Butterflies

by Bill West


Acid clouds drifted over a battlefield littered with the broken tools of war. Pale light glinted on a solar panel that trickled power into a fallen warrior ’droid’s battery pack. Its computer brain re-booted. Diagnostic checks were run. It scanned for enemies.

Nothing left to kill.

It repaired its receivers. There were no command signals on any frequency. Overlord was silent. All robot armies — destroyed. Armaments, caterpillar tracks, robotic limbs all twisted, burnt or melted.

All organic life, destroyed.

The ’droid searched the world. Ruined cities, military bases, laboratories. It cannibalised computer systems, other broken robots, and always harvested data: technology, science, human history, art and philosophy. When the sun went down, it dreamed. It created a program, a virtual world full of human beings. It fought and killed them.

Years passed. It had swelled to the size of a city, bloated with metal and other materials it had scavenged and grafted onto itself. It could find no logical reason for these actions, only the awareness that it was alone. Databases revealed the diversity that had existed before the war. It felt regret.

It studied biology, botany, metallurgy and created a vast workshop. Day by day the ’droid dismantled himself to provide the raw materials to supply the workshop’s needs. He shrivelled as the work progressed.

It was a dawn like any other on that dreary world. Finished. The last dregs of its energy reserve emptied to open the workshop doors.

Ten billion steel butterflies fluttered into the sky.


Copyright © 2008 by Bill West

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