A tinny jingle sounded, and Dr. Haas looked up from his paper. Why was he getting a call at lunch on Saturday? “This is Haas, what can I--”
“Doc, it’s Lewis,” said a feminine voice on the other end of the line. “I need to tell you something.”
“Lewis? Your voice is so... different. Are you in a tunnel or something?”
“More a warehouse than a tunnel, but that’s beside the point. The bots they... The bots work, Doc. Better than we ever expected.“
Dr. Haas sat back and stared at his phone with incredulity as the feminine voice continued to prattle on about something about an accident and a containment leak. The look on his face was probably on par with having heard he was holding a bomb. He gulped and put the phone back to his ear.
“Lewis--if you are Lewis--what do you mean they ‘work’?”
“You’ll probably see in--” suddenly there was a screeching sound of metal being torn asunder.
The nanotech pioneer jumped to his feet and looked towards the hill where they had their research labs. A giant arm was waving an equally giant hand in the way most someone trapped calls for help. More screeches of tearing metal emanated from his phone and much to his terror a woman who was easily two stories tall rose up from the wreckage.
“Can you see?” He heard it from the phone a second before the sound reached him from the hill. “Doc, this is huge! I’m huge! Once we--urg!”
Up on the hill, the woman was growing even more massive, her feet sliding through the woods as her stance widened with each and every foot added to her colossal stature. Soon, she was casting a shadow on the sleepy town below as the sun vanished behind shoulders that had to be as broad as a football field by now.
Dr. Haas could only watch, transfixed, as his creation designed to terraform planetoids continued to outperform every metric. Surely, she wouldn’t break fifty feet. Surely, the fail-safe would kick in when they had not gotten the keep alive code. Even so, he reached for his laptop...
Then, something else began to happen. Something strange. Cracks which shone with purple light formed in the giant woman’s shadowed form. They spidered outward, creating ever smaller fragments until her entire being glowed. She dropped to her knees as her outline began to waver and bulge. A scream which blew out windows and bent back the palm trees ripped through the town just before the giant woman seemed to disintegrate.
Dr. Haas rushed to scene only to find the road from the hill crowded with hundreds of naked women who were, more or less, variations on the giant which had risen and faded just as quickly. Their sizes, shapes, and colors ran the gamut, but they all had a similar face. A few approached the car, their voices a cacophony of excitement.
“Doc! Doc! I’m--”
“--hundreds of people now! Something--”
“--about the bots reaching critical mass--”
And so it went as the not-quite-clones all tried to debrief Dr. Hass about how it felt to have the nanotechnology rewrite their genetics.
“The best thing?” Said a Lewis with long red hair. “The bots aren’t inert right now, Doc. We are, all of us, still one organism.”
“--Just packaged a bit more reasonably,” added a Lewis whose complexion was a bright brown beneath a smattering of darker freckles.
“Lewis, I--I’m sorry this happened. It--”
“--is perfectly fine, Doc. After all, now we won’t have to recruit a crew for the test flight.”
“--and think of how much work can be done by hundred of linked minds!”
It seemed like everything had worked out but, this was only the beginning... (643)