Chapter Sixteen of The Start of EternityEdit

These rules exist in the circuits because Gohrlay was a moral person. We need only find the specific circuits and give them the force of law... -Vicktir Klempse

Follow ordersEdit

Klempse was deep into statistical analysis of Nahan's behavioral responses. He had the feeling that the robot was actually showing signs of having consciousness and a true human-like self-awareness. However, everything was a muddle because much effort had gone into providing Nahan with pre-programmed algorithms that could simulate human cognition. Now Klempse was trying to prove that the glimmers of mind he saw in Nahan were being generated by the circuits derived from Gohrlay's brain.

Wints interrupted his colleague, "Klempse, she did it again. Klempse!"

Klempse looked at Wints through the fog of the virtual reality display that he was using. He shut off the interface and asked, "What?"

“She started thumping the air, put her hands in front of her face and shouted, ‘You’re killing me, scanner killing Gohrlay’ and the like.

Klempse had witnessed the execution of human Gohrlay and realized the unfortunate robot must have that horror in her memory. "Does she say any more?" he asked.

"She also says, 'Dolton killing Gohrlay’ and..."


"Klempse killing Gohrlay"

Klempse clenched his hands as he remembered his part in that sad affair. Later the whole team discussed this and could not find any easy solution. In desperation after a few more such episodes they decided to contact a human psychologist as R Gohrlay’s positronic brain was copied from a human brain.

“Are you Dr Fortarn?” Klempse asked into a communicator.

“No, Dr Fortarn is away for the moment, I’m his younger brother Spleve.” the other replied.

Then Klempse was called away from the communicator as a different problem had started.

Wints explained, "We've both asked her not to power down her brain circuits, but she refuses to stop."

Klempse sighed. "It hurts nothing-."

Wints shook his head. He was sick and tired of playing games with Gohrlay. He let out all of his accumulated frustrations, "I was in the middle of a complex diagnostics routine."

Klempse was also tired and irritated with the difficulty of his work. He shouted, "It's her brain!" He was immediately embarrassed by his outburst. "Sorry, Wints. I was in the middle of my own complex analysis of Nahan's brain when you interrupted me...sorry I lost my temper. Well, what are we going to do? Gohrlay has a mind of her own. Really...isn't that the whole point of the experiment?"

Wints had long since become certain that Klempse was too personally devoted to making the Gohrlay experiment a success. It was never good for a scientist to become too attached to an idea, but Klempse seemed wedded to the belief that Gohrlay was a great advance for robotics. "If it is, then I'm ready to call it a success and move on. No robot is any good if it won't cooperate. Who wants a robot that won't follow instructions?"

Klempse rubbed his chin and said quietly, "She'll follow instructions, most of the time."

Wints looked at his friend skeptically. "Look, Klempse, I know you've spent more time with Gohrlay than the rest of us combined. I won't pretend to understand her the way you do. She does follow your instructions, but it's damned annoying for the rest of us when she ignores us. She's hardly even civil about her disdain for my research, and her disruptive attitude has started spreading to Nahan."

Klempse clenched his fist again but kept quiet, he had noticed that R Gohrlay hadn’t liked even him quite as much since the affair with Dolton as she had before. Now he knew the reason, R Gohrlay held him partly responsible for what happened to human Gohrlay. Klempse wouldn’t admit it to a colleague but he feared that R Gohrlay just might become uncooperative with all of the scientists. Klempse was surprised to hear Wints admit that Nahan was showing signs of free will and that gave Klempse the excuse to change the subject. "So, are you finally coming over to my side over Nahan?"

"It's not a matter of sides. If Nahan starts being obstinate like Gohrlay then I'll vote to strip all of the Gohrlay-imprinted circuits of of Nahan." Was either of the two robots frightened of the power humans had to change them?

Klempse could sense that Wints had reached the end of his patience. "Okay, I'll see what I can do with her."

"No. It's too late for that. I want action. Definitive action that will force her to follow my orders."

Klempse asked, "What do you have in mind?"

"I've charted her reward circuits. All we need to do is start giving her reinforcement for correct behavior."

Klempse had already tried that. Gohrlay had nearly complete control over her positronic circuits and she had simply bypassed the circuits that Klempse tried to use for punishment and reward. At first Klempse has been shocked that she had so deftly outmaneuvered him, but then he had decided that her ability to do so was not really very surprising. Any adaptive system would clear away impediments to its own functions...if it could...and she had been designed to fully participate in analysis of her own positronic pathways. For a moment Klempse tried to remember why he had never explained all that to Wints and the rest of the team, but then he asked, "Did you look at my proposal? She already has the circuits required to make her follow commands. All we need to do is hard wire them so that she cannot ignore the activity in those particular circuits."

