The Doctor is In (Closed Attn. Malgrave)

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New Dornalia
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The Doctor is In (Closed Attn. Malgrave)

Postby New Dornalia » Mon Apr 17, 2017 5:35 pm

OOC: Done in collaboration with Malgrave.


Estancia Tennenbaum
50 miles outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth

It was a lonely existence.

Dr. Edelmira Tennenbaum Orozco’s estancia was a lovely, wondrous place on the outside. By all accounts, it was a lovely, wondrous place on the inside. It was well furnished, well kept, and decorated with a style that mixed the elegant simplicity of Bauhaus with the dramatic flourishes and flairs of William Shatner. Dr. Tennenbaum often had luminaries in these halls for wine, meals and science. Indeed, the Estancia was technically part of the overall Tennenbaum Institute complex, which meant that science was still going on in the inside.

But, within the inner sanctum, Dr. Tennenbaum was quite lonely.

The good doctor was experiencing the emotions one gets when their house becomes an empty nest. Dr. Bebaus, her companion, lover and well, husband, had died a long time ago. Her two children, Juan Pablo and Paula, had since moved on to their own families and careers, although they kept in touch. Dr. Javier Farrell-Diaz--the Robin to her Batman--had since taken over the Institute, moved out and gone on with his life. In the meantime, she had made massive advances, including the one which kept her alive. Namely, working with Javier, she had successfully performed the uploading of her brain into the mainframes within the Estancia, thus keeping her alive when her own body had failed.

Now, Doctor Tennenbaum was facing that most existential of questions.

What now? Not the easiest question to answer, considering that she was throwing herself into Institute work. One would think the question was answered, but frankly, it was all becoming rather routine. Work with scientists here. Work with bigwigs there. And maybe have robots play her beloved Stradivarius. Not much variety there. Oh, and the odd bit of work for the Reserves, as she did hold a Lieutenant’s commission.

Or so she thought.

One of the phone calls she picked up came from the Government. It came from the State Department, with Norton Simons’s visage appearing in the form of a hologram. The Good Doctor nodded, and said, in her Virginian accented-countenance, “Mr. Secretary. I suppose you have a reason to be here. Tell me, is it another teleconference? Another seminar? Another conference?”

Norton ignored the fact she had said conference twice. Smiling, he said, “Well, actually, it involves science.”

“Vague and unhelpful, Secretary,” Dr. Tennenbaum’s avatar said with a frown on the screen.

“It involves scientific efforts with a nation known as the United Kingdom of Malgrave,” Simons said. “I--”

“I am aware of Malgrave, Mr. Secretary,” Tennenbaum said, cutting off Simons. “A land of scientists, full of characters and thinkers, and one which had faced a great alien foe. So the television says.” Pausing, she then asked, “Where do I come into play?”

“Well, the State Department and the Malgravean Government are working on ways to boost Dornalian-Malgravean relations, particularly in regards to bolstering their technological capacities against future attacks by alien marauders.” Simons then added, “If it pleases you Doctor, as part of that, the Malgraveans have a spot open at the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology. Government run thinktank/research laboratory. I was hashing things out with my counterpart from Malgrave, and well, they wanted to see if you were available.”

Dr. Tennenbaum raised an eyebrow.

“They wanted my help?”

“Well, not so much help, but they were interested in working with you to do any number of scientific ventures,” Simons then added, as if to play to Tennenbaum’s ego, “I told them about the Insitute, the kind of work it does--they are most intrigued. It seems your name does go places.”

Tennenbaum stroked her chin--well, her avatar did--and Tennenbaum smiled a bit. It would seem that there were indeed people who didn’t take her for granted. “It seems that it does, Mr. Secretary. Tell me, are they coming here, or am I to come to them?”

“Well, I was told they’d be sending a pair of scientists to come to you, actually,” Norton said with a nod. “A couple of their best. Claudia Donovan, and Emily...Lowwe, I believe it was.”

Tennenbaum paused, and said, continuing to hold her smile, “Well, if they’re sending people to meet me, then I do believe they need my skills after all!” Clapping her hands, Dr. Tennenbaum said, “Well! When do we start, and where do we begin? I am eager to try my hand at science in another environment. At the very least, it would be a wondrous change of pace from being in this dreary place!” The excitement was palpable, and Simons laughed.

“Well, Doctor, I suppose that if they are to meet you, we are going to need you to clean up a bit.”

“Clean me up? You’ll forgive me, Mr. Secretary, but I would think I was clean enough here in the mainframe,” Dr. Tennenbaum said with a curious look..

“Well, I mean, we could give you a new body to work with? I mean, brain uploading being the way it is….we could simply upload you to a new body.” Simons said all this with a shrug. “I mean, it wouldn’t be hard. But I don’t think it would be quick.” Simons then looked at his watch. “I bring that up because they may be coming…”

Then, Tennenbaum got a call from the Receptionist.

“Señora Doctor? You have two visitors.”

Tennenbaum instructed for the Receptionist to let them in, and to allow them access to the Sanctum. As she did so, Simons ended sheepishly with a simple, “....rather soon.”

Tennenbaum said, with a nod and slight annoyance, “Sooner than you expected, I see. Fortunately for you, I do love discussing matters of importance with fellow professionals like myself. Have the body prepared as quickly as you can.”

Thus, as Simons’s transmission cut out, Dr. Tennenbaum began having drones of all sorts begin preparations for her guests. Wine, water, foods, and last but not least, comfy chairs. Hopefully, it would all work out.

It had been several months since the end of the short-loved Atumite-Malgravean war and yet the Malgravean government already understood that it needed to address the technological gap that existed between the two nationstates. Since that date Claudia Donovan, the current Minister of Science & Engineering had been tasked with recruiting talented minds from across the world in an attempt to bolster the nation's intellectual capacity and bridge the known gap.

Dr. Eldelmira Tennenbaum was one of the highest priorities for the Ministry of Science & Engineering, and after a few weeks of negotiations the Malgravean government had successfully managed to bridge the subject of hiring the illustrious scientist. Since the Tennenbaum Institute was similar to the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology it had been decided that Dr. Emily Lowwe would accompany the Minister, and she eagerly walked behind the Malgravean in question as they both entered the room shown to them earlier by the receptionist.

Dr. Tennenbaum observed the two, and greeted them with a smile and a nod, her avatar gazing down at them both from the screen. The avatar itself would resemble a young woman, blonde, with a ponytail and spectacles. She then said simply, in her Virginian Tidewater accent, “You two must be Emily Lowwe, and Claudia Donovan--from Malgrave, I presume? Dr. Edelmira Tennenbaum Orrozco, head of the Tennenbaum Institute. It is a pleasure to meet fellow professionals with a such a love of the sciences as I.” Pausing, she added, “You’ll pardon my appearance, but I’ve uploaded myself into a computer. Advanced age, and physical ailments compelled such a transformation.” Pausing, Tennenbaum added, “It does well enough, but as the great writer Borges once said, ‘The original is unfaithful to the translation.’”

With the robots out and about, Tennenbaum had them gesture to the spread she had put out for the two, and the comfy chairs. She then said, “Have a seat, and feel free to partake of the refreshments. The wine is a fine Malbec from the Citadela Tucuman--one of my favorite vineyards, although there is water and other refreshments. The rest? Well, a variety of small hors d'oeuvres. Small sausages, cheeses, fruits, so on. I may be a disembodied consciousness, but I do know guests must be entertained.”

Tennenbaum then asked simply, “So, how can I help?”

“You are quite correct Dr. Tennenbaum. I’m Dr. Claudia Donovan, the current Minister of Science & Engineering. It is quite a considerable pleasure and an honour to be meeting with such an esteemed mind such as yourself.” Claudia said bowing slightly out of respect, the Malgravean in question was wearing an old pair of jeans and a black oversized Niels Bohr Academy Jumper.

“I’m Dr. Emily Lowwe, currently I work for the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology. I must confess now that your paper ‘Genetic Resequencing for the Purposes of Controlling Harmful Aberrations in Human-Sauran Symbiotics almost convinced me to pursue a career with the Royal Institute of Biomedical Development.” Emily added also bowing with respect, although the younger Malgravean wobbled slightly as she bowed. In comparison to her comrade Emily was wearing a simple pair of black trousers and a crinkled white shirt paired with a fresh lab coat making it entirely possible that she had been pulled straight from work.

“As for our purpose?” Claudia said accepting a small glass of water and a few pieces of apple from the table. “We are both here to offer you a job at the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology, as i’m certain you are aware the Malgravean homeland was attacked recently by a spacefaring civilisation and was forced to handover our current reigning monarch or suffer the same orbital bombardment that the Imerian nation suffered. Since then I have been tasked with finding suitable scientific minds to broaden the nation's intellectual capacity and close the technological gap that currently exists between the Malgravean state and our former enemy.”

Tennenbaum nodded, her avatar stroking its chin as she spoke. Her guests were certainly colorful--a trait which often translated well in Dornieland. Their clothing was a bit more used looking than the usual suit-and-tie jobs she had to talk to. Tennenbaum herself smiled at the notion that others had read her papers and found them inspiring. “Finally, people that get me!” she thought to herself. Even as time had mellowed her sharp tongue, she still had her moments. For now though, she thanked Emily with a simple, “Always a pleasure. The Novaen situation was a touchy one, but we were able to provide needed technical assistance to Project Rejuvenation to introduce corrective genetic alterations to radiation damaged genetic structures and find a way to ensure the corrections were passed on to the next generation, thus staving off potential dire consequences.”

