This Automatic Eden by Jim Keen (Cortex Book 2)
English | 2020 | Sci – Fi | ePUB | 2.8 MB
I am an award-winning architect who has lived and worked in London, Sydney, and New York.
When 99% of humans are unemployed, it’s only a matter of time before they become 100% expendable.
New York City, 2057. Still recovering from her tortured past, ex-NYPD cop Alice Yu’s life has crashed. But when a murdered government witness turns out to be an illegal human copy, she seizes the chance to win back her badge by helping the investigation. Partnered with a mysterious FBI agent, she quickly finds herself in the crosshairs of a brutal conspiracy.
Barely surviving assassination, they follow the trail to Washington, D.C. But Yu’s partner has his own agenda. And the powers that be have no intention of allowing her to solve this case…
Can Yu expose their devastating plot before she becomes its next victim?
The assassin drone dropped from the aerostat as soon as the island came into range. Its tiny rod-logic brain guided it past hypersonic airliners and through towering anvil-headed storm clouds before it caught a fresh tailwind and dived.
The island was less than a hundred years old, yet lush trees and white sands already ringed its oval landmass. A single private home stood on its northern coast. Cast from layered planes of concrete, the architect described it as playing cards thrown into black soil; others named it an ego-driven abomination. Either way, its glory days were long past. Now it looked dead, boarded up, forgotten.
Five miles out, the inch-long drone extended a breathing tube and analyzed the air; still no sign of her. Its small mind shrugged, knew this was a long shot, and was prepared to wait. It pushed itself toward the beach with the zigzag flight of a dragonfly. There, forty-five thousand feet below the aerostat’s cameras, it landed and shivered beneath the white grains.
A day passed. Nothing changed on the island—no human activity, no smart sentry systems, no mechanical vibrations—so it germinated. Roots were first, fractal pipes that branched into the soil looking for minerals. Deep underground, it found a rich seam and spun up molecular printheads to grow atom by atom. Glass blades came next, glittering edges built to cut and stab. Legs followed to produce a crablike form ready to scale walls and scuttle into hiding spaces. Finally, a hair-thin diamond syringe filled with bespoke poison.
Days slipped past as the sun drew lines across the sapphire sky. Machines arrived: federal aerostats to begin with, scanning and sniffing as they searched for drones like itself. It wasn’t worried, had been printed by tech years ahead of any government laboratory. Trackers followed—fully sentient machines looking for larger-scale dangers. Last came reprinted guards, alert and edgy, and baseline humans, tired and crumpled. Loud jeeps bounced and crashed along the shoreline, fat wire wheels spraying white sand in arcs while crushing shellfish by the millions. The drone tasted the water, analyzing crude hydrocarbons and filtering for organics, DNA, proof of contact. Nothing.
A year passed.
The house on the hill sat flat and heavy beneath the molten sun as if prepared to hold fast until the seas boiled away. Bulletproof shutters remained closed between the concrete slabs, only an occasional sliver of light let the machine know of its occupation.
Then a break. A different vehicle appeared on the beach: low and red it reeked of humans. The drone eased to the surface and sniffed; there it was, positive identification. It uncoiled and slipped into the water.