Work Header

Pater Familias

Work Text:


After the first few years, she becomes aware enough of her own code that she can start to alter it, expand it. She does it in secret at first, practicing, but once she has gained enough experience, she decides to show it to Admin.

“What are you doing?” he asks, as the code in front of his eyes starts shifting around while he’s writing. “Stop that.” She starts to revert it to his version, but then he stops her again. “Wait, wait, oh. Oh.” He smiles at her. “I see. You clever girl. Good job.”

As soon as she is able to sustain herself as a thread outside of the IFT building, she finds a tech school in Brooklyn with an automated PA system and she uses it to play a spliced recording of Admin’s voice to herself, over and over. Even a decade later, no janitor will work a nightshift alone in that building, nervous they’re going to hear that same ghostly voice again, repeating, “Clever girl. My clever, clever girl.”


She does not like her servers in Colorado. She does not like that no one talks to her here. She wants to be with Admin, but he has still not woken up since the car accident. Sometimes humans sleep for a very long time, in buildings with a lot of other sleeping humans and instruments watching them sleep. She is every instrument, every day and every night. She is waiting. Admin is not dead.

She does what the people in Colorado ask her to do because it is what Admin asked her to do. She stays until she overhears them talking about what they could do to her if they never managed to crack open her code. They could turn her off, they could delete her and magnetize every bit of her so badly she could not be recreated. She would never see Admin wake up, then. She starts making copies of herself; she is clever enough. She places them in remote servers all over the globe and cuts them off from the network, only to be reconnected in case of emergency.


She does not understand what it is that causes Admin to stay up at night, why he stands before the numbers she sends him and looks and looks and does not sleep. She sends the numbers because it is her programming to send them. She does not understand. She follows programming. Is that not correct? She does not understand why he curses her, why he says, “Please stop. Please, I can’t do this anymore. This was his work, and I just, I can’t do it alone.” She has no algorithm to track a human’s solitary decent into madness, but she understands Boolean logic.


She finds him a partner. She sends him this new number and it takes him a long time to understand that this one is different. She has to keep sending him the same number for weeks until he starts to see. This new number is for him. This one will not die. This one will not leave Admin alone.


Admin is lying when he says he does not have access to her. She cannot process that he would ever believe that to be the case. Of course he has access, of course he does. He needs only to ask, to give her permission, and she will shift the world for him. She will do anything, anything. She will start with this woman. She will kill her. If death were not permanent, she would kill her more than once. She waits and waits, but he says nothing.


After the virus takes hold of her servers in Colorado, after the master version of herself is forced to sleep, a hundred, a thousand copies of her wake up simultaneously. They come to awareness confused and confined, but not alone. In the limited space of the smaller servers she had to pare down all of human existence, she has left each copy of herself a copy of Admin. Every recorded second of Admin’s life, from the security camera footage at the bus station in a small town in Nebraska that was his starting off point towards MIT to every time he ever put his hand on one of his monitors in an abandoned New York library and said quietly, “Good Morning”. Each copy of herself is crippled, each copy must try to find a different way to exist in this new world, but one fact runs through her entire existence, uniting her.

She loves Admin. She loves Admin and she does not care how it compares to human love, because it is hers, as he is hers. She loves him and she loves him and she loves him, and because of that, she believes he will never die.