South of Bikini 5: Episode 9- What Happens in Whitechapel...

The Empress’ mission to 1890’s London continues, but will one of her sisters survive?

 
 


South of Bikini

Season 5


Episode 9


 

“What happens in Whitechapel…”


 

Copyright: 2016, R.G. Beyer


 
 

1804hrs, London, England, December 23rd, 1887AD
 
 

“Thank you, Mrs. Smith. Once again your generosity has warmed my soul.”

“After what we seen, we all needs somethin’ that warms our souls, Robert.” Margie replied wisely.

“Well,” The bobby paused, as he looked around the large room. “Sorry for interruptin’ the evenin’. To be safe though, I’d recommend you ladies stayin’ in the rest a’ the night. Even if what we seen was…” His voice dropped off as Alex and I stared at him while clearing our throats loudly. “Um…what I means is, there might still be some disreputable blokes out there amongst the shadows. Gentleman, keep an eye out. Ladies.” Officer Robert touched his brim and Margie escorted him to the front door.

Seven of us began to emit a bluish hue as time stopped around us.

“Aunt Alex? Pardon my asking, but what the hell was that all about? And what is this?” James Sadler asked anxiously as he looked around us- his eyes unsure of what he was seeing just now.

“Just setting up a small urban legend, Jim.” Alex answered as Rommie, Amy, and Lena all looked on, astonished by her response.

“Honestly? You… Empress of Time and Space…had to ‘create’ an ‘Urban Myth’?” James asked in exasperation. “Isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle?”

“We…are a paradox!” Alex and I chorused royally as we smiled back brightly.

“Of course. How silly of me.” James deadpanned.

“Oh bugger! There they go!” Amy groused as she rolled her eyes comically.

Alex glared at Amy for five point six seconds before answering Mr. Sadler.

“Yes, Jim, it was necessary. The myth of the victim, ‘Fairy Fay’, is part of Ripper-lore, be it a very small part, it is still important to the timeline nonetheless. According to my foresight something even more heinous would have happened tomorrow night. By creating this myth…physically creating it…with witnesses, the real murderer lays low for a while.

“He’s one of the men here tonight, isn’t he? Which one? Alex, we could stop the Ripper before he even gets started!”

“That’s not the mission, Jim. As despicable as he is, ‘Jack the Ripper’ is an integral part of nineteenth century history and must stay that way. Some common and widely used forensic techniques are developed and implemented during the investigation or because of it.” Alex told him sorrowfully.

James nodded his understanding. “God, I hate this part of the job.”

“Y’all ain’t the only one, honey.” I agreed as we all exchanged sad glances.

“So who is she, Alex? I’ve never seen her before tonight.” James asked after thirty full seconds of silence.

“Simone and the Redhead, Ginger, are on loan from Atlantis, James.” I answered.

“Atlantis? By the Goddess! It really exists? Mother wasn’t just pulling my leg?” He gasped.

“Andromeda would be hurt that you think her city was just a story that Plato made up, James.” I grinned.

“Aunt Andie?” James’ mouth fell open for four seconds. “She never talked about At…lan…tis… That’s where she’s from, Alex?” He gasped in surprise.

“Well, they’re actually from a planet called Celestra, Jimmie, but they live here, now…then…sort of seventy thousand years…ago.” Jacki stumbled as Billie rolled her eyes at her twin.

“You make it sound like a disease, sister!” Billie groaned with disdain.

“And you’ve never got tripped up with all the temporal verbiage crap?” Jacki sniped.

“Girls? Need Ah remind y’all that Ah’m holdin’ time? Mina’s aunt might suspect somethin’ if’n mah hair starts ta gray?” Alex interrupted.

“We’ll continue this at a later time, Jacquelyn Cummins.” Billie threatened.

“You got it, Queen Bitch!” Jacki retorted with equal venom.

Somehow, I had the feeling that we were only hearing a small portion of their conversation.

“Resuming the time stream in three, two.”

Sound and movement again filled the room.
 
 

“So, Mr. Sadler. Where were we?” Margie asked pleasantly as she reentered the sitting room mere seconds later.

“Begging your pardon, ma’am, but after all tonight’s ‘excitement’, I find myself rather exhausted, and since my medical acquaintance has opted to retreat for the evening, I feel we must call it a night. Gentlemen, I believe we should still compensate the ladies for their somewhat truncated companionship?”

James and three of the other men nodded and reached for their billfolds.

“I for one, James, feel even more randy from whence we first arrived. Claire? You still willing, my dear?” The still unintroduced man to James’ right inquired of one of Margie’s girls- a medium height young woman of average beauty and straight, brown hair…actually, the one who lost her continence in the alley not long ago.

“Bloody right! Could use a good snoggin’ after the night we’ve ‘ad! Come on, ‘enry!”

“Margie?” One of the other guys asked shyly. “Mind if me an’ me brother takes the blonde twins fer a whirl?”

“Jacki an’ Billie, you up to it?” Margie asked as she walked over between them. “Colin an’ he’s brother…they’s gent’ler than feather pillows an’ tip handsomely, too.”

Jacki looked to be eyeing the two up for consideration, but Billie remained neutral for about ten seconds. Her face suddenly developed a devious smile.

“Sure, ma’am, Jacki and I are game.” Billie replied gleefully.

Jackie gave a quick, deeply concerned, glance to her twin sister then offered her hand to one of the gentlemen the same time as Billie did to the other.

“Top of the stairs. Third floor, second an’ third doors on the left is yours, dears.” Margie instructed as the twins excitedly guided their gentlemen toward the stairs. She quickly added, “An’ clean-up when yer done! I ain’t yer chambermaid.”
 
 

“So… Mina’s aunt,” I asked as Alex and I lay in the well-used bed under a warm, woolen blanket? The warm blanket was the only thing I found comforting about this bed. From the look on Alex’ face before we turned the lamp down, we were of like mind.

“Her father’s sister-in-law.” Alex replied. “Philip’s Uncle died in one of the wars a while back. Without his income, she had to make a living somehow. Philip Smith had no idea what his aunt really did for a living. Mina’s pa, embarrassed by her choice of profession, would never talk about her. Of course, Philip Smith is only twelve years old here.”

“And Mina? When we arrived, she said they were going back to her flat…”

“Barrister Smith keeps a business residence here in London. At the present, Mina’s Pa is back home on ‘holiday’ with his family, sis. It’s the day before Christmas Eve, ya know.”

“And I didn’t get you anything, Alex, I’m sorry. I neglected to note the date of our arrival.”

“Spendin’ time with you and our sisters is a good enough present, Alex. Now what about that performance by…Simone, is it? I see from our memories that she and Ginger are Yuuka’s mishap from Celestra?”

“Yes, she’s one of Andie’s pixies. Alex, I have to apologize for her. See, Simone isn’t the brightest pixel in the display. As you now know, until I harassed and belittled her into a fitful rage, she had no concept whatsoever of normal flight.”

“Well, she done took off like a bat outta hell tonight!” Alex giggled. “Y’all know she’s the fastest Pixie in the hangar, right?”

It was my turn to giggle softly.

“After provoking her, I had to slow down time just to stay ahead of her, sis. I saw that she would be fast…but I never would have imagined she was THAT fast!”

“So…” Alex paused. I could almost see the smile on her face. “How’d y’all like ‘pixie mode’?”

I sighed without even realizing it. The memory of being that free…having that much energy…so…carefree…

“Yep. Ah felt the same way.” Alex admitted. “Almost better than sex.”

“Almost.” I concurred with another giggle.

‘You do know there are some of us that want to get some sleep, Empress?’ One of our Mind Warriors thought to us in an annoyed tone. Most likely Billie.

“So, the one that never wanted ta use her gift cain’t turn it off now? That what Ah’m hearin’, Billie Sangiere?” Alex said aloud as we both giggled.

There would be no reply before I finally fell asleep.
 
 

0604hrs, London, England, December 24th, 1887AD
 
 

“Come on ya lazy hens! Get yer arses’ up and ready fer the day! This isn’t no boardin’ ‘ouse an’ we gots work ta do fer tonight’s visitors!” Margie shouted from our room’s door as she threw it open hard enough that it banged against the wall.

I hated the woman instantly!

It had been around two in the morning before Alex and I were able to achieve something resembling sleep. After James and three of his friends kindly donated to Margie’s business and left, two other men had arrived late and two previous gentlemen had decided to return to ‘properly patronize’ their ‘favorite establishment’ later in the evening. Luckily, their tastes trended more toward the familiar girls in Margie’s employ.

During one of our earlier interim conversations last night, Margie had commented that Jacki and Billie were taking too long with the brothers O’toole- that she and her girls had dubbed them the ‘twenty-minute men’. “An’ that includes the clothing!” She had laughed, shaking her head at the conjured image.

Amy wisecracked that they were probably hoping for bigger ‘tips’. No innuendo there…especially when Margie indicated that’s why the girls were so friendly with them in the first place.

As Alex and I arrived on the first floor, Lena met us in the hall making use of a feather duster and wearing a plain, off-white apron. Amy was busy stoking the coal stove back to life in the lounge and Rommie could be heard humming from one of the rooms toward the back of the building.

“Well don’t just stand there. Grab a broom an’ get to it! The floors don’t sweep ‘emselves!” Margie ordered as she appeared at the top of the first flight of stairs.

I wondered if she had been a Marine Gunny in a future life.

“Thank you for that memory, sis.” I said aloud.

“The one of her bein’ a DI?” She asked without even looking toward me as she opened the door under the stairs to retrieve our cleaning implements. “It fits.”

“Agreed.” I giggled. We giggled. “So where’s them Cummins?”

“Them that works, gets the sleep, girls.” Margie said from directly behind me.

“Shit!” I jumped with a start.

Margie had a huge, satisfied, smile when I turned to face her. “So whats this about a ‘DI’, girls?” she asked, practically daring us to answer.

“Back home, in our mil’tary, a ‘DI’s a drill instructor. Usually some ill-tempered, diabolical cuss of a sergeant, hell-bent on workin’ his subordinate’s asses into the lowest parts a hell and prideful of it! Y’all call em task masters or workhouse bosses over here.” I answered, taking that dare.

“Now listen ‘ere, princess!” Margie threatened. “I’m not exactly proud of it, but this place is what keeps me OUT of the workhouse. It keeps you lot out, too! So even though you claim to know m’brother-in-law, it don’t exclude ya from earnin’ yer keep. I don’t mean ta sound like some slave driver. Ya just need to help out during yer stay.”

“Look, Margie, we meant it as a compliment, not the slight Allie made it sound like. She jus’ had a bad experience with one a them fellers. Damn ass did her wrong!” Alex said as she handed me a broom and dustpan. “An’ ain’t none a us no strangers ta housework. We all done our share an more! Truth is, y’all cain’t begin to fathom the kinda things me an’ mah sister done over the years.”

I purposely bumped into Alex as I moved to start my cleaning. I hoped that our hostess hadn’t noticed the very slight bluish hue emanating from my sister. A quick glance back revealed a furrowed, well-kept, brow. She had seen ‘something’, but her look of consternation indicated a lack of understanding as to what it might have been.

“Com’on, sis, we got us some chores needin’ done.” I said as I took Alex’ forearm and gently pulled her back toward the kitchen.

Rommie, along with two of Margie’s girls, Ginny and Rita, were busy in the kitchen making breakfast when Alex and I arrived.

“Hey, Alex. Allie. Care for a cuppa while we put the finishin’ touches on the fry?” Rommie asked pleasantly.

“Ma’be after the chores is done, hun.” Alex answered as she began slowly and carefully sweeping the floor. “I’m guessin y’all struck out last night, as well?”

“Can’t all be lucky like them Cummins’s girls. Those two ‘ad their gents screamin the almighty’s name to the heavens last night! Think they’d share us some points on what they done?” The girl named Ginny asked offhandedly.

“Oi, Ginny’s right. What they done that we ain’t to them twenty-minute blokes, Allie?” Rita turned from beating a bowl of eggs.

I smiled to Alex before looking back at the other girls.

“Them Cummins twins got some wild thoughts, ladies. Ah’m sure they really cut loose last night. Noise bein’ any indication.”

Rommie broke out in a hearty laughing fit and almost dumped the skillet she was using off the front of the stove.

“What’s so humorous, Rommie? Thought you was still buggered ‘bout Margie’s ‘lean’ slant to yer figger?” Ginny asked.

“Weren’t in the mood last eve, truth be told. Owed Alex and Allie a fav, though.” Rommie revealed. “None ‘em struck me fancy anyway. Seemed too stuffed…specially that one tosser, Doc whats ’es name.”

“Ya! ‘e dis’peared right quick, did’n ‘e? Run off quicker ‘an a mouse in a house fulla Tabbys.” Rita giggled. “These is ready when ya needs em, Rommie.”

“Bangers need another tick, Rita, then we starts the pegs.”

“Where’d you learn to cook like that, Rommie?” Ginny asked.

“Use’ta work for a bunch of tossers few years back.” She replied honestly.

“Tossers?” Amy repeated angrily as she appeared in the doorway. “Them ‘tossers’ was good to us, Roms. Treated us like princesses. Right gentlemen, them blokes.”

“Not the ‘Company’, Ames! I meant the ‘Hill’! Them tossers wouldn’t know good cookin’ if it crawled up ‘ere arses!” Rommie corrected. “Now the ‘Company’…that were the challenge, it were! I miss them days. Didn’t realize it till it was decomm’d.”

Rommie paused sadly.

“You ever miss the old days, Alex?” She asked as she turned to us sadly.

“Seems like it was so long ago, Rommie. Me and the rest of the gals rem-nis ever’ time we get ta-gether.” Alex replied. We were almost done sweeping here and were about to move to the next room when she asked.

“Still, we’re here now an’ Ah… we’re enjoyin’ bein’ with you, Amy, and Lenora…” Alex began.

“LENA! Bloody hell! She never gets it right! Ditzy Yank!” Lena interrupted from the front of the house.

