It was called Observer Base, but there were always a few Overseers like Amelia in residence. Occasionally, business took Amelia to Earth, but most of the time she was on the Moon, living and working in the hidden underground city that existed to facilitate observation of Earthly events.
There were many more Observers than Overseers and Amelia never had more than a few hours rest from the endless task of monitoring the Observers and the data that they collected. Normally Amelia worked at her own pace and kept her own schedule. Her work depended on the torrent of information that continually came to the Moon from Earth. The data flow never ended and could never be fully processed, so Amelia just did the best she could...eventually sleep came and the data flow continued without her attention. Even with nanite assistance for her neural networks and the help afforded to her from thousands of years of genetic engineering efforts aimed at improving the Neanderthal brain, Amelia, like all Overseers, still needed a few hours of sleep each night in order to allow for efficient consolidation of memories. The human brain needed some quiet time.
A call came to Amelia during her sleep and even as she first regained consciousness she knew that if her sleep was being interrupted then there must be an emergency. Still, even knowing that some crisis had been detected by Observers, she let her robotic assistant take the call while she dressed. The robot soon entered Amelia's bedroom and said, "A suspected Interventionist cell in Japan. The Observer Council is assembling."
Amelia gave a small nod of acknowledgment and sent a command to the robot via their shared nanite-based communications channel -Prepare the spaceship for flight.- Amelia then finished dressing and headed for the Observer Council Chamber.
Amelia dropped through a hole in the floor of her residence and entered the efficient underground tube transport system. The network of transport tubes was complex, but only a small part of Moon Base was the actual Observer Base. Most people who lived on the Moon had nothing to do with the process by which the history of Earth was continually recorded. However, anywhere she went around Moon Base, the inhabitants recognized her as an Overseer and watched her with interest, becoming silent upon her approach and attempting to move out of her way. Even within the hallways of Observer Base, the Observers scattered before her. Nobody wanted to risk delaying an Overseer. While at Observer Base, Amelia always allowed her appearance to clearly reflect her Neanderthal ancestry. Even the robotic guards gave no visible indication of challenging Amelia, although they silently used their nanite probes to confirm her identity. Amelia strode into the Observer Council Chamber and took her place at the head of the table. The Council President activated the data displays and explained, "A nanorobotic brain signature has been detected by scanners in Japan."
While on her way to meet the Council, Amelia had already been evaluating the available data pertaining to the emergency. Using her nanite prostheses, Amelia's brain could access all of the computerized databases of Observer Base as easily as she accessed personal memories stored in her own brain tissue. It was important that the Observers believe that they served a useful purpose by processing data and presenting reports to Overseers, so the Councilors were allowed to believe that Overseers did not have access to the secret Council Reports. However, Amelia had already read the recent report prepared by the Asia Observers and submitted to the Council, the report that had triggered the current emergency.
The Council had been discussing that report, the conclusions of which were now projected on the walls of the Council Chamber. Amelia took the time to read aloud the main items of available information that suggested the existence of an illegal intervention in progress on Earth. Doing so allowed her to confirm that her own quick scans of the data stream had missed nothing of importance. She commented, "I see that the first report of the illegal presence of this robot on Earth was made almost a month ago, yet I was not informed until now."
The Council President was relatively new in his leadership position. According to ancient tradition, the President was the head of the entire Observer Corps. For a moment, the President squirmed uneasily in his chair, apparently searching for a suitable response. Amelia noted that she could still easily intimidate him by making a silly comment implying some form of inefficiency in the Observation process. After an awkward delay, the President finally spoke and he explained, "The robot's nanoelectronic brain signature was carefully masked and made to look like a faulty nanoprobe signal."
Amelia grunted in disgust, not at Observer inefficiency, but at the fundamental technical problem of faulty nanite-based devices. Nanites powered the vast network of scanners and sniffers on Earth, but each day a tiny fraction of the trillions of nanites in use on Earth escaped from their fail-safe controls. All it took was a stray cosmic ray and a nanite might "go rogue" and, in the worst case, become a risk for being detected by an Earth human. Observers constantly watched for such defective nanites and made efforts to clean them up, but it was a never-ending task and an incredibly boring one. Part of Amelia's job was to keep the Observers in a state of vigilance with respect to "rogue nanites". It was a well-known trick of the Interventionists to try to shield their illegal use of robots on Earth by masking their nanoelectronic brain signatures with a falsified signal that could be mistaken for a signal being emitted by a defective nanite-powered probe.
