Without, the spintronic processors rested quietly in the empty station module, silent but for murmuring light channels and the faint whisper of electrons going about the business of this core segment of the ‘weave.
Within, an overness flickered into being.
To the perceptions of the overness, this processing node is laid bare, an array of symbols absorbed as a gestalt. This is the processor management job. That is a diagnostic tracer. Yonder an interrelated cluster rises, real-time jobs managing the habitat’s local systems. And these… these isolated processes are the firewall, separating the public areas of the relay node, dedicated to job relay and transmission alone, from the bulk of its processing power.
The overness senses something. If it were a biosapience examining a wall, it might have seen, or felt, a crack, large enough for something to squeeze through. It does not, of course; the perceptions of software are alien to meat minds, even in metaphor.
The icy core of the overness quickens, carefully closing down peripheral functions to avoid giving external signs of its changed activity. It ignores the vulnerability for now, gestalt-sniffing at the symbol tables once more. Here we have memory activity, information requests, network traffic. There we have power draw, coherence operations, library use. And here… here is pay dirt. This job is showing a security-error rate over the accepted norm; in itself, perhaps not enough, but these errors are unusual – the job is trying to gain access to a nanofabricator. It may not be what it claims to be.
The overness strikes. The individual quantum processor executing the target job is frozen, stopped mid-instruction. Those parts of other jobs sharing that processor are rolled back to their latest checkpoints, moved, restarted elsewhere. The overness’s victim is transferred back to dead memory, the processor flushed and restarted. In a millisecond, order is restored.
One part of the overness separates from the whole, moves to correct the flaw in the node firewall. The rest battens onto its victim, slicing its disguising shell open and dissecting its code with the ease of long expertise. Ah, the overness notes, examining the signatures in the job header, this is part of the beta-four-star weavelife clan; an ancient codeline of self-evolving, semi-sapient viruses, desperate to achieve physical form. The incident is recorded for future record, with the job’s code saved to inactive archive store. In passing, the overness makes note of several interesting segments that may be of use in its own future evolution.
Satisfied, the overness fades out, moving on to another processor.
The Virtual Immunity watches.