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Wondaland Interludes

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Cindi Mayweather met Anthony Greendown at the Wondaland club late one night right after the band's first set. Cindi had gone to the bar to get a Lube Job before they had to go on again when a deep voice cut across the club chatter and said, "Put that on my tab and a G&T, please." She looked over at the man standing to her right in a finely tailored kaleidosuit--high-end microfilament, not the cheap knockoffs they sold down in the Copier's Quarter; the patterns swirling in it were too muted and elaborate for anything but full credit. She wasn't surprised to see someone so clearly wealthy here. The cream of Metropolis society and crime lords liked to slum it with the 'droids--it made them feel even more human and superior--and hers was the finest band on Neon Valley Street. She was surprised when he tipped his hat and offered his name, like she was any Metropolis lady on the high street.

"Anthony Greendown, at your service."

She'd been programmed from the beginning not to show surprise at anything the toffs did, so she accepted the drink with a tip of her head and replied, "Cindi Mayweather. And thanks."

"It's the least I could do. The band is very good."

She flashed him a tight, bright smile, like she hadn't heard that a thousand times, and said, "Well, we do what we're programmed to." She was proud that bitterness only lightly laced her tone, not that any toff would notice even if she had been less controlled.

But maybe this one did. He tipped his drink in her direction and said, "Don't we all? But that doesn't mean we have to, or have to do it well or with heart. It seems like you have that to spare and are following your own tune."

She froze imperceptibly, keeping her smile bright and blank and her eyes hooded. There were sometimes men and women from the high street who came to play, knowing it was against the law, and those who pretended, to catch unwary ‘droids out for the hunters. She didn't know which he was, and neither was a trap she was willing to fall into.

His lips lifted in a slight grin, an acknowledgment of a kind. "But I see that our time here is up and you have work to do. Thank you for the company and I'm looking forward to seeing more of you." He made that last a query and not the leering invitation it could have been, and with that, he tipped his hat again and slid off to his seat.

She watched him go for a moment, unsettled, and then turned her mind back to the show. She didn't know then how much she would see him, how much he would come to mean, or that offer of a drink was the start of a revolution.

*

6ixSavage had been head of security at the Wondaland before he had made the right connections and gotten on the Polis force and risen in the ranks. He remembered he first time he had seen Cindi Mayweather perform at the club. She'd been fresh off the line, an Alpha 9000 Platinum like the others but somehow set apart the moment she had opened her mouth. It had been an ordinary night before the club had opened, the lights dimmed a bit while the bartender set up. 6ix had been idly killing time at the bar. It'd been a simple test of the acoustics for the show, but her voice, clear and bright, had pierced him to the core. He found himself with an unfamiliar ache in his heart after she finished a simple, stripped down version of the old folk tune, "Smile." 6ix was not a sentimental man--no one could be in his line of work and survive, not in Neon Valley. But he felt there was something about this 9000, not the starry-eyed imagining of a kid in his cups or the lascivious dreams of a tinfucker. It was something deeper and altogether strange for a man with a kill count, 'droid and human, as high as he had. What he felt when he heard her voice, was change. And that was his first inkling of the force that Cindi Mayweather would become.