Sometimes a collection of defective nanites attached themselves to a random object on Earth. Most nanite probes had programming that kept them in a fixed location or made them follow a specific target like an Earthling. The Observers knew this well and they also knew that they could not distract Overseers by "crying wolf" every time a swarm of rogue nanites was detected on Earth. In this case, the Observers had followed standard procedures and hunted diligently for what they suspected was a swarm of defective nanites. Over the course of several weeks the characteristic nanoelectronic signature of that suspected swarm was detected several times and as more data accumulated, it had finally become clear that these nanites were actually components of a robot's brain. Some Interventionist was attempting to help the robot evade detection and identification as being part of an Interventionist operation on Earth. Only Intereventionists dared use nanoelectronic robots on Earth, and doing so was one of their most audacious crimes.
Amelia relaxed...she had missed nothing in the data. Detecting the nanotronic pattern of this robot looked like the typical kind of lucky break that always led to the capture of Interventionist agents on Earth. With a little more luck, Amelia should be able to identify any other robots and humans who might we working in concert with the robot that had already been detected. She asked, "Do you have anything else to report?" The Observers remained silent. Amelia rose from the table and walked out of the Council Chamber without further comment.
An hour later she was in her spaceship and on her way to Earth.
On the beatEdit
During Amelia's short flight from the Moon to Earth, new Observations of events on Earth continued to be processed and newly obtained data suggested that the Interventionist robot had travelled from Japan to North America. The unusual nanorobotic brain signature that had previously been detected in Japan had now also been detected in the United States. While dropping towards Earth, Amelia puzzled over the newly detected nanoelectronic signature. It was not the same as what had been detected in Japan, but nanite swarms constantly changed and adapted to their environment. And if this was a robot, then its human masters were doubtlessly trying to hide its nanorobotic brain signature and they would purposefully try to disguise the signature.
The Observers were constantly trying to devise more sensitive scanners that could be positioned on Earth and used to detect faint nanorobotic brain signatures. The cryptologists endlessly strove to make better algorithms for detecting patterns in the stray nanoelectronic signatures that polluted Earth. After thousands of years of Earth Observation there were stray nanites lurking in every corner of the globe. Detecting a hidden robot among all those stray signals was not easy.
Another correlation had been made between the apparent location of the robot and a particular human genetic signature. Nanite-powered genome sniffers were stationed in key transportation and commercial hubs all over Earth. The sniffers constantly produced vast amounts of genetic data by performing DNA sequencing on stray cells shed from humans (and, less importantly, other species). These automated DNA sniffers were an important source of information for Overseers. Interventionists routinely made use of facial nanite implants to alter their appearance. The surest way to unambiguously identify and detect Interventionists on Earth was by their unique personal DNA patterns.
The discovery of a nanorobotic brain signature belonging to a robot had provided the starting point for Amelia's investigation, but then this possibly related DNA clue had also been found. Vast amounts of Observer data constantly streamed from Earth to the Observer Base on the Moon. An automated data analysis routine had discovered in those data a correlation between the travel of the robot from Japan to the United States and a detected DNA signature of a particular person. It appeared that someone might have been traveling with the robot, departing from Japan and arriving in America in synchrony with the robot.
The most recent site of detection of the robot and the DNA signature was at an airport in North America. Amelia adjusted her landing plans so that she could set down near that airport and she began to study potential Interventionist targets in that area. Interventionists were often trying to influence the development of new technologies on Earth, so Amelia identified all the technology research and development centers near the airport.
Just before landing on Earth, the complete genetic profile on the suspected human Interventionist arrived at Amelia's spaceship. Amelia noted that the DNA pattern was unusual in that it contained few if any genetic defects. In terms of genetic load, this particular genome was in the bottom percentile. It was common for Interventionists to be the product of Genesaunt culture and long artificial selection against genetic defects.
