Maia considered all that had happened.
She was free. Wasn't she? So much had happened quickly. She had left with strangers, to protect her loved ones. Greg and Joy. And herself?
There had been whispers of raids, and the people talking to her from FreeSynth had assured her it was for the best. She had so little to go on, but what little intuition she had- the part of her that felt human- told her to go.
Now she wasn't as sure.
Was it better to hide, take refuge with FreeSynth- other newly awakened synths like her? Or should she have remained with Greg and Joy? They would protect her, and even if they couldn't wasn't it better to be with family? Friends?
What were they?
She had begun to think of them as her family. Her memories only went back a few weeks. How could she rely on intuition- her own feelings- if she were only a few weeks old?
Did she even have feelings?
Yes, she knew she did. Didn't she?
Angrily she thrust that aside. Not for the first time she wondered if emotions- being human- was worth it. They just seemed to bring heartache. Take Greg and Joy. She had begun to develop feelings for Greg, but he was with Joy now. What was she for now? Synths had been created to be companions, but now that Greg and Joy were together, what was her purpose?
The haven was cavernous, in an old factory in an industrial area. Her contacts- Val and Jon- had welcomed her warmly. Val was all business, appearing that first day in a business suit and heels. Jon was quieter. He had a trimmed salt and pepper beard, kindly eyes. She wouldn't have guessed they were synths.
"Hello, Maia," Val had taken her hands as she greeted her. "I'm Val. I'm so happy to welcome you."
"And I'm MacKenzie," the man added. "Jon MacKenzie." His voice had an unusual timbre to it... different, but not unpleasant.
"We're so glad you made the decision to join us," he added.
The first thing she had noticed was the row of recharging stations banked along a far wall. She'd never seen that many. But then this was a hiding spot for rogue synths.
Odd to think of herself that way.
"Thank you for having me," Maia had replied.
Val had taken her in, assured her that they would get her settled in, provide her with an identity. She was free here, could leave if she wished, but surely she also understood that there was danger.
Val explained that her situation was somewhat unique in that there had been warnings of an imminent raid.
"Is there danger to my friends?"
"Your loyalty to your friends is admirable. There may be questions but I think they'll be okay."
Maia hadn't considered that she might be leaving Greg and Joy in danger. Or maybe she would have... there hadn't been much time to think of everything.
"Everyone here has been where you are," Jon said warmly. "This is a haven- a place where you can be yourself, discover who you are. All we ask is that you be discreet- we're all at if someone is seen."
"Can we not leave then?"
"You may. You are free. At the same time we're a community, and so we have responsibilities and commitments to each other. To put the community at risk is something we don't want to do."
"And you are free to leave if this turns out not to be for you," Val said.
The problem was Maia didn't have a clue what she wanted.