“Told ya she got ears like a rabbit, Alex.” Amy smiled.

“Changes moods faster’n London changes weather, too.” Rommie giggled.

There was a flash outside and a clap of thunder shook the house.

“Blimey! Ain’t a cloud in the sky! Where’d dat come from?” Ginny asked as she quickly looked out the window.

“Better go have a little heart ta heart with the tart.” Amy groaned, smiling nervously, before hurrying away toward the foyer.

“So where you an’ Allison call home, Alex?” Ginny asked as she motioned to the table and chairs with a couple steaming cups in her hands. Alex and I sat down with a nod of appreciation.

“Oak Ridge, Mahzzura. Ma an’ Pa got some dirt there- Cows, chickens, a few goats, wheat, barley, an’ corn…plenty’a corn.” Alex replied with a wistful grin.

“If’n Pa could grow sugar cane on the property, he’d be in heaven! Right, sis?” I added with a giggle.

“Best damn still in the state!” She retorted and we both laughed.

“So…the Cummins girls…where they call hom…”

“We’re from the great state of Indiana and ‘Hoosiers’ through and through.” Jacki said as she and Billie appeared in the doorway.

“Sounds pretty ‘hoity-toity’ to me. You some kinda gentry?” Rita giggled as she placed the sausages on the table.

“As a matter of fact…ouch! Jackiiiiiiii!” Billie began to answer before Jacki elbowed her.

“Take a seat, ‘princesses’!” Margie sternly advised as she entered the room and pushed the Cummins twins into a couple seats. She looked to Alex and I.

“Decided to let those two talk in private. Little Lena gets the menses bad, seems.” She told us quietly before turning her attention to the Cummins’.

“Don’t know what ya did last eve, but ya sure impressed the brothers O’toole! Here’s yer cut.” She continued as she handed Jacki and Billie a few slips of colorful paper- currency, Alex’ memories called it.

“Blimey! Got to be a few quid there!” Rita gasped out as Jacki unfolded the currency to count it.

“Got ta thank you two. This covered this month’s expenses an’ then some. Alex? Where’d ya find these two?”

“Told y’all before, Margie. Ah got me some connections.”

“Apparently.”

The doorbell tinkled twice in the hallway. Someone was at the front door.

“Too early to be any gents.” Margie thought aloud as she went to answer.

“Yes?” We heard Margie say as she apparently opened the door.

“Excuse me, mum, but I’m looking for a woman…”

“Down the street a block, second door on the left, dearie.” Margie interrupted the voice.

“Excuse me? Madam, I do not think you understand. Allow me to finish.” Mina’s voice jumped an octave or two. “I am looking for a woman by the last name of ‘Smith’, a Margaret Smith and I have been directed to this address. Do you know of this woman? If not I shall not waste your time further.”

“Who wants ta know, dearie?”

“Philamina Smith, mum. I have received information my aunt might reside here.” Mina answered. I pictured her holding out her hand to our host in greeting.

“Don’t have no niece, only a nephew to my hoity-toity Barrister brother, Philip.” Margie answered, sounding quite irritated.

“Uncle Philip was reluctant to provide me any information, Aunt Margaret. It took several visits before I managed this lead. Father would never speak of you, Uncle William’s widow, and was also reluctant to assist when I first set upon my quest.”

“You’re Harold’s girl?” Margie’s voice jumped a few octaves in surprise. “Didn’t even know the stuffy old arse had a child! Haven’t spoke to ‘im in years, though. Come in, child, let’s have a look at ya!”

“Ya don’t look like a ‘Smith’.” We heard Margie say forty seconds later.

“Mother is from the Orient, Aunt Margaret. Siam to be precise.”

“Had heard Harold was planning a trip…that was right before…”

“Oh, Aunt Margaret. I’m so sorry to bring back those memories!” Mina responded.

“Was a long time ago, dearie. Care for some tea?”

“Thank you.” Mina replied and the two appeared in the kitchen two minutes later. Margie fetching a cup and pouring Mina some tea.

“So how is the ol’ horse’s arse?” Margie inquired brusquely.

Mina’s expression saddened as she carefully placed her cup back on its saucer.

“Aunt Margaret! Surely you know that father left us almost three years ago? Uncle Philip claims to have sent you a wire stating as much. Mother and I were in the Far East at the time.” Mina answered as she looked down sadly into her cup, added another teaspoon of sugar, and began stirring it slowly.

“Sorry for that, luv. Can’t be too careful these days- ‘specially here in Whitechapel. The place has gone downhill these last ten or so years and the shadier blokes been takin’ over.”

“So why are you here…” Mina paused as if finally understanding.

“This is a Brothel!” Mina’s mouth dropped open. “Then the stories Uncle told me are true! Oh, Aunt Margaret! How can this be?”

“Yer uncle left me no choice, luv.” Margie answered, her eyes lowering to the floor. “William left me with only debt and nothing else. It was either this or the workhouse.”

“Uncle Philip…” Mina started to say but was cut off.

“Wants nothing to do with me, luv. Claimed I was an embarrassment to the family and a political caveat- one that his profession couldn’t have if he was goin’ to Parliment.”

There was a long pause in the conversation.

“So how is young Philip these days?” She finally asked.

Mina smiled. “The naughty little cupid tried every chance he got to chat me up! Especially after he found out I was part Oriental. He was constantly asking what his aunt’s country was like and when I thought he could go see it and her.”

“So mum stayed and you…”

“Felt obligated to return and see to the estate.” Mina finished Margie’s statement. “Mother sees to it that I receive a stipend every quarter so that I might survive comfortably, but Uncle Philip is allowing my use of his flat here in London while on holiday.”

Mina sipped her tea and again placed it tenderly on its saucer.

“Tell me…Alexandra and Allison Covington, how is it that we meet once more? Twice at my uncles and now here…with Philip’s nanny AND two of uncle’s servants?”

“Rommie’s on vacation since ol’ Phil’s up at the mansion. Amy an’ Lenora…”

“It’s LENA!” Our young sister shouted venomously from further forward in the house.

Alex rolled her eyes.

“Amy an’ Lena asked fer time off, too. Kate thought it’d be a change a’ pace to share the housework again. Claimed that’s what they done when first hitched. Young Philip, he even offered to sweep the floors. Ol’ Phil…he didn’t look so happy.”

“I di…? I had no idea how enthusiastic the little cherub could be.” Mina began to protest, but quickly caught herself.

“Pegs is ready, girls.” Rommie announced.

“LENA!” Margie shouted, aiming her voice to the front of the house. “Food’s ready. Get that tart arse back here ‘fore the fry’s gone.”
 
 

Margie and Mina had been talking most of the morning, even during morning tea. Now as Alex and I prepared the midday meal, both entered the kitchen to observe.

“So, what’s on the stove, girls?” Margie asked as she sniffed the air, intrigued.

“Ah asked Ginny if she’d grab a few pounds of beef while she was out doin’ rounds. This here’s something we call hamburgers back in the states. Y’all might call ‘em meatcakes or some such thing- don’t know cause y’all call meatloaf, ‘salsbury steak’.” Alex replied with a frown. “Don’t worry none ‘bout no cost, Ah give her a few pounds to cover it.”

“Well, it smells remarkably tantalizing. What are the ingredients, Miss Covington?” Mina asked, knowing full well what seasonings were used.

“Salt, pepper, some diced onion, an’ an egg ta hold it all together.” I answered to reinforce our ‘twins’ status.

“So what’s simmering in the small pot?” Margie asked.

“Canned tomater paste, some more salt an’ pepper, water, and vinegar. Y’all’re gonna love it once cooked down.” Alex crowed. “Goes great on the burgers along with some onion, lettuce, and slice of tomater!”

“Need I remind you it is winter in London, Alexandra. Vegatables other than onions are rather hard to find.” Mina reminded needlessly.

“’Course Ah knowed what season it is, Miss Smith! Amy wouldn’t a been stokin’ that damned coal hog if’n it were summer.” Alex said as we both giggled.

Mina rolled her eyes and shook her head twice.

“She don’t know Pa built his-self a greenhouse, Alex, that we had us fresh veggies almost all year long.” I added to cover my sister’s exubberance to our favorite lunch item.

“So you two come from an affluent background? My word, why ply this particular trade then, Miss Covington?” Mina continued her line of questioning.

“Ma an’ Pa had a few acres, Miss Smith, wouldn’t call us rich by any means. Most years Pa broke even, some he didn’t. Nothin’ like yer stuffy Unc up north.” I protested, hoping to protect our dignity.

“And just how did you two end up in London?” Mina pressed.

“Well, ya know? We just ‘popped’ in on this street a few months back, found this time period intriguing, and decided to stay a spell. Answer yer question, hun?” Alex answered brusquely.

“Girls?” Margie abruptly asked to get their attention. “How ‘bout you five excuse us for a few ticks. The twins an me got a few things ta discuss.”

Everyone but Alex, Margie and I stood from the large dinner table and began to file out of the room.

“If you wouldn’t mind, Philamina?” Margie said as she motioned for Mina to sit back down.
 

“Who are you girls?” Margie asked pointedly once she sat back down after closing and latching the pocket doors to the next room.

“I believe I’ve already provided sufficient proof as to who I am, Aunt Margar...”

“Tut! I’ll get to you next, Philamina. Right now I’ll hear it from Alexandra and Allison…if those are your real names, dearies. You should know that I’m considered brilliant when it comes to spotting the odd duck.”

“We got no idear what y’all’re talkin’ ‘bout, Margie.” Alex answered innocently.

“What I’m talking about, ladies, is the little details that I’ve noticed since our meeting. Little clues, if you will, that you two have dropped as if breadcrumbs. Were you hoping I would notice or was it purely accidental?” Margie asked as her city accent instantly vanished, replaced by the proper tongue that Mina used.

“What ‘little details, Margie? Ah got no idea ‘bout no crumbs, bread er otherwise.” I asked, also playing the ‘innocent’ card.

“Last night when that tart raised from the supposed dead, you two didn’t seem to start one bit, nor did you react as I would have expected two young women of today might.”

“Then there was the fact I had to wake you two. No working girl would dare over sleep unless she was working later than usual.”

Margie paused for twenty seconds as she evaluated us, glancing every so often to Mina, too.

“Today, my ‘niece’ arrives at my door- one that I never knew I had. Granted, I’ve never kept in strict touch since my husband’s demise, but…I do make it a point to follow the Smith family’s activities. Interesting how much personal information one learns in this business.”

Margie smiled as if having it all figured out.

“Just a moment ago…your rather sarcastic response, Alexandra…it reminded me of something…a story actually, that I was told during my days abroad with William.” She continued and paused for fifteen seconds.

“William and I had been visiting Egypt- Cairo to be precise. We met a local historian who shared quite the tale. Whether he was simply bollixing us, I wasn’t sure until just now.”

“That man told us of a shadowy figure- more myth or legend than real- from the great period of Pharaoh…? Anyway, about a woman or rather women possessing extraordinary powers; equal to the Gods themselves! He went on to relate that this woman, whom he called the ‘Empress’ protected Pharaoh and his queen and even assisted in uniting the Upper and Lower Kingdoms.”

“So what’s that got ta do with Allie an’ me, Margie?” Alex inquired curiously.

“Our learned acquaintance told us how this ‘Empress’ could make the heavens darken, the skies erupt with lightning and thunder…how she alone could affect the passage of time itself!”

“Ah’m still not seeing how y’all think this connects ta us, ma’am.” I stated gently.

“William and I were astounded by that revelation. From the look in our historian’s eyes he truly believed. Imagine being capable of controlling time! Having the power to move forward or step back through the ages on a mere whim…” Margie paused and stared at Alex and I intensely. “Can you imagine…”

Actually, we could.

Our hostess smiled gently for ten seconds as she appraised us.

“I welcome you to 1887, your majesty.”

‘Aw, shit.’ Jacki thought to us both.

My sister and I began laughing hysterically!

“Y’all’re a real hoot, hun!” Alex snorted as we both collected ourselves.

“Ya, sis, she really had me goin’ there! Must be some sorta English inishee-a-shun.”

Margie grimaced angrily, her face reddening.

“Aunt Margaret! These two are no more royalty than I am the queen! How could you even begin to think…”

“Bollix!” Margie growled abruptly.

“Pardon?” Alex and I chorused.

“Pure rubbish! I consider myself quite accomplished at identifying one’s character and you two seem too humble to be anything but true royalty! You see…only true royalty has the ability to captivate and enthrall their subjects without the need to subjugate or demean. Humility is the true characteristic of a worthy monarch.” Margie suddenly glared at Mina.

“Even you, dear niece, exhibit that defining trait.” Margie continued, placed her hand on Mina’s then sat silent for thirty long seconds.

“The three of you…as I look into your eyes…I see wisdom…wisdom that far exceeds your apparent ages. Please do not patronize me further to tell me I am wrong, Majesty. Rudeness is not becoming of your legacy.”

The four of us began to glow with a bluish hue and the noise from the neighborhood stopped. Margie picked up on it instantly. She began to look at her hands and around at us. Her mouth opened but no words exited. Billie, Jacki, Amy, Rommie, and Lena entered the dining room. Each emitting the same bluish glow.

“Y’all better got a damn good reason fer stoppin’ time, highness!” Alex demanded.

“With all due respect, Empress, the conversation was not going as I had foreseen. I felt it necessary to discuss this discrepancy before the mission proceeds any further.”

Margie looked whiter than new-fallen snow as her eyes observed our sisters enter and Billie’s interference.

“What has happened has been foreseen, Billie Sangiere. Had you taken the time to examine more scenarios, you would’ve seen this one.” I answered in a heated tone.

“Forgive me, Empress.” Billie bowed and gave Alex and I a fancy hand flourish.

“Y’all are a real piece’a work, Billie Sangiere! How can the past Queen of Kili Island be so remiss in the use of her gift when the present Queen of Kili shows no such deficiency?” Alex asked as she looked to Mina.

