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THE CITADEL


Nicola allowed himself a few more minutes in bed before getting up as the door clicked shut behind Commander Botrelle. He stretched slowly, going through the motions while sweeping his room with his powers, making sure he was ready for the day. He picked yesterday’s suit off the floor and dropped it carelessly into the laundry bin, then headed towards the vanity, appreciating the thick carpet under his bare feet. It was only in the mornings that he had time for the little things in life.
Sitting before the mirror, he picked up his comb and began to run it through his hair. He had greyed liberally, but it wasn’t like he was old before his time. Miss Botrelle liked to reassure him of that.

He smiled as he thought of the woman, of their rather new arrangement. A powerful older man with a fiercely ambitious young woman – he grimaced and ran the comb through one more time. That sounded rather predatory, didn’t it? But the truth was that the lady was the predator here, and sometimes when he looked in her eyes he shivered, seeing something there. She would shoot him in the head without hesitation, if something came down to it. It was why he’d begun to favour her when he’d come back, admiring her neatness and efficiency, her dedication to her job. If he’d felt he was saving her, it didn’t last long. Now he just enjoyed the benefits and appreciated that someone else in this castle cared about order and timeliness. He hadn’t regretted reinstating her for a moment.

As he’d thought this, he had dressed himself in a neat new suit, looped a tie into place, and pinned it with his family crest. Then he packed up his documents, and walked out into the Citadel, ready for the day’s work. He gave it 3 hours before that readiness became complete and utter exasperation, but it was true what they said.

A man couldn’t have everything, and with everything else he’d been given, Nicola didn’t mind sacrificing his peace of mind.

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He took that back. He’d like his peace of mind back, thanks. The people he worked with were idiots. His eyebrows were stuck raised. Who the hell expensed 50 gallons of ice cream for their child’s birthday? What child needed 50 gallons of ice cream in the first place? That was the highlight of the absurd expense reports coming in for his sign off, those that were on time, at least.

Why couldn’t paperwork be on time? When the research budgets came in, it would be a whole other ballpark of chaos, and trying to sort out what was legitimate and who actually wanted a reanimated komodo dragon as a showpiece for their next party. Though Green and Botrelle would file the bulk of the requests, he’d only get the really big stuff and – Botrelle. That sounded like a good idea right now.

He could bring her coffee as an excuse.

Or…he checked timetables. She was in a meeting right now. With a visiting Commander, which was the perfect excuse to drop in.
Twenty minutes later, he was at the door, knocking briskly before letting himself in. “Hello!” he said, looking around the room. The woman he’d come to see wasn’t here, odd. “I had a spare moment and thought I’d drop in-“ there were actually very few people here in this meeting, and he was starting to feel a headache brewing even as he smiled more and turned to the research head in the room. "Commander Green. How has the meeting gone?" he asked, before turning to the visitor. “And you must be Commander Lovette. I am Viceroy Nicola Varren.” He offered his hand, warm and firm, as was his voice, thought he was internally gritting his teeth. “Welcome to the Citadel. I hope the first impression has been good?”













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