You are on page 1of 3

They say that a true disaster requires at least three things to go wrong at the same time or in the right

sequence. One of those things alone wouldnt have even qualified as a problem. Two of the things would be a problem but fixable. Three is the magic number for a total fucking disaster. Jaybob himself was the first of the problems. We all know a guy like Jaybob. Back in the old days, hed never know what time it was because he couldnt get a watch to keep time. Hed always wear a watch and for a week or so itd be fine, but after a week it would start gaining or losing time or just give up and die. Today, Jaybob is the guy whose HUD never quite gives him the information he wants. He can be looking right at something and the HUD gives him data on the object behind it or to the left or it give the right data but in a language Jaybob cant recognize, let alone comprehend. Jaybob is a walking embodiment of Murphys Law. Technology hates him. To Jaybob, every day is an obstacle course of glitches, crashes, disconnects and techno-hiccups. I dont think anybodys ever done a study on people like Jaybob. How could they? Any monitoring or recording devices would probably either record nothing unusual at all or simply shit themselves and go blind. The second thing was Jaybob had a heart attack. Yeah, Jaybob had a heart attack. I know, he couldnt have had one. I know its impossible. I know it just cant happen. Everybody in the world has a full load of PnP Nanites swimming around their bloodstreams, Protecting and Preventing like theyre programmed to do. Among all the other things they do like eating virii, eviscerating cancer cells and fixing busted DNA strands, theyre out there scouring out arterial plaques as fast as they form. Its old tech - at least three generations old so it cannot possibly fail. Look back up at the bit about how Jaybobs HUD works. Now think about it. Whats the difference between the HUD and the PnP Nanites? Not much, other than the function, right? Of course the HUD keeps its nanites in embedded in the retina and along the cranial nerves, and its got extra processors, IO channels and axon stimulators instead of pulse lasers, grapplers and impellors, but the essential functions of sense, compute, communicate and act are the same. So, heres a guy whose HUD is always a little bit off. Is it really that hard to believe that Jaybobs PnP Nanites would be any better? In any case, his nanites worked at the same level of incompetence as the rest of his embedded computing flora and they fucked up. They completely ignored a pair of coronary arteries for a few years. Well, its hard to tell now, it may have been

decades. Either way, they ignored those happy little blood vessels for long enough for plaques not just to get planted, but to go completely fucking bonkers. The same as it would have been for one of our grandparents, those two arteries started to clog up. For years, the fat globs, bacteria and general metabolic shit that flows through our systems got stuck to the walls of those two arteries and was allowed to build up. The arteries effectively got smaller and smaller until, one night after a huge dinner, one of the arteries actually got narrow enough at one point that a blood cell got stuck. A hundred more piled into it, found they couldnt get by and stuck there, too. When some of the blood cells ruptured and the cells beyond the blockage started shrieking chemical curses about needing some fucking oxygen, Jaybob had what our grandparents would immediately have recognized as a classic heart attack. Jaybobs heart muscle, reacting to the hormonal shrieks from a huge oxygen starved region, kicked into warp drive. With a thundering chest pain, a curious inability to breath and a total lack of comprehension, Jaybob stood from the dinner table, clutched his chest and collapsed in a heap. Most folks today dont realize that their local hospital includes a bunch of seldom used sections called things like Critical Care, Trauma and Advanced Life Support. There are, in fact, entire branches of the medical arts that exist more or less because of people like Jaybob people who actually get sick or get hurt in oddball ways. Human space is riddled with little known services and facilities devoted to the same thing. Nobody knows about these things or the supporting protocols built into the PnP Nanites because its so rare that they are needed. Even if his own Nanites had failed to broadcast the right alarms to summon the proper services, which they did within seconds of the attack, the simultaneous alarms from everyone else who saw him collapse would have been just as effective. In moments, without their knowledge, almost every other patron of Chez Antoine exhaled an almost incomprehensible number of their own PnP Nanites into the air, where they converged around Jaybob in an ad-hoc utility / life support fog. A few hundred trillion formed a virtual mask around his face, pushing oxygen into his lungs. A few hundred trillion more blasted in through his pores, ducts and orifices to converge on his stricken heart, immediately turning off the pain signal, taking over the pacing and finally starting to scour out the blocked arteries. A few trillion trillion more acted together to move Jaybob into a more comfortable position and hold him gently there. A paltry hundred billion or so converged on his brain to keep him happily unconscious about what was happening to and around him. Of course, right at this point everything was still ok. Yeah, Jaybob was in trouble, but it was still just trouble, it wasnt a full shitstorm, yet. All of this was strictly routine. This is what PnP Nanites do. The trouble is, our universe isnt governed by the Grand Unified Theory of Everything, its governed by Murphys Law of Thermodynamics - things get worse under pressure. Enter the third thing.

About thirty seconds before his heart attack, Jaybobs PnP Nanites had received a software update. Acting with their usual level of incompetence, they muffed the update. Well, to be accurate, they got the update but the version number update didnt propagate, so his nanites still thought they were running version 22121212120223 when they were actually running 22121212120224. Jaybobs Nanites saw Jaybob suddenly invaded by cosmological numbers of Nanites running a software version they didnt recognize as valid, so they did what they were programmed to to - they went to war to defend him. Deep inside Jaybobs liver, his Nanite Forge went to emergency over-ride and started generating hunter-killer drones in truly pornographic volumes, every one programmed to eat an invader. Throughout his digestive and lymphatic systems, sub-forges sprang to life harvesting raw atoms from any scrap materials they could find and shuttling them to the main forge as fast as the carriers could swim. Meanwhile, all of the nanites, drones and forges were computing, calculating, compiling and communicating at rates normally only seen in experimental labs. Every one of those individual activities generated a tiny bit of heat. Every computation leaked a bit of entropy as a teeny little bit of warm. Every forge assembly generated a millionth of a degree of extra brownian motion into the environment. Every single nanoscale operation caused an almost immeasurable spike in Jaybobs body temperature. Every one of them, on its own, was almost nothing, but if you multiply almost nothing by the staggering numbers of simultaneous reactions that Jaybob was host to, you still come up with an impressive product. Technically, what Jaybob experienced was an out of range thermal anomaly but youll be forgiven for calling it what it looked like - a loud bang and a smoking hole in the floor.