* * * 7:20 Jan 15, 2052 * * *
Heads turned as a young lady with a purpose walked towards the EC Space Centre. She automatically smiled at passers-by in her naturally confident, warm way, leaving a string of flattered people glancing back at her. Inside at the security desk, she allowed sunny strands shining as if by their own light to fall softly forward as she placed long slender hands on polished oak. Even as a child such assertive actions had garnered attention, so they’d become ingrained in the twenty-year-old. She announced herself with authority.
“Karen O’Bien, here to fulfil co-op student duties in association with ECU.”
“Oh-bee-on?” He questioned. “I’ve never heard that before, how do you spell it?” The guard was trying hard to check her student ID without staring at her almost inappropriately revealing black top with lacy areas showing off a remarkable figure.
Karen shifted so her badge was at a better angle for him to read. “No one else pronounces it that way,” she explained. “The French side of me pronounces it like the word for “good,” the Irish like they’re buy’en someone a drink.” The last part of the sentence came out in a perfect Irish lilt. “I got tired of the bickering at family gatherings and came up with my own.”
“Well, it makes me think of fantasy and space adventures the way you say it,” the man said, managing to shift his eyes to her face. His eyes then did a survey of her whole body on a security screen.
“Let’s not get carried away, sir.” Her voice had turned business-like with a hint of chill as she saw him furtively checking her out.
The guard quickly turned back to his computer screen. “Um, it’s your first day, right?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
As they talked, Markus Roed strolled in and shifted a bit impatiently behind her, ID card in hand.
“Any weapons, pocket knives, or nail files on you?” the guard continued.
“Enhancements to your person? Besides your hair I mean.”
“No enhancements,” she said calmly. “My hair was like this from the beginning.”
“From the beginning?” Roed popped out from behind. “Then the little bangs theory must explain its creation.”
Karen turned, bemused. “Um, sure.”
Roed shoved forward a little. “I see what he means about the glow radiating from your mass, but if you’re finished discussing the expansion of the hairy-verse I’d like to sign in; I’ve got experiments waiting.”
Startled at being pushed impatiently, Karen gave him a look to put him in his place. Except it didn’t. He didn’t even look back at her, turning the surprise to shock. People always looked back at her.
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