I felt a touch guilty in the morning when so many people headed groggily to the airport. We had been up fairly late, playing Ancient Tribes of Earth together. Our visiting guildmates loved seeing the setup we used after the ballroom had been cleared of the wedding supplies. I hoped the lack of sleep didn’t cause them issues as they headed home.
Jarod and the twins departed as well, already leaving for Japan. I was certain Ai and Mai would take advantage of his sleep-deprived state in some way, but he wouldn’t mind. He married them after all. Well, I didn’t really know if this counted for marrying both yet or not. Only one went through the ceremony as a bride so far, but with minds linked as theirs were, they both would have experienced it. The idea still seemed a bit odd to me. I didn’t really think I’d like experiencing multiple bodies, but that was all they knew.
“James, are you ready?” asked Alma as she stepped into my office.
“Ready?” I asked.
“We need to start planning our wedding.” she stated.
“Here you are, Alpy!” exclaimed Aaliyah as she ducked around her and handed her paperwork.
“What are these?” asked Alma, already looking through them. “Oh.”
“Yep. All the paperwork you need to sign as well as a few for your father. Everything’s booked and ready to go.” stated Aaliyah.
“Wait. What? You picked a date for us?” I asked, feeling a bit startled. I did want to marry Alma, but was I really ready to be a husband? I hadn’t been ready to become a fiancée just yesterday. I could feel Alma’s magic boiling within her hidden away from most as her temper was hidden behind the impassive expression she bore.
“Aren’t you getting a little presumptuous?” demanded Alma, her temper coming through in her tone.
“Want to fight about it?” offered Aaliyah, cracking her neck and knuckles simultaneously as she turned to Alma.
For a moment, I thought Alma might try, but good sense apparently won out. Fighting Death would always be a terrible plan.
After a long pause where Alma stared down Aaliyah, she said, “Did you even bother considering how much I’ll have to rearrange make this date work?”
Nodding, Aaliyah said, “Yep! I started preparations for you months ago. You’ll find the day and following week surprisingly clear, the perfect day for a wedding.”
“What? That’s preposterous. How could you possibly have known that…” started Alma, before being interrupted.
Aaliyah spoke over her, saying, “If you really want to know the variables that could be considered in determining that exact date from the moment I started preparations, you’ll need to clear your schedule for the next month. I assure you that you’ll give up trying to follow along by that time.”
“James! Help me here. You simply cannot be okay with this.” insisted Alma.
“What’s the date?” I asked.
“March twenty-third.” snapped Alma.
“Oh, look. My schedule’s free.” I told her, not bothering to actually check. I knew Aaliyah would have taken care of whatever was needed.
She sighed and stated “You’re incorrigible. You’ve let her control your life for too long.”
“No, I simply trust her to know what’s best far better than I’d ever manage. We traveled in time yesterday to make Jarod’s wedding. How often do you think Aaliyah takes advantage of Carl’s abilities? I imagine that Aaliyah’s already seen our wedding.” I told her.
Aaliyah nodded enthusiastically and asked “Want spoilers!?”
“No!” exclaimed Alma, though her anger was subsiding.
“She’s tempted to ask for a peek.” teased Aaliyah.
“I most certainly am not!” snapped Alma as she blushed.
“Oh, Alpy… I said you were tempted, not that you’d give in to your temptation.” explained Aaliyah, reaching up to pat her arm.
“There’s that as well.” I stated. “Knowing what everyone is thinking has to make planning easier.”
“James, she cannot possibly know what everyone is thinking. There are far too many people in this world.” she told me.
“No spoilers, boss-man, sir.” stated Aaliyah.
I had been thinking about the other worlds I had visited, considering if Aaliyah could read each civilization’s thoughts. Wait… spoilers… did that mean Alma would see them eventually? I would love to share them with her.
“Spoilers? What do you mean?” demanded Alma.
“Spoilers!” exclaimed Aaliyah. “I know a great guy who has trouble resisting spoilers. You wouldn’t believe in him either, Alpy! He’s a time traveler.”
“Lovely. Another one.” stated Alma with a frown.
“Oh, no. He’s not like Carl. He’s just a youngin’. Wonderful person though.” claimed Aaliyah.
“Great. Now she’s coming. I really was hoping she was heading elsewhere.” muttered Alma.
“Who?” I asked.
“Portentia, boss-man, sir. She wants to use a ticket tonight.” explained Aaliyah.
