Author's Note: This picks up right after The Man Was a Hero and is a direct sequel, even though both stories can be read as their own stand-alone. The Man Was a Hero follows John's journey from the Fed vault to the rooftop, filling the blanks of the episode, and I did my best to make it canon compliant. Similarly to the episode it does leave the door just opened enough to the idea that John might have made it. The present story explores this idea and is thus an alternate ending to the finale episode.
Many thanks to JinkyO for the beta and advice!
MAYBE THIS ISN'T THE END AT ALL
To understand people, I spent a lot of time watching them, studying them. I looked for patterns, common denominators that would reveal to me the essence of human beings. I watched them in joy. I watched them in pain. At the beginning, I couldn't understand. I couldn't understand their obsession with loss. I would watch them preciously keep old pictures of lost loves, images of beloved parents gone too soon, listening over and over to one last message randomly left on voicemail.
Now I understand.
I've rewatched over a thousand billion times the last few seconds before the death of Analog Interface. I keep wondering where it went wrong, what I could have done differently, if maybe, maybe, I could have saved her.
I need to figure it out, analyse step by step the path that led to this undesired outcome. And maybe, if I figure it out, maybe I will be able to prevent any further losses. And then, maybe Analog Interface wouldn't have died in vain.
One of the first things Admin taught me was the game of chess. Chess isn't that hard to master for an AI, but it was a good learning tool. For a long time, just like a chess master, I have been strategizing by anticipating my adversaries' moves rounds in advance. This is what I was built for. But now I realize anticipating their moves isn't enough. I need to have the whole game played out before the game starts. Before my opponent even starts putting its pieces on the board.
I also need more pieces.
And new rules.