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Violet Stars

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Cindi trips over her leg and she springs to life from a heap of scattered alley parts in an instant, in a way that Cindi would find frightening if she were not also a droid. She is an older model compared to Cindi, but better maintained, as if she'd never even seen the wired side of town. Her teenage eyes are better as well, quick and darting fast, flitting across Cindi's face as if to catch any characteristic micro-expressions. Another entertainment model. An actor droid. She is expressionless and dispassionate, and Cindi gears up to continue running for her life when she pulls a hand phaser from nowhere and aims it between her eyes.

"You seem to be the right model. Are you 57821?" she says without blinking, breathing, or doing anything at all that droids are taught to do to feign humanity.

"What?" Cindi says, flummoxed and too terrified to move or answer in the affirmative.

"57821. Are you-" she pauses to consult the news feeds, one eye a line of rapidly scrawling text and the other brown, cold and focused. "-Cin...di Mayweather. Are you Cindi Mayweather?"

Cindi is still, completely frozen with fear at the phaser staring her down.

"Are you Cindi Mayweather?" the droid asks again forcefully, expressionless face morphing into something like annoyance. "If you tell me 'what' again, I will shoot you."

"Y-yes," Cindi can barely get out. "I-i'm Cindi Mayweather."

The phaser lowers and disappears somewhere, before the droid reaches out and grabs Cindi hard above the elbow to pull her down the dead end alley way she'd sprung from. Cindi resisted, harshly reaching deep into her wires for the strength to dig in her heels and pull back her arm. "Now, wait just a minute-"

"Look, Cindi. The Bounty Hunters are not far behind and the March of the Wolfmasters rings out all over the Neon Valley Street district."

She paused to hold her palm over a faded violet star pressed into the rusted metal wall, which slid back and revealed a dark, hidden path.

"My name is Mitzi Jujube." She held the other tiny brown hand out in Cindi's direction. "And ArchAndroid or not, you must come with me if you want to live, or else this will be the end of Cindi Mayweather."

Cindi hesitated. She thought of the phaser Mitzi'd casually threatened her with, of the exorbitant price on her head, of the Bounty Hunters and the Wolfmasters, and lastly of Anthony Greendown who'd stayed behind to fight them off.

 

There was no question at all. She took Mitzi's hand.

But the story of the ArchAndroid does not begin there.