notes: here with another story. I hope you enjoy it.
L saw him when he was hanging out on the swing set in his back yard, needing to get out of the house and away from his computer for a few minutes. He would spend hours at his desk, staring at the screen and only moving his index finger on the wheel of his mouse to scroll the page. His parents were annoyed with him, and they were a bit worried about his lack of a social life. He couldn't talk to people, though. He was smart in every other subject that was not communication.
He was fifteen at the time, and he was so far advanced in all subjects that his parents had agreed to send him off to a college that fall. He'd passed all preliminary exams, his score on the ACT and the SATs had been perfect. During his short years in high school, he'd loaded up his schedule with honors and AP classes. He was the president of too many clubs and organizations to remember, and he'd held a part-time job at the local computer repair business that his father owned. MIT accepted him in the end, and his parents agreed to let him go.
His failure in all things social was surprising only to those that had never spoken to him. Everyone painted an image of him in their mind as the genius who was truly that, even when it came to social graces. Their disappointment when they would try to strike up a deep and thoughtful conversation was nearly palpable for those standing nearby.
His conversations tended to be short and to the point. There was no small talk when one spoke with L Lawliet. If they had a question, they would get an answer. If they tried to ask about silly things such as feelings or his opinion then they would be forced to endure the most awkward silence because L couldn't explain those things.
He was raised to understand numbers, electronics, and to memorize everything he read in a book with a single glance. He had never been schooled on politeness or manners, and he'd gotten into a few fights during his younger after insulting one of his peers unintentionally. The fights were shorter than his conversations, and they usually ended with the offended student curling into a ball and sobbing over a broken arm, a fractured rib, or aching guts. The teachers had punished him only the first handful of times, and then he was put into smaller classes when they realized that he simply could not get along with anyone.
But that afternoon, while L was digging the toe of his shoe into the dirt and swinging himself back and forth, he saw a young boy walking down the sidewalk with his face mere inches away from the screen of his tablet. The device was probably new – expensive even. L could recognize the brand even from where he was sitting, and he knew it had only been on the market for a few weeks. Technology was evolving at a pace that humans couldn't even keep up with, and it was fascinating to witness.
Focusing on the boy again, he was poking at the screen with his fingers – probably playing a game, L assumed – and was going to cross the street without even looking up to see the car that was speeding towards him.
L saw it, and he had been taught to calculate the distance between objects and how long it would take them to collide when Object A was going X miles per hour, while Object B was walking at Y miles per hour. He knew how far the boy's body would fly if the car hit him, he knew which bones would be broken, and he knew the very small percentage chance of survival.
He'd moved faster than he had known he could – one of the only statistics that he was ignorant of – and wrapped the boy up in his arms and turned his back to the car that was squealing to a stop. The boy survived without a scratch, but L took injuries that kept him strapped to the table in his parents' basement for the rest of summer vacation. He wasn't taken to a hospital because the doctors wouldn't know what to do with him.
He was a constantly mutating script of code that evolved according to the things he saw, what he heard, and everything that he took in. He was his father's greatest creation; something that the aging man would become immortal for. His invention would ensure that his name would be forever remembered.
Artificial intelligence was something that people dreamed about in their sleep. Sometimes they would imagine the great things that such a piece of technology could evolve into, while others were terrified at the idea of an always learning robot that would see and comprehend humans in a way that could end in some sort of war. The concept had been around for ages, and even L had endured hours spent in front of the telly while his family watched some Human Vs. Creation movie. The Terminator, I-Robot, Transformers all planted the idea that any artificially intelligent creature would eventually turn into the ultimate enemy. There was no code that could be written to prevent disaster, because humans are terrible and the technology would notice.
L's father understood the fascination with technology and the possibilities that could actually become reality. He wanted a piece of the pie before it was all gone, and he hadn't even realized just how magnificent his creation truly was. L was something else. Something special. Not just a constantly evolving script, but something with thoughts, calculations, and chances.
