“Afterward on that?” Morgana said. “OK, there is a rule here, which is why you need a champion, Janie. Joe is clearly not Eclipse. Wrong height. Wrong hair color. And he’s a boy. And you’re not sure you even played the new move against him.”
“We talked about my move,” Janie said. “I was really proud of it. We talked about some other variations. And why they weren’t so good. That’s what I thought then. We might have talked about the special move. But it was a bunch of friends doing things. Or him and me playing City of Steel.”
“May I confirm, mind-to-mind, that each of you does not know where Joe lives or has any of his contact addresses?” Heads nodded. “Just focus on that statement. Good. He has shielded the line between his public and private personae. That’s an absolute legal wall, like someone asking my private persona, Professor Lafayette, who my public persona is, not that it’s much of a secret at this point.”
“Everything is good?” Abigail asked.
“We talk afterward,” Morgana said. “However, the clock is approaching eight. The simplest approach is that you open the garage door, I’ll be framed in the light, and Janie will be right next to me. You two, Abigail and Patrick, will be a few feet behind us. Then we come upstairs. Are people good with that, it being your house?”
“Unless we want to use the front door?” Patrick asked.
“Big snowdrift, dad,” Trisha said. “I think I can get it in time, but it’s more snow than the whole driveway.”
“Skip the front door,” Patrick answered. As usual, Trisha never showed any sense, say the sense of asking for help.
“Trisha and I will get out your good City board,” Brian announced.
“That’s very thoughtful of you to do that, Brian,” Patrick answered.
“We’d better get our coats on,” Abigail said. “That includes you, Patrick. Do you want to borrow a coat, Morgana? We may be standing there for a while.”
“That’s very kind of you. I’m quite weatherproof, thanks. Actually, I’m going to leave my sweater here. I may need to move quickly,” she answered. She draped her sweater over the back of a chair. She wore underneath a white silk blouse. An intricately-worked gold necklace centered a single huge blood-red stone on her chest.
Coats were donned. The Wells family stood in the family garage. “Three of eight,” Abigail said, “Time to open the door.” Panels creaked and groaned as the door rotated up and over. Snow and bitterly freezing air rushed in from the street.
Precisely at eight in the evening, Krystal North and her four companions appeared in the driveway. Janie waved to Grandmaster Kurchatov, who waved back. Morgana Lafayette pressed her hands together and bowed slightly to Krystal North. North recoiled a half-step.
“For the purpose of this conversation,” Morgana announced coldly, “I am Professor Morgana Cysgodol Lafayette, Rogers’ Technological Institution. I am the Wells family’s persona champion. I am here to ensure that Miss Wells, confronted with a persona, is not placed at a disadvantage during a valid lawful process, and that there is adherence to the privacy codes. That goes for your remote watchers, too, Gamesman Kamensky.”
“I am Krystal North, Captain-General of the American Persona League,” a shaken North said to Lafayette. “My companions are here to ask Miss Wells about her new City of Steel move, hopefully to prevent possible unfortunate outcomes. I am here as the American persona champion, to validate the conversation, subject to the privacy codes. You will recognize Speaker Ming. I believe Janie knows Grandmasters Kurchatov and Hornpiper, and may recognize Supreme Gamesman Alexander Vladimirovich Kamensky. Given our balmy New England weather, mayhaps we might move inside?”