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Preparation Required
Home was busy.  Much busier than the short time she'd spent in Moscow.  And with her father in the hospital it had been even crazier.  

But now this power she had.  She hadn't even known she'd had it.  But now it existed.  Everyone knew it existed.  Hiding it had been easy - she hadn't known to do it.  And now there were others like her.  But home felt so far away now that she was here again.  

The City was always going.  Her work never ending.  The bikes never stopped coming in.  It was her thing, but this world was so much bigger now.  The first day while she sat in the hospital with her father watching TV she started tapping away at something. 

That something turned into more.  And each day until the day her father came home it became a piece of art in her mind.  The words flowed and the ideas were bright.  Theories were something, practice was another, but she didn't know enough, there was a lot more things to do.  She had all these theories about how the power might be able to strengthen the metals.  But she had no real idea of how that might be possible.  Earth and fire could easily smelt.  And water could squelch, it was all in basic metal working class.  Infusing the elements into the metal.  But she didn't know anything about smelting or metal working beyond the theory. That's what school was for...

Ilesha started looking at schools, and her eyes kept drifting towards Moscow.  The University there was exceptional, the power floated around that place like it was nothing.  And it was prosperous.  She'd never be without work, and a great education.

So she applied to the school in graduate program in whatever mechanical oriented programs that would take her.  Her application essay was the piece of art she'd written while she was in the hospital watching over her father.  She was proud of it.  

Ilesha hit submit and off it went in all it's mechanical glory.  This power could save the world.

Several days after Ilesha sent the application in she received a letter from the CCD.  Her mother looked at her with grim worry but her father was looking at the official seal of the New Consult that had been created to handle the 'magical things.'  He smiled at her and nodded, "Whatever it is, we support your wishes.  If they are hunting you down for your power, we'll hide you.   You'll be the New York City Anne Frank.  If they want you to work for them.  I'm so proud of you."

"I doubt it's anything like that Dad."  She said.  But she tore the letter open and what she read had surprised her.  "They want me to come talk about my essay I wrote in my application."

And that was how Ilesha found herself sitting in the Moscow University Library flipping through chemistry and metallurgy books trying to bone up her expertise on the things she was speaking about before her meeting with the consulate the next day.  

It wasn't a difficult subject but thinking about it in the new perspective was fun.  What she thought was real was now putting a new spin on everything she now knew.
Liv rubbed her temples, trying to dispel the ache that hovered behind her eyes. She wanted to call mother and ask her why any of this was useful. Why did she care about the Shannon-Hartley theorem? So what if it gave the maximum amount of information that could be transmitted over a specific time and rate.

But she knew mother. "You're thinking linearly, Liv. Think longitudinally. Instead of information transmission through space, think over time." Yeah yeah yeah. And genetic data is information that is transmitted from one generation to the next, over billions of years. Transmission errors from mutations and other processes can be quantified as Guassian white noise. Therefore....

Fine. So she got it. Information Theory and Microbiology went hand in hand. It was why all MB undergrads took those classes. And maybe if she had eaten- or was in a better mood- she'd not be so irritated.

No. She was tired. She looked out the window, watching the students outside the library walk around. She found herself imagining who they might be. What their story was.

Lost in reverie, she didn't notice herself drifting off. Until a snort and almost falling out of her chair- or at least feeling like she was- woke her up. She flushed red, looking around to see if anyone noticed.
The girl sitting across from her nodded off and woke her self with a snort.  Ilesha smiled, she remembered those long nights of studying.  Though it had all really come easy and they were few and far between.  This was for fun.  Well mostly not to look like an idiot for her meeting tomorrow.

Ilesha smiled when the girl looked around to see if anyone had noticed.  "I have an extra coffee if you want one?"  She always brought two, coffee was life when you were studying.

Liv looked up to see the source of the voice. She was inclined to say no, but....well the coffee would just get cold. "Thank you, you're a lifesaver." She took the offered cup. "Im Liv."

"Ilesha." She smiled back in response. It was nice to meet new people who didn't expect much from you other than to be left alone. "Hopefully the coffee will help. Long night?"

Liv laughed. "i guess. Just tired." She rubbed her eyes before taking a sip. The warm liquid seemed to dribble down her throat, infusing her with energy. She tapped the cover of her book.."Information theory....guess you need the right.mood." she looked at the window again. She hadn't slept long, obviously. No drool.marks on her clothes either.

