"Beyond the superficial differences, what is the fundamental difference between man and meat? How are the carbon atoms that hold their molecules together different from those in graphite or diamond, for instance? The answer is not the soul-meme of the theologian, but the chemistry of the brain. We do not have bodies, but rather, we are bodies." -Observer Riaz, Personal Journal

From On High

There were advantages to having an orbital station made almost completely of computronium. As a material that was actually a composite of computing nanomachines, it could be shifted into any desired shape. Given the time until the orbital outpost made reentry, Riaz began to factor a few equations into the station's processors.

The outpost had a few hours until it would make contact with the surface of the terranova. Reentry would start soon, but Riaz was confident that the external shielding of the craft would allow it to survive. Of course, landing it was a whole different matter. Given the mass (and weight) of the craft, it would land with a tremendous blast if it ended up on land. If it landed in the ocean, it would possible create a tidal wave. But, since the baseline world was currently at war, accidently blowing up a country could cause some paranoid leaders to let the atomic missiles fly.

At present, he would probably end up some where between the British Isles and the Russian steppes (or rather, the terranova reconstructions of them). With no thrusters, the descent would be hard to control. Quickly, the posthuman Observer considered some basic equations in physics. He could not alter his mass by burning fuel to create thrust, nor could he eject compartments. But he could alter the distribution of mass inside the outpost. By causing the computronium structures in the space station to move and reshape themselves towards one side of the craft, the center of rotation would change. The mass distribution in the descending craft would become increasingly asymmetric towards one side, allowing a more controlled descent.

The center of rotation was changed, and new projections were developed. Riaz saw that, with reasonable certainty, he would crash into the Baltic Sea. There would be a tidal wave, but it would be fairly insignificant compared to what nature could conjure up during storms there. The craft would be able to survive the splashdown, but the weight would cause it to sink.

From there, several options remained. One may be to try to break the encryption on the aux links. Given the encryption was several orders of magnitude above would he and the station's combined computing power could theoretically handle, it may be best to try another option. Riaz knew that he had to get back into contact with Andart somehow. Since the entire planet was built around a computing node of ais, it may be possible to send a robotic probe to drill to the computing strata and reestablish contact.

Sivad had some strange abilities for a primarily meat posthuman, but Riaz had to consider another possibility. An archai or higher-grade post-turing had been trying to interfere with the terranova experiment. Or perhaps it was the fact that this system was of interest to someone. It was near the edge of the galaxy, so he had little understand of why some archai would want such empty real estate. Even raw materials would be easier to strip further in the galaxy than the sparse systems out here. Or perhaps Andart would do something like this for some impossible to perceive goal for him. But, given it would go against every aspect of his personality and philosophy, that made Riaz less inclined to believe it was his own patron. Perhaps some other archai was trying to sabotage Andart's image or followers. Or maybe it was just a case of rogue ailife infesting Sivad's mind (perhaps at some point in the past) and then hiding it (or not). For sapients that did a lot of traveling with only one body, a hacker or hostile ai could easily hijack one. That was one reason many people relied on the archais. The archais (generally) didn't hijack bodies, as they had little need to. For beings able to simulate (and create) entire civilizations, a few nanocolonial or organic bodies would be of little interest. The archais did have interests in the continued existences of the countless sapients below them. The ones that didn't generally were not very popular amongst their fellows.

Continuing this idea, Riaz finally decided on a course of action. Once the outpost had settled on the bottom of the ocean, he would send down some nanoprobes to drill into the computing strata of the planet. Once the craft had settled underwater, he would have no problems punching holes in it. The bionanomachines would hopefully reestablish his link with Andart. As for his own actions, he decided to do something that should have been done long ago: Help end the war. While the fate of a bunch of baselines on a reconstruction of the long-forgotten homeworld of Terran civilization would hardly matter to many, he knew that the experiment had ended, and now was time to clean up. As the craft made contact with the ocean, Riaz began to consider his next course of action. After all, even the baselines cleaned up after their pets. Why shouldn't he do the same to his?