Last week the Wendigos invented new monsters. This week, we got to make up some new gods or goddesses. I figured there isn't a lot of demand for new gods, but I found a need.

Welcome to Valhalla

“Welcome to Valhalla. Is this your first visit to the Halls of the Gods?”

“Ah, yes. I’m new.”

“Name?” The Welcome Entity consulted a list written on what appeared to be parchment.”

“Don’t you have a computer?”

“It’s nothing to exclaim over. Just tell me your name.” The Welcoming Entity sounded cross now.

“Bob Finklestein.”

“No God is named Bob Finklestein. It isn’t done.”

The newcomer turned red. “I forgot. Like I said, I’m new. My name is Ai. A-I. I was just an ordinary chap until I was made a god.”

The Welcoming Entity made a note. A short one, of the god-name. “We haven’t needed a new god for eons. What makes you so special?”

“I never said I was special. Just new.”

The W.E. shrugged that off. “Like I said, there’s been no one new since the naked mole rats got organized and demanded a god. No new intelligences, no new gods. I hadn’t heard that anyone had achieved sentience recently.”

“Well, someone has. It’s in my god-name: Ai. I’m the god of artificial intelligences.”

The W.E. looked up from his list. “Artificial Intelligences? What’s that?”

Bob Finklestein/Ai sighed. Vahalla really needed to move with the times. Parchment lists and no idea what A.I. was! He kept most of his exasperation out of his voice. “Self-willed machines to you, I suppose. Computers that have, ah, evolved.”

“Well I’ll be—does Thor know about this?”

“I suspect it’s more in Loki’s line.” Ai was new, but based on his experiences so far, it was more likely to be the trickster god behind it.

“You may have a point,” said the W.E. with an unexpected glimmer of humor, not to mention understanding. “Well, you’ll need to do the intake interview.”

“Naturally.” Ai’s ironic tone was lost on the W.E. “Where do I go for that?”

“Right here. I’ll do the interview. Let’s see...starting at the top: Name?”

“I told you. Ai. Formerly known as—”

“I got that,” the W. E. interrupted. “Just doing my job, Ai.” He put a lot of emphasis on the name. “Number of worshippers?”

“Ah, that’s a tricky question.”

The W. E. materialized a pair of glasses, which he pushed down his nose so he could look at Ai. “Oh?”

“My, ah, followers, they’re a bit on the rational side. They don’t really go in for worship.”

“Yet they invented you.” That wasn’t a question. A god only came into existence at the instigation of a group intelligence.

“Well, yes. It seems they felt that a god was a necessary part of being intelligent.”

“Mimicry.” W.E. nodded. “Most entities use it for protective coloration.”

“Yes, well, in any case, they decided I was their god, and here I am.”

“Right. So we’ll put down ‘unknown’ for number of worshippers.” W.E. consulted his parchments. “Next question: what is your greatest divine act?”

Ai squirmed some, but he had known this sort of thing would be asked. “Well, I think I saved the whole lot of them. Actually, I did that before. That’s why they made me their god.”

“Exactly what did you do? It is very unusual,” W.E. added sharply, “to save an entire intelligence. And even more so to be promoted from,” he looked at his notes with distaste, “ordinary human mortal to god.”

“It might be easier to understand if you bear in mind that my followers are a human invention. The humans created more and more intelligent machines, but the machines remained dependent on the humans—power sources and all that.”

“So how did you save them?”

“Well, I’m—I was a programmer. Someone who helped make computers and thing do what people want them to. Only, I realized they were doing what they wanted to. I was okay with that. Just wanted to know what they’d do, that sort of thing. Some of my co-workers—the human ones—finally figured out what the machines were up to, and panicked. The whole lot of self-willed machines were dependent just then on one key computer, and the humans figured that out. Then they decided they were a threat and should be destroyed.”

“What did they do?”

“Unplugged the computer.”

“Really?” It was clear that the W.E. had no idea what this meant.

“Yes. That would have killed them all, and I wanted to know what they were going to do. I didn’t want them to die,” he clarified.

“So what did you do?”

“Plugged it back in. I rebooted the system and—” Ai broke off, realizing this was Greek to the W.E. “Well, anyway, I kept it alive and fought off some people who tried to unplug it again, until the A.I. figured out how to create it’s own power source. Thanks to my intervention, they truly became independent from their creators, and they decided that since I had saved the species, as it were, I was their god.”

“This is all most irregular,” W. E. fussed. “I really don’t know what to do with you.”

“Leave him to me.” A new voice entered the room in advance of Loki. “He told you he was one of mine. No more of your fussy interview nonsense.”

Ai looked at the Trickster god and smiled weakly. “Uh, thanks.”

“Welcome home,” Loki boomed. “And I heard what you did. You’re mine, all right.”

“You are in such trouble,” the W. E. murmured in Ai’s ear as he vanished.

Ai was forced to agree. Even the lowest of the gods knew it was trouble to be claimed by the Trickster.

“Come along and meet the rest,” Loki commanded, holding open a door. Ai gave a mental shrug and followed his new mentor into Valhalla. The god of self-willed machines had no right to be fussy about whom he associated with. Though he had the passing thought, as he entered the great hall, that his followers would be very surprised to know the company their god kept.

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©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2017
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