After only having a brief period without seeing any signs of unusually bad luck, I started noticing things swing back around to horrible. I think I even understood what Aaliyah was preventing a few times, though I wasn’t positive. With all of the incredible things I’ve seen that girl do, I was still most impressed with her mind. There needed to be a new category of genius named after her. Brandon left the small group to take another turn at the booth after a while, but Portentia, Aaliyah, Alma and I roamed a while for a while longer. “Boss-man, sir, I’m really disturbed at how you haven’t bought anything really. This is a convention. You’re supposed to buy all the fun things to put on display, wear, or enjoy some other way. Why don’t you get one of those hats over there?” asked Aaliyah. She was pointing at a bunch of hats hanging on a stand that were decorated with leather embellishments, goggles, and even mechanical-looking gizmos. I was fairly certain that was the same steampunk vendor at which we had previously stopped. “Some of them do look kind of neat, but I don’t really think I would wear one often.” I explained. “Try this one.” stated Alma, holding a bowler hat up at me. The thing had some sort of device with lenses and gears mounted on the top in such a way that the device seemed to have popped out of the hat. Then there was a pair of goggles strapped around it.
Looking into Alma’s eyes, I didn’t really want to turn her down, even knowing I would look completely absurd mixing that bowler with my Ashenwake cosplay. I placed the hat on my head and found all three of the girls photographing me with their phones. I grew more surprised as I found others around me taking pictures as well. The combination truly had to look absurd, but I supposed some people enjoyed absurd. “This one next, boss-man, sir!” exclaimed Aaliyah as she held aloft a top hat with brass trim around the brim, gears all around the center, and a lever on the left side. I did as she asked and posed for more pictures, since someone in the crowd asked. I was already strangely used to the posing, having done it enough over the past few days that I didn’t really think about it until I was making odd additions to my costume. The girls were each trying on hats as well now, which really encouraged people to take pictures. I felt bad enough for tying up the area around the vendor that I bought each of us a hat and myself a cane with a monocular that came out of the top before moving along. “Next time, we’ll have to take a day to dress up entirely in steampunk, so these hats don’t go to waste.” stated Alma to my surprise. In all honesty, I’d love to see her in some of the dresses that were being sold back there.
“I’m sure that can be arranged. Conventions are pretty fun.” I told her. “First, I wanna fix our hats though. None of these gears work.” complained Aaliyah. Thinking of the gear room at Chad’s condo, I was quite certain that Aaliyah could make the hats do something. I just hoped she didn’t weaponize them, although the idea of being arrested for possessing a weaponized top hat struck me funny. “In that case, I will have to design a proper parasol as well as suitable garments for myself. I think this will be loads of fun,” said Alma. Portentia, who was walking on the opposite side of me as Alma, had me repeat what they were saying. I wished I knew sign language. I felt bad forcing her to read my lips all the time. She didn’t seem to mind, probably being accustomed to it. Still, I wanted to make her feel as welcome as possible now that she was in my employ. When she had explained her numerous difficulties with elevators, I felt that was just the tip of the iceberg where her life’s difficulties were concerned. I had the means to help improve her life now, and I meant to do precisely that.
The four of us went to the last of Global Princess Entertainment’s panels, which, embarrassingly enough, turned out to be “The Dances of Ancient Tribes of Earth”. Aaliyah taught the room, primarily filled with girls from what I saw, how to perform numerous types of dances from within the game as well as the dance routines Best Friend For Hire had learned for the convention. I really did enjoy dancing for the most part, but being used to demonstrate numerous dances I didn’t quite know while hundreds of girls watched was quite unnerving for me. Still, I muddled my way through with the help of Aaliyah and Alma. Portentia just sat back and watched, but she seemed amused enough when I caught her eye. The panel lasted for over an hour, but I did manage to have some fun after I got into the swing of things. Aaliyah and Alma each were amazing dancers, though Aaliyah’s exceptionally diminutive height made her a really odd dance partner. Those in attendance let out a collective moan when a member of the convention’s staff had announced we needed to wrap things up, so I felt the panel went over plenty well.
I was relieved to have time to take a breather in the room after the panel. All of the dancing and running about this weekend was more tiring than I would have guessed, but I really was glad Aaliyah had hired us all for the job. There were so many new and interesting things being sold. Dealing with crowds was a normal part of city life, but the crowds of a convention center were different. There was an excitement to them far different than the worn out, yet hurried, pace to which I was more accustomed. Conventions seemed to be places where dreams of many were manifested in tangible forms to be experienced on a whole different level than what was typically seen elsewhere. Even if I never had the opportunity to attend another convention, I was certain that I would be looking back on this one fondly. Perhaps Aaliyah was right that I should purchase more for keepsakes if nothing else. There were posters I wouldn’t mind having, and being able to get the artists to sign their work or do custom work for me did have its own appeal. As incredibly impressive as mother’s art was, having some diversity in what I put around the house could be fun.
“Man-slave! I’ve been looking everywhere for you. We’re at a convention together, and yet we’ve hardly spent any time together, other than working. You and I are doing some shopping,” said Emma with a look of determination on her face. I asked if the others were coming, but Portenia and Aaliyah had another shift at the booth. Alma came though, and I couldn’t quite put a name to her expression when Emma grabbed each of our arms to drag us into the elevator. Alma seemed somewhere between amused and indulgent. Emma and I took turns dragging each other and Alma to different booths where we remembered seeing something we liked. I somehow ended up carrying most everything, which made shopping slightly difficult, until Alma had someone from our hotel take our bags to the room. By the time the show floor was closing, I was carrying numerous more bags into the elevator with us. Jarod was a bit surprised when I brought my purchases into the room. “Aaliyah talked me into splurging a little.” I explained. “Uh.. Yeah. A little.” he replied sarcastically. “Oh, and what are those bags by your bed?” I asked. “I’m the crazy one. I’m supposed to go on shopping binges.” he teased. Everyone watched another couple movies together before bed, though Alma watched from behind her desk while working again. I was asleep the moment I hit the pillow.
Nothing prepared me for how quickly Sunday passed. The convention had a “children’s day” on Sunday, so there were far more kids running about than before, many of which had adorable costumes. Global Princess Entertainment had a giveaway for kids where Aaliyah would ask easy questions involving mythological creatures, her mobile games for children, and other such things. Then she’d pick someone who was raising their hand in the crowd and have me give them whichever toy she had said was the prize. Seeing the smiles and excitement from the children was great, especially when Aaliyah said it was time to make their own toy. My friends and I, even Alma and the twins, helped kids design action figures on the Global Princess Entertainment computers using special software for the occasion. Then the machines would print out the figures for the kids. Our whole morning was spent between the giveaway and toy making. We all took lunch together, and the floor was closing before I was ready for it. To my surprise, Aaliyah said not to worry about the booth. She had arranged for a crew to come collect the her equipment later, so we just needed to get all of our things from the hotel. Before long, we were all in the limousine and on our way home. The convention was over.