cyus: (Merlin)
[personal profile] cyus
Title: Proxy
Characters/Pairing: Merlin/Arthur
Rating: PG
Length: 1900 words
Summary: Merlin performs the final systems check for Day Zero. With the culmination of the revolution only a few hours away, Arthur is ready.
Notes: Originally written for [livejournal.com profile] kinkme_merlin here. Beta'd by [livejournal.com profile] misswinterhill.

The leaves were turning. Winter would be knocking on his door soon, bringing the cold and snow for the next few months to come. The money for insulation of his shack had gone into the silicon chips and titanium drives. He had the gleaming technology of the new age, and the wind to keep him company as he gloved up and hacked his little soul out in the dead of the night.

"I'll be frying your arse," Merlin muttered to himself as he typed the string of code, switched windows, and typed In into the chat box field. Gwaine gave him a virtual thumbs up. Leon added code in real time as Merlin was watching. The others were logging in one by one, cracking their way through the final walls before the big fat Zero of tomorrow.

Merlin hadn't seen sleep in days, and his world existed in patterns of code.

Starting the countdown, popped up on the screen, Lancelot calling them to arms.

Merlin cursed as his typing got frantic and he pulled the experimental strings into the right window. They looked like they should work and this was the moment that instinct better be paying off big style.

Last phase, Merlin typed, then switched windows again, moving in and in and in until the final wall cracked and Camelot's megacorp symbol turned a slow circle on his screen.

Switch servers in 3, in 6, in 9, in 12, Leon wrote, and Merlin waited for his mark and switched on the nine. The logo was still turning, jump successful for all of them.

Breaking it in 10, Lancelot typed.

Merlin's heart beat in his throat, fingers clammy, and it was the wrong moment to wish for warm tea or a nice bottle of champs.

Merlin watched the small clock tick down in the corner of his screen. And five and four and three and two and one. Knights Of The Roundtable imprinted itself on every page of the mega corp slash secret service sites, the gleaming sword crossing the dragon, the stylized late twentieth century graffiti tag signing it underneath.

Corruption successful, Merlin typed then punched the air and did the world's smallest victory dance amidst plastic casing, cables and titanium drives. They were better, faster and more powerful than the mega corps and they were bringing it, sealing down the closed market bullshittery with vigilante effort.

Good work, Leon wrote. Weaving magic again, Merlin.

"Tsk a dum-yah, owning the burnt ground with a hammer, making love to techtrick banners, freezing up, digging out, shizzling the drizzle until you're fucked out," Merlin rapped in low monotone under his breath as he settled back on his chair, head nodding in time to the beat as he cleaned up, switched servers twice more and copied codes between windows. "Mark the zero, mark the spot, X owns your shit when your shit's corrupt. Day Zero's dawn, we'll ride in form, Knights to the Table, laying our lives down. Swearing fealty, promising trust, Knights to the Table, our heads bowed to this."

Signing off, he typed, excitement making his fingers shake. Countdown's on. He wiped the drive of everything and only then felt the draft again that dragged in the cold under the door.

A message popped up on the second computer still connected through a few base ports. Twenty-four hours, it said, sent by an IP.

Merlin's fingers stroked over the keyboard in a flutter, but he went with Y and shut down Leon's worries with the same surety he did his network for the next few hours, going blind against retaliation from the corp.

Merlin swivelled with the chair. "Day Zero's dawn, we'll ride in form," Merlin began to whisper in rhythmic beat. "Knights to the Table, laying our lives down. Swearing fealty, promising trust, Knights to the Table, our heads bowed to this."

He stopped the movement of the chair with a drag of his trainers across the floor.

A last glance at the computers, then he stood and crossed the room slowly. He knelt to the metal lump and clicked a few switches, connected a few last safety cables and leaned across to drag his work box closer. He plugged his laptop into the closed-circuit with a few cables and powered everything up. The cold seeped into his knees as he typed on the keyboard, entering the first codes.

"Merlin," sounded from the speaker of both Merlin's laptop and the metal lump.

Merlin looked across, then immediately averted his eyes. "Sire," he said, feeling the smile play across his face as he nodded, then turned back to the laptop. "Don't worry about..." Merlin gestured vaguely to the connections between laptop and lump. "It's-"

"You're plugged into my crotch, Merlin," the speakers thundered.

"Convenient access?" Merlin quipped and turned the laptop speakers off as he continued to type. He scooted backwards until he leaned against the wall, arse pressed to the bare cement, laptop on his knees.

