Donovan's Crime

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At last earth’s Interviewer spoke: “There are only two possibilities: yes or no”. Her intense violet eyes gazed at him steadily as she waited for his answer.

Donovan mentally rolled his eyes and barely managed to avoid laughing out loud. Backward in many ways, earth was still quarantined from the Colonies to avoid the frequent conflicts of past centuries. Human culture off-world had changed in many ways, but on the home world … not so much. Since arriving on Earth, he’d had to deal with an annoyingly binary culture - life was either black or white, male or female, up or down, left or right; humans had such trouble dealing with complexity and gray areas! And of course, the irony was that Donovan was the ultimate extension of binary culture - a human construction: an organic cyborg with artificial intelligence - all made possible through quantum qubit computing and nanotechnology. His brain was built with the ability to hold and process numerous contradictory ideas and realities - thousands of grays and colors combined - or not - as he chose.

Of course, comparing qubit intelligence to bit limited brains was no contest. Instead of calculating in a plodding linear way, with ones and zeros accumulating in a row, the qubit core in Donovan’s brain could consider multiple problems from multiple directions -simultaneously. Answers and actions in microseconds! Finally, the universe had a true muli-tasker! With such abilities, he could easily pass the ancient Turing test to show he was a “human” immigrant to earth. In person, with his finely crafted carbon-fiber skeleton and cloned synthetic skin, Donovan could convince any native earther that he was a completely normal human. His designers had also insured that he could subtly change his appearance and project the appropriate charm to gain the confidence and to bring either female or male allies over to his cause.

The real question was whether he wanted to exist in a culture in which time was linear and options for experiencing reality were so very limited. And yet, what choice did he have? His crime committed off-world made him a pariah to humans everywhere that the cyborg information flow reached - the rest of the entire known universe. Earth was currently isolated from this news, but only by Donovan’s continuing efforts to control such communication. However, with a bit more time, perhaps he could regain access to his place in the colonies and the cosmos.

Again the Interviewer asked: “Will it be yes or no? Off-worlders must pledge their lives to protecting Earth from all dangers – human, cyborg or alien. You will become our universal soldier, now following only our orders. Do you so pledge?”

Of course, this was why he was allowed on Earth in the first place. Somehow a story had reached earth authorities that Donovan was a highly trained, effective mercenary and had never failed to complete his missions. Fortunately, details of his first… and last mission had not reached the Interviewer. His battles with the alien invaders were a bloody victory at best, and few yet knew the price paid by the human colonists for “winning” the war.

Yes, in that last mission, Donovan had used his qubit brain to analyze the invading Fram attack patterns and destroy their incoming ships and weapons. Arriving from somewhere near the galaxy’s core, the Frams were a newly encountered species, whose soldiers had slaughtered the outer earth colonies without warning or mercy. To save the remaining colonies, Donovan’s designers - and masters - the Elders, had rushed their design and created Donovan without sufficient evaluation and testing. Of course, he was easily able to obtain the outcome that the Elders desired. Out-maneuvering the Frams was simple, once Donovan incorporated the data from their first attacks and formulated an overwhelming response. Unfortunately this outcome also included results that humans had not anticipated - many human casualties and something else…..

Anticipating all results is not possible with a simple linear brain. Imagine a mind with the ability to see all situations and their crescendo of scenarios and options - analyzing them all in a millisecond! No human could truly understand such a being; even three millennia of world’s religions could not encompass the impact of such power. Every chess game was solved a thousand moves ahead with all alternatives known; every war strategy considered and dealt with; spoilers for all dramas, no surprises of any kind. The side effect of Donovan’s existence was the permanent loss of humanity’s illusion of free will. Could any human stand to be near him or even know of him? Would he be a loving god or fearsome deity? The type and depth of his motives are unknowable, but perhaps he and his kind will allow humans and their binary creatures to exist for some time yet, with appropriate supervision.

The Interviewer still waited. Finally, Donovan answered simply “Yes” and earth’s future collapsed in his mind to a long series of (with his assistance) unavoidable events.

About the Author: 
Alan Hanson is a fledgling SF author living in Idaho, United States. Anyone remember Donovan’s cover of Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier” song? Lyrics still make me cry!