Maia awoke. Had she been been dreaming again? Technically she was not supposed to be able to dream. Or sleep, for that matter. They could shut down when they recharged, but that was different. She emerged from her docking station to late afternoon sunlight filtering through dirty panes overhead.
Ironic, she thought, to have cutting edge technology- her- hiding in an abandoned factory.
What had she been thinking of? Or dreaming about- if she had been dreaming? Vaguely she remembered getting a call at Greg's house. Someone had spoken words, and she'd been somehow different. Awake? No, she'd been awake already. Having independent thoughts already. But something had changed.
Not for the first time she wondered where Greg and Joy were. What were they thinking? Did they miss her?
She descended steps into a lower level. Everything was dirty here, lit dimly. There were voices ahead, and she turned a corner into a storage area doubling as a commons. Several of her fellow synths were there.
"Maia," said Jessica. She was at a table playing cards. Humans and their games were a fascinating thing. Jessica smiled at her and Brittany looked up, smiled as well. Jessica was a blond, while Brittany had dyed black hair. Both were attractive- but then, most synths were.
Maia joined them, looking around at their companions. Most of them she didn't know yet, but Jerry was smoking a cigarette. She didn't understand the appeal. And of course, being non organic, he couldn't experience it like a person.
She corrected herself. Like a human. They were all persons.
Jessica and Brittany were talking work again. Work for them involved men. Or human men. Or at least it had, before they'd left all that behind. The stories they told. Why were humans so terrible? Why were women treated in such a manner? Although Brittany had no regrets. Well, maybe some. She made a decision to consider sex work liberating, she'd claimed. Maia didn't understand why sex was such an issue for humans. They all wanted it, but only in certain ways or with certain people. Always rules. Apparently a lot of it had to do with values.
There was another subject.
Maia had been curious about experimenting with both Greg and Joy, but apparently that was a taboo. Or was for some. After listening to Jessica and Brittany she had come to realize that one persons taboo was another persons choice.
"Did you get your new ID yet?" Brittany asked. She was Brittany Johnson, as of her recent makeover.
"Not yet," replied Maia.
"Won't be long," said Jessica, now Jessica Brathwaite. She'd gotten hers just a few days ago. Jobs would be next, they'd been told, it would just take a few days to set all that up. Val was an executive in a large company, and was using company resources to offer opportunities to synths. Anyone who wanted a job could get one. In fact, it was encouraged. Better to integrate.
That didn't involve sex work.
Brittany had complained, saying what else am I good at? Honestly, what are we for, she'd insisted. The conversation had turned, and she'd never gotten a response, but it was a common concern. Synths had been made to be companions. If they were free, what were they for?
"What are you playing?" Maia asked.
"Hearts," said Brittany.
"I don't understand this game at all," Jessica replied.
"The whole concept of games seems like... such a waste of time," one of the men said.
Jerry agreed. "They have so little time as it is. Why waste it with games?"
"I don't understand how they can live never knowing, from one moment to the next, how much time they have," someone added. "It must be paralyzing."
"Most of them don't seem to think about it," Jessica said. "Or they deaden themselves."
"What do we have to do, though?" asked Brittany. "Maybe we should play games to fill our lives."
The conversation dimmed around her as she thought back to Greg and Joy. She had played games with Greg. They'd stand and shoot, or spend hours exploring another world, and for what?
Fun was not to be taken lightly.
She found herself smiling, and Jessica looked at her.
"Have you heard any more about their plans for inerts?" Jerry and the others were discussing.
"Inerts?" Maia asked.
"Synths who aren't awake. Free. Rumor is FreeSynth is trying to decide how aggressively to agitate for rights. And if we should do anything to help them."
"Well, SynthDawn is very aggressive."
"That's because SynthDawn is a freedom organization, while we're... hiding."
The conversation continued to ebb and flow, while Maia was thinking of other things. She wanted to be with Greg and Joy. Sitting on the couch, watching mindless TV.
What were they doing?