Sirius watched the landscape scroll past as he sat comfortably in the sidecar of Nova’s motorcycle. The thing was unquestionably a luxury item, which probably cost more than Sirius’s whole house in Verizen. Not only did Sirius have enough room to stretch his legs, but a small control screen in front of him also allowed him to deploy a roof over his head or a windshield in front of him, the latter of which doubled as an augmented reality display, turn on a heater embedded in his seat… The sidecar was probably equipped with a few machine guns and an ejector seat, too.
And there was even a beautiful woman to keep him company. Really, the only thing lacking during this trip was conversation, because the beautiful woman in question happened to be mute.
Sirius glanced to the side at Nova’s profile. She was focused on the road, her face still locked in the same blank, emotionless mask as always. At first, Sirius had thought he had done something to earn her ire, but he eventually realized that the issue didn’t come from him, because she offered the same icy countenance to even her family members. According to Lynn Storm, Nova’s sister and Sirius’s most… talkative… source of inside intel on the Storm family, Nova’s facial muscles had been paralyzed since birth. In other words, just because she wasn’t smiling didn’t mean she was angry at him.
And so, Sirius had taken the first step and started a conversation with her. He’d been somewhat surprised to discover that she was rather easy to talk to. The only difficulty was that he sometimes had to make an effort to understand what she wanted to say, since she rarely bothered to speak whole sentences.
Still, Sirius couldn’t help but get the feeling that her attitude toward him was a little ambiguous. On the one hand, she had explicitly given him her gratitude for saving her in that construction site, which gratitude Sirius believed to be sincere. On the other hand, she still appeared to be wary of him and always conscientiously avoided revealing too much about herself in their conversations.
No, wait. We’ve only known each other for a few days. We’re only one step above strangers. Why would she tell me her whole life story?
Sirius inwardly shook his head and clicked his tongue at his own unseemly behavior. He was acting like a hormone-addled teenager who’d met his crush by chance and was clumsily trying to use this opportunity to find out more about her, only to feel depressed and self-conscious when he failed.
…The ‘teenage hormones’ problem probably wasn’t helped by Nova’s manifest contempt for the very concept of modesty, either.
Really. How can she wear this sort of thing in public? Doesn’t she have any shame at all? And how can her parents not say a word when their daughter wears such revealing clothes? They’re acting like it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s unthinkable…
Even now, Nova was wearing a one-piece motorcycle riding suit that no doubt afforded good protection in case of falls, but also hugged her figure tightly enough to leave little of it to the imagination. It appeared to be made of leather, at least visually, but it probably was some kind of synthetic substitute, since she could move comfortably without it impeding her full range of motion.
And every time Sirius faced her, he had a hard time knowing where to put his eyes.
At the same time, he also couldn’t help but remember the last reincarnator he and Wieslaw had faced together. Although that one had been a man, he had also been incredibly pretty. Even more so than Nova herself, in fact. Nova was undeniably beautiful, of course, but her beauty wasn’t as… intoxicating, threatening, as that man’s had been. Still, it was enough to set Sirius on edge every time he caught himself staring at her a bit too much.
She most likely wasn’t the same as the other reincarnator, though. First, if Nova possessed the same power as that man, she would never have needed Sirius’s help to get out of trouble last time. Second, ever since Wieslaw had raised the possibility that Nova was a reincarnator, Sirius had taken great care to observe the people in her surroundings. Her family and friends were all clearly fond of her, but only in realistic measure. They weren’t holding her on a pedestal with fanatic religious fervor.
I’ll wait for Wieslaw’s assessment, but I reckon it should be fine. Even if she really is a reincarnator, she shouldn’t be as much of a danger as that man.
The trip to the airport was uneventful. Nova’s driving was calm and steady. Considering she’d openly admitted her license was a forgery, it was understandable that she didn’t want to attract any attention from the police with reckless behavior on the road. It was unlikely she would find herself in too much legal trouble if it did happen, but it would be an inconvenient delay, nonetheless.
