Life Cycle

The Von Neumann replicator approached the planet. It made no attempt to contact the inhabitants, if any. It cared not for any form of life that may have existed there. It descended silently through the atmosphere and landed unobserved. It began to feed. It sent drills down into the planet’s crust, and swarms of nanites scoured the surface, pulling raw material out of everything they encountered. Nothing was spared and the surface was soon made barren. Its interference in the planet’s core caused earthquakes everywhere, and many new volcanoes soon formed. They erupted as one, spewing smoke and ash into the sky and blotting out the sun. The probe did not notice. Would not notice. Its task was almost complete and it had more important things to be aware of. As the planet shook itself apart and the replicants emerged from the crust, the machine came as close as it could to experiencing an emotion. It was happiness.

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