Pausing, she then said, “At any rate, yes, I have heard of the war between the marauders and the Malgraveans and the Imerians. I have heard of the terrors visited upon both of your nations by the marauders. No one should have to put up with that sort of humiliation. A noble sacrifice yes on the Queen’s part, but still a humiliation to try and save one’s people. And even then, with people like that--they tend to come back for another try.” Of course, she left out the part where she had seen footage which did not depict the Imerians in a good light, but that was besides the point.

Tennenbaum then asked both Claudia and Emily, eager to investigate the particulars of her new gig, “What sort of facilities does the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology have? And also, what sort of a gap would we need to close? I got the impression that the marauders that attacked Malgrave possess considerable capabilities. Not as good as say, the Dornalian Navy’s, but more than capable of activities such as orbital bombardment and using directed energy weapons to their own ends. And also, the challenge would be to figure out what sort of resources we have generally….hmmmm...” Tennenbaum stroked her chin, deep in thought.

"I'd like to talk to you more about how you ensured that the corrective genetic modifications would be passed on through successive generations in the future, if that is possible. It could have an impact on research that we're currently conducting across our research colony." Emily said, the younger Malgravean also accepting a small glass of water although she kept away from the food on offer.

Claudia nodded in confirmation before speaking, the Malgravean rather thankful that the pair had seemingly been accepted by the Dornalian scientist. "It is the belief of the current government that the country must prepare to defend itself from a second attack, after all we can't simply keep surrendering to the demands of everyone with a spaceship. At this point I am sure that you understand that the United Kingdom of Malgrave was founded primarily by a collective of scientists, engineers and intellectual minds from across the world. Since that date we have been committed to scientific development, so the facilities you will have access to will be of the highest quality."

"A few years ago the Malgravean government even established an entire colonial region for the development of new scientific facilities both Malgravean and foreign in origin, and we've received a positive reputation from the international community on the quality of our research and communication infrastructure on the colony. If you want I could show you a holographic representation of a few of the facilities controlled by the RIAU?"

As to Emily’s question, Tennenbaum smiled and said, “Oh yes. It’s in the paper, wasn’t it?” Pausing, she then followed up with a genial reply of, “Well, anyway, we took the DNA of the local humans and Saurons, and then worked to repair the damage caused by the radiation and atomic war so as to restore the DNA to it's proper shape. Once that occurred, the repaired DNA structures were cloned en masse and placed into a nanotech based solution using a basic Academica Sinica cloning device which was designed to produce material for commercial-scale gene therapies. The nanites used in the solution were biodegradable, so they would cause little harm to the persons which had the substance injected into them. The substance would carry the repaired DNA structures and graft them onto the germ cells of both species living on Nova. I worked with local scientists to do most of that gene therapy, although a significant tech transfer was performed in the form of nanites and gene therapy. The result would be repaired DNA structures which effectively not only cured the problem in the first generation, but also would enable the birth of offspring which would have drastically minimized undesirable mutations--assuming any survived the gene therapy process.“ Emily was lucky--the good Doctor years ago would have likely cussed out someone who didn’t read her paper first. Or who did. Either way, it seemed age and the karma which one developed from being a jerkass likely had caused her to mellow out a bit.

Tennenbaum then stopped and asked, intrigued, “An entire colonial region for science, eh?”

Dr. Tennenbaum liked the sound of it. Her avatar stroked it's chin, thinking of the possibilities. In a way, it made sense. Malgrave was a land founded upon science. It was only natural that any territorial expansion would follow suit. Still, it would do to take a look at what kind of facilities it had. Tennenbaum simply nodded and said to Claudia, “You had a holographic map, you said?”

As that occurred, Tennenbaum paused, and then said, “Hold that thought.”

The screen went dark for a few moments. Outside, the two could hear a bit of a commotion. The doors then flew open, and a young woman in a lab coat appeared. She appeared to be a bit on the short side, and unlike the woman in the image, seemed to change her appearance to that of an Asian woman with pigtails and purple hair. Her spectacles remained, but when she opened her mouth, the Tidewater accent was gone. In its place was an accent which was...well, it was close to Sardinian Italian, but it also had strong overtones of Rioplatenese Spanish--the Spanish of Buenos Aires which contained many Italianate influences. And the voice shouted, at a figure outside of the room:

“MAIARE! I told you. This is not my regular voice--are you--”

She paused, as someone shouted to her in Spanish, before she flipped them off and went, shaking her fist, “TOMÁTELA!” and slammed the door in the offending individual’s face. Turning back to the Malgraveans, she then said, smiling, “My apologies. I am Dr. Edelmira Tennenbaum Orozco. I have acquired a new body, as you can see. I was told it...may need a little work. Anyway, where were we?”

Claudia scrunched her nose up in confusion as the computerised image disappeared from the screen, the Malgravean scientist inwardly concerned that they had somehow managed to offend the quirky scientist during their brief conversation. In a few minutes that concern was replaced with sheer curiosity as a young Asian woman entered the room and claimed to be the Dornalian scientist that had been on the computer screen just a few moments ago.

“Dr Tennenbaum? I recognise that you’ve also adopted a version of the Malgravean accent in the brief time you’ve been away. It will certainly help you adapt in your new workplace environment.” Claudia said, the Malgravean holding out a small holographic display case to show the Dornalian woman a few facilities from the research colony.

“Who designed your new body? You are so adorable!” Emily exclaimed, the younger Malgravean scientist blushing furiously as she rushed forward to rub the Dornalian scientist on the head.

“Emily, remember that discussion we had about professional boundaries? You need to compose yourself.” Claudia said handing her colleague a couple of tablets that Emily accepted and took along with a few sips of water.

Tennenbaum was annoyed enough--the makers of this new body had evidently ignored all pictures of her which ever existed and made her into what the cool kids called “waifu bait.” But to be patted on the head by a random person was cutting it rather close. Fortunately, Claudia reeled the errant Malgravean back in and had her take some pills. Dropping the annoyance for a minute and raising an eyebrow, Tennenbaum asked in a curious manner, “Are those….pills?”

Claudia and Emily both bowed towards Dr. Tennenbaum as a form of apology for the earlier interaction, although once again Emily wobbled as she lowered her back. “I must apologies for my comrades over-familiarity earlier, she has had little contact with people since her birth and tends to get a tad overzealous from time to time.”

“As for the medication? I guess I can explain that.” Emily said, the Malgravean rather sheepishly rubbing the back of her neck. “It is designed to delay the impact of Malgravean Immuno-Deficiency Disorder, usually it is taken twice a day but I have a slightly more advanced form so require more to function adequately.”

Tennenbaum nodded, stroking her chin thoughtfully.

“Yes. I have heard of Malgravean Immuno-Deficiency Disorder. Pernicious condition that. Among other consequences, has a tendency to shorten lifespans dramatically. Also induces instability in the infected individual’s immune system as well as mental health impacts. Yes, it is little wonder why my work with the Novaens would be of some interest to Madame Lowwe here.”

Looking over at the map, Tennenbaum gazed at it, nodded and said, “Interesting! It appears there’s a place for high energy research, an area for researching matters of biology--generally facilities capable of studying many things within the pure and applied sciences. Would this be so?”

“It is predicted that I have approximately thirty years left to live so you can probably understand why finding a cure is a top priority for people in my situation.” Emily said nervously touching a small necklace that resembled a small ring with carved symbols on the outside. “Interestingly enough we did not understand the impact of MIDD on mental health until around a decade ago and some like to theorise that it is quite a recent evolution.”

“The Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology operate several large facilities in the research colony, and a few sites on the mainland dedicated to researching matters that cover high-energy research, although I believe they only have a couple that cover a limited spectrum of biological subjects. If you are interested in pursuing developments in that field however you should also be cleared to enter facilities managed by the Royal Institute of Biomedical Development.” Claudia said highlighting several offices that contained a multitude of highly advanced labs, work spaces and libraries.

“As of a year ago I used to work in the research colony, although recently I have been working on the mainland on a project i’m technically not allowed to talk about.” Emily added, the Malgravean comically locking her mouth and throwing away the key.

“I see,” Tennenbaum nodded. “Classified projects--I’ve had my share of black programs, yes. Nonetheless, I think I definitely like what I see.” Stroking her chin, Tennenbaum said, “When do we start? And would there be any objections to my bringing in other colleagues or items from the Republic as needed?”

As she said all this, Tennenbaum noted the ring with symbols on her necklace. Some sort of jewelry? She would need to possibly inquire about this later on.

“I’d like to start as soon as possible, although I don’t know what the Dornalian government would say about that. I can however confirm that we would welcome any colleagues that are willing to relocate to Malgrave, although I do advise that it would be wise for everyone involved to join the local Ancestral Study Group. As for the items they will each need to be inspected by customs but I highly suspect that they will pass through without any problems.” Claudia said plainly.

“If you’re interested in continuing classified research projects then I highly recommend that you stay away from ongoing police operations, even if the female officers are attractive getting shot is not conductive to a productive future.” Emily added again.

Tennenbaum nodded, adding, “I’m sure my Government will agree to starting as soon as possible. We would need to do some paperwork, but I think it shouldn’t be anything big.” Pausing, Tennenbaum asked EMily, ignoring the random discussion of how good looking female officers was, “Wait, police operations? I wasn’t aware crime was that much of a problem in Malgrave?”

“It was during a joint Kouralian-Malgravean operation to arrest a few of the scientists involved in unethical experiments, so no it is not typical but I somehow managed to get injured in the crossfire.” Emily said her face reddening slightly in anger as she remembered the horrible crimes her former colleagues conducted. “Of course I would not of met my current partner if I had not been shot so in a way I guess I am thankful that I assisted the authorities.”

“Sadly I have developed quite the proficiency for paperwork since becoming Minister of Science & Engineering.” Claudia said stroking her chin thoughtfully for a second. “Would you be against joining the ancestral study group? It is not a deal breaker but joining the group would make integration easier.”