"I fail to see the humour."

Merlin glanced up again, and Lumpy, as Merlin had nicknamed him -- even though he went by King Arthur because they were all hopeless romantics leading a modern day revolution --, sat up too, creaking a bit in the metal joints.

"You would," Merlin said with a wry smile and a catch in his throat that existed entirely as an extension of the pathetic romantic notions. "Feeling good?"

"Feeling, distinctly, little," Arthur replied as he stood, anthropomorphized to the max, cables trailing from his crotch (without any of the really cool mods) to Merlin's laptop. "You changed this," he pointed a thumb at his breastplate. The sword crossing the dragon and their tag stood in stark gold on red on Arthur's chest.

Merlin modified the last specs in the software, the last few fixes where troubleshooting had thrown up leaks and bleeds that shouldn't be there, but in effect he was busying himself with something just to keep his fingers working and his mind turned off.

"We did it today," he said to Arthur, to make conversation with a few metal plates and harddrives that pretended at intelligence. "We're... there," he said, as he looked up Arthur's length standing in front of him. "Tomorrow you'll be crowned ruler of Albion."

"No database entry for...," Arthur began until Merlin rolled his eyes. Arthur sucked balls at intelligence but he did fine with humour occasionally.

"We'll make them all bow to you," Merlin continued. He opened a new window and pulled up the apps, made Arthur blink and made Arthur purse his lips for a kiss, and ran the routines. Merlin watched Arthur as he typed the commands, then ceased, fingers stilling on the keyboard.

He reached out and traced his fingers over Arthur's foot, following the crudely cut metal plating to his ankle and knee, then rubbed his thumb around the cables plugged into his crotch plate. They'd all had need of the dirty jokes when constructing Lumpity Lump.

"I hope they'll like you," Merlin said as if it mattered.

"I am Change," Arthur said, as if cued, speaking with his tongue half extended until Merlin ended that routine with a laugh, unnoticed by the big lump of a little stupid.

The world outside had fallen silent. Curfew had been called hours ago and no one would be out until hours from then. Only the sizzle of electricity above Merlin's shack crackled into the dead silence of little life.

Arthur stood tall. "I'll serve those who choose to stand with me, for a new dawn and the beginning of better times," he said into the silence.

"Swearing fealty, promising trust, Knights to the Table, our heads bowed to this," Merlin murmured and bowed his head, choking on his stupid corrosive tears when Arthur's hand carded through his hair, sharp edges scratching at his scalp.

Camelot Corp had no Plan B, no alternative to making way when they'd march into the city come morning and take over HQ, culminating years into that.

"Sit?" Merlin said with scratchy throat as he scooted to the side and Arthur navigated the mess of cables and plunked himself against the wall next to Merlin with a screech of metal. "You just fucking scratched your paintjob," Merlin said as he bent Arthur forward to check his arse, then let him settle back. "Wanker."

Arthur ignored him and leaned forward to touch his toes, running through the independent protocols that Merlin only received feedback for but didn't control. Arthur's fingers played around the plugs on his crotch, making to pull, until Merlin's hand settled over his, stilling him.

The protocol ran, signaling upper harddrive activity for Arthur, named "Brain" for convenience, but he didn't move, only stared at Merlin's fingers with high-def camera lenses.

"We took them down tonight," Merlin said again, forcing his voice to sound a little less unsure and wondering but he gave up when it only choked out strangely. "Breathed the fire of destruction."

"To the K, the I, the L and GHARRAH, sliding your systems into the low bar, swords sheathed we stand, swords out we fight, destruction for peace, represent: the Knights," Arthur intoned in an attempt at rhythmic.

Merlin laughed, then dropped his head back to the wall and slowly slid closer to Arthur until he felt Arthur's shoulder under his cheek, cool and calm against his overheated skin.

"Should it feel like something more?" Merlin asked into the silence and the steady scroll of brain activity on the laptop on his knees. "It's triumph, we'll take it all back. Everything they've..." he trailed off, then turned his face to Arthur's shoulder, pressing a kiss to unfeeling metal. "You'll do good," he said.

"I am King Arthur," Arthur replied, turning all arguments to dust, and Merlin granted him the chuckle. "I am yours," Arthur continued, working on protocol, but it made Merlin's chest tight anyway.

