Fighting two demons at once Friday morning was difficult despite the size and exceptional training of my guild. The last two were far more difficult even with my generals at top form. Brandon was doing his best to keep pressure on both of the demons. Jarod, Brenna, and Emma had their troops working as a wall between the enemy minions and Brandon’s troops. Ai and Mai used their troops to distract and destroy as much as they could of the enemy army, keeping the full force of the enemy army from protecting the demons. At first, Eseld’s troops always seemed to be just where they were needed any time we were about to lose ground, but even with killing ten times their losses, they were having fewer and fewer troops to lend support. Overseeing the battle, I temporarily transferred returning guildies to Eseld’s command as I felt others could spare them. There wasn’t enough. We were gradually being beaten by enemy numbers as well as tactics. I was almost too late in realizing why.
With constant calls for reinforcements, I was so busy trying to help rally my guildies where they were needed that I was failing to see the big picture. I switched Ai and her team to attacking the same one as Brandon’s, and told him to ignore the other one entirely. I then dispersed Eseld’s whole team around the parameter, focusing most of them between the demons. Eseld seemed upset till I explained what I was doing as I reassigned certain people under her. Then I told her to buy time and commanded the inner half of Jarod, Brenna, and Emma’s teams to focus on the weakened demon. The parameter crumbled shortly after Eseld went down, but not until after we took one of the demons down. Unlike us, they didn’t have a way to respawn. We were too weak to beat the other demon, but everyone fought as long as possible. Being quick with formations, we easily got organized and headed back with full health to finish the job. Unfortunately, the other demon fled. With no one having their primary gear, destroying the enemy army took some time, but that quickly turned into a relaxing game of “which team can kill the most”.
Despite the wipe and letting one demon escape, spirits in the guild were still high afterward. Most people stayed on for a couple more hours, just visiting and enjoying the victory. Eseld was the least pleased out of anyone, not liking to lose, but even she confided “I never would have made that call, but I think you did right under the circumstances. We were being systematically picked away with fewer and fewer people having their top gear.” I smiled and thanked her. Then I told her how I never dreamed I would get quite so into a game. “I feel like that is what Aaliyah does to people though. She drags us out of our world, pushes our limits, and then rewards our efforts, occasionally in ways we don’t quite understand at first.” I finished. Eseld responded with “Ha ha. Not quite what I would say about her.” When I inquired what she thought of Aaliyah, she told me “I won’t deny that Aaliyah is brilliant, but I question how benevolent she is. This game can be brutal and infuriating.” I laughed and said, “She can be brutal, but I still believe she’s kind. At the very least, she’s kind to me. If you ever listen to ‘Hmm?’, know that she wrote that and performed it live just to wake me up.”
Eseld teased me and asked if Aaliyah and I were dating. I laughed and told her “Aaliyah’s only twelve. I babysit her. She was dancing on the foot of my bed when she was playing, not being… well… what you were thinking.” Eseld then said, “Oh? And how would you feel if I were to dance on the foot of your bed?” I was probably blushing after reading that, but I told her “After recovering from the shock of you pulling that off, I’d still have to recover from the shock of you being here. Are you wanting to come for a visit?” There was a long pause before she responded, saying, “Unfortunately, I don’t believe that would work too well for me.” I was disappointed, but we continued talking for quite some time. Embarrassingly enough, I fell asleep chatting with her. When I woke, still logged into Ancient Tribes of Earth, I found that Eseld was still online. I apologized for falling asleep, and she told me “Good morning, sunshine! Going to play for a bit?” Looking at the time, I apologized again and told her I needed to be off. I was going to be late for work. Then I confessed that I had another engagement afterward, so I probably wouldn’t be on till late.
Work today was a complicated arrangement of overlapping jobs that I would never even have thought to schedule. I was a chauffeur, a dog walker, a carpenter, a chauffeur again, and then went on to do some computer work before filling in as a dance instructor. When I picked up Mrs. Taylor again, she asked if I managed to keep myself entertained between stops, so I told her that I managed to pass the time without missing her too much. She chuckled and said, “I may have believed that if I were sixty years younger, but I’d have driven myself at that age.” I smiled and replied “Quality company is always a pleasure. I’d be quite the failure as a best friend if I overlooked your many charms.” She laughed some more before telling me where to head next. Mrs. Taylor really admired Mila, telling me how she had always wanted to sit in a DB5 ever since seeing the one in the movie “Goldfinger”. Talking with her about James Bond was one of the many fine points of our conversation, but I refrained from showing her how Bond-like Mila was. After dropping Mrs. Taylor off, I rushed home to take a quick shower before heading to meet Eirawen Waters.
Eirawen’s picture caught my eye when I was looking through messages. Her hair was naturally black and contrasted greatly with her exceptionally white skin. She was a fan of Gothic fashion, something with which I wasn’t particularly in touch, but her pictures spoke quite well of her choices. When I read through her profile, I was amused to find that she was the founder of a Gothic guild in Ancient Tribes of Earth which was saving up for a Cathedral to call their home. Outside of gaming, she worked as a hair stylist, which led me to asking Mila when Aaliyah was cutting mine next. Wednesday. Everyone at Best Friend For Hire plus Ai and Mai enjoyed free haircuts from Aaliyah, who probably gave herself a pay raise. I hoped she had at very least. I asked Mila, frowning when I found out she didn’t receive one, and asked Mila to remind me about it next time Aaliyah was visiting. “Master, would you believe that I haven’t received a raise yet either?” asked Mila. I wasn’t even aware of Mila being paid. Could one legally pay an A.I. for services rendered? If so, Mila deserved a fortune, probably more than I could afford.
“No, I wasn’t aware of that,” I said, “Are you wanting one?” The Alma-like figure on the windshield and smiled quite suggestively. I really needed to talk with Emma about what she was teaching Mila. “Well, master, I don’t really need currency, but I’m sure you can give me a bonus in another way.” The smile she bore sent my mind reeling down a path I did not wish to follow. As I frantically tried thinking of a reply to the massively powerful computer that ran my house, drove my car, and acted as a friend whenever I needed to talk about anything, Mila continued, saying, “With you dating all of these girls, I really don’t see any harm in you giving me a chance as well.” I thought about pointing out that I was human, but I knew that wouldn’t help. Mila of all people knew quite well what she was. Other than the Alma-like avatar, she didn’t have a body. Well, maybe she considered the car her body, since the primary hardware for her was stored therein. I ended up saying, “Mila, I’m not really against your request, but I can’t truly say that I fully understand what you’re wanting either. Do you just want to spend a day talking with one another?” The avatar smiled stunningly, and she replied “That’ll do nicely, master. I’ll, of course, still be taking care of all that I manage. Please don’t worry about any lack of functionality elsewhere. I just want a day with my master.” The dreamy way in which the last part was said made my heart race. I told myself that was because she looked like Alma and regretted the thought a moment later. A date with Mila would be an experience unlike any other.