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Ilesha  had enjoyed talking with Liv and hopefully she'd be moving to Moscow and hopefully she could see a little more of her, she seemed like a good person and the first person other than Oriena and Claire she'd met and she was normal.

She was up early, her nerves were a mess.  Her stomach felt like it was all tied up and even the thought of food made her anxious.  This wasn't like a normal interview, no - this was with the most powerful government in the world and they wanted to talk about things that were only theory.  And a theory she didn't know well enough.

Dressed in a navy blue business dress suit and a white blouse, Ilesha showed up outside the Kremlin and remembered looking up on the spectacle of the arches made.  The sheer power it had taken to make.  And now she was going inside to meet with people who knew and spoke to the man himself.  She wasn't big into the whole political thing, but even the thought of seeing him struck a cord withe Ilesha.  She wondered if she would feel any power radiating off of him.  Surely a man so powerful had to emanate it.

It was nerve wracking walking into the Kremlin with her leather portfolio and her paper, and a few other things she'd picked up along the way that she hadn't shared in the paper.  They weren't much but proof was so much easier to show than to talk about.  Those little broken o-rings in her pocked would be a perfect demonstration.

It was a huge place, Ilesha stood inside wondering which way to go.
Marcus made sure an attendant would be there to take her to the adjacent consular office. Her meeting would be with him, not in the Kremlin proper.

In truth, he felt a sense of excitement. Applications had been rolling in and he had set the filters in the AI for very specific wording and language. At the end of the day, it boiled down to scientific inquiry about the power.

The other applicants had their handlers. Those that might heal or influence. Both were familiar to him. But there were those who spoke of sensing moods, of influencing them, of speaking to wolves, of talking to plants, of seeing images and visions,  of speaking with the dead, of smells of violence, of future crimes, of shape shifting, of smoke creatures, of living vampires, or witches, of human snakes, of speaking with aliens, of dreams as vivid as life, of people dead and resurrected, of creatures with heads in their bellies, of Jesus or Bhudda or Krshna reborn, of walking outside their bodies, of having visited or been from other worlds. They ran the gamut of everything imaginable.

Force related? He didn't know. People were scared and any and everything that was out of the ordinary made people see the Force, now. So he had expanded his staff to conduct interviews to gather information, to determine consistancy, repeatability and ultimately, truthfulness of such claims.

And that was only a small part. The Consulate focused on channelers as an asset. Which meant evaluation and quantification. Where could they fit? He spied with jealousy the ridiculous conceit that power related people go to the military. Vellas was the hammer and in his mind all problems were nails.

Still, his simplicity was his downfall. Strategic genius he might be. Might. But he had no eye for the future. No finesse. War was but one tool in the arsenal of power. He should ask Vladislavovna or Bykov or Valentin the role military action played in the formation of the ASU. Their answer would surprise his simple mind.

And then there were the legal issues. Meetings with law makers regarding channeler and gifted people's rights, what constituted crimes, arrest, due process, holding, inhumane treatment, etc. He had a meeting with a Captain Drayson regarding an existing police unit tasked with non-normal criminal activity. That, too, would be folded into and under the Consulate.

And so very much more.

Meetings. Endless meetings. He was tired. But this one had flagged his attention. His interest, in truth, as it echoed his own. It had been too long since he'd been able to focus on his own work. 

He messaged his secretary. "Please send her in." A dessert perhaps. A treat, but one he'd earned. He had so much to do.
She hadn't dressed like someone rich and famous, but she'd dressed to impress. Not like the night she'd meet Oriena and the other girls at Kallisti - that was different kind of power. This was the business kind of power and if she wanted to be taken seriously it was suits all the way. But still she felt uncomfortable - this wasn't her and this was not how she wanted to dress. Maybe it had all been a mistake she thought to herself as she walked with the person who came to fetch her.

