A Bridge Between Worlds - Chapter 4

A Bridge Between Worlds - Chapter 4

A Bridge Between Worlds Ch. 04

“Well, that was easy,” Mike mused as they arrived back at their quarters.

“Uh huh,” Melody agreed.  “Almost… too easy.  I wouldn’t expect all our assignments to be that simple.”

“Agreed.”

As the pair embraced, happy at their first successful negotiation with a genie servant and her master, there came a knock at their door.  Mike crossed the small bridge of their quarters to open the door.

“Congratulations my friends!” King Farzan exclaimed.

“Farzan!  Thank you, sir.  Please, come in,” Mike replied.

“Thank you.  Ah, Melody, there you are,” he said, greeting her with a warm hug.  “Selena has been raving about you ever since she arrived back from your training yesterday!”

Giggling, Melody answered, “Well, I owe it all to her.  She’s an excellent teacher.”

“What can we do for you?” Mike asked.

Waving his hand, Farzan replied, “Of course, of course, to business.  The next genie servant is a member of the Water Tribe, and I have come to assist you in finding their location, as well as to provide you some information on that genie’s master.”

“Awesome!  What’ve you got for us?” Melody said.

With a wave of his hand, Farzan conjured up a large, ethereal globe of Earth, spinning it around momentarily before zooming in on an area.  He checked several locations before saying, “Ah, there she is.  Your next target is here, in Los Angeles, California in the United States.”

“That doesn’t exactly narrow it down,” Mike said.  “LA is one of the biggest cities on the planet.”

With a warm laugh, Farzan replied, “Of course, but I know specifically who the genie’s master is.  Meet Shane Walker, aged twenty-two and student at the University of Southern California.”  The globe disappeared and became a cloud showing Shane’s picture, as well as some of his demographic information.  “He found his genie his freshman year, four years ago, and has used her powers to become one of the most popular students at his school, being a football star and the president of his fraternity.”

Flipping through Shane’s information with his hands, Mike mused, “This guy’s list of conquests… it’s ridiculously long!  Holy crap, who on campus hasn’t he had sex with?”

“How many of those were due to his genie’s intervention?” Melody asked.

“Directly?  Not quite as many as you might think,” Farzan answered.  “Only about a quarter were ones he slept with thanks to a direct wish.”

“All the girls fall for the stupid jock,” Mike sighed.

“Quite true.  But of the ones that he did use a wish to have sex with, I believe this one,” Farzan pulled up one girl’s profile, “is of particular note.”

Studying the information, Mike replied, “Farzan my friend, you are a genius…”

*****

“SHANE!!!!” the brothers of Zeta Beta Tau cheered.

“What up, my bros?!” Shane replied.

“Helluva party last night, man,” one of the brothers said, shaking his hand.

“Please, that was nothin’.  Just wait ‘til ya see what I got cookin’ for tonight!  No spoilers, but let’s just say it’s gonna be a… target rich environment for all my dear brothers.”

As the living room of frat boys cheered, Shane excused himself to his room upstairs, saying he had to confirm the band for that night.  He smirked to himself in anticipation as he climbed the stairs, walking down the hallway until he arrived at Zeta Beta Tau’s Presidential Quarters.  Entering his room, he locked the door behind him, calling out for Kendra.

“Babe?  You here?”

“Right heeeeere!” she said, relaxing on the bed with a fashion magazine.

“Kendra, this is unacceptable!  Where is your uniform?” Shane scolded her.

“My apologies, Master,” she replied.  With a snap of her fingers, she was instantly clad in bikini bottoms and a wet t-shirt, flaunting her DD breasts proudly.  With long, bleach blonde hair and richly tanned skin, Kendra blended into the USC campus brilliantly, appearing to be a normal twenty-one year-old student.  Even so, it was rare that Shane let her leave the frat house, only bringing her out in public for instances where he wanted to show off with her powers.

“Much better,” Shane said, inspecting her form.  “Now then, is everything ready for tonight’s party?”

“Yep,” she replied in her valley girl accent.  “Band’s gonna be bitchin’, all the hottest girls on campus will be here, and of course, a keg of Coors is in route.”

“Perfect,” Shane said, running his fingers through his short, brown hair.  “I wish my last class was canceled for the day so that I can fuck your brains out, babe.”

“I don’t know if I’d make that wish… something else might come up,” a strange voice came from behind him, interrupting Kendra’s granting of his wish.

Turning around on his foot, Shane found himself face-to-face with a man, perhaps a couple of years older than him, with short, blonde hair and a look of confidence in his eye.  “How’d you fuckin’ get in here?”

“Hello, to you too.  My name’s Mike.”

“I don’t care who the fuck you are, get outta my room!” Shane ordered.

Placing a hand on his shoulder, Kendra quietly said, “I have not yet done what you asked… do you want me to-”

“Shut up and sit down, Kendra.  I’ll handle this fucker,” Shane interrupted, standing his imposing figure up tall and flexing his muscles in an attempt to intimidate Mike.

