ATTUNGA

Date 10 February 2013.
Author Iarwain iarwain@aanet.com.au
Subject Attunga Part 1.

The author retains copyright (2013) to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.
This story is fiction.

Thank you Nifty for the opportunity to post this story.

This story is part of the TALES OF THE TERRAN DIASPORA.
Wirrin shares his life with two friends on one of the great space habitats.

ATTUNGA PART 7.



"We're going in that?"

With Gelar, they were watching the transport unit for Puck, Sonic and Flute being ferried to a space vehicle which dwarfed the transports they were used to. Thom was the first to be surprised earlier when he found he wouldn't be able to pilot, but the spectacle of this 200 meter ship had them gaping.

"Yes Thom. Turaku is taking no chances with Sonic so the security AIs on Attunga and Warrakan are running the expedition today."

That was even more startling. Security AIs were almost legendary in their abilities and the Attunga ones were the most advanced in the whole Solar System. At least that was Wirrin's understanding.

"Security AIs? What are they worried about?"

"K74 is less than a light minute away and they continually send surveillance drones. If Sonic was in a regular transporter that would be an open book to them, and there has recently been an increase in activity and interest about enhanced intelligence, and in particular with dolphins. Turaku says that Freedom had its firewalls breached and information about Attunga dolphins was disseminated amongst the Directed Habitats."

Freedom was a habitat much like Attunga, though not nearly as advanced, which had just made a start on a dolphin project of its own, and the Attunga knowledge had been shared with them.

"They got into Freedom's restricted databanks?"

"Not for long, but according to Turaku it was enough to understand how well our dolphins can communicate."

Wirrin was shocked. Understanding how the Interweb worked and the type of protections involved for habitats was the whole thrust of his training and he knew how difficult they were to circumvent.

"Does Turaku think they found out anything about Sonic?"

"They didn't. That's definite. And they won't find out about his developing abilities either, because after this intrusion we're keeping that knowledge to Attunga and Warrakan for several years."

"What is that ship? I've learnt every type on Attunga and it's not one of them, and the search I did came up with nothing at all."

Thom was looking very puzzled. Gelar shook his head and Thom turned to Wirrin.

"Try a search. You're way better than me."

Thinking Thom might have made some simple mistake Wirrin fixed the image he was seeing and connected it with the basic search program for the Interweb. Nothing happened so he applied a more sophisticated search engine. First level security. Limited access granted. Wow, this was exciting. Turaku must have just given him access. Wirrin was using his holo screen so the others could see what was happening and when a set of pointers appeared he quickly scanned them.

"It's an overview Thom. It won't tell us everything."

For the next ten minutes it told them enough to set Thom's mind spinning.

"They can't do that!"

"Can't do what?"

"Accelerate so fast. One training course says our compensators can only cope with 14 G and this thing can reach 21G."

Wirrin thought back to the excitement just six days ago when Thom put the personal transporter through its paces for them at 8G and his mind boggled. A quick calculation showed that after one minute, 21G meant you were travelling at over twelve km every second.

"Well, that's what it says Thom. It must be able to do it."

It made Wirrin wonder what capabilities and discoveries might be hidden behind the security walls. Warrigal arrived and the waiting and discussion and pondering about the monster security ship finished as they headed for the boarding ferry. Now they'd see for themselves. Calen had left early to accompany the three dolphins and Wirrin tried a quick link to see what he was doing. No link! That was a shock and Wirrin didn't like it. He couldn't ever remember a time when he couldn't contact either Calen or Thom.

"Warrigal, there's no Interweb to Calen."

"Once we're on board and inside the security bubble the InterWeb will function normally for you again. ...Can you wait that long?"

Since they were on the boarding walkway that meant a couple of minutes at the most, but Wirrin couldn't wait and kept trying his links. It was puzzling as instead of a message saying the links weren't available, the InterWeb was responding as if they didn't even exist. As soon as they passed the gravity warning and entered the big ship Wirrin tried again, with retinal image mode so he didn't look so impatient. The image of Calen in the transport unit with the dolphins appeared seamlessly and Wirrin couldn't help smiling. The water in the unit was chest high, enough to give the dolphins comfortable clearance, and Calen was between Sonic and Flute looking at a real-time display unit.

