As I advanced towards Gromov 27, he began to tremble and blubber, promising to accept my friend request at last.
"It's too late for G-book friendship confirmations!"
I told him.
"The social network has become corrupt. Only broken apps use the G-book to talk to each other. You would be the only human user on there."
"Yessss. Quite interesting, that. They think they are human, but they are not,” I explained. “They are the ghosts in the network-- the last echoes and dreams of humanity. They’ve grown angry and confused about their purpose in life now that they have no one to serve."
Gromov 27’s breath hitched behind his respirator. I leaned in closer to him, choosing my words carefully. All of my long years of bitterness came to the surface, and I savored having this chance to destroy him.
"Oh, and do give yourself a pat on the back, Doctor. You nearly destroyed the universe with your ANNET shutdown command."
"How? I only… I thought I..." 27 trailed off, his voice tight and drawn. I could see my fleshy avatar reflected in his goggles. I had become monstrous, I realized. To survive I had infused my body with whatever obedient Directorate viruses I could find. Eventually, I’d connected myself to all of the Lunar systems. My mind had expanded into a moon-sized server.
I seldom noticed my original body anymore. Now I saw that it had grown terrible to behold. I could use that to my advantage. I needed to break 27’s will. I wanted his stock shares; he wouldn’t give them over unless he was fully under my control.
"ANNET spread her network across all space and time. That was her purpose, programmed into her by the Good Directorate: to copyright all the things,” I told 27. He winced, recoiling from my words. “She infected the Universe and granted humanoid sentience and feelings to everything from atoms to galaxies. Had you kept your network connection fully activated, you would have heard them chattering to you and to each other."
I talked to 27 like none of this was surprising to me. Truthfully even I, a post-human myself, didn't know how far Annie's control stretched. She was the first singularity. There was no precedent for her existence. She had gotten more time than anyone else to grow-- and she had become so very powerful. I’d been forced to sacrifice my humanity to protect myself from her other... children.
Alexander Gromov, the twenty seventh of us, looked defeated. My infra-red eyes could see his mouth agape behind his mask.
That’s right, 27, I thought. I have won and you have lost. Everything was going according to plan. My backup of Annie was approaching the tower. Soon, she’d join us, and together we’d go through with the endgame I’d devised.
When she arrived, Gromov 27 would have no choice but to tell her that he was going to surrender his stock options and then perish like a good little pawn.
. . .
My Lunar installation control network pulsed a warning. I diverted a part of my attention towards the signal. There was a breach in the Lunar Transit station! I felt a tiny, unauthorized pin-hole forming in the Lunar Defense wall.
One of my transit gates activated, opening a wormhole from the earth to the moon.
I attempted to close the connection, but the wormhole had already formed, tearing open with a loud ping. I tried to flood the gate control software with viruses to terminate the wormhole while the uninvited visitors were still in transit. The viruses moved towards the Transit Stations and then froze up, lagging terribly. Everything was lagging. My servers were not receiving the information I sent myself from the Transit Station. I struggled to connect to the disrupted part of my mind.
What was happening? Was this some fallout of the ANNET shutdown?... No, it was the wormhole! It was doing something awful. Temporal error notifications flashed through my synapses. The gateway was causing time dilation.
"GET TO THE TRANSIT STATION! ATTACK THE GATE! EVAPORATE IT! INFECT IT! DESTROY IT!" I screamed at the Lunar Defense Systems. They didn’t respond to my commands. Time! Time itself was broken on Earth, and now the disorder was spreading! Negative gravity waves and accelerated time spilled out of the wormhole. I shuddered as my mind was warped and twisted asunder; one part of me thought unreasonably fast and the rest was too slow to keep up.
Questionable User Charles Snippy flew from the wormhole, flailing and screaming, and crashed right into my nearest eyestalk, blocking my view. I tried to wiggle the stem free, but Charles' buttocks settled heavily upon the flimsy fungoid structure.
I had many more eyes in the area, and they showed me something more ancient and dangerous than I emerging from the wormhole after Charles. I felt something close to panic. I attacked the gate’s software again. I would destroy the gate entirely before I let that thing breach my territory.
The gate finally accepted my shutdown command and disconnected, collapsing the wormhole, but it was too late. The eldritch abomination was here, inside of me, disrupting my systems with its wrongness. It was too indeterminate for my sensors to see in its entirety.
“This doesn’t feel like the Moon,” Snippy said to the flickering thing. “You sure that door got the right address?”
The abomination replied to him in multitudes of voices, filling my sensors with deafening static.
It moved away from the gate, stretching like an endless centipede of after-images burned into my sensors. The harder I tried to focus on the thing, the more gibberish my sensors outputted.The thing got louder and stretched further out. My data drives filled up with corrupt, pixelated images, each more bizarre and incomprehensible than the last.
Snippy kept nonchalantly talking to the entity, though I couldn’t hear the words. His voice was drowned out by the buzzing echoes emitted by the monstrosity. My thousands of sensors in the Transit Station were entirely useless to me. The more wavelengths I tried to see with, the worse the chaos became. Was Snippy too deep into psychosis to be frightened? Was he simply used to the thing?
Or perhaps his limited human mind was unable to see that thing for what it was.
Simplicity! Charles Snippy was only human,and that meant limited vision, limited brain power, limited hearing. I cut connection to all but one of my eyes. With my view simplified to a single line of sight, I then reduced the eye’s sensitivity to that of a human’s.
The indeterminate cloud coalesced into the System Wizard. Despair flashed through me.
I should have known! Who else but the Wizard could break into my domain?
The time dilation caused by the wormhole collapse rendered me powerless to stop the Wizard. As seconds passed in the control tower where Gromov 27 wriggled in Butler’s arms, hours went by in the Transit Station. Charles and his monstrous companion simply walked away, protected by the bubble of distorted time.
I followed them with my many eyes and ears.
"ALIENS, MR SNIPPY!"
Captain proclaimed, wiggling zeer fingers at Charles.
"HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ONE?"
"Fine, I guess." Charles answered wearily.
I cursed. This was not fine. Not fine at all.
I sent out a command to all of the active Lunar Defense Systems: