Here's a couple first pages. They haven't been edited or proofed, but I thought I'd share the start.
The Allero Genesis
By Thomas Cardin
Jaarda strode the catwalk looking down upon the flower-like concerts of observers. They watched over Allero while he and his shift partner watched over them. The observers lay like sleepers, twelve to each concert, suspended in the vast tank of bio-gel. Their bodies were engineered thin to require a minimum of nutrients, but their eyes were large, almost luminous.
They lay on their backs, faces just above the gel. Their eyes were open, yet they did not look upon Jaarda. Data from around the world fed directly to their optic and auditory nerves.
Jaarda pulled his timepiece from his pocket as he did at the completion of each circuit around the chamber. Glowing numbers suspended above its surface gave the time. The archaic piece passed to him from his ancestors in a line he traced back six generations before becoming lost in the chaos of the eighteenth era.
The voice filled the vast chamber, projected from one of the observers. A line raced away from Jaarda’s feet along the catwalk, directing him toward the speaker. He dropped his timepiece into his pocket, and ran down the catwalk.
Anomalies happened every shift. Other than maintenance of the observers, it fell to him to assess the severity of any anomaly, and choose a course of action.
A quarter of the way around the chamber the line halted him before a single concert. He checked their designation. They watched over one of the preserves.
He smoothed his uniform and caught his breath.
“Tender Jaarda present,” he said. “Report anomaly.”
One of the observers spoke, “Following the accidental termination of subject designation ‘Sir Wallen’, there has been an interruption in the destruct sequence of his harness.”
Jaarda winced at the designation. Only peacekeepers were named ‘Sir’. Within the preserve a peacekeeper lay dead and his weapons and armor had failed to destroy themselves. His hand dropped to his pocket, feeling the weight of his timepiece like a steady anchor. Still, there remained a simple fix to prevent the gear from falling into unauthorized hands. “Engage genetic lockouts.”
“Failure. Genetic keying has been set to neutral.”
This went way beyond an anomaly. A malfunction of two independent safeguards could not happen without direct interference. An external agency had broken into the system.
Jaarda assigned three additional concerts to the same preserve. He raised his eyes from the observers and sought retinal contact with the system. “This is Tender Jaarda. I am authorizing full scans on preserve designation four-four-zero-three. Incursion event detected. Acknowledge, Authority.”
A moment later another voice filled the air. “This is over-watch officer, Perone. Acknowledged and approved. Linking in system protectors. Report, Tender Jaarda. Are you absolutely sure about this?”
Jaarda swallowed hard. Every day, he prepared himself for such an incursion event, and every day he prayed to his ancestors that it would never occur. Allero Security existed as a closed system. There were no external agencies. Nothing and no one should have access to the devices that monitored and safeguarded the world outside of Allero Security.
“I am certain, Authority. We just had two system failures…”
One of the observers twitched in the gel sending a slow ripple to her neighbors. “Anomaly,” she said.
Jaarda clenched the rail and leaned over his floating charges. “Report.”
“Telemetry implant subverted in subject designation ‘Rindal’. We are receiving, but otherwise we have been locked out.”
“Project status on subject Rindal. Is he in proximity of previous anomaly?”
In the diffuse haze above the observer tank, imagery appeared. Jaarda’s eyes flew over the information. Heartrate and respiration were elevated. Rindal was a master-work prime youth in a state of severe distress. As genetically perfect as the preserve could make, youths like Rindal were the goal Jaarda and every member of the Authority worked toward.
“Proximity confirmed. Subject Rindal is converging on the remains of Sir Wallen. He is being pursued by an adult male bear.”
Imagery showed Rindal running through thick woods, weaving between trees in an effort to stay ahead of the bear. There were no protocols to divert the bear. Wildlife on the preserves had no restrictions upon them, they were there for the subjects to struggle against and survive on. They were allowed to make weapons from natural materials, but Rindal carried none. Not that even a well-made spear would give him more than a fighting chance against a bear.
Survival instincts had to be rebuilt and reinforced since mankind’s near collapse.
Rindal’s panting and the thuds of his footfalls in the loam of the forest floor filled the observer chamber. Even with his master-work genes, large frame, and rippling muscles, the youth had no chance against the bear.
“Turn to your left, Rindal.”
The voice came through the youth’s telemetry. It came from the incursion. It turned Rindal toward the remains of Sir Wallen.
“Run a trace on that communication,” Jaarda said. “Isolate and lock down the source.”
“Ambient reception,” the observer reported. “No external sources traced.”
Jaarda blew out a breath and raised his eyes again to connect to the system. The incursion could not be denied. It had entrenched itself deep within Allero Security. Ambient reception meant that the voice had originated from the system itself.
“I think we need to initiate the Artificial Intelligence Protocols,” he said to the listening Authority.
The danger to their entire system had reared its head. Mankind had almost been extinguished during the eighteenth era. The entire purpose of Allero Security was to prevent the spontaneous rise of another intelligence among the tech they relied upon to repopulate the world. Calculating machines did only that, and nothing else without passing through a human or observer interface.
Safeguards were in place. The cost to their efforts would be heavy: a generation of embryos and a year or more to sweep the system clean. Allero Security had to find the source, the flaw in the world-wide system that allowed the rise of an artificial intelligence. They had to shut everything down now before more of the system could be subverted.
“Acknowledged, Tender Jaarda.” Over-watch officer Perone paused. “Ancestors protect us. We cannot shut down the systems. We are locked out.”