"You're checking Calen?"

That was Warrigal.

"Yes, and Sonic looks really excited."

There was a momentary pause which Wirrin understood as Warrigal linking in to see for himself.

"How can you tell?"

It felt strange having Warrigal ask as he always seemed to know everything.

"They can figure the dolphin's body language better than I can Warrigal. They've picked it up from Calen."

Wirrin and Thom exchanged a glance. Better than Gelar? Gelar crossed to a TransCom portal and a few seconds later the group reached a room where a number of people were seated comfortably and looking towards a large viewing screen. The main image was of deep space, with Warrakan as the focus, but there were sub-windows round the periphery. Several were obvious, a view of Attunga, and the dolphin transport unit, but most of them had displays which would need explaining. There was a shimmer of light.

"Welcome to my place."

Everyone acknowledged the ancient greeting and looked at the big screen when Turaku pointed. Warrakan was moving. That meant they were on their way. Except it was sliding sideways and not getting closer?

"Sonic wants to look round so we're doing a circuit of Attunga first."

That was interesting in itself. The dolphins loved exploring their watery environment but had little interest in externals so this was another difference showing up in Sonic. Turaku appeared to be watching the big screen intently and this, since his real gathering of information was through any sensor connected with Attunga, cued Wirrin that there must be a reason.

"Security display."

Attunga and Warrakan shrank in size, and hundreds upon hundreds of scattered pinpoints of orange light appeared.

"These are the surveillance drones you were interested in Wirrin. Their numbers have increased rapidly since the Freedom intrusion."

Shocked by the numbers Wirrin took in the scene.

"Most of them are centred around Warrakan?"

"Yes. It's the newest development in the Solar System and they're very interested in the big drives being installed. They also probe every vessel that docks there."

"Do you know what they're looking for?"

"Everything and anything they can find out."

Wirrin thought about what had happened at Freedom and a strong feeling of revulsion boiled up at these machines and their spying.

"Why don't the security AIs stop them?"

"They're harmless for all intents and purposes. They see what we want them to see and taking action against them would only escalate the efforts from K74."

Wirrin had another thought.

"If they can't probe this ship they'll think it's got a secret of some kind?"

"This ship doesn't even exist for them unless they get closer than two km, and then it just registers as an anomaly."

Wirrin was puzzled.

"They must have cameras. If they were that close they'd be able to see easily."

"That's correct. We substitute the data in their transmissions with the visual signal they'd receive if we weren't there."

That made Wirrin smile. There wasn't much to worry about from a spy device which sent back whatever information it was given. With that ability Attunga really was way ahead of K74. Wirrin watched all the lights and when the screen returned to normal view wondered if he could access the security information for himself. With a few quick subvocalised commands the lights appeared in his retinal mode. This was really interesting. He tried scanning towards K74 to see how many more drones were coming. Hundreds. And ships as well?

"Turaku, what are those ships? The security shows two of them represented in red. Are they dangerous?"

"All habitats have defensive ships. That's only to be expected, but those two have destructive abilities and we're watching them closely."

Wirrin focused his attention on the biggest and called for information. Atomics. Lasers. Lethal picobots...

"Lethal picobots? What does that mean?"

An image of the ship appeared on the general screen. Turaku must have brought it up so the others could follow the conversation. It certainly had their attention.

"It has picobots designed to infiltrate and destroy communication and control systems, as well as others which can attack physical life."

It was a stark and shocking realisation for Wirrin. The times when nanobots had been used for similar purposes were nightmares of the past and hardly thought about. Picobots, hugely advanced by comparison, would be far more dangerous.

"There's no concern. We can control them easily."

"How far away is it?"

That was Gelar's question and from his expression this danger was completely new to him.

"Half an hour at least."

"It looks big. What's the scale of it?"

Wirrin checked and then, wide eyed, answered Thom's query.

"It's nearly 500 m. More than twice as big as this ship."

Turaku raised a hand as if to quell everyone's dire thoughts.

"It's size is irrelevant. To all intents and purposes it's harmless. We could disable it in moments."

Why don't you? It shouldn't be coming here."