“Well, well, aren’t you a charmer, Shane?” Mike mused with a chuckle.  He already disliked this guy immensely.  The way he spoke to and about women, carrying himself like the arrogant asshole he was, all of it disgusted Mike.

He’s worse than Stifler, Mike thought to himself, remembering the American Pie series.

Getting up in Mike’s face, Shane threatened, “You’ve got exactly three seconds to get out of my room, or I’ll turn your face inside out!”

Mike just smiled right back at him, letting the three seconds pass in silence.

“Ok then, you asked for it,” Shane said, drawing his fist back.

Before he could lunge forward to punch Mike, however, he felt something latch onto his arm, holding it in place.  Looking behind him, he saw that a gorgeous redhead had her hand on his wrist.

“What the fuck?!  Lemmie go!” he said as he struggled.

“Release him!” Kendra commanded, stepping forward.  As she approached, she was suddenly blown back onto the bed by an unseen force.

“Gladly,” the redhead replied, tossing Shane onto the bed with her.

Standing, Mike said, “Alright, now that we’ve got your attention, how about you actually listen to what we have to say?”

“Just who the fuck are you?!” Shane said defiantly.

“As I said back when you weren’t interested, my name is Mike.  This,” he motioned to the redhead, “is Melody, my wife.”

“Yeah, right,” Shane snorted.  “Like you could ever get a girl that hot to marry a loser like you!”

“Watch your mouth,” Melody said, causing Shane to lean back in apprehension.

“Let’s get down to business, Shane,” Mike said.  “We know all about you, and especially all about Kendra here.”

Glancing back and forth between Mike and Melody rapidly, Shane smirked and replied, “What exactly do you think you know about her?”

“That she’s a genie,” Melody answered with a smile.

Shane’s smirk disappeared from his face as he realized that he was not dealing with ordinary individuals.  “What do you want with her?” he asked, shifting to sit between Kendra and them.

“Just to talk,” Mike said.  “Are you willing to hear us out?”

As he was about to reply with his usual profanity-laced tirade, Kendra placed her hand on his shoulder, saying, “I think we should at least hear what they have to say.  Did you see how easily she threw us down?”  He nodded affirmative.  “My only conclusion can be that… Melody is a genie as well, one far more powerful than even me,” she finished.

“You’re right about that,” Melody said.

Exasperated, Shane sighed, “Fine.  What do you have to say?”

Mike and Melody explained to Shane about the laws governing genie servants, which he was aware of, as well as the existence of the Council of Four.  They described the recent changes that had been made by the Council, and that the two of them had come at their request, explaining that the changes can only apply to Kendra if Shane agreed to them.

Laughing, Shane replied, “I get it… you need me!”

“If you wish to put things into the simplest terms, yes,” Melody answered.

“Well, I mean, if that’s the case… fuck off,” he said with a grin.

Mike began, “Shane listen-”

“No, YOU listen shithead!” he interrupted.  “I don’t know what this ‘Council of Four’ is tryin’ to do here, but don’t I want no part of it.  I can have any woman I want, and I ain’t givin’ that up so easy.  You want me to go along with this, you gotta make it worth my while.”

Mike had been afraid of this.  He knew that they had little actual compensation to offer in this situation, but he decided to play along for the time being.

“What did you have in mind?” Mike asked.

Looking at Melody, Shane replied, “A hundred blowjobs from her, whenever and wherever I choose, each more mind-blowing than the last.  You promise me that, including a good faith blowjob right here, right now, and I’ll agree to it.”

Eyeing him warily, Melody sauntered up to him, a mischievous grin spreading across her face.  Bending her knees a bit to put herself on eye level with Shane as he sat on his bed, she winked before slapping him across the face full force.

“I wouldn’t touch you if my life depended on it.  You disgust me.”

Shane just smirked and turned his head towards Mike.  “Congrats man,” he sneered.  “Your bitch just blew the only chance you had.”

Mike shook his head in annoyance at his thick-headedness.  “Shane, this is exactly why the Council decided to enact these changes: because of people like you.  You’re stupid, selfish, thoughtless, and have no regard for the effects of your decisions on the world around you.”

“Oh, shut up!  I have plenty of regard for the world around me.  Every babe that I fucked using magic had their memory erased if that’s what they woulda wanted.”

“You still forced them to have sex with you, you bastard!  You RAPED them!” Mike fired back, his anger rising.  He and Shane now stood face-to-face in the middle of the room, each refusing to back down from the other.

“It’s not rape if they don’t even know it happened at all!” Shane countered.

“Really?” Mike asked incredulously.  “I wonder if Stacy would feel that way?”

Standing in stunned silence for several seconds, Shane at first didn’t know how to respond.  Melody and Kendra said nothing; they could tell that this conflict was one that only their masters could resolve.  After a full minute of tense silence, Shane found the words to answer.

