When Lassie and her companions entered the outer reception area, they found Peter a little distracted. He had given up furtive looks out the window and was not plastered against the glass.
“Peter, you know the big man is not all that found of smudges,” Adam said.
Peter jumped a little and turned. “You just missed it! Christopher Reeves dive bombed the game and scared poor Gandhi who accidentally spiked the ball into Mother Theresa’s gut. She didn’t see our resident Superman and thought Gandhi was playing dirty, so she head rushed him. They should recruit her for the all saints rugby team. That was an amazing tackle.
“Especially since she is a pacifist,” Eve observed.
“Death does funny things to people,” Peter replied. “Actually, it’s all Gab’s fault. He conned Chris into doing it. He thinks he can get Theresa to commit blaspheme by next Sunday. I got a five to one against him with Joseph.”
Lassie barked. Adam snorted and said, “Good point. I know God is trying to make stuff up to Chris, but how long before the cape is clipped?”
“You know God. He believes in karma,” Peter said sagely. “Anyway, here is a suitcase for each of you containing the proper clothing and accessories.” Peter handed them each old leather suitcases. “And there are also American and Canadian documentation if you need it.” He put a large manila envelope in Lassie’s mouth.
“Good luck,” he said before turning back to the window.
* * *
Adam, Eve, and Lassie stood at the edge of a vast cloud that was cluttered with just about anything imaginable. All kinds of stuff, electronics, mechanics, wood, glass bottles, a punch card computer and the newest laptop, a model T along with a fuel cell powered SUV. There were scraps of paper and every tool known to sentient life scattered and piled on top of the bigger items. There was victrolia in the corner playing what sounded like Bob Marley.
Adam cocked an eyebrow at Eve, “Who says you can’t take it with you?”
Lassie whined in agreement, then barked.
From the other side of a tractor with what looked like a snow plow and snow thrower attached to the front of it, a head wearing a wielding hood popped up and long with a blow torch. The touch was switched off and the helmet flipped up as the occupant said, “Oh, hello ladies and gentleman. We weren’t expecting you so soon.”
“Quite alright, Tom,” Eve replied. “Interesting music you have playing there.”
“It’s something new from Bob. He asked me to have a listen. I find Reggae helps me think,” Tom replied. “When it comes to actual physical work though, I prefer Tupac. Though I think he has lost a little of his edge since coming to Heaven. Don’t tell him that. Wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings.”
Eve’s mouth twitched as she replied, “We promise not to.”
“Why the victrola though, Tom,” Adam asked. “Seems to me that new music would be better with some digital enhancement and surround sound.”
Tom blushed a little. “Well, honestly, I’m still just proud of that one.” Then with a sigh, he put his torch down and removed his helmet.
“Expecting a blizzard?” Adam inquired, pointing at the tractor.
“What? Oh, no, not at all. Actually I am trying to modify it to shape clouds.”
Lassie growled lightly in the back of her throat and then ended her vocalization with a whine. Eve nodded. “I have to agree with Lassie, Tom. Shaping clouds can cause problems.”
“Yes, that kind of thing is what usually leads to mass death by Kool-Aid then an inquiry by the COBO,” Adam added.
Tom shrugged, “Oh it’s not for the underside of the clouds. Ben Franklin and I have been toying with the idea of a luge track.”
As they were talking Tom had been leading them across the cloud towards one corner of the work cloud where there was an assortment of tools and something large under a tarp. “I really, really think you will find some of the upgrades we have made to be very useful. Leo! Leo! Stop drawing and come here to help me get the team equipped!”
From somewhere on the other side of the tarp covered object a distinctly Italian voice yelled back, “Do it yourself! I am busy. You are disrupting my creative flow!”
“Oh come on! You and your drawings. If you had it your way nothing would ever actually get built. Oh, wait, that is your way, Mr. I-Invented-The-Airplane.”
Finally, from around a wall to the right, Leonardo DaVinci emerged. “Hmph, well, each of us has a bestseller all about his brilliant art, hm?”
Tom threw up his hands. “Damn Dan Brown. You’ve been intolerable since 1998! You didn’t even do any of that on purpose! You were trying to bag the redheaded maid at the Vatican, and thought you’d impress her by putting her in the painting.”
“It worked too,” DaVinci said as he put down his drawing pad and winked. “Now, my friends, let’s see what we have for you today.” Tom growled and stuffed his hands into the pockets of the jumpsuit he was wearing. Finally he sighed and said, “Well we just finished some modifications on your wings.” He pulled the tarp from over what looked like angel wings with jet packs attached. He continued, “The shield is much stronger and is now light absorbent. No more sun reflections and unplanned angel sighting with these babies on. The helmets are much more streamlined which should keep your head from bouncing around too much. It is now sound proof with voice activated inset communicators, so no more blackout during descent. Also, try picking one up.” The trio complied, Lassie using her nose. Tom smiled at the looks on their faces. “A lot lighter. Titanium is yesterday’s news. This is a new heat resistant plastic. Next, I am hoping to make it clear, so if the shield does fail, it still will be hard for people to see.”
Lassie barked her approval.
“Thank you,” Tom said, pleased.
“Enough of this! Now for me,” DaVinci cried. Tom scowled, but said nothing. DaVinci went back around the wall and wheeled out a clothing rack. “Here is your wardrobe. Everything is historically accurate, naturally, thanks to Coco, but I have also worked in voice-activated communicators into the collards and your earrings, Eve. Adam, there is a small earpiece for you. Each of you has formal wear along with two regular day outfits. Each of these is reversible, so technically, it is four different outfits. On the cuff of each of your shirts, Adam, and the neckline of your dresses, Eve, is a button that will activate a noise cloak, so you can talk without being overheard. It will also blur things and work as a camouflage.”
Tom turned to Lassie, “Lassie, a higher powered camouflage net will automatically drop around your base station. The whole thing is collapsible and attaches to your pack. Don’t worry; I have an extra jet on yours, so it won’t change the weight too much. Just put it on the ground, press the button, and it will be assembled in 47.8 seconds.” Tom said all of this while attached a package that was a box about one square foot to Lassie’s wings. Tom paused and looked around. “I think that is everything. Leo?”
“Yes, I believe so. You can use the rooms in back to change and then be on your way. CIAO!”