“Spider Without a Web”
by Daryl Nash
Umbilicus cut with the World, Syr was little better than a human. Her unaided eyes could make out nothing but vague shapes in the dim light. She uncurled from the padded couch on which she had grown to adulthood and stretched her thin legs. Bionutrient tubes loosed from her veins swayed in the thin air like living creatures.
Syr swam across a garden of flesh, neman with closed eyelids fluttering in perpetual REM. The pale white and brown bodies of her kin stretched across the floor and ceiling of the flattened spheroid chamber. Their skin was smooth and hairless, tended by an army of invisible nanomachines. Floating above them, Syr was disturbed to notice their sexual organs clearly visible. Never did she think of her family members as male or female while they studied and played and worked in the World. They were neman, and neman were not humans chained to messy biology.
Syr floated into contact with the wall, and the surface undulated to carry her around to an indentation that pulsed faintly blue. The wall enwrapped her in a skinsuit and spat her into the cold vacuum of space. She floated away from the neman satellite, a series of loosely connected spheroids twisted into a helix, like beads of water on a string. The data spike extended into the port on her neck, and Syr’s senses erupted in a cascade of welcome information. Bionutrient tendrils slithered into her veinports, oxygen and other nutrients rushed into her bloodstream. Though she could only connect wirelessly, Syr felt a palpable sense of relief to be free of the suffocating lack of information.