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Anno Domini 2150 - Chapter 3

by EthanHoover


"You?" Joshua was certainly angry now, perhaps with a hint of fear, almost panic, yet he was still in control of himself. "Why would Verias make a machine"-- He spat the word-- "the mission leader?" He was still talking to the ceiling as if the shipboard speakers housed N.E.R.O. himself.

"Please, my friend, I do not wish for you to become alarmed. He chose me for one simple, and highly logical, reason-- because I cannot disobey his orders, and you, Joshua, can-- And, forgive me for saying so, most likely would have, given your record."

Joshua sputtered. "You're saying he doesn't trust me? He should know that I'd never disobey him unless--"

"Of course he trusts you, Joshua, but he also knows you. His orders were not to interfere, no matter what, correct?"

"I don't know what that has to do with--"

"Truly, friend, did you not learn your manners? Please allow me to complete my thoughts." Joshua stiffened at the word 'thoughts,' but remained silent. "As I was saying, we are to not interfere at absolutely any costs. But you, Joshua, value individual life more than this directive, do you not? If you had to let a man die to maintain our cover, would you?"

Joshua was silent for a moment before speaking. "I... It would depend. It's not that simple."

"For you, my friend, it indeed is not simple. But for me, an order is an order, and I simply cannot disobey. Verias wants this world to be unaffected by our visit, even if that allows death that could have been prevented."

Joshua had been calming, but now his faced flashed with emotion. "Is he that cold? Does he not care about life? I had no idea that our esteemed general was so heartless."

"Not heartless, Joshua." Although Daniel knew it wasn't possible, he could have sworn that N.E.R.O.'s voice grew the least bit angry with these words. "Only concerned with things more important than an inconsequential human life. Which is worse, for one man to die, or for an entire culture to be destroyed?"

Joshua was shaking with anger, but he did an excellent job of hiding it when he spoke. "Fine. I don't agree with him, but it's too late to change anything now. Let's just get on with the mission. And remember, N.E.R.O., that I wash my hands of any wrong that happens while you're in charge-- if anyone dies and we could have stopped it, that's on your conscience."

N.E.R.O.'s voice seemed almost soft now, much to Daniel's surprise. "I don't have a conscience, my friend. You know that." A brief silence.

"Okay, so what's you plan, N.E.R.O.? Where do we go from here?" Daniel asked, more than glad to change the subject. Joshua clenched his fists, but said nothing more.

"As I said before, friend Daniel, I observed signs of intelligently designed structures scattered around the local area. The largest of them is about half a day's walk from the northern shore of this sea"

Daniel glanced at the floating globe, which only showed the land masses in the vaguest of detail. "Can we get a beacon on the map, N.E.R.O.?" Another dot appeared on the map, about twenty or so miles from the nearest shore.

"So that's where we're headed?" Joshua asked, analyzing the new dot. He had remarkable control over his emotions, and if Daniel hadn't witnessed his friend's outburst, he never would have guessed that Joshua had just been so angry.

"That is correct, Joshua. I have not been able to gather much information, but I shall share what observations I have made, with the caviat that we were moving at incredible speeds, and I was some distance away when I noticed them, so my findings may not be perfectly accurate. Is this acceptable?"

Joshua waved his hand impatiently. "Yes, yes, we understand. Just get on with it."

"Really, Joshua, your mother must be very disappointed in your behavior. But this is what I have observed-- The structures seem to be build of mostly local, natural materials, suggesting a relatively unadvanced culture. The city has large walls, suggesting a culture dominated by war. I was also able to detect streams of movement between the structures, suggesting roads, and-- Remember I could not discern much from that altitude-- They moved in a manner not dissimilar to that of humanoids."

Joshua's face lit up for an instant, but he soon resumed his impassive expression. "Humanoids? Are you sure?"

"No, friend Joshua, I am indeed not sure, you claimed to have understood that. But, from my limited observations, that is the most likely possibility."

Joshua nodded nonchalantly, but his eyes betrayed his excitement-- It was clear to Daniel that Joshua hoped above all else to find humans here. Which was odd, because the best-case scenario for Earth would be to find an empty planet to colonize. And yet, Daniel understood his excitement-- If these people were really human, than humanity already had a second chance, even if Earth died. "Let's go, then. N.E.R.O., can you get us to shore unnoticed?"

"Of course, Daniel. It will take but a few moments."

After scanning the area for activity, N.E.R.O. cloaked the vessel and guided it to shore, the hatch opening soon after. As he stepped out of the capsule, Daniel was hit with the familiar smell of salt water. He had spent most of his life by the sea, as had all humans for the past few generations-- The world's landmass was now nothing more than a few islands. What was new to him, though, was the feeling of sand beneath his feet-- On Earth, every square inch of dry land was paved grey with concrete. He had the sudden urge to kick off his shoes and walk barefoot, but resisted it for sake of practicality.

