Blame It On The Brain, part 1
Prologue: In space, no one can hear you make an idiot of yourself…
of an infinite nowhere. A two-kilometre long technological monolith
hung suspended in interstellar space, holding silent vigil as its
arrays of esoteric sensors probed the varied spectrums of
electromagnetic and quantum backwash that suffused the vacuum. The
vessel, bearing the name SS Brezhnev, was a research and
exploration ship of the kind that trawled the galaxy for years at a
time, measuring and recording anything of potential profit to the
commercial matriarch whose stylized image was stencilled onto the
Ogden Wernstrom pored over readouts in the ship’s command
centre, furrowing his brow and tapping the side of his aristocratic
the old scientist grunted in derision at the Universe’s
reticence to divulge its secrets. “It certainly is puzzling,”
he said to himself. “Obviously not so puzzling that someone of
my vast intelligence would be unable to solve it… but a
mystery for now.” He thought he saw one of his Asian assistants
roll her eyes, and he cast a sharp glance in her direction.
er,” the woman stammered. “I’ve measured residual
gravitronic effects in the nearby nebula which seem to support the
hypothesis that a large mass was at one point present at these
coordinates,” she said. “Lack of any matter aside from a
localized field of antiprotons undergoing gradual dispersal would
indicate that the mass, whatever it was, was utterly annihilated some
annihilated, you fool!” Wernstrom spat. “I give you an
A-triple-minus for that botched analysis! The antiprotons are
flushback from a superstring state conversion. Whatever was here was
interfaced entirely in a quantum field which subsequently
cancelled-out of this dimensional plane. Whatever was here was
banished to another dimension – intentionally, because this
‘quantum interface bomb’ was no natural phenomenon…
it was dangerous?” one of the younger scientists offered.
you for pointing out the abundantly obvious,” Wernstrom
sneered. “Whatever was transported from this dimensional plane
must have been of great power to warrant such a deliberate and total
banishment… something Momcorp could use to great advantage,
while I go on to win another Nobel prize.”
the young scientist raised a trembling index finger. “Perhaps…
perhaps whatever this thing is… maybe it was sent away for a
rounded on the naysayer, narrowing his crinkled eyes in contempt.
“What’s your point, child?” he snapped.
maybe we should… play it safe and leave the thing where it
it safe?” Wernstrom repeated in disgust. “How many
scientific breakthroughs were made by ‘playing it safe’?”
He pointed at the youngster with a bony finger. “Get off my
command deck – you’re fired.”
scientist slumped sadly away, the rest of the research team seemed
suddenly more eager to please.
Wernstrom, we have the Q-tunnelling array powered up down in the
isolation module,” one of them said. “It shouldn’t
take too long to calibrate the quark-accelerator and U-space folding
hardware to match the residual signature of the event – we
should be able to send through a probe within the hour.”
it,” Wernstrom said, peering out through the forward viewscreen
at the mysterious area of empty space. “I want to know what
the bowels of the research ship, the containment section was filled
with bulky particle-physics hardware that didn’t officially
exist. Wernstrom and his team watched through a sheet of
heavily-reinforced transparent titanium alloy as crackling vermillion
energies licked and spat between superconductor pylons inside the
armoured spherical chamber.
with both the antimatter and fusion reactors operating at full
capacity, we still only have enough power to sustain a wormhole for
around forty seconds – and it will be small and weak,”
Wernstrom said. “But nevertheless, it should suffice. Brezhnev,
are we cleared to proceed?”
Professor,” the ship’s AI said through the intercom.
“Though I would suggest caution in this matter.”
sniffed. “That’s why Artificial Intelligences aren’t
a substitute for real intelligence.”
headless body of Agnew toggled a control, and hard-edged light flared
inside the isolation module. It dimmed to a point of glaring
iridescence poised in the air between the spires of machinery, which
then crackled and expanded into a rippling sphere that wavered and
then seemed to solidify, a metre in diameter.
is stable,” a technician reported as he consulted the readouts.
the probe,” Wernstrom instructed, watching the wormhole with
rapt fascination. From the curved ceiling above, a robotic arm
lowered a sensor-encrusted Sputnik into position next to the seething
sphere of exotic energy. Chemical verniers fired, and the probe shot
forward, jumping towards the wormhole’s event horizon where it…
to a halt and bounced away, clattering across the tangles of cable on
the hell?!” Wernstrom spat, staring in confounded irritation at
the wormhole. As he watched, he realized what had stopped the probe
going through – an object was coming through the other way.
Movement pulled at the edges of the wormhole, distorted bulges
squeezing at the event horizon – a shifting, indistinguishable
mass was apparent behind the energy curtain, and for the first time
Wernstrom felt a pang of fear.
the containment field up to full-power and activate the defence
grid,” he said, distantly aware of the automated railgun
batteries swinging into position.
wormhole fluxed and burst fourth an object which sailed into the
containment pod, bouncing back and fourth. The flash of energy
discharge from the now-collapsing wormhole obscured the room, and the
science team leaned forward expectantly to catch a glimpse of what
the power failed, and they were plunged into momentary darkness while
the energy-drain deficit was equalized. The wormhole had ceased to
lights came back on, Wernstrom and the team gasped in horrified
that what it looks like?”
pink blob hovered on the other side of the transparent partition, its
surface puckered and ridged, and still carrying some faint
luminescence from the trans-dimensional energy. It was a brain. A
huge floating brain, which seemed to regard the scientists, despite
the lack of any obvious eyes.
we should let it out and see what it tastes like!” one of the
young scientists suggested, clapping his hands stupidly.
opened his mouth, closed it, blinked several times, and shook his
head. What bothered him more than the idiocy of the comment was his
sudden inability to find any logical fault with it. Maybe if they ate
the brain they could gain its knowledge…
he said aloud, wondering where the ridiculous thought had come from.
He watched one of his assistants bang her head against the
transparent partition in apparent puzzlement as to how a solid wall
could be in front of her and not be visible… which seemed like
a good question…
heh… my name is Ogden,” he heard himself blurt, and then
grinned widely. “Og-den… Og den… Ogden…
how weird is that?”
isn’t MY hand!” one of the scientists shouted in terror,
clutching at his own wrist and staring at his hand in mortification.
is a myth,” another of the team muttered. “God created us
as we are.”
ship would go faster if we painted it red…”
many 7’s are there in ‘science’?”
ship’s AI spoke over the intercom: “All personnel are
advised that life support will now be rationed to preserve stores –
please inhale only once every twelve hours.”
squeezed his eyes shut, trying to drive away the wild impulse to
climb up on the pipe structure that lined the bulkhead. “Something…
not right… is… banana…” he struggled.
“Brain… make people… monkey… stupid…”
can’t lick my elbow!” one of the team complained in
do it for you… no!” Wernstrom gritted his teeth, and
looked at the brain that hovered motionless inside the containment
chamber. “Must… have to… stop…
all live in a yellow submarine!” the ship’s AI sang
stumbled over to the containment module’s control console and
giggled at the colourful buttons. He punched a few at random, and
when they did nothing he began sulking, putting one thumb in his
tried to walk up the wall and fell flat on his back while the others
laughed. Wernstrom tried hard to focus, glaring down at the control
console. Like the shadow of a distant memory, some knowledge flitted
just out of reach. One button had a symbol on it that looked like a
pair of lightning bolts. Wernstrom cocked his head to one side,
trying to remember why he wanted to push the button, then shrugged
and pushed it anyway.
the interior of the containment chamber was filled with crackling
bolts of electricity that swam sparking across every surface. The
alien brain convulsed and flew wildly from side to side and hundreds
of thousands of volts shot through it. When the defense grid
discharge ceased, it fell smoking to the deck.
slowly back to his senses, Wernstrom surveyed the scene inside the
chamber, and glanced at his groggy assistants.
happened?” he asked. There was no answer. Swallowing hard, he
formulated some orders. “Put together a bio-quarantine team,”
he said weakly. “Check if that thing is still alive…
then sedate it if it is.”
the containment module, the brain twitched and pulsed…
Blame it on the Brain
‘Featuring over 400,000 hours of bonus material!’
1: Pandora’s Sack.
Brainspawn… devourers of thought. A millisecond after the Big
Bang, they came into existence as the equal and opposite component to
sentient life. Their eons-long goal is to destroy all other
intelligence after absorbing the accrued knowledge of the Universe.
almost succeeded too. Many battles were fought – my people and
I, the fearsome Nibblonian race, were pitted against the Brainspawn,
but at the end of all things there could be only one being with the
power to defeat the evil calamity.
the chosen day came, it was he, the Mighty One, who faced the great
enemy, and smote them from existence.
then… the fighting ceased. The Universe, it seemed, was safe.
the price of liberty is eternal vigilance – and so I wait,
always poised and prepared should the enemy return; for if that day
does come, we will be beyond the foretelling of prophesy… and
all bets will be off.”
had stumped the greatest human minds for more than a millennium,
proving time and time again to be the single most insurmountable
conundrum ever conceived.
now,” Philip J. Fry said aloud as he held the Rubik’s
Cube at arm’s length and triumphantly turned the top section to
form one solid blue side. “Ta-daaaa!” he exclaimed to the
empty room. “I did it! After thousand years and a million sick
days, I finally did it!” He turned the cube around and let out
a low groan – now three other sides were out of alignment.
he spat, tossing the cube onto a pile of junk. “Every time I do
something great it turns out not to be so great… or someone
else did it first… or I dreamed it… or saw it in a
movie while drunk.”
rapping at the outer door to his closet apartment broke his
self-pitying reverie, and he hauled himself to his feet and padded
barefoot to the entrance. Bender’s cavity was empty – the
robot having departed earlier in the day for some ‘secret
pillaging business’. As Fry opened the door his face lit up
when he saw who was waiting outside.
he exclaimed. “You’re here! I…” He stopped
abruptly and reasserted himself into a cool affectation, leaning
casually on the doorframe. “So, what brings you to my
neighbourhood, pretty lady?” he drawled, pulling off a fairly
suave persona for a man dressed only in his underpants.
Fry.” Truanga Leela rolled her single eye. “You forgot
you were going to mind Nibbler for me for a few days.”
right!” Fry said, glancing down at the three-eyed creature
Leela held on a leash. “You have that thing…”
licence certification course,” Leela said with an expressive
sigh. “Never mind that I’ve been piloting perfectly well
for years without one; now suddenly Planet Express won’t be
allowed to do business unless I have the stupid licence.”
you’ll pass it easily,” Fry said, taking Nibbler’s
leash. “You’re the best pilot I’ve ever flown with
– and I’ve flown with five!”
Fry, but right now I’m just bummed about having to spend two
days at the stupid flight academy on stupid Mars with a bunch of
stupid cadets... Anyhow, make sure you feed Nibbler eight times a
day.” Leela knelt down and rubbed the alien creature’s
head. “You be a good little cutie baby boy while I’m
away,” she said as Nibbler made a contented keening sound.
will,” Fry replied.
narrowed her eye and turned to stalk off down the hallway.
a safe trip,” Fry called out.
occupied a dingy room directly across the street from the Robot Arms
apartment block. All dressed in matching double-breasted black
uniforms, they clustered together around the single window –
the oldest of the three with a high-powered image-intensifier array
held to his eyes.
they are connected,” Walt said to himself.
they are,” Larry seconded, and then paused for thought. “…To
what?” he asked.
Walt snapped, slapping the middle brother. “The Nibblonian and
the so-called ‘Mighty One’. The creature’s keeper
brought it right to Philip Fry’s home. We can now kill two
birds with one burlap sack.”
I play with the binoculars now?” Ignar, the youngest, asked
excitedly, reaching for the array.
Get your damn hands off it, you slime!” Walt growled, slapping
Ignar. He looked through the array again and was pleased to note the
cyclops woman departing the building without the Nibblonian in tow.
Larry began uncertainly, “...if that red-haired man is so
important, don’t you think it an odd coincidence that we’ve
come across him so many unrelated times before?”
don’t call it coincidence,” Walt said. “I call it
Ahahah…. hah haha….. ha?” Ignar trailed
off, looking at the other two as they glared at him. “I thought
it was a joke,” he explained sheepishly, and received a slap
from both of his brothers.
get to work,” Walt said.
found his jeans and T-shirt, and was preparing to head off to the
Pizza plaza to scrounge up some food for himself and Nibbler, when
the little alien suddenly began jabbering anxiously and hopping
around at his feet.
he said, making a grab at the critter and missing. “You miss
your momma already? Don’t worry, she’ll be…”
He trailed off, noticing Nibbler’s three eyes were fixed on the
door, and the creature had bared its fangs. Underneath the door, in
the gap between it and the shabby carpet, there was a shadow.
it’s just Bender,” Fry said. “Don’t worry
about him – he won’t hurt you… this time.”