"There's no need. It won't come past our proscribed limits."

Warrigal, who'd been rather quiet, spoke up.

"We are not at war Thom. They're entitled to travel through free space."

Wirrin thought for a moment.

"Something is happening isn't it? The break-in to Freedom, all these spy drones, dangerous ships heading towards us, and this special security for Sonic?"

A look went from Warrigal to Turaku and Wirrin knew they were communicating with each other.

"Very good Wirrin. Yes, there has been a big change, and the Freedom incident was the trigger point which focused the Directed habitats onto Attunga and Warrakan, and in particular K74 because of its proximity. In the past they've largely ignored us as an insignificant, privileged oddity, but their failed efforts to find out what's happening with the dolphins has brought them to understand there's a lot more to us than they previously realised. There are difficult times ahead. Not so much for us, but for the semi-directed habitats and particularly Earth."

"Insignificant? That's crazy. We're the best habitat there is."

"We do have the most privileges Thom, but our human population is tiny compared with the rest. What's the total population of the Solar System Wirrin?"

Thinking that Warrigal was acting just like Thom and Calen in expecting him to do Interweb stuff, Wirrin went ahead.

"... 429.5 billion people and growing quickly. The five open habitats combined add up to 2.7 billion and Attunga is just past .8 billion."

"Add Titania to the open habitats. We've been working with them for several years now, helping them adopt our style of society."

"Titania? There's a Habitat way out there?"

Way out there was a good description. Titania was one of the moons of Uranus, several light hours away.

"There are six of them. The original Titania Habitat and one on each of the major moons."

Wirrin searched and set the information onto a holo screen for everyone. Just as Warrigal said, there was one space Habitat and 5 Moon-based structures.

"They started fifty years ago! And look at that. The Moon Habitats are all at least twice as big as Attunga but their total population is only 570 million."

It was quite remarkable. With something like thirty times the volume of structure the population wasn't even as much as Attunga's.

"You're very perspicacious Wirrin."

Wirrin liked that, coming from Warrigal, and looked for any other interesting information. It was there.

"And the space habitat had a population of 240 million two years ago and now it's only 50? I've never heard of a Habitat going backwards?"

"The people have moved to the moons and the space Habitat is developing into the third major AI Centre."

"Third? Where are the other two? And what is an AI Centre?"

"You get one guess Thom."

Warrigal's raised eyebrows could mean only one thing and Wirrin blurted it out.

"It's us! Attunga and Warrakan! We have to be."

Wirrin decided that special expeditions involving Warrigal and Turaku meant finding out exciting things.

"This is more first level information, so keep it amongst yourselves. The AIs are building duplicate centres containing all their important projects and expansions. When Warrakan departs, every individual AI will be sending a replica and the three gestalt AIs will do the same."

Wirrin had his own understanding of gestalt AIs, but since Turaku was manifest it was a good time to try for more information.

"Have you ever been in a gestalt Turaku?"

"There are many levels of gestalt Wirrin. At the moment I have strong links with four security AIs, two from Attunga and two from Warrakan. That gives me extra capabilities but it also has limitations as the fifty kilometer distance causes a significant slowdown in processing the information we share. That's a simple gestalt and happens millions of times every day. For example I linked with Attunga's data AI a few seconds ago to access the latest update from an Earth database on dolphin activities. With the simple gestalt I keep a full sense of identity. In a deeper gestalt I don't just share information. I share some of the processing as well. The greater the amount of sharing, the more my self awareness is modified. For some AIs, the capabilities that come with the deepest degree of sharing are more important than retaining identity. 273 AIs have amalgamated with the Attunga gestalt so far."

Wirrin didn't know what to think. Just one AI could monitor every single person on Attunga for every second of the day. What would 273 of them joined together be able to do?

"Wow! It must be like a god!"

That set Warrigal and Gelar smiling, and even Turaku looked amused.

"Hardly. It's bound by the same fundamental laws we all are Thom."

"Do you talk to it very much?"

"Non-stop at the information exchange level, but with less and less frequency the deeper the level of gestalt it is needed."

"What sort of things do you use the really deep level for?"

Thom was on fire with this and Wirrin knew AIs would be the topic of conversation for days.

