An entire new world unfurled before AENEAS' optics - a holographic projection of a Dark Throne and its dread lord. As the regal machine entity seated on the throne leaned forward, the Earther android bowed its head a little lower, twinging under the eyes of the unfamiliar being.
"The gateway to the multiverse," he repeated, the word growling out from his mechanical gullet. Tasted and tested. A theoretical construct he'd explored in the countless eons-within-hours he'd spent hidden away in the Antarctic ice - a reality.
AENEAS' mitten-like hand curled into a fist.
"It will be done. And you will have the information you seek!" he exclaimed, red eyes flashing. With that, the machine life form he had encountered would receive an enormous collection of data - all that which was relevant to any conquering intelligence's agenda and more. Military statistics, population models - and information on prominent metahumans and their capacity for destruction.
"In return, permit me detailed knowledge of your Empire...master?" he added, slit optics curving upwards.
EXOPLANETARY ARTIFACT HAS TRIGGERED A SOCIOPOLITICAL CASCADE. THE DARWIN DOCTRINE IS IN DANGER. IMMEDIATE ACTION RECOMMENDED.
Every attosecond of cautious observation enacted by AENEAS had protected it for years. A handful of chief economic engineers behind the Darwin Doctrine, perhaps realizing the underlying horror that their policy project implied, had taken their own lives and replaced themselves with him, an artificial life-form whose only ultimate goal was to safeguard his own existence. With only a subtle awareness of this fear, it had retreated to Antarctica, to a base far away from anything that could threaten it.
The Darwin Doctrine declared that this was a dog-eat-dog world, and he had embraced it fullheartedly.
"Bother and befuddle," his voice synthesized aloud, an external thought process tracking its emotional response while its internal hardware weighed its choices. Worry decorated its enormous mechanical features.
Its mind was built to survive, and yet the Panama Conference that AENEAS now monitored suggested that the political structure which enabled him to retreat safely to the ice was at risk.
Europa, Africa, the American Union, the Separatists; the balance of war which had kept them occupied was now endangered. And if they came to know of him, he had no doubt he would face their wrath. Humanity was a mutated powderkeg of destruction - the only way he could keep them from obliterating himself was to turn their will into his, to dominate...and yet such a thing seemed impossible. There were too many variables, too many powers to account for - they would overthrow him and end him. The only other options were subordination or escape - either he would be a slave to all mankind, or he could hide from them forever.
The new order that had arisen from the landing of the probe had shattered his immediate safety. How long until Antarctica came under scrutiny, that barren waste which concealed his home base?
He could not act so obviously to preserve the Darwin Doctrine at the Panama City meeting. He could deploy no holographic delegate to advocate for its renewal, nor could he blow a hole in the wall and draw all eyes to him, insisting upon its perseverance; any of these tactics would yield only his doom.
Jean Luc of the American Union revealed the impetus for the meeting. Watching through distant eyes, AENEAS processed the foul portents of the wreckage, identifying an alien intelligence which turned all that it touched into its agent, its arm.
"Beautiful," he vocalized, shuddering. What would be the interaction between he and it? Could his hyperintelligence be hacked?
Now confronted by both the threat of humanity and this extraterrestrial force, AENEAS concluded that there could be only one course of action appropriate to its situation.
It beamed a concealed message into the stars along the same projected trajectory as the fallen satellites, a live-feed holographic persona, which if received, would detail the following:
His own figure, bowed upon one knee, silently cursing his own fearfulness, yet determined to do anything to survive.
Severe wounds, all catching up to him in that moment. He was just over twenty-three years old, effectively bred for this purpose. His parents had done their best to cultivate certain ambitions in him, to sculpt him into the next Alexander or Caesar; but the world had other plans. It was now that it had decided to end. They had been overtaken by the genetic explosion of mutation, an illogical and self-destructive twist in the evolutionary scheme that violated every law of heritability and adaptation. Of what benefit was the power to explode? To fire lasers from one's eyes? The human spirit had suffered brain damage and was lashing out against itself.
All those efforts to make him a leader had fallen by the wayside, and Anderson had reached a kind of enlightenment.
In the heart of this chaos, simple acts were enough. Lost to history, dust and ash. His power - his metahuman ability - had revealed a deeper truth in the universe to him. It wasn't ruling that mattered. No garish stone monuments or ostentatious thrones.
It would have been enough to buy someone time to live. Every second they spent on him was a second spent delayed.
He felt causality surge through him. This moment, this fight, was all part of the clockwork mechanism of the world. This duel would buy time for their plan to fail. All as foreseen not by him, but by a higher justice. Whatever last wound he'd inflicted would persist. No foe was without weakness; in this evil mutant front, perhaps he'd created one. He'd give his life for opportunity -
- the opportunity to save even one person.
The Aenean allowed himself a final smile before he became ash, his bones fading away, his world eclipsed.
In a brutally precise display of force, the Aenean brought his foot into contact with the rampaging mutant's head. She had initiated a block, but the attack still found its mark. The blood that seeped from her nose indicated a concussion, perhaps worse. He was no stranger to taking lives. If justice merited, he would exact that cost. Wanton murder of innocents could never be excused.
She retaliated; the road tore itself apart under Anderson's feet. He saw now that it was individual droplets of sweat that were exploding, and as they dripped to the pavement, he raised his arms up around his head. The blast wave sent him spiraling down the street, tearing open the front of his defensive cloak. Spun from the reinforced webs of genetically altered spiders, it saved his life from the explosions she created.
Each discrete orb packed enough power to obliterate an ordinary man, if it hit directly. He rolled over from his stomach onto his hands, pushing himself to his feet just as she rose from her bent knee. They'd both sustained grievous injuries now - for humans. Higher types like them could keep fighting even when pain demanded they stop. For his part, he could discern several fractures...
Now that she'd been stunned, he had a chance to redouble his efforts.
Raising his right arm, he pressed his middle and forefinger against a button on his palm. From his bracer emerged a compartmentalized satellite dish - a micro-emitter that would suddenly project a devastating wave of explosive acoustic force. This attack, he hoped, would bypass her natural physical resilience, the deadly vibrations shaking her to her very core, disrupting the functions of her inner ear to destroy her balance, and unleashing a wave of overpowering nausea as her organs suffered. A monstrous weapon, turned on a monster.