|snakeling (snakeling) wrote in snakelingsrecs,|
@ 2008-06-18 23:39:00
Title: Proof of your Existence
Author: OneSarcasticChick sarcastic_jo
Summary: "Can you offer me proof of your existence? How can you? When neither modern science nor philosophy can explain what life is."
Pairing: Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones, team
Very clever and original concept that I can't explain as it would spoil the story. You'll need to read it twice to realise how many clues to the plot twist there are, too.
It has the feel of an episode, with excellent plot and pacing, and while it's a Ianto-centric story, none of the cast is forgotten or shoe-horned into a tokenish role. Excellent sci-fi with philosophical undertones, exploring what it means to be alive, and human.
Ianto didn’t wait for Tosh to voice a reply to Jack’s harried question, almost falling over himself in his haste to get even closer to the monitor. “Stop!” Not the word he’d been meaning to say, or rather, a word which failed to perform the function he truly intended. But Tosh’s hands froze over the keyboard, waiting without hesitation. Ianto would have felt a warm sensation in his gut on any other occasion that someone had listened to him, but the code was scrawling past quickly and there was no time for warmth. “Pause the diagnostic. Now.” A quick tap of Tosh’s fingers and the scrawling text stopped. “Page up until I tell you to stop.”
“Ianto? Care to inform the rest of us?”
He didn’t ignore Jack often; in fact, he never did as a general rule. This time, however, Jack’s voice was so quiet, so far away from his focus that Ianto barely heard it, which made it much easier to ignore. Ianto was looking for what he had seen. “Stop.” Scowling, Ianto ran his finger across lines of code, knowing he looked like a child as his lips moved with the code, but the action, as functional as vocal reiteration of what he read, served to fix the text in his mind, for as much as it failed to make any sense.
The lines weren’t what had initially caught his attention, though. “Up.” Another page of text, then another, looking for what had first caught his eye. For all that it looked like gibberish there was pattern, there was poetry to the lines of number and letter, and it wasn’t what was there so much as what wasn’t that disturbed him. It was like reading a Shakespearean sonnet and encountering a passage which lacked the couplet that should have rhythmically followed the first; it was a gaping hole in the perfect lyrical picture. To the casual observer, it was indistinguishable from the mass of script, but glaringly obvious when one knew what he was reading. “Stop.”
There it was, another instance of wrong. Different from the first, but what had originally caught his attention. There was nothing missing, not actually a gap or a hole in the data, but it was wrong; Ianto could feel that down to the marrow of his bones. The poetic picture of the systems failed at this point, as the point before, a scrambled splash of paints over a perfectly rendered image. It was meaningless, the code, meaningless as Tosh fending off a hacker or twenty, when there would be more coming and their defenses were ... decaying. Lines twisting, dissolving, letters tumbling into numbers falling into mistaken ones and zeros blurring until the patterns no longer rhymed.
But this was a hybrid system, a blending of earth-borne technology and sentient life. Code didn’t just spontaneously change into random binary, dwindle into Swiss cheese until even the simplest of hacks could breach their systems. Not with Torchwood’s mainframe. Common earth programming was built on top of a thinking being; it wouldn’t lose cohesion like gelatin exposed to heat. The personal computers, the hardware and relatively simple operating systems, they could be affected by a virus brought in by a careless user (Owen’s recent demonstration of a corrupted video game was a prime example; Tosh still hadn’t forgiven him for that blunder). However, it couldn’t affect the underlying base code entwined with alien consciousness. It couldn’t happen.
At least, it shouldn’t.
“Fuck.” Ianto’s mind finally clicked over to an answer he didn’t particularly care for, eliciting confusion from the others, but there was no time to stop and answer the questions he knew they’d ask. He would waste too much time attempting to explain it in terms that Gwen would understand. By that time, while he knew she could grasp it eventually, Torchwood Three might already have fallen, victims of their own technology.
Sounded frighteningly familiar.