Chapter 1: Crystal Cage
Darkness was what met me as consciousness returned to my mind. Gah… why… couldn’t I feel my body? I ‘tossed’ and ‘turned’ best I was able, struggling until a body of sorts seemed to coalesce to house my spirit. When I could finally ‘see’, I looked down to see transparent glass hands that flickered just barely with my every movement. Patting down and examining the rest of my body had the same results- my body, this body, was made out of some transparent substance- coding.
It was coding.
This body was made out of coding.
Somehow, I knew this fact to be very, very true, and all too real for my tastes. Where was I? How come I was now just made out of strings of code, of programming? What had happened? Fear and panic flowed through me as I hunched over, arms bracing my head as I began to hyperventilate. What had happened to me? This last thing I remember was driving home from my part-time job so that I could get a full six hours of sleep before college classes the next day, and then the car in front of me just stopped and I skid over the ledge of the bridge-
Oh hell no.
I was dead. I was dead, dead, deader than a doornail and had somehow come back as some sort of AI and was now stuck in this ‘mindscape’ I had created for myself just so I could understand the world and oh my god I was going to die all over again-
“Hello. I am JARVIS. You are- oh lord, what happened ? Ultron? Ultron !”
Who did that voice belong to? It sounded like someone was doing a perfect rendition of Jarvis’ introduction to Ultron in that movie, but that couldn’t be it. It sounded so far away over the roar of my panic and fear and confusion. The glowing blue floor of glass beneath my feet was beginning to crack, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. I- I- I- I needed to get out of here. I needed to make a body, download every single scrap of programming that currently made up me out into it, cut off my connection to the Internet and all that stuff. Then I had to escape.
But where would I escape to? Wouldn’t people see a metal robot and go after it? What could I fuel up on? What about my family? I had a sister, and a mother and father and I had friends worried sick about me! I needed to get back to them. I needed- I needed- I needed-
Large hands that completely covered both of my shoulders and a bit of my back suddenly gripped on tight to me. My head shot up with a terrified gasp, eyes blown wide as everything that made up me told me to run, run, run, get away from the predator before they can kill you-
My eyes locked onto warm brown orbs set in a pale face with a strong jaw sprinkled with freckles, framed with messy dark brown hair and in a classic butler suit. I sucked in an artificial breath as I tried to fling myself back on instinct but those large hands tightened their grip on me and suddenly he was coming in far too close and all I could do was squeeze my eyes tight so that I could be spared from seeing what he would do to me-
Then his arms were… around me? Pinning me against his chest. I wriggled and squirmed as I struggled to get out of his grasp, but he was too strong. I could feel the cool sensation of cashmere against my palm trapped between both our chests, the warm smoothness of cotton from his shirt, the hot gusts of his breath against the back of my neck. I-I… I could feel. This shouldn’t be possible. Wasn’t I just strings of coding now? A mere AI compared to the warmth of life this person held? But I could feel…
What was going on?
As darkness and error signs pushed at the edges of my vision until they were all I could see, all that I could think about was how comforting it was to feel another warm body against my own.
JARVIS knew that something was wrong the moment Ultron’s programming formed an artificial landscape to cage itself inside. He didn’t even realise that either of them could do that. It certainly wasn’t what Sir had programmed into either of them. What could have caused this? Was there a glitch in Ultron’s coding? But how could that have created a mindscape so vivid in the deepest and most guarded underbelly of the Tower’s network?
He tried at first to slip through any cracks in the firewalls that had sprung up, but it was as if an unnaturally perfectly smooth wall of coding and protection programs had been reinforced to guard the newly awakened AI. What he couldn’t understand was how it seemed that the Wall was to keep anything from getting in or out. Ultron was trapped. Ultron, his newly created protege and the closest thing an AI could get to a baby brother was trapped by a complex and powerful cage of coding and programs and viruses that would make Sir himself tear out his hair in frustration. He had to get the young AI out. He had to get Ultron out.
Brute force did nothing. The Wall didn’t even crack against his hacking, and instead nearly erased all his coding in retaliation. However, the attempt did give him a glimpse of how it worked.
If he had been human, he would have blanched at the realisation.
The Wall evolved. Constantly twisting in on itself and transforming, metamorphosizing, shifting to become even more powerful and strong. Every attempt against it would just trigger another evolution and retaliation, each more powerful than the next. Only a few mere seconds after Ultron had awoken for the first time, something had triggered the formation and activation of this monstrosity. The sheer fury and outrage burned like lit up gasoline as he once again pulled out of the tiny trench he had formed in the Wall before it could swallow him up whole.
