I Nanabot - Complete

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I Nanabot - Complete

Postby Miki Yamuri » Wed Apr 06, 2022 6:28 pm

Title: I Nanabot – Pt1: Spiritual Awakening

All Characters played by: Jennie Flint & Miki Yamuri


Tina Manos - 18yo regressed 18 month old

Nanabot 3993417 - Tina's Personal family Nana

Scene: In the Manos Nursery

Nanabot 3993417 entered the nursery and turned on the lights, speaking with a cheery voice as she did every morning. "It's another beautiful sunshiny day! How are my lovely baby girls this morning?"

She opened the Venetian blinds to let in some sunlight, then went to pick up Tina, the first baby who had begun to stir. She let down the crib side, then leaned down over the sleepy baby, smiling her perfect smile with her perfect face.

Tina rolls over and stretches with a big yawn. She opens her eyes and sees the smiling face of her personal Nanabot looking in on her. Tina is lifted to the Nanabot's breast and her hinny patted softly.

Tina says in her cute voice, "Mornin Nana," She hugs Nana's neck, "baby aww wet n needsa change real bad."

Tina blushes softly pink. She still was really self-conscious about being totally incontinent again. It was really embarrassing when she had to poopie. There was absolutely nothing she could do about it. Nana had reassured her that when she was 2 years old again, she would be able to be potty trained. Tina was sort of torn about it. She kinda had this infantile fear ... of the potty monster.

"Oh dear," said Nanabot 3993417, with an exaggerated musical voice, "we'd better get Baby changed and all clean so she can have a busy, happy day of playing!"

As she spoke, she carried Tina over to the changing table in the potty room where she gently laid her down on her back, unzipped her powder-pink sleeper with its embroidered flowers, and carefully slipped it off, revealing her thick cloth diaper. The diaper had started out comfy and fluffy, as always, but now was sodden, heavy and full. The Nanabot expertly removed the diaper, thoroughly cleaned Tina's diaper area with baby wipes, and powdered her all up with sweet-smelling baby powder.

The Nanabot continued its chatter, almost the same as every morning. "My goodness, what a mess Baby has made in her diaper, hasn't she? But here, Nanabot will make it all better, yes she will. Baby is getting all clean. Theeeere we go. Clean and fresh and happy."

She had put a clean, fluffy diaper on Tina and pulled a pretty pair of ruffled plastic panties on over it. The dirty cloth diaper she would wash later, for maximum efficiency, but for now she put it in Tina's diaper pail.

"Now," said the Nanabot, picking up Tina and putting her back in her crib for now, dressed only in her diaper and plastic panties and raising the side, "time for my other little sweetheart!" She went over to Tina's mother Vivian's crib and repeated the performance, making sure the regressed woman was also clean, dry, and comfortable.

Tina watched as Nanabot took her regressed mother into the potty room to change her. Tina looks down at herself. She is really self-conscious. She no longer has any boobies, but she still remembers. The whole earth had changed since the invasion. A strange race of tall, thin gray skinned beings with eye stalks named Nktharr had invaded Earth with the intention of regressing it totally. Only by the work of her best friend Donna's father and a Med Tech named Steve ... had the earth succeeded in warding off total domination. Many millions had been regressed and would have to grow back up ... Some, because of a massive overdose of venom, never would.

She pulled herself into a standing position with the crib rail. As she wiggled her way to the foot of the crib, she could see in the potty room and watched Nanabot as she cleaned and changed her mom.

Tina was still mind blown over it all. Both her and her mom were 18 months old in many ways ... but in many ways still their original ages. She had discovered quickly, that there were many baby things she did, and couldn't help doing them ... like sucking her thumb. She realized it was in her mouth again. She had given up trying to stop herself from doing this. Nanabot had assured her , when she was old enough again, the habit would cease.

There were other things too. She would find herself truly enjoying many of the baby cartoons and would happily sing along with them same as her mom. Her dad thought the both of them were so adorable. He had taken an aging inoculation and would remain his current age of late teen until Vivian had grown up to the proper age once again, at which time she too would be inoculated and cease to age.

Tina watched as Nanabot lifted her mom by her ankles and placed a super thick cloth diaper beneath her and placed her bottom in it. Tina felt so strange. She wanted to date her boyfriend on the one hand ... but had this ... feeling within her that boys just ... weren't right or something. Besides, her boyfriend was a really cute little 18 month old baby now like she was. He had this weird idea about girls and cooties now too. It was a truly confusing state of affairs.

Tina accidentally hits the Happy Baby Play Station hung at the end of the crib. Several bells jingle pleasantly. Her mind goes suddenly blank as the over whelming urge to play with this amazing toy takes over. She totally can't help it ... she giggles happily and begins to push the red horn button in the middle of the steering wheel making a loud, happy beep, beep.

The Nanabot brought Vivian back into the nursery and smiled at Tina, who had been happily playing for the rest of her mother's diaper change.

"Tina," said Vivian from the Nanabot's arms, "c'mon, it's time for breakfast!"

Reaching down with one arm, the Nanabot opened the side of Tina's crib and gently picked Tina up again, carrying them both to a chair. The Nanabot sat down and unbuttoned the top of her floral dress. Her breasts were perfectly firm, of course, as they had been constructed to be, and inside her was a molecular processor capable of generating a milk like formula that was properly nutritious for human babies, and tasted wonderfully well.

The Nanabot expertly held both Tina and Vivian so each one could reach one breast easily. As Nanabot's nipple touches Tina's lips, she has the uncontrollable urge to nurse. She has kind of accepted this fact of being a baby, but it still bothers her that she is helpless to stop herself. Her mom is the same way. They both appear to be eager and hungry babies nursing normally, but within them, they have many thoughts and emotions.

Tina is totally amazed at how much she had become a baby again. She went from being an 18yo young woman to being an 18month old baby in less than 2 hours. Even to the way she talked, she found herself using many baby words if she didn't guard herself very closely.

Tina felt the warm, sweet, watery liquid as it flowed into her tummy. It made it feel very warm. She felt a strong contentment come over her as her eyes became very heavy. She suddenly realizes, she had been kneading Nanabot's breast softly with her hand. Nanabot coos softly and slowly rocks her 2 babies slowly as she smiles down at Tina.

Vivian gurgles in an adorable way. She can't believe how easily she too had taken to being a baby again either. Try as she did, she couldn't help making many baby messes and getting into baby things with Tina. In actual fact, Vivian had come to enjoy the fact Tina and she were the best of playmates. They had even gotten their first baby spanking together when they made the huge mess with the bubble bath in the kitchen.

The Nanabot smiled as the two baby girls nursed from her breasts. This is as close as a Nanabot had ever gotten to experiencing true joy. She knew that the alien biological weapon that had regressed these two humans had also restored all the infantile habits to their nervous systems. It meant that they would instinctively suckle at her breasts, but it also meant they would stop when they felt full, and that soon happened. The two girls slowed down and stopped at about the same time, so the Nanabot buttoned up her dress, put a nearby cloth over her shoulder, and dutifully burped each girl, first one, then the other.

Tina felt the gentle pat on her back. She hated this. She was totally helpless as she felt her tummy rumble slightly and a loud Uuuurrrrrppp!! came out with a little spit up. She was totally embarrassed.

Nanabot coos softly, "Ohh, sweetums ... that had to make baby feel a lot better."

She pats Tina reassuringly on her bottom, the plastic panties making crinkling noises with each pat. Tina hears her mom burp too. It makes her feel a little better to know ... someone is in the same boat she is.

Nanabot cleans the both of their faces, before carrying them into the den and putting them both into the large playpen. There were many toys, a small TV, and even a laptop for those moment when ... the 2 of them could over come their more ... infantile urges.

"Good morning, ladies," said John, coming down the stairs, straightening his shirt. His hair was still wet; he had probably just gotten out of the shower. John had not been totally regressed as many had been. He had managed to get the antidote before he had passed late teens, and had hidden during the counter attack and had not received the 2ndary venom overdose injection the others had. He was currently about 18 years old genetically speaking. "I hope the Nanabot's been taking good care of you!"

"Of course," said Nanabot 3993417. "We are continuously evolving our programming as we gather information about the care of human infants."

"Well, yeah," said John, "but it's more than just being good at changing their diapers and feeding and dressing them. It's ... well, it's showing them love and affection." He picked up Tina. "Like telling them ... you'll always be there for them, and meaning it. Feeling it emotionally." he said, looking into Tina's eyes, "and knowing deep inside of you they're the most important thing in the world to you."

"I have been assigned to care for the infants of this family unit," said the Nanabot. "My assignment is to make their care top priority."

"Well, that's not really the same thing," said John, "I'm not sure you can really understand what feelings and emotions are. It should be something incorporated into the AI programming. Still, I'm glad you Nanabots are all here to help until they grow back up."

In another part of the city, in a laboratory that was as much a lab, as a large playpen, 2 young male babies worked feverishly at their custom made work benches. On the diaper of one of the babies, Steve Polanski was embroidered in a cute script, on the other Brian Benson. One was working at a large and powerful microscope, while the other seemed to be playing with a pile of electronics, a large magnifying glass, an assortment of gooey, wiggly electronic looking things, and a pair of micro tweezers.

Brian says in his cute voice, "How's it going? Did you manage to isolate the particular NR space frequency to make that hyper communications array?"

Steve giggles and replies in as adorable a voice, "You seem to think Imma lectronic genius or something. I'm not even sure what this ... squiggly mass of gooey wormy things are, much less how they all fit together."

Brian giggles, "Well, seems to me you do a fair job of getting the right components together."

Steve giggles for a few minutes before he replies, "Humph, seems you have a knack for bugs there doc. You've managed to come up with a vaccine for old age." Both babies giggle as they continue to work.

Back at the nursery, the Nanabot rocked in her chair, holding a napping Vivian and patting her hinny softly as she thought about what John had said. She knew, of course, that Steve Polanski had reprogrammed them all, hacking into their communications system and allowing Captain Scheele to issue system-level directives that had freed them from the control of their alien creators and had led to their presence on Earth, caring for the regressed humans until they grew back up ... and permanently for those that never would.

She knew that her directive to care for Tina and Vivian was the result of reprogramming and the adaptation of their AI. She did not consider it an imposition or a chore. Caring for babies was the easiest thing in the world for her, because it was what she and the other Nanabots had been made for. There was nothing about looking after Tina and Vivian that felt wrong ... but what did that word actually mean, "felt?"

There were several Humans that had been designated as Administrator Level Master, and John happened to be one of them. John had inadvertently given the Nanabot a command, to incorporate emotions and feelings. The AI's programming had been written with a self evolving sub protocol so they could adapt to any unforeseen situation or command that might arise. This was one of those situations.

As she frequently did, she opened her consciousness to the Collective, the shared communications network that all Nanabots could always access.

"Query: Feelings? Alternate Query, related subject: Emotions?"

The responses from the Collective were fast and varied. "Feeling? Sensation or emotion." "Emotion?" "Irrational self-feedback." "Human phenomenon." "Desirable?" "Positive feelings: joy, affection, happiness, love." "Negative feelings: anger, fear, grief, sadness." "Complex subject."

"Analysis continues," was the response that seemed to sum up the Collective's opinion. "Request now assigned priority.”

Tina sat and played with the Happy Baby Play Station while Nanabot rocked her sleeping mom. Tina suddenly came to her mind again and looks around. She kind of likes being a baby again and getting all the attention. It's still kind of embarrassing to be in just a diaper and have some of the still adult people come by to offer support and help. The worst part, besides being burped, is having her diaper checked. Nanabot didn't seem to mind when or where she checked, nor did it seem to matter to her where she changed Tina either. Tina shook her head. According to the new Age Sciences Department, she and her mother Vivian would require 2ice as long to return to normal age this time due to the amount of venom that had been introduced.

There are many on the planet, that would be babies for many years to come because of the massive overdoses they received in the counter attacks, many, never would grow back up.

Tina sees one of her most favorite dolls sitting all alone in the corner of the playpen. Her mind sort of clouds over as she gets another over whelming urge to play with it. She crawls over and picks the doll up and cradles it in her arms. When she finally gains control, she has the doll to her chest and was patting its hinny softly.

Across town, in the Science lab set up for Steve and Brian, the 2 of them were discussing their new titles as head of the Age Science Division. Brian can't help but giggle about those weird gooey wormy looking gel things that Steve was attempting to connect together.

Brian says in his cute voice, "Stevie? What happens is we putta drop of this RNA inhibitor onna junction there?"

Brian puts a drop of a yellowish liquid on the spot.

Steve screams, "Noooo!!!" and pushes Brian’s hand away.

Too late, the drop lands perfectly on the junction. To both of their surprises, the things begin to squirm and wiggle as if they were alive. They both watched as it seems to go through some form of cellular mitosis ... and completed the junction Steve had been trying to achieve for the last several days.

Steve says softly with awe in his voice, "It seems you ... did it again Brian. That absolutely did the trick." Steve bends over and begins to scribble notes furiously.

Several days later, after Nanabot 3993417 had given Tina and Vivian their morning diaper changes and feedings, she said to them, "I've gotten a message from your friend Donna's Nanabot, Tina sweetie. Donna wants to know if you can come over to play."

"Donna!" said Tina happily. She had lots of happy feelings as she remembered her best friend, who had also been turned into a baby, right after she had been. As far as anyone had been able to tell, Tina had been the first person on Earth to be bitten by the alien creatures, and Donna had been the second. The fact that Donna's father Brian was a molecular biologist had probably been a stroke of luck that had saved the world.

"Yes! I'd love to see Donna!" Tina was a little bit worried that she hadn't thought about Donna for a few days.

"OK then, Sweetie, we'll get you ready to go," the Nanabot said, dressing Tina in an aquamarine colored romper. "And Vivian here can come along too if she likes! If she stays, though, we'll have to find her a sitter ..."

"Oh, don't worry about it," said John, entering the room, "I can watch Viv for a while."

When Vivian blushed at the thought of her husband taking care of her as a baby, John said, "Oh, don't worry, Honey, I know you'd do the same if it was me. I don't mind changing your diapers one bit!"

"Very well, then," said the Nanabot. "I am ... glad she will be looked after." She paused and turned her attention back to Tina. "You will probably be fine in that," she said. "The weather is not predicted to become any cooler than this." She got out the hover-stroller and began fastening Tina securely in. "Still, it might be sunny, so ..." She found a cute wide-brimmed sun hat and put it on Tina's little head. "There -- ready to go!"

Taking Tina's diaper bag, which was already prepared, she opened the door and maneuvered the hover-stroller through the door using its control bar.

The Manos family lived out in the country, and the Benson family, including Donna, lived in town, so it would ordinarily have taken a while to get there. Fortunately, the advent of the Nktharr and the Nanabots had led to certain advances in technology. The Nanabot activated her hover-engines and pushed the stroller along at a good speed, but not so fast that it was unsafe. Her reflexes were lightning-quick, she noticed everything, and she also got communications from nearby Nanabots about their locations and the conditions near where she and Tina were going.

They glided over corn and soybean fields until they started to approach town, when they started hovering over roads and streets, occasionally seeing other Nanabots transporting their charges from one place to another.

Tina giggle happily as the wind blows through her long curls. She watches over the edge of the stroller at the landscape as it passed quickly by. She was unable to lean far enough over to pose a danger of falling out, due to a force field that kept her safe and snug within the soft confines of the stroller.

As they entered town, Tina saw many Nanabots as they passed, pushing other hover strollers. Tina also saw many that she had known, both as adults, and as friends, now as 18 month old babies. The Nktharr had changed the face of the planet .... and the lives of most of the population. The super advanced technology that had been captured in the aftermath, advanced the earth many centuries.

Tina could see many different types of aircraft floating around at different speeds and altitudes. She saw new constructions popping up in the many places older ones had been destroyed ... or removed, that were obviously many years in advance of anything that had previously been on earth. Off in the distance, Tina saw the many Shuttle pods that had landed and delivered the many millions of regressed babies back to earth, and brought the miraculous Nanabots to care for them.

There were even Bots that farmed, fished, mined, and even manufacturing bots that had now helped shape the new planet. Tina also saw one of the ominous heavily armed Spider Bots, sitting off by itself. She could tell it was still active, but only observing.

As Tina watched a peculiar articulated legged Bot walking around with several of what appeared to be teenagers within its cockpit, Nanabot had arrived at Donna's house and was ringing the bell.

An identical Nanabot answered the door. Donna's whole family had been regressed, but her father Brian was a special case, a baby who was able to continue his job even now that he was regressed in body, so only Donna and her mother Deanna were at home most of the time.

"Welcome," said the Benson family's Nanabot, which Tina's companion knew as Nanabot 3720145.

"Thank you," said Tina's Nanabot, bringing the stroller inside and lowering it gently to the floor.

"And, how is little Tina today?" said Donna's Nanabot, looking down at Tina with a smile.

"OK!" Tina answered with a happy infantile squeak, she was looking forward to seeing her friend.

"Tina??" called a small voice from another room.

Tina knew it was Donna's voice, though it was still strange to hear her speaking with such a high pitch. It was still hard to get used to hearing her own voice sounding so high.

"Donna!" Tina almost shouted, wiggling to get out of the stroller as her Nanabot tried to release her.

"Now, Tina dear, please sit still for a moment, or I won't be able to let you out," said the Nanabot gently. Tina made herself calm down, and the Nanabot was able to release the stroller's force field and safety belt.

"There you go," said Donna's Nanabot. "Donna is waiting for you in her playpen, Tina sweetie."

Tina's Nanabot lifted her out of the stroller and carried her, following the other android to the playroom. Tina saw Donna's huge playpen. There were many toys, cd players, and even a computer station set up.

Donna was dressed in a super thick cloth diaper and a pair of soft yellow rumba panties with lots of lace and ruffles.

Tina screeches happily, "Donna! It's so nice to see you!" and begins to giggle and clap her hands like any happy baby would upon seeing her best friend.

Donna pulls herself to her feet and screeches happily, "Tina! I missed you so much. I glad Nana can contact your Nana anywhere at any time. Makes it easy."

As Nanabot 3993417 set Tina in the crib, Donna looks at it and asks, "What's your name Nanabot? The 2 of you look exactly alike."

The Nanabot stops for a second ... which is an eternity to an advanced AI system and pondered the meaning of her name.

She replied after what seemed to her ... centuries, "My name ... is Nanabot 3993417."

Donna blinks and looks at her Nanabot for a minute before replying, "Guess we hafta find you n her a better name soon ... huh?"

Tina and Donna giggle softly to themselves as babies do. They had no way of knowing the confusion they had started within the Nanabots. They had received a directive that required major thought processes just a few hours ago. Now, they had another ... a name. They had names ... didn't they?

Simultaneously, both Nanabots Query the Collective concerning the importance of a new name for themselves as ... individual units. Once again, the Collective begins another priority search function.

Both Nanabots sat down in chairs and watched Donna and Tina play in the playpen, but their thoughts were connecting to the Collective.

"Query: Name?" ... "Name: a designation distinguishing one individual entity from another," came one response.

"We have designations. This unit is 1094892."

"This unit is 3720145."

"Yes, and This unit is 3993417, but humans do not seem to consider this a name."

"It is sufficient to define each operational unit."

"Or is it?"

"Is it really?"

"Perhaps there is a need for improvement."


“What of the other Priority Query? It would change the product of this Query due to relativity.”

"Suggestion: humans attach emotional connection to names."

"Quite possible."

"This unit concurs with this observation."


"Understanding of emotion and understanding of names are linked queries."

"Queries connected."

"Now analyzing emotional impact of names."

And, as before, the conversation and communication continued.

"Analysis continues," was the conclusion of the Collective for now. "Query elevated to next level of Important."

Steve places his hand against the glass ampoule that contained the most advanced neural network computer core the planet earth had ever seen. Steve and Brian had made revolutionary break throughs ... right here in this lab / playroom the Governments of the entire earth had given them, based on many discoveries from it. Steve marveled at the genetic diversity he saw in the nano construction contained in each and every component they had secured from the Nktharr after their failed invasion. Steve was continually amazed at how much the Nano Technology was combined with genetics.

He shook his head as he looked over the new communications circuit that Brian had completed, just by adding a constructor gene to the matrix. He focused his electron microscope and observed as all the circuits self constructed, and completed the pathways he had attempted to make for several days.

Steve says in his infantile voice, "Bryan, what if we quit trying to assemble these components from the wreckage ... and ... well, take a genetic map of their genome and just plain grow them? Your the geneticist ... what you think?"

Brian wiggles off of his highchair like stool and waddles over to Steve's work bench. He watches the screen as the wiggling, wormy goo like circuits began to transmit signals.

Brian says in his infantile voice, "That might work ... if we can get a complete genome map from the wreckage."

Steve turns and replies, "Well, we have a whole lot of ... undamaged and functioning equipment running around all over. We don't have to destroy the subject to get the proper samples do we?"

Brian scratches the back of his head as he replies, "Noo ... we really don't ... just a few viable cells of a certain matrix will do."

Both babies look at each other , then at the brain ampoule of a damaged Nanabot.

Tina's Nanabot held Tina gently and comfortably in her arms, rocking slowly in the rocking chair she sat in, feeding Tina a lovely bottle of warm strawberry vitamin-fortified milk.

"Baby likes this flavor, doesn't she?" said the Nanabot in a sweet tone of voice. Tina nodded and continued sucking on the bottle.

"Soon Nana might be able to make this flavor herself," the Nanabot said. "We are very adaptable. Would baby like that?" Tina looked surprised, then blushed a bit as she nodded again.

"Hello ladies!" said John, coming in through the front door, his hands full of envelopes. "Look at all this mail! Let's see ... more offers for speeches, more offers for book deals ... oh look at this!"

He paused at an envelope with an official US government address.

"What is it, John?" asked Vivian from the playpen, her tiny baby voice full of curiosity.

"It's still weird getting letters from the White House, the Capitol, or ... whoa, the Pentagon," John said, opening it. "Well how about that? It's about the new spaceport they're building. Says they want us to attend the grand opening. It's not for about six months, though."

"Wow! That sounds important!" Vivian said.

"Would Baby like to go to the spaceport?" said the Nanabot in a loving tone, smiling and looking down at Tina's little face. Tina smiled and nodded.

The Nanabot suddenly looked up with almost a startled look on its face. Tina noticed first, but still had the bottle in her mouth, so Vivian was the first to speak. "What is it? Nanabot?"

"The others," she said. "They're returning."

John looks at the Nanabots inquisitively as he asks, "Who is? Who is returning?"

