Chapter 70:

Interlude: A Blank Page


“Wait ‘ere fer me, ‘kay?” A nun in her thirties told the seven years old kid also wearing habit that was following her, and then headed closer to the door they both were in front of. “Oh! Sit down to wait. It’ll be better fer ya.”

As if prompted by the second phrase, the mini-nun moved from her standing still position and went to the benches a few steps away.

She could obviously notice the wry smile on her caretaker’s face as she did so, but the reason for such was beyond the kid’s understanding. It wasn’t as if she was told to care, though, so she didn’t care about it.

What she cared about was using that as little time as possible would be lost. It wasn’t as if the training was done for the day and there wasn’t much inside this floor of the Chapel for it to be useful. All this place had was the abbess’ office on the back, the chancel right in front of it, a simple nave with a few rows of wooden benches, and some small statues.

In summary, nothing helpful to advance her studies.

It was very strange that everything was stopped for this visit, but the kid could only wait.

Her caretaker, a pseudo-nun called Julianna, was still waiting for an answer to her knock at the abbess' office. It was likely that she would take some twenty or so minutes, meaning at least one lost repetition then.

“Come in.” An older, raspy, voice answered from inside the room, and with proper permission now, the nun entered her superior’s office. And by doing so, she brought another weirdness to the kid’s mind.

What was the point of this place if she could hear them talking? Was this some kind of test? But why would it be some test?

There wasn’t a point in telling anyone about what was happening here, so there was no point in testing it. Worse than that, there was no one to tell even if there was a reason.

This place only had half a dozen nuns (all accounted properly) and a small kid, who would this kid disclose anything she heard?

It was a waste of time then, just like many times something weird happened before. And while she was wasting her wasted time with random theories, the nun and the abbess ended their pleasantries. Their subject soon drew the kid’s ears, though.

“She ain’t ready, abbess!” Julianna exclaimed at something the older nun had said. “Since she got ‘ere so late, we’ve yet to leave the basics...”

“The basics are enough. What they want is a PR tool and not a proper weapon like the other failures.” The abbess, Nancy was her name, answered in a harsh tone. “If we had managed to keep at least one other subject alive, then maybe, but as is... She’ll have to do, Julianna, and that’s not negotiable.”

“But her mastery is too good to be true, y’know? I feel that this one’s…”

“This one is the right one? It’s the fifth or sixth time you tell me this already.”

“She’s different! I’m yet to finish the preliminary report, but with what I’m seein’…” The younger woman went on, getting more excited as she spoke. “I’m sure I can do it! I can make one fer real.”

Julianna wasn’t a very proper nun. This much was easy to notice by her loud and butchered speech, but getting this excited shouldn’t be allowed too.

Hearing her was even making the perfectly still girl on the other room feel as if she needed more training. But again, it wasn’t as if she could say it or as if Julianna was any different in other situations.

This kind of useless thought was all that crossed the kid’s mind as she patiently stood on her bench and waited. The grown-up's conversation made very little sense to her, so it was more about storing information for another time. She wouldn’t forget anyway and could likely use it later. She also lacked anything better to do.

Praying in this place before she had the proper method memorized was too dangerous and making noise was uncouth. The choices were either sit and wait or sit and listen.

And listen she did.

“If you could assure me to keep this one alive, then maybe, and I repeat, maybe I could manage something,” Nancy answered after a few seconds of silence. “Don’t expect more than a few months still. Our training is very useful to make weapons, but that brat will have to overwrite everything only to walk her to a party.”

“Oh, so it’d a good moment to talk ‘bout the changes I did, ay?”

“Changes?! What changes?”

“Y’see, I concluded that our old rulebook was too much fer proper training. Too stuffy and too ruly if ya wanna make it proper. Simple is better, or that’s what they say at least…” Julianna started to explain without much of a pause. “Instead, I went there and made somethin’ similar with only half a dozen rules. Works wonders since she can fill the gaps herself instead of self-destructin’ after a bad order.”

“You’re… You can't decide to ignore protocol, Julianna. The rules are there for a reason.”

“But they don’t work! Why follow a bad rule if I can fix it? I betcha half of our failures wouldn’t be so if I did it earlier.”

“You’ll end up in a pyre if you keep this up…” The progressively more tired voice continued. “Or with a medal of honor from the parliament.”

If anyone were to ask the kid nun, which they shouldn’t, she would say that these new rules were, indeed, more effective than before. Losing less time in place gave her more time to train or memorize information, so she was very agreeable with it.

The part about her caretaker ignoring proper protocol to make them work wasn’t that good in her eyes, though. It was somewhat of a dilemma to be fair.

“Gimme a year and we’ll both be set on history books!”

“Sigh… I’ll get you six months. More than that and we’ll both get an early retirement…”

“I’ll make do then.”

The small answer was soon followed by a door opening and then, Julianna smiled at the kid waiting for her. She received no more than a blank stare as an answer, though.

“Sorry ‘bout that, waitin’ at a silent room should’ve been way too borin’, ay?” The nun asked as she approached her magnum opus to-be. “I’ll get ya some treats fer it, so less’ go back to trainin’, ‘kay?”

The two left the small chapel and went to the disguised elevator on one of the corners, heading to the main facilities down below. In the end, the whole walk still made no sense to the small kid and going there had only wasted her time, but asking 'why' was beyond her.

Only many months later would she find out that she was, in fact, not supposed to be there with Julianna. She only got there because the nun didn’t bother to find someone to replace her when she was called by the abbess. And she took even more time to fully understand the conversation too.

But the first thing she got of this whole situation after much thought and some proper life experience, was the fact that Julianna was an incredible scientist while being terrible at all else.