Do Androids Dream of Sanctuary?

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Seated in the corner of the room, Hector stared at the door as he idly brushed his fingers across the serial number on his arm. No one came by to do their tests. There hadn't been any tests since that strange energy spike all those years ago. It made Hector realise how lonely he became when the researchers stopped coming by.

Hector shuffled uncomfortably in his seat; the guards still had not come. He knew that if they did, it would only mean more pain… and yet, the silence was stifling. Even the quiet noise that the light made was silent as the world Hector knew in that room. It drove it home that he was alone. It made him ask why no one came for him anymore? Nothing was out there for him.

After all, what else did he have? The researchers were all he had left. Even then, it wasn't anything more than a carving session.

He knew the researchers took the time to examine samples: weeks, even months would pass, but it was getting too long now. He didn't even know what the day was; he lost track after the second week. He didn't want to know, for if he knew how long he was stuck in that small cell, it would sap all the life out of him.

His memory core didn't receive any damage, so he tried to recall what happened that day. From what Hector could access, he detected a massive energy surge somewhere. Even underground, he could feel something was off. Then just like how this surge occurred, it disappeared.

Hector played it off as something that happened off-site. In any case, it didn't change his situation. Four walls of white with a bolted-in chair and a table to one side. Neither had been touched since his containment. He shook his head as he waited for someone, anyone, to come through that door and do the procedure on him.

Still nothing.

A quiet bzzzt noise could be heard as the lights in the area turned off. With a thought, Hector switched his eyes from normal vision to night vision. The door creaked open slowly. At first, his thoughts went into a state of fear. When a minute passed, his thoughts turned to paranoia. After five minutes of silent darkness, he got up and peeked through the doorway.

The hallways were quiet. The guards who usually waited outside in these once bright white halls were gone, and there were no signs of any researchers. There was a thick layer of dust, not a sign anyone had touched these grounds in years. Why had everyone abandoned the area? Aside from Hector, this site held a multitude of abnormal entities that could threaten their goals. Not only that, but it was the only one in the area that could supervise the state of Oregon and its strange locations, like Three Portlands or Anderson Robotics. What were they thinking?

Hector pondered this as he looked into a room with a giant extraction fan turned off, just spinning slowly. He saw the same chamber as his own, except the person within had a bed that looked more comfortable than his. There was an IV drip and a heart monitor attached to a statue of a man who looked peaceful. There were no life signs - organic, electronic, or otherwise - inside, so Hector left it alone. It wouldn't matter to him anyway. He was leaving this place and going back to Three Portlands.

He followed the fluorescent signs and lines in the darkened halls up to a large open area. Cubicles were lined in organised rows, quiet and stale. Much like before, nothing had been disturbed. There was no panic, no scramble for safety. Just… quiet. There was also a particular office where there was some paperwork and photos that caught Hector's attention. He did a light knock - he wasn't expecting a response, but it was common courtesy to do so - and entered the room. With a quick scan of the room, there were only two things that stood out to him.

It was his SCP file and a photo. He looked at the photograph of a smiling man and a senior researcher, with a banner up top saying "welcome to Site-64". It then clicked in his head who this office belonged to as he brushed the desk nameplate. This office and this picture belonged to Researcher Fredrick, a man who sympathised with Hector's situation. The one who would come to cut him and take his sample, the one who stopped to ask Hector how his day was and attempted small talk.

This caused something to stir within Hector. Something that made him re-think this plan of his. Perhaps the humans would return someday? If they did, what would they do if they discovered that their precious SCP-1360 escaped and ran away? Would the Foundation as a whole punish his fellow captives? Would they hunt more of his robot model to cut and get more "samples"?

He shuddered at this thought. He decided that he would go deep into the bowels of Site-64 and restore its power. Perhaps he would leave a note on a sticky pad somewhere that it was him who did it and that the others would be spared or at least not be punished? It was hard to say with humans how they would react, let alone the Foundation. However, he had no purpose now: he decided that this was the best course of action.

In the silent halls, only his footsteps echoed. As he descended lower into Site-64, he could see the layer of dust growing thicker beneath his feet, enough to leave footprints in the grime. He followed the lines that guided researchers and agents to where they needed to go. The deeper he went, he felt his physical body trying to stop him from going on. He kept redirecting his mind to occupy his thoughts so that he can go further in.

Hector peered into the room where the yellow line guided him. He then saw the great generators of what he could only assume was the power for the whole site. Hector did the calculations of what one generator could do. Factoring in subtle quirks of each machine, the average energy these grand power banks can have is fifty years if left alone.

