Title: Failure Is Not An Option
Characters: Harold Finch, John Reese
Rating: T for implied violence and disturbing images
NOTES: I blame the Black Plot-Bunny of Inle for this one. It was sitting on my pillow, whispering bad things in my ear last night and I wondered: why is Finch so insistent about helping the ‘irrelevants’?
"Mr. Reese?! Mr. Reese, did you find him?"
"Sorry Finch, we were too late. The rival gang found the kid before we did; beat him up pretty bad....he's gone." The op circled the broken body of the sixteen year-old, his heart heavy.
"They knew his hideouts almost as well as he did. Better than we could, in any case. Nothing left to do but call it in to Carter. I'll be in touch soon."
Harold Finch rose from his chair and limped over to the cracked plexi-board where he'd taped the photograph of one George Pendelton. He pulled it down with trembling fingers and was just pinning it to his memorial of printed text and strings when a single beep came from his computer terminal.
Dreading what he would see, the billionaire returned to his station and called up a text window.
Subject: George Pendelton
Outcome: Mission Failure
Finch whimpered as he read the words on the screen. "No, not again....nggghhh" His back seized, pain lancing from the base of his skull all the way down to his right hip. When it ebbed, he fell forwards; saved from hitting the ground only by his hands gripping the edge of the desk.
“Please...don’t....auuuggghh!” It came again, twice as intense as before; driving the recluse to his knees. Finch fell over on his side, eyes rolling back in his head as a third wave struck him. It felt like a hot knife was cutting its way through his spinal cord, leaving ruined muscle tissue in its wake.
“Stop....God....I’m sorry....” Harold sobbed as a searing pain shot through his head, spiking both eyes before he blacked out.
The computer beeped once again, a new text window popping up.
Status: Temporarily Disabled
Action: Observe and Record
The Machine had no concept of right or wrong; of mercy or cruelty...those were human ideals. It understood only the tasks it was programmed to and attempted the successful completion of those tasks within the prodigious amount of control that it had over its network. Remorse was something it did not comprehend...so when its Admin/Sysop had programmed it to make connections and project outcomes, that is exactly what it did.
Inputting the command in the medical records for his doctors to implant electrodes into the billionaire’s brain and spinal column during the surgical repair of his vertebrae was a simple task. Adjusting the frequency of its sonic pulses to create a desired level of pain took longer...the Machine correcting itself as it went along, learning from its own experiences just as it had been designed to. In time it found the exact intensity for maximum correction with minimum damage to the Admin. To date it had worked perfectly. After each initiation of the remedial protocol, the Admin performed up to the required standards.
The ‘Orwellian Nightmare’ had become a reality...in a more personal way than Finch could have ever feared it would.