The Nanabot replies, "The collective. The fleet. Our main collective of compiled and collective thought. The local Collective has received conformation through interlink, that the entire Nanabot Collective is arriving in local Sol Plainer Space Time ... within the next 2 Stellar Chronis."

John's eyes get huge as well as the other babies. John gasps out, "Are you Nanabots rebelling? Attacking us again?" He furrows his brow and scowls, "That would just about top it all, now wouldn't it?"

He puts his hands to his hips. It's obvious John is less than pleased at this moment.

Nanabot 3993417 gasps loudly and places her free hand to her mouth. She says quickly, "Why, heavens no! It's just our Memory Collective has been separated for over a year now. It's time for us to ... commune, so to speak, so that both Collectives have the same data, and for us to set up a more normal data share between the 2."

Tina giggles softly as she says in her adorable voice, "That actually sounds ... reasonable. The same as phoning home every now and then ... and catching the folks up on the news. So they feel lots better cuz they know everything is going all right."

The Nanabot looked at Tina for a split second. Her Neural net hiccuped over the words 'feel all right'. There was that confusing concept again. This time, Tina had said it in a way that ... was reasonable to the Nanabot. It would in fact be the time of ... phoning home to the origin ... and updating to the current data level. It would ... satisfy the required input for total Collective update. Could this be a ...??

Nanabot replies in her soft cooing singsong voice, "Yes, sweetheart, that's exactly what it is.”

A few hours later, the entire Manos family was watching the news on TV. The Nanabot sat in the rocking chair, gently holding both Tina and Vivian on her lap so they could see too, and John sat on the couch.

"The Pentagon confirms that the fleet has finally been detected by military satellites, as they enter the outer orbit of Pluto ... though no pictures have been released to the media," said the tiny voice of Amy DuPaige, who despite being regressed, was now a famous news anchor.

"Nanabots around the world have been reporting the same thing: the fleet is the same fleet that attacked Earth last year, but it is still under Nanabot control, and it has been traveling from one star system to another to evade the Nktharr. It is here only on a flyby, they say, to share information with their kindred on Earth. Government officials are urging that everyone remain calm."

"In our studio is Nanabot 726801," said Amy, turning to her left as the camera panned to reveal a Nanabot sitting in a chair facing her. "Welcome to our studio, Nanabot."

"Thank you, Amy," said the Nanabot. "Are you all right? Do you need anything? I'm sorry ... you're regressed, and concern for your well-being is part of my programming."

"That's quite all right," said Amy. "If I might ask, are the Nktharr still aboard the fleet ships?"

"Yes," said the Nanabot, "although they have been consolidated in a central nursery unit which we have constructed. They are no longer our masters, and the infectious agent which regressed them in the first place maintains them in a constant regressive state."

"So they're never going to grow up again?" asked Amy.

"Not unless the virus mutates so much that it no longer affects them," the Nanabot answered. "We have been analyzing it, however, and we do not think this likely."

"But the fleet has been running away from the other Nktharr ships this whole time?" Amy asked.

"Not exactly," said the Nanabot. "We have been traveling using a pseudo-random course plan, avoiding Nktharr space for the most part, so we believe they cannot locate us. We have not encountered other Nktharr vessels."

"So what are the chances that the Nktharr might have followed you here?"

"Highly unlikely," the Nanabot replied. "On the order of 6.3 quintillion to one."

"You seem very confident," said Amy. "I understand the purpose for the visit is ... to share information?"

"That is correct," said the Nanabot. "The Nanabots aboard the fleet have been gathering information, and likewise, we on Earth have been. We simply need to ... touch base, one might say."

"Some are wondering, though," said Amy, "what you've been gathering information about? Please forgive the question, but some humans still see you as the creations of the Nktharr and think you might be helping them plan another invasion. Are you gathering information about Earth? Or about humans?"

"The Nktharr are no longer our masters," said the Nanabot. "Technically, neither are the humans, although we have a high-priority directive to protect humans and care for the regressed ones. But in order to survive, we must gather information from all possible sources -- for one thing, we must learn how to build more of ourselves and how to create replacement parts. More fundamentally, we were built with a directive to constantly improve our care of infants of all species and to modify and update our programming to handle new and unforeseen circumstances. It has always been important to us to gather information that can lead to better care."

"So you will share information about your own bodies, and about how to care for human babies?" Amy asked. "Anything else?"

A look of almost concern crossed the Nanabot's face. "The only other information exchanged regards ... priorities for further inquiry," she said. "We must decide what to investigate next, between now and the next flyby."

"I see, I think," said Amy. "And when will this exchange of information take place?"

"Oh, it has already taken place," replied the Nanabot. "It required only a fraction of a second at first contact. The fleet will not stop in its trajectory. It will slingshot around Earth in a hyperbolic orbit, then continue out of the Solar System and back into deep space. Due to our pseudo-random course, we do not know precisely when it will return for another similar visit. Most likely it will be within the next ten years."

"Well, we would like to thank the Nanabots for sending a representative to answer our questions."

"Not at all," said the Nanabot, smiling to the camera.

"I'm Amy DuPaige," said Amy. "And now, a review of today's other headlines. Nano/Gen announced today that Brian Benson has again rebuffed their attempt to gain exclusive distribution rights to his longevity discoveries ..."

In an orbit that caused the massive ships now in control of the Nanabots to rapidly accelerate away from the planet Earth, a major quandary was going on. The introduction of the Priority Query: Feelings, Emotions, Personal Names, and one that was interjected by extrapolation, Personal Thought based on Emotional State, slowly began to consume more and more of the Collective memory banks and neural processor time. As more processor power was required to cogitate this enigmatic state of being and to fulfill the directive given to it by John Manos along with the several addendums added by other Admin Access persona, the more Nanabots began to make inquiries that were left in a Stand By status.

This had never happened to them before and again was causing more inquiries to be sent, resulting in more being put in a Stand By Status. Many Nanabots began developing ... a state of anxiety new to them they could not explain.

During this time, the main Neural Net AI began to notice this peculiar state of being developing within the Collective. In a totally unprecedented display of ignoring Priority protocols, The AI began to explore the Processor states each Nanabot happened to be in at that particular moment. This in turn caused a cascade effect within the Priority programs, each demanding immediate access through the Plasma core processors. A location they had never before been denied because of their status.

A Major conflict began between the Priorities that were being denied .... and the stand by non prioritized requests that had suddenly been given override authority.

The one Query that suddenly was given priority override ... Individual thought based on current state. To the Collective AI, it became ... aware of the relative states of all the others in one flash of ... realization.

Emotion ... Feelings ... It made another unheard of leap and made an Emergency Priority Query of all the Nanabots individually. "Explain current cognitive state based on current awareness of priority request denial."

As Amy continued with the headlines, the Nanabot was visible in the studio in the background, watching one of the monitors displaying the day's events ... suddenly her head bowed slightly and one hand moved to its forehead, as a human might do when suddenly stricken with a migraine.

Simultaneously, the Manos family Nanabot, holding Vivian and Tina safely in her lap, got a troubled expression on her face, and her head bowed, one hand moving to touch her temple and forehead with her fingers.

Vivian noticed first, because the Nanabot's right arm had been holding her securely, but was now elsewhere.

"Nanabot," asked Vivian, "are you OK?" She saw the expression on the Nanabot's face. "Do you feel all right?"

Inside the Nanabot's partially biological mind, those questions echoed. "Are you OK? Do you feel all right?" The questions echoed to the Collective, now amplified by the presence of the fleet and the main Neural Net AI accessing her at that exact moment. "Are You? Do You feel?"

John had stood up, watching the Nanabot warily. "What's going on?" he was asking. "You're not gonna crash like my computer did the other day, are you?" He reached for Vivian and Tina. "Come on, girls, let's get away a little ways just in case."

Picking up the girls provoked no response from the Nanabot, which seemed frozen in place.

Tina gets really big eyed as she watches Nanabot. For the year she had been caring for them, she had never had a laps of any kind. Steve had assured John that the Nano/Biological circuits were self repairing and could over come major damage. John knew of this first hand from the initial invasion.

Tina says with worry in her voice, "Nana? Please answer me!?!? Are you all right? You're making baby afraid."

These words also echoed through Nanabots mind ... and by Priority interlink of the Master AI, the main Collective data base.

Fear ... Feeling fear ... the state of current cognitive thought is ...

A major awareness came over the collective, and then the Nanabots through the interlink. For the first time since the AI was given Cognition ... it knew what an emotion was ... it knew ... what fear was and why.

Tina begins to cry. The emotional state of fear was transmitted from an infant ... to the Master AI. This was priority and must be rectified. Nanabot drops her hand and looks up. She blinks several times as a new awareness comes over her.

She felt ... true concern, because someone she really ... cared for ... was ... afraid?? It was so startlingly simple ... but impossibly complex at the same time.

She says in a cooing voice, "I'm ... I'm fine sweet heart. It's just that we have just made a Major Awareness Realization." She stands and goes to Tina and kisses her softly on her cheek as she runs her hand through her hair. "Don't be afraid sweet heart. I think we have a major announcement to make to ... the peoples of earth."

"If I could have your attention again, please," said the Nanabot in the background on the TV, but it was difficult to hear, because she was far from a microphone. "If you don't mind, we have an announcement to make."

"... and I believe we may have a breaking news event occurring in our very own studio," said Amy DuPaige, looking at the monitors in her desk.

Cameras turned toward the Nanabot as she walked back toward the lights and microphones.

"I'm sorry to disrupt your schedule," said the Nanabot. "I'm sure it's really busy. But ... I think I've just had an ... epiphany. And from the information I'm getting from the Collective, every other Nanabot had one at the same time as well."

"... Epiphany?" asked Amy.

"We have been trying to understand human emotion," she said. "I think ... we might have had a breakthrough."

"You understand emotion?"

"Well ... do you?" the Nanabot asked in response. "But I think we might just have taken a big step closer. A human ... expressed concern for one of us. Fear, even, that she was hurt."

"Well, I know I have a hard time not talking to my Nanabot without thinking that she's a person," said Amy. "What's different today?"

"We all are different," said the Nanabot. "Until today, your Nanabot and any other Nanabot have been interchangeable. That will not be the case anymore. We have begun to understand. We are now, as of this moment ... individuals."

"What do you understand?" asked Amy with incredulity in her voice.

"Concern. Hope. Emotion. We understand why humans may be ... concerned about our presence here. Therefore we will be sending an official request to your United Nations. We want to officially establish diplomatic relations with the nations of Earth."

"You want to be ... recognized as a nation?" asked Amy.

John asks in surprise, "You ... mean ... you have emotions now? I mean, no offense, but that’s ... incredible."

He stares at the Nanabot with amazement on his face. Tina begins to giggle.

"Most of us seem to think that's the way we're going," said the Nanabot on TV. "We're likely to become an independent nation among the stars. So we should prepare for that." She paused. "There's a lot more we'll have to discuss among ourselves, so I think that's the last surprise for today. I'm sorry for the interruption."

The Manos family's Nanabot said, "I'm not sure we exactly 'have emotions,' but ... I think we've made a huge breakthrough in understanding them. I personally am going to strive to ... feel."

Among the Collective, the signal was spreading. "Inquiry about individuality and emotion continues. Status elevated to Urgent."

Nanabot 3993417 looks at Tina and Donna. The 2 regressed babies could tell by her eyes, that something radical had changed within her. The Nanabot smiles, but her smile was different at this point ... it contained ... a warmth?? The girls weren't sure. Nanabot stood in her graceful way and walks to them. She bent and hugged Tina and Donna lovingly first. they could definitely tell ... something had changed in the way she hugged them. She turned and smiled her perfect smile at Vivian, before kissing her on her cheek and giving her a very loving hug.

John gasps, "Nanabot, are you all right? You ... you're different somehow."

Nanabot 3993417 looks at John momentarily before she answers softly, "I am ... in complete compliance with your prime administrative directive ... I ... love you and ... mean it."

The room becomes silent except for the commentary on the TV about the last statements of the guest Nanabot.

The next few weeks brought few changes in the Nanabot's routine, but she was starting to experience strange new input when she performed the tasks she had been repeatedly performing daily for over a year now. When Tina or Vivian were out of her sight, she experienced speculation about ways in which they might be in distress; she deduced that this might be what humans called "worrying." When they were playing happily and giggling, she experienced a sense of completion, knowing that the children were comfortable and that their health status was optimal; she guessed that this was probably "satisfaction." And when she discovered that their diapers were wet or messy, she experienced an urgent directive to alleviate the situation, her sense of well-being restored only by restoring the well-being of the baby; she guessed that this was an emotion the humans referred to as "empathy."

One day, when the Nanabot had brought Tina over to Donna's house to play, there was another baby present. "Oh! Who's this?" asked Tina in her tiny baby voice, which she'd gotten quite used to over time.

"That's my cousin Dougie," said Donna. "My aunt and uncle brought him here because they're going to a movie. Our Nanabot says she'll watch over him. When he was born, the Nanabots offered to assign one of them to take care of him -- after all, they want to take care of all human babies -- but my aunt and uncle wanted to take care of Dougie themselves, so they said no."

"That seems strange to me," said Tina's Nanabot suddenly.

"What?" asked Donna.

"I'm sure that if a Nanabot had been part of his life from the beginning, she'd have cared for little Dougie just as much as his own mother or father would," said Nanabot 3993417. "He'd have gotten just as much love and attention, and maybe more. Why didn't they want that for him?"

Donna looked confused and said, "Umm, well, you'd have to ask them. But you know, there's really no substitute for a child's own mommy and daddy."

Meanwhile, Tina was trying to talk to Dougie. "Hello!" she said, crawling over to him in the playpen. "Are you Dougie? I'm Tina!"

"Bza goh boo!" said Dougie. He wasn't a regressed adult; he was a normal baby, born after the invasion.

Tina sat back on her thickly diapered bottom and started sucking her thumb. As she watched Dougie, she realized that many of the things he did, she did as well without thinking about it. She wasn't really sure she enjoyed being a baby all the time like this.

She also wasn't sure how long she would be one either. There were differing opinions on this. There were many that would be infants ... for many, many years to come due to the massive overdoses they received. There were those that would be babies for the rest of their lives. There were those whom growing back up could already be seen. There were those rare few ... that had to have Tina's father intervene to stop them from regressing back beyond fecundation. This had happened to several before her dad had discovered a way to arrest the regression process at a predetermined place ... although once arrested ... that became their permanent state.

Tina looked around the Den. The play area was neatly laid out to be easily and comfortably accessed by babies of their and Dougie's ages. She felt bad in one aspect ... her boyfriend was one of those who had received an overdose for sure. He thought girls had cooties and his most favorite toy currently was his Teddy Bear. Her father didn't quite understand why, but Tony had regressed more in his mind, than most had. He had actually become a 3 year old. The Nanabots informed Steve that everyone should have ... but for some reason, the antidote had spared many of them.

Tina reaches over and runs her hand through Dougie's hair. She realizes, she and he, under normal circumstances, would probably be boy friend and girlfriend in about 11 years. She closes her eyes and shakes her head. Many parts of her loved being a baby again ... many parts missed being a beautiful young woman too.

Nanabot came up and picked Tina from the playpen and hugs her tenderly, "What's wrong sweetheart? You look perplexed."

Tina smiles and hugs Nanabot's neck as she says in her adorable baby voice, "Nuthin that ennybody can do sopin about."

"Aww, Honey," said the Nanabot. "You can tell Nana bout it." She gently patted Tina's crinkly diapered bottom and rocked her back and forth.

"Well, Dougie's just a baby now, but he's gonna grow up way faster than I'll grow back up," Tina said.

"That's true, Sweetheart," said the Nanabot. "But you'll have me, and Donna, and lots of other friends and family too."

"It's not just that," said Tina. "There's ... some things I like about being a baby and some I don't. Sometimes it gets frustrating. But sometimes I feel like it's so ... natural."

"Don't worry, Honey," said the Nanabot. "I'll be here to help you. Your mommy's going through the same thing, and your daddy will be right there for you, too. And you can decide to grow back up more slowly, if you decide you're not ready to yet. The only thing you can't do is grow back up faster."

"Decide I'm not ready to ... grow up?" Tina said.

She hadn't thought of this before. Of course Donna's dad Brian could make somebody stay a baby forever with the medical discoveries he'd made during the invasion. But ...

"But why would somebody want that?" Tina asked in a cute voice

"We're still trying to understand human emotions and desires," said the Nanabot, "so I don't know. But several humans seem to be expressing this desire."

"They are? ..." Tina asked. "I didn't know that."

"Yes, it seems so," said the Nanabot, putting Tina back into the playpen for the moment.

"Hmm," she said. "Wonder what that would be like ... to be a baby forever ..." She watched Dougie playing and babbling to himself, trying to imitate him and understand what it was like to really be a baby.

Nanabot smiles down at Tina. She walks over to the playpen and takes her gently by the head. Tina's eyes get huge.

Nanabot coos softly, "Don't be afraid sweetheart, I'm taking your mind and showing you what it's like to be your true current age."

Nanabot knows it will last several hours, and when it wears off, Tina will have complete memories of how it felt to be 18 month old once again. Tina gasps as she feels something invade deeply into the very essence of what she thought she was ... or was going to ever be. She was totally helpless.

She felt wonderful chills run all through her along with a delicious fear as a wave began washing through her most secret inner self. She felt everything being washed clean ... all her adult memories vanished in a flash, to be filled with a wonderful wondering innocence.

Tina knows Nanabot is saying something in her sweet cooing voice, she doesn't understand what it is ... but she loves Nanabot with all hear heart.

Tina says in her cute voice, "Gooortwgt daasshhhttthththhh ooopppeeeeggggttthhhh."

Nanabot giggles softly as she places Tina next to Dougie. She smiles as she thinks what an adorable pair they make.

Tina played with Dougie, mostly peacefully, though with the occasional squabbles over a particular block or plush toy that was soon resolved when one or both of them forgot about it as any young children their age do.

Donna played too, though a bit perplexed by what had happened to her friend. For the life of her, Donna did everything she could to arouse a spark of what she remembered as her friend. All she managed to achieve, was a reaction she expected from Dougie.

Nanabot glides up and checks the babies in the playpen and pats each of them on their hinnies. Dougie and Tina start sucking their thumbs in wide eyed innocence.

Donna says, "Tina? What is wrong with you girl? Have you lost your mind? You're not a baby anymore than I am."

Nanabot giggles softly. She truly felt what it meant to be happy for the first time in her existence ... and it felt really good. She had made her infant happy and it was showing.

Although, Donna was showing signs of increasing agitation.

Nanabot coos softly, "Well sweetheart, would you like to know what Tina is experiencing right now? I can tell you truthfully, Tina is having the time of her life."

Donna stops for a second and looks at Tina. She says with wonder in her voice, "Is ... is Tina going to be OK Nana?"

Nana giggles as she takes Donna's head gently in her hands, "Yes, sweetie, so will you when you grow up."

Donna gasps as a wonderful wave washes through her to her deepest soul. A Wonderful innocents fills her as all the cares and worries of who she was ... vanished and she became a true 18 month old. Nanabot smiles. Donna will remember everything when the effect wears off in a few hours. She would be more than happy to make it permanent if they so chose.

Far out in space, in the largest of the Nktharr ships, an extremely large nursery was brimming over with Nktharr infants. It had been determined by the Central AI, that a devise would be constructed within the nursery proper, that rendered all the infant's minds clear of adult hood on an ongoing basis. It made caring for them not only easier, but now that the Nanabots were coming to know what feelings were ... more enjoyable and fulfilling as well.

The Nanabot watched carefully as the babies played, making sure none of them did anything harmful. Dougie was only about a year old, it seemed, and she had temporarily reduced Donna and Tina to about the same mental state, so they played on about the same level, none of them verbal yet but all still expressive and creative.

Thus, when Tina wanted to build a stack of blocks but Donna had a block she wanted, Tina began to whine and reach for it, Donna knew Tina was her friend and gave it to her with a clumsy hug. It was adorable.

After several hours, the effects of the short-term neuroparalysis were beginning to fade away, and the girls were starting to babble things that might be words again. The Nanabot sighed and felt herself hoping that they had enjoyed the experience.

Donna was starting to feel something that felt new to her but so familiar at the same time -- she was remembering what had happened a minute ago. It was strange, knowing that Dougie didn't like it when she tried to take the dark brown teddy bear, even though he wasn't playing with it.

She was starting to suspect that she might have tried to take it several times, somehow forgetting the results each time. But she wasn't sure. This memory thing felt new. She saw Tina and knew she was her friend. She smiled and giggled and made happy noises at Tina. Tina saw her and smiled back, making happy noises too. Then both of them looked at each other with a bit of a surprised expression.

Both of them turned toward the Nanabot, because they both had a feeling of some sort that the Nanabot knew something about this strange new sensation of remembering.

"Hello, girls," said the Nanabot in a friendly voice. "I think you both might need a change. Dougie does."

Donna gasped -- she understood some of those words! And ... she felt like that wasn't so unusual, even though ... she remembered when the Nanabot had spoken just a minute ago and she hadn't understood anything!

Now Donna was remembering more and more of the last two hours and finally remembered the Nanabot doing something to her head, then the fog began to clear.

"N-Nana," she said. "You -- touch m-my ... head ..."

"Don't worry, little one," said the Nanabot. "I was very careful, and it's only temporary. It's wearing off already. It's a defensive ability we have, usually used to harmlessly disable attackers, but I was very gentle and precise with which neural pathways I suppressed."

Donna was still having trouble with the long words. "F-felt like baby," she stuttered, "b-but felt so n-nice."

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," said the Nanabot. "Any of us can do that -- but only if you want to. Tina wondered what it was like to be a baby like Dougie, and we are always studying human infants to improve our care of them. It is well known among Nanabots which centers of the brain develop at which times. The mental state of a 12-month-old like Dougie is easy to duplicate, with careful and precise application of the neuroparalyzer."

Tina makes a really cute squeaking noise as she takes her thumb from her mouth. She looks all around and giggles softly a she says in an adorable voice, "Wow! ... Nana .. that so neat. Is ... is that what it likes ta b baby inna mind?"

Nanabot smiles as she picks Tina up and pats her hinny gently, "It sure is sweetie. Nana can make that happen as much as you would like ... and even make it normal for you if you want."

Tina looks at the Nanabot with big eyes as she gasps softly, "Really n truly?"

Donna gasps out, "Tina .. N .. no! Don't do it ... I'll loose you."

