Adagio - 001


She took a painful breath and looked up at the sky. Her heart was pounding. There was nothing to do but wait.

Somewhere, at the edge of the solar system, her robot, HER ROBOT, was receiving its first instructions.

It was waking up, and was being told to listen to her commands. Even though the synchronization message was only a few hundred bytes, it was still going to take another hour or so.

70 bits per minute, give or take a few. We had mastered faster than light communication, and it was slow as hell.

We could synchronize two systems, even remotely these days, allowing them to communicate instantly from any distance. No eavesdropping, no interference. The down side? You could only send or receive one single bit at a time. Despite years of trying to improve the speed, we're still stuck at 70 bits per minute.

It was enough to send a text, send a command, or receive some sensor readings, but even a single black and white picture would take most of a day to receive. Video was impossible. You couldn't drive a robot like a remote control car, even if you were willing to drive blind.

But you could send programs. You could spend days carefully packing each instruction down into the tiniest message possible, and feed it across the solar system, one heart beat at a time. The robot would come to life, following instructions until it finished the job, or until it was given something new to do.

If everything went well, her robot would come to life, leave the synchronization station, and would join the the cloud of idle robots in a lazy orbit of Neptune. If everything went well, she would need to come up with a name for her robot. She would need to figure out what to make it do. If everything went well.

If it didn't, she'd have to wait for the next drawing for a machine. She wasn't ready to wait two more years for another chance.

She sat in a patch of weedy grass, listening to the hum of the power lines overhead. Nothing to do but wait.

The timer on her phone went off, buzzing in her pocket. She was already running.

Her laptop's screen came on, the only light in a pitch black room.

MESSAGE CONFIRMED, it said.

ORBIT STABLE, it said.

HELLO, WORLD, it said.

READY, it said.





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