After he took in the sight of the beach, Daniel turned around to inspect the ship. It cloaked itself some, with a heatproof screen on the outside displaying the landscape behind the ship, but if anyone got within twenty yards or so, they'd notice it.

"Should we have N.E.R.O. submerge it until we get back?" He asked Joshua, whose gaze was fixed on the horizon.

"Hmm?" He looked back to the pod, his misty look evaporating. "Yeah, good plan. N.E.--" Joshua began, then he must have decided to give a mental command instead. The pod silently dipped beneath the surface.

"We should start using mental commands from now on," Joshua explained, "in case someone overhears us. We don't want to draw more attention than we have to."

If it's possible, I would prefer us to draw no attention at all. N.E.R.O. remarked into Daniel's head, and presumable Joshua's as well, since he rolled his eyes as the computer spoke.

N.E.R.O., Danial thought, can you point us in the right direction?

Of course, friend Daniel. Turn west... A little further... There, straight ahead for about twenty miles. By my calculations you should arrive at the city within about six hours. If the day cycles here are similar to those of Earth-- Which, as best I can tell, they are-- it will be nearly nightfall by then.

Thank you, N.E.R.O.. Daniel looked over to Joshua, who was gazing intently in the direction N.E.R.O. had indicated, rearing his feet slightly. He clearly wanted to get on the move.

"Did you hear that, Josh?" He asked Joshua, who nodded.

"Every word. Ready to get going?" Daniel smiled as he gazed out at the the inland route N.E.R.O. had pointed out to them. It led away from the beach in a steep, sandy incline for at least five hundred feet. After that, it leveled out, blocking his view. Though he knew that most of the journey would be a hard trek through the desert, Daniel was almost giddy with excitement-- He'd never seen this much wilderness before, let alone walked across it.

"Yeah, I am. I'm more than ready."


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Sun Jul 05, 2020 11:51 am
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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Well the final one that was uploaded. I think I managed to do it in an hour and a half.

First Impression: Yep this computer was definitely taught by HAL-9000 although it is a bit ruder. Anyway, pretty good chapter again although I get the feeling that the three previous parts could do just fine as one single part.

Anyway let's get to it,

He was still talking to the ceiling as if the shipboard speakers housed N.E.R.O. himself.


So the ship doesn't house N.E.R.O? Judging by all the information that N.E.R.O. gathered it seemed like it would need to be in the ship and using some form of camera or sensor to gather all that information.

"Of course he trusts you, Joshua, but he also knows you. His orders were not to interfere, no matter what, correct?"


Neat bit of foreshadowing right there except this now calls into question our prologue. By the way this is going it sounds like that first part should have simply been a part of the first chapter rather than the prologue.

But you, Joshua, value individual life more than this directive, do you not? If you had to let a man die to maintain our cover, would you?"


Sneaky character development. I love that. Also damn this computer says friend way too much but then it makes sense for a computer to say that so I guess you have no choice but to write it that way.

N.E.R.O.'s voice seemed almost soft now, much to Daniel's surprise. "I don't have a conscience, my friend. You know that." A brief silence.


That's definitely a very creepy response. I would've attempted to shut this thing down if it answered me like that.

"So that's where we're headed?" Joshua asked, analyzing the new dot. He had remarkable control over his emotions, and if Daniel hadn't witnessed his friend's outburst, he never would have guessed that Joshua had just been so angry.


That last bit is implied by the first but saying that he has remarkable control so you don't need to elaborate on that there. When you elaborate it sounds a bit like spoon feeding the audience.

"Really, Joshua, your mother must be very disappointed in your behavior. But this is what I have observed-- The structures seem to be build of mostly local, natural materials, suggesting a relatively unadvanced culture. The city has large walls, suggesting a culture dominated by war. I was also able to detect streams of movement between the structures, suggesting roads, and-- Remember I could not discern much from that altitude-- They moved in a manner not dissimilar to that of humanoids."


Either the programmers of this computer had a bad sense of humor programming the whole motherly rebuke part into it or this is sounding a bit too human.

After scanning the area for activity, N.E.R.O. cloaked the vessel and guided it to shore, the hatch opening soon after. As he stepped out of the capsule, Daniel was hit with the familiar smell of salt water. He had spent most of his life by the sea, as had all humans for the past few generations-- The world's landmass was now nothing more than a few islands. What was new to him, though, was the feeling of sand beneath his feet-- On Earth, every square inch of dry land was paved grey with concrete. He had the sudden urge to kick off his shoes and walk barefoot, but resisted it for sake of practicality.


We still have sand in 2772 where I come from. Nice description there to establish the setting for Genesis. Really paints a good picture.

After he took in the sight of the beach, Daniel turned around to inspect the ship. It cloaked itself some, with a heatproof screen on the outside displaying the landscape behind the ship, but if anyone got within twenty yards or so, they'd notice it.


Bit of awkward phrasing there. Might want to chop that word. The rest of the passage implies that well enough.

