Whenever Jarod, Regina, or I passed in the halls at school, we shared our ideas about what could possibly be in this world that would require the most unbelievably powerful car to my knowledge to protect us. We had no clue how much or what types of magic the car could deflect, but we assumed that the fancy sounding antimagic gibberish was suppose to stave off a powerful force. As dangerous as the twins and Emma were, nothing they demonstrated really compared with a large missile for destructive power. Other than fantastic creatures, such as dragons, we were coming up very short. A minotaur might be able to pound a regular car into pulp, but I doubted its strikes could compare with the missile we saw in the simulation. Medusa, if she existed, wouldn’t be able to shoot an arrow through a normal car very well, but we weren’t even sure if her gaze would work through glass. Maybe some of that antimagic mumbo jumbo was to counteract petrification? After we got into a little debate about whether or not Medusa’s lower half was a snake, I just gave up. How was a person ever to remember myths and legends correctly when so many games and stories altered them greatly? By the time school was over, we were all very eager to meet with the girls for practice.
Unfortunately, Jarod’s father was working on a car in the garage, and Aaliyah didn’t come today. “Well, I didn’t really think he’d have another project quite this soon, but a 1967 Pontiac Firebird’s definitely something to admire.” said Jarod as we stood outside of the garage. “I suppose we could rearrange our place to practice there.” offered Mai. Regina replied “If you don’t mind the drive, my gym has plenty of room.” When she was little, Regina’s father had built her a private gym to practice gymnastics and other things. We used it to practice Tai Chi together off and on when we were taking lessons. “Besides” she continued “I hired James for today, so there isn’t a rush.” I had a feeling that the twins weren’t entirely happy, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. Nonetheless, they agreed, and got into my backseat before Jarod had a chance. “Who wants to ride with Emma?” asked Emma. “I do! I do! Emma’s the most fantastic. Who wants to ride with a man-slave anyways?” she joked while attempting to sound manly. Jarod laughed and hopped in her pink bug as I shook my head and watched. Then I held the door for Regina before getting in myself. “You didn’t hold the door for us!” exclaimed Ai. “I feel so neglected.” whined Mai. “Not my fault if you two are impatient,” I said with a grin. Then I turned around and pulled out of the lot, making sure Emma was following.
Knowing that Jarod wouldn’t want to miss anything, I did my best not to start inquiring about what the twins thought of Mila’s defenses. Regina, on the other hand, asked “Why didn’t you answer my text?” They shrugged and said in unison “We were sleeping.” Mai continued “Then we had a massage, and didn’t want to be counterproductive by stressing ourselves out.” Ai followed with “We generally don’t like to text while eating. Plus, we figured that answering in person would be better, since we’d be seeing you anyway.” Regina sighed and said, “Fine. Have you heard of anything like this though?” Ai and Mai both shrugged and responded “No. Doesn’t seem plausible without magic.” Regina frowned. Then she told me “They could have just texted that.” I could see in the mirror that Ai and Mai were smiling. Then they spoke in unison, saying, “What fun would that be?” I asked Mila to run simulations of various effects against her. After a while, the Mai stated “Though the kid does have some skill, I bet she was just pulling your chain with this one.” Ai then said, “We’ve seen tests for deflector shields that use electromagnetic fields to deflect gunfire, but the field has to be unleashed at precisely the right moment.” Then they both said, “We’ve been thinking about it since we saw that list of weapons and don’t see how all of that stuff would even fit in here, much less crazy defense systems.”
“Mila, will you bring up information about your power source works?” I asked, wondering if the twins might be able to make a guess about the strength of a an electromagnetic field Mila could generate if that’s what she did. “Sorry, boss-man, sir, but the little princess made that information classified. The evil twins are not authorized to see the information, since indepth details could give the evil twins valuable insight into the functioning of my power source, which they would be obligated to share with their family. Would you like to see an amusing cat video instead?” Regina started laughing and asked Mila to play the video. We were completely side-tracked the rest of the drive to her house by a continuous stream of silly videos, but I was still wanting to have answers. Did Mila truly have such fantastic defenses or not? I sent a text to Aaliyah after we arrived asking exactly that. Her reply assured me that Mila did have “prototype defensive measures” and expounded on why I shouldn’t be dissuaded in my faith of her abilities by the “mad rantings of evil twins.” She claimed to be offended that I could doubt her, but I had trouble taking her offense seriously with the number of emoticons in the message. I also wondered at how fast the girl could text when she responded in less than a minute. I didn’t bother mentioning Aaliyah’s response to the twins, since I wouldn’t be able to support Aaliyah’s claims.