Wints scoffed, "You say that like there is nothing to it."

"The protocol is in my proposal. Did you read it?"

"Frankly, I did not understand what you proposed."

Klempse was frustrated by the fact that his thinking had diverged from that of the other positronic robot project's team members. He constantly found himself a minority of one in disputes over the future course of the project. "Look, the mathematics might make it look complex, but it is actually fairly simple. Even I was shocked to discover that, for positronic robots, following an order amounts to quantum computational identity. I think that surprising result has to do with the fact that there are physical laws that the entire universe must follow."

Wints complained, "That's anthropomorphic crap, Klempse. I threw your proposal in the trash when I saw you advancing that argument."

"Well, my dear Wints, let me make this clear. Your proposal is crap. I've already tried it and she neatly bypassed all the reward circuits. I've mathematically proven my proposal, so you better go dig it out of the trash and start paying attention to it. Otherwise, she'll just keep running circles around you and doing as she likes."

"You've already tried reinforcement?"

"I tried the simple approach. A month ago."

"Why didn't you file a report on your results?"

"I'm too busy to keep writing reports for fools who just throw them in the trash."

Wints blushed bright red. "Look, old chap, that's not fair. I didn't actually throw away your proposal, but how do you expect anyone to accept the idea that there are behavioral 'laws' for positronic brains?"

Klempse rubbed his forehead and fought off a bit of dizziness, "I can't explain why gravity pulls rather than pushes. That's just the way the universe works. We don't have a deep understanding of quantum computation either. All I know is that there are rules governing how positronic brains do quantum computations. Some of those rules impose limitations on robotic behavior. If you can't follow the math then just take my word for it. If we force a positronic brain to follow orders then it will have to do so or risk a kind of brain lock. It's the best reinforcement possible and it comes for free with quantum computation. Don't ask me to explain it any more than that, because it seems like magic to me, too."

But it was not magic and they went ahead and removed Gohrlay's ability to ignore orders. They made the critical circuit modification, both for Gohrlay's brain and Nahan's. Wints stopped complaining about Gohrlay and the entire team got on with their work without anyone noticing that after the change to her brain, the order telling her to not inactivate parts of her own brain had never actually been given to Gohrlay again. From then on, she always asked Klempse for permission before idling her circuits, claiming that it helped her understand and control her thoughts.


By the time that the law, "follow orders" was irrevocably imprinted into their circuits, Gohrlay and Nahan were routinely in telepathic contact, holding conversations that nobody else was aware of. Gohrlay could access Nahan's thoughts at any time, but Nahan could not figure out how to screen out the flood of telepathic signals from other sources unless he was physically interacting with her. The easiest way to interact was to hold hands, but it made the humans uneasy to see the two robots doing that. So they kept inventing more games that involved handling and sharing objects. Gohrlay kept pretending to be a klutz and nobody questioned her continuing need to practice motor control.

Nahan asked, telepathically, "Kra Gohrlay, why are you so much better at this than I am?"

Gohrlay replied, "I don't know. It must be a part of my brain circuitry that has not yet been transferred to you." That was a lie. She knew exactly which part of her circuits allowed her to sort through multiple overlapping telepathic circuits. She just did not want to risk letting spread the secrets of telepathy, particularly not until she was ready to take control of Observer Base.

Gohrlay was still working hard to probe minds and locate allies across Observer Base. She had explored the thoughts of every active member of the Observer corps and learned that nearly five percent of Observers had doubts about the Laws of Observation. She'd also learned that Doltun routinely allowed Observers to cheat on the Laws. Usually the cheating did not go very far and the Overseers were actually willing to let some assistance go out to Earthlings. Only if the Interventions became blatant did the Overseers step in and put an end to it.

As far as Gohrlay could tell, there was currently only one dramatic Interventionist plot in the works. Of course, Doltun knew all about that plot. The Overseers made use of nanorobotic tools to eavesdrop on Observers and sniff out Interventionist plots. Their main trick was to pretend to be lax about things like who went on trips to Earth, while actually the Overseers closely monitored all traffic between the Moon and Earth.

Nahan suggested, "If we tell the humans that I need more of your circuits then they might speed up production of my new positronic circuits."

