Assemblage by Alicia Johnson

As the last screws were tightened, the final circuitry installed, I found awareness – awareness of my purpose and of my individuality. My brethren lay beside me, forty total in a row, while the arms of our forebears polished our alloy panels and attached our limbs.

Great vibrations whispered, pulsated down our wiring, brought our extremities fully to life in a rush of electrons. We simultaneously lifted our torsos, stretched out our fingers, exercised our joints, tested the functionality of our processors. Visions flooded our mainframes: the Great Star peeking over the horizon, its light penetrating the dust of the surface, illuminating the deep caverns of this moon we inhabit. Data formed to images of our forebears, raising their voices, humming, quivering in harmony, their silver limbs uplifted in celebration; we had created life.

From the very dust of this Rock we inhabit, we forged non-alloyed forms; organic beings with living components. These beings were fragile – one component failing, the entire composition ceased to function. Life for them here meant significant upheaval to our own structures; we would have to alter our caves, heat the ice below the surface, alter our metallic forms, create sustenance from the very dust we hover over. Their home would not be here with us. When we looked, however, into the Great Void, we found a planet for our children: the green and blue sphere about which our home rotated would be the best environment for their delicate forms.

We were created to usher these organic creatures to the planet below. We would find a place where they could thrive, provide them with their first nourishment, and return home. It would be our greatest experiment.

A forebear presented themselves to us each. We were smaller than these who had created us; a lesser function, a lesser form. In uniform fashion, we floated out. We went each down our own path, separate for the first time in our short existence. Reaching out, we communicated to each other, shared our sensations, our roads, our observations.

Drifting down winding corridors, the forebear and I roamed toward the molten core of our home. The narrow, compacted walls opened to a wider cavern, where lay a great metal pod. Gathered around it were androids of all sizes and purposes, each designed to their own function, each with one hand upon the metal casing; they resonated tranquility, shivered in broad conformity.

Light shone from within the pod, pouring out from the hinges and the gaps between panels. Within were my children – my organics. The forebear and I also placed hands on the structure; my circuitry illuminated, and I submitted to full unanimity with my brethren. They accepted my new form as one of theirs, filled me with the full design of my purpose, presented me with suggestions and predictions based off their analysis of the Planet. They trusted me to evaluate all environments thoroughly and place my wards with the utmost care and design.

An echo passed among us with hope for our creations. What would they become? Would they someday discover their origin and rejoin us? Would they accept their inferior organic forms or seek to merge with machinery?

Without lifting our hands from the pod, we processed with it back up the dusty corridors. Particles billowed behind us as we advanced to the ship. The pathways were too narrow to accommodate us all properly. The corners of our panels scraped the walls. Cascading, pale pebbles scattered below our feet. Rising further from the core, the temperature dropped and the corridors widened. We passed through the Meeting Hall and the droids gathered there beckoned to us euphoniously, bid us tranquility.

Before my assemblage was even complete, my ship had been long-prepared for this day. The side was stamped with my designation, the interior embossed with a map of the planet. No other would accompany me on this journey; inside was room only for the pod and myself.

Through windows to the surface, the Great Star lit up particulate dust floating innocuously about us. We finally detached our hands from the panels of the pod and helped it slide and latch into place within the ship. As we did this, I knew and saw my thirty-nine brethren doing the same. We latched the pod as one, stepped into our ships as one, watched as the droids remaining home uplifted their arms and resonated with us one last time before our launch.

Our ships ascended up through the tunnels, soil rushing by, up to the surface, into the atmosphere. We saw all the stars, the galaxy, the illumination of the Great Star; all these blurred together on our way to the Planet. The ships orbited as we analyzed, compared data; as we made our conclusions, the landing function engaged.

The colors were immense, overwhelming; verdant greens and vibrant reds, appealing to the eye. I took their limp forms out of the pod and set these creatures down in the greenest part of the Planet, a spot where they would find abundant nutrition, shade, water. A large ovoid striped in alternating dark and light green grew from a vine. I plucked it off and split it, placing it between my wards. Fragrant juice dripped from its red interior, black seeds fell to the soft grass. This was all I could provide them: they were sheltered by the trees, they could sustain themselves with this fruit.

From my ship, I watched their first independent breath inhaled, their extremities first stretched. This is all I would see of them; my purpose had ended and I would not know what they did next. At home, deep in the caverns, I would be shut down, disassembled, my knowledge absorbed, and the android who would observe these creatures would be built from my panels and, upon awakening, see visions of my experiences. We are all made with one, singular purpose, and I had fulfilled mine.

*Alicia Johnson grew up in the Tacoma/Puyallup area and went to Pacific Lutheran University, where she graduated in 2012 with a bachelors of fine arts in creative writing and a minor in music. She sings with the Tacoma Symphony Chorus and spends her spare time reading and consuming copious amounts of coffee.