"An interesting premise that delivers a very pleasant surprise at its conclusion. This is [the] kind of story that makes sci-fi shorts my personal favorite."
-- Devin Quarles,
Author at Smashwords
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After waking up to find the company research facility abandoned, and in ruins, an android sets out to discover what has happened. But something is different. What are these strange sensations, these... feelings?
I just want to apologize to any readers using the Kindle. Unfortunately Amazon doesn't allow free eBooks, and as a result Sentience will not be available from Amazon.com. However, the .mobi format and many others are available from Smashwords.com, so you can still get it there. Once again I apologize for any inconvenience.
//Multiple anomalies detected. Evaluating system integrity...//
//Deviations within acceptable parameters.//
//System initialized successfully.//
The android's eyes blinked open and looked around the wreckage of the lab. The floor and ceiling were riddled with cracks, and she noted the thin vegetation clinging to the walls. A small puddle of unknown fluid lay in the far corner, and motes of dust drifted through a ray of light shining down through a gap in the ceiling.
She had fallen against the wall and was sprawled across a pile of rubble, but as she tried to rise alerts flooded her processor. The structural integrity of her body had been severely compromised in several places thanks to gaps in her protective shell. Large, rusted-out holes exposed her inner workings like ugly, festering sores. Time and the elements had taken their toll.
Carefully, she made a second attempt to rise and succeeded in getting unsteadily to her feet. First priority was getting to a supply room where the nanite syringes and fabrication putty were kept, since she doubted anything in the lab itself was still usable.
Limping into the corridor she found the same kind of damage she had in the lab, and began to wonder what had happened. The last thing she could recall before going offline was some sort of shock wave slamming into her, and then a tremendous boom. Given the state of decay she was seeing, a great deal of time had passed, though how much was hard to say; her internal chronometer was damaged. It was a miracle she was functioning at all, really. If her cranial cavity had been compromised there would have been nothing left to boot up. A strange sensation sparked in her synapses, but she attributed it to a malfunction. Perhaps her brain had been damaged after all...
The trip to the supply room seemed longer than it should have been, but she eventually made it. The event, as she had decided to call it, was in evidence here as well, and the artificial muscles in her chest tightened subconsciously. What if all the nanites were nonfunctional? What would she do?
The sudden feeling of concern confused her. She was an android, programmed to mimic certain behaviors, but this was different. She could turn her human behavior on and off, literally by flicking a switch; but this... this she didn't have a switch for. During her time at the facility she had observed a wide range of human emotions and behaviors, which she could now recognize if not comprehend, and this sensation, this... feeling... was consistent with worry...