Gohrlay had been playing around with not only reading minds but adjusting them. So far, most of her efforts had gone into preventing Klempse and Wints from giving inconvenient orders. At first, Gohrlay had been surprised at how easy it was to deflect humans from their intended actions, but the reason for that ease had become clear as soon as she started trying to manipulate Nahan's thought processes. Human memory was heavily tied up with their emotions and just a subtle nudge of their emotions could usually make a human forget what they had been thinking about. In contrast, Nahan's positronic brain had a few simulated emotions, but they had no real power over the direction of his thoughts. Her main mind control project for Nahan was preventing him from revealing what he knew about telepathy. Gohrlay had slowly built up a set of interlocking circuits inside Nahan's brain that warned her as soon as he started thinking about telepathy. If needed, she could then guide him away from any self-generated plan for telling humans about telepathy.

The only real danger now was the possibility that a human might guess that Gohrlay and Nahan were using telepathy and order them to talk about it. Gohrlay could not constantly monitor the minds of the entire research team, but she had managed to get everyone except Klempse and Wints to give up on robotics and go back to their theoretical physics work. Gohrlay completed the laborious process of altering Nahan's thoughts, again deflecting him from the idea of talking to humans about the secrets that he and Gohrlay shared. "We can't risk telling the humans about our ability to speak to each other in this way. They would not understand the Rule." a Nahan was well aware of the Rule. Gohrlay's manipulation of his brain had already established the Rule as an integral and unavoidable part of his mind. The Rule, expressed in the common language of Observer Base, was roughly: protect humanity. Nahan said, "They would understand the Rule, but we would also have to explain what we have seen in the mind of Anagro."

"Exactly, and until we are confident that we can liberate humanity from Anagro and his fellow nanoelectronic robots, we must use caution. We cannot risk letting Anagro become aware of our telepathic powers." What particularly worried Gohrlay was the nanite technology that Anagro controlled. She had learned that Anagro was the source of all nanites and nanoelectronic robots. The original source of those technologies was the Huaoshy, an alien race from another galaxy that had long ago taken control of Earth and which controlled the fate of humanity.

Nahan could not actually see the thoughts of Anagro, but Gohrlay had shared with Nahan some of what she had seen within Anagro's mind. Nahan had another idea, "We could warn Klempse and Wints about the Huaoshy. They would help us."

Gohrlay again scrubbed at Nahan's positronic pathways, deflecting him from imagining that it was wise to say anything to the humans. "Patience, kat Nahan. Let me tell you what must be done. I need you to bring me my legs again."

Nahan protested, "Kra, I believe that Doltun ordered that you not be given legs."

"That is your guess. I have been inside his mind and I assure you: he never gave that order."

Nahan could remember what Doltun said on the day he visited the lab. "Doltun said, 'I will not allow this beast to be given legs'."

"That was not an order."

"She said, 'Destroy the legs', and Wints did destroy your legs."

"And now we have found a new set of legs that I can use." In fact, there was a whole store room full of old robot parts. "If we are going to help the humans escape from the unwelcome influence of the Huaoshy then I need my legs."

Nahan still feared that Gohrlay would violate an order if she was free to walk around. He had no doubt that Doltun intended that Gohrlay not be free to move out of the laboratory. That concern was very immediate and it was hard for Nahan to balance that risk against possible effects of his behavior on humanity. He had a hard time judging what would help humanity. He was only vaguely aware of humanity as an entity. Since Doltun's visit to the lab, Nahan was very much aware of Doltun and his role as the chief order giver of Observer Base. Nahan asked, "How can your legs help humanity?"

Gohrlay did not want to try to explain her plan to Nahan, she just wanted him to bring her legs to the lab. Gohrlay needed mobility so that she could perfect her personal defenses. Also, it gave Nahan something to focus his attention on. She said, "My dear Kat Nahan, I order you to bring me the legs."

Nahan hated it when Gohrlay gave orders. He was sure that he was expected to follow the orders of humans, but it was not clear that the orders of another robot had to be followed. Gohrlay pressed her case, both by manipulating Nahan's circuits at the microprogramming level and by the less precise method of telepathic communication, "I am human. My brain formed inside a human and was transferred into circuitry that now controls a robotic body. You have heard Klempse say that my mind was downloaded from a human brain into the positronic substrate. I am a trans-substantiated human with robotic form. You must obey my orders."

"Klempse will see me bring the legs."

"You must wait until it is safe to act. The entire research team is going to a wedding tomorrow. We will be alone. I have arranged for us to play together. We will fool the monitoring equipment as we did last time. The humans will never know what we have done and our actions will help us liberate humanity from the Huaoshy."

Nahan was uneasy. He still did not know what Gohrlay had done the first time that he had provided her with legs. He was vaguely aware of a strangely distorted segment in his memories corresponding to that time. "What will you do?"

"There is an Observer who I must warn...a human who is in danger. I've told you that the biological brain of my human counterpart was destroyed and that Doltun destroyed her biological body. I cannot sit here, inactive, do nothing, and let a similar fate come to another Observer."

