To: UN Commander
UNS Dharma

From:James Poole

You plan was to disable and then board the Lexington. There was always a high risk to me in that plan; if a firefight broke out inside the Lexington, I might easily be killed.

If I do not survive the battle for Deneb Kaitos 6, please make sure that the attached letter makes its way to my brother David. David is currently living in a FosterCare facility in Boulder, Colorado, inside the United States. I know you can reach him - after all, you got to me with no problem at all.

Dear David:

If you are reading this, I am dead. It is unlikely that the US Navy told you the real story behind my death. I'm sure that they sent you one of their standard "very sorry to inform you...killed in action" holos. It would be easy to leave it at that, but I thought it was important for you to know the truth.

The US Navy would never admit that I actually helped the United Nations win a critical battle in space, one that may well decide the outcome of the war in favor of the UN.

You are probably shocked by this. Why would I betray my country? Why would I go against the principles of the Alliance? How could I violate the solemn oath of honor and obedience that I swore when I joined the Navy?

The answer is that I chose to betray my country in order to avoid betraying the entire human race.

You know that mom and dad were killed in a lab accident when you were three years old and I was twelve.

What you don't know is that we were both there when it happened. I never told you about that day. It's time you knew what really transpired at the ERT lab, especially since the events there served as the catalyst that led to my eventual decision to help the UN.

I was playing with you in the day care center about fifty meters away from where mom and dad were working. I remember that an alarm went off and all of the adults in the center rushed over to one of the flatscreen monitors on the wall.

I went over to look at the cause of the commotion. A red light over the screen indicated that the signal was being piped across the complex from one of the internal lbs. On the screen I saw mom standing over a broken hazmat container vessel, looking up at the holocamera mounted inside the lab's Quarantine Area.

She knew what was coming, and looked scared. Dad was backed up against the lab door. He was saying something over and over, but the audio pickups weren't on and I couldn't read his lips.

Mom had accidentally dropped a container filled with the results of their latest experiment - a batch of self-replicating micromachines designed to break down hazardous biological waste. The micromachines were tiny, almost sub-microscopic in size. As the hazmat container broke on impact, the micromachines went into the air and into mom and dad's lungs. When the micromachines encountered living lung tissue, they started to replicate and perform their assigned task: disassembly of biological material one molecule at a time.

I could only watch as the horror began. The adults watching with me were oblivious to my presence, and didn't think to shield me from the images on the screen. First mom went down, clutching at her chest, coughing up pink froth as her lungs were eaten from the inside. I remember the floor and the front of her lab coat being covered with a fine red speckled pattern. A few seconds later, dad died clawing at the computer-locked door, blood running out of his nose and mouth.

The micromachines multiplied as they worked. Within a couple of minutes after mom and dad died, their bodies began to liquefy as the process of molecular disassembly accelerated.

Finally, the chrono-necrosis algorithms in the micromachines kicked in and they all self-terminated. Not much was left except for pools of reddish jelly.

And so the elite ERT husband-and-wife research team died together. Mom and dad had the best of intentions, and yet they created a monster that killed them. Their monster also left two children behind, lost, confused, and without parents.

When I think of mom and dad and of the thousands who died in the Alaska traffic control disaster, the millions who have been killed by the fruits of technology in was, and the hundreds of millions who have perished of cancer, poisoning, radiation, genetic damage, chronic environmental distress syndrome, and other maladies of the technological age, I know that the madness must stop.

Human beings were never meant to exist in the artificial environments that we have created for ourselves. We were never meant to wield the terrible power that comes from technology, from nuclear fusion to nanotechnology. Over the long term we cannot control the forces that we have unleashed. We will destroy ourselves.

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