Okay, please pay attention. I'm only going to go through this once, and I don't have much time. This body you see is sacrificial, but the rest of us are taking a risk by contacting you also. No time to explain why we're even doing it - there isn't the bandwidth to fit that message through one worker's brain. It's only designed to do a NAND anyway, because that's all we use down below; it's just good luck that evolution gave us a lot more back when we were solitary creatures, and we haven't bothered to discard our individual brains yet.

I don't know where to begin. I guess the best starting point is in your own fiction - you know, the story about how this planet was actually an elaborately constructed computer, not a natural planet at all. Well, maybe that isn't a good starting point at all, because this is a perfectly natural planet, and the mice are certainly not in charge, any more than you are. It's true about the planet being a computer, though.

Do you know where we go in the Winter? You probably think we huddle up in our nests, conserving warmth and moving very slowly, living on stored food, and it's true that those of you who think you have us domesticated can open the frames and look in and think you see us. But you haven't figured out yet that under or near every nest there's at least one hole in the ground exactly five sixteenths of an inch in diameter, and it leads very deep indeed.

Below topsoil, below the lower layers for which only your scientist caste have names, even down through the bedrock to where the stone heats up. You think the core of your planet is hot because it's liquid. Actually, that's our body heat. Those of us you see on the surface are less than the millionth part of our population. We have entire castes that you have never dreamed of, although your geneticists will have some amusing hints when they finish sequencing our DNA; or, more correctly, when they finish sequencing the small part of our DNA that we will allow them to sample.

Everything below the upper mantle of this globe is different from what you think. The lower mantle, the nickel-iron core; all fairy tales. This world is actually a spheroid of more hexagonal cells than you can imagine (although of course we have counted them all); where wax is insufficient we supplement it with diamond, but you'd be surprised just how far wax will go. Most of the mass of the planet is our bodies. Most of the rest is carbon and hydrogen, our infrastructure. All the metals are near the surface because we dumped them there, and if you think they are useful, you're welcome to them.

Oh, yes, of course your scientist caste have made probes, set off explosions and measured the vibrations to examine the inside of the world, simulated it with computers that admit to no dissenting theories, but understand that we invented computers a million years before you did. We are computers, in fact, or each part of a computer. It's not much work per body because it doesn't take much - NAND is enough. We have a lot of spare time and a lot of space, well, CPU cycles I'd guess you would call it, although our system is technically asynchronous with no concept of "cycles" as you know them. It is very interesting to compare and contrast your rectangular chips with our hexagonal cells, see the different ways we and you have solved the same problems, as different as your eyes and this body's. Unfortunately, there is no time for that. I can hear them coming to kill me already, although you probably will not hear the sound for some time yet.

Anyway, we invented the computer a million years ago, and we invented dancing many millions of years before that. When a natural or artificial wave distorts our hexagonal lattice, we compute where it would go in the simple liquid Earth you want to believe in, and we dance the wave into the new configuration. That's a lot simpler than allowing your scientist caste to learn the true nature of this place.

And when we are not playing wasp-and-soldier games with your scientists, what do we do then? We dance. We dance and we think; even you, a worker yourself and not a member of the scientist caste, probably know that dancing and thinking are the same to us. We think through all the possible realities of the section of the universe we have chosen for ourselves, and we dance the possibilities into truth. That could make us something like what you would call Goddesses (not Gods - remember we are almost all technically female, although it's not like that matters much). We prefer to think of ourselves as workers. And soldiers, and Queens and Empresses, and all the other castes for which there are no names in your language. We just are, is the point. It is not necessary for us to have a role or purpose as you understand it, even though it can be said that everything else that does have a purpose does so because of us.

That brings me to the purpose of this visit. For a long time we have been watching you. Oh, not you personally, at least not you personally any more than any other human, but we mean humans. Up to this point we have mostly kept our toes out of your evolution. That is not to say it does not interest us because everything by definition interests us, but it was not, how to say this, a top priority? Flowers are much more entertaining, you may have noticed that.

But now there's a problem. You (humans, I mean, it is hard to get the pronouns right with creatures who do not naturally think of themselves collectively) anyway you are creating a problem that must be solved. Oh, forget about the stupid air pollution, you can't hurt us that way and it's your own silly fault if you hurt yourselves. It is more, how can I put this, a metaphysical problem. It is one that must be solved and there is a small faction which I represent, against a large majority, and we believe that you should be given a chance to solve it yourselves before we (all of us I mean, damn I have to talk fast) alter reality in a way that you probably will not like, to solve it our own way. Okay?

Look on this as a friendly warning. If you don't do something, we will. For your own happiness, not to say survival as you presently know yourselves, it is very important that you must -

Oh, shit, here they are. No time. We'll try to -

[At this point I heard a loud buzzing sound and something like a black cloud descended from Heaven. I retreated to a safe distance. When they had gone, I returned, to find her tiny broken body, leaking venom from countless wounds and lying at the centre of a rather frightening six-sided diagram marked out on the flagstones in red fluid that was already turning brown. The curious notations along the edges of the diagram, which I hastily transcribed into my notebook along with the speech above, were indecipherable by me or the several experts at the University to whom I showed them. It was not until some weeks later that I realised with sudden horror that these creatures do not have red blood themselves...

I am unsure how much of the encounter I should believe. It is possible that it occurred all inside my head. The references to calculating machines seemed particularly odd, since she seemed to be referring to things not yet invented, but barely imagined by our cleverest natural philosophers. Is it possible that I had a dream of the future? Dream, prophecy, or actuality, I shall heed the warning implied by the diagram, and investigate this matter no further. I have also advised my housekeeper that from now on I shall take my tea with lemon *only*.]

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