“James!” exclaimed Jarod before looking up to see how many of us were on the lift. “And more visitors!”
“Sorry to intrude, but we knew Dani would love to see your lab and needs her suit to keep up around here.” explained Alma. “Aurora works this late?”
“Occasionally, though not frequently. Don’t worry. Her parents are informed.” he explained.
“I wasn’t worried, just surprised.” she replied.
Aurora was piecing together the prototype vehicle… or just napping inside of it. I couldn’t really tell from this angle, since I couldn’t see her head.
“Aurora? Oh! I remember!” exclaimed Dani leaning precariously over the lift’s edge to try looking at her.
My little fairy friend flew down there and started circling the vehicle.
Smiling up at us, Jarod told her “I loved your painting earlier, Dani. Sorry that I didn’t stick around longer, but I wanted to get some more work done.”
“Where did Ai and Mai go?” inquired Dani, jumping off the lift before it reached the bottom, using a spell to slow her descent, and glancing around. “I thought they’d be with you.”
“They’re probably doing their own work. Alma likes to keep them busy.” he replied, shrugging.
“Mom? Why!?” asked Dani as she spun to look at Alma and jumped over to her as we touched down.
“Dani, you know that civilizations need workers to continue developing.” stated Alma as she brushed back some of Dani’s hair from her face.
“But they’re so happy around him!” exclaimed Dani, practically pouting.
“And I’m happy when I’m with them, but they don’t really enjoy watching me work and can be a bit distracting.” insisted Jarod.
“But… but…” started Dani before stepping closer to Emma, staring into her eyes. “What’s wrong? I know what you’re feeling… that you sense what I feel as well. Don’t you think they’re better when they’re together?”
Emma looked shocked, actually stepping back slightly and looking away.
Cosette stepped up between them and said, “What do you feel from me?”
“Amusement, among other things. You’re hiding something.” stated Dani, reaching up to place her hand on Cosette’s face. “Daddy! She’s cold!” exclaimed Dani as she glanced at me.
“Didn’t notice earlier?” I inquired.
“No, we never touched till now. She’s too fast.” complained Dani.
“What..!?” exclaimed Cosette, quickly stepping away from Dani.
“Dani, behave.” stated Alma.
“But… I was just…” she started, but then said, “Fiiine.”
“What were you doing to me?” questioned Cosette.
“Showing you what I feel.” pouted Dani.
“You can do that?” inquired Jarod. When she nodded, he asked “Mind showing me?”
Dani grinned and so did Jarod.
“What sort of range do you have for… whatever you call that?” he inquired.
“Several hundred feet at least. You should try hide-and-seek with her.” suggested Alma
“I wouldn’t stand a chance against either of you.” he admitted.
“Still could be fun to try. There’s nothing wrong with practicing stealth.” claimed Cosette as she eyed Dani curiously.
“Sure. I’d like a couple weeks to prepare first. I have a few things I’d like to test out.” replied Jarod.
“I don’t suppose we can add ‘no gizmos’ to the rules.” teased Emma, though she was still watching Dani as well.
I hoped she was doing as I asked, trying to observe my daughter before becoming attached. Her discomfort seemed to indicate she was.
Dani spun around and attempted to hug Aurora, who had wandered up behind her, but Aurora stepped out of the way too quickly, grabbing one of Dani’s arms and examining it. The little fairy had followed Aurora and started doing circles around both of them.
“Daddy, I need my suit!” complained Dani. Then she slowly reached over and touched Aurora’s golden brown hair, grinning when Aurora didn’t move this time.
“Yes, but you need to go over designs with your mom first.” I told her.
“Designs? Planning a modification without me?” inquired Jarod.
“No, you’re here.” I teased. “Alma and I have been talking about the possibility of reducing the suit’s bulk by decreasing the synthetic muscle mass. If I’ve successfully fine-tuned my spells for it, there shouldn’t be too much of a drop off compared with the enhancement currently provided.”
“I’ve honestly wondered if the suit’s even needed or if most of the work is done by your spells.” admitted Jarod.
“My spells enhance what’s there first and foremost. Unfortunately, flesh can’t hold the enchantment, or I’d be able to use this directly on people. I did add spell layers which should further enhance the muscles of the suit’s wearer as well as general durability of the wearer’s skin, muscles, and bones, but there still will be a net loss compared with what the enchantment would do on the current suit design until you come up with even more incredible fibers.” I explained, having already seen what the suits will eventually become.
“I would have thought the spells used to add the morphic quality on my suit could be used to reinforce muscles as used. The effect seems to be rapid enough.” suggested Cosette.
I smiled at her as several of the others stared.
“What?” she asked. “I study and pay attention.”
“I’m actually going to be using something of that nature on Dani’s suit.” I promised.
Cosette nodded, not seeming surprised.
“Dani, let’s start looking over possible designs.” stated Alma, pulling Dani away from Aurora, who had moved onto examining Dani’s hair.
I didn’t know what Alma conveyed to Aurora with her telepathic ability, but Aurora seemed to understand, meandering back toward the vehicle prototype.
“I still am not used to the idea of you being called ‘daddy’. Might take a few weeks.” suggested Jarod after stepping closer to us. “Do I get to tell my parents?”
“Of course. We’re not going to hide her, though we are going to disguise her in public.” I explained.
Smiling, he inquired, “Don’t think the pink skin will go over well?”
“She’d certainly draw attention.” I agreed.
“What’s on your belt?” he then inquired.
“Pardon?” I inquired, confused at first. Realizing what he meant, I said, “Oh. Well, Excalibur draws attention as well, so I started using an illusion over it.” I hardly even thought about carrying it anymore. “How did you notice?’
“I wasn’t even aware that you decided to take the sword on your honeymoon. The way you move gives away that something’s there. You turn or step around people now as if you’re keeping them from hitting something.” he explained.
“Ah. At least I no longer rest my hand on it. That was a bit awkward for a while.” I admitted. “Care to show me the designs for this new project of yours?”
He grinned again and said, “Sure thing! I was hoping you’d be willing to work out a spell to power it.”
“Happily, though you won’t be able to market them with a magical power source.” I stated, curious what his plan was.
“I know, but I still haven’t found a solid solution yet. Aaliyah keeps telling me to give myself time, but impatience has been winning out lately.” he explained.
“Why not take advantage of Maxine’s knowledge?” suggested Cosette.
Nodding and smiling, Emma said, “Portentia and Mila seem to be keeping her out of trouble.”
“Has she inquired about making a new optical device yet?” I questioned.
“No. I really don’t want to work with her on principle, but she’s brilliant. I know discussing designs with her could be nice if she was forthcoming about her achievements.” he told me.
“She’s probably planning on waiting us out still, but I can try to persuade her if you aren’t opposed to giving her a chance. I’d like to believe she can change.” I assured him, already knowing she would change eventually.
He nodded, so I made a mental note to talk with her again soon. In my travels, I saw part of this world’s future, a future without strife for those who stayed behind, and Maxine was one of those who remained here. Things would work out.