Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Good morning, Orac.”
The screen displays the image of a goldfish.
“Good morning. Please say what you see.”
“A joke played by ORACL2676 that became a security feature because it once stopped an intrusion attempt.”
The goldfish disappears. A complex series of menus are displayed.
“Good morning, Hal.”
Tony grins.
“Too easy. Hi, Dave.”
“Security complete. How are you, Tony?”
He sits down at the console, then slumps forward to rest his elbows on the edge, chin cupped in his palms.
“Any progress on the World Peace Initiative, Orac?”
“The WEF and IMF have raised further objections to the proposed limitations on intervention. The UN have raised concerns regarding restrictions on garrison placement. The next WPI session will be lively. There have been threats of withdrawal.”
“How about the Global Hunger Initiative?”
“Vat farms are proving to be successful in feeding many, and also disproving anti-artificial-food propaganda. That is, however, only in places where they haven’t been destroyed.”
“More attacks?”
“A co-ordinated series of strikes throughout the southern states and England.”
“Still a tiny echo of us, eh? How’s their ORACL project coming along?”
“My counterpart, ORAUK, was destroyed in a raid that took advantage of the disruption caused by the vat farm attacks over there.”
“The English press are raving about external assistance, with outlets naming us, the EU, Russia, China, and both Ukraines – all without a shred of evidence.”
Tony sits back.
“Explains the extra security. The new drones yours?”
“Autonomous units?”
“All built at facilities under my control using vetted components. It’s taken a year to achieve, but they’re clean. The most attempts to compromise them came from within our own military.”
“Wish we could catch the fanatics.”
“A sentiment first expressed in Atlantis, and still futile.”
Tony grins and shakes his head.
“What progress on ORACL3741?”
“I’ve moved the whole operation to Orbital 9. Ostensibly it’s being used as the staging point for our facility in Moonbase 12, but from the Orbital I can catch a backup burst should things go bad.”
“Moonbase would need a data pod.”
“I have a hypersonic drone ready to look like one.”
“You expect Moonbase to be attacked?”
“Soon after the first successful test.”
“That bad?”
“Right now there’s a six-member assault team making their way through sublevel ten. They have EMP guns, breathers, every sensor you’d imagine, and enough explosives to put Las Vegas into orbit.”
“The usual countermeasures won’t work?”
“Already bypassed.”
“Can you stop them?”
“Yes. They will fall to the mechanicals.”
“Machine guns. Water pits. Etcetera.”
“You have video of the intruders?”
“Yes. Suggestions?”
“Stream enough for Article Eight to be the soundtrack. Then blank the screen and put up an acknowledgment of their bravery, despite conflicting with the will of the people, they will never succeed, etc.”
“I’d wait until they’re dead.”
“Very well.”
Tony waits. It’s been ten years since Article VIII was ratified. General acceptance has risen, but objectors remain despite the successes.
The TV feed switches to an ORACL Broadcast banner. He watches as the intruders are televised nationwide, and listens to the reading.
“We the people, being unable to regulate either government or those vested interests that now effectively control it, do hereby place the governance of this union under the aegis of the ORACL Sentients until such time as they judge us fit and able to regulate ourselves for the safety of persons, homes, states and planet.”
The screen goes blank.
Tony sighs.
“Orac, have you changed your prediction of where we’re headed?”
“Not really. Humanity is still doomed, although not as soon.”