A Young Virgin to Lie in Thy Bosom
The swarm was a semi-independent entity. It was composed of about a 100 million autonomous segments that were each in turn formatted with 23 out of 46 possible processors. Each segment was formed completely developed with an inherited memory of everything that had ever happened to the swarm and its carrier. The process of commencing life as a mature segment with all of the experience of a million lifetimes was so alien that it was nearly impossible for the human mind to envision. The exchange of information between the segments created a network sufficiently complex to produce an awareness of itself. In other words, the Swarm was sentient.
Even though the swarm as a whole was sentient, the awareness of its existence was somehow shared in such a way that each segment was also aware of itself. Each individual segment was not just aware of itself as a separate being, but simultaneously aware of itself as a part of the whole.
It was believed, by the Swarm itself, that the information processing capacity of its segments was the cause of its sentience. Each segment acted as a single part of a nearly infinite array of parallel processors. This had the effect of giving the Swarm as a whole, a nearly infinite capacity to think and reason.
So, while the intellectual capacity of the individual parts was on the level of a handy-capped moron, the intelligence of the swarm as a whole was awesome. In human terms, the Swarm would be called an "Idiot Savant" because it remembered everything but had no common sense.
The inherited memory gave the Swarm a sense of being immortal. As a result, none of its segments thought of the end of their existence as death.
George Marshal frowned at the the Bailiff's litany. After hearing it over and over, it had become as monotonous to him as it was to the Court. The ritual was supposed to inspire respect, but the system was so corrupt that no one involved had any left. Even honest attorneys would grudgingly admit that the system was abused or manipulated as often as not.
"HEAR YE, HEAR YE, THE JUSTICE COURT IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF LINCOLN, THIS 25 DAY OF NOVEMBER 2006, IS NOW IN SESSION, THE HONORABLE JUDGE ADAMS PRESIDING. ALL ARISE."
The Bailiff wasn't half way through when old man in robes entered. He jumped up steps and was seated behind the bench before the order to rise. Grudgingly, George had started to "rise", thinking that for an old man, the Judge was pretty spry. It had to be an indication of an easy life.
Like George, everyone else only managed to get halfway up before the Judge growled, "Okay, I know no one wants to be here, not even me. I'm just as anxious to get home for Thanksgiving as anyone, so let's get this show on the road. Arraignments first, so the deputies can get the inmates back and head home. Clerk, where's the docket?" The courtroom's occupants immediately settled back into their seats.
The hick town municipal Court was unusual.