Part two is here.
Fury and Liliana get into a little trouble at a meet and greet for the university.
Liliana returned a few minutes later, dressed in one of Fiera's new outfits. It was a little tight on her but it was more decent than torn clothing. Fiera was in the food prep unit cooking. “That smells wonderful,” Liliana said. “I don't think I've had food from the colonies before. Everything I've had came from the replicator.”
“I hate replicator food,” Fiera said. “I don't like the synthetic taste.”
“What are you fixing?” Liliana asked.
“Pasta with vegetables and some balsamic vinegar and garlic,” Fiera said. “It's quick and easy, and I have all the ingredients handy. It's also one of my favorite dishes, which is probably why my father made sure I had all the necessary ingredients.”
“It sounds interesting,” Liliana said.
“It can be intense if you're not used to fresh food,” Fiera said.
“Do you have anything to drink?” Liliana asked.
“There's water, or you can look in the fridge,” Fiera said.
Liliana opened up the fridge. “You have real juice in here,” she said.
“Help yourself,” Fiera said. “I don't mind.”
“I've only had real juice twice in my life,” Liliana said. “I never could afford the good stuff, and I've only had it when friends bought it for me.”
“You'll have to look around for the glasses. I had to hunt for the pans. I'm not sure where all the dishes are yet,” Fiera said.
Liliana found the glasses and poured herself some juice. “Do you want some?” she asked.
“Sure,” Fiera said.
“All right,” Liliana said, pouring a second glass.
Fiera finished cooking and dished up the pasta. “So, what are you studying at the university?” she asked.
“Economics,” Liliana said. “It's one of the approved areas of study for a Ward of the Planet, and it's one that I'm fascinated by. I'm hoping to get a job as someone's private accountant when I get done in a few years, but I know I'm going to have to find work between now and then just to get the experience.” Liliana tilted her head to one side. “What are you studying?”
“Biogenetics and Intergalactic Studies.” Fiera munched happily on the pasta. “It's something that can help my father so I went ahead and picked it.”
“Is it something you can enjoy?” Liliana asked as she nibbled on her pasta.
“Oh yeah,” Fiera said. “I'm not big on politics, which is why I'm not going for the political side of IS but I love history and the only way I could get the history classes I wanted was to pull the double major in biogenetics and IS.”
“How long are you going to be at the university?” Liliana said.
“Five to seven years,” Fiera said. “It all depends on if I decide to pursue both my majors or drop one. I'll have to wait and see how well I can handle the classes.”
The two women finished eating in silence. When they were done, Fiera cleaned up the kitchen. They settled down together to watch the news. “It's all so depressing,” Liliana said after a particularly saddening newsbyte about a devastating bombing taking out a daycare center and the surrounding park and office buildings.
“Things are better in the colonies, though I won't say we don't have our share of tragedies,” Fiera said.
“What's it like living in the colonies?” Liliana asked. “I've only ever met core worlders. I don't think colonials live in the dorms.”
“Not if they can help it they won't,” Fiera said. “Though don't expect most colonials to have a house like this. My dad has access to a lot of things and we run a fairly successful farm and school so we've got credits.”
“What's it like?” Liliana asked again.
“Well there's not nearly as much tech out on the colonies,” Fiera said. “We have some but most of what we have is simple mechanics, not the hard core computerized things in the core worlds. We've got some of the best shipyards out in the colonies though, precisely because everything is made to order. Some colony worlds have replicators while others don't. Sorus, where I'm from, doesn't. The farms on Sorus provide most of the food. We ship in some from other colony worlds, but the twin suns give us a long growing season.”
“It sounds interesting,” Liliana said.
“Well, if you're interested, and I make it home for the holidays rather than just staying here, I'll take you home with me one of these days,” Fiera said. “Everyone should visit the colonies at some point in their life.”
“Is it true that core worlders resent colony autonomy?” Liliana asked.
Fiera sighed and nodded. “It's an ongoing fight between the colonies and the central worlds,” she said. “The central worlds want to move in and strip the colonies of anything useful and turn them into technological wrecks like the core worlds. We colonials aren't willing to give up our freedom so we're constantly in conflict.”
“Isn't it dangerous for you in Sio?” Liliana asked.
“You saw what danger means to me,” Fiera said. “I'm a fighter, not a socialite.”
“I'm not big into the social scene, but I do make it to some of the events,” Liliana said.
“I'll make you a deal,” Fiera said. “You attend the events and tell me what you hear. I give you a place to live and keep you fed.”
“Will I still have to help with expenses?” Liliana asked.
“Unfortunately yes,” Fiera said. “This place is massive and I doubt my dad intends on paying for the whole thing longer than he has to. We're not poor but we're not central world elite either.”
Liliana laughed, a lovely musical sound. “You're better than the dorms,” she said. “I'll stick with you.”
“Good,” Fiera said. “It's getting late and I just got in today. I'm off to bed.”
“Yeah, it's late enough that I should probably get to sleep too,” Liliana said. “Good night, Fiera.”