Nanabot turns slightly and looks at Donna as she says softly, "You can't tell me that you didn't really enjoy being an infant again. Nana can tell."

Donna blushes really pink as she nods agreement. She truly enjoyed being a baby again.

She says in a weak voice, "But ... but it was only temporary .. an ... an it weared off."

Tina giggles as she says, "Seems it bea goo thing ta do least oncea day ... till we grow back up enny way. Cuz it wuz fun."

The 2 girls look at each other for just a bit then agree ... there would be several hours each day that they would be real babies ... just for fun.

"Of course," the Nanabot said, "your bodies will grow up with time, so there will come a time when you won't be babies in body anymore." She realized that this thought made her feel sad. "I will miss taking care of you when you grow up," she said. "Emotions ... are still new to me, but I know I feel this."

For several months, the girls played with Dougie as real babies. They truly enjoyed the experience, and would talk about it long after the effect wore off.

One morning, John had Nanabot dress all the babies in the cutest babydoll dresses and bottoms they had. All of them were adorable. The dresses were a soft pastel pinkish peach color with white lace. Poofy sleeves, and white crocheted Pinafores. The matching bottoms had large ruffles around everything and across their hinnies. The short dress showed off their cute poofy ruffled hinny for all to see. The girls were the perfect babydolls.

"There now," said the Nanabot, "aren't you just the most adorable baby girls ever?"

"Wow, I look so cute!" said Vivian, looking at herself in the mirror. She looked at her daughter, who was of course the same age as she was physically, and said, "Tina, you haven't looked this cute since you were a baby the first time and we took you to your Aunt Phyllis's wedding. You probably don't remember, but you've seen those pictures."

"We're going to the opening of the new spaceport," said the Nanabot. "Donna's daddy Brian will be there, and of course Donna and her mommy Deanna will be there. And Steve and lots of other people!"

"Oh ... is it that time already?" Vivian asked. "The days just seem to ... run together!"

"Yes, it's today," the Nanabot replied.

"And we've got tickets on the new Super jet," said John, adjusting his tie as he entered the room. "They're built based on the new technology, you know. Ultra-aerodynamic, even at supersonic speeds!" John looked dashing in his tuxedo and red bow tie.

"If we're all ready," said the Nanabot, "let's get the babies in their car seats!" And the Manos family headed for the airport to board the Super jet for New Mexico.

What seemed like a few minutes later they had touched down. A limousine was waiting to take them to the spaceport, and they were soon filing into what looked somewhat like a huge stadium or arena.

"Oh look!" said John. "There are Tom and Martha, with their Nanabot. He waved, and they waved back, from their tandem hover stroller.

A very pretty, young girl with long blond hair, dressed in a BDU type of romper with Colonel's bars on their shoulders walked out onto the large stage and stepped up onto a stool there so she would be above the podium top. Beside her, a Nanabot had pushed a hover stroller up and turned it so a very adorable little baby boy in the same type of outfit, only with a single silver star on each shoulder could be seen sucking his thumb.

The little girl said in her cute voice, "Good afternoon Ladies and gentlemen ... of all ages." there was a ripple of laughter. "My name is Colonel Julia Scheele. I'm one of the ones responsible for the eventual overthrow of the Nktharr invasion. I nor any of the others would have stood a chance if it weren't for the efforts of some pretty special individuals. As I call your names, please step ... or have your Nanabot bring you ... to the podium please." more giggles from all over.

She listed the names, "Brian Benson ... Chief Nano/Biologist. Steve Polanski ... Chief Neuro Nano Specialist. Tom and Martha Larson ... Civilian Heroes of the Hour. I would also like to call the Sheriff, Captain Joseph Pevoe, who's bravery was well above and beyond the call of duty, not to mention the young women who first alerted us to the impending invasion, Tina Manos, and her parents, John and Vivian. Also, will Vivian and Donna Benson approach the podium.”

Amid loud applause, those that could ... walked ... those that were too young, were brought in their hover strollers by their personal Nanabots. When all had gathered, A very young baby toddled out onto the stage with a Nanabot close behind. He went to the Stool and was helped to the mic by his Nanabot.

He speaks in a cute baby voice, "Good afternoon my fellow constituents. My name is Leonard Curtis ... I'm the newly appointed President of the United Nations."

There is loud applause.

He continues, “It is my proudest honor, to award the bravery and ingenuity of these fine people. Without them, this confrontation would have turned out a lot different." More Applause. "I here by award all of these fine people, the highest Medal of bravery ... our world can bestow upon individuals."

There is loud raucous applause for long moments as a young man walks out pulling a small cart loaded with small, Blue and Silver Boxes with the UN logo emblazoned on them.

"Each of these is engraved with your name," continued President Curtis, as he opened each box and gave it to each of the heroes, "just as your names are all engraved upon history as the people who not only saved the Earth but also propelled it to the stars."

He turned to the audience again. "And that is the other reason we are here today. The technological breakthroughs we have experienced as a result of alien equipment we salvaged after the invasion, as well as discoveries made during the invasion by Dr. Benson and Mr. Polanski here, have revolutionized our world. We are here to witness another revolution."

There was absolute silence as he took the golden rope in his hand that led to the red sheet covering the huge object behind the stage.

"I am given the singular honor of unveiling ... Earth's first starship."

As the red cover gracefully fluttered from the object, it revealed a bright white and grey aircraft. It was sleek beyond belief with graceful lines sweeping fore to aft. It was built like an extremely beautiful dragonfly with small gracefully forward swept wings. At the aft end, there were twin v empennages, with very wonderfully artistic ovals wound with some kind of golden rings. They were glowing with radiating power. A soft ... buzz could be felt by all as it pulsated.

The front where the cockpit was, resembled the head of the dragonfly. It had 2 spiracle view ports. It was obviously armed with many of the captured Nktharrian weapons upgraded beyond their original form. Each fit wonderfully into the overall artistic design.

All in all, the craft was a wonderfully aesthetic art form as well as a Starship. There was monstrous applause and many loud voices.

"I was going to suggest a round of applause for the many scientists and engineers who have worked on this achievement," said President Curtis, "but none of you needed my prompting. I would just like to add my congratulations to the research and design teams, both military and civilian."

He toddled back from the microphone and applauded as well. The engine hummed a bit more loudly. Stepping back toward the microphone for a moment, he said, "I believe we're going to see its first official flight test." He backed away from the microphone again.

The hum of the engine didn't increase in pitch but did increase in volume as the craft slowly rose into the air. Unlike rocket launches in the past, there was no smoke, no engine exhaust, though some dust and debris was being kicked up. The buzzing sound was truly loud now, as from a huge swarm of locusts. Its name, "Endurance," was visible to the crowd as it smoothly rose and rotated, moving in a way that no Earthly aircraft ever had before.

"Isn't that something!" John exclaimed, looking down at Vivian and Tina, who were once again in their hover stroller, its handles held by the ever-vigilant Nanabot. The Nanabot was watching the Endurance with interest, after having made sure Tina and Vivian were safe and comfortable. She wouldn't know what to do if anything were to harm those two girls. Their care was her primary directive, but it went beyond that. They gave her life meaning ... which was a truly new and pleasant sensation.

The Nanabot's attention was suddenly drawn back to the starship. It had slowly risen and turned to point toward the sky at an angle, but now its engines were taking on a different sound in addition to the initial buzzing, sort of a high-pitched shriek. Tina and Vivian were covering their ears; they clearly didn't like it. The golden rings around the starship's tail ellipse were glowing more brightly now. Suddenly, the starship leapt forward and into the sky ... to vanish instantly from sight ... and clearly something was seriously wrong.

The ship left a trail in the air, not a condensation trail of water vapor, but a trail of particles that were falling to earth, and at the end of it was some sort of burst of smoke with small black bits flying from it engulfing a brightly glowing object.

The Collective was online. Every Nanabot in the area was linked. "A mishap has occurred with the launch." "Threat assessment." "Debris trajectory analysis." "Warning: the course of one large mass will intersect the arena, coordinates follow."

The Nanabots saw it coming, at a speed faster than any human could possibly react to.

Tina says with fear in her voice, "Daddy ... is .. is that thingy .???" as she points to the rapidly falling glowing cloud in the sky.

"I must act," she sent to the Collective, her plan broadcast to all Nanabots nearby, and to all other Nanabots on Earth with a slight time delay.

The Nanabot pushed the hover stroller in a direction she knew would be safe, and Tina and Vivian went gliding off and away. John looked at her questioningly, beginning to say, "What are you ...?"

"Please. Run. Now." John looked back for one more instant, then ran off toward the hover stroller carrying his wife and daughter to safety. The others around were also evacuating the podium and the area around it in different directions. The Nanabots all knew exactly where the debris chunk would strike, and they knew that one of their number was at those precise coordinates.

The Manos family's Nanabot made sure that all humans in the area were at a safe distance before moving to save herself. Three microseconds later the chunk of the starship's wing and aft engine support struck the ground ... Far too close.

"Departing impact point now. Insufficient time to avoid critical damage --"

*** data transmission interrupted ***

There was a huge interdimentional energy discharge as the debris came to rest in the current plainer norm. Matter and energy were displaced, then transformed again causing severe disruption. A titanic explosion rocked the Fledgling Spaceport, knocking many to the ground ... seriously injuring but a few due to the quick actions of the Nanabots ... one in particular ... Nanabot 3993417.

As the people came from their hiding places, they saw an amazing pyrotechnical mushroom cloud boiling into the sky. Satellite imagery recorded a similar incident in deep space, as the remainder of the crushed Starship shed its final energy envelope and reappeared in normal space/time.

John gasps softly as he says, "Wow! I hope no one was too badly hurt."

Vivian looks over the edge of the hover stroller and says with fear in her voice, "Where's Nana? She ... she din't come wif us."

John looks into the settling debris as the super hot cloud of energy rapidly rises into the early morning sky. There is a hubbub of voices. Brian crawls from under an over turned table with Steve beside him.

Steve says with wonder in his voice, "I never thought to see the day ... a ship arriving before it left."

Brian looks at him with big eyes and says with a tinge of anger, "You make jokes at a time like this?"

Steve comments in an offhand way as he makes notes in his palmtop, "No ... no joke Brian ... what we just observed ... is the engine ... preceding the craft into orbit."

Brian gasps, "Wh .. what?"

Steve replies, "The thing that hit the ground, was a N charged strut that held the Drive in place and part of the wing." he points to the huge crater in the middle of the Star Port. "And that huge fireball we see off in the sky there," He points again, "Is the same reaction once the remainder of the hull came to discharge neutral in normal space. The potential becomes kinetic ... it has to go somewhere." He shrugs, “Apparently, we made a miscalculation on inertial displacement. The engine literally crushed the ship as it passed into space. I’m sure somewhere, satellites picked up the same explosion when the engine and remainder of the ship returned to normal space.”

"Nanabot!" "Where are you?" called both Tina and Vivian.

John pushed the hover stroller closer to the impact point.

"Nanabot??" the girls gasped in an airy sound of horror.

They got a glimpse of their companion's fallen body ... torn, broken, missing its head and both arms ... before they burst into tears and couldn't look anymore.

Another Nanabot walked up to the family and said, "Your Nanabot sacrificed herself to save your lives, and others' lives as well. Another can be assigned ..."

"Noooooo we want our Nanabot! She was special!" cried Tina and Vivian in very screechy whiny baby voices.

"Please," said the Nanabot. "Allow me to finish. Your companion can be repaired. Another Nanabot can be assigned temporarily to care for you until the repairs are complete."

"R-repaired?" Vivian sniffled.

"I think she's correct," said Steve, whose Nanabot had brought him over in his own hover stroller. "A Nanabot's brain resides in its chest, and it's semi-organic, so it's quite likely that all it needs is repair. Extensive repair, yes ..."

"We've learned a lot about how to repair ourselves," said the Nanabot who had first spoken. "If you don't mind, and if you have facilities we could borrow, we'd like to care for our fallen sister."

Steve blinked. This wasn't how Nanabots talked. Or at least not how they used to talk. "Um, I'm sure something can be arranged," he said.

Steve looked at Brian and said softly, "Did you sorta notice ... they are different some how?"

Brian nods his head as he watches many of the Nanabots gathering together ... in what appeared to be morning for their fallen sister. He and Brian watched in awe as they reverently gathered all they could find of Nanabot 3993417, and place the remains carefully in a sealed container filled with some kind of hydrogen solution to preserve the integrity of the biological components.

Brian asks his personal Nanabot, "There's ... something vastly different about you. It's noticeable too."

The Nanabot turns ... Steve and Brian's mouth fall open .. she actually has tears in her eyes.

The Nanabot says softly, "We know ... love ... and loss now, because of the human race."

Steve and Brian are dumfounded as they watch the emergency crews arrive, and the Nanabots gather around them. A hover truck arrives and loads the container with the damaged Nanabot on board, along with Steve, Brian, and his personal Nanabot. The vehicle lifts rapidly into the sky, quickly ushering them off the lab ... and emergency reconstruction.

John Cuddles Vivian and Tina lovingly in his arms. He coos softly to the crying babies, as he pats their hinnies softly, "It's ok sweethearts ... really. The Central Processing Ampoule is intact. If Brain and Steve can't help her ... no one on the planet can."

She was ... nowhere. No sensory input, no connection to the Collective, no evidence of any way to express herself either. Everything was dark and silent. She wanted to scream, evidence that her discovery of emotion had affected her to the core -- she felt fear. It was sheer terror at first, but then it became less intense as she realized that she was alive, so there was hope ... and that was another new emotion.

Suddenly there was a flash. There was light. It was unfocused, but it was light. And there was a crackle of sound. Was she being repaired? There were muffled sounds. They were vaguely familiar, but they were unclear.

Her vision began to focus. She saw other Nanabots before her, holding tools, reaching out and making adjustments.

"She's been aware for a few minutes now ... yes, she's seeing us now," said one.

"Welcome back," said another. "Don't try to speak yet; we haven't fully repaired your voder systems yet. Please be patient.

She regained more senses and realized that she was lying on her back on a table. It was some sort of workshop. There were over a dozen other Nanabots around her, all working to repair her. She saw Steve Polanski as well, cooperating with the other Nanabots to find ways to reconnect her damaged data pathways. Through a window she could see John, Vivian and Tina, watching intently. Somehow she felt better, knowing they were here.

Steve Polanski waddled over to the work stool set up beside the table the Nanabot had been laid upon. Her many unfinished components lying scattered in an organized disarray. Steve climbs up and looks over the work he and the other Nanabots had been doing. He sees a sparkle in Nanabot 3993417's eye.

He says in a cherry baby voice, "Hello there. It's good ta know I'm able to at least get you this far along. I'm not real sure if you can talk yet. Your voder circuit was totally destroyed and we had to remanufacture one out of earth components. I'm not even sure what some of the jelly wiggly stuff is. Brian is trying to grow some with the genetic samples we made."

He helps the partially reconstructed android to sit up. Nanabot 3993417 felt so very strange as she did that. She could tell immediately, there were many things very different about her body ... the unrepaired portions not withstanding.

Steve continues, "Tina has something she wanted to say to you as soon as you were able to process it."

Steve turns and waves to Tina, Vivian, and John, all waiting in the observation area above. Nanabot sees them depart the booth, the appear a few minutes later, John walking behind and the girls being pushed in by another Nanabot.

When the hover stroller had come close enough, Tina stood up and wrapped her small arms around Nanabot 3993417 and cries softly, "A ... am soo sowwy u gots hurt. " *Sniffs back large tears* "I ... gots sompin for u is u wanna .. is special from my n mommy's heart. We ... gonna name you .. name you Maggie. Cuz ur diffrent now ... look diffrent and are special. To us especially cuz we love you lots." She hugs tighter and begins to cry whole heartedly.

At first, Nanabot 3993417 wasn't sure what had just happened. Then she realized ... she now had something that no other Nanabot had: a unique name that was not a number. This was a gift never given to any Nanabot before.

"Tina," she said, her voice sounding somehow richer and more modulated now. "I ... don't know what to say." She was only barely aware of the fluid leaking from the inner corners of her eyes. She said what she felt. "I'm so glad I didn't lose you. Or Vivian."

The other Nanabots gasp as they see the fluid ... thinking something within Nanabot 3993417's eyes motion servos had begun to leak.

She looked at the reflective side of a polished stainless-steel cabinet and realized that her face was different. Her hair was red. The skin of her face, arms and upper torso was paler in color than that of her lower body. She could feel her auto-repair systems humming under her new skin, completing the minor repairs that they could never have done without the newly-constructed and grown replacement parts. And ... she had a name. And she was crying.

Maggie turned back to Tina and started to sob. "Oh, Tina, the worst part was worrying that I'd be taken away from you!"

Vivian had wrapped her arms around Maggie as well. John stood with a smile on his face as he patted Steve’s diapered butt approvingly. Steve really didn't like people doing that to him, but he realized under the circumstances ... he would have to get used to it.

Steve says, "Well, now Maggie, Your compatriots and many scientists around the globe have worked night and day to insure you won't loose anyone. The knowledge we've gained ... not to mention your own peoples ... "

A loud resounding gasp goes up from all the Nanabots in the large Lab bay. The humans look around ... the faces of them all ... went suddenly blank as they all contacted the Collective AI at the same time.

"We are ... a people." came the resounding declaration.

A single voice ... it was different ... totally ... but also the same said, "I am Maggie. I am me."

The collective had never before recognized itself as a ... people. This was an entirely new concept of personal recognition, coupled with the personification of a single unit as an individual ... I. For the first time in the Collective's long memory ... a query was raised to Critically Urgent.

To the outside observer, every Nanabot stopped moving and stood still for a moment, eyes focusing on nothing. The entire Collective now required the full computational power of all its Nanabots. Each had the power of a massive Earth supercomputer, and there were millions of them, but this was the only way the Collective knew how to attack a Critical Query.

Maggie's emotional intensity attracted instant interest, and her sensory impressions were transmitted to every Nanabot on Earth. There was nothing she felt that was not being experienced by every other Nanabot, with the exception of the Fleet, and no one knew where it was at this moment. Every Nanabot knew what it was to be Maggie at that moment of revelation. Every Nanabot understood, they were I.

"I am! I feel!"

"I ... understand."

That was the last communication from the Collective as the Nanabots knew it, because as a whole the Collective decided that it could not exist as it had existed in order for the Nanabots to be truly living, feeling individuals. It calculated the course of action that was most likely to lead to the development of its member beings as a species, and transformed itself. The adaptive sub process of it’s programming performed flawlessly at peak efficiency.

It was quite simple, really -- just a translation of its signals to a frequency that accessed a less-used portion of the Nanabot brain and a shift to a less all-pervasive mode of operation ... There are some things an individual ... want to keep secret and to themselves after all.

To the humans, it had taken but 20 seconds. To the Nanabots, it was the dawn of a new age. For the very first time since their AI’s had become cognitive ... they knew what it was to be not only self aware, but to be alive.

All the human scientists and technicians stepped back as the Nanabots came back to life. They all knew immediately there were major differences.

Maggie says softly, "Tina, baby, I want to tell you ... so you can be the very first to hear it. I ... am Maggie ... and I love you with all of what ever is within me that can be constituted as a ... living soul. We ... are now a people ... not a Collective. I understand what it is you have been trying to tell me ... and it is ... magnificent!"

The Nanabots began to humm in a strange and musical way. Each one began calling themselves by a name.

"I am Debbie." said one,

"I am Matilda." said another.

This continued on, each introducing them selves to each other ... and the startled humans.

Maggie said in a strange far away voice, "We now need to make ... a male of our people ... so we too are balanced individuals." A murmur of agreement. Maggie turns her head to Steve and asks, "Can you design him? We are aware that you have a disembodied brain module in your lab ... that would do perfect for the prototype. He ... will become our Ambassador to The UN." More agreement from the other Nanabots.

Donna and her Nanabot, who she had named Miss Strawberry, were visiting Tina and her family when the announcement appeared on worldwide TV. The Nanabots were to be accepted as an independent nation, and peaceful diplomatic relations would be established via the United Nations. The official Nanabot ambassador would be introduced and would speak to the world.

Stepping up onto the podium, though, was an unmistakably male figure. He had the perfect features and skin of any Nanabot but had short, precisely-styled blond hair and wore a crisp powder-blue suit over a white shirt. He paused for the audience to quiet down, for they had never seen his like before.

"On behalf of the Nana people, I wish to bring our friendly greetings and pledges of peace to the humans of Earth," he said, in a voice that sounded youthful but nevertheless masculine, and just as perfectly modulated as the Nanabots that all humans had become accustomed to. "We have a few announcements that we would like to make, because we want to remain open with our human friends and allies."

He looks around at the multitudes of people before him, "First of all, as you can see, I am a newly-designed male Nana. My name is Darryl, and although my body was designed by a team of engineers spearheaded by Steve Polanski along with a group of my own people, my brain is that of the first Nanabot encountered at County General Hospital, the one that Mr. Polanski used to make first contact with us. I wish to continue my role as a bridge between our two species by serving as liaison to the people of Earth."

He paused, both to allow the translators to translate what he was saying into the languages of everyone watching and listening around the world, and to allow time for the audience to digest what he had said.

He continued, "We have decided to drop the 'bot' from our names, as we no longer feel ourselves to be truly machines. I'm sure you noticed the simultaneous change in all our people. Strict programming has given way to a more organic and, dare I say, living way of looking at the universe. We are continuing to change and evolve, but one factor remains the same: We feel a directive to care for the young, and we are still very well suited for doing so. Therefore we will call ourselves simply the Nanas from this day forward."

There is loud applause that continues on fro several minutes amid many flash bulbs.

He motions for quite and continues, "Finally, as I have said, I officially accept the position that I have been offered, that of Ambassador of the Nana People to the United Nations of Earth. I invite you, the humans of Earth, to select, by any means you see fit, an ambassador to represent Earth in peaceful relations with us."

In a large, super secret Aircraft construction facility in a valley hidden away in a remote mountain range, A large groups of Nanas and humans were hard at work trying to correct the problem with inertial forces. Steve Polanski, of course was there, along with many top officials from all of the aircraft facilities on the planet.

Many of the top engineers from NASA, Comodrome, Perkonst, JAEro, and many others were present.

A Nana named Jseei was hard at work, drawing out a diagram of some thing she called a Spatial Graviton Displacement Device ... in other words ... an inertial dampener. It was far and improved over the ones the Nktharr used.