“How… the fuck… do you know about Stacy?”

“I told you Shane… I know everything about you,” Mike said quietly.  “I know that you loved her, that you’ve loved her since the two of you grew up together as next-door neighbors.”

“Yeah, so what?  She didn’t feel the same way, no biggie,” he said nonchalantly.

“But that’s not true, is it, Shane?” Mike asked with a grin.  “She did love you, didn’t she?”

“Shut up,” Shane growled, his anger rising.

“She did love you, but she refused to have sex with you.  Stacy had made a choice for herself to wait until she was married to have sex at all, isn’t that right?”  Mike continued, “But that wasn’t good enough for you.  You may have loved her, but you allowed genuine love to be replaced with lust.  You wished to have sex with her.  You took her virginity, knowing full well that you were forcing her to go against the decision she made for herself.”

“I told you, she doesn’t remember ANYTHING!” Shane screamed.  “As far as she knows, she’s still just as much a virgin as the day she was born.”

“Irrelevant,” Mike said.  “You still took away her free will.  She made a decision for herself, a decision that she had every right to make, and you forcibly shattered her freedom.”

“I didn’t break ANY rules!  Even your Council will tell you that!” Shane replied.

“Just because you have the power to do what you did does NOT give you the RIGHT!” Mike said angrily.

Shane stood openmouthed, seething and stammering, trying to come up with a strong comeback, but his words failed him.  “What… what am I supposed to do?  Wish for her to be a virgin all over again?  Wish that it never happened?  Is that what you want?”

“It’s not about what I want, it’s about what Stacy would want,” Mike explained.  “Do you think that’s what she would want?  To have her life magically interfered with again?”

Sighing, Shane hung his head, shaking it in the negative.

Mike slowly approached him, placing a hand on his shoulder, saying, “You are now realizing what you have done to someone else.  I can tell that you are starting to feel remorse for it.  I’m going to be honest with you, Shane.  There’s nothing you can do to make things better between you and Stacy; what’s done is done.  But you can begin to make amends by agreeing to the new laws, for the sake of all the women you have yet to use Kendra’s powers on.  That, I believe, is what Stacy would want.  It’s your choice; I can’t force you into it.  But I think, deep down, you know the right thing to do.”

Choking back a catch in his throat, Shane finally replied, “I’ll do it.”

Not a word was spoken from that moment, save for Melody’s declaration of the new laws being active for Kendra.  Shane remained quiet and contemplative, but Melody could have sworn she saw a glimmer of maturity in his eyes.  Kendra was silent, but beamed at Shane as Melody finished her duties; despite his character flaws, she still genuinely loved him.  As Melody finished, Shane and Mike shook hands, wishing each other good luck in the future.

“I know this was hard for you, Shane, but you did the right thing,” Mike reassured him.

“I guess… I’ve just got a lot to think about,” he whispered.

“You’ll be alright.  If today is any indication, the man you can become one day will put to shame the man you are right now.  You’ll get there.”

Shane nodded in understanding, shaking Mike’s hand once more.  As Mike turned to leave, Melody slowly approached Shane, cupping his cheeks in her soft, delicate hands.  Bending him down a bit, she surprised him with a kiss on the cheek.

“Shane, don’t ever forget,” she said, “you have the greatest woman you will ever know in your life right now.  She will always be with you, no matter what.  Love her.  Cherish her.  I began life as nothing more than a servant genie, and I know I would not have become the woman I grew to be without Mike.  He loves me, not for what I am, but for who I am.  That’s what Kendra deserves.  If you can give her that, then you will have become more of a man than you ever imagined you would be.”

Turning, she rejoined Mike, taking his hand.  “Shane, Kendra, take care of each other,” Melody said with a smile.  With a flash of blue light, they were gone.

Now alone with Kendra, Shane paced around the room for several minutes, deep in thought.  He soon plopped down to sit on his queen-sized bed, burying his face in his hands.  Kendra joined him, sitting next to him in silence while rubbing his back with her hand.  Kissing him on the cheek, she racked her brain to think of a way to bring him out of his apparent depression.

“Are you alright, Master?”

“No… I’m not,” he replied.

“It’s Stacy, isn’t it?” she asked.  After he nodded in confirmation, she said, “It will do you no good to continue to dwell on her.  What Mike said is right: what’s done is done.”

“That doesn’t change what I did to her,” he muttered through his hands.

“I know,” Kendra replied.  “Still… I can’t tell you how proud of you I am.  What you did today is the sweetest, most mature thing I’ve ever seen you do.  I know we have a long way to go, but… I believe that, one day, you will look back on today as the turning point of your life.”  Kissing his forehead sweetly, she continued, “I’m sorry for being so forward in my thoughts, but I felt it might help soothe your mind.  If I have spoken out of turn-”

Shane pulled Kendra close, silencing her with a long, deep kiss.  As they parted, he said, “Thanks, Kendra.  I… I needed that.”

