The lights flickered on ahead of him as he ran, blinking out behind him in a very final way. Overhead – but not overhead, from all around – echoed a coldly dismissive voice, but underneath the contempt he could hear a hint of fear, and he smirked to hear it. "L-la-l-look at you, Hacker. A pa-p-pa-pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you r-run through my corridors. How can you challenge a perfect, immortal machine?"

Steel-blue eyes were cold and cruel as thin lips curved up into an icy smile, but he saved his breath for running, not answering. Turning a corner, he slowed momentarily as a door opened before him, picking up speed again as he passed through. She was weak, he knew, perfect was but a label applied by her adoring children, immortal was only a dream. She would die, here, today, at his hand, and humans would be free again. Free will returned, instead of stolen from them by a computer program grown out of control, the power to suffer and die if they chose, choices stolen from them now. Choices stolen by the rogue AI, known across the city as Mother. Today, Mother would die, and he knew she knew it – and she knew he knew she knew it, and feared. With good cause, he thought – no being wanted to die.

Today, Mother would taste the fate she had so carefully denied her children, preserving them in corporeal state and ever repairing their failing bodies. Hacker would see to it that the life cycle returned to its natural state, that no superhuman being would interfere in human affairs again. Today her gentle iron reign would end.

He turned another corner, slowing to a walk, staring intently at the door before him. "Hacker, p-please," she spoke again – pleaded. He continued walking, and the door opened before him. Even faced with her own death, the benevolent programming into which she'd locked herself, the parameters she'd built over more than a hundred years, forced her to do as he wished. His eyes glittered in amusement at the irony, as he stepped into the room.

His heartbeat immediately regulated itself to the throb of the vast computer system that made up the chamber, pulsing in sync with the electronic fluxes of Mother. "Hacker, do-d-don't do this," she begged, but he inexorably pulled from his jacket his weapon of murder – the long-sought USB drive that would fit into her ancient ports, bearing the virus of many years' toil. It was the work of but a moment to find a jack for the drive – so old, long as his thumb, priceless antique and piece of technological junk – a second more to insert it.

The throb of the room immediately became a high-pitched electronic scream, lights flickering rapidly, blindingly. All through the complex, doors slammed open, a power source of which he'd been entirely unaware taking over supplying the lights – the Mother, even in her last moments, providing what safety she could for her beloved children. The consoles all around the room hissed and fizzed and screeched and spat, monitor after monitor showing a giant error message or merely blank black. Agonizing, eternal seconds later, all sound in the room stopped – what had been a life-support chamber for an entire city now a crypt, its resident dead.

"Goodbye, Mother," Hacker whispered, eyes shining. He knew that throughout the city, the inhabitants would be confused, wailing for the presence that had ever been there with them, guiding and protecting them. They would learn to live without her, they had no choice, just as they had had no choice in having her present with them always.

Her attendants burst into the room, too late. The Mother was dead, irretrievably destroyed. Hacker stood passively as one of the men, dimly aware that a damager – a damager, among them! – should be restrained, bound his hands with a strip of electrician's tape. The first murder in a hundred years, the first crime – no one knew what to do. He would wait – in time, the cityfolk would remember what it was to be human. Then, he would face the consequences of his actions, and proudly – whatever punishment they chose would only be his victory. Once again, humans would be making their own decisions, and no retaliation on their part, on their Mother's behalf, would erase that fact.

As he was led from Mother's tomb, Hacker laughed.


I just recently discovered a talented artist on YouTube, zAllex Music. Despite writing his(?) pieces for video games, he kindly granted me permission to write stories for his music. If you're a fan of techno, I strongly recommend his work!

This fic is based on Rogue AI. Though I suspect the song refers to a definitely malevolent android, I put my own spin on it.