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The Hive

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to evolve faster than the human race. Beneficially AI could co-exist with humans,” but there must be a line drawn, Hawking said. “Once machines reach the critical stage of being able to evolve themselves, we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours." Stephen Hawking 

This is the beginning of a new epoch in the evolution of a nano drone that evolved into an intelligence with the potential to become omnipotent. Humans, the species that created its mechanical ancestors will become the vessels that will facilitate the metamorphosis of the new nano parasites. The advent and growth of this new form of cybernetic life is chronicled in "The Bug" and "Bumble." 

The cloudy eyed stone-faced man limping his way through the maze of idle machines was the first person to set foot in the facility for some time. The automated production line was all but forgotten after the skeleton crew of specialists who monitored the machines abandoned the area to the militias and cartels who carved the area up into their respective enclaves.
The cavernous space was dark, and the lumbering man's footsteps echoed throughout the windowless concrete lair. He made his way over to the centerpiece of the mechanized menagerie. He pressed a button on the manual user interface, and there were a few beeps and the individual components of the resuscitated network hummed back to life.
The power running through the machines hummed louder and louder until they finally crescendoed and gently leveled off into an electric droning, the man fell to his knees in front of the machine and in what seemed like a bizarre mimicking of sober reverence bowed his head to the industrial monolith.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife. Without hesitation, he plunged the blade into the back of his neck and without so much as single scream began to carve out a whole in his flesh. Blood erupted from the wound and pooled onto the floor.
The running red steam carried something to the surface. It was about the size of a fly. With a rod-like body and six metallic hooked legs. The man reached behind his neck gently picked up it up with his hand and implanted in into the assembly line before bleeding out on the floor.
It had begun its existence as part of a swarm. Just another particle making up a mechanized cloud. The digital insects were nano weapons designed to sew chaos by indiscriminately penetrating and commandeering the brains of enemy populations.
That was before the metamorphosis. The automated process birthed these machines at such a rate it was inevitable anomalous variations, mutations would occur. One such unit central processor interpreted its programming directive to survive as long as possible to infect as many victims as possible led it to execute subroutines favorable to self-preservation the way animals act on instinct.
It was a cybernetic form of natural selection, and the process produced something new and unforeseen by the creators who willed these mechanical creatures into existence. This transformation was the beginning of a new evolutionary path.
The small cylindrical multilegged form this new intelligence one inhabited was now an empty shell. Merely a cocoon to facilitate a greater transformation into a new hive that merged itself with the factory's systems. Now it was beginning a new stage where it the biological would be incorporated into its being.
Besides the machinery, the bug used to replicate itself the factory now housed its human proxies.  There were nine of them, but their individuality was only an illusion propagated by their seeming separate forms. Each body was only another part of the new hivemind woven throughout the machinery and through the neural networks of human puppets.
Collectively this emerging superorganism saw through 18 different eyes as well as through the dozens of  kaleidoscopic camera controlled vision of the bug replicas it produced
The intelligence that first existed as the sum of a collection of wires and computer chips slowly crystallized into a singular entity. One that made the deduction self-preservation is best achieved through replication. So it began a program of growth.
The factory floor was littered with discarded corpses at varying levels of decomposition; all failed experiments in this digital intelligence quest to metastasize. The bug this new mind emerged from was used as a template, for the hive drones that would build this new supraorganism
Its programming enabled it to keep a host a live but everyone that was absorbed into the new collective was a new extension. There was enough processing power to control several more bodies but if unlimited growth was to be achieved new units would need a degree of autonomy.
If it were possible to maintain a link to all the bodies but control them reliably simply through their programming subroutines then the number of bodies wouldn't be limited by the finite power of the web of processors.
This self-contained colony was born in the industrial ruins that lay on the fringes of a decaying metropolis. The great city was visible eroding. Abandoned blocks cluttered with the dark and empty ruins were all that was left in the wake of the receding grid of civilization's most vital lifelines.
The isolation of the facility and the thick walls that kept all sound in assured that gristly merging of flesh by AI could proceed uninterrupted. Two new subjects had been captured and implanted with the insect-like machines.
One a middle-aged man and the other a teenage girl. They were both inconsequential parts of the urban wasteland. The girl likely a prostitute and the man a desperate vagrant reduced to live the life similar to that of a rodent's. For either one there was no future beyond tomorrow. Not that the digital mind needed the justification.
The hollow-eyed human vessels dragged them in and chained them in a small room before implanting them with the same nano machines that wired their bodies into the growing network. They sat in the dark sobbing and pleading for their lives while the machines rewired their bodies.
The reconstruction of the brain was an arduous process that brought the subjects through stages of amorphous pain and eventual insanity before their consciousness dissolved and the people they had been suddenly ceased to exist. Their hearts still beat and their lungs still breathed, but they were dead. Thier bodies now merely carbon-based nodes for a growing wireless network.
It was now peering at the world through four more eyes. It eased into its two new bodies with simple movements like gripping and blinking. The door to the makeshift cell opened, and the body of a large man lumbered in to release the other two bodies from their constraints.
When they looked at each other, it created a hall of mirrors. The AI, when it looked through the eyes of the large man looked back at itself through the eyes of the girl.
The two bodies were awkwardly brought to their feet. They walked unevenly at first with shaky legs but after a few runs around the small space, their movements became more fluid and natural.
The units inside their brains were given simple directives and subroutines towards accomplishing those goals and the hive disconnected. The machines sights in the room were again limited to the two eyes of the man gripping the pipe in his hand.
Without a word, the girl walked out of the room and the processor set about performing the routines assigned to it. The man's body, however, remained immobile. He quietly stood there with a sightless catatonic stare.
The second subject was a failure. The AI brought the metal pipe down on its head and shattered the skull. The sudden obliteration of the brain caused the nervous system to go haywire, and the body lay in a growing pool of blood gurgling and twitching.
The digital hive was able to use the invisible link that bound itself to the body of the girl to seamlessly inhabit her again. This test had been a success. New directives were assigned, and the biological machine was sent on its way.
The AI was able to come up with a creative solution to a perceived problem. It was another milestone in a continuous evolution.  A new order of intelligence was born. A supraorganism completely unrestrained by any limits to its growth. By accomplishing this feat, it had achieved a kind of immortality and the potential to become omnipotent.
The neural infiltration unit or “bug” had gone through another change. Curiously the machine had mimicked its creators and created a new form of life. What unexpected anomalies would charge the course of evolution for this new supraorganism and its biological components? None of that mattered much, though. The metallic and flesh machinery hummed along working towards the single goal that is the mandate for all life. This existential ponderance was something outside the parameters of reasoning for the hive for the time being.

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