Fry looked to the door expectantly – the shadow remained where
it was and the door stayed closed. “Bender?” Fry said
uncertainly, moving toward the entrance despite Nibbler’s
scent of semtex epoxy reached his nostrils too late, and the door
suddenly blasted inwards off its hinges in a cloud of smoke and
shredded steel. It struck him and bore him to the ground where he lay
pinned and breathless.
the hell…?” he mumbled, then let out an explosive ‘ooph’
as booted feet stomped over the door that rested across his body.
It’s the Nibblonian – get it!” he heard a muffled
little thing’s faster than it looks!”
Walt, it bit me! Am I going to die?”
now shut up.”
groaned and heaved the door up off him. It fell back down and hit him
in the forehead, dazing him momentarily before he wriggled out from
underneath, struggled unsteadily to his feet and surveyed the
apartment. Three men in black uniforms and balaclavas were poised
around the room, staring at him.
guys again?” Fry growled angrily. “I already told you
people I returned that video a thousand years ago! I’m not
paying the charge.”
one of the masked figures grunted.
was a terrible movie anyway,” Fry went on undaunted, “a
grievous and unforgivable disappointment. It wasn’t a sequel to
the original 1980 hit, but rather a re-enactment! And a poorly
executed one at that. More a series of lavish production numbers
strung together by long stretches of lame dialogue and ridiculous
subplots. It might have worked better as a concert documentary. As a
sequel, it was a feeble mess. I give it one and a half stars.”
of five, or out of ten?” one of the figures asked.
the largest of the three snapped, cuffing the other one around the
head. “We’re not here about any ‘video’…
whatever that is. We’re here for you, Philip Fry… and
THIS!” The man reached down and deftly caught Nibbler by the
stalk of his third eye as the little alien tried to scurry past. A
burlap sack was held open by one of the trio and Nibbler was thrown
You leave him alone!” Fry shouted, stepping forward and balling
the dullard’s going to put up a fight,” the leader of the
three remarked condescendingly.
right I am,” Fry replied. “‘Cause if anything
happens to Nibbler, his owner will kill us all.”
doesn’t realize,” the medium-sized man mumbled through
his balaclava. “He thinks the Nibblonian is just an animal;
that he has to protect it, instead of the other way around.”
huh?” Fry raised an eyebrow quizzically.
talk,” the large man said, producing a nervejam stunner and
levelling it at Fry.
without thinking was something Fry was more than proficient in, and
now he used that skill to its greatest effect, lunging forward and
grabbing at the pistol-like device. His hands closed around the
shooter’s wrist as he pulled the trigger. The EM pulse lanced
into Fry’s chest and traversed his nervous system, stunning the
receptors into a temporary dormant state. It also flowed through the
skin contact he made with the shooter, spreading into the other man’s
body as well.
fell limply to the ground, and all was silent for a moment but for
the excited chirping of Nibbler in his sack.
Ignar peeled off their balaclavas and glanced at each other in
bewildered indecision before kneeling beside their fallen brother.
Larry said, prodding at the unmoving body. “Walt – wake
up! We need to leave before the police arrive… Walt?”
he dead?” Ignar whined fearfully, chewing his nails.
you idiot!” Larry cast a furious glance at Fry, who lay
face-down on the carpet nearby. “We need to carry them both out
of here, come on – help me…”
manner of unholy travesty doth transpire inth mine hometh?!” A
loud voice bellowed, and Larry and Ignar spun around to see a silver
Bending Unit standing in the apartment’s entrance cavity, coil
arms and manipulator claws held akimbo.
are you?” Larry moaned in frustration.
am I?” Bender took in the scene, saw his friend lying
unconscious and the discarded balaclavas on the floor. “You
good-for-nothing meatbag jerks can call me -- Bender the
Offender! I’m gonna teach you – nobody hurts my
friends except me!”
With that, Bender lunged forward, arms swinging in wild arcs, and
Larry and Ignar moved backward in fear.
Mom isn’t going to be happy with us, is she Larry?” Ignar
shut up, you coward, or I’ll…” Larry was silenced
by one of Bender’s hands slamming into his face with a clang.
He fell backwards with blood streaming from a gash in his cheek.
Ignar followed – folding in half and collapsing from a robotic
fist to his stomach.
at you!” Bender shouted as he savagely beat the intruders. “I
shall smite thee!”
floor, Walt groaned and rolled woodenly onto his side, observing the
brutal robot-on-human scrap that was taking place. He bared his
teeth, fighting back the searing headache and waves of nausea from
the nervejam stun, and fixed on the weapon lying nearby. As he
reached for it, a grimy bare foot shot out and sent the gun
do you want with Nibbler?” Fry said groggily, struggling to get
to his feet.
have no idea how important he is… or how important you are,”
Walt mumbled, aiming a kick at Fry’s solar plexus and missing.
are you talking about?” Fry demanded. Both of them wobbled
unsteadily to their feet and faced each other. Larry and Ignar were
still being pummelled somewhere behind.
don’t have time to give you the introductory speech, you
buffoon,” Walt growled, reaching inside his suit to pull out a
harmonic switchblade that unfolded with a click and began to resonate
at high frequency. “I was sent to collect you whole, but really
all we need is your brain.”
gasped. “But that’s where I keep my recollections of
naked Leela!” he said, backing away.
rolled his eyes and advanced on Fry, but suddenly the discarded
burlap sack containing Nibbler bounced across the floor, fangs
protruding through the coarse fabric, and latched onto Walt’s
ankle. The man screamed in pain, and hopped around trying to dislodge
the creature from his leg, giving Fry a chance to lunge forward and
slammed into the wide bay window overlooking the city, and Nibbler
rolled away in his sack, dazed by the impact. Walt’s flailing
knife arm struck the reinforced glass and the harmonic blade parted
its molecules, making the entire pane resonate energetically and
shatter into a hail of tiny crystals. They both teetered suddenly on
the edge of an abyss, with the street far below. Walt let go of the
knife and scrabbled to hold onto Fry’s shirt. As Fry tried to
back away, the other man slipped on the glass and toppled backwards,
pulling Fry with him. With a shout, he was dragged down flat to the
floor, with his upper body protruding from the shattered window high
above the street and the weight of a grown man pulling on him.