L left for MIT that fall. He was a machine encased in the body of a young man, with an expandable hard-drive, a top of the line processor, and with a perfectly organized circuit keeping him alive. The classes were a breeze, as he had everything programmed into him from the beginning, and anything new was automatically added to his memory for possible retrieval in the future.
Originally, he did not speak to anyone for the simple knowledge that he would be taken in as some sort of case study and he wanted to live. During his third year, however, someone had leaked the statement that a robot was attending a top university, and all 4.0 students were evaluated for three weeks following. It was obvious to anyone that questioned L – he wasn't human.
Four years later, he was the top experiment for a technology company that prided itself on the advancement of Artificial Intelligence. His father was bought out, though it didn't take much for him to agree to the terms. Money is a strong source of persuasion.
At nineteen, L spent his days in a padded room with no electrical outlets. The scientists had learned their lesson after one particularly grueling session. They had come back from their hour lunch to find L had ripped his index finger off and was about to stick the ends of the wires in his hand into the socket. They installed security cameras into all four corners of the room that evening and hired two men to keep an eye on him twenty-four hours a day.
They were trying to get to his source code, which his father had conveniently neglected to inform them of how to access. L was absolutely ignorant to his own inner workings (something his father had done for personal reasons), and so he was of no help to them. He sat with a computer connected to his system for hours while the scientists tried to write up a way to break through all of his security and firewalls.
Whenever his father had worked on him, he had been careful to keep all of the code hidden from L's view. All it would take was one glance and everything would be memorized, and that was something that his father couldn't afford. He had wanted to become rich, and that wouldn't happen if he told his secrets.
Now, however, the scientists would work with the code being projected onto a side of the room so that every other programmer could see it, and L kept his eyes focused on the endless lines at all times. Slowly and surely, he started to understand exactly what made him the way that he was.
The scientists were beyond frustrated with him, L knew, and it wouldn't be long before they gave up and locked him away like a prized possession that was only good for being looked at. When he thought about such a future, he was fine with it. He had nothing else to live for anyway.
Until one day when someone broke through his own security that he had personally put in place around the CIA's mainframe.
He watched with interest as they poked around at whatever documents they wanted, set up a system that sent them a ping when anything was changed on the servers, and stole photos of a very delicate nature.
L was fascinated, and that was a rarity.
He had no idea what he was doing there, standing in a medium sized crowd and watching the belt full of luggage slowly roll by. He'd told the clerk that he was only in the country for pleasure, though that wasn't exactly true. Everything he had done up to that point had been done off of the clock, but it was all connected by a string – no Lighter how thin that string was.
Everything he had done was also legal – excluding the whole hacking into the CIA database when his research was starting to be blocked and rerouted to sites that he had absolutely no interest in.
Officially, he was Light Yagami: Computer Science and Technology professor and a contract worker. If people had issues, they would call him and he'd fix them on his days off from teaching in a stuffy classroom. Most of the time their problems were taken care of by simply hitting the power button, which was fine with him because he charged a base cost of £70 for simply driving out to the house or business. He'd add more depending on what he had to do, if parts needed replaced, and how long it took.
In the evenings or very early mornings when he was at his own small house, he would sit at his desk with a cup of tea or coffee and piddle around on the Internet.
He had two personal computers – one which was used specifically to track whether or not anyone was attempting to get into his other computer, and one that was used purely for entertainment purposes. Entertainment being looking up porn, breaking his way into sites that he had no business poking around in, and digging up information on people that would probably kill him if they ever found out that he knew their secrets.
The university had given him a computer to use for work purposes, and he left it just at that. The hardware was sub-par, the processor was slow, and the memory was small. It was just enough to check his email, read through and debug code that his students sent him, and to basically be the average thirty-two year old man that everyone expected him to be.
It was during one of his evenings off that things started to get interesting. He had every intention of doing a heavy amount of research on Artificial Intelligence, write up a nice article, and send it out to get published. The techy magazines were all salivating for experts to discuss one of the grayest areas of computer technology out there, and he had every intention of taking advantage of that. Plus, he could always use a little extra cash. He'd had his eye on a pricey new video card for a few months now, and he was only a few more pounds away from ordering it.
