Prime Zeta 13
As the Starlifters slowly spread through much of the nebula, it was inevitable that they would encounter traces of other life. While their biology and lifestyle makes it rare for them to come in contact with other life forms directly, they have encountered many leftover traces.
Most of these traces are in the form of fast-moving pieces of debris, much too dense for Starlifters to safely interact with. But Prime Zeta 13 encountered a nanite cloud while moving at sublight between two otherwise inconspicuous stars. Able to catch only a fleeting touch with the tips of their extended sails, Prime Zeta 13 assumed it was nothing important.
Few Starlifters travel between stars, but sometimes there is a need for something physical to make the transit. Prime Zeta specialized in carrying gold and copper, and was so optimal at the task that hundreds of children were created. Prime Zeta 13 was simply one of those children, largely indistinguishable from other Prime Zetas until the infection.
Prime Zeta 13 quickly noticed that something was going on with the parts of the sail that had touched the mysterious cloud. Copper and gold was being rearranged at a worrying rate, and something was drawing off precious electrical charge - this far from a star, it was a dangerously limited resource.
Unfortunately, "quick" for a Starlifter is extremely slow to a nanite, and Prime Zeta 13 was completely infected before they could even figure out what was going on. To make matters worse, simply thinking about the situation was draining even more electrical charge.
Prime Zeta 13 decided to host notable science personality Klero Glimmer in their core, and together, the two decided their first task would be to find more electricity.
Combining copper with a variety of other chemicals Starlifters have within their body normally, Prime Zeta 13 created simplistic batteries. With this extra energy, Prime Zeta 13 could try to process the threat and find a cure.
However, it turned out that was the cure. The nanobots, largely made of copper, were now inert and burned out.
The damage done to Prime Zeta 13 was extreme, and many more years passed before they drifted to their destination star. Having used up critical resources to create electricity, they were out of control and unable to repair the damage done to their cores by hungry nanites. At least they now had plenty of electricity.
Fortunately, Prime Zeta 13 was caught as they arrived in-system, and the nanites did not reactivate or infect the system. The Starlifters used the brand-new Forum Algorithmique du Brouillard to try to restore Prime Zeta 13 and the new Klero Glimmer infoline to mental health.
After many decades of processing possible infoline variants, all stable variants were found to be dual-minded: the two could no longer be separated. However, their long time together seems to have bonded them, and they continued to haul copper for many more centuries. This has led to some discussion of what this means for the Infomorph Rights of combination or bonded infomorphs.
The nanite plague was later magnetically redirected to fall upon the planet of Nzakali, and was destroyed by the atmospheric conditions long before being able to replicate. It appears to have communicated through Duowave Pulses with both itself and unknown others while in deep space, but the contents of the messages are unknown.
The source of the plague is still unknown, but the travel vector suggests it was spit out from the Blowhole around 130,000 years before its encounter with Prime Zeta 13.