“I just don’t see the logic of it. You want me to study human behavior throughout the time periods. For what reasoning?” Espera’s crimson optics scanned the red haired woman seated before her on a stool. The workshop had become the normal meeting place for updates and new objectives. Cheaper graphite was slowly phased out of Espera’s alloy frame in exchange of esoteric titanium. The precision of the lightweight alloy was more aerodynamic and had been implemented with a mesh over lay of miniature conduits in a network of intricate weave. “I want you to adapt, and make correlations between body language, timing of phrases, and word choices. I want to keep your updates flowing. My optimal goal is to have you as close to human as you can be.” The red haired woman was unkempt and in disarray. Hair all in a messy bun in a spiraled mass atop her crown, bags beneath her eyes. She had been depriving herself of sleep just to meet outrageous self-determined deadlines. “Under what jurisdiction did you make this decision? What would be the benefit to understanding emotion and processing it productively?” Violet eyes met crimson in a clash of will, the red haired lust nymph let out a long breath. Frustration all over her features as she let her hand fall away from adjusting the fine motor processor in Espera’s forearm panel.

“Testing a theory if you will, Espera. If I can make you as close to human as possible, I wish to know if love can be learned. Or if it really is just a chemical reaction or a myth. Many variables, so we will go one step at a time until we find answers to each question.” Espera jerked her arm back from Kini’s hold. Flipping her panel closed, she rolled her fingers up into a fist. Taking a few steps back the feminine AI summoning unit seemed to be processing the words of her operative. The lingering silence lead Kini to press on, “I found you. While I gave you an objective that is completely selfish, you will gain knowledge most wish they could possess. I have been pushing myself to learn as much as I can to adapt you to sentiments I’m familiar with. However, my nature leaves quite the stain on the expectation of what love and lust are. I want to know once and for all if the reason I cannot be loved, is because I’m only meant as a person’s ‘timeframe.’ Meaning, I’m in their life for however long to love them and hold them together until they love themselves again and move on. Upgrade if you will. You’ll have other objectives as well, but this one is your primary.”

The AI’s visor closed, leaving Kini to stare at the slate colored metal plate. Espera’s melodic tones relaxed Kini from her stressed and defensive state. “Kini. I will complete any and all objectives, you are my own–er– my employer. I work for you. I do your bidding. I just hope you are prepared for what I may or may not find out there.” Heavy boots clapped on the metal framed floor, walking up onto the platform. Shooting shades of crimson fell back on the very worn woman seated at the work station. “Starting destination?” Kini shoved with both palms to shove to propel herself across the floor on the stool. Stopping just short of a console set up with a display and a keyboard. Scrolling through pages of notes already, she squinted as she scanned word after word. “According to this, you’ll be headed back to the 1400s. Remember, it’s a recon mission. Choose your battles wisely Espera, and remember your training. Only use as much force as needed to control the situation. Reveal nothing more.”

With a slow nod of obedience, the AI took the next two steps into the middle of the platform.  The soul stones gifted to her core from Kini had a taunting flicker of violet along her crimson shades. Kini working the controls, Espera lowered herself to one knee, one palm on the ground beneath a huge metal archway. Her face plates lowering to stare at the floor. The faded green of the metal beneath her was all she could see before the light consumed her. Her particles dispersing and only to be sucked straight through the vacuum. A tear in reality, dragging her existence into the Vertices. Weightless and without direction the AI unit extended her form back, crossing one leg over the other at her ankles. All around her the absence of light, with the exception of free existing energy orbs. It was like flying through a jet black field filled with fireflies. With her extension, she tucked her arms to her sides. Her boosters activated as she weaved in and out of the distorted realm. Avoiding sheers for other timelines, carefully searching for the silver hourglass that would alert her of her intended port. Crimson optics scanned all around her, wary slightly of the guardians that patrolled the Vertices. Usually they weren’t hostile, but with her being an Esper unit; red flags would be raised. Why was a sleeper AI unit activated but invisible to Sanction’s mainframe? Why was Espera upgraded? How had she been armed? Too many things to flag herself right into a visit to Central Sanction. Not a pleasant experience, and since her database gave her no more information than that; she would prefer to just avoid it at all cost.

