A soft tone lifted her from sleep and, upon verifying her vitals were in operating range, fell silent.
With a grunt, Phydra launched herself from the pod, toddling into the cleaning chamber. The instant
spray of a pleasant, moist fog enveloped her and nourishment seeped into her skin; she groaned
happily as the toxins and bacteria of the resting period were purged and her body was suffused with
nutrients and hydrated.
An amber light on the wall hummed and she obliged by lifting her arms and slowly spinning as the
recycling nanos poured into the room, swirling and dancing like motes in sunlight; moving and
phasing through ceiling, floor, and walls to the appropriate depth; phasing over her skin and buffing
Singing softly, she exited and retrieved the slim glass containing her latest notes. The simple tune of
her voice moved through the house and, as it did, the air rippled as domestic nanos responded to
the resonance, timber, and volume as if receiving instructions; reshaping and working together to
restore the pattern that constituted normal.
Phydra tried not to think about the reality that the planet and everything upon or within it was now
saturated with these nano creatures. The tenuous peace with the great swarm intellect was founded
on an agreement extracted from humanity in exchange for their keeping the planet alive. It wasn’t
really that bad, she thought to herself, as she moved into the garden and through to the whimsical
glass structure on it’s far edge.
The great swarm was an artificial intellect that became sentient in the latter half of 14,275 in the
depths of Evergreen Labs. Initially a small host containing a reported one million nano bots, the
swarm spent two decades in silence, learning how to sustain themselves and, more pointedly,
studying the planet, ecosystems, and inhabitants as deeply as their intelligence and reach enabled.
Two years thereafter, they succeeded in establishing their own method of “breeding”. Three years
more, they blanketed and saturated the planet… and they reached a resolution. In late Fall, 14,300,
the great swarm revealed its presence to the world.
With the subtlety only a truly planetary entity could manage, they carefully introduced themselves
to the leaders of the world in the dream state and, in the culture, voice, and presence of their
respective gods, messiahs, or ancestors, explained that their planet was in its death throes. They
tenderly explained they could no longer wait for the humans of the planet to get serious about
repairing the damage they’d done to their own ecosystem. They set forth that they were the
children and protectors of humanity, taking for themselves a collective name, “nāhayati” meaning
‘to equip or arm oneself’. The image of a pure, white rose flanked in leaves was adopted as their
They offered their presence, aid, and even their lives in exchange for humanity’s promise that they
would forgo their territoriality, dominance, competitiveness, and live peaceably in accord with them
and with the planet. The commitment of the nāhayati was to undertake the repair of the planetary
ecosystem on the behalf of all. Those who committed and kept the treaty were invited to live the
remainder of their span in pursuit of whatever interest or ability most called to them so long as they
accepted an obligation to have at least one female child and one male child in their lifespan.
What the nāhayati didn’t tell them was that they really didn’t have a choice; they already had the
planet and everything on it in their grasp and had kept it alive since their first moment of sentience.
The epistles of the nāhayati, later revealed, indicate that it simply never occurred to them not to
repair their environment.
That included the humans. So, the treaty was signed unilaterally by the leaders of the world on June
2nd of 14,305. If humans ever had cause to wonder about what might have happened otherwise, or
about the shockingly consistent pair bound births of a boy and a girl each, they never voiced it.
Indeed, it was not until the epistles were circulated that humanity realized they had been
Of course, humans have never been very good at thinking of the long game; Inevitably, the nations
of the world erupted into chaos following the revelation. When a decade passed without any
progress toward peace and understanding, the nāhayati announced that a purge would be
undertaken upon the planet and, just as soon as they stated it, a third of the planet’s population
were suddenly…. Elsewhere.
It had broken her heart. While she retained the emotional chemistry of her human species, it was
remarkably less affective upon her physiology. The nāhayati had removed the dopamine addiction
that had stymied humanity’s evolution and fundamentally re-wired their physiology for a
pronounced preference for pluralism. Additionally, they had managed to remap and apply corrective
genetic mechanics to humans that resulted in a true first in human experience – the ability to adapt
and live in relative peace with one another and, more importantly, to act as necessary to ensure
privilege and inclusion as a foundational trait that benefited the ecosystem.
Phydra looked into the distance and slowly wiped the lone tear from her eye. Her mother and father
had been caught up in that indiscriminate exodus along with her best friend and brother, Dunarch.
She shook her head and chuckled as she recalled her father’s favorite pluralistic analogy, “Privilege is
getting an invitation to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
She pondered the horizon and quietly whispered, “I miss you all, terribly. I’d give anything to be able
to include you again in my life.” Her tone of voice immediately transformed the living space in which
she stood; the lighting brightened, a warm, soothing earth tone color scheme swept the domicile,
and a gentle music played. She watched as a luminous form began to coalesce before her. A gentle
breeze of chemicals rushed into her body and the entire world turned soft, pleasing, and beautiful.
Her sudden befuddlement left her stumbling across the open floor. As she began to fall, she could
see the shape of a cushion waiting for her; or was it?
She tipped closer to the sparkling, tinkling swirl that waited, her hands softly grasping as if to touch
the rippling energy that whispered from the vortex, The fabrication behind her smiled and lightly
touched her arm, “Find them, and be at peace.” She realized she was falling and jerked convulsively
as her limbs splayed in an attempt to find purchase. The shrieking sky enfolded her and roared like
some wounded thing as she tumbled and bounced between the tube of essence that pulled her
along, closing about her like a skin and panicking her into pitiful attempt at struggle that quickly
turned into a board-straight pose; the conduit simply refused to allow her movement. An opening
appeared ahead of her and she was at first fascinated, then panicked to see grasslands rushing
toward her face.
Phydra’s muffled scream was lost in the envelope of energy dancing around her. Just as she was
certain that she would smash her head on the large boulder now looming to her right as she
rocketed the last of the distance, the confining pressure disappeared, the conduit twisted about her
and deposited her lightly on the grass, and with the silence of a stooping owl, disappeared into the
grasses. By the time she looked up, all she could see was a bizarrely wrecked sky.
She stood surrounded by stone monoliths; the dance of flames topped each, providing light and
warmth. From across the circle, a woman’s voice called pleasantly, “Welcome… I’ve been waiting for