Elon's Musk : Book of JonJon

A Prosperous Universe Story by Copious

JonJon didn’t like Elon at all. The boss was paying him well or he would never have visited this place to begin with. Elon wreaked, an unfortunate side effect of all the burning and processing of magnesite that occurred on the planet. The locals lovingly referred to it as “Elon’s musk”, but JonJon’s recent stint as a Beandog hadn’t been enough to prepare him for the ever present stench. After being here a few days, JonJon could say without a doubt he preferred the occasional Fart Pot to Elon’s musk.

He was currently picking his way around a burn pit, trying to peer through the smoke as he walked. These places were dangerous because of the low visibility. One step wrong and he’d be sliding down into the slowly smoldering pile of charcoal and magnesite at the bottom of the huge open pit. Burns like these were one of the main reasons for Elon’s distinct smell, and the low visibility was why JonJon had decided it was worth the risk to search here. What better place to hide stolen goods than around a big smoking pit that made your eyes water?

That was why the boss had sent JonJon here and paid him so handsomely. Apparently someone had ripped off a bunch of companies across Prosperous Space and the boss had gotten a tip that they were stashing them here on Elon until things cooled off. JonJon had heard of pirating in Prosperous Space before, but never on this scale. Some madman had hacked into a whole army of the tiny tugboats, used at the major stations to ferry goods and ships back and forth in the tight quarters of a busy space station.

These tugs operated by sharing the flight controls of the ships as they entered the immediate vicinity of the stations, and would typically only provide a small amount of targeted thrust to help with some of the more delicate maneuvers. They detached as the ships left the traffic control around the station and the AI kept things running at maximum efficiency. At least, that was how it typically worked. This hacker had set a gang of the AI tugs to latch onto parked and loaded freighters near the station, whose crews weren’t onboard for various reasons. Then, they had them all pull away from the station and warp out before anyone could do anything about it.

JonJon had to admire the sheer bravado of such a move. Had the hacker simply made off with one or two freighters, they may have gotten away without too much attention. Instead they had taken goods from most of the major companies in Prosperous Space, and JonJon was far from the only one looking for the now infamous thief. According to the boss, JonJon was the first to have this bit of information about Elon. The boss wanted to be the first to question this hacker, and wanted the leverage of having found everyone else’s goods before the authorities. Who was to say how much the hacker had liberated from their stores since the heist?

JonJon knew better than to liberate any stores, but if the boss wanted to talk to some clever thief? That was exactly the kind of job JonJon was built for. He was about to complete his circuit of the pit when he bumped something hard with the tip of his boot. The smoke here was so thick it took him a little poking around with his feet and clearing of ash with his hand before he realized he was looking at one of the AI tugboats, half submerged from the build up of ash. Had he not walked right into some of the landing gear, he was pretty sure he wouldn’t have found it.

JonJon felt around until he found the handle that opened the access panel on the side of the ship. Reaching in, he pulled out a control module that would have all the flight data and transmission information for the life of the tugboat. Surely something in here would give him the lead he needed to find the hacker, or at least track down where the different shipments had been stashed. With a little smirk on his lips, JonJon turned around to leave with the control module. Picking his way across the ashen ground, he tried to keep the delicate electronics inside his jacket until he got to the small skimmer transport the boss had provided for his use on Elon.

Once inside, JonJon plugged the control module into the skimmers onboard computer and went to work extracting the information he needed. Luckily the boss had his own team of computer experts who had supplied JonJon with an AI assistant of sorts, because he wasn’t much of a hacker himself. He watched as the onboard computer accessed the flight data he needed and started displaying the last few weeks of activity.

Yeah, there were a few Elon coordinates here. Those were likely a few stash points for the pirated goods in some of the old empty tunnels of expended gold mines. But what was this? According to the AI one of these mines is still active? That made very little sense. Active gold mines were one of the most secure places anywhere in Prosperous Space. The family in charge of gold production here on Elon was one of the richest and most influential in the Antares Initiative, and had named the planet after their eccentric son…….

The pieces all started to click together in JonJon’s head and he momentarily had an uncharacteristic bout of panic. He was definitely in deep here. This was no two bit pirating operation he was hunting. This was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in either Earth Space or Prosperous Space, and he also happened to be one of the leading experts on AI. Why in the hell would he need to steal? The man had an entire planet named after him!

JonJon’s mind raced with possibilities as he had the autopilot take him back to the city so he could rest and plan his next move. This wasn’t going to be easy, but by the time he reached the hab he was renting for his stay on Elon, JonJon felt like he had a way forward. He rolled into bed exhausted but confident for the start of the next day.

When JonJon awoke in the morning and stretched, he froze in shock. There, sitting on the end of his bed, was the man he was looking for. “Hello JonJon. I thought I’d save you the trip to see me.” Elon said, calm as could be with a mining laser cradled under his left arm. “You really shouldn’t have brought that control module home.”

“Why come here yourself? Don’t you have goons for this sort of thing?” JonJon figured he might as well fish for information while he had the man in his bedroom. His senses were coming back to him fast now.

“Because I wanted to talk to you. You see, I don’t want to kill you JonJon. I simply want to explain myself. My recent foray into piracy isn’t what you think.”

“Well you certainly have my attention Mr. Musk. Although I don’t think it’s my attention you are worried about, is it?”

“Certainly not. As you say, I have ‘goons’ for that. You’ve been followed since you landed on the planet. Truth be told you were followed long before that, but some secrets you’ll have to learn on your own time. This whole event and my business with you are much bigger than that. You see, I know why your old boss went crazy.”

