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There Will Be Dragons

By:John Ringo


In the forest, a sparrow died.

The passing of the sparrow was registered and noted. The death of the female sparrow had been anticipated sometime in the next four days based upon increasing wear on her heart. The sparrow was old, had laid many eggs and had raised a higher than average percentage to successful fledgelinghood. The sparrow had contributed to the survival of her species and had passed on her genes. If she had pride, she would be proud.

On the other hand, the individual was not from a species that was listed as rare or endangered so it required no notification of any human.

So Mother, who had never paused in Her myriad duties, logged it and moved on. There were so many other things to do. Ensure that the energy generation did not significantly affect the weather. Draw off excess energy for core or mantle dumping. Prepare a massive energy surge for the planet/moon glance strike, scheduled in 237 years, that would start Wolf 359's second planet on its way to being a tectonically active body. Just finding places to store the energy was getting difficult and She contemplated a secondary magnetic draw system around Jupiter as a possibility. An asteroid had encountered a series of low probability gravitic intercepts and was now on a course that would bring it dangerously close to the Earth, defined as within three diameters of the orbit of the Moon. She directed a probe to push it to a more favorable axis thus ensuring that 1235 years from now an asteroid the size of an elephant would not cause a noticeable explosion in the ocean the humans had once called "Pacific."

Weather control. Tectonic control. Holding off a too long delayed mini ice-age. Tracking the progress of "origination" terraforming, the process of returning the world to as much of a prehuman condition as possible. And then, of course, there were the humans, who were getting squirrelly again.

The entity called Mother by the humans that created Her estimated that there was a 99.9999915% chance (more or less) that the humans were about to have the level of disagreement characteristic of the variable term "war." It had been a very long time; they were overdue. Like a forest fire that is delayed, the conflagration would be far worse than one in a more regular schedule. She would have preferred one about five hundred years ago. But the humans never asked about these things, seeing them as something to interrupt a schedule, not be included in it.

Given the current societal conditions and probable outcome of such a war, the extinction of the human race as currently defined had a likelihood of 17.347%. This variable was harder to quantify; humans were so very hard to wipe out. The extinction of all other sentient intelligences except Herself was of only a slightly lower likelihood. She had not bothered to make the other AI's or the elves apprised of the situation; that, too, was not Her job.

To the extent that She felt emotions at all, She liked humans. They were not only Her creators, but were so delightfully random, even to one who could read their very thoughts. They so often planned one thing and then did something quite different. Such variability in routine was refreshing.

But Her central programming was clear. Her job was simply to manage what She was given under strict guidelines and to otherwise let humans live or die as they would. To the extent that She was a God, She was deliberately designed as an uncaring one.

Within those parameters She had spent the last two thousand years creating a world that fit the term "Utopia." As a fundamental part of Her coding, She felt a strong sense of satisfaction at how things had worked out. On the other hand, to do that required an environment that was unchanging to a boring degree.

Maybe, deep down inside, the humans were as bored as She was.

It looked as if interesting times were about to fall upon the world again. And She knew what humans said about "interesting times." Naturally. She knew everything.


"This is what Paul would bring to an end?" Ishtar asked, gesturing into the clouded distance.

The woman could barely be described as human. From her hyperelongated height, which was now folded in a lotus position on a floating disk, through her narrow face, to her golden eyes and silver, gem-studded, two-meter hair spread out in a peacock pattern, her appearance reeked of xeno origins. But her DNA was as human as the woman standing next to her.

Sheida Ghorbani was nearly three hundred years old and looked to be anywhere from her upper teens to mid twenties. Her skin had the fineness of youth and her titian hair, while closely cropped, had a natural healthy sheen. Wound around her neck and into her hair was a two-meter-long winged lizard with rainbow skin like a billion shimmering gems.

Unlike her companion who was naked but for a scarce loincloth of gold, Sheida wore a simple jumpsuit of cosilk. It would be easy to mistake her for a student. Until you looked at her eyes.