Back at the cave fortress, Iris sat on her bed with her knees to her chest, deep in thought. Charles pulled his mobile transporter out from the kitchen, and made it roll over to her bedside to try and help comfort her. “Mistress?” he asked quietly, but she was silent. He looked down, and shortened the height of his transporter, making it look like he was sitting. “Is there something wrong?” he then asked carefully. She just took a deep breath in, and sort of nodded. “Tell me? I have a history of making things like this better, and I think you know this.” “Hmph.” Charles smiled kind of perking up. “What is it?” She removed her mouth from behind her arms, and rested her chin on her forearm. “After I rescued all those girls from Reginald’s place, I snapped because Dominick told me the police were on their way. I told him that even if I saved 2 thousand people, that I wouldn’t be freed of the charges that are set against me.”
“But all those charges have no name. You know very well that if the suspect isn’t identified within 45 days, then the charges are dropped; discontinued.”
“Yes, but you know that when I go for an energy boost, the witness will describe and most likely set a charge.”
“But the witness isn’t the one who gets offended. So the question is who is setting all these charges, and continues to not give a name within the given time.” This got Iris thinking, but she shrugged it off and turned her head to where her cheek rested on her forearm instead. “However, if it’s an energy shot you’re looking for, then there might be another way to get it. I mean to not almost kill a person.” She had an idea of what he was hinting at, but she let him finish anyway. “There are a lot of energy drinks in the stores these days.” “Charles, you know what that stuff does to me. Once is quite enough, and I’m not willing to go and do it again.”
“Perhaps not, but now we know what precautions to take before you do it.” Iris lifted her head. “Charles that stuff almost killed me.”
“That was the Red Bull. There are many more options out there to choose from.”
“No. I will refuse to take any such contaminate the rest of my life.”
“Huh, alright. I guess I’ll just…mmm, I don’t know, cancel my secret project.” Iris perked, and looked at him with question. “What secret project?” “No, no, no, I can’t tell you. That’d ruin the surprise. After all it is for you. Oops.”
“It’s for me?”
“I’ve said too much already. I must flee.” Charles played, rolling away. “Not so fast.” Iris said getting up, and going after him. Charles heard how close she was and sped up. This made Iris laugh. “You know you can’t outrun me.” She reminded him as she zoomed to his side. As he turned the screen to see where she was, he saw she was running neck in neck, and then flashed into the other room. Iris stopped, amazed, and caught her breath as she stared in wonder.
Then Charles peeked around the corner, and Iris just tiredly laughed, and trotted to the room. He rolled back as she stepped in, and let her see what it was he was making. She stopped, and gawked in awe as she laid her eyes on her new combat suit. “Oh no, you’ve seen it. What ever shall I do?” he said sarcastically as he rolled around, and behind her. She shook her head in amazement, and then said, “Charles, it’s amazing.” The suit stood tall, and broad. Her feathered wings were maroon, and were skinny (width wise) to easily gain speed. The suit itself almost looked like armor, but it was all one piece; there were bracers for both the arms, and the shins, and were blue with an interesting silver design. “Well I’m glad you like it mistress. It’s not fully functional yet, but it’ll get there.” Iris turned around and gave him a look that said that she wanted to hug him. Then Charles remembered why he had brought her back there. “Now you have to drink one. Ha, ha, ha.” She changed her expression quickly, realizing what he’d done. “Darn! I can’t believe I fell for that.” She exclaimed, snapping her fingers and swinging her arm to the side. Then she remembered something. Dominick had still not returned. “Oh! Jiminy Cricket!” “What? What’s wrong?” Charles asked as she fled for the hall. She turned, but was still running. “Dominick. He’s not back yet.” “Oh.” Charles followed her, and then said, “That is a problem.”
Iris ran for the front entrance, and quickly punched in the numbers so the door would open. As it opened enough for her to look outside, she grabbed the edge of the door, and pushed it open the rest of the way. There was Dominick; leaning against a tree, and getting soaked from the pouring rain. He looked up as he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Seeing Iris had opened the door, he trotted his wet self inside to get warm and dry. Iris motioned him in, and told Charles to get the blankets from the couch. “Now let’s get you out of that suit, and find something dry for you to wear.” Charles told him as Iris rubbed the access water off of him. “I can handle it from here Mistress.” Charles then said. Iris looked up at him, and with a mother’s worry in her eyes, she backed off. “I’ll start a fire then.” She said, slowly walking backwards.