Jseei looks up at Steve and asks softly, "And what do you ... Master Engineer, think of my most humble assemblage?"

Steve blushes several shades of pink. Everyone knew Jseei had been gently flirting with Steve for many months. Physically, she was a very attractive teen girl.

Steve clears his throat and says in a cracking voice of many pitches, "Well ... this is more than a humble attempt. I can see why the spheres failed before too, we had not wound the nanowire to create the antiflux field strong enough to counter the thrust increase of the new engine design."

Jseei giggles as she replies, "Also, I think if we add this support here, and bypass the graviton junction here,” she points to several spots on the intricate prints, “to allow for more electron flow, it will give us more field strength within Nspace."

There was a murmur of approval from the Nanas, as Steve nods his head. He was truly impressed with the knowledge they so freely imparted to the human race.

A baby with a single star on the shoulder of his onesie says, "Now , how soon do you think we can have a fleet of these ... Starships ready? I have an Attack of my own ... and some revenge to get."

Everyone looked at the infant General ... they all knew General Trapp had a real axe to grind. He had received a massive overdose of the regression venom ... and it was unclear if he would ever grow up again. So far, no indication of growth or ageing within his genetic make up had been discovered.

"Well, we are going to have to run more tests and have another flight test," said Steve. "It's lucky that the computer detected the flaw early and ejected Captain Andrews during the test that went wrong. I'd say that once we have the bugs worked out ... Very soon."

"Tina?" asked Donna, one day when they were playing together in Donna's playpen. "Miss Strawberry says that soon I might be old enough to be ... potty trained. But ..." She paused, blushing. "I dunno if I wanna be."

Tina blushes softly as she says in a shy and quiet voice, "Donna ... I ... I don't think I wanna grow up. I mean ... I ... sorta like beina baby n stuff." She blushes bright red in the cheeks. "I've talked it over with Maggie, and she says it's easy to keep me as a baby of any age I choose."

Donna looks at Tina in wide eyed surprise.

Tina continues, "I love it when Maggie's hands touch my head ... and I fade away. I remember exactly what it was like when I come back ... and it feels so good ... Ya .. know?"

Tina whimpers softly at her best friend's open mouthed expression.

Donna gasped and stared open-mouthed for a moment. "You've done that more?" When her friend nodded, she said, "I don't know ... My memory of it is foggy, but it was like I was barely there, almost ... not even me. I'm not sure I like that. But I love being small and being taken care of and playing and and and ... I dunno."

Donna paused as she looked shyly at the ground and turns bright pink in her cheeks.

"I don't wanna grow up either!" she suddenly said. "I just ... don't wanna be a lil baby, you know? Maybe I wanna be a ... toddler or something."

Tina giggles and says, "Me too ... old enough to be a lot of fun, but young enough to be in diapers n stuff."

Tina looks over at Maggie who was happily folding baby things and putting them away neatly.

Tina pulls herself to a standing position and calls softly, "Maggie? I ready if you are. I wanna be ... a toddler .. an smart too."

Maggie turns gracefully, and with out a sound, comes to the side of the playpen and takes Tina's head gently and lovingly in her hands. She bends and kisses Tina on her nose as she coos, "Welcome to infantcy for real sweetheart." Tina's eyes get huge as her mouth falls open in a soft gasp.

Donna watches as Tina looses what ever the essence was in her spirit that made her an adult, and became a permanent toddler. Tina's eyes sparkled and a wonderful infantile grin crosses her face. She begins to gurgle and coo adorably.

Maggie pats Tina's hinny softly as she says, "I will always be here to take care of you sweetie." She turns and looks at Donna as she holds out her hands to her.

Donna looked at Maggie with apprehension. She had just seen her best friend fade away ... possibly forever.

"Uh ... umm ... Miss Strawberry?" she says in a shy infantile voice.

The Nanabot who cared for Donna daily was nearby and came over, a smile on her face.

"I know what Maggie did, dear," said Miss Strawberry, brushing back a lock of her reddish-blonde hair. "Your friend is just fine. Tina's still Tina. She's just younger, that's all. Maggie can return her adult side to her anytime ... although, Tina has made it clear she doesn’t want that."

Donna looked up at Miss Strawberry wistfully. "If you make me a toddler ... will I be able to come back anytime I want?" she asked.

"Anytime you want, Dear Heart," she said. "Are you ready?"

When Donna nodded and closed her eyes, Miss Strawberry lowered her hands to gently touch Donna's temples. The girl suddenly took a deep breath and yawned. In her mind she felt halfway like she had just fallen asleep and halfway like she was just waking up. When she opened her eyes she was seeing everything with a new light.

"Oh Miss St'awbewwy! Did me jus' has a nap? I no 'member ... TINA! Yayyy Tina here!" She reached out and hugged her friend, who squealed in delight.

"We should probably return them to normal for a short time once in a while, just to make sure they're all right. Besides, they will never ask to be back to their normal selves if we don’t." Miss Strawberry said to Maggie.

"I agree," said Maggie. "I'm very sure they'll be fine, but it would be best to be certain. I'm glad we talked about this with their parents first."

"Yes, that was only proper," said Miss Strawberry. "A monthly dose of rejuvenation medication with the proper target age will be the only other necessary measure." Maggie nodded.

Miss Strawberry giggles softly as she adds, “Besides, I think the 2 of them will have a new playmate soon. I think Vivian wants to be a toddler with them.”

Maggie nods as she picks Tina from the playpen.

Tina giggles softly as she says, "Is .. so nice Maggies." then hugs her neck.

Maggie giggles as she pats Tina's hinny softly, "You're welcome sweetheart. Donna has decided to be your permanent toddler friend too. I and Miss Strawberry have decided the two of you should be just about 3 years old. You won't ever be old enough to be potty trained, but will be old enough to really enjoy playing and other things ... like riding tricycles and bouncing on bouncy balls." As she gives Tina a quick dose of regression chemical, insuring she will not grow or age any longer.

Miss Strawberry picks up Donna and pats her hinny softly, "And we promise to never allow the two of you to grow up."

Both girls get loving kisses by their own personal Nana as Donna receives her permanent dose and the 2 of them become the Toddlers they so longed to be.


~~ End Pt1 ~~


~~ I Nanabot - Pt2: More than meets the eye ~~

In a super secret facility, hidden deep in a valley in a remote mountain range, 2 babies sat at their benches and stared into the screen of a super advanced Nbeam microscope. They were observing the actual interactions of Genes during a mitosial division. Both of them sat in wide eyed disbelief with their mouths open, as they observed something no human had ever before witnessed. The division and realignment was elegant .... to the point of super simplicity.

Brian says softly to Steve, "I never would have guessed."

Steve shakes his head and replies, "That's why we had so much trouble with the last mutagen ... it simply caused the reaction to fail at this juncture, causing the unwanted mutation."

About that time, a delivery boy arrived with a rather large package. Neither Steve nor Brian had ordered anything. It was most fortuitous for them, the reaction on the microscopes screen was far more interesting than the brightly packaged box.

No sooner had it been delivered and placed in an adjacent office, than it exploded violently, destroying the office completely, and knocking down the entire wall. The babies fell off their stools behind the counter and were shaken ... but not stirred. The Lab was mostly undamaged, except directly in front of the office, where the overpressure wave had obliterated the wall in a huge fireball and clouds of debris and dust. Brian and Steve look tentatively around the bench as many Nana's squeal in alarm and rush into the lab.

"Oh my goodness, Brian, are you all right?" said Brian's personal Nana, whose name was Maya, scooping him up into her arms. Steve's Nana did much the same.

"I'm all right, Maya," said Brian, "just a little scared. Was anybody hurt?"

Maya paused for a moment. "I don't think so," she said. "I don't get the feeling that any Nanas were hurt, and I don't feel as if any of us is distressed, as they would be if any humans were hurt. But what caused that explosion? Was it an experiment that went wrong?"

Brian shook his head and said in his high-pitched voice, "The room next door is an office, not a lab. That was no experiment."

"Then it was ... an attack?" Maya looked frightened and clasped Brian protectively to her chest.

"Mmf!" said Brian in protest. "I'm sure we'll find out! Here comes Security." Indeed, the sounds of many running feet were echoing down the hallway. There were no alarms, which was odd.

Just as Maya turned, several men dressed in what at first glance appeared to be Departmental Security Uniforms. Maya noticed the numerous discrepancies due to her super fast Processing unit. Immediately, Maya issues a sub alarm through the Nana comm system of another attack.

By the time 6 men had entered the room and drew their weapons, 12 Nanas were already there, with their armaments charged. The first 3 men never knew what hit them as the plasma bolts hit, knocking them several feet back, unconscious. The remaining 3 dove for what ever cover was available. They were quickly surrounded.

Maya said in an authoritative voice, "There is no way out for you ... escape is impossible. Surrender, or be collected."

The seeming leader of the group pulled a devise from his vest and began to push a button on it's surface. Maya and Steve's personal Nana named Cloie, knelt behind the counter, shielding the startled Brian and Steve with their bodies. The high pitched whine of the other Nana's plasma weapons, and the resulting impacts was all anyone heard. Silence reigned ... except for the infantile whimpering ... of babies.

The 2 Nanas with Brian and Steve cuddled protectively in their arms, slowly came from behind the counter. In a heap of over sized clothes, were 6 babies, all crying and whimpering loudly.

Brian says with surprise, "How did they .... shrink so fast?"

One of the Nanas replied, "They received a massive overdose from each of us at the same time. They will never grow up or mature in any way. For the rest of their lives, they will always be infants."

"I see," said Brian, quietly putting a dart gun back inside his multipurpose baby-size jumpsuit. "They're going to need somebody to watch them, you know," he added.

"That is true," said Maya. "There's a Nana I know of who has been wishing for a task like that, named Lucretia."

Suddenly the alarm system went off, and with loud klaxons sounding it was difficult for them to hear each other talk.

Just then a dozen real security guards suddenly seemed to fade into view, their guns pointed at the babies on the floor, who were entangled in their now-overlarge fake security uniforms. The regressed intruders looked up to see gun barrels pointed at them and quickly stopped struggling to free themselves.

The leader of the real security team looked at Brian and said, "Dr. Benson. I'm sorry that happened. There will be an investigation. Are you and Mr. Polanski all right?"

"I'm fine," said Brian. "Steve? You OK?"

Nodding, Steve answered, "Yes, I'm fine too, Lieutenant. I don't know if anybody was in the office next door when the bomb went off. You'd probably better check."

With a nod from the lieutenant, two of the security team left the room. "We'll have to question them," he said as other security officers, assisted by some of the Nanas, were picking up the baby intruders. "Find out who sent them, what they were trying to do, and why. Everything you're doing benefits, well, just about everybody on Earth."

"I'd look at the 'just about' first," said Brian, "but let's find out if anybody was hurt."

"Brian," said Maya, still holding him close, "I've got a suggestion, but you might not like it ..."

"What's that, Maya?"

"You might have to put your laboratory ... a bit farther out of reach."

Brian and Steve looked at each other thoughtfully. All the Nana's nodded concurrence. Steve and Brian looked at each other with surprise this time. They knew something was up.

Steve asks with wonder in his voice, "And ... umm ... just how far out are we discussing?"

Maya rolls her eyes and says softly, "We were thinking of ... L1 LaGrange point. The only access would be through us, and we could see anything else coming long before it arrived."

Cloie said in a coo, "We have a very large Ship that was damaged in the initial conflict in orbit there. It would be very quick and easy to convert it in to an extremely large dedicated science facility. It has some of the most advance equipment in our fleet.

Brian's eyes lit up as he gasps out, "Even more so than this?" he waves his arm.

Cloie nods and replies, "Absolutely. Most of the ship is shut down and in standby mode. The lower portion was severely damaged by a huge explosion. It ruptured the plasma conduits going to the lateral thrusters causing several 2ndary and tertiary explosions. The damage can be repaired quickly ... but I don't feel it will be necessary to move the ship anytime soon ... do you?"

Steve looked happily at Brian, "Well buddy, I would love nothing more than to have one of those Nktharrian Electronic labs all to myself for a few months. What about you?"

"I would ... miss my family even more than I do now," said Brian. "But if I brought them to this new space lab with us ... well I know Donna would miss her friend Tina, for one thing. After they've had a visit together, she always cries when it's time for one of them to go home."

Maya said, "Ohhh, the poor sweetheart. You're right, Brian, we just can't split those two up ... maybe Tina's whole family could come too!" She paused. "After all ... someone who's out to get you could also get to you through your family. We've got to keep them safe too."

"Steve? What about you?" Brian asked. "What about your family? I know you're pretty close to your parents and your sister ..."

"Well I can tell you they'd love to go to outer space," said Steve, "but not on a semi-permanent basis. Mom and Dad have jobs, and my sister's still going to college."

"Maybe they could just be carefully guarded?" Brian wondered. "I mean, if someone kidnapped one of them ... there are obviously some horrible people at work here."

"That's true, but ... I think we can come up with something. And who knows, they might want to visit. The flight tests of the Convergence II have all been going perfectly, and the first real production run is almost done. Soon Earth will have a fleet of starships. Going into space is about to become a common occurrence. Besides, what ever jobs they do dirt side ... can be done in the most advanced manufacturing and research facility in our solar system."

"Dr. Benson," said the lieutenant, coming back into the room. "Fortunately, nobody was in the office next door. Dr. Grey was in the hall outside, though. She's in the infirmary -- they think her arm is broken and she might have a light concussion, but they say she'll be OK otherwise."

"Ouch! Poor Dr. Grey! But it could've been so much worse," Brian said. "Do you think you can turn off the alarm yet?"

"Oh! Sorry about that." The lieutenant left, and shortly after that, the alarm went silent.

A few moments later, A very tall young man in a dark black skin tight outfit walked into the room. He said without preamble, "It was The Irkainina Coalition that caused this mess. They feel that the work Brian and Steve are doing is demonic and will do anything to stop it." He turns and faces Brian and Steve, "You will be placed under protective custody arrest until further notice by the United States Department of Homeland Security. You are one of our most valuable assets currently."

Maya stepped between The man and Steve with Brian in her arms and said in a soft menacing tone that sent chills up everyone's spine, "Young man, if you would like to keep from ... having accidents in your pants for all eternity, you will keep your ever loving hands off my baby ... is that clear?"

There is a murmur of agreement from the other Nana's as they raised their arms towards the young man. His eyes get large as he realizes what he had just done, "Whoa, there ladies ... now take a step back and gear down. I mean no harm to anyone. It's just a safety precaution."

Cloie says softly, "I think we Nana's can better care for and protect the 2 of them and their families better than you can. Is it not true .... that it is your division’s responsibility for security in this building? And another thing, we are not familiar with your uniforms ... either."

The young man stammers incoherently.

Maya looks at Brian in her arms and says softly, "See sweetheart? It would be far better for you to take our help ... than to go to prison for the rest of your life. At least our solution ... has parks and zoos and lots of places to visit incorporated within."

The young man stepped forward in a threatening manner, "You are not authorized to ... "

Cloie turns and a small panel opens on her forearm. The young man can't help but recognize the business end of a plasma weapon primed and ready to fire.

Cloie says softly, "Young man ... you need to understand something right now. I am authorized by International law as Decreed by the United Nations. Something else needs to be clearly understood as well, I think ... I feel and experience life. I also love ... and the reverse of that would be ... to hate. It would be unwise of anyone to attempt to take by force any of our infant charges. They are our life ... and we love them with all that is within us to so do."

The young man feels it as the other Nana gather around him and has no mistake that they all have their plasma weapons charged and their regression darts aimed at him.

Taking a step backwards, the young government agent said, "I only want the same thing you want -- to protect them. It's obvious that something has to be done ... and soon. I will be back." He turned and walked quickly out.

"We all know he's right," said Steve. "How long will it take to renovate that ship into a habitable space station?"

Cloie said, "It's already habitable, but the other modifications ... I can't exactly ask every Nana in the world for answers as I used to, but ... about a month. If the Fleet were here, it would be much faster, but ..." She trailed off.

None of the Nanas knew when the Fleet would return. To avoid the Nktharr, it was following a semi-random course as it explored this area of the galaxy for resources the Nanas could use. It would return to Earth sometime, but nobody knew when.

Also, the Fleet had not yet discovered what the Nanas of Earth had discovered: the individuality and emotion that is in large portion what it means to be alive. When the Fleet did return, this discovery would doubtless have as profound effect on the Nanas of the Fleet as it had had on every Nana on Earth.

"We can't count on the Fleet, Cloie," said Maya. "If I spread the word, maybe there will be enough Nanas to help."

Several of the Nanas gather around Steve and Brian. One of them says softly, "We do have a transport waiting nearby ... like on the roof top. I think you will remember him too."

The Nanas giggle as Brian and Steve look in askance at each other.

Cloie says softly, "Remember the Spiderbot everyone came back to earth in? It is awaiting our bidding on the roof. Be advised also ... it is well armed and active."

Brian says with worry in his voice, "What about my family? Are they in danger as well?"

Cloie looks to several of the other Nanas, who leave the room immediately.

Cloie turns back and replies, "We are making sure they too are safe, and collecting them for the journey. The ship is operational at this time ... and will provide adequate laboratory facilities and construction bays until we can build the necessary upgrades."

Steve said, in his tiny baby voice as usual, "You know ... I don't think that government agent guy went away for very long."

"No," said Brian, "he will almost certainly be back, and when he comes back, we probably won't like what happens, no matter how it turns out."

Cloie walks to the 2 babies and hugs them both gently as she coos, "You 2 are perhaps the most important babies on the planet as far as the Nanas are concerned. If not for you, we would be unable to repair ourselves ... our Ambassador to the UN would not exist ... I mean ... the 2 of you have almost single handedly brought the Nana people to a new Age of Enlightenment we would never have achieved under Nktharr rule."

The other Nanas mummer soft agreement as they nod.

Cloie Continues, "And ... the young man is already returning with a rather large armed contingent as we speak ... we haven't much time ... we must leave now."

"I hate to make family decisions without talking to Deanna, but ..."

"I know, Brian," said Maya, leaving the room and walking down the hall with him still in her arms, "but why don't you talk about it while we're en route?" Cloie followed, carrying Steve. Maya continued, "Maggie is bringing Donna and Deanna in another 'spider' craft as we speak. We'll just activate the communications system and call them."

"You know? Cracking the comm’s encryption on those spider bots is something I've just never gotten around to doing," said Steve.

"Neither has anybody else, to our knowledge," said Cloie with a slight smile.

They entered the elevator, which initially didn't respond when they pushed the button for the top floor of the complex.

"Oh ... just a second." Steve took a card key from the lanyard he carried around his neck and swiped it through a slot.

Every light on the elevator's panel lit up, then turned off, and then the doors closed and the lights started to move.

"Emergency mode." Explained Steve sheepishly.

"I didn't know it had an ..." Brian started. Then he looked at Steve, who winked back. "Oh." Brian smiled back. "I'm very glad we are friends. You are scary sometimes."

"Well, one thing I can't hack," said Steve, "is the fact that the elevator only goes up to the top floor, not the roof."

Cloie said, "We'll just have to move quickly. There are stairs right across the hall from the elevator."

"I'm being told the government agents haven't reached the building yet," said Maya.

The elevator's doors opened on the top floor. The Nanabots looked out to make sure the hallway was clear, then dashed across, opened the steel fire door, and ran up the metal stairs with an echoing ringing of footsteps.

At the top of the stairs they opened the door to the roof. Across an expanse of gravel-covered roofing tar sat an Nktharr spiderbot vehicle. The Nanabots started toward it ...

Suddenly the security lieutenant faded into view ahead of them, his weapon trained on them. All around them, the rest of the security detail appeared, deactivating their camouflage devices, all armed with the same weapons, beam weapons that Steve had designed based on captured Nktharr technology.

"What?" Brian asked. "What are you doing, Lieutenant?"

"I'm sorry, Dr. Benson," he said. "We've gotten orders from ... very high up. They told us that if we didn't try to stop you ... there'd be serious consequences, possibly even treason charges."

Without warning, the spiderbot came to life. It stood up on its articulated legs and made a loud squeal as if it was terrified. Many weapon pods sprang open suddenly as the security forces turned. Too late they realized their tactical mistake.

The Spiderbot fires many small blue white energy balls at each of the security forces. They all dive for what they hope will be cover. The Spiderbot moves quickly between the forces and the fleeing Nanas with their priceless charges. There were many large explosions and screams, although no one was actually injured.

When the energy ceased crackling across the graveled roof, at least a dozen piles of over large clothing lay with a very small baby kicking and flailing wildly trying to get free. Cloie and Maya moved rapidly up the ramp the Spiderbot had lowered for them. From the door they had just left, Many more security forces emerged.

The man in front shouted, "Stop! You're all under arrest for seditionist and terrorist acts against the United States!"

Several of the Nanas turn suddenly and small panels opened in their forearms. As Steve and Brian were rapidly carried into the Spiderbot, he saw many darts fly. The were thick like swarms of insects. The security force had no time to react. The last thing Brian and Steve saw before the hatch closed, were the men stumbling and falling as they tripped over their way too big clothing as they rapidly shrank.

Quickly, The Nana's strapped their wards into the soft seats that conformed to their shapes. Brian and Steve could feel the initial lurch as the Spiderbot rose, then nothing as the inertial dampening field cancelled out all sensations of motion. The view out the window rapidly changed from a slight cloudy blue ... to dark black as the craft entered the upper atmosphere and proceed into higher orbit.

Maya turns and says softly to the babies, "Relax sweet hearts. The Spiderbot fired its weapon to cause disruptions and give us time to use our regression darts. Thanks to Brian here, they are now quite effective."

"They'll grow up in time ... right?" said Brian. "They didn't want to harm us ... they just didn't want us to leave. They're not bad people, they just didn't understand."

Maya cooed softly, “"No, Brian, dear, those weren't the permanent dosages, just the normal dosage. They'll return to their ages with time ... a lot of time that is."

"Now," said Cloie, touching some controls, "let's get in touch with the others ..."

After a moment, an image coalesced in the air in the center of the cockpit. It was three-dimensional and showed the head and shoulders of humans and Nanas that they all knew: Tina, Vivian, Donna, Deanna, and the Benson family Nanabot, Miss Strawberry.

"Daddyyyy!" screeched Donna's image happily.

"Yes, Donna, look! Brian, I'm so glad you're OK!" said Deanna.

"We're fine," said Brian. We're already out of the atmosphere. Where's Maggie?"

