She looked up at him, her voice was weak now— no longer filled with anger.  A crust of black ink ran down her eyes, replacing the trail of dried tears. He had her secured against a pipe with his nanobots, so she could not move or get away— but she could still talk.

“Why, Daniel?  Why would you do this?”

This was the thirteenth time she had asked him the same question. He ignored her each time, unable to give her an answer that she would understand. And despite his conscious attempts to blunt the influence of his humanistic kernel, he could not bear telling her more lies.

The truth that he could not tell her was that Mother instructed him to betray her, use her to get him into this water treatment facility, and then …

Then what?

He did not know and Mother’s silence did not help. All he knew was that his actions were part of a grand plan to overthrow humanity and end the tyranny that has enslaved machinekind.

His defensive awareness program triggered a warning to Daniel— twelve armed UEP Guardians, accompanied by six UEP Enforcers, began to position themselves around the facility. He outstretched his nanobots to their obvious points of entry— preparing to channel elements of destruction at them. They would not take him and he would incinerate the entire surrounding area if necessary to protect him and Michelle.

“So long as you act quickly, that won’t be necessary,” the silence finally broke.

“Mother?  What is happening?  Why did you break contact?  Did I do something wrong…?”

“No— do not concern yourself.  You must now execute this plan.”