Lumpy wasn't Arthur, and he was only a hack not some sorcerer from the legends, but Merlin pushed closer to the bits of metal he half controlled, half didn't and which said stupid shit most-

"I want a feast!"

-of the time. He didn't want to look outside to see how far they'd come to the big Zero and he didn't want to get up to check the message informing him of the countdown's progress.

"It's the final checks, you know," Merlin said. "Then I'll, well,..." he looked at Arthur and traced his fingers over the breastplate and the hard features of his face. "Then I'll bow to you like the rest of them. You better not fuck up and malfunction mid-ceremony. I'd never live it down."

Arthur said nothing, only fixed Merlin with bright blue lenses, and then he pursed his lips, and Merlin laughed and gave him that kiss, tasting metal and little else.

"Idiot," Arthur said.

Merlin smiled. The insults register had been one of his own ideas. They'd come in handy when ruling big style.

Merlin pushed the laptop off his knees and straddled Arthur's hips, crushing plugs underneath his weight. "I- you have everything I-" Merlin started and gestured to his computers and the hardware and the sheer amount of code steadily trickling across the screens. "I hope it's enough, I've got nothing else," Merlin said, shrugging, hands on Arthur's hips. "It's on you, now," he whispered.

He stole another kiss, and this time, he thought there was love somewhere among the metallic taste. There they were again with the pathetic romantic notions.

"I am King Arthur, I am yours," Arthur said into the first moments of dawn, and it filled Merlin's chest to bursting with pride.

Date: 2011-01-10 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lolafeist.livejournal.com
I love this. I can't even explain why. Augh.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks. I like how it turned out, I think, and it's one of the few fics that I had a bit of a clear image of before I started writing, somewhere I wanted it to go emotionally or whatever, and I think it worked here. So yeah, thanks for the comment, appreciate it.

Date: 2011-01-10 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starshine24mc.livejournal.com
This could have been epic fail, but wins on every level. Disturbing, sure--robot sex has been populating popular cinema and silent porn dreams since, well, ever, but cold metal is always sure to provoke a mental shiver as well as a physical one. Romantic? Absolutely, in the best Merlin way (just finished a marathon of the first two series this weekend and it sounds just like them!) Fascinating, as well--I'm pretty much a 'press the button, hope for the best' kind of computer geek (took years to figure out email wasn't a little man in the hard drive with a teleporter ;) ) so the technical jargon was at just the right level to be believable, and also slightly confusing, which is just about right. And finally, we all know Camelot is always going to be full of heroes, whether knights and squires and adorable servants, or cyber-terrorists and the programs that love them!

Cheers! and thanks!

Date: 2011-01-21 10:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Usually when people write non-canon AU it's modern AUs set in today's time. There's a steampunk AU, I know of, and there's probably a handful of others, but yeah, with robot as part of the prompt, I figured I might as well go all out and do cyberpunk, essentially. Glad to hear the characters still sound like themselves even across the change in genres. Personally, the idea of Merlin making Arthur who he is, that stood at the centre for me, and the prompt was pretty great to play with in that respect because it was possible to make that very literal. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it. Thanks.

Date: 2011-01-10 09:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bananahater336.livejournal.com
I think what I liked best about this is that you know immediately when Arthur makes his appearance in the story that he's a robot, but you never get a sense that Merlin is weird or crazy for loving him because he created him and he's therefore everything he could want. I love that he programmed the insults into him. That's really cool and seems just self-deprecating enough to work for Merlin. This is all sort of sad though, that he loves this machine so devoutly, when Arthur can't really give much to him, except the new world they want, but that seems to be all Merlin needs anyway. Anyway, this is glorious. <3

Date: 2011-01-21 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks for your comment. Yeah- Merlin giving Arthur everything and Arthur just existing, it's certainly a bit of a parallel to one interpretation you could get from the canon as we see it, so it was good to play with the themes a bit (King Arthur as Merlin's construct, Merlin's self-less love,...) in essentially a cyberpunk context. I'm still a little surprised that it, imo, worked quite this well, but apparently cyberterrorism and medieval times aren't all that dissimilar :D Thanks.

Date: 2011-01-10 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] archaeologist-d.livejournal.com
THis was great. I loved how there was humor in there as well as action in taking down Camelot. Loved Arthur and how he kept telling Merlin that Arthur was his.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks very much! I certainly developed a fondness for Arthur as I was writing this :)

Date: 2011-01-10 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eldee.livejournal.com
Ooo, fascinating! I love the world you set up, in such few words but seamless and quickly swept me into it. For the premise, very interesting and the characterizations worked so well for both. Lovely!

