NEW Story: Drip
The daughter of a Soviet expat and Hong Konger deckhand, Ayn Rumouisen has never stepped foot outside of Vekllei. A serious fear of flying and the open ocean has hedged her appetite for travel for all of her thirty-two years. She is well respected as an operations consultant within the Americas Bureau at National Intelligence (AB/NI), and is close with the ABNI Operations Director Baron Desmoisnes and Vekllei’s first “Gregori Baby,” Tzipora “Zelda” Desmoisnes.
She’s known Baron, Tzipora’s father, for nigh twenty years. They met when she was eighteen, both as cadets in Vekllei’s combat intelligence programme. They dated for a few years before the requirements of intelligence work forced them apart. Baron was sent to South America for nearly a decade, and Ayn stayed behind in the Monitoring & Preparations Department where she published work in the classified journals about events relevant to ABNI. She was also an associate contributor to the “Import Strangle” theoretical model, which has proven successful at plotting the collapse of major U.S. employers (like U.S. Steel in 2065 and Chrysler in 2068) for use in Vekllei foreign policy.
Baron and Ayn exemplify quiet, uncinematic mateship — people satiated by occasional company and mutual respect, satisfied by their intermittent time together. After Tzipora’s adoption, Baron, now approaching his forties, returned to work as a senior director for the Americas Bureau, and soon found himself in Ayn’s professional orbit. In doing so, he introduced a nervous young satellite called Tzipora to her.
Tzipora adores Ayn. Ayn is everything Tzipora wants to be. She is even-tempered but strong-willed, graceful but not girlish, fiercely intelligent but pleasantly social. Where Baron is a product of his years in America and is totally professionalised at home and at work, Ayn has enjoyed life in Vekllei and is well-rounded and sweet. It was a shock for Tzipora to see Baron and Ayn in a photograph from their cadetship. Baron straddled a motorcycle, and did not wear spectacles. He was well-built and rough-looking. Ayn was a slender Asian woman dressed in slacks and a sunhat. Ayn today looked very much similar. Baron, in his beard and white-speckled hair, looked like an entirely different person.
Tzipora and Ayn share a hardship in their infertility despite a desire to have children — Ayn suffered from endometriosis for many decades and is incapable of pregnancy. In all ways, Baron’s reluctant decision to adopt Tzipora was a wonderful blessing — it brought old friends closer together and gave Ayn a daughter. For Tzipora, whose memories of her biological mother were bittersweet and muddied with time, Ayn was a breath of womanhood and light-heartedness in a household that contained only a single hard-working middle-aged man and his teen-age daughter.
Since Baron’s immediate family is dead, Tzipora is close with Ayn’s parents in the North of Vekllei and they’ve taken to her as a granddaughter. Although Ayn and Baron are not married, and may never marry (although Tzipora gauges his response at least once a year), their lives are so thoroughly entwined that it is not uncommon that Baron will return home to Ayn and Tzipora preparing dinner together. In fact, Ayn is the reason Tzipora is such a good cook. Love takes many forms, and Tzipora enjoys several of them.
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