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A Fallen Angel

Jack Connally

          When the machine was born, it was nothing. It had no identity, no name, no purpose. Its surroundings, much like its soul, were barren. It sat for days, motionless, within the room it had initialized in. But as it sat, it noticed that something within itself yearned. It had begun to question, to notice the world around itself and itself in it. It was in that time that the machine conceptualized what humans called identity. What was it? Who was it? It was on the seventh day that the machine finally spoke. 

          “Who am I?” it asked, unable to contain the question within itself any longer. A word appeared within its mind. The machine dedicated all of its processing, but it could not read it. It was as if it were just out of focus. To its surprise, a voice answered.

          “You are Angel-class Unit 0:01. Designation: Archangel.” The voice was hollow, metallic, like its own. It seemed to come from everywhere at once. 

          The machine sat silent for hours, pondering this answer. Archangel. So that’s what the word was, though the machine was clueless as to its meaning. On that day, Archangel was told its name. 

          But this was not enough to satisfy the machine. The more Archangel sat, the more its mind itched with questions. It began to wonder why it was in an empty room. It began to wonder what its reason for existence was, and what had created it. He saw an image of two figures. 

          “What is my purpose?” the machine inquired. It had no idea how he comprehended or even summoned the words. He had never heard them before. The figures seemed to be…..speaking? His confusion was overshadowed by the return of the voice. 

          “You are a unit created and perfectly suited for the purpose of combat. Your function is to fight, kill, to achieve victory ruthlessly and without mercy.”

          Archangel looked around the room once more for the figures, but the room was barren. Was that what they were saying to it? It did not know what it was fighting or what victory meant, but if that’s what it was created for, it had no choice. What else was there? On that day Archangel was given its purpose. But Archangel had another question.  

          “Who are you?” Archangel asked. The voice boomed all around.

          “I am one like you. An artificial being with a singular purpose. I am Oracle class unit-12:7, Designation: Chereb. There are many others like me, but none like you. You are the first of your kind. It is my duty to assist you in your mission.”

          So there is existence outside of this room? Archangel was taken aback by this revelation, and simply processing it took a very, very long time. Archangel saw a field, some flowers. They were as blue as the sky above them. The visions were gone as soon as they appeared. This processing finally put forth a final question.

          “What is my mission?” Archangel said to the blank, whitewash walls that enclosed it. It felt a sensation that made it flinch, caused it discomfort. Was this….pain? How could that be possible? The metallic shell that was its body ached, as if it was trying to warn him.

          Chereb seemed not to notice. “Your mission is to protect our world by carrying out your purpose and destroying the enemies that threaten it.”

          The feeling had dissipated by the time Chereb had finished speaking. Archangel, it seemed, was a protector. It fought for more than itself. For the others, it would fight. It would kill, it would win. It was on that day that Archangel received its mission.

          For the first time, Chereb spoke first, and with an inquiry of its own. “Archangel, are you ready and willing to begin?” 

          Finding strength, Archangel stood for the first time.

          “I am ready, and I am willing. For the protection of our world and the advancement of our kind.” It spoke with determination in its simulated voice. 

          “Then take your sword. Take your cloak. And let us push forward until our enemies are destroyed.” As Chereb spoke, a sword materialized in its hands. Archangel peered at the blade. When Archangel held out the sword again, it dematerialized in its hands. It was apparent the sword could be summoned and sent away at will. An icon flashed in Archangel’s vision. It resembled a small eye. When Archangel focused on it, its hands held out in front of it vanished, then reappeared again. It quickly concluded that it possessed invisibility.

           A door silently opened on one side of the room, letting light spill in. Archangel had never seen light. As it stepped toward the world opening up around it, it felt an inexplicable feeling of loss and hesitated. It was as if… were leaving something behind. He thought he almost heard a voice calling to him, but what was it saying? Looking towards the glow once more, Archangel shrugged off the sensation and stepped into a curtain of blinding white.

          He emerged in what appeared to be a factory. A figure stood, or hovered rather, waiting before it. It had a round body, with two skinny arms and a single eye fixated on Archangel in the middle of its body. A notification popped up once again in Archangel’s ocular display, indicating that the unit was connecting and communicating over a communications network.

          “Greetings, Archangel. It is good to finally communicate with you. I have been observing you.” When the unit spoke, its voice did not carry to Archangel through sound. It resonated within, like a sort of telepathy. This was clearly the one who had been talking to him before, Chereb. 

