Date: Wednesday 5 September 2040ce 1755z
Location: SciCorps Academy, Reno Nevada (-0800)
And here… We… Go.
“Right this way, Counselor,” the receptionist said.
Confident in her circle… Hesitant to trust… Plays sexually dominant to avoid open honesty.
Farina was led down the hallway to one of the conference rooms.
“Thank you,” she said as she entered the doorway.
Professor Huffington, the Academy’s Director of Admissions, was supposed to be there.
Instead, a tall man wearing a lab coat over a buttoned shirt was waiting for her, a folder on the table in front of him.
“Ah, Counselor Farina,” the man said as he stood. “I’m Doctor Scott.”
They shook hands.
“Please sit,” he said with a motion.
“Will Professor Huffington be joining us?” she asked.
And do you realize the Famine Years are over?
“He’ll be here shortly,” Doctor Scott answered. “I’m here to discuss your doctorate application.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Only two of your application sponsors have signed off,” he said. “Emmerich and Ulrich.”
She was certain she maintained an adequate appearance of calm; Her reptilian complex, however, was alert with a rapidly growing sense of panic.
“Ali and Sanchez both declined?”
“They’re willing to sit on the review committee, but they are too skeptical of your proposed research to sign for credibility.”
Sanchez had clearly been on the fence, but Farina had been certain Ali was going to sign.
What changed her mind?
“You’re a trooper,” Doctor Scott asked unexpectedly, casually flipping through the sheets in her file.
“One term,” she replied. “California State Militia.”
Is he using paper to confuse me?
The application itself was always on paper; ‘Tradition’ they called it, though it had always been her suspicion that they analyzed the handwriting.
“Bronze Star,” Doctor Scott read. “And Purple Heart.”
“Battle of Bard.”
“Just before the Wellton hive was taken down. Last battle fought on California soil, wasn’t it?”
“They still get the occasional stray from Phoenix,” she said. “But yes, it was the last time a front pushed itself back into SWS territory.”
“Transferred to Medical League,” Doctor Scott continued, slowly flipping the pages. “Three-year renewal, then Lifer. Why not the first time?”
“When you went from State Guard to Medical League… You were Lifer eligible then.”
“I was considering applying to UAA at the end of that term.”
Am I being tested?
“University of Alaska… In Anchorage.”
“Ah, yes… Quite nice up there since the Invaders increased the average temperature by five degrees.”
“That’s what I hear. Much shorter winters, as well.”
“So instead… In your third year, you applied to the League’s doctorate program.”
“Which was immediately rejected.”
“Then signed a Lifer contract.”
“I believe the Counselors make a difference.”
“They do… You do, yes. But in total… Three rejections of your doctorate application. A Doctor… Reneau accused you of ‘imagining zero limitations to the evolutionary potential of humanity’ and ‘creating a new realm of pseudoscience’.”
“I disagree with his assessment.”
“He filed a complaint to have you discharged.”
“That went about as far as my application did.”
“Of course… But the League did formally order you to never submit your theory to them again.”
And here comes your true target…
“So you’re applying instead to SciCorps? After signing a Lifer contract with the Medical League.”
“The creation of the new Sapient Sciences Division permits me to transfer to SciCorps.”
“I’m a little confused, Counselor… There’s no STR filed.”
“If my doctorate application is rejected, there’s no reason to transfer.”
“True enough. Though most Counselors are choosing to.”
“I think they like the uniform.”
Doctor Scott looked down at his smock and shrugged.
“The one you’re not wearing,” she added.
“Oh… Yes, of course. You’ve only done one round of Field Interviews.”
“I’m in the queue for this term’s round. My number hasn’t come up yet.”
“SciCorps intends to continue the practice,” he said. “So, if accepted, you’ll have to do a tour first thing. We’d arrange for you to be moved to the front. Front of the list, I mean.”
We’re still talking about being accepted?
“With all due respect, Doctor,” she began sounding more confident than she felt, “but if Ali and Sanchez didn’t sign…?”
“Professor Emmerich feels a third can be obtained from outside Academy Faculty.”
Is that even legal?
She studied the man in front of her, finding herself unable to read him in all but the most general of ways.
Though she was most certain that he was studying her, likely with greater ease than she was experiencing.
The subject of her gaze closed the folder then, laying it on the table while leaning back into a more relaxed posture.
He’s intentionally sending mixed signals…
Farina was certain that only someone intimately familiar with a Counselor’s methods could manage to hide themselves from a Counselor’s scrutiny for more than a few minutes.
“Regarding your skills as a field interviewer,” Doctor Scott said, “give me your report on Professor Huffington.”
They’d certainly met enough times during her enrollment process, though she’d never interviewed him as a patient.
“Off the record,” he added.
“He’s changed some,” she said. “Was eating poorly a few weeks ago. A change in his diet caused some distress at first, but his body adjusted, and new habits are falling into place. Exercising some. I believe he has a new lover. Someone other than his wife, though probably a consensual arrangement given his lack of guilt. He’s not the sort who can live with dishonestly, and he has no dread of going home after work.”
There was more, but decided that was far too personal to share in an unofficial report.
Doctor Scott nodded.
“Very well,” he said. “And speaking of… I’ll go see if he’s ready to come in. Excuse me.”
The doctor stood up and left the room, taking the file with him.
She watched him, his gait providing minutia of details that may or may not have been true.
You’re not a doctor… Not in the classical sense. You detest authority, but like Einstein, you’ve found yourself in the detestable position. Chance handed you a vocation and field of inquiry in which your talents emerged. You lost everything… But before the war.
The door opened and Professor Huffington entered. She noted his shirt, civilian attire as professors were allowed at the Academy, nice but somewhat worn. Academics weren’t usually the most fashion conscious of folks. And while Doctor Scott’s shirt wasn’t very remarkable, it did have one characteristic that Farina recalled accurately.
It was new.
And he almost never wears civilian clothes…
She noted then that Professor Huffington looked quite happy.
Losing weight, Huff.
“Hello, Counselor,” he said.
“Doctor,” she replied with a nod.
“Well, I see your interview with Doctor Scott went well.”
“I’m just not sure what I was being interviewed for.”
It did seem like a Field Intervention Interview, but while she had been trained to look for conditions like PTSD, Outliers, and other conditions known to afflict front line troopers, Doctor Scott seemed to be searching for something entirely different.
“Well, Doctor Scott just signed Credibility and Mentorship.”
The other interviews had taken hours, sometimes even multiple meetings to discuss the data she’d collected to support her hypothesis and compose her theory. Doctor Scott hadn’t asked a single direct question regarding the science she was proposing.
Then the second half of what Huffington said came to her awareness.
“Mentorship? I thought Professor Emmerich was going to sign as Mentor?”
“Uh, well, no,” Professor Huffington said. “Both he and Ulrich referred your proposal to Doctor Scott. Fairly certain Emmerich would have if Scott hadn’t, but he did.”
She took the folder from Huffington and looked at the printed application and the third signature, a scrawl of barely legible Old Earth cursive with SciCorps Rank adjacent.
“You’ll have to fill out your Service Transfer Request,” she barely heard Professor Huffington say.
She certainly knew the rank existed but had only casually met a couple Warrant Firsts. She couldn’t have said for certain, before that moment, that anyone actually held a Warrant rank higher than that.
Just who in the hell is he…?
“I’ll get the approval expedited, of course,” Huffington continued. “And we’ll get you into the field, so that will be out of the way…”
She smiled at Professor Huffington, trying not to look completely flabbergasted by the past fifteen minutes.