Ai and Mai were the first people I had ever met who didn’t seem amazed by Regina’s home. The mansion was grandiose to say the least, but they acted as if it was just one more house to them, following Regina in without a comment. Jarod was gawking as he had every time and was attempting to explain what he knew of the place to Emma, which turned out to be considerably more than I did. Andrew, the Smith’s butler, briefly stopped Regina in the hall at which point Regina invited everyone to stay for a late dinner. Jarod panicked, pulled me to the side, and started whispering urgently. “I’m supposed to have dinner with Laura, but how do I refuse eating here? What do I do!?” he asked. I rolled my eyes and told him “You really should have thought about that before coming all the way out here. How are you even going to make it there?” He said, “I sorta forgot. I was thinking about all that stuff today and what I want to ask Ai and Mai. You know. So. Umm.. I guess I’ll call her.” Poor Laura. Not only was she being left out of the loop, but now Jarod was forgetting plans with her. At least Jarod had skipped camping to spend time with her. Hopefully, she wouldn’t be too upset about him missing dinner. As we walked, I actually felt odd taking the main entry into the gym. Regina had always made me cross through her bedroom to use her personal entrance before.
“Are there any cameras in here?” inquired Ai. After Regina assured her there were not, Mai asked “Might anyone walk in on us?” Regina shook her head and explained that the servants would knock first and her father was away on business. Then, without warning, the twins attacked. Even Jarod had to defend himself and was actually doing amazingly well, considering this was his first time really sparring with anyone over three foot. The twins were a little more gentle with him than they were with Regina, Emma, or me, but they seemed impressed and even complimented him a couple times. Ai did give him a slight reprimand, saying, “You can’t be afraid of hitting a girl, or she’ll have a major advantage on you, especially Aaliyah. Make sure to give her a swift kick to her behind whenever you get a chance.” Jarod gaped and said, “I’m not kicking a little girl.” The twins both shrugged and told him “We gladly would!” Next Mai worked with Emma and Regina on residual magic while Ai continued instructing Jarod and I on physical combat. I realized after a while that she was actually studying Jarod’s forms and trying to learn from them. I then asked her “Do you know where Aaliyah learned to fight?” She shrugged and told me “No one except Aaliyah knows that, but she won’t directly teach anyone in my family.” I paused and asked “Why would you want her to teach you? You’re so very skilled!” Ai shrugged, and said, “Even though she’s a brat, I could still learn from her.”
Even when my turn came to practice magic, I was still thinking about Ai openly admitting that she could learn from Aaliyah, by whom she often seemed frustrated. How much more could there possibly be for me to learn about Aaliyah, a relatively young girl? I needed to pay more attention if I was ever going to figure things out. “Mai, is it possible to suck blood out of living things like you took the water out of the trees this weekend?” I asked. She nodded and told me “Yes, but living things, especially those with magic of their own, are resistant to spells like that. My sister and I were working together and barely could manage to pull the water from a single tree. Working with your own blood is easier though.” I grimaced and inquired why I would want to do that to myself. Mai then pulled water from a bottle, cut her thumb with it, and didn’t bleed, even though I could see the blood in the wound. “You may not want to pull blood out of your body, but you may want to keep it in.” Mai offered to show me how to manipulate my blood like that, but I became increasingly hesitant to try it as she explained problems that could come from making mistakes, such as blood rushing out of me or blocking blood flow to part of my body. I decided to hold off on that till another day. We continued practicing other spells until Andrew knocked on the door and announced that dinner would be ready soon. Even then I was still wondering when I’d be ready to practice blood magic. Only time would tell.