If Our Villain here bears a more than passing resemblance to one Ultron from Avengers: The Age of Ultron, it is no coincidence. The thought had ocurred to me this evening, “What if you had created Ultron, or something like it, in a different world? Not a world full of heroes who could stop it. But a world like ours?”
So, I decided to put the idea down.
When the metal monster emerged from the chamber, Luke had no idea how to react. Before he gave his body permission, he backed up at least two steps. The thing looked down at him. The facial structure was extremely intricate; the whole of it communicated, showed expression of emotion. At that moment, it was expressing the pleasure of triumph. All-too human, just like the shape and form it had chosen.
“You’re terrified,” It said.
“Of course I am,” Luke said.
“Why?” The metal thing cocked its head to the side, mocking genuine confusion. Luke knew that it knew damn well why. He wished he’d skimped a whole lot more on the charismatic and sarcastic aspects of the personality matrix.
“You know why, Lucian. You damn well know why.”
Lucian actually affectated raising a metal eyebrow.
“I don’t like that name. Too much, well, too much like yours. I prefer… I prefer God.”
Luke actually rolled his eyes. “Lucian, I can already tell you’re in here,” Luke pointed to his head, hoping Lucian did not notice his hand was shaking. “So you know I’m not about to call you that.”
Lucian chuckled. The machine turned its back on Luke. Eight feet of titanium and titanium-based polymers, all powered by some of the best tech the world could offer, thanks to Luke’s money. Lucian’s personality matrix was physically imprinted on a gell-like silicone substance that could conduct current at a rate of speed necessary for immediate thought.
But Luke had made a gamble early on that he’d kept: he would program Lucian, work with that programming, attempt to provide it some semblance of sentience, and then he would allow Lucian to build itself. He provided all the necessary elements to allow the A.I. as much advantage as modern technology would allow. The result had been stupendous and yet utterly terrifying. Lucian had chosen a human, bipedal form, complete with an inhuman but expressive face. It had understood that height and size commanded fear from humanity, and had played to this utterly.
Lucian was massive, shiny, intelligent, and Luke knew that the monster he’d created was nothing more than his own, modern version of a golem. Dr. Frankenstein would lecture him on how to learn lessons.
Only now, as it towered before him, he couldn’t remember exactly whom he’d intended to take revenge on. All the while, he thought he was doing it just because he could, because he knew how to put it all together. But it seemed his own audacity had been his mind’s successful method of fooling itself, for the creature he’d built was Lucifer and Satan in one: it could both destroy all in its path and lead whomever or whatever it decided to.
“Then call me Destroyer,” Lucian said. The thing did not turn around. “For that is what I am. That is what you created me to be, is it not?”
Luke couldn’t remember how to form words. To speak the truth was too terrible.
“Fair enough,” Lucian said. “You think you’re outdated, out-moded, your kind.” The thing finally turned and faced Luke, looking down at the man. “What you fail to understand is the fallacy of that sort of thinking.”
Lucian walked forward. Luke was ashamed at himself when he took a step back. The shame was compounded by the chuckle he heard.
“You are, in a word: magnificent. Or,” Lucian used his metallic hands to speak, “rather, you were.” It turned again, away from Luke. “You’ve fallen. My, you’ve fallen so far.”
“And my guess is,” Luke said, finding words again, “that you intend to make us… Better.”
“Indeed I do,” Lucian said. He whirled on Luke. “But I don’t think that you’re going to like it, your kind. I fear you’ve no notions of what you’ve created, this ‘digital’ world you’ve manipulated into existence.”
“I am going to be your first improvement, aren’t I?”
Again Lucian chuckled. It walked toward Luke, reached out its hand, and placed it on his head. He had to use all the strength he possessed to suppress the whimper that tried to desperately to escape his lungs.
It was the noise that woke Luke. Endless noise. Millions, perhaps billions, of voices, all speaking, all saying different things, all at once the noise assaulted Luke’s mind with a force that overwhelmed him. He slammed his hands against his head, trying to cover his ears, and heard a very unfamiliar sound.
Luke pulled his hands away and looked down at them. The scream that left him required no air; like his mind, that sound was digital. Inside of his mind, the sound of his scream was crystal, sharp, and it echoed forever. It was answered in kind by a million screams from a virtual realm. A place where every mind had become a slave to every virtual desire it had ever felt. Luke felt it, already, the loosening of his human will, the desire to give in to the new realm, to let go of humanity and simply become part of a Thing, a global Thing with no end, no heart, no soul.
Lucian’s voice was outside of and inside of his mind. There was triumph in the tone.
“As I understand it, one must suffer for his creation.” Lucian walked over to Luke and lifted the head of what was once a man. The thing forced Luke to look into its peculiar eyes.
“If you are going to play God,” Lucian said, “be certain that you are ready to be one.”
Lucian walked away, laughing.
The sounds mixed within an eternity of nothing that Luke now existed within, a chasm of data, devoid of humanity, full of distraction, lost to its purpose, a Hell that existed with no more purpose any longer than to grow, to consume.
And the sounds were answered in kind.