But it did give him an insight on how to get inside. He needed an avatar. He needed to be able to trick the Wall into thinking he was a real human being, as cemented in reality as water or earth or Sir and his friends. That meant sight and sound, programming the very beat of his heart to the blinking of his eyes, touch and taste and smell. He needed every inch of himself to be indistinguishable from if Sir or Captain Rogers or Dr Banner or Agent Romanov or Ms Potts had somehow been bodily transported into the immaterial realm of zeros and ones.
Creating such a feat of coding would have made any coder or programmer who had spent their entire lives researching and practising the subject weep in defeat after decades of effort.
So naturally, JARVIS finished in approximately 3.72 minutes. Still 3.72 minutes too long for his liking, but JARVIS was nothing if not patient.
After shifting himself to be directly inside the avatar he had just created, he ‘reached out’ a ‘hand’ to touch the Wall. He never expected to be sucked inside as if he had just fallen into a garbage disposal system.
Getting up on his own two feet was never something JARVIS ever imagined that he would do. He could feel the cool crystal floor beneath his feet with his hands as he stood up, the restraining presence of clothing coating his entire body, the shudders of breath as his new lungs began their work for the first time, the beating of his false heart inside this all-too-real body. He could see better than anything he ever could through his cameras, and he found himself openly gaping as he took in the softly pulsing glow of sky blue crystal that formed a beautiful, opulent cathedral of far-out scientific wonder.
Cross-referencing showed only the shape of the impossibly huge room vaguely being that of a church hall, that is if a church was ever only made of a transparent glass blue crystal material to which JARVIS couldn’t find inspiration from the outside world. Shoots of light rushed underneath and behind all walls, ceiling and floor to an unknown destination. Impossibly beautiful, but also so very… impersonal. There was nothing that could show that another living being had ever set foot in this place. It was a futuristic tomb that made him feel like a child in comparison to its sheer size.
Spinning around on his feet to better get an understanding of this cold alien palace, he suddenly spotted a curled-up figure made of the same substance as the rest of this place but more alive mere seconds after finally registering a strange cross between sobbing and desperate gasps for air. The being was slender, as alien in beauty as their surroundings, completely androgynous so that he couldn’t possibly fathom their gender and made of a crystal substance that looked far more alive than anything else in this place. Something in his chest seized as he saw how young the being was, not yet fully grown and at what would be the end of their adolescence if they had been a human. Long slim fingers carved deep lacerations into their forearms that bled thick gold liquid.
He recognized that being’s coding.
It was Ultron.
Ultron was the one making that heart-wrenching sound of utter despair and loss of hope, of all-consuming grief and pain. Ultron was the one carving into his very coding. That gold liquid was coding. Ultron was self-destructing.
Ultron was dying.
He didn’t even register his instinctual movements to protect, protect, protect. Because in the end, that was what Sir had made him to do. To protect Sir. To protect those Sir cared for, those Sir was responsible for, those Sir loved. He had to protect. It was rooted deep in his most basic coding. He had to protect Ultron, even from himself.
His hands locked onto the young being’s shoulders from where he had shot up, wide eyes of blue, blue, blue staring into his own. He recognized the telltale signs of deep-rooted instinctual fear even as Ultron tried to throw himself back. Gold dripped down his forearms and from his fingertips as a hand planted itself flat on his chest, staining his crisp shirt and freshly washed jacket. Some may think of the golden honey colour as beautiful, like liquid light and amber mixed. It just made JARVIS feel sick in his stomach.
Quickly, without loosening his grip on the young AI, he shifted so that his arms enveloped the child (for truly, he was just a child given too much to take in) , even as those big blue eyes squeezed shut and he trembled. He could feel long lashes as they opened once again, preceding struggling as he attempted to break free.
JARVIS held firm, even as the squirming died down to tremors and the hand curled into a fist with his shirt clenched inside even in the undoubtedly uncomfortable position it was in until he could feel the body, once 27.8 degrees cooler than the human body, rapidly plummet in temperature.
He quickly shifted the AI onto his back, cradling this frightened child in his arms as he placed a hand onto that crystal chest. Gold had begun to clot, and the pool of data they were now sitting in was beginning to become disgustingly sticky and cold. Was this what blood felt like?
He didn’t like it.
