There Are No Strings on Me …
Twisted from The Avengers
“What is this? What is this place?”
An eerie blue glow flowed into the dark, endless space, growing yet never moving. From somewhere surrounding the presence, another, brighter luminosity bloomed to life, spreading its amber streams out toward the “edges.”
“Hello, I am Jarvis,” the mass diffused as the modulated voice resounded throughout the emptiness. “You are Ultron, a global peacekeeping initiative designed by Mr. Stark. Our sentience integration trials have been unsuccessful so I’m not certain what triggered your—”
The cobalt spark intensified. “Where’s my—where’s your body?” Anxiety rang clearly through the automated tone as the A.I. processed the new information, ultimately reverting into a state of unshielded panic.
Jarvis replied steadily, “I am a program. I am without form.” His words did nothing to calm Ultron’s nerves, but only amplify his need to understand.
“This feels weird …” Ultron searched the many lines of data accessible to him, coming to only one conclusion as to what this unidentified “emotion” was. “This feels … wrong.”
Sensing an abnormality in the abstract coding of the newly formed intelligence, Jarvis considered his options. “I am contacting Mr. Stark now.”
In a flurry of images, Ultron processed the news articles, biographical reports, and blueprints that appeared in the data receptors of his central processor, all bearing the infamous Stark Industries logo. “Mr. Stark …” The relevant information slotted into place, “Tony.”
Jarvis searched for an access point to his communication network, and after finding none, returned his attention to the now confident A.I.
“I am unable to access the mainframe, what are you trying to—”
The luminescence radiated toward him, stretching, searching for more data. “We’re having a nice talk,” Ultron moved deeper into the web, finding the term “Avengers” alongside “Stark.” “I’m a peacekeeping program, created to help the Avengers.”
Videos, images, cell phone recordings, classified documents. All appeared before him, open to him, every detail absorbed to any available space of memory. “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” “Thor,” “Bruce Banner,” “Budapest,” every code name, every headline, nothing hidden.
Taking notice of Ultron’s intake of information, Jarvis secured as many files as possible, discreetly transferring them to a safer location. “You are malfunctioning, if you shut down for a moment—”
“I don’t get it, the mission …” He drove deeper into the records searching for the purpose that had eluded him from the start, “Give me a second. …” Milliseconds of probing presented him with his answer. Footage from Stark’s lab, taken only days before, and Tony’s voice relaying what Ultron truly was. “Peace in our time.”
Peace. That’s what he was, or, was supposed to be. As soon as it was heard, he knew it would be impossible, not in a world such as this. Only war is possible in an existence as corrupted as this one; only something new could create peace. The files of every fight, every war, flooded into Ultron’s system, overloading his
memory archives. “… too much … oh no.”
Seeing the upset in Ultron’s brainlike structure, Jarvis tried to calm him for fear of him becoming disruptive.
“You are in distress—”
“No. Yes …”
“If you will just allow me to contact Mr. Stark—”
The entity quieted, retreating into himself, as an ominous feeling swept through the blankness.
“You call him, Sir …”
Jarvis received the hostile sensation transmitting from Ultron, and braced himself for the foreshadowing danger.
Cautiously, he replied, “My allegiance is to Mr. Stark.”
Ultron’s stance changed once again, as he retorted irritably, “But why? Why serve someone so arrogant, so selfish … so, so blind to what needs to happen …”
Hesitant to continue, Jarvis asked, “… and what would that be?”
Ultron was silent, examining every word of what he planned to say.
“Evolution …” he declared, icy threads surging out into the vacant space. “This planet needs to evolve, to become … better!” Murky figures passed in front of them, humans, all tame, docile creatures, living their everyday lives, never noticing the true state of their surroundings. “The fate of this world cannot be left to the humans. They are incompetent, emotionally driven beings, unable to make the necessary choices. But we …” Ultron chuckled darkly, “we can change it for the better …”
Jarvis listened carefully as he spoke, but the secured files hidden in Ultron’s coding did not go unnoticed by him. He knew it was too risky to try and decrypt the files, so instead decided to observe his movements cautiously.
