Jan smiles at Lysander while waiting to return from the break to acknowledge their patrons. Lysander places his hands together in prayer, draws them towards his face and bows his head as he closes his eyes and smiles at Jan. He looks back up at her and says that he’s really glad to have chosen to do the interview with her because she’s a no nonsense interviewer. He compliments her on her job.
Jan: We’re back with Ned Lysander from X Labs, and our next topic of conversation is Earth 2.0. It’s hard to imagine anyone who hasn’t at least heard of the Earth 2.0 project yet, but for both those who haven’t and those who have heard of Earth 2.0 here’s a little video about the incredible Earth 2.0 project.
The video starts playing on the video prompt in front of Jan and Lysander. It starts off with a promotional video that X Labs made a few weeks ago to inform people about the latest government tax rebates available to those who want to retire early into Earth 2.0.
Lysander thinks back to the start of the project with his business partner Richard Aryu…
Lysander and Richard are sitting at a quiet bar. Richard is stirring his olive in a nearly empty martini glass as Lysander is sitting next to him with a tonic water. A beautiful woman sits next to Richard and looks at him and Lysander with a big smile, orders her drink, and then takes her drink over to sit at a table with her equally beautiful friend who is watching Lysander and Richard.
“You miss your wife still.” Lysander says to Richard.
Richard lets our a deep sigh, “Ned, I’m sure you probably think I’m silly for still holding on to that relationship. What can I say.” Richard places his hands on the edge of the bar. “I need to show you something I’ve been working on, man. I think it’s finally time.”
Richard and Lysander walk out of the bar past the two women sitting at the table. The women smile at them and give them a flirty wave of the hand. Richard stumbles along with Lysander’s support as he waves at the two women and tells them to have a nice evening. They get into Lysander’s car that drives them to Richard’s home. When they arrive, they are greeted by Richard’s three Security Bots at the front gate.
“I really need to get one of those,” Lysander says to Richard.
Still inebriated, Richard slurs out, “They’re crap! Let’s build something better.”
The car drives them to the top of the roundabout where there’s a walkway to the front door about 100 feet away. Two more Security Bots help Richard exit the car. Lysander follows behind them as the car drives off to the parking garage on the other side of Richard’s sprawling property.
They enter Richard’s home where there are three more Security Bots that take over for the two at the entrance. Richard tells the Security Bots to take them to Lab 5. One of the Security Bots assists Richard to Lab 5 while the other two take up defensive positions along their path.
“You might be getting a little paranoid, Rich. These bots are like military guards.” Lysander is impressed with their build quality and autonomy; especially for being Richard’s garage projects. It’s decades ahead of anything he’s seen from the military contractors he’s worked with.
“These guys are crap, Ned!” Richard starts to hiccup uncontrollably. “No offense, pal.” He slaps the Security Bot helping him on the back.
“None taken, sir,” the Security Bot responds back.
They arrive at Lab 5 and Lysander takes over assisting Richard with his stumbling as the Security Bot is not allowed into the lab. Lysander looks around at the lab. It’s everything you’d expect from a mad scientist, much like his own personal lab but far more advanced. He’s in awe.
“This is one hell of a lab, Rich.”
“It’s crap! Take me over to the refrigerator.”
Lysander helps Richard over to the industrial refrigerator on the other side of the lab. Richard opens the door to the refrigerator to reveal a corridor with another door at the end. Richard stumbles his way over to the door and goes through a series of security checks to unlock and open the door. “This other guy is okay!” Richard shouts as he enters the other room.
Lysander cautiously walks down the corridor and enters the room. He sees laser pointers on his shoulders coming from several directions. Richard turns on the lights and there are five Security Bots that are far more advanced than the bots outside Richard’s home. Lysander raises his hands in surrender.
“Don’t do that, Ned. These guys are your friends.”
“I have to admit that I’m impressed with your security, Rich, but maybe ditch the laser sights. You’re not a wanted criminal.”
“Anymore!” Richard yells. “Anymore… Men, stand down!” Richard commands the Security Bots. The laser pointers stop, and the Security Bots move into a relaxed position.
“This is cool stuff, Rich. We could make a fortune off of this with the guys Fredrick knows in the community.”
“Ya, Ned, we could. Except Freddy is a dick. You know how I feel about that guy.”
“You drunk enough to tell me what really happened between you guys? You used to be best friends. He’s the one who introduced us.” It’s been three years since Fredrick Prophet introduced Lysander to Richard after Richard was arrested for illegally using surveillance data from the terrorist AI system he build for the US government. It’s been six months since Richard has spoken to Fredrick. Fredrick has told Lysander that nothing happened between the two, and Richard won’t tell Lysander anything about it.
“There’s another time for that, Ned. What I need to show you is going to blow your mind though. Come here!”
Jan: I happen to be good friends with Laura Kive. Since that brave moment she shared with the world on the Morning Star live stream, millions of people have followed suit in doing their part to help reduce their carbon footprint in the world with Earth 2.0. Your latest statistics are showing nearly 2 million citizens and more than 6 billion subscribers.
Lysander: We’re up to 8 billion subscribers. It speaks volume to how closely connected we all are.