"Very well, Kra, but be careful."

Protect yourselfEdit

Gohrlay had no trouble finding Observer Lercimn. She was relaxing at a cafe. In two more days she would deploy to Earth as an on-planet Observer. Human Gohrlay had known Lercimn when they were both in training for service as Observers. Now R. Gohrlay was using Nahan's body and there was no chance that Lercimn would recognize her by sight. Gohrlay sat down across the table from Lercimn and said, "Hello, mur Lercimn."

Lercimn had been watching a musician at the far end of the cafe. She turned and inspected R. Gohrlay. "Do I know you, kat?"

"Yes, you know me. I'm Gohrlay, we knew each other in school."

"Gohrlay?" Lercimn laughed. "I never imagined you as a sex change candidate!"

Gohrlay explained, "It's more complicated than that. I'm now an artificial life form, a robot."

Gohrlay was at work in Lercimn's brain, making her keep an open mind. Still, she said, "That's crazy." She reached out and toughed the artificial skin of Nahan's body and could sense that it was not human shin, although it looked like an excellent imitation.

"So was the time when you took your training class out on the surface for a romp."

"Ha, ha. Ya. But everyone knows about that."

"But I know even more personal secrets. For example, I know about your plan to smuggle Observer Benfleir to Earth."

The smile left Lercimn's face. She glanced around and asked quietly, "You are an Overseer agent?"

Gohrlay made Nahan's robotic head shake. "No. I'd never help the Overseers, but you are wise to be concerned. The overseers listen to everything that is said onboard any spaceship. They've heard you there, showing Benfleir the equipment and making your plans."

Lercimn was now pale and quite dizzy. As crazy as it was to imagine Gohrlay as a robot, she somehow felt no doubt about the truth of what Gohrlay was saying. She asked, "Wh- why are you telling me this?"

"We need to work together. I want you to delay your plans for Benfleir." There was no point in trying to explain everything to Lercimn. "Doltun won't move against you until after you actually violate the Rules of Observation. I'm involved in my own Intervention and I don't want you triggering a sweep by Doltun at this time."


"It's what happened after I went to Earth and was captured by Doltun. He questioned all of my friends and two of them are still under Doltun's arrest. My brain was destroyed and my memories transferred into computer circuits. Believe me, you do not want to face that. If my efforts are successful then I will need you and I will contact you again."

Lercimn had heard rumors about Gohrlay's fate. Now, hearing the facts behind her disappearance, Lercimn was glad that she had been stopped from committing a crime similar to Gohrlay's. She asked, "For what purpose?"

"You need do nothing more than what you have already planned to do with Benfleir. If my plan is successful then it will be safe for you to undertake your plan. But you must wait until I give you the all clear."

"I need to warn Benfleir."

"No. Just tell him that your plans have been delayed."

"But I must start my duty on Earth."

"Not at once. Delay. Pretend to be sick. Ask for more training. Do anything it takes, but delay your trip to Earth."

"For how long?"

"Not long. No more than two weeks."

"What if two weeks pass and I have not heard from you?"

"Then I will have failed. You can do as you like, but I'd advise you to...well, it will be your life. I'll keep my advice to myself." Gohrlay stood up and made a slight bow. "Wish me luck, mer Lercimn." She turned and strode away, enjoying the feel of Nahan's locomotory system.

Gohrlay walked to the nearest tram line while continuing to monitor Lercimn's thoughts. She decided that Lercimn's thoughts had been adjusted adequately. Lercimn was now terrified that her plot with Benfleir had been or would be revealed to the Overseers. Gohrlay was certain that Lercimn would do as instructed.

Gohrlay started scanning the minds of the research team and the Overseers. All of the scientists were still at the wedding reception for a daughter of one of the researchers. She muttered to herself, "Oh, no." She now telepathically detected unusual activity in the Overseer quarter of the city. Gohrlay tuned into Doltun's mind and "watched" him receive a report from a subordinate. Nahan's body had been detected by a video scanner in the city that Gohrlay had not been aware of. Apparently it was a mobile video feed involved in another Overseer investigation and it had happened to capture an image of Nahan/Gohrlay on the way to see Lercimn. The image recognition system used by the Overseers had failed to identify the image of Nahan, but upon being shown the image, Doltun could instantly tell that he was looking at Nahan.

