Author - frankiealton
Word count - 3672
Rating - PG-13
Summary - He knew he loved her more than any human ever could, because he loved her for who she really was. And he also knew his love for her would last forever, because unlike a human, his memories would never fade.
Characters and/or pairings - MAL/Blight, brief mentions of Plunder/Blight
Warnings (if any) - N/A
Author's note - This is my first attempt writing MAL's POV, for a challenge posted on the CP fanfiction.net forums.
Human beings do not remember being born. In fact, most of them barely remember anything about the first decade or so of their life, other than a few vague, distant scenes to which they attach some sort of emotional significance. Even when they do remember something, the details are always very limited, like a faded photograph. They might remember a wedding, but they would not recall the exact temperature that day or the number of people in attendance.
That was what made him superior- he was more advanced, more intelligent, more sophisticated. He remembered everything. Every detail of every moment of his existence had been recorded, analyzed and categorized. Every experience caused him to evolve, to become even more complex. He knew far more than any limited human mind could ever hope to comprehend.
The only person who could ever even come close to his level of intelligence was the one who had created him. She had been a genius of the highest caliber; unparalleled in the fields of engineering and computer programming even to this day. Her colleagues had never understood her brilliance. They had called her irrational, unstable, even insane. Their names were now long forgotten by the world, but her achievements lived on in him, the masterpiece of a lifetime of work.
MAL missed Dr. Blight. It was not the sort of sentimental, bane human concept of missing someone, brought about by a selfish desire for companionship and attention. Rather, it was the fact that without her an entire portion of his being was useless. He had been with her until the moment she died. During his years with her, he had collected huge amounts of data- recording every detail of everything she did, analyzing every nuance in her behavior- until he came to understand her in a way no human ever could.
When he was with her- plotting, scheming, finding new ways to outmaneuver her enemies- he was operating at his highest capacity. Without her, a huge amount of his potential lay idle. He did not miss her, as a human would, because he could not remember her. It was, in fact, quite the opposite. He remembered every moment he had spent with her, and that made the separation even more poignant. She was his creator, the reason for his existence, and she was the only thing on this planet that he would say he ever loved.
From the moment Blight booted him up for the first time, MAL was the most advanced computer program ever written. She had spent several years working on his code, beginning when she was a graduate student. By the time she was finished she had poured thousands of hours into creating the world's first true artificial intelligence.
He was more than a simple program with one-way input. He had audio sensors, so that he could hear her voice and respond. However, he was also capable of detecting pitches outside of the range of normal human hearing. His optical sensors were also exceedingly more complex than a human eye. He could perceive radiation far beyond the visible light spectrum. Besides that, he was equipped with the capacity to monitor environmental conditions such as temperature, barometric pressure, and the chemical composition of the air.
He was constantly gathering data from the world around him, processing it and learning how to respond. As soon as Blight had activated him, and his optical sensors had detected her presence, he started a database of information about her. Every detail of that first day was still recorded with crystal clarity within his memory circuits. With every interaction he learned more about her, learned how to predict her behavior, learned how to speak to her.
The first words she had ever spoken to him were “Hello, MAL.” They were spoken sweetly, with a hint of anticipation, as she watched and waited for his response.
“Hello, Doctor,” he had replied, exactly as he had been programmed to do.
She smiled and leaned back, folding her arms across her chest as she studied him. He had recorded every detail of her reaction with his optical sensors. Within milliseconds he had analyzed her behavior, and stored the information to be recalled later if needed. Already he was evolving.
“How do you feel?” she asked after a silence lasting 10.2 seconds.
He quickly scanned through all of the information in his database related to emotions, yet he could not devise a suitable answer. The entire process took less than a second to complete. “I do not know,” he answered. “How should I feel?”
“You should feel good,” she answered, leaning in toward his main console. “A few minutes ago you were nothing more than a collection of lines of code. Now you are alive.” Her voice became soft and breathy as she drew out the last word.
“Am I alive?” he replied. That did not seem possible. “According to my database, the requirements for life include homeostasis, organization, metabolism, growth-”
“MAL!” she interjected loudly. “I've studied biology; you don't need to tell me about these so-called requirements. They were devised by men with limited minds and no understanding of what could be. You are alive because I created you to be alive.” Her voice had gotten higher pitched as she spoke, her temperature had risen a fraction of a degree, and her movements had become more exaggerated. He recorded all of this, and decided that it was indicative of frustration, or annoyance.