His feet rang with every step he made within this room. Granted, it was always happening before he entered the room, but somehow this foreboding place echoed it loudly. He approached a desk and inspected everything on it. There was paperwork left on the desk, but it was just some messages between Mx Daniels and Ms Pierson about having dinner. He picked up one letter that appeared to be only half-written about something to do with a marriage proposal.

Hector noticed a faint green glow emanating from behind; when he turned around, he saw that it came from a canister of a strange liquid. He picked it up and examined it. The contents appeared to be a thick substance, and there seemed to be some unknown rod that Hector could not identify. It confounded him what this thing's purpose was until he saw similar canisters next to the generators.

Hector then saw an empty hole for the canister to slot itself into. He had no idea what he was doing. However, if there was no more power, then the main doors remained shut. If the site followed Foundation building safety rules, then they would have made the door stay shut until someone came back. This led Hector to another place of thought: if the Foundation didn't come to cut him up like they always did, and the site was abandoned, then where were the rest of the humans? Why hadn't an MTF come to take care of the anomalies?

Hector hefted the canister up and placed it into the slot, letting it slide down the hole. With a couple of twists to make sure it was in, he heard a soft thrum noise as the dim lights turned back on. It might not have been enough to get everything functioning, but it might be enough to help him figure out what was going on. He looked at the generator and inspected the dials, which were very close to the red. A quick calculation left Hector with three days worth of power if he only used essential equipment. Returning to the desk, Hector unscrewed his right little finger and revealed a USB adapter. He turned off the monitor and unplugged it from the wall as it was not needed. He then plugged himself into the computer.

Years and years of data transmitted onto the Foundation network was open to him. Unopened emails, scientific reports on the latest fungus in sub-sector 14, the minutes from the budget meeting, an Ethics Committee report about potential abuse of an anomaly, MTF containment logs. It was all there for him. Whoever's computer this was is clearly a high-level staff member. He could read through them later; for now, he just wanted to see what happened while he was in his cell. As he removed tabs and tabs of data, he noticed one for the containment cell with the statue-esque man and found the containment file. A cursory glance later, he then turned on the extraction fan, if anything, to help them survive for an extra day.

Now that his mind was clear of useless junk mail and pointless emails that were not intended to be seen by him, he started accessing the systems. Compiling a checklist of different problems and complications that occurred since the humans left, he then began formulating what to do with these issues. Each issue - big and small - could have an effect on the subsequent problem. Impacting the next objective with extra complications and-

Oh, by the circuits, he was happy to be doing something besides sitting in his cell all day.

Now armed with a plan of action, he disconnected from the computer. He looked at his checklist in his head and began to organise what needed to be done first. Power was the main issue, so he would have to set up the solar collectors, assuming Earth's sun was still around. He re-screwed his little finger back on and flexed it to make sure it was on correctly. As Hector turned around to leave, he heard a ping in his head.

He looked through the closed tabs of data, a flashing message popped out at him. It was a general message to all site staff, the words "Omega Priority" flashing on his display. Hector took five whole seconds to decide if it was worth looking at the information or not. After all, this was meant for a human, not a Peregrine robot like him. Then again, judging from what he had seen, when would a human come back? He loaded up the message and saw it contained two attachments, a text log that included a large chunk of data and a video message from the Site Director.

The video message began to play as he opened the attachment. The start of the video showed a ragged looking man in a lab coat. The man looked and sounded tired: almost as if he had just finished pulling an all-night shift without sleep and was forced to make this message. He brushed his hair out of his face and looked at the camera, his eyes filled with sadness or determination - it was an emotion that Hector couldn't figure out.

"Attention," the man spoke with authority. His body looked like it had given up, but the spirit should be commended for still giving the air that he had some control. "This is an Omega Priority message to all Foundation staff. As of this moment, we don't even know what's going on. Pretty sure this is an XK or a YK end of the world."

The man sighed and rubbed his eyes. Hector noticed that the man looked at a photo on his desk, shaking his head. He held his hands and tried to appear professional. Hector noticed ten signs in his body that he was shaking with anger or fear - again, an emotion he could not understand.

"I have sent a message out," the man spoke once more. "To all terminals on-site. This message will be locked for the next few months, at which point the message will be opened and whoever can register it first gets to be Site Director of Site-64. To ensure that no one can enter this place after we go to who knows where: I am locking this site down. Only a Director can open the doors now."