Ilesha nodded and flipped a few pages of the book, but it was getting stale in here. She wondered if there was a balcony or something, probably not they didn't want their precious books to disappear. The garden view was nice, but she wished she could sit outside. It wasn't nearly as cold as it had been and it was getting warmer every day. Soon she could work outside on the bikes and it would be nice. Ilesha wondered if there were any shops looking to hire. She'd need something to do in her free time. Work and no play made a day very boring.

"Metallurgy and chemical bonds is about the same I think. Dry. Might need to take it someplace more lively. But not too much or insanity might ensue."
Liv took another sip. The coffee was warm and yet refreshing all the same. Still, here back in the stacks, the library had taken on a stifling feel. It felt like a blanket surrounded her. Maintenance probably had the heating up higher than normal. She glanced at her wallet. It was also after 1. Studying after lunch always made her drowsy. She had tried her best to find a schedule that left the early afternoon free.

No sense nodding off in class where everyone could see, even with her sitting all the way in the back so as to avoid any attention. Yeah, and the library is SOOO much better, she thought wryly. She looked again at the window and out onto the quad surrounded by gardens and trees. There were a lot of people out there. She wasn't exactly agoraphobic. But she didn't usually like being in crowds either.

Still, she could do with a walk. She looked at Ilesha, thinking. The coffee had been appreciated. Polite. Mother and father had always emphasized being friendly and polite. Even when you didn't necessarily feel it. Inwardly, she sighed and nodded. "I could use some fresh air." She stood and pulled her books and tablet into her pack before taking the coffee. She paused, a bit of panic spiking her heartbeat. "For a little bit anyway. I have class in like 20 minutes or so."

Which was mostly true, give or take 20 minutes. It was an out. As they exited the library, she asked,"Where are you from? What are you majoring in?" Safe and superficial topics.
Fresh air sounded good. Ilesha closed up the books and pushed them to the middle of the table. Someone was bound to get mad, but walking out of the library with the books was probably a bad idea since she hadn't checked them out yet. Liv asked a few her the obvious questions.

Ilesha smiled. The air felt better. The sun shining down was welcome. Everyone needed Vitamin D. And Ilesha was sure a little dirt and grease was what everyone needed to be a little happier, but it wasn't the physical dirt and grease - just the peace of mind those two things brought her. "I'm actually from New York City. I applied her for the next semester. I have an interview with some local companies which brought me out earlier. I was just brushing up on my chemestry and metallurgy theory before I went into the interview." She could have said with the consulate, but that sounded dangerous. This power was out but she hadn't heard any good things happening for people who were found out. The fact that she hadn't heard anything worried her. How did Ascendancy intend to protect his people from the prejudices that were going to happen? He couldn't control bigotry so what made him think they could be kept safe. No not saying anything about the full reason she was here is better. "What's your major?" Ilesha grinned, "Something smart to be working Information Theory."
After the heat of the library, outside was refreshing. The new growth on the trees created dappled shadows that shifted and swayed with the slight breeze. She closed her eyes and through her eyelids she could almost see the light and dark flashes.

A part of her want to keep them closed, the pattern was somehow hypnotic. Despite everything, she still found herself drawn to the beauty around her, hungered for it.

The sound of the twig snapped her eyes open. Just as well. Ilesha had seen her almost fall out of her chair. Be just like her to tumble over a bench or plant. She knew the entire quad would see it too. Probably record it on their wallet and post it. Just the thought brought a sickening dread, making her want to curl up and die.

She shifted, trying to focus. "I had Organic Chemistry last semester. It was....interesting." She smiled, not looking at her. "Smart....hah. I definitely need my study time."

Her hand lightly touched the rough bark of a tree they passed. "Who would have guessed that they'd find that principles of Information Theory- with its data structures and Kolgolmorov complexity and parity codes- stuff computer scientists have been discovering over the last hundred years would be the things nature has used for billions of years. So NOW all microbiology majors are required to take those classes as part of the degree."

She couldn't deny there was an elegant beauty to it all. At times, some of them bordered on breathtaking. It was a...mental perception that sometimes was as pure as could be.