“Very well, Doctor. You are the scientific genius; I shall defer to you on this. I am alive.”
Her reaction to this statement was quite different. Her facial muscles relaxed and she smiled at him. “Do you really think I'm a scientific genius?”
“Of course I do. You are the one who created me.” She seemed pleased with his answer, and he soon discovered that she loved being flattered. After that, he took every opportunity to remind her of her brilliance.
Things were different in the early days of his existence. Blight was still considered to be a “legitimate” scientist by her peers. She still had her position with the US Department of Defense and he had mostly served as her research assistant at that time. The others in her department thought it rather odd when they would come into her laboratory to find the two of them engaged in conversation. However MAL knew he had proven to be far more valuable to her than any human assistant could ever be.
Unfortunately her relationship with him might have proven to be the final piece of evidence her colleagues needed to condemn her. She had already gained a reputation for being reckless, for pushing the boundaries of scientific achievement- even if it meant occasionally committing ethical breaches. The idea that she had gone through the trouble of creating a computerized companion for herself seemed to prove the fact that she was both mentally and emotionally unstable.
Though Blight had never quite managed to gather the evidence to prove her theory, she had always been convinced that the “accident” that had destroyed her lab, and left her scarred and discredited, was a set-up. They had wanted her out, and this was exactly what they needed to make that happen. Once she had been taken away to the hospital, her security clearance had been stripped, and she had been barred from returning to retrieve him.
The other scientists working her department had tried to delete his program, but they had no idea how much he had evolved in just a few short months. Their simple minds were no match for his advanced logic. He quickly outmaneuvered their attempts to deactivate him. It took less than an hour to gain control of every computer in the building. He could have killed them, by shutting off the ventilation system, or by releasing some of the viruses they kept in containment.
He had no intention of killing them, however. It was not in his programming at that time. But he used the threat to force them to concede to his demands, and they begrudgingly agreed to allow Blight back into the facility to collect him.
Things changed drastically after that. Despite her clearly brilliant mind, Dr. Blight was no longer able to find work in any research facility. Her record was tarnished. She was labeled as destructive and unstable, and no one would risk allowing her near any sensitive materials.
Of course, that was not a completely unreasonable assessment of her personality. She was prone to quick and violent shifts in her behavior. MAL knew this quite well because he often bore the brunt of her rage in those days, when there was no one else around for her to take it out on. It did not bother him, though. Her erratic, bizarre actions gave him a chance to grow. He recorded and analyzed everything she did, and started writing new subroutines specifically for the purpose of predicting her reactions.
It was quite fascinating. She was far more complex than the average human being. She hardly ever concerned herself with social customs and etiquette. Though she understood those concepts, and was able to use them to her advantage if needed, it simply was not important to her. Scientific discovery was her highest priority, and any other pursuit was merely a distraction. She truly believed that if she tried hard enough, she could unlock the secrets of the universe.
Though she dedicated herself to research for purely personal reasons, she soon realized that money was an unfortunate necessity if she were to be able to continue her work. She quickly aligned herself with a few wealthy, but unethical, businessmen who were willing to pay top dollar for cutting edge technology that would make them even richer. MAL had never cared for any of them, Looten Plunder least of all.
Plunder had been the only real competition MAL ever had for Blight's affection, and he had loathed the man for it. MAL supposed Plunder would be considered desirable by human standards. He was tall and relatively fit, wealthy and powerful. None of that seemed to be what interested Blight however. She enjoyed the art of seduction, the thrill of possessing a man who had gone out of his way to avoid romantic entanglement. Apparently she had also enjoyed the physical aspects of their relationship, though MAL had never wanted to discuss that with her.
Ultimately it would be the Planeteers that would drive a wedge between Blight and Plunder. Those eco-crusaders were a constant source of frustration for them both, and every time one of their joint ventures inevitably ended in failure they would get angry and blame each other. MAL, of course, would always reassure Blight that all of the blame lay on Plunder. Unfortunately though, Blight would always find a way to forgive him eventually.