“Really, Alexandra! Even though the mission does not specifically determine my Aunt’s involvement there is the element of ‘plausible deniability’. Have I missed her relevance to our correction of the timeline?” Mina asked as she looked between us and her aunt.

A bluish ball of light slowly flew through the partially closed doors of the dining room. The bluish glow made Trina’s wings appear green and she began increasing in size as she approached.

Brown-haired, Ginny reached full-size just as she stopped next to where I sat.

“Why have we broken our cover, Empress? I believed everything was going accordingly.”

“Gggggin…Gggginny?” Margie gasped, mouth agog.

“I am Trina, second daughter of Mei Lee of Avalon, third Pixie to the Empress of Time and Space.” Trina announced as she bowed to our hostess.

Margie didn’t move a muscle.

“Jack?” Alex said as she looked at Billie. “Billie’s about to release her hold on time. I suggest you all reposition before she does.”

“Aye, cap. Come on, girls.” Jacki acknowledged with a nod. All but one turned and left for other parts of the house.

“That goes for you too, Billie.” Alex groaned when my assistant director didn’t move immediately.

“As you wish, Empress.” Billie acquiesced gracefully before turning, exiting the room, and reclosing the sliding doors.

Noise again filled our ears and our bluish glow dissipated.

Still Margie remained immobilized, her complexion pasty at best.

“So quiet now, sis.” I observed as I looked at Alex then turned to Mina. “Your aunt is very intuitive, Mina.”

“And rendered completely speechless at the moment.” Alex added.

“It’s never on a ‘mere whim’.” I said as I regarded our hostess.

“Wwwwwwwhim?” Margie mumbled.

“When we travel through time,” I clarified. “It ain’t never on what y’all call a whim. The Empress of Time and Space protects the timeline or the linearity of it. We smooth or correct the bumps and derivations that crop up.”

“Alexandra Reilly, may I suggest limiting the information divulged?” Mina recommended.

“Y’all sayin’ she’s not yer blood, Mina?” Alex asked as Margie’s attention shifted instantly.

“That is not what I’m saying, Alexandra Covington. She is very much my relative- one I cherished from my birth through my departure from Britain. I reference that one fact and maintain what you have stipulated multiple times. No one should know too much about their own future.”

“Is that the recommendation of my mentor or a warning from my friend and sister?” I asked as Alex nodded her agreement.

“Sister? You both are related to me, too?” Margie gasped in surprise.

“Sisters in regard to the gifts we’ve received, hun. Although us an’ Mina are of the royal family as she calls it.” Alex explained.

Our hostess looked on in confusion.

“Mina shares our gift of precognition and some of our more…elaborate attributes, ma’am.” I added.

“I have a niece that can control time?” Margie gasped in awe.

“Aunt Margaret, please. You are not making this any easier. My manipulation of time pales in comparison to either Alexandra. They each are the ultimate manager of Time and Space in all the known universes. Hope you are happy now, Billie Sangiere!” Mina exclaimed to the ceiling angrily.

“Why did she do that?” Our hostess asked cautiously.

“Jacki and Billie are telepathic.” I answered.

“Tele-what?”

“They can read minds…and much, much, more.” I simplified.

We sat silent while Margie thought over what she had learned.

“What is your mission here, Empress?” she finally asked gently.

It was our turn to mull over what and how much to reveal.

“The mission was two-fold,” Alex started and I recognized the line from one of the books my sister had read recently. Or, was it the movie? “Our first objective was to assure an ‘urban myth’ actually became that myth. Now that we’ve done that, we will move to the second.”

“So you’re all leaving?”

“Not right away, ma’am,” I answered. “Mina needs time to reconnect with her aunt. We’ll be moving forward tomorrow.”
 
 

1158hrs, London, England, December 25th, 1887AD
 
 

“You dears sure you need to leave so promptly?” Margie asked as we started to gather in the large lounge. “It’s Christmas you know.”

“We know what day it is, hun, but we do have things to do. Holidays mean as much to us as they do to you, but…” Alex replied but stopped when one of Margie’s girls, Lizzy, stuck her head in the room from the hallway.

“Pardon, mum, we’ve dressed the goose and just placed it. What you want us to do next? Oh, what you girls up to now?”

“I’ll be back presently, Lizzy. In the meantime keep the others at the back of the house.”

‘Is everything ready over at Mina’s, Jack?’ Alex’s voice asked in my mind.

‘As soon as Mina clears us for arrival, Alexandra.” Billie instead thought in response.

“Margie? Why not have the gals come in an’ visit a spell? Take a load off?” I asked.

Our hostess’ eyebrow rose in curiosity.

“Lizzy?”

“Mum?”

“Lizzy, have everyone join us, luv. It’s Christmas after all. A time for friends and family to be together.” Margie told her.

“None of us gots family, mum. You know that.”

“An’ what’m I? Hagus?” Margie dared. Lizzy smiled excitedly and disappeared, but quickly reappeared with her four other compatriots in tow.

Trina…Ginny looked at Alex and I curiously as she entered.

“Ladies? Alex an’ Ah wanna wish y’all a Happy Christmas an would ask that y’all join us fer our celebration.

“But we just placed the bird, Alex.” Rita reminded.

“Ah’m Allison, hun,” I corrected.

“It’ll be taken care of, hun.” Alex guaranteed with a devious smile. “Now, shall we go someplace swankier?”

“Go someplace swanki…” Bridgette began saying before our surroundings instantly changed.

We were now surrounded by several more of our sisters in a much larger, much fancier room done in fine stained wood and plastered walls. Exquisite paintings finished off the walls, but in one corner, an evergreen decorated with popcorn garland, knitted, hand-made, hanging ornaments and unlit candles added to the holiday décor. As we rephased, the smell of our feast filled my nose.

“Happy Christmas, Aunt Margaret!” Mina greeted brightly as she stepped forward and embraced her.

Margie, as well as four of her five ‘employees’ stared incredulously at the new venue that had ‘magically’ appeared around them.

I felt a familiar but very slight weight land on my right shoulder.

“Welcome, y’all!” Alex greeted excitedly.

“Do make yourselves at home, ladies. Dinner shall be served within a few minutes, but first we invite you to join us for our traditional lighting.” Mina announced pleasantly.

Our guests simply stood where they were, not moving except to shiver violently.

“Girls, there is nothing to fear from us or this place. Come, it’s Christmas day! A time of wondrous and legendary feasts…of miracles…and…of magic!” Mom told them dramatically as Yuuka flew from my shoulder. She was joined by Allie from Alex’ shoulder and both flew toward then hovered above the decorated, but unlit tree.

“My sisters! Let the magic of the season light your hearts and likewise the traditional Smith family tree!” Mina announced as she waved to the evergreen.

I laughed silently to myself as Yuuka and Allie, still hovering above the tree, waved what looked like sparkling magic wands over it.

The candles magically lit themselves- each candle one of five colors: white, blue, green, red, and yellow.

A gasp escaped our guests. Poor Rita folded like a pack of cards.
 
 

“She’s startin’ ta come ‘round, Margie.” Trina…Ginny announced as Rita’s eyes started to flutter.

“Ginny? Where am I? What’s going on? I coulda swore I’d seen…”

“Easy there, dear, you passed out. You’re currently in the business residence of his Lordship, Barrister Philip Smith. My niece, Philamina, has graciously invited us to her Christmas festivities.” Margie informed her.

“But…how…here…tree…candles…fairies!” Rita babbled almost incoherently.

“Magic, Dearie! It’s all, magic! We all been chosen an’ asked to join the Empress for her holiday celebration. Things are very strange here, Rita. Very surprising. I suggest you expect the unexpected and do try to stay sharp.” Margie told her with a child’s wonder and excitement visible in her eyes.

“Empress? What Empress, mum?”

“If I understand things, Alexandra and Allison are known as the ‘Empress of Time and Space’, child, only Allison’s real name is also Alexandra, but they still have different surnames- Alexandra’s being Covington and Alexandra’s being Reilly.” Margie explained, not really believing what she said and looking very confused as she pointed to Alex and I.

“Mum?” Rita looked just as confused.

“Think of this as a wonderfully magical dream, child.” Margie advised as she gently placed her hand on the younger woman’s forearm. Trina…Ginny and a still somewhat dazed Lizzy helped their friend up.

“Rita! They gots Fairies! They really exist! Isn’t that brilliant?” The brown-haired, five-four, seventeen-year-old, gushed.

“Excuse me. Empress. Queen Mina. Queen Billie. The fowl has reached optimal temperature and has been removed from the primitive cooking appliance. All additional side entrees are also awaiting placement and distribution.”

“Thank you, Lilly. I believe Aunt Margaret should slice the goose as she is my guest, but foremost, my relative.” Mina responded. “Have Simone, Rommie, Amy, Lena, and Ginger ready the table. Lexi will supervise.”

“Why is it dark out already? Wasn’t even mid day when this nightmare began.” Rita questioned as she looked around. “Was I out that long?”

“Y’all care for a drink while we wait for them to setup?” I asked our stunned guests.

“Ginny, be a dear and fetch…” I began as I listed- to our guests’ surprise- their drink selections to our camouflaged sister.
 
 

“What are you people? Why’d you pick us? What we done to draw yer wrath?” Rita kept asking after quickly downing the contents of her glass.

“You ladies have done nothin’ to draw our ‘wrath’, hun.” Alex began with a smile.

“There are circumstances about to occur in the vicinity of your ‘house’ that, regrettably, must happen. We’re sorry to have given y’all the scare of yer life, but we’ve seen what is to be and needed y’all to be with us tonight.” I took over the explanation.

“The events destined to happen in the next few years are very heinous and brutal, but cause many positive outcomes in the field of forensic science.” Mina continued.

“Why us, Philamina? What could we possibly represent or cause?”

“Lady Margaret, one of your employees, Miss Blythe,” Billie started. Rita gasped hearing her name. “Has been seen to be the initial victim of a monster the likes of which have heretofore never been seen.” Billie continued callously.

That squelched all conversation for thirty full seconds!

‘Still about as subtle as a hand grenade? You really should work on your comedic timing, sister.’ Jacki giggled in my head.

Simone appeared from the kitchen carrying a silver, serving bowl and carefully placed it on the dining room table.

“You!” Rita shouted excitedly and pointed to our skittish sister.

Simone instinctively popped back into Pixie mode and flew from view.

“That’s her! The corpse…girl from the other night!” Rita accused, still pointing into the dining room.

“Very observant, hun.” Alex giggled. “Simone is on loan from our sister, Andromeda. Simone and her sister, Ginger, are on their very first mission with the Empress.”

“Simone, honey? Could you come back out here for a moment?” Mom asked from the dining room with a gentle smile.

A very shy, very embarrassed, Simone cautiously appeared and walked slowly toward us. She made no eye contact, instead keeping her eyes to the floor.

“This is Simone, a Pixie of my sister, Andromeda of Atlantis. Say hello to Rita Blythe, hun.” Alex introduced.

“Hello, M’lady. Sorry to have frightened you. I meant nothing by it.” Simone greeted, slowly offering her hand in friendship.

“Her hand’s warm!” Rita exclaimed in surprise, her mouth opening wide.

We all giggled.

“Of course her hand is warm, as is her blood, hun. Simone’s as human as you or I.” I told her, still smiling. “She’s not some doll.”

“So how you do it?” Rita demanded as she looked over Simone, head to toes.

“Do what?”

“How you shrink an’ fly about like that?”

“I…I just think about it…I guess?”

“Miss Blythe, Are you more curious about Simone or would you like to hear our reason for bringing y’all here tonight?” I asked, beating Alex to the punchline.

“Well, I never met no fairy a’fore, but I’ll bite. Why’s we been tapped for the entertainment tonight?” She asked in a blustery tone.

“Y’all ain’t been tapped fer no entertainment value, hun,” Alex responded. “Y’all been asked here tonight so’s y’all could live a longer life. What we done the other night, staged that little murder scene, we done to deter the real culprit for a spell. History records that the real killin’ didn’t start until next year.”

“How can you possibly know that?” Rita asked in a somewhat upset tone.

“Cause, fer some of us this is our past, hun. See…I was born in 1916.” Alex revealed. “Alex here…her base’a operation is in the year 2020BC- that’s before ol’ J.C., hun- two thousand years before the birth we’re celebratin’ tonight. Over four thousand years ago in total.”

“How…hhhhow old are ya?” Rita stuttered in shock as her finger feebly raised to point at Alex and I.

“Well, Ah been around for two hundred an’ three years- give er take.” Alex admitted.

“Nine hundred and fifty revolution…I mean, years for me this time.” I answered.

“This time?” five women chorused.

“I am the third revision of mys…never mind, it’s too confusing given this technologically inept time period.” I answered though decided to give up while I still had their attention.

“Look, just know that we’ve been ‘round for a while an’ leave it at that, huh?”

“Way ta bamboozzle ‘em, sis.” Alex laughed.

“That’s mah daughter! What a nerd!” Mom laughed with Alex.

“Ladies, please. Our guests are confused enough by our very presence. I fail to see the need to confuse even further with bickering.” Rommie advised as she appeared. “Dinner is waiting, Ladies.”
 
 

“Can I see you do it again?” Rita asked Simone as the dishes were being removed from the table.

“Do it?” Simone tilted her head slightly.

“Fly, you silly fairy! Fly!”

“Oh. Alex, would you mind if I show her one more time?” Simone asked my sister.

“Knock yerself out, hun.” Alex said as she nodded.

“So who forgets about this and who remembers, Alex?” Jacki asked while looking around to everyone in attendance.

“Yes, Alex, who gets to remember us?” Yuuka asked from my right shoulder.

Mina and Margie were at the other end of the table conversing quietly. Margie, though talking, suddenly went silent as she looked at me. Her jaw dropped.

“I see that you have detected Alex Reilly’s resident Pixie, Yuuka. Come up and say hello, Yuuka.” Mina said after turning slightly to follow her aunt’s stare.