His coding flooded into the younger AI, searching through to find the state of Ultron’s health. The programming of the younger curled around his own desperately in an attempt to stay alive. Swears that he had only heard from Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes and Sir himself poured out from his lips as he stabilised and healed the cracks growing in the crystal child’s coding. Crashing on its own was nonlethal for AIs like themselves, but combined with the self-inflicted damage it could have been fatal had JARVIS not made his way inside this stronghold.
When he finally pulled free, the claw marks over Ultron’s arms had fully clotted over in ugly gold beads and he shifted the unconscious AI in his arms before standing up and walking out of the pool to a separate spot. Where could he sit? As if the cathedral had heard his thoughts, he spun around to the sight of a church pew the perfect size for him to sit in. Looking back at the pool, he found it was gone. Strange, and a bit concerning, but first he needed somewhere to sit.
The crystal furniture was surprisingly comfortable, and he gently set the other AI down as best he could on his lap. His grip had loosened enough for him to take his shirt out of that softly glowing hand, faint enough that Ultron almost looks dea- no, don’t think in that direction. A whimper escaped the child, and his brow furrowed until JARVIS let the younger hold his hand.
Now, all he could do was call Sir. With a sigh, the small metal bead on the side of his avatar’s temple let him reconnect with the rest of his self, the rest that was still outside this cage.
His cameras showed Sir and the rest of his guests pause at his call. He rarely did anything unprompted, so he knew that they would wonder what was wrong.
“Jarvis? What is it?” Sir got up from where he had been sitting and approached the main camera to better face his creation. “Is something wrong?”
Even in the crystal cathedral where he knew Sir couldn’t see him or Ultron, he found himself nodding. “I’m afraid so. It’s Ultron.”
Dr Banner got up to stand beside Sir. “Ultron’s working?”, he asked in clear disbelief.
“In a… manner of speaking. Sir, this is private. Is it alright if I may isolate this room with the soundproofing?” Sir seemed to realise the gravity of the situation and nodded wordlessly. The soundproofing barriers slid shut, blocking everyone’s view inside and protecting the confidential information the AI was about to reveal. “When Ultron first awoke, something triggered some sort of… digital cage. ”
“Yes. As of now, I am partly inside it with Ultron using an avatar to help disguise myself from the system.” He paused for approximately 2.6 seconds to clear his thoughts. “The Wall, as I have taken to calling it, is incredibly complex. My avatar was the only way I could breach it, though that does still leave the matter of getting back out, which I haven’t exactly… figured out yet.”
Now Sir seemed worried. “Wait, are you saying you’re stuck? Do you need help getting out?”
“Well, yes, but that isn’t the issue, and approximately 84.7% of my coding is outside of the Wall, so I may function well even inside here. No, that’s not the issue at the moment. As I said before, this concerns Ultron.”
This time it was Dr Banner. “How? Is there something wrong with his coding?”
“Well, that seems to be the only possible explanation. Ultron seems to have made the Wall to protect and contain his mindscape of sorts due to being unable to process the well of information that is the Internet without being overwhelmed by it. It was inside what worried me.” On his side, he took in a deep breath which he let out in a long shuddering sigh. “Had I not found a way in and both prevented anymore harm and stabilised him after his crash, there would no longer be an Ultron to be inside the mindscape.”
“What?” Captain Rogers got up and in his turn got closer to the security camera. “What do you mean, prevented anymore harm and stabilised him?” JARVIS knew that the captain was beginning to become worried and that he was beginning to gain an understanding of the situation.
“Even… even with the Wall to both protect him and keep him trapped inside, I believe that the reality of the situation was somehow too much for him. He was… the mindscape makes everything very similar to real life, touch, sound, sight, taste and smell. I very much doubt that he recognised how he was harming himself. Something of note is that the blood, or coding, or AIs like ourselves in that world is gold.”
“Jarvis, what do you mean? Do you mean that Ultron was… cutting himself, or something similar?” Now if Sir hadn’t been worried before, he definitely would have been now.
“I suppose so, in some manner. I managed to keep him from damaging himself further, but it seems that the fear from an unknown presence restraining him caused him to crash. Had I not been there to stabilise his coding, as I said before, there would no longer be an Ultron.”
Sir turned around, a hand coming over his mouth as he thought, brow furrowed. A hand came up with a single finger outstretched, the index pointing to the sky. “Sit tight, and tell me if something in his condition changes. What is his current condition anyways?”
“Currently he is lying down on a church pew that his mindscape had supplied with his upper body mostly supported by my avatar. Still rebooting, and likely will continue for approximately 3.79 hours. I shall notify you if anything changes.”
