“I try not to tell people this,” Morgana said. “The tenure committee agreed to a memory shield block, meaning that if anyone tried to read their minds about this, the block would use up the memory before the shield was worn through. They could remember what I told them, but no one else could extract the information from them. I’d rather you agreed to the same, it being much for your own safety.” Abigail nodded. There were a few moments of silence.
“First, notwithstanding that half of the grad students and post-docs in my and several other departments have what is supposed to be a secret betting pool on which of them will be the first to seduce me, the woman who is obviously the youngest female Professor at RTI, I am not a young woman. My persona name is not Sunsword, the Boston Post notwithstanding. It is Sun’s Sword, because I was, once upon a time, the Golden Warrior, the Living Sword of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. That was the title; if there is such a Goddess, we have not met. That was in the court of the Japanese Emperor, when I was living in the Nipponese capital, which at the time was Heian-Kyo. Their capital has since moved.. I’m not at all offended that you thought I might not be up to coaching your children, since you had no idea who I am.”
“You’re how old?” Abigail asked. “Before we go farther, how is it that I’ve ended up with you sitting in my kitchen? It would be like discovering that you’re Solara in disguise. I’m not complaining. I’m truly grateful for what you do for my children, but the coincidences seem strained.”
“Why am I here?” Morgana responded. “Far before you reach my actual age, you realize that you want to live in Athens. The most civilized, cultured, sensible place there is. In the Tenth Century, that was Heian-Kyo. At another time, Byzantium, Baghdad, and Cordoba were mayhaps more civilized, but less welcoming to women. Once upon a time, it was the Leviorkianu Domain, and others it was Marik-on-the-Sea or Gaia Atlanticea or Sarnath. And now it is Cambridge, the American Athens.”
“Second,” Morgana continued, “we really need to talk more about what it means that Trisha and Brian and Janie are all really first line personas. It’s not just they have a few gifts. Yes, Brian can ignore machine gun fire. Janie can read minds. Trisha can fly really, really fast. We’ll get back to that in a moment.” Morgana paused to finish part of another croissant. This was going to be more difficult than she had hoped. She hadn’t realized quite how carefully Patrick and Abigail supervised their children, or how little they respected their own children’s judgement, poor Trisha’s in particular. No wonder Trisha was short on self-confidence.
“They’re all in good health.” Morgana tried to sound reassuring. “They may catch the flu, but they recover in a few hours. They are almost certainly immune to chocolate…but their friends aren’t. Janie and Brian, in very different ways, can focus very deeply on what they’re doing. That’s why Janie has her Highly Respected by the Lords of the Hexagon, and Brian’s models sell for enough to pay for his hobby, the extra books he buys Janie, and Trisha’s sewing supplies and books and extra athletic equipment. Trisha is a physical fitness fanatic, except…really, please stop telling her she’ll hurt herself if she works too hard. Please? She won’t, not to mention she’ll recover in a bit if she totally overdoes things. Your feedback is confusing her.” Actually, Morgana thought, it’s hurting her very deeply, but she’ll never say a word about it, and I can’t be telling her parents that.
“That’s just what mothers say,” Abigail countered. This was going to be a mess, Morgana thought. Trisha is taking her mom literally, and I am not going to be able to explain to Abigail what that means when she talks at Trisha. Nor can I tell Trisha not to listen to her mom.
“Absolutely,” Morgana said. “The two feet of snow and plow curl she removed from your drive…she wasn’t vaguely close to her muscle and bone limits. For her, that was just a healthy bit of exercise. She knows it. Please keep in mind that superspeed passes normally for her. She actually had to shovel your driveway of two feet of heavy snow, one scoop at a time. And catch her breath when she needed to.” Hopefully, Morgana thought, I have made a dent in the problem. I can’t very well tell Abigail that she is absurdly condescending in ways that are hurting Trisha. “However, there is also the third thing.”
“Third?” Patrick asked. To Morgana’s eyes, Patrick looked deeply thoughtful. She had no idea what influence he had on his wife, who seemed to be the source of the issues Trisha was facing.
“Trisha does fly faster than sound,” Morgana said. “Faster than light indeed being faster than sound. And all three kids have full deep space gifts, so flying to the moon or wherever is not an issue.”