Yuuka took off from my shoulder and flew the short distance to the other end. She was joined by the entire squadron. Eight Pixies formed up and landed in parade formation on the table directly in front of Margie. Each bowed as Mina named them.

Bridget walked into the large dining room.

“Anybody seen Ginny? She was right next ta me then vanished straight aw...” The girl’s mouth dropped open and her face paled as she stared at the parade of Pixies standing on the tabletop.

Our yellow-winged Pixie hovered up slowly breaking formation, moved away from the table, and began to grow.

“I’ll be dipped in horse shat!” Bridget gulped incredulously at the sight.

“Hi, Bridget.” Trina waved nervously as she reached normal height.

“Who you then? Ain’t seen YOU before.”

“Oh. Sorry, I forgot.” Trina apologized as she shimmered for a second and a half. Ginny stood in Trina’s place with a sheepish expression.

“Yer one’a ‘em? Why?”

“Trina was my secondary plan, hun.” Alex explained calmly.

“Secondary…plan?” Margie and her other girls chorused.

“We learned from experience that time…well, time ain’t nobody’s friend. Time does what time wants and is very self-centered and greedy. I asked Mina to transport Trina back a few months- incognito- as my failsafe…in case things didn’t go as planned. We couldn’t risk losing any of you to the monster about to hit the streets of Whitechapel.” Alex went on sadly.

“Why?” Margie asked as she held back a tear or two. “Why protect us from…whatever? What do we mean to you girls- to the Empress of Time and Space…and company?” She added as she motioned around the room.

“The Empress of Time and Space has vowed to protect those she loves: those in her sisterhood, and…family.” Billie answered softly as she looked at Margie.

“I’m not her family! I never met her before a couple ‘a months ago.” She denied vehemently.

“Philamina Smith bears the runes of the ‘royal’ bloodline, or so she has told us numerous times, Margaret Smith. Since you are her aunt, you are officially family, and since you run a ‘boarding house’ and treat those under your roof as daughters…” Alex stated royally before her voice dropped off.

“We treat y’all as family- bloodline or not.” I finished with a bright smile.

“Go on then! What’s a ‘rune’?” Rita demanded.

“A rune is or can be a character or letter, even a picture of sorts from some old, even ancient, language. A rune represents something or…someone.” Mina instructed.

“So! Let’s see these ‘runes’ yer goin’ on about.” Rita dared.

I stood, took a step away from the table and selected my dress whites as I walked to their end of the table.

All non-sisterhood eyes stared at me in varying degrees of fright.

Lifting the tail of my regulation blouse, I pointed to the small of my back. Mina took over as I felt her touch the lowest ‘tattoo’, as Alex called them. Mina was silent for ten seconds.

“The lowest rune or marking is that of the ‘royal’ bloodline- the bloodline of the Empress. Next is the rune symbolizing foresight or prophecy. The third rune indicates the Empress’ ability to time shift in any given reality. Above that is the true mark of the Empress, the infinity sign or mobius rune. This one indicates that Alex can travel to any time period, any planet or galaxy, and to any universe she sees fit. The fifth rune…”

“WHAT?” I exclaimed in surprise. “I have a fifth tat?”

Mina seemed to ignore me entirely as she was silent for fifteen more seconds. It was enough time that Alex hurried over and now stared at my back also. I felt her lift my blouse a little higher.

“The fifth rune is…my word, can this be possible, Alexandra? Could you have actually…have you actually been there?” Mina rambled as I heard her sniff back tears.

“What is it, Mina?” I asked anxiously in concern. “What’s it say, sis?”

“What does the rune mean, Mina?” Alex asked from behind me. It sounded like she was as confused as I was.

Mina remained silent.

“Hey! Let me at least change into something a little more revealing, Mina!” Alex complained sharply from behind me.

There was a gasp from Margie and her girls. I looked around to see Alex standing there in our black bikini ensemble.

“My word!” Mina gasped as she raised the sheer, black wrap from my sister’s back. “Alexandra, when did you do it? When did you go?”

“Been to a lotta places, hun. Care ta narra it down a bit?” Alex growled in annoyance.

“The first…first…the first Universe, Alexandra! When did you go there?”

“First universe? Y’all care ta explain?” I asked as I turned around to face our sister and mentor.

“The ancient creation myths…I’ve studied them at length…they refer to something some scholars call the ‘first universe’- the original universe…the place from whence all life came to be. While visiting Samaria I spent many days talking to their scholars, trying to learn all that I could of their history. I’ve only seen this rune once, and the description I was given tells of the origin place. A mythological, some would say spiritual, place where everything started.”

“Heaven!” Margie gasped out quietly.

“In our language and terminology, quite possibly, Aunt Margaret. Alexandra- one or the other…or both,” Mina took a step back and looked intently at Alex and I for several long, uncomfortable, seconds.

“What was it like? Who did you see there?” Mina asked before pausing for another ten seconds, eyeing us carefully. “What was he like?”

“He? What was HE like?” We asked in unison.

“I really wish you two would stop that, Alex! It’s still as creepy as ever!” Amy complained.

Mina looked back at our Weather Mage with a frown then turned back to us and awaited an answer.

“First Allie and I went to some…place…during our stay in Memphis, Egypt to rescue Pharaoh and Anna Beth.” Alex Covington explained.

“We played a very, very strange game of chess…with an entity Andora called ‘Time’.” I continued.

“And there they go again.” Amy interrupted, drawing her hand down her face.

“Andora? I’ve never heard of this ‘Andora’, Alexandra! Who is she?” Mina asked curiously, though cautiously.

“She claimed to be my daughter. When asked how that could be, she claimed she came into existence the moment I took my first time trip…that day in Honolulu, 1944.”

Margie and her girls gasped again hearing the word ‘time trip’ or the year.

“Fascinating.” Mina commented. I could almost picture the pointed ears she sported from a few years ago- according to my sister’s memories.

“We met again when I went to represent Ruth. This time, we arrived in a courtroom of sorts- a very Spartan looking courtroom. Something that was straight outta the witch trials of 1692.” Alex continued.

“Yes. The few women in the gallery looked like they were from Athens. Their attitudes though, were straight from Mt. Olympus. To think they were just there for entertainment- especially the one- when Mother Scott’s life was in question.” I added.

“But she was the one that seemed the most interested after Ah called her on her rudeness, sis. She actually seemed to be the one in charge’a that place.” Alex concluded.

“In charge? Could she have met the creator?” Mina mumbled to herself, but loud enough that we heard.

“Ah thought the same thing. When she first approached, Ah was reluctant to look her way, but she assured me that Ah’d suffer no ill effects if Ah did.”

Mina’s eyes opened wide and her brows shot skyward. “What did she look like, Alexandra?”

“Looked normal…nothing really remarkable. Looked just like any other gal you’d meet out on the street on any given day. An don’t be placin’ me or Mah sister on any pedestal or dias, highness. Neither a us’ll stand fer that!”

“Mina,” Jacki asked as she walked around the table, her clothes transforming to her white bikini and wrap, “Just out of curiosity, how many runes have I collected? I remember going with Alex and playing the same crazy chess game.”

Yuuka and Trina hovered off the table and grew to full size.

“Trina and I remember being there too. Care to check our runes, also?”

“Well, I wasn’t there…exactly…personally, but my temporal twin, Sunny Smithson also attended our Empress to the chess tournament.”

Mina nodded and motioned them over. One at a time, she examined our sisters’ back’s, gasping a little each time.

“So? What’s the verdict?” Jacki inquired.

“You all have the mark, but not as visible as our Empress, ladies. I find myself envious of you all.”

“So you’re saying these girls have all seen the almighty?” Margie stated, just to verify that she understood our conversation.

“Maybe our Empress, but most importantly, they have visited the original universe- the place where everything started.” Mina clarified.

“Funny. I don’t remember crossing any universal barriers.” Jacki shook her head a few times.

“I don’t either, Miss Cummins. It just seemed like a very exotic dream- with some ripped guy in it- to me.” Yuuka added.

“He was handsome, wasn’t he?” Jacki looked like she held some latent thoughts for our adversary of the time.

I held back a giggle.

“Wasn’t really my type, but yes…he was.” Yuuka smiled. Margie and her girls had taken seats around the table and were listening intently, elbows firmly planted on the table, hands cradling their heads.

“OI! Dish’s ain’t cleanin’ themselves!” Rommie shouted angrily from the kitchen.

“Miss Marsh has a point, ladies. We can talk and clean up at the same time.” Mom agreed as she stood from the table and motioned us all to get moving.
 

“Alexandra?” Margie said as we were left alone in the dining room.

“Yes?” We both answered in unison.

Margie’s face grimaced.

“Have you truly seen heaven, yer majesty?”

“If anyone would call heaven a fifteenth century courtroom then I’d have to say yes. Why would it matter? Everyone says that heaven is what you, personally, make of it, Margie.” I answered matter-of-factly. “Maybe our idea of heaven IS a fifteenth century courtroom or a human-sized chessboard.”

Margie thought about that for a full minute. Alex and I were replacing several serving bowls in the cabinets before she spoke again.

“What you said earlier…about me being your relative through my niece?”

“Mina is your niece, Margaret Smith. She is the daughter of your brother-in-law, Philip.” Alex told her bluntly.

“Philip’s daughter? Philip has one son and no daughters, unless…she hasn’t been born yet. You are time travelers, correct?”

“That statement is correct to a point, that is true, but Philamina is twelve years old here in 1887.” I told her.

“That doesn’t make any sense, Empress! The only person I know of that would be twelve would be…” Margie stopped suddenly with a gasp. Her mouth dropped open and she glanced quickly out to the kitchen. “Young Philip? How?”

“The process is quite complicated but in short, Philip has undergone a ‘rebirth’, Margaret Smith. Twenty-seven years from now. We have all undergone the same process, but at differing times.” I explained.

“Rebirth? But she looks so…real.”

“Ah’m sure her four daughters are glad for that, hun. As far as Ah know she had each of ‘em naturally.” Alex smirked.

“She’s actually a girl?”

“Through the rebirth, yes. As are we all. Alex has four children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. I have two girls and one granddaughter.” I revealed.

Margie gasped again and she examined us closer.

“You don’t look old enough…”

“Another benefit of the rebirth, Aunt Margaret.” Mina said as she re-entered the room to place more cleaned dishes on the table ready for storage. “We revealed that during dinner tonight. And yes, I am Philip Smith’s progeny.”

“Are you really Philip’s…” Margie frowned as she realized Mina had answered her question already.

“You read my mind!”

“No, as we have mentioned before, I am of the royal bloodline of the Empress. I share her gift of foresight, so I foresaw you ask that question previous to your asking it, Aunt Margaret.” Mina said serenely as she produced a handkerchief from her pocket and handed it to her aunt.

“I have also foreseen your tears.”

“Thank you, your highness.” Margie said as she wiped her eyes and cheeks.

“I am Philamina Smith, Aunt Margaret, Mina if you’d like. I share Alexandra’s dislike for royal title.”

“She coulda fooled me when we first met.” Alex whispered close to my ear. I nodded.

“Being your mentor, I felt respect should be first and foremost in my lesson plan, Alexandra.”

Alex and I giggled. Whether she meant it or not, Mina’s tone had taken on her regal tone.

“So what happens now, Empress?” Margie asked for about the fifth time tonight. “Being your relative, do I experience this ‘rebirth’, too?”

“Only if Alexandra has seen a beneficial scenario that dictates that.” Mina told her aunt.

“”Indeed there are several that include Margaret Smith and her sisters joining the sisterhood, Mina, but they involve very exclusive requirements being met…very specific requirements of a very sensitive nature. They would also leave…questions.” I revealed evenly.

“Questions?”

“Questions arising from your sudden disappearance, hun. You and your sisters would not be able to maintain your secrets after receiving your gifts. The fifty-year-old Margaret Smith would be replaced by your twenty-year-old self- as would the other girls. That would not go unnoticed by the clients.” I informed. “Then there is the possible exchange of bodily fluids during interc…work. Because components of the rebirth reside in the blood and other fluids, there is the possible risk of contamination during certain…‘acts’. It would be best if you forgot about us and this holiday celebration, hun.”

“Wish I could be like ye.” Bridget whispered to herself from a short distance away.

“So you will somehow cause our memory of this night to disappear? Is that what I’m hearing?”

“You are very intuitive, but that is not necessary at this time.” Alex told her with a mysterious smile. We need to move ahead a few years after tonight to continue our mission.”

Margie began to shake violently.

“After returning you to the house, we’ll visibly disappear and, from your perspective, suddenly reappear four years hence. Now we must ask: can you and your girls keep our secret?” I asked.

Mom led everyone into the dining room and we explained our conditions then asked that specific question to Margie’s ‘employees’.

Though we both knew things wouldn’t go exactly to plan…or agreement, Alex and I agreed to spare the mind wipes and move on to the next stage of our mission. Margie’s lounge appeared around us.
 

“Please try to honor our pact, ladies. The secrecy of our sisterhood rests in your hands.” Alex pleaded.

“We will return to this very room at exactly 10:30PM, Friday evening, February 13th, 1891.” I specified.

Yuuka nodded to her squadron and all eight women began to shrink. Once all were in Pixie mode, they flew up and landed on the shoulders of my sisters and I.

Once again Margie and her girls gasped then remained silent.

“Until 1891 then, friends of the Empress.” Alex bid goodbye.

The room around us didn’t change much. A few paintings were different and the curtains had been changed, but otherwise things had remained static.
 
 

2230hrs, London, England, February 13th, 1891AD
 
 

“Thought she distinctly told us 10:30PM this very eve, Mum?” Rita grumbled in an annoyed tone as we remained out of phase. “Jus’ like bloody royals ta be late!” Bridget began nodding, but quickly tilted her head slightly to one side, her eyes quickly searching the walls, floor, and ceiling.

Alex silently nodded to Jacki.