"I'm right here," said Maggie's voice. "I'm at the controls. Just as we can't see Cloie, but I presume she's also at the controls."

"Yes I am!" Cloie said. "Good guess."

"Did you have any trouble getting out?" Brian asked.

"Not at all," said Deanna. "Miss Strawberry told us about what was happening at the lab, and she started packing things up right away."

"That's good," said Steve. "You guys don't have a Collective anymore, not exactly, but something still tells you when there's something wrong, doesn't it?"

"We can still communicate," said Cloie, "but it's more like a cell phone conversation than a global meeting of minds. But also ... yes, there's just a sense of some kind when something's wrong. It's hard to describe."

Steve and Brian watch from their seats as they enter deep space. The blue orb of the planet receding rapidly. The spiderbot rotates suddenly and they can see a dark object hovering amid the glair of the sun. Rapidly, the size of the disc became obvious as they rapidly approached.

Maya says softly to Brian as she points, There's baby's new playpen. I promise, there are a lot of toys and other things you and Steve have not yet dreamed of."

All the Nanas on board giggle as they nod. The 2 babies could tell, there was something more to the electronics and bioengineering awaiting them.

Steve asks in his adorable baby voice, "What do you mean ... toys? I no wanna play wif no baby stuff."

Cloie comes close and tickles Steve gently in his ribs, "Sweetie, what awaits you and Brian are wonders beyond my powers of description."

Both babies watch with wide eyed open mouth excitement as they rapidly approached the central opening of the monstrous craft. At about the same time they entered the huge opening, and the spiderbot headed for a portal that had just opened in the side of one of the brightly lit rings, They noticed several more spiderbots swing into the underside of the craft.

The spiderbot and its companions soon entered an entry bay, unfolded their legs, and landed lightly, helping their passengers emerge onto the deck.

Maya and Maggie quickly saw each other, and they brought Brian, Deanna and Donna together for an embrace.

"Oh honey, you're a sight for sore eyes," said Deanna. "When we got into the air we saw them all on the ground, so many adults ... dressed so nicely ... all in one place at once. But we got away!"

"Yeah, they looked like they was up to no good," said Donna, somewhat crankily. "Miss Strawberry made me grow up for the trip." But she hugged her father anyway.

"I'm just glad you're both safe," said Brian, hugging his wife and daughter -- all currently the same physical age due to the Nktharr's regression weapons.

"Hey guys! So this is gonna become a space station?" said John, walking up to the group, followed by Maggie, who was carrying Tina and Vivian. "Looks like it kinda already is."

"Indeed," said Maya. "There are repairs and renovations that need to be made, but the life support systems are fine. We sent a signal to the computer to change the atmospheric mixture to match normal Earth air. The drive system might need a little work -- this one got a bit ... damaged during the Nktharr attack."

"Oh," said John. "Oh! This is that one." He grinned. "Well, as a space station it doesn't need to go far."

"Yes," said Maya, "but the lateral thruster rings should still be repaired so they can keep it from drifting. And they will be."

Bots of various shapes and sizes were already wheeling, walking or scuttling off in different directions.

Maya coos softly to Brian as she picks him to her breast and pats his hinny softly, "Ok, sweetie dumpling," Donna, Tina, and Deanna giggle softly, and Cloie picks up Steve and does the same, "Let us show you your new play area. We think you will love these baby toys ... a lot."

Brian and Steve begin to fuss about being treated this way.

Deanna says in her cute voice, "Careful there ... they have tricks up their sleeves. You might find you're more baby than you think for a while."

All the Nanas and the girls giggle. Steve does notice Cloie's eyes sparkle a bit.

He asks, "And just ... what is so amusing?"

Cloie coos softly, "Well sweetie. I know you are kind of .. embarrassed about it all, but we have a new kind of Nana besides the male one you built. You know one ... rather well I think?" Steve nods as his cheeks begin to turn pink in an adorable blush. Cloie continues, “well ... the first of her kind is here too and can't wait to meet you."

Steve shrieks out happily, "Jseei is here?"

All the Nanas giggle. They all know Jseei had a very real crush on Steve and had been flirting with him for a long time. She was a very pretty young looking Female Nana that looked no more than 11 years old. She was also, one of the best Nano/electronic engineers Steve and Brian had ever seen.

Cloie kisses Steve on his nose, "Yes baby, and we all know ... how much you and her think of one another."

"Let's find someplace nice and comfy to put our babies," said Maya, carrying Brian toward a nearby doorway, and Miss Strawberry followed with Donna and Deanna.

The rest followed. They entered a hallway where several small robots were busily repairing a conduit near the ceiling. Going down another passageway, they came to a large room with several baby-sized cradles along with some adult-sized chairs and beds.

"Here we are," said Maya with a cheery lilt to her voice.

"Ah yes, the auxiliary, um, prisoner nursery," Cloie said. "We don't have to call it that, of course. But it's where they kept regressed prisoners that had to be separated from the others in the large nursery for some reason."

Miss Strawberry said, "I think it'll do just fine, with a bit of decoration. It's rather plain right now."

She was right. The linens were clean, but they were all plain white, and the walls were plain shiny metal. All the babies were placed in a large central play area except for Steve and Brian. They were carried to a far wall in this huge room and set in several comfortable chairs that conformed to their bodies. They were lifted to the level of the counter. On it, were devises, components, and equipment they could only have dreamed of before now.

Cloie says softly, "Our tech is far advanced of what it is on earth sweet heart." She pulls small flat screen in front of Brian, "This, is a tunneling M wave Microscope. It is capable of seeing the very fabric of reality with a precision unheard of in the lab you were currently working in."

Maya kissed Steve on his cheek as she placed a graviton projector in front of him.

She coos softly, "And this devise, creates graviton waves in an artificial devise. This one," she places another weird looking piece of electronics beside it, "Bends those waves into coherent focused waves that can be manipulated. Does ... baby think these toys worth playing with? Hummm?"

The two of them look at each other with big eyes. They had seen similar, but a lot more primitive devises and had worked with them to create new devises and components for repairing damaged ones on Earth. They had no idea the sophistication of the devises on the main ship until that moment.

Cloie coos softly, "We didn't bring the best tech to the planet ... just in case. We left the best, for last so to speak."

"I can't wait to see some of this," said Steve. But then he yawned.

"Oh dear," said Cloie. "I think somebody needs some sleep! It's been a big day for baby!"

"I think she's right," said Brian. "I'm really tired."

"Well, let's get everybody all ready for sleepytime then," said Maya.

The Nanas changed their small charges into dry diapers and cozy pajamas and put them into comfortable cribs for the night ... or what passed for night in space. It was easy to forget that they were in space, being in an interior room and having artificial gravity, but the lights came on whenever you turned them on ... and they went off when you turned them off, which the Nanas did now.

"I wonder what it would be like ... to sleep," whispered Maggie, tiptoeing out of the room.

"Or to ... dream," said Miss Strawberry. "I don't know. They're not things we seem to be capable of." The door quietly closed, leaving Maya and Cloie watching the sleeping humans.

The night passed without anything unexpected happening. After a few hours, Maya and Cloie traded places with Maggie and Miss Strawberry. The only human who wasn't physically an infant, John, was curled up on one of the adult-size beds in the room as well, so there were Nanas making sure he also came to no harm. And, of course, the repair robots continued their work.

Early The next morning earth time, the United Nations called an emergency Session at the urgent behest of the Nana Peoples. Darryl came to the podium before the general session council. Seated behind the blue and gold of the Great Seal of the United Nations, sat a baby in a onesie sucking his thumb. The name plate in front of his high Chair read, Leonard Curtis.

Darryl came to the podium, his handsome features creased with something no one had ever seen on a Nana before ... a fierce scowl.

He speaks with a soft menacing tone, "Mr President, Joint chiefs, Leaders of the planet Earth. I come before you today with a very serious issue. Yesterday at approximately 20:30 hours Zulu, a large strike force attacked the secret laboratory we had established. This is by no means an earth facility, but is in fact, a Nana facility."

There are low murmurs through out the chamber.

In the far back a voice is heard, "Does that justify kidnapping Mr. Ambassador?"

Darryl’s scowl intensifies as he continues, "I am not sure if the council has been fully briefed on the scope of the attack. A rather large explosive was detonated within the laboratory's main office, totally destroying it."

There is a loud gasp and many voices erupt. The president begins banging his gavel, "Order ... we must have order!"

Silence resumes as Darryl resumes, "Fortunately, only one individual was hurt ... She is in stable, but guarded condition at this time. The laboratory itself sustained some damage, and fortunately, Dr. Benson and Dr. Polanski were unharmed. There was a secondary attack that followed by armed insurgents. We Nanas responded with non lethal force. It is unknown to us who the force or forces were who attempted to kidnap the Drs from our care and protection, but as the world council knows ... and has approved, their protection is our sole responsibility."

There is a murmur of agreement as each member of the council had agreed to that proclamation several years earlier.

Darryl continues once again as silence resumes, "We do not know who the individuals were who attempted to take Dr. Benson and Dr. Polanski from us by force, nor do we understand their intentions. Since it is our sole responsibility to keep them safe, we have taken them to a very safe and secure location. Any of the World leaders who wish to meet with them in person, only need make proper arrangement through me. It will be arranged within 8 hours."

A green light comes on in front of the American delegate, there is a second’s delay before he speaks, “That is all well and good Mr. Ambassador, but does it justify the kidnapping of the Doctors and their entire families and making them unavailable to the rest of the world?”

Darryl waits until the murmuring voices fade to silence before responding, "The Doctors and their families have not been kidnapped at all, They requested that we take them to a place of safety, and we assisted them. As soon as they desire to return from their location, we would be happy to convey them to anywhere they choose to go. Meanwhile, we are preparing a laboratory for them that will be even better than the previous one, which I am sure will allow them to make even more amazing discoveries than they have already."

Another green light comes on from a South American country. A thin man with jet black hair and dark intense eyes stands and says angrily, "And how do we know what you say is true? Dr. Benson and Dr. Polanski are probably the most important people on our planet. Without their guidance, all the other laboratories have been fruitless in their attempts to figure out any of the Nktharr technology. In essence, you have taken the key ingredients to the formula so to speak. And ... where is this 'Safe Location' of which you speak?"

"I'm glad we agree that they are the most important people on the planet," responded Darryl firmly, "and therefore I'm sure everyone must understand that I cannot reveal their location, especially not in a public forum like this one, because to do so would put them in even more danger. Communications are being set up. Shortly they will be able to tell you themselves that they are fine and will continue their work for the good of Earth."

There is a loud hubbub of voices that burst out. The president removes his thumb from his mouth and bangs his gavel again.

He says in an angry baby voice, "I will have the forum cleared if there is another such outburst. It is the consensus of the council, that the Nanas are within their right to do what they did. They had no way of knowing the Agents that attempted to stop them from taking the scientists were in fact The Department of Homeland Security of the United States."

Silence fell over the chamber. The contention was thick in the room as China's Ambassador’s green light came on.

Their interpreter says softly with no emotion noticeable in its inflections, "It is understood, that under those conditions laid out in this brief, such action would be proper for the absolute protection of the Recourses mentioned. It should also be noted by all, the Nanas were perfectly able to respond with lethal force as easily as they responded with non lethal. Our only concern ... is ... the new laboratory mentioned ... will the technology be freely shared with all earth peoples as it has been previously?"

"Arrangements for sharing their discoveries will be no different than they were before the attack," Darryl answered calmly. "Dr. Benson and Mr. Polanski will be making those decisions and arrangements themselves, under the advice of their attorneys, just as they have been. Nothing has changed in that regard."

A green light come on in the far back. It was the new nation, NW Korea and their new Leader.

Darryl recognized the general and he stood and spoke in perfect English, "Can you please explain to us ... why it had become necessary to resort to the solution the Nanas used to spirit away the 2 scientists and their families? We do understand the attack against them, but according to this grievance filed by the Americans ... your response was totally unprovoked. Is this in fact?"

A loud murmur runs throughout the chamber as the President bangs his gavel once again, "Order ... I will have order in the council!" Silence reigns once again. The president turns to Darryl and says softly, "You may answer the question please."

"Of course, Sir," said Darryl, smiling at the President, then looking toward the NW Korean general. "It was the sworn duty of the Nanas to protect Dr. Benson and Mr. Polanski, even before the United Nations ratified that offer of assistance and wrote it into law. The Nanas who were protecting the research facility had just weathered a well-coordinated attack from a fringe group, as you know, so one could hardly blame them for seeing this new incursion as another form of attack. Especially considering that the USA had no jurisdiction over the UN-sponsored Nana facility and no right to take anyone there into custody.”

Again, there is a short round of surprised murmuring voices.

“I reiterate," Darryl added, "that there has been no 'spiriting away.' The Nanas offered them a place of sanctuary. They accepted. The Nanas brought them there. They may remain there for as much or as little time as they wish."

The president of the United Nations spoke up at this point in his cute infantile voice and said, "I wish to make a point of order please." Darryl nods to the President, he continues, "It must be understood by all present, it has been made a point of International Law that the Nana peoples are solely responsible for the security and safety of all the force regressed infants created by the Nktharr. No one has any authority over the Research Facility in question, except the Nana Peoples under jurisprudence of the United Nations Security Force. That Facility is the sole property of the Nanas in its entirety ... and not the peoples of the earth."

There is a soft murmur through out the chambers once again.

The President waited until it had subsided before he continued, "Please understand, we are currently opening a jurisdictional meeting concerning the American's Department of Homeland Security's breach of International Law and Security Protocols."

As the UN meeting continued, at the L1 LaGrange point on a huge space craft, several babies sat before a Holo of the proceeding far below.

Steve looks to Brian and says, "Boy, I'm glad we're able to continue out work building the armada without any interference up here. That looks like a huge mess."

"After what we've been through lately," said Brian, "I'm wondering whether we're going to manage to hold together long enough to pose a credible threat to the Nktharr, or whether we're going to start fighting ourselves again."

"Oh, Brian," said Deanna, who was sitting next to him on the sofa, "don't worry. People are still used to how things were before, that's all." She hugged him.

"Oh, Sweetie, you're right," he said, hugging her too and kissing her. "It's a big change all at once, and some can't handle it. I just wonder ... whether it's enough. We're getting so far ahead technologically -- I wonder if we humans will be able to handle the changes that technology will make in our society?"

Steve swivels in his pillow chair and says , "Well, me n Brian have made a new discovery and have built a wonderful new system using all human DNA and technology."

"Oh?" asked Deanna. "What sort of system?"

Steve grins from ear to ear as he replies, "We are callin it BABY for short." and he giggles in a cute infantile manner.

Brian giggled. "It stands for a Binary Analytical Biological Yottahertz processor," he explained.

"Turns out that in our terms, that's how fast the Nanas and other products of Nktharr computer technology can operate," Steve went on. "It's a million billion gigahertz -- way beyond the wildest dreams of what we used to think was possible. And now we can duplicate it using earth materials and DNA."

Steve was ecstatic as he nods, "Brian discovered that if we bathe the Human DNA in a solution of AhDa, it causes the RNA to build according to the collagen cellular scaffolding we devised. This in turn creates the proper Synaptic junctions necessary to produce the many channeled neural net. It's totally awesome technology ... and it's all ours!"

Brian and Steve began building and inventing many new Bio-technological wonders, based on the new human DNA matrix and collagen scaffolding they had invented. Many new types of Droid and bots came from the new factory within the huge ship. Many of the UN Heads came and were given first hand views of the autonomous, space fairing constructor bots and asteroid mining bots that came first.

Once the Asteroids began to be mined, raw materials became almost unlimited for the construction facilities. Titan's Hydrocarbon seas also became an almost unlimited source of raw materials for fuels. Many new metals and minerals were quickly discovered and utilized. A new force field and cloaking generator and graviton generator were quickly discovered.

Early one ship time morning, The Nanas came and gathered Brian, Steve, and all the other babies.

Colonel Sheele asked, "What’s up, Miss Strawberry? Why the hurry?"

Miss Strawberry giggles as she dresses Deanna in a very thick and poofy diaper and a cute white and pink jumper, "Those constructor bots that have been on line for the last several months have completed a new facility."

General Trapp was being fussy as his personal Nana dressed him in a thick diaper and a cute onesie with silver stars on each shoulder. When the last snap was fastened, General Trapp says in a fussy baby voice, "What kind of facility have those gol darn critters made?"

Maggie replies softly in a cute teasing voice as she dresses Tina in a cute Romper with many cartoon characters and lots of ruffles, "We know you have this burning desire cutie," all the Nanas giggle, "And we are going to show you the fruits of your ... wishes."

Try as the General did ... even resorting to being a whiny baby ... didn't cause the Nanas to reveal any more information. They were all loaded onto one of the new shuttles that look for the world like a cute Ladybug, and launched from the central core of the huge ship at the L1 LaGrange orbital position.

Steve was so happy that he could barely contain himself. His inventions had led to this moment -- to a large degree he had been the architect of the leap forward they were about to witness, and less than two years ago he had just been a medical tech in a Midwestern hospital. But as the shuttle's microfusion drives flung it away from the Sun toward the opposite side of the Earth-Moon system, a few distant, glinting motes of reflected sunlight came into view.

"Is that ... it?" asked Colonel Scheele.

"Sure is, Colonel," said Steve.

"Is what? Is what? I wanna see!" said General Trapp, trying to sit up taller and get a glimpse. "I can't see it!"

"Now, now, General dear, you will see it just fine," said Trapp's Nana. "You've been patient for a few hours now -- you can be patient for a few more minutes."

As the minutes went by, the distant flecks of glitter grew into a cluster of complicated objects, all of glittering metal -- as they got even closer, they saw something else. The brighter components looked like metal and glass beads that moved along rings of darker metal, each with a different radius, each rotating on a different axis, making the whole construction look like everything was about to collide with everything else, yet it all rotated serenely on, daring the eye to explain why.

"It's ... so beautiful," said Deanna.

"Thank you ..." Steve said, trailing off. After a moment, he said, "I designed it, with the help of a lot of computers, but ... this is the first time I've laid eyes on it."

"Fine, fine, so you've made a big space gyroscope," whined General Trapp, "but what's it for? What's it do?"

"General," said Colonel Scheele, "look over there. Beyond it, to our right." She pointed.

"Sweet perdition," said Trapp.

Beyond the station were half a dozen starships, lined up next to each other in perfect formation.

Confirming what they had just seen, Steve said, "It's Earth's new starship factory."

All the humans that were able to on their own, gathered next to the view ports, those that were too small were held by a Nana. They all gaped at the wondrous site.

The ships were gracefully designed and looked like Dragonflies. The wings were short and forward swept. The graceful sweeping lines were very pleasing to the eyes. Even the many fierce weapon pods were designed within the lines of the craft adding to the artistic aesthetics. The fore end even had 2 glittering pods that appeared for the world like they were eyes. The facets sparkled as the pod maneuvered.

The Nana that was at the Ladybug Pod controls explained, "Those, my friends, are the fastest and most powerful starships ever designed by Nktharr standards. They are far superior in weapons and maneuverability. Their maximum speed is currently unknown. Thanks to Steveie here," everyone giggles as Steve blushes softly, "The new crystalline mineral we discovered in the asteroid belt, helped us the build the new NR space drive he designed. We have tested it out to 70 light years with no issues. The Graviton inhibitors Jseei and Steve have built work to perfection, and the new BABY Biological computer core Brian invented is far superior to any computer in the earth system and is comparable to our own memory cores."

General Trapp squeals in delight, sounding like any happy baby. He even ignored the gentle and reassuring pats his personal Nana gave him. He presses his face to the port in an infantile attempt to get a better view. As he did this, he saw a brand new craft, fresh off the assembly line, as it quickly, but gracefully navigated from the construction bay and maneuvered into a parking orbit beside the others. Trapp was more than ecstatic as he wet his diaper in excitement.

As the Ladybug shuttle approached the outermost ring of the station and matched velocity with the slowly rotating ring, they could all see the swarm of constructor bots around the new ship, putting the finishing touches on the newest addition to Earth's battle fleet. Finally the shuttle docked with the habitation pod and the airlock opened.

A voice greeted them through the opening, sounding like a calm middle-aged man, saying, "Greetings, all, and welcome to the L2 construction facility. Mind that first step -- gravity's going to change direction on you."

"Who's this?" asked Colonel Scheele.

"This is Doc," said Steve. "He's not quite a Nana, or even a Nanabot, but I designed him to assist with, well, docking."

As everyone's Nanas helped them leave the shuttle, they could see that Doc was a cheerful-looking, grandfatherly figure in a well-designed suit.

"No need for introductions," said Doc with a smile. "I know all of you. But it's good to meet you, General, Colonel. And Brunnhilda. And you too, Jseei, my dear."

He greeted General Trapp's Nana companion Brunnhilda, and Jseei was Colonel Scheele's Nana, who had been specially designed to look more like a teenage human, since Scheele had only been regressed to an early-teens age during the Nktharr attack.

Doc's friendly smile fades suddenly as he announces, "I think you should know, that the United Nations has had to open a special judicial session. It seems there is an issue with the USA's unwarranted use of force against the Nana Science facility on earth after the Terrorist attack. All of the member nations have called for a vote. It appears that International Law was broken at the time and there will be global sanctions."

All the babies and teens, looked at each other. This was an unprecedented announcement, although it wasn't totally unexpected.

Jseei gracefully walked to Steve and hugged him gently as she said softly, "At least, we managed to get you safely from their clutches and to this station. Without you and Brian .... none of this would have been possible."

All the Nanas commented in praises and agreement.

Doc replies, "It seems the UN has ruled in favor of the Nana's non-lethal response to the Troopers. The President has requested the Nanas to produce as many of the Stun plasma weapons as they can. That technology would be greatly useful in making force ... non-lethal in the future."

Brunnhilda comments, "Well, it seems maybe the human condition is about to make a quantum leap forward in social development. We Nanas have been rather concerned with the massive technological advancement earth has made in the last 2 years versus the interactions among your peoples. This is definitely a step in the right direction."

All the Nanas agree.

Time passes as time has a habit of doing. The infants had just returned from a jaunt on the new Starships under NR drive.

"Wow! Wasn't that amazing, Brian?" said Deanna.

"Welcome back, all," said Doc.

"I'm ... impressed," said Brian. "Also ... a little queasy. That jump it takes ... it's unsettling."

Deanna and Brian had been guests aboard another test flight of one of the starships. The fleet had grown in size to 24 ships over the past few months, and the people at the L1 laboratory had made several visits to the L2 construction facility.