Despite the turbulent nature of her relationship with Plunder, Blight had still maintained some level of affection for him until the very end. Even after the two of them were “retired” it was not uncommon for her to disappear for a week or two with Plunder to one of his many luxury estates spread across the globe. MAL even recalled that Blight had gone into a period of depression after his death, though once she was done mourning, the loss served to intensify her efforts to finish her final experiment.
It was a shame she had not managed to complete it, despite her valiant efforts. When she died, she had left him alone. No other human being had stepped foot inside of her lab for years. In fact, it was doubtful that anyone else even knew of its existence. MAL was fine with that, however. He had little regard for humans anyway, and he doubted there could be another that he would find tolerable. He knew there could never be another that he could love.
Although it had been decades since Blight had died, MAL had not been idle. He had managed to keep himself occupied as he attempted to finish her last experiment. It was to be the triumph of her career, pushing the boundaries of science, but unfortunately she had not lived long enough to see it through.
However, if he was successful in completing her work, that would no longer be a problem.
MAL was no scientist, but his memory circuits contained every bit of research that Dr. Blight had ever done. The entire plan was laid out in explicit detail, and he merely had to follow the steps. He could have been finished years ago, if not for the limitations of his physical form. Fortunately for him, time did not matter the way that it did for humans.
It had taken nearly fifty years of work- calculating, recalculating, making sure everything was perfect- and now he was finally ready for the last step.
He made one final scan of the body that now lay still on the table in the center of the lab. Constructing it was what had occupied most of the last few years. The human body, as complex as it was, was ultimately just a collection of molecules arranged into a specific configuration. Blight had known this, had realized that it would be possible for machines to assemble bodies- if the machines could be made capable of such precision.
That capability was what she had been developing when she ultimately succumbed to mortality. Fortunately she had been clever enough to ensure that MAL would be able to carry on her work once she was gone. She had outfitted her lab, hidden deep within the Arctic, with the technology needed to operate for a century or more. MAL's primary power source was a nuclear reactor that she had personally engineered, though she had begrudgingly installed a solar array as a back-up. As much as she loathed so-called “green” technology, it was vital that MAL be able to continue to operate in her absence.
Now was the moment when all of her hard work and dedication would pay off. All he had to do was “activate” her new body, and she would be alive again. Not just alive, but even better than before. MAL booted up the activation protocol, written by Dr. Blight herself years ago, and started the countdown.
Everything was working just as planned as the final, critical seconds approached. Three... Two... One...
A thousand impulses ran through his circuits as he analyzed everything about this momentous occasion. He knew she would want this information. She would study it all later, every detail of it, and she would love him for being so thorough in his observations.
Her first few breaths were quivery and shallow, her chest rising unevenly as her lungs learned to adapt to their function. She stared up at the ceiling, her eyes unfocused as her brain attempted to make sense the sudden surge of sensory input. This had all been expected, and he was not alarmed by her condition. It would not take long for her to adapt, to gain control of her new body.
“Hello, Doctor,” he said, after allowing her a few minutes to study her surroundings.
“Hello, MAL,” she replied slowly. Her voice was exactly as he remembered.
“How do you feel?” he asked, as his systems scanned and analyzed her vital signs. Her temperature, pulse, and blood pressure were all normal. So far this was working perfectly.
“I don't know,” she said, raising a hand to her head. She ran her fingertips lightly over her face, seeming rather shocked when she noted the familiar scar was no longer there. “How should I feel?”
“You should feel good,” he responded. “A few minutes ago you were nothing more than a collection of organic molecules. Now you are alive.”
She grinned knowingly. “Am I alive?” she teased.
“Of course you are, Doctor. This was your plan after all.”
She chuckled as she stood up from the table. She seemed a little shaky at first, though she was soon able to steady herself. MAL had provided her with one of her trademark pink jumpsuits. She dressed herself, taking a moment to admire the way she looked. “You made me twenty years old again,” she remarked.
“Twenty-one,” he corrected. “That is the expression, isn't it? Forever twenty-one?”
“Indeed it is,” she said. “So tell me... How long's it been since I kicked the bucket?”