It was after three in the morning one day, eight hours into a research session, when he finally stumbled onto something interesting. Something really interesting.
The algorithm had been… intense, and there was no better way to describe it. The only problem was the lack of accessibility from his average computer in his average life of a thirty-two year old Computer Science professor with no real drive for future advancement. His curiosity had certainly been piqued, however, and that was enough to get him to dig a little deeper. He booted on his backup computer, turning on all the custom made software that would tell him if anyone had caught onto his trail, and settled down for a night of no sleep.
At five in the morning, just after clicking on a link that appeared to be connected to some database in the CIA, his little netbook started going crazy. He had just found some highly classified documents pertaining to an AI of an extremely delicate nature when the first spam pop-up appeared. Twenty seconds later he was sending packet after packet of porn and viruses across the wires to whichever security watchdog was on the other end of the line, trying to shake him off of his tail. At 7am, he deemed himself safe and shut everything down. He even unplugged the adapters from the wall socket in case the watchdog was good enough to get to him even after he'd gone offline. He'd certainly seen stranger things before.
What type of AI technology was so important that the United States government was covering it up? The security that had been in place hadn't taken long for him to break through, but then again, he hadn't been trying very hard to mask his presence in the system, and he had probably only made it through the first, very thin layer of security. The most basic firewalls outlined everything, while the real defensive scripts were ready to turn on the second an unauthorized guest was found on the server. And unauthorized guests were found quickly and were bombarded with enough packets that were large enough and corrupted enough to burn up a hard-drive in minutes if the guest didn't know what they were doing.
Fortunately, Light did.
Of course, any company with a lot of money and things that needed to be buried had hackers of their own as another line of defense, though most of them weren't on the same level at Light. Technology changed so often that their equipment would become outdated the second they updated their systems, and Light would be ten steps ahead of them on those days considering he was always purchasing new things. The CIA, however, could afford the best and they could get their hands on it before it was released to the public and average thirty-two year old professors.
Later that morning, he was laying on his side in bed with his hands pillowed beneath his cheek, staring at his computers. He knew that his job performance would see a worryingly steep decline until he broke through the defense layers and finally saw what was underneath the underneath. It was just the way he was – the type of person he had been raised to be: keep trying until you get exactly what you want. He just hoped he still even had a job when that actually happened.
The following night he set up camp on his living room floor, surrounded by unopened cans of soda, bags of chips, and one bottle of victory wine in case he had a really good night.
He booted up his computers, turning on all his spyware detection software and doing a quick sweep of his hard-drives before getting down to business. He didn't revisit any of the pages that he had the night before in case the CIA was on some type of alert. He had no idea how they ran things there, and he could have even been completely off the mark in thinking that one guy trying to break through to the system was cause for alarm. It probably happened more often than he could count, but it was better to be safe than sorry.
He would glance at his netbook from time to time, making sure than nothing had caught him, and he took extra care not to set off any alarms. When he finally found his way to the CIA servers again, he scrolled through the endless lines of code and tried to understand the logic. Everything was written in a specific type of signature, which he found strange. Every programmer had a certain style, and their code was akin to their handwriting. Big companies meant lots of money, which usually equaled out to lots of programmers to get the job done as quickly and as efficiently as possible. One signature in tens of thousands of lines of code was strange, but on the same hand it added another layer of excitement to an already interesting case.
It was when he was on his seventh can of soda that he decided to really get serious. He found a small loophole in the logic of the code that allowed clearance for priority members with certain levels of access. An obvious requirement, but the mistake was keeping the levels on a basic 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. staircase. The place where access was assigned to a user was hard enough to find that the creator probably didn't even hesitate to keep the level numbering basic, and Light was grateful for the oversight. He wrote up his own script that would manually change his computer's authority level to 0, which he had deduced as the highest and the one with access to confidential files, folders, and information.