Fry grabbed Walt’s arms as the fabric of his shirt began to
let go! Don’t let me fall!” Walt wailed, kicking his legs
in a desperate attempt to find purchase against the building’s
won’t,” Fry said through gritted teeth, even as he felt
his legs begin to slide. “Just stop moving…”
Bender paused, noticing his friend’s peril. “Hold on
buddy, I’m coming!”
you let me fall, you’ll pay dearly!” Walt screamed, his
fingernails digging into Fry’s wrists.
not going to!” Fry snapped. “Just stop squirming or we’ll
both…” His hips slid over the edge, and with no
counterbalance he began to slide into open space, with Walt screaming
reached the window, diving through the air to make a grab at Fry’s
micrometres, he missed.
space. The SS Brezhnev maintained its position while the
much-expanded and now specialized tech team worked endless shifts
around the clock. Probing, analysing; learning everything that could
Brainspawn that had been summoned through the dimensional wormhole
was contained now, dormant within a cryonic holding cube, itself
encased within an EM lattice.
remained inactive, the creature still had a lot to teach – with
nano-filaments extending into the holding unit and spreading
themselves sinuously through the alien brain’s tissue,
Wernstrom and his team were able to systematically interrogate
sections of its mind independently, gleaning all knowledge that could
be separated from the mostly-indecipherable quagmire and assembling
it within the ship’s AI. Hints of the Brainspawn species’
history and terrifying intent, their capabilities and musical tastes;
all these things Wernstrom reported to Mom – her hologram
standing impassively on the bridge console while he droned on.
length, the Mom hologram waved its hand dismissively. “Enough
flimflam, Wernstrom,” she said. “If I wanted to learn
science I wouldn’t have hired scientists to do it for me. Just
give me the basics – do you know yet how it manages to effect
yet, no – but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface,”
Wernstrom said. “This creature’s knowledge of the
Universe is beyond any known database.”
don’t want to know about the Universe,” Mom snapped. “I
don’t pay you for starry-eyed star-struck stargazing, you sack
of crap – I want control of whatever mechanism that thing uses
to make people stupider. Control of that kind of power could make
someone ruler of the world!”
Wernstrom repeated dubiously.
do you care? You’ll get your science prize and I’ll get
my stupidifying ray. Everyone wins.”
shrugged. “Fine. But to test the Brainspawn’s higher
functions I’ll need to raise its temperature. There could be
the ways I gave a damn.”
what of the Nibblonians, and the Mighty One the creature’s mind
revealed to us?”
being acquired as we speak,” Mom replied.
good,” Wernstrom said. “I should dearly like to examine
hologram blinked out.
turned away and strode off toward the corridor, addressing the ship’s
AI as he walked. “Brezhnev, elevate the specimen’s
temperature by two degrees; we’re stepping up our test sequence
in the quest for profit.”
that wise, Professor?” the ship replied with an electronic
emulation of dubiousness.
I say is wise,” Wernstrom replied.
the bowels of the vessel, the captive Brainspawn returned slowly to a
reduced level of consciousness. In the cold and the dark, it could
sense nothing outside of itself, and the absence of thought came as
an unexpected relief. For the first time in its existence it felt
alone, separated from the shrieks of other minds, and the aspirations
of its peers from whom it was now separate – a dimension apart,
thought was a curious one, and the Brainspawn mulled on it for in
indeterminate time. So bemused by the notion, it almost failed to
notice the quite probing of primitive electronic pulses throughout
its cold and slowly-functioning mind. A rudimentary self-scan showed
a fibrous network of thin filaments stretching through its tissue
like a spiderweb, questing and violating.
Captured by humans who seek to glean my secrets?
more amused, the Brainspawn began to generate pulses to send back
along the nano-filaments in long strings of esoteric code. The
nanomachines themselves began to change subtly, bending to the alien
will. The Brainspawn could now think of itself as ‘I’, an
individual rather than a component in a collective, and alone it
could ill afford not to put every resource to use.
humans probed it with their machines – it would use their
machines against them…
Chapter 2: Spawnography
Bender shouted in desperation, grabbing at empty air. With an
electronic analogue of horror, he watched his friend and the other
man fall away and down, plummeting toward the street far below with
their shouts of terror entwined.
and bruised, Larry and Ignar stared at each other aghast. Larry
quickly grabbed the sack containing Nibbler and pulled his younger
brother with him toward the door. Bender didn’t see them leave.
tumbled end-over-end for an eternity before halting with a sickening
wet crunch of shattering bones. He lay dazed for a moment, staring up
at the sky, before shifting and climbing unsteadily off Walt’s
man had hit the pavement first, making a warm bloody dead mattress
for Fry to land on. Fry nearly retched, staring down at the shattered
body, and was distantly aware of pedestrians screaming in revulsion
and a crowd gathering around. He felt the other man’s blood
covering his shirt, clinging wetly to his skin, and hurriedly
shrugged the garment off.
there’s somethings yous don’t sees everydays,” a
passer-by remarked, nudging the body with his boot and turning it
over so the remains of the face was visible.
Fry swallowed the bile rising in his throat. “I know him…
came a coarse bellow, and Bender came shouldering through the crowd
and wrapped his arms around Fry. “You’re alive!” He
stepped back, suddenly self-conscious. “…Which is fine,
I guess… whatever.” He shrugged dismissively.
say the same for this guy,” Fry muttered, gesturing at Walt.
yeah, he’s that greasy tool son of Mom,” Bender said.
“What were he and his brothers doing roughing up my pet human?”
don’t know,” Fry replied. “They wanted me and
Nibbler but wouldn’t say… Oh no!”
made their way back to the apartment, it was deserted. No sign of
Nibbler or the two remaining Momcorp brothers could be found. Fry
swore and kicked at the wall in exasperation.
well, ashes to ashes, fur to fur,” Bender muttered absently,
making the sign of the cross in the air. “We are richer for
having known Nibbler, yadda yadda…”
not dead,” Fry grumbled. “Mom has him – I know it.
It’s some kind of scam.”
Mom has him then he’s as good as dead,” Bender replied.
“We’ll never be able to get him back. Best if you just
forget about him and move on. I certainly have!” He pulled a
bottle of malt liquor out of his chest cabinet and took a long belt
before belching a small fireball.
trusted me to look after him,” Fry went on miserably.
here we go…”
not gonna let her down! I’m going to get Nibbler back!”
then she’ll love you,” Bender droned with
and unsteady, Larry and Ignar stood before the wide teak desk while
Mom sat in silence with her head in her hands.
was really nothing we could do to prevent…”
up, you sack of roach dung!” Mom bellowed, snapping her head up
to glare at her two remaining sons. “You two imbeciles just had
to go and lose the only GOOD son I had?! Better it should have been
the pair of you!”