"Every word. Ready to get going?" Daniel smiled as he gazed out at the the inland route N.E.R.O. had pointed out to them. It led away from the beach in a steep, sandy incline for at least five hundred feet. After that, it leveled out, blocking his view. Though he knew that most of the journey would be a hard trek through the desert, Daniel was almost giddy with excitement-- He'd never seen this much wilderness before, let alone walked across it.

"Yeah, I am. I'm more than ready."


Sounds like the beginning of a great adventure.

And that's all for this one.

Overall: The personalities are developing nicely. The story is promising. I hope you update this soon. Please tag me if you do.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




EthanHoover says...


Thanks for yet another wonderful review! A lot of great tips/observations here, it's much appreciated as always. And I'll definitely tag you with part 4! Thanks for the encouragement.



HarryHardy says...


Your Welcome!!
Glad I could be of some help!!



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Fri Jun 26, 2020 4:03 am
bloodstring says...



HEY! I'm loving this. I didn't see Chapter 1. Didn't you upload it? And I am so looking forward to more...




EthanHoover says...


Hey, I'm glad you like it! Chapter one is here, and there's a prologue too. Thanks for reading!



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Wed May 27, 2020 10:32 pm
Que wrote a review...



Hello again! :)

"Of course he trusts you, Joshua, but he also knows you. His orders were not to interfere, no matter what, correct?"

..."As I was saying, we are to not interfere at absolutely any costs. But you, Joshua, value individual life more than this directive, do you not? If you had to let a man die to maintain our cover, would you?"

Joshua was silent for a moment before speaking. "I... It would depend. It's not that simple."

This is really interesting! Reminds me of Star Trek's prime directive to not interfere (which they're always breaking). It does seem good in a sense to have a leader who will definitely not break the rules, but... why have Joshua on the team in the first place if he's likely to break the rules? unless N.E.R.O. is just lying Anyway, one thing I'm thinking about is the goal here--they want a colony, right? If so, won't they have to interfere with native life at some point? hmm

"As I said before, friend Daniel, I observed signs of intelligently designed structures scattered around the local area. The largest of them is about half a day's walk from the northern shore of this sea.

The structures seem to be build of mostly local, natural materials, suggesting a relatively unadvanced culture. The city has large walls, suggesting a culture dominated by war. I was also able to detect streams of movement between the structures, suggesting roads, and-- Remember I could not discern much from that altitude-- They moved in a manner not dissimilar to that of humanoids."

Okay, so this part might also have a technical issue? (sorry that I keep poking holes in things, I'm just trying to figure out how everything works!) N.E.R.O. doesn't have a physical body, and only uses the bodies of humans, right? So how could he have observed anything...? It seems to me like either Daniel and Joshua observed--which they couldn't, because they couldn't see anything outside of the capsule and their eyes probably aren't that good--or that some sensor on the ship picked up possibilities of life. It just doesn't make sense to me that he could have 'seen' this city in as much detail as he did.

I'm going to assume Genesis's atmosphere is the same as earth's so they can breathe? I'm very curious to find out if there's anything drastically different from earth here at all, it could be quite exciting to have so much the same and some very odd differences! Also, one final note: I'd maybe like to see a bit more of Daniel's character? He's the narrator, so I just want to get a little more personality from him. Joshua is making himself known, though, so that's good. :)

Anyway, nice development in this chapter! Not too much to comment on, I like the direction it's headed. :) Feel free to tag me when you post the next chapter!!

-Q




EthanHoover says...


Thanks for another awesome review! It's awesome that you did all four segments, thank you so much.

To answer your questions, N.E.R.O. has access to both his host humans' senses, and the equipment of the capsule. The scanners are what he used to see the settlements. And don't stop the hole-poking, I need it!

Also, yes, Genesis's atmosphere is exactly like Earth's. And I agree that Daniel needs to be fleshed out a lot more. Right now he seems to just be blandly good. Nothing wrong with being good, of course, he just needs more than that to be interesting.

Anyway, thanks again for the reviews! I'll be sure to give you a ping when I publish chapter four.



Que says...


No problem! I'll look forward to the next one! :)



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Wed May 27, 2020 6:33 pm
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Tenyo wrote a review...



Hey EthanHoover! Me again.

Using silent commands to tell a robot what to do when it could potentially just do things of its own accord is such a bad idea. I feel like no good is going to come to these guys. It's like when a kid is making a lot of noise in another room and both parents assume that the other one is with them. N.E.R.O is super creepy, you've done a really good job of bringing that out.

I love your descriptions. They bring the world to life not just by the way it looks and feels but also by the way the characters interact with it. That moment where Joshua is standing on sand for the first time feels really personal, it makes him look almost child-like.

If you continue with this project give me a nudge when the next part is up. I'm really enjoying it so far.




EthanHoover says...


I'm glad you're enjoying it! I'll let you know for sure when I finish the next chapter. Thanks for the review!




Almost all absurdity of conduct rises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.
— Samuel Johnson