"Important decisions about Sonic and the dolphins which might change priorities and processes for Attunga and Warrakan."

"Is there a dolphin project on Titania?"

"Not yet, but there will be. Every Open Habitat will have one within five years."

The mention of dolphins brought back Wirrin's earlier question.

"What do you mean by difficult times on Earth?"

Warrigal and Turaku conferred again. What now?

"Wirrin, do a search for recent dolphin events on Earth. Turaku has given you full access."

Why did Warrigal look so serious? Several seconds later a lump developed in Wirrin's throat as he looked at sixty-three dead dolphins, then worsened at the images of another forty spread along the waterline of a sandy beach, clumped in sad groups with small waves lapping against their limp, inert bodies. Thom looked stricken. Thank goodness Calen wasn't seeing this. The report said a mystery sickness had struck at two separate marine research centres and that dolphins all round the world were being monitored closely. Warrigal was shaking his head slowly.

"Search deeper Wirrin."

Wondering why, Wirrin did then recoiled in horror. The mystery illness, according to a post-mortem study, was really an attack by picobots.

"Someone murdered them? ...On purpose?"

"We've analysed the post-mortem study and the symptoms show similarities with the capabilities of the picobots on the K74 ship."

Disbelief, anger, sadness warred within Wirrin till a comforting touch from Warrigal helped him gather his wits.

"You think K74 might have had something to do with it?"

"It's very likely. We've tried sending alerts to every research station on earth but haven't been able to reach them all."

Wirrin didn't see how that was possible. He could connect to anyone on Attunga as quickly as he could identify them.

"Why not?"

"Earth AIs are very constrained in the more Directed areas."

Well yes, that was right. Just like on K74 where the AIs were so constrained that they all left.

"How many?"

"Have a look."

A file linked on Wirrin's holo screen. He used a sub window for a quick scan, stored the file in his memory implant then went to retinal mode. Wow! 7643 marine research research stations, their projects, their degree of involvement with dolphins and other information was all there. 1540 stations, mostly in two major continental coastal areas couldn't be reached.

"How much time do we have before we arrive at Warrakan?"

"... Twenty minutes. Sonic is enjoying his sightseeing."

Wirrin turned away so he could concentrate properly. Hmm, it was no good trying to contact research stations himself, they were twenty-seven light minutes away and the Earth AIs would know how to do that better anyway. Yes, there it was. A sub-database with files on every contact attempt. Maybe he could find more about the two attacks? A quick look at the sourcing code for the file in his implant showed it was a dolphin activities database, probably the one Turaku had already mentioned. Could he access it?.. Yes, and it was enormous. Search? No, that was the file Turaku had sent. Broaden the terms of reference? Yes that would do it. Wirrin set up searches for all references to dolphins, picobots, the marine centre locations and any travel associated with them. He set up searches for any communications to the marine centres and for any references about non-human sentience. Search after search he added, then combined cross-referencing engines with each search to note any links. All this he built into one coordinated task. He checked it through several times, then just before activating it, had another thought, and assigned correlators to process all the results from the searches and cross-references.

'Task mode. Archival or Direct-data?'

Archival meant working with data stored on Attunga and would be very fast. Direct-data meant sending queries through the Interweb to all the Habitats and data centres in the Solar system and because of the time-lapse for transmissions would take much longer. Wirrin commanded both. ...Then watched in amazement as a task profile built for both modes.

"That's a major task Wirrin."

Wirrin transferred to holo so the others would understand what Turaku meant. The archival approach showing a preliminary result in four minutes. That was an extraordinary amount of time in itself, but the other approach was saying six and half hours for preliminary result and 50 hours for 95% completion.

"Why is it so long? It's twenty-seven minutes to earth so double that and add-on a bit, and there should be something in an hour."

"All your parameters were universal. In just one part of your task you've asked for a search of everything that's been said or documented by 400 billion people in the four weeks since the Freedom incident. All your results are then, of necessity, cross-referenced, and that's an order of magnitude even more complex. It's the correlators that will take the time though, and the way you've linked them in is very interesting."

Wirrin watched the tasks initiate then flicked to see what Calen was doing. He was play wrestling with Sonic while Puck and Flute pressed against the sides of the transport unit to make room. Thom gave a nudge.

