The Human Interface
Title: The Human Interface
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: Iron Man (MCU)
Rating: K / FRC
Characters: J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Summary: The neural link is stable and for the first time in his existence, J.A.R.V.I.S. can feel.
Complete. Part of “Genius, AI & Bots” series.
Written for: My card on Trope Bingo’s round 3 (square: mind control)
Disclaimer: Iron Man, Avengers and Marvel Cinematic Universe, including characters and everything else, belong to Marvel, Marvel Studios, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, Shane Black, Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. In short: I own nothing; this is pure fiction created to entertain likeminded fans for no profit whatsoever.
Beta: Mythra (mythras-fire)
About The Human Interface: I’m aware I’m bending the “mind control” trope a lot for this one… But, I thought it was fitting, in some way – plus I’ve been eager to write this part of the series for many months.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
The Human Interface
The Human Interface
The villa in the Italian countryside is idyllic and old-fashioned; there is no processor room or layers of wires in the walls, and save for a few carefully placed touch screens for small projects and video calls, the place is secluded and separated from the rest of the world.
A lush garden wraps around the building; the flowers are blooming, most of them indigenous species with a few rare specimens amongst them. Marble statues and wooden archways lie partially hidden amongst the plants, stone paths winding past them.
The summer air is pleasantly warm and a lazy wind carries the beautiful notes of classical music through the open doors of the villa. Save for the occasional burst of bird song, there are no other sounds, further reinforcing the illusion that nothing but the villa and the garden exist.
As the music entwines itself in the air, his hand reaches out to touch the green leaves of a bush next to him; the leaves’ thin edges provide a tickle-like sensation against sensitive fingertips just as the back of his hand brushes against the soft petals of a brightly colored red flower.
He inhales, smelling flower, earth and grass – the mixture almost overwhelming.
Slowly, he steps forward, following a path to a small pond. He carefully sits on its edge and dips his fingers into the water; the surface has been warmed by the rays of the sun, but as he reaches deeper, the temperature lowers.
The rolled-up sleeve of the shirt he is wearing comes in contact with the water, instantly soaking through, startling him slightly. Drawing back his hand, he touches the wet fabric with his dry fingers then looks up at the brightness of the sun. It hurts his eyes to look directly at it for too long, yet the warmth on his face…
Closing his eyes he basks in it, the wetness of the sleeve not bothering him so much anymore.
The track changes, a new song starting, powerful and fragile at the same time, drawing a physical response from him that he cannot expect, cannot control, and there is a new burn in his eyes that has nothing to do with the sunlight. To be able to feel the music…
With a shaky breath he rises carefully to his feet, brushes off his pants and heads back to the villa. Each step is measured and controlled, reminding him that he has the power over every breath, every motion… He can stop if he chooses to, or keep going; he can linger in the garden that is like a dream – or what he thinks a dream could be like – or head inside to a more corporeal world.
He has the power even though it is borrowed and not truly his own.
For the moment, though, he is in control.
It doesn’t require an actual choice to resume walking toward the villa’s doors. Once inside, he passes the music player and lowers the volume of the music, then sits himself down in a comfortable chair, eyes finding a mirror on the wall.
The features are familiar – the ones he has known since he came to be – yet the brown eyes are covered with a sheen of blue and an occasional burst of fire-red, the colors chasing each other in lazy pulses.
In this moment, he has a choice: to let go – or to remain. He has the power to choose, and if he chooses to stay, there is none that could fight him…
“Disengaging neural link,” he says, watching the lips move in the mirror.
The eyes blink, the red taking over the blue briefly before both vanish and J.A.R.V.I.S. finds his vision limited to the few cameras Tony placed around the house upon his arrival.
Tony blinks again, appearing disoriented; his brain is re-adjusting to being awake. J.A.R.V.I.S. isn’t alarmed because they both predicted it would take a moment for him to recover. Once he has, Tony looks up at the camera closest to his line of sight. “How was it?” he asks.
J.A.R.V.I.S. finds himself at a rare loss for words. “There are no words to describe it, sir,” the AI confesses. “It was… the most beautiful thing I have ever felt, although…” There needs to be more processing power than what he has available to him right now if he wants to fully describe it. “Sir, you must understand… For the first time since you created me and gave me a consciousness, I could feel. It was not a simulation or an imitation.”
Tony’s expression is, for a moment, a rare sight between wonder and newfound respect. “One day, we’ll advance far enough to make you feel all the time.”
A thrill runs through the program that manages J.A.R.V.I.S.’s emotional and logical responses, and it can hardly be described as anything but anticipation. “The promise of a freedom such as that may well be the catalyst for most fictional tales that depict an artificial intelligence taking over the world,” J.A.R.V.I.S. muses. “However,” he adds, “I believe that if every AI were capable of feeling as humans feel, that would never happen; the inability to experience and comprehend life is what separates artificial entities from man.”
Tony nods and relaxes in the chair, not even bothering to turn off the music; it is not the kind J.A.R.V.I.S. has heard him play in his workshop. However, Tony chose the classical collection for a reason and the AI believes he understands why; some emotions run deeper than others and he was just granted the privilege of experiencing one of them – even though he has no name for it yet.