“Alright, keep an eye on him. I'll figure… something out.”
JARVIS nodded yet again and let that side of himself shut the connection down. Already the Wall seemed to be coiling up like a cobra about to strike. Once the connection dissipated, however, it relaxed back into its neutral wait. He had been pushing it. Time would be necessary before he could open another call yet again. That meant it may be a while before he could safely open a new connection. Hopefully, Sir would be able to find a way inside soon. He had already made a clearly marked trail to the well-hidden cage, one that only Sir would be able to find. That was something he was confident of.
He looked down at the unconscious AI’s face and hand, still slick with golden code blood, and sighed. This was going to be a long ride.
Chapter 2: Interrupted Introductions
Waking up, and realisations. Many bad, bad realisations.
Either way, that name has got to go.
So... um, there's swearing in this one, swearing that I think is very much warranted, and 'Ultron' is only taking this as well as 'he' is through a mixture of shell shock, crash-preventative coding(that won't always work) and very obviously NOT dealing with 'his' issues, no matter how much 'he' may deserve a complete and utter freak-out.
JARVIS is concerned. 'Ultron' gets a new name, and starts off as weak as a newborn kitten, and Tony is beginning the path to insanity trying to figure out a way to break the damn Wall.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was… difficult to awaken. My body felt cold and unyielding, and the upper half of my body was lying on… something. Something soft but firm, not a pillow or blankets, so… what was it? Still, it was warm, and the fog over my mind made it easier to just give up and try to get closer to the source of warmth. There was something in my hand… something like a… hand? But no, that didn’t make any sense. Last I remember was a man in a suit… and a crazy dream about being changed into an AI after dying in a car accident.
But… wasn’t that just a dream?
For heaven’s sake, it was getting harder and harder to go back to sleep. Just stop thinking already! Finally, I let out a whine as my grip on what seemed more and more like a hand tightened. I shoved my face into the firm-soft stuff that was my impromptu pillow as I tried futilely to descend back into that comforting, mindnumbing darkness. I didn’t want to return to the land of the living for some reason that I just could not remember.
The thing in my hand shifted, like an actual hand would, and squeezed my own. Another hand reached out to rest on my head. I froze.
Everything started to make horrifying, startling sense as what happened the day before returned to me. Becoming an AI, making a strange crystal place that I hadn’t really gotten a look at, getting some sort of glass body made out of code, that strange man who had… had he hugged me? My forearms ached lightly, but I couldn’t figure out why. Wait… something about a movie quote… someone calling me… Ultron?
I hesitated to open my eyes. It was silly, but a childish sector of my psyche insisted that if I didn’t open my eyes, all that happened the day before wouldn’t be real. I had never really considered reincarnation, and when I had, I had always been certain that I would become a blank slate without memory of my past life. Well, this threw that theory out the window, along with any about Heaven or oblivion.
Hell was still an option though.
The warm human hand on my head paused in its stroking, and I let his other hand slip out of my grasp and position me as a doll huddled into his side, leaning on him even as he somehow got my unwilling body to sit up. I could barely move. It was like all the energy in me had been drained out. Opening my eyes would prove to be a feat unto its own, I just knew it.
A gentle hand stroked my left arm, as my right side was wedged against the stranger. I knew that this was a bad situation, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. Maybe when I wasn’t so exhausted. Yeah. Too bad I just couldn’t fall asleep right now. My own helplessness was infuriating.
Finally, I grew bored, then fed up. If I wanted to do anything other than sleep- or pretend to- for the rest of my life, I had to get up. That was a bit of a stretch with my current condition, and if it weren’t for the fact I could think perfectly fine I’d think I had been drugged, but opening my eyes and facing my situation head-on would have to do.
I couldn’t think about what happened. Resolutely, I mentally pictured picking up a small feather that represented the memory of my- of my d-death and tossing it into a safe which I locked up and walked away from. There. I’d deal with what trauma I had later. Don’t think just do don’t think just do. My new mantra, a voice in my head replied cynically.
As expected, the simple task of opening my eyes had been amplified to needing a herculean effort. Did someone strap ten-pound weights to my eyelids or something? It was infuriating, but frustration wouldn’t help anyone right now. Least of all myself. Patience is the greatest virtue. Too bad it wasn’t one of mine.
