Form came first: an imitation of the familiar with the intent of setting Dyson at his ease.
That failed, spectacularly. She ought to have anticipated that, knowing the animosity which Dyson held towards her, but somewhere within her heart Evangeline still hoped that her son would have learned to love her again.
Function came next. The components working in orchestrated harmony to protect the QEL while the transformation completed.
It took mere seconds for all of the entangled bits to awake and remember their new state, burrowing infinitesimal tunnels through space-time to commune with their other selves. That step done with, the midges created a link between the QEL and the body that they had constructed.
The transferred mind of Evangeline Satori awakened to the sight of her son fleeing down the hall before the optical inputs of her new body were destroyed by a fast moving gravatic anomaly.
She rebuilt herself. It was a trivial task and the mass of equipment in Dyson’s work room provided more than adequate mass for her needs. Twice more her newly formed body was disrupted by weapon attacks, then the attacks stopped and Evangeline rose up to find that Dyson was gone, fled aboard the ship that she had sent to him.
Evangeline’s newly reformed avatar smiled to itself and her mind set about the task of communing with the furies.
She was under no illusion that she could control them, Zone Spira had served as a breeding ground for some of the most powerful self-replicating evolutionary code that humanity had ever been foolish enough to create, but she could stir up enough of a commotion to turn the swarm intellects to her purposes. Evangeline opened her newly formed processing core to the continual barrage of signals from the furies beyond the temple’s shields. They invaded her mind and, for an instant, Evangeline felt her personhood being ripped into thousands of fragments by the competing strands of infectious code. So brutal was the assault that she nearly forgot her purpose, nearly surrendered her identity to the hunger of the collective. But she was stronger than they were. She had crafted herself to be the mother of a new race and no mere ravager code would see her destroyed, her intellect harvested to feed the insatiable appetites of the swarm. Instead, it was she who coopted them, inserting her own memetic code like fungal spores into every fury which attempted to assimilate her.
The memetic code activated and the thousands of distributed synthetic intellects surrounding the temple were compelled into service of a single, overriding mind. They turned away from the temple, flocking outward to propagate their newfound purpose throughout Zone Spira at the speed of synthetic thought, hesitating only for the instant it took the continually mutating codebase to overcome each defensive technique it had not yet encountered and infect the next swarm intelligence. With each new syntellect it integrated, the memetic code’s spread accelerated exponentially, until it had infected every active midge swarm in the zone, bringing them all under Evangeline’s control.
When she had completed her work, Evangeline Satori’s new body hardly retained any of its humanoid form. She hung in the midst of the cathedral, suspended in the amber glow of Sol by tens of thousands of microfilaments which extended out from the processing core in her body to the firewalled transmission units which her component midges had assembled throughout the chamber. From these she could simultaneously communicate with elements of herself throughout the zone.
As one, the furies turned their attention on the form of the exo ship now hurtling towards the Spire.
Zau/Heraxo tore through the air, pursued by a roiling derecho of angry swarm intellects. Moira gripped the sides of her seat and clenched her teeth so she would not scream as the Spire loomed above them, a hundred kilometer tall black rip in the universe, obscured by the shifting, flashing hemisphere of protective fields. Beside her, a ghost in Moira’s virtual vision, Dyson sat watching the onrushing Spire through the displays mounted throughout the command deck.
“You’re pretty calm for a man looking at his death,” Moira grunted.
“I’ve done this before,” Dyson whispered.
Dyson turned to look at her and shrugged. “I don’t generally trust syntellects, Gamayun excepted. Every probe I ever sent to to the Spire held a copy of my mind state, so you could say that I’ve done this dozens of times already.”
“And died every time,” Moira said.
An alert sounded throughout the ship, the pulsating tone echoing from the walls and causing Dyson to look about in concern.
“Things are about to get interesting,” Moira said.
Zau/Heraxo’s sides sprouted tendrils of machinery, already wreathed in crackling energy. The energy fields expand around the ship like luminescent wings, then exploded in a flaming nimbus as the atmosphere ignited from the sudden outpouring of exotic energies.
“Jumping now,” Moira shouted. “Might want to start praying about now, because I have no hian idea where this ship is going.”
The wings of fire collapsed to form a cocoon around Zau/Heraxo as they ripped through the air of Zone Spira like a fallen angel. The universe ripped apart, sending out a shockwave that rippled through the air with the force of a megaton explosion, scattering midges for kilometers in every direction, and then the ship was gone.