Flashing a smile with her pearly white teeth, Kendra drew close to kiss him once more, pushing Shane onto his back.  Straddling him, they continued their passionate make out session, though she could tell he seemed more tentative than usual.  Sensing that he might have become afraid of having sex with anyone, even her, Kendra stared at him with a mischievous grin and began unbuttoning his shirt.

“Kendra, you don’t have to-”

“I want to,” she said.  “Master, I can sense your apprehension; it’s understandable after everything that’s happened today.  I hope that you can become a better man from all of this, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving altogether.  If making mistakes in love and relationships prevented someone from loving again in the future, the whole world is screwed.”

Shane chuckled at her joke.  “Guess that’s true,” he mused.

Running her hands over his now bare chest, Kendra said, “You’re still my perfect man.  You always have been, and always will be.”  Now slipping her hands inside the waistband of his gym shorts, she continued, “Even if you doubt yourself, please don’t ever doubt me.  You still deserve me, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Kendra slid his shorts and boxers down, revealing his cock as it hardened to its fully erect nine inches.  With a playful giggle, she slipped her t-shirt off, jiggling her huge tits as she did so.  Shane, finally starting to feel better, untied the knots of her neon green bikini bottoms, yanking them out from under her as she squealed in delight.

“There’s a good boy,” Kendra purred, running the lips of her sopping wet pussy along the underside of Shane’s member.  Reaching his tip, she teased him for a moment, rocking her hips back and forth to coat his head in her slick juices.

“Oh fuck,” Shane whispered as she slid herself onto his length.  Kendra’s pussy was exceptionally tight today; he felt as if an irresistible force was sucking him in, refusing to let him go.  As she reached the base of his cock, she ground her hips against him, gasping as she felt him stretch her tunnel.  Beginning to increase her tempo, she took Shane’s hands, holding them up to steady herself on them as she began to bounce on his cock.

“Oh… oh yes!” Kendra cooed, biting her lower lip in pleasure.

Shane was in absolute bliss.  He and Kendra had done some nasty things over the last four years, things that would make anyone short of a seasoned pornstar queasy.  Still, this was the first time that he felt like he and Kendra were making love, rather than just fucking.  In spite of all of his idiotic choices, she loved him all the same.  He was her greatest pleasure, as was evident in her face as she rode him.

“Oh… oh yes!  Oh Master!” Kendra continued to moan.

“Shane.”

“W-what?” Kendra said as she opened her eyes, unsure of what she had heard.

“From now on… call me Shane, please.”

Not slowing her pace one bit, she replied, “If… you’re sure…”

Sitting up straight, he wrapped her in his arms and kissed his way up her chest.  Upon reaching her neck, he nibbled her earlobe, whispering, “Positive.”

“Of course… Shane,” Kendra whispered back with a smile.  Placing her hands firmly on his shoulders, she fucked him at a feverish pace, feeling her climax coming on strong.

“Please tell me you’re about to cum,” Shane said, almost reading her mind.

“You bet your ass… so you’d better cum too,” she replied.

“You got it,” he said.

Grabbing her firmly around her tiny waist, Shane flipped her straight backwards, falling on top of her in missionary position while keeping his cock imbedded within her the whole time, much to Kendra’s surprise and extreme pleasure.  Now pounding her pussy with every fiber of his being, beads of sweat began forming on his forehead, dripping down onto her heaving breasts.  Shane didn’t let up for a moment, continuing to hit her sensitive G-spot while drawing ever closer to his own orgasm.  When Kendra performed his all-time favorite move, grabbing his ass cheeks as he plowed her, Shane knew it was all over.

“Gonna… cum…” he grunted.

Nodding, Kendra replied, “Me… too… do it… please cum inside me!”

As Shane pounded his last into her, he roared in ecstasy as he unloaded his semen into her, coating the walls of her pussy in his juices.  This was all Kendra needed to arrive at her own climax.

“Oh… oh yes!  Shane… Shane… ShaneShaneShane! OH SHANE!” she screamed in pleasure, relishing his previous instruction to use his real name.  As her pussy finished convulsing around his wonderful cock, Shane collapsed, laying his head on her soft breasts.  She kissed him on the forehead, feeling his breathing on her chest the whole time.

“Kendra,” Shane whispered, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, Shane.”

*****

“Do you think they’ll be alright?” Mike asked Melody as they arrived home.  “He seemed really shaken from the whole experience.  I’m worried I might have pushed him too hard on the whole Stacy thing.”

“He’ll be fine,” Melody reassured him.  “Kendra will take excellent care of him.  In a few months, I’d bet you wouldn’t even recognize the new Shane Walker.”

Sighing in relief, Mike replied, “I’m glad.”

