After helping with the blankets, Sky watches Alma brushing her hair back, revealing her complex earring. He has seen similar ones before, on the most cherished slaves in the houses of the richest deities. Oh, they did not call them slaves, not anymore, but that is what they were. He is saddened that she would wear such a mark of servitude even though she has left that life for a career in the Guardia.
He watches her remove the orbs and enlarge them to their actual size, impressed with the elegance of the magic she has used to contain her creatures. When the first two are revealed, he observes clinically, remaining objective, detached. It is an easy mode for him to slip into, even a necessary one. Something about his nature, he knows, causes compassion to sometimes overwhelm him. Easier, more efficient to adopt the other extreme. He could go years at a time, just observing the world as if from outside.
He sees how beautiful these Bunnies are, however. He cannot fault Alma’s artistry. Such artificial beings so often seem over-designed, too perfect. These are more organic, more human...except of course for the tails and the ears. Bunnies, of course, he thinks. He flashes back to a club he’d been taken to once on Earth, during his years of alcohol and drugs following that last, heartbreaking revolution. Full-bodied women in tiny outfits, wearing fake rabbit ears and poofy tails. It had looked ridiculous, demeaning. His powers were weaker in that low-magic world, but drunk and unthinking, he had inflamed the women with a desire for rebellion against the patriarchal privilege of the men there. A mini-revolution resulted and left glasses smashed, tables overturned, and blood on the floor. No serious injuries...except of course the women who’d lost their jobs. He’d had to work hard, use bribes to keep a couple of them out of jail. He feels shame at the memory.
Suddenly he realizes that a third Bunny has been released and is walking straight toward him. He looks at her in surprise. She looks different from the other two, her build smaller and more graceful, though she is a little taller than them. Her black ears are shorter than theirs. On Earth he would have called her East Asian, perhaps Korean or Japanese. As he looks into her large, almond-shaped eyes he feels his throat go dry. He has never encountered an artificial creature like this that gives such an impression of awareness, of a real mind.
She comes right up to him, a look of unsmiling curiosity on her face, looking at his, until she notices his Guardia badge. Like all those of the Guardia Dei, it is custom-made to the officer’s specifications. Sky’s is an asymmetrical shield, his own interpretation of the lost and holy Aegis, the shield of the gods, with the words “Guardia Dei” across it, enchanted to be readable in any language, and his name, “Tuma-Sukai,” beneath that. It is made of silver with a background of broken chains of inlaid blued steel. The spherical stone in the center is obsidian. The female Bunny reaches for it, touches it – she is staring at it, fascinated, as if it is a piece of precious jewelry. She looks up at him and smiles, as if they share a secret, or a kinship. Then her smile fades as she looks more intently into his eyes. He feels as if she is looking past his every mask, as if she can see him for what he truly is...
He tears his gaze away from her, and finds himself breathing hard. Confused and upset, he calls out to Alma.
An exclamation from somewhere in the room pulls her attention away from the dark-brown Bunny just floating to the ground in front of her. After an instant of mild confusion, the voice finally registers as that of Inspector Tuma-Sukai uttering the words, “You didn’t mention they would be nude!”
Alma is just helping the fourth Bunny, a male, wake up. A faint scent of wet earth after a rainstorm still lingers in the air. She glares at Tuma-Sukai and says coldly, “All creatures are born naked. And I did say it would be best if I did this by myself but you weren’t listening to me... sir. Why, are your delicate sensibilities offended?”
“No, I –” he stammers. “I just...they’ll need some clothes, won’t they? Before we can bring them into the station.”
“Perhaps you could take care of that, Inspector,” she snaps, then goes back to helping the dark young Bunny up. She will regret her words later, she knows. But, for now, all she will do is tend to the Bunnies.