(9x18) Virtuality Incarnate: Part 3, Episode 3
Though immensely pleased by the success of his hardware morphological freedom program and its extension to not only the Sphidi but all of humanity, Tom still misses the absolute freedom of his virtual avatar that could assume any form at all on a whim. He realizes that something like that may be available in the real world, via the advanced alien nanotechnology that allows Metis to do "magic". He approaches her about finding some way to reverse engineer or adapt that technology to project a physical representation of a virtual avatar to serve as an artificial body.
Metis reveals that since discovering that Xio cannot be awakened without killing all the Sphidi, she has been working on an alternative to her original plan of modifying his nanites to create another magic-user like herself, and that does involve reverse-engineering the Ehrban nanotechnology. She has had the aim of being able to turn anyone, not just an existing immortal, into an immortal magic-user like herself, but the project has only gotten so far as being able to mechanically control stand-alone nanites under computer control, with biological integration proving much more difficult. But the research they have achieved so far would allow for its use in such a project as Tom seeks to create.
She is extremely hesitant to release such powerful technology into the general public, however she reveals that Kron has already discovered her reverse-engineering attempts before Tom and Xiu were even awakened, and that his forces are already en route to Earth to shut it down, travelling subluminally because Metis sealed off the wormhole to buy time to finish. Because of that Metis feels pressed to accept the risk on the promise of having possible other magic-users with which to confront Kron, but until such time as she deems anyone trustworthy of wielding its full power, it will be controlled by a layer of non-autonomous artificial intelligence that merely reads the user's mental self-image, and directs the nanotechnology to project an image of that, nothing more. This technology is hailed by the Sphidi as making the real world as free as the virtual one they signed up for, the best of both worlds, and as it is widely deployed, it looks like the future is bright for them indeed.
Next: Virtuality Immanent: Part 1, Episode 1