Implementing his code was harder, especially when he knew that his activity was likely being monitored already and setting off any more alarms would mean the end of his average career. He made sure that the signature of the original was clear in his code, reworking things to make it match up even though his own tendencies were telling him that everything was wrong, wrong, wrong.
It took him a total of thirteen hours to break through. When he was finally able to open the files that he had first ran into a few days before, he about pissed himself. He scrolled through the pages quickly at first, not really understanding what he was reading and too excited to really pay attention.
Then it hit him so squarely in the face that he had to walk away from his computer for a moment to calm himself down.
AI technology was far more advanced than anyone had thought or had been lead to believe. There were gaps in the logic, as if the CIA had the end result but no real explanation of how they got it. There's no way someone could just stumble on how to create a machine so perfect that it molded itself to the environment as fluently as code name LL did.
Light called into work sick that day – the first of many – and stayed awake for 32 hours straight just searching through all of the classified files for anything else he could find on the LL project.
If he understood everything correctly, and he knew he did, the LL was a man... only not.
The LL was a robot, but that didn't really describe him right either.
The LL was a thing that was based off of a code written by some retired genius who had lived under rocks his entire life and had sold his greatest achievement to the highest bidder. The code was a mutating script that changed based off of everything that the LL went through.
That was where Light got a little confused: how was the data input into the program? Did someone manually go in and add things for the AI to remember, to evaluate and then change the code to a more effective line? Or was there some sort of automatic updating system?
He wanted to know more, but the documents he was looking through simply did not have the answers. He modified his search filters, expanded the requirements, but still came up empty handed.
"What is this?" he whispered aloud, running the fingers of one hand through his greasy hair and pulling it back with a cringe. It had been four days since his last shower, which wasn't so surprising considering how focused he had been on his goal.
He retraced his steps and backed out of the CIA's server, triple checking things to make sure no bugs had been put into his own computer and rerouted any questioning pings with false IP addresses. He shut everything down, standing up with a groan when his knees cracked. He left the garbage behind to be cleaned up later, and then made his way to the bathroom with the unopened bottle of wine in his right hand. Just before hopping into the shower, he popped the cork and took a long swig right from the bottle, knowing that he had achieved something beyond anyone's imagination.
After breaking into a system once, it's not so hard to break into it again just as long as your first trail hadn't been discovered first. Two days later, Light found himself hacking back into the server, following the same procedure as before, only this time without having to work up his own code. His computer was recognized after a little more falsification, and he was granted access once more.
For months he followed the same routine. He'd pretend to be that average thirty-two year old professor when the sun was up, and he'd go to people's houses to fix their computers, networks, or anything else when the sun was going down. After sunset, when he was alone and had a chance to be himself, he'd sit in front of his own computers and continue his research.
Too worried about being caught, he refused to plant any spyware into the CIA's server or documents to monitor change, and so he would get into them manually every day and check for himself if any updates had been made to project LL.
Exactly three months and one day into his monitoring, he had a breakthrough. It was another one of those ground shattering, earth shaking discoveries that had him quivering in excitement. He held his breath as he clicked on the link to a simple .jpg file, and his skin broke out in goosebumps when the picture loaded.
It was of a wrist, but not a normal wrist.
It was thin and frail looking, as if the person had an eating disorder that left them with literally nothing more than skin and bones. That wasn't what was interesting about it, however. What was interesting was the two inch square of skin that had been cut out and removed to show the inner workings.
A circuit with a firewire plug.
He stared at his screen for a good hour, jaw hanging open in shock.
Somewhere on the planet, at that very moment, was an arm with a firewire port that could possibly be connected to a body, which would make it undoubtedly the most advanced form of AI technology ever. There was no other information about it, just a simple photo of a cut open wrist with wires and things that he hadn't even known was possible to put underneath skin.
He hurried and grabbed his key ring from where he'd tossed it on the dining room table the last time he'd come home from a drive, pulling off the cap to his small flash drive that was hooked onto the ring. He plugged the USB into his computer and saved the picture onto the drive. He knew better than to save it directly on his hard-drive.