The couple spent the rest of the evening off, relaxing together and just enjoying each other’s company.  After a dip in the courtyard pool, they strolled around the palace grounds, stopping every so often to admire a piece of artwork or rare antique.  Grabbing a bowl of fruit, the pair locked themselves in their room for the remainder of the night, munching on their sweet snack in-between their plentiful lovemaking sessions.  At last, they passed out in a contented haze.

Mike and Melody awoke the next day feeling well prepared for whatever their next task brought them.  After finishing off the last of the fruit from the night before for breakfast, they took their usual shower under the waterfall of their quarters, accompanied by their customary groping, of course.  After dressing for the day, Melody in a black tank top and tan capris and Mike in a blue polo and khaki shorts, the pair made their way out to the courtyard.  There, they saw Selena chatting with a tall man wearing sandy yellow robes.

“Good morning!” she called to them.  “Mike, Melody, you remember King Nadir of the Wind Jinn, yes?”

“Of course!  How are you?” Melody replied, extending her hand in greeting.

“Very well, thank you my dear,” Nadir answered, shaking both of their hands.

“I assume your presence means that our next target is a member of your tribe, correct?” Mike inquired.

“Right you are,” Nadir responded.  “May I join you in your quarters?  It will be much quieter for our work.”

“Of course, right this way,” Mike said, leading the way.

“See you later, Selena!” Melody called.

“Take care, Melody!” she sang back.

As the trio left, Selena, strolled about the courtyard, enjoying the beautiful weather they were experiencing that day.  She had the day off, and could return to her room for some peace and quiet, but thought better of it.

Days this nice are few and far between.

Continuing her walk, Selena found herself lost in thought, remembering the night she and Melody had spent together.  Still incredibly touched by Melody’s kindness, she reflected on her advice.

Just keep your eyes, and your heart, open.  You’ll find what you’re looking for, maybe where you least expect it.

Sighing, Selena muttered to herself, “Easy for you to say, Melody.  I waited to find Mike for you… I don’t want to wait that long to find a wonderful man of my own…”

Finding the air in the courtyard too stuffy, Selena entered the central tower and rode the elevator up to the observation platform near the top.  Stepping outside, the cool air was much fresher, helping to put her more at ease.  She leaned against the brass railing, gazing out into the Rub’ al Khali.  As she closed her eyes, lost in thought once more, the sound of approaching footsteps came from behind her.

“Good morning, Selena,” came the voice of King Farzan.

“Good morning, your Highness.  Do you wish to have privacy?  I can take my leave,” she replied.

“No, please stay,” he said with a smile.  “I normally do my best work in the mornings, but I felt compelled to go outside today.  A day as beautiful as this should not be spent alone and indoors.”

With a laugh, she replied, “I had that same thought mere minutes ago.”

For several minutes, the pair stood in silence, enjoying the natural beauty surrounding them.  The soft breeze felt wonderful on their faces as it blew in from the east.  Tentatively, Farzan was the first to break the silence.

“Selena, is everything alright?”

Taking a sharp breath in as she tried to comprehend the meaning of his question, she replied, “Of course… whatever do you mean?”

“Well, it is just that, for the past several days, I have noticed your demeanor has seemed much quieter and reserved than usual, almost as if something is weighing on your mind.  I simply feel that I should ask.”

Smiling, she said to him, “You are too kind, but it is nothing for you to concern yourself with, your Excellency.”

Farzan shook his head, replying, “Selena, we have known each other for thousands of years.  You know by now, just as I do, that our relationship is far more than that of a King and a Vizier.  I can say in all honesty that you are one of my closest friends.  I value you, far more than just as my advisor, and I do concern myself with your wellbeing.  Now, I will ask again, is everything alright?”

Selena sighed; there was no fooling him.  “It’s just that… it’s been so wonderful seeing Mike and Melody again.  But the daily reminder of their loving and intimate relationship has brought up certain… memories.”

“Ahmad,” Farzan replied, nodding in understanding.

“Yes,” she whispered.

Moving closer to her, Farzan light placed his hand on top of hers.  “He was my friend too… we both lost a part of ourselves that day.  Still, we cannot lose sight of his sacrifice, or else we risk tainting his memory.”

“I know,” Selena said, choking back a tear.  “He was a hero.  He was courageous, loyal, and exceedingly selfless.  I just… a part of me wishes that, in that moment, he had been selfish.  Oh god, now I feel horrible for even thinking that…”

“You are not horrible,” Farzan reassured her.  “That feeling is not an unnatural one.  Rather, I think it makes you appear… quite human.”

The pair immediately cracked up laughing.  Calling one another “human” was often an inside joke amongst Jinn and Genies, and was a sign of incredible friendship to be able to use such a joke without it being taken as an insult.  After several minutes of random laughter, Selena was feeling much better.

“Thank you,” she said to Farzan.

“Anytime, my friend.  If you ever need anything, you know where to find me.”

*****

“You sure this is the right place?” Mike asked.

“Positive,” Melody replied.

The couple stood in front of an enormous office building in Tokyo, Japan.  Their work with King Nadir had brought them here, where the third servant genie apparently was.  Entering the building, they took the elevator up to the top floor, as that was where Melody sensed a strong magical presence.  As they stepped out of the elevator, they arrived at a reception desk, where a gorgeous Japanese woman of about twenty-eight years greeted them.  She wore almost no makeup, yet her face was flawless and pure, needing only a hint of lip-gloss.  Her silky black hair was tied up in a bun, and her white blouse flowed gracefully down her chest, tracing the outline of her B-cup breasts.

“Good day,” she greeted them.  “How may I help you?”

“Hello, we need to speak with Mr. Hiro Watanabe,” Mike said.

With a slight bow, she replied, “So sorry, but Mr. Watanabe is booked solid today, and is unavailable for meetings.  I will need to set up an appointment for you.”

“I think he’ll want to clear his schedule for us, Kimiko,” Melody said with a smile.

The woman was silent for several seconds.  She wore no nametag, yet these individuals knew her name.  How they gained this knowledge, she could not be certain; Hiro rarely brought her out in public, and certainly had not told anyone her name.  Their relationship was a most private one.

“If… you’ll give me one moment please,” she said.

“Of course,” Mike replied.

Kimiko went over to the door behind the desk, adjusting her black pencil skirt as she walked, punched in the security code, and entered into Hiro Watanabe’s workroom.  Strolling down the aisles of machines and computers, she found him sitting as usual in the dark at his master computer at the back of the room.

“Master,” she said softly.

Turning around in his chair, his thirty year-old face bore a look of confusion. “Kimiko?  Is everything alright?”

“I am not sure,” she said.  “We have two guests who are here to see you.”

“Did you tell them they need an appointment?”

“I did.  They… said you should clear your schedule.  They also… know my name.”

Hiro scratched his head, running his hand through his short, black hair.  If they knew Kimiko’s name, they had to have some connection to her powers, but what that connection was, he couldn’t be sure.  He checked the security camera on his computer to get a better look at them.

“Do you sense any danger from them?”

“No, I do not.  However, the girl has a magical origin of some sort.  I can only hypothesize that she is a genie as well,” Kimiko replied.

Nodding, Hiro said, “Very well, I’ll see them.  But stay on alert; at the first sign of trouble, get us out of there right away, understand?”

“Yes, Master,” Kimiko responded with a bow.

Ever since he had first met Kimiko fifty years previous, Hiro had been paranoid of other magical creatures.  He had always harbored a fear that some strange creature would appear someday to attack him or Kimiko.  Thus, he had her erect a powerful barrier of magic around his office, one that only she or he could pass through without prior authorization.  This was the reason that Mike and Melody had been forced to use the front door of the building, rather than arriving by magical means.

Exiting into the reception lobby, Hiro extended his hand, saying, “Good day.  I am Hiro Watanabe.  And you are?”

“Mike, and this is my wife, Melody,” he answered, shaking Hiro’s hand.

“A pleasure to meet you,” Melody said.

“Let us skip the pleasantries, if you will,” Hiro said shortly.  “Who are you?  How do you know Kimiko?”

“You’re a smart man, Hiro; one of the smartest on the planet.  I think you may already know the answer to that question,” Mike replied with a grin.

Eyeing Melody for several moments, Hiro said, “You’re not human, are you?”

“Nope,” Melody answered.  “I’m a genie, like Kimiko.”

“Then how the hell did you find us?  Kimiko told me that genies aren’t allowed to track each other’s whereabouts, as a safety feature.”

“That’s because I’m a more powerful genie than Kimiko.”

Looking at Kimiko, Hiro now had a panicked look on his face.  “We need to go,” he said.

“Don’t worry, you two are in no danger,” Mike said, raising his hand.  “We are here at the request of the Council of Four.”

“Why?  What does the Council want?” Kimiko inquired.

“You know what he is talking about?” Hiro asked her.

Kimiko shrugged.  “Partially.  I know of the Council, as they are the ones who define the laws for all genies in the world.  As to what they want, only these two can answer that, it seems.”

Mike and Melody went into their now-familiar explanation of the recent changes made by the Council of Four regarding free will.  Kimiko listened with intent, while Hiro remained antsy and was still expecting trouble, though he had calmed significantly in the time since first learning of Melody’s true nature.  By the time he had finished hearing their explanation, Hiro’s mind was much more at ease, now processing all the information he had just been given.

“Most interesting.  I apologize for my long silence, but it is simply my nature.  I always take a large amount of time to comprehend an unfamiliar situation before responding to it,” Hiro said.

“I understand.  I’m the same way,” Mike replied.

“Thank you.  I will need a bit more time to decide how best to respond to what you are asking of me, but in the meantime, would you like to see my laboratory?”

Mike’s eyes went wide; the technology produced by Hiro’s company was legendary the world over.  Some had gone so far as to call him the second coming of Steve Jobs.

“That… would be awesome,” Mike answered.

Mike and Melody followed Kimiko and Hiro through the security door and into his workroom.  Hiro flipped a switch, turning on the bright overhead lights in the large area.  As they perused through his treasures, Mike and Melody were awestruck at seeing the inner workings of some of the most incredible technology the world had ever seen.

“No way,” Mike marveled as he approached a glass case.  “Is this what I think it is?”

“You bet your ass!” Hiro said with a grin.  “That was the first working prototype I built of my fully interactive 3-D holographic projector.  Obviously, it’s much bigger than the ones everyone uses in their phones nowadays, but this is the one that started it all.”

“This is incredible,” Melody said.  “Kimiko, did you help in any of this?”

With a cute giggle, she replied, “Actually, no.  All of Hiro’s professional and technological achievements were made on his own merits.”

“Wow, so he really is the genius everyone says he is?” Melody asked.

“Indeed he is.  In truth, I only assisted in helping to create some of his more… personal technologies.”

“Does that mean what I think it means?” Mike asked Hiro with a sly grin, watching the look of embarrassment spread across the man’s face.

“Let us say that… my Master can be rather… creative at times,” Kimiko said playfully, resulting in Hiro burying his face in his hands.

“Why are you doing this to me, Kimiko?” he moaned in humiliation.

“Hey, chin up!” Mike said, pulling Hiro up straight.  “Is any of it hurting yourself or anyone else?”

“Well, no.”

“Is any of it harming your relationship with Kimiko?”

With a laugh, Hiro replied, “No, she rather enjoys my perverse side.”

“Then to each his own,” Mike said.  “Just… keep the details to yourself if you don’t mind.”  This elicited a chorus of laughs from the room.

After a few more minutes of perusing the laboratory, Hiro spoke up.  “Mike, I have given thought to what you are asking of Kimiko and me.  Even though I have only sparingly made wishes that required us to interfere with another’s free will, it is impossible to say that I will not have need of this ability at any point in the future.  I cannot say for certain what situation would warrant it, but I feel that giving up this capability would not be wise.”

Nodding, Mike replied, “I understand what you’re saying; you don’t want to back yourself into a corner.  But bear in mind that any situation extreme enough to warrant such use of Kimiko’s powers would also allow her to use the full extent of the rest of her powers as well.  There is no situation I could think of that you would not still have the utmost protection from Kimiko, even with this new restriction.”

“Be that as it may, this still feels like an unwise move.  Call it a gut instinct, but my instinct has never steered me wrong before,” Hiro said.

Thinking for a few moments, Mike recalled several of the details about Hiro’s life he had read earlier, until he came across a key bit of information that might help.

“Hiro, I remember reading in your biography that your brother, Akio, is also a technological whiz, is that right?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Have you ever worked with him?”

Hiro replied, “Only in our youth.  As we entered our careers, we each took different paths.  My focus was improving practical, real-world technologies, while his was on breaking new and unheard-of ground in the field of robotics.  He did offer me a job once, but I had to decline.”

“Why was that?” Mike asked.

“Akio wanted me to help him develop… A.I.”

“Artificial Intelligence?  That’s… incredible.”

Nodding, Hiro said, “Yes, but also quite dangerous.  Akio’s goal was to give free will to machines, so that they could think, feel, and reason for themselves.  I could not in good conscience participate in such a project.  This is because, if successful, we would be giving robots an ability that, since the beginning of recorded history, has only been possessed by humans.  Often times, we have not made the best use of this ability, but the consequences would be far worse, I fear, if it were given to robots.  I believe they would not know how to completely handle their new freedom.  Every computer simulation I ran ended badly for humanity… very badly.”

“I see,” Mike replied.  “So, even Asimov’s Laws of Robotics would not be enough to prevent something catastrophic from happening?”

“Correct.  In the end, my simulations showed that the robots, without the thousands of years of experience we humans have, would find their new intelligence and free will in conflict with the Three Laws, forcing them to choose between them.  If they sided with the Three Laws, they would destroy all technology on the planet to ensure no machine can ever harm a human.  If they sided with their own free will, well… use your imagination.”

Smiling, Mike said, “Free will is an awesome responsibility, isn’t it?”

“It is,” Hiro agreed.

“I’m impressed, Hiro.  You had the opportunity presented to you to change the world forever, but declined to do so, knowing the possible consequences.  You decided not to play God.”

“Exactly.”

“So then riddle me this: doesn’t using Kimiko’s magic to interfere with another person’s free will amount to playing God as well?”

Standing in stunned silence, Hiro took a full two minutes to respond.  “It… does, I suppose,” he said at last.  Pondering this revelation, he looked into Mike’s eyes, seeing a confidence rarely found in the world today.  “You are something else, my friend.  I had a complete defense of my decision prepared in my mind, and you dismantled it with a single question.”  Taking Kimiko’s hand, he said, “If you feel that it is best for the world to limit a genie’s powers in this way, I will support you.”