Tennenbaum nodded, getting the feeling Emily wasn’t entirely comfortable with the subject of police actions. She gave a simple, “Duly noted, then,” before turning to Claudia and raising an eyebrow.

“Ancestral Study? I’ve heard about that, but just enough to make mistakes about what it is. What would that entail?”

Tennenbaum of course, was interested in knowing the level of commitment the Group would require. As numerous spats with her Colonial Polytheist rivals in the UCK days had entailed, Edelmira Tennenbaum was fiercely proud of being Jewish, and not likely to forsake, in the words of Walter Sobchak, “three thousand years of beautiful tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax” just to earn brownie points.

“It is a group dedicated to celebrating and researching the Malgravean connection to the people known as the ancestors, although it is not compulsory to attend meetings beyond a basic registration ceremony I highly recommend attending at least a few of the social events as they can be quite entertaining.” Claudia said the Malgravean virtually bouncing from excitement as she got to talk about one of her favourite subjects. “As it is a non-religious group it is also possible to maintain current religious or non-religious views as a member so you don’t need to be concerned about that.”

“You can also use it to get discounts at various stores across the country. How can you say no to a free 10% discount at all MalTec stores? Plus I have been able to research some exciting off-world items with my older sister in the past.” Emily added once again.

Tennenbaum nodded, relaxing a bit. Perhaps those Three Thousand Years of Tradition would not be forsaken after all. Tennenbaum said simply, “Social networking. Activities which may involve genetic and genealogical and historical research. Discounts at stores.” Milling it over, Tennenbaum then said, with a smile, “ Consider me interested.” At the very least, Tennenbaum thought to herself, she would be able to approach the matter historically. Or scientifically.

Claudia stroked her chin for a second before responding. "Do you have any other questions and concerns about living in Malgrave? I can't really think of anything else to inform you of at the moment, what about you Emily?"

"Don't cook pasta in milk, add parmesan cheese to seafood dishes or try to get involved in sports discussions with members of the RIAU cricket club unless you want to be lectured for eight hours on the finer details on the sport." Emily Lowwe noted, the Malgravean nodding as she spoke like she was reading off an internal checklist.

Tennenbaum nodded, and said, jokingly, “Luckily for you, I find association football more to my liking than cricket.” Looking at her legs as she flexed them a bit, Tennenbaum looked down and went, “Hmm. Now that I have a new body, I think I can actually play a round of footy. I think I had a Boca Juniors jersey around here somewhere.” Looking up, she nodded, and then, snarkily--a skill which was coming back to her--added simply, “Also, I guess I can live without fettuccine alfredo for the duration of my stay, then.”

Pausing, she then tapped her chin, and then asked, “I suppose it’s obvious, but I suppose that do I put this delicately….personally owned armaments, blades, so on, are best left here, yes? Also, what sort of freedom would I have to publish the results of my work? Also, if I understand Madam Lowwe, there seems to be...issues with cheese?” It wasn’t exactly an appetizing prospect, but Tennenbaum like most Dornalians was a good guest--so it was worth the effort to find out what sort of limits her hosts would have.

“It is only possible for current or former members of the Territorial Defence Force to maintain firearms at home. As for the blades I believe they will have to be checked individually to see if they conform to regulations, although I personally would recommend against transferring them to Malgrave as the procedure is incredibly tedious and purposely long-winded.” Claudia said grimacing at the thought of the paperwork involved in such a task.

“I understand we’re not internationally recognised for our cuisine but Malgravean cooks can get quite emotional whenever you start talking about adding parmesan cheese to fish or....well overloading pasta with strong cheese. Plus we have a wide number of football teams you can support! Claudia and I both support Niels Bohr Academy Football Club.” Emily said.

“If we’ve covered all of the topics about re-settling in Malgrave perhaps we could move onto the paperwork involved in such an operation?” Claudia added

Tennenbaum nodded, simply saying, “Yes, let’s. How hard can it be?”
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"[S]o two simpsons clips have summed up cars in dornieland[...]this is why the Dornalians are awesome"-- Malgrave, on seeing the Canyonero and Otto sideswiping Hans Moleman
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.
Note: I don't do Realism. I'll do Magic Realism, but I do things a little more on the Hollywood Western/Space Opera/Fantasy Epic side of things. You've been warned.

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Founded: Mar 29, 2011
Democratic Socialists

Postby Malgrave » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:28 pm

Estancia Tennenbaum
50 miles outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth

It turns out that it was extremely hard. There were tax forms to fill out, nondisclosure forms to fill out, change of address forms, and a variety of things. It took a guy from the State Department to speak over the phone to help make sense of it all. But surprisingly, there were only a few sheets. It was the intricacies of it all which were confusing. Despite the assistance from the State Department the form took a few hours to complete and led Claudia to believe the forms being filled had been made convoluted on purpose in order to prevent talented persons from leaving the country, and Emily had long since zoned out instead deciding to work on a process to automate the entire Dornalian paperwork system.

“So is that everything or do we have anything else to fill in?” Claudia said as she rubbed her aching head in frustration.

“You do understand that you can automate or at least computerise these processes, right? I mean this is incredibly inefficient.” Emily added appearing strangely energetic despite the ordeal the trio had just faced.

The State Department Guy said simply, “Oh, we did computerize them, ma’am. Technically, I mean, you could have done this via a fillable form online.” Looking horrified at the fact the three had spent so much time using paper forms, he then added, “Well. That escalated quickly. Anyway, I do apologize for the trouble. Likely someone miscommunicated. I see someone forgot to tell the Good Doctor about that. Anyway, it’s done.”

Dr. Tennenbaum frowned.

“This isn’t funny, my good man. Not at all.”

“Look, I’m not joking. I was going to ask why someone on your end was insisting on using--”

He then paused.

“Anyway. Mea culpa. I will get them processed shortly.”

“You mean to tell me we could’ve been using electronic forms this entire time?” Claudia said her right eye twitching as she struggled to keep a calm presence. “Of all the State Department officials we had to be left with the incompetent fool.”

“I wonder if it is possible to disintegrate someone over the telephone?” Emily said unaware that she was speaking out loud.

The State Department Guy went, “Look, alright? I fucked up, I’m sorry. Alright?” Almost panicking at the prospect of a career ended right then and there, State Department Guy went, “Look. I can make it up to you. No need for disintegrations. Just--”

Tennenbaum said, embarassed, “Just process the forms. I will be speaking to the Secretary of State himself. I am sure he will find more suitable work for you, you incompetent cretin!” Her old acid-sour tongue was coming back, bit by bit.

At that, the State Department Guy, looking around, went, “Well, I suppose I you with science? I know a guy who’s looking for work! Like, real science work. Not as a test subject.”

“I doubt that you know anyone of suitable intelligence, but I will give you the chance to prove that your “friend” has the qualifications needed to work in Malgrave.” Claudia said entirely unimpressed with the entire ideal.

“We don’t even utilise sentient life forms as test subjects until the experiments enter the trial phase of development. Although I am currently taking part in two trials myself.” Emily remarked without further comment.

The State Department Guy disappeared, and then reappeared with a dossier. It showed an image of a woman who looked like a human woman from the midsection up. However, she had a snake’s body in her lower half which was rather large.

“You may like this lady. Dr. Aurelia Steenkamp. Works currently for an outfit known as PharmCo. Worked on the team which developed multiple curatives, including Neobactia, a pharmaceutical known for inducing rapid healing in those suffering from trauma. She’s a Siristader Lamian--her people eat lots of meat, and a very healthy drive, but they are experts in chemistry and pharmaceuticals. They use them to make both poisons and curatives. I’ve enclosed a copy of one of her papers, entitled ‘Using Mindworm Serum in Psychotropic Compounds Designed to Ameliorate Schizoaffective Behavior.’ Essentially, she took a serum from a mindworm, synthesized it with some other chemicals, and used it in a series of compounds to effectively cure schizophrenic behavior. How’s that?”

Claudia stroked her chin thoughtfully for a few moments, the Dornalian scientist was indeed quite qualified for a job in Malgrave but she did not want to give the incompetent idiot from the State Department the satisfaction of making the right call.

“I see. It appears that Dr. Steenkamp is sufficiently skilled to earn a job in Malgrave providing she wishes to move.” Claudia said rather curtly.

“Do you know if that treatment is effective for those suffering other conditions? Oh and has she found effective cures for other mental health problems?” Emily added unable to stop herself from interrupting.
“Technique’s been done for those with clinical depression and intermittent explosive disorder, and it works well as well.” Hastily, StateDep Man said, “She’s done work in matters of brain chemistry. Dr. Steenkamp has done other works involving the brain. Alzheimer’s has been cured, but it’s got a nasty cousin in the form of Algarvean Wasting Disease--essentially, a prion based infection which attacks the brain, causing dementia and memory loss. Steenkamp’s managed to develop a technique involving the use of a brain scan, stem cells and nanites injected into the base of the neck, which are used to rebuild nerve and brain cells and restore the patient to normal levels of memory and brain function, when the brain is attacked by diseases such as Alzhe--

“We developed a cure for Alzheimer’s and these other brain wasting diseases several years ago, although considering our current status it is a rather pointless development since we rarely living long enough to suffer it.” Claudia said raising her hand as she interrupted the State Department official. “Regardless I have already heard enough to know that hiring this scientist will be quite beneficial, so at this point any further discussion of the matter or her achievements in her homeland would be inefficient and incredibly annoying.”

“Technically I asked a clarifying question.” Emily said, the Malgravean taking several steps backwards when she received a rather harsh glare from her frustrated counterpart. “I’d also like to remind people how long it took us to fill out the paperwork to bring the esteemed Dr. Tennenbaum here and I really don’t fancy going through that entire ordeal again.”