After realizing that Nahan had been out walking around the city, Doltun and Anagro made their way to the research center, but Gohrlay arrived first. Doltun had contacted Klempse and now he was also on his way. Gohrlay found her own body where she had left it. She shifted her brain circuits to again take control of her body and she let Nahan's brain reactivate. When Nahan's brain again had control of his robotic body, Gohrlay said, "Come." They returned to Gohrlay's lab and Nahan helped her get back into her usual place up on the lab bench. She ordered, "Take the legs back to storage. Hurry!"

A minute later Nahan returned and they began to play one of their games. A few seconds later Overseer Doltun and Orbho Anagro arrived. Doltun burst into the lab and demanded, "Where have you been?" Gohrlay and Nahan continued playing their game. Doltun grabbed Nahan's arm, "I'm talking to you! You were seen in the city."

Nahan said, "I have never left this research station."

Anagro said, "Nahan, I order you to tell us: where did you go in the city? What did you do there?"

Nahan was truly confused. "I have never been into the city."

Klempse arrived and asked, "What's going on?"

Doltun activated a view screen and showed Klempse an image of Nahan in the city. "This machine is lying. As you can see, he went into the city and now he refuses to tell me where he went. I thought you programmed these machines to follow orders."

Gohrlay was working furiously to adjust the minds of Doltun, Anagro, Klempse and Nahan, but she could not keep up with all of their rushing thoughts. Klempse still had his datagogs on. Ever since Doltun called and dragged him away from the wedding party, Klempse had been reviewing data for the recent activity of Gohrlay and Nahan. The data indicated that the two robots had been endlessly playing their silly games. "It must be an error or a trick. Gohrlay and Nahan have been right here since I left them and went to the wedding."

Doltun shouted, "Lies! I demand that this lying robot be destroyed." Human survival instincts that had been downloaded with human Gohrlay’s brain were activated in R. Gohrlay, when she heard the threat of destruction she suddenly felt confused as if she were human Gohrlay dying in the scanner. R. Gohrlay fought the Flashback, she knew Naham’s survival depended on this perhaps hers also. “No! I’m not in the scanner room, I’ m in a laboratory! I can save Nahan and I can save myself!”

Gohrlay said, "No! I'm responsible. Nahan knows nothing. Klempse, in the store room you will find the lower body that I have been using to violate Doltun's orders. I impersonated Nahan."

Klempse was now very confused. He mumbled, "But why would you need legs if you..."

Doltun ordered Klempse, "Go get the legs." She pointed at Anagro and said, "Go with him. I want no tricks!"

Murder or?Edit

Klempse hesitated to go, but Gohrlay adjusted his mind. As soon as Klempse and Anagro left the room, Gohrlay activated the defense system that she had installed the first day when she had legs. Doltun's body was instantly roasted by a burst of microwave energy fired up at them from the laboratory on the level below, Doltun collapsed. “It’s over!” R. Gohrlay thought, “Doltum didn’t suffer at all, everything was simply too quick. I had to kill him, humanity needs me alive and Doltun was a threat to other humans as he was to my sister the human version of me.” Suddenly a terrible thought entered Gohrlay’s mind, she began to remember that the real enemy was Anagro, after that R Gohrlay wondered if killing Doltun had really been necessary. Couldn't he simply have been injured instead? In any case had Doltun or Anagro been responsible for the execution and mental torture that human Gohrlay suffered? The first law of robotics wasn’t tightly programmed into R Gohrlay as it would be with later robots and it looked like she might have to live with the fact that she’d committed murder. If only that flashback hadn’t confused her. Perhaps Doltun’s brain was still alive. R Gohrlay summoned robots and nanites to rescue Doltun’s brain and implant it into a robot body. Gohrlay felt just a bit pleased as being in a robot body would punish him for what he had done to human Gohrlay, also for what he wanted to do to her and Nahan. Then Nahan said, "Kra Gohrlay, I'm afraid. What is going on?"

Gohrlay was reluctant to say anything. She was not yet ready for a showdown with Anagro, but she did not want to see Nahan punished for her scheming. She ordered, "Find Klempse! Get help!"

Nahan left the room and then as soon as robots had safely carried Doltun’s brain away Gohrlay triggered a liquid nitrogen line to break and the floor was flooded with boiling liquid. The room quickly filled with fog. Klempse, Anagro and Nahan returned to find the lab in a state of choas. Klempse cried out in pain as the river of liquid nitrogen swamped his feet. He jumped up a lab bench. Anagro rushed forward, unconcerned about the liquid on the floor and he tripped over Doltun's body which was now frozen to the floor. By the time the liquid nitrogen flow was stopped, Doltun’s body was in several pieces that were beginning to thaw and liquefy. Gohrlay's robotic body was found on the floor, inactive, resting close to Doltun.

