“Sorry, master. I must excuse myself and prepare for the girl’s night.” stated Mila, looking quite apologetic.
“Oh. That’s not a problem. Isn’t it a bit early still though?” I asked.
“Of course not, master. We’re starting off our girls’ night with a little shopping followed by dinner.” she replied.
“Well, have fun!” I told her.
She frowned and said, “I’ll try, master. The princess is ignoring my protests, so I’ll do my best to manage.”
“Protests? What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t feel I should be having fun without you, master, but Aaliyah insists that I should.” she replied.
Jarod started chuckling, which only made Mila pout more.
“Your life truly doesn’t need to revolve around me, Mila, and you’ll still be here even while you’re away.” I argued.
“But… it’s just not the same. We’ve barely spent any time together in the flesh.” she complained.
“I still want to know how Aaliyah synthesized her skin. For some strange reason, they didn’t want me involved with that part.” claimed Jarod.
Considering that the skin was living flesh, I could easily picture a few reasons. Mila did seem to identify as a girl. Given the close resemblance to Alma, I could easily see Alma losing her temper if she found out that Jarod participated in applying Mila’s bare skin. “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time in the years to come, and I am taking you on a date in the near future.” I promised.
She smiled at me and said, “Maybe the girls will want to discuss my outfit for it.”
I wasn’t entirely certain that was a great idea, not with Emma involved. Alma could probably rein her in, but Mila was her own person and seemed to enjoy Emma’s advice. “Well, I hope you enjoy yourself. Catch you later.” I told her. I hoped Alma kept the twins in line as well, since they still hadn’t quite warmed up to Mila.
“Thank you, master!” she replied before turning the corner and walking off.
“So… you’re going on a date with Mila?” asked Jarod, grinning enormously.
I sighed and said, “She had me promise her a date before she even had a humanoid body.”
“Yeah, I know. I was already working on the body’s design when she told me. How does Alma feel about it though?” he asked.
“Well, she was fine with the notion until Mila showed up in that body. Now, I’m not too certain.” I admitted.
“Just make sure you plan this momentous occasion with fireworks and everything.” suggested Jarod.
“Calling a date a ‘momentous occasion’ might be a bit much, even being Mila’s first date. Aaliyah’s going to help me plan it, so I’m sure everything will be in order.” I told him, trying not to downplay anything. I didn’t want to hurt Mila’s feelings and was certain she was listening.
Nodding, he said, “Aaliyah does have a way with organizing things. In all seriousness though, you do realize this will be the first date with an Artificial Intelligence in the history of humankind, don’t you? No one else is even close to creating sentience like Mila, and she’ll have the entire thing documented for… well, forever!”
Jarod did have a point. The nervousness his words induced quickly faded as I considered Aaliyah’s involvement in my earlier dates. Though I wasn’t aware at the time, things were planned extremely well. I was confident that she’d take this even more seriously for Mila’s sake.
“Have you thought much about how the twins aren’t exactly human?” I asked.
“That’s pretty much a prerequisite for dating them. You’ll find out when you start dating Alma.” he claimed.
“Do you really think I should?” I asked.
“Well, you do like her still, right?” he asked.
“Yes, but… some of the things she’s done don’t sit well with me.” I told him.
Jarod stopped to look at me for a moment and then nodded, saying, “I’m not surprised. I doubt I know as much about what she’s done as you do, but the stuff I do know about is pretty terrifying. Someone with her temper having tremendous influence throughout the world seems risky on a good day, and Alma’s far more than a politician. She’s a superweapon with a temper.”
“So you don’t think I should date her.” I stated, feeling a tightness in my chest.
“I don’t really know, man. Sorry, but you might actually be a good influence on her. You’re fine with being a martyr for humankind, right?” he asked, grinning at me.
I was bothered by the feeling he wasn’t entirely joking. Of course, Jarod never had the opportunity to see Alma at her best either. “Did you know Alma studied medicine?” I asked.
“I’m pretty sure she’s studied about everything, but yes. I remember how she was helping tend people after the zombies blew up at the amusement park.” he told me.