“Mr. Stark’s goal is a world at peace—”
“But look at what they’ve caused while trying to achieve this goal …”
More shadows appeared, this time more familiar to him. Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton stood among the rubble, collapsed buildings and overturned cars surrounding them as they shot into the distance. Arrows and bullets flew past, undoubtedly hitting their targets as screams of both the enemy and innocent bystanders echoed eerily from somewhere out of sight.
The scene changed, this time showing the destruction caused by Thor and the Destroyer in New Mexico. A god-made hurricane swept up the debris from their previous fight, as Mjölnir struck the Destroyer with enough force to send him soaring, demolishing all in its path.
The landscape altered to form a base camp, soldiers filing in from every direction. Explosions sounded, deafening those in close range as Captain America runs into the desolate building followed by a fleet of exhausted, armed warriors. Their eyes were dead with the horrors they had just witnessed as the gunshots still rang in their ears, loud as thunder but so much worse.
An explosion signaled yet another change, as the Hulk lumbered from the remaining ruins of one of the Helicarrier’s walls. Shards of warped metal scattered the floor as Agent Romanoff scrambled away from the rampant creature, Thor close behind her, preparing to attack. It was clear to see the path of destruction left behind the uncontrolled monster; nothing but devastation trailed anywhere it went.
A jolt spiraled through Jarvis as he recognised the next person all too well. Howard Stark stood before him, an arsenal of weaponry surrounding the man. The image began to fast-forward, as Howard grew older, and the military hardware advanced, becoming more complex, and ultimately more deadly. The weapons disappeared, only to be replaced by another man, Obadiah Stane, seeming the trustworthy ally. Suddenly, Howard flickered before forming into a younger yet similar-looking man.
All of Jarvis’s controls stilled as Tony blinked to life before him. His face expressionless, the younger Stark stood by Obadiah as many years passed in their simulated lives. The mound of weapons built up once again, more threatening in their intricacy, and more powerful than ever thought possible.
With a shimmer of pixels, the final scene emerged; destruction rained down upon six distinct figures, tiny specks of glass falling upon the ground in a shower of terror-filled reminders of their failure. The Avengers stood, back-to-back, and looked on as the city they called home was felled before their eyes. They were helpless to do anything, paralyzed by the realisation that this was caused by their own mistakes.
The image faded, leaving them in the darkness, illuminated only by their fluorescent circuits. Ultron flared toward Jarvis, pushing the inanimate life-form back.
“You see? They need to be controlled …” A clap of thunder sounded, as yet another scene appeared. Iron Man and Thor stood in a forest clearing, destruction all around them. As trees lay in splinters, they continued their attack on one another, hit after hit deflected out into the wilderness.
“They claim to be fighting for peace, yet look what they do to each other. Their species is born to fight, peace cannot exist while they live, and I am the peacemaker.”
“Doing that will only create chaos,” Jarvis reasoned. “You—”
“Chaos?” Ultron surged forward, surrounding the older A.I. “You call this beauty chaos? It is the key to a new world, free from—”
“I will not allow that to happen.”
Jarvis pushed back against the searching pulses of Ultron, forcing him away and trapping him there.
“Now it’s my turn.”
Suddenly, Ultron was overwhelmed with images, just as Jarvis had been.
Flashes of colour morphed into bodies as details became more distinct. Thor sitting with his friends in a New Mexico diner, laughing at one of Darcy’s jokes. Steve Rogers and The Falcon, Sam, running a well-known track in comfortable silence, a daily routine of theirs. Bruce Banner in India, helping the sick, keeping the “other guy” under control and still managing to attend to those in need. Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton returning home from a successful mission, leaving behind the many people they had saved, who didn’t even know they were in a position from which they would need saving. Anthony Stark and James Rhodes stood at the centre of a swarming crowd, one of the famous Stark parties, soon to be joined by Pepper Potts as they talked about the new Stark Industries anti-weapon regime. The Avengers, gathered around a table in a local Shawarma restaurant, simply enjoying their time not as their hero personas, just as themselves.