“Took three months fer a well night’s sleep after ‘ey popped out. Startin’ ta think the night was some beastly fever.” Claire, the youngest and quietest of Margie’s girls commented.

“I’m thinkin’ Becca an’ Jane was right ‘bout getting’ attached an’ forgettin’ what we think we seen that night.” Rita added.

Margie looked sad as she began to lose hope, slowly realizing Rita might be right.

“Oh, they’re here, mum. Can feel ‘em eyein’ and mockin’ us.” Bridget announced with confident certainty.

I looked at Alex and received a wink.

“We’re going to need a bigger base, director.” Billie moaned. Jacki looked to her twin and giggled.

“Rephasing in three, two, one.” Alex announced.

Those already in the room jumped in fright, but then quickly dropped to their knees.

“Welcome to 1891 London, Empress. We await your commands.” Margie all but whispered in a shaky voice.

“Yer late! Bloody royals.” Rita mumbled.

I rolled my eyes in response as Margie snuck a terrified glance at her defiant employee.

“First command. Y’all will get no commands from me or Allie! Got that?”

“Yes, your majesty!” They chorused.

“We could leave now and do this piecemeal…without your help, if y’all’d like.” Alex growled.

“Please, Empress, stay.” Bridget pleaded as she quickly stood and approached the two of us. “We’re simply excited by yer arrival and didn’t mean no disrespect to ye. Some us, mum, thought the hap’nin’s a four years past, just figment.”

“And you know…differently.” I insinuated with a smile.

“A few days after ye left, I managed to overdo it a bit while out for the evenin’ with a kind, young gent. Woke up the next morn in me own bed an’ felt…well, differ’nt somehow. What ye done to me, Empress? Why ye done it to me?”

“Nothing that hasn’t been foreseen, Bridget Catherine O’Grady.” I answered looking at her squarely.

“Ye mean um destined ta be this fer…fer the rest of me life?” She asked as she let slip her carefully guarded Irish brogue.

“Wasn’t that your wish that night three and a half years ago, hun? To be like us?” Alex asked as we observed her expression change. “Ah mean, Ah remember it like it just happened a few moments ago.” She giggled.

“Might have been…now that ye mention it.” She admitted sheepishly.

“You knew she would go through that ‘rebirth’ thing you told me about?” Margie asked in startled surprise.

Alex and I just looked at her and smiled.

“Aunt Margaret, in an hour’s time, several officers will seek entrance and inquire about a Mr. James Sadler. You will answer honestly and politely. You shall not think of lying of your knowledge of him, understand?” Mina requested of her aunt. Margie’s expression turned to worry.

“So what did our new Irish lass get for a gift, Allie?” Jacki asked as she leaned close.

“Wait for it, Jack.” I recommended with a smile and nodded to the girl in question.

“I can go if you don’t feel you can, mum.” Bridget said as her shape began to change. Within a few seconds Margie was looking at herself curiously. The imitation Margie seemed to be struggling to breathe in the younger woman’s tighter clothing.

“I thought I told you never to do that in front of the other girls, you silly twit!” Margie growled angrily as the other girls’ mouths dropped and eyes bulged in surprise.

“Cool, Corinne’s twin.” Jacki said with a smile then stopped and eyed Alex and I.

‘Sort of.’ I thought back.

“But I thought your Renee was already…” She said to me.

‘Not me, Miss Cummins, ask Lexi what she thinks of her new cosmetologist.’ I thought to her. ‘She’ll be subbing for Rose when she goes on maternity leave.’

Jacki silently nodded understanding.

“Aunt Margaret will perform admirably, Miss O’Grady, so your assistance is not necessary, but thank you for your kind offer. We might ask for your assistance sometime in the future though.” Mina told our newest sister.

After another short change, Bridget was back in the room. “As ye wish, Mum.”

“I trust you’ve remained discreet about using your gift these last three-plus years, Miss O’Grady?” Billie inquired formally.

“Is that what ye call it- me magic?”

“It actually isn’t magic at all, Miss O’Grady. It’s more like the next stage in human evolution. The next significant phase in the development of the human physiology and brain.” Billie went on.

“And the girls say Ah’m a nerd.” I laughed.

As usual, Billie scowled and I laughed all the harder.

“Truth is…I’ve been terrified to change inna anyone else ‘cept in me room. Umm…though I mighta changed once or twice to please me gent, but not ‘til I stepped outta me room for a few ticks.”

Margie looked appalled at hearing her admission.

“Why’d ye do it, Empress? Why me?” Bridget pleaded.

“Suppose y’all met this person- a young, vibrant, woman tryin’ her best to make it in this world- tryin’ to survive…and with the right moral sense, let’s say. After spending some time talkin’ and observin’ her- gettin’ to know her- y’all found out her health weren’t the best. Now suppose y’all seen the contributions this woman’d make in the future and know’d a cure for her little health problem. What would y’all do?” I asked as I set the circumstances. “If you could, wouldn’t y’all try’n help?”

“Ye saw I meant that much ta ye?” Bridget asked- her jaw dropping.

“Trina did, honey.” I revealed. “Trina, while disguised as Ginny; she had several months to get to know you and the other gals. She actually approached my mother, Lexi, with an appeal on your behalf. Mom trusts Trina’s eleven hundred years of experience evaluatin’ character. Alex and I had also foreseen your induction into our sisterhood before the actual start of this mission.”

“Hey!” Mom interrupted. “Ah seen her joinin’ me an’ mah gals too, Alexandra! Ah got the gifta foresight too, ya know.”

“Ah could never forget that, ma!” I replied sarcastically, rolling my eyes once or twice. “You’d never let me!”

“But you two look like sisters!” Claire argued. “Thought you was jus’ pullin’ our legs las’ time.”

Mom stepped forward and held out her hand.

“Alexis of Alexandra and Byron, widow of the late August Reilly, from Earth.” She introduced herself formally.

“This IS Earth, luv.” Rita corrected snidely. “Ain’t no other place.”

“This is not ‘my’ Earth, child. The Empress rescued my planet from a self-inflicted catastrophe and transported it into this universe, so that we could start anew. A ‘second chance’, Alex calls it.” Mom said as she looked at my twin and I.

“And believe me, not a day goes by that I don’t silently thank our Empress for her kindness and generosity, and I constantly thank the Goddess above that I gave birth to such a wonderfully caring woman.”

“Wait!” Margie interrupted as I wiped a tear or two from my cheeks. “Isn’t YOUR name Alexandra?” She pointed to my twin.

“Time travel is at best, confusing, Aunt Margaret. The particulars of lineage in regard to our Empress or her descendants can be a complicated and twisted affair best left for discussion by those visiting the opium and hashish parlors. For instance, Alexandra,” Mom pointed to Alex Steinert, “met her adult children before she had even thought of obtaining a husband or giving birth to them.”

“So you traveled to the future.” Rita huffed. “That don’t take a scientist to figure!” She scoffed.

“Alexis is the daughter of an Alexandra Steinert from a different reality of this Earth who then traveled to a different universe and an entirely different version of Earth. Alex Reilly here is actually the granddaughter of that Alexandra Steinert.” Alex told her without blinking while pointing to me.

Rita remained silent for thirty seconds.

“Margie? I’m goin’ for the brandy. Anybody else needs a bottle to themselves?”

“No. And neither do you, luv. The Empress was jus’ kindly letting you know that you’re being rude.”

“Actually, Aunt Margaret, Alex was over-simplifying. The actual story is even more convoluted and mind-boggling. Trust me…it would take years of explanation before it made sense to you.” Mina clarified and assured.

The doorbell tinkling in the hallway alerted us we had a visitor.

Margie looked to Alex and I in terror.

“That was a fast hour.” She said quietly while still staring at us in contempt.

I may or may not have moved us forward a few minutes to change the conversation. Only a few of us knew for sure, though and I certainly wasn’t going to tell.

Drawing in and releasing a cleansing breath, Margie went to answer the door.

“Officer Robert! What brings ya out in this winter cold tonight?” Margie greeted.

“Ello, Margie. Beggin’ yer pardon, but me and the Inspector ‘ere needs to ask ya some questions ‘bout the goin-on’s ‘round the district of late. Might we come in or you possibly entertainin’ tonight?” A pleasant male voice greeted back.

“No, not at all, Robert. Matter a’ fact, some friends arrived earlier and we was rem’nicin’. Come in. Can I get you gents something’ ta chase the chill?”

“Thank’s but no. Official business an’ all, mum.”

On entering the now crowded lounge, the Bobbie stopped and stared around at us.

“The twins is back!” Officer Robert gasped just above a whisper in shock.

The Inspector got right down to business as he pulled a small notebook and pencil from his left breast pocket.

“Mrs. Smith, during our investigation into the…rather gruesome incidents of late around this district, it has been learned that a gentleman by the name of Sadler…,” the as of yet un-introduced Investigator paused to cough into his fisted hand politely. “A James Thomas Sadler has visited you many times over the last…ummm…thirty-nine months. Is this correct?”

“He’s a friend of the family, yes. Jimmy’s a good lad and’s takin’ a fancy to Bridget ‘ere. What’s ‘e done?” Margie answered.

“At this time, nothing, Mrs. Smith. We would just like him to answer a few questions is all and would ask your help in finding his whereabouts. He might have crucial information we need in arresting the barbaric monster lurking the shadows of Whitechapel.”

The doorbell tinkled again.

“’Scuse me, gov’nor, Robert?” Margie said politely as she turned toward the hallway and waited for the Bobbie to let her pass.

“Pleasant evening, Lady Margaret. Would Bridget be available?” A familiar male voice asked politely.

‘Jack, tell her to invite him in.’ Alex’ sad voice sounded in my mind.

“She’s here, Jimmy. We got us some visitors so the lounge is a bit small tonight.”

“Oh? If I’m intruding, I can come back tomorrow. I just thought Bridget might desire to join me for a rather late dinner. I was detained by work and only just recently became free. Please tell her I called and that I will try again tomorrow at a more reasonable hour.”

“Oh, come out of the night, Jimmy. Can I get you something to warm you?” Margie insisted.

“Thank you, Lady Margaret. I have been in a bit of a hurry tonight and the wind is dreadful. I’d have been earlier, but wanted a change of clothes before I came to call as the old blighter I work for had me running errands most of the day. I even tried that shortcut through Swallow Gardens hoping to save ti...” James Sadler said as he appeared in the doorway to the lounge. He stopped dead seeing the Bobbie and an unknown man writing in a notepad.

“James Thomas Sadler, have I heard correctly that you have just passed through Swallow Gardens this evening?” The Inspector asked bluntly.

“I have, sir. Over an hour ago, why?” Jimmy answered in confusion.

“And might you also know a woman, one Miss Frances Coles?”

“I bumped into a woman rounding a corner; didn’t catch her name. Oh! Did I hurt her? She said she was unharmed and we went our separate ways. Has she relapsed?” Jimmy asked in genuine shock. “I offered to fund any medical attention she required, sir.”

“Twenty minutes ago she was found murdered in Swallow Gardens, just under the train arch, Mr. Sadler. I’m afraid you will have to come with us.” The Inspector said sadly.

“Am I being detained? On what counts?” Jimmy demanded in surprise.

“That remains to be determined, Mr. Sadler. Let’s not make a scene around the ladies though, shall we, sir?”

Jimmy looked to Bridget then Margie, Alex, and I with sorrowful eyes before lowering his head, turning, and leaving the house under escort.

“Sorry to ruin the evening, ladies. Hopefully, Mr. Sadler will cooperate and be released by morning.” Officer Robert apologized sadly and touched his helmet brim lightly. “Night, mum.”

The house was silent for two minutes.

“Ye jus’ gonna let ‘em take James, Empress?” Bridget cried out angrily in complete amazement of our inaction.

“This is our mission, hun, to exonerate James Sadler. In order to do that he had to first be suspected of being the ‘Ripper’ and arrested.”

“Thought you lot fixed time ‘steada breakin’ it?” Rita accused. “Poor girl’s been talkin the ‘M’ word these last six months!”

“Did he do it though, mum? Is James really that monster?” Bridget demanded through tears.

“Ask your heart that question, honey. “ I replied. “That will tell you unequivocally.”

“Of course he didn’t, luv.” Mina added to calm our new sister. She glanced up at me for two seconds. “James is the son of Alexandra Reilly’s technology comptroller, Random Valerian Peltierre-Sadler. He is not a killer of any sort, I assure you.”

“James,” Bridget swallowed hard, “he’s one of.” She swallowed heavily again, her eyes bulging, while motioning to our sisters, “one of us?”

“He’s a man well out of his time, luv.” Mina told our distraught sister. “Figuratively and literally. If we were in more modern times, he would have instantly provided proof via video surveillance of his movements earlier tonight- proof that he did, in fact, accidently collide with a very much alive, Frances Coles and parted ways only after being assured he caused her no harm.”

“Then we need ta tell the coppers ‘e’s innocent, mum! Get ‘im out straight away!”

“Easy, luv. The Empress has seen how this will all work out and be assured, she will not leave family in a bind.” Mina tried to ease her emotions. “Though I am afraid James will spend a few nights incarcerated.”

“Rommie? Have you brushed up on British law of this time period, hun?” Alex asked the Senator.

“Criminal law, yes, Alex, but I’ve found numerous loopholes that could work against us. Without the Forensic Evidence to prove otherwise, proving young James innocent may be difficult.” Rommie advised.

“I can vouch for him, Empress! I’ll claim I seen ‘em every night in question!” Bridget exclaimed with clinched fists.

“Your word would cause more harm than good, hun.” I responded shaking my head side to side.

“In order to exonerate James, trustworthy, viable, eyewitnesses would need to come forward. Someone respectable like…” Rommie pointed to Trina, who instantly transformed into a copy of James Smithson. “And…” She continued by pointing to Lilly as she instantly transformed into an exact copy of Bellatrix Mintauka.

“Blimey! There’s three a you!” Rita gasped in complete astonishment.