“Call me Fury,” Fiera said. “Good night Liliana.”
“Call me Lil,” Liliana said. Fiera nodded and the two women headed into their rooms.
The next day Fiera took Liliana to the same shop. The shopkeeper was more than happy to outfit Liliana with new clothes as well. Fiera remembered to buy sleep suits and the women headed back to the house. “So what do you do for fun?” Fiera asked.
“I attend parties,” Liliana said. “Something it sounds like you won't want to do.”
“I don't do parties,” Fiera said. “But you don't go to parties unless you're taking an auto cab there and home. If I have to pay for it myself I will. I don't want you walking the streets without me.”
“There's the university meet and greet tonight,” Liliana said. “That's something you're going to have to go to.”
“Frak,” Fiera said. “Do I have to?”
“It's a requirement,” Liliana said. “I don't have to go but I will. It's generally for the first year students.”
“What time and where?” Fiera asked. Liliana told her. “All right. We'll go. But we're not staying long.”
“All right,” Liliana said. Fiera went off to her bedroom. She cranked up the music and turned on the sound shield. She started working out, running through several fight routines before she stopped. Sweat dripped from her forehead and her hair was stuck to the back of her neck. She jumped in the shower.
When she was clean and dressed she turned off the music and the sound shield. She walked back out and found Liliana watching the e-vid screen. It looked like an old movie of some sort. “Hungry?” Fiera asked.
“Yes,” Liliana said. “I wasn't sure what was safe to eat and what needed to be cooked.”
“I think I'm going to have to tell dad to put us on the replicator,” Fiera said. “Either that or you're going to get a crash course in cooking.”
“I think I'd like to learn to cook,” Liliana said.
“Well get over here then. We'll give you a first lesson,” Fiera said. Liliana came over and the two women prepared a light brunch.
Fiera and Liliana spent most of the day watching e-vids and chatting about life in general. When it got closer to time for the meet and greet, they both changed into dresses and caught an auto cab to the student union building. A computerized sign told them where to go.
There weren't many people there when they first arrived. “We're early,” Liliana said. “It'll fill up soon.”
They walked over to the table where food and drink were laid out and helped themselves. As Liliana had predicted, it didn't take long for the room to fill up. Hundreds of voices echoed in the room, each shouting to be heard above the others.
Fiera stayed close to Liliana. It was obvious the other woman was feeling just as uncomfortable as Fiera was. After about an hour, Fiera turned to tell Liliana that she was ready to leave. But the other woman was gone. Fiera muttered swear words under her breath as she back tracked along the path they'd been following. She saw a knot of people and made her way over to see what was going on.
Liliana was trying to pull away from a young man, who had a grip on her wrist. Fiera noticed that there wasn't a flaw on his perfectly handsome face. Liliana was looking panicky. Fiera stepped up and grabbed hold of the man's wrist. She squeezed and twisted, forcing him to release Liliana.
“That was a mistake,” the young man said. “What I want I get.”
“She was obviously not willing and I'm not going to let you force my friend into anything she doesn't want to do,” Fiera said. She let him go. “Now why don't you go play with the other genetic wastes that make up this party and leave her alone.”
“She's a Ward of the Planet. She doesn't have the same rights as a high born. Now why don't you run along and leave us alone?”
Fiera put herself between the man and Liliana. “She has the same rights as everyone else,” she said. “We're leaving. Get in our way and get hurt.”
“Do you have any idea who you're talking to?” the young man asked.
“Someone who's parents paid a fortune to perfect him,” Fiera said. “It'd be a pity to make them pay for it again.”
“I am Kuen Nakano.” The young man peered down his elegant nose at her.
“I'm Fiera Rezouac,” Fiera said. “My name probably means as much to you as yours means to me.”
“Rezouac isn't a core worlder name,” Kuen said.
“No it's not,” Fiera said.
“What's a colonial bitch like you doing here?” Kuen asked.
“Attending university,” Fiera said. “You central worlders aren't the only ones with money and a desire to learn.”
“Well, a lesson for you then,” Kuen said. “Free of charge. Crossing me is very dangerous. It can lead to all sorts of problems.”
“Funny, I was going to say the same thing about messing with me,” Fiera said. “And with those who are under my protection.”
Kuen rubbed his wrist. “I won't forget this, or you,” he said.
“Good,” Fiera said. “I'd hate to have to remind you again the next time I see you.” She grabbed Liliana's wrist and dragged her away from the gathering crowd.
“Fury, that wasn't smart,” Liliana said. “Kuen is the son of one of the wealthiest and most well connected families in the core worlds.”
“So? I'll challenge anyone who causes me or people I'm protecting problems,” Fiera said. “Let's get out of here. I've had enough of the genetic wastes.”
“You're a really strange person,” Liliana said. “Aren't you worried about what he can do to you?”
“I'm not afraid of anyone,” Fiera said. She flagged down an auto cab. “I'm ready to go home. I have a headache.”
“All right, Fury,” Liliana said. They got into the cab and returned to the house.