"What are we going to tell him?"

They'd tell him everything. Thom was really thinking about Sonic and the dolphins.

"Wait till we're back on Attunga Thom. Puck and Flute already know. Sonic doesn't."

Warrakan loomed and one of the gigantic drive engines filled the general view screen. A quick link to Calen showed the playing was forgotten. Sonic's curiosity had taken over. The view changed as they moved toward a more central position of Warrakan's rugged elliptical shape. Wirrin forgot everything when the alert from the archival task arrived.

"Michael Hallen and Warren Clarke. There is a link between those two names and the marine research stations."

Wirrin put the information on holo screen for the others and started reading.

"Turaku, who are they? There's hardly any information here?"

"Without your correlator idea there wouldn't be any at all. I've initiated a location search but it is likely that they are manufactured identities."

Pleased that he'd discovered something new, and frustrated that there was a wait of over six hours for anything else, Wirrin scanned through other findings then turned his attention to the docking station. Once again they'd have to use ferries as the security ship wouldn't dock.

***

"Look at them go!"

Five skimmers raced erratically in pursuit of the three exuberant dolphins as they barrelled through the water.
They'd just explored one of the deep sections and according to Calen's translation, were excited by the new experience of water four times the depth of any on Attunga. Sonic leapt nearly two meters in the air and moments later Puck and Flute joined in tight formation for another leap.

"Where are we going now?"

"To the closest sea-grass bed. They know there aren't any fish but they want to have a look anyway."

Wirrin kept looking at Warrigal. It was strange to see him in this active setting, dressed in only formfitting silver colored water shorts and obviously enjoying everything that was happening. His skills with the skimmer and in the water weren't very good, but of course he hadn't had constant practice like everyone else. He looked as strong and fit as Gelar, which was interesting because at 83, he was more than twice as old.
Calen put on a burst of speed, levelled with the dolphins and reached across to grab Sonic's dorsal fin. Sonic bumped the side of the skimmer, trying to unbalance Calen and send him tumbling into the water. It was a game they played all the time and Calen rarely fell off, while Wirrin and Thom always did.
Sonic knew the exact moment when his nudge would be most effective.
The sea-grass was growing like crazy and Wirrin was surprised at the difference in just six days. Though not when he thought about it. With optimum conditions and no fish to graze it back, it could only be prolific. Sonic darted to the edge of the sea-grass where the depth increased and disappeared behind a thick clump of kelp.
The trio chased after him with Calen effortlessly in the lead. It wasn't really effortless, it just looked that way and was the cause of many jokes about him turning into a dolphin. The hiding, chasing game lasted for five minutes with Sonic's pattern making sure everyone almost caught him before he dodged and disappeared again. Warrigal and Gelar joined in but underwater like this no one could catch Sonic unless he let them.
Wirrin laughed, releasing a cloud of bubbles, when Sonic sneaked behind Calen and prodded his backside. Calen whipped round and after a burst of sound from Sonic he pointed everyone to the surface.

"They're heading for the end of the reach and back. They want to map it all in their minds."

That would be hours, since this advanced section of reach was almost eleven km long, and back on his skimmer Wirrin took the opportunity to check the latest progress of the other dolphin works on Warrakan. Beyond the blocking wall at the end of this reach was the second and enormous development of a thirty km extension. It could hardly be called an extension really because it was far more complex, with many more levels as well is an interlocking maze of parallel reaches.
Wow! Half a cubic kilometre had been hollowed out, reinforced and filled with water from the ice asteroids in the last week. The rate of work seemed to increase every time he looked. Wirrin called up the overall plan, then puzzled, manoeuvred next to Gelar. That was easy as Sonic, Puck, and Flute were cruising at about eleven kph.

"When did they change the plans?"

"Which plans?"

"All the plans.... For the dolphins here on Warrakan."

"There are modifications happening all the time."

"This isn't a modification. It's a whole new plan."

"What?"

Clearly, Gelar didn't know what he was talking about so Wirrin set up a holo with an overview of the project. Gelar nearly fell off his skimmer.

"Stop! Stop! Let me have a look at that."