As Charles took over, and Iris went over to the fireplace, Dominick turned his head to watch her. Charles’ mechanical hands helped him to dry off, and then Charles looked at Dominick’s face, noticing that it wasn’t tucked into his chest trying to keep warm. Then he followed his glance, and saw what it was he was admiring; or who, rather. “She’s a gem, you know. Iris.” Dominick faced Charles, and he returned his glance. “I want you to know that. Iris is a very special girl, and she’s lucky to have a man like you in her life.” He finished drying him off, and backed up a little bit. “So make sure you treat her right. She deserves every little thing in this life, because her past time took many things that can’t be replaced.” “Like what?” Dominick asked. “Her family,” Charles said, pausing. Dominick looked back at Iris, who was now striking the match, and Charles continued. “Her parents were taken by an ugly war, and she lost her only sister to a thief who ended up killing her.” “What about her Uncle?” Dominick asked, still looking at Iris. “He was never really her uncle. He was just a man who was kind enough to take her in.” At this, Dominick turned back to Charles. “What was her sister’s name?” he asked; but he already knew. “Sienna. Her name was Sienna.” “How was she killed?” Dominick asked, also knowing the answer. “She was stabbed. Multiple times.” “Oh.” He looked back at Iris who had got the fire to burn very nicely.
Her hair seemed to glow with radiance as the flames bounced around inside the stone walls. Her skin looked to be flawless and also glowed with a peachy yellow light as she poked around with the logs. Squatting, but then standing, she put away the warm poker, and stared into the flames for a moment. As she started back, Dominick turned, and Charles smiled. “Don’t be afraid to show your affection, Dominick.” “Heh. I think I’ve already expressed my feelings for her…more than once too.” He said, sort of laughing and looking at Iris as she approached. “Fire’s ready. You need anything else?” “Hey now, I thought I was the servant.” Charles teased. Iris giggled, and then escorted Dominick to a seat beside the fireplace. Charles stayed back while he watched them take their seats across from each other. “You want anything to drink?” Dominick laughed, thinking she was going to offer champagne. “A beer perhaps?” asked Iris as she came forward with her elbows on her knees. Dominick then smiled as he slightly looked up. “Why not?” Iris didn’t need to breed a single word, and Charles had already brought out the drinks on a silver platter. “Thanks.” Dominick said, grabbing the bottle up. Then Iris grabbed the crystal stemware that was three quarters full of sparkling champagne. “Thank you.” She said daintily. Dominick watched her as she tipped the glass, causing the white rim at the top of the liquid to slant, and cling to the walls of the glass. Then he shook his head, and took a swig of his beverage as Iris pulled the edge of her glass away from her luscious lips, leaving a stain of her lipstick in their stet. She slyly glared gently as he finished his swig, and then held the back of her thumb that helped hold the glass to her forehead.
“What?” he asked, seeing she was looking at him. She repositioned herself, and then said, “Nothing,” then looked into the fire that reflected in her eyes as they did in the glass. Slowly, the lights dimmed, but they didn’t seem to notice for they both were staring into the flames that seemed to create different shapes. Charles just smiled, and slightly shook his head as he turned and went back into the secret project room. It wasn’t until 15 minutes passed that Iris jerked up, realizing the lights were down. “You okay?” Dominick asked, seeing her move abruptly. “Did you see the lights dim?” He looked up, and noticed that the lights had indeed been dimmed. “No.” “Must’ve just gotten darker then.” Iris said, placing her drink gently on the small glass table in front of them; also forgetting that there were no windows. “Well, considering that there aren’t any windows,” Dominick started, pointing to the walls with the index finger that held the bottle, “I think Charles may have dimmed the lights.” Iris laughed, and agreed. Then their eyes locked, and a burning urge to embrace one another stirred between them. Was it the lighting? Perhaps. Or was it just the overwhelming power of love that stirred this desire?
Having warmed up, and dried, Dominick stood, and walked around the glass table to kneel in front of Iris. Her eyes were glued to him, and followed him until he took his place at her side. His hand brushed gently past her cheek, and cupped her jaw bone as he leaned in. His lips met hers, but pulled back for a moment as he asked, without words, if it was alright to continue. Her closing the gap was the answer, and soon they grew passionate. He slid up to sit beside her, and grabbed the inside of her knee, and leaned her back, but feeling her resist it, he brought her back up. As they stopped for a breather, Iris smiled, and then opened her eyes. Dominick did the same, and Iris quietly laughed as he smirked. Then they heard a buzzing coming from the hall, and looked over. She plopped back, and set her hands on her thighs as she sighed. “Reality.” She said. “Have to face it every once in a while.”
