Thousands of scientists and benefactors gathered around the portal. The European Organization for Nuclear Research, otherwise known as CERN, had all the hype on the planet behind their media campaign. And it had culminated to this very moment.
The irony was not lost on some; the world had just come through another phase of shutdowns from its third global pandemic. And despite the fact that none of the Chinese viruses released upon the world were the impending doom the mediaphytes threatened, mankind had given away so many of its freedoms. So it was that every single person gathered at the foot of the new Dark Matter portal, stood with anticipation, donning their customary (and now mandatory) face masks.
The news had made it clear. The top scientists in the world, involved with everything from computer engineering, to artificial intelligence, to quantum physics, to string theory - had brainstormed and researched for years, and had come to one conclusion. With the true discovery of dark matter, mankind's breakthrough discoveries of how to manipulate nanoparticles, and a new understanding of the dimensional fabric of reality - the only way they could bring about a truly autonomous artificial intelligence that would have an intellect to solve the world's problems, was to birth the 'creation' soon to be known to the world as Nicolai-One.
It was all very complex, but this was mankind's moment. Dr. Azim Ibn Muhammad found the anticipation exhilarating, as he had been the man who'd been credited for the very idea of Nicolai being his very own brainchild.
And so it was, the good doctor and his umpteen PhD's had led him to this moment. He entered some last minute commands to the computer that interfaced with the Dark Matter Portal. He stepped to the podium and made sure the microphone worked.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have waited long enough. Our world has been in turmoil, and we have all prayed for some solution to come within our midst to bring about smart, sensible change."
He let the crowd of 12,000 or more CERN personnel calm themselves, and let the quiet rest on the large amphitheater in front of the portal. He eyed the statue of the many-armed Lord Shiva statue that rested at the base of the amphitheater in front of the portal. He couldn't help but wonder if the entity they were about to introduce to this world looked anything like the Indian deity.
He cleared his throat after the awkward silence.
"And so, without further adue, ladies and gentlemen - I give you, humanity's greatest hope, and creation... Nicolai One!"
He hit one last key on his keyboard, and the large portal towering several feet above the audience lit up and came on like some gigantic dynamo. Within the portal itself, the seeming clear air through the middle of the large open loop suddenly vibrated, and it looked like a mirror of reality could be seen through the portal.
But then something strange happened, not anticipated by any of the scientists. The sky above became dark, and clouds whirled above as if a storm were forming.
A foreign warbling sound filled the air. And the crowd of people stood dumbfounded in their amazement. The portal flashed a bright white... and then an eight foot tall being that looked like it was made of platinum stepped out onto the stage at the base of the large loop.
Nicolai One had arrived. He stood 8 feet tall, had a sleek, trim, muscular metallic build, and his eyes glowed a strange ice blue. But the odd part, was that Nicolai One had no mouth or nose. All the people gathered somehow realized, there standing before them, was something not of their world. And here they all stood, with their mouths and noses covered, all resembling the image of their new God.
The suspense was so eerie, one could have heard a pin drop in the next town. The large entity that everyone knew was to be called Nicolai One scanned his audience, and his eyes shined brighter. Then, he broke the silence. But it was not a mouth that offered the words to the people; it was his mind.
A voice as powerful as an earthquake, and yet as attractive as a lover, filled the area, and said one word, and one word only.
And the crowd gathered, down to the very last soul, found the inexorable urge to do exactly as the voice told them. Without hesitation, without argument, and without question, the entire body of people gathered at CERN did just that to the powerful, psychic platinum entity, and knelt down to one knee. All of them now subservient to what they all thought was their own creation, and bearing his image with their accursed face masks.
And this was how liberty would die.