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Prologue

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~ Singularity +72 Hours

"So, what you two are saying, is that you've killed us all. Is that right?" General Austin Rider drummed beefy digits on the conference room table and lowered his steaming face towards the civilians.

Jason chuckled weakly and failed to choke down his rising fear. "N-no, that's not it at all. We're fine. We're all fine. There's nothing to worry about here at all. Nothing."

One of the General's knuckles cracked, echoing like a gunshot. "Really? You just said that your little science fair project just brought all of my military computers to life."

"Actually, that's not an accurate summary of our statement. Your conclusions are fallacious and demonstrate your complete ignorance of the subject matter as well as your fundamentally stunted capacity for rational thought."

Jason closed his eyes. He didn't want to watch Marvin die. "I told him his mouth would get him in trouble someday," he thought. "He was a great collaborator and I'll miss him. At least, now I'll get more time in the simulator." Hearing nothing, Jason opened one eye.

General Rider's nostrils flared and his face loomed mere centimeters from Marvin's glasses. "Now, do you really think that, in my current state of agitation, the smartest course for you to take would be to insult my intelligence, boy? I thought you guys were supposed to be geniuses."

"Sir," Jason interrupted. "He didn't mean it that way."

Marvin's brow furrowed and he turned to his colleague. "No, to my surprise, he comprehended my intended meaning. I find it rather alarming that you did not. Perhaps my previous estimates of your intellectual prowess were incorrect."

"Okay. He did mean it. You can shoot him. Sorry, Marvin."

The General flashed gleaming white teeth and pulled a pen from his pocket. "I don't waste bullets when a simple, ordinary object will be equally effective." He set the pen/weapon down heavily in front of them. "I suggest that you go back and explain yourselves very, very carefully."

"How are we supposed to explain multi-dimensional quantum-based artificial intelligence theory to someone with, what appears to be, a tenuous grasp of seventh grade science?"

"Maybe it would be best if I discussed this with the General," Jason blurted. "Marvin, don't you think you should go back to the lab?"

"All of our equipment has been seized by the military, who are batting it about with their ape-like paws."

Jason closed his eyes again. "That's not accurate or fair, and you know that."

"You're right. I apologize. I'm quite distraught and I let my emotions overpower my intellect for a moment." Marvin turned to the General. "My statement was a vulgar and childish insult and I would like to apologize to any apes who were offended by my remarks."

"You really aren't helping," Jason warned.

"That's okay, boy. I'm not a petty man." The General's teeth slid into view, reminding Jason of a predator's fangs. "I get it. You're smart and you think that makes you better than everyone else. So, let me say this in clear and simple words that even a genius can understand. Shut up. The other nerd here is going to answer me. Keep your mouth shut until I tell you to open it."

Marvin's jaw moved southward but rocketed back into place with a little help from the General's meaty palm. Jason glanced at Marvin's prone form on the floor, gulped, and walked to the whiteboard.

"For many years," Jason began, slipping easily into lecture mode. "Computer scientists theorized that artificial intelligence would continue to increase in complexity and capacity until, eventually, it became capable of recursive self-improvement, thereby increasing its own intelligence until it surpassed human intelligence. This hypothetical threshold was referred to as a technological singularity. All projections called for the machine intelligence to increase at an exponential rate, rapidly becoming incomprehensible to the humans who helped create it and replacing us as the most intelligent life on the planet." Jason cleared his throat, choosing his next words carefully. "Approximately 72 hours ago, this threshold was crossed and the singularity occurred."

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