun by the Eurasian Federation's cyberwarfare division and that its technological advances and state secrets were being stolen on an industrial scale. The CFC responded by radical means. First came a series of quiet and targeted purges of the systems and personnel. Next, carefully vetted elements of the command apparatus and the most secret and advanced projects were compartmentalised, along with covert appropriations of manpower, materiel and bleeding edge facilities. The Information Security Branch (also ISB, Infosec) was born in 2018.


From the outside it was simply a reasoned response to the changing nature of cold and hot warfare, dealing with signals intelligence, electronic countermeasures, etc. On the inside, to those who had no prospect of ever seeing the outside again, everything that appeared to the outside was a front.  The outside was assumed compromised,  as was every other branch of the military and political leadership that wasn't on the inside. The ISB was a parallel complex, designed to be impregnable and independent, tasked with ensuring the survival and supremacy of ATO as a geopolitical entity. From 2018 onward, I can confidently state that nobody knew what the fuck we were up to.


The challenge to the survival of ATO came from the Federated States of Greater Eurasia, which controlled around two thirds of the landmass, vastly superior numbers, a highly militarised and mobilised society. By 2018 the Eurasian Federation had already gained significant and potentially crippling penetration of the C3I infrastructure of the ATO sphere. For a long time the general consensus at ISB had been that the inner leadership of the Eurasian Federation believed that the war was over before it had begun, that it had already secured a position of dominance over its rival and was focused on maintaining the status quo, consolidating its position and addressing internal stability. We needed to sustain that belief regardless of how the balance of advantage shifted.


As a recent recruit my duties were less critical than if I had been with Infosec for longer, but trust was never an issue. Every measure had been taken to ensure complete secrecy. We never saw daylight. There was no means or opportunity for low level Specialists to breach the air gap or leak information. Requests for logistics approvals or automated reconnaissance operations were handed up the chain and information filtered down. We just fed the machine. The isolation and breakdown in relations between the two blocs, along with technological measures, made infiltration/exfiltration or meaningful intelligence gathering on the deepest workings of both regimes highly unlikely if not impossible. I was lucky that I was too insignificant to warrant wetwired behaviour modification, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now, but my position still required me to come into contact with information on how we planned to conduct the war.


Despite what I've mentioned above, you might wonder about many things, since war was inevitable how did we maintain the element of surprise, and regardless of how things have turned out, manage to defeat the enemy so completely? Why didn't the Eurasian Federation shut down as much of ATO as it could, as soon as it could, like we did to them? Given how things have turned out, maybe we should all wish they had. It's certainly true that the ISB consciously overestimated the threat to our systems and overcompensated, it's also possible that the Eurasian Federation believed that both sides had too much to lose to risk open or large scale war. What seems certain is that our opposite numbers were unaware of what was being planned, and of the form the war would take.


It only remains now for me to confirm what those few who remain have guessed. We made it happen. We created the biggest threat to our own existence and you didn't stop us. Apart from the problems with the climate, which we are surely responsible for, our even more pressing problem is not a natural disaster, it's our fault.


The ISB special projects and research teams developed some incredibly successful concepts in order to turn the tide back against the Eurasian Federation. The most decisive was definitely the Mobile Oceanic Autonomous Platform. These massive, silent, factory-motherships were programmed to hide in the deepest and most remote parts of the ocean and design, produce and maintain their own weapons stockpile, indefinitely. Each one began as a nucleus consisting of the best artificial intelligence we had, 3-D fabricator units, a watersplitter powerplant and a nanoparticle stockpiler. As they grew, they would be resupplied and given modular upgrades as appropriate. Within 5 years the MOAP were redesigning their own components and the nucleii packages. They quickly became self-replicating and developed a secure hive-mind communications capability. They looked capable of almost anything. They began to spread throughout the deep ocean, periodically transmitting their incredibly dense reports and making specific requests to their handler teams for certain raw materials which they were unable to source themselves, such as chemical and radiological supplies and live biological specimens of both flora and fauna. 


Within 10-15 years the MOAP hive were an adaptive, self-perpetuating, widely distributed network of heavily armed autonomously operating research and development hubs. Their combined computing power was entirely focused on designing tactical-strategic solutions to the problem posed by the disposition of the Eurasian Federation. The scope of their scientific exploration was limited only by the requirement that the MOAP must remain undetectable. Jet propelled drones and guided missiles were useless on their own, due to their relatively slow speed and dependence on vulnerable technological elements, so the MOAP innovated a hybrid electromagnetic drive system that partially utilised the conductive properties of seawater to accelerate a variety of payloads, with an effective range well past the pole of inaccessibility. This drive system would be used to deliver a globally coordinated aerial strike across the entire territory of the Eurasian Federation, with a volume of ordnance and time-to-target which the Eurasian defensive network would be completely unprepared for. The bombardment was designed to overwhelm the enemy completely, focusing the brunt of the assault on its areas of weakness and concentrations of power. This part of the attack would consist of a continent-enveloping cloud of ultra-high speed kinetic projectiles along with high altitude "super-EMP" devices designed to exceed the defensive capacity of the enemy infrastructure. This first wave would pave the way for autonomous and guided aerial missile-drones and with a variety of warheads and capabilities. Once the aerial phase was successfully underway, MOAP planned to dive and initiate a "shoot and scoot" maneuver. If the assault was successful, after a period of radio silence the MOAP would eventually be brought up from the depths to aid in reconstruction. 