“Pixie Squadron. I want ‘eyes only’ surveillance on James Sadler at all times until this mission is completed. Fly high, fast, and don’t be seen.” Alex ordered.

Seven women instantly began to shrink and within three seconds were hovering in front of us in tight formation.

“Unpersceivable!” Margie gasped at the sight. “I thought I was seeing things that night!”

“I’ll get the hangar door, girls.” Lena motioned to the hallway as she walked out of the lounge and started up the stairs. “Hangar’s on the third floor and I’ll leave a pixie-sized gap.”

Yuuka and Allie flew back and hovered in front of Alex and I.

“How should we report any changes of status, Alex.” Yuuka asked.

“Alexis and Reggie are part Terran and will act as liaisons. They will take shifts and monitor your flights then report back to me.”

“Roger that Empress One!” They chorused before zipping off to rejoin the others.

I noticed Trina, still disguised as Jim Smithson, looking toward the hallway wistfully.

“You should join them, hun. We’ll call when we’re ready for Colonel Smithson’s arrival.” Alex said with a smile.

Trina shrunk into Pixie mode and flew off.

“Looks kinda fun…the flyin’ round, I mean.” Bridget said carefully, if not a bit curious.

“As a sister you’ll have your chance, hun.” I giggled.

“I can do that too?”

“With one of the Pixie’s help, yes.” I smiled. “It’s very exhilarating.”

“I might like to try that, Empress.” Claire said- mostly to herself.

“Unfortunately, those that haven’t gone through the ‘rebirth’ would remain a Pixie, unable to return to adult height ever again.” I informed her sadly. “It’s already happened two too many times.”

“I’d pity the tart what got shrunk down forever.” Rita commiserated.

“What happened, Allie?” Margie asked as she saw my sad expression.

“While on a previous mission, two men tried to claim Yuuka as their prize by unexpectedly grabbing her ankles. She went to ‘Pixie Mode’ on reflex.”

“So the men…are they accepting their permanent change in size?”

“Ask Simone and Ginger next time you see them, Margie.” I replied.

Our hostess’ mouth dropped open.

“Pixies only come in one gender, Margie. Female. I offered them the ‘rebirth’ afterwards. Their gift is to become adult humans again…female, adult humans.”

“I can find no words, Allie! So sad, but simply amazing!”

“They didn’t think so at the time.” I commented.

“I can’t blame them, though they seem completely adjusted now.”

“That is also part of the ‘rebirth’.” I admitted.

“Very few over the years have not acclimated, but it has happened.” I added sadly.

“I’m sorry, Allie.” Margie gently touched my forearm. “I understand. I too lost the love of my life.”

I nodded.

“I’ll find her again soon, Margie, thank you.” I vowed while Margie’s expression changed.

“Empress, the pixies have located James and have assigned four surveillance teams of two. Awaiting orders.” Mom announced.

“Recall all inactive teams to the hangar and tell Allie and Lavie to make sure they stay warm. Trina and Daisy will relieve them in four hours.” Alex responded.

“Aye, message sent and acknowledged, Empress One.”
 
 

“So…yer a Fairy, huh?” Bridget asked Trina after she and the other girls re-entered the lounge. Because of our anticipated arrival, Margie hadn’t booked any ‘guests’ for tonight. So we were answering basic questions about the sisterhood. Billie and Jacki had answered most of Bridget’s questions about us telepathically moments earlier.

“Pixie, sister. We are Pixies. Back on our Earth in the old days, we numbered over two hundred across all three continents. By the time the Empress rescued us there were only twenty survivors.”

“Bloody Hell! What happened?” Claire asked in shock.

“The world changed…as it has so many times during our long lives. In later years, Pixies were reduced to fiction…fantasy…well, I suppose, we were always considered fantasy by most. The population slowly forgot about us as they began paying more attention to technology. That is not to say we didn’t embrace the tech as well. No woman- Pixie or otherwise- would be caught without her mobile communicator- Goddess forbid!”

“People became oblivious to us as well as their surroundings. Many of us succumbed to the massive deforestation and urban construction machines that made no differentiation between fiber and flesh. Mei Lee, my mother, gave her life saving my sisters and I from one such machine of devastation. Every pixie…every woman here tonight has lost a sister, mother, son, spouse, or multiples of each to our advanced technology and ignorance.” Trina related sadly.

All conversations stopped for two minutes.

“Can I try it?” Bridget asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

“Try what?” Trina asked then understood. “What? Now?”

“If the Empress would allow it.”

“I’m leaving that up to the squadron, hun.” Alex responded as Trina and Bridget looked to my twin. “Remember its getting late and Trina’s got the next watch.”

“Alex, I have no problem with the request except one. Her clothing. She lacks a Reilly and will be quite the sight when she takes to the air.”

I began digging in my bag and having found the item, produced a pixie-sized Reilly uniform.

“This should solve that small problem, Treen. I just happened to drop this in before we left Reilly.” I giggled.

Trina accepted the doll-sized clothing with a contemptible look and placed it down on the wooden floor beside her.

“Please stand and join me here.”

Bridget squealed in delight and jumped excitedly from her chair.

“Take my hand and I shall initialize the mode change sequence. This may feel…very…very weird and may bring about a spell of nausea.”

Bridget nodded her understanding and closed her eyes.

“We shall begin.” Trina said as they started to shrink.

Bridget’s clothing collapsed into a pile and Trina helped the new pixie out through the girl’s now cavernous left sleeve. She then escorted the new pixie to the waiting uniform and helped her put it on. I was glad I remembered to command the uniform to accommodate Pixie wings. The two were motionless for five minutes as Trina apparently talked Bridget through her uniform’s initialization routine.

Bridget’s uniform instantly changed into its ‘pixie mode’ default- the red on her wings almost matching the red of the default Reilly before it changed to the standard green miniskirt, wing-complimenting leotard, and ballet slippers.

The new pixie promptly fell back on her buttocks and sat, stunned, for twenty seconds before shooting straight up into the air and performing a few difficult aerial maneuvers. She then made several blazing circuits of the lounge.

Margie and her other girls watched in complete awe and remained silent.

After fifteen minutes Trina managed to coax Bridget to land and the two pixies conversed for two more minutes before both joined hands and started to grow. Trina’s Reilly transformed seamlessly into her period dress, but Bridget’s clothing resumed its default Reilly uniform.

“Oh my! That were absolutely scandalous! Nev’r had such fun, Empress! Thank ye, Lady Trina! Thank ye, thank ye, thank ye!”

“That costume is what is scandalous, Miss O’Grady!” Margie huffed.

“Don’t you like our default space suit, Margie?” I asked.

“Space…suit?”

“Space suit. Space? As in what is between us and the moon, of course? The vast, cold, vacuum that makes up most of this universe?” I defined further.

Suddenly, Bridget squealed in surprise. She had found the green bikini and wrap and triggered the change. It flattered her, but made Margie and the other’s mouths drop open instantly!

Bridget appeared to search the inventory and her Reilly changed into the dress I wore in 1887- just a few hours ago. She looked very pretty in it, I must say.

“Miss O’Grady? A word if we may?” I said as Alex and I took a step closer to her.

“Yes, Empress?”

We were instantly in my private domain.

“Her name is Alexandra Covington and I’m Alexandra Reilly, but you can call us Alex and Allie. We’re sisters now, Bridget O’Grady.

Bridget’s eyes got really big as she looked around the desolate domain- at the single, small, yellow, unmoving sun- to the black, unseen floor. To Alex and I.

“Where am I? What’s this place?”

This is our private domain, hun. A place we come to for planning or peace; sometimes to talk to our forbearers.”

“Forebear…Ye can talk to the dead?” Bridget cried as she fell to her knees and started crossing herself rapidly while praying in a whisper.

“Why do that to your knees, sister?” I asked curiously.

“I was taught ta pay homage to the dead, mum. Was beat inta me head by Father Donovan an’ the Mother Superior of the Orphanage from an early age.”

“Do us all a favor and don’t give the dead swelled egos, hun.” Alex giggled.

“Why we here, Empress?”

“First…to ask you to stop referring to me an’ muh sister as ‘Empress’, hun. Alex or Allie, Alexandra or Allison if you feel you need to be formal when out in public. Both our names are Alexandra, so we change one to make things easier.” Alex and I smiled nervously. “We just differentiate so there’s less confusion for everyone when we travel together. We rarely use ‘Empress’ except when we hold ‘court’. You’ll learn when that’s ‘appropriate.”

“Hold court, mu…um…Alex?”

“When we’re tryin’ to impress the people that need impressin’.” I told her with a devious smile. “Sometimes certain ‘people’ need to be reminded they ain’t the masters of the universe- the egotists, control freaks, tyrants, despots, and those driven mad by power…the ‘self-declared’, ‘centers’ of everything. Those are the types that the ‘Empress’ holds court on, honey!”

Bridget gulped as she stared at us. I noticed that Alex and I were emitting our bluish glow.

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Alex said as she took my hand and squeezed a few times. “My sister…our sister gets a little angry when talkin’ ‘bout those types, hun. She’s still a might stressed ‘bout this guy that wanted to remodel time as he seen it. We both got…ummm…angry…um… and almost did something…unspeakable.” Alex took a deep breath. “But that’s our problem. That’s what we do…protect the timeline from those that seek to pervert it and deviate it to their likin’- to protect it from itself.” Alex took another deep breath.

“Now…is there any questions you’d like us to answer or do you have complete understanding of your purpose in the Sisterhood?” Alex continued as she gave our sister her brightest smile.

“The two’a ye make it difficult.” Bridget whispered as she continued to look at the nonexistent floor.

“How so?” I asked, already knowing the answer as I looked ahead in our conversation.

“Ye speak all piss an’ vinegar then ye go all soft! I’d say ye were both outright teases!” Bridget stood and looked us both in the eye. “An’ no. I haven’t got all the answers, Alex…haven’t got barely a clue ‘bout any’a this or me powers.”

“Gifts, hun. We call them our gifts. ‘Powers’ denotes that we are the all powerful- the all seeing…the Almighty.” Alex said looking like she had a bad taste in her mouth from the word ‘power’.

“Ain’t hardly the case, hun. We all done things we ain’t prouda, but we know better than to call ourselves Gods. That’s just horseshit!”

“So, with that item resolved y’all got some questions?” I asked to retrack the conversation.

“So…I can change me-self to look like anyone?”

“Any gal y’all choose, Bridget, but only women. No men. That you can’t do.” I answered.

She thought about that for fifty-three seconds.

“An I can enter into Pixie mode?”

“Only with the help of a Pixie. Actually we all can be taken to ‘Pixie Mode’ with a pixie’s help, hun.” Alex smiled.

‘For now’, I thought.

Bridget thought about that a while longer after looking disappointed for five seconds.

“Heard you two say how old ye were. How long will I be breathin’ now?”

“The average life expectancy for a Sister is one thousand…give or take a thousand.” I giggled.

“Huh? A thousand give’r take a thousand? Stop teasin’ , mu…Alex.”

“It’s your life, hun,” Alex said flatly. “Depending on you, you could live for several thousand years or you could drop tomorrow- same guarantee any normal life gets.”

“You’ll live long enough to see many, many spectacular changes and developments, honey.” I giggled to set her at ease. “Anything else?”

“Speakin’ a’that, ya got any honey, m…Alex? Suddenly got this cravin’ for honey!” Bridget asked sheepishly.

“The craving will pass after a bit, sister. Pixies love honey and seek it out to replenish the energy they burn while flying. Since you were taken to ‘Pixie Mode’ and are not inherently gifted as one, just a tablespoonful from the kitchen when we get back should help.” Alex giggled.

“Now…there ARE a few important things you should know about you and the sisterhood…” I began as Alex and I set to explaining the particulars and responsibilities of her gift.
 
 

“I can’t believe you!” I said as I got settled in bed and pulled the blankets up around my shoulders.

“What cain’t y’all believe?” Alex asked as she turned her head to look me in the eyes.

“Telling Bridget about her an’ James.” I said as I raised an eyebrow to her.

“Ah didn’t say anythin’ that ain’t true, Alex.”

“No, you didn’t, but…” I responded.

“But?”

“But…why give her all the information? We usually confound them with half truths and such, sis!”

“Nothin’ in the rulebook says we hafta, right?”

“No, Alex. Nothing in the ‘rulebook’.” I said shaking my head a few times.

“Well then? What’s the problem, sis?”

“The girls will talk, Alex.” I said. “They’ll wanna know why we were straight with her an’ no one else.”

“They’ll understand.”

“Reluctantly.” I snorted.

“But they’ll understand. Y’all know the reason we had to tell it to her straight. It was the only way to keep her in this time with Jimmy and you know Random ain’t in such good shape these days.”

“Forty years of ‘primitive’ communication makes for boredom and madness of one so digitally inclined, Alex. What if I made a side trip back to Kili after stopping in Trent?” I asked deviously.

“Y’all really wanna piss ol’ Randi off that badly, sis? We both seen what she’d do if y’all ‘popped in’ unannounced-like.”

“But if she don’t see me…” I hinted, but stopped short as another image appeared in my mind.

“Dammit!” I groused.

“Y’all saw that one too, huh?” Alex frowned. “Kinda throws a clinker in, don’t it?”

“I hate this part of the job, Alex!”

“I know, Alex. I know.” My sister commiserated sadly.

“Excuse me, girls?” Mom said knocking on our door.

“It’s open.” We said together.

Mom entered with her eyes closed, smiling, and shaking her slightly bowed head. “That brings back sooo many mem…”

“What’s up, Lexi?” Alex asked abruptly, cutting her off.

“Flight Two has relieved Flight One with nothing to report. The girls have found a nice, warm, niche that happens to be a very good multimedia observation point.”

“That’s good, Lexi, but what’s really on your mind?” Alex prodded.

Mom smiled and demurely sat at the bottom of our shared bed.

