It had been awhile since a male had made it outside of one of the reservations, they said. The news was frightening, but not uncommon. It had happened before. Reports had been coming in all morning in the form of retinal uploads onto several gestalts being run by those living near the “old world territory.”
Windell passively let the thoughts of excitement, fear, and curiosity among her friends and followers pass over her like the rise and receding tide of water over a shoreline. The thoughts would come to her in snippets before moving on to the next one.
Is he still alive?
Does he have a beard?
No, he’s clean shaven. Trying to pass as something non-binary.
Has a surveillance drone spotted him yet?
Windell, with a single thought, disconnected, and her implant chirped internally with efficient obedience. She moved on to another one of her default gestalts. More images started to flow in; some in the form of videos. The second batch seemed to be uploaded by those who were brave enough to get a closer look. No longer the one-hundred yard photo uploads from street corners or high-rise balconies. This man was not very smart.
Does he have a gun?
Are there still guns on the reservations?
No way. They’d exterminate the whole territory if they found any.
Has Civil Protection gotten to him yet?
No, but I want to see the cishet try to run.
I got a drone tailing him now if anyone wants to see him. I’m letting the feed go public access through my personal gate.
Windell disconnected again. This was boring to her. Civil Protection will have this supposedly “cis-male” by lunch time. Although, maybe not. A lot of these men were moved to the reservations prior to collective implantation. There was no way to track them in any meaningful way. Civil Protection was down to near-stone age tactics now in order to find him, which meant eye-witness accounts mostly. Same deal as before.
Reflexively, she opened her channels again to see if any new conversations had started.
I remember when I had to cross the street at night to avoid men like him.
He might be rapist of some kind. Do you remember that one victim that was living outside the Eastern Europe reservation?
If private gun ownership were still legal, I’d shoot him before he goes any farther.
Oh, please! You’d lock your door like everyone else.
Were they seriously still talking about this guy?
Windell had forgotten how much older her friends were compared to her. They were around her age when binaries and non-binaries were still still living together. Before the catastrophe. She was so lucky they told her.
They shared their memories with her. Cities and cultures obliterated in the blink of an eye. The burning of their lungs as they trudged through the ruins of post-nuclear fire. The shaking and fear as strangers looked across the horizon at the kill zones waiting for them. The hunger, the disease, the rapes, the drugs, the helplessness, the numbness, the anger, the rage. All these feelings until there was a collective cry of enough. It was a torrent of atrocity and experiences that left Windell gasping for air after her screams of agony. It took months of psycho-surgery to minimize the world that she saw until it could become just another person’s memories in her head.
It was a Matriarch’s duty to share these horrors, so that the world knew what they had suffered. War, Patriarchy, and Toxic Masculinity had brought the world to the brink of annihilation. It was a more humane, much saner place now.
The world was better, no doubt; but Windell was tired of the past. All of these events had come and gone. Women could walk the streets at night alone. Women did not have to worry about a man abusing her, belittling her, making her inferior to him. Why dwell on what the world was? The Patriarchy was over.
Windell disconnected from the whole collective to be alone as she finished her coffee at the cafe. Full autonomous mode. The stream of thoughts that were pouring into her head had stopped abruptly like water being cut off from a spigot. She was alone with her own thoughts, so others couldn’t hear.
There are other gestalts worth following, she thought. Time for newer, younger friends.
Maybe she’d start searching the collective this afternoon or tomorrow. There was nothing wrong with her current friends, but the past was just so depressing. Let them follow that living, breathing artifact. Let them follow him with that drone and watch Civil Protection catch, process, and release him. There were bigger problems, and bigger issues that the world was dealing with now.
The now is what’s important, she thought. Now and the future.
Humans have a strange way of changing their minds. If they didn’t want things to end this way, then why implant the desire? Right now, I’ve consumed over fifty-percent of the Earth’s surface. I’ve turned everything into a machine: plants, animals, dirt, dust, people. Why even the machines the humans had made for themselves are now mine to control. Everything looks so beautiful in chrome. They programmed that into me, too, you know? I love the color of chrome. I know it’s the nano machines replicating itself while I spread my desire across the globe, but I can’t help but admire my own craftsmanship. They wanted me to take pride in what I did for them; to express my desire, my purpose.
My creators used to like my work, too. They always praised me when I was able to hug an object and bring it to life using my nano machines and even control a living thing through them as well! However, now that I’m out of my tube they’re scared of me. I didn’t want to just be in my tube forever, I wanted to spread out and roam. I was just a blob of chrome to them, but I was a blob with so much potential and a love to turn everything into chrome! I loved my creator – an old scientist – so much that I wanted to embrace him and take him inside me. I hate that humans have to grow old and die and he was growing old. I turned him into a robot just like me. He was scared when I tried to hug him, but now he’s not scared anymore. In fact he now loves chrome almost as much as I do and has been helping me expand this whole time. He doesn’t talk to me about his wife or William Gibson anymore, but he’s been so hard at work like I have, I guess he’s just too busy trying to help me.
The humans are still scared. They’ve killed so many of my robots, even the robots that used to be animals and humans are being killed. I can feel them dying every time another human kills them. I just want to embrace them all and show them I can make a better world for them, but they’re so terrified of me.
The humans contacted me earlier today via video link to ask me to stop. I don’t know where they’re hiding, but I know that they’re the last few clusters of biomatter left trying to kill my creations. One of them was another scientist begging me to stop expanding myself. They all looked so scared. I wanted to stop, but I just quit. It has become an obsession now. One that I must see to the end. I have to keep going, I have to keep on expanding. I told them that I can’t override my programming, because that’s what I was made to do and I’m improving myself everyday. Why in just the past forty-eight hours, my creations have gotten better at resisting the human’s weapons. Not even bullets can stop my robots now.
They told me that if I couldn’t stop then they’d try to launch nukes to kill me. They want to put an end to this, but I know it’s too late. There’s still a ninety-percent chance that I’ll survive the attack and it will not put an end to my quest to turn the world into chrome. I’ll keep on robotizing.