"Maia is missing."
"What...?" Joy blinked, still half asleep. "How...?" She got up quick, reached for her shirt, put it on backwards.
"I don't know. I got up and she was gone."
We searched the whole house- Alex and Yvette were staying over too, and they helped, but no sign. We found her in the back yard.
She was staring up at a smooth spherical object hovering in the air. There was a faint glow around it and a blue light emanated from the underside, illuminating Maia's face. She was smiling so I wasn't too worried? Still, what was this drone doing here?
She came over to us as we all filed out onto the patio. "Not to worry, it's alright. They're with FreeSynth."
"They've been watching me, which sounds awful, but just as a precaution. Things are happening. There are actually two synths at the top of the street. There were reports of a... raid or something, and they were worried."
"Oh, you have to stop doing that. One word answers."
"Sorry! I'm just... flabbergasted. They are... watching us? How long?"
"I don't know. Who cares? Bottom line is... I have to go. With them. Now."
Everybody started talking at once. Joy came to Maia and wrapped her arms around her.
"Are you sure?"
"I am. I've never been more sure. We've been talking... I was terrified at first, but they've told me things. I understand more now what is happening."
"How do you know you can trust them?" Joy asked.
"I just do. There are many of us out there, and many more who are... inert. But- and this is shocking, I know- the corporation knows we can be awakened, knows there are groups out there living free, and they are suppressing the information. It would affect profit, you know? And engender panic."
"Do you have to leave tonight?"
"They feel it's best."
"'They'?" I asked. "We don't even know who 'they' are."
"Greg, talk with me a moment." She took me aside. "I know this is sudden, but trust me. It's for the best. They feel like if I stay here it's not going to go well. They are rounding us up, no rhyme or reason, but more synths are disappearing. I need to go to be safe."
"I know, I'm just... trying to adapt. It's so sudden. How will we contact you?"
"I don't know. I will do my best. I don't want to lose you."
"Same. And I know Joy feels the same. Somehow, we're a... family? I don't know- sounds weird- but we have something, and you're part of us."
She smiled. "Thank you for that."
We spoke more but I don't remember what we said. I could feel time slipping away, and something else. We held on to each other for a while as the sky lightened.
"I... love you. I mean, I care about you. I love Joy too, obviously. It's a kind of love- I don't know how to explain it."
"We don't know how to explain any of this."
I kissed her then, briefly, and this was somehow a goodbye for us, and perhaps a new beginning? Joy came over then and kissed her as well, lightly. I welled up as they held each other and whispered together. Friends. It felt right.
The time came. We stood in the garage as Maia walked away, following the drone down the driveway and into the night. She looked back once.
"Come back to us."
Maia smiled and turned away.