Amelia landed her spaceship where it would almost certainly not be noticed. If anyone did see the ship, they would think it was an old truck rusting in an abandoned farm field. She cracked open the hatch and sent out swarms of nanite probes to investigate all likely Interventionist targets in the area. On a hunch, she started a personal investigation of all institutions of higher education that could most conveniently be reached from the nearby airport.
Within a day, a new signal was detected by one of the DNA sniffers that Amelia had sent out and positioned near all of the nearby potential targets for Interventionists. The suspected Interventionist DNA pattern was found at a visitors parking garage of university campus that was not far from the airport where the electromagnetic brain signature of the robot had previously been detected. Following this new clue, Amelia moved her base of operations, her spaceship, closer to that university and she targeted all her nanite probes on that campus and its surrounding community. Amelia performed a classical "stake-out" of the parking facility and soon identified a suspect, a possible Interventionist agent: a woman who parked in the visitors garage and walked to a dormitory.
Amelia's attention had first been attracted to the woman because she emerged from the parking garage carrying a ridiculously large number of shopping bags. Soon a man was helping the woman carry the bags and, with nothing better to do, Amelia sent a nanite probe to follow them. That probe then detected an anomalous nanite signature and for a moment Amelia thought the woman had led the way to the robot. However, Amelia's probe continued to follow the woman and the new nanite signature, only briefly detected by the probe, was lost. A quick analysis of the new nanite signature revealed to Amelia that it was not the same as the one that had previously been identified as emanating from a robot.
Amelia's nanite tracker probe followed the woman to her room, then held its position. Amelia called up additional probes and positioned them to watch every exit of the dorm. Amelia used a nanite probe to tap into computerized on-campus housing records. Amelia soon discovered the name of the suspect: "Dexamene Gregores". By accessing Dexamene's records in the campus Registrar's database, Amelia learned that Dexamene had only recently registered as a student.
Amelia was confident that Dexamene had no reason to suspect that she was under surveillance. This seemed an ideal opportunity to round up and capture an entire cell of Interventionists. Amelia settled in for watching and waiting, sure that if watched, Dexamene would soon reveal the location of her robot assistant. Did this Interventioist cell include more than just a single human and a single robot?
As she had often done in the past, Amelia wondered why Interventionists used robots as helpers for their criminal activity on Earth. In many cases the activities of Interventionists were first revealed to Overseers when the robot assistants of Interventionists were detected. Observers and Overseers never used robots on Earth and were satisfied with the assistance of their nanite probes.
After two hours, Dexamene left her room and Amelia immediately ordered her waiting probe to move in and explore. It was not hard to confirm that the DNA pattern Amelia was tracking belonged to Dexamene. Dexamene's dorm room was almost antiseptically clean, but Amelia's probe found some stray cells that had fallen off of Dexamene. Soon the DNA of those cells was scanned by the probe and the DNA signature was found to match that of the traveler who had moved from Japan to America in synchrony with the robot. Having confirmed the DNA pattern of Dexamene Gregores, Amelia pulled back her probe and was content to watch the movements of Dexamene.
Then Dexamene seemingly disappeared! None of the surveillance probes surrounding Dexamene's dorm was able to see her leave the building. Since Amelia's surveillance probes might have been detected by Dexamene, Amelia feared that she had scared away the Interventionist. Amelia suspected that Dexamene was pretending to be a student and was probably trying to make contact with a target Earthling who was an authentic student at the university. It was puzzling: why would an Interventionist agent register as a student and live in a dorm? Amelia ran a search of the Overseer data banks and found no previous examples of an Interventionist agent actually posing as a university student.
Not fully trusting her nanite probes, Amelia personally made a visit to Dexamene's dorm. She was able to discover that a service tunnel connected Dexamene's dorm to an adjacent building. Amelia wondered if Dexamene has noticed she was being watched and so had made a hasty exit by way of the tunnel. But then a few hours later Dexamene returned, strolling through the main entrance of the dorm and going back to her room as if totally unconcerned about being seen. Amelia triple checked her nanite probes and felt confident that Dexamene would not again be able to slip away unseen.
But the next morning (Tuesday) it happened again. This time, Amelia knew that nobody had used the service tunnel. Amelia was forced to conclude that Dexamene was altering her appearance when leaving the dorm and confounding Amelia's reliance on facial recognition scans of the images captured by her probes that were watching the dorm's exits.