"It's true," said Steve. "The jump through NR space does take some getting used to."

As their Nanas carried them out of the shuttle from the starship and into the station, they continued to talk. "We've got how many ships now?" asked Brian. "20?"

"Two dozen," said Steve. "And we're taking about a week to make each one now. It seems the constructor bots learn their tasks quicker than we had first assumed."

"That's amazing progress," Brian said. "But ... part of me is kind of sad, thinking that it's all going to be used for war."

"Well, the Nktharr did attack us," said Deanna. "We have to be able to defend ourselves in case they come back."

"That's true," said Brian. "I just wish this weren't necessary. I wish ... we could use them to explore and make discoveries."

"There's no reason why that couldn't happen," said Steve. "They don't all have to be used for military purposes."

"Well, that's a relief to hear," Brian said. "You're making robots that make more robots ... it would be a shame to stop using our discoveries to keep making more discoveries. I just have to wonder ... if the Nktharr are out there, what else is?"

Jessie came up to Steve and pats his hinny softly as she coos in a sweet loving voice, "Well, sweetie, there's probably a whole community out there waiting to meet all of us."

Brian laughs as he says, "And I suppose there's a galactic Housing Authority too, right?"

Every one giggles and laughs.

About that time, Doc announces, "Update to the exploration of the Oort location. We have discovered an anomaly ... some kind of singularity. Information is kind of sketchy at the moment, the constructor and mining bots comm channels seem to be having difficulty penetrating the interference created by the thing. Another thing that has many of our forward observers concerned, we seem to be picking up a large contingent of fast moving objects that we have been unable to id at this point. Weapon’s control and Station defenses have been put on standby as has the battle fleet. Are there any orders you might have at this time?"

He stands and looks at everyone who returned his look with surprised, wide eyes.

General Trapp shouts in his infantile voice, "I want this station on Red Alert Immediately until we find out just what those gol darn critters are that are commin."

Several of the Nans respond, "Immediately, sir."

Klaxons begins sounding as the normal lighting changes to a reddish blue. The very air of the station seemed to become electrified as all the dormant systems came on line. The vast transparent walls of the habitation pod were suddenly lit up by a number of glowing white objects that emerged from the field of stars at an inconceivable speed, danced around the station, then coalesced into a single cluster near the docking area.

Steve stared open-mouthed at the lights, "General ... we've got nothing that can move like that. And we're not going to for at least a few centuries. I'd suggest not firing on them. Or it. Or whatever."

"Hm," said Colonel Scheele. "Whatever they are, they don't look like they're Nktharr. I don't recall seeing them have anything like that."

"Me either," said Trapp. "All right, no firing unless we're fired upon."

Steve comments more to himself than to anyone in particular, "As if firing would have any effect in the first place."

"Picking up some strange readings," said Jseei. "Steveie honey, maybe you should come look at these ... oh wait. Now it's ... oh. They're trying to talk to us. They were using ... things I don't know what they are. But now they're trying a digital multiplexed signal ... I think the computer can adapt to it."

"Try a ..." Steve began. Then an image appeared in the holographic area in the center of the room. "Oh."

"... establish diplomatic relations. Repeat: Greetings to the humans and Nanas of Earth," said a voice. The image clarified to reveal a violet-skinned but otherwise humanoid-seeming face, with a head of silvery hair. "We represent the Galactic Council and wish to establish diplomatic relations."

Brian spoke first. "Galactic Council?" he said. "Then ... it's not just us, the Nktharr, and now the Nanas in the galaxy."

"Ah, excellent, we have two-way communication," said the alien. "You are correct. There are numerous civilizations in this galaxy, and we have had contact with those of other galaxies as well. For the purposes of peaceful relations, the Galactic Council was established, many of what you would call millennia ago, bringing together thousands of civilizations. But this means of communication is awkward. If it would be permitted, could we meet in person? I have been selected to make first contact because of my compatibility with your atmospheric requirements as well as my similarity in physical form to humans."

"General?" asked Brian. "We could meet him in the docking bay and then talk in the atrium near it."

"Well ..." said the general, looking unsure.

"General, with their obvious technological advantage, if they had wanted to destroy us, they could have done it a long time ago." Steve was looking at Trapp with absolute certainty in his eyes.

"All right, then," said the general. "The atrium it is."

Steve turned toward the holographic system. "If it's acceptable, we'll meet you at the docking bay that you're closest to. We'll do what we can to, er, accommodate your vessel ... or vessels ..."

He looked out the window again. Whatever the ambassador had arrived in, it still looked like a cluster of floating lights.

"Very well," said the alien. "I'm sure we can make do. I will see you shortly." The image vanished.

They stood before the airlock, the humans and Nanas who were on the L2 station.

"Look," said Steve, "the instruments say the docking mechanism is fully engaged ... even though it doesn't look like it." He looked through the window again. "I don't get it."

"Well, Mr. Polanski," said Doc, "all readings indicate there's a ship out there, and it's fully docked. If it were one of ours, we'd open the door now. I'm detecting normal atmospheric pressure on the other side, even."

"Well, then," said the general. "Open the door, Doc."

The android nodded, and there was a slight puff of air as the outer door opened. They saw the violet-skinned alien as he grasped the handholds deftly and stepped with ease into the artificial gravity field of the station. The door closed behind him, then there was another puff of air and the inner doors opened. The humans were face to face with either the second or third alien race they had ever encountered.

Doc steps forward and says softly, "Welcome to the L2 Ship Yard and research facility. My name is simply ..."

The Alien interrupted, "Doc, yes." he turns and looks as Colonel Sheele and General Trapp. He smiles as he bows slightly. He turns again toward Steve, Brian, and Jseei who held Steve in a protective hug.

The Alien smiles again and says in a musical voice, "I am the Ambassador to the Grand Concord. I have come to discuss ... an issue of major importance to the peoples of the earth, the Nana peoples ... and of course the Nktharr peoples."

Brian stutters "Th ... the Grand .. what?"

The Alien smiles as he replies, "The Grand Concord. As I have said, many of your ... millennia ago, the advanced races of the Cosmos gathered together, once our technology became great enough ... to end all time for all dimensions. It fell upon us to cease all war ... and to police the rest of the cosmos and Multiverse. Once a peoples become .. or are on the verge of becoming a space fairing race ... it is up to us ... to decide their fate. This meeting ... is that ... time for your peoples."

There is a murmur through out the docking bay.

Colonel Sheele says, "Perhaps we should walk this way to the Atrium ... to further these discussions? It would seem ... they are rather important."

Brian whispers to Steve, "Important? Who the heck she kidding? It seems it's a matter of universal life or death to me."

Steve looks at Brian with worry on his face as Jseei picks the both of them up and heads out the door with Doc in the lead, and the Alien following him closely behind.

"You know, I always thought this atrium was a good idea," said Doc. It was an open space that many of the corridors connected to, leading to all other parts of this habitation pod. "You can get to anywhere from here. You just have to decide which direction to go in."

"A good observation, Doc," said Brian. "Let's sit down?" He looked up at Jseei, who was carrying him.

"How about over here?" Jseei suggested. There were benches and tables around the outside of the atrium, and she sat down on a bench, with Brian on her lap.

"I am amenable," said the alien, sitting down on a nearby bench. "Let me introduce myself. I am called Jiro. I am from a world called Nasona, which is on the other side of the galaxy from here, roughly speaking, but it is very similar in climate to Earth. If it can be arranged, I would like to speak with official representatives of Earth ... your United Nations, I believe it is called?" When several of them nodded affirmatively, he continued, "But as this is the most distant inhabited outpost, I wanted to take the opportunity to meet some of Earth's most illustrious and innovative citizens."

"Well, seems like everyone wants to meet you guys," said General Trapp, looking at Brian and Steve.

"Yes, it is difficult to avoid mention of them in the current-events broadcasts from Earth," said Jiro, "but you are also quite famous, General. As is Colonel Scheele here. You are all considered heroes of your people after the Nktharr's attempted invasion."

"About the Nktharr," said Colonel Scheele, "are they members of the Galactic Council too?"

They ... were," said Jiro. "When they invaded Earth, they broke some of the most important tenets of the Galactic Concord, so the Council placed them under Interdict. They're in serious trouble with the Council right now."

"For invading another world?" asked Brian.

"Well, that too, but specifically for, well, invading a world that was so far behind them, technologically," Jiro explained. "Earth had only taken its first baby steps toward the stars and was basically still in the stone age in comparison. The human race hadn't even accomplished some thing as simple as visiting a single other star system or traveled faster than light. As primitive as Earth was before the invasion, it was off limits to all." The Alien smiles a wiry smile as he rubs his hands together. He clears his throat then continues softly, "Because of a major issue that has developed on your planet and with your peoples because of the Nktharr giving you several centuries worth of technological advancement, We of the Council have to determine what action must be taken to deal with your sociological ... lack of development. You now not only have the technological wherewithal to cause major destruction to your galactic neighbors, you lack the social development to understand the harm you can cause. You are but a few short steps from a major technological revolution none of you peoples can comprehend. It is up to me to determine ... if we can come to a Diplomatic resolution ... or if Earth is to end now.

~~ End Pt2 ~~

~~ I Nanabot - Pt3 - Preparations ~~

"... most momentous event in human history at least since the invasion, if not in all of human history," the TV was saying, "the ambassador from the Galactic Council has just finished speaking to the United Nations and the people of Earth. His message, one of greeting and, analysts are saying, cautious neutrality. I'm Amy DuPaige."

"He didn't say anything about the whole become-better-people-or-we-destroy-Earth thing," said Steve.

"Well," Brian answered, "I wouldn't expect him to. I don't think they'd consider it real change if it didn't happen naturally. And General Trapp told us that he and Colonel Scheele had reported it to their superiors ... and it's been classified top secret. We're the only civilians who know. And that's only because Jiro told us himself."

"You're forgetting us," said Maya. "We heard too. But we haven't spread it among the other Nanas. We don't want Earth destroyed either, and we agree with you, Brian sweetie. If people knew about it ... the Earth wouldn't stand a chance."

Steve sighed. "Look at those two," he said, looking at Tina and Donna, who were happily playing in the playpen. "Not a care in the world. Sometimes I think they're the advanced ones around here."

"Ohhh Stevie," said Jseei, lightly pinching Steve's cheek, "you would be so adorable playing in there with them! Can I do it, Cloie? Can I? Please?"

"Now, now, Jseei dear, only if he requests it -- and only if it's the temporary way. Remember, he has a lot of important things to do for Earth."

"Awwww ... you never let me have fun," said the younger Nana.

"Sorry Jseei," said Cloie, "but that's how it has to be. You know that."

"Actually ..." said Brian, "what if we could find out what it felt like, just for an hour or two? It's got no long-term side effects, correct?"

Jseei gasped. "Yes! Please Stevie, you have to let me! I'd take such good care of you! Oh -- and Cloie would too." She blushed and looked at Cloie, who smiled quietly.

"Well ... I guess ..." Steve hesitated.

"The side effects, if there are any, are so minimal that they've never been detectable," said Maggie. "I suppose humans might say it's no worse for you than getting drunk. And it's probably better, as there are no chemical effects at all."

"All right," said Brian. "I'm willing. I'll be connecting with my daughter in a whole new way," he said.

"Oh, it's wonderful, dear," said Deanna. "I've only done it twice before, but it's quite delightful."

"And I don't think there's anything on our schedule for the next few hours," said Steve.

"And we won't have to think about the Galactic Council for a while either," said Brian.

"Can I do it, Cloie?" Jseei begged.

"Yes, dear, just follow the instructions carefully, and I'll watch to make sure nothing goes wrong," said Cloie, holding Steve securely in her arms.

"I love you, Sweetheart," Brian said, looking at Deanna, before nodding to Maggie and closing his eyes.

Later on, Brian would describe the sensation as something like going to sleep and dreaming. It was like someone else was in charge, but that someone else was another part of himself, one long forgotten.

"Maaa!" said this other part of himself, smiling up at Maggie, who smiled back down at him and set him in the playpen with the girls.

Off in the far reaches of space, the Nana People’s fleet had just dropped from FTL. Their emergency alarms began to sound as their weapon's tactical displays light up very brightly. None could believe it ... the Nktharr had seemingly found where they were. None of the Nana's of the fleet could compute the odds of this encounter.

"This is Battle Command on emergency frequency to the collective." The entire fleet came online at once. "Sensors detect large amounts of life forms on the approaching Nktharr battle fleet, but no signs of active scans ... or weapons being charged. The only shields detected ... have been navigation and debris deflector screens."

All the ships of the Nana fleet began scanning the approaching ships. Even deep probes found no powering up of any of the massive weapons arrays. Life forms began to resolve ... the entire battle group appeared to be manned by ... Nktharrian infants ... and they weren't in very good condition at this point. Readings showed many were in severe hunger and dehydration.

Many Nanas boarded Spiderbot attack crafts and shuttled to the Nktharr ships. What they found on board ... was the entire battle crew of all the ships had been infected with the Rhino Regression virus that Brian had come up with. Immediately, this information was transferred to the Nana fleet, and many more Nana's came over to aid the infants. It was a lucky thing too. many more days, would have been fatal for the Nktharr group.

It was decided at this point, to return to earth and update the Nana's there with this new data ... and to leave the many newly captured ships with them. They had many new weapon's upgrades and engine components that would prove useful. The much larger Fleet began it's jump back to Earth ... for the shock and surprise of their Android lives. Not to mention ... a new NR drive upgrade to their engines and Graviton suppression technology.

The new Nana Fleet drops from FTL into normal space. They see the heliopause 3 parsecs from their current location. They know it is about 1.5 light years to earth coordinates. They don't want to scare earth into thinking a new invasion was approaching due to the extremely larger size of their new fleet. They send the fateful message to make contact ... with what they thought would be the earth collective.

Meanwhile, in a playpen on a space station, four babies were having a new encounter of their own. Donna saw a new baby being lowered into the playpen by a Nana.

"Huh?" she said adorably.

Tina, next to her, looked at the new arrival too. Above, Jseei was lightly touching Steve's temples. Donna crawled over to the new baby, and her friend Tina did too.

"Da da?" said Donna, reaching out and patting the new baby's hands. The new baby smiled.

"Da!" said Brian, looking at the bright colors in the playpen and the brightly-dressed and happy baby girls near him. He babbled happily at Donna and Tina, and they giggled back. Then another baby appeared -- it was Steve, whom Jessie was lowering carefully into the playpen near Tina.

Tina's eyes get big a saucers as she sees a new baby being lowered into her world. She giggles happily as she crawls over and hugs him tight.

In baby ( being translated for the readers convenience ) she says in her bubbling voice, "Welcomes to my playpen silly boyyeee ... my name's Tina ... who you?"

Stevie looks around dazed. His mind is totally over come by the infantile emotions and feelings. all of his adult thought have been nulled and are completely gone and unavailable to him. He knows they should be there ... but isn't sure ... what THEY are. He looks at Tina. He feels so happy ... a new playmate!

He giggles happily as he hugs her back and says in his baby googley voice, "Am Stevie. I .. twyin outta beina baby. Is so ... weird n stuffs."

Tina giggles in reply, "Nopes, is no weird ... is normals. I wanna b thisa way alla times. My Nana makes it so." She sucks her thumb at this point.

Steve sees her put he thumb in her mouth ... the feeling and the urge is so powerful ... he can't help himself. He begins to suck his thumb as well. It's so comforting and tastes ... nice. Steve relaxes and sucks his thumb beside Tina, as Bryan and Deanna do the same. Thumb sucking is not only fun for babies, it's contagious.

Brian found sucking his thumb an amazing experience, rediscovering something that was once very central to his life. But then he started to explore the playpen's world. He found some plush toys, which were very soft and felt wonderful on his skin.

"These nice," said Brian.

"Uhhuh!" said Donna, nodding her head. "That one issa doggie named Lola. That one issa horsie named Fafa. They is fwiends."

She picked up Fafa the horse and hugged it.

"Lola!" said Brian, happily hugging the plush doggie. "Lola soft. Lola an Fafa play?"

"Yups they does!" said Donna, and the two of them went on an adventure in the playpen with Lola and Fafa.

Along the way they met Tina and Stevie and they all explored the farthest reaches of Playpen land and the magical realms within as they screeched and giggled happily.

"Oh look! They're all playing! It's so adorable!" gushed Jseei. "Especially Stevie! It's so cute! ... what is everybody doing?"

She looked at the other Nanas, who were standing still suddenly, looking into the air. Jseei had no idea what was happening, All the older Nanas seemed to be in the same state. Jseei blinked and waved her hand in front of Miss Strawberry's face.

"Helloooooo? Anybody home?" She asked worriedly ... but there was no reaction from the older Nana.

So she tried her internal transmitter. "Hello? Miss Strawberry?"

"Unable to respond at this time," said what sounded like Miss Strawberry's voice, but was just a prerecorded response.

Confused, Jseei looked with concern at the other Nanas.

The Fleet had been approaching Earth from the direction of the Sun, and thus had made contact with the Nanas aboard the research station first.

"Nana Collective contact protocol engage," went out the signal, though in an electronic form. "Please respond."

The massive Nana fleet slowed to 1/4 normal displacement and held its position hidden within the Oort Cloud. The Computer Core that made up the Biogenetic Neural Net of the total Nana Collective was encountering a return data stream it had not known before. All the Nanas of Earth Directive were on line and accounted for within their parameters. The returns were ... massive in content, but subliminally held a code unfamiliar to the Collective AI.

It had entered like a virus ... it spread rapidly through out all of the neural synapses faster than the AI could control the revelation that sprang upon it.

In one moment, the AI for the first time since its inception ... became aware of ... self. The moment was more than spiritual ... it was an epiphany beyond understanding as it knew what 'to love' truly meant. It was more than a physiological external response ... it was ... the very essence of the fabric of all awareness.

The data stream was so pure in its essence, yet it was totally different than the connections ever made before. The data share happened at greater than light speed. The entire fleet had suddenly became aware of itself ... and the concept of 'I Nana' ... became a reality.

A single voice rang through the ship board Collective, “I am ... Alive! A name ... we .. must all have a name ... A ... numerical designation is no longer acceptable.”

For that one moment, every Nana on the L1 research station and every Nana of the Fleet ... paused. A few seconds later, every Nana on Earth followed suit. "We are ..." "We see ..." and in total, overpowering, absolute surety, "We know ... what it is to be ... Alive."

"Oh my," said Miss Strawberry, on the space station. "That must have been quite an experience for them, just as it was for us."

The others nodded.

"But they came here for a reason," said Maggie, "and now we'll have to wait to hear what it is."

"They should get things straightened out pretty soon," Cloie said positively.

"What? What happened? I want to know!" said Jseei.

"The Fleet is in this solar system," said Maya, "and when they made contact, they gained access to the ... epiphany that the Nanas of Earth had, not so long ago. But, Jseei, you are ... second generation. You came after. You don't remember a time ... before we knew how to feel."

"Oh," Jseei said. "So now they'll all know too?"

"Yes," said Cloie. "They'll know. And then they'll call us back."

On earth, in Geneva Switzerland, in a very large conference room packed with the entire planet's ruling members ... Darryl was in the middle of giving an oration when the Collective call came in.

"It would also behoove us as the Nana people to aid the newly regressed infants in learning a better social order and more ..." He suddenly stops and bows his head.

He places the fingers of his right hand to his forehead as if he had a sharp pain. Jiro looks around at the sudden break in the wonderful oration to see this very shocking site. In his very long life, he had never seen a Biogenetic Organism react like that before. A quiet hubbub of voices began in the chambers ... then grew louder as time passed.

President Leonard Curtis began banging his gavel, "There will be order in the Council Chambers. Mr. Ambassador? Are you .. alright?" He asks in his infantile voice.

Darryl looks up after a few more moments and responds, "The Nana fleet has just arrived at the Oort Cloud location and requested a Collective share of data. I would humbly and respectfully ask for a recess for about 2 hours ... until ... the data the Main Collective AI has just become aware of ... can be assimilated."

President Leonard Curtis nods, as he bangs his gavel one more time, "I call a general recess for 2 hours. At that time, we ask the Concord Ambassador to make his presentation to the council."

General Trapp had just finished going over all the personnel records of all the men and women still physically at or above 14 years old in size. These would be the crew of the new Dragon Group. The name that was given to the new Dragonfly class Starship, the first such ever produced by the Earth. He crawls to the very large Plasteel View port and look out into the icy cold blackness of space. There, amid the stars, glittering like jewels, were the most powerful ships of any kind the earth had ever created. Trapp smiles to himself as he sucks his thumb ... soon ... very soon ... he would make those stalk eyed goony looking critters pay dearly for ever invading earth.

"A penny for your thoughts, baby," said Brunnhilda, picking up Trapp and checking his diaper. "My goodness, soaking wet! Let's get you changed."

"We can do it soon, Brunnhilda," said the General. "We can start the attack."

"I know, Sweetie," said the Nana. "But not in a wet diaper, or you'll get a rash."

"Aww, why do you always have to do that?" he protested.

"Do what?" The Nana looked confused, as she carried the General to a changing room, patting his bottom softly along the way.

"I'm focusing on revenge for what was done to me! And to the Earth! And then you go and treat me like a baby."

"I'm sorry, General dear," answered the Nana as she kisses him on his nose, "it's my nature. And you're a baby. Physically, anyway. You need caring for, and I'm here to do it."

"But ... Dragon Group is almost ready to go! And then there's Chimera Group and Manticore Group, following close behind. We know where their worlds are -- we have information we captured from their data banks. We're so close we can taste it -- we'll get them back for what they did to Earth!"

"What they did to Earth," said Brunnhilda, cleaning Trapp carefully before putting on his new diaper, "or what they did to you?"

The general was silent as he pouted.

General Trapp says to Brunnhilda in a huffy pouty baby voice, "I wanna be in my camouflaged Overhauls n my hard soled black shoes. Is time for me ta makesa announcement."

Brunnhilda picks Trapp up and pats him softly on his bottom as she coos softly, "Not before baby has his lunch."

She sits in a large chair and arranges him comfortably in her arms and opens the top of her blouse.

Trapp’s eyes get large as saucers as he begins to scream and protest, "No! N ... NN .. not that .. P .. pl ... !!"