“Come on.” Iris said holding out her hand after she got up. “Let’s go see what he’s up to.” Dominick didn’t say anything, but took her hand anyway, and smiled. They walked hand in hand down the hall until they came back to the room Iris rushed out of to bring him in. She put her index finger to her lips as she quietly opened the door, and tiptoed in. Even so, Charles sensed their presence, and quickly closed the curtain to hide what it was he was working on. “What are you two doing? Trying to see your suits before they’re done are we?” He asked, turning around rather quickly. “Oh come on Charles.” Iris started. “You let me see mine.” “Only because there were only two things I needed to do. Gracious child; you’re like a 5 year old on Christmas Day.” Iris turned back to Dominick, who still had her hand, and made a frowny face. “I’m sorry.” “No don’t be. I think I have a general idea on what it’s gonna look like.” Dominick said, eyeing Charles. Charles just raised his head a little and slowly turned in the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” manner. “What was that for?” Iris asked, seeing what he did. “Nothing. A little inside fact between us is all.” “What inside fact?” Iris glared playfully, but Dominick just put his hand up, and moved it like he was pushing the words away. “Oh, come on. No one keeps secrets from me, because I eventually find out one way or another.” “Uh, mistress.” Charles butted in. She turned and saw an expression of worry on his face. “What is it?” “I think you should see this.” He said, then going fuzzy and getting footage from a security camera. It was Genievo.
“No, sir, please don’t do it. I know you’re upset, but,” “If you knew it was going to make me upset, then why’d you do it?” Silence… “Wel-well, uh…” “Uh, eh, well, I don’t buy it!” Genievo then grew in the blink of an eye, and ended up ripping his good suit as he turned into the same, nightmarish creature that killed Arthur. He roared, and fire spewed from his mouth. A squeamish scream was heard before it stopped. As the camera slowly turned, it revealed a pile of ash that lay on the floor. Iris quietly gasped, and Dominick sighed. Charles came back, and looked at both of them. “Well then,” Dominick began, “I guess that tells us part of the extent of his power.” “M-maybe.” Charles stuttered. “But that might as well just be a fraction of what he’s capable of.”
“True.” Agreed Iris. “But there’s one thing I don’t understand.”
“What’s that?” Dominick asked.
“How did you, Charles, get that footage? I don’t remember telling you to hack into the security system.”
“Aw, yes, well actually that was Dominick’s idea. After you two visited his office, he told me to go ahead and do that so we can watch his every move.” Iris turned and looked at Dominick. “Oh really?” Dominick cleared his throat. “A-hem. We, we should eat something. It’s getting late.” “Ooo, wonderful idea. I have just the thing for tonight.” Charles said, easing the tension unintentionally. Dominick rubbed the back of his neck as Iris passed, and Charles began to follow, but he stopped him. “Thanks.”
“Well whatever for?” Seeing he hadn’t realized what he did, Dominick just shook his head, smiling, and walked out. “What?” But Dominick stayed quiet. “Was it something I said?” Charles asked himself.
Later, Charles had whipped up very fancy looking pasta that had parsley leaves on the side. The sauce decorated both the plate, and the food, and Iris complemented him. “Very nice Charles; you should become a chef.” “Mistress.” He said shyly. “Well I would if I were human or even looked like one, but you and I both know that that can’t happen.” Dominick then had an idea, and Charles saw him kind of straighten up. “What?” “I wouldn’t be so sure about you not being able to look like one.” Charles then smiled mischievously. Iris spoke up. “Don’t tell me you have a friend who does technical work too.” Dominick sat back, but then realized it might give him away, so he lied. “No, just someone who does cosmetics, but I don’t think it’d work. No offense, Charles.” If Charles had a heart, it sunk, and then he just replied, sounding somewhat disappointed. “That’s okay; none taken.” Iris sensed the disappointment in his voice, and looked at him as he slowly rolled to the corner where he usually stood for dinner. Dominick also watched, and felt bad, so he came up with a secret plan.