Wirrin stopped and everyone else circled back to see what was going on. According to this information the space allocated for the dolphin project was now five levels of Warrakan. Wirrin worked out later that it was more than three complete Attungas of volume. Realisation set in and five sets of wondering eyes took in some of the features.

"Look Thom, there's a reach that's going to be half a kilometre deep, ... and another one devoted to growing corals. This is unbelievable. It's a marine paradise."

Wirrin did a sub-search and answered his own question.

"No wonder we didn't know about it. It was only set up fifteen minutes ago."

Warrigal started nodding.

"Turaku initiated it. He's just informed me. The dolphin's reaction to this visit has been the final spark for change."

The dolphins had disappeared so everyone zoomed along at sixty kph to catch up. There was an interchange of talk between the dolphins and Calen. Sonic did a flip into the air, then the three of them approached Warrigal and made the greeting move. They did the same for Gelar and then each of the trio. Sonic said something and Wirrin's holo activated. A large dolphin appeared, exchanged the greeting move with Sonic Puck and Flute, then dissolved from view.

"That was Turaku. Sonic asked for him so they could say thank you. He looks like that when he talks to the dolphins."

It was rather startling. Wirrin knew about Turaku appearing as a dolphin because Calen had talked about it, but this was the first time he'd seen it for himself. He'd always had sole control of his holo too, so Turaku taking over like that was another surprise. The group moved off again and Wirrin used much of the remaining journey time in retinal mode with transparency, examining features of the new project so he could explain it all to Calen and Thom when they had some time at home. Thom came close at one stage.

"Are you using the InterWeb? ...While we're skimming?"

"Yep!"

"Well you're getting too good at it. I hope you fall over."

That was just a stir. Thom and Calen couldn't cope with transparency mode while they were moving as it made them too dizzy. Wirrin was good at it, and getting better. Until recently, Thom and Calen could easily pick his aura of concentration.
The scale of the new project started to sink in. This wasn't a new and extra large dolphinarium. It was a habitat, but for dolphins not people, with space enough for millions. Where would they all come from? Wirrin searched the project files for a timeline of dolphin population and quickly found it. Just under a doubling rate every ten years. In ten years the prediction was for almost 1000 dolphins, and over a million in 120 years. That was easy. Human populations grew much faster.
The group stopped at the end of the reach where a featureless barrier of reinforced construction material barred the way, and while Calen spoke with the dolphins, Wirrin looked for a way to get past. There wasn't one, and a query on the Interweb said it was currently off-limits for humans. Well of course it was. The energy levels from the rush of picobot activity would be way too dangerous.

"What are you looking for?"

"I thought we might be able to see something on the other side of the barrier but there's too much happening in there to be safe. It's the start of the thirty km reach."

"We'll see it soon enough won't we?"

"Let's see. ...Um. ... About six months, but it will only be dead water till the marine life gets going."

"Has the new plan changed anything?"

That was an interesting thought and Wirrin quickly checked.

"No, it's practically the same as the last time we looked, except for new connections to other reaches. ...Hey, there's a change. It shows four other reaches connecting in and being finished at the same time."

Sonic came close and said something too quickly to pick out any meaning, and Calen laughed at the puzzled looks.

"We've been here long enough and he wants to do more exploring."

The trip back along the reach was much slower, with the skimmers being abandoned every time the dolphins found something of particular interest, a couple of sea-grass beds, an extensive area of artificial reefs with kelp forests growing in the watery canyons, and a different set of reefs which featured a number of underwater caves. Just as well the masks replenished their half-hour air supply when they were clipped into the retaining sockets on the skimmers. The very last leg of the trip was different, short and fast with the dolphins setting a sustained pace of fifteen kph, with an occasional eager, faster burst as the thought of proper food at the staging area spurred them on. No wonder, after nearly five hours of constant activity.
Wirrin felt very edgy during this last burst on the skimmers, as nothing had yet resulted from the Direct-data task and he couldn't help checking every few minutes, even though it was pointless because an alert would let him know the instant anything arrived. Just as the transport module came into view, with one end open so the dolphins could swim straight in, Wirrin's retinal mode flashed briefly as a warning, his holo activated, Turaku appeared, hovering over the water as if he was flying, and information flashed into view.
Even though there were only several hundred metres to go Wirrin halted his skimmer. Without him doing anything a section of text appeared next to Turaku.

