With the initial burst of explanations run down, and Aikiko’s parents at least somewhat aware of her status as a near-divine entity, they had settled down to hoping that Aikiko could get disentangled from all this insanity and go home quietly before she got killed!
Sadly, as Aikiko was well aware, the Solar Exaltation did not work that way; eventually, trouble would find her – and, by extension, THEM – and they were not nearly as well equipped to survive it as her! Of course, that could be improved somewhat if she could persuade them to go for it.
(Aikiko) “Look, if you want me home more often, and away from all this craziness, you’ll have to accept some of it as protection. Otherwise, stuff WILL hunt me down and try to kill me – and you! You have no chance of surviving the kind of stuff I’ve had to deal with without artifact armor and a bit of magic!”
(Yoshiro) “But WHY will things be hunting you? And what do you mean “Artifact Armor”? Magic, well, yes… I’ve seen that – but it’s pretty minor stuff!”
(Aikiko, manifesting Skoll again.) “This is a really high-powered suit of artifact armor. I can get you some less extravagant armor that looks like normal clothing. And magic is really powerful. As for the stuff after me… a lot of people aren’t happy Solars are back!”
(Yoshiro) “What do you mean “high end”? It looks like a fancy suit from a museum really!”
Hmm. They might have a point about getting her away from the craziness! But she could activate the flight systems easily enough – and used the artifact weaponry on target dummies. They were more than a bit startled by that… it was a suit of “Iron Man” armor? Impressive, but…
(Coatl) “Well, she DID take a fifteen minute swim on hundred-million degree fusion plasma with no real trouble in it! And want to see a magical terraforming?”
(Aikiko) “Those are pretty fun. How fast is Charles doing them now, Diego?”
(Diego) “At the moment every day or so… he wants to get well ahead of the demand!”
(Aikiko) “Okay, let’s watch the next one then.”
(Diego) “It’s scheduled for a little more than eight hours from now Ms Aikiko!”
(Parents) “What… fixing up after a forest fire or something like that? Is that what’s behind all the pollution-cleanup on Earth these days?”
(Aikiko) “Nah, that’s Elzeard, though Charles did make him. And you’ll see what I mean by terraforming. He makes entire planets habitable.”
Oops! That was too far over the top! They were back to wondering just how high she was right now! Oh well… some sightseeing until Terraforming time? Or call Charles and try to get them initiated?
And a cheetah-girl arrived with pizzas and cokes, just as ordered! Just minutes after she placed the order too!
(Aikiko) “I know that look! Would you like to talk to Elzeard? He’s probably giving a lecture right now. Or I can show you the Singing Forest and the Mardi Gras Manse while we eat!”
(Rei) “Well… if this “Elzeard” is running the pollution cleanup he’s probably busy! So how about this “singing forest”? And… did that… cat-girl… just break the SOUND BARRIER for a PIZZA DELIVERY?”
(Aikiko) “She’s not a cat-girl, she’s a cheetah-girl!”
(Rei) “And shouldn’t she be wearing more CLOTHES?!?”
(Aikiko, abruptly taking a second look! She’d gotten too used to Fey weirdness!) “Um… heh. I guess Charles hasn’t been watching that.”
Clothes make for more wind drag, and they REALLY chafed when you were running that fast, and they DID have fur all over, and were fairly young… Most of them were – quite practically – making do with caps and the Resplendent Butler’s Accouterments to make clothes if they were needed for something. After all, once you’d gone around a few times with the fey shapeshifting you… body shyness generally wasn’t an issue any more.
(Aikiko) “Anyway… let’s go see the singing forest! It’s really pretty.”
It was even prettier than before! The squirrels were getting into flower-arranging, the birds seemed to be gradually improving their compositions, and there were some monkeys joining in on percussion (on tree-trunks, chime-fruit, and resonating logs) these days. Still, they were in harmony with the birdsong. They just weren’t as practiced yet… Still no strings though! No doubt the spiders would be making string-nets soon enough – probably followed by gorillas on woodwinds or something.
The Tanaka’s found the forest… beautiful, but more than a little odd! Especially the fruit-juice waterfalls that became delightful wines as they plunged into forest pools! The delightful fruits, pleasant grottos, and general freedom from pests could be accomplished with landscaping, the musical birds… well, at a glance that wasn’t so different from what birds did anyway. Ongoing transmutation effects scattered across many square miles… was much harder to explain away. It required a LOT of magic! Still, the place was very relaxing – and insistently, if subtly and gently, said “reality is not what you thought”, “enormous resources”, and “vast power devoted to health, beauty, and hospitality”.
The glasses of wine weren’t hurting the mellow and accepting mood either.