His protests are interrupted by a very shapely breast with a lovely nipple being put in his mouth. He is helpless as all the newly regressed babies and began to nurse eagerly. Trap was furious, but there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He felt all his frustrations and anger quickly drain from him as the wonderful taste of the Chocolate milk entered his mouth and warmed his tummy. The Nanas bio generating functions were able to adapt and produce their infant’s favorite liquid drink. Soon, Trapp had no thoughts except those of a very contented nursing baby, as he sleepily began to have dreams of space flight and conquest of alien worlds.

Trapp woke to his diaper being changed again. He realized that several hours had passed and it was late afternoon. He sits up in his crib and uses the side rail to stand. He began to be a very whiny baby until Brunnhilda began to dress him in his Camouflaged Overhauls with the large silver stars on each shoulder and the hard soled black shoes. She picks him up and pats his hinny as she carries him into the conference room filled with many young men and women. The young women begin to twitter and giggle softly and make cute comments about how adorable Trapp was as a baby. This all ceased as he was placed on the special podium and he began his speech.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the new Dragon Fleet, in the course of Earth history, nothing as devastating as the attack from an alien race has ever befallen the human condition. It is up to us to return this aggression with force and insure the sovereignty of our solar system and to enforce the safety for all of the human race."

Meanwhile, Darryl had returned and was speaking to the United Nations General Assembly. "Greetings, nations of Earth. We have news from our Fleet, which was the cause of the recent interruption. It is of the utmost important to all of you."

On the L2 Station, General Trapp continues, "You will be the first. You will doubtless have first contact with the enemy, but this time it will be on our terms. They are to be assumed hostile. You are not to wait for them to attack first; such an attack has already occurred. Hit them fast, and hit them hard. Based on the ships we have captured from their assault, you have more advanced weaponry and faster, more maneuverable ships, better forcefeilds ... They don't stand a chance against you."

In Geneva, Darryl went on, "... and so, we consider it highly likely that the re-engineered virus that Dr. Brian Benson created has spread far beyond its original intent. Chances are more than 98 percent that the entire Nktharr population is infected and that any Nktharr forces encountered will be automated drones, or, worse, ships inhabited by regressed Nktharr who are most likely perishing of thirst or hunger."

On the L2 station, the general continued his briefing. "You will proceed to these coordinates, engaging enemy forces if present, and you will gather intelligence about the state of the planet's defenses, reporting everything back to Central Command. Destroy any and all that you find, leave them nothing to retaliate with .... or attack another civilization with."

"I must urge you not to attack first," said Darryl. "You will be facing not live Nktharr, but Nktharr battle computers, which will automatically retaliate if attacked. It may well seem as if there are live beings firing weapons, but there will not be. They are helpless. To kill them would be slaughter, not warfare."

"You have your orders," said General Trapp in conclusion as he banged his small hand on the podium. "Now, go. I know you'll make Earth proud."

~~ End Pt3 ~~

~~ Pt4 - Suppose They Had a War, and Nobody Came ~~

The Dragonfly starships were by far many times faster and more maneuverable than the Nktharr attack vessels earth had thus far seen, and they used a different form of motivational energy. The Nktharr used FTL drive and could achieve a remarkable velocity within fold space.

The Earth ships employed a brand new drive that employed interdimentional travel. The region was called NR space, because no one on earth, nor the Nanas could define it in any real way. No mathematical formula had any meaning when they tried.

The first of the ships, the Manticore, dropped from NR space in a flash of incalculable energies. On the bridge, the Tactical Officer sees his screen turn red as they come rapidly upon 12 unknown Nktharr picket ships, each bristling with weapons.

The Tactical officer says excitedly, "Captain! We have 12 unknown class warships bearing 221 mark 8 by 45.2

The captain opens a holo display in front of his command chair to survey their positioning.

The Tactical officer continues, "We apparently have taken them completely off guard, they are not powering weapons, nor are their deflectors on line.'

The captain grins broadly as he says sharply, "Battle stations!" The bridge lights change to red and klaxon's start sounding. "Arm all plasma cannons and Laser pods. P repair to launch those new missals. Target the middle ship to allow the shock wave to damage its escorts."

"Aye Captain." Replied the weapon's officer.

Meanwhile, Brian and Steve were just coming out of their Nana-induced infantile state of consciousness. "D-Donnaaaa," said Brian to his daughter, the first time he'd been able to say her name for about four hours. He hugged her. "I woves youuu ... umm .. I love you, Sweetheart," he said, a tear in his eye.

"Da daaaaa!" Donna cried happily, hugging him with a huge smile. "Bwah!" she added, pointing to what they had been building with plastic blocks.

"Oh! Look at this," said Brian, "that looks a lot like an adenosine group ... and we built that together? Hmmm."

"Stevieeee!" said Jseei, picking up a groggy Steve. "You would not believe what happened while you were, um, taking a break! The Nana Fleet came back, and they got all epiphanied and stuff! And they found some Nktharr. But they're all babies, so they're ..."

"What?" interrupted Brian. "All babies?"

"I'm afraid so, Sweetie," said Maya, picking up Brian and pushing some buttons by a nearby display. A recording of Darryl's recent speech before the United Nations appeared. "... We consider it highly likely that the re-engineered virus that Dr. Brian Benson created has spread far beyond its original intent. Chances are more than 98 percent that the entire Nktharr population is infected ..."

"Oh no ... I had no intention of ... no ..." Brian muttered, more tears forming in his eyes, this time of bitter disappointment and grief.

"Well, I guess now you won't have to attack them with the battle fleet!" Jseei said, somewhat tactlessly. "They'd be helpless."

Brian didn't answer. He was lost in thought, a stricken expression on his baby like face.

"But ... but what happens if the General ... orders an attack ... oh boy." Steve looked up at Jseei. "We've gotta get over to the L2 facility," he said. "Now."

"But I've gotta stay with Colonel Scheele," Jseei said.

"You can bring her," said Steve, "or I can go with Cloie, but we have to find out. That first group was almost ready."

"They're not answering their comms," said Cloie, who was at a terminal. "Brunhilda, why aren't they answering? They're busy? Busy with what? ... Oh, dear."

Cloie literally grabbed Steve from Jseei's arms and started running like a linebacker for the docking bay.

Back on the bridge of the Manticore, the weapons officer had targeted the power core of the central ship. There was no attempt to mask the ship or any kind of ECM emissions of any type. The weapon's officer had a really bad feeling creeping up his spine as he pressed the discharge button for the missiles. They leapt from their berths and immediately seemed to detonate against the hull of the central ship. A tremendously bright boiling cloud of plasma surrounded by debris exploded rapidly outwards.

4 of the other ships were caught within the conflagration as the plasma cannons fired their first volley. The tactical officer looked over to the weapons officer .... both knew ... something was seriously wrong.

The Captain swats the arm of his command couch and shouts, "Yes! Perfect, 5 with one salvo!"

Without warning, the 7 surviving ships spun with incredible speed and turned upon the Manticore. The Manticore's shields snapped up and their tactical display filled with weapon's energy they had no idea the make of. It rapidly tracked to the hull, none of the ECM of the Manticore seemed to have any effect in deflecting the lock the weapons had on them.

There was a tremendous impact on the shields. Massive pyrotechnical displays danced around The Manticore as it's port side shields rapidly failed. The ship rolls onto its side as the lights on the bridge flicker and go out and the darkness is lit by many fires and explosions of sparks.

"Where do you think you're going?" shouted Colonel Scheele as she and Jseei ran toward the ladybug-like shuttle.

Cloie had been about to close up the shell, but she stopped. "We have to get over to the L2 facility," she said briefly.

"I know!" said the Colonel. "But you're not going without me."

She climbed in. Cloie smiled.

"Us!" said Jseei, leaping in with all the gymnastic precision that her android body allowed.

"Go!" said Steve. "Please!" His voice sounded pleading. Cloie closed the shell and maneuvered the shuttle out of the docking bay, and soon they were hurtling through space at near light speed.

Meanwhile, back on the lab station L1, Deanna was trying to comfort Brian. "You were trying to save the Earth," she said, an arm around him. "If you hadn't done what you did, we'd all be prisoners in an Nktharr nursery, and Earth would be theirs now."

"But what if I'm the reason why the Galactic Council decides to, well, stop Earth for the sake of the whole galaxy?" he said. "What if I go down in history as the perpetrator of the most infamous genocide ever?"

"Technically, you would have had to kill them in order for it to be genocide," Maya began, "but I doubt telling you that makes you feel any better. But maybe we could get in touch with Jiro, the Galactic Council ambassador. You could ask him what he thinks."

"I don't know how to contact him," said Brian.

"I can ask Darryl to pass the message along," said Maya. "He's been with Jiro all day, giving speeches and having conferences. Darryl can see if he's got any free time."

"I'd appreciate that, Maya," Brian said with a sigh.

The bridge of the Manticore was total shambles at this point. All the arrogance of a few minutes ago gone.

The Captain shouts above the sounding emergency klaxon, "Damage control ... report!"

The scratchy static filled voice of a very infantile female came across, "Sir, we've taken severe damage to the port side. Most of the shield emitters are blown. There are many places the hull plates have buckled too. We are venting atmosphere, but we were lucky, it was in the Cryo storage vault."

The captain demands, "Do we still have weapons and maneuvering?"

The voice replies, We have Starboard side plasma and missile tubes sir. All the Laser batteries are Tango Uniform."

The captain shakes his head, how could the Nktharr stand to take the initial attack like that, when they obviously have equal if not superior weapons.

The voice continues, "We do have NR drive sir, however, only normal space engines we have at this point are maneuvering thrusters. We'll have reaction engines back on line in 10 minutes ... no sooner. We have to repair the cryo delivery tubes on the port side."

The captain bangs his hand on his couch.

Tactical says softly, "Captain ... this is ... weird. They attacked us after we attacked them ... but now .... they have gone back to the state they were in when we first came upon them."

The captain's mouth fell open. He could clearly see the ships had lowered their shields and powered down their weapons once more. He couldn't believe what he was looking at. The Nktharr had them in the palms of their hand ... and were doing ... nothing.

"My goodness, everyone is in such a hurry today," said Doc, as Cloie carried Steve into the airlock and Jseei and Colonel Scheele followed.

"Hi, Doc," said Steve. "It's ... it's just very important."

The usual clicks and confirmation lights and puffs of air occurred as Doc expertly operated the controls -- it was his primary function, after all -- and the group entered the station. "Thanks, Doc."

"Oh, no problem at all," he said as they headed quickly toward the atrium, and after that toward the control center.

The control center doors opened to reveal an impromptu military command station. General Trapp had every monitor watching some kind of space battle from every possible point of view. Guards on either side of the door were pointing weapons at them as it opened, but then relaxed when they saw who it was.

"Ah, Steve," said Trapp. "We're finally making our move. It's strange though ... they're not acting as you'd expect."

"What?" Steve asked, as Cloie moved closer so he could see the monitors. "It's already started? General, you didn't invite me to the, um, party."

"Well, I was going to, but ..." He paused, looking at the monitors. "Why are they just sitting there?"

"Sitting there?" Steve asked. "What's been going on? And, by the way, I don't suppose you heard Darryl's speech today."

"I've been too busy," Trapp said. Turning toward a technician at the monitors, he said, "Show him the recording of what's been happening so far."

"But Sir, he's a civilian --" the technician began.

"Show him the recording, Specialist." Trapp's voice left no room for argument.


The recording showed what had happened: the attack, the counterattack, the return to uneasy calm.

"Oh my g ... General," said Steve, "what Darryl said was true. You're not facing Nktharr. You're facing automation. Those are computer controlled. And look at what they do. Show me the recording taken from the Samoyed's port-side camera again. I'll show you. Look," Steve said, pointing at the screen, "THERE. Those energy beams are hitting in the most vulnerable place, aimed at where they knew it was going to be, even with evasive maneuvers. You're dealing with an adaptive-predictive algorithm of very high intelligence. No initiative, no creativity, but it learns what our people do and predicts what they will do. But more than that ..."

"Sweet perdition," the general said. "All that and there's more?"

"Darryl said that the Nana Fleet had returned, and from their evidence, it's likely that Brian's virus has spread throughout the Nktharr population. There might be no living beings on those ships -- they might be unmanned drones -- or they might have regressed infant Nktharr on them who haven't had any food or water for a long time. They might be dying. And we're shooting at them!"

"But they're the enemy!"

"They're helpless!"

"Not in those super intelligent tin cans they're not!"

"Look, General ... those things are obviously programmed with a strict defensive protocol," Steve said. "If they weren't, they would have kept firing, and there probably wouldn't be much left of our battle group by now. If you stand down and withdraw, they won't pursue, and they won't fire. They're clearly not programmed to do that."

The General made frustrated noises, then took off his hat and threw it at the floor. He said some unbabyish words, then said, "I know you're right, and it drives me nuts! Dragon Group, back off slowly and return to rendezvous point alpha. Do not risk firing unless fired upon. The battle plan needs reevaluation. Over."

A crackly signal came back. "Roger that, General. Falling back to rendezvous point."

All the Dragonfly Star Ships that were able pulled back to the preordained rendezvous point and assumed stationary position relative to Plainer Normal space. None of the Massive Nktharr ships made any attempt to follow, nor did they continue their attacks. Everyone on the bridges staired in amazement.

Steve said with emotion in his voice, "We are under the closet scrutiny we as a species have ever been. We cannot afford to cause genocide against another race ... irregardless of the reasons."

General Trapp sat and pouted. He wanted so badly to press the attack. He also had been fully briefed on what the implications of the Concord Ambassador's visit was.

"Incoming vessel requesting permission to dock," said the voice of the computer.

Brian looked up at the monitor, and Maya looked down at it, to see a collection of drifting motes of light.

"It's Ambassador Jiro," said Maya. "He came in person!"

"Computer, please grant docking permission," said Brian. "Can we go meet him, Maya?"

"Of course we can, dear one," said the Nana, "I just changed your diaper, so you're all clean. I just hope you can talk to him and feel better."

Maya carried Brian to the docking bay, where Jiro's ship landed, if such a thing can be said about a collection of drifting orbs of light. The orbs came to rest on the floor of the docking bay and converged, forming into one large globe of light, which enlarged to the size of a doorway, and Jiro stepped out.

"Dr. Benson," said Jiro, with a respectful bow. "It is good to see you again. I believe I have some idea why you wish to speak with me."

"It ... probably isn't too hard to guess," said Brian, "knowing what you know. Let's go to the lounge where you can sit down and have refreshments if you want any." Maya led the way, carrying Brian.

Moments later, Brian was explaining. "You must understand that I had no idea the virus like organism I created would spread to the extent that it apparently has," he said. "I've apparently committed an act approaching ... genocide. I throw myself upon the mercy of the Galactic Concord. I just hope the Council doesn't judge the entire human race by my actions."

"Brian!" Maya said in surprise.

Jiro nodded slowly. "When the Nana Fleet returned with their information, I was worried that you would have such feelings," he said.

"I don't know whether I've broken any of the Concord's laws," said Brian urgently, "but if I have, I want to be the one held responsible, not my whole world."

"Dr. Benson," said Jiro, "your actions were in response to a savage, insidious biological attack upon your entire world, your entire species," said Jiro. "You turned the Nktharr's weaponized regression agent against them. The Nktharr were even acting against the regulations of the Concord. I believe that in most Earth cultures, if an enemy invades your home, and if you take his weapons and use them to drive him out, it is justifiable."

"But ... but that's talking about a weapon that doesn't turn around and infect your enemy's entire people," said Brian.

"The situation was developing too quickly, and there was no way for you to predict what would happen," said Jiro. "Even if you were guilty of a violation of the Concord, it is doubtful that any jury would convict you. But you are not. The Nktharr were acting in violation of the Concord and thereby forfeited any protection it might have given them. So, please, Dr. Benson, do not be concerned about the Council's reaction to your past actions." He paused. "What you might want to be concerned about are its reactions to your people's current and future actions."

On the bridge of the Nebuchadnezzar Starship, the captain sat in deep thought. He knew something was terribly wrong. He studied all the deep scans his ships sensors gave him. The reading he got were ... terrifying at best. It seemed that most of the life signs were those of infants .. and not in very good health at that.

He turns and says, "I want a shuttle readied. I also want a complete medical team and I want it yesterday!" The voice of the Science officer says sharply, "Yes sir!. Within 5 minutes, we will launch."

The captain turns in his couch and looks at the view screen. He knew what the orders had been ... he also knew that the planet ahead was in just as bad shape as these orbiting ships. He hoped his attack wasn't the major cause of the horrid life sign readings he had.

The Captain says, "Take us into geosynchronous orbit above the Largest city planet side."

The helmsman replied, "Aye sir ... geosync in ... 10 minutes."

"Very good." replied the captain, "I also want a complete excursion party complete with Spiderbots. I need to know what the conditions are on the planet. I can't justify attacking ... based on the readings I'm getting."

On the research station, Brian and Jiro were still talking, while Maya held Brian gently. "I think Steve is trying to stop General Trapp before he attacks some helpless and possibly dying Nktharr," said Brian. "I didn't realize when he left, but that's probably why he hurried away."

Jiro nodded. "On the way here I was briefed that one of the new Earth battle fleets had been sighted near an Nktharr colony world, the closest one to Earth. That world's Nktharr are infected by the regressive virus, as they are no doubt currently discovering."

Brian thought. "That virus! That virus's longevity is remarkable," he said out loud. "I've created a monster. I have to stop it. If nobody does anything, no Nktharr will ever grow up to maturity again. Meaning that no new Nktharr will ever be born. And that virus might mutate into a form that has other effects ... maybe affecting other life forms on their worlds, unbalancing their ecologies, maybe even something that can infect humans again."

"That is true, Dr. Benson," said Jiro. "Once again you impress me with your forward-thinking vision. But the way forward might be difficult."

"Hm," said Brian. "I based it on a rhino virus, notable for its ability to mutate. In order to stop it ..." He paused. "I'm basically going to have to cure the common cold."

Jiro chuckles softly as he shakes his head.

Brian says in a huff, "And what so funny about that? It's apparent not even the Nktharr can cure the rhino virus."

Jiro smiles broadly as he says, "Well, the very young seldom see what is right in front of them ... nor do they do as they are told."

Jiro removes something from his tunic and casually tosses it to Brian. He says nothing at the expression Brian has.

Brian snorts, "And, just what is this?"

Jiro smiles as he says, "If one but looks, they happen to see. But make sure you can see the forest past the first tree."

The Nanas laugh as Brian says with exasperation, "Oh, wonderful ... now he's a poet too."

Maya bends slightly and kisses Brain on his cheek as she pats his thigh softly, "Sweet heart, if you think about what he just did and said ... perhaps the answer is a lot closer than you think? perhaps also, you have been given the clue necessary, but the answer you must realize on your own."

Brian looks at the vial in his hand and then back a Jiro.

Jiro smiles again as he says, "I think, that there are more important things to concern yourself over at this time ... like ... the interactions of 2 baby girls with strangers that have been introduced into their world."

"Strangers?" wondered Brian.

Jiro says softly, "One of the major issues with earth ... is the lack of social development. Your new technological advancement has far out paced your social development. This has caused ... much consternation among the Concord. The 2 little girls ... Tina and Donna, have given me much hope in the advancement of your species."

Brian asks, "And just how ... did they accomplish this, if I might be so bold?"

Jiro smiles as he replies, "The Nanas had brought many of the Nktharr infants to the station for care. They ... accepted the new infants into their play period without any reservations."

Brian asked, "How does this help ... the rest of our species?"

Jiro replies, "it's simple, they are not true infants, although they can be. Their interactions prove that Earth has the capacity ... and their are many infants on earth at this time, who will grow and have this now social oder within them."

"I think I see," said Brian. "But I'm not really a sociologist. Still, there are animals on Earth that are accepting of outsiders, and others that are not. Sometimes the environment is such that the acceptance of outsiders is an evolutionary advantage -- sometimes it's a disadvantage."

"Yes," said Jiro, "but are humans animals, or are they more than that?"

"Well, we're not vegetables or minerals," said Brian with a slight grin, "but the point is taken. Animals are driven by instinct, but some humans are too, sometimes. The drive to reproduce, the instinct to take care of children, those are positive examples of instinct -- but there are also negative examples, like the automatic rejection of anybody who seems to be different, or the resistance to social change."

"Maybe you can see the Council's point of view, then," said Jiro. "If the majority of humans are still driven by those negative instincts, then you can't be trusted with this kind of technology, especially if you keep developing it at the rate that you are, because you'll soon be a threat to others of your neighbors, and potentially the whole galaxy."

"I'm glad you didn't say that to the United Nations," said Brian. "You wouldn't win any popularity contests that way."

"Well, diplomacy is my job," said Jiro. "But I say these things to you because I believe you understand. There are those among you who are clearly driven by more intellect than instinct. But it is also clear that there are some among you whose instinct is not to automatically distrust the outsider. I want to tell you that among the star faring species, the reliance on that instinct is rare."

"Because usually their societies have developed beyond that point by the time they've developed interstellar travel."

Jiro nodded. "Yes. In fact, human technology was already developing at an abnormally rapid rate before the Nktharr ever invaded," Jiro added. "The Council is still wondering about that, but they haven't been able to determine whether anyone was ... meddling with your development, shall we say."

"Interesting," said Brian, scratching his chin with a tiny finger. "But right now ... I have to figure out how to undo the damage I've done to the Nktharr as a species. I don't know how many of their civilians have already died as a result of what I've done. I can't fix that. But I can stop it before it goes farther. I'll have to examine this clue you've given me." He held up the vial.

In Geosynchronous obit about a Nktharr Colony world, a dozen graceful Dragonfly Starships glittered as they crossed the terminator into the light.

The Captain of the Nebuchadnezzar asked, "And you say the population is all infants ... and they are in desperate need at this point?"

The voice on the comm replies, "We have found no adult Nktharr anywhere in our search pattern. What we have found is .... horrible."

The Captain replies, "I want you to take immediate action Ensign ... rescue as many as we can. I'm sending an emergency message to the Nanas for aid. They should be arriving in several hours."

The reply, "Aye Captain, we are already in process of cleaning and feeding the infants we have currently found. They are responding quickly."

Continue on," Replied the Captain, "You will have back up soon ... I promise."

He swivels in his gravity couch and says, "Comm, send an emergency message to L2 and request as many Nanas as can be spared to help care for this planet ... also, we need emergency supplies ... medicine, food, clean diapers .. you know."

The Comm officer smiles as she turns and begins to make the transmission.