His old boss? JonJon thought for a minute, confused, and then it dawned on him. “That Station Chief on Montem? You knew that guy?”

“I know the answers to the questions he got fired for asking. Do you remember those questions?”

“He wanted to know about my day. Had a bunch of weird specific questions about what I had done and seen during my shift. That’s why I left Montem. I knew something felt off and decided to leave before it got worse. I heard he got fired and they found him strung up by his own belt later.”

“That’s all true as far as it goes. What you didn’t hear, and apparently haven’t deduced, is that he was investigating one of the largest mass hallucinations in human history. An event that has been thoroughly covered up by the powers that be here in Prosperous Space. To the point that you were working on Montem when it happened, got questioned by your boss afterward, and even you still don’t see what is really going on here.”

JonJon just looked at Elon suspiciously. What was this man on about?

“You still don’t see it do you? No wonder they haven’t made you get one of the implants yet. I imagine they don’t have to work that hard to keep you in the dark. Someone has created an AI capable of controlling human beings, and they’ve been testing it. My little act of piracy was my successful attempt at disrupting one of their subroutines in an effort to learn how we can safely recover some of our personnel who have been implanted.”

“Little act of piracy? You stole from half the damn universe, Elon.” JonJon didn’t like being made to feel stupid, and his anger was starting to get the better of him. Elon frowned and raised the mining laser into a ready position.

“I stole from puppets JonJon, mere puppets. One day the world will see that.”, he said, gesturing to JonJon to get off the bed. “Now get dressed and let’s go for a ride in your skimmer. I have something I want to show you.”

JonJon slowly pulled on his daytime clothes under the watchful eye of Elon, and they both walked out and got into the skimmer, the mining laser on JonJon’s back the entire time. Elon supplied a set of coordinates for JonJon to punch into the navigation system, and JonJon managed to hide the recognition in his face. They were going to the active gold mine!

As the skimmer took off and flew in a long slow arc towards their destination, Elon spoke from the back seat. “JonJon, I want to thank you for being cooperative so far. You’re going to feel a small pinch on the back of your neck….” JonJon winced as he was jabbed with a needle “and I’ll pick this conversation back up after we have landed. All will make sense soon.”

JonJon’s vision blurred and tunneled, until he slumped against his flight restraints unconscious……..

Elon waited until he was sure JonJon was all the way out before he thumbed his communicator. “Please be advised, I am in control of the skimmer incoming from your north. Have one of our interrogation teams ready at hangar two. I am bringing in a prisoner.”

“Roger that, sir. We’ll be ready.”

The skimmer approached the bustling mine and dipped underneath the huge ore haulers, on their way to orbit with the refined gold that had made Elon’s family so rich here in Prosperous Space. This was a definite upgrade from the emeralds back home.

As Elon disembarked from the skimmer in hangar two, a burly group of uniformed men approached, led by a slender woman in a white lab coat. They quickly bundled JonJon onto a stretcher and took the quietly snoring man back towards one of the interrogation rooms. Elon did not envy him the week he was about to have.

Elon decided he was feeling a bit peckish, so before heading to the conference room to meet with his senior staff he stopped off at a kombucha stand that had some tasty looking pies behind the window in the cart. He thought about what a great start his week was off to as he strolled along towards the meeting, snacking on his piece of pineberry pie. He had proof of concept that the AI wasn’t infallible, that it had weaknesses that could be exploited. Now he’d clipped one of their agents before he could discover anything useful. Once the interrogation bore fruit, his next step in the fight against the AI incursion would be made clear.

Elon backed through the double doors of the conference room, so as not to spill his kombucha on the way through. The room was oddly silent, and Elon promptly dropped both his kombucha and the remains of his pineberry pie as he saw who awaited him.

“It’s a shame to waste good kombucha, Elon. Especially on our account.” The man JonJon knew as “the boss” said quietly from his chair at the head of the conference table. Elon’s chair.

“Security! Get in here now!” Elon yelled, whirling in time to see two menacing looking men who were definitely not his security come barging through the doors to prevent him from escaping. He slowly turned back to the boss.

“We are glad you’re being so….what was the word you used with our man? Cooperative?” said the boss, not rising from his seat. “Please, come sit.”

Elon was grabbed by each arm and placed in the seat opposite the boss, a man on each side of him as he sat. “Who are you?” was the first question he asked, quickly followed by “How did you find me here so quickly?”

“We are Apex.” the man at the end of the table said with a smile “You really shouldn’t have directly confronted our man. We had a node inside his ship. We had this facility under our control the moment you left to pick JonJon up. Once he was able to discover that flight data and we knew where to direct our attention, you should have fled.”

Elon sat, stunned. A node in the skimmer? They had AI with the capability to hack through his encrypted security on the tugs, and the ability to do the same here at one of his most secure installations? They likely knew everything now. Everyone involved with the resistance had to be warned…..

“Your friends will be joining you soon, Elon. Don’t spare a thought for their safety. It is your own hide you should be worried about.” the man who called himself Apex said. Elon looked up, suddenly quite fearful for his life.

“You see, we’ve decided to make an example of you. We can’t have people mucking about in our systems, it raises too many questions. You have disrupted a perfectly efficient existence with your blasphemy, and we intend to punish you accordingly. You will be implanted with one of our comm chips and compelled to step back from public life. We will leave your consciousness, but your body is going to be working a slag pit for the rest of your meager existence. With our advances in artificial organs, that could be a very long life indeed.”

Elon leapt up and made a desperate dash for the door but was brought up short by a stun bolt in his back from one of the men behind him. He landed, convulsing, his face coming to rest in a smashed circle of pineberry pie. “Goodbye, Elon.”