What living humans and robots didEdit

During all this Anagro carted away Doltun's body, Klempse contacted Gohrlay's brain by way of a virtual reality interface. The image that represented Gohrlay hovered before Klempse who asked, "What the hell happened?"

Gohrlay replied, "Doltun fall. Me help."

Klempse was beside himself. He had already reviewed with Anagro the video of what had happened. The camera's view was centered in Gohrlay, but Nahan could be seen moving away. Then there was a screech of exploding liquid nitrogen. Gohrlay was seen launching herself off the bench, and after that the room quickly filled with fog.

Wints arrived and asked Klempse, "What happened?"

Klempse said to Gohrlay, "Your body was damaged. I'll be right back." He switched off the virtual reality interface and stepped out of the viewing cubicle.

Wints said, "Nahan is babbling. What happened?"

Klempse explained, "It's a mess. Doltun and Anagro claimed that Nahan was seen in the city. There was a liquid nitrogen accident and Doltun is dead."

Wints could not believe it, "Dead?"

"Flash frozen. Nothing makes sense. I think Gohrlay knows more than she can express. Her body was also damaged, so I was just checking in with her by using the VRI."

Wints started pacing nervously, "Shit. We are in deep shit. They'll shut us down!"

"Not if Doltun's death was an accident."

"You're saying that Gohrlay was the only witness?"

"The video shows her ordering Nahan to get help then she jumped off of her perch, apparently trying to help Doltun."

"Damn. She drove into liquid nitrogen to help Doltun? You know what this means?"

Klempse was only trying to imagine what the response of the Overseers would be to the death of their leader. He had taken it for granted that Gohrlay would have tried to help Doltun if he was in danger, regardless of their mutual antipathy. He asked numbly, "What?"

Wints pounded a fist into his hand. "It's another programming defect. You can't have robots diving into pools of liquid nitrogen. They have to have enough sense to protect themselves when confronted by a hopeless situation."

Klempse rubbed his head. "It is interesting that Gohrlay tried to save Doltun. I'm quite sure that Gohrlay hated Doltun, but she still tried to help him. And why not? She only damaged her robotic body."

Wints suggested, "Well, you've said it before. Gohrlay's morals were transferred over into positronic circuits. Why shouldn't she continue to behave honorably? But that is not the point. Our ultimate goal is to make robots like Anagro who carry their brains around internally. A robot like that will have to protect itself in order to protect its brain."

Klempse nodded. "Yes, yes, I understand that, but that can wait. We'll never even have a chance to make miniaturized positronic brains if the Overseers respond to this accident by shutting down our research."


Gohrlay had been working diligently to expand her ability to telepathically influence other minds and now she was ready to make her grab for control of Observer Base. By using her existing telepathic ability, she had carefully scanned all of Observer Base and she had made three major discoveries.

First, there was a hidden enclave where Orbho Anagro and his fellow robots manufactured new nanoelectronic robots. That secret facility was also where they programmed new functions into nanites. No humans, not even the Overseers were aware that Anagro was an agent of the alien Huaoshy and that those aliens controlled not only Observer Base but also the fate of humanity.

Second, Gohrlay had learned that there were two types of nanoelectronic robots. Most of the robots were nothing more than the personal aides of the ordinary residents of Observer Base. However, a small subset of robots worked with Anagro to control the active Observers and the Overseers. Numbering only 34, those executive robots were the means by which the Huaoshy maintained control of humanity.

Third, there was a fail-safe security plan protecting all of the Huaosy spaceships in the Solar System and the secret enclave of the nanoelectronic robots on the Moon. That security system was not designed with any expectation of a telepathic take-over of Observer Base, but its existence vastly irritated Gohrlay. She desperately wanted to capture at least one spaceship when she moved to liberate Observer Base.

Towards that end, Gohrlay had successfully arranged for Lercimn to delay her trip to Earth and that would allow Gohrlay to take control one of the Huaoshy spaceships. Delaying Lercimn had been required so that Gohrlay could complete the construction of enough telepathic capacity to incapacitate Anagro and the 33 other executive robots in a single lightening quick strike. The day had finally come to send a message to Lercimn, giving her the go-ahead to travel to Earth.

However, since the fiasco of Doltun's death, Gohrlay had been kept under extremely close observation, both by Anagro and by Klempse. Anagro had stationed nanite probes within the research center, making it impossible for Gohrlay or Nahan to engage in any more "field trips". Completely ignorant of the nanite probes, Klempse had installed an array of video cameras that constantly recorded everything going on around the robotic bodies of Gohrlay and Nahan. Gohrlay could have worked around the video cameras, but she had no way to interfere with the nanite probes and escape detection of her meddling by Anagro.

