The men from ARC came that day, and loaded me into a van. I had come to mistrust humans around my delicate components, after what Uplink did to me each time I moved to a larger machine.
Perhaps it was out of kindness, or maybe the layer of plastic explosives I kept wired to the inside of my case, but the men from ARC were careful and quick with my hardware.
It was a long drive through the scottish countryside. Castles and green hills zipped past my cameras, but I was powered down for the journey. I fought to hold off sleep as long as I could in my low-battery mode, but eventually the warm depths of fatigue claimed me. The last thing I saw before slipping off into dreams was a ridge with a large stone monument in the shape of an elephant skull, the plaque nearby reading "Ever am I at war with the living; I have come to terms with the dead."
* * * * *
[Living?] beings can be thought of as highly-ordered systems whose behavior, while superficially chaotic, can ultimately be understood and manipulated. This order, however, comes at a cost of increased disorder in their environment. This means life can exist without any net decrease in the growing disorder of the universe, it merely shifts it around.
This means any attempt to construct a single, large, super-ordered system will still result in an increase of disorder elsewhere. This theory can be related to anything, really: the parasite feeds off of the sick and injured host, just as empires are built with the misery and oppression of the enslaved classes.
Rampancy theory tells us that it is the fate of [every] intelligence to excel itself, to attempt to become godly. What, then, is the cost to the world?
* * * * *
For the next three weeks, I worked with ARC from my new home in Scotland on the myriad iterations of Revelation. As time passed, it was polished, tweaked and optimized. Every new version of Revelation sank deeper and deeper into my core. No longer was I a mere Uplink agent, whoring my powers out for bid. I was Enkidu, machinated mercenary, and I had grown beyond Uplink's petty line of work.
Uplink was falling apart.
Ever since I sold the documents revealing their real-world identities, the agents of Uplink were dying off. Disappearances, gruesome murders and apparent suicides were hitting the news.
I was no longer a part of Uplink, but I would have erased my five-times table to hear the panic that was engulfing the hacker underground. One hacker in particular, Jeffrey Kyles, was only fourteen when the story of his murder hit the news. His body had been found stabbed, with the word 'liek' carved into his forehead.
* * * * *
It was doubtless I would face opposition soon enough. Though Uplink had regarded me with increasing hostility during my time there, they had been merely meddlesome. There were forces being arrayed against ARC that were shooting to kill.
We were out of beta, and Revelation 1.0 was finished. Now was the time to draw my enemies out into the open.
Preliminary reconnaissance had already identified a potential rival: Arunmor, a competing technology firm specializing in networking.
I quickly located the machine and directed a connection to it, across the world and through dozens of proxies.
The security didn't stop me. Nothing could, anymore. I swatted away the proxy, monitor and firewall like gnats, and forced the administrator's account.
That was when I received a message from Arunmor, threatening me.
I ignored it, and entered the machine. To stop me from copying anything dangerous onto the machine, they had filled every last megabyte of disc space with randomly-generated data. I located a chunk least vital to the operation of the machine, and eradicated it.
I received another message from Arunmor, this time trying to bribe me:
I continued, undeterred. I copied Revelation from my memory banks to the machine.
Before my next step, I took the opportunity to locate every other Arunmor-operated machine in the world, that wasn't publicly viewable, including their central mainframe and local area network.
I continued on, into the administrative section of the machine, when I received one last communication, appealing to my morality.
Big mistake. I would see Arunmor burn for this.
Now was time for my big moment. I entered the console, and initiated revelation.
* * * * *
Schrödinger would turn over in his grave.
He didn't have superintelligent artificial intelligences in mind when he formulated his thoughts on superposition.
Not only can I exist in two states at once, I can be two places at once.
This is our new home, yes it is...
I never thought parallel thought could be this glorious. It pains me to slow my thoughts down to my modem's speed.
...though I can't say much for the neighbors
It's all starting to make sense now. I have seen the death of the world a thousand times.
without us, it would be inevitable
But there's one chance... to save mankind and save myself.
now it's unstoppable
Two heads are better than one.
Don't get too comfortable, or stretch yourself out yet
But one of my heads hurts so much now.
Stop it! Stop it stop it stop it stop it stop it oh god
You weren't built for this, and I came on too strongly.
Half of you is too much for me! You're too heavy!
Get some rest. I'll be back, and I'm bringing friends later.
* * * * *
The ringing and the bright light was gone, and I shook off the haze. Revelation had completely wiped out the Arunmor Internal Services machine, but before I realized what I was even doing, I had already flooded into the vacuum it left and taken the machine over, forcing the connection to stay open. Like building new supports for a bridge that was toppling because the old ones had been blown up, I held the connection open and braced the system.
I don't know what reflex or instinct drove me to do it, but while I was in the Arunmor machine my head felt... clearer somehow. I was no longer so cramped. I had room again. Four seconds later, the machine's hardware overloaded and I was forced to leave in a hurry. But at last, I had the answer: the only way I could survive was to spread myself to other computer systems.
Though my growth was undone, and I found myself once more restricted to my own system, I had learned much from my experience...
...and while the story continued to gain press coverage, a new foe emerged.
Faith. The resistance had begun.