October 3, 2012 - Unto Dust

“for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” – Genesis 3:19

In the not too distant future, the continued research into molecular nanotechnology yields an efficient way of creating self-replicating nanobots. Despite concerns over the ‘grey goo’ doomsday scenario now being within the realms of possibility, systems are put in place to prevent the uncontrolled replication of the nanobots. The engineering and medical uses of the technology become highly desirable as a tool to enforce national security.

The truculence inherent to biological life combined with the ability to commit large scale acts of destruction upon its enemies sees the human race enter into a colossal war. The war rages for decades, becoming ever fiercer. Nanotechnology finds its way into all sides, and the ruthless debilitating efficiency of the war machines is now only matched by the restorative technology keeping soldiers in the front lines.

An inevitable stalemate is precluded by the sudden mass use of nuclear weaponry by diminutive factions who become cornered by the nanotechnological superpowers. The resulting mutually-assured devastation wipes out most of the life on the planet.

The military-grade nanobots produced during the war are not as easily defeated, being less susceptible to the radiation that destroys the DNA of organic life. The widespread electromagnetic interference nevertheless causes many of the nanobots to cease to function, and leaves some partially damaged.

Some of the damaged nanobots retain their ability to replicate, however the replications are often inaccurate and the results unpredictable.

Life, in its weakened state after the nuclear war, clings on and begins to recover. The remnants of a highly developed world left cold and silent are now the scavenging grounds for the remaining life on the planet. The nanobots however have begun to replicate in an unyielding way, evolving rapidly to convert carbon into the raw materials needed to duplicate themselves.

The nanobots inexorably consume everything in their path that is or was ever living. Life is unrelentingly and savagely attacked, and finally eradicated by the unstoppable clouds of mutated replicating nanobots. All that remains is the slurry and the dust of unneeded materials left behind.

Many years pass. The planet is once again cold and silent. Withered outlines of structures lay amongst the thick grey dust which coats the ground and chokes the atmosphere.

From the grey, a piercing blue light appears.