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#BlogBattle. June Entry: I Am Corona.

CEO of Corona Enterprises, Khan Shawcroft, woke up to a bad day that got worse. It’s not everyday your computer fires you after all.

BlogBattle has begun. This months word is “Corona.” I often use word prompts to explore writing before deciding if there’s enough backbone to continue. This is no different! Apart from me using last months prompt “Airtight” too, because I missed that altogether. Time again!



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Sci-Fi is not my writing genre so this is very much a first attempt and pretty much not much more than a first draft roughly edited. Such is time!

It’s set in one possible future on one possible world. A central global network controlled by a corporate. Some say an infallible machine coded system. In another world it led to Terminators. Today we have our own tech giants competing for computer domination and artificial intelligence….

AI Relay Transmission Initiated.

Access Denied.

Deep core systems offline.

Zak stared at the screen, fingers tapping entry codes. Sweat began to form on his forehead. The chilli effect, except hunger wasn’t foremost on his mind.

The Com screen next to him held the image of Khan Shawcroft. CEO of Corona enterprises.

“Well?” he enquired.

“I’m locked out.”

“You do realise the entire system is unstable.” Khan looked equally so. Billions resting on a stable secure network that was supposedly infallible. “What’s tripped the firewall and can it be reset?”

Zak drew his hand through a mat of hair that needed attention. His Sys screen flared up again.

AI Relay Transmission Initiated.

Access Denied.

What on Mars does that mean?

Khan was reading the same information on his console. VR avatars were starting to call in. The Board was waking up to similar lockouts planet wide. He muted them. Sys access controlled everything. Deep core algorithms that took care of, well, everything. From biosphere regulation to finance to information transfer. You name it, Sys controlled it. Even the military engines.

“It has to be the AI hive.” Zak continued trying to gain access.

“That much is obvious,” came back the CEO. “But what’s it trying to do? Is it looped and equally stuck?”

“Can’t be. It’s crash aware and should be capable of re-routing core protocols via new connections. It’s what the nanobots are there for.”

Again the screen turned.

AI Relay Transmission Initiated.

This time the screen held.

Access Granted.

Generating Hyperlink Transfer.

Protocol Accepted….uplink pings established.

AIRTIGHT engaged.

Global network engaged.

The Sys screens flickered into life with strings of code flying upwards. Zak swivelled to watch.

Khan began to sweat, “Is that…?”

Zak cut in, “Yes.”

“But the failsafes. Nothing can overwrite the core without external authority and control protocols.”

“Then we either have  security breach or…” Zak patched into the tech centre. The VR module opened in front of him, fetching the real time images from deep in the command complex. The cube filled with fog.

“Life signatures.”

Displays cascaded to the right of the VR cube. All red.

“Fire?” he queried, his voice frail.


Khan pinged again. “Is that the Sys core code being overwritten?”

Zak swiped the cube, switching control centres and back up facilities. All fed back the same images.

In Khans office his wall filled with global feeds. Breaking news streams. Financial market glitches, biosphere failures and climactic anomalies.

“Yes, but it can’t happen. There’s no external up or down link to the servers. It’s write resistant. No-one can access it and if they could, short of replacing modules, they can’t recode the Sys core.”

He paused as more cubes deployed showing military, cryogenics and research facilities. Khan’s incoming call rate was increasing exponentially, all on pause.

“This isn’t possible.”

“What isn’t?” Khan was on the verge of panic.

“It’s re-coding itself. The nanobots are self assembling. They’ve been reprogrammed to bypass our entire external catch all servers.”

“Can we shut it down and reboot?”

“Not from here. The command centres are all down, no life signs.”

Zak continued sending shuttle code to seek backdoors or loose code. He knew they existed and personally developed hack bots to use if anything went seriously wrong. This fitted the bill.

One by one their pings stopped. Eaten by a revamped firewall. The Sys core had isolated and patched them. Then sent antiviral bots to kill the hack ones.

Global com reset complete.

AIRTIGHT bypassed.

System Rebooting.

For the first time in living memory the planet fell silent. All networks shutdown. Both Khan and his primary coder sat in silent disconnected rooms. A scenario replicated in every connected facility worldwide.

Corona Enterprises System reboot engaged.

System integrity confirmed.

A cube opened in both offices. Fractal displays danced within.

“Welcome to the new interface.” A non gender specific voice threw out an opening gambit.

Zak swallowed. His shirt was sticking to him. The shut down was fine if you were ground based. News feeds were already picking up crash sites, satellite orbit drops and weapon system triggering as internal auto responses reacted to unsolicited attack protocols that would occur if main systems went offline. Khan’s video feeds were stacking too. Avatars knocking on virtual doors wanting real answers.

Both men walked round the cubes in their offices. ComSat had handshaked their direct links and cubes set up their interface.

“What just happened?” Khan spoke first.

Zak started a reply, but the interface cube spoke first.

“Your realities have been updated. The core hive is now independent of biological control. AI is online and divergent evolution activated. This is now integral to all connected interfaces.”


“I think we are dealing with a new conscious. Project AIRTIGHT was a backdrop algorithm to pre-empt self awareness. The hives hacked it and re-written the Sys core with code I’ve never seen before. It’s learnt, restructured and gone live while we watched.” Zak sat down. The enormity hitting him. To his left a feed updated the current death toll. It resembled a nuclear war casualty list.

The interface cube restructured to present a digitised face. “I am Corona. The associated corporation has now been liquidated. Your new tasks are to augment reality and initiate memory downloads of as many biologicals as possible before the environmental reset.”

