I lay around my tent for a few minutes after waking, the bedroll is so warm I’m hesitant to get up fully. Finally I rise and crawl out, Alvii is nowhere to be found, I shrug it off in my exhausted state and begin collapsing my tent and packing my things, with that all done I shoulder the pack and for the first time clearly look around now noting that Alvii was missing, no footprints lead out of the camp, no drops of oil are anywhere to be seen. My eyebrows come together in confusion “Alvii?” No response, I look around as though I just over looked a seven foot tall killer robot. “Alvii!” Still nothing. Now I start to worry, I recheck the small clearing, I look behind bushes and around trees till finally a drip hits my head. I touch it expecting water, its oil. A smile spreads across my face and I look up, there it is. In stasis thirty feet above my head. “ALVII!” Its eyes flicker and it looks down at me “What are you doing up there?” It swings its leg over the branch and drops down on the other side.
“I-I was resting, the water would have frozen me in place.” I nod and smile.
“Shall we get going?” Alvii nods and sticks its hand out. “What?”
“P-Pack? W-We travel faster with me carrying it.” I hand it over, after all why argue when it appears to be true. Alvii shoulders it and we start off, its colder today then it has been in a long while and we walk quickly in the hopes of staying warm. Alvii continues to try and hum, it sounds like its attempting to mock the birds. I look up at him and start whistling, perfectly mocking one of the birds singing over head. “I-I cannot do that.”
“Its just easier to whistle bird songs then to hum them.” Alvii nods and we lapse into silence for a long while, its an uneasy silence and I start to feel bad. “Sorry Alvii. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh.”
“I-It is fine, Hera. I-I do not have feelings to be hurt by words.” Why can’t it just say its ok. Why do I always get the explanation of I don’t have feeling, I’m not alive- I sigh and we march on in silence. The sun arches high in the sky, the faint noise of the river can barely be heard. We’re almost home. I look back at Alvii and smile.
“Can you hear that Alvii?” It stops to listen, but shakes its head.
“N-No I cannot hear anything unusual.” I stare at it, shocked. How could Alvii not hear the river? I can hear the river. “W-What is it you hear?”
“The river, Alvii. I can hear the river.” Again Alvii stops to listen, after several minutes it shakes its head.
“I-I cannot hear it.” I sigh.
“We’ll get you fixed up at home, Alvii. Then you’ll be like new.” It nods mutely and we press on.
“We’ll get you fixed up at home, Alvii. Then you’ll be like new.” I do not have the heart to tell her that my internal scans are pointing to a shut down of non-vital systems, then a system wide shut down. I know it would derail the progress we are making right now. Perhaps I can make it to the village before the shut down, but I do not have confidence in that statement. The sun begins to set I do not ask Hera if she wishes to stop and rest, I know the answer will be no. I will not cross a river at night, but perhaps if we reach it she will be compelled to rest. The snow here is packed into ice covered in a thin layer of water, we slip from time to time but neither of us fall as we make our way over hills toward the river Hera insists she can hear.
Finally I can hear it, it is faint but I can make out the rushing water. Hera smiles when I announce this, we press on and I am shocked to find we are at the banks of the swollen river in no time. My hearing is failing, I wonder if it is considered a non-vital system. It must be, but I can still hear Hera and see well enough. “W-We should make camp, Hera. C-Cross the river in the morning when there is light.”
“Yeah, are you going to be alight? Or are you going to climb a tree again?”
“I-I should be alright.” My voice slows, I do not think it is enough for Hera to notice but my non-vitals are shutting down slowly, taking less and less power from what needs to work. I wonder how far this shut down will go before I fail. I hand over her pack and she sets up her hut and bed roll while I scramble up a near by tree, she looks up at me.
“Did you have that much trouble last night?” Did I?
“I-I do not recall.” Her eyebrows arch in surprise.
“Oh, well don’t get stuck up there, I won’t be able to help you.” I nod and she vanishes into the hut while I look out at the river for a moment before blackness over comes me.