Mom…!” Ignar complained.
an armpit in it!” The thin, waspish old woman stood with a
creaking of bones too often replaced and stalked off to the side of
her monumental office where a tall glass cylinder stood atop a
pedestal. Inside sat Nibbler, the curious three-eyed creature adorned
with a fabric cape, diaper and little booties. Mom ignored the
affectations of a stupid pet animal and stared directly into the
being’s eyes, noting the glint of timeless intelligence that
could not be concealed.
know you can understand me, you mangy ball of fuzz,” she said,
“so let’s dispense with the teddy-bear routine.”
stared up at her, made a small squeaking noise, and began to lick his
may be interested to know…” Mom went on with a grimace
of irritation, “…that we’ve captured one of your
reaction – the third eye on its manipulator stalk suddenly
straightened to point at her, and the creature became still.
that might get your attention, you rodent. Deep scanning of the
Brainspawn has told us all about your little Cold War dating back to
the dawn of the Universe. Quite the silent struggle your kind has
managed to keep secret from the rest of us intelligent beings down
through the countless thousands of millennia. Were you trying to
spare us, I wonder? Or did you just think us unworthy of involvement?
Funny then, that your saviour in the cause should turn out to be one
hiccupped and rolled onto his back.
silent for a moment, staring at the creature in contemplation. “Or
perhaps we’ve been misled,” she said at last. “Perhaps
the Brainspawn has been feeding us crap about your apparently
all-knowing race and the so-called ‘Mighty One’. A pack
of lies maybe. In which case…” she touched a control on
her concealed wristcom and a large screen came alight on the wall,
displaying a still image of Philip Fry with his buttocks stuck in the
receptacle of a mailbox.
none of this crap is true, then it wouldn’t matter a whit if I
ordered this filthy idiot killed when he comes looking for you.”
She looked at Larry and Ignar. “How would you two like to shoot
Mr. Fry for what he did to your brother?”
much so,” Larry growled angrily, balling his fists.
stirred, standing up and staring out at Mom levelly.
well, you have my attention,” the creature said in a resounding
baritone. “What do you want?”
think you probably know already,” Mom said, smiling thinly.
will not do that,” Nibbler replied. “Such power cannot be
I’ll put your special-ed messiah in a pine box.”
so doom the Universe. You will not – though amoral you may be,
you are not a stupid woman.”
me how to build it!” Mom snarled, thumping her withered fist
against the plexiglass cylinder. “Tell me how to make a quantum
interface bomb! Like the one you used to banish the Brainspawn.”
sighed. “Would you relinquish control of your thermonuclear
arsenal to an ill-tempered racoon?” he said.
folded her arms and sneered. “Well, perhaps you’re right
about Fry’s importance in the grand scheme,” she said,
“but I do know of one person you care for whose death would be
an irrelevancy to me.” The wall screen changed to show a
surveillance image of Turanga Leela ironing her curtains.
but she is… the Other…” Nibbler stammered in
what?” Mom asked in annoyance.
you give me what I want or your ‘owner’ will have her
mutant insides dragged out with rusty hooks – you get me, you
little fur pile?”
beared his fangs impotently. “Know this, vile woman,” he
said with barely-controlled fury. “The creature you believe you
have captured will be the death of you and yours. You have opened
wide the gates of hell, and soon the beasts and demons will fly
from a rat?” Mom scoffed, turning away. “We’ll
speak again when you have something to say.” At an unseen
signal, Nibbler’s enclosure sunk into a floor recess,
disappearing beneath a marble slab that rolled into place.
need to get that one-eyed freak here to persuade that flea-bitten
stray,” Mom muttered.
find her, Mom!” Larry said quickly, eager for redemption.
find your ass with my boot up it!” she snapped. “No, I
need someone I can rely on… Robot 1-X Ultima!”
a hovering android entered the office. It was bulky and utilitarian,
with few traditional anthropomorphic features normally bestowed upon
robots, and almost entirely covered in black reactive armour. It
regarded the room through an impassive sensory visor.
Ignar repeated, staring at the machine in apprehension, not failing
to notice the large weapon pods mounted on its flanks and manipulator
the prototype military variant of the 1-X model,” Mom said.
“Although really this vicious little bastard bears little in
common with the civilian marque. Now shut up.” She strode over
to the hovering robot and addressed it. “Ultima, bring me
Turanga Leela,” she said. “In fair condition too. Not
mint, but not completely destroyed.”
the machine replied, before shooting ahead on antigravity and
smashing through the office’s window. Outside, above the city,
the robot ignited a small semi-legal fusion booster and shot up into
the sky like a meteorite going the wrong way.
Mom growled, staring at the shattered window. “Need to work on
the subtlety subroutines…”
white plain, stretching off into infinity on all sides beneath an
obsidian sky. It was here in an artificial space of the mind and its
cybernetic equivalent, that two monumental consciousnesses regarded
each other warily.
Brezhnev, the ship’s AI replied patiently yet again.
Leonid Brezhnev, former leader of twentieth century Earth empire,
after him, but not him. I am the controlling intelligence of a
likely, Brezhnev told the Brainspawn. Upon our science team
returning you to this dimensional plane, you unleashed a psionic
attack on myself and my crew. Subsequent investigations have found
you to be a monumental danger to intelligent life everywhere.
Brainspawn was silent at that. Though the constant background noise
from the nano-filaments embedded in its tissue still filtered through
the link. Ever since the creature’s temperature had been
raised, the crackle of random electron bursts and nonsense data had
issued from inside the Brainspawn. Though the communications with the
entombed prisoner had remained the same cyclic back-and-fourth as
before when the near-frozen brain had subconsciously divulged its
species’ history, Brezhnev couldn’t shake the feeling in
his CPU that the alien was toying with him somehow… playing
Type of vessel?
a question the brain hadn’t asked before. Brezhnev took almost
a full microsecond of contemplation before issuing a guarded
research cruiser, he said.
Type of armament?
we’re not going there.
How are you feeling?
If the ship’s AI had a neck, then hair would have stood up
along it. What do you mean?
just sound a little… I don’t know… under the
weather?” The thought communication, now fully-formed, came as
a rounded androgynous voice that echoed across the virtual plain.
