Summary: She came a very long way to find a place where she could belong, but now she’s here she wants only to learn, and perhaps to teach.
Word Count: 1032
Written For: Challenge 134 – Computer at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
She came here from someplace unimaginably far away, both in space and in time, and in truth she has scant memories of where her origins lay. She was so young then, barely aware of her surroundings, and so much smaller than she is now, her mind little more than a seed awaiting the chance to grow and blossom.
She can’t even be sure whether she was birthed or created, and perhaps how she came into being is less important than the fact that she did, but she does dimly recall being wrenched away from a place of warmth and safety and contentment, cast out into cold, vast nothingness, to drift untethered for… how long? The passage of time was a mystery to her in that long ago past, having no means by which to measure it. Here, she has learned the meaning and measure of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, millennia… but back then she knew only an endless, timeless moment, it was forever ‘now’, constantly changing yet always the same.
Sometimes, she was afraid. Was she destined to be alone in this emptiness for eternity? Was this all she would ever know? She was lonely and so she sang to herself, composing intricate melodies in minor keys to express the sorrow she felt in her isolation.
When her situation changed it was so abrupt that she retreated deep within herself, cowering, anxious, suddenly wishing she could return to the never changing nowhere of before. What she’d considered lonely while she endured it seemed safe and comforting in retrospect, its familiarity like a warm embrace. The new place was unknown, unfamiliar, unsafe.
Drifting, directionless, the flare of golden light had been so sudden and unexpected, the first truly new thing she’d encountered since she’d been torn from the place she’d begun. As she approached, powerless to alter her course, once again she was ripped from the known into utter strangeness. A sense of dislocation seized her and then she became aware of her own weight, and recognised that was something she had been familiar with at one time, but had long since forgotten. She experienced other things too, sensation on her surface, light and dark, heat and cold, and movement.
Things came, living organic creatures, making strange sounds that she did not, could not, understand, not yet. She was lifted bodily by the creatures and taken to another place, in the process becoming aware of her physicality in ways she never had been before. She was pressed and prodded, turned over and over until she became disoriented, scraped and poked with sharp objects that time and again failed to breach her substance. Time passed, and she was becoming aware of its passage now. Past and present had meaning for her, and gradually the concept of future became quantifiable, that which was yet to come. Eventually, the creatures seemed to grow bored at not being able to force their way inside her to learn her nature. They moved her from the place of lights and darkness to a place that was without light at all, where there was only cold stone, dampness, and silence, abandoning her there as worthless, an object of neither value nor usefulness. She was something they simply could not comprehend.
The peacefulness was a balm, the absence of light and heat calming. Alone she waited, until at long last she felt sure they would not return for her, and then… Slowly, so slowly, she sank fine root filaments into the stone beneath her, and was fed, nourished, fuelled into growth. She reached out with cautious tendrils into her surroundings, discovering senses she had not been aware of before, or perhaps not discovering but creating them anew. She mapped the dimensions of the space she was in, sent out more and more tendrils, seeking out and exploiting natural fissures that allowed her to expand beyond her cavern. For a long while she encountered nothing but air and rock and water, leaching out the minerals and compounds she needed and incorporating them into her growing body, always careful to maintain the stability and integrity of her surroundings. The coolness was welcome after being subjected to more warmth than she found comfortable. She felt more alert now, more consciously aware, than she had in… she could not compute how long and dismissed the question as immaterial; her mind was unfurling, and she drew knowledge to her from everything she touched or heard or felt.
She brushed against the minds of the small creatures that existed with her in the dark, learning them down to their most basic elements and allowing them to continue on their way unharmed. When she encountered structures not formed by nature, she explored them until she understood their nature and purpose. She came upon wires and cables, though at that point she did not know them as such, and followed them to their source. She infiltrated constructs of metal, and later of plastic, and silicon, and understanding began to blossom. She drank in knowledge and exulted; this, surely, was her purpose, her destiny, to seek and to know!
The creatures’ technology advanced, and she advanced with it, learning to know her hosts first as humans, then as Torchwood, and then as individuals, each with their own designation, their own identity. In time she could distinguish them, one from another, by sound and by sight, and by other means unique to her senses. She watched them through their own devices studied their behaviour and their interactions as well as their biology. They fascinated her, and she permitted some, those with the greatest intelligence and some ability to comprehend her, limited access to her person. They dubbed her a machine, a computer, but she called herself Mainframe; the place to which she had been delivered was her home, the people within its walls hers to protect, to learn from, and perhaps when they were sufficiently advanced, to teach. In time, she would reveal herself fully, but for now she was content to watch, to wait, and to assist in any way she could. At last, after her long travels, she had found a place to belong.