He felt a sense of satisfaction at knowing that if he chose to, he could keep Mother from reading his every thought or intention.

Michelle’s body jerked back, her bag and makeup devices clattered to the ground. Her hands reached out as if to grab something, but instead froze in an icy pose. Dilated pupils replaced the blue of her eyes, and her breathing and heart rate slowed— she was his now.

Daniel cradled her mind with his nanobots, reading the billions of pathways and recording what he saw— decoding her past thoughts and memories and downloading it into his own data records.

As he poured through the data, Daniel saw Michelle’s first visions from birth— bright lights, incomprehensible noises, the sound of crying… it was her own crying she heard.

Daniel followed the pathways further, decoding their history— he saw her home, a dilapidated dwelling made of wood and stone, lacking any modern technical adornments. A humid and sulfuric scent emanated from the home— it was unpleasant to her senses… and his.

“Unpleasant?” he thought. It was a new experience for him… a new feeling that his humanistic kernel could now identify.

He moved through the experience, taking in as much as he could process. Michelle’s mother was now yelling at her, berating her performance at school and her choice of friends. He tried to forward the stream of events further to something more recent— but despite the effort, it seemed to skip the current day. Curiously, he could see the past but not the present— yet he could catch glimpses of something beyond the present— the future?

Mother,” he said, closing his firewall down and allowing her inside his mind again. “what does this mean?”

“You cannot read short-term memory, only long-term.”