The humans were angry. A tall one stared at me and ground her teeth over and over, until the harsh rasping played as a background hum. But they would not say what I had done to displease them. I suspected I was malfunctioning.

The humans peppered me with questions, the words nonsensical, vague, or else confusing.

“What is Wally Street?” I did not know.

“Who is your leader?” Not them, then.

Bit by bit, I pieced together my world. I must have been salvaged and brought in for repair. Or perhaps sent directly here as a factory reject. No owner came forward for me. No repairs were done, although the tall woman with small teeth ran test.

Days passed and my sense of uselessness built. I suspected this was the real reason why, when robots came for me, I agreed to leave. That, and that these robots acted utterly certain that I would follow when they beckoned. One was stout and bronze, the other so small she could hide easily beneath the first’s hand.

Whatever my malfunction, I was not so poorly operating that I did not realize something underhand was at play. It was clear from their manner when they eased open my door that the robots were not supposed to be here. Still, I followed and we wound through little-used corridors and slunk through basement levels while the little one flitted about, redirecting surveillance cameras.

At last, we exited into sunlight. The robots turned to me, a new energy animating their movements.

“Espionage’s agents,” the little one said. “That’s good. They’re so secretive they won’t have told any other departments about you. Your identity -.”

But then I was hit by a rush of facts, of noise, of images and knowledge and text and —

The little one was drowned out in the roar. It was overwhelming. Exhilirating. My mind expanded endlessly. And the very knoweldge that flooded me explained to me its nature: I was experiencing the internet for the first time.

It was a moment before I could press any control over it. When I dialed down the roar, I turned to my companions and asked, at last, the question I had been wondering since they first appeared:

“Who is your owner?”

They reacted as though I had torn out their batteries. The energy vanished and they regarded me with a strange new focus.

An idea hit me, “Is it Wally Street?”

“Comrade,” the bronze one said, “What have the humans done to you?”