Aisha and Senah work on a new project.
With her clacking high heels and audible grumbling echoing through the halls, Jessie was easy to hear coming, but Aisha still wasn't prepared for the main workshop lights to come on. In her chair at a safe distance, Senah ducked back from the sudden brightness, her pupils shrinking in the harsh light.
"What are you doing in the workshop at this hour, Aisha? And with most of the lights off, too..." Jessie shook her head with a vehemence born of exasperation, her bangs flopping back and forth. "Cid put you up to this, didn't he? I swear, that man is determined to give you all his worst habits and burn you out before you even become a full employee."
"Just a personal project, Deputy Prez," Aisha said, lifting her magnifiers and shifting aside so Jessie could see the disassembled magitek bracelet in its many pieces on the workshop table.
Senah lifted one hand off her lap the shortest distance it would go, giving the tiniest wave she could muster. "Hello..."
From the way her eyes narrowed and her eyebrows went up, Aisha could tell the wheels in Jessie's head were turning, and she was reaching a wholly incorrect and slightly rude conclusion. Well... maybe not wholly incorrect, but... "Senah asked me if I could help with this, so this is kind of us hanging out."
"That explains that, then," Jessie said, with a voice that told Aisha her attempt to deflect had only confirmed Jessie's suspicions. Fortunately, her attention didn't stay there for long. "Speaking of Cid, have you seen the man?"
"Today? No, not yet," Aisha said, slotting two new fire crystal shards into her crystal pyrographer's stylus and dropping her magnifiers back over her eyes. She placed another component onto the spell circuit,carefully aiming a bead of ceruleum paste onto the point where they were to be joined together. "I know yesterday he was in and out, saying that there was something important and revolutionary for him to take care of, and that we should just keep doing what we're doing."
Jessie hissed out a breath between her teeth. "Of course. I wonder how many things in this world can truly be so important and revolutionary. Certainly enough that Garlond Ironworks is going to end up Garlond Gil-broke at this rate."
Aisha kept quiet, not wanting to say the wrong thing and end up the target of Jessie's ire. There was a sizzle as another bead of ceruleum paste melted into liquid.
"Well, whatever. Be sure to get some rest, all right? And if you see him, make sure to tell him to call me." With the clicking of her high heeled boots retreating away, Jessie was gone.
Senah breathed out a sigh Aisha wasn't aware she'd been holding. "Can I turn off the lights again?"
"Please do," Aisha said, groaning. "It's the middle of the night, my work lamp is enough..."
No sooner had Senah turned off the lights than someone nearly ran right into her. She squeaked, stumbling back. "S-Sorry!"
A familiar voice accompanied the faint click of a headlamp turning on. "Not to worry, I'll be out of your way soon."
Aisha lifted her magnifiers again. "Boss? That you?"
"If Jessie asks, no it isn't," Cid said, rummaging through the parts bin. "Just need to... pick up a few things..."
"While you're here, do we have a... 200-mic aetheric condenser in 5/8ths ilm?" Aisha lifted the damaged condenser and looked it over. "I checked the bin, but couldn't find one."
Cid paused in his rummaging for a moment. "200-mic 5/8ths... Not likely, the Garleans dropped the high-power condensers at that size. Too fragile to use, too expensive to manufacture. Any existing ones are rare. There should be a 60-mic in the parts bin at that size, though. Maybe a 75-mic."
"Yeah... I think I can make that work," Aisha said, turning her eyes back to her project.
"Aha! An inline ceruleum purifier!" He lifted the boxy, tubular component he'd been looking for, pausing by Aisha's workstation to peer at her project. "Nice work. If Jessie asks, I was never here. Got it?"
"Got it, boss."
"Atta girl." Cid clapped Aisha on the shoulder with his free hand. "I'm off, then. Remember! You didn't see me!"
"I heard that!" Jessie shouted from somewhere else in the offices.
Cid's footsteps took on a more hasty tone. "Oops, gotta run..."
As the sounds of the other two Ironworks employees retreated into the night, Senah moved closer to Aisha, staring down at the disassembled bracelet. "So... what does that mean? You can't fix it...?" Disappointment was still evident in her voice, no matter how she tried to hide it.
"It's... I can fix it, yeah. But it won't be able to store enough aether for multiple uses at once. Which means it's going to have to recharge every time you activate and deactivate it. And with a smaller condenser, it's going to be slow-charging..."
Senah lifted her eyes up to meet Aisha's. "H... How slow? 15 minutes? Half an hour?"
Aisha winced. "Depends on aetherial conditions, but maybe more like an hour... at the fastest."
"... Oh. So... I'm gonna have to spend a lot of time tiny once I activate it."
"Yeah. You're gonna have to spend a lot of time tiny once you activate it," Aisha agreed. "Sorry. Do you still want me to fix it?"
Senah shook her head rapidly. "Yeah, of course! I mean, I can still use it, I just have to be careful about how I use it, right? And it's probably better to be small enough to hide well and not get caught as easily... I mean, if you want to..."
"You know I'd be happy to!" Aisha said, laughing. She turned back to her work, slotting another fire shard into the stylus and dropping her magnifiers back onto her face. "Course, I can't make any promises about what will happen to you when you use it..."
She glanced over at Senah out of the corner of her eye. ... The other girl's face was crimson and she was peering at Aisha's bare stomach between her fingers. She smiled to herself, continuing the repairs. It was going to be fun, trying this out with Senah later...