Saed pointed at the display on the monitor. Bob bent over to take a closer look.
“Oh, man. That can’t be right. Must be a glitch in the system.”
Saed let his eyebrows rise up. This system was about as secure as anything any human had ever built, and with solid state electronics…no moving parts to degrade. It was built to a level of sensitivity unimaginable just a decade earlier. There was no “glitch” in the system.
Bob smiled back at Saed’s quiet rebuke.
“I know. You’re right. Let’s double check though…because if it isn’t a glitch…well, we have some explaining to do.”
The Security Council was ill prepared for this kind of emergency. It never came up in any of their plans or contingency outcomes. Disasters, yes. War, yes. Famine, yes. Cyber Attacks, yes. But untold numbers of lightening strikes at the North Pole? Most of the Security Council didn’t even know there was lightening at the North Pole. The few former Pilots and Astronauts on the Council knew the reason why lightening was rare at the North Pole. Not common for sure, but way past uncommon…maybe six weak strikes in a day…once a year. Not fifty in an hour…and not for ten days in a row.
Puzzled and befuddled were the most common looks around the table, especially after Cynthia Nyg gave a succinct and easily followed briefing about how warm and cold air work. She explained that the atmosphere was both more stable, and lower, than at any other place on Earth…and the dynamics for Lightening were just not favorable. Nor should they be powerful bolts because the storms couldn’t “climb” high enough to generate the kinds of storms that produce much lightening.
“So what the hell is going on? And why are we involved?”
The whole Council turned to look at the man speaking- not only was he a Combat decorated soldier, but he was an Honor Graduate from West Point- who got wounded, went home, and after two years of heartbreaking rehab, went on and got a Ph.D, founded a start up that made him millions, and then in his forties - went into Politics.
He chose Politics as he was famous for saying: “To make a difference for people who give a damn.” And he did. His mind was as sharp as his words. He wanted to know why lightening hitting the North Pole was happening, and why it was considered a Security Issue. So he glared at the two Scientists after he spoke.
You have to give the two Science Nerds credit, they weren’t intimidated, nor did they back down from a glare that had reduced hard core hecklers to babbling puddles of protoplasm.
“Well, Senator, those are separate questions. The answer to the first one is simple: We don’t know.” (The Senator’s face reddened with the effort not to retort to that one.) The Second question is easier to answer: you are involved because it is a matter of National Security.“
“Because not only are lightening strikes in this number, and with such power, not normal, they aren’t natural either.“
The whole room grew silent. Nobody in it was stupid. “they aren’t natural” resonated like someone had hit a gong in a small room. The Senator spoke after a minute of thinking:
“Are you suggesting that this lightening isn’t from Earth?”
The two Science Nerds looked at each other, nodded, and then Saed spoke for them both:
“The lightening is normal, but it wasn’t made the normal way. It isn’t due to weather related phenomena…it was made by intent.”
You could have heard a pin drop, hell a heart beat, in the silence following that statement.
“But Dr. Nyg just told us that lightening needs storms to produce lightening bolts. And there were storms!”
“Yes, Senator…there were. And are. But the lightening isn’t made by them at all. The storms are just a cover for the electrical activity…not a product of it.“
The two Science Nerds nodded at that epithet. They felt the same way.
It took two weeks, some real heavy brainiac horsepower, the backing of every world government, and the complete dedication of the five most powerful computers in the world to work it out. The Security Council convened once again. Once again it was the bright straightforward Senator who opened the conference:
“So, what did we find out?”
“We are being terraformed.”
“By whom? Or by what?”
Saed looked at Bob. Bob merely shrugged. Saed took that as his signal to tell the Council what they now knew. It was too scary to keep to themselves anyway. He took a deep breath:
“Senator, Council members, and all the Nations Councils you are streaming this to…the conclusion is inescapable… (Saed let out a long breath into the stark stillness in the room.) By the Earth itself.”
The Senator exploded.
“Don’t give me that Gaia: “The Earth is alive and a living caring being” crap. You are Scientists not Astrologers…what is really going on.”
This time it was Bob who spoke with quiet authority.
“I don’t know if Gaia exists. What I do know is this…the Earth is changing its own weather…with intent. It is moving the poles, discarding the usual necessary weather systems, and altering the magnetosphere. It has a plan. The supercomputers and algorithms have revealed that plan to us. “
“Well, what the hell is the plan then?”
The huge screen behind the two Scientists came to life…a projection moved through time with data in bubbles underneath explaining each phase. Everyone watched in awe. The Senator sat down heavily…
“Run that again.”
10 Degrees of latitude. That was all Humanity was given. The Projection the Senator and all the Nations on Earth witnessed came to play out exactly as it did in that secured room that first day.
The poles shifted. The Earth tilted towards the sun nine degrees. The Magneto sphere was shut down for almost a day…long enough to reduce the Human population to a few hundred million. The Earth was realigned to give a 10 degree latitude slice of truly temperate climate…a place where Humans could thrive…if.
The weather and radiation herded the Humans towards that 10 degrees that would be where they lived from now on. A band around the Earth that did not allow Humans to go North or South of…only East and West within that narrow band. Travel was safe in only those two directions. Any attempt to go North or South was met with environmental fury of biblical proportions.
Tornadoes that reached seven hundred miles an hour (called “hellspouts”) would rip any vehicle to shreds. Hurricanes that lasted months and had winds of three hundred miles an hour, roamed the Oceans to the North and South of that narrow band for Humans. Venture out into the Ocean in those directions…well, goodbye not bon voyage.
The message was clear. The Earth was done putting up with Humanity. Until Humanity learned to work WITH the environment…the environment would not work with Humanity. We weren’t rendered extinct, perhaps we were saved from it, or ourselves.
The Senator said it best when he accepted the Office of Steward from the newly formed regions of Humanity. There were no more countries, nations, or territories, there was only what came to be called: “The Band.”
Humanity was herded to one narrow ten degree of latitude - a narrow band, and it was there that they finally banded together. The Senator was chosen to explain the rest of the projection …or “Thee Projection” as it was called by almost everyone.
The Senators words were as straight from the heart as any words ever spoken, and they were just as direct:
“We Fucked up. Earth is giving us one more chance. It might not give us another chance. Don’t Fuck it up …again.”