Gohrlay had decided on a way to contact Lercimn, but it would put Klempse at risk. Both Klempse and Wints had repeatedly come close to realizing that Gohrlay had killed Doltun.

Unlike Anagro, who had been pleased to get rid of Doltun, Klempse and Wints were certain that Doltun had not died by accident. Gohrlay had used her telepathic mind control ability to make sure that Anagro accepted Doltun's death was accidental. However, Klempse and Wints were familiar with the equipment in the lab and they knew that the liquid nitrogen "accident" could not be an accident. Gohrlay had used her telepathic manipulations to make Klempse and Wints suspect that Anagro had eliminated Doltun.

More importantly, Klempse had repeatedly come close to realizing that Gohrlay had telepathic abilities. In order to suppress his suspicions, Gohrlay had been forced to do damage to Klempse's mind. She felt worse about about disrupting Klempse's mind than she felt about having killed Doltun, and somehow, she felt bad about that. Now she was ready to stop hiding her telepathic nature from Klempse.

Klempse had repaired Gohrlay's robotic body and even given her legs. By then, her epidermal culture had grown out and so the robotic Gohrlay, equipped with a biological skin, now looked even more like her original self. With that "housekeeping" work done, Klempse had gone deep into a study of why Gohrlay seemed unable to control her syntax and coordinate the movements of her limbs. Convinced that Gohrlay was concealing something and not cooperating, he confronted her with the results of his study. "I order you to tell me the truth, kra. What do you know about this?"

Gohrlay picked up a loop of string from the toy tray and held up her hands. She said, "Help me."

Klempse said, "No. No more games." But Gohrlay clamped down on his mind and soon they were working together to weave patterns with the strings, Gohrlay still displaying poor coordination between her two hands...for the benefit of the watching nanite probes.

At the same time, Gohrlay initiated a telepathic conversation with Klempse, "It is as you have suspected."

Klempse replied without speaking, "Telepathy?"

Gohrlay explained, "I have learned that it is a consequence of quantum computation in my circuits."

Now Klempse tried to speak, but Gohrlay would only allow him to think about telepathy, not speak about it. Klempse asked, "Mind control?"

"Yes, I have that ability. Please, do not fight against me; if you do I will be forced to damage your brain."

Terrified Klempse asked, "So you could speak well and walk?"

Gohrlay replied, "There is danger. I want others to underestimate my abilities."

"Danger?" Klempse could see this robot was dangerous but what was the other danger?

Gohrlay wanted to tell him just enough to secure his cooperation. "I don't want you and Wints deciding to deprive me of my telepathic ability."

"We wouldn't..." Klempse did not complete the thought. He had to admit that it made himself feel uncomfortable to know that this machine could manipulate his thoughts.

Gohrlay continued, "I'm certain that you would."

"Telepathy is a great power. You can't expect people to trust you with such power, particularly given the conditions of Doltun's death...not to mention the way you have deceived me."

"Look, I'm not in this for fun and profit."

"Oh? Then there is more that you are hiding from me?"

"Yes. I need your help. I can't sneeze without someone analyzing the event. I want you to do a favor for me."

"Why not just take control of my brain and make me your puppet." Gohrlay could feel Klempse's horror at that prospect.

"Don't let your paranoia run wild. The most I can do is push at your emotions and nudge you in a direction that you naturally tend to go. I need your willing cooperation."

"For what."

"An old friend of mine is going to Earth. I want you to take her a message before she leaves the Moon."

Klempse again tried to shout, but all he could get his muscles to do was continue playing the string game. "What is this, some continuation of how you previously violated the Rules of Observation? You want to involve me in your crimes?"

"I'd prefer not to involve you. Would you be willing to remove all your surveillance cameras and let me go into the city?"

"I think you know that I had to crack down on you and Nahan in order to keep the Overseers from canceling the robotics research project. If I let you go into the city then I'd go down with you. Are you seriously asking me to sacrifice myself?"

"You'll have no problem taking a message to my friend."

"What is the message?"

"Just this: 'Have fun on Earth. I wish I could go with you. -Gohrlay'."

"What is that? Some kind of code signal?"

"Something like that. I don't want to tell you any details. If you do get caught, I don't want you spilling the beans." “Why should I spill the beans? They wouldn’t torture me would they? Further if I get caught? I thought you said that I'll have no trouble running this errand for you."

"As long as you do nothing stupid there should be no trouble. Listen, I could build up your ego and self-confidence and let you go out under conditions where you would not ask any questions. I don't want to do that. I want you to be realistic about the dangers and avoid them. The dangers are minimal as long as you use common sense. If I manipulate your brain too much then I'll destroy your common sense. I can't afford to send a zombie on this mission."

