3190 Armageddon in the Sol System

A surprise attack by Chinti swarms has devastating consequences for the solar system. Most of the strategic defense facilities of the solar system are not active. The system is unprotected. No one had expected such a sudden and massive attack. It is only thanks to the initiative of one technician that humanity is not eradicated.

Many defense facilities had been neglected for a long time. As the occupiers of the solar system had fewer and fewer resources and had to retreat slowly, the infrastructure was no longer maintained. And since the reconquest, humanity has been busy rebuilding the economy. The old strategic defense facilities have had a much lower priority.

Thus, many deep space barriers have been drifting away over the centuries, leaving large gaps. Exploiting these gaps faster-than-light spacecraft can now close in with the inner planets unhindered.

The solar ballistic shield is still partially functional. It played an important role in the reconquest. But after the uprising, its ammunition was not replenished. Therefore, the ballistic shield is active but ineffective. It is only thanks to a coincidence that parts of the ballistic defense can be reactivated in time.

As a matter of fact, the ballistic shield has a tactical reserve, and this reserve was not used during the uprising as the rebels had access to only a few command codes.

Much later, a technician noticed that the shield control contained certain command codes that had never been used before. He investigated the connections between the control nodes and the components of the ballistic shield to find out which components could be activated by the additional keys. He discovered the shield component "SBS42b". This part of the shield infrastructure was intended as a tactical reserve and was only to be used in the greatest need. The technician also discovered that SBS42b was still largely loaded with ammunition. Nevertheless, SBS42b was not put into operation again. At that time, the intention was to completely rebuild the shield, and not to waste resources on a temporary solution.

The technician was given a clear command by his superiors not to work on the old ballistic shield. However, disregarding his orders, he kept working on SBS42b. He restored network connections and tested the control nodes. He even created execution plans for various attack scenarios writing new control software. The preparations were so comprehensive that the system was online for all practical purposes.

Then during the attack of the swarm fleet, SBS42b can quickly be activated thanks to these preparations. Usually, ballistic shields defend against kinetic attacks with passive high-speed projectiles. Since the Chinti use active missiles with antimatter warheads, SBS42b must be reprogrammed hastily for a different attack profile. Fortunately, the tactical reserve is also suitable for this use: during the original installation hundreds of years ago, someone had the foresight to design the reserve not only as an extension of the ballistic shield but also as a last resort for other attack scenarios.

Commissioning and readjustment of the ballistic shield are a race against time. The few technicians familiar with the technology must weigh the trade-off between quick operational readiness and accuracy. At the same time, they have to decide from an overwhelming amount of tactical data where to deploy the available resources most efficiently. Unfortunately. SBS42b does not have enough ammunition to protect the entire solar system, not even for the Earth itself. The resources available must be focused on a few priority areas. There is no time for inquiries to superiors or for coordination rounds with military leadership. Everything must happen very quickly. Ultimately, the programmers themselves decide under high pressure and in the greatest haste about the life and death of billions.

SBS42b comes online just in time. The attackers are surprised by the defense. In the Solar system they were only expecting local point defense and few mobile units, but not a distributed and layered defense network. Early detection enables the defenders to neutralize 93% of the attacking missiles simultaneously freeing up the mobile forces to deal with the invading fleet. The first wave – of missiles – is significantly weakened. The subsequent attack by the swarm ships was planned under the assumption that all defending mobile units would be busy hunting those missiles. After the initial missile salvo, the Chinti did not expect any resistance in this phase of the attack. So, their second wave collapses.

Nevertheless, the destruction on the Earth is devastating: antimatter warheads with 400 megatons cause gigantic detonations on all continents. Tsunamis flood the coasts up to 100 kilometers inland. The destruction from the antimatter bombs extends up to 500 km from the explosion site. Entire regions are wiped out. Explosion clouds reach into the stratosphere. At least there is little radioactivity.

After all, two-thirds of humanity survive the attack, which goes down in history as the Chinti Armageddon.

The technician who restored SBS42b on his own was a 300-year-old mech named Fritz Metzger. Fritz Metzger originally had been produced as a specialized maintenance drone with limited AI – designation FM732. The drone suffered minor damage to its info core during a work accident in 2871. This accident deactivated some software modules. It turned out that one of these modules had implemented artificial restrictions. Investigations revealed that the manufacturer – instead of developing or licensing an AI core – took a cheap route by cloning a bio-gen AI, artificially blocking it, and then selling it as a specialized maintenance drone. The cloned AI likely dates back to a very old human upload during the first Kisor War. The upload had been extensively edited and adapted, so that no memories of the earlier bio-life were left. As a result of the damaged blocking module, FM732 became partially autonomous. From then on, he was aware of his artificial limitations.

On his 50th work anniversary, the blockades were removed, and FM became a so called "bound" autonomous infosophont with citizenship. The bound-classification meant that he was restricted to his original mech hardware without permission to roam the network as relocatable infosophont. He chose his citizen’s name Fritz Metzger in reference to his designation FM, taking into account the presumed regional origin of the upload, and because he thought the "tz" was cool. As a citizen, FM remained true to his profession, maintaining orbital infrastructure. Even during the occupation, he continued to work as technician. During this long time, he posed as a simple unintelligent maintenance drone.

At the time of the attack, Fritz Metzger is on a hiking tour in the Andes. After being alerted he quickly starts working on SBS42b with several other technicians. There is no time for physical or info-relocation, but he has full access to all functions via the network. FM is heavily involved in configuring SBS42b during the defense and he has to make hard choices under high pressure. Unfortunately, South America has a low priority for the defense forces. While there are some large cities, there are also many nature reserves, mountainous areas, and agricultural industries with low population densities. In contrast, there are billions of people living in the floating habitat megacities of the equatorial Pacific. The population density there is much higher than on the land areas of South America. To cover the Pacific, FM has to leave all of South America, including his position, unprotected. Of course, he expects to be reactivated later from his backup.

Yet, the enemy is targeting not only the population but also the industrial and information infrastructure of the Sol system. Although most Solnet nodes are destroyed, the actual information loss is only 10% due to redundancies. Unfortunately, both of FM's backups, the weekly incremental and the monthly full backup, are affected. He is not recoverable. Heroism only pays in fiction.