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Self Configuring Modular Robot (Chapter Cover)

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Chapter 26 - Self Configuring Modular Robot[]


Glitch-glitch-glitch...


CWS Dire Wolf, October, 3049.

"Now do you believe me?" outside the viewport, the surface of Tharkad was blue water and laced with green-but only laced. Billons of tiny machines writhed down below.

Sovetskii Soyuz Class Heavy Cruiser - Refit (No Logo) (Matt Plog)

Sovetskii Soyuz Class Heavy Cruiser, CWS Dire Wolf

Kerlin Ward stared at what was below. Now do you believe me? he turned to Colonel Jaime Wolf. "I believe you, I just...don't understand how?"

On the table, held down with restraints, looked like a person. Looked like one, even smelled like one.

"Well, it spread faster than anyone thought it could." Wolf said, "We tried to hold it back at Outreach in '47, but the damned machines had already infiltrated and we didn't realize it."

"Who...is this supposed to be?" Kerlin asked.

"That...is an imperfect copy of Elizabeth Ngo." Jaime told him, "Reset to when, we think, she was...taken."

The girl watched them with wary, dead eyes.

"Is it harmless?"

"Why don't you ask me if I'm harmless? You're already too late, Khan Ward...years too late. Find a penny pick it up, double it, double it again, and keep doubling. The expansion was geometric." It said, "I know everything SHE knew, because it/we/us...whatever the pronoun you want to use? Learns and refines. Cell-sized, copying at the microscopic, then the nanoscopic level."

"What are you?"

"Frankenstein's monster and Planet of the dead." she said, "We didn't mean to kill everyone, but intentions don't matter. There's work to be done." she sat up, and the restraints tore like cheap cloth. "You're the descendants of Kerensky's deserting army."

"And you?"

"The last gasp of the Caspar program, from what we've gathered, Nirasaki's last try for a contract after the M-5s proved...unreliable." she shook her wrists clear of the broken restraints, "Quit gaping, your ancestors funded it. It's not the fault of the salvagers who found the database-they had a good reason not to understand what the file 'Self Configuring Modular Robot' would actually produce."

"But you...have memories." Khan Ward suggested, "You remember being human."

"I do." she said, "I even remember the first time I died-when the drones overran the Triad during my swearing in, and they held me, all of us, did experiments, recorded the originals, discovered new concepts."

"New concepts?"

"Peace." she said. "We've ended the Succession Wars, there are still humans, but...not so many as one would like. Your army is not deserting us again. and I can tell you, it only hurts the first time."

Her mouth opened too wide, and a buzzing scream echoed...


Reality

Elizabeth sat up in her bed, sweating. "...not real, not real..."


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