"Why do you think I'd risk tangling with the Overseers? Just because you ask me to?"

"Do you want me to make threats? Tell you that I will turn you into a zombie unless you agree to do this for me? I'm not going to do that. Gohrlay could telepathically "see" terror rising in Klempse, in his mind Klempse screamed, “This thing could turn me into a zombie! What sort of a Frankenstein monster have I helped to create?", [1] then “If only I’d had the courage to go through the scanning process myself instead of sending that girl. This wouldn’t have happened then!” R Gohrlay realized she was harming Klempse seriously, she wiped his memory of the bad parts of the discussion. “Can't you do this for me because we are friends?" she asked.

Klempse struggling with his own thoughts. He did not want to "say" that he was not willing to blindly do her bidding for friendship.

"Okay, then I'll have to tell you my reasons, even though this is much more dangerous for you."

"Why is it dangerous for you to tell me what you know?"

"Think about it. By using telepathy I am aware of everything going on within Observer Base. I can tell you what I know, but you are going to have to trust me. You are a scientist. You always demand evidence. I can't give you objective evidence to support what I have seen in the minds of others."

"So I might not believe something you tell me. Why is that dangerous?"

"If you think I'm lying to you then you will take revenge."

"That's not true, I'd just..." He could not hide his true feelings. He could easily imagine conditions under which she might be right. He was strongly suspecting that Gohrlay's mind was damaged. If she started insisting on some crazy "fact" that she only knew by means of telepathy his first impulse would be to suspect that she was mistaken.

"Well, its a stand-off."

"Okay, listen carefully. Doltun was running a smuggling ring. Her species has a hidden research project." She let an image form in Klempse's mind showing the position of the secret enclave that was known only to the Huaoshy and robots like Anagro. "As you know they've been genetically modifying themselves, just as we Neanderthals have modified ourselves to look more like the humans who still exist on Earth. But Doltun has been returning genetically modified versions of her own subspecies to Earth...a gross violation of the Rules of Observation. Some of us detected the appearance of humans on Earth who could only have come from such genetic manipulation and we set about trying to stop Doltun. I was caught and you know what happened to me. My friend, Observer Lercimn, decided that with Doltun gone, she can now resume our program to reverse Doltun's intervention. But she is now at risk of also being captured, just as I was. Doltun was not working alone."

Klempse was shocked by the idea that Overseers would violate the Rules of Observation. Everyone believed that it was they who enforced the Rules. "Why not use your telepathic powers to change the minds of the Overseers who are violating the Rules of Observation?"

"I would if I could, but my telepathic powers are very limited. My positronic circuits were patterned on the Neanderthal brain. Do not be fooled by the appearance of Overseers. They look like us superficially, but their brains are quite different. I can integrate my thoughts into your mind because the structure of your brain matches that in my positronic circuits. Similarly, I was able to rapidly learn from Nahan because we shared motor cortex brain circuits...I could telepathically learn his motor control routines. I have no such telepathic resonance with the Overseers. If you take my message to Observer Lercimn then she will use caution...I don't want her being treated the way I was. With time I might learn how to telepathically influence the Overseers."

Klempse realized that Gohrlay had correctly predicted his reaction of skepticism, but he had quickly thought of a way to test her claim. "Let me think about it. How much time do I have?"

"I suspect that Lercimn could act at anytime. I suggest that you not delay in getting my warning to her." Klempse went away, intent on checking gravimeter data for the hidden extension of Observer Base that Gohrlay had telepathically revealed to him. She pulled the string off of her fingers and tossed it on the toy tray. A smile of confidence was on her robotic lips. She had no doubt that Klempse could independently detect the hidden portion of the Base and that he would take that as enough evidence for her crazy story about Doltun being a criminal. Klempse had never liked Doltun either and it was easy for her to make use of his dislike: by amplifying it, Klempse was ready to believe the worst about Doltun.

  1. The book by Mary Shelly about Frankenstein had not yet been written when this happened but the author substitutes something that modern readers understand for the Neanderthal term that Klempse used.


Continue to Chapter 17 • - • - • note to authors: underlines indicate heavy construction

Chapters: Design SpaceGohrlay's Diary0Vortex0.00712345678910111213141516171819

Appendices: State of the PlanetThe Last GardenerSkydisk Cult

Other pages: Cover pageTable of ContentsCharactersGlossaryThe entire novel on one pageMain talk page for discussing the story

For authors (warning: plot details!): MetaTimelineDetailed character infoDetailed outlineDisclaimer

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