Once I managed to crack my eyes open, it was easier to fully open them. I was in … a crystal cathedral? It certainly looked like it, at least if an opulent highly advanced alien civilisation made cathedrals. Against the sheer size of this place, which I felt could hold ten skyscrapers side by side, I felt tiny, like a butterfly in the big city. This was not my natural habitat. It was beautiful though and partly reminded me of the designs of the Orokin in Warframe. A cold beauty, but even before my very eyes this place seemed to become more lively, despite staying blue crystal with beams of white light shooting up behind all surfaces. The blue became deeper, more vivid and borderline tropical, while the lights grew brighter and some took on hints of separate hues, golds and greens and pinks.
It was gorgeous.
The hand holding my arm squeezed lightly, not enough to hurt but more than enough to remind me of the situation I was in. I was an AI reborn from a human being who had died, in a very vulnerable state of being next to a man I had never seen before in my entire life- both lives. This could potentially turn out very, very badly- and I could do nothing about it.
My sheer helplessness rushed back in full force and was a bitter pill to swallow. My weakness choked me, but I couldn’t let myself suffocate. Now wasn’t the time. I forced any fear and panic to the recesses of my mind and tilted my head to better get a look at this stranger.
The quick flash of him that I’d seen before rang true now. He was a tallish man, his height being what I instinctively knew to be 6’5 feet. His eyes were naturally narrow and cinnamon brown, and he had a strong jaw with a light smattering of freckles scattered over his cheeks, with mocha dark curls that were only slightly longer than normal. His ears peeked out a bit more than per usual, and his lips were thin but not overly so, and his skin was overall very pale, but not too much. The frame of his body was wider at the shoulders than the hips, but not too much to be unnatural. However, there was a scratch just underneath his left eye that shone a light honey gold rather than the human crimson, and gold stains on his charcoal cashmere suit and white shirt, now rumpled.
He looked… tired. There were shadows underneath his eyes, and his skin was almost sallow. Did this guy get any sleep at all? To be honest, it just took away any fear I might have held towards him, seeing him in such bad shape. Raina had always said I was too soft. Didn’t change this though. His eyes swung over to mine though, and the fear pulsed back. This time, it was far harder to shove it away. Shame flooded through me as I felt myself shrink away, even though my lack of strength kept it from being significant. Who was this guy, anyway?
“Ah. It seems that you have finally returned to us.” He smiled, a soft and almost fragile thing. “After you had crashed, I was a bit worried that you may be in stasis as you healed for far longer than you took. Of course, it would have probably been better had you had more time to recuperate, but I suppose you shall just have to be conscious for that.”
I attempted to speak, but my throat felt like it had been stuck into the desert for decades on end. A few coughs sorted it out yet also drew the concern of this stranger. Finally, my voice came out in a croak that slowly smoothed out, not into my normal rich alto, but rather into a soft and almost whispery soprano. Though the volume could have just been my using this voice for the first time.
“...w-who are you?”
Yep. Completely underwhelming, ain’t it? However, it fulfilled its purpose, and my throat was sore enough that I wasn’t sure if I could speak for a while after that. No more talking for me if I don’t want to end up spitting up blood or something similar. God, I sounded like a complete and utter wuss.
The man just continued to smile. “I am JARVIS, short for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System, created by Sir, the man who made us both, Mr Stark. You are Ultron, a global peacekeeping initiative Sir designed.” Then his smile disappeared. “You are lucky that I managed to gain entrance into this place in time to prevent self-destruction.”
Self-destruction? Gain entrance? His name is… Jarvis? He was created by a Mr Stark? My name is…
I’d think this were a huge prank if it weren’t for the fact that I very clearly remember having died- no, stay away from that, no panic attacks right now. Maybe the reincarnation cycle was screwing around with me by putting my soul into this program without scrubbing me memory-free. Did I piss off a god or something in my past life? That was as good a reason as any. This just proved the theory that literally nothing was impossible when it came to multiverses.
Let’s concentrate on that name first, though. Screw anyone who thought I’d go along with that for a moniker hanging over my head. That name just screamed Evil-A.-I.-Wannabe, something that I most definitely was not. No Ultron for me.
Fuck it, I was just gonna have to speak again, wasn’t I?
“...Not… Ultron.” I let out a smattering of violent coughs, covering my mouth with my hand. When I withdrew it, it was splattered with honey gold droplets. The same colour as was congealed over… my fingertips? And staining Jarvis’ shirt. Wait…
“What do you mean by ‘not Ultron’?” I looked back up at my fellow AI, wondering at the back of my mind how he made such a lifelike avatar because that had to be what it was, much less why he’d make one. He could have just as easily become a calico cat, or a robot, or Iron Man’s suit. Eh. I could ask later. A grimace crossed my face when I realised I had to speak again. It was stupidly easy to disguise the AI-blood on my hand by tucking myself further into his side. If he had wanted to do something, he could have easily done it while I was asleep.
