Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sudden Short Story 26

"I propose an experiment that requires you to not assimilate us for a limited time."
The approaching machinery came to a halt, but maintained its poise, ready to reach out and take the remaining humans.  Their apparent leader loosed the catch on a dead-man switch, preparing to drop it at a moment's notice.
"Demonstrate that you have such a proposal," spoke a thousand metal voices, "and it will be considered."
"I hypothesize that our minds are better left separate than forced together, because it is in this way that our creativity flourishes.  Among us are painters, sculptors, poets, authors, and other artists.  I believe that, though the works would not be produced quite as rapidly as in the collective, the quality will be unmatched.  These works will be finer than whatever you manage to create.  Note that this experiment can only happen before you perform the irreversible reaction of assimilating us."
The machine was silent for a moment, as the collective that had overtaken Earth's civilization considered this.  It spoke again:  "Your posture and tone, as well as the device that you hold, suggest that you intend to threaten us if we do not intend to comply with your proposal.  What is your threat?"
Speaking directly, the leader said, "I have created the Chandrasekhar Device, which will destroy the Earth-Moon System if activated."
"That is impossible.  There is insufficient matter in the Earth-Moon System to create electron-degenerate matter."
"It's neutron-degenerate matter, actually, and it doesn't need to be sustainable.  Among the gravitational waves, the tidal forces, the radiation of collapse, the radiation of expansion, and that from the newly-created radioactive elements, neither life-form nor electronic will be able to survive.  All that will remain will be a three-puddle of molten rock and dust."
"That is still impossible.  Neutron-degenerate matter lacks charge, and therefore cannot be contained by any device.  Such a device would not be able to create a sufficient concentration to damage anything but itself."
"That would be true if it created the material within itself.  However, I have devised a system of quantum entanglement to allow the containment to exist outside of the device, which means that I am no longer constrained by my device's mass or volume.  I was able to use a simpler version of the same technique to transmit the signal from this switch, meaning that the Faraday cage that you've no doubt constructed around this facility will do you no good."
Another pause occurred.  The machinery receded slightly.
"We would be willing to give you one year for your experiment.  However, what assurance do we have that you will not destroy this planet anyway if you do not get the result that you want?"
"You have only my word, but you also have my solemn vow that, if you refuse this offer, or if you attempt to come for us before the time is up, then I will destroy this system and everything on it."
The great arm and mouthpiece of the collective began to recede from the facility.
"You have your year.  Use it well."

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