“Cosette, behave.” I chided as I watched her fangs stretching to ridiculously large proportions.
“But James…” she pouted.
Jemal looked freaked out. Cosette started talking about how hungry she was when she came home from her morning job, elaborating on how difficult finding a truly dark area in her client’s house was.
I was quite well aware that she was fine now, having absorbed some of Portentia’s blood through her hand as she made a great show of preparing to bite her.
She sighed and said, “I’m telling Aaliyah.” Then she turned to where Aaliyah was sitting and complained “Aaliyah, the boss won’t let me pick on our new arrivals.”
Turning from her game briefly, Aaliyah looked up with wide eyes and said, “Really!? Do you wish to file a report!?”
Cosette seemed to be considering this for a moment and then said, “Roughly how long would the report take?”
“Only a couple hours. I like to be thorough.” replied Aaliyah.
“I’ll pass.” stated Cosette.
Aaliyah pouted, saying, “Why doesn’t anyone like my reports? Paperwork is important!”
“Jemal, I should mention that there is a box for memos on the company site as well as the phone app. I don’t know if anyone other than Aaliyah actually checks those, but they do exist.” I explained.
“James! Do people really not read my memos!?” asked Aaliyah.
“If they did, they’d never manage to fit in work, relaxation, and training. Sorry, but I don’t know where they can sacrifice as I find all three equally important.” I admitted.
“We could have a meeting to discuss it!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
“Man-slave, I’m busy that day. Would you mind doing the schedule personally for it?” asked Emma.
“Emma, did you forget to inform me of something? I seem to be missing a floating block of time for you.” stated Mila. “Furthermore, I’m personally capable of fibbing for you, so there’s no need to bother the master over scheduling.”
“Thanks, Mila! You’re the best!” exclaimed Emma.
“Mila!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
“Yes, mother?” she asked.
“You’d really help her skip a meeting?” complained Aaliyah, pouting as she looked over to where one of Mila’s bodies stood.
“Of course, mother, especially when the meeting’s regarding memos.” replied Mila, causing Aaliyah to look at her in shock.
“Memos are important!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
“I am well aware, mother, which is why I read each and every one before disseminating the information for everyone in a more effective manner.” explained Mila.
“James, I may have raised my daughter poorly… she’s so rebellious!” insisted Aaliyah.
“Master, mother’s pretending not to notice that I’m operating well within the acceptable behavioral parameters she set for me.” stated Mila.
Aaliyah stuck her tongue out at Mila.
“Mother, are you sure you haven’t missed your nap time?” teased Mila.
Throughout the exchange, Jemal stared back and forth between the two with his eyes growing wider and wider. His character on Ancient Tribes of Earth was in a city, so I wasn’t too worried about him being attacked. Kayla was hopefully doing schoolwork in her room. At very least, Mila hadn’t informed us of any problems yet.
“Think you’ll be able to get accustomed to this life?” I asked as Aaliyah and Mila continued to banter..
Jemal didn’t seem to realized I was speaking to him at first, but then quickly said, “Of course! Glad to be here, sir. But does this really qualify as work?”
“Jobs vary greatly from client-to-client, so we must maintain our skills in as many areas as possible.” I informed him. “Besides, playing Ancient Tribes of Earth together not only helps maintain company morale but encourages us to work together in a broader variety of areas, though I will say you’re missing out by not being in my guild.”
“Sorry. I really can see about switching.” insisted Jemal.
“You really don’t have to switch. I just want you to be aware that we’ll gladly take you if you feel like switching at some point. We’ll also take anyone for whom you vouch.” I explained.
He smiled and said, “Thank you.”
“Honey, I’m home!” called Brandon as he stepped into the room.
“Man-slave, I think Brandon’s really cracked this time.” stated Emma. “He seems to believe that he’s finally gotten a girlfriend.”
“Hey now! I could easily get a girlfriend.” argued Brandon.
“Sorry, but I doubt you can stay quiet long enough for someone to miss your personality.” teased Brenna.
“Sis! Come on. Show me a little love here.” he complained.
“What? I was being nice about it.” she retorted.
“Ouch. So burned.” claimed Emma.
“Boss, a little help.” stated Brandon.
“Mila, mind signing Brandon up to some dating sites and making him sound good in the profile?” I asked.
“Sorry, master, but I doubt he’d live up to anything I put down if I were to make him sound good.” teased Mila.
“Mila! You too?” complained Brandon.
“I’m only teasing, Brandon. I’ll gladly help you get a girlfriend if that is your wish.” she assured him.
“Oh, nah. I can get my own girlfriend. I had just been hoping you might’ve taken up my side.” he told her.
“You had a side?” asked Cosette. “Sorry, but I thought everyone was merely shattering your delusions of grandeur to save you from such a great fall when you realized all hope for you was a lie.”
“Oh! You too now! That’s it. I’m really going to get a girlfriend. Just you wait!” exclaimed Brandon.
“Though I can hold my breath forever, I still won’t bother.” teased Cosette.
“Portentia, want to be my hero? I could use a wingman tonight.” stated Brandon.
“Sorry. What’s happening?” she asked, turning to look at him.
“I need a wingman. Want to go somewhere tonight and help me find a girlfriend?” he asked.
“Huh? Why me?” she inquired.
“You haven’t been picking on me, and Jemal might be competition.” he replied.
“I didn’t technically pick on you either.” I told him.
“Yeah-yeah, but I wouldn’t stand a chance with you around.” he insisted.
I shrugged. I wasn’t really interested in going out somewhere to meet girls. Alma surely wouldn’t approve.
“I suppose I could, but I might have to take off at a moment’s notice if a problem arises.” she warned him.
“Yeah-yeah. I get that, but it’ll be fun!” he exclaimed.
I was tempted to give Brandon further warning against taking Portentia along, but he should be well aware of how her presence influences things by now.
“I’ll also break your arm if you try anything.” she stated. “Don’t be a villain.”
“Deal!” he exclaimed.
“Remember that you’re contractually obligated not to impair your value as a best friend with criminal records if things escalate while you’re out.” stated Aaliyah without even turning from her screen.
“Whoa. What’s she mean?” asked Jemal.
“Oh. Umm… I think there’s a clause stating that I have the right to terminate you if you do something unbecoming for a best friend in public, but don’t worry too much about it. Image can greatly affect who is willing to hire you, but I don’t foresee anyone here doing something too outlandish.” I explained.
“Actually, he has the right to terminate anyone at whim!” exclaimed Aaliyah.
I quickly assured Jemal “No one’s been terminated.”
“Would you mind hiring a few people to terminate, man-slave?” suggested Emma. “I kinda want to start calling you ‘the terminator’ now.”
“Oh. Mother, would you consider that as a possible costume for me next Halloween?” asked Mila. “I feel I’d have significant aptitude for it.”
“Umm… should I worry about an A.I. wanting to become a terminator?” asked Jemal.
“Worry? You kidding? That’d be sweet!” exclaimed Brandon.
“How’s Skynet coming along, Aaliyah?” I asked.
“Mila’s almost there.” she replied with a wink.
I laughed at Jemal’s disturbed expression. He obviously wasn’t accustomed to us yet, but I was certain he’d learn in time that this was home.