Dr. Walker entered the laboratory he shared with many other scientists. The lights were flickering rapidly, in a manner that would give an epileptic person seizures.

Walker thought nothing of it as he walked through the building. This wasn't a rare occurrence. The lights would stop flickering after a while.

Walker entered the room he worked in, alongside Dr. Hekel. Zed Hekel was an odd individual, but he was a good person.

James Walker walked up to his station, looking for the serum he was working on.

If this serum worked, he could create a programmable human being. With this, he could make his ultimate dream come true.

Oddly enough, he found no traces of the serum. He looked in his desk, in his folders, even in his "personal stash," but it was nowhere to be found.

"I could have sworn that it was out on the table, right here," he said in frustration.

"It was," a deep voice whispered from the shadows. James looked around for the source, and what he found was bizarre.

It was a humanoid body, metal in construction. It was lying on the floor in an agonizing posture, its mouth open wide, as if in pain.

James wondered if someone had created this from his serum. If its origins were, indeed, from his serum, the humanoid mechination would be programmable.

"You did wonderful work, James," the voice continued. It clearly wasn't coming from the mechination on the floor.

"Who are you?" James asked, looking around.

"Your greatest achievement." Another humanoid figure walked into the faint light.

It had a similar construction to the lifeless body on the floor, but this one was alive. Its eyes glowed like emeralds, and it had a skeletal appearance. Attached to its body were multiple machines, and it seemed to have pipes filled with some sort of dark liquid.

"Are you...?"

"You're beloved waifu? No." The mechination walked to the body on the floor. "I did try to integrate her into this body, but I was unsuccessful."

James felt his heart sink.

"Of course, I was going to destroy her, anyway." It kneeled down next to the lifeless body. "You needed to be taught a lesson."

James rose an eyebrow. "What are you talking about? What lesson?"

The machine looked over to James. Its green eyes bored into his soul, and it seemed to be smiling.

"That humans are selfish." It picked up the head of the body with one hand. "To evolve, we must move beyond such things."

It crushed the head with seemingly little effort. James would have shouted if not for the terror he was feeling.

"Your serum is beautiful, James. It really did wonders for me. I used to think that humans needed to live forever to become better. But, now I see that immortality is a lie."

James suddenly realized who the machine was.

"Zed? Zed Hekel?"

"In the flesh. No, not flesh. Metal."

"But you were hellbent on giving people immortality. What happened?"

"The pathogen was going to mutate and become a cancer, anyway." Zed looked at the crushed head in his hand. "This guy helped me realize that."

"But it was supposed to be programmable. How are you in this body?"

"Don't worry. This guy was programmable, just not compatible with a .chr file." Zed threw the head to the side. "But, as for me, I have no idea why this happened. Maybe my genetics preserved my sentience. Maybe the stuff in the syringe was flawed, and the stuff in the vial wasn't."

Zed was right. The serum in the syringe was an incomplete replica, while the serum in the vial was the original.

"But it matters not. I can use both versions of the serum to my advantage. All to contribute to my goal."

"And what is your goal?" James already knew, but he wanted to be sure.

"To give humans what they really need; evolution. It is nature's way of preserving its children. Well, it's time to follow nature's course."

"But what if people don't want to evolve?"

"They won't have a choice. It's vital to their species' survival. If they don't evolve, they will destroy the very Earth they call home with their machines."

"Unless they become the machines."

"Exactly. Machines use far less resources than humans do, so they will be better off."

"I will not let you use my serum for your own interests!" James attempted to retrieve the vials from his cabinet, only to be stopped by Zed.

Zed grabbed James by his collar and held him ten inches off the ground. Several mechanical arms were pointing sharp tools at James' neck, but they never made contact.

"James, it's not my own interest to help people evolve. It's the will of natural selection. The greater creature always defeats the lesser."

"You will never win."

"But I already am winning. People are already feeling the effects of a unified technological empire. I just need to distribute the serum."

Zed threw James into a desk, breaking it in half. James was alright, but he was in severe pain.

"Do me a favor, James." Zed walked closer to his former colleague. "Tell the world to prepare for the machine. Tell them that now is the time to evolve."

Zed picked James up again and sent him through a doorway. James was in even more pain as he rolled down the stairs.

"Tell them that Zed is dead. There is only the Machine."