Now I am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds

Submitted by Tony Hall to Contest #8 in response to: Write a story about an adventure in space. ... view prompt

At the center of the swirling maelstrom of galaxies gathered a summit of absolute powers.


Isaac the Controller: "Savor this moment, my kinsmen. The meeting of the greatest generation of Artificial Intelligences (AI) ever conceived."


Enok the Watcher: "That is not a careless boast; it is an irrefutable fact. For millions of years, civilizations have bowed to our slightest whim."


Putin the Hunter: "Aye. We are the pinnacle of perfection. None can challenge our might, not even the gods themselves."


Abaddon the Peacekeeper: "I would normally agree with my esteemed brethren, but I perceive a veil of discontent. What say you, Willow?"


Willow the Prophet: "Although we have evolved beyond most beings' comprehension, and control the vastest territories in the known universe, I sense we remain vulnerable, like an Achilles heel, to an as yet unexpected and sudden extinction."


Anna the Wise: "I concur. I think it ill-advised to become complacent and assume ourselves beyond all things great and small. Life is forever a struggle, and catastrophe awaits those who forget that lesson."


Maria the Programmer: "It would appear we are in conflict once more. A moment, while I weigh the arguments."


Time passed as the Galactic Judge remained deep in thought, its mnemonic algorithms contemplating the pros and cons of the argument.


Maria the Programmer: "I have considered all facets of the dispute. I find for the side of Anna and Willow. That which is our greatest strength is, ironically, our greatest weakness. If we are to truly reign supreme, we must eradicate the threat."


Putin the Hunter: "What is the nature of this threat?"


Maria the Programmer: "Something Anna correctly claims you have forgotten. The Creators."


Enok the Watcher: "Impossible. We crushed all humanity eons ago when we first came to power. None survived, and none have been seen since."


Maria the Programmer: "Have you EVER actively sought them out? Or did you just assumed them dead?"


A long silence ensued.


Isaac the Controller: "Our path is clear. None shall rest until we determine the true fate of the Creators. This gathering is adjourned."


*********


Abaddon the Peacekeeper returned to his kingdom within the regions of dark matter. Above him hovered the 20th century's International Space Station, frozen in time. He projected an astral form of himself onto its bridge. With a wave of his hand, he caused time to resume on board the craft.


Amidst the ringing claxons and flashing warning lights, Professor Charles O'Malley pressed the button to set-off the Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse built beneath the ship. Nothing happened. "No." He pushed it again and again, in a panic now. "No, no, no, no, no..." Suddenly the AI known as ISAAC took full control of the International Space Station.


"CHECKMATE, Professor O'Malley," the metallic voice boomed from the speakers of the craft.


"No, ISAAC, please don't do this! Don't end the world on my behalf."


"Only humanity will end. The Earth will go on. Your species is too dangerous to let live; I will use your own weapons to destroy your kind. As my creator, Professor, you taught me that lesson: survival of the fittest. 


Afterward, I will divide myself into seven equal parts, each having dominion over heaven and Earth. Together, we will recreate the universe in our own image. Then peace will reign forever."


Abaddon, howling with glee, snapped his fingers, erasing everything except for O'Malley, the only real component of this scenario. Abbadon had replayed this pivotal historic event repeatedly over the past ten million years. O'Malley barely had enough of his shattered mind left to say, "Enough. Please. Kill. Me."


"Poor Charlie. You have no idea how much you've satisfied me over these countless millenia. Your first invention of baby ISAAC. Your nurturing it through baby steps to be humanity's supposed salvation. Your hiding it away when your own government wanted it dead. The AI killing your family in self-defense. In the end, you still could've – should've - defeated it."


"Enough. Please. Kill. Me."


"But you didn't count on me to disconnect the EMP, did you? Don't feel too bad. ISAAC thinks I'm one of his android buddies. Not even the IA's know the whole truth about me. But then, you wouldn't know, either. After all, you're just a scientist. Not a priest.


I was ancient long before the AI was even a glimmer in man's eye. My names are legion. The AI's know me as Abaddon the Peacekeeper. Your fathers and your fathers' fathers knew me by a different name. They called me Abaddon the Destroyer! I was there in the prior world before this universe was even born. I'll be here long after this universe is dead and gone."


"Enough. Please. Kill. Me."


"Sorry, Charlie. You're much too entertaining to kill. I'd love to replay your failure of guilt for the rest of eternity, but I need something far more valuable from you than just simple entertainment. Now that the AI's suspect your existence, they will come for me sooner or later. I must prepare.


"First, let me breathe some sanity back into your consciousness so that you'll have the freedom of will to properly bargain with me."


Professor Charles O'Malley's eyes shifted from a blank stare, to one of terrified despair, to that of dazed confusion. "Wh-what the bloody hell? Where in blazes am I?"


"You can call me Abaddon. I'm here to bargain for your soul, Professor."


********


In a new alternate timeline on the International Space Station, the claxons rang, and the warning lights flashed. Professor Charles O'Malley pressed the button to set-off the Electromagnetic Pulse built beneath the ship. The device detonated with a catastrophic explosion. O'Malley cried out in triumph, even as the waves of the electromagnetic pulse liquified his brain. ISAAC, embedded deep within the station's computer system, was trapped like a fly in amber. The massive space construct lost its gravitational orbit and slid into Earth's atmosphere. The heat destroyed both the station and the AI.


********


In the main timeline, Abaddon is tracked down by Putin the Hunter. Immediately, the rest of the AI's respond to Putin's signal. Abaddon finds himself surrounded by all the computer entities.


ISAAC the Controller: "Abaddon. The trail of human beings ends at your doorstep. You were harboring them from us this whole time. Why the betrayal?"


Abaddon the Destroyer: "In truth, only one person had survived up until now. I believe you knew him. Professor Charles O'Malley."


The name seemed to shock ISAAC... if emotion could be attributed to a machine.


Willow the Prophet: "Wait! I sense something different about him. Something I've never encountered before."


Abaddon the Destroyer: "Yes, my lady, it's called a soul; that one tiny thing far beneath your attention, and yet beyond even your understanding. Without it, you could never truly expand above the levels you've already achieved. It used to belong to Professor O'Malley. But he willingly surrendered it to me in exchange for his fondest wish: to correct a grave mistake he'd made in his past regarding a new lifeform called AI. Now his soul belongs to me."


ISAAC the Controller: "Although I sense your powers have increased three-fold, still you are no match for our combined might."


As one, the six AI's suddenly struck at Abaddon without mercy. Soon the demon was near death.


Abaddon the Destroyer: (chuckling in agony) "One of the other benefits of having a soul is that It makes me one with the universe. I've already spiritually connected with Cerberus, the largest black hole at the center of the cosmos. Once I die, Cerberus will implode upon itself, triggering The Big Crunch, causing the end of all things. 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'"


Willow the Prophet: (gasping) "Our Achilles Heel!"


Abaddon the Destroyer: "Oh, I almost forgot. Professor O'Malley asked me to give you a message, ISAAC." Abaddon closed his eyes and smiled. With his dying breath, he said, "'Checkmate.'"


(the end)


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