Still, there was something so very cold about it all. Sterile. It was all imagination. The play of the colors of the flowers against the grass. The feel of media against the hand. The scent of oil paints. The elegent art nouveau of Mucha- her favorite- whose use of simple line and subtle shading and color evoked an entire world. Those were tangible things, sensual even.

She felt a sadness. She missed it. And it was lost to her. Burned out of her. "It's a career I guess."

She glanced at the woman. "You like what you're doing?"
Information Theory and Microbiology one hell of a mouthful but then so was chemistry and metallurgy and the assorted other ology's - probably some geology and other things to go along with it all.  And math - the math was going to be more interesting and time consuming.

"A career, but does it make you happy.  Like titillating happy, better than sex happy?"  Ilesha laughed.  "I love what I do."  She pointed at the library, "This, it's just stuff to do.  A curiosity. A theory coming to life. I'd be happy just working on motorcycles and cars that need a little TLC."  

There was a bench under a tree and Ilesha nodded her head to it.  She sat down and hoped Liv would follow suit.  It felt good to be outside for a while.  "Nothing makes me happier than tearing down a carburetor and putting it back together.  Sure I could be hitting the books.  Or I could be working some dead end job in some research facility doing god knows what, making all sorts of this so called money that seems to make the world go round, but I'd be miserable.  I want to get my hands dirty.  To feel the metal in my hands, and the grease on my fingers.  And that's what I do, this is just a passing moment."
Liv couldn't help but laugh, perhaps more embarressed than she expected. She was no prude, wasn't something she had thought of in a long while. Sex and relationships were inextricably tied together in her mind. Something to avoid.

She realized how very empty she was. She had her family. And her friends were around. But she couldn't help but feel like a third wheel with them. Most had settled into relationships or routines- or had at least found something to do with life.

No. If she was truthful, she kept everyone at arms length- even her family. Shame. She just couldn't bring herself to be open.

Trapped. God she was trapped. She felt like in some ways, she was dying, suffocated by loneliness.

If a tree falls in the forest....except, no. That wasn't it.

If you live forever cut off from everyone, are you really alive?

She pushed the thought away.

Instead, she listened to what Ilesha was really saying. And she felt a wistfulness come over her. The smell of the freshly cut grass and the warm air made her pause. She looked around, the well kept grounds- its overwhelming living beauty only seeming to enhance that ache in her mind.

Her voice was quiet. "When you put it like that, I guess not. I feel jealous of you now." A lopsided smile burst out. "No! Not that way." She paused. "I guess I'd just like to find something like that for myself."
Ilesha shook her head with a smile. "Then what are you doing in classes that make you fall asleep?" For Ilesha it was simple. She did what she wanted because she could afford to. And there was always a mechanic needed somewhere.

Ilesha sat back against the bench and looked up into the tree above them. "Don't spend your life thinking about it, or dreaming. Get out there and find it. Something has to call to you. You aren't some kid just figuring things out. Something made you look into microbiology. Why? And bigger question is why doesn't it make you happy?"
Liv felt a twinge of pain in her wrist and absently rubbed at it. It was probably from the burn the other day in the coffee shop. She hadn't needed a brace in a very long time.  Learning to write with her right hand had been hard. Dictation or typing had become her choice, then, as she filled out applications and forms.

She smiled wanly, not really feeling the desire to go into it. Especially not to a stranger. "Mom, mostly. I just needed something new to do. Who knows. I like working in my dad's flower shop. Maybe I'll end up doing that." It was something she enjoyed. She paused, thinking. At least until I figure out what I'm gonna do with myself.

She checked her wallet and stood, still holding the coffee in one hand. "I'm going to have to go to class. It's a bit of a distance. But thanks for the coffee. And the walk." She turned her head, for a moment, then looked back at her. It was nice to talk to someone that didn't know her. No expectation. No disappointment. No pity.

She smiled, eyes friendly. 'Actually, let me give you my contact. I might need your help with a course. Or you might need mine," she said rolling her eyes with sarcastic smile. Yeah right. She sent the info and then held out her hand to shake. "It was nice to meet you, Ilesha. Thank you again."

And it was, to. She walked on to class- she was gonna be early, of course. She supposed it was an okay day. Talking to people wasn't so bad. In small doses, anyway. Maybe working with her Father would be nice. It would be different, anyway.

The sun shone high over head, warming her through the trees.

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