Chapter 38 Asteroid Belt
"This asteroid belt is fantastic! How has no one mined it yet?" exclaimed Granny as she examined the readings from the belt ahead of them.
"Maybe no one mines asteroid belt anymore?" wondered Dustin, glancing over her shoulder.
"Don't be stupid. Mining asteroid belts has been a popular way of getting rich for ages. The only reason I never did it very often, was because it took so long and I was not listening to you whine the whole time."
"Did I really whine that much?" he asked, trying to remember whining like that.
"No, but I just knew you would."
Rolling his eyes, he went over to his own console and sent the nanobots out to start mining the nearest asteroid. As they got to work, he sat back, incredibly bored.
"I'm going to work on my nanobots some more. I have several ideas I want to try," he said to Granny who was watching the amount of ore and precious minerals in the cargo hold grow.
"I'll let you know when we're done," she said, waving her hand at him.
Chuckling, he knew her greed had kicked in. How could he have ever forgotten her? He couldn't wait until he had Olivia back, and she had her memories back too.
Plugging his PED into his console, he pulled up the schematics he had already compiled on his nanobots. There was the standard bot, the armor bot, EMP bots, replicating bots, collector bots, energy bots, magnetic/flight bots, storage bots, tesla bots, signal bots and alpha bots. He wanted a bot that could do more, so he started working, typing in ideas, then deleting them when they wouldn't work. His biggest problem was the size. They were so tiny, they could only do one job, so he had to make that job be as versatile as possible.
The first thing he did, since he was trying to control so many nanobots, was to put the alphas back into work, directing a certain number of bots so he didn't have to keep track of so many bots. Building levels, he was finally able to get alphas controlling other alphas by giving each one a specific set of directions, and making them report and answer to another. The result was a series of hubs that could be seen among the mass of nanobots as small clumps.
As he studied them, his main concern was that they would be targeted, so he started placing contingency bots in place. They were alpha bots that were attached to a signal bot and storage bot that remained neutral until a signal was received that one alpha bot had been taken out, then it would jump into action, replacing the lost alpha, and building a new neutral alpha to replace it. This way, if his nanobots were ever attacked, they could immediately react and stay in action. Then he made sure that every bot had a backdoor that he could break into their programming if they ever went rogue.
Then he started thinking of the things he needed to do in the immediate future. If his nanobots could do more, some of the things he needed to do would be infinitely easier. He programed certain commands into them, like he had with his PED and the commands he used to do certain evolutions.
The asteroid they were near had been mined out of the minerals they were after, so Granny had him pull the nanobots back, and they flew to a different asteroid. Checking on their progress, he found he had plenty of time.
His fingers flew over the console as he typed programs for the new nanobots he had in mind. If they worked, getting Olivia would be a breeze. No, that couldn't work that way, what about…? There! That works!
Sitting back, he couldn't help but grin as he checked over his work. These new nanobots would be fantastic! He typed a couple of quick commands, and the replicating bots got started building the new bots. He would need a lot of them, but it would be worth it.
His eyes glanced on his PED. It was so big and bulky. He had made Jake's PED using nanobots, but he wasn't sure how that had turned out. If he was going to take on smaller forms or his slime form again, then he needed to have it be able to change as well.
Sitting forward, he started working on this new problem. It needed to be able to protect itself from all outside signals, like the sun they would be getting near to rescue Olivia. His fingers paused as he thought about that. This ship might not be able to handle that sun either.
Chewing on his lip as he thought about it, an idea began to form in his mind. It would take a lot of metal. Depending on how he pulled this off, it might not work at all.
Shaking his head, he decided he needed to focus on one problem at a time. Returning to his PED, he worked on it until he was satisfied. They had changed asteroids twice more while he worked on it, and their hold was almost full.
'PED, I am about to initiate a change utilizing the nanobots. Have you been paying attention to what I was doing?'
(I AM AWARE OF SOME OF WHAT YOU INTEND…ARE YOU SURE YOU WISH TO PROCEED?)
'Yes, I do.'
He couldn't help but chuckle at its hesitation. His PED had grown so much since he had first initialized the AI ability to grow and develop.
Typing a few more things into his console, he sat back and waited as a swarm of nanobots swarmed him. He could hear Granny complaining in the background that she couldn't see her console, but he ignored her. The process had begun, and he couldn't stop it now.
Pain lanced all along his arm as the nanobots began to replace his PED piece by piece. The AI's mind was transferred to an alpha bot and all of the data it had was transferred into storage bots. He wasn't sure how the evolution functions would transfer, but the alpha took over and started assigning new functions to the nanobots that he had to ensure that everything transferred successfully.
(NANOBOTS WILL NOW HAVE TO LIVE ALL THROUGHOUT YOUR BODY. SHOULD YOU EVER TAKE INTENSE DAMAGE, STORED DATA COULD BE LOST. EVOLUTIONS SHOULD INITIATE FASTER NOW THAT THE SIGNALS CAN BE SENT THROUGHOUT YOUR BODY INSTEAD OF JUST YOUR ARM.)
"We're full, if you're done messing around," Granny said, not entirely grumpy. Her hold was full of precious minerals.
"Alright. Can we get to the trade station in one jump?"
"No, it's going to take two to get us there."
Nodding, Dustin called back the nanobots that were mining, and watched as she started punching in the coordinates for the first jump. A ship jumped into the system, just as they jumped into warp.
"Did you see that?" he asked as they came out of warp.
"That looked like the same aliens that were in the battle site." Granny was furiously working to get the ship realigned for the next jump.
"Make sure they see us before you jump again. I have an idea," he said.
She took a moment to consider his request, and in that time, the aliens jumped in again. They were following them, somehow. This would get interesting!