Children of the SystemBy Alicia Ann Fox
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|The four humans and the one not-quite-human stood motionless in a tunnel, deep beneath the surface of the artificial planet Terminal, watching on a tiny viewer as their ship exploded in a fiery burst; then one by one they turned away.|
Far above the planet's surface, their ship succumbed at last to the liquid particles that had been eating it away. The primary consciousness of that ship, the one called Zen by the humans, knew that its end was upon it. With the last of its available power it send a cry of farewell to its makers, and then released the final energy bonds that held the leviathan ship together.
The release of energy was enough to drive the fragments far apart. With a great keening noise, unheard in the blackness of space, Zen died--and spawned.
Each fragment, each tiny piece, floated apart, its intercellular structure allowing it to create energy from the mere act of being in motion. Those that passed near a star, or a planet, or even a spacecraft, had an abundance of energy to feed on. Those that did not grew more slowly; but all grew.
The seed of consciousness was within each of them, and it would grow as well, until at last they would be full-grown copies of their single parent.
And each of Liberator's children would seek a guardian. . .as Zen had.
The rebellion would rise again from the flames of destruction.
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