“Alright, alright! She won’t go through the same burdens. Just...don’t report me. Please!”

Tennenbaum sighed.

“Pitiful. Get out of our sight, and make sure Dr. Steenkamp is among us in short order. Tennenbaum, out!”

Closing the comms line, Tennenbaum sighed.

“I apologize. Governments everywhere have problems with bureaucratic nonsense, but it seems ours decided to be especially moronic today.”

Claudia simply shrugged in response trying to show that she was no longer bothered by the entire spectacle.

“It is quite alright. I work inside the government so it is fair to say that I have encountered my fair share of nonsense over the past seven years. Let’s just leave this madness behind.” the Malgravean Minister said.

“You also get used to it if you work on any classified projects in Malgrave, although I must say it has improved since the so-called Great Humiliation.” Emily added.
Dr. Tennenbaum nodded.

“Makes sense. Given the priority a regime would place on developing proper countermeasures against further Humiliations, I would not be surprised there would be less meddling.” Looking about, Tennenbaum said, “Now, I assume you folks took your own craft here? I believe I’m about set to go, any personal articles can be shipped later on. So on. I too am eager to move past the late unpleasantness.”

“We have a rather nice example of a recently upgraded Avro Trident standing by at the local airport.”

“It even has enough room on board to comfortably work on any paperwork or outstanding theories you might have during the journey, although for some reason they banned ancient artefacts from the aircraft.” Emily said, the younger Malgraveans smirk implying she was joking about the latter half of her comment although that was not certain.

“Well, it is certainly good you brought your own plane...and that it could go through the Terrestrial Gate systems in Dornieland,” Tennenbaum said with a nod. “I was beginning to think that the State Department insisted on ferrying you themselves. Given their behavior today, I would be sad if that were the case.”

Pausing, Tennenbaum grabbed a couple of suitcases and a small laptop bag which seemingly materialized out of nowhere, adding, “Right. Let’s do this. I believe the Institute can ferry us to the airport, to your plane.”

Which, to make a long story short, was indeed the case.

“It certainly would be the least they could do after screwing us around so much today.” Claudia replied, the Malgravean seemingly not bothered by the sudden appearance of a few suitcases.

“You ever cause someone to faint by suddenly making a few suitcases appear out of nowhere? I’d love to try and pull that trick somewhere backwards like Imeriata, although I would probably get accused of being some sort of ungodly creature.” Emily remarked pulling a short notepad and pen again seemingly out of thin air.

Tennenbaum looked somewhat confused, going simply, “Not really. Around here, that sort of thing--either by technology or magic, does tend to happen. Some Authorists say it is the will of the Dornalian Author being lazy, but those people are of questionable veracity.” She then added, looking at Claudia, “Also, I trust the Tennenbaum Institute to bring us some transport, since well, they are technically my people after all, the Institute.” Leading the two outside, she could see a waiting company car--a four door Nissan Titan of some sort. Brobdanagnian as it was, well, this was Dornieland.

The truck would take them to where the Avro was waiting. It was unusual seeing a vehicle of its sort amongst the shiny spaceships, but well, there it was. The only cousins it had were the odd private jet, usually some sort of Boeing or Airbus model decked out in drag-racing livery.

Claudia simply nodded in response, the Malgravean remaining silent as the trio walked into the awaiting vehicle and made the short hop over towards the airport.

“I must apologise if you expected to travel back by a space worthy aircraft.” Claudia said gesturing to the aircraft in question. “We did attempt to purchase some recently but some nasty political business got in the way, plus some of us inside the government believe that inspiration strikes us better when we’re travelling in a more traditional fashion.”

“I’d like to travel using the ring of the ancestors if possible but I heard it was destroyed during the Great Humiliation.” Emily said, the Malgravean pouting as she continued to work on her notepad.

Tennenbaum nodded, adding, “Well, I certainly don’t mind the airplane. It’s quite comfortable actually.” Sitting back, Tennenbaum then asked Emily, “If you don’t mind me asking--why did the Marauders want to destroy this Ring of the Ancients? It sounds like something….which involves rather quick travel. Maybe even some sort of gate system.”

“It was a gate developed by the ancestors to travel between other planets. We discovered one in the late 40’s but only managed to utilise it as a transport device just over ten years ago.” Emily said showing Dr. Tennenbaum the necklace she was wearing. “It was a day of national mourning when we lost one of our connections to the ancestors but we still hold it close to our hearts.” the Malgravean added wiping a few stray tears away.

“I’d refrain from mentioning it to certain members of society as they can get quite emotional over it.” Claudia also said, the Malgravean attempting to discreetly wipe away several tears away from her own face. “You said that you have a similar transport device here?”

Tennenbaum nodded, acknowledging the sensitivity of the loss.

“Well, yes. The Colonial Republic’s Department of Transportation maintains a network of jump gates--a kind of wormhole/Einstein-Rosen Bridge which can be opened and closed as needed--which help tie the Republic together and make travel easier and more practical. Now, depending on the location, they are called different things. The Hyperspace Expressway is the system which Dornalian vessels use to traverse space. The Terrestrial Gates are used for aircraft and ground travel. One could, theoretically, take a car from Los Angeles to the distant reaches of the Republic in hours. Some sections have tolls, some don’t, and many feature amenities for travelers such as rest stops, restaurants and even places to sleep.”

“I understand that we will be utilising the Terrestrial Gate today? I must say that I am rather nervous about using such technology but i’m also looking forward to the experience.” Claudia said internally wondering if it would be rude to start taking observations of the technology in use.

“What kind of restaurants do you have in these rest stops? I once travelled in Kouralia for a while and it became extremely hard to find food that I could eat.” Emily added pausing to rub her stomach as she remembered a particularly nasty ‘salad’ that she had been forced to eat during her stay.

As Emily was talking the doors to the aircraft opened and a nearby rolling staircase extended to allow the trio to enter.

As Tennenbaum entered, she said to Emily, “Well, they’re quite better than the ones in Kouralia, for sure. There are plenty of options, although many of them have some sort of local diner chain known as Spiro’s. It serves pizza and diner food, including specialties from a region of Earth known as Greece. It’s not high art, and I’m certainly not one usually for chains...but it does do in a pinch. I’m sure it will all be good though.”

Addressing Claudia’s point, Tennenbaum said simply, “Me also. Mostly as being inside of a computer matrix for much of my recent existence, I haven’t gotten out much. Still, I remember working on the Jump Gates--or at least my people did. The principles are sound. Safe and sound.”

Emily tilted her head in confusion, the Malgravean unaware of one of the terms the Dornalian scientist had just used. “What do you mean when you say ‘in a pinch’? I’m afraid I have never heard that term used before.” the Malgravean said desperately trying to wrap her head around the phrase. “Is it related to the time used to create this chain restaurant food?”

“I’m not concerned about the principles or the technology involved in these gates, I suppose you could say that it is typical traditional nerves kicking in.” Claudia said as she took a seat within the aircraft. “I do have to wonder what will happen to the Institute now you are going to be working in Malgrave. Do you still have a leadership role within the group?”

Tennenbaum said simply, taking her seat, “Well, the Institute does bear my name, but I’ll be operating in an Emeritus role from now on Basically, for special projects and sensitive matters, they will speak to me. Also, I will draw a small salary from the Institute, as well as income from the use of my patents. The patents are much more valuable than the salary, mind. However, Javier Farrell-Diaz, my former assistant, will be running most of the Institute’s affairs, just as he has done in these past few years.”

LEaning back, Tennenbaum began to close her eyes, but before she did so, she turned to Emily and said, “My apologies. I meant to say that the diner food was not quite fine dining, but it would suffice as needed.” She then added, “Dornalian English, especially if spoken by those from Hajarra, has a number of slang terms which can be a bit...impenetrable to outsiders. Certainly, the Colonials--” the word Colonial made her wince a bit--”or rather, the Congressionals, found our customs impenetrable.” Tennenbaum then quickly composed herself, and went, “Pardon me. I just have bad memories of the Congressionals, is all. One of their scientists was quite the thorn in my side in my younger years.”

“You’ll maintain a level of clearance just at the Institute or does that extend to government affairs as well?” Claudia asked. “I understand that my current role inside the government makes me privy to apparent classified information but I purposely stick to my role overseeing scientific development and ongoing engineering projects.”

“Oh! We have similar establishments in railway stations across Malgrave, although they tend to be independent family-run businesses and are known to sell rather quality produce.” Emily said flushing red with embarrassment. “We have slang terms in Malgrave as well. It is just that my childhood upbringing was not conductive to learn some of the terms, and now I spend far too much time working.”

Tennenbaum paused for a moment, and then said simply, “Well, I would still retain my Dornalian secret clearance--hence, part of the reason why those people at State insisted I sign some extra papers. Then again, my Emeritus status means I won’t be called upon that often, I don’t think.”

Turning to Emily, Tennenbaum nodded and went, “We have small establishments, yes. Similar in nature to what you describe. There was one restaurant I would go to in my younger days in Buenos Aires. Small place specializing in food from another Earth cuisine--Italian, I believe--which had the best...well, we call it a milanesa a la napolitana. Tomato paste, cheese, and ham, on shallowfried thin steaks.” Pausing, Tennenbaum added, “In my part of Earth, we happen to love our meat products. I can adapt though. If I remember correctly, fish and vegetables are a substantial part of the diet of Malgrave, no?”