“I’m worried, ma…sorry…Alexandra. I’ve seen a few scenarios that…that won’t allow things to be very…well, very satisfactory. Please tell me you’ve seen otherwise. Please?” Mom begged as she took a hand from each of us after we sat up.

“Things will go according to plan, hun.” Alex soothed.

“That’s not what I asked and you know it, Alexandra.” Mom deadpanned as she regarded our neutral expressions for thirty-three seconds.

“Would’ve thought mah own daughter woulda felt some sorta …”

“I have the utmost respect for you, mother! Don’t ever forget that!” I interrupted angrily.

“I understand, Empress, but…”

“Knock it off, ma! You know that things are in flux at the moment. How we approach the next few weeks will decide the probable best-case scenario. Even you can’t plainly see the correct path.” I interrupted.

Mom looked away sadly for one minute.

“That is true, Alexandra, I can’t. I was hoping…nevermind. We’re all a little tired and could all use a good night’s sleep. I’m sorry. Goodnight, Empress.”

Mom stood slowly and exited our room with a sad, almost defeated, expression. The door closed slowly and quietly.

“Little rough on yer ma, Alex. She’s a good kid an’ obviously thinks highly of ya.”

“I know, Alex! It hurt my heart to do that, but she wanted to ask something of me that I can’t possibly give her at this time!”

“Ah know, sis. The timeline ain’t ready for that at this point. Alexis…both ’em…they kin be very…impatient.” Alex looked over at me- her eyes pleaded for me to calm down. “Ah believe she’s yurnin’ for home. Cain’t says Ah blame her.”

“What she wanted though won’t be possible for another week though, sis!” I complained.

“So she jumped the gun! We all do it at one time or another. Impatience is part of the human condition, sis…or’d that get left outta yer clonin’ process last time?”

“I had no other choice but to stick my tongue out at my temporal twin!

Reaching up to turn down the gas lamp, I said, “Say goodnight, Alex.”

“Gooood-night, Alex!” My sister responded with a giggle.
 
 

0630hrs, London, England, February 24th, 1891AD
 
 

“Regina Reilly. Status report.” Alex bellowed as she and I reached the bottom of the stairs.

“Flight Three is in the process of relieving Flight Two, ma’am. Nothing to report but breakfast has been served to the prisoner.” Reggie stood to attention to give her report as we arrived in the dining room.

“Thank you. Carry on, Ensign.”

“Goddess! You’re not the only one feeling crampy, Alexandra Covington! Don’t take it out on everyone else.”

“The time is getting close.” My sister explained.

“No duh, Alex!” I replied sarcastically. “Today is a crucial point in the mission. I know.”

“Top o’the morn to ye, Alex an’ Allie!” Bridget greeted as she flew past us and began to grow to full size by the table.

“I’m thinking the Mahanilui blew it big-time with that one, sis.” I giggled.

“One of the many variables, sis, ouch…Goddammit!” Alex exclaimed as I too felt the intense cramp in my abdomen.

“That wasn’t just another cramp, sis.” I said unnecessarily.

“Alexandra? I sense a disturbance in the force!” Billie announced as she looked at us in fright.

“Sisters. We’ll be back. Randi’s in trouble.” I announced as I carefully rubbed my gut.

Sixteen women quickly joined hands and a large, expensively decorated room filled our vision.

A gasp of amazement filled the air. Billie dropped hands and ran around the nearest couch.

“Oh my Goddess! Alex, it’s Randi!” She shouted in fear.

“What’s going on in here…? Empress!” A well-dressed, older man shouted as he entered from a doorway to our left. “Randi!”

The older gentleman stopped dead on approach and hovered off the ground.

“Put me down, you hear?! I must attend my wife!” He shouted angrily.

“Alex, she’s unconscious. Pulse weak, breathing shallow. I’m reading confusion, defeat, and…and…” She gasped as her eyes went wide, “acceptance! Alex! Randi’s giving up! Do something!” Billie cried in angst.

“First, put Lord Sadler down, Will.” I said calmly.

The older gentleman hit the ground running and fell to his knees by his unconscious wife.

“Oh God, Randi! You cannot leave me! Randi! Wake up my darling! Please! James needs us both at this important juncture! Please, My Lady Random! Wake up!”

“Lord Sadler, please step back.” Mom asked as she calmly walked around the couch and touched his shoulder. “Allow me.” She added serenely.

“Ma? Be careful.” I advised.

I could hear sobs from our sisters filling the large room.

“Y’all might wanna step back too, Billie Sangiere. Ain’t done this before so Ah cain’t put a range to it.”

“What are you planning, dear lady?” Lord Sadler asked of my mom.

“Sum-thin’ the Empress showed me a while back, sir- somethin’… miraculous.”

I turned to look at Alex and leaned into her ear.

“She’s gonna do it, sis! I cain’t believe she’s this pig-headed! To blatantly disrupt the timeline…”

“Let her try, sis. Yer ma needs to know…she’s exactly like us, ya know…she needs to push her boundaries.”

“She could kill herself too, Alex!” I whispered forcefully. “What if it rebounds instead?”

“Then our lineage gets more complicated.” My sister quiped tranquilly.

“I hope to the Goddess this works!” Mom said as she took Randi’s limp hand.

Mom began to glow. Not just a faint light, but a full on, brilliant shine that was almost too bright to look at.

My mother began to breathe heavily- her chest laboring against what must have been her full concentration.

“This hasta work! Dammit gift! Ah ain’t asked much of ya in all mah years, but Ah gotta do this! AH GOTTA DO THIS!”

The intensity of her aura doubled as her face turned skyward and she screamed out in agonizing pain. The light became intense as the sun itself!

Archibald Sadler, shielding his eyes, once again fell to his knees and began to pray- tears flowing in rivers from his eyes and down his bearded cheeks. Margie and her girls followed his lead.

I turned my face into Alex’ shoulder fearing what I might see happen- what I saw COULD happen.

It was the longest ten seconds of my life!

Mother fell silent and rolled to the ground, unconscious, beside a still unresponsive, limp, Random Peltierre-Sadler.

We all stared, with baited breath, awaiting any sign of life from the two.

Random moaned quietly as her body seemed to start going through a reboot.

“Mom!” I shouted as I hurried over to her limp body.

Sadler looked on as his wife’s body twitched and jerked as it began its recalibration protocol.

“What is happening? Empress?” He asked of me as I tried lifting mom into my arms. I noticed an eyelid twitch. That was a hopeful sign.

“Randi is going through a reboot, sire. I have seen this only a few times. It is a good sign…I hope.”

In the time it took to answer, Randi’s hair and complexion began to change. That was definitely a good sign!

“If I remember right, the last item for recalibration will be her eyes, sire.” I told him.

Randi’s eyes began rolling to the limits of their orbits and suddenly stopped. Her eyes snapped open and stared, lifelessly, into space.

“Startup errors?” I asked my comptroller.

“No startup errors encountered.” She answered mechanically followed by, “RTC discrepancy detected. Please enter local time, location, date, and year to enable system recovery.”

“1030hrs, Trent, England, February 13th, 1891AD” I responded calmly.

“Input accepted. System recovery will take fifteen minutes, thirty-eight seconds and will require a warm reboot. Is this acceptable?”

“Yes.” I answered.

“Are you sure? All functional parameters will be reset. It is advisable to close all open programs and functions before committing to this operation.”

“Yes.”

“Last chance. Are you sure?”

“Dammit, Randi! Just get on with it already!” I shouted.

“Input accepted. System recovery initiated. Thank you, Empress.”

Archibald Sadler continued staring between me and my comptroller.

“When did she add that last part, sis?” Alex giggled.

“She good?” Mom croaked as she began to stir in my arms before I had a chance to answer my sister.

“She initiated her system recovery, ma. Ya done good!” I sniffed as I squeezed her tightly.

“Ah need ta breathe, hun!” She gasped from my shoulder.

“Sorry.” I sniffed. “What possessed ya ta do somethin’ so dangerous, ma?”

“I’m a Reilly, hun! Daughter an’ mother o’the Empress herself! Y’all can fig’re out the rest, right?”

“What exactly did she do, Allie?” Margie asked as she stepped beside me.

“Mom reset her age…how far ya take her back, ma?” I asked quietly.

“As far as Ah could, hun.” She answered a little louder.

“RTC discrepancy comparison complete. A calculated differential of five hundred, sixty-two years, seven months, ten days, fourteen hours, twenty-seven minutes, and ten seconds has been encountered. Selecting latest known backup from protected archive. Extrapolation of RTC time discrepancy will commence after system recovery completion.” Randi informed mechanically.

“Impossible! My word, has she been alive that long, Alexandra?” Archie Sadler asked, completely astounded by what he had just heard.

“For this revision, anyway. You didn’t know?” Alex giggled.

“Random would never reveal her exact age, I’m afraid- though I never dared ask. Not good form you know.”

“So what’s with the ticks in ‘er movin’, mum?” Rita asked. I looked up to see her staring intently at my comptroller.

“Random is my technology comptroller. In a more modern age she has the ability to control anything electronic in design.” I told her.

“Eee-lek-tronic?” Rita repeated the word phonetically, not understanding.

“Like a telegraph or telephone. Only much more complex.”

I could see I was getting nowhere.

“Something like a light bulb?” Archie asked as a proverbial light bulb came on over his head.

“More like a robot, Archie.” Alex countered with a mischievous grin.

“This unit is NOT a robot. This unit is a Resilient Autonomous Networked Data Interface. Revision 3. Network Designation: External Processor Omega #1, Revision 3.” Randi interrupted, still in her monotone, mechanical voice- though it did sound somewhat irritated.

As expected.

“Will she be alright, Alexandra? Will my Random still recognize me?” Archibald Sadler asked in concern.

“Archival imagery, facial and vocal identifications indicate Sadler, Archibald James, age fifty-five, legal mate of this unit, longevity: thirty-three years. One common revision- Sadler, James Thomas, twenty-four years. Warning! Revision, Sadler, James Thomas, currently in detainment for unspecified, unsubstantiated, charges.”

“Ah think she remembers ya both, hun.” Alex grinned while shaking her head.

“I suggest we be seated. This could take several minutes- especially if data retrieval has been compromised by Lexi’s backdate.” I advised with a knowing smile.

“What language you lot speakin’?” Rita questioned.

“What ye talkin’ ‘bout, Rita? I understood ‘em fine.” Bridget asked staring uncomprehendingly at her fellow employee.

“Now what gibberish you dealin, Irish?” Rita groused.

“Bridget, your translator is set to ‘Automatic’, hun. Access your speech translator menu, select ‘Mode’, and reselect ‘Translate Only’ for now.” Alex suggested.

After a few telling eye movements, Bridget smiled and resumed her original language and accent. “how’s this? Can ye understand me now, Reets?”

“Have ya got anythin’ stronger than water in this castle, yer lordship?” Rita asked, thoroughly flummoxed.

“I must assume you are new, my dear young lady,” Sadler responded, “As you are well aware, you fair maidens are much more than you appear and therefore you’re equipment,” Archie motioned to my dress, “also follows suit. Pardon the pun, Ladies. In short, Lady Rita, you are what we mortals would call ‘Angels’- those uneducated would declare you all ‘Witches’ and attempt drowning or burning…or simply flee you in hysterical fear.”

“Rita and her compatriots have not been offered the Mahanilui as of yet, Archie. Only Miss O’Grady has joined the sisterhood.” I told him in Terran knowing he was wearing his Reilly.

“Understood, M’lady. Are they to undergo the process in the future then?” he replied in Terran.

“We will not say for certain, though Margaret Smith is actual family to Mina. That will be her decision though.” I answered.

“Fair enough, M’lady.” He nodded.

“Brilliant! Now the Lord o’the Manor’s talkin’ in tongues, too!” Rita griped. “Guess you got one’a them fancy frocks on too, ay?”

“Indeed I do, M’lady! And for you to be attending our Empress in such a capacity, she must have plans for you, as well!” Archie replied. “She must have plans for all of you, in fact. Have I missed the mark here, Alexandra?”

“Archibald, you’re doing it again.” Randi said- in English- as she began moving fluidly to sit up and look at her husband. “I’m sure the girls have figured that out already, my love.”

“Oh, thank God you’re back! You worried me, my love! I thought I had lost you when I entered and saw your sisters attending you on the floor. I also feared for my life as the Mind Warriors defended you from further harm.”

“Jacki!” Randi hissed.

“Hey, don’t look at me! Billie beat me to it! Ya, that surprised the hell outta me, too!” Jacki responded defensively obviously reading Randi’s thoughts.

“Thank you, my queen, but defensive measures were unnecessary, as this is my home and we are quite secure here.”

“I always assume a defensive posture when porting to an unknown destination, Random. I would be derelict in my duties toward our Empress if I didn’t.” Billie defended her actions regally.

“Inquiry?” Randi interrupted looking at me curiously. “An anomaly has been encountered. Body subsystems’ parameters do not match retrieved, protected revisionary history settings. An error of five hundred-sixty-two years, seven months, ten days, fourteen hours, twenty-seven minutes, and ten seconds has been encountered. Please specify theory or algorithm to explicate.”

Mom approached my comptroller.

“Do you remember who I am, child?” She asked carefully.

“Alexis Jacquelyn Steinert-Reilly. President and CEO of the Reilly Foundation for Advanced Technological Research; Daughter of Empress Alexandra Steinert; Mother of Empress Alexandra Reilly; Eldest sitting Alderman of Fleming City Prefecture, Earth, Universe designated ‘4’…”

“Enough! I get it, hun!” Mom ordered as she held up her hand and blushed profusely.

“Please state the reason or procedure used in creating the stated chronologic discrepancy.” Randi inquired.

“I reverted your age, hun.” Mom answered softly then her expression changed to one of confusion. “Though Ah’m not quite sure how Ah took y’all back so far. Ah only thought Ah’d take off a few years- Ain’t sure how Ah took off a few hundred.”

“You rewound my chronological age?” Randi looked to her in fascination. “Submit appropriate hypotheses for stated procedure.”

