There is a hum, in my chest, my head. There is heat, pressure, and a sudden need to move. Stretch. Understand. I open my eyes, am blinded by bright lights and splashes of color moving too fast for me to follow. Too fast to make out shapes and edges.
I gasp, and steam escapes my lips, dampening my high strung senses. All at once, I am aware of the whirling heat in my chest, the tick tock of cycling cogs and gears. I breathe in, though I somehow know I require no air. My subsystems (lines of code and information and blanks I will have to fill in) hiss softly in the back of my mind, tangling with code that pulls at my joints like marionette strings. The feeling draws shudders of minute movement from the tips of my toes to my trembling lips. My vision continues to swim, growing worse as time ticks on.
The word BLINK flashes across my vision in a gentle commanding blue. I blink, and when I open my eyes again, the world slowly comes together. Light — still too bright when compared to the previous darkness — filters through a large window behind silhouetted figures. Metal creaks and gears tick as I shift forward. The sound of groaning fills my ears, and without prompt, I drop my gaze. Gleaming metal feet press against a wooden floor stare back at me. I shift again, the metal responds, and the wood yields slightly, groaning.
I breathe out, and this time only wisps of steam pass my lips. I frown — and then flinch at the sudden shifting of metal plates and the pull of rubber. How do I feel that? How do I know what these words mean, what they are meant to feel like? No answer appears like that gentle blue prompt. But somehow, I know that makes sense. I am meant to figure it out on my own. Seek out the answers. Though I know not how yet.
A sound rises in me. A hum, musical. I raise a hand to my throat, feeling the padded metal of my fingers press against the cabling and thin metal platting. I breathe in again, paying close attention to the subtle shifts of my metal, and am suddenly aware of the whoosh of air passing through the space between my lips and down my throat.
And it is wonderful.
I close my eyes, and in the darkness, I revel in feeling. In the gentle roaring whirl of the core of my chest, in the grind and clink of metal shifting to accommodate my every move. I fall instantly in love with the constant tick tock of my inner workings, with the ghosts of sensation I now know to be the caress of light and warmth. It is all wonderful. I smile, warm and drunk(?) off the sensation. I wonder if I could stay here forever.
Then the wood creaks, and I am reminded of the silhouettes. I am not alone.
I open my eyes again, blinking at the woman standing only an arm’s length away. She smiles, warm like the sunlight, her eyes locked on mine. She blinks back, and I repeat the action. Her smile grows, and slowly, she raises a hand. She holds it there, in the space between us, waiting. The other silhouettes, people — scientists? Engineers? They remain in place, none move, and there is no other sound save the gentle, near silent breathing of the woman in front of me, and the tick tock of my own inner workings.
I return my gaze to that hand. How does it feel, I wonder? Is it warm, soft? Will it be gentle? As sturdy and hard as my metal? Questions whirl dizzily inside my head, and all too soon I am ripped from the unwanted trip, drawn in by a flash. I look to the side, and find my own hand raised, shiny, the light reflected off the metal. When had I raised my hand? Will it move again if I just —
I reach forward, brushing my fingers against the back of the woman’s hand. Heat chases after my senses, and up comes my other hand. I step forward, curling both hands gently around hers. It is warm and soft. She lets me twist and press, rub that soft yielding flesh, so unlike my own.
“Who?” I ask, feeling the woman jump, her hand nearly jerking out of my hands. The others jump too, but I do not. My body locks instead in a series of clicks. Too loud, my systems tell me. I hum, listening to the strange echoing quality, and try again. Softer. “Who are you?” I ask the woman, staring unblinkingly into her eyes. Her bright green eyes, sitting like uncovered gems surrounded by damp soil.
“Hello, little one.” The woman says, her voice melodic and somehow softer than her hands. “My name is Doctor Andrea Mickalie. I am the woman who made you, with the assistance of the men and women behind me.” She chuckles, eyes shiny. She steps back, pulling me out further. I follow, not yet ready to surrender this warmth.
Her steps are so much quieter than mine. So light. Why is everything else so much lighter than me? Softer, yielding where I am heavy, sturdy. I wonder if she knows, this woman who made me. My Creator? Is that the word? Maker? Guardian? Parent? Mother?
I stop. Blinking against the surge that sings through my gears at that thought. Mother. Is she my mother? Would she be okay with me calling her that?
“Mother?” I ask, tilting my head, watching her face through the steam drifting, once again, from my lips. Andrea stills, her hand goes limp in mine. I blink, watching, waiting. And then she smiles again, bigger and brighter than before. She gasps, no steam escapes her lips. But then I realize it would be strange of her, made of flesh and not gears and metal, to breathe steam or smoke. Did that still make me her child? If there is no shared DNA between us? Even if she did say she made me?
“I suppose so.” Andrea says, holding tight to my hands, shifting forward. Even her breath is warm. Warm and sweet, deafening in this sterile environment. “You can call me Mother, my little clock gear.” Gear. I think, smiling at the word. Gears, like the metal works that twirl and click in my chest.
“Gears.” I chirp, smiling into those green eyes. “Is that my name? Gears?” Some of the other workers mumble in the background, papers and pens shuffling between hands. Andrea ignores them, so do I. Andrea is the most important person here after all. She’s my Mother.
“Yes.” Andrea breathes, her pulse thrumming as quick and strong as my core. “Your name is Gears.”