“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Isabella asked. She was having a hard time keeping her hands down at her sides, not covering up the taboo bits that would have gotten her arrested on Earth.
Aurora didn’t put much effort into suppressing an impish smile. The two of them were sitting on a park bench in Galavaria, a world that Aurora had come to think of as a vacation spot. Conflict – at least, conflict relevant to the Council – was pretty rare here. So she didn’t have to keep her guard up. So it seems like a perfect introduction to the Web of Worlds. It was also a nudist paradise.
So yeah, maybe she was getting a kick out of seeing Isabella flush.
“When in Rome,” Aurora said. She wriggled her toes in the sand, a fine white crystal that covered most of the park. On Earth, a beach like this would have burnt them both to crispy in a few minutes.
“So do you have to do this a lot?” Isabella asked. Her hands were just fiddling with her braid, now, though she was also steadfastly avoiding watching the pedestrian traffic.
“Do what? Sit around naked in parks?” Aurora asked. “Yeah, it’s pretty much my whole job description these days. Ow!” Isabella had poked her ribs, though not nearly enough to actually hurt.
“I mean having to adjust to different cultures, just take them in stride,” Isabella said. “I’m guessing this isn’t the strangest place you’ve ever been. In fact, knowing you, you’re actually just easing me into it.”
“There’s truth in that. Galavaria is a pretty easy-going place. The only missions here have been diplomatic or trade-related. There’s a lot of places that are stranger. And quite a few that are more dangerous than I’d ever want to take you.”
“What?” Isabella asked playfully. “You think I can’t take care of myself?”
“Heaven forbid,” Aurora said. “It’s more that only sourceformers can adapt enough. Get too far away from your native world and the rules get… different. Enough so that you’d need constant support just to survive, or even exist.”
“Oh,” Isabella said. To Aurora’s surprise, she sounded genuinely disappointed. Maybe she really had expected to go everywhere Aurora could go?
Dang, she hadn’t thought of that. There were so many things Aurora took for granted now. She wasn’t the best teacher, either. And her teachers at the Dawning… well, they probably wouldn’t look too kindly on spilling all their secrets to a random Earth-born. What should she say? She didn’t want Isabella to feel like –
“Is that ice cream?” Isabella exclaimed, jumping from the bench as a cart started rolling up. “This place is too damn hot to skip out!”
Aurora laughed and ran after her. Okay, maybe there wasn’t really a problem.