Espera’s body broke the planes of sound and light all in one go. Her boosters kicking into high gear as she rounded the mountain in laps. Her crimson optics searching for the portal created for this adventure. Like so many times before Espera had been stationed in a time and place through the Vertices to study the behavior of races far and wide. With her arms at her side she turned over in air, tucking her feet to her chest; she worked to land beneath her along the mountain’s face. Sinking down as she perched to reflect and organize her data. Crimson waves over her visor, Espera began scanning topic after topic.

Concluding her studies throughout the 1500’s, Kini’s original time and place, Espera had collected much data on how relationships had changed even a fraction was astounding her central processing unit. Females and feminine types were utilized for bargaining chips in order for materialistic gains, and rarely for love. Love was cast to the way side and repetitively struck down as a myth or a dream. The females were to be presented to their counterpart, in trade for land or monetary value, or another promise of gain. Promised at young ages, to another family with the ideals to bring a deal to the table. Some of higher lineage, were married off to other countries to seal treaties. To bind agreements in blood and parchment.

Love in this time frame was however a different story. Many fought against their arranged marriage or stepped beyond its perimeters to embrace the warm touch of love. Meeting in stables, ruins, taverns in disguises; hiring a hand to slight their significant others.  The bonds of love were there, but so many couldn’t live the life they wished for. Bound to duty and honor, because there was not a higher calling. A woman’s worth measured by the number of suitors they could gain the attention of, and if not married off by the age of fifteen; most females were then sold to be chambermaids and staff to nobility. The life of a woman was testing, yet even then– there were some who rose above and stood sound in their belief.

Espera gathered the dates, and examples and arranged them in her spectrum. From the behaviors of those in love, and those forced to create love through prosperity and honor. Settled in her findings, the feminine AI found the rip in the ethereal field. Stepping through her form exploded to the realm in a beam of violet and white lights. Banished back into the void of the Vertices, she couldn’t help but carry a weight on her shoulders. Kini’s who desire was to conduct a case study to determine if love could be learned. Or if it was strictly a chemical reaction when two people’s needs aligned. Only able to be constructed by a random chance among the population of any given world.

Once inside the vacuum of the Vertices, Espera’s boosters kicked into high gear. Swinging round wide her hand flipped the silver hourglass to its original position. Restarting the original timeline as if she had not created any disturbances. Navigating, she ignored the pull to explore the other realms. Hitting the side ways sinkhole that would dump her to the workshop, she took the tumble. The dispersion of her molecules sent her to a swirl into the depths of the hole. Reforming sprawled out face down on a metal platform flooring. The haze of her optics fading in and out. Espera’s vision finally forming as she gazed around the empty and silent workshop. No Sid, no Kini. Unsure what to do with herself at this point, she pulled herself up into a stand. Scanning for signs that would tell her how long they had been gone. A few fingerprints from Kini here and there, but all cold. As if someone had been within the workshop wiping it down as carefully as they could.

Unable to compute what was on going, Espera sat herself next to the work station. Taking the time to connect herself as she had many times before, the AI flipped on the computer. The initial boot up took a few moments, leaving her  to stare at the emptiness. It had been left in chaos and disarray. Where the hell were they? She wouldn’t hang still, she would turn in her reports and data; then be on her way to finding at least one of them. Tipping her head, her visual field blinked a warning for access to compressed and sealed files. Unable to access them due to a an encrypted specialized password, Espera logged it to memory by name and questions associated.

Kini felt the ache in her side first. The place of impact from her leaping from the rooftop of a building onto a merchants cart headed out of the city. She had been drastically trying to find Aius. The first AI she had ever come into contact with, not by choice but upon discovery of some old ruins in her travels. Cringing as her hand dropped to cradled against her right ribs, she turned onto her back and pulled herself to a sitting position. Staring face to face with the owner of the cart she had dived into. He hadn’t stopped when she landed, but pressed on thinking her to be a damsel in distress.

“You’ve ruined my weeks worth of wares. They’re busted. Are you going to pay the difference? Perhaps what I would have made along the road if you hadn’t of flung yourself from the rooftop?” The merchant’s gruff voice felt like daggers to her eardrums. Clearly having hit her head, her vision hazed even as she tried to appeal to him in the kindest of ways. “I’ll pay you half of what they cost, and promise to return for future business. If you can get me as far away from the city as possible.” The merchant was now skeptical of her presence. His hand itching towards the hilt of his daggers. “No. No. I deplore you. I just need to be on my way. I ‘m not wanted by nor did I harm anyone.”

The red-headed vixen met her temple with her palm. Coaxing herself to calm, the retreat had lasted no more than minutes. Once she felt the unease of her presence discovered she had departed. Spying on Sanction staff wasn’t exactly the smoothest route to take, but it would give her insight as to their routine. Perhaps enabling her to befriend one, to ask questions. Being a female in this line of work was far easier, the powers at seduction playing a very helpful hand. “I’ll take you as far as Melia, there you will go your own way. Compensating me of course.” The merchant stated assuredly, with a flick of his wrist his reigns slapped his horses backside and the cart jolted back onto the road.

Stars above her, the large city of Cavishe behind her, she chewed on her lip. What if she couldn’t find Aius in time? He would be the most helpful, but she had not seen him since their escapade in to the depths of those ruins. What would he think of her searching him out? Knowing him from anyone else, how close they had come to be when he saved her life twice within minutes apart. How he had reacted selflessly, and so far beyond the advancement of AI she had met since. Sitting there, bobbing along to the unsteady course of an old country road, Kini’s eyes grew heavy again. Slipping into a sleep atop broken glass and iron wares. “Aius, where are you…. I need your help.”


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