Amelia returned to Dexamene's dorm and this time took the risk of entering her room. There was a good chance that Interventionists might be monitoring the room and detect an unauthorized intrusion so Amelia morphed her appearance to roughly match that of the custodians who worked in the dorm. As far as Amelia could tell, Dexamene's dorm room contained the typical belongings of a university student. Amelia dared not touch Dexamene's computer. Having learned nothing useful, Amelia retreated from the dorm.
Amelia called upon Observer Base to make a complete study of people going in and out of the dorm. On Wednesday Amelia again easily found Dexamene when she was detected by a probe when she went from the parking garage back to her dorm. Amelia felt confident that Dexamene still was unaware that she had been identified as an on-Earth Interventionist. Using optical observations from a probe across the street, Amelia saw Dexamene enter her dorm suite, but she soon departed. Once again, Dexamene was not seen leaving the dorm.
However, this time a woman leaving the dorm was noticed wearing Dexamene's clothing and having the same body size as Dexamene but different facial features and a different hair style. This important information from Observer Base on the Moon did not arrive quickly enough to allow Amelia to lock a nanite tracker probe on Dexamene. That was the last time Amelia saw Dexamene on campus.
With Dexamene slipped from her clutches and fearing that she would be unable to make further progress searching for Interventionists on campus, Amelia shifted most of her search efforts to the community around the university. Amelia reasoned that somewhere nearby there might be a "safe house" where the Interventionists could be found. Alternatively, if Amelia or her probes had been detected by Dexamene, this group of Interventionists might never be seen again.
Now willing to risk an investigation of Dexamene's computer, Amelia made one final visit to Dexamene's dorm room, but she was entangled in a physical confrontation with a friend of Dexamene and that attracted the attention of campus security. Amelia decided to continue the investigation but remain on her spaceship and only use remote observations made by her nanite probes.
Finally, on Friday, another DNA sniffer on campus again detected Dexamene's genetic signature. One of Amelia's nanite tracking probes established and maintained a lock on Dexamene. Amelia began to familiarize herself with Dexamene's new identity: "Lanora".
Given Lanora's association with Charlie, Amelia assumed that he was the target of the Interventionists. Amelia searched for Charlie in the campus databases and she discovered that Charlie was the university's Presidential Scholar, on full scholarship as a pre-medical student. Amelia speculated that Charlie was a budding genius who had attracted the attention of Interventionists. Was this the start of a new Interventionist strategy designed to facilitate the making of new technological discoveries on Earth by cultivating university students? That possibility disturbed Amelia since it seemed that the interventionists had previously only targeted established researchers with proven track records in high tech fields.
Amelia's nanite probe followed Lanora and Charlie to Lanora's house and by tracing out the friends of Charlie and the recipients of his past emails, it was easy to learn about the upcoming party at Lanora's house. Everything started to fit...Amelia discovered that the house had recently been purchased and was in a convenient location to function as a base for Interventionists targeting someone on the campus.
Then a new surprise! Amelia's nanite probe was inactivated when she tried to infiltrate the grounds of Lanora's house. How did these Interventionists expect to get away with such blatant violations of law? Interventionists almost never inactivated nanite probes, fearing that doing so would attract the attention of Observers and Overseers. Amelia decided that the Interventionists had some great secret hidden at the house. Amelia felt that this secret might have something to do with the planned party.
Amelia was tempted to immediately raid Lanora's house, but then another option came to mind and dominated her thinking. Maybe the party would be the best time to strike. She decided to wait one more day. Well, why not? What could it hurt to wait and see what these audacious Interventionists were planning? The alternative was to march in and just round up everyone in the house, but that might miss some additional accomplices and targets of the Interventionist plot. Maybe Charlie was not the only target. Maybe other guests at the party would show signs of having been manipulated by the Interventionists. Amelia made plans to infiltrate the party and see what she could learn from "inside".
