By DJ Cline
July 2, 2012 Point Loess, California
Marsha Colton and Ten Kay sunned themselves on her yacht’s top deck during lunch. While she was getting a tan, he was recharging.
MARSHA: So how did you get like this?
TEN KAY: Some rich guys did not want to pay taxes. Even when they moved money to accounts in other countries they eventually got caught. They got tired of bribing politicians with campaign contributions. They decided to move all their money into international waters. They took over some drowning Pacific island nation and reflagged all their yachts to it. Then they bought a bunch of used cargo container ships and oil tankers. They turned them into fleets of factory ships. They recruited desperate workers from poor countries and stripped them of their citizenship. They were stateless persons in international waters. They slept in bunks and were worked to death. When they died, the companies collected the insurance. The owners got rich on slave labor.
Meanwhile governments could not get the tax revenue to protect or educate their citizens. They owed all their money to the guys on the yachts. They could not compete against slave labor, so governments collapsed, creating more poor people desperate to work on the boats. The fleets got so big they had their offshore drilling, refining, and fishing operations.
They also had their own navy. They picked me out of one of their rusty buckets as a kid. They trained me to fight but also to salvage wreckage along the rising shorelines of the world. They called us Nano Seals. Basically they loaded the Internet in my head so I could find and recover anything useful like names and addresses. They infected me with nano technology that your company will develop so I could work in all kinds of conditions. That’s why I’m sitting in the sun… to recharge. When I showed up here, I searched the database, identified your ship, that you were the owner, that you were on board and had the authority to act quickly enough to get me in the decompression chamber before I died.
But let’s get back to the horror story. At some point the weather got so bad that even these guys could no longer live in the style to which they were accustomed. There was not enough seafood. The ships broke down or lost in huge storms. The crews and workers finally mutinied. There was anarchy and cannibalism… but hey, at least there were no friggin’ taxes.
MARSHA: Did you mutiny?
TEN KAY: Sort of. I saw it coming and took my team to Sutro Island. It was defensible against the surviving warlords on the mainland and close to the remaining shellfish and seaweed. Then I got your antenna’s signal and I got caught up in this weird zig-zag time thing. Originally, I was hoping the signal was a shipwreck to salvage or at least some food. Only part of me is nano, I still need to eat. Speaking of which, got anymore of that sushi?
MARSHA: Here, have mine. I’m trying to lose weight.
TEN KAY: Not a problem where I come from. So here we are a hundred years ago eating lunch. The world is already well on its way to ending. How do we stop it?
MARSHA: You have a plan?
TEN KAY: I keep modifying it each time I come back. In the short term you can aggressively encourage people to vote. In the midterm I can download all the information I’m carrying around, so start renting some server farms in the cloud. In the long term you can develop it for everyone and not just a few rich guys and super soldiers.
In the real short term we need to stop the offshore yacht guys. They are having a fundraiser in few weeks and they all will be in one place. You will get an invitation. You will accept it for once. I will be your date. Wear something you can swim in.
MARSHA: I don’t like this. Are you going to kill them?
TEN KAY: Oh no. Something much worse. Got any crackers?
Back? Depth And Taxes
Next: Polar Bear With A Gun
Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.