No one, not even the twins, wanted to take a break for lunch, so Aaliyah, with loud mumblings about not following the schedule, asked Emma if she’d mind ordering pizza for everyone now instead of later. Emma agreed and humored Aaliyah with talk of how troublesome people were when they altered plans. Brandon then suggested “You could always send out a memo about it! I love sitting down and reading me some memos.” Aaliyah crossed her arms and gave him a cute glare before sighing dramatically and returning to her chair. I honestly had no idea how she even found time to write memos with everything else she had happening in her life. I knew the girl’s scheduling abilities were beyond belief, but there was only so much a person could do in twenty-four hours. “Jaaaaaaames,” pouted Ai. “Are you going to make us kill the goblin king by ourselves?” Brandon, whose tiny character casually slaughtered goblins with a greatsword, then asked, “Are you saying none of the rest of us count?” Ai smiled sweetly at him and Mai said, “Emma’s spells seem random and unpredictable, Brenna only pays attention to one enemy at a time, you just charge the largest group, and the twerp sits back and watches most of the time.”
No one could say that Ai and Mai didn’t work well together. Their natural tendency to work as a team carried over into the gaming world unbelievably well. Where Brandon and Brenna kept Emma busy half the time with healing, Ai and Mai hadn’t been damaged at all for over an hour now. Jarod did nearly as well even though his character was fighting unarmed without magic. He could disarm enemies before taking them down with very realistic martial arts moves. My big advantage came from staying back from the fight and focusing on my fire spells more and more. When I timed things right, I could incinerate scores of enemies before they even took notice of me. Such spells took time though, and would be impossible without surprising the enemies or having someone distract them. I feared I would have to drastically change things up for solo play, assuming I ever attempted to play solo. Though Aaliyah wasn’t taking part in the fights, she was collecting things everywhere went and telling us the various things she’d be able to make for us with her varied materials. As much as the twins were complaining, I bet they would gladly accept armor, weapons, and other items when the time came for crafting.
The pizza break was done in silently agreed shifts, so our game progress wouldn’t stop. Whoever was eating would set their character to follow another, allowing us to continuously push into new territory. In fact, we were so engrossed that we hadn’t realized the time until Marco came into the room, moving Jarod’s screen slightly to push a cart laden with food past us. The amazing smell of his cooking made me realize how ravenous I felt, and I found that over six hours had passed since our pizza “break”. As Marco was loading the table with food, I asked how the date went. He told me “Well, she was very nice, but we didn’t agree on the food at all. I felt that the cook must have no sense of taste. She felt that her brother, the cook, was a great chef, so I made the apologies. But now she waits for me in the kitchen, so I’ll leave you to your food.” The last part was made with a wink that had me quickly deciding I shouldn’t bother him for anything tonight, since his date was obviously not over. I was thankful that Aaliyah, despite her exceptional abilities, was too innocent to catch onto certain aspects of the world. She was still concentrating on the game as she bit her tongue, despite Brandon and Jarod chuckling at Marco’s comment.
Enough of us were starving that we left our characters standing around in town as we stood around the table. All of us paused and stared at Aaliyah when her chair swiveled around, though she still had to stretch to reach any food. “I had wondered why the table was so low.” stated Brandon. He quickly hopped back in his chair, but wasn’t able to get it to turn. “How does this thing work?” he asked. “Oh! Let me send out a memo,” said a delighted Aaliyah, “since I know you love to read them!” Fortunately, we could easily see her typing the memo on her screen, so we didn’t actually have to go check. The chair controls were tied into the keyboard through a function key, allowing you to hold down the button and use ‘a’ and ‘d’ to spin. The ‘w’ and ‘s’ keys would raise and lower the chair slightly. There were apparently a large number of other controls tied into the keyboard, but Aaliyah’s memo said we would have to watch the chair tutorial for full details. “S’why’d you make a separate tutorial for the chair instead of putting it on the room one?” asked Brandon around his food. Brenna piped up and said, “Only my brother would not realize the girl loves her tutorials by now.” Aaliyah beamed at her with a face-splitting grin.
“Who doesn’t? I think I’ve learned more in the past month than I did in four years of high school, and I’m only on level 13 of the company training course.” declared Jarod. I couldn’t help smiling, seeing his goofy grin. He obviously was proud of getting that far. “There are more levels!?” asked Brandon and Brenna in near unison. “I think the redheads are trying to impersonate us.” commented Ai. “Silly Ai. Only one’s a redhead at the moment,” said Mai. Ignoring the twins, I asked, “For what reason are there levels, Aaliyah?” She sighed and rolled her eyes before putting on her secretary glasses and saying, “You especially should read the memos, boss-man, sir. As you should be aware, the different levels are based off skill sets needed for certain jobs, some of which need certifications to be legal. When I fixed your website, I took the liberty of researching the requirements of doing certain tasks listed, such as electrical work. Then I put in a request at my school to approve the courses I wrote, so they could legally certify you for the necessary tasks. The higher the course level, the more difficult the requirements for completion.” I took a moment processing what she said before asking, “So we basically can get degrees or certifications through the company training program for whatever we want?” She smiled and nodded. I on the other hand, felt like a very ill-informed boss; a boss who needed to start training.
“Speaking of college, which one will you two be attending now that you’re moved here,” I asked the twins. Seeing nearly identical faces look at me as if I said something stupid was exceptionally discouraging. “Boss-man, sir, Ai and Mai attend the Institute of Autodidacticism through the online courses. I beat their score on the molecular biology exam just a couple months ago.” explained Aaliyah. Seeing the twins stick their tongues out in unison at little Aaliyah was quite amusing, but I did my best not to laugh, unlike Brandon or Jarod. “She’s joking, right?” asked Brenna. I shook my head negatively and told her “I’ve seen Aaliyah’s school portfolio myself. She’s a doctor already.” Brandon stopped laughing and stared at her, stunned, which made Jarod laugh even harder. The twins swiveled their chairs back around and announced they were going to leave without us if we weren’t ready soon, which sent the rest of us back to finishing our food in a hurry. I smiled to myself and thought about how strange meeting Aaliyah was for someone. No one would ever expect such an amazing mind hidden behind the face of a tiny, adorable girl. Perhaps Brandon and Brenna would need some time for the breadth of Aaliyah’s exceptional talent to fully sink in after all.
We hardly seemed to play for much longer at all, though I supposed we did accomplish quite a bit, when Aaliyah poked my arm and asked, “Boss-man, sir, is it time yet? Is it? Is it!?” I stared at her blankly, unsure of what she meant. “It’s after ten, boss-man, sir. The sun’s surely set by now. Shouldn’t we start ghost hunting!?” she asked with a big grin. I didn’t really want to stop, but I couldn’t disappoint her, especially considering that I was technically babysitting her at the moment. “Well, I’m sorry to say that the training session is officially over. Feel free to keep playing or join Jarod, Aaliyah, and me for the ghost hunt! Your choice.” Ai and Mai reiterated that they don’t believe in ghosts, which didn’t surprise me. I was surprised when they didn’t head back to their wing though. For two people who aren’t into video games, they really seemed to be enjoying Ancient Tribes of Earth. Brenna wanted to come along, but Brandon told us “I can’t leave these two alone. What if they need me for another musical number?” To which Ai replied, “You aren’t allowed to sing without a dress, Ginger Spice.” Emma looked back and forth between me and the game before sighing, signing out, and explaining “I can’t risk missing out if you actually do find something.” The ghost hunt was on!