In the heart of one of the more densely mechanized areas, not very far
away from the city, other scientists from the mission had been conducting an
investigation that now occupied two permanent huts crammed with processors,
analyzers, and electronic test equipment, along with a gaggle of NASO vehicles
drawn up outside amid a tangle of cables. Inside one of the huts, Annette Claurier
and Olaf Lundesfarne, two of the computer specialists, debated animatedly as
they tried to make sense of the data patterns shirting and changing on the screens
in front of them. The screens were monitoring the control processors of one
of the stations where some types of Titan's machine animals were assembled and
The mathematicians and robotics specialists believed that they had located
the "genetic" software passed down through countless generations that
was responsible for directing the assembly and initial start-up process. But
certain of the "genomes" also seemed to contain huge blocks of redundant
coding that had no apparent connection with any such essential process
strangely reminiscent of similar strings found in Terran DNA. But that was not
to say that it didn't do anything.
"Look, the structure here is completely different from the surrounding
functional code," the Frenchwoman insisted, pointing a finger. "More
ordered. But compare it with this here, which we know consists of assembly instructions.
It's chaoticclearly the result of an evolutionary process. But this other
kind is regular and structured. I say it goes back much fartherfrom before
anything started to evolve."
The Norwegian consulted another array of symbols. "But its activity
index is rising. Look at these interrupt vectors. It's doing something."
"There's no correlation with the assembly routines or the initiation
sequencing," Annette said. "Whatever it's doing has got no connection
with making animals. It's something else, something autonomous."
A silhouette darkened the doorways in the partition dividing the hut,
and the chief scientist, Weinerbaum, stepped into the light. "What's all
the excitement here?" he inquired. "Are we getting somewhere with
those redundant blocks?"
Annette turned in her seat and waved a hand at the bank of glowing screens
and control panels taking up one complete wall of the room. "I'm not so
sure that 'redundant' is the right word, Professor," she replied. "But
we've certainly stumbled one something here that's very different. It's showing
extraordinary complexity and a strange tendency to self-assemble. This may sound
silly, but I almost get the feeling that we're reactivating something that's
trying to come alive."