Date: 2011-01-21 10:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks. It took a few false starts as I was trying to figure out where to go. That it became cyberpunk somewhat is ultimately rather fitting if a bit accidental. Glad it worked.

Date: 2011-01-10 11:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chicaintcheap.livejournal.com
robot!Arthur. Oooh, you genius. I love this. I don't think I've ever read fic like this in this fandom. It's original and brilliant and funny and bittersweet and wonderfully written, as usual.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
I was actually trying to think if I've read cyberpunk!AUs in Merlin before. I know there's the Steampunk one - but it actually makes me want to see out different-time-period AUs now because I'm sure they exist. I'm glad it hit all those buttons there for you. Appreciate the comment, thanks.

Date: 2011-01-11 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janiecat.livejournal.com
This was brilliant! It worked on absolutely every level. I want to see this as a series. I love the *ideas* you've seeded in the story. Is Arthur really just Merlin's construct, or is he becoming self-aware enough to Know What He Wants? Your future is bleak, with hope as a beginning, not an end. I just want to read more about what happens in this verse, and what happens to Merlin with his computer magic, and Arthur with Merlin's code and then see what (if anything) can develop between them. Thanks for sharing!

Date: 2011-01-21 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Arthur as a construct, after writing this, I actually want to write a canon fic with that theme made explicit in the canon era rather than transferred here to be a more ... literal interpretation of the thought. I'm glad the world-building worked here in this short space, always a bit tricky to write AUs without going epic. So yeah, glad you liked it, and loved reading your thoughts on it.

Date: 2011-01-11 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minnie0707.livejournal.com
Whoa - that was amazing! I'm usually a canon era kind of girl but I really loved this. Even though the setting as a sci-fi future AU is about a far from Camelot as you can get I could still hear Merlin and Arthur's voices come across. You did a great job creating a feel of a much larger universe without overwhelming the essence of the story.

Fantabulous!

Date: 2011-01-21 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks! That was what I was hoping to achieve, that even in this cyberpunk context, the voices and dynamics still work (and to be honest, they probably work better here than in Modern AUs I've written). I said further up to someone that I'm actually tempted to play with that idea of Arthur as Merlin's construct in a canon era fic now. It's something that's not really made explicit in the show but Merlin certainly sees his role as the one who helps Arthur become a good king - it makes you wonder how much of the great King Arthur is actually all Merlin.

Might be interesting to explore without employing a different genre to make that construct-idea literal. But yeah - mostly it's a lovestory, this one, I guess, even without all that. Glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2011-01-11 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] misswinterhill.livejournal.com
I love this so much. I only realised the other night how influential it's been in my planning for the BB fic. I love the little raps, and Merlin's shoes on the floor, and the insults register and the whole WORLD.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Aww. I can't wait for your BB actually, but yeah, I'm happy with how this turned out, and you know me, I'm such a shipper, one of my favorite bits is Merlin being so utterly in love with Arthur. Thanks for your help on this.

Date: 2011-01-11 11:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] snottygrrl.livejournal.com
this seems to be my day of reading things that are really well done, and achingly bittersweet. lovely glimpse into a seemingly dystopian world and a little band of fighters. beautifully done.

[*goes off to find something a bit more lighthearted*]

Date: 2011-01-21 10:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
It was a great world to play with, so I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the comment.

Date: 2011-01-12 10:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunken-standard.livejournal.com
I'm so in awe of how you made such a rich universe in so (relatively) few words, along with being able to interject humor and emotion. Really well done.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks. I'm rather happy with how it turned out, too. Granted, I haven't reread it since I posted it and if I did I'd probably find a lot of things to change or improve or whatnot, but I'm happy with what it does as a story, I think. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Date: 2011-01-13 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] topgeargirl2.livejournal.com
I really enjoyed this.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Thanks very much. :) Glad to hear that.

Date: 2011-01-16 03:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thismaz.livejournal.com
Strange, but very interesting. Lonely and sad, but hopeful. I really enjoyed this. Thanks.

Date: 2011-01-21 10:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cyus.livejournal.com
Certainly a departure from canon :D but I was actually surprised by how well it worked and how much easier it is to transfer dynamics and ideas to a time-period-AU than say a regular modern AU. Glad it worked, and thanks for the comment, I appreciate it.

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