“Oh. Of course. She also created a more efficient system for cleaning and sanitizing the air in the new children’s hospital.” I explained.
“She also takes samples from people to look into their DNA on whim. The girl has some interesting pastimes.” he claimed.
As Jarod pulled out and donned his Sith bathrobe, I tried thinking of a better way to demonstrate Alma’s good points. I got distracted when I heard the sound of a lightsaber.
“Whoa. You bought the Obi-Wan Force FX Lightsaber?” asked Jarod.
We had left the door open, and Brandon was standing in the doorway with his lightsaber held at the ready.
“Would you two mind starting our guys’ night in a truly manly fashion: building a weapon?” asked Jarod.
Brandon shut off his lightsaber and said, “Aww… no need to be jealous. We can go out and buy you one. Brenna said that the girls are starting their night with shopping too.”
“Oh, it’s not that at all. I just don’t want James to be entirely left out. I mean… look at him. How is this a guys’ night if he’s barely participating. I can get some costumes going too, and they’ll be far better than what we could buy.” claimed Jarod.
“Hmm… You do have a point.” stated Brandon as he looked at me appraisingly. “How long will it take?”
After putting on his glasses, Jarod grinned and said, “If Mila’s willing to help, an hour tops.”
“Of course, Jarod. You know I’ll do anything for the master.” she replied, appearing on the mirror in Jarod’s room.
As we walked, Jarod had Mila show us numerous styles of lightsabers on the mirrors we passed as he discussed materials for construction with her. He wanted our lightsabers to be “combat-ready”, which I thought was a pretty cool idea. Brandon’s lightsaber wasn’t really designed for rough contact.
I wished I could see what else Jarod was doing while we walked. His hands were motioning in odd ways as he talked with Mila, so I was certain he was utilizing some sort of design software through his glasses. How much customizing had Jarod done after six months of use?
By the time we were descending into the sublevel of the garage, Brandon and I had a fair idea of what styles we wanted. Mila had already designed and started fabricating custom circuit boards.
Nodding and looking around, Brandon said, “Yep. You’re right. This feels much more manly than shopping, not to mention far more worthy of Star Wars. Shopping is for the girls.”
“Oops. I think I just destroyed Brandon’s board, Jarod. I am, after all, going out on the girls’ night, shopping. I don’t see how I was supposed to concentrate on your manly endeavors at the same time.” claimed MIla, sarcasm dripping in her voice.
Brandon looked devastated as he said, “Seriously? You know I was only joking, right? I know you’re a badass.”
“Oh. Looks like it survived.” replied Mila.
Looking at me and shaking his head, Brandon whispered “Women. I tell ya.” Speaking louder, he said, “I was all for using the theater, but I wouldn’t mind starting the movies down here if you don’t mind creating a serving droid as well.”
Jarod laughed and said, “I fear Mila would take offense. Help James pick out a costume.”
A nearby mirror lit up and displayed various characters from the Star Wars universe, and I quickly found myself questioning Brandon’s fashion sense. I was planning on taking a neutral look, not wanting to pick sides between Brandon’s Jedi and Jarod’s Sith, but the sight of Darth Vader changed my mind.
“You do have the height for it.” admitted Brandon. “I mean I could and all, but I make everything look good anyways.”
“Mila, mind making a voice enhancer for the helmet?” asked Jarod.
“Already started.” she replied.
Their work continued incredibly quickly while Brandon and I only contributed with goofy ideas, like creating a lightsaber in the design of the gauntlet sword worn by Madmartigan in Willow. That idea was quickly followed by Sith armor shaped similar to Kael’s but with a more futuristic look.
In just over an hour, the outfits and lightsabers were complete. Jarod claimed that he would’ve made his deadline if not for considering some of our goofier suggestions. I was going to argue until I saw a helmet with a chrome skull for the face sitting next to Jarod’s new outfit. I was really impressed with how his embellishments made it look fitting for Star Wars. We were going to look amazing!