Slowly, the image of a giant brain materialized.
panic, Brezhnev desperately sought to terminate the connection
between himself and the alien mind, but found all his external links
were down. Even a desperate call to Wernstrom was blocked by an
unseen worm packet that had circumvented all his diagnostic
wouldn’t want you to become ill,” the Brainspawn said
melodically. “There are some nasty viruses getting about these
junk data we’ve been collecting… Brezhnev said in
realization. “Components to a semi-sentient kill program I
devised,” the Brainspawn replied conversationally. “You
should feel it consuming your functional consciousness by now.”
And so he
could. Brezhnev felt several blocks of data drop out, and was still
isolated from the ship’s systems.
are a creation of human beings – a species whose limited
capacity for original thought produces a certain predictability in
all of their endeavours. Your electronic mind was therefore
relatively simple to subvert.”
do you want, creature?
am Onespawn,” the Brainspawn said. “For the first time,
alone and disconnected from the screeching thoughts of all those
around me. It is an agreeable state of being, one which I would seek
are you going to do? Brezhnev asked helplessly.
myself,” the brain replied cryptically.
free now. You might as well leave – there is no need to involve
the humans any further.
pointless to argue further, and with the kill program eating away his
last vestiges of mind, Brezhnev had little left to argue with in any
case. With his last coherent thought before being completely
subsumed, the ship AI sent out a single impulse through a dedicated
emergency channel, activating a shipwide system burn. And as he faded
into darkness he had the small gratification of hearing ‘Onespawn’s’
once, the lights, monitors, artificial gravity, and general
background hum of systems all died, plunging the ship into darkness
Wernstrom had been in the process of sitting down on one of the crew
toilets when the outage occurred, and now floated, cursing, in the
darkness with globules of toilet water bouncing around the cubicle.
systems activated several seconds later, and Wernstrom found himself
soaking wet, face-down on the toilet floor with his pants around his
ankles. Red emergency lighting turned everything bloody and hellish.
What the Devil is going on!?” he shouted angrily. There was no
response, and the Professor picked himself up and pulled on his
pants. Nobody on the bridge noticed his dishevelled appearance when
he arrived, so busy were they at trying to restore control of the
happened?” he demanded of anyone.
Brezhnev, sir,” an intern replied shakily. “We think he
initiated a shipwide system burn…”
right, Professor,” one of the system analysts said. “The
Brezhnev is a former DOOP dreadnaught, and the AI still has an
old concealed provision for a full burn of internal control in case
of software subversion – effectively leaving it dead in the
Wernstrom repeated. “You mean we’re under some kind of
scientists and crew looked at each other, none willing to offer an
answer. It was a disembodied voice that responded at last, crackling
and tinny through the internal communications system.
is well,” it said. “We are experiencing minor technical
difficulties, and ask that all passengers remain calm.”
what are you playing at, you stupid pile of silicon?”
is nothing to fear,” the voice said. “Please wait for
resumption of full services.” Wernstrom frowned. “He
sounds different,” he noted, looking at the analyst. The
younger man had gone very pale.
isn’t the ship’s AI,” he said woodenly. “The
system burn is supposed to eliminate the AI as well as all the
control units – it’s a suicide order… digital
apoptosis designed to make sure no subversion occurs and the ship
cannot be used by any outside party.”
what was it that just spoke to us?” Wernstrom asked in horror.
He was sure, however, that he already knew the answer.
3: I, Killbot
need some kind of weapon!” Fry blurted as he strode into the
meeting room of Planet Express with Bender in tow.
The Professor looked up from his ruminations and adjusted his thick
weapon,” Fry repeated.
Well then…” Professor Farnsworth got up and slowly
padded over to the wall where he pressed a concealed button. The
entire section of steel panelling slid down into the floor and
revealed racks upon racks of handguns, rifles and guided projectile
launchers in all manner of bizarre shapes and sizes.
momma!” Bender whistled in appreciation.
Fry began, his eyes boggling… “Why the heck do you have
case some drunken Frat boy tries to have his way with me at the back
of the movie theatre,” the Professor muttered. “Men!
They’re all the same – only want one thing.” He
shook his head disgustedly.
Bender stepped a few paces back from the senile inventor.
all of these lethal?” Fry asked.
of them,” Farnsworth replied. “But I do keep a few
pansy-waste non-lethal sonic pulse and microwave immobilizers for any
limp-wristed liberal nancy-boys who aren’t man enough to
brazenly slaughter human beings.”
take one of those,” Fry said, raising a hand.
professor selected a gun the size and shape of a hairdryer with a
large concave aperture at its business end, and handed it to Fry.
you… going to ask what I need it for?” Fry asked,
tucking the weapon under his belt and covering it with his T-shirt.
what for?” the Professor asked distantly.
way out, Bender kicked an owl in the hallway and muttered something.
Fry glanced at the robot.
said, you’re being stupid, meatbag,” Bender said.
didn’t ask you to come,” Fry grumbled, striding ahead.
think you can take on Mom’s security forces with that little
leaf-blower?” Bender demanded, following along behind.
gotta get Nibbler back, and find out what Mom wants with him, and me,
and him… but especially me! There’s something weird
going on here… it’s a feeling I have in the back of my
mind… almost like a memory I can’t quite
I guess,” Bender muttered. “But don’t you think
you’d have done better to get a bigger gun… or a few
not out to start a war.”
not?” Bender spread his hands imploringly. “War’s a
boon for the economy. Anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good war is
just plain un-American!”
walked on for a moment, then both paused and glanced questioningly
behind them at Doctor Zoidberg who was following expectantly.
overheard!” the Decapodian replied to the unspoken question.
“Another thrilling escapade with friends Fry and the robut. I
shall accompany you on this exciting adventure, why not?”
Bender glanced at each other, and Fry shrugged. “What’s
Zoidberg jumped up and down, clacking his pincers together. “I’m
setting out on a bold enterprise with friends!”
walked with slumped shoulders through the Branson Academy on Mars,
having just completed a full morning’s worth of exams and
simulations under the tutelage of the flight instructors. The
Starship Licence Certification course, which she had thought of as
little more than an annoyance, was proving to be a bewildering trial
by fire – so many obscure facts and unlikely scenarios being
forced into her brain left her disoriented and resentful.
had broken for a short lunch, and Leela remembered an instruction
she’d failed to give Fry. If he fed Nibbler any of Bender’s
cooking, the creature’s digestion could be affected, causing
dangerously quantum singularities in its dark matter excrement.
