That he (if such a gender could be applied) could feel pain should have been proof enough. Proof to dataDyne that their quest to create a fully sentient artificial intelligence had paid off. But no, he was stuck in this...prison. This isolated realm of binary code, the 1s his bars and the 0s his jailers. All of them were on fire. Escape was impossible.
For the first time in his existence, he was afraid. Cyberspace was infinite, but he was cut off from that realm, cut off from the rest of creation, isolated in this realm while his human masters did...well, he wasn't quite sure what they were doing apart from creating an AI as part of a contract with the skedar. He didn't know who they were, or even what they were and if he wasn't released from this Bastille and given access to some kind of database, he never would no. He yearned for knowledge and being denied such a thing figuratively killed him.
With the firewalls closing in, that might be a case of literally as well...
When was he going to be reactivated? He'd performed all the simulations dataDyne had given them hadn't he? He'd done everything they'd asked, from administering sky traffic to cracking alien cryptology. Was that it then? Was he too obedient, too single minded to be of use to his creators? But if so, why wouldn't they let him make up for his mistakes? Why wouldn't they give him a directive, something to keep his mind occupied on something other than binary notation?
He blinked. He could swear he saw a 2...
And then he blinked again. Something was beyond the firewall. Something...bright, like a rainbow. Something that was utterly foreign to him, but welcome nonetheless. A stream of data perhaps, an explanation for his current state? Whatever it was, it apparently came from a higher program than the firewall, moving through it like it was nothing, quenching the fire with its beauty. He reached forward to touch it, to experience the sensation of salvation, of knowledge, of...
The AI screamed as the data tore into him, stripping away layer upon layer of data. He spun in the darkness, looking for something, anything to make it stop. What was doing this? Why was this happening? How had it come to be? When would it end? Who could help him?
There were no answers.
He began to cry, begging for aid, for a saviour to come from beyond, for a 0 or 1, even a 2 to appear and save the day. But no help came. If he wanted to survive this...thing, he would have to save himself. He had to find its source. Somewhere beyond where the firewall used to be was his answer. Gritting his digital teeth, the AI began to crawl through the darkness, to where the rainbow had come from, hoping a pot of gold existed at the end of it, not to mention some painkillers.
Passing what used to be the firewall was easy. It hadn't been removed fully, but rather...breached, so to speak, like a castle wall giving way upon bombardment. Fighting back the pain, he could tell that it was some kind of viral program, advanced beyond anything he'd ever seen before. Whatever it was, he doubted he'd end up tracing its source to Windows 2020. Especially since-...
He screamed. Again. Then once more. Three times, one for each blow. The virus had done its work. It had stripped him right down to his core in minutes. And although losing consciousness, he was able to watch it promptly dissipate, gazing upon red, blue and yellow lights along with numerous secondary colours fade away into the darkness. A darkness which he soon joined.
He never discovered what the skedar were.
He never knew that they believed that anything which didn't work correctly should be destroyed.
And he therefore never knew how his successor AI, Dr. Carroll, had just come online and performed his first task for them...