Author : Todd Hammrich
Martin’s Crawler moved along the outside of the web like a giant spider lightly dancing among the thin strings of light that made up its surface. A breach had been made in sector EZ-109 and he was moving with all speed for repairs. The Crawler was a small ship, less than a hundred meters long with multi-jointed legs made for pulling it along the web like a ballet dancer tiptoeing across the void of space.
Then Net itself was the greatest marvel of human engineering and was the cornerstone of the new world spanning government that had unified the various factions of mankind. The concept was similar to that of a Dyson Sphere, encapsulating the sun in a network of fibers broadcasting their photon capturing energy fields. The trillions of miles of cables and field projectors were tuned to capture only about ten percent of the suns energy, but even that amount numbered in the billion billions of megawatts. Unfortunately, the absorption also decreased the suns luminosity by an equivalent amount.
As Martin approached the disrupted field he was taken aback by the beauty he beheld, for as long as the web had lasted, perhaps the last 300 years, and as long as he had Crawling it, he had never before seen such intense light. It was like a ray of happiness shooting forth from the muted background of the functioning field areas. The intense light funneling through the opening, barely a thousand meters across was shining directly towards the distantly orbiting Earth. Standing in the forward viewing area of the Crawler, Martin saw the beam, like a giant finger, reaching out to touch the home world.
Staring, transfixed by the hole, he didn’t catch the beeping, flashing signal buttons on his control board for several minutes. Messages were coming in from his Crawler base asking for an update on the repairs. He cleared his head and got to work. The Crawler moved forward to the broken threads that negated the field and, like the spider extruded and patched in new threads to make the pattern whole again. When the repairs were finished the field activated and the light, brighter than had been seen for three hundred years slowly faded away, leaving the dull colorless light that was all that escaped the web’s draining energy.
Back at Crawler base EZ the signal came in that the patch had been successfully applied and the field was again functioning. The base commander nodded in satisfaction and again began to scan the reports from the hundreds of other crawlers in his quadrant. In thousands of other bases other commanders did the same for their crawlers. The net, surrounding the entire sun, must be kept whole, to supply Earth with its power, and to keep the people obedient.
On Earth, the people of a small city, going about their daily duties noticed the sunbeam playing down their main avenue. For a brief moment, all the restrictions of society and all their myriad worries seemed to melt away. For the first time in their lives, the people smiled. Children played in the warm light and people laughed at the wonders of the world. Then the light faded away to the grayness that had filled their lives since birth. They looked back down and continued about their business.