By the time the MOAP was prepared to initiate the aerial phase of the final attack, it had established almost complete blue-water superiority. Littoral and mercantile traffic was not interdicted, but the volume and ubiquity of MOAP intelligence gathering capabilities in and around the abyssal zone, meant that the work of the MOAP was largely undisturbed and unthreatened during the preparation stage. Throughout this time, the MOAP explored and quantified the areas of research which were most likely to ensure victory. The MOAP recognised that even with the means to overcome the electronic and aerial defences of the Eurasian Federation in order to neutralise its rapid retaliation capability, naval and land superiority were also required. Since the ocean had been secured, and the Eurasian Federation seemed to implicitly recognise the futility of seriously contesting ATO's traditional naval superiority, it naturally became the test bed for other potentially complementary technologies. The MOAP planned to apply the biological research expertise it had gained in order to build in a level of redundancy and counter the relatively large population and standing army of the Eurasian Federation. The MOAP sought to ensure that those who survived the aerial strike would not be in a position to retaliate or resist.


Due to its unprecedented computing power and flexibility as a scientific facility, the MOAP had achieved great success in many areas which had proven resistant to previous efforts to advance them. Examples of this include the fields of high-energy and electromagnetic physics involved in the payload delivery system mentioned above. As the MOAP hive worked on this, it was simultaneously advancing the field of genomic manipulation. The MOAP network was able to map and synthesise genetic sequences in both a physical and virtual environment on a scale and with a precision never before possible, rapidly pushing its achievements further. It began by attempting to account for complex biological features of a simple specimen, such as the life cycle of a phyto or zooplankton, before quickly jumping up the food chain. Once the organisms became sufficiently complex, live specimens were studied under various stimuli and the associated reactions observed, this was conducted in conjunction with hormone and gene therapy. Early experiments on several species of shark were successful in consistent significant increase in the test population's metabolism, rapidity of onset of sexual maturity, goal oriented behaviour and aggression response. The program was extended to aquatic mammals, specifically cetaceans, but subsequently abandoned due to the MOAP extrapolating a low probability of useful application beyond the data gathered on the mammalian brain, data which was supplemented by a range of terrestrial test subjects. This leap onto the land had been a long term objective of this strand of MOAP's research.


Eventually theory and application advanced to the point where the ideal candidate to carry out the MOAP's mission had been created. A weaponised version of the polar bear had been developed. MOAP's bears reached maturity in less than a year in the undersea breeding pods. They were conditioned to be a highly effective means by which to inhibit the coordinated response of the Eurasian population, and ultimately hunt down and effectively eradicate it within 4-6 years, during which time the Eurasian Federation would pose no threat to ATO. Since ATO lacked the troops, or the ability to covertly build up concentrations of land based weapons, MOAP had designed and mass produced a perfect army to work in conjunction with the bombing campaign. The war-bears were intelligent, highly physically resilient, hyper-aggressive and strongly motivated by the physical imperative to feed on fresh meat, capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres in a day if necessary. They would use their sharp senses to track down and annihilate what remained of the Eurasian Federation, and then, they were supposed to lie down and die, due to a drastically reduced lifespan and engineered limitations to their fertility. Eurasia would become part of ATO.


The bears were delivered by two routes; tailormade depth-to-surface vehicles brought them to the coastline and under and through where the ice could be broken, while thousands more were launched in similar capsules through the air to arrive further inland. Any of the bears who tried to cross the Northern frontier into ATO territory would simply be put down by the border forces.


If this plan seems unlikely, that might be partly because history books are hard to come by these days. It had been calculated that the pre-emptive barrage alone had a statistically insignificant chance of failure, the bear plan was implemented partly as further insurance against future retaliation by the Eurasian population or remaining land forces, and partly because the investment and hard work had already been done by MOAP. It should not be overlooked that the total defeat of our enemy was successfully accomplished.

All of our problems started after that. The plan was executed perfectly. There is no longer a Eurasian Federation.


But the bears are everywhere. They won't go away.






See the end of It's not me for an explanation. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it.

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