“How much do you people play this!?” exclaimed Maxine as we ran alongside her horse. “Your stats must be incredibly high.”
“Rather often.” I replied with a shrug.
A thousand of my guildmates were traveling to start a mine for my guild’s use, since one of them discovered a large mineral vein.
“I thought you were supposed to be incredibly busy.” she stated.
“You have no idea. His schedule makes mine look laughable.” insisted Alma with a smile.
“Then how do you have time to be doing this right now?” inquired Maxine.
“I made time for you. Having you moping about was depressing.” I informed her.
She opened her mouth as if to say something but snapped it shut instead.
“I’m g-glad… that… y-you’re playing with us.” stated Raine as she looked over at Maxine.
“This is still weird to me.” grumbled Portentia, who had joined us on Ancient Tribes of Earth after making a fuss when she returned home.
“Oh, yes. Helping Raine hunt down rare ores is exceptionally different than when we normally play and help our guild.” teased Alma.
Frowning, Maxine said, “I, for one, have never done anything with this many people at once in a game. I still don’t understand how the game can operate this smoothly with such a crowd in a small area. One of my old guildmates claimed the game ran smoothly for him in a city, despite playing on an archaic piece of junk that I wouldn’t have taken if he tried giving it to me.”
“You wouldn’t have take the machine to data mine it? Surprising.” I told her. Seeing her frown deepen, I quickly said, “I’m only teasing. I too was mystified by how this game functions, but I’m completely unwilling to listen to Aaliyah explain how she micromanages each type of processor through her code. You’re welcome to ask her if you’re interested.”
“I’ll… consider the idea. She might not be keen to speak with me on it, considering I attempted to hack the game.” explained Maxine.
“Mother entered the contest as well, Maxine. She’s not so petty as to hold a grudge for such a meager maneuver against her.” insisted Mila.
Maxine opened her mouth, shut it for a moment, and then said, “Before coming here, I would have taken offense to someone mocking my technical skills, but I really can’t in this case. Considering you, my efforts must have appeared meager, especially with her being fully aware of my endeavors.”
“Daddy!” exclaimed Dani after running into the room with her guitar still strapped around her..
“Yes?” I inquired.
“I want to play too! Why didn’t you ask me?” she questioned, looking at me as if I did something terrible.
“Mila said you were still practicing with Iris and Emma. You really shouldn’t leave your band behind by the way. Iris can’t keep up while you’re wearing your enhancement suit.” I informed her, listening to the sounds of the other two running through the hall. “How are you liking guitar?”
Her expression instantly changed, a large smile brightening her face as she hugged her guitar. “I love it!” she insisted. “Watch this!” She started playing a simple melody from her homeworld. “The sound is better with an amp.”
“Still, you’re progressing well.” I told her, earning another smile.
She started playing another tune as Emma and Iris jogged into the room.
“P-Pretty.” mumbled Raine.
“Really!? Does that mean you’ll join us!?” asked Dani, dashing away from the other two over toward Raine, who was shaking her head.
“Even a little?” begged Dani as she grabbed for Raine’s arm with her free hand. “You wouldn’t have to play in front of people.”
“I’d like to see you play bass.” stated Emma with a smile.
“Come on… we’ll have fun together.” insisted Iris.
“If you don’t mind hearing my two cents worth, I agree that you should try, Raine. When we first met, you would’ve ran away just from this much attention. Playing music with them could be another step forward for you. You’re incredibly gifted in many areas, and I would love to see you sharing those gifts.” I explained.
Nodding, Alma said, “I agree with my husband. You should continue broadening your horizons, and music can be a pleasant form of expression.”
I held back a laugh as my wife shared with me thoughts of the horizons we saw in our travels. Each world has its own fantastic views, and we were blessed with seeing a great many worlds, literally broadening our horizons.
“M-maybe.” mumbled Raine.
“Y’rika!” exclaimed Dani in excitement. “Then we can make pretty music and get Maxine to play piano! Mila showed me videos of pianos being played, and it was so cool!”
“Did she just say ‘eureka’?” inquired Maxine.
“She’s still learning English, but you could consider that to almost be a cognate, given the similar usage.” explained Alma.
“You really should at least try playing piano with us.” encouraged Dani as she strummed her guitar. “We could become the coolest band in the galaxy!”
Smiling at our daughter, Alma said, “Start with the city and work your way up.”
“Fiiiine,” replied Dani, “but we’ll be amazing! I know it!”
“Mila, find a concert Dani might like coming up and book tickets for anyone interested in going.” I stated, thinking my daughter should experience a concert here to help bring her down to the planet. The concerts she had attended were far too out of this world for her to have reasonable expectations.
“Yes, master. Invitations have been sent to everyone.” she replied.
“Wow. Really? That was fast.” stated Iris as she pulled out her phone. Her eyes widened as she looked at it. “This is in France just two weeks from now! How did you write a whole itinerary already!?”
“Please expedite getting Iris a passport if she doesn’t have one as well as one for anyone else who needs it.” I stated, remembering that was an issue here after her exclamation.
“Master, Deyanira is worried about getting excused from class for the trip. Would you mind negotiating on her behalf?” inquired Mila.
“Not at all. Just add the meetings to my schedule.” I replied.
“Is this for real!?” questioned Iris as she stared at me with wide eyes.
“Of course. If your family has any issues, explain that it’s a company trip. If that doesn’t convince them, I’ll come convince them for you.” I assured her.
A small, company vacation wouldn’t hurt my business, and I was quite certain Mila had worked around everyone’s schedules when making the arrangements, knowing Aaliyah had probably cleared those days in advance to align with my request.
“Is Maxine going?” inquired Portentia.
“I will if you’re not.” replied Maxine.
“Mila, mind marking that as a ‘yes’ from both of them?” I asked.
“As you wish, master.” she replied as the two looked like they wanted to argue.
“I have two weeks to convince you both that you’ll enjoy this trip. Relax. Things will be fun.” I assured them.
“France.” wistfully whispered Cosette, who had silently been observing everyone as she played her character.
She was no doubt thinking of her father, possibly her mother as well. I wasn’t entirely certain from where her mother hailed. Either way, we could make time to visit anywhere she wished while we were there.