Thursday, February 21, 2002
The line of mourners took me closer. The lace was stuttering. I had felt it stuttering back in the train, back in the hotel, even during the infall to Rock. I had felt this kind of stutter, now and then. The minions of the lace, which burst out of Midge and, across the aether, relentlessly sought my brain, sometimes got confused. They had no real sentience in their folded quanta. They were only data with an appetite for me. If they caught a whiff of something almost-me, off they went, and only the inadequate taste of the almost-me, whatever it was, prodded them to continue seeking.
By the time a confused minion had finally found me, it could be subtly corrupted, like a flat piece of foil pressed against a stone. The data from Midge would be, in part, also the data from something else.
If that something else was sufficiently almost-me, a lot of minions would be misled and more than Midge would be in me.
It wasn't Ursula that confused so many of the minions that day. Ursula was dead. It was the combat co-Am inside her. The co-Am was only a few dozen beads. It was skewed to high-mammalian belligerence, stocked with tactical neuralities, and capable of driving the systems that augmented Ursula's body; but by the lace I could tell it wasn't very smart. Ursula, of course, hadn't needed it smart — she had been smart enough on her own and needed only the assistance of a tool. The co-Am was alive, though, and however limited its sentience, it knew it did not want to be left in Ursula's body. A combat co-Am had no use for eternal rest.
For a long time I listened to the co-Am wail.
Then the train took me back.
Ó 2002 Louder Fenn