Truly marvelous is the mind of a child.
Witness the legion of Aegis 241 combat robots: a deluge of metal legs biting into surprised pavement, the kzat kzat of a pulse disintegrator, the screams of the dying, the receding ruin, the silence.
Inside, into the alleyway, shatter the window, leap into the basement, slam the door, bolt the locks, cringe into the darkness. The robots squeeze tightly, rolling through the drainage pipes, bursting through the fasteners inside. Listen to despair as realization dawns, muffled slumps of bodies bleeding out, mindless skittering on the wet cement as the robots search,
search . . .
But the robots are not mindless.
Nor are they even true robots.
Witness the funeral procession: a river, a government building, a body floating out from under the barbed-wire fence of the perimeter. An infant, headless. A corpse drifting along just below the surface, bedecked in gauze, carried onward by the river to a sea of terrible change. A mother salutes, a tear of pride and sorrow trembling on her cheek.
True robots do not feel. They do not think.
They cannot solve problems. They cannot learn.
Witness the final fortress, colorless in daylight, lurid in backscattered radar. Infrared, ultraviolet, even X-ray: a collage of inhuman frequencies, laser tightbeams criss-crossing a spider’s web: a spider born to this challenge.
A beam cleaves the perimeter. A shadow leaps the walls. On the ceiling, the spider evades the mines below. The turrets find no purchase. The guards are mere delay. The door is armored, but the transom is glass. Into the sanctum tumbles the robot. Antiquated railguns chatter, and the demon responds in radiance and in fire and in weapons more subtle.
Imagine if we could harness the ingenuity of children.
Imagine . . .
Witness the self-destruct of the building, the explosion, the robot cast into rubble, shattered and broken and victorious.
Witness its tortured neurons, splattered on the ancient mosaic, pulling apart in places like the fibers of a mushroom. The delicate gold electrodes infiltrating the brainstem, flesh melding into metal, veins flowing outward into steel legs and automatic weaponry, the river meeting the ocean of terrible change.
The shaken men approach. They point and stare and stand and whisper:
“What is this?”
“What is this?”
Yes, truly marvelous is the mind of a child.
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