“Hello, my beautiful people!” Pops up the shameless celebrity.
“I.C.,” says Cat, “you’re hopeless. What do you do, just sit around, listening to the entire System for people to say that line? That’s kind of creepy, child.”
Sliding her thumbs into her jean pockets in a guilty fashion, Ima Crystal Mendez gives the best explanation she can to get out of being called a vain glory hog. “Well, you see, it’s not that I’m waiting for the phrase. It’s just that when it’s usually said, it’s either meant to get my attention or the people know I’m probably going to show up anyway, so they give in and contact me, ‘Oh Hey, I.C., we were just talking about you and wondered if you wanted to hang out.’ I got friends all over, which happens when you’re an Inner Man Theatre movie star. Don’t hate me if I have to stay by my ‘phone’ all the time to not miss people calling me.”
In case you’re unaware, I.C. is the main character of the interactive movie game on the website. It’s called The Allergy, and I totally recommend you check it out later in the arcade section of innermantheatre.com. Now that this plug has been dealt with, we can get on the with trip.
As I.C. does an insta-change from her civilian garb to her uniform, her husband Scott asks her again why she waited so long to change. “Kind of lazy, isn’t it, Mrs. Prince?”
Tapping him on the nose, she insists, “Not at all, Mr. Prince! If there’s someone who’s played our debut game, or has seen me and Greco joking about toddlers and tangerines in one of our smaller comics, they might recognize me better if I wear what I was wearing then. That way, when I switch to my armor, they can see for themselves that I, too, am a part of this super fighting force. They get to see me multitasking!”
“Tell the joke about the tangerine, I.C.,” suggests the mischievous Ally.
“No, no, you’ll have to look for it on our fan page.” Ima puts her index finger against her big, satisfied grin as she sets this condition, thereby avoiding the tropical trap.
“Well, aren’t you the little saleswoman?” Ally can’t hide how impressed she is at Crystal’s financial wit in the situation, despite being disappointed in the lack of flying fruit.
“Okay,” says our temporary host, “now, where are those kidders I’m brainwashing today?”
“Those, we left in a barn somewhere,” retorts Duplica. “You’ll have to make do with what we found along the road on the way here. Come on and we’ll let you see their grand idea at work. The boys are playing it cool, but the girls, I guess you could say, have switched the size of their excitement to size XL.”
As everyone makes their way over to the students, Ally makes it a point to slow Cat down, holding her by a pinch to the sleeve. With her friend casually stopping to signify the message received, Ally can now open up. “Catherine, I have to be honest about a thing.”
“You’re calling me Catherine, so I’m scared to hear it now.” Duplica tilts her head and uses her eyes to give Ally a warm, compassionate welcome into saying whatever’s bothering her.
“I know you love AB. He’s our ancestor and so forth, but sometimes, I’ve felt like he and Missy take advantage of my diligence in overworking me, sending me here and there to the point I rarely get any time off. I’ve not made an effort to even hint at this complaint, and yet he came to me and expressed that he feels like they work me too hard. They want me to spend more time with Faye. Of course, I told him that I understand. We are not the postal service or a grocery store. It’s our job to protect the universe. We’re soldiers. You have your role, and because of my abilities, I have mine. To skip the boring part, I guess I’m trying to say that, in getting used to working with you guys, I was apprehensive about my bosses caring about me and my child’s well-being, but the conversation I had with AB was more than enough to show me that they do try to make sure everyone enjoys their job, even if the life of a System Guard demands more than we’d like to give sometimes. I can’t guarantee I’ll be around more, but I just wanted you to know that I respect your Gramps even more, and I hope I can be like him and Missy.”
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