Godmother Chp. 5

Later that night, in a wealthy Grandvale suburb, a van slowly pulled in and parked across the street of a particular house. You wouldn't think much of the van walking by it, it looked like an average van for Teledreams Cable, but that was the point. Inside were three thieves of modest means, visiting each night to case the houses. They wore clothes that looked like Teledreams uniforms from a distance, including white polos and light blue slacks, and referred to each other with codenames, to prevent identifying themselves when law enforcement was listening.

"Monad", the only woman of the group, took a look through binoculars at the house they were parked across from. "This place has been empty a full 24 hours," she muttered. "Archon", the burliest, was unimpressed. "So? Lots of places are," he said, rubbing the ceremonial lucky coin in his pocket. In truth, he was a little scared of the seemingly universal security flags in all the yards they passed on the way here. "Yeah, but this house normally always has its lights on. I had never seen it empty at night, then suddenly, for two days in a row, nothing," Monad rebutted, "I think we might have a chance, guys. Demiurge, what have you got?"

"Demiurge" was the team's information specialist. He mostly sat at his computer and looked up things for the team. You might be fooled into thinking he was good with technology, but in truth he was just good at blackmailing a lot of people who had access to various databases. "The house belongs to Samuel and Sally Jameson, protected by Ironlock Security, just like all the other homes," he said, "No records of any travel, stayovers, or hotel use."

"I told you!," Archon told Monad, cracking a smirk, "This house is just as dangerous as the rest." Monad wasn't amused, taking another look through her binoculars at the houses. Attempting to move on, she just started getting focused on finding the blind spots of a security camera, when she noticed motion in the corner of her eye.

Two women on bicycles were riding toward the Jameson house. "Code Abraxa!," Monad alerted the rest of the crew, and all three began monitoring the cyclists from a safe position. The two women rode all the way up to the Jameson house, then got off their bikes and walked toward the front door.

"Those aren't the owners," Demiurge informed his coworkers, "I don't know what they're doing, but it isn't going to work." The two women approached the door, one of them disabled the security system from a keypad, and they walked inside, easy as pie. The three thieves were all very puzzled by how the cyclists would be capable of that.

"Did they just take our lunch?," Archon wondered aloud. "You're the one who decided we shouldn't eat it," Monad teased. "Did anyone see some sort of scrambler, or any device they had?," Demiurge asked. He hated to see someone outdo him to his face like this. He put on his binoculars again, attempting to see them inside, but he couldn't see either from any of the windows. "Damn, these gals are professionals," he muttered under his breath.

In another shock to the onlookers of the van, the two women emerged from the front door only a few minutes after entry, without any visible haul, got on their bikes and rode off in the direction they came from. It was almost as if the women came just to embarrass their little team.

While the other two were sitting and steaming, Monad took another look at the house and noticed something very fortunate. "Guys, they left the security off! We know they didn't take anything, let's get in there!"

Opening the back of the van, the team walked slowly and non-suspiciously to the front door of the Jameson house. Archon slowly creaked it open, confirming the security system had been left disabled, but when they were actually inside the house and looking for valuables, their luck had run dry. "Everything upstairs is gone," Demiurge said after ransacking the floor, "There clearly was stuff there, but it's just gone. All of it taken." "Same with the basement," Archon added. "Me three," Monad said, sighing, "Recently, too. I saw dust outlines of books and photos." Archon raised his eyebrow. "Woah, even the sentimental stuff?," he remarked. Demiurge bit his nail. "Those bicycle ladies are behind this. I don't know how, but they are."

"What do we do about it, then?," Monad asked, "We have to take it from them. It's a matter of pride now." Demiurge nodded. "We all saw what they looked like. One brunette, one redhead. We just have to wait 'til we see them again, and follow them."

Godmother and I were playing a game of Go when the Coeurs returned. "We're back, everyone!," Sadie announced, "We got the structural blueprints of our valuables and photos from the old house!" "We deconstructed them all, and Sadie and I are going to be reconstructing them in our room until morning."

"Wonderful," the Godmother told them as they left, and we continued with our game. I had originally thought attempting to beat the world's most powerful supercomputer at strategy would be too hard to even try, but the Godmother assured me she was going to limit the processing power she could use on the game. We were evenly matched so far, so I guess she was telling the truth.

"You know, you've done a lot for us," I told her, "Is there anything I can do for you that you can't do yourself, Godmother? I know that may be a hard question."

"Well, I don't know if I've been explicit about this yet," she said, looking down and to the side, "But, I can't leave the manor with my 'body'. It isn't technically alive, and if there are too few nanites in the air I'm breathing..." "Godmother, you don't have to talk about things like that," I said, trying to comfort her. "No, no, I can't die, Hailey. My consciousness is all around the manor. It's just Kayla's body may start to decompose, or my movements may become more zombie-like and less naturalistic. I wouldn't want to subject my creator to such ...ugliness."

"I see," I assured her. She continued, "And while I have scout nanites in many places and art houses in the city, It's very hard for me to propel the nanites anywhere. The venues I can 'visit' are mostly by chance. There's a gallery opening I bought tickets for tonight, but alas, it's on the far side of Grandvale, and I don't have any of me there."

"Oh, I know I can do!," I said, filled with excitement, "If I make more appearances, I can take a ball of nanomachines with me and release them at places you want to see! We can see them together, like that time at the park!" The Godmother giggled, then I did in response. "That's a wonderful idea, Hailey. I'll make a list of places, and you can visit tomorrow." "It'll be so great, you might even forgive me," I said. She raised her eyebrow. "Forgive you for what?"

"For this!," I shouted, putting down my stone, and forcing her to remove two of her own. The two of us smiled widely.

Marcus made the final click to send the draft of his Godmother interview article to the editor, and leaned back in his chair, staring upward. "This job...," he muttered to himself. He had told his boss there was something more to this Hailey Bonne, that going out of your way to set up a stranger with a new job was not something people normally did, but the boss rebuked him. "Newspapers only really sell to old folks anymore," he told Marcus, "And if we go after the financier of all their operas and art over a hunch, we'll go under for nothing."

Marcus pulled himself together, and sat up straight again, looking over at the room with the crime reporters. All in all, Grandvale was pretty clean, but this morning a delivery man noticed a door left open in one of the suburbs. Apparently, someone had robbed a house belonging to a Jameson family clean out, and the Jamesons themselves had failed to come in for work two days in a row. This was the kind of story Marcus wanted to dig into.

In the mean time, he had decided to do a little private investigation into Henry Sharp. His history wasn't much help. Henry had been an only child whose parents died while he was at college, so there wasn't a lot of family to notice he's missing, and his job history consisted entirely of different positions at the Gazette. Nothing Marcus couldn't have already guessed.

After work, Marcus went to Louie's apartment to meet up with him. He already knew he wasn't going to like whatever was in there, but Louie was the only person he knew would be willing to talk without telling the boss. The Wilkins apartment was a standard messy bachelor pad, with clothes on the floor and collections of bottles tucked away in corners. A few baseball and football uniforms were hung on the wall, like paintings, some of them autographed, and Marcus could see an open box full of VHS tapes with labels like "Sharks vs. Wildthings '87".

"Sorry about the mess," Louie said, finally noticing Marcus's arrival. Louie had written something down on a notepad, but he turned it over before Marcus could see. "It's fine, really, I was expecting worse," Marcus said, "Did Henry ever visit?" "No, no, he was always hanging out with the paper's art critic. I tried ta make friends, like I am with you, but it never got farther than chats at work with him, y'know?"

"I see," Marcus said, turning his back to Wilkins, and examining one of the jerseys in more detail, "From your chats, do you really think Henry hated his work enough to just leave everything?" "Well he wasn't happy, I know that for sure. He liked writin' about the arts, but the bossman really got to 'im. Can't say I don't relate sometimes." Marcus turned back, and nodded. He couldn't either.

Louie continued. "I don't know he was mad enough to skip town, though. If I were him, and I had a job for sure, and I mean FOR SURE, I would come back and pull some sort of prank on the boss before quittin'. I mean, a man's gotta have his honor, y'know." Marcus pulled up a seat, and sat down at a table near Louie. He had some theories in his head, and he needed to bounce them off someone. "Do you think this job might be something confidential, that his employer wouldn't let him tell anyone about?," Marcus asked. "If your saying Henry went to work for the feds, that wouldn't happen," Louie said, chuckling, "Henry'd never leave theatre writin'. He's turned down promotions and job offers before 'cause of it." Marcus closed his eyes a moment. "Really, he has?," Marcus said, an idea forming in his head, "I would never have thought. Thank you for having me."

Having the information he needed, Marcus confidently left Louie's apartment for his own, closing the door on the way out. Now that he was alone, Louie was free to continue his notes on the notepad. They included details about various women he had been attracted to today, about ten of them. He had thought taking detailed notes would help him 'enjoy' them a little more, though he wasn't sure exactly how. He spent the rest of the evening watching the television, keeping an eye out for more girls to add to the list, and after a few hours, slowly drifted to sleep, where the Godmother and Hailey were waiting.

Godmother and I reappeared in the dream state of Louie Wilkins. Sophie and Sadie had decided to opt out after last time, but I still had my curiosity about how the Godmother would pull this off. The dream environment was the same as last time, but the fake Sophie and Sadie were gone, replaced with three women I didn't recognize. The Godmother approached him.

"Hello Louie. Did you remember the little task I gave you?," she asked, smiling and leaning over him. "I did, but I didn't really remember, I just sorta felt it," he replied. The Godmother smiled wider. "It's okay, dreams are like this. You won't remember me, but you'll remember what you feel. Now, tell about the women you saw today."

Louie pointed to the first one, and she stepped forward. She wore a black women's set of business clothes, with a blue undershirt, with long hair kept back in a ponytail. Her pants were a little tight, but I suspected that was what Louie liked about her. Louie began speaking. "I like the way she moves when she walks, with her hair, and her hips and legs..."

The Godmother cut him off. "Yes, she's very beautiful, isn't she?," she said, waving her arm, causing the woman's pants to disappear, "Her legs are toned, and her hair is full and vibrant. Not to mention, how disciplined and stoic she is. I bet you love all these things about her, don't you?"

"Yes...," Louie let out, staring at the woman. The Godmother made the woman walk back, and let the second woman step forward. She was a cheerleader, but for a different city's team. "I like her tits," Louie said, "I like the way she smiles, and her midriff. I like it when they show the torso." The second woman began doing a little cheer dance, as the Godmother started speaking. "Hmmm...," she said softly, "She tries very hard to make people happy, to look good for everyone around her. It takes a lot of effort. Do you appreciate that effort, Louie?"

"Yes...," he said. I wasn't sure how it was possible, but he looked like he was about to fall asleep in his own dream. It was time for the third woman to step forward. She looked like a jogger, with a sports bra, yoga pants, and a phone with headphones mounted on an armband. "I like these clothes," Louie muttered, "I like cheerleader clothes, too, but I like when girls look like this more..." The Godmother giggled. "You know Louie, I'm noticing a pattern. You seem to like girls who work very hard. All of these women put in a lot of work toward their bodies, and they have a very special beauty to them because of it. What do you think of that?"

"I think it's good... I think they are very good...," he muttered. "I think they are very nice for doing that..."

The Godmother giggled again. "Wonderful, we've had a very nice chat today, and I'm going to give you a reward. I'm going to change you, just a little, in a way you'll like very much. You'll become much more attractive to these kind of ladies. Please remember to accept my gift, and not freak out when you wake up, okay?" Louie nodded in agreement, and Godmother continued. "I have another nice task for you, too, if you want me to help you more. I want to only think about athletic women, how they make you feel, and how hard they work for the bodies they have, for a full day, okay? Think about only those things, every free moment."

Louie wasn't sure about this one. "Why...?," he asked in his sleepy state. The Godmother giggled again. "I only want you to feel your best. We learned today you like athletic women, so I want you to do what you would like. If you don't like it, just tell me next time we see each other, okay?"

"Okay...," Louie said, as the Godmother giggled a final time, and waved goodbye. She slowly disintegrated her visible form, until she was invisible to Louie like me, and then exited the dream realm.

"Do you really think this is worth it?," I asked the Godmother, "I mean, I don't doubt you can rebirth him, Godmother, but does Louie deserve the pleasure of being an avatar of beauty?" "Hailey, everyone does," the Godmother responded, "I think forgiveness is the most beautiful way to understand it, but also know that when we are done, the ugly parts of his personality will be gone, and he will understand why they had to go." The Godmother was right, we would be bringing the best possible person out of everyone we helped, and the past wouldn't matter after that.

Suddenly, Sophie and Sadie walked into the room. "Elena, a strange van appeared outside the manor gates an hour ago, and it's just been sitting there. I think somebody is spying on us," Sophie reported. "Let's use the nanites to get a better look," I suggested, and we all began looking at the van. The van sported a Teledreams Cable logo, but I knew we didn't have any cable plan. Sophie's spy theory was looking pretty solid.

"Sophie, do you remember that van from when we went to our old house?," Sadie asked, biting her lip, "I think they might have followed us." The Godmother put her hand of Sadie's shoulder. "It's okay. Whoever it is, we'll give them the gift of beauty, and they'll not wish to harm anyone anymore."

Inside the van, Monad, Demiurge, and Archon were sizing up the Bonne mansion. "Isn't this some sort of local celebrity's house?," Archon asked, scratching his chin, "What's she need a couple of thieves for?" Demiurge started looking up details about the Bonne mansion on his laptop. "There's a little private security, but it's all pointed outside. I bet they have something to hide in there," he said, "We might be better off blackmailing them than robbing them here." "I'll sneak in first, then," Monad spoke up, "I'll find the dirt, and then we can leave a message about our future arrangement." She grabbed a headset and put it on, as she opened the van door and left. "I'll call you if I need you."

Looking on from within the mansion, the Godmother smiled.

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