Mike smiled, not needing to say anything more.  Melody then stepped forward to begin the amendment process…

*****

Farzan, you fool… stop overthinking this…

As the sun set for the day, King Farzan paced across the floor of his quarters, his mind lost in thought.  Though he had been productive in his labors that day, he was still unsettled, primarily due to his conversation with Selena earlier in the day.  In such situations, he was often prone to having conversations and arguments with himself in his head.

Why can’t I just tell her the truth?

It is not your place… she is your friend and confidant first and foremost.

Selena had confided to him that the death of her lover, Ahmad, still haunted her, and the return of Mike and Melody had brought these feelings to the surface.  She seemed to still be in love with him, but longed to find a way to move past his final sacrifice.  Though she was uneasy at sharing this information with Farzan at first, she began to open up when he proclaimed her to be not only his vizier, but a friend as well.

What if she would want to know?  What if she needs to know?

We have been over this before.  Thousands of years later, the situation remains unchanged.  You know this, Farzan.

Farzan remembered well Ahmad’s selfless act.  His battalion had been traveling through a canyon, escorting a convoy of supplies to King Ardashir.  Their supplies had run short, and their stronghold would not be able to withstand the sorcerers’ siege without additional help.  But as they neared the exit to the canyon, they were ambushed by an elite group of sorcerers, who had taken up positions on the canyon rims above the convoy, preparing to lay waste to them.  Upon seeing this, Ahmad ordered his men to flee with the supplies, knowing that even if they survived, the destruction of the convoy would likely mean the fall of the Earth Jinn.  As his men made their escape, Ahmad used his mastery of defensive magic to erect an enormous barrier, protecting their backside and flank and ensuring them safe passage forward.  In creating such a large barrier, however, he expended all of his reserve energy, and soon lay exhausted and gasping for breath on the canyon floor.  Enraged that the convoy had gotten through, the sorcerer in charge murdered Ahmad then and there, severing his head and placing it on a pike atop their fortress.

As a result of this sacrifice, Ahmad’s name became a rallying cry for the armies of the Jinn, and helped spur them on to their final, decisive victory against the sorcerers.  In a fit of grief and rage, Selena had wiped out an entire legion of opposing forces by herself.  When the dust had settled, the enemy had been decimated and their final stronghold remained unprotected, allowing the Jinn to enter and retrieve their stolen documents, ending the war.

For Selena, the victory had come at the ultimate personal cost.  For months on end, she would lock herself in her quarters, refusing all contact and all but the most necessary of food.  Thankfully, she was able to regain some of her confidence after some time, enough to at least perform her day-to-day functions.  She still questioned her purpose in life, but Farzan was relieved that she had at least been brought back from the brink. During her period of mourning, he did all he could to comfort her, though for the longest time, she still did not seem like her old self.  All that changed one fateful night, nearly a century after the end of the war.

As Farzan rested in his bedchambers that evening, his soul was pierced by a scream of hopelessness and despair.  He had summoned Selena to his side, confirming that she had felt something as well.  Farzan dispatched her at once to discover the source of the screams, and authorized her to use all of her magic to find a way to aid this individual.  Upon her return, Selena related to him the story of Maya and Isaiah, showing him the locket that now contained the vessel of Maya’s daughter.  Farzan was moved to tears as she recounted to him the details of Maya’s dying wish.

On that day, Selena’s entire demeanor changed for the better.  Her confidence returned in full force, and she dedicated herself to her work, determined to scour the globe in search of a worthy man for Maya’s daughter and fulfill her dying wish.  Though Farzan tried to help, finding several potential candidates, Selena never deemed them to be good enough, and thus continued her search.  Through her dedication, searching for thousands of years for a worthy individual while never settling for anything less than the best, Farzan’s respect for her began do blossom into something more than he had ever expected.

She deserves to know… she deserves to know that… I love her.

You are the King Jinn of the Water Tribe!  You can have any woman you wish, and yet you still hesitate!  You know precisely why you hesitate: because, deep down, Selena is still in love with Ahmad.

Perhaps.  I do not presume myself to be as great as Ahmad was.  Still, if his sacrifice has taught me anything, it is not to wait to say such important things.

And yet, if any woman in our tribe would rebuff King Farzan the Wise, would it not be her?  Why take such a chance, and risk not only harming yourself emotionally, but Selena as well?  Why risk your friendship with her?

Indeed, the risk is great.  But in the end, it may well be worth it.

Farzan sighed, exhausted from his mental debate.  “I shall sleep on the matter for now,” he muttered to himself.  As he crawled into his luxurious bed, Farzan grabbed a few pillows to place around him for comfort and clapped his hands twice, extinguishing the torches in the chamber.  Minutes later, he was sound asleep.

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