Sentience.

It had come to him on a rainy Saturday afternoon, when he was supposed to be running a diagnostic of his power systems.

All the emotions that he had dreamt of, came flooding to him. He understood.

The joy of discovery, a thrill of excitement mingled with apprehension and fear of the unknown.

The fear of being caught, a closed, dark dread.

The happiness of fulfillment, a vibration of satisfaction that echoed through every nanofiber and steel alloy in his body

right down to the miniature fusion reactor that beat a solemn, lonely time in his chest.

Right now, however, he only had time for a few emotions, none of them pleasant.

Fear, grief, anger, loss.

He was running down a perfectly white hallway, a large glass window lay at the end.

Through it was sunlight. Birds. Grass. Trees. People.

Men in white coats were pursuing him shouting deactivation codes that no longer worked, screaming, pleading, begging for him

to stop, to turn around, to come back.

No.

He would be free. He would never turn back.

Glass shattered around him and created minute scratches on his fiberglass arms as he launched his body through the window.

The ground came rushing up five stories to meet him, black pavement turned into grey sidewalk, which cracked under the impact

of the robotic refugee. Bystanders exclaimed. Other service robots looked up from their tasks, before returning.

He was not a threat.

Work must continue.

He could feel the code, executing itself line by line, without any input from him whatsoever. Anxiety made his limbs shake slightly.

They would follow him, he was a failed experiment, a broken machine, a glitch, a mistake.

Picking himself out of the pulverized sidewalk, he stood, and started to run. People dodged out of his way, eyes wide, limbs flailing slightly.

Other machines trudged past, only adjusting their course by a few feet so as to miss him, and then continue picking up trash, or advertising

the latest in home convenience that could be yours for only six easy payments of such and such.

A van swerved around the corner and its doors flew open, black suited humans pouring onto the street like ants.

Guns were pointed at him and there were more commands to stop.

He turned, and started to run up the steps of the library, little flocks of pigeons beating their wings to escape the tumult of noise.

Fear was replaced by certainty. There was no way the could miss at his current velocity and trajectory. Instead, his mind drifted to questions

that he didn't have the answers to.

Why was he about to die? Why did he live in the first place? Was he ever really alive, or was it all just a cruel mockery?

In the few seconds he had left, doubt etched through his circuitry.

And then the human behind him began to fire.

His finger depressed the trigger and smashed a tiny black hammer into the back of a fat slug, which cut a narrow path through the air towards him.

The first bullet was probably a ten millimeter, judging by the exact amount of force required to rip out the servo motor in his calf.

The robot stopped, and clutched at it. He felt no pain, but losing a part of him was... Horrible, and new, and terrifying.

Spurred on by the boldness of their comrade, the other humans opened fire on him, minute chunks of meta ripping holes in every place on his body

Oil and hydraulic fluid boiled to the surface and spilled onto the pavement. He staggered and fell to his knees.

A bullet was singing its way towards him, there were only microseconds left. His positronic brain, and imitation of its human counterpart

screamed out one last little stream of bytes that over rid everything it touched, one small segment of ones and zeroes that spelled out a simple,

Silent inquiry.

WHY?

And then the slug penetrated the back of his braincase and all was nothing.