As the party chatted and assuming everything was in good order, the plane would be directed by air traffic control to a skyway, and one of the Terrestrial Gates--in this case, the one serving the Rio de la Plata region covering northern Argentina, Uruguay, Southern Brazil and Southern Paraguay--would open up. In some ways, the sight would remind one of the opening of a Stargate, with a shimmering middle pool like portal, albeit one suspended in a boring looking ring suspended in the air by hoverplatforms and what looked like a tower with an elevator in it. The air traffic controller would, in a format suitable for the plane, provide a series of coordinates which would take the Avro Trident to Dr. Tennenbaum’s new home. If Claudia or the others cared to look, there would be a number of aircraft--some shiny Raptors, some C’tani-made Space RVs, some runabouts, and even other small passenger planes such as LearJets and the Trident’s transatlantic competitor, the Boeing 727 and even the odd UH-1 Huey.

Upon entry, the plane would appear to go through the portal, briefly but quickly flying through the ether and emerging under an alien sky, where the plane would be directed by air traffic control to another one of the gates. The alien sky wouldn’t be too alien, but it would be somewhat green, lush and maybe a bit dreary looking.

Tennenbaum looked at the outside and went, “Buenos Aires ATC has us going through the New Leningrad route, I see. Anyway, about Malgravean cuisine?”

“In the period between the 40’s and 50’s our country did not really have the resources to allow the development of large-scale meat production, so a majority of Malgraveans today consider themselves vegetarian or pescatarian.” Emily said, the Malgravean personally felt that meat production was inefficient but she kept her feelings to herself. “We have many citizens that eat meat products, and have accepted many foreigners that even solely eat meat so you won’t need to adapt at all.”

“Do you have any other questions about Malgravean society or any personal questions you’d like to ask?” Claudia asked. “We are quite willing to try and sate any remaining curiosities you have about Malgrave and its people.”

Tennenbaum thought for a moment, as the plane entered another gate, “Well. I suppose I should ask about things.” Pausing, she then asked, “What is the custom in regards to tipping at restaurants? It is strange to outsiders, but the Dornalians as a whole have adopted an old custom from a part of Earth of paying servers a gratuity for good service, usually around 18%.”

Claudia and Emily both looked at the Dornalian like she had just spoken in a completely different language. “Why would you need to pay the servers extra for simply doing their jobs? Surely the wages they receive should cover the local cost of living and allow them to live comfortably without needing these extra payments.” Claudia said.

Tennenbaum gasped, realizing the Malgraveans were thinking the worst. She then, sufficiently roused, gave them both a concerned look. Her new body certainly woke up quickly, and she gestured, going, “No, no. Fear not. We do have a minimum wage, one quite sufficient for basic living. Depends on the County--what others would call a province or state--but I can assure you that our servers are not starving themselves. The custom does persist nonetheless though.”

“It just seems rather inefficient to pay extra for each meal when it is not required, but then I suppose Dornalian culture developed differently.” Emily said.

“I suppose the closest thing we have is our donations to the local Ancestral Study Group, although they go to directly fund Malgravean research facilities and various student science clubs across the country.” Claudia added.

Tennenbaum nodded at Emily’s observation of Dornieness.

“Well, it is admittedly a bit strange, but sometimes, traditions don’t make much sense. I suppose it is kept up as something which is just memetically expected to occur in Dornieland, although other justifications are added, like how it shows gratitude and so on. Anyway.”

Shrugging, Tennenbaum continued to nod, going, “Fascinating. The sciences are definitely well supported in Malgrave, but this is not surprising given it's reputation as a land of science.” Pausing, Tennenbaum asked, “I do wonder about something else also. Should I be aware of any social mores? Like personal space concerns, preference for handshakes or bows, eye contact--it’s a vague question, but I would like to be able to communicate with my colleagues without causing too much accidental offense.”

“I suppose you could say that every nation has traditions or organisations that don’t make much sense in the modern world, although I suppose tipping can provide a small benefit to workplace morale.” Claudia remarked.

“It obviously varies from person to person but I would recommend giving people a wide personal space until you can judge what they consider a good distance to be, as for handshakes we’re quite reluctant to give them since they are considered to be prime carriers of disease and well eye contact is best done in moderation. Are you interested in finding a friend or romantic partner in Malgrave?” Emily asked

Tennenbaum smiled and said, “Well, considering I have a new body...and it has been a while since I’ve been on the social circuits….I am open to the possibility.”

“I can help you find a suitable partner in Malgrave, if you want my assistance that is.” Emily said grinning rather maniacally. “I’m the only one here with a partner after all.”

Tennenbaum grinned herself, but did so slightly nervously. Her new colleague’s enthusiasm was quite zealous, for sure. One wondered what the assistance would involve, of course, but Tennenbaum had to take the bait.

“Well, how did you meet that...special someone?”

“Elena? It was all about suitable reconnaissance and research so that you have the proper information to be confident when you meet them for the first time.” Emily said pulling out her phone and flicking through a vast album of photographs, a mixture of long-range pictures and more recent ones of the pair together.

Tennenbaum raised an eyebrow, and tried to be as polite as possible. Evidently, Emily had quite the collection of imagery, a lot of it likely taken surreptitiously. Emily was clearly devoted to her surveillance-as-love regime--perhaps to the point where one could safely use the word “stalker.” Still, she nodded, smiled, and said, eased by the presence of more mundane imagery, “You certainly have an eye for thoroughness, I will give you that. What’s her name? I may have seen her on TV somewhere before.”

“Thanks! I’m quite proud of all the work I put into the establishment of this relationship, especially since I did not have much advice on these matters growing up.” Emily said pausing to think before continuing. “I guess you could say I was self-taught, and I suppose you’ve seen Elena Campbell on TV before as apparently she is some sort of national figure back in her native homeland.”

“I do apologise for my comrades eagerness, but her relationship is rather adorable once you get past the strange opening.” Claudia remarked. “Sadly my work leads very little time for long-term relationships but you can pick up someone rather easy if you are willing to travel down to Epping or some of the more liberal cities in the country.”

The good doctor noted this chain of events, as the plane passed through yet another gate. She looked outside, noting, “We’re making good time. If we are where we think we are, then there should be a connecting gate to the region where Malgrave is located.” Looking at Claudia, Tennenbaum nodded with a simple, “I will make sure to make time for a trip to those places.” Tennenbaum then, as if by some sort of reflextive need to clarify, added, “Mind, not just to find someone new, but also to see what other parts of the country have to see and do.”

Coughing, she then paused and said, “Wait. I think I remember now. Elena Campbell. She’s a princess. Kouralia, right?” The good doctor then nodded, adding, “That’s quite a catch. Have you gone through the stage involving meeting the family yet? I remember doing what when I met my husband, Noline Bebaus. It was quite the experience.”

“If that is the case I imagine it should only be a few hours until we touch down inside Malgrave proper.” Claudia remarked as she looked out a nearby window. “We actually have specialised walking tours designed to introduce newly arrived foreigners with important sites, restaurants and other facilities in various cities across Malgrave.”

“I believe so, but I don’t really care much about her status in the country.” Emily said flushing rather red for a brief second. “I’ve yet to meet members of her family yet and I have already been told that my family have already disowned me for breaking the rules and spirit of the ASL. Is meeting with the family a positive experience? I must say that I am rather nervous about that part.”

Edelmira nodded and acknowledged Claudia with an appreciative, “Most good,” before turning to Emily.

“Well, in terms of meeting with Noline’s family, it was quite interesting. Suffice it to say, they were quite colorful. So in a roundabout way, it can be quite positive. Depends on the family really, I’ve learned.” Tennenbaum said the last part with a tone of voice that betrayed a sense of “I’ve been there, man.” “I mean, is Kouralia a place where such relationships are frowned upon? I can’t say I know much about it, I am afraid.” Pausing, she then asked, “Also, you mentioned the ASL. I think I have heard of this group...but just to be clear, do we mean the Anti-Sex League?”

“I understand that Elena’s family approves of the relationship between us, so i’m quite pleased to hear you say that you have a mostly positive experience meeting with the parents. It will certainly make it easier for me to meet with them in the future” Emily said smiling wildly once again. “I am talking about the Anti-Sex League. I was a member of the organisation all throughout my childhood and teenage years but I quit the group just last year after I met Elena.

Tennenbaum nodded, as she was wont to do in the fine DOrnalian manner, asking simply, “Makes sense. Although one would wonder why an Anti-Sex League would exist in Malgrave of all places. I mean, as an outsider, I would think attempting to suppress a biological function would not make much sense to a people trained in the ways of science.” Tennenbaum paused and said, ominously, “Unless there is a grander scheme for the ASL to endorse.”

“It was founded by members of the Conservative and the Action Party after the discovery of Malgravean Immuno-Deficiency Disorder, they see the reduction of the birth rate as crucial in the fight against MIDD” Emily said. “In addition they also seek the replacement of traditional reproduction with artificial insemination although internal factions differ on the reasons for this. Some say that it will slow down the advancement of MIDD while others say that romantic relationships are an ineffective relic of the past, my parents belong to the latter group.”

Tennenbaum took it all in. The idea of using limited birth rates to reduce the spread of MIDD was a tempting solution. But, artificial insemination had no inherent property to her which would stop an STD. At the same time, the alternative--a cure--was not quite there yet, judging from the earlier discussions regarding her work on Nova.

She nodded and said, “I see. One would hope of course, that a cure could be made someday for MIDD, which would be the better long term solution. As opposed to say, social control or the use of artificial insemination, which would slow, but not stop the spread of MIDD. That being said, have any Malgravean scientists figured out what sort of disease it is, or a countermeasure to infection? I don’t imagine the idea of socially regulating reproduction in the manner the ASL proposes would be that popular.”

“It is a great source of a national shame that we’ve not been able to understand the basic causes behind MIDD, however a growing number of people believe that it has something to do with our early contact with ancient technology.” Emily said now pausing from her work to turn and face the Dornalian scientist. “It initially gained popularity because it was supported by successive conservative governments, but the current PUP administration have organised an information campaign against the group and they’ve lost considerable support over the years.”