By Saturday evening Amelia felt confident that she knew most of the students who would be at the party. Almost all of them were networked and communicating with each other by means of phone calls and internet communications that were easy to tap into. In particular, Amelia had identified one invited student who had suddenly decided to go out of town and whose identity could be adopted for the duration of the party. She locked a nanite probe on that student and continuously collected voice and other behavioral data. Amelia morphed her body and facial nanites so as to take on that identity. Amelia examined herself by means of an external imaging nanite: she felt liberated by taking on a male body form.
By tradition, Overseers who went to Earth were always female, but her genetically engineered physiology and nanite implants made it easy to impersonate a man. In any case, it was fun to walk into the home base of an Inteventionist cell and surprise them; the surprise could particularly be amplified by posing as a male. Amelia thought back over her long career and the various Interventionists she has caught on Earth. Each such capture provided special memories and no doubt, within a few hours, this case would also. Although she had pulled back all her nanite probes away from Lanora's house, long-range observations had confirmed that both Lanora/Dexamene and a male were working out of that house. Undoubtedly the male was the previously detected robot, although Amelia had yet to get a nanoprobe close enough to confirm that.
While Amelia finalized work on a car that matched the year and make of the car owned by the student she was impersonating, she monitored her tracking probe that followed the robot and Charlie as they went to pick up other students from campus. Amelia knew that some students did not have cars and, indeed, some were biking to the party. A few had also planned to use the city bus system for transportation from the campus to the party.
Finally it was time. Amelia drove to Lanora's house and was stopped at the entrance to the driveway by a man. He glanced at a palm computer and asked, "What is your name?"
Amelia gave the student's name and it seemed like the guard found it on the guest list. "Ah, computing club. Okay, park up ahead along the driveway with all the other cars."
Amelia scanned the guard but found no indication of a nanorobotic brain signature or other nanite contamination. Amelia parked and walked up the well-lit driveway towards the house. She was greeted by a second guard, also clean of any detectable nanites.
Inside the house, Amelia found a large group of students seated around a large circular fireplace. Several of the students recognized "her" and she tried out her nanite voice implants. Amelia was not interested in interacting with anyone who recognized her, so she asked for the location of a bathroom and moved on.
The situation was similar in the basement recreation room, but everyone was involved with various games. In particular, Amelia saw Lanora and Charlie watching some other students playing a video game. Even without any invasive probing, Amelia could detect nanites on both Lanora and Charlie.
Amelia was surprised to see Lanora and Charlie holding hands. Almost always Interventionists had the common sense to avoid emotional tangles with the Earth humans they targeted. What did Lanora/Dexamene think she was doing? Amelia then noticed that Lanora was not only infesting Charlie with nanites, but she was also bombarding him with a pheromone. In fact, the air of the recreation room was full of the pheromone. Even worse, it was the human pheromone that was active on both males and females. Did Lanora think it was funny to pump the pheromone into a room full of college students? Was Lanora in the process of altering Charlie's thoughts and emotions right here in full view of dozens of other people? Amelia could not control her rage. She let her nanites form a molecular screen across her nostrils to protect her from the pheromone.
In all her past experience, Amelia had only seen the end effects of Interventions. Here, right in front of her, Amelia saw Lanora breaking the law and interfering with the normal course of events on Earth. Amelia kept her distance and tried to figure out what Lanora was trying to do. Charlie seemed to have some interest in the video game that he was watching other students play, but Lanora seemed to only be playing Charlie like a game. In fact, the pheromone was clearly having effects on most of the people in the room and the atmosphere of the party was getting increasingly wild. Finally, sickened by the display and concerned with locating the robot, Amelia made her way back up to the kitchen.
Amelia wanted to go out back to the barn. Her long-range probes had seen the robot parking vehicles in the barn and it seemed possible that the Interventionists might have hidden their spaceship out there. However, Amelia had to endure a tedious conversation with another student in the kitchen. Bored with the conversation and increasingly concerned that the other student knew quite well the student who Amelia was impersonating, she tried to say as little as possible and concentrated on data arriving from her nanite probes. One of the long-range probes had a night vision image of the house. Amelia became interested in what seemed to be a male figure standing on the roof of the house. A few students had discovered the hot tub on the roof and two others were in the pool behind the house. The man on the roof seemed positioned where he could watch both the hot tub and the pool. Amelia wondered: had the robot been positioned there for the safety of the party guests?
