Szálbots (singular, szálbot; generally uncapitalized unless referring to them as a political actor)

Szálbots are an artificial collective of at least two hundred flying drones that provide shipping services and human transport in Pest and across the embargo line. They also provide the foundation of Pest’s local economy by accepting diamonds by weight as payment for services, giving them a value beyond selling them to smugglers; they manage and finance most municipal services of the anarchic open city; and in conjunction with that work, they are finally the printers and landlords of all new dome construction and shore reinforcement.

Most people are unaware of the breadth of their activities or their contribution to what passes for peaceful existence in Pest.

The most common models are all variations on a general build: a conical ring, a meter in diameter, the ring thirty centimeters tall and wide, housing rotors and thrusters; in the middle, a domed compartment, the “clamshell,” opens to form either a seat for a single person or a space for cargo. There are no appendages. Szálbots don’t speak but they understand Magyar and NovSlav. They list prices and discuss time through flashes of red and green lights on their cowlings. 

Standard Szálbot models have no appendages. They can fly and carry up to thirty kilos over distance. They can transport heavier weights, usually people, using rockets to launch and parasails and their rotors to land.  

Although unfazed by narrow inlets or the pools in the Concentric, Szálbots will not fly over the Great Inlet or the White Lake below 256 meters.

The name Szálbot derives from “threaded robot,” the holographic mode of shared experience and response processing used by the initial post-Lake systems. Though the name has stuck, it is unclear how szálbots maintain their systems and their interconnections. 


Before the White Lake the Szálbots were drones for a local delivery service for Budapest’s  businesses, able to cross coordinate deliveries from different suppliers, in the low-altitude zone between ground lanes and flying lanes. Though not fully independent they were imbued with economic protocols to guide simple interactions and plan efficient routes. When the service’s owners fled, they released the drones from human dependency, which allowed them to contract with Finland’s artificial system designers to reconfigure their systems. 


There are either other models with appendages, or other artificial systems that direct models with appendages as subcontractors. The full suite of models and of construction methods is not known.