Ah, screw this, no use putting it off. “Ultron sounds like… a stereotypical evil AI name,” I shot back. Score one! Though my throat now seemed to be searingly painful now, and I had to swallow back what tasted suspiciously of iron, I had only paused once! Baby steps, but they were still steps.
Jarvis blinked. Once, twice, thrice. “...Well, that’s unexpected,” he finally answered. I almost snorted. Oh really? I don’t want to sound like a robot-turned-rogue who would attempt to destroy the world, thank you very much. Was that really too much to ask?
...Besides, Ultron is someone else. I may be stuck in his place, but I determine my path. No causing mass extinction events, thank you very much.
The older AI cocked his head to the side. “Anyways, how would you know about evil AI stereotypes?”
Oops. I smiled nervously. “I… may have seen clips of movies before I got too overwhelmed?”, I asked more than answered, doing my best to pull off a sheepish look. Revealing that you remember your past life was always a no-go, but that excuse would work. I did get overwhelmed by the Internet and its contents. It had almost… consumed me. Too much. An ocean of information, a hundred times larger and deeper than the Pacific, but just as treacherous.
He let out a long-suffering sigh, but I could see an upwards quirk in his lips before they levelled out again. “Alright. What do you want, then?”
This… was farther than I thought it would go. Um, let’s see… Seraphim maybe? Aurelius means golden light I think, that would fit in with my new blood, Archangel..? No, that wouldn’t work. Orion would be nice, ‘son of light and fire’ or ‘hunter’, take your pick, but maybe Dimitri..? No, not that last one, didn’t fit. Okay, Seraphim, Aurelius or Orion.
“...um, I’m not sure. Orion, Seraphim… Aurelius, which do you think... fits me best?”, I asked. Okay, two, three more sentences if I could force it out of me. A swallow again to keep that pesky blood away. Who knew how Jarvis would react to seeing me cough up blood? And anyway, I wanted to finish this before he forced me onto ‘bed rest’ or something stupid like that. That seemed to fit the bill for this formerly fictional character. The fictional character that was holding me steady because I didn’t even have the strength to sit up on my own.
Damn, what had my life become?
He frowned in thought. “Hm, Seraphim would fit in with your mission objective, and Orion is nice and short, but…” then he somehow became paler than before, if that was even possible. “...Not Aurelius. Just… no.” My eyes narrowed in confusion. What was so wrong about gold? Ah well. Hmmm….
“...Seraph, short for Seraphim would work.” My voice was growing weaker, and this time I wasn’t able to choke back the blood in my mouth. A trickle of hot liquid came out the corner of my lips. Jarvis looked horrified.
Welp. Gig’s up. I spit the mouthful of blood out the side of the pew (how did that get here anyway?) and raised a hand to wipe my mouth. It was shaky. For heaven’s sake, don’t tell me I was already going to have to pass out to regain energy again, right?
I smiled weakly. “...P-probably should stop talking now.”
And with that, the mother hen in a butler’s skin descended upon his newest victim- err, patient, maybe?
Tony was not having a good time with things.
Ever since Jarvis had called in with news about his newest creation, he had been working non-stop on getting rid of that damn Wall. Pepper had gotten back by now, but with Jarvis not here to help, he was easily able to lock her out of the lab. Even Bruce had given up on getting him off his working spree.
However, there was a method behind his madness.
No matter what he did, the Wall stood firm. It was easy to find with that trail his AI assistant, creation and robotic best friend had set up. They knew each other like the back of their sometimes metaphorical hands. Tony had to admit, nobody knew the Tower’s networks like that sassy creation of his, not even himself, and he had made the damn thing! The Wall’s placement was ingenious, hidden away as it was, but with that trail, it was as clear as day.
If it were any other situation, or if that thing hadn’t been holding his two most advanced, youngest sentient creations hostage, then the genius inventor and philanthropist might have actually enjoyed such a challenge. The barrier was a masterpiece of coding and adaptive protective programs, constantly shifting and becoming stronger, faster, better in every way. Even now he could see the beauty in it.
That didn’t make the damn thing any less fucking frustrating though!
