As the plane came to a stop near a hangar, a matching olive drab limousine, complete with a bright white star and stenciled serial numbers squeaked to a stop. The car waited until the engines quieted and a rolling stairway was pushed to the door of the aircraft.
The driver of the vehicle stepped out of the car and immediately went to the passenger door. He opened the door and saluted.
A spiked high heel, followed by a smartly dressed, uniformed woman rose from the car. She wore a dark raincoat covering any identification. The symbol on her hat marked her as a lieutenant colonel. She watched as the door to the plane opened.
A man dressed in a business suit stepped from the door of the plane. He paused and helped another woman, his wife. Arm in arm, they carefully climbed down the metallic steps. A young woman, dressed in a light yellow raincoat followed the couple. Her green skin contrasted sharply with the drabness of the plane and the day.
The colonel walked to the plane.
“Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers, I trust you had a good flight?” she asked the couple.
“It was a little rough at the end, Colonel Dare. But it was fine nonetheless,” Mr. Rogers replied.
The young woman came to the colonel and gave her a hug.
“How are you Emily?”
“I am a little nervous, Colonel Dare,” Emily answered.
“I told you long ago to call me Candace. Don’t go formal on me now.”
Emily turned and glared at her parents giving an unspoken “I told you so.”
Soldiers from the plane loaded the Rogers luggage into the car’s trunk. The spring drizzle continued to fall.
“Come, let’s get in the car where it’s dry,” Colonel Dare suggested.
The car was equipped with double seats. The Rogers sat opposite Colonel Dare, who sat next the Emily.
“After they load the car we’ll go the hospitality room where you call can freshen up before out meeting,” Colonel Dare explained.
“Don’t we need to check into our hotel first?” Mr. Rogers asked.
“Sergeant Samuels, our driver, will get you checked in and will deliver your luggage while we meet with the Dean of Admittance.”
“What do you really