Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #233

When Alurian relinquished control of his nanobots, I got my first real taste of power.

The nanobots derived their processing abilities from their numbers. Individually, they weren’t any smarter than a calculator. But trillions of them, working together, could rival the greatest supercomputers ever built.

Everything I had done up to that point, manipulating bits of material, building a lighthouse, even re-growing my hand… They were party tricks. Now that I had been granted command of one-hundred square miles of them, the sense of possibility was incredible.

If before, I’d had control of a factory, now I had control of a global superpower. I had no doubt that, given enough time, the nanobots could have done anything I imagined.

Well, almost.

I realized that Alurian, had he been so inclined, could have wiped us out without a second thought. There would have been no fight at all, just obliteration. The fact that it didn’t come to that was due to his own conflicted feelings. On some level, he had not wanted to fight. He had wanted a reason not to fight.

Even with all of that power, he had no way to get what he wanted, which was for things to go back to the way they had been before.

Now that I had his power, I was just as powerless.

In all honesty, it was probably a good thing.

Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to help him if I could, but the nanobots were so intoxicating with their promises of omnipotence. Without an object lesson, putting the lie to that promise, it would have been all too easy for anyone to believe themselves a god. Myself included.

So I couldn’t do everything, but I did the best I could.

To begin, I transformed our surroundings. With merely a thought and a feeling to guide them, the nanobots tore down the alien bubble of masonry and constructed an intimate hospital room.

Alurian was supported up from the ground by nanobots which build a treatment bed molecule by molecule. A clean tile floor swept across the room, forming and smoothing the surface beneath our feet. Walls grew out of the ground already covered with a cheery pastel yellow paint.

Outside the window, you could still see the patchwork ruin that surrounded us, but the window was bordered by flowing, white curtains, and the room was filled with soft light.

The nanobots I had brought with me from the Sorceress’s slice had more experience manipulating flesh and biological matter, so as a blanket of glittering silver covered Alurian’s body, the cybernetic limbs were dissolved away, replaced, a millimeter at a time, with new living flesh grown from his own genetic code.

The experience was surreal. The nanobots did not require me to know anatomical structure, or how to re-knit muscle tissue, or even to consciously remember the details of his face. I simply willed them to heal him, and they did. It was like being a military officer. I gave the orders, and my soldiers carried them out.

I focused first on restoring Alurian’s body, leaving the changes to his brain for last. Soon, he looked from the outside as though nothing had ever happened. His slender elven body lay in the bed, wearing a thin hospital gown. His blond hair was neatly combed, framing the points of his ears.

Ms. Moon stood to one side, watching the transformation in wonder. She took his hand, now restored.

“Almost everything has been healed,” I told them. “Except his mind, which is still being supported by the network. As I said before, I’m not completely sure what will happen after, so…” I nodded down at him.

“You might want to take a moment, just in case.”