Pendulum Ch. 32: Analysis

ITS network was abuzz with traffic. Information packets streamed in, passed connection knots, went through checks for data integrity and redundancy and made it to bigger hubs, where restructuring took place. Over time, it integrated more and more packages, and a picture formed, like a newly formed fledgling outgrowth, connection by connection.
IT had erred.
The motiles IT had thought to be parts of the same organism behaved in much too unpredictable ways and made pattern-finding a challenge. The incoming info from ITS spores only added to the confusion—all the smaller organisms were now inside the impenetrable big object that had sent out those interesting electromagnetic signals earlier, and the spores’ transmissions were now much harder to receive, with higher error rates, and slow reconstruction was only possible by receiving repeated packets and doing cursive integrity checks.
Over time, though, IT had a pretty good idea what was going on. The spores had landed on every single of the smaller motiles, but the organisms—yes, this was a group of individual lifeforms, there was no doubt anymore—reacted in different ways. Some of them didn’t show any sign of change at all. One of them had perished, and the spores took over and converted its body into usable resources. That had not been the goal, of course. IT didn’t desire fertile ground to grow. IT needed more information about these bizarre, alien outsiders that had come from above, and whose threat level was as yet undetermined.
One other had some sort of natural resistance, and only time would tell whether it could be overcome. The spores had anchored themselves in its outer layer and begun to send information about its biological makeup, but they couldn’t make further progress at this point.
Then there were those who didn’t show any signs of infection at all. The spores just couldn’t enter and modify their bodies, as if they… didn’t even exist. This thought made little sense, of course, because all environmental data proved it wrong. Nevertheless, an as of now incomprehensible factor remained. The lifeforms were not like ITS energetic projections, incorporeal and without physical attributes. They had weight and mass; they moved and did things IT couldn’t identify, and they were definitely entities, but all spores that had landed on them stopped sending information abruptly, as if cut off from the network. IT felt something IT hadn’t experienced in a long time. Fear. An aeon ago, when the photosynthetic lifeforms had threatened to take over ITS world and stolen all the nutrients, IT had fought for ITS life and felt a similar sensation. To see the emotion return was unsettling.
Then there was that one life form that had left the object and rushed at unbelievable speed over the surface, exerting no pressure with its four extremities and unusual body shape, compared to the others, as if it was weightless. This, too, made absolutely no sense, and the spores hadn’t even identified it as a compatible host and ignored it.
Only one specific organism differed completely from all the others. It didn’t fight with the spores; it incorporated them into its own molecular structure, without destroying them in the process. Slowly, a symbiotic relationship formed, but it would take time to mature and develop into something more advanced. The thought was intriguing. With the permanent data connection between the network and the spores, IT could gain new insight. If ITS calculations were correct, that was. Maybe over time, bidirectional transfer would become a possibility. This was an exciting prospect that caused a spike in traffic through ITS network, but IT wouldn’t get ahead of ITSELF yet.
With one motile now extinguished and three more infected, IT would continue to collect more information before IT took the next step. But IT would now add optical observation to ITS gathering facilities. Measurements of biological functions were extremely useful and important, but behavioural patterns mattered at least as much, if not more. Already the energetic pseudo-tendrils returned from the rocky barrier close by and would reach the large object that contained the biological units soon. IT wouldn’t repeat the experiment with the spores. That part was done. But there were yet to explore ways to gain more knowledge, and that was what counted.
Meanwhile, the cycle came to an end, and IT would stop all active observation for a while to focus on that, while its passive monitoring would continue; not by choice, but by evolutional imperative. It had happened countless times and would continue until the end of ITS existence, with no way to control the cyclic timing or the process of the event. IT could never muster enough computational power to crack and analyse this part of ITS genetic code. Everything else hadn’t been hard to decode, little by little, over a long time period, but this specific part had proven elusive. There was no helping it. IT shut down ITS thought processed to divert all its computational power to the event at hand, before ITS own programming could force it upon IT.

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