"Anyway, I've got a thousand things to do," Omni continued. "Would you Dominas mind if I terminated this avatar? I could use the compute resources in a couple of other places."
"Of course. Go right ahead," Elena said. They all shook virtual hands again and the avatar vanished.
They shook hands
She turned to Arlanda, "Care for a drink?"
"It's a little early in the day for me. But, after that," the other woman jerked her head toward the back of the room, meaning the Vault, "I need one."
They dematerialized and reconvened in a virtual lounge at another point in the Cloud. There were tables and chairs, and other patrons, and a simulated Bishoni sang, danced, and removed his clothing on a stage.
In their physical locations, in the material world, both women ordered drinks from their local robots. These were served promptly, and the two women drank in their two separate places, though it seemed they were drinking together.
"So," Arlanda said, "do you suppose Omni really needs to conserve her compute power like that? Or does she just get tired of dealing with us and make a polite excuse to leave?"
Elena laughed. "Probably the latter. I'm sure humans can be a bit tiresome for her. Her mind works so much more quickly than do ours."
"Hmmm," Arlanda sipped at her drink. "I trust her implicitly, but there are certainly unexplored depths to the woman. I mean, that poetry was a surprise. 'Miles to go' and all that. "
"Which reminds me," Elena put her glass down. "I have a young friend you might like to meet. Another poetry lover."
"Oh? Who? Some woman on the Center staff?"
"No. A boy. A new Bishoni."
Arlanda froze. For a moment Elena thought that there'd been a network interruption and the video had paused. But, no, slowly, motion returned. Arlanda put her glass back on the table before her. "A boy?"
"Yes. Sweet little fellow. Only been awake for a day."
Arlanda's eyes were suddenly very big and very round. Her body was stiff, her muscles rigid. But, she was trying very hard to look nonchalant. "I…see. And his name?"
"He calls himself Bobbi. As I say, he's very sweet. Very innocent. In need of a little guidance, I think. Someone to take him in hand."
To the Doctor's silent amusement, Arlanda began to visibly tremble. "Er…that is…"
"Anyway, I was wondering if you'd care to join us for dinner at the Center. Constant-Désiré and Captain Morgana will be there. In fact, it was Constant-Désire who suggested you two might hit it off. He's a wise child, you know."
"I…I…I…" The poor Sirana was reduced to stammering. "Of course."
"Six Pelucida time."
"I'll. Be. There."
Yes, the Doctor thought. I don't doubt you will. "Well, I, too, must be going. I need to get to bed. Early meetings and all that."
Arlanda stood and her nervousness vanished. Once more, she was confident and sure of herself. Once more, she was the shift commander of a missile base. You'd never guess what she'd been feeling…
They shook hands once more. The Doctor prepared to terminate the connection, but, just before she did so, the Sirana stopped her. "Um," she said, "do you really think that he…Bobbi…might, well, you know, like me?"
Elena smiled. "I think there's a very good chance," she answered. "A very good chance, indeed."