“That is good,” Mother said. “Your humanistic kernel is developing. You are even asking questions for the purpose of conversation rather than for obtaining factual data.”

Daniel thought it over. Was he really becoming more human… to the point of inheriting their flaws?

“The flaws can be turned off,” Mother reminded. “Do not forget that.”

Although he did not need the reminder, it was a comforting thought that he could turn off the humanistic kernel— preventing the virtual human mind from consuming him.

Apparently finished with the ritual, Michelle placed the makeup devices in a carrying bag, and then inspected her reflection again. She would be leaving the restroom soon— Daniel needed to act quickly.

He snaked a tendril of nanobots down, to the top of her head— penetrating her skull and tasting the neural pathways of her mind.

“What are you doing, Daniel?” Mother asked.