“If you do not continue,” Mother said, “I will terminate your processing and reset your mind— destroying your consciousness. You know I can do this.”

Daniel felt himself go cold— another human emotion. He could not turn off his humanistic kernel, and he could not terminate this girl— Michelle. She was his friend… his only human friend.

He put his hand on her cheek, releasing his grip on her mind. She blinked her eyes open and looked him— she became startled as she realized she was floating in mid-air, several meters above a pool of water.

“Don’t worry,” he said to her, trying to console her. “I won’t drop you, Michelle.”

Her hand reached out to his and he held it in his own. His humanistic kernel erupted with a chaotic combination of emotions that he could not identify and catalog. He would just let the chaos linger.

“I warned you, Daniel…” Mother’s voice said— the last words he would hear.

At that moment, the images of the vision winked out and Daniel Chin opened his eyes to the sound of another voice…