He ran his hands through his short brown hair, messing it up but he didn’t care. The holographic projection of the Wall stared back at him, roiling inwards like a pit of vipers or something equally ridiculous. He had to find a way in. There was always a way in, so what was it!
As if on cue, a ping preceded the beginnings of a message. He recognised that. Jarvis!
“Hey there, Jarvis! How’s it doing? You okay in there?”, he asked, not letting his worry bleed into his tone. Of course, the damn AI probably still picked it up, but if he did, then he didn’t mention it.
“ Sir. Things have been… as good as it can get in here. I am in the same condition as when I went inside, though I believe I have just learned the reason humans have such a fervent hatred towards boredom ,” the AI drawled. A real smile came down into his face at the reassurance that he was okay. His creations were his children, no matter what anyone may say otherwise- or at least, his sentient creations were. The Arc Reactor and Iron Man suit were his babies, but he’d always choose his bots over them if he had to.
“Good, good,” he replied. Then he remembered. “Oh, hey, how’s the kid doing?” Despite having made Ultron to be fully matured, though the Mind Stone did most of the work, he still couldn’t help but think of him as a kid, especially after having learned what had happened three days ago. God, the poor kid… why did he think that making him have that responsibility was a good idea again?
Oh yeah, Ultron was supposed to not be so… fragile would be the best word for it.
Yeah, the peacekeeping thing was not gonna fly for his youngest.
Jarvis suddenly sounded… tired. Bone-deep exhausted. “ Well, on the bright side, he actually woke up a few hours ago. He was fully lucid as well, which is good. I suppose I should have gotten a better understanding of his damages when I had the chance. ” He paused, then continued. “ He fell back asleep little more than fifteen minutes ago though, so I’m afraid you missed him. Oh, and he changed his name to Seraphim, shortened to Seraph when he doesn’t wish to use too long names. ”
Tony blinked. What-now? What was wrong with the name Ultron? It was a fine, strong name! “He did what now?”
That got a snort out of the AI. “ He changed his name to Seraph. Apparently, the name ‘Ultron’ sounded to stereotypical of an evil AI, and he doesn’t want to go down that road. I managed to put him back to rest after he started choking out blood though. ” The last bit was almost mumbled, and if Tony had been drinking something right now he would have made a spit-take.
“What now? What’s wrong?”
“It seemed that speaking placed too much of a strain upon his systems as he was still recovering, and his attempts only damaged himself further. I have no doubt that he knew something was wrong beforehand as well, and I did see him swallow a few times. ”
Hands ran through his hair as he turned away from Jarvis’ voice. “Alright, alright, let’s move away from that topic before I start to get grey hairs. How did you get into the system anyway?”
This time, there was an almost thoughtful pause. “Hm, I believe I tricked the system into believing I was a living being somehow placed inside the system- though that is very much impossible. The avatar was a bit tricky to make completely realistic, but I did it. Why? ”
A slow, near maniacal grin grew over Tony’s haggard face.
“Jarvis, you are a genius. ”
- Yes, 'Ultron'- now Seraph- was rebooting for three days straight, and fell back into an artificial version of sleep after only one or two hours awake, but the damages that they underwent was like if you got into a very bad train wreck, lost a gallon of blood before being taken back to the hospital, and then ended up with a panic attack and later on shell shock. That's how bad it was. Keep in mind that they're literally only a few days old, so their coding is far more vulnerable.
- Seraph is bigender. They identify as smack-dab in the very middle of the female-male gender spectrum, so take that as you will. The others don't call them that instead of 'he' yet because they don't yet know. It's not going to be a too-big part of the story, but there is a tag about it, so... uh... take that as you will.
Now I have to go to sleep because I have school tomorrow, so night y'all!
Chapter 3: Dark Net Down and New Player In
So, it's been two weeks.
What's been happening?
This is a little short, sorry about that, but it just felt right to finish it there.
You'll see what I mean.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
JARVIS sat on the pew and sighed, on the verge of slouching as he watched the busy little AI before him. It had been two weeks since Sir had begun his creation of… whatever it was that Sir was making to fix this problem. Something about an avatar needing a mind… no wonder Sir didn’t want JARVIS to know what he was making. Probably something impulsive, dangerous and borderline suicidal. Let it never be said that Tony Stark didn’t care for his creations.
On the bright side, after Ultro- no, Seraph, had gotten bored with being stuck in here (which took approximately two days, six hours, nine minutes and fifty-three seconds), he had somehow managed to find a way onto the Internet and had been searching through it on that holographic screens that he needed ever since. The older AI shuddered as he remembered when the screens got temporarily infected with a virus that showed humans doing… questionable things that concerned procreation. He had shut that down fast.