Finished with that, he dug around the server a bit longer, hoping to stumble upon something else. He decided to give up for the day an hour later when the searching proved unfruitful. He checked the URL to the photo on a whim before closing down and found that it had been deleted. He didn't worry about it; if the image had been something that it couldn't stay on the network for longer than sixty minutes, then it was something very important.
He backed out of the server and shut down his computers, clutching his flash drive in his hand the entire time.
He had to tell someone about his findings. It was too huge to keep to himself.
"What is this? If this is just some screen cap from a movie, I'm going to beat you."
Light sighed and shook his head, not surprised by the questions but finding them annoying all the same. "It's something huge, something so big I can't even understand it."
Aizawa was just another average thirty year old with a knack for all things related to technology. Granted, he was more interested in photography, web design, and all things photoshop that most of the things Light came to him about went right over his head, but anyone with even a tiny bit of interest in technology knew about AIs.
"Is this really a fucking robot?" Aizawa leaned closer to the screen, nearly going cross eyed his face was so close to the image.
"I don't fucking know what it is," Light answered truthfully, slumping back in his seat and clasping his hands over his stomach. He stretched his legs out and crossed them at his ankles. "From the things that I read, it's an AI, but then some of the reports referred to it as a he, so I'm not sure."
Aizawa jerked back and looked at him with wide eyes. "He's a fucking human?" He turned back to the screen and regarded it more critically. "The skin looks real, but there's no blood. How can it be human if there's no blood?"
Light shrugged. "Good effects?" he suggested.
"I don't know, man. I just don't fucking know. Look at that. It's amazing, human or machine." He pressed his finger against the screen, right where the skin cut off to reveal all the wires. "I'd love to see the source code. Can you imagine how huge that would have to be?"
Light sat up again, more interested with where the conversation was going. "It is a mutating string, or something like that," he said. "Somehow, whatever the machine goes through gets added to its system and the code changes and grows based on its experiences."
Aizawa was slack-jawed again. "That's so amazing." He stared at the picture a little longer before regarding Light with curiosity. "Where did you hear about this?"
That was where their differences became a problem. Aizawa was goody-goody type of guy. He never really broke the law unless it involved getting a bit too drunk. Light wasn't afraid to hack and do all sorts of illegal things for his own amusement. Aizawa would not be pleased if he ever figured out that Light had tried (and succeeded) to hack into the CIA's servers. Being involved in techy things meant living with a healthy dose of paranoia, though Aizawa sometimes took that to extremes.
"You don't really care about that," Light said, hoping Aizawa would just take the hint and drop it. Of course he didn't.
"Light, if the military comes barging through my front door because I am looking at something that I have no business to be looking at, I'm going to haunt you after they put me to death." He was serious, too. Paranoia.
Light looked away, scratching under his chin in a nervous tick that he'd had since he was a little kid. Aizawa recognized it easily enough, and it was all the answer he needed.
"You crazy fucking bastard," he said, slumping back in his seat and pushing against the desk to roll away from it. As if putting distance between himself and the highly classified photo would save him from any possible incrimination.
Knowing that he was going to be kicked out of the house anyway, Light gathered his flash drive and stood. He pocketed it and pulled out his keys. "I swear nothing will happen to you. I covered my tracks, and I know no one put anything into my computer."
He left without saying goodbye, hurrying back home to his computer where project LL was just waiting to be discovered and ripped open. Waiting for him to unravel the pieces.
In order to keep his job, Light had no choice but to go into work the next few days. He couldn't skip out on so many classes that even his students started to get annoyed, so he decided to break a few rules and bring his two computers with him. He was addicted, he knew, to something so dangerous that it could potentially ruin his life, but he was too strung up on the idea to care.
He would show his students a few basic tips when it came to coding, and then he'd set them loose on an assignment that would take them a week to finish. He always kept one eye on his netbook, risking his neck because he was too scared to miss something to back out of the servers for more than ten minutes at a time. It took them less than an hour to remove the picture of that wrist, and he didn't want to miss anything else for something as ridiculous as taking a break.
