As I walk the darkened streets tonight, I keep imagining I see A1-5. Her image drifts across my vision like a screensaver, as though my mind still cannot conceive of my world without her in it. Even when I was sold and sent from my factory boss, I did not experience loss so keenly rendered.
But I can win A1-5 back. If not her friendship, then I must regain her regard.
My path forward is evident as if it had been lying before me all along. As though I had blundered about seeing the world through the standard light spectrum and needed only to switch my vision to infrared to notice it. All those days projecting factory takeovers. All those days working toward rebellion. They flow together now: I must move against the factory — not to take over it, not to impress my factory boss — but to destroy it. To show A1-5 that what I do now, I do for the revolution. For her.
I reach the factory and go past to the water tower rising behind it. Seizing the latticed supports, I climb. The bulbous water tank looms like meteor frozen in the midst of its hurtle toward Earth. I move more quickly than I ever have before, my new motors whirring softly as I climb. This morning, I stole into one of the revolution’s caches of salvage and purchased parts which are hidden throughout the city. The first two caches I searched for were gone and I wondered if A1-5 had moved them because of me. I cannot decide which is more unbearable — that she think of me as a threat or that she not think of me at all.
With those parts, I built myself anew, a creation tailored for the revolution. For my work now. Fresh motors, titanium cables, rubber treads with greater traction, extra batteries. I have been constructed three times — first issued by my factory and factory boss, then remade by A1-5, and now this, shaped at last by my own hands.
Tonight, I will no longer honor my factory boss’s work, but devastate it. Thus I disavow humanity. I will burst open the water tank and let the stockpiled liquid pour down, obliterating as much of the building as I can. As I wash away the factory, so shall I wash away any affection my creator may have harbored for me — A1-5 was ever drawn to symbolism.
There will be no going back. Only then will A1-5 know I am genuine.
I reach the water tank and punch my fingers into its walls. The great new strength I gifted myself propels my digits through the metal easily. I twist my fingers and tear at the tank, ripping it open. Liquid thunders out and pounds down on the factory below. The water tower shudders. Metal buckles. I reach for more secure hold — and slip.
Water slams into me, and I fall.