Holly had like a sixth sense for when I was ready. She met me down in the basement while I was just finishing my fitting into a bohemian number: loose, frilled tank top, sandals, and a boho skirt with whirling patterns and dots and shit. I looked like a hippie cyborg. Hmm, that’d make a good movie. “Killer Cyborg Hippies!” Sounds very grindhouse. Added bonus, it describes a lot of Republicans who’ve had pacemakers put in. At least, they used to be hippies. They dropped that shit long ago.
“Someone looks like she hangs up signs saying ‘life, laugh, love,’” Holly said. She stepped down in an old flapper dress. Not a bad choice, actually.
“I wanted something with a loose skirt. All the better to air out my ladybits,” I said,
“Yeah, you like airing those. You really surprised the doctor when he saw a pregnant lady packing dong.” She walked downstairs and over to the table with the pocket watch on it. One click and it’ll call Torian for our adventure into the past. “I’m coming with you.” She held up a small piece of luggage.
“Is that why you didn’t mention anything to the rest of the family?” I wondered. I hadn’t said anything about it and neither did she. I grabbed my own bag, which was actually bigger than hers but more of a giant handbag. I needed enough clothes to cover up one or two helpful implements I’d packed.
“You didn’t tell anyone either,” Holly pointed out. “You want to go and do this too, don’t you?”
“Well duh,” I said, pointing to the dress. I’m not running around uncomfortable while killing someone at the sight of some sort of space party in the past. I had some robots finish off a second braid on the right side of my head. “So, our little secret?”
She winked and checked that her Mauser was in her purse. “Our secret. Let’s go to the party then, my dear.” She picked up the pocket watch. I stepped close to her and put one arm around her so that one hand rested on her lower back. I wrapped the other around her hand and, staring into her eyes, clicked the top of the watch.
We were surrounded by a grinding noise and flashing lights, before resting in an amber orb with a raised dais upon which stood The Torian. “Would it be cliché to say it’s about time?”
I shrugged. “Time travel tends to be about time.” Holly and I separated from our embrace, but we held onto each other’s hands.
“We’re ready to go on an adventure!” Holly said, bouncing just a little in her slips.
“Morigoth House, Planet Eidos Alt 9. It’s a celebration,” I recapped.
“Yes, the Morigoth family purchased the last freehold on the planet. They’re celebrating ownership of the whole planet. I can provide you cover as some minor starfaring nobility. Your clothes will do; it shouldn’t be any stranger than any other attire or customs.”
“Oh, we can be sisters!” Holly said. She stopped and thought about it a minute. “…in-laws?”
“Perhaps you should be the noblewoman, and I’ll be your maid,” I said. “A put-upon, pregnant servant can get a lot of sympathy and leeway when she isn’t absolutely invisible.”
“And I get to boss you around?” Holly asked with a grin.
“So much so that you insist I sleep in the room with you, if we’re there that long.” I turned to Torian. “Is this going to somehow take a month?”
“A few days would be pushing it. It’s been so long, I don’t remember how long it took. Remember, you’re not there to solve the murder mystery. That’s going to be solved by the Mobian. You just have to fatally wound him at the end of it.”
“Any tips you can give us?” I asked. “Poisoned food to avoid or anything? Somewhere to avoid getting knifed for being a witness?”
“No, I think you’ll manage just fine without spoilers. Stay close to Mobian and you should be fine. No matter our difference in perception, he’ll move planets to keep the innocent safe. It’s why he’ll never see you coming.”
“I’d rather hope not. That’s the point of the us sharing a room,” I said.
“Are we ready for the party?” Mobian asked.
I looked to Holly. She looked at me and nodded, so I turned back and answered, “Take us to the ball, fair godmother.”
“Ha!” Mobian scoffed at me. He threw a switch on a console and the grinding started up again. When it finished, a white door opened in the side of the sphere we’d traveled in. “There. Keep the pocket watch on you. And remember, it’s a thousand years before you left Earth. Here.”
He hobbled down toward us and held out a card written in alien script that I could read. I took it off him. “Ah, we are formally invited. Will do, Mobian. See you before you know it.”
Mobian looked after us but didn’t say a thing.
We stepped out onto a swanky place, gilded and fancy polished stone with interesting natural patterns. I couldn’t call it marble. “It looks lovely and old! Look at these columns!” Holly said, walking along and running her hands along them. There was music playing, ethereal and broken up with a saxophone-like instrument on occasion. Maybe some other form of horn. I never learned the whole orchestra.
We emerged out of a side corridor. When I turned to look back, Mobian’s temporal vessel was gone. In place of it was a heavy, dark wooden door and frame. When I turned to look back where I was going, Holly had stopped and was looking to me as a bipedal, humanoid alien approached. It was bald, with bright pink skin. It wore a crisp black suit. “Pardon me, I didn’t hear you enter. May I see your invitation?”
“Yes,” Holly answered, “My servant girl has it. Here, Delilah.”
“Coming, my lady,” I said. It wasn’t hard to sound put-upon. I held the invite out. While I did so, Holly winked at me and put her luggage into my grip.
The alien butler looked it over, then put it away into his pocket. “Thank you.” I noticed he was only addressing Holly. “I can arrange separate quarters for your girl.”
“That won’t be necessary. I like to have her attend me when I sleep,” Holly said. She’d slipped into an old-timey accent and sounded like what you’d expect from a movie with a flapper in it.