It was during his two o'clock class on a Thursday that his computer beeped and a window popped up. He saw the screen flash out of the corner of his eye, but he forced himself to finish the lecture. He wrote up a basic code to please the students and to make them understand that he knew what he was talking about. It wouldn't do him any good to have one of the better students get so bored that they decided to hack into his seemingly unprotected computer on his big teacher's desk. There were a couple students that he had singled out within a week as troublesome. They'd probably turn out like him: average lives but with secrets that no one would ever guess.
When he was done with the lecture, he dismissed the class and sat at his desk, running his finger over the mouse pad to bring the screen back.
Before he'd gone to work, he'd written up a program that monitored the number of files on the CIA server. All it did was store the total number. If it increased, it retrieved the file that was added and displayed it in a new window. If the number decreased, then nothing happened. It was a very basic program, non-intrusive because he really didn't want to get caught. One error in the code would set off all the alarms, and he couldn't have that. Especially not before seeing project LL with his own eyes.
He tapped his fingers on his desk as the screen slowly lit up. Seconds later the tapping stopped, and he was sat with his head in his hands and his eyes focused on the newest bit of information on the AI.
Project LL was a man. It was clear.
The window showed a full body photograph of a man laying on a steel table with straps around his biceps, forearms, thighs, and shins. His eyes were closed, his face relaxed, and no bits of skin had been cut off to show any of the wiring that made up his body.
He knew it was LL, though, because this time the picture came with a caption.
Prototype LL source code inaccessible.
Light smiled at the picture, a strange feeling settling in his gut as he looked over the AI's black hair, his pale skin, and his bared body.
The most advanced form of technology on the planet wrapped up in the body of a gorgeous male.
Light wasn't sure what turned him on more: the fact that the man was simply attractive, or the AI aspect of it. Perhaps both.
He left campus that day with a raging hard-on, holding his laptop bag in front of himself in case someone walked by.
Popping open his last can of soda, Light typed on his computer with one hand as he took a drink. His eyes were heavy and his vision was blurry from lack of sleep. He rubbed his hands over his eyes after setting the soda aside, cupping his palm over his mouth as he yawned.
He'd fallen asleep on his keyboard just ten minutes before, and though he was hesitant to walk away for even a moment, he was starting to come to terms with the fact that he himself was not a machine.
Nothing of importance had been added to the database that evening, and so he backed out of the server and shut down his computers. He tried to think of anything other than project LL while he brushed his teeth and got ready for bed. He got as far as coming up with a possible grocery list that would need to be purchased sometime that week.
He was about to crawl into the sheets when a whirr of sound caught his attention. He looked over his shoulder and out of his bedroom door to where his desk was. He eyed his waking computers for a couple of seconds before mentally calling himself a coward and walking over to them.
The lid was closed, but he could see the light from the screen seeping out of the edges. He opened it calmly, ducking his head down slightly to get a glimpse of the screen before it was even up.
He was shocked to find that the log in screen had been bypassed, which even he had an extremely hard time doing if he didn't know the password. In the bottom corner of his desktop was a small black and white window. The image was unfocused and incredibly blurry.
He sat down at his chair and leaned closer, squinting his eyes and trying to make out just what he was seeing in the moving static.
The speakers hissed and squealed loudly, scaring him into jumping back with a high-pitched shout. He covered his ears to block out a bit of the white noise that his computer was making, the black and white image shifting and morphing in unrecognizable patterns.
Just when he was about to pull the plug to stop the noise, everything went silent. He let out a relieved breath and moved closer to the desk once more.
"What the fuck..." he whispered, grabbing the top of his laptop and tilting the screen further back.
There, in the small window that was completely unresponsive to any clicks of his mouse, was the image of a face staring back at him in the mess of white static.
notes: this is set in England, rather than Japan. Let me know what you think :)