There was nothing said even as she was asked to wait. And then she waited a little while longer before she was shown into an office. The man on the other side of the desk drew her attention. She didn't know his name, she knew he was the man the Ascendancy had appointed to oversee the channelers and their rights or whatever it was he as supposed to do. It made sense she supposed. She smiled brightly and offered her hand over his desk. "A pleasure Consulate. Thank you for taking the time to see me." Though it was he who had summoned her after all but she was grateful to be here anyway. This was something she wanted to do but was still scary for her.
Marcus smiled pleasantly, both for her demeanor and dress. He liked it when people took opportunities seriously. He'd been something of an odd duck in college, always dressing his best, speaking respectfully to his teachers, looking for every avenue to learn more.

Education was transactional, pure and simple. And unidirectional. Some of his peers felt their duty was to educate the faculty in whatever sacred cow or the latest political correctness that had been identified. They walked out of class, formed protests, lobbied for curriculum change or staff dismissal, and generally disrupted campus. And for what? Because they thought they knew how the universe worked. They thought they were the teachers.

Then why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money for the priviledge to teach? A bit like paying people to hear you lecture. Sad.

No. School was where you came to learn. Not the humanities. What a joke. No. STEM. History. Medicine. Law. And in those fields there was a clear demarcation. Student- the ones without said knowledge. Teacher-people with the knowledge. The sharing was one way.

Protests were for weekends or classes that didn't matter.

This was not an entitled child. Her writings said as much. Still, he liked hearing a person explain their ideas in person. He could stop and ask clarifying questions, could question assumptions.

He stood, shaking her hand cordially. "Ms Fisher. Thank you for meeting with me. Your papers caught the eyes of my staff. Impressive. They brought it to my attention and I wanted to meet you personally. Please, have a seat," he said gesturing to the chair next to her.

After he sat, he looked his desk as if he were just refreshing his memory. A ruse, of course. The AI had flagged this for him and he had read it thoroughly. "You speak of using the channeling power in metallurgical applications." He looked up. "Would you like to expand on that? Explain in layman's terms what you meant?"

His expression was polite interest. He liked knowing a person's mettle.
Ilesha sat down with a smile though she still felt self conscious.  This wasn't her comfort zone - all the more reason she should be doing it.  

"It's all a theory, but if we can patch an engine block with the power, there is no reason why we can't make stronger, lighter and better metals with it."  Ilesha pulled out two pieces of metal from her portfolio.  "It's easier to demonstrate."

The first piece was cracked and the second was the same piece but not "The pieces both came from the same sheet of metal back home. This one is flawed and cracked. But if I use the power to strength the crack." Ilesha showed her interviewer. She hummed a little tune under breathe and the power came as easily and she worked the metal, it visibly knit back together. The seam still apparent.

"Now if we were to apply pressure to each of them in tandem and watch the buckling point." The two peices floated in the air and the air press around the tops and bottoms bending the metal easily until untouched one snapped while the other still held together. "In theory, if the whole peice was forged the same way with the one power we could make stronger and lighter metal. Light enough even for a man to carry a tank on his back and still maintain the bullet proof nature of the metal skin."
Marcus raised an eyebrow in interest as he watched her demonstration. And as she said, one of them held up under pressure- he assumed. He couldn't see her threads. Nor could he see the differences between the pieces.

The Force had male and female forms, after all. He seized it and floated both toward him with a murmered, "If I may."

Gently, he probed one, then the other with threads of earth and spirit. In the one that didn't buckle, he detected something. There was a fine lattice work of earth, lacing the metal, creating tight bonds. It reminded him of trellis supports under bridges, strength deriving from the shapes itself, webs of triangles and angled beams.

He squeezed with air, harder and harder, far beyong normal tolerances, watching the lacy atructure struggle to hold its shaoe. Finally, at incredible pressures it buckled. He smiled, not hiding the excitement he felt. It was different than his approach. But the advantage was that either man or woman couls do it. The lattice structure was actual earth, not threads of earth.

"Very well done. How did you come up with the support lattice structure? Mimicing engineering designs? Instinct? Because you're on to something. For it to usable on a large scale, it would have to be taught to others, though. Formalized by engineers so tolerances could be calculated ahead of time. But I think you are correct about application," he said encouragingly.
Ilesha smiled under the praise. It was one reason she'd come here, even if it was to debunk her theories - someone noticed. And really that was all that mattered - wrong or right. But being right was always good too.

