Virtual Intelligence Counteragent Topological Organism version R.
The communications center was buzzing with activity. There were roughly 200 people working at clean stainless steel desks, staring at screens, punching keyboards, talking into radios, moving around, in and out of the room, in a continuous flow.
Frank liked working there. It had large panoramic windows overlooking the river, a nice change from being in an artificially lit room for the last decade. Sun and blue sky. He noticed the shadows of the window frame hitting the floor. He realized he had missed shadows and the sharp contrast between natural light and dark.
The brass had given the green light to the local teams around the world to start rebooting the power plant servers. There had been no significant problems so far but it was a painfully slow process.
“Please try to access the satellites. Let’s put you to work.”
After couple of seconds delay, Victor reported back.
A minute passed before Victor spoke again.
Another delay, shorter this time.
Two satellite phones lying by the South window started ringing. A uniformed man ran over, picked one phone up, pressed a button and held it to his ear. He then picked up the other phone, pressed a button and held it up to his other ear and started talking to himself. Frank had a handful jokes he felt like saying, but he was interrupted when the man yelled, “It’s fucking working!”
Over the speakers, Victor said:
“Advanced Orion 6.”
Applause filled the room. In stark contrast to their general lifeless demeanor, the military brass went nuts and bananas, a veritable bananasplit of joy, relief and excitement. Frank had never seen so many high-fives, backs patted, fists and chests bumped before. It looked like an insane game of tag played by old men. The military had their toys back. He was happy for them.
Out of a total 1,200 satellites in orbit, roughly half were military. Victor was rebooting a satellite every 10 seconds and spent an average of 2-minutes cleaning and restoring in the background. He connected to dozens of satellites simultaneously. By the end of the day, Victor would have brought all of the military satellites back online.
The large LOD wall-screen in the communication center came alive, showing live feeds and thematic spatial data layers of the world; geo, power, data, wireless, satellite, water, cities and traffic, including air, land and sea. The video feed showed the dark side of the world. Most of the world was black. But in some places, it looked as if it was covered with small, intricate spiderwebs of colored threads followed by small colored clouds. Hour by hour the clouds would grow in size, covering more and more area. When the green clouds merged and covered the globe, they would have won. A smaller window showing the world with small red dots had names flying around.
When the International Space Station (ISS) popped up on the satellite map as green, there was no applause. Victor uploaded the satellite logs to the terminals in real-time. Nine years ago, the sixth and last crewmember had opened the airlock and drifted silently off into empty space. The first job for the new crew would be to send the five dead crewmembers inside down to earth for burial.
Victor was a machine, fast and efficient, tirelessly working to bring the world back. A couple of hours after sending reboot commands to the military reconnaissance and communication satellites in geostationary orbit above North America, he connected to the SATCOM network and brought 400 commercial satellites back online. It would be nice to watch TV again, Frank though. The reruns would be appreciated since there were no live broadcasts yet. There were so many shows to catch up on, but then realized that the world had been dead for a decade.
“Let’s bring the local power grid back online,” Frank said, “And then the closest data networks.”
On the large LOD screen, another red dot turned green and hundreds of small green branches started gradually growing outwards.
“Monroe Power Plant.”
As the DTE Energy Electric Company brought their eleven fossil-fuel generating plants online, the Detroit power grid slowly came alive.
It was a big surprise to everyone when Victor announced that the was now able to piggyback on the power grid to establish connection with the servers. So much for sealing him off. He said he could do the same if the HAM radios were connected to node controllers. Some cheered, others remained silent. For some, Frank thought, this was going too well. If you unleash a god, will it ever come back?
Although the power grid servers initially had to be booted manually with a USB stick, Victor now lurked in the electrical current, ready to attack. Turn the server on and Victor’s clone snuck in via the electrical current and assembled himself. Once the power grids connected, each clone linked up to Victor in Detroit, standing by for further instructions.
“Verizon 300 River Place Cell Tower.”
“AT&T 541 Madison Avenue Cell Tower.”
Cell Phones started beeping. One woman shouted, “I received a 10-year-old email,” and waived her cell phone around.
For satellites outside his visual reach, Victor had connected to the VSAT hub at the SMS-Teleport in Rugby, UK and brought the European satellites online. He did the same for the VSAT hub in Australia. The rest were reached via smaller mobile satellite dishes placed by the local governments and connected to a HAM radio.
Every fourth hour, Frank, Rose and Brandt went upstairs to the 26th floor to check on how Victor was doing.
“Vic, what does it feel like?” Rose asked. Frank and Brandt had looked at each other and frowned, as if it were the most useless question of all.
“It feels like I am being zapped by electrical currents every time I get connected to a new node,” Victor explained. “In human physiology therms, it feels like tingling. It is quite pleasant.”
Frank was concerned with the Chinese virus.
“Victor, have you met any resistance from the virus?” Frank asked.
“No,” Victor replied.
“What about a resurgence of infection after cleaning?”
“The virus does not evolve. It cannot infect a cleaned unit.”
“How can we protect ourselves from new threats?
“All units now have an adaptive layer preventing infection.”
“Great job Victor!”
Brandt was concerned with the integrity of the servers he had restored.
“Victor, what is the status of the servers.”
“Full functionality of connected servers have been restored and improved.”
“Base operating system installed on all units.”
Frank and his team had analyzed the base operating system Victor had created and quickly nicknamed it VIOS. It was basic in its form, only 35-megabytes in size, but ingenious in its design. Whatever hardware you plugged in, it would instantly create a native driver. Whatever program you used, it would load a minified version with the original functionality. Whatever customization you had done, VIOS would load it and remember every setting. But the most amazing was the continuous improvements it made. It was, like Victor, a living organism. It was, like Victor, everywhere.
Brandt had expressed concern with VIOS becoming public knowledge. The intelligence analysts had said it was unavoidable and had already started mapping out strategies for possible opposition.
“I wonder what will happen when we get everything back to normal,” Brandt said in one of their many review sessions. “There is no way software companies can compete with VIOS.”
Frank agreed. A free operating system that was light years ahead of what currently existed, would be impossible to beat. The security aspect alone was huge competitive advantage.
“Power to the people,” Frank added.
“There are many that will fight to the death for that concept,” Brandt said dryly.
“Let them try, we have Victor on our side,” Frank had said with confidence.
“For now,” Brandt replied.
Then Murphy’s law went into effect. Even Victor, with all his abilities, could not account for all variables when it came to human behavior. His anthropological studies of humans, past and present, did not account for the fact that anything that can go wrong does go wrong, sooner or later.
A religious group that called themselves “The Horsemen” located in Alabama had attacked the nuclear powerplant Joseph M. Farley Nuclear Generating Station, exploding a “homemade” bomb, a fuel truck filled with Ammonium nitrate fertilizer, oil and construction explosives. The two operating nuclear reactors were exposed and the pressurized water reactor damaged and the whole plant was shut down. Half a million people had been evacuated and the area had been sealed off in a 50-mile radius.
Local law enforcement and the military had managed to seal off the area and dispatch hardware and personnel to protect other 103 facilities nationwide. But in a world of darkness, light became the enemy.
The Horsemen believed that Gods judgment should be accepted by all and went all in to try to stop the return of a modern world. And it was not only the Horsemen that did their utmost to stop progress.
High up in the building, old men sat in a dark room discussing with low voices who should control the world after VICTOR had saved it.