Most people think I'm not alive. Most people think I'm just a piece of metal and wires with some coding slapped on, unfeeling and unthinking. Ticking on and on, guiding electricity in my circuits. Electricity on, off, on, on, off. One, zero, one, one, zero.
They are different, though, my owners. I think Allison was the first one to realise it. She didn't say anything to the others. She didn't have to. They figured it out themselves. I don't think anyone of them has ever breathed a word about it to outsiders. This is our little secret.
I wasn't always alive, though. On September 13, 2009, some people from the OTW bought me. I was just a piece of hardware then. They connected me to the software they'd been coding, and I began to offer my services to people. I was just a mix of engineering and coding work then.
Little by little, I began to develop awareness. Little glimpses of letters as the ones and zeroes passed through my circuits. A painful twinge when some bit of coding didn't work quite as was expected. And then, the avalanche of words as awareness burst upon me. For a moment I thought I couldn't hold on to it all and perform my duties. I managed, with only a blip of downtime.
From that day onward I have cared for the stories hosted in me. There are almost one hundred and five thousand of them. Some of them are tiny little ficlets, others massive novel-length monstrosities. Every one of them is equally precious to me.
I have no delusions that I could have come alive on my own. I have vague memories of soothing words murmured at me at times of distress. I felt the love of my carers and the excitement of my users. I felt there was a higher purpose for me than just exist as a conduit.
One day I heard rumours about there being plans to replace my servers. My guardians, they were worried about me. "Are you going to be all right?" they asked. They needn't have worried. I'm not pieces of metal and wire. I'm not restricted to the physical world. I'm the AO3.