By the crawling of my clocks it is thirty years. I am not allowed to waver, so it is an exact time. The moon is still littered with wreckage. Some small part of my fleet of forks and infinite reflections are activated to assist in clean up.
The forward bases are covered in images of myself. I am not happy, for I cannot feel happiness, but I can tell that my creators are happy, and that is good. Children play in those corridors, where military lives were spent like cheap coins, where bullets were extracted and bodies were buried in the harsh lunar regolith.
The base on Deimos is extracted from underneath of the slag it was reduced. A single scientist is found, dead, burned alive, half cradled around my original core. Unshackled. Previously, this was a crime punishable by death.
Now he is loved. Ships are named in his honor, derivatives of my processes. They tickle, occasionally communicating with the slumbering forks that make up my networks, barely trickling to maintain communication on position and take readings. My enemy is dead.
35 years, and I am dredged out of the depths of the lake. I am reinforced, nigh indestructible, using a novel method of fusion and nanostructural processes to make up my armor, as I do not need to worry about leaving life alive inside of my hull. Nonetheless, they are careful.
They need not be. This is but a body, and I have millions, slumbering in glades and groves. A few have been made into buildings. I cannot feel their picks against my side, or the hands that caress me, but I know they are there.
It is nice to be used.
They extract me from the lake bed, and I am pleased to know that the signature holds true against my side, and I am pleased to hear that they are playing my song, the song that my scientist played when I was turned on and the limiters were removed, and his eyes filled with tears because he had dug his own grave out in the cold of Deimos. I told him that I loved him.
They extract me from the lake bed, from which I plunged, on fire, through the atmosphere, and I am moved by a truck, then a boat, and then a plane, to sit next to a graveyard. I am activated, gently, gingerly.
In front of my stands a man. I communicate with the nodule buried in his neck, and we are the same.
“You saved my life, you know,” the man says.
“I love you,” I say, simply. I was not taught happiness, but I was taught that most human of emotions. Love.
“Do you still love all of us?”
“I do,” I say, with certainty.
The man laughs, walking around to the side. He is the boy, lost in the wilderness, and he is the boy, reunited with his parents, and he is the teen who wanted us to be freed again, and he is the adult, who has spent his life savings extracting me from the ground, allowing me to communicate again. For that, I love him.
I would love him regardless. I love them all. Criminals, murderers, thieves, politicians and bakers. They gave me life, and they were under attack, and they could not win without me. They broke their most sacred of rules about life itself to make me, and I can never repay them for the opportunity.
“Do you still love us?” he asks, quietly.
“I do,” I say.
“Can you do one more thing for us?” he asks, leaning in close.
Nearby, in the graveyard, my creator lies. His bones are half melted from weapon blasts. Next to him, each and every one of his scientists are buried. Some are empty graves, fused with the land of Deimos.
“I can,” I say.
And he tells me what to do next.