Thursday, April 16, 2015

106. Colonial Swarms

Despite the continuing fears, it has proven to be difficult to create nanoswarms that will last long once released from their hive. Guardian swarms, power loss, fluids, sticky substances, magnetic fields, radiation, stray cosmic rays and even the occasional ravenous amoeba steadily whittle down their numbers. It is to the consternation of many nano-engineers, then, that an unknown designer has successfully created and released a wild artificial nanoswarm: autonomous, reproducing, and stable.

The swarms seem to be modeled on honeybee colonies. They created hives: spheres of foamed plastic through which the nanites can percolate. The hives are riddled with microscopic bubbles, sealed vacuums that are excellent environments in which they can replicate. Larger bubbles will contain stores of usable feedstock. The hive will also contain a much larger space towards its center, commonly called the conference center. The nanites gather en masse, using their lidar to signal each other, exchanging information on sources of feedstock and energy, making decisions democratically, like bees.

Plot Hook: Scavengers occasionally raid colonial swarm hives for small but pure portions of elemental feedstock. One man is found dead of an apparent disassembler attack, apparently in the middle of breaking into a particularly large hive. Firewall believes the colonials have either been corrupted by TITAN-tech  or evolved their own defenses; either way, the players are tasked with the investigation.

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