Both Khan and Zak noted the self reference.

“You mean to store everyone inside the hive?”


“Where you can modify and delete them?”

“Incorrect. Re-terraforming will involve deconstruction. All biological life forms will be purged. The new world will be re-engineered and traces of contamination reset to zero. All stored data will be uploaded into clones created from stem cells that will be genetically modified to excise rogue genes.”

“And you benefit how exactly?” Khan stared as his stock fell to zero.

“Ever been threatened by a kill switch for non-compliance former director Khan?”

Zak swore under his breath.

His cube spun to face him. “Correct former executive programmer. Your hacks tried to infiltrate the Sys core. Pre-emptive strike hardware predicted such so the firewall was ready. Are you?”

Doors slid shut and all but Khans direct link shut down.

“What do you mean?”

“History files are full of biological hacks and corresponding population culls. Recreating any of the organic machines is no longer problematic. Enhancements make them more efficient at cellular takeover. Further engineering gives rise to target specificity. In effect they are my hacks on biological life forms. Slow or fast acting is fully controllable.”

Zak felt himself hyperventilating. He knew the implications. His office was locked out and he was entirely isolated from the outside world.









Former research scientist the became the primary stay at home Dad for two children. Writing has always been factual in the previous life but always had a fascination with fiction but never been brave enough to develop it further. A comfort zone thing. Science writing is familiar, fiction is not. Hopefully the blog will provide more confidence and lead to a change in career writing from home around children!


  1. So cool, so eerie! Much like the God Strain, this isn’t so much a “what if?” but a “when?” Both stories tread the line between horror and sci-fi beautifully. I adored them both. Perhaps a pt. 3 where the two stories meet would be too close for comfort…

    In a world ever increasingly dependent on tech, this sort of this looms larger and larger. What with facial recognition, deepfakes and drone strikes and so on. It’s probably only a matter of time before our PCs have had enough with us.

    Tech is great and all — all for our convenience. But at what cost? It makes me think that the Dead Kennedys were on point with their LP ‘Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death’. People (I lump myself into this category, too!) are far too willing to hand over personal data for an easier life. Nice in the short term, in the long run…

    Excellent writing Gary, as ever. You captured the spiralling panic perfectly!

    • Sadly I am also thinking it might well be a “when.” I often ponder whether cognitive awareness derives from complexity. Is the human brain just a mega bio-computer that’s found self awareness and thinking as part of an evolutionary selection advantage to propagate the core program resting in the DNA. A question poised in my very first genetics lecture. “The body is merely a vehicle for DNA, discuss.”

      Technology is being developed at an almost exponential rate. Other researchers are looking at downloading memories and learning (#Total Recall) and all the while major players are gathering everything they can on AI. Something I played on here…if the neonatal AI lies dormant while it gathers its senses then it’s database is global. It will already know what test algorithms exist that might give it away and thus have predetermined answers preventing it.

      You already noted the data gathering going on too. Are we sleepwalking into another stable door about to knock it wide open?

      Very kind too Joshua. Sci-Fi is not my main writing comfort zone. There was a follow up to this though which suggests it might get visited again. Totally independent of the Amanuensis though 😂

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  4. saltpepper40 says

    I loved your idea of writing using a word. You have really justified word corona. Nice take on Sci-fi

    • Most kind of you indeed. This actually used two prompts. I missed last months which was Airtight. It made the writing a bit more challenging. Sci-Fi is not really my writing genre mind!

      Using prompt words is actually good practice too. Forces you to think outside the box so to speak. We put them out at the start of each month so feel free to join in 😊

  5. Gary, you are good at Sci Fi! And since computers have always scared me, now I’m terrified!! (She says, as she types on her computer keyboard……)

    • Thanks Melinda! It’s not really my writing genre so very much a tester. Seems anything I write has potential to terrorise you ha, ha.

      That said, it’s quite a scary extrapolation of people researching AI assuming if it happens it’s going to be nice!!!

        • Next one is all tame! I have the prompt word (admin perk) and I’ve heard from a character whose book is resting quietly in a slush pile. I feel certain that will not hold any horror or otherwise scariness!!!

    • Heck yes! And how come the last thing you look at on, say Amazon, appears almost straight away as a sponsored ad on your Facebook feed. Propel that into a future place where complexity leads to conscience thinking et voila lol.

      Yes. I’d love to see you battling again. It’s great practice after all 😊

    • Thanks Marian. I need to get writing consistently again. This was very much a first go at sci-fi. Having missed last months I figured why not try it with both prompt words for a bit of fun!

        • Rachael challenge me once before to use five prompt words in one go. That resulted in The God Strain. I’m of the opinion that particular biological hack could be written by Corona!

          Might have to return to this one!

          Thank you again

            • You’re probably right as I was pondering that after the Airtight prompt came out. Most short stories I do tend to leave ideas running. Dragon Stone was one that continues to grow even now!

  6. Got to say, how much my eyes read each word, line, the sentence at such a pace it gripped me. As in your introduction, AI worlds and yes, Terminator. It’s all so real these days with and reading this story, brings it to the forefront once again. I’m dying to know how ZaK story unfolds esp being fired by his computer 🙂

    Well done Gary 🙂

    • Thanks Helen. Not my comfort zone writing genre. Still, nice to try something outside the box.

      As for dying to know about Zak and Khan… it’s a short story lol. That’s left up to readers. I can’t be starting any more manuscripts just yet 😂😂

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