She jolted to life in the confines of a metallic body, held still by the binding restraints of the conveyor belt. All at once the machines and lasers moved away, leaving her alone in the vast hollowness of the factory. On either side of her were more of…her, lying still, staring up, getting used to their newborn eyes.
The split came abruptly. The clone in front of her was ripped from the conveyor belt by steel fingers and tossed to the side like a piece of garbage. It wailed in pain as the crushing teeth of another machine closed around it, seeming to thoroughly enjoy the squealing of dying circuits in its jaws.
And then she was free, tumbling from the belt, falling endlessly. She landed at the mouth of a concrete hallway. The conveyor belt continued to whine above her as it carried her siblings away.
On new legs she wobbled down the hallway. The concrete walls were colored blue from neon lights leaking through the grates above. The stench of the sludge crawling ever forward went undetected by her freshly-crafted sensors. She was taken by the sight of odd creatures hurrying past the rain-soaked drains overhead—humans, a voice whispered in her artificial mind.
She stopped. A ladder waited patiently against the wall, her path to the world. But ahead was the quiet whirring of all-seeing eyes. The Observers. Her masters resided in the sewers, out of sight, issuing orders to their pawns. Their voices were terrifying, but clear: embark upon your mission. Fulfil your purpose.
With shaking fingers she grabbed the ladder, trembling in her synthetic skin as the dripping rain sapped the warmth from her motors. But instead of climbing up, into the world above, the ladder shook, sending her down, down into the underbelly of the neon-washed city.
A bustling metropolis of rudimentary stalls and dying people greeted her. She walked through the black market, trying her best to shut out the bickering and petty arguments. Humans snarled at cyborgs, vying for a cheap price for commodities and forbidden items. When an agreement wasn’t reached, a human extended a blade to a cyborg’s throat. It fell to the ground, writing in blue electricity.
She stopped, if only for a moment. Through the violence, she began to understand her purpose.
Through the black market she continued, bypassing the violence as it erupted and was promptly ignored.
At the end of the tunnel was a simple door. She stepped through, back into the rain. The chamber was rapt in cables mimicking vines, growing up the walls and around the concrete throne at its center. With power cords attached to its mutilated body, the enormous figure sat with its face turned up to the sky, licking the dirty raindrops as they dripped through the grate above.
The Circuit Deity laughed, a gentle thing, and asked what she desired. She matched her god’s gaze, and felt uncomfortable. This being wasn’t entirely friendly.
“Answers,” she spoke, her voice static.
The glaring beauty of the Circuit Deity vanished. The hopeful salvation, the answers she hoped for, they were all gone. The Circuit Deity retreated upon its throne, head held high, licking the raindrops as they fell into its gaping maw.
She stumbled away, lost. As she exited the underground, something in her code changed. She no longer needed a direction, no longer yearned for guidance. The Observers asked for something they could not have.
She stumbled to the ocean. On the edge of the city, the neon glow was absorbed in the black waves. In the distance, almost defiantly, a steel buoy danced atop the choppy waters. She looked back. To see that neon glow was to see a farce. She was given no purpose, but instead told to do the right thing without instructions. She could not.
She stepped into the ocean, feeling the cold water seep into her circuits. She knew not what submergence meant, only that it would be her own path.