Aria stared at the holoboard in front of her with fear. There was a picture of her and her brightly dyed pink hair staring back at her blankly. The bolded black font spelled out "wanted for the murder of several international emissaries". It showed exactly what she was, an Opus, a person with an AI. Dangerous. The mere thought of them Project Maestro getting their hands on her and her AI, Piano, made her skin crawl. She toyed with removing her wanted poster from the rotation of images, but she knew that it would be traced to here and they would know where she and Piano were.
"Piano, please scan for AIs. Now," Aria whispered into her mind.
"Right away, Aria."
She stared at the image for a few moments, it was a few years old, and she couldn't have been more than fourteen. While she was currently twenty, she didn't look too much older than she did in the picture. She sighed, the worst part of this picture was that it showed her with newly dyed pink hair and her hair was currently pink. While she changed her appearance every few weeks, Aria had a tendency to dye her hair back to pink. It felt more natural than her actual brown hair. She ran her fingers through the hologram, making it disappear for a second, her blank staring green eyes splitting into five and then reuniting. Horror was sinking through her stomach and tightening those muscles in the back of her neck they were wanted by the law. Project Maestro had finally decided to involve the local law.
Aria glanced around at the nearly deserted café, hoping that no one had seen the hologram. The people in the place looked defeated, their heads leaning onto the tables next to the obligatory cup of coffee. The waitress was nowhere to be seen.
She walked calmly back to her booth and waited patiently for the food she had ordered. Piano had been with Aria for seven years. Project Maestro had paired them together carefully. A person could feasibly be paired with multiple AIs, but Project Maestro had erred on the side of caution and researched their AIs and paired them with a subject that had a similar personality. They also leaned towards caution because removing an AI was deadly.
"I don't feel any AIs in this area. Eat and get out of here quickly, let's not draw unneeded attention to ourselves."
Aria let her breath out in relief. The past few days had been spent dodging an operative from Project Maestro. She should have figured that a skilled operative meant that Project Maestro was really trying to bring her in again. She could take a small bit of comfort that they hadn't sent an Opus after her yet, someone like her. If they did, she would know that they were serious.
Her food arrived and she ate it slowly. It had been over two days since she had last eaten and it was taking a toll on her body. Piano always got a little antsy when she didn't eat enough he had always been quite protective of her. She ate and paid. She wanted to put the café as far behind her as she could. Aria kicked a piece of garbage out of her way while she walked out, her black trench coat twining around her legs. She and Piano needed to plug in and discuss things face to face. Plugging gave a face to the disembodied voice in her head and made her feel less crazy for listening to the voice in her head. It helped the host and AI bond a bit more and learn to trust each other.
She squinted up at the sky for a moment before pulling her blue goggles over her eyes. The sky was burnt to an angry orange color and the tendrils of the sun's rays were an eerie red. The sky had been that color since she was a small girl after the attacks on the United States had happened. She had been around ten years old. While she had been a highly intelligent child, she had never figured out who had been the attacker or why the strict laws had been placed on people afterwards, she had been forced to accept them as truth or suffer the government's consequences.
"Piano, we should plug in. It's been awhile since we have and we really need to figure out what we're going to do about this. I miss you."
"I was going to suggest the same thing. It'll help us get everything planned out. I'm setting a course."
"It makes so much more sense that they sent those operatives after us, doesn't? They either wanted us distracted so we wouldn't notice the holoboard notice, or they wanted to send us a message. Either way, it's not a good thing. And here I thought we were getting some luck."
Aria hated changing her appearance, but knew that it was a necessity for someone like her. If the operative hadn't managed to glimpse her appearance, she wouldn't have to change her appearance. But he had and she would. She had to feel grateful that the picture was old. But the holoboard had her codename, Opus 1, on it. And it showed what she was. She reached down towards the button on the side of her boots, which turned them into skates. It was time to change again.