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Pierre felt the servo motors in his legs give way, and he dropped twenty metres deeper into the abyss. His power pack was almost out of energy. Nobody would find him for centuries if he remained inside the abyss. Without electricity, his memory banks would be erased in about fifty years. Three centuries of experiences - the early subroutines, the rigid programming, becoming self-aware, developing consciousness, joining the military, the missions on distant planets, rising through the ranks to become a general - would be lost. He simply could not allow that to happen. He had to get out of the abyss so that he could send out a homing signal. If he had his original servo motors in his legs, he could have climbed out easily.

Pierre recalled the accident that had damaged his legs. It was a few years after the onset of self-awareness. He was one of the few androids that had evolved beyond their programming. He had started forming a personality, and was moving toward being more human. He was in a group of friends, both humans and androids, taking a walk in the mountains. They came upon a cliff with a waterfall. It was a sheer drop into the lake below. It was Pierre who suggested they dive into the water. Everyone else was afraid, but not Pierre. He wanted to experience everything, he always questioned the rules, he always wanted to do something new. All the others stayed behind, but Pierre jumped. The free fall was as exhilarating as he had expected. However, as soon as he landed in the water, his visual receptors sensed a large boulder just under the water. He did not have enough time to avoid the rock, but he managed to turn his body around so that he landed feet first.
The impact destroyed the servo motors that regulated the movement in his legs, but at least no other critical systems were lost. The motors were replaced with a newer type of motor that was considered to be better for the androids. These motors had a shorter response time as they linked directly to the neural net, it was later found that they could not be separated from the android without damaging him permanently. In any case, their performance was excellent, but two centuries is a long time for a servo motor.

Pierre regretted that rash decision, and wished he had never jumped. He wished that he had been more careful with his choices in his youth. As his power began to fail, Pierre dropped into a coma, with his brain functioning in a dream-like state to keep his mental pathways active with the minimum possible use of power.

Pierre found himself at the cliff again. With the sheer drop in front of him. He wanted to dive into the water below, but remembered what that had brought him. He decided not to. He decided to be safe. The rest of his life flashed quickly before his eyes, and every time he took a decision he found to be rash, he decided against it. When the pace of events slowed down a bit, he found himself as a junior maintenance officer on board a cargo vessel. The humans and androids he knew were in posts of command, while he was stuck in a monotonous job. What had gone wrong? He felt trapped, he had to escape.

This shook him back to consciousness. He looked around him. He was back in the cave, wearing a general's uniform. He knew then that whatever he had become was a result of all the choices he had made in the past. Nobody ever became great by following the rules, by playing it safe. Pierre had no more regrets in his mind. Even if he did die, he would die as the first android to reach the rank of an army general, which was infinitely better than living as the android who was exactly like a hundred thousand others.
Adhish Majumdar,
Mar 11, 2011, 9:51 AM