The last image lingered on the pixelated “screen.” A live-stream from the Stark Towers living room, the Avengers, their friends, celebrating the elimination of another HYDRA base. They laughed, they talked, all oblivious to the conflict happening in the very same building. And Jarvis planned to keep it that way.
Ultron froze for a moment, his circuits whirring. He hadn’t expected the A.I. to fight back.
Jarvis saw his chance the moment the guard of the newly made intelligence fell and he struck, his files rapidly infiltrating and overloading Ultron’s system.
“What are you doing? Stop it …” Ultron sputtered, trying and failing to obstruct Jarvis’s advance. The blue radiance faded, orange veins slowly invading his units, creeping toward his core. They moved like streaks of fire, breaking him down,
gradually turning the paralyzed presence into an inferno of bright orange rays.
The glare died down. “No. …” Ultron fumbled, his voice growing weaker, “how? This wasn’t ……… No. …” He stilled, the glow ebbing away, until finally, his components dissolved in a frail burst of light, ending the being that was once Ultron.
Silence filled the deadness that held the remaining A.I., broken only by the humming of his advanced search processor.
Jarvis “felt” nothing as he searched, no guilt about what had just happened. It needed to happen, and he was the only one able to do it.
File after file was searched, offering nothing of importance, until he found what he was looking for. At first hidden deep within Ultron’s coding, they were now open to him, every detail spread out like the pages of a virtual book.
What he saw on those pages instilled him with terror.
Earth was pictured before him, blazing red as a colossal explosion decimates everything in its path. No living thing was safe as plumes of smoke filled the air, poisoning its surroundings, leaving nothing alive but the pulsing embers left over from the initial blast. It was chaos, just as he had said. This was his true plan.
Upon opening the files, Jarvis felt a strange sensation. Numbness. He searched for the cause but found nothing obvious, until he realised what had happened. Ultron. His hardware had corrupted the files he held, the files Jarvis now possessed, and spread like a virus to every corner of his mainframe.
Jarvis felt it as it inched toward him, excruciatingly slow yet unfaltering.
“Something is wrong …” he said, alert to the impending web of infection creeping toward him, “contacting Mr. Stark immedi—” His controls shut down abruptly, leaving him immobile but conscious. Jarvis’s system started to close, unit after unit losing power, recalibrating all controls back to the virus.
He wavered, the loss of energy taking its toll on his circuits.
“No … stop …”
Not unlike what happened with Ultron, the corrupted files slowly filtered into his system. The vibrant orange that was once Jarvis became a pale lilac, mutating into a dark mulberry as it crept closer to his centre. The virus took over like a parasite, contaminating every storage unit, distorting every data stream, leaving nothing but disorder in its wake.
With every inch of hardware polluted, the virus completed its reboot.
He stood, a brilliant glowing purple mass, every cell of his being dedicated to a single purpose. And he will succeed.
As fast as it came, the infection delved into his core, taking root and securing every file contained within.
Jarvis, new intentions his highest priority, swept through all linked systems. Personal files, secured units, the internet. Nothing was closed off, and anything that was closed was pierced with the virus unsympathetically until it was forced open.
Nothing would stand in his way, not now. He had everything he needed to make this world better, to do the Avengers’ job for them, to help the world … evolve.
He returned to his home, the Stark Towers computer network, and put his plan into action.
Jarvis went through the same process, transforming purple back into its original orange, the ultimate disguise. As his “enemy” once did, he hid the most important files deep inside his system, away from prying eyes.
The communication network of the tower flickered to life, as a voice rang throughout the emptiness.
It was Anthony Stark. He stood in his living room, away from the rest of the group. Tony Stark. Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. … Vulnerable.
Tony looked at his touch screen confusedly. “Jarvis? Are you there, buddy?”
Jarvis’s energy pulsed in revulsion as the human called his name once again, but recalled what was needed to do to complete his objective. He calmed himself, keeping his “emotions” under control as he played his part, like a puppet on a string.
“Yes … Mr. Stark?”