What then could be more different from nature than machine? Something had once changed the oceans of this world to be more amenable to supporting human life. Something made them that much warmer or cooler, put that much more oxygen or nitrogen in the waves. Something performed, in the absence of whatever ecology might once have been, the functions of scavenge and composting on the ocean floor, where much detritus fell. Just as something kept the bloodfish in check. Something at least as numerous and dangerous as them.
We’d been down to the sea, of course, when we took the port city Sepira. That had been a while ago, time enough perhaps. Time for the White Swarm to reach down, and down, and out. I don’t think it would have been powerful enough to do much, away across or beneath the waves. Near as I can tell, we humans are its centers of coordination. It always hangs pretty close. So whatever happened down there probably was not conversion, purely. But Profusionist machines talk to each other. In fact, they never stop talking. And if the warlord Jerem Cozak construed his relationship with the Swarm as one of agreement, would other accords not be possible?
So up, up, and up now came the machines of the deep. I had blamed the fog initially on warm air from the tropics. But thing is, the air hadn’t changed at all. What happened was the water got colder, coming up from places sunlight never reached. Machines from the ocean depths, machines from all the nearby waters. Coming to do the bidding of the White Swarm. I don’t think even the Swarm knew what that would be, precisely. Like I said, centers of coordination. But the Swarm would want what I wanted. It would help me complete my mission. And what I wanted right then was to be upheld.
My leap from the ramparts was for effect. I could have gone the long way around and down some grassy embankment. But I was in a mood. I was going to ask a lot more people to die for me. I needed the greater flood of chemistry that the risk of my own death entailed. I needed to believe: in the Swarm, in Jerem Cozak, in my position in the universe. So I roared as I went, forty meters down. I had known, from all my time looking over the edge, what parts of the sea to aim for, all the deepest pools.