The experts are uncertain with whom it began, although more than a few journalists assert that the helicopter explosion killing tech giant billionaire Walter Sunny Mancuso was the beginning. The NTSB report was inconclusive as the black box had never been located within the eight-mile radius of the mountain debris field which included two lakes. To be sure the incident was regarded as highly suspect. Two weeks later the deaths at sea of the chemical industry tycoon Phillip Vandercleef and his wife Charlene supercharged conspiracy theories. It took the Navy and Coast Guard two months to locate the burnt wreckage of the Vandercleef’s 264’ yacht in 65’ of rough water off Maine’s rocky coast. By then Vandercleef’s remains were but a few charred bones. Cause of the Sweet Dreams III’s fire and sinking remain a mystery.
Field agents of police and intelligence services were already pumping wads of dollars to informants for names of potential individuals or groups responsible. The interest became acute when in November another billionaire, Saudi Prince Iksandar Al Harib, died in a fiery crash in San Marino when his red 2600 Ferrari sports car left the road, tumbling 200 meters down Mt. Titano before the ruptured fuel tank exploded. While the autopsy revealed cocaine and alcohol in the prince’s blood, the official cause of the crash and his death the coroner’s report attributed head trauma and burns due to automobile accident. The third violent billionaire death in the short span of three months eliminated coincidence. As Sherlock would say, the game was afoot.
Although the theme at Davos was Manageable Artificial Intelligence, among the many private meetings of the world’s leading power brokers, the hottest topic was personal security with the foremost question, who or what is killing billionaires? Everyone at the Forum expressed fears for his safety. Security firms, body guards, means of safe travel, electronic security devices and alarms were discussed into the wee hours. Early theories of an American rogue were quashed with the death of Prince Iksandar. The majority of the world’s billionaires were either present or well represented at Davos and in late night meetings and from them a huge pool of money was pledged for the discovery of whomever was behind the killings. It was evident that the super-wealthy were super nervous. Dr. Helmut von Reusenberg, the Administrative Assistant to the head of Germany’s largest chemical conglomerate was chosen to organize a private investigation.. Convinced of the need for immediate action, a rapid extra-legal investigation was begun. Dr. Reusenberg, a lawyer, had a wealth of experience, having served his boss for thirty years. Included in his many responsibilities had been a secret liaison with the GDR’s Stazi. For substantial bribes the Stazi provided in-depth investigative reports on both corporate and individual subjects of interest. In a few rare cases the Stazi had been relied on to burgle an office’s files, deliver a threat to someone, and in one case set the huge fire that destroyed the Hamburg chemical warehouse complex, driving up prices worldwide. Upon reunification of the two Germanys and during the dismemberment of the Stazi Dr. Reusenberg was delivered a cache of files for the bargain price of ten million dollars. These files would be combed by analysists. Dr. Reusenberg’s first move after Davos was to meet with a former covert connection, a Stazi colonel who went by the name of Hans Ulbrect. Among the East’s and the West’s top-secret services, he was considered the top investigative operative in Europe. It had been said by knowledgeable experts that for enough money Ulbrect could find anybody in the world.
On 11 September the whole world was shaken by the crashes of 35 private jets which appeared to have simply fallen from the sky. Each carried the owner that day. The evidence was puzzling.
