A/N: Hey guys, sorry this took so long. It took me quite a bit to figure what all would happen in this chapter, and how to communicate Dairine's new state of being without being over-the-top. I think I like what I've done here fairly well; let me know what you think. There is an instance of very strong language in this chapter; I'll try to keep it to a minimum, but I'm also trying to be realistic, as well; I apologize if this inconveniences you. In the end, though, I hope you enjoy this fic as much as I'm enjoying writing it. ~Miri
She coughed, coughed again. Her eyes were so unfocused; but, unlike normal, she could feel her brain making the adjustments to focus them. It was different than the connection she had with the Mobiles and with Spot.
She moved; electrical impulses raced through her muscles, signaling them to tense and retract. A purely human mind would be overloaded by the sheer amount of information her brain was processing, but it was all simply a stream of binary that she could choose to watch or not as she pleased.
That stream separated itself into layers; instincts buried themselves, thoughts rose to the top. Priorities were established. A connection was made between 'mind' and 'soul', and suddenly, she was Dairine once more.
Operating system loaded. Reboot complete.
A thought surfaced from the wave, resolved itself into words that the User could understand.
What have I done to myself? she queried, her vision slowly coming back into focus as she looked up at the image of the person standing over her.
Figure recognized. Access database. Searching… image confirmed.
Identity: Older sister. Name, Juanita Callahan. Nickname, Nita.
Switch directory. Expression analysis.
Conclusion: Nita is pissed the hell off.
Reaction: Oh, fuck.
Her brain completed the analysis in a matter of milliseconds. Dairine barely had time for her primitively slow emotional cortex to marvel at the insight she now had into her own thought processes before a hand grabbed her by the collar.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Nita shouted at her, and she flinched.
Query: What was I thinking?
Access database "Memory". Searching….
Error. Memory not found.
Proper emotional reaction: Shock.
"I…!" She shook her head, trying to clear it, desperately trying to find the memory, but all she drew was black space. "I…. I don't remember. I… I barely even remember what I…"
She looked around.
Analyze environment. Analysis complete.
Conclusion: My basement. A diagram surrounds me.
Layout familiar. Conclusion…
She blinked. "Is that… that's a spell circle… isn't it?"
"You drew it," her sister told her. "You tell me." Her voice still sounded ticked; and from the processes going on in Dairine's mind, she could justly understand why. It was obvious she'd done something.
The diagram. It looked familiar…
Error. Memory corrupted.
Flashes; only flashes. Drawing the layout for the diagram; she couldn't trust Spot with this. Writing…. Calculating… checking her work…
Error. Memory corrupted.
Pain shot through her head.
"I…" More pain. She had to let it go. "Something… something's wrong. I drew this… I remember drawing it, but… there's something wrong about it, as if it wasn't really me." She looked around again; Nita wasn't the only one in the room. Spot sat on the floor outside the circle, 'watching' her. "Spot… do you know what happened?"
"Something came over you; I don't know what happened, but you became obsessed with this."
She looked closer at the layout, Nita having finally let go of her collar, only to find that the diagram only contained two characters, laid out in patterns; the Speech characters for one and zero – a computer program in spell form. She started to prepare herself to go into math mode, and then realized that she could read and comprehend everything perfectly, her newly-reprogrammed mind supplying all the information she needed from its own stores.
It had been a long time, for her, since she'd actually thought in binary, but she realized she'd been doing it all along.
Reading the string of characters from the beginning, she began to get chills. All of the descriptors here… this was a name, and one she was familiar with. But there was something subtly wrong about it; every single descriptor here was correct, except for several that had been shorter before.
This name was the name of a living computer, the same kind of names she'd seen the Mobiles writeinto the glassy, silicone surface of their homeworld. She realized what she'd done to herself, then, realized what she'd become. Realized, in the way that computers will, that there had been an error in her logic. Her primitive emotional cortex had been unable to process the knowledge she'd had from the beginning, and thus, refused the data.
Dairine had become a machine with a soul, a human body with a mind that processed data in zeroes and ones, much faster than any human mind could have handled. Not as fast as her silicon buddies could, maybe, but the first step on the way to becoming one of them.
BiOS update complete.
PS: From here on, most of the chapter names will be computer puns. Let me know if you'd like me to start explaining the terminology in these Author's Notes.