Noin is happy to report that Antar and Air Girl had a son named Charlie who married another of Noin’s cousins.  “I have seven to talk about, you know.  There’s also my crazy brother and sister.  Man, can you believe I used to be the shy, emotionless one?”


    “Wow!  You didn’t all have to say it at once.” Noin scowls at Vahnna, signaling for her to teach.

    “I think Patriarch was speaking, but I will gladly take over, haha!  Hero and Sarah had their data transferred into giant bodies so they could be the first in battle on a new frontier of robotic combat.  Don’t worry, you romantics; they still got married, even if the ceremony had to be an outdoor wedding.”

    Owan whispers to Elf, “I’d hate to catch that bouquet.”

    Ent chuckles and asks, “Why are you catching any bouquet?”

    “I think that covers all the preliminaries.” Vahnna thinks aloud.  “I believe we should stop torturing the tots and get to the main attraction.  We can’t keep dragging this out forever, you know.”

    “Yes!” Grace and Faye echo.  “Tell us everything!”

    Patriarch puts up a hand.  “We must first address the heroes.  Warner and Jackie are, by far, the most powerful individuals in the age, man or machine.  While their combat suits are not half of what a standard System Guard has at his disposal, these two young people were monstrously strong.  I had no doubt whatsoever in their ability to stop the FRANK Coalition from pushing the nations into war with each other.  My concern was their careless indulgence in all sorts of unmentionable iniquity.  However, that blessed day, I remember it so well.  Warner and Jackie came to me, and they confessed that they had been pondering the things I had told them.  I can only imagine how difficult it was for them, but they put their own way of doing things aside to live as they should.  It was this single decision that caused their comrades to do the same.  So many treasured memories!”  Patriarch wipes a tear from his lone eye.

    Vahnna puts her hand on his shoulder.  “I was amazed when I heard that everyone in my world was changing for the better, but when I later saw it happening for myself, as a System Guard watching from the outside.… I am blessed to do what I do now.”

    Jo and Cat agree.

    “Noin,” Vahnna addresses the girl, “my favorite part will always be when your sweet grandmother learned that you and your two siblings were joining Patriarch as official XI System Guards.  I will always cherish that as a highlight in life.”

    “Oh, now you’ve done it.” The tearful girl hugs Lady Vahnna.

    Patriarch smiles, but then continues the story with a more serious tone.  “The time had come when the hopes I had for peace were but empty fantasies.  FRANK had succeeded in sending the world into senseless conflict with one another as the nations had no clue as to why they were fighting.  They just knew someone had to die for something.”

    Gracie gets a bit huffy.  “I hate war.  That’s how it always is, people fighting, thinking that killing something is going to solve everything.  I think all war should just stop now!”

    Duplica can’t help but chuckle.  “Baby, sometimes, you have to fight to defend other people, or to put a stop to evil doers.  I get what you mean though.  Going to war just for the sake of fighting…not a good thing.  Life is so precious.  It shouldn’t be thrown around like a toy.”

    Faye leans back into Elf so that she looks at him kind of upside-down.  “Elfie, I want you to know that I’d fight for you.  I’d even die to save your life if I had to.”

    “Is that a fact?” asks Gigi.

    Faye straightens up.  “I clearly said Elfie!  When I want your opinion on something, I’ll be sure to address you by your name, Captain Big Ears!!”

    Duplica goes to settle the disagreement, as well as instruct Faye on physical contact rules, while the rest of the gang keep listening to Patriarch tell the story.

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