Nova drove into the parking lot attached to the airport. They had to roam around for a little while before finally finding a spot, then they both disembarked. Nova removed her helmet and threw it into the sidecar. She shook her long hair loose and let it crash down on her shoulders in a motion so seductive Sirius wondered if she was purposely trying to distract him. He was quite ashamed when Nova turned to face him and caught him staring at her, so he quickly spoke up to clear away the awkward moment.
“Is it safe to leave the helmet in the sidecar like this? Won’t it be stolen?”
Nova only shook her head and gestured for Sirius’s helmet. When he gave it to her, she stowed it in the sidecar as well. Then, she bent over to fiddle with the sidecar’s dashboard – which also happened to offer Sirius an unobstructed view of her perfectly formed, leather-clad ass. He hastily turned his gaze away while reflecting that, yes, she was most definitely doing that on purpose.
Nova pressed a few buttons here and there on the dashboard’s screen, and soon, a retractable cover expanded to seal the inside of the sidecar. Nova straightened up and turned back to Sirius.
‘Nice, right?’ she asked.
“Indeed. Very nice,” Sirius replied, wondering for a moment if Nova was really talking about the sidecar, but then deciding that this answer would be appropriate even for the alternative.
They set off side by side toward the terminal. Sirius checked his watch as they walked. They’d arrived just in time; Wieslaw’s plane should be landing right about now.
Inside the terminal, Sirius and Nova paused for a moment to get their bearings. This wasn’t the capital’s main airport, but it was still pretty vast. Sirius glanced around to get an idea of the layout while he asked Nova, “Have you been here before? Do you know where we need to go to wait for him?”
‘No. Always took private plane.’
Sirius’s gaze flicked back to her. “Private plane? You have a private – oh, of course, you have a private plane.” She probably had something like a dozen private planes, in fact. She probably got private planes for Christmas – not that there was such a thing as Christmas on Edea, but it was the principle of the thing. And didn’t the Storms have their own airstrip, too? Rich people sure lived in a different world. “Why didn’t you use it to bring Wieslaw to Altera? Wouldn’t it have been more convenient for everyone?”
Nova shrugged disinterestedly and continued looking around. ‘Not sure. Probably avoid intimidating him.’
True. An average, non-reincarnated, 15-year-old boy would likely be daunted and crushed under the sheer weight of the Storm family’s wealth. Wieslaw, however, with the rich experience of his past life, wouldn’t bat an eye at it. Of course, the Storms couldn’t be expected to know that.
Nova’s eyes gave a last sweep of the terminal before she gave up. She reached for her bracer. ‘Ask staff. You talk. Tiring for me.’
“Sure.” Sirius glanced around and immediately spotted a few of the airport staff by their distinctive uniforms. Some of them were even already staring at Nova, probably wondering if they could afford to ditch their jobs and come compete against Sirius for her attention. Since they just smelled like trouble, Sirius instead chose to approach a female member of the staff. Hopefully, she would be less affected by his companion’s charms.
“Hello,” he called, flashing a polite smile. “My friend and I are somewhat lost. Do you think you could direct us to our destination? We’re looking for flight VZ-391 from Verizen. It should have landed a minute ago.”
Perhaps Sirius’s smile was a bit too polite, because the woman blushed a little as she stammered out an answer. Fortunately, she was professional enough, and she knew her way around the place. The instructions she gave him were easy enough to follow. Sirius thanked her sincerely and took his leave in the direction she’d indicated, Nova following on his heels.
They had only taken a few steps when the robotic voice spoke up again behind him. ‘Nice job seducing that girl. Real smooth.’
Sirius almost choked to death on his own saliva right then and there. He spun around and scrambled to explain himself, shaking his head and hands emphatically. “No, no, this is really not…”
Nova didn’t make a move, but she’d apparently already typed her whole speech, because the bracer’s voice continued mercilessly over his own. ‘Hotel outside the airport. Need some private time?’