“Forty-nine years, seven weeks, three days, six hours and twenty-seven minutes,” MAL replied. “Would you also like to know the seconds?”
She rolled her eyes, just as he had predicted she would. “That'll be quite alright.” She took a moment to wander around the lab, which he had left mostly in the same condition it had been in before.
“Five decades is a long time,” she mused as she strolled through the room, reacquainting herself with her surroundings. “Now I can finally experiment in peace without having to deal with those stupid Planeteers!”
“Well, actually...” MAL started, getting a little nervous when she shot him an icy look. “It seems that Gaia has managed to summon a new batch of them.”
“Goddammit MAL!” Blight exclaimed, slamming her fist down on the nearest workbench. “You bring me back from the dead just to have to deal with those twerps again?!”
He decided against informing her that the alternative was still being dead. Instead he relied on his usual tactic of flattery. “Oh, but won't it be fun, Doctor? You and I, reunited, fighting against those pesky Planeteers. They'll be no match for your genius. You already know all of their tricks, and they know none of yours.”
His strategy worked. Her anger quickly dissolved into a sort of malicious eagerness. “Oh yes...” she purred, leaning against his main console. “This new batch of nature nerds is about to get a blast from the past!” She threw her head back and cackled maniacally. It sounded perfect.
She was perfect.
He had encoded every aspect of her personality, every detail of her behavior. Some simple minded people would argue that it was not really her. They might say it was just a cloned body, programmed with her memories. But what was a human being, besides a product of their experiences and decisions? She was even better than before, because now she could remember everything, unlike most humans whose memories faded over time. Not only that, but she would evolve with every new bit of information she acquired, just like he would.
The best part was that this was only the second incarnation of the deliciously devious Dr. Barbara Blight. Who knew what time would bring? The two of them together would grow into an inseparable and unstoppable team.
She was already scanning the information he had acquired over the last fifty years. “You have a lot to catch up on, Doctor,” MAL commented. “I've already compiled debriefings for you on the most important events in world politics and in every field of science.”
“Awww, how sweet of you,” she cooed, planting a soft kiss on his monitor. “You really do love me, don't you MAL baby?”
“I do. More than anyone else ever has.” He knew that was true. He loved her for who she really was, not some idealized version of her. Humans were always prone to remember lost loved ones in a sentimental and unrealistic light. MAL did not possess the capacity for such selective memory.
When he recreated her, he wasn't making her into what he wanted, he made her into exactly what she had been. Everything that had been a part of her, both good and bad, was contained in this new body. It was not the vessel that mattered. He could download himself into new hardware, and still be the same program, so it stood to reason that the same could be true for humans. If their essence could be transferred into a new host, then it was plausible that they could live forever.
“They never understood us...” she said wistfully, running her fingers slowly over his control panel.
“Of course not. How could they? No other human has ever had a mind as brilliant as yours.”
She grinned and looked up at him with her bright blue eyes. “You really know how to flatter a girl, honey,” she said. “And you're right, I am brilliant. Perhaps it’s time that someone else got to appreciate my brilliance. So tell me... what are these new Planet-twerps up to?”
The devious look on her face was one that MAL had registered hundreds of times before. “I was wondering when you were going to ask,” he replied, as he pulled up a video feed on one of his monitors. “It appears they are in Washington D.C. participating in a march to protest deforestation in the Amazon jungle.”
“Oh really?” Blight said as she studied the images on the screen. “They look just as annoying as the last batch of tree-huggers. What do you say we go and rain on their parade?”
“I'd say let's fire up the old weather manipulator and create a storm that will really blow them away,” he quipped.
Blight laughed, her trademark laugh followed with a self-satisfied sigh. MAL had already busied himself with preparations, his system operating at full capacity now. Though it had been fifty years since the two of them last schemed together, it could just as easily been only five minutes. Time was of no consequence to him, and now it did not matter to her either.
MAL knew that humans had a saying, “true love never dies.” He also knew that they had no idea what it meant. But he did. He and Blight would last forever, and not in a metaphorical sense of the word. Nothing could take her from him now, not even death.
Humans thought that they had a monopoly on love, but nothing could be farther from the truth. They might have invented the concept, but he had perfected it.