“The drummer for Discordance was found guilty of Creativity in a case brought to court by the Music Harmony division of Sonic Substance Records.”
“Okay, okay, so the story goes, this king sent his daughter over the sea to a distant land to secure an alliance with a country that was formerly their enemy. And with her, he sent gifts and such.”
“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know if these people did dowries. Anyway, the gifts included the usual stuff you’d expect, precious metals and precious stones, coins, and jewels. And the one big gift, the real gift, you might say. A crown made for the prince, and set with a very special one-of-a-kind jewel. A jewel that was sent by the heavens. A jewel that could shine without sunlight. But this king had angered the gods, so they ordered the sea fairies to destroy the ship and drown the king’s daughter—“
My mom opened the flaps of the cardboard box and started pulling stuff out as I hovered next to her. I didn’t trust her to remember that I needed the box.
“Our teacher gave us a weird assignment,” I said. “He wants us to make a diorama.”
“Tell me I’m sane,” I said.
There was a pause on the other end. And then he finally spoke.
I sighed. “Freddy, come on.”
“Give me some context, then.”
“How long has it been?”
“We just passed nineteen hours.”
I took a deep breath and exhaled. “And the longest he’s been under until now?”
The technician gulped, and I knew that whatever the number was, it was a far cry from nineteen.
I noticed him seeming to notice me, and I found that so unlikely that I almost frowned. I was extremely skilled at remaining unnoticed. The Queen of the Hollow Yellow Moon had once proclaimed that I had the power to turn invisible. Of course, there’s no such thing. At least, I haven’t come across any such thing in my work so far.
“Yes, I can answer that,” Kaira said.
She felt a thin layer of sweat forming along her temples. She took a breath and forced herself to pause long enough to send a mental command through the processing patch just below her throat. The four investors sitting before her probably thought she was composing her thoughts. But she was actually commanding the nanoparticles on her face to shimmer and give her that classic “dewy glow” while other particles swept any excess sweat back through her hairline.
Or so she hoped. She was still in the process of calibrating and training the mental commands program.
“What if we do it on snow?”
“Mitts, tell us everything you know about snow.”
I glanced over at Mitts, who raised her head and widened her eyes at the same time. She looked between K.D. and me.
“I don’t know much. It didn’t really snow where we were.”
Mitts and her family had moved almost a year ago and ended up in our classes and our neighborhood—lucky for us. The three of us were gathered around my kitchen table, tossing around ideas for our big final group project in Ms. Wallenwein’s life sciences class.
The newly appointed Captain Dorus gazed at his new crew, each one interviewed and hand-picked by him. The not-so-hotshot pilot, Orson, who retired early after she was nearly killed flying into a star during a practice maneuver. The experienced engineer, Rekha, whose tendency to tinker a little too much got her booted off the first four ships she was assigned to. A doctor, Shade, who had no specialty because she kept getting distracted by new discoveries. And the actor, Kellu, whose purpose there no one—including himself—quite understood.
Sammy read the card at the top of the package she’d just hesitantly opened.
Happy Birthday! The perfect helper for the one who helps everyone else.