After dinner, Charles had seemed to perk up, and acted normal by the time it was time to clean up. “That was amazing, Charles. Thank you.” Iris said, kissing the side of his screen. “That was good. Thanks.” Dominick then said, setting his plate in the sink. “You’re quite welcome.” “But don’t expect to get a kiss from me.” Dominick added, and Charles laughed. “Heh, heh. No, no, not at all.” And with that, they finished up the cleaning, and went off to their rooms. “Now, which one’s mine again? I’m always getting lost in here.” Dominick asked, and Iris led the way.
“It’s not much, but it’ll do while Uncle’s room is getting cleaned.” She said opening a manual door. “Ah, there actually something here that isn’t technical.” Dominick teased as he looked inside. Iris laughed, and motioned him in. He entered, and looked around at the almost antique (compared to everything outside of the room) things that sat around. There was an old wooden dresser that looked like faded centennial oak with a lace runner, and pictures on top against the right wall. A toy chest stood in the very back corner, and the layout looked like that which would belong to a young girl. Eleven or 12 years of age at best was Dominick’s guess. “This was your room.” He then said. “Hmm. What gave it away?” she asked coming up beside him with her hands holding her upper arms. “Well, the first thing I noticed was the dresser. Your uncle wouldn’t have used a lace runner to cover the top of it and have antique silver frames.” “Good.”
“Then I saw the toy chest in the back there.” He pointed into the shadow.
“You can see that?” she asked.
“Yah. And then I noticed the covers for the bed were what I would imagine an 11 or 12-year-old would have.” Brief and disoriented flashbacks came to Iris’ mind. She saw her 12-year-old self skipping around her bed, and walking over to the dresser to pick up one of the pictures. The picture she held was one of her mom. Then it stopped as he spoke again. “Iris?” She turned, startled. “You okay?” She nodded. “Uh-huh. Yah, no, just a memory came to mind was all.” Dominick thought he knew, and walked over to the dresser, and picked up a picture. Iris started to walk to his side, and then he asked, “Is this that memory?” holding out the picture. She was shocked. That picture was the exact one she just saw; she felt tears beginning to form, but she held them back, and took the picture in hand. “Yes. This is my mother. Her name was Jaycee.” Iris said as she fingered her mom’s face. Dominick recognized the look in her eyes, for he too had it, but not for the same person. “You miss her, don’t you?” Iris couldn’t fight them any longer, and nodded as a tear fell from her lower eyelashes onto the glass. Then she wiped her eyes, and apologized. “I’m sorry.” “Don’t apologize. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one.” Iris looked up at him, her eyes still evident of her tears. He raised his hand and wiped the trail of tears from her face with his thumb. “So, yah,” she laughed, setting the picture down and looking at the rest of the room. “This is where you’ll stay until Uncle’s room is done.” “I’ll manage.” Dominick then said to help relieve her of the sorrow. “Thank you Iris.” He said before he leaned over and kissed her cheek. She looked at him as he started walking towards the bed, and then she started to walk out. “Good night Iris.” He said, plopping on the bed. She grabbed the door knob, and began to pull it close, but she stopped and looked at him the way a mother would after tucking their child in bed. “Good night Dominick.”
She pulled the door close, and then leaned her back against it; sighing. “Anything you need, mistress?” Charles asked, rolling out from behind the corner. Iris turned her head wearily to look at him. “No. I just need time to think.” “About the task at hand, no doubt.” Iris nodded. “There are only…no, it’s tomorrow, isn’t it?” Charles did his best to make his screen to go up and down in a nod, and Iris giggled. He smiled, and then thought of the comment Dominick had made at dinner. Iris saw this pondered look on his face, and spoke up. “What is it Charles?” He looked at her again. “It’s just that…well…do you think it’s possible for me to look human? Even if I had to go through technical cosmetic procedures?” Iris cocked her head, and walked over to him. “Charles. If it’s beauty you’re looking for, look no further than what you see in the mirror.” “But I don’t like what’s in the mirror, because all I see is a bunch of pixels in different shades of blue.” Iris put her hand under the screen.
“That’s not what I see.” Charles turned his virtual head to look into her eyes, and Iris could see he was hurting. “Ahem. Well, you best be heading to bed, mistress. You need to keep up your strength.” Iris smiled. “Okay. And I think you shouldn’t stay up too late yourself, okay?” “Certainly.” And both of them went their separate ways.
Dominick pulled away from the door, and thought for a minute before he pulled out his phone.