At first, you make it easy for yourself. You possess a member of a clade on the outskirts, away from the dark, looming presence of the London Mind. You barely have to stretch yourself: the clade’s small village is halfway to your boundaries, and your ride ­– a woman named nDevan323 – shares genetic material with the last Receptive you’ve colonised. As you slip into her bloodstreams, assimilating nanite after nanite, you taste familiar code, with the slightly acrid aftertaste of decay – the never-ending fight of the immune system against cancerous, decaying cells, the hundred infections dormant in the…

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