Sunday, February 9, 2014

Page a Day: One Hundred Sixty

Chapter Fifteen
            It’s a machine world, Thaeron. Beyond even the extent the natives know it. From the killing mass of artillery disks to the intricacies of the machines inside every soldier’s blood, it’s machines that rule the day. Thaeron’s inhabitants thought that it was some metaphorical quality of birth that allowed them to wake Profusionist technology. Still do. But of course the answer is far more literal and wondrous than that.

            A cocktail of symbiotic machines transmits to the nanotechnology that composes every ancient artifice. Because not all the original colonists of this world were soldiers, those symbiotes were passed down through generations, reaching suitable combinations utterly at random. So, one child was able to wake communications technology, another repair a wall, and still another pick up a quicksword. Many were able to do nothing whatsoever. On this simple fact rested the entirety of Thaeronian culture. And they never knew it.  

            Still less do they understand, even now, the basics of the world in which they live. The Nogilian soil so treasured on both continents for its purity, antiquity and fecundity? Almost certainly transplanted from the motherworld, with nanotechnological compounds intact. The exotic flora and fauna we had been traipsing through and occasionally confronting? Genetically engineered, to be sure, but that work done by courses upon courses of machines too small to see or taste or touch. Thaeron’s ubiquitous, diverse latticework of nanites is what the White Swarm had been overthrowing, rewriting, consuming to adapt.

            So it didn’t take much to figure out that what Ki said about the bloodfish could not in a literal sense be true. Oh, no doubt there were creatures in the sea larger than leviathan. But the thing is: size wouldn’t matter in the first place, not if the smaller swarms of bloodfish in the swamps fought even leviathans to a draw. No, it had to be something else. Something different that kept their teeming multitudes from overwhelming the ocean realm. Nature requires balance, and clearly bloodfish are not natural. It takes specific chemistry to influence a human mind.

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