I don’t know if we can hold them off for much longer.

In the lull between attacks, I think about the mess we’ve gotten ourselves in. How did we let it get out of hand so badly?

It all started so innocently. All we wanted to do was help people, and now we’re on the brink of unleashing a plague of insane proportions on the world.

When Jim first came to me with the idea of using “smart dust” parallel-processing to drive a swarm of nanobots in the body to detect and repair damage, I thought it was a good idea. We had a nifty prototype that we were planning to use in non-invasive surgery, but had originally planned for them to be steered by an outside operator. When we realized that the thousands of ‘bots could link together and act as its own computer, we thought we had found the secret to eternal life. Just inject yourself with a swarm of ‘bots, and they would clean your arteries, destroy mutating cell groups, and in general keep everything in good shape.

Our problem was we built them too well and too smart for our own good.

We thought we were smart in our programming, making the BB’s (John in marketing thought that one up: “Body-‘Bots”) singular focus the well-being of the host. That turned out to be our biggest mistake. They wound up doing their job all too well.

Everything worked out fine at first. The animal studies were all positive, with the mice (and eventually apes) looking and acting stronger and healthier within days of being injected with BBs. (we rejected the term “infected” although it was the more accurate of the two. It’s so ironic in hindsight.) We thought we’d have some problems with human trials, but not as bad as what happened.

The nightmare began when the test subjects overpowered the clinicians observing them tied them up, and gave them BBs from their own bodies. They then started to capture as many staff as they could get their hands on. When we sealed the floor, we thought we had the contagion contained. How wrong we were.

We managed to capture a BB-head before we barricaded ourselves in the ‘bot fab complex, the only place that could be completely sealed from the outside. We were in contact with other groups of normals in other places, but we think they were infected by BBs coming in through air vents and the open seams of doorjambs and windows. (I’m terrified to think how far the BB plague has spread in the world outside.) We had some HazMat suits so we drew straws (Pete and I lost) to see who would don them and grab somebody infected. We were only able to question her for a minute or two before we were forced to retreat and abandon her. It seems that the BBs figured out that if they left individual ‘bots everywhere, the network would be able to go everywhere.

It turned out that the BBs formed network links not only inside the bodies of the hosts, but also between bodies, forming a much more massive system than we had anticipated. The computer intellect created, kind of an “Over-mind”, quickly deduced that the most dangerous thing to man was other men, and further recognized that if it made everyone part of the network, then there would no longer be a threat to anyone. From what we got from the girl, it seems that once a group is completely assimilated, the BBs reduce their control of their hosts to a minimal level, just enough to prevent them from performing unapproved activities. I could almost see how a BB-based society could be better for us, but I’d rather be a goat than a sheep, even if I don’t get treated as nicely. Free will has a lot going for it.

They’ve already tried to batter the door down once already, and Connie thinks that the current pause is them getting better tools for breaking in. I don’t think we can hold them off much longer, and we’ve already had to tie up two people who wanted to surrender. Jim thinks that we can make a break for it with HazMat suits, but we don’t have enough for everyone, even if we leave the two losers to the BBs.

I managed to grab an X-acto knife from the lab, and at the time I wasn’t even sure why I did it, although I think I already knew subconsciously what the situation would deteriorate to. I play with the blade, flipping its long handle between my fingers, spinning it in a complex pattern as if to take my mind off of the thoughts of suicide that keep crowding in. I know I’m going to kill myself, I just hope that they can’t bring me back.

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