Still, even after that, they had an hour or so let until the terraforming time came up late that evening – so Aikiko took her parents to a hobbit inn for dinner! There were – as usual – a variety of fantasy beings around. Perhaps it was fortunate that her parents were already a bit tipsy! It made it MUCH easier for them to accept the oddness – and being served by a character straight out of a movie… The meal, and ale, was – of course – delicious!
(Aikiko) “Hobbits are great at cooking and brewing, but then all First Circles are good in their specialties.”
(Yoshiro) “Wait… this “friend” of yours… he’s creating PEOPLE who are… more or less PERMANENTLY LOCKED INTO THEIR ROLES? He’s… building their chains INTO THEIR HEADS? That’s GROTESQUE! Does he go around calling himself “Doctor Moreau” and cackling madly as he runs his experiments?”
(Aikiko) “Actually… he’s imitating the creators of the universe – and unlike them, he would never, say, convert a hobbit into a refreshing drink.”
Actually, she wasn’t entirely sure that THAT had started until after everyone got crammed into Malfeas – and then explained THAT.
(Aikiko) : “The universe is a much weirder place than I thought it was.”
(Rei) “Er… how many directives are in OUR heads them? Is everything that’s “just the way people are”… something that was programmed in?”
(Aikiko) “It’s a little more complicated with us. They made us have greater aspirations and dreams… and made us weak. That way, we’d pray to them, and they’d feed off that. But the gods weren’t happy under the titans’ rule, and gave some humans power like I have to fight them. The titans didn’t see it coming until it was too late to do anything about it.”
(Yoshiro) “So you’ve… basically been turned into a living weapon even WITHOUT that armor?”
(Aikiko) “Pretty much, yeah. Now, that’s not the ONLY thing I can do with that power, but it’s what the greatest gods intended!”
(Rei) “Dear… Isn’t there ANY way you can get rid of it? It sounds like… you get a few neat trickes to distract you from basically… being a disposable artillery shell to be fired at an enemy!”
(Aikiko) “Sigh… the only way to do that is to kill me or destroy my soul… Er, souls. That’s another thing: the hun and po are real.”
Her parents didn’t find THAT too to believe… They’d both seen a few things, although Yoshiro had seen a lot more.
That was kind of odd really? Her father… did computer consulting and analytical work from home; when had he run into magic?
(Yoshiro) “Well… before I went independent… I used to work in intelligence! And enough reports came in that it was pretty obvious that some really weird stuff was out there!”
(Aikiko) “Huh, so you – wait, YOU were a SPY?”
(Yoshiro) “Well… intelligence analysis! I was one of the people who sat at a computer terminal and tried to put the pieces together – even if it was a briefing on a terrorist group that was using sorcery to get by the guards at important facilities… One day though… I was out for coffee and this weird guy wrapped in wind came through, and wiped out some records we’d been about to go to work on – and everyone who’d been there at the time just… quietly covered up and erased any evidence that he’d ever been through! Without even seeming to notice that they were doing it! And I started to wonder just how often I HADN’T been missed… So I took early retirement and started my own business!”
(Aikiko) “Ah, that sounds like an Air Aspect Terrestrial! They’re stealth specialists… like I am now… I might have to take you by the privacy manse, for your own safety. It lets you store your memories in it, and nothing other than you deciding to tell someone about them can make you reveal them.”
Manses took some explaining!
(Aikiko) “But… it’s almost time for the terraforming! Let’s get a good view!”
The terraforming was the usual semi-casual dramatic display – although her parents found it quite sobering once assured that it wasn’t just some special effects. If there were people around with THAT kind of power… why was the earth still in one piece?
(Aikiko) “Charles can do stuff I can’t. For whatever reason, he’s able to form a world out of his soul, which we’re in right now. And THAT is helpful for building up infrastructure! And once you have enough of that, like Manses, you can get pretty inventive…”
(Yoshiro, weakly) “I suppose it would be…”
(Aikiko) “Charles is very good about boosting his own powers with Manses and Artifacts!”
(Rei) “And… you recommend that we visit these “Privacy” and “Winding Way” manses at the very least? Well… you have had more experience with this stuff than we have apparently!
(Aikiko) “Yes indeed. They’ll keep you safe from mind control and give you some magic you can use to defend yourselves.”
(Rei) “Well… I suppose we might as well do it then! Although… perhaps in the morning? It’s getting awfully late and I’d like to sleep on this a bit!”
(Aikiko) “Sure thing!”
Aikik0 set up accommodations for them while they were sleeping. They’d be staying for a bit – the place was SO welcoming, and there was a lot to see – and Yoshiro would be able to use the virtual computer (better than almost anything on Earth) that came with Adenic Thaumaturgy to run his business just fine from Aden. All they’d need would be for Aikiko to lock up the house – which shouldn’t be a problem!
And a pair of short sessions…