“Oh. Do I have plans?” I asked.
“Yes, master. Mother scheduled you to be out with Portentia tonight, so you have plans with her.” Mila stated over the speakers.
I had no clue where her bodies were at the moment. I hadn’t seen her since she brought me tea a bit ago.
“She’s cooking with Marco and instructing Aurora.” replied Aaliyah.
“Correct!” exclaimed Mila.
“Aurora? Is that Jarod’s lab assistant?” asked Alma.
“Also correct!” exclaimed Mila.
“I still haven’t met her. Jarod had mentioned her to me a while ago. He apparently thought I might be concerned about a girl frequenting the garage. Surely, he knows I trust him by now.” stated Alma.
Knowing Jarod, he probably figured out that Alma had some means of sensing people. I wasn’t surprised that he’d be a step ahead of any assumptions Alma might make, but how would Alma take Aurora’s tendency to remove her clothing?
Alma then went on to say, “I’m quite interested in meeting her at some point. Anyone Jarod would accept as a lab assistant simply must be fascinating.”
I wasn’t certain Alma would approve.
“She’s quite fantastic, I assure you.” insisted Mila.
“Oh. You’re busy.” stated Portentia disappointedly from the doorway.
I waved for her come in and said, “I have a moment. What do you need?”
“I was just wondering if tonight would work for you to be my sidekick. I wanted to use one of my tickets.” she told me.
“Sounds wonderful.” I assured her.
“Thank you! Mila’s fabricating a costume for you.” she informed me.
“Oh, this I simply must see. Shall we all head to Jarod’s lab?” inquired Alma.
I quickly tried coming up with an excuse not to go there, since I wasn’t inclined to have Alma meet Aurora when Jarod wasn’t around.
“Only if we get to force James into his costume! I want to see it!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
Well, maybe things would work out.
She winked at me.
Standing, I said, “Fine-fine. Let’s go.”
We all headed down to the lab under the garage, and I was quite thankful that Aurora was fully dressed for the moment, though I wondered if Mila somehow managed to get her that way in preparation for our arrival. If Aurora noticed us, she made no sign of it.
“How old is she?” asked Alma.
At nearly the same moment, Portentia inquired “Who is she?”
“She’s sixteen.” stated Mila. At the same time, she signed
While the group of us coming down the lift didn’t catch Aurora’s attention, Mila signing did. The girl started making hand motions herself, though nothing that had meaning to me. At that point, Mila turned her to face us. Aurora’s only reaction was to tilt her head as if trying to figure out what we were.
Smiling, Alma said, “Hello, Aurora. I’m Lady Alma Lucy Pendreigh V.”
Portentia introduced herself as well.
Aaliyah held up a paper, but I couldn’t see what was on it.
Aurora walked over to her, picked her up, and went back to working on something.
“Did Jarod mention that Aurora’s not socially adept yet?” I asked.
“No, but I guessed as much” replied Alma.
“Is something wrong with her?” asked Portentia, sounding concerned.
“I wouldn’t say anything was wrong, but she is different.” I told her. “She’s an autistic savant who Jarod says has remarkable potential.”
Alma, who had walked over to where Aurora was working, said, “I’m inclined to agree.”
“Oh?” I asked.
“Do you see what Aaliyah drew?” she asked.
I looked and said, “Some sort of schematic.”
“Aurora understood it at a glance and is implementing the design into her own work already, some sort of propulsion system going by the arrangement of the fans.” stated Alma.
“Correct!” exclaimed Mila. “Aurora’s helping Jarod design a lightweight flight system. Mother just pushed things forward a bit with her suggested revision to the power control circuit.”
“Couldn’t you do this even faster?” asked Alma.
“I certainly could do some of it faster, but Aurora’s also here to learn.” replied Mila.
As she talked, Aurora walked over to me, seeming to examine me. Then she grabbed the front of my shirt and walked back to where she was working, pulling me along. She let go the moment we were back at her computer, so she could move the mouse with her free hand.
“Does she want me to see something?” I asked.
Aaliyah looked up at me and said, “Nope. You were in the wrong place is all. She didn’t want you electrocuted.”
“Huh? By what?” I asked.
“She’s picturing a very large version of the machine in the room.” explained Aaliyah.
“Master, your suit’s finished!” exclaimed Mila.
I wasn’t honestly looking forward to tonight’s excursion, but looking like a superhero might be fun. Things could be worse.