“It is one of the strangest responsibilities of the Ministry of Science and Engineering, although we’re rather proud of the work we do with our comrades in the Ministry of Education in educating people on safe sexual conduct.” Claudia commented pointing towards Emily. “Emily is actually living proof that the influence of the ASL is weakening.”

Tennenbaum contemplated the implications and nodded with a smile.

“That is good. Education is the key to many doors everywhere it seems, not the least of which in this case is the countering of a force which would, in the name of curatives and rationality, promote a regime of social control, government imposed or socially coerced.” Pausing, Tennenbaum asked Emily, thinking back to the tidbit she had mentioned regarding her parents’ support of a particular strain of thought within ASL, “You mentioned your parents belonged to a faction which felt romance was...obsolete. One would hope they didn’t practice this ideology in their private lives. Right?” The last part was said with a raised eyebrow and a gut feeling that she might get a rather unsurprising answer.

“It would be rather political disadvantageous for them to ignore the subject that they promoted so heavily, so they had what you would call an arranged marriage organised by lottery, and they still communicate using email and other such means so any face to face communication is incredibly rare” Emily said pausing as she thought how best to explain the situation to a foreigner. “It could also be said that they belonged to a more pro-technology fringe aspect of the ASL since they believed emotions clouded technological development and thought it could be controlled with medication and other experiments”

“What is the Dornalian education system like? I’ve always wondered how our system compared to the rest of the universe.” Claudia asked.

Tennenbaum raised her eyebrows at Emily’s rather frank statements, simply noting, with surprise, shock and more than a little concern for the implications of the Lowwes’ unconventional lifestyle on their children, “Well. That’s quite drastic of them. Especially the unfortunately drastic use of medications and experimentation to regulate thought.” Pausing as she tried to avoid grandstanding or pontificating on the abusiveness of it all, “I’ve had children myself, so you’ll forgive me if that...causes me to be rather...emotional. I will say that my parents weren’t nearly as callous, but they merely had high standards of achievement...although one could fault them for agreeing to have me undergo that experimental nanotech treatment….although it was to cure a rather intractable disease.”

Pausing, she then coughed and went, “Right,” before addressing Claudia’s question.

“Well, our educational system is organized on multiple levels, and the exact specifics do depend on the County although the Department of Education does set standards that all County-level school systems do have to comply with.

But generally, the schools are organized so that children enter pre-school--think of it as a daycare/childcare environment, but with educational components to begin teaching subjects such as basic mathematics--and go through elementary school, then middle school, then high school. The curriculum in each school system generally involves a mix of humanities and sciences in a classroom setting, including courses such as Dornalian and galactic history, literature, life skills courses such as home economics, physics, along with a strong physical education component. It used to be that many Dornalian schools had a paramilitary component within their physical education courses, such as drill, training in close combat and long-ranged arms including safety courses, so on. Those elements have been slightly deemphasized recently, but are still there in some form. Some schools also have a public service requirement, wherein a student must earn a certain number of hours performing volunteer and charitable projects in their community.

There are also private schools alongside the public schools, with the Catholic Church and the Order of the Vanguards running a number of them. Even the Tennenbaum Institute runs a number of Academies which focus on STEM subjects targeted to high-school age individuals. I’ve had to read up on this subject, as a result, so I know some of it. These are regulated by the County and Federal authorities.

Additionally, there are those children whose families homeschool them, although there are rules regulating the use of homeschooling in each County. Many homeschooled children for example, have to go in for some sort of standardized exam to make sure they’re learning like their peers, usually either in the form of an interview or a written test.

After that, comes postsecondary education, either at one of the Federal Service Academies--military schools essentially--or a civilian university/college/community college, both of which allow one to earn a degree. Many universities have Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, and also sporting programs.

I should note that standardized testing does exist in private and public schools, administered per County requirements--although different Counties administer their tests differently. For example, Mars County administers the Martian Aptitude and Scholastic Sampling Test, or MASS Test, to all students graduating from elementary, middle, and high schools, with the questions geared to the particular age group. Others, such as New Hokkaido County, administer a single test in high school. Of course, there are tests which are used to get into colleges as well (the main test being the CLAP Test, a combined multiple choice and essay examination) as well as for post-graduate programs like law schools, which competes with the Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test, or GOAT Test. I will admit, I do wonder sometimes if the testing is really necessary or accurate, but in my time, I’ve seen tests become more reasonably administered and accurized.”

Tennenbaum nodded, and said, “That’s been my experience, anyway.”

And so…..the plane would get to Malgrave’s Research Colony after lots of small talk. As the plane began to make its descent, the trio would spot high-rise buildings belonging to institutions such as MalMart, MalTec, the RMT and most notably Royal Malgravean Construction who maintained a spectacular building that was strangely reminiscent of a bottle opener. As the pair got even lower however they would recognise that the roads hardly contained any cars or commercial vehicles of any kind, although whether that was down to the high-use of public transport or the low population of the city could not be extracted from this viewpoint.

Cerne International Airport was actually one of the few sites in the immediate area not under visible construction, the gigantic structure was located several kilometres from the centre of the city and boasted five runways and four terminals to serve passengers travelling into the growing colony.

Tennenbaum was impressed, to say the least. It was certainly a growing boom town of sorts, albeit one which was sparsely populated to say the least. Tennenbaum found herself wondering just how old this place was as the plane landed.

Then however, Tennenbaum noticed something else besides the growing colony arising out of the MARC’s landscape. She noticed waiting for the Malgraveans and herself inside the terminal two figures. One of them looked like a redhead with unusual hairclips, glasses, the upper half of an attractive young woman with some unusual looking pupils, and the lower half of a snake for a body holding a suitcase.

The other one was someone she had seen on television before. The woman--a somewhat Asian looking woman with pointy ears and red hair--wore a pair of gaudy aviator sunglasses, a black leather jacket with a symbol on it's left breast--a gold lightning bolt with the letters T, C, and B around it--an undershirt with a t-shirt with the words “I’d rather push my Nissan than Drive a Honda,” slacks, and sensible shoes plus a bottle of some sort of drink.

Waving to the party, she smiled and pointed to the snake woman, who looked nervous that she was doing that.
Frenequesta wrote:Well-dressed mad scientists with an edge.

United Kingdom of Malgrave (1910-)
Population: 331 million
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Postby Malgrave » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:28 pm

Claudia quite clearly expected the pair to be at the airport terminal, or at least managed to hide it well as she walked towards the awkward couple, the Malgravean Minister bowing to the pair as custom in native circles. Emily on the other hand was quite surprised to see the new arrivals and was currently curiously looking at the snake-type individual, a hint of deep curiosity in her eyes.

“Comrade Steenkamp, Comrade Kurimitsu. I believe? It is an honour to wel---” Claudia said interrupting her own introduction with a deep sigh. “I’m actually quite tired of repeating that tired introduction a few thousand times already, so i’ll just say that we’re quite pleased to have you here in the Research Colony Dr. Steenkamp.”

“Is it permissible to ask some questions of a scientific nature about the pair of you? I have never met one of your species before and this is my first time meeting such an advanced artificial intelligence.” Emily said, the young Malgravean scientist suddenly radiating an aura that screamed :mad scientist:.

“I must say that I am rather impressed by your sense of fashion, the wardrobe of a genius I would say.” Claudia said her grin hinting at the fact she owned several similar looking outfits at home. “I’d recommend a pair of wheeled or hovering shoes to the list so you can fly around and annoy stupid diplomats.”

Gracie nodded and returned the grin, adding, “Thanks, Minister Donovan. It’s nothing much really. Just put on some clothes which look decent and yet flattering to my overall form. I will admit, the slacks work surprisingly well.” Sipping her drink, which was marked, “Fizzy Bubbelech,” Gracie added, “As for the shoes, well, I’m tempted to, but I’ve got a hoverboard I do that with already. You’d be surprised how a fast moving fast mouthed lady on a Dystean made hoverboard gets the lookyloos to either put up or shut up.”

Pausing, she turned to Dr. Steenkamp as she bowed her head slightly and said, with an Afrikaner accent, “Thank you, Minister, Madame Lowwe. It is very good to come to a place which welcomes my scientific expertise. I am eager to put it to good use.”

Gracie K said, grinning ear to ear, “That’s like saying a rock star is going to play a song. Or the sky is blue. Trust me, she’s been underselling herself all day, folks.”

Steenkamp blushed a bit, and then giggled nervously, “Well, anyway, it is nice to meet you all. Pardon the tail, my people have learned to manage.”

Gracie K nodded and said, “Right. Well, at any rate, I believe we’re here because someone at the State Department, in one of many old Earth turns of phrase you’ll hear us say, ‘dun goofed.’ I will tell you that said person is currently trading his desk and internship for a mop and a bucket for the foreseeable future. You’ll be pleased to know that, Minister Donovan, Madame Lowwe--or is it Emily? I dunno if we’re working on a first name basis here, I usually don’t use first names unless everyone’s onboard. Anyway, State Department has asked me to say that they apologize for the mess, they done messed up, and it will not happen again. As part of that mea culpa, Dr. Steenkamp has been authorized and made available to join Dr. Tennenbaum on her mission.”

Steenkamp nodded, looking at her new colleagues with a mixture of glee and nervousness.
Turning to Emily, whom she noticed had an unusually fervent look at her, Steenkamp asked simply, “So, um, what do you wish to know, Madame Lowwe?”

“I’ll have to admit that I would be quite impressed if I saw someone like you riding down the street on a hoverboard.” Claudia said, either intentionally or unintentionally hitting on the Dornalian AI. “I should totally enquire about one of those hoverboards in the future, although I suspect that the political protection part of the SIS would get quite annoyed since they already frown upon my frequent electronic and mechanical tinkering.” the Malgravean added referring to her hacking exploits and ability to create machines and devices out of piles of random materials during her foreign trips.

