A Quiet Morning

Both for me and Nichole.  Twelve hours ago, I had nothing.  Now, I’ve Eps 4 & 5.  Four is below; don’t think I can transcribe five until tomorrow:  off to Mass in a few, then making steaks for the family afterwards, then anime in the basement.

By the by, I know zero – ZERO – about fashion.  If what I describe Nichole as wearing is wrong, please let me know.

“Defiant” – Episode 4
    Even with her eyes shut, she could perceive the faint brightening of the sky.  Outside, she heard the quiet patter of a light rain.  Over that, some carts in the distance.  Closer in, she took in the sounds within the dorm itself:  doors being opened and shut, water running through pipes, the creak of stairs.  She had always enjoyed mornings:  the world around her coming back to life.
    Her eyes opened.  “Best I get ready, too!”
    In reverse of last night, she removed the plug from her upper back and smoothed her skin across the port.  Moving to her larger bag, she took what few changes of clothes she had out and laid them onto the twin bed.  The rain seemed to be stopping – but in Portland, one could never be sure – so perhaps her tawny skirt with a while blouse and a brown sweater-vest?  She removed her slacks from yesterday and reached for today’s outfit.  She was just leaving the bedroom when, on impulse, she grabbed a forest green silk scarf.  That lightly tied around her neck, she attached her badge to it and walked to her door.
    As Nichole stepped into the hallway, the door directly opposite her opened.  A girl with straight black hair, black glasses, and a longer dark gray dress looked up, startled to see someone else.
    “Good morning!”  Nichole cried cheerfully.
    The girl clutched her books across her chest and fled towards the stairs, mumbling something inaudible even for Nichole.
    “Nice to meet you….” Nichole said softly to the now empty hall.
    Passing through the lobby, there was another young man behind the desk.  The rifle hadn’t moved.  He nodded to her, his eyes flicking from her face to her badge.
    “Morning,” he said reservedly.
    “Good morning!”
    Walking back towards the Administration building, the clouds seemed to be breaking up.  The other students out that morning seemed an even mix of males and females.  And about one in six had sidearms.  That had certainly not been in what she had read at home.  Under pressure of the Breakup, the culture here must be evolving at a furious rate.  How interesting!
    At 0858, Nichole tapped on Patricia Franks open door.  Franks was surrounded by files, her head just visible above them.  She glanced up and over the rims of her reading glasses.
    “Come in, come in.”  Her eyes returned to the file before her.  “Be with you in just a moment.”
    “Of course.”  Nichole perched herself on the old wooden chair opposite the desk; knees together, back straight, hands folded in her lap.  She allowed her head to turn slightly to look out the window that was just opened, letting a pleasant cool breeze in.  The slow movement of her chest was just for show; people did tend to notice details like that, even unconsciously.  Independent of that, Nichole took in some of the air for processing.  Ah.  Floral scents; horses and their dung; there was something else… it was human, but matched nothing in her memories.
    “Now, then,” Franks said, slapping one file aside with her left and another in front of her with her right.  She flipped it open.  “Nichole Clarke… no middle name?”
    Nichole returned her gaze forwards.  Not even knowing that she did, her right hand came up to touch her left shoulder for a brief moment then returned to her lap.
    “No… no, I don’t have one.”
    “If you don’t mind my asking, how is it someone who looks like a poster-girl for Irish tourism is a Japanese subject?”  She raised a stained mug to her lips.  “Ugh.  Cold already!”
    Nichole loved ambiguous questions; they exercised her creativity.
    “My family background is…” She tilted her head to the side a fraction, “a little complicated.”
    Franks shook her head.  “Not my business, just being nosy!  Now,” she said, returning to the file, “it seems you’re to be in the Masters program for computer engineering… we never did receive a copy of your Bachelor’s degree… unless I’ve lost it here….”
    “I don’t have one.”  Franks looked up.
    “Excuse me?”
    “I don’t have one.  A Bachelor’s degree.”
    “And how is it,” Franks asked, sitting back, “that you end up here?  This time, this is not an idle question, Miss Clarke.  As I told you last evening, we’re hanging on by our fingers.  It may be the 21st Century by the calendar, but we’re lucky to be in the early 20th.”
    “And,” she gestured with her left hand at the window, “you go one hundred miles in any direction, and you’re suddenly in the 6th Century.  So, if you’d be so kind, please tell me why you are here.”
    It was not quite an Order, but it was close enough that Nichole could not dissimulate.
    “I was told two things:  to learn all I can, and to help you people as much as I can.”
    Franks didn’t seem to be expecting that answer.  She stared at the young enigma across her desk.
    “Who told you that?”  She asked.
    “The Empress, herself.”
    “What?!”
    Just then, they heard the Civil Defense sirens beginning their cry.  They both stared out the window.  The older woman stood slowly.
    “Oh, my God.”  Patricia Franks said softly.  “Not again.”

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