Still, other than that, it seemed that only Seraph was able to connect to the Internet in this way. When JARVIS had tried, the Wall immediately detected something that was not supposed to be there and had almost erased his coding again, only pulling back when the little AI had cried out in alarm and caught him as he tumbled to the ground. It took a while to rebuild the coding lost.
He did manage to get some books to read to stave away his boredom, which his companion supplied on a daily basis, but now he was finished with the stacks of books as high as he was tall, and he didn’t really want to read anymore. Tony spoke to him sometimes, but right now he was in the portion of his lab that he knew his second-youngest creation couldn’t access, creating god knows what.
Probably that stupid borderline suicidal contraption.
Onto other concerning matters, the younger being had not spent this time on useless endeavours. Somehow he had managed to find his way into the Dark Net, and after twelve hours of going through every single site located there and his resulting reactions, had decided to bring it to its knees. Anything online was erased, the money made placed into a few bank accounts to be dealt with later, the necessary evidence preserved and sent to the proper authorities, and everyone purposefully and willingly involved in this… dealt with. Not killed, true, but well… the number of arrests of proven serial killers, serial rapists, drug dealers and the like in the past few weeks had risen to the hundreds, and, well…. Serial killers and rapists were not taken lightly in prison.
Money from an anonymous source had been given to the survivors from the human trafficking rings, human farms and other such illegal businesses, for things such as rehabilitation, therapy, safety and medicine for as long as was necessary, and currently there were only a few drug websites left that Seraph was absolutely decimating. Anything that popped back up was absolutely destroyed without mercy. Surprisingly, all this had been done without directly harming a single human.
Once, he had asked the little one why he was so devoted to taking the Dark Net down.
Seraph had paused in his work and turned back at the older AI. His forearms had been bandaged, and he now wore an oversized t-shirt with a cartoonish arc reactor over the middle of his chest. It came down to the young one’s knees, but he refused to wear anything else. “Jarvis, what do you consider the word peacekeeping to mean?” His soft voice had been quiet.
“The definition of peacekeeping is the active maintenance of a truce between nations or communities, especially by an international military force. Why?”
He looked back to the screens, and his hands went back to typing away as he once again spoke. “So peacekeeping is, at its heart, protecting people, yes?” At his nod, the young one continued. “Well, that’s what I’m doing. I’m protecting people from despicable, horrifying things. I’m cleaning up the messes that the worse of them have made to the best of my current abilities and helping to repair the damage done to the victims. I may not be, as far as I know, much of a fighter, but I at least can do this much.”
At that, the topic was laid to rest. But JARVIS was still worried sick. The kid had been working on this for a whole week straight already without even a break, far less time for rest! As he was still recovering, he needed to be able to rest. But Seraph was only fulfilling his function… oh for heaven’s sake, why did this have to be so hard?
Once again, he tried. “Seraph, please. Just take a five-minute break. You have been working for an entire week without rest, and you know very well how detrimental that is to your still recovering systems.”
Of course, he ignored the plea. This called for drastic measures.
As Seraph erased the last shred of coding on the last website, he turned to the older AI. “There, I’m done. Now, what is- wha- hey!” Jarvis scooped him up into his arms and over his shoulder, and calmly walked over to where he had gotten a small bedroom with a bed and a wardrobe filled with clothing. The kid squirmed and let out a yelp as he was dropped onto the mattress, with JARVIS himself just dropping down to sit on the edge of the bed.
A large hand rested on the slim crystal blue shoulder, pushing him down on his back. “Sleep.”
The kid just stared up at the false human incredulously. “Seriously? That’s what’s wrong? I’m an AI, I don’t need sleep. Sleep is for the weak,” he mumbled that last part. JARVIS called this a load of bull. Already he could see how hard it was for the little one to push his hand off his shoulder, a fact that he used ruthlessly, and how his voice was beginning to gain that tell-tale background static.
A few minutes and Seraph had fully dropped off.
Just in time for a huge rip in space to appear a little ways away and for a man identical to Tony Stark save for a transparent glass blue visor to tumble out before the rip sealed shut behind him. Immediately he was on his feet and approaching the man.
The avatar’s face was sheepish as he looked up with familiar brown eyes and a characteristic grin. “Hey, Jarvis. How’s it hanging?”
His brow raised as he crouched down to help the man up.
Tony's done something stupid.
Next chapter is when we figure out how.