(WP) Child of Steel

(WP) Child of Steel

               It happened when she fell down and cut her knee; the skin had torn off, and she’d been expecting dark, thick oil streaming down her leg. But instead, bright blood dripped like liquid rubies down her leg.

               She didn’t understand it; their entire society had weeded out humans, more than a century ago now. There were no persons that had any human left. But this was what she knew as blood, the facts speeding through her brain, and her pain receptors firing.

               How was it possible that she had human blood? She looked around her; luckily, this area was so far away from the capital that hopefully no one had seen. But even as she turned away from the barren, rocky wasteland and began to power up to go home, her mind would not quiet.

               Being human—any trace of human culture at all—was a crime, in this day and age. After the bloody wars between men, machines, and the union of both, resulting in the birth of the cyborg race, the humans had all been eliminated. Their blind emotion had led to the slaughter of thousands, and so the robotic government had taken action, quietly and swiftly.

               Every human had been slaughtered, and the cyborgs took their place. But the highest in the pecking order (XS-12 had been studying up on human idioms, out of curiosity and boredom.) were the ones that lingered, that were all machines. They were as gods in the here and now.

               Their word was law, and the first one was no humans. Even what knowledge she’d gleaned was illegal, and somehow, through what reasonings she couldn’t understand, she’d always been resistant to the routine brain scans throughout the day. It hadn’t been anything alarming when she was a child; everyone had hoped that it was just a glitch.

               She felt something connecting, clicking and whirring and coming together like puzzle pieces. Something about her was not normal, not routine, not if she was bleeding anything but the standard motor oil. She wiped it up as best she could, pocketing the handkerchief and beginning to run back toward the city, toward home.

               In order to distract herself from this startling revelation, she concentrated on running, on moving her feet, one after another. She enjoyed physical exercise, even if she didn’t actually require it to function. Too soon, she arrived at her home, a sleek steel and glass structure that was in the middle of the Capitol, where she lived with her caretakers.

               Every robot not of age was by law required to have a pair of caretakers to usher them into adulthood, and take care of their needs before they grew old enough to be independent. XS-12 was fortunate to have two pure robots as her parents, YG-07 and MB-14. They’d taken her in when she was still a young child, the memory of her real parents difficult to recall; every time she’d tried, she’d received nothing but blurry, black and white static for her efforts.

               Had it been possible that her parents had been lying to her? Keeping secrets from her? The thought made her dizzy, and as she stepped through the door, she’d had to put a hand to the wall next to it to hold herself upright.

               The little apartment unit was empty, the whirring and clicking sounds of her parents absent. She didn’t know where they were, and right now, she didn’t care.

               She just wanted to know the truth, about who she was, and why this was happening.

**