They came, unexpected, will-o-the-wisps, darting, phosphorescent between the stars. A starship the size of a can of Joker Cola, one million uploaded minds in a desperate rush to avoid their failing, fallen star.
A computer virus overcame the asteroidal workshops, the first we heard of it was when the semi-autonomous factories began complaining about misinterpreted instructions. They wouldn’t have been the first paranoid computer minds. We ignored them, for a while.
Until the first incursion.
A meteor shower, incandescent flames painting the sky, an Impressionist masterpiece, for all the world to see. We stared at the ground, for the most part, waiting for some “radical” art group to claim responsibility. We only had to wait until morning.
They don’t seem to notice us, steam rising from windup joints as they march along, pushing mechanic feet deep into the cobblestone streets, neon firework reflections exploding across their carapaces.
But by uploading their minds they lost the truth of their natures, becoming these directionless, meandering sculptures. A computer cannot have consciousness, no matter the constraints and programs we deliver – no matter how well planned.
Apparently they weren’t expecting us. Their brains on constant loop, but returning only their version of an Error 404.
You get used to them eventually, I guess, in their clanking, mechanical bodies.
Written for this weekend’s io9 Creative Writing Prompt.