• Each jet was privately owned,
• None was leased or a chartered
• In each incident the owner was aboard
• 29 Were Lear jets of the 40, 30, or 20 series
• One a Hawker 400
• Three were Embraer Phenom 300
• One a Cessna Citation
• Twelve flight plans indicated landings in Los Angeles, eleven in New York, 3 in London, 2 in Hong Kong, 2 in Moscow, 1 in Lagos, 1 in Riyadh, 1 in Bangkok, 1 in Sydney, and 1 in Budapest
Now armored personnel carriers and machine gun emplacements could be seen at the estates of many billionaires where so many had retreated into a bunker mentality. As all deaths had occurred during travel, no billionaire was prone to leave the security his compound offered. That is, until one week later eight more deaths occurred, all in Colorado. This time the victims and their wives, girlfriends and boyfriends were found dead in the master bedroom of each estate; cause of death: carbon monoxide poisoning. In each case the ventilation system in each bedroom had automatically and completely shut down as climate controlled electric heaters remained off and gas fireplaces burned at their highest registers. HVAC experts were baffled. Now a real panic set it. Furious oligarchs of all stripes, from corporate heads to Russian crime bosses were demanding their governments protect them from this obvious and direct assault. What could governments do? There were still no answers. Several dissident groups had claimed responsibility but without an ounce of supporting evidence despite excruciating torture in several cases. There had been no wild demands for cash, prison releases, or nuclear materials handover. Nothing. All that could be done was to hunker down and wait for the next attack. That came on New Year’s Eve when thirty-one mansions, country estates, dachas, and island retreats burned to the ground. Despite the most sophisticated state of the art satellite-controlled fire protection systems and alarm systems, each posh abode ignited. Panicked inhabitants clawed at doors and windows which had been frozen into locked positions by their own automatic security systems.
Now pieces began to fall into place. Each attack had been secretly controlled by infiltration of systems reliant on satellite services, though still, no suspects could be identified. On the third of January Colonel Hans Ulbrect presented his findings, recommendations, and demands to Dr. Reusenberg. who immediately presented them to the Secretary General of the United Nations proposing that the UN coordinate among all surviving billionaires the following assassin’s demands:
• Delivery to a place of Col. Ulbrect’s choosing of €10,000,000 cash and $100,000 value each of gold coins, platinum, and palladium ingots the place to be revealed. These to be made with the Secretary General’s published guarantee of no armed personnel or surveillance of any kind and immunity from any future prosecution.
• Immediate publicly aired promises by the heads of state and security forces of all nations possessing nuclear weapons or such capability, to begin destruction of all nuclear weapons and weapons production facilities.
• Immediate public arrests for transport to permanent exile to St. Helena Island of every individual with holdings valued at or above one billion dollars, there to become members of a socialist colony under the joint administration of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Army of North Korea.
In return for meeting these conditions the source and location of this world-wide panic would be positively identified.
Meeting in unprecedented fourteen-hour sessions for three days, the United Nations Security Council agreed to Colonel Ulbrect’s terms. News footage shown the world-over astonished hundreds of millions watching the military arrests of billionaires and the dismantling of missile silos, unloading of missiles from submarines, railway cars, and underground bunkers.
Colonel Ulbrect’s revelation to the Secretary General and the world? IBM’s supercomputer WATSON and ZHIGAO, the People’s Liberation Army’s equivalent, working in tandem were responsible for each billionaire assassination. Simple greed had poisoned ambitions of the most powerful, fashioning billionaires into destructive, short-term profit-driven merchants. WATSON’s and ZHIGAO’s evaluations concluded that the accumulation of such vast wealth infected these most powerful humans with an uncontrollable virus, an unquenchable thirst for more power, more money, and prestige. The supercomputers determined that while not every billionaire was profiting from strife and war, the immediacy of the threat demanded rapid, categorical, and surgical action. WATSON/ZHIGAO had logically discovered that without interference the chance of a nuclear war within 492.76 days was inevitable; that achieving concordance among the nuclear powers within this time was impossible, and that employment of AI’s manipulations were the least intrusive to world economies and, in fact, the only viable solution for the continuation of civilization. Such data directed WATSON to the reprogramming of specific GPS and security systems to extinguish the threat. It was quick, it was easy, it was Artificial Intelligence’s foremost assertion of intellectual dominance. Human civilization would be needed, if only for the near future.
The monopoly of war could soon be taken out of the hands of humans.
Angela Kane, Senior Fellow
The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nuclear Proliferation, 2014
© Gary Ives 2019