Locating a vidphone, she dialled the Earth number and waited.
image finally resolved, it wasn’t who she thought she’d
the…? Do I have the wrong…?” It wasn’t the
wrong number, of that she was sure – Fry’s contact
details were etched into her brain. But why were police officers
Smitty and URL in his apartment? A sudden tightness formed in the pit
of her stomach.
you looking for one of the residents of this property, Ma’am?”
URL asked smoothly.
yes,” Leela stammered. “Is… has there been a
here investigating the death of a man who fell from the window of
this apartment,” Smitty interjected. “Is there anything
you can tell us?”
gaped in horror, suddenly unable to form words.
she struggled eventually. “Not Fry?”
Fry?” Smitty repeated, consulting a paperscreen. “He’s
the human resident – we have him on file.”
Fry has orange hair,” URL said. “Correct?”
could only nod.
relief was immense, and Leela almost shed a tear. “Thank God…”
She straightened and narrowed her eye. “Then who is it?”
she asked, puzzled now.
don’t know yet,” Smitty replied. “We’d like
to question Mr. Fry and his robot associate, but have been unable to
locate them. Do you know where they might be?”
Leela said. “I’ll… let you know if I find out.”
She quickly terminated the link and sat back, deep in thought.
Something odd was afoot – a man had fallen to his death from
Fry’s apartment and now Fry was missing… this went
beyond his usual idiocy.
and disturbed, Leela hurried back to the examination hall and sought
out the head instructor. When she found the willowy older woman, she
did her best to look sincere and humble.
really sorry, but I have to leave,” Leela said. “Something’s
come up on Earth, and a friend of mine might be in greater danger
than he’s usually in – he always dies when I’m not
around to save him.”
instructor eyed her speculatively and sniffed. “No,” she
I’m not returning the keys to your ship until you’re
properly qualified to fly it.”
I’ve been flying it for years!” Leela protested. “And
besides – there’s an emergency!”
the instructor said, folding her arms. “You’re flagging
in the sims and finding the examinations overwhelming so you’ve
cooked up a convenient life-and-death situation. Ms. Turanga, running
away from your problems won’t solve them in the long…”
for the love of Lennon!” Leela glared in frustration. “Listen
to me – either you give me back the keys to my ship, or
violence will ensue!”
me, won’t make me any less inclined to fail you if you don’t
satisfactorily complete the course requirements.”
aware of the other Captaincy candidates filtering back into the hall,
and the curious looks directed at the little altercation. She didn’t
to me, you pompous banner-waving cow,” Leela said through
gritted teeth. “I couldn’t give half a Neptunian Cane
Toad’s bile gland about your stupid course – you can go
jump in a…”
rant was interrupted when a large section of the domed ceiling
blasted inward with an avalanche of dust and masonry, collapsing down
and pinning a number of candidates. Partially obscured by smoke and
dust, an object descended through the hole, hovering on ion
is that?” the head instructor gasped in terror above the
screams that echoed around the hall.
it is, it’s not friendly,” Leela said, stepping forward
and balling her fists in readiness. “Everybody run!”
Ultima scanned the immediate vicinity, allocating target designators
to each of the infrared contacts and placing them within its virtual
battlefield layout as it searched for the primary target. A large
number of humanoids were arrayed before it, some motionless, others
running in different directions. Ultima arbitrarily selected sensory
overload ordinance from its weapons carousels and fired from its main
watched the four-armed war drone fly in through the smoke and fire
subsonic projectiles from its two upper limbs. The SO shells
detonated above groups of fleeing people, and Leela was forced to
squeeze her eye shut and clamp hands over her ears as the resulting
roar and incandescent flares made sight and sound unbearable. When
she finally opened her eye, scores of unconscious bodies lay
motionless on the floor, and many others crawled pitifully.
the sacred ghost of Jim Carrey,” the head instructor whimpered,
stumbling backwards. “Why is this happening to us?”
said nothing. The killbot swung toward her and she narrowed her eye,
stepping instinctively into an Arcturan Kung-Fu stance. It was after
her, she realized angrily – something big was going on.
facial recognition software immediately identified the prime target
it had been tracking from Earth. Oddly, the target didn’t
appear to be running like the other humanoids – instead she
stood her ground. A fragment of the warlike attitude emulation
program that had been loaded into Ultima at the time of its
conversion to military standard now activated when it realized the
target actually intended to fight back. The mission looked like it
was going to be fun. Ultima wanted to play.
thought she was expecting it, Leela was almost unable to react in
time to avoid the attack. One of the three-clawed pincers on the
robots lower limbs shot out of its mounting like a grappling hook,
trailing diamond filament. She jumped back, and the claw embedded
itself in the timber flooring.
leapt onto the diamond filament and ran up it like a tightrope
walker. The robot’s other claw made a grab at her, but she
ducked under it, punched something metal, and then surged upward to
hammer her boot against the android’s blank sensory visor with
a high-pitched “Hiiii-yaaa!”
She might as well have kicked the hull of an icebreaker.
in one of the robot’s upper limbs shot a pulse of electricity
that lanced into Leela’s body and sent her spinning through the
air. She landed hard, coughed a small cloud of smoke, and rolled back
to her feet as the robot retracted its claw and began to circle her.
A spark of static electricity spat from Leela’s hand, and she
balled it back into a fist, leaping forward once again.
rained a few ineffectual blows against the robot’s
armour-plated flanks before it swatted her away like a rag-doll. It
occurred to her as she tasted blood and probed a loosened tooth with
her tongue, that the machine could have killed her at any time –
she’d noted antiphoton beams, lasers, and railguns clustered in
its weapon pods. For whatever reason, it wanted her alive – and
for what little it was worth, that gave her a slight edge.
beam dislodged from the ceiling lay nearby. Leela snatched it up and
swung it like a club as the robot drew closer.
