When Jay asked if I would eat lunch with her, I wondered if we’d go out somewhere but she just took me to a part of the building I had never been in before. I realized it was her office, and I nervously sat down near her desk.
“I figure you need to talk to me about something?” I asked, pulling a container of food out of my bag.
Jay sat down at her desk and watched me with careful eyes. “You came back from your leave a little early. So to speak. You did request extra leave… however, you came back before that was over.”
I no longer had an appetite so I just poked at the food. “Is that a problem?”
“No,” was her answer. “It pleases me. Perhaps Ancora will be available for your visit sooner. In fact, I’ve been thinking about you a lot. Perhaps… I was wrong. Perhaps you should be working at a higher level.”
I nearly dropped my fork. “I thought that was supposed to happen after a year.”
She shrugged and began examining her nails. “Hard work should be rewarded, no?”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked, snapping the container lid shut and putting it back in my bag. “Doctor… I appreciate the offer. I just want to know why. Hard work? I just came back after two and a half months of leave.”
“Would you normally ask an employer why you receive a promotion?” she inquired. I shook my head and she smirked. “Why am I different?”
I think that’s the question on everyone’s mind, I thought. “I’m just confused,” I said, hoping I wasn’t smirking back. “So am I… I’m getting that promotion?”
“Yes,” she said. “I think a month would be a good time. That will give me the chance to organize…” She trailed off and pretended to look a bit flustered, but I could see through it. She meant to say that, I knew she did. To bait me. And I was curious to know what she’d have to organize. But I decided to just let it pass this time.
“Good,” I said. “A month sounds perfect. Well, I should be going.” I stood up, grabbing my stuff and picking the fork up off the floor from where it had dropped.
Jay looked annoyed, to my amusement. “Yes. Well. I am sorry I have not had time to send a note of congratulations for your triplets. Named after characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, I understand.”
I was at the door, my hand on the knob. “Yes,” I said quietly. “Viola, Sebastian, and Cesario. How did you know?” I turned but she was back in smirk mode.
“Shame a man using his intellect for such bawdry tales has been elevated to such esteem.” She picked up a pen and clipboard, turning her chair so the back was to me. “Intellect should be used for more… progressive ideas. I’m sure you agree.”
“Sure…” I opened the door and quickly left, not liking the idea she knew about my kids’ names since I didn’t think anyone at work did–not even Kay.
Working again helped settle me down, even if Kellen’s mom wound me up. I was even happier spending times with my kids now, in the evenings and on weekends when I didn’t work. Sleep wasn’t perfect but that didn’t bother me too much. I took to eating lunch by myself in my office after a half-hour nap.
My promotion came, and I was excited. I knew that this meant I’d finally be able to visit Ancora. The night before I was promised by Kay to be taken there, I asked Kellen what the village was like.
“Small,” was his answer. “But nice. The villagers are nice but you know that, you’ve talked with them before.” I nodded and urged him to continue. “The population is less than a hundred. They are very self-sufficient. Farmers supply everything. Oh, you’ll see tomorrow. Why such the curiosity?”
I shrugged and snuggled up against him. “I dunno, I just am. Oh, I’ll get that,” I added as Cesario’s lustful wail started, following closely by Viola’s cry.
Kay was the one to take me to the village. I was trying not to show how excited I was, and all I could think of was Kellen’s words. Why so curious? I had no idea. Part of it was knowing that this town was the whole reason for Acinert. For Jay being here. Maybe seeing Ancora for myself… I’ll understand a little more about her. Well, very little. Well, maybe an iota. Well… maybe.
Kay pulled up in a little grassy field and we walked through some trees for a bit before coming across a very tall, strong gate. There were stone walls all around the area, preventing me from seeing much. I could see a bit of the town, and two red people on the other side of the gate.
“Miss Danevbie!” one of the said when we arrived at the gate. “Remember me? Ross?”
I smiled at the young man. “I remember you. How are you doing?”
He grinned at me as Kay unlocked the gate on his side. “I’m doing great. I’ve started working. Oh, this is my father.” He indicated the other red sim who was unlocking the other side of the gate. “Can I pull it open?”
The older man rolled his eyes. “I suppose.”
Ross grabbed one of the handles and began pulling. I could tell the gate was heavy, but he managed to get it swung all the way open. Then he bowed as we came in. “Welcome to Ancora!”
The gates shut and Kay reached through to lock the outside of the gate, while Ross’s father locked the inside. Then I noticed two more locks where the gate met the wall. Quite the security. But I didn’t have much mind for that now. I bid Ross farewell then turned to get my first proper look of the village.
It was a bit away, though not too far. There was a cluster of buildings in the center, then a few buildings here and there closer to the great wall that surrounded the place. Kay and I went towards the cluster of buildings and I tried not to stare. There were rainbow sims everywhere, and I recognized a few of them as ones I had talked to before. I also spotted a few of the workers of Acinert, and then I saw Kellen.
He excused himself from his conversation and sauntered over. “Well, Mrs. Danevbie. Welcome to Ancora. Is it all you imagined?”
I grinned, trying not to smack him. “I think it’s a nice little place.”
Kellen glanced at Kay. “Well, um, I should get back to work. Professor Dearg, nice to see you too…”
“Y-you t-too,” Kay stammered.
Kellen looked at him, then back at me and I saw slight confusion on his face for a second. Then he shrugged, and went back to the conversation he was having with a little girl who wasn’t something I expected of a rainbow.
But she was adorable. I saw another colorless person down the street, carrying a large basket of fruit. “We h-have a f-few of them,” Kay said when I asked. “The W-Wing f-family, and th-the Beason f-family.”
As we walked around, I felt slightly… disappointed. After all this time, suddenly being dropped down into Ancora, finding out there wasn’t anything particularly special about it–yes, I was disappointed. But still intrigued.
As the weeks went by, I visited Ancora whenever I could to figure out what it was about the place. Since I was more or less my own boss, I assigned myself to all the projects that took me there even if they weren’t particularly interesting. Going in and collecting blood samples wasn’t exactly pushing the horizon of my intellect, but I had to figure out what it was. Ancora was… well, I didn’t know. But there was something.
“You’re imagining things,” Kellen said when I told him about my curiosity. “Ancora is… just a little village, full of rainbows, under study.”
I ran my finger over my lips, trying to think. “Why is it under study? Why does it even exist? I mean, surely Acinert could find volunteers elsewhere. What exactly is Acinert studying?”
Kellen opened his mouth then closed it. “Different things.” I gave him a look and he chuckled. “You’re putting way too much into this, Lune.” He kissed my forehead and went to check on Sebastian.
I stayed where I was, sort of drifting off as I thought. Was I really putting too much into this? Was I thinking there was something there, because I wanted something to be there?