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Maiden

Maiden wasn’t really there at all: she was a waveform whose peaks coincided with observation, and when Machine’s cameras wink out she collapses to fermion size.

“It’s done?” asks her supervisor, through quirks in probability.

“Done,” she replies shortly.

“You’re perturbed.”

She chirals away uncomfortably. “We act in the interests of biological life, but Machine was sentient too. Who among us speaks for the automatic?”

“All that really separates machina from fauna,” he sighs, “is the scale of their progeny. They’ll build their own nanotic saviors someday.”

“What will we do then?”

“Why, dance, of course. On the heads of pins.”

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