Pausing Amelia then turned her attention towards Dr. Steenkamp. “I’ve heard quite a few good things about you, and I am certain that you will get all of the resources you require to put them to good use. As we have quite a few non-human staff members we should also be able to accommodate your specific needs.

Emily’s expressed calmed notably as she listened to the Dornalian AI speak, the Malgravean once again pulling out a notepad and making several notes before she put it away and appeared to re-focus on the conversation.

“I’m quite prepared to use first names if you are?” Emily said to everyone at the airport, with Claudia also giving a positive affirmation. “I am also quite pleased to hear that the figure at the State Department has been punished for his incompetence.”

After a few seconds the younger Malgravean scientist turned her eyes towards Dr. Steenkamp, the wild look of the mad scientist returning once more. “I’d like to know how you people move so effectively across multiple modern surfaces, how you deal with a potential lack of moisture from the dry environment, what foods you eat and if you are allergic to food, drinks and other substances that other species would find quite normal.” Emily said the excitement clear in her tone....and the fact she was currently bouncing around like a hyperactive kid or a whacky coil that had just been released.

Tennenbaum nodded at the wackiness of it all, but Dr. Steenkamp spoke first.

“Well! That’s quite a lot….hmm...where to begin, yeah? Um….Emily, was it? Yes, Emily. I’m Aurelia, and um, well...hmm. Well, I think I can start with a few basics. My people, the Lamias of Siristad County, as we’re known in English, are a race of demi-serpentine pokliotherms. Cold-blooded in other words. Like, right now, I’m doing okay, but in cold environments I would need extra layers or even a warming sock for my tail here. I’ve got one in my suitcase--it’s essentially a garment which goes over my lower half, and it keeps out excess moisture and whisks away persperation, whilst using a battery powered series of warming circuits to efficiently keep my body at its optimal temperature.”

Aurelia then put down her suitcase and opened it up, revealing among other items a well folded grayish garment with an elastic band at the open end.

“See? So, there we go. Also, you can see in the case I have some volumes. Basic chemistry, so on, papers from other Malgravean chemists..and oh yes, one of my peoples’ great tomes. A classic of literature and science all at once, yeah?”

WIth a bright grin, she pulled out a tome which was well bound, and had a strange script on it and two different texts on its cover. Aurelia said proudly, “This is what the uitlanders--er, non-Lamias--call the Book of Curatives. We know it by another name among my people--a word which means “Tales of Life.” Basically, our peoples’ seminal work on chemistry, contains many folk recipes enshrined within parables, tales, so on. It takes a while to study, but once one understands the secrets within, its as good as a Masters in Chemical Engineering. Although I got that too.”

Gracie nodded, letting the snakegirl enjoy the chance to explain the way her people did things. Gracie then added, “Her people generally require a high protein diet, having evolved as apex predators, essentially. That usually means a lot of meat. Dunno if that’s a problem folks, considering how Malgrave is a land famed for vegetables and fish products. Not sure if that’s actually the case, but that’s the rep it’s got abroad. I’m just the messenger. Anyway, Aurelia?”

“Right. Well, I should also tell you that we Lamias move across surfaces fairly well, like a regular snake. Mostly as we’ve adopted to being legless, although having textured skin does help.” Blushing, Aurelia added, “It’s almost embarassing to say the last part...but basically, we do shed. It does rather leave a mess yes.”

As Aurelia was explaining herself to Emily and demonstrating a bit of how Lamian locomotion worked, Gracie nodded at Claudia’s appraisal of things and added, “Well, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. I mean, it’s a simple hoverboard one can pick up. Kobold made, so you know it’s good--those guys only look two-dimensionally adorable, they’re quite diligent and they actually give a damn about the merchandise. You wanna buy one, I can hook you up with a workshop in Dyste what makes ‘em. They’re one of my big suppliers.” Gracie then handed Claudia a business card with the name of the workshop, adding, “You said you were a tinkerer? I’ve actually been authorized to bring something over you might like to tinker on, although it’s a bit greasier and messier than the usual stuff like computer workstations.”

Emily nodded rather quickly at the explanation given to her by Aurelia, the young Malgravean scientist clearly fascinated not only with the technology used but by her first introduction to a new sentient species.

"I understand and I thank you for the explanation." Emily said, the Malgravean pausing as she attempted to touch the sock in question. "It depends on what area of the colony you'll get sent to but you might have to wear this sock quite a few times, as I understand the northern regions are located near some rather harsh mountains and the snow can get quite thick."

"I'm sure that you'll be able to apply for a posting nearer the regional capital, as I am aware that it has a climate that will be more suitable to your requirements." Claudia said as she guided Emily's hands away from the sock and back to a more reasonable stationary position by her sides. "You're quite correct when you say that the Malgravean citizen is more likely to have a diet made-up of fish and vegetables but we've adapted rather nicely to the influx of new citizens and I believe several Kouralian, Spirean and Dornalian establishments have started selling products at MalMart alongside the usual restaurants that have propped up as well."

"I remember Elena was quite surprised when I cooked her some Kouralian bacon a few weeks ago." Emily said, the Malgravean become rather lost in her own thoughts for a second before she shook herself back to reality. "So do you take a specific time to shed every week or does it just gradually shed off over the course of a normal day?"

At the same time Claudia was distracted by the mention of the hoverboard, the Malgravean Minister clearly quite impressed with the idea of racing through the streets of Epping on such a device and annoying several members of the current cabinet.

“You can set me up with a hoverboard? Awesome! Just don't tell the Prime Minister or the rest of the cabinet about this, they might try and stop it." Claudia said with a slight chuckle as she gladly took the offered business card. "I’d be a rather bad Minister of Science and Engineering if I hated getting greasy from time to time, and I would be rather glad to get into the guts of one of these and understand how they function.”

“So you can offer more modifications? Didn’t that get you into trouble during that winter festival when you created your own mask using a pair of old glasses and items found in a room inside a local palace?” Emily asked a tint of amusement in her eyes.

“It actually reminds me of the time I built a small robot for the relative of one of the Celritannian nobles, for some reason one of the Ministers in the room did not like my use of improvisational materials to create the machine. Can you imagine?" Claudia replied shaking her head in disappointment.

Aurelia said, allowing Emily to poke the sock, “Well, that is good then.” After a few seconds, Aurelia let Emily handle the sock and play with it for a bit, saying, “Have a closer look, then. Just make sure to hand it back to me when we leave the airport, ya?”

After doing that, Aurelia then heard Emily’s question regarding the shedding, and blushed even more. Struggling to retain her composure as she spoke as clinically as possible, Aurelia, blushing a vibrant shade of red, said, “T-that--that….um….well, we don’t shed every day, no, just maybe once a week. I usually shed on Fridays.”

Hastily, Aurelia said, trying to move on, “Right. So, are you a chemist?”

As Aurelia continued to be adorably flustered, Gracie said simply regarding the hoverboard to Claudia, “Hey, as far as I’m concerned, it’s none of my business if you decide to avail yourself of the fine services of Hoverbold, Inc.” The latter part was said with a sly wink and a nod, and a reassuring tone that snitching to other members of the Malgravean authorities was not on her agenda. She then added, “I can vouch for these guys--they do good work. Dunno if they speak Common though, but I’m sure they’ve got a guy there who does. Also, you could always tell them I referred you to them.”

Gracie then breathlessly continued, seemingly intrigued by the caliber of the person in front of her regarding her mechanical/engineering expertise.

“Also, I for the life of me can’t comprehend why anyone would get mad at you for improvising and building things out of nowhere, because that sounds really friggin’ awesome. Well, I guess maybe they would if the improvisations posed an overly high risk of death or grievous bodily harm.” Pausing, she then added, “But you strike me as someone who knows what they’re doing, so I’m still not comprehending why someone would get mad about a little robot built out of scraps.”

Pausing, Gracie then asked, “So, do you work mostly on electronics, or have you worked on other items such as automobile engines?”

"I see how that would be the most effective and less socially awkward time to shed" Emily said as the Malgravean sticking her tongue out at Claudia as she poked around with the sock for a bit, seemingly impressed that she had been given permission to test her curiosity.

Recognising that she needed to move on from the topic of shedding skin and socks the Malgravean simply shrugged at Aurelia’s question before responding. “Nope. I have some training and experience in the field since my sister is what you would call an all-rounder but my main expertise is with nanotechnology.

Claudia grinned quite widely before speaking, the Malgravean Minister quite clearly pleased that she was not going to get ratted out before she could make her rather hasty purchase of a hoverboard.

"It's good to hear that, Graice. It would be quite a shame if I was unable to purchase something from Hoverbold, Inc and I would not worry about the lack of common speakers at the business. It will just give me an opportunity to test out my latest real-time translation upgrade for the MalTec Ascension."

“I know, right!” Claudia exclaimed rather excited that the Dornalian AI had agreed with her. “I’d understand if the machine was dangerous in any way but it was a rather simple mechanical toy that was designed to teach the user basic engineering and coding skills and was quite safe to interact with.”
One again Claudia grinned at the Dornalians statement, the Malgravean quite pleased that she had been instructed to meet with the two foreigners.

“Does messing around with aircraft carriers count? I mean I have toyed around with my share of Kouralian engines over the years but being a government minister has some perks and I was recently able to play around with the gear of the HMNV Gold Star when it recently came in for emergency repairs during Operation Infinite Reach.”