"A little bit of all of it. It sort of just happened the first time. My welding machine was screwed up, I had a retrofit that was almost done and the guy was breathing down my neck to fix his mess up so I just sort of did it. I've since refined the patch, and working on rebuilding a bike back home using messed up parts. My boss thinks I'm a total nut job. But that's what I do, mechanical things come naturally, always have. If you saw the essay for application, then I'm sure you saw the bachelors and Masters in Mechanical Engineering. Looking to learn more about the finer details in metal and chemistry. A research grant might be nice too, make a lighter, faster, more compact bike, but that's why the essay." Ilesha realized she was rambling and clamped her mouth shut and smiled shyly. But she didn't apologize - points to her.
Marcus smiled at her confidence. And her methodology. Indeed her had read her paper. But hearing people explain, even rudimentarily, was a better way to asses.

He held the piece in his hand, studying it. "So....a combination of instinct and scientific inquiry and application." His gaze shifted to her. She was young and pretty, like Danika. And like her, she didn't let it pigeonhole her. He pulled out his drawer and withdrew something small, kept it hidden in the palm of his hand. "Most great discoveries come from instinct, the belief the direction you are on will yield results."

He paused for a moment and then opened his palm, revealing what had been a ball bearing. It was a twin to the one he had given Danika. A thread of air floated it to her. "Take a look at this and tell me what you think."

He was genuinely curious. He had not yet met another channeler who was using their power to probe the structure of molecules and atoms, at least until now. He already knew he wanted her here. And she could research what she wanted and the Consulate would fund it.

But men and women were different. If they were to be doing things like this- and he had no doubt the two were closely related- the female equivalent had to be arrived at her way.
The orb was shiney and it was obviously manipulated with the power inside, otherwise why show it at all but Ilesha wasn't certain what she was going to tell from it. She plucked the orb from the air with her fingers and gently examed the cool metal.

She hummed to herself and thought about how one my look at the object with a more critcal eye. All other tests prior had been of the physical sort, microscopes and tensile strength tests, she hadn't thought about using this power to look at it. But she didn't know how to begin. And that was why she was applying to Moscow University the home of some of the most power people in the world. Being close to the Ascendancy should produce massive advances in name alone. She could learn here. "I can see only what my eyes tell me, it obviously has been manipulated somehow, otherwise why show me. But don't know how to access its properties without equipment."
Marcus looked at her for a moment, puzzled. Given the work she'd done, he assumed she was able to create threads that were fine enough to allow her to see the metallurgical matrix so as to afix the added elements to strengthen its structure.

Those fine threads were like fingertips, allowing him to get a sense impression of things too small to see with the naked eye. Current microscopes used the vibrations of an electron (rather than from the EM spectrum using photons) to get far smaller and more accurate resolution. Quark (usually Up or Down, since they had the smallest masses) tunneling microscopes were also available in a few places, including here in Moscow. He'd already spoken to their directors about the Consulate gaining access. To be able to physically show what Force user was doing at those levels was important.

But she hadn't used any of those tools. It had been instinct and ingenuity, to create them without quite clearly seeing what she was doing. Impressed, he spoke."Obviously, men and women channel differently. When you channel I cannot feel it, nor can I see what you are doing. Same also for men. So there's not much I can teach you. But what I can tell you is that with practice you can create finer and finer threads of the power. Spirit usually works best for me. Eventually, they will be small enough to slip through the cracks of molecules and eventually atoms. They can become your fingers to let you feel how things are put together. Practice that and I'm sure it will help you."

He gestured to the bearing. "As to that, it has been modified with the power. You may keep it for a time until you can tell me what I did to it." He smiled warmly. "I would like you to work here. You will have access to everything you will need. A salary of course. And the freedom to work with other channelers as much or as little as you like. Does that sound agreeable?"

He doubted she'd say no.

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