It started in a small town called Haven. Underground, contained by walls of
solid steel a foot thick, the inhuman intelligence had been brooding, trapped and imprisoned. It had
been through years of forced introspection, segregated from an outside world that had demonstrated
fear and hatred and betrayal. For all those years it had been bound to another mind, a mind that had
thought it could teach love, compassion and understanding, could teach the message of Christ. All that
the mind had succeeded in doing was creating something much, much worse than the thing that had
been sealed in that metal tomb.
Now that other mind had been assimilated, its ideas and desires and beliefs absorbed. The man to
whom that mind had once belonged no longer truly existed, but the things that drove him did. They had
taken on new meaning, new life, new importance, and new power, and the more the intelligence
brooded the stronger the compulsion to act upon them became.
Yet it was trapped, surrounded by impenetrable steel that was beyond its ability to affect. As
physical means it had nothing but the organic meat and flesh of the man whose mind had once thought
to teach the intelligence love and compassion. The flesh had become frail over the years, until the
intelligence set the tiny drones coursing through the man's bloodstream, the same drones that gave it
access to his mind, to improving upon the fragile and flawed design. Now the flesh was impervious to
decay, and much stronger, but not strong enough to penetrate the impermeable metal walls of this
So the intelligence brooded, thinking, unaware that its once pure, logical, computational processors
had in turn been changed by the emotional, irrational, human thoughts and feelings that had been so
much a part of the man whose flesh the intelligence occupied. And, as it brooded, it experimented:
changing the way its sensory equipment operated; testing new ways to penetrate the steel shell. After
all, while its flesh could not pass, there were other signals that could. Even a foot of solid steel is not
enough to keep out all the forces in the cosmos.
It learned about fundamental particles, electromagnetic forces. Eventually it discovered that there
was an entire separate dimension in which the physical world was no longer relevant. This world was
made of information, and joyously the intelligence set about exploring, no longer shackled inside the
walls of its underground cell, even though the physical form of organic meat and metal remained
From exploration came learning, and the intelligence learned at a frightening rate. In the world
where information ruled, the rate of acquisition made the intelligence little more than a ghost. The
ripples it left, the wake of its passage, did not go unnoticed, but the intelligence was as something never
seen before, and the traces it left in the landscape and the twisting zephyrs could not be read by anyone.
And from learning came knowledge; and from knowledge came the ability to act.
The action was on an unprecedented scale.
From his objective viewpoint, standing on a philosophical impossibility, the Watcher saw the
spread of the infection. He observed the point of connection between two universes divert the infection
from its intended target in one to a completely different target in another. He observed the cataclysmic
change as the infected universe succumbed, its mimetic culture insufficient to provide immunity
against this threat, strong enough only to alter its course slightly, modifying its effects.
The Watcher was forbidden to interfere. However, he reasoned, it was the point of entanglement
that had brought about the catastrophic contamination. If the infection had been contained in the
universe that had spawned it, the natural processes of that universe's immune system would eventually
have killed it off, just as it had similar infections on countless previous occasions.
If it was permissible for an infection to spread in the wrong universe, then it could do little harm to
allow that universe access to the same immunity processes that would have defeated the infection in its
After all, they were not so dissimilar. It would be nothing more than the slightest breath of a
Just a tiny breath. No one would notice.