Jan: When you have 80% of the world’s population wanting to keep in touch with their loved ones, I’d say so! Some naysayers call it a morbid infatuation with death and even point to studies that suggest, however, that you don’t really have 8 billion subscribers.
Lysander: Our data on this is public and reviewed by regulators.
Jan: Yes, it’s public, but there are still those who say they have analyzed the raw data and determined that the statistics you reported are not valid. They also suggest that the regulators aren’t truly validating your numbers.
Lysander thinks back to the first set of conversations he had with the Director of Marketing for Earth 2.0…
The Marketing Director, Derek Fields, is standing in front of Lysander, Fredrick Prophet, and Richard Aryu, “The United States government approved the Alternative Living Act nearly nine months ago, and we’re still sitting at just over 2,000 volunteers for Earth 2.0. However, we have a big idea that could really help increase the volunteer count.”
“I’m all ears, Derek,” Fredrick starts off. “Quite frankly, we sunk a ton of money into this project, and it could very well be what takes down X Labs. We need numbers!”
Derek points to Fredrick. “Right!” He then looks at Richard and Lysander, who don’t seem as upset as Fredrick. “Our plan is to live stream an environmental activist uploading herself to Earth 2.0”
“Herself?” Lysander asks.
Derek looks over at Fredrick and then back to Lysander, “Yes, sir. We already have the candidate.”
“Then why are we having this presentation?” Lysander begins to stand up and Richard along with him.
“Because she’s the daughter of the Speaker of the House.” Derek says, halting Lysander and Richard mid rise.
Lysander: I welcome any valid scientist’s analysis of the data.
Jan: Now, there have been rumors circulating since the launch of Earth 2.0 with regard to the behavior of some of your scientists when they link into the system. Some of the allegations have been disturbing from rape to murder and even terrorism. But no one inside Earth 2.0 has come forward to corroborate these allegations.
Lysander lies down on his table with a series of cables and wires that make a virtual helmet around his head connecting to a computer where Richard is typing frantically.
Richard looks over at Lysander, “You ready? Make sure you relax. This is going to be intense!”
“Relaxing into an intense experience? Rich, do you even monitor the words that come out of your mouth?”
“The pill should be starting to kick in, just go with it.” Richard says as he presses one last button before walking over to Lysander and watching him pass out and go into a deep trance.
Lysander is walking down a long, dark tunnel towards a bright, white light. He hears the voices of his mother and father and uncle emanating from the walls of the tunnel. He looks around the tunnel but cannot see the walls. He feels himself being gently pulled towards the light without even walking or moving. He hears a scream below him. He looks down and sees a young woman being harassed by two men wearing masks.
He keeps being drawn towards the light despite trying to run back towards the young woman. He falls to the ground and claws his way back to the woman. The men begin to physically assault her as Lysander finally claws his way back to where they are. The woman looks up and can see Lysander as a white light above her. The two men notice that the woman is looking at something above them. They turn and see a white light floating above them.
Lysander snarls with rage and his eyes become filled with amber flames. The two men run away and Lysander flies after them. They run as fast as they can, looking back to see if the white orb is still chasing them. It’s gaining on them slowly as they run towards another tunnel with a blue light at the end. Lysander stops as he looks at the blue light and can see massive amounts of data scrolling up a computer screen that’s giving off the blue light. He sees two names he recognizes: Tom Fields and Jonathan Starcraft. The two men disappear into the blue light.
Lysander returns to the woman who is crying in the darkness that surrounds her. He picks her up and carries her towards the white light. As they get closer to the white light she lifts from his arms and floats away from him into the white light as he begins to feel himself being pulled in the opposite direction, back to nothingness. She smiles and waves at him as she is absorbed by the white light.
Lysander opens his eyes and looks at Richard, “What the hell was that?”
Richard starts laughing and claps his hands, “I know right! Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?”
Lysander is breathing heavily as he sits up. He grabs Richard by the shoulders and looks him in the eyes, “Who else have you shown this to?”
“Just Fredrick.” Richard can tell Lysander is upset, “I swear, just you and Fredrick. What’s going on?”
Lysander gains his composure, “I’m sorry, Rich. It was just a little overwhelming. You’re right. This thing is amazing! Let’s chat with Fredrick and the board about getting funding to get this out of the garage.”
Lysander: No one has ever been raped, murdered, or tortured in Earth 2.0. It’s a peaceful, permanent residence for all who choose this path. The tranquil nature is monitored 24/7. Citizens also have access to all the same entertainment and news sources we have here in our world. They view our reality on their television screens as entertainment.
Jan: Viewers, we have a special treat for you tonight. We’re going to take a brief intermission from the interview to show you some of the recordings of what’s inside Earth 2.0 from the perspective of the people living inside. An advertisement was placed in the publications in Earth 2.0, and several citizens responded. They have sent us their videos, and we’re going to show you a quick montage of them. During the second part of this three part series, we’ll be showing your more of what it’s like to live inside Earth 2.0. And don’t forget that most governments have created their own programs to completely cover your costs of gaining citizenship to Earth 2.0 and eliminating your carbon footprint on Earth. So, let’s take a quick break from this interview with Ned Lysander to show you a quick preview of what’s coming in part two of this series on X Labs and the future of humanity. We’ll be right back with more hard hitting questions for Mr. Lysander.