It took Jessie a moment to realize the woman was talking to her. Objectively, it made sense. If you didn’t know Kyle, it was probably more reasonable to assume he’d show up as a half naked woman than as a Mars rover, and she only expected to meet one person. Still, her response was halting, “No… I’m… That’s…”
Kyle waved his robot arm again in what Jessie thought was intended to be a wave, though it really didn’t look much like one as the arm lacked the flexibility to reach upward or in front of Kyle’s body. Or should she think of it as a chassis? This was a confusing. Fortunately, he spoke as well, “Hello, I’m actually Kyle. This is Jessie. She’s with me.”
“Ah, of course. I’m Alison Savant. I suppose, I should have warned you to visualize how you intended to appear while you performed the spell. It slipped my mind that nothing about the spell makes that obvious. I’m also sorry I’m late. I had intended to enter the spell first and put us in the Athena Parthenos. Still, I’m almost happy I didn’t. This is Mars, correct? Quite creative.” She favored Kyle with a glittering smile.
Jessie decided she already had several good reasons to hate Alison. First, Alison was way too graceful. She looked graceful standing in her flowing robes and smiling at them. She’d accepted that she was going to be carrying on a conversation with a robot gracefully. She’d even gotten her feet dirty gracefully. Not that Jessie was into feet, or women, or women’s feet. Still, the orange dust just looked kind of right with the robes. It was like a carefully selected accessory. Which brought Jessie to her second problem, looked way too good in general.
With her robes she looked like some sexy goddess. Her hair was really blond, not just light brown, her features were both open and attractive, and it was obvious she had a good body under the robes. Actually, Alison looked just like Jessie pictured Aphrodite. Though the love goddess probably had dark Mediterranean coloring, right? Still…
Worst of all she was being graceful and looking good while Jessie was a disaster. That was the most positive way Jessie could describe herself. Of course, all of that logic was astoundingly catty. Jessie was aware of that, and she intended to keep it firmly locked in her head with any other dark and anti-social desires that happened along. Still, it blew to be set beside someone who was looking really good when she was looking really bad.
She noticed Kyle’s camera turret was still firmly trained on Alison. Was he trying to give her a measure of privacy, or was he just embarrassed by her? She really wished she had a shirt.
While Jessie had thought all of that Kyle had been talking to Alison. He’d followed the agreed upon script. He said he hated the Archmagi super, duper badly because they’d picked on them. He related, accurately, what had happened with Thomas. Presumably those were things The Children of Atlantis already knew, but Alison didn’t interrupt. Next Kyle explained that he’d read about the communications device, realized many Archmagi had contributed to the New Mexico State University, and come to the conclusion that it was all a giant conspiracy.
That was complete lunacy, of course. Archmagi contributed to New Mexico State University for the same reason as all of the Universities other rich donors; they wanted the tax write off and the good press. Charles had assured them the communications system was a happy accident. However, Alison seemed to eat it all up. By the end of Kyle’s little speech she was nodding along cheerfully.
Still, she apparently wasn’t totally sold. She turned towards Jessie. “But how did you end up in the middle of all of this? You’re not a mage.” Her smile slipped slightly as she asked that.
Jessie felt a rush of nervousness as though she were just about to walk on stage at a talent show. She nodded seriously as a play for time. Then she replied, “Accidentally. I was out of work when Kyle opened his business. I noticed it, and thought I’d drop off a resume. It was a long shot, but what the heck, right? He hired me, it was a great place to work, things were going well, a rich and powerful man tried to kill us. I want to fight the Archmagi for the same reasons as Kyle.”
“Fair enough, I suppose, but you stuck together?”
“We got engaged!” Jessie looked at Kyle. She would have done something affectionate, like take his hand, but he was a robot. Alison seemed to note her look, so maybe that was enough to sell it. It was just as well, Jessie didn’t really want to uncross her arms.
Kyle jumped in, “With everything that happened we got to know one another really well. We make a great team and… I suppose, I can’t really imagine not being a team anymore. I didn’t want to let her get away.”
“He’s a sweetie.” Jessie immediately regretted saying that; it sounded stupid. Was she going to call him honeybear next? What would she say if she was really deeply in love and about to get married? She probably wouldn’t chitchat about it with the leader of a terrorist cell on Mars! She smiled, “Kyle’s smart, and genuine, and decent. He goes a long way for the people he cares about. Actually, he’ll go a long way for the people he shouldn’t care about. You can’t really say that about most people these days.” There, that was better, it was also true.
Kyle sounded a little embarrassed, “So, yeah, we stuck together.”