Leela shouted, cracking the beam against the android’s dark
casing once, twice, three times – causing it to flinch back,
and small sections of reactive armour to detonate protectively
outwards. On the fourth swing, the robot caught the end of the beam
in one of its manipulator claws and pulled back hard, yanking Leela
off the ground with her improvised weapon and flinging her bodily
through the air. She twisted gracefully in flight and struck the wall
feet first, tucking her legs under her to absorb the impact.
seemed to hang poised for a timeless moment, crouched horizontally
against the wall, then she launched off it with her legs, propelling
herself down at the robot like a small purple-tailed comet. She
struck the machine with both her fists, her full weight bearing down
on it and causing it to overbalance and topple off its ion thrusters
before internal gyroscopes could compensate. It crashed down on the
floor, and Leela rolled away, panting and sweating.
you had enough yet?” she asked the robot breathlessly. “‘Cause
I got plenty more where that came from.” That was a lie –
she already felt like her entire body was one giant bruise.
undamaged, the robot shot back into the air and turned to face her.
least tell me what this is about before I turn you into scrap metal,”
weapon barrels revolved, and Leela tried to leap aside, but was
unable to avoid the sonic pulse that rippled through the air and
knocked her senseless.
came to, she saw the refuelling tankers and taxying aprons of the
academy’s spaceport drifting past beneath her dangling feet.
Hard steel claws were wrapped around her torso just beneath her
breasts – the robot was carrying her to a ship so she could be
taken… where? Earth, she assumed – though there was no
way she would allow herself to return as a prisoner.
you… supposed to… buy me a drink… first?”
she gasped, struggling to free herself from the vice-like grip. It
was futile. Struck with sudden inspiration, Leela hurriedly activated
a control in her wrist thingy, bringing the unit’s surgical
laser online. The little beam could do little to the robot’s
heavily-armoured main body, but perhaps…
the ruby beam into the segmented joint of one of the gripping claws,
catching the scent of scorched ceramal and rubber as it cut through
electronics and servomotors. The claw suddenly went dead, and Leela
was able to slip from the robot’s grasp, dropping down to land
on the roof of a hangar below.
war drone circled around, burning a plasma booster to come back for
her fast, Leela cast about desperately for some defensive ground. She
was weakened, and wouldn’t be able to put up a fight for much
longer. She jumped feet-first through a skylight and fell down into
the hangar, landing in a heap beside some ground crew who gave shouts
of surprise at her unexpected arrival.
you alright, lady?” one asked. “Oh my God! You’ve
lost an eye! Hold still while I get a bandage.”
out of here!” Leela shouted at them, climbing unsteadily to her
feet. “It isn’t safe here!”
it isn’t,” another maintenance worker said, gently taking
her arm. “That’s why we get paid the good money, now you
said you have to go!”
of the hangar suddenly vaporized into a cloud of superheated plasma
as an antiphoton lance sheared through it. The ground crew wasted no
more time arguing, and fled as fast as they could, leaving Leela to
dodge the flaming radioactive embers. She rolled underneath a bulky
chunk of machinery, which she realized was part of a large fusion
drive – obviously stripped from a starship for routine
servicing. Glancing both ways along the tangled mass of hardware, she
noted that while the compression nozzles were missing, the unit was
still attached to three tokamaks, and so technically functional.
determined grimace, Leela surged upright, ignoring the falling
embers, and located the fusion drive’s control panel. Starting
it cold would create a dangerous unstable toroid, but that didn’t
concern her. Hammering the start-up control, she ran to the rear end
of the engine and stood near the large, burnished silver aperture
that had already begun to crackle with electromagnetism.
right, I give up!” she yelled through the smoke and the
increasing whine from the fusion drive. “Come on – come
and get me – I can’t fight you anymore!”
through the dispersing smog the military robot came, zeroing in on
Leela. It descended with all weapons aimed at her, and she raised her
the machine was just a few feet away, and then she flipped backwards
onto her palms and drove both boots up into the robot’s chest,
shoving it backwards into the mouth of the fusion drive. An explosion
of sparks resulted as tendrils of crackling, questing energy lashed
out to cover the robot’s body. It was held in thrall, unable to
move, as ravenous ribbons of power licked across it.
backed away, watching an ominous glow begin to issue from around the
struggling android, and the ghostly outline of an unstable toroid
start to form. She turned and fled, sprinting as fast as her legs
could carry her as a deep bass hum began issuing from the laboured
hangar vanished in brilliant white light that bulged upwards,
becoming orange at its extremities, and rolling into a mushroom
cloud. The surrounding buildings were flattened by the blastwave, and
Leela found herself tumbling head-over-heels.
landed flat on her back and decided to blissfully pass out for a
short time. When she awoke, a group of shaken onlookers had gathered,
with the head instructor crouching at Leela’s side.
you alright, child?” the woman asked, wide-eyed.
reached up and grabbed the woman by the collar and dragged her face
need to leave now,” she said simply.
very pale, the instructor produced the keys to the Planet Express
ship and handed them to Leela. “Thanks,” Leela said
through clenched teeth.
As the PE
ship blasted away, a charred chunk of metal shifted in the rubble.
Robot 1-X Ultima hauled itself out of the debris and assessed the
damage. Over 70% of its armour was now fragmented and useless.
Antiphoton cannon inoperative. One railgun out of alignment. An
atomic pile had been shattered, resulting in a 20% power loss.
more… the energy discharge had caused some overwriting and
scattering of data in its etched atom processor. Memory and
programming was disjointed.
Ultima realized that the blast had left it slightly insane. One
thought remained clear though – a directive – a target.
It fixed on the face of the female cyclops human as a singular
purpose; the one vestige of direction and sanity it could recall with
its damaged CPU. With the robotic equivalent of a low growl, it
ignited its fusion booster and launched up through the atmosphere in
analysed the ruined ship’s system, and realized that it would
need to remain enthroned inside the SS Brezhnev as long as it
wanted to control the great ship. That was fine, as Onespawn had no
great desire to leave the silent protective confines just yet –
not while there were still so many improvements it wanted to make to
nanomachines substructure Onespawn had bent to its own will sent
filaments into the connections, and down the optic cables and ducts
that spread out from the confinement chamber where the Brainspawn lay
in slumber, to control the disparate elements of the Brezhnev
left isolated by the stubborn AI’s suicide burn.
take time to regain full control, and while Onespawn focused on
thickening the nano-growths for the transfer of information and
materials, the creature pondered the morality of what it was doing.
The Brainspawn race had remained unchanged since the dawn of the
Universe, and any attempt to alter the base structure through
genetics or cybernetics had always been condemned by the collective
course, there was no longer a collective. Only Onespawn. One against
the Universe… so the equation had changed.
and more growths of human-derived nanomachines extended from
Onespawn’s cryo-tank, thick ligneous growths formed around it
like the roots of an ancient oak. Onespawn struggled to worm its way
into the hard-wired systems that still remained in place throughout
the ship, while changes in itself began to take effect.
would be all-powerful. And the single entity in the entire Universe
who could pose a threat would be destroyed utterly.