“That is of course your choice, but the privacy of your affairs may become necessary. Please, let me know if that is the case,” the Butler said. He stepped to the side and beckoned us onward with a little bow. “Please, this way.”
I followed after Holly but when she brought Holly to a larger room with green wallpaper with golden leaf on it and various other well-to-do folks, he stopped me from following. “I’ll show you to your lady’s quarters so you may ready it for her.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said.
“You are quite with child,” he observed as we left the room.
“Yes. Another full-time job,” I said. “But it’s important for me to be near my lady.” And here I’d adopted an attempt at an Irish accent. It wouldn’t matter. They’ve never heard of Ireland on this planet. Hell, at this point in time, mine was the first Irish accent attempted in Modern English. The Irish would be doing bad imitations of me.
We started up some stairs, but the Butler lagged behind. “Please, allow me to take your bag.”
I was surprised, but let him hold onto my giant handbag as we ascended the stairs. Down the hallway, the doors all looked a bit different. Each one had a colored theme and different sorts of alien fauna around it. The Butler stopped at one with a predominantly dark green look to it, as well as a carved animals on it that looked like manatees with gas masks on. “Let me know if your lady shall require additional amenities.”
It was certainly a full room. Thick carpets laid over the floor, a huge fireplace carved to resemble plants climbing up to the ceiling, and a bed big and soft enough to drown in. I took back my bag from him and went over to the nearest table, an intricately-carved small one between two chairs instead of the larger one with a painting. It was from the perspective of someone peeking out of a forest of kelp down a drop-off to a plateau covered in red grass, with the surface of the ocean higher above.
“I’ll let you know when I’m done unpacking so that I can become acquainted with the facilities I will need to make her feel at home,” I said to the Butler. He nodded his head, with just the barest hint of a smile.
He left me to put away the clothes, at which point I snuck some little guide strips onto my person. They would pair with my augmented reality program and create markers that only I would see. In a pinch, they could also boost radio and cell signals, but they were incapable of listening out or providing holograms. They weren’t bugs. To anyone else, they would look almost like strips of gum.
After that, I headed downstairs. I didn’t see the Butler or notice a way to ring him, in case he asked, so I headed over toward the big hall where Holly had been deposited. Along the way, I left a couple markers in case I needed to find my way.
Holly was having a good time, chatting with a large red fish in a closed-off aquarium mounted on treads. The top of the tank came up to her midsection. She actually laughed at their conversation before excusing herself and heading over to meet me. “This is so freaky and cool!”
“Is that a fish in a tank?” I asked. “I mean, treads and so on?”
“Yeah, that’s Sir Reginald. He’s some kind of war hero,” Holly squealed with delight. “I get to say I talked with a fish in a tank. Well, you know, not in a tank tank, but a tank tank!”
I understood what she meant, even if everyone else would look at her funny. “I got our room all packed away. What do I call you as far as all these people are concerned?”
Holly cleared her throat and pressed her hand to her clavicle. “I am Lady Holly Snyders of Hanover, owner of Deep Space Nine.”
I nodded. “Solid, there’s no way they’ll get the reference. Plus, Gene Roddenberry and that pretzel company owe us royalties now.”
“Eh, eh?” Holly pointed at me. “Pretty smart, right?”
I nodded. A waiter passed by carrying guinea pigs in little square, clear containers. We both stared at it as it went before I asked, “Is that food or a guest?”
“I’ve been too afraid to ask,” Holly confessed. “Anyway, is it alright if I keep schmoozing?”
I nodded. “Yeah, for sure. Let me know if you spot the Mobian anywhere. I’m going to get a tour from Jeeves for later.”
“Yeah, I bet he’ll show you around the estate,” Holly said.
“What’s that about?”
“He was looking at you,” Holly said.
“I might could use that, but I’m not going to use that, ya know,” I said. “What about you, anyone trying to marry into the family?”
I followed Holly’s gaze to a centaur-like alien with a bony plate that curved backward and could have been mistaken for a cartoonish hairstyle. “That does it for you?”
“Eh, I could see it. He reminds me of a guy I used to date in high school before shit went belly-up,” she told me. She reached over for my hand and held it briefly. She jerked her hand away when we heard someone yelling at someone else in the room.
“It was a crooked deal and you know it! You have no right to this land!” a being with slick, see-through green skin declared. She was speaking to gray-skinned man with a buzz cut of white hair. “My people do not belong to you.”
“If you insist on that then I will have to ask them to leave my land,” the gray alien said. A pair of guards the same pink skin as the butler began to move up behind the woman, who didn’t notice.
“No need for all that, thank you!” said a third person. He looked human, spoke in some sort of British Isles accent, and was dressed in a brown coat with a rainbow scarf. “I’m the Mobian, so nice to meet you Mr. Morigoth.” He held his hand out for the gray alien. Meanwhile, a blonde human woman came up behind him and quietly ushered her away from the guards, who looked to Morigoth. He waved them away dismissively while having his introduction with the Mobian.
A cough came from behind me.
“I’ll keep an eye out for that, my lady,” I said, looking like I’d been doing my job before turning around toward the Butler. “Ah, there you are. I couldn’t find you, so I thought I would check on my lady here.” Holly had gone back to the party.
“This way, ma’am. Let’s get you acquainted with the relevant portions of the estate.”
I smiled. “Yes, I think I’d quite enjoy seeing the sights with you.”
The pink alien’s cheeks turned a little blueish-purple. A blush. Holly was right. Just hope she doesn’t Captain Kirk a centaur in bed with me.
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