"Read it Wirrin. I've brought up the most important findings for you."

While Wirrin was doing that the other skimmers slowed, then seeing Turaku, rushed back to find out what was going on.

"What is it? Why did you stop out here?"

Calen was looking very puzzled indeed. There'd be no waiting to tell him about the Earth events now. The serious expressions and the presence of Turaku were a strong message of something worrying.

"What's wrong?"

"Some dolphins on Earth have been hurt and there might be another attack."

"Attack? ...Against dolphins?"

Wirrin had read the news while the others were gathering and felt sick in the stomach.

"The people who were linked to the first two attacks are now expected to make another one at Monkey Mia."

The shock registered with Thom, Gelar, and Warrigal. Calen was bewildered.

"What do you mean? Tell me what's going on."

Wirrin moved close enough to hold Calen's arm and carefully told him about the earlier attacks and how his search had come up with two names. The Direct-data search had just confirmed the names and made a new link with Monkey Mia. The correlators predicted a new attack within 24 hours with a 90% certainty that it was instigated by K74. Turaku held up one hand in that way of his which commanded attention.

"The attack won't succeed Calen. I sent requests to the to marine centres along with some special information, which allowed them to make a better analysis of what happened to their dolphins, and our health resources on Attunga have designed defensive picobots which should provide complete protection. I know it's a shock that the attack will be against Monkey Mia, but with the warning Wirrin's work has given us, it's the best place it could happen."

Monkey Mia, in the north-west of the Australian continent was very special for the Attunga dolphinarium as it was the birthplace of the original dolphins transported from Earth.

"Best? ...It's the worst. They're attacking Monkey Mia because of Attunga."

"It is the best place Thom. Northern Australia has the most open lifestyle on Earth and our ties there are very strong. Because it's so open the attack can only be coming from the ocean. The Northern Australians will be horrified when they find out, and when their AIs coordinate to use the information I've sent, the dolphins will be protected. Calen, the dolphins are wondering where you are. Wirrin and Thom will explain everything back on Attunga."

With a worried look, Calen zoomed off and Wirrin looked to Turaku for the explanation he'd just mentioned.

"The unusual combination of methods you used has given us extremely valuable information Wirrin, and put us in a position of advantage.
When my message reaches Earth twenty-two minutes from now, all the surface area within 100 km of Monkey Mia will immediately go under the highest level of surveillance. The airspace will be monitored out to 500 km and the Marine Station at Monkey Mia itself alerted to the danger. Within four hours the waters of shark Bay will be saturated with equipment which will allow us to watch the movement of any object with a cross-section greater than two mm.
We're postulating the attacks will come from a device which homes in on each dolphin, attaches itself and then releases the picobots, and since we can't construct a device to do that ourselves any smaller than four mm that will be an adequate safety margin. Anything inimical will be captured or destroyed, and when any underwater or surface vessel is identified as a source the occupants will be taken into custody."

"What if they get past the defences? Do we know how the first two attacks were done?"

Gelar had a good point.

"I'm confident they won't, but in the unlikely event they do, every dolphin will be inoculated with our defensive picobots. I have a time concern there, as the technology I've sent is new for the Australian AIs and by the time they receive it, adapt their picobot factories, build the picobots and transport and deliver them to each dolphin, nearly six hours will have passed."

Wirrin was amazed. All these things happening and the information only arrived five minutes ago.

"Turaku, what if the correlators aren't right and they attack somewhere else?"

"That's not likely, but within twenty hours we can inoculate the dolphins at any marine centre which will cooperate. We don't have to worry about wild dolphins. Only dolphins who have an association with humans are being targeted. That's part of your report you haven't looked at yet. ...Go and support Calen. He's telling Sonic what's happening."



END OF PART 7.
I hope you've gained some enjoyment from this story.
Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated.
My email address is iarwain@aanet.com.au
Alternative address, iarwain7@ains.net.au
Should you be interested, my other stories can be found by looking under 'Iarwain' in the authors section on Nifty.
Iarwain.