Kepa’s phone buzzed almost simultaneously with the chime on Maite’s phone. He picked his up off the table as Maite glanced at hers.
“Ainhoa,” they both said, simultaneously.
Kepa read Ainhoa’s text. Looking up at Maite, he said “She wants to meet us.”
Maite shrugged. “Ok.”
Kepa texted that they were in the plaza. Ainhoa replied that she would be there in twenty minutes.
“What do you think she wants?” asked Kepa as he put his phone down.
“I’m sure it isn’t Ainhoa, it has to be Marina.”
Maite heard Garuna’s voice rumble in the back of her brain. “Who is Marina?” She chose to ignore the AI for the time being.
“Do you think she knows we just returned from one of our excursions?” asked Kepa.
Maite shrugged again and then sighed. “I don’t know what she knows. I feel she knows much more than she tells us.”
It wasn’t long before Ainhoa appeared in the plaza, walking up to their table. Her black hair was highlighted with yellow streaks this time. Even though it was reasonably warm, she wore a black leather jacket that almost seemed to engulf her. Black boots with bright red laces rose up to her calfs. One of her bare legs was covered in a tattoo of a woman with her hands crossed and fingers out in strange directions. Smoke poured from her finger tips and wrapped around Ainhoa’s leg.
Ainhoa pulled up a chair from a neighboring empty table. “Kaixo, Kepa. Maite,” she said as she sat down.
“Kaixo, Marina,” replied Maite.
Ainhoa/Marina sighed. “Bai, it’s me. I can’t hide anything from you,” she added with a wry smile.
“Oh,” replied Maite. “I think you hide plenty from us.”
“What is that supposed to mean…?” began Marina before Kepa cut her off.
“What’s up? What did you want to see us about?” he asked.
“Somehow,” answered Marina, ignoring Maite’s barb for the moment, “you broke the rules.”
“What do you mean?” asked Kepa.
Looking first Kepa and then Maite in the eye, she replied “You brought something back with you. The last time you went out.”
“How do you know that?” asked Kepa, trying to divert Marina’s attention away from Maite.
“I just know,” replied Marina curtly. “Did you or did you not bring something back?”
“We did,” said Maite. “We brought back an AI.”
“A what?” asked Marina.
“An artificial intelligence.”
“Where is it?” demanded Marina. “I need it back now.”
Maite pointed to her head. “It’s in here.”
“How…?” began Marina.
“It wouldn’t let us come back unless it could come too,” interjected Kepa. “We had no choice.”
“What do you mean you had no choice?” said Marina, her voice rising. “You could always get the zatia.”
Maite shook her head. “Ez. It had control of the zatia. It wouldn’t give it to us unless it came back with us.”
“You shouldn’t have brought it back.” Marina was almost in a state of panic. “We don’t know what will happen next!”
“What would you have had us do?” barked back Maite. “Stay in that bubble until we died? You weren’t helping us.”
Marina gasped, taken aback. “Zer?”
“You were there,” replied Kepa, his voice steady, trying to defuse the situation. “You were leading an underground revolt. But when Maite was taken by de Lancre, you were no where to be found.”
“I…” stuttered Marina. Her head fell, her eyes staring at the table in front of them. “I can’t believe I would do that.”
“Well, you did,” replied Maite, her voice cold.
Marina looked up. “Let me explain something, something I should have told you before. When you jump around, looking for the zatia, time is still linear for you. You jump through time, but you experience each event in sequence. It isn’t like that for me. I don’t jump from one bubble to another. I exist in all of them simultaneously.”
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