Sirius smiled bitterly. He could understand how the situation could have been misunderstood, but that truly hadn’t been his intention. Furthermore, coming from Nova, that particular line of questioning couldn’t sound more hypocritical. “Are you sure you should be saying that to me?” he countered. “Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but the vast majority of the people around us are staring at you right now. Nice job seducing an entire airport’s worth of people. I don’t think the word ‘smooth’ could do that achievement justice.”
Nova glanced around at the nearby people. Sirius wasn’t lying. The two of them were garnering a lot of attention, both male and female. Most of it was directed at Nova, but some was aimed at him, too. Sirius couldn’t help but feel a little self-conscious about it, but Nova didn’t seem to share his scruples. She made absolutely no move to cover her figure, and nothing in her body language implied even the slightest embarrassment at their situation.
Instead, she took a step closer. ‘Sirius,’ the robotic voice called, somehow sounding softer than before.
A strange sense of foreboding suddenly filled Sirius – the same foreboding he’d felt when facing Lynn Storm, yesterday – and he hesitantly replied. “Um, yes?”
Nova, a head shorter than him, looked at Sirius from below, locking her gaze with his. Then, she slowly tugged at the collar of her suit, revealing a swathe of flawless skin. ‘Not wearing anything underneath.’
This time, Sirius did blush, though fortunately, it wasn’t too apparent on his brown skin. Still, it was kind of mortifying for a girl not even half his – mental – age to make him blush.
It wasn’t like Sirius didn’t have any experience with women. In his past life, he once had been in a relationship. It didn’t last very long, because Sirius quickly realized that anyone associating with him would be put in danger along with him, once the consequences of his crime-fighting activities caught up with him. And as it turned out, his prudence was eventually proven correct. Soon after breaking off that relationship, his life had come to a violent end, the only saving grace in his death that it hadn’t affected his erstwhile girlfriend too. The point was, though, that this girlfriend had been a very sweet girl. Kind and thoughtful and demure and shy. Almost innocent. She would never have acted as aggressively as Nova was doing right now.
So, in the end, perhaps he really was lacking in experience, after all…
Sirius was still trying to formulate a response when a new voice sprung up next to them, speaking in accented Alteran. “Far be it from me to interrupt any budding romance, but can I assume the two of you came to pick me up?”
Nova and Sirius both turned at the same time to find a slender youth standing next to them, a wheeled suitcase behind him. His hair was mussed, like he’d just gotten out of bed, and large glasses were slipping down the bridge of his nose.
“Ah, Wieslaw,” Sirius called with a wide smile, welcoming his savior. “Good to see you. Sorry about the delay; we couldn’t find the place where your flight disembarked.”
“It’s fine. It’s fine.” Wieslaw casually waved off the apology and turned to Nova. He extended a hand. “Nova Storm, correct? A pleasure to meet you in person.”
Nova nodded and returned the handshake.
“Oof! Strong grip!” Wieslaw grinned as he shook his hand in fake pain. Then, his expression abruptly became more serious. “I’m sorry to cut to the chase like this, but there is something I must ascertain before anything else. Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
Nova didn’t answer immediately. She stared silently at Wieslaw for a while, as if wanting to divine his intentions from his face. Then her green eyes flicked to Sirius, silently asking him what this was all about. Sirius could only give a noncommittal shrug in return. He was pretty sure what Wieslaw wanted to ask, and while he was a bit confused that his friend would immediately go for the jugular like this, right on his first meeting with Nova, he also knew that Wieslaw wasn’t an idiot. His partner had his reasons, and Sirius didn’t want to accidentally get in the way of them.
Nova tilted her head as her eyes trailed back to Wieslaw. Then she just shrugged and flipped her hand in an elegant motion, inviting him to ask what he wanted.
“Thank you,” Wieslaw said, giving a subdued little nod in apology for his forceful manner. “I just wanted to ask you how your reincarnation is treating you. Do you like Edea better than Earth?”