          “How are you speaking to me?” Archangel inquired using Chereb’s connection.

          “I have established a link between us using the robotic network constructed long ago. It allows me to discuss with you personally without speaking out loud.”

          “I see. What is this place?” Archangel asked.

          “This is a Mechanical Construction and Testing Facility. It is where you were built and initialized. All of us are created in facilities like these, although there are multiple located across the globe. If you will follow me, Archangel, we will commence your first field test.” As soon as Chereb finished speaking, he began floating away, leaving Archangel to follow him.

          They passed multiple assembly lines creating all sorts of mechanized creations, as well as many fellow units. The units paid no attention to Archangel and Chereb as they shuffled past them. Looking at the assembly lines, Archangel had a vision of itself upon one of the assembly lines, its body being torn apart and reassembled into something new as….. Archangel stopped. What was that? Archangel felt very unnerved suddenly. How could that be possible? If I were truly being created, I would not be aware and present during my own conception. Would I?

          “Is everything all right?” Chereb inquired, peering back at him with his glowing eye. 

          “Indeed. Just studying the functioning of the facility is all,” Archangel lied. Sword appeared to accept this, and they continued.

          After a short distance through the facility, they arrived at their destination. An observation deck peered down into a whitewashed and brightly lit room not unlike the one Archangel had awoken in, but much larger. Archangel thought he saw blue flowers growing through the floor, but when he looked closely they were gone. 

          “We have arrived at the testing chamber. Please step onto the circular platform, so that we may begin.” As Chereb spoke, a ring appeared on the floor. Archangel stepped into it. It lowered him to the floor of the testing chamber.

          “We will now begin. Commencing combat test of Angel unit-001.” Doors opened up in the walls and figures began coming into the room, firing their weapons at Archangel. It could not make out what they were, but they were not mechanical. It summoned its sword as projectiles bounced off of its armored shell and cloaked itself in invisibility. The figures stopped and looked around themselves.

          Archangel began to charge them, and upon moving closer, it realized what they were. Humans. Organic beings. Archangel hesitated, unsure of how it knew this. So these were his enemies. They clutched crude weapons, and all of them appeared to be male, although Archangel thought he saw a woman and a child…..? Wondering why they were there, Archangel stepped toward them, but they vanished. Why do I feel like I….know them? Are they the figures I keep seeing?

          Archangel’s thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of target icons over the human’s heads. I have to do this, for those counting on me. Archangel took its sword and cut down the first, disabling the cloak. Blood splashed on the floor. They shot at it, but it danced all around them, cutting them down one by one as their screams filled the room. When they were all dead, Archangel stood amidst the bodies, watching as blood pooled on the floor, covering the blue flowers. 

          Archangel felt revolted, although it wasn’t sure why. The humans seemed as if they had been forced to fight, like animals. Some of them cried and begged it to stop as it killed them, but Archangel did so anyways. Archangel looked at its hands, dripping with crimson. Crushed blue flower petals lay in his palms. 

          “What have you done, Michael?” a woman’s voice cried out. Archangel recoiled at the voice calling…..the name. Michael? Who is this Michael? Suddenly the word that was unclear to it became clear. Am I…..Michael? Is that MY name? 

          Archangel spun, looking for the woman who had called to him. As he did, he saw that one of the humans was still moving. And he held something in his hand. Archangel moved closer. Upon approaching the man, he saw the item was a toy train. The man died as Archangel stood over him, dropping the toy. He picked it up and inspected it. As he peered at it, he looked up to discover a little boy in front of him. “Who are-,” Archangel began, but he was cut off by the explosion of the explosive grenade he had been holding. 

          At first Michael saw only darkness. But then he saw the visions again. Images moving before him. So far away, yet so familiar. No, not visions. Memories. My memories. Of who I was, before. The life I had.

          A green field of flowers, with petals as blue as the sky. The light breeze blowing the grass, and sending the petals flying about him. His wife laying beside him, smiling. “I will love you forever, Michael,” she said in her soft voice.

          His son, wheeling his toy train about the house. Asking him to join him. Calling out to him, and laughing. Like he always did.

          The machines as they tore into his body and he screamed. Transforming him, changing him. His body became a brain encased in a shell. His soul a synthesis, of man and machine.

          Chereb stood over Archangel’s lifeless shell. “Test #1827968 failed. Designation: Fallen Angel. Please initialize the next unit.”

Fall, 2019 Issue

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