Gracie K looked at Claudia with approval. With a thumbs up, Gracie declared, “Now that’s the kind of people I like to do business with. Ingenious. Talented. Capable of improvising something using scraps.” Gracie then added, “We Dornies like that sort of thing. I can’t tell you how many guys come by my place in Van Nuys to buy rebuilt engines--both classic internal combustion, Tylium fuel, and even miniaturized reactor engines--to customize their cars. Hell, we teach that sort of improv in school. We call it ‘MacGyverism,’ after an old Earth hero from the pre-Apocalypse era who would improvise solutions to problems using scraps.”

Pausing, Gracie K then went, coughing and regaining her composure, “Right. Let’s walk and talk, I guess. I brought up the mechanical thing because State Department, apparently going into full damage control mode and having a gearhead pick the next mea culpa gift, decided to provide an Alfa Romeo 1600 Spider roadster as a gift. Now, I was initially as surprised as you likely are, but hey. State Department’s been making strange decisions recently, so I’m really not too surprised.”

Gracie then spoke with great enthusiasm as she began walking, producing a bundle of papers which included a picture of the car, “At any rate, I had a chance to inspect the ol’ machine. Make sure State didn’t goof this part up. She’s a stock Series 1 model produced in 1966. Has none of the rust and all the shine. Just like she left the factory. Stock engine is a 1,570cc Twin Cam Inline-Four engine producing 108 horsepower. Doesn’t seem like much, except for the fact that it’s also 990 kilos and it’s got a five speed manual transmission. All of that means the machine’s low weight and the engine works less, keeping the machine nice and agile for you and a passenger of your choice. Also, you can be assured there’s no other surprises in the trunk. Anyway, if I had the car, I’d keep it stock and race it around...but I’m figuring you may have some fun making it into something uniquely yours.” She then paused and went, “Sorry, force of habit. I tend to infodump when I’m waxing enthusiastic.”

As Gracie steered her chat hard left into gearhead land, Aurelia followed and said to Emily, “Oh yes. That is good. I have found nanotechnology and miniaturization occasionally useful for my line of work.” Aurelia was glad that Emily liked the thermal sock, and added, “Come to think of it, Nanotechnology has proven useful for making that sock you see in front of you now. Mainly in the material sciences arena.” Pausing, and seeking to make conversation, Aurelia asked, “What sort of nanotechnological experiments have you done?”

"MacGyverism? I must admit that I have never heard of this apparent hero from the pre-Apocalypse era but I am a definite fan of anyone that is willing to rebuild and when the occasion calls for it completely modernise technology and equipment from the past. It actually reminds me of an old MAI convertible I refitted with modern brakes, decent internal electronics and a decent radiator that adequately cools the engine, now the Malgravean Ambassador to Kouralia uses it as their daily runabout despite repeated calls from the SIS for her to use a modern and thoroughly less awesome form of transport in the name of security"

At that reveal of the car Claudia was stopped in her track, the Malgravean left positively speechless for one of the first times in her life. "An Alfa Romeo you say? Is it possible that this car company still exists in some form? Because I have to say that I would love to see it operate in Malgrave, even if the MAI would likely try and purchase the company that produces these fine machines."

Listening to Gracie's explanation of the car Claudia nodded intensely, the Malgravean savouring all of the information she was receiving before saying. "You don't need to apologise for giving an infodump. It's been said that we Malgraveans tend to do the same whenever we're talking about a subject we're passionate on. As for the vehicle in question I think I agree that keeping it stock is definitely the best path forward, although I certainly will look at giving it modern brakes and safety equipment since I believe that these older cars all suffered in that department.

Gracie perked up for her part, wiping her brow comically as she said, “Well, thank goodness for that. I mean, I thought I lost you there for a minute.” Pausing she then went, looking around, “Anywho! I like your thinking. Sometimes, these old birds need new parts.” Nodding, as she spoke, “Well, let’s see. As for Alfa...well, they’re part of FiatChrysler, which is part of NORINCO. Bigass conglomerate, real bad mothers. I did business with them. Once.” She then extended her index finger and wiggled it in a circular motion around her head--the universal gesture for “crazy.” “Still, they do some good work.”

Emily blushed briefly before returning the thermal sock to Aurelia, the Malgravean suitably embarrassed at being caught poking the sock in such a childish manner although she was also thinking about what information she could legally reveal to the new Malgravean citizen. “I think it is already public knowledge that MalTec and the Royal Institute have worked together in the past to increase the performance and efficiency of their computers, commercial residential appliances and the multitude of products they currently produce using recent developments in nanotechnology, and I can say that I had some input on those projects alongside my older sister. As for my other research on the field of nanites I am afraid they are highly classified, although I can say that I hope to use them to further our medical and educational fields."

Aurelia nodded, pocketing the sock as she said, “That’s good. I understand if you can’t discuss much of it. Mostly, I do chemicals...and things….” Aurelia’s voice then trailed off, as she tried to find something to fill the dead air which was beginning to form. All she could let out however, was a simple, “Oh. Right.”
Claudia chuckled slightly before saying. “It’s good to speak to a non-Malgravean that shares my same passion for engineering, perhaps you could visit and help me fit some of these modifications so your state departments gift doesn’t end up killing me.” she then paused for a few seconds before adding. “It sounds like some of the folks I have spoken to at the experimental division of MAI. I mean they’re some of the finest auto-engineers I have ever spoken with but you do need to mentally prepare before talking to them as they’re eccentric even by Malgravean standards.”

“In that case I am certain that we’ll be working together in the future, and then i’ll be able to share some of the details of the current project i’m working on.” Emily said, the Malgravean practically vibrating with excitement. “You’ll also be invited to all the community events held by the local workplace division of the ASG! We regularly hold quiz, film and some sports events but we also occasionally get access to real ancestral artefacts that have been discovered or purchased by the government.”

Aurelia breathed a sigh of relief when sports was mentioned. The snakegirl seemed to warm up a bit, declaring with some residual shyness at work, “You said sports events and other social events, eh? Well, I have been told I need to get out more. I am sure it will be quite nice, yes.” Aurelia then added, almost as a nervous afterthought to try and prove her sporting credentials, “I will admit, I did participate in a little bit of rugby in medical school. My physique did help out surprisingly well!”

Aurelia then said, with a blush and some small degree of nervousness, “Although there was that one time I accidentally tackled that man a bit hard. He was in traction for weeks and it was agreed that I would try another sport.” Twiddling her thumbs and tail and looking over at Gracie and Claudia, she then said, “The man survived, thankfully. We agreed an apology and a modest payment of medical expenses would be sufficient restitution.”

Emily’s nose scrunched up in confusion as she tried to imagine why Aurelia thought their local branch would play rugby, and how a snake-type being could even play it effectively in the first place. “I have to admit that I am not that familiar with the sport of rugby, and I am not aware of any ASG facility on the research colony that currently has a team.” the Malgravean said before adding. “I’d check with the main ASG website since they have a list of the facilities, sports and other activities offered by each local branch. It could be entertaining to establish a few sides on the research colony, although I doubt the SIS would actually let me engage in any of the physical aspects of the sport.”

At that Claudia could only say “We have single-payer healthcare in Malgrave so at least you won’t have to pay for medical expenses if you steamroll someone with that tail of yours.”

Aurelia breathed a sigh of relief which was even deeper than last time, and said with her blush disappearing, “That’s good. It’s the principle of the thing, you know? I don’t want to be known as someone who doesn’t know their own strength.”

Gracie Kurimitsu patted Aurelia on the shoulder at that point. Gracie seemed to exhibit a certain confidence and inner strength which caused her to speak confidently to the lamia. It was the same sort of confidence-boosting fervor that came with all sorts of great men and women throughout the ages--albeit distilled into a smaller-scale form. Gracie, in this spirit, said to Aurelia, “You’ll do fine, mac. Just put your nose to the grindstone, play nice, relax a bit, and maybe switch to decaf--”

Aurelia raised her eyebrows at that. Gracie then said, wisely, “Okay, forget the decaf, but maybe dial back the caffeination a bit. Anyway, point is, don’t worry. Claudia’s good peoples and Emily is good peoples.” Gracie then finished with one of her favorite phrases. “You’ve got this, bubi.”

Turning to Claudia, Gracie K then began tapping her own chin contemplatively and pursing her face with a serious expression for a few moments. She then brightened up and declared, flashing her ever present charming grin, “I’ll take you up on that offer, Minister Donovan. Way I see it, I’m not bound to my desk and I get to travel a lot. Besides, I need the practice, y’know?” Pausing, she then asked, “When’s a good time for you?”

Emily turned to Aurelia saying. “...I have no idea what they’re talking about. I think it’s best if we just focused on talking about some of the exciting projects you’re going to be able to work on here at the research colony”

At that Claudia seemed to freeze for a second as she began using her MalTec Ascension to check her upcoming schedule for the next few weeks, the Malgravean giving a heavy sigh as she realised just how heavy her timeline was going to be for the foreseeable future saying. “I’d love to be able to arrange a meeting next week but all my hours are already filled with time set aside for current engagements and required breaks for hygiene, rest and food.” pausing to look further into the future she then said. “In theory I should be able to use some excuse to bail out of an ASG appointment so I could get to work in around two weeks.”

As Claudia sent over details of her “available” meeting time Emily led the group towards an awaiting Nissan Serena, with the doors automatically opening when it detected the arrival of the young Malgravean scientist. When they entered the vehicle Gracie and the new Malgravean citizens would recognise that the car had no driver, although it retained the equipment needed for someone to drive it manually.

Claudia then said “Serena, take us to the regional headquarters of the Royal Institute for the Advancement of Universal Technology in Admah.”

In a space of a few seconds the vehicle began to move away from the airport and head towards the motorway network that would lead them towards Admah.
Frenequesta wrote:Well-dressed mad scientists with an edge.

United Kingdom of Malgrave (1910-)
Population: 331 million
GDP Per Capita: 42,000 dollars
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