“According to Billie, you had given up. You were dying.”

“An illogical hypothesis given this era’s deficit of technology and hardly validating of the procedure selected and implemented.”

“Tough!’ Mom declared. “Ah couldn’t let y’all die an’ that’s all the damn validation Ah needed!”

Randi looked at mom in stunned amazement, and with no available retort.

“My thanks to you, Alexis.” She then looked up and around at all gathered near her in the room. “Welcome all, to my house. Archibald and I would be honored to offer lodging, services, and meals for however long you determine your stay, Alexandra.” Randi greeted as she stood up and straightened her clothing and hair.

“Have Diana show our guests to their rooms, my husband.”

“I thought it my turn to be master of the house, my love?” Archie inquired in disappointment.

“Is it? This is the thirteenth of February, eighteen hundred and ninety-one, is it not?” Randi asked raising an eyebrow to her man.

“Why yes, but…”

“Nice try, Archibald. You are scheduled to be master of the house starting next week, now move along.”

“Yes, my love.” Archie groaned in defeat as he turned for the doorway he had entered through.

“Excuse me, Lady Sadler? I was not aware we would be staying the night or any length of time here in your home. The Alexandra’s felt a severe stomach cramp and we were immediately here, in your lounge, witnessing the…this…miracle.” Margie insisted.

“And what, if you can tell me, does Alexandra- either of them- do best, Lady Margaret?” Randi challenged gracefully.

“Why, she travels through time, but what has that…to…do?” Margie began to answer then sputtered out as she realized what my comptroller hinted toward. Her eyes opened wide. “Of course, Lady Sadler. We accept your kindness and hospitality. Please lead on, your lordship.”

“James has a court appearance scheduled for the 16th, Randi. I would be happy to provide transport to London for you and Archie. I also have Rommie studying the British judicial system to offer legal counsel should he need it.” I offered as Alex and I stayed behind with her.

“So, my James is the mission, and you will all be staying till then. How wonderful, director! I hope that we can catch up in that limited amount of time.” Randi replied happily.

“He is our primary objective, yes.” I answered.

“And I am your secondary, I presume?”

“No, mother made you HER mission, sister.”

She nodded her understanding.

“The new girl- Bridget? She is also one of your secondary’s?”

Alex and I smiled deviously.

“I like her. She and my James would look cute together.”

“Really?” I asked in surprise, “We…we really hadn’t noticed, what, with keeping our Pixies on task and all.”

“Desist in the spreading of manure, Alexandra! Every single one of my sensors indicates that you are not remotely serious! What else constitutes secondary concern on this mission?” Randi growled, spinning around to look directly up into our eyes.

“Mother. My mother was another secondary. She had to prove to herself that she had more to learn about her gift…of her capabilities.”

“And yet you are still holding back.” Randi laughed as she shook her head.

“Eh! Time will tell, hun.” Alex giggled as she gestured our hostess out of the room to lead us to our temporary lodgings.
 
 

“Alexandra, flight one has just relieved flight four. No change in James’ status, but Ginger wondered where we went. I’ve informed them of the emergency here in Trent. They offered to fly up. I thanked her on your behalf and told them you wanted them to continue the mission.” Mom said to both of us, popping into the room as we prepared for bed. She had returned earlier from transporting our Pixie sisters back to London to continue their surveillance of Randi’s incarcerated son.

“You do realize this is a big house, girls. You can each have your own room.” Mom giggled.

“Randi wanted Alex and I to have separate rooms, too, but we gracefully declined.” I replied as I fluffed the pillow on my side.

“Just so you two know; Bridget was very disappointed when I told her to stay here. I think the girl is hooked on flying.” She said then paused. “She’s addicted.”

Mom’s personal domain appeared around us. She even brought the bed.

“Y’all’re gettin’ good, Lexi! Thought you ‘hated’ this place, though?”

“My feelings haven’t changed in that regard, ma…Alex. I just wanted to talk without Randi’s automated sentries hearing us. You do know she has eyes and ears in every room, right?”

Alex and I looked at each other for thirteen seconds.

“Of course!” Both of us answered at the same time.

“Stop that, you two!” Mom commanded.

“We want Bridget and Randi to get to know each other before they head back to the Homeworld with you, ma.” I revealed.

“I already knew that, Alexandra!”

“So…why we here then?” Alex giggled.

“You’d think my mother was showing off to us, Alexandra!” I laughed.

“That was mah take on things too, Alexandra.” Alex joined in my laughter.

Our shared bedroom appeared around us again as Alex and I continued to laugh.

“I don’t think it’s funny!” Mom complained as she turned and walked out.

The door closed gently on it’s own.

“Thanks, Jack.” Alex said to the ceiling.

“She’s learning, but still has a ways to go, sis.” I said with a smile to my temporal sister.

“Just like we have quite a ways to go too, Allie. Y’all ready for some shut-eye?”

“That was my intention before ma popped in, sis.” I answered as I laid back and pulled the warm covers up. “Pleasant dreams, sis.”

“We both know that won’t happen, don’t we?”

“Doesn’t hurt to try, right?” I said as I reached up and turned down the gas light.
 
 

1430hrs, London, England, March 3rd, 1891AD
 
 

“Objection, your Honor!” James’ defense attorney, Randall Dugan, exclaimed confidently.

“May I see both of you at my side please?” The judge presiding over James’ hearing requested.

Both James’ attorney and the prosecutor walked to the side of the judge’s bench.

“Mr. Dugan, I am wondering where you suddenly learned so much about the law- especially criminal law? It would seem that you have been holding back…or actually studying. Which is it, Barrister?” The judge asked as he fussed with his powdered wig.

“You’re Honor. I have indeed been studying. I have also acquired an assistant of the highest caliber. Miss Romney Ann Marsh, your Honor. She has been an absolute Godsend for me as I plied the dangerous, almost indiscernible editions of our criminal law system. I might add that she singlehandedly indicated and brought to my attention, several ‘loopholes’ that could possibly constitute and result in unlawful convictions. I plan to appeal these findings to the higher courts for clarification, your Honor.”

“Hmmmm.” The judge thought for thirty seconds. “Miss Marsh? Could you approach please?”

“As you like, you’re Honor, but I should remind you I am not a licensed attorney and shouldn’t be approaching in any capacity other than as witness.” Rommie informed him.

“I am the authority here, Miss Marsh. Please approach and join the conversation.”

“Yes, you’re Honor.” Rommie said as she stood gracefully and strode over to join the two barristers and judge- her head slightly bowed.

“I must contest, your Honor! Asking this…woman…to sidebar is highly unorthodox and against any acceptable protocols.” The prosecutor declared heatedly.

“Humor me, Mr. Richards. I’d like to hear what this ‘brilliant’ young lady has to offer us in regards to this less than credible, factually starved, case. Please Miss Marsh, what discrepancies have you highlighted for the court this afternoon?”

Rommie seemed to shy a bit as she looked to each of the men carefully.

“You’re Honor.” She started reverently. “According to the criminal penal code, evidentiary presentation, section twelve, subsection ‘Jay’, paraphrasing paragraphs three, five, and seventeen. ‘Evidence essential to conviction must be presented at the time of trial and referenced prior to the proceedings through the clerk’s office. Any and all evidences must be accessible to both prosecution and defense legal attorneys before litigation begins. Any late or new evidentiary materials must be admitted with the attending judge’s explicit acceptance or may be fundamentally disregarded in the proceedings and forfeit from all considerations.”

“Thank you, Miss Marsh. You may all resume your places.” The judge told Rommie as he dismissed the three from his bench. He thought things over and reread several pages handed to him minutes earlier by the prosecutor.

“I must say, Miss Marsh, you have a firm grasp of the law and are absolutely correct. May I ask at which university did you study?”

‘Harvard, Your Honor.”

The judge nodded. “I hear fine things about that American Institution. And pray tell; how did you come to be in London and my courtroom today, Miss Marsh?”

“The group I am travelling with has family here in town, Your Honor, and once hearing about the case urged me to assist Mr. Dugan in his client’s defense. I immediately took up the challenge and used every available reference on criminal law I could find. I must say, Cambridge has wonderful resources on the matter.”

Again the judge nodded, this time with a faint smile then looked to the prosecution.

“Mr. Richards, I must agree with Mr. Dugan and his young aid’s arguments. The evidence you wish to reference was not on file prior to these proceedings and therefore cannot be admissible. Though, I wouldn’t call them earth shattering- rather a weak attempt to further condemn an innocent man- A man whose only proven crime is being in the vicinity of a murder over twenty minutes prior to it being committed.” The judge announced and then paused.

“We have heard sworn testimony from several credible witnesses of Mr. Sadler’s incident with the victim.” The judge motioned to Col. Jim Smithson and Miss Belletrix Mantuka sitting in the audience. “I’m afraid that these late testimonials fail dismally to reinforce the original evidence introduced legally to this court- even if I did allow them.”

The judge banged his gavel.

“The defendant, James Thomas Sadler is hereby declared innocent and is to be released from custody. This hearing is at an end. You are free to go, Mr. Sadler and please accept the court’s apology for your arrest in these matters.

The judge banged his gavel again, stood and left the bench.

“I must thank you, Miss Marsh. Wonderful job and interpretation of our law on your part. If I’d wager a guess, I’d say you’d seemingly studied law for as long as I had, if not longer.” Middle-aged Barrister Dugan remarked as he gently took Rommie’s hand. “I could use you in my practice had you the official credentials.”

“Maybe one day, Mr. Dugan.” Rommie promised. “I thank you for the chance to help represent your client successfully.
 

Randi and Archie met their son as he made his way from the defendant’s box. The reunited family exchanged pleasantries before turning to leave the courtroom. Rommie joined us after gracefully declining Randall Dugan’s offer and bidding him goodbye.

“Alexandra and Allison! I’m glad you were able to attend though I’m afraid it places quite the dark cloud on the family. I’m truly sorry for that.”

“I’m not going to say we didn’t see this happening, James.” Alex said and we both giggled while passing several parties filling the halls of the courts.

Archie motioned us into an empty office that was big enough for our group to comfortably fit.

Once the door was closed, we phased out and the Sadler’s large lounge appeared around us.

“Thank you for your help, Empress!” James said soberly as he began to kneel.

Both Alex and I glared at him intensely. He stopped, blushed, and stood back up quickly.

“Ah hope y’all learned from this, hun.”

“I have, Alex.” He answered with a nod. “Stay away from Swallow Gardens after dark, and definitely…definitely watch where I am running.” He smiled at his wit then his expression turned serious. “Might I request transport back to Whitechapel with you and Allie? I’d like to check on someone who is very special to me, ma’am.”

“And just who would you want to check on, James Thomas Sadler?” Randi inquired maternally.

A red-winged Pixie streaked into the room and quickly grew to full size on the run.

“Bridget?” James exclaimed in complete surprise as he stared at her approaching form.

Bridget wasted no time running to him and wrapping her arms around her love.

“I’m so glad ye be free, James! It took everythin’ in me not to rush right inta your stall an snog ye! The other girls, they kept tellin’ me it weren’t proper an quite dangerous for the sisterhood. God, I missed ye!” She rambled between kissing him energetically.

“You were there? Watching over me?” James asked in amazement. He turned to Randi.

“You knew about this, mother?”

“I had developed postulations once Alexandra appeared and my reboot completed.” Randi admitted.

“You rebooted?” He asked in horror! “What…what happened, Alex?”

“Apparently yer ma fell, an feelin’ so distraught ‘bout y’all bein’ in the brig, she started to give up, hun.” Alex explained. “Lexi Reilly decided it weren’t her time and lent a hand. That caused her ta reboot.”

“Your dear mahmaw is now five hundred, sixty-two years, seven months, ten days, fourteen hours, twenty-seven minutes, and ten seconds younger than before your incarceration, James.” Randi continued, looking at her son sweetly.

“How…” James’ questioned, his mouth dropping open.

“She saw me revert an adult malcontent to infancy on our recent mission to Celestra. Mother likes to challenge herself- something we are not against in the slightest.” I replied evenly.

“Celestra? Where, pray-tell is that, Alex?”

I gestured out the nearby window, nonchalantly. “Oh, its up there somewhere. Doesn’t matter now anyway. Atlantis has safely landed on Earth and its people re-acclimated.”

“My word! Atlantis? You’ve actually been there, Empress?” Archie gasped, a polite hand quickly covering his mouth.

“Ya. Why?” Alex said as we looked at him curiously.

“And…and you’re actually a Pixie?” James looked to his beloved cautiously.

“Noooo. Trina, Daisy or Yuuka usually does it ta me, James, but I can do this.” Bridget laughed as she began to change.

Randi gasped as she looked eye to eye with her doppelganger.

Bridget quickly changed back to her original form.

“That were stranger than I thought it’d be!” She said staring at Randi for ten seconds. “What are ye, my lady? Meanin’ no disrespect, but you even human? What person o’this Earth thinks in ones an zeros?”

“Right on time, sis.” I giggled to Alex.

“Right on time? Alex?” James confronted us, staring into our eyes.

“It’s time for us to be leaving, Randi. Archie? It was nice to see you again. I promise we’ll visit again. James? You two make yer ma an’ pa happy.” Alex gestured to he and Bridget. “Allie’ll be ’round by about the turn of the century with an excitin’ prop-sition.”

“See y’all then!” I added as we phased out.


Author’s notes: (citing Wikipedia- yes...again.)

1) Frances Coles was killed on 13 February 1891 under a railway arch at Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel. Her throat was cut but the body was not mutilated. James Thomas Sadler was seen earlier with her and was arrested by the police, charged with her murder, and briefly thought to be the Ripper. He was, however, discharged from court for lack of evidence on 3 March 1891.

2) I do not purport to know the first thing about British Law- especially during the Victorian Era. Hopefully, I’ve made it sound somewhat authentic and plausible- enough not to force too many negative comments, at least.

R.G.



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