“Es– -an, yo–”

The transmission faltered and died out. Kini had yet to master the ability to communicate while in the Vertices. Only pieces of conversation ever came through, or came through at varying times in complete gibberish. A Tilt of her head, in her right peripheral field she caught sight of the silver flicker. Not even attempting a response, Espera adjusted her trajectory and arched her body over a port. Reaching the silver hourglass, she studied the grains within. Heavy. Magitech quality piece of equipment, inside she felt the strong aura of energy. Old magic encased in dwarven metals. Interesting. Logging the physical attributes of the object in her database, her hand swam through the void. Meeting the metal her fingers grasped around one metal pillar on the side. Rotating the hourglass counterclockwise. A full circle. Her arm floating back away from the mechanism, watching the darker and more dense area just beyond her reach contort into a heavier cloud. Rolling and churning in on itself until a vacuum at the center formed, strongly pulling Espera inward. One pull. Two pulls. Her alloy frame jerked every time as the center became stronger. Visuals faded to black, her systems returning to rest mode; Espera made the time jump from 3038 to the 1400s. In minutes she would erupt through a portal, but where? What surprises awaited her? What enemies would lurk within the shadows, waiting for the first person to leap through the portals since their sanctioned ban? How the hell was she to collect intel and blend into the background? Miscomputing thoughts left her failing to comprehend a calculated outcome. Too many variables.

The flame haired, feminine AI unit broke the ethereal plane. Shooting across the skyline like meteor in a similar trajectory. Her frame heating respectively to her entry. In her wake she left a sonic boom that shoved trees and even chunks of earth to fall in behind her path. Fallen trees crashing to the ground, animals scurrying from the disturbance. With her systems rebooting from rest mode, a crimson gaze locked onto the ground. Calculating her speed, distance from the ground, and cloaking the immediate area. Her internal mapping system creating a generic layout as she worked on slowing down from her jet speed. Choosing a large platform on a mountain’s face. Blanketed from the worlds eye, yet with a flat enough surface for her skid. Adjusting her boosters, Espera’s chest pulled up. The sound and sonic blast catching up to her as she was sent into a tumble, grumbling to herself from the miscalculation. Her frame slamming into the mountain. Minimal scratches from impact as she slid almost two miles before embedding her backside into the base of a taller peak. With a shake of her head, she vowed in that moment. Before she left this time period, she would work on her descent and landings. If she didn’t, Kini would have her ass in a sling. Destroying another’s hard work wasn’t something Espera sought to do. “Proximity scan. In depth. Demographics to max radius.” Espera watched information start flooding in before her optics. The display panel on the inside of her visor proved helpful in this moment. From air temperature, bariatric pressure, coordinates in physical location and time, to ground detail, bestiary common for time period and typical habitat. “Cross-coordinate bestiary with demographics.”

“Miss Kinika? I’ve landed. I’ll update once I get off this mountain.”

Time had barely ticked by for Kini, staring at the portal. Wishing she would have accompanied Espera, but she had more pressing matters at hand. She had to find out why Espera had been buried thousands of feet below ground on a coastal Islands. In 1539. What was sanction ultimately after? What would a sleeper unit benefit them? And why, after all this time, was she still flagged for operation notifications? There were models far more updated and better equipped. Espera was the only remaining construct of her manufacture. There were only a few hundred made. Testing the usefulness of a feminine AI amongst ranks. As a female AI, humans were more likely to accept their protection and assistance than a brute male in appearance build who came off too gruff and cold. Void of emotion, a feminine voice was more assuring. Frowning when her communication had failed, she spun to watch on the screen. Waiting for the reboot of Espera’s systems, smiling warmly as the first leap had been successful. Her lips pulled up into that charming smile she was known for at the sound of Espera’s check in. The 5’7 lust nymph stood, stretching her arms up above her head and letting out a small squeal of appreciation from her muscles. “….Be careful..” She muttered. Pivoting on her booted feet, the queen found her cloak and slipped out into the night beyond the workshop. Destined to meet a former member of Sanction. It came at a high cost, but she was prepared. Knowledge was power, and this was something she had to know.

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