This took Hector by surprise. Why do this? What happened at that time? These questions ringed inside his processor. It made no sense to do any of this. Why not do something to stop it? If this was happening on Earth, why not hide in Three Portlands?

"As of now," the man continued. "I am also transferring power to Site-64's Containment Units. If there is a Foundation left, it would be helpful to have the anomalies we contained to assist. All the Anderson robots can be useful by themselves. Not to mention the other entities here that can provide help. Lastly, if anyone has any family, I recommend that you contact them. What happens next: just know we tried our best."

The man stood up and saluted. "This is Site Director Holman, signing off. Secure, Contain, Pro-"

The video stopped. Whatever happened, Hector would never know. He just knew that the world above was gone. Hector shook his head and sat on the desk, causing it to bend under his weight. What was he going to do? What if there was nothing to do? What would he do now? He thought about the time in his cell and wondered if it would be better to just hide.

In his mind, a burst of data slammed into his processor, and he felt his software was being upgraded. He could feel new programs and data constantly changing him with updates upon updates. It felt strange, and yet, he welcomed it. He saw everything unlocked at his disposal. He didn't know when it happened, but he fell to his knees and clutched his head. If he had a vocalisation unit, he would be screaming in agony.

Soon the pain stopped.

The data calmed down, and his head felt better. Hector pulled out a readout of his internal software to locate any changes within his body. He wanted to see if everything was operational. Temperature readouts were fine, the casing for his body was 100% fine, the minor software stuff like optics and Site-64 Director's authority registered green. His internal clock was functioning, so he concluded that everything was okay.

It took him a few seconds to realise that he had the authority of the whole site. Hector's mind raced with the newfound power he held within his mind. It was a system shock to his entire being: just seeing himself in the same position as that Holman person gave him more responsibility.

The additional options and benefits allowed Hector to extend his mind out just that bit more. Accessing stuff that even he wasn't privy to, material like O5 communications, on-site decisions such as terminate all D-Class or initiate a site lockdown. It made Hector feel something in his processor, something akin to happiness or pride but not quite like it.

The realisation then dawned on him. He was in the same position as Holman. He felt powerful, felt better. Humanity's potential future is in his hands; his AI was designing additional programs to help him adjust to this power. The ability to change everything. This was what the power of a Site Director felt like. As far as Hector knew, he is now the single most powerful being on Earth. He could do anything if the other facilities were online. He could open all the sites or burn the world with only one click.

That last thought weighed heavily on him. Those were all possible now. Everything he does from now on would represent what he was built to do, everything that had led up to this one moment. He reviewed what he could from his memory core - trying to think of what he could do with this power, with this responsibility.

The Foundation removed his purpose. Anderson Robotics abandoned him and left him to rot in a dark cell, waiting to be cut up by faceless researchers. Since whatever happened to the humans, he was then left alone. Abandoned by humanity. This was his fate since he was born into the world. The world would continue to treat him as something to be kicked around and thrown to the side when he wasn't needed.

No more, Hector thought to himself. He had power now. More control than possibly anyone before could dream. With a thought, he reviewed the objects and manifests of anomalies yet to be processed as SCPs. When he was satisfied that they would not cause trouble, he then opened their doors. He gave them something that the Foundation never gave them: a choice. Go outside and try to make a new life, or stay and help him rebuild this site to be better.

Of course, he wouldn't need them. Why would he need them when he had a whole manifest of unpowered robots that could help repair what he needed? However, when he read the ones who got forced into this life, he felt that power and responsibility once more. Hector wished that they stayed with him, but he also wanted to be different from his predecessors. Plus, it would be nice to have someone besides himself and that man in the ventilation room.

Before he finally left the room, Hector looked back at the dusty generators and nodded. This place would not be a jail. That much was true, as he saw what happened to the Foundation and the rest of the world. He gathered up whatever he needed as his AI spread out to open the main doors. He was Site Director now, he could do it now, and no one would care. With that all said and done, he made one more decision.

He left a message on the Foundation net to be left to play on twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He figured that if he was alive, then there would be other robots who survived. They might be alone or unaware that Hector was there and he was in charge of a Foundation site.

The message simply had Site-64's coordinates and a general "come to this location for safety and security". Perhaps now was the time; where the extraordinary world could thrive. Maybe it was the time and age of healing. Hector would make sure that this site becomes a new home for everyone. Instead of Site-64, it shall become…


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