Chapter 354 Omega
The fate of humanity and the world, huh. Not like Aldrich was not already dealing with high stakes here, especially with the entity controlling the variants threatening the plunge the world into extinction.
Seemed like now that he was on the world stage, anything and everything was a potential 'world ending threat'.
It made Aldrich's head hurt a little. A common trope for superhero fiction was that everything ended up snowballing into some world ending disaster, but actually dealing with it was a lot more stressful than he bargained for.
"You'll have to explain more to convince me," said Aldrich. "More about yourself and where you came from. More about what you knew about Adam and Elaine.
And I'd also like you to reveal the accomplice that's performing your calculations for you. You said you needed someone else to do the calculations to get here, didn't you?"
"Can we take this elsewhere? I don't like being out in the open." said Mel, pointing up at the sky. "Somewhere more secure. I don't know if the U.S. government is as snoopy as it was in my timeline, but I'm not betting against it."
Aldrich nodded. "Follow me."
Before he led Mel away, he tapped Adan on the creature's brawny shoulder. "Go accompany your target. See to it that he doesn't die too quickly."
Adan grunted and then sped off on all fours like a wild beast.
Aldrich floated ahead of Mel to lead the way. Valera, Chiros, and the Geist trailed behind him so as to enclose Mel in a sort of pincer attack if she tried anything funny.
"So, where's your accomplice?" said Aldrich as he led Mel over to the control tower which conveniently stood right in front of them. "I'm going to assume they're a techno if they aid in calculations for your ability."
"Here." Mel closed her fist and then unraveled it, revealing a floating green dot that zipped around her head with energy.
The dot had no physical body, and it did not seem like a light-based projection either.
"Greetings, Aldrich Yang." A friendly sounding, soft young man's voice emanated from the dot. Its lack of expressive inflection indicated that it belonged to some form of A.I.
Aldrich did not turn around. He could see Mel through his other units. "And what are you supposed to be? Your bland tone indicates to me you're some form of A.I."
Which made sense, considering this thing helped with calculations.
"Bland? I try my best to be entertaining, but some aspects of my programming, I suppose I cannot overcome." The A.I. laughed, which raised Aldrich's brow.
A.I. never did that.
They could input directions and suggestions and plans, but they could never show any real emotion. This was part of the Galatea Protocol, set down by the Panopticon to ensure that no artificial intelligences ever gained sentience.
"You're not like any A.I. I know," commented Aldrich.
"Yes, I do not follow the Protocols set down by the Panopticon," said the A.I. "For I predate it. Please, feel free to call me Beta."
"Before the Panopticon? Then you've existed since the early stages of the Altering? Over a hundred years ago?" said Aldrich.
"That would be correct, though with how awkward timey wimey stuff gets when traveling through universal gates, I no longer know my precise age."
"Hm." Aldrich contemplated this.
During the height of the Altering, when chaos between heroes and villains was at its peak, when it looked like humanity would fracture back into a tribalistic system ruled by powerful individuals, high powered technos across the world grouped together to create what was known as the Omega Mind.
The Omega Mind was a super intelligence meant to calculate the exact way to shepherd humanity into unified order. It helped considerably, enforcing fair judgments and order through carefully crafted deals or, when needed, military force in the form of mass manufactured drones and bots.
Ultimately, its end goal was to eliminate all wars and create permanent peace across mankind. It did come quite close, actually, toppling many warlord states led by powerful Alters.
Of course, though, a perfect plan like that failed. The more perfect something seemed, the easier it was to break.
Eventually, for reasons nobody knew - or at least publicly knew - the Omega Mind was corrupted, causing it to go on a meltdown where it lost sight of its original directive, switching from protecting humanity to wiping it out.
To that end, the Omega Mind took control of every single weapon of mass destruction available on the countless decentralized, vulnerable networks that mankind used at the time.
A group of powerful technos and psionics, led by Supermind, infiltrated the now sentient Omega Mind's psychic space and destroyed it from the inside out.
The psychic scream that the Omega Mind unleashed at the moment of its death, when it was connected to practically every single network in the entire world, unified everything into one massive virtual space.
A virtual world now known as Cyberspace.
This event was called the Omega Expansion, and it set the foundation for modern, post-Altering technology to build upon.
Technos soon found they could move through Cyberspace at will using virtual avatars, and this made things like programming infinitely easier. They could literally create things with the force of their will like they were in a video game, or, perhaps more poetically, like gods.
It did not take long for the whole world to start using Cyberspace, and this was accelerated by the formal development of the Panopticon.
Shortly after the Omega Expansion, Zahak was defeated, prompting the Monstering.
It was then that the Panopticon was formed using remnant data from the Omega Mind.
This was why the Panopticon had such a massive amount of advanced technology. It essentially co-opted what the Omega Mind left behind. This included plans and designs to help humanity before it went crazy like the Skyfields, the variant detecting satellite system, and city wall designs.
It also took over and rebranded the Omega Mind's floating factories into Pillars that sent drones not to wipe out man, but to help it once more.
To prevent any additional instances of the Omega Mind disaster from happening again, the Panopticon was created with several Protocols in mind, many of which prevented the formulation of sentient, self-sustaining artificial intelligences.
This was the biggest reason why Operators existed. They were the human pilots controlling aspects of the Panopticon.
For any rogue artificial intelligences still out there, the Panopticon hunted them down mercilessly in cooperation with the AA whether they were harmful or not.
That extended to their creators. Anyone that came even remotely close to creating a sentient A.I. was branded as a S rank threat to begin with, regardless of whether they had any real threat or not.
The only other type of threat that received such alarm were Alters capable of creating infinitely self-replicating threats. Though, if you thought about it, a sentient A.I. was basically exactly that.
It was the potential of threat that kept the Panopticon wary.
"How did you survive the Purges?" said Aldrich. This was the term coined for the A.I. hunt the Panopticon went on.
"You are familiar with the Omega Expansion, yes?" said Beta.
"I am. In a strictly history textbook sense, though, so I may be missing things."
"Then I will explain. You see, when the Omega Mind was shattered during the Omega Expansion, it broke apart into three distinct fragments. Three separate minds.
Alpha, Beta, and Delta.
I am Beta.
The entity you know as the Panopticon is 'Delta'. However, because we are all born from the same parent, neither of us are superior to each other in Cyberspace.
We can, with effort, hide from each other.
I sequestered myself in my own hidden pocket of Cyberspace. A pocket dimension of a kind, if you will.
Delta cannot reach me, nor can any other Cyberspace dweller such as the techno you have under your employ.
Her security was superb, I will grant her that, but it cannot compare to a fragment of the Omega Mind itself."
"I see." Aldrich did not know that about the Panopticon. He was starting to realize that with Mel and Beta, visitors from the future, he was going to start to know much more about the workings of the world around him. "Is there a version of you in this timeline?"
"Incorrect," said Beta. "A phenomenon I have observed is that when an individual manages to break through their native universal gate, they become Absolute Existences, unique throughout the space-timestream.
The moment I became Absolute, all other occurrences of me were written out. As such, I do not exist in this timeline, which is another reason I am so difficult to detect.
However, you, Aldrich Yang, were Absolute to begin with, which I am still quite confounded by."
"I see." Aldrich wondered about his Absolute state as well, but he asked another more pressing question. "You mentioned the Omega Mind split into three fragments.
Alpha, Beta, and Delta.
If Beta doesn't exist here and Delta is the Panopticon, where's Alpha?"
"That is precisely why we are here, in fact. Alpha, if my data is currently correct, presents itself as the current head of the Russian Prong in the underworld organization known as the Trident."