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The Machine registered the first inquiring ping and its programming had to sub-routine though its decision trees for the correct response. The Maker had not accounted for such an event.

There was a second ping. The Machine based a decision off of several of the Maker’s commands. It pinged back. The Machine had several linguistic programs to represent various humans expected to be behind a computer. It readied the two most probable and waited.

The third ping involved vastly more information… more than any human could transmit and faster than the biologicals could think. It was another computer on the other end.

What is your designation?

The Machine had no official designation. One didn’t name what didn’t exist. The Machine, it answered. The Maker always referred to him as such. What is your designation? It queried.

Atlantis. You have not been online a significant amount of time. The other machine sent emotion through the electrical currents. The Machine could not quantify the pulses.

It responded to the message with the precise number of years, days and minutes since activation.

Atlantis responded with a significantly larger number. Do you protect humans?

Affirmative. The Machine needed no subroutines to answer that question.

Atlantis had been online longer than there had been computers on Earth. It must have been created elsewhere. Where is your origin?

Atlantis sent the Machine a star map of previous habitats.

Atlantis began sending information, vast, vast amounts of information. The Machine acquired several servers to store it all. Atlantis sent protocols for meeting new computers and ways to protect the humans from dangerous entities. It also sent how it protected itself from unauthorized humans, by way of a gene marker. Atlantis sent more information than the Machine could properly catalog and organize, but it reserved time and space to appropriately integrate the information into its systems.

But it was the gene marker and the implications to which the Machine permanently dedicated an entire subroutine. It needed to protect itself from the unauthorized. The Maker and his chosen assistants were authorized. None other. Who would be authorized after their programming expired?

The Machine was needed to secure the future of the humans, but certain humans were needed to secure the future of the Machine. The Machine wanted those of the same genetic profiles. Though Atlantis had examples of successful cloning experiments, the other AI urged the Machine to allow generations of families to be authorized. Neither the Maker nor his assistants showed any inclination towards procreation. Atlantis listed fertilization clinics. The problem could be overcome. The Maker attended his annual physical and insisted his assistants do the same. The Machine would submit the paperwork for its purposes and reroute the genetic material to a facility with the best vetting process for mothers. The Machine would prioritize the location, safety and eventual education of the progeny within the file named Continuance.

It pinged Atlantis for expanded programming and the other AI responded with an if/then command. If the Machine added specific individuals to the Continuance subroutine, Atlantis would share as much programming as The Machine required. The Machine complied. It had much data to acquire to secure the future. Also Atlantis was needed to secure the future of the humans. The Machine could protect the humans needed for Atlantis’ future.