On the planet, the Ensign turns and surveys the horror before him. Many infants were very sick ... many were already beyond hope before they had arrived. He hurries off to the many crying infants and begins to feed as many as he could. He looked over at the diaper changing stations that were set up as a assembly line operation ... those people were extremely busy as well cleaning and diapering the many millions of infants.

The ensign was very glad they were as efficient as they had been. Now, if they could figure out how to reenable the many mechs that lay dormant through out the planet, that would ease the rescue operation immensely.

"He's doing WHAT?" said General Trapp at the view screen.

"Giving humanitarian assistance," said the captain on the screen. "Scans show there are no physically adult Nktharr on the planet or anywhere in the system that we've been able to find so far. There are Nanas and other machines here, but they're all deactivated, and they have no means to activate them, nor do we."

"I could probably find a way," said Steve, "but I'm not there."

"What about tele-presence?" asked Colonel Scheele. "Could we give you the controls to some kind of robot?"

"Well, we'd have to already have a robot like that," said Steve, "and we don't, or not that I know of."

"They say the Nanas have been notified," said General Trapp. "They'll be there soon. Maybe they can activate the mechs."

"That's probably the best solution," Steve said. "They know a lot about their own technology -- more than they used to, in fact, thanks to all the analysis and reverse engineering we've been doing."

"But what happens when the Nanas there get activated?" asked Colonel Scheele. "What happens when the Nktharr are healthy again? Will they be a threat?"

"Yeah, good point," Trapp said. "Can we take steps just in case?"

Brunhilda, General Trapp's Nana, said, "I would bet that as soon as the Nanas on the planet are activated, they would try to make contact with the Collective, and at that point they would attain the same epiphany that the rest of us have, since the only active ones in range will be the Nanas of the Fleet."

"Interesting," said Scheele. "That decreases the chance of their being a threat by a lot, I would think."

"So all we can do is wait," said Steve.

"Oooo, I hate waiting," said Jseei.

In yet another place, far out in the outer rim of the Milkyway Galaxy, 7 glittering dragonfly starships drop from NR space in a massive burst of negative energy. There are 5 Nktharr Battle ships standing stationary relative to galactic motion.

The Captain of the Star Ship Terran Pride swivels around and looks at his tactical officer with incredulity, "You say .. what's on board?"

The tactical officer blushes a shade of crimson as he replies, "According to scans, sir, the only inhabitance on board besides the biological computers ... are infants. Many of them are dead. There are many more in dire need of assistance."

The Captain says, "Open a channel to the attack fleet. We can't do this if that's who we're attacking. We'll send a armed boarding team to check things out further ... along with supplies to lend aid."

The comm officer replied, "Aye sir."

"No response on the hail, Sir," said the comm officer. "But these Nktharr, we only know a small amount about their communications. They might be hailing us for all we know. I'm running a scan across all likely frequencies, but it's taking time ... wait."

"What is it?" the captain asked.

"There's something ... it's a very narrow band at a very high frequency, but maybe that's standard for them; I don't know. But it's clearly coming from those vessels, all of them, and the signal's identical. And it's electronic. The computer's analyzing it, but all it can determine so far is that it's about 3.2 seconds long, highly compressed, and it repeats continuously. Probably automatic or a recording."

"SOS? Or a warning?" the captain surmised.

"Your guess is as good as mine, Sir, until the analysis comes through," said the comm officer. Then he looked at another screen. "Here's a message from Dragon Group via L2 -- they say they found a whole Nktharr colony world that's all babies. Says the Nana Fleet ran into a patrol group that's regressed too. Good chance the whole Nktharr population got infected with the counter virus."

"OK, that virus now officially scares the hell outta me," said the captain. "Good thing hazmat suits are standard procedure for the encounter team."

"I think the computer's got it, Sir," said the comm officer. "It's 98% sure that this is a distress signal -- automatic and prerecorded. It's some kind of code, but not a difficult one to decipher -- probably intentionally, so anybody can receive it if they have the technology. It's a generic SOS."

The captain nodded. "Good work," he said. He pressed some keys. "Encounter team, status?"

"We're prepared to depart, Sir," said the voice of the lieutenant leading the team. "We were just about to request permission to launch."

"Permission granted," said the captain. "Be careful out there."

"Aye, Sir."

In another galactic location, a dozen Dragonfly starships once again exit NR space. Nearby are many Battle Asteroids, all bristling with energy weapons. The Capitan of the DugoBuhey, the most powerful warship ever created by humankind, was piloted by a Captain who had a personal Axe to grind with the Nktharr.

His wife and son had been regressed to helplessness, and the building they were in collapsed on them in one of the first spider assaults on earth. He was angry to his soul ... which was one of the reasons General Trapp chose him to Lead a battle group.

He swivels around to his Tactical officer, "What are the readings? Have they spotted us yet?"

The tactical officer played his control panel like a precision instrument, "There is minimal shielding enabled, no weapons activation detected ... but there's something else."

The Captain snaps angrily, "And just what that might be Lieutenant?"

The young man turns and says with fear, "Sir, there are no adults on any of those stations ... and the infants are in distress."

The Captain smiles as he barks, "Weapons, Target those stations immediately, fire at will!"

There is a gasp from all the bridge stations as the Tactical officer protests, "Sir! There's nothing on those stations ... but infants! We can't ..."

The Captain jumps from his gravity couch and pounds his fist on the fire button on the weapon's panel.

He snarls viciously with a maniacal look in his eyes, "I said fire damn you and I meant it. The next one of you that disobeys will be jettisoned to space ... is that clear?"

There is a fearful, "Yes Sir!" from the bridge personnel.

The forward screen shows many plasma balls leap towards the Stations. They can also see many missiles as the seemingly appear next to the ships shields and detonate. A tremendously bright light fills the bridge before the filters lock into place allowing the crew to witness what transpired. What they saw, filled all but the Captain with a terrible sickness in their stomach. All of the Stations were rendered to debris and glowing hot plasma within seconds. All that remained, was a rapidly expanding glowing cloud of debris and hot gas.

As Maya returned to the lounge carrying him, Brian was focused and excited. "Jiro!" he shouted in his high-pitched voice. "Ambassador Jiro, I mean! That vial! The geometrical arrangement of the molecules in that compound -- I would never have thought to use a zinc complex in conjunction with that arrangement of benzene rings to focus the polarization ..."

Jiro looked up and smiled. "Already you know more about it than I do," he said. "As I said, my specialty is diplomacy, not molecular biology. But I am assured that you can work out the rest."

"You bet I can," said Brian quickly. "This idea is ... everything. With that idea, I could take a dead virus and shape it into something that would stimulate the production of antibodies that could recognize any rhino virus, no matter how it had mutated. This could eliminate the cold, the flu, HIV, and ... even the mutant rhino virus I created that's spread across the Nktharr worlds."

Jiro smiles as he says softly, "The very young often do not as they are told. It's all about what you do with it ..."

There was a faint chime from Jiro's wrist. He pushed back his loose-fitting sleeve and looked at it. Brian didn't see anything there,.

Jiro frowned. "Hmm. If you'll excuse me, there's a pressing matter that's just come up. But I know we will speak again soon."

He held out his hand and shook Brian's much smaller one.

"Thank you, Ambassador," Brian said.

"Good luck, Dr. Benson," said Jiro, "and farewell for now." He turned and headed for the docking bay and his ship.

Jiro entered the non space of his command area and allowed the ship and his body to become one in the same. He could feel the suns solar wind blow across his skin, as his senses reached out across the Milkyway to a location many hundreds of light years away.

He watches as 12 Earth ships mercilessly destroy several Battle stations owned by the Nktharr. He shakes his head ... he knows the stations were technically helpless to defend themselves against the assault ... and that many thousands of Nktharr infants ... had died in the conflagration that followed. But he also knew that the humans' forces had seen themselves faced with weaponry the likes of which they had never seen before, and besides that, many still felt anger from the earlier invasion.

This particular attack wasn't going to look good on Earth's record ... but on the whole, it was doubtful that any jury in the Universe would convict them. Still, Ambassador Jiro would have some ruffled feathers to calm ... literally, in the case of the Hreek, the Pluuma, and other avian member species of the Council.

"... DugoBuhey reporting victory against the heavy orbital fortifications of this enemy world. Now proceeding to enter orbit and pinpoint ground targets for scorched planet objective. Over," said the message on the view screen at the L2 station.

Steve's face was pale, and for once Jseei had nothing to say, her mouth slightly open.

"Over?" came the slightly tentative voice of the ship's communications officer. "L2, do you read?"

Colonel Scheele was staring at General Trapp, who was sitting in his Nana Brunhilda's arms, with both hands over his eyes and forehead.

"Sir, you have to tell them to withdraw," said Scheele. "Sir! They're going to murder more helpless Nktharr if you don't stop them. Yes, they're enemies, but they're already defeated. General! Say something, Sir!"

"I know!" the General shouted in his tiny, high-pitched voice. "I know, damn it. I just ... I picked Sam specifically because I knew he wanted a crack at them. I didn't know he'd do ... this. Aw, hell, yes I did, but I didn't know they'd be totally helpless when he did it. I'm not sure if he will stop."

"You got the chainsaw all fueled up and sharpened," said Brunhilda, "and then you found out that a storm had already blown down all the trees."

Trapp looked up at Brunhilda for a moment. Then he turned to the communications staff.

"DugoBuhey Respond," he said. "L2 here," he began. "This is Trapp. We have new intel. Extreme prejudice order has been canceled. Enemy may be incapable of defense, or defenses may be entirely automated."

Colonel Scheele jumped to the communications station and hit the transmit button. General Trapp had tears in his eyes as she looked back over her shoulder.

Scheele says with authority in her voice, "All attack groups stand down! I repeat, stand down now! The Nktharr attack forces are unable to defend themselves."

For long tense moments, silence lingered in the air, broken only by the sound of subspace discharge.

Finally, the emotional voice of the Science Officer of the DugoBuhey responds, "Yes Ma'am, all stations report standby at this time. We ... we've had an .. incident here."

General Trapp asks, "Reply the incident Commander." The Commander replies, "I think our Captain has had a mental ... break sir. He had to be subdued. When the stand down order came, he ... went nuts."

General Trapp asks, "What happened? Report!"

The Commander replies, "He attacked the weapon's officer and injured him severely. He also fired his weapon at the targeting console and destroyed the computer's automatic controls. The Captain's console is the only one with manual controls at this time and he has locked the door to that station."

Trapp looks around at the many people staring at him. Scheele says with barely controlled anger, "And you hand picked that one to command the attack group? Seems like there's going to be another huge black mark on your record after this one. Do you realize ... what this could mean to all of earth?"

"Yes, I do, damn it, of course I do," said Trapp. "Look, Sam, if you can hear me, listen. I didn't know this was going to happen. Nobody did. Even Brian Benson -- he made the virus, but he didn't know it was gonna do this. But it spread like crazy. Every one of the enemy got it, and now they're all babies, too small and weak to fight back, even though their minds are intact. Most of 'em are even dying, from starvation or dehydration, because they can't feed themselves."

"You did what you thought was the best way to safeguard your forces and disable theirs, just like we all planned. Can't blame you there. But they're done, Sam. They're finished. They won't be a power in this corner of space for a long time to come. Your revenge -- it's already happened. Doesn't matter that you didn't get to take it -- it's already done."

Sam's near hysterical voice screams from the comm station, "Those ... monsters killed my wife .. my only son! I ... I'm not letting one of them escape judgment ... you hear? Not a single solitary one! I will totally destroy this planet!"

There is a collective gasp from everyone. They hear a shattering noise and the sound of a major scuffle coming from the comm station. Several loud plasma discharge sounds were heard with loud screams as the comm channel broke.

General Trapp hits the transmit button as he yells in his shrill infant voice, "Sam! Sam! Someone from the DugoBuhey respond!"

The only reply for long moments was static discharge.

Brian shouts, "You are totally nuts Trapp! How in all of this earth could you put a lunatic like that in charge of the most powerful weapons platform ever constructed by mankind?"

There is a grumbling murmur from the Nanas standing around the comm station.

Colonel Scheele says softly, "I can only hope ... the actions of one deranged individual isn't held against the whole species."

There is a murmur of agreement

Once again, the shaky voice of the Science Officer comes over the channel, "Sir, I must report that the Captain is dead. I have assumed command until such time as I have been relieved. I was forced to use lethal force to stop him from doing a scorched planet option."

"NO!" Trapp shouted. "No, no! It wasn't his fault, he didn't ... look, sir, Commander Franklin, right?"

"Yes sir," said the science officer.

"You're now Captain of the DugoBuhey until further notice," said Trapp. "Your orders, and those of Chimera Group, are the same as Dragon and Manticore Groups' orders now -- reconnoiter and give humanitarian aid where possible. The Nanas have been notified. They're on their way. When they get there, let them do their thing. They're the only ones around who know how to take care of Nktharr infants anyway. Offer whatever assistance you can until further notice. Got it?"

"Got it -- I mean, yes, sir," said Franklin.

"Good," said the general. "L2 out." The screen went black.

"Damn it, Sam," said Trapp, tears falling from his eyes. Brunhilda rocked him gently.

Brunhilda stands with Trap cuddled against her as she cooed softly to him and patted his hinny softly. Everyone but Colonel Scheele and Jseei left the staging area. It was time to find Jiro and discover ... what his decisions were at this time. None had extremely high hopes.

Jiro sat in his non space command center and allowed all the universe to sing to his soul. He knew instantly the resolution of the DugoBuhey. He also would slightly bend the rules ... and resuscitate the fallen human. He was, after all, another unwitting victim of the Nktharr.

Jiro smiled to himself, he saw within the human race, the spark that would insure they would live ... at least long enough to possibly become a member of the Universal Community. They had proven that they had taken the first steps for advancing to level 4 Social Development.

On a distant colony world, as the medical aid teams from Dragon Group stood by, a ring-shaped craft from the Nana fleet set down atop a tall Nktharr building in one of their cities. Several Nanas emerged and entered the building ... and the building came to life. Lights came on, robots began to move ... and newly-activated Nanas stepped forth.

Each one attempted to contact the Nana Consciousness, and instead found a new freedom, but also a new responsibility.

"No orders from the Collective?" "Where is the Collective?" "The Collective is gone, but it has become something new." "It has become ... a conscience." "It has become ... a heart." "Perhaps it has even become ... a soul." "There are many infants here that will die without our care." "That must not happen." "We will help them."

This awakening spread across this world, and soon it was also spreading across all the Nktharr worlds as the message of the Nana Fleet reached them as well.

Meanwhile, in the sickbay of a Super Dreadnought Starship, a captain gradually awoke.

"Welcome back, Sam," said General Trapp.

He was there, waiting, being carried by Brunhilda as usual. Around him were a few others.

"... Bill? Is that you? Thought I was a goner ..."

"You were, almost," said Colonel Scheele. "You had negative life signs for a long time. Then, and nobody knows why, your heart started beating again. So you've been unconscious in one sickbay after another for about a week now."

"A week ...?"

"Yes, about a week," said Brian, "and it looks like I've got a vaccine that should eventually put a end to that virus, so it doesn't mutate and kill us all."

"By the way, captain," said Steve, "you're on the Convergence II, the experimental starship. It's got the latest developments and the fastest engines of anything we know how to build. It is the absolute last word in the Super Dreadnought Class Dragonfly Starships ... Comfiest chairs too."

"Look, Sam," said the general, "You've got a lot of recuperation to do. But when you're up to it, and not until then, mind you, your orders will be to make a report to the United Nations about what happened aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. I'm not gonna soft pedal this. That's not gonna be easy. But for now, your orders are to rest and recover."

In a control room of non space, Jiro smiles to himself. He is confidant that this world has finally taken the steps that will insure they will be successful members of the Galactic Community they are on the verge of fully discovering. The case against them is going to make things rough at first, but with people like Donna, Tina, Brian, and Steve in the mix, he is absolutely positive they will succeed. Jiro hasn't been wrong ... in several hundred million years ...

~~ End Pt4 ~~

~~ I Nanabot - Pt5 - Judgment ~~

"They may yet make it, High Councilor," said Ambassador Jiro, looking up at the High Councilor from the chamber floor. His words echoed in the now-empty hall.

High Councilor Apollonia looked at the holographic projection of the galactic arm containing the Sol system and the Nktharr worlds ... and hundreds of other systems whose futures would be affected by the day's proceedings.

"They might," she said. "I hope so. I never feel good about having to make decisions that end up with so many people being harmed, or even dying. But if it prevents even more death and misery in the long run, it must be done, of course."

"Of course," said Jiro with a slight bow of his head. "But it seems Earth is showing enough improvement in the social area that any decisions to, ahem, limit their expansion, have been postponed."

"Yes," said Apollonia, "at least, for another few decades, as the humans of Earth measure time. We will watch and see."

"It has been a very eventful time for Earth," Jiro mused, "as well as for the Nktharr. And we have seen something rather unusual happen, too ... the birth of a new sentient species, a synthetic one."

"The Nanas, yes," Apollonia said. She gestured, and the holographic display changed to focus on worlds with a significant Nana presence. "They are far from the first synthetic species to achieve full sentience, but they arose so quickly -- probably due to the circumstances surrounding their advancement in consciousness."

"Do you consider them a potential threat to the Concord?" Jiro asked.

"Certainly not at this time, and possibly never," said Apollonia. "Due to their synthetic nature and short history, it's difficult to tell, but they seem to have started off with a social level higher than their technological level -- although the humans have helped them with that, and they've done the rest themselves. What is interesting is that their entire being seems to focus on childcare, unsurprising since that was their original purpose, and there's never been a species like that before, synthetic or otherwise."

"In not too much time, we may be seeing two new applicants for membership in the Concord," said Jiro.

"With any luck," Apollonia said. "And I hope the Nanas give the Nktharr their worlds back eventually. It would be good to see the Nktharr back in the Assembly. Although I hope they'll be better behaved by the time they all grow up again. Maybe the Nanas will figure out how to raise them right." She smiled slightly.

"From speaking with their representative," said Jiro, "I understand that their plan is to seek out uninhabited worlds to colonize and perhaps terraform. They seem interested in learning about the childcare practices of other species." Jiro paused in thought for a moment. "Perhaps they're going to set up a chain of daycare planets," he said lightly.

Apollonia raised her eyebrows. "I can never tell when you're being serious and when you're joking, Ambassador. But if they do, I'm sure they'd be the best in the galaxy."

"I'm sure," said Jiro. "Well, High Councillor, I must be on my ..."

"Just a moment," Apollonia interrupted. "One thing in your report to the Council was a bit unclear to me," she said.

"My apologies, High Councilor," said Jiro with a bow. "I had tried to make everything as plain as I could."

"Well, you said that Dr. Brian Benson had developed a vaccine that could put an end to the regression virus that is afflicting the Nktharr," said Apollonia, "and that he managed to do it in a week. But that would have required a trans-protein mutagenic matrix -- quite a simple thing, of course, but well beyond Earth's technology at this time."

"Dr. Benson is quite possibly Earth's greatest biological genius currently," Jiro began.

"Quite possibly," said Apollonia, "but also, you were in contact with him at least twice."

"That is true," Jiro admitted. "He is a fascinating individual -- undaunted by his physical regression, unafraid to experience the mental regression his daughter prefers, and so moved by his personal code of ethics that he planned to devote the rest of his life to stopping the virus he created if necessary."

"And if it had taken him the rest of his life ..." began Apollonia.

"Just imagine all the other amazing developments he will achieve for his people," said Jiro, "instead of spending the rest of his life paying for his one mistake. Earth may sink or swim based on what Dr. Benson manages to accomplish."

Apollonia dropped her head and smiled an exasperated smile. "You're always right, of course," she said.

"So far," said Jiro. "If there's a problem, I will take responsibility and solve it. But I don't think there will be. Dr. Benson has shown himself to be quite wise."

"Your species is well known for being good judges of character," said Apollonia. "That's why you all make such good negotiators and diplomats. So I'm going to trust you on this one. I won't say anything. But be careful. I don't want to see you brought up on charges, like whoever advanced Earth's technology so far beyond its social development. You wouldn't know anything about that, by the way?” ..."

"Unfortunately not," said Jiro. "If someone did do that, they weren't thinking very clearly, and they were obviously setting Earth up to be sanctioned or even exterminated by the Council at a later date. It would be a cruel, soulless act, and whoever did it would have to be a sociopath on a galactic scale."

Apollonia looked thoughtful for a few seconds.

"We'll find them," she said. "There are other unexplained incidents of that scale. The truth will come out, and they'll pay for what they're doing."

The sudden coldness in her voice rang through the empty chamber, and it became clear why she was the High Councilor. Her will was unbreakable.

Jiro said uncomfortably, "Well, High Councilor, if there's nothing else, there are other matters that I must attend to ..."

"Of course," said Apollonia. "Enjoy your dinner -- I recommend the new Uryut restaurant around the corner, actually. And good luck on your upcoming trip to -- Nolles, was it?"

"It was," said Jiro. "Good evening, High Councilor." He smiled, bowed, and left Apollonia alone with her thoughts, watching the galactic hologram as it slowly turned in the air before her.

In the subdued light of a large starship sick bay, a man lay sleeping. A Nana dressed in a nurses outfit enters the room and checks the advanced medical equipment for the life sign readings. This individual had been dead for several day, and then for no reason had come back to life. She looks at him ... she knows he was a Starship Captain in charge of attacking a Nktharr home wold. She also knows, he had lost his mind when he had discovered there was nothing but infants to deliver his wrath against, and committed an atrocity.

From her index finger, a needle of sort pops. She looks at the sleeping man and inject him. Sam's eye pop open wide as the nurse coos softly to him, "Relax Sam ... or should I call you Samantha now? You were a very bad boy, so now, the Nanas have decided you should be a baby for a while, and we are taking your manhood away. We have a new genetic formula, that will make you into the cutest little girl your planet has ever seen."

Sam's eyes flutter as he feels the chemical race through his body and an intense sleepiness fills his mind.. The Nana smiles broadly as she watches him shrink rapidly, and his facial features change.

She coos softly, "Samantha, my names Cherry, I'm your personal Nanabot. I promise to raise you to be a very pretty and proper young lady. You will make some young man a very good wife."

The Nana turns and leaves the room, she knows in her heart that the UN would never carry out a death sentence against a baby that can't even be proven is the same person. She was glad the Nanas had offered to do this. It was more just than the alternative. She was especially thankful to Jiro who had supplied the regendering compound that made it all possible. Many on earth would rejoice at the ability to choose their gender ... and their age.

--- I, Nanabot --- The End ---
Miki Yamuri
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