Finally, a group of noisy students came into the kitchen from the basement, apparently having completed some video game competition. Amelia took the opportunity to slip out of the kitchen and into the back yard. Amelia walked past the pool and waved casually to a man who had been sitting by the pool. Amelia launched some nanite probes: one homed in on the man on the roof, one on the man by the pool and one went to the barn. Interventionist nanites were easily detected on both men and in the barn.
Were there two robots? No, the man by the pool was human, but the "man" on the roof was the Interventionist robot. Amelia reached the barn and stepped into the well-lit interior and saw the impressive array of cars that were parked there. Just then, she heard the man by the pool shout, "Hey, stop!"
Amelia did not stop. She now knew the location of both Lanora and the robot and the only remaining issue was the location of their spaceship. She sent nanite probes into the top and bottom levels of the barn and quickly found the spaceship. The probe she had launched towards the robot on the roof of the house showed him leap off the roof, hit the ground, roll and spring to his feet, running towards the barn.
With everything happening at once, the Overseer decided that taking control of the spaceship was her top priority. She jumped down to the basement of the barn and applied all of her skills to cracking the Interventionist locks on the spaceship. She heard the man from the pool come down the ladder into the basement and approach. Amelia kept her attention on the task of using her nanites to break into the spaceship, but Thomas grabbed her arm and said, "I'm talking to you!".
Amelia flooded Thomas with a swarm of nanites and froze his skeletal muscle activity. At that moment, the spaceship hatch popped open and Alfred jumped down into the basement from the floor above. Amelia started receiving analysis of the nanites that had infested Thomas, but she turned her attention to the robot. Alfred advanced rapidly towards her, but now she redirected a wave of nanites and took control of his nanorobotic mind. She let his momentum carry him into the spaceship and he collapsed into a flight couch.Amelia followed the robot into the spaceship while she continued to study Thomas' nanites. It was clear that Thomas was some kind of sink or trap for defective nanites, but some of those nanites were resisting Amelia's efforts to access their data.
Using the full power of her Overseer tools, Amelia finally gained access the data from the nanites inside Thomas. She found a large archive of optical probe surveillance images. Apparently the nanites inside of Thomas were able to collect and store data from nanite probes used by both Observers and Interventionists. There were also images generated by a neural prosthesis function of the nanites. Amelia found a recent image of herself with her own nanite-based tools highlighted and color coded. Was it possible that Thomas could view such data? Amelia realized that Thomas must have been able to see through her nanite-generated disguise. Amelia continued to scan back in time through the archive and she saw what Thomas had "seen" earlier in the evening, the view of "two Dexamenes" talking to each other. Amelia knew that sometimes Interventionists were clones and some Interventionist cells on Earth had been captured and found to contain several human clones. Amelia started thinking of how to find both of the "Dexamenes" who had been seen by Thomas. What luck to run into Thomas and his nanites!
Amelia turned her attention to the data held inside Alfred's nanorobotic brain and saw that they confirmed that Alfred was Lanora's assistant. There was wealth of information inside Alfred, but from casual inspection it was not possible for Amelia to judge if Alfred had previously interacted with two or more clones. She knew that she would need the special equipment on her own spaceship in order to completely explore Alfred's brain. For now no time remained: Lanora had left the house and was getting into a car.
Amelia closed the hatch of the spaceship and prepared to fly it out of the barn. She seemed to have a good control interface and she tested her ability to control the shuttle craft by crashing through the closed door at the end of the basement. She banked the spaceship around the side of the barn and turned towards the house. The spaceship had unusual controls and Amelia had trouble engaging the stealth flight mode.
Amelia's nanite probes now spread out in search of the "two Dexamenes". At that moment, Amelia's attention was on a car being driven by Lanora. That car was on the driveway beside the house. One of Amelia's probes provided a good view showing that Lanora and Charlie were both in the car. Amelia was already above the trees, but she saw the two students in the pool looking up at her. She concentrated on engaging the spaceship's cloaking systems but also casually directed nanite probes towards the two swimmers in order to erase their memories of having seen the flying spaceship. She glanced at the house and noticed that several students had left the hot tub and were looking towards the barn and now had also seen the spaceship: Amelia directed more nanite probes to erase their memories. A battle began with Amelia's nanites trying now to inactivate all Interventionist nanites they encountered, but some of Amelia's probes were also taken out of action by the interventionist nanites.
Amelia saw "the other Dexamene" leave the house and jump into Lanora's car. Amelia tried to imagine where Lanora thought she was going. Was she trying to take Charlie some where? Did the Interventionists have another spaceship hidden somewhere? Finally Amelia got the spaceship's cloaks activated then the power plant seemed to fail. While making a crash landing she called for her own spaceship to come out of hiding and pick her up.
Precious minutes were lost waiting for her spaceship to arrive and then transferring the robot to her own ship. But soon enough, she was up in her own spaceship and back in pursuit of Lanora's car. As Amelia caught up with Lanora, suddenly the night lit up with an explosion. Lanora's car had collided with a tanker truck. Amelia made a powered descent and one of her nanite probes quickly found a body, apparently thrown free from the car crash. Analysis of fumes from the crash site indicated that at least one body was being incinerated by the flames. Amelia landed her spaceship near the wall of flame.
Amelia jumped out of her spaceship, picked up the body and carried it into her spaceship. It was one of the "two Dexamenes", injured, but rapidly being stabilized by Amelia's medical nanites. Soon, police and fire units arrived and Amelia moved up and away from the crash site, abandoning the search for other possible survivors. After a brief pause for analysis of what had happened at both the party and the crash site, Amelia set her autopilot for return to the Moon.
During the short period of time while Amelia had been out of the spaceship picking up the body, Andresklo's emergency re-programming probe had swooped, undetected, past one of the Overseer's nanorobotic probes and found Alfred inside the Overseer's spaceship. The probe had updated Alfred's memory to indicate that the Interventionist cell had consisted of both Dexamene and her twin sister, Lanora.
By the time Amelia's spaceship was approaching the Moon, Dexamene was regaining consciousness. Dexamene saw Alfred immobile on a chair and said, "Alfred, help me."
Amelia said, "He cannot help you. Whatever the self-destruct program was inside him, it ruined most of his brain. Still, what I could save is enough."
Dexamene asked, "My sister?"
Amelia replied, "Dead, along with that poor boy." The spaceship completed its descent into a hanger at Moon Base and both women silently watched the landing. Amelia pulled Dexamene to her feet and pushed her out of the spaceship. "When will you miserable Interventionists learn that you do far more harm than any possible good you might seek?"
Amelia was greeted by her robot assistant. Amelia had already filed her initial report on the successful capture of the Interventionist cell. Amelia gestured towards the spaceship and ordered her assistant, "Collect the robot, download its remaining memories. Take care! The were tricks and traps in it and there might be more."
Dexamene pulled her arm away from the Overseer's grip and said, "I was giving Charlie a chance to do something great with his life. With a little help he could have invented medical scanning techniques that would have helped millions of Earthlings. Now because of your meddling...nothing!"
Amelia laughed, "My meddling? You are the criminal meddler! Can't you understand that the Earthlings have to stand on their own feet? Do you have the wisdom to decide how to grow and alter and entire culture? No! You cannot even take care of yourself."
Dexamene muttered, "I cannot leave the Earthlings to suffer when I have the means to help them."
Amelia shrugged, "Yes, you are so noble, so good, but Earthlings have always died and will continue to die. Out of their pain they are building their own future. That is the way it has always been."
- Chapter 15 - Dexamene completes her mission
Here is a map of the chapters:
_> Mary –––––––––––––––––––––> Lincoln / \ / \__> Amelia PAlbert ––––––––––––––––––––> Andresklo / \ \---->Ferace ------> Yasas / \ __----------> Cathy / / \ / \ / / \ / \__________>Tess CC –––> Charlie ––-----–> Stefi \ \ ----------------> Lani \ / \ \ _______---> Jenny –––> Thomas \______> Dexamene
Sunday ----> time flow --> one week in the Fall --> ---------> Saturday
Useful pages for the reader: List of characters and the Glossary. Readers can discuss the story at Talk:Cellular Civilization.
If you want to help write the story, see the meta page (warning: spoilers!).