That leaves us with Faye and Elfie, surrounded by Rue and her fellow legends of VII, as these two eagerly bat question after question to their heroes standing before them.  To be next to and talking to both the Crimson Prince and Xames Scott AND the author of When You Really Think About It is a treat this would-be couple just can’t handle.  They’re both ready to faint, but I think they’ll manage.

    “So,” Faye bluntly asks everyone present, and for that matter, everyone in creation for all she cares, “any advice on patience?  I am the antonym of that word, from my obsession with Elfie to not being able to cope well with other girls who seem to have Ent in their sights, even when they really don’t.  Help?”

    The volumes of advice pour out from the team, with the guys referencing Scripture and the ladies mixing in a bit of personal experience to show how they applied biblical principles to each situation.  All this sound advice almost causes Elf to ask the group’s opinion on the whole Ultimate Machine gig, but he decides against it.  They might help Faye calm down, but then they might not.  Best not risk it.  Besides, Ent concludes that AB sending mirrors throughout time and space to set the villains up for destruction might have been the source of the Ultimate Machine myth.  AB might have started, or at least perpetuated, the rumor about the Ultimate Machine in order to drive the villains out as they attempted to join together in an effort to bring about the end of the System.  Then again, this seems quite deceptive, even if it’s to vanquish evil, so Elf concludes AB wouldn’t stoop to lying to save the System.

    So, want to know what Jo and Mercy are doing while these kids eagerly get their fill of wisdom and Bible knowledge?  They’re playing video games.  Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, the game they’re playing is very educational, for soldiers.  It’s one of their fighting sims, and Jo is stomping poor Mercy.

    “Now, I see where Kammy and Owan get their arrogance from,” Mercy teasingly complains.

    “Don’t go making excuses, Mercury Girl,” Jo defends herself.  “This is what happens when you slack on your old System Guard skills.”

    “Blah, blah, blah,” Mercy chortles, “I bet you pray every day for the kids to graduate so you can lounge around like I do.”

    “Yes,” Jo admits in humorous embarrassment, “Yes, I do.”

    As far as the VII folks go, Duplica stands with Virginia and Trixie, asking them how they’ve adjusted to life as fictional characters.

    “Well,” Jenny assesses, “in a way, it’s different, but I’m already artificial, so it didn’t affect my sense of reality.  In fact, it makes me feel more real to know that I’m a PAC just like Trixie.”

    Trix butts in.  “Yeah, finding out I’m a computer program just like Jenny was weird, but I think it’s cool.  I mean, we’ve been able to meet SBX Virginia and Trixie with their friends…or were they from XI?  Aw, it doesn’t matter these days.  We’re all in one interstellar burrito now.”

    “We’re…in a burrito,” Duplica rehearses.  “Well, I’m glad you help keep things nice and cheesy, Trixie Trix.”

    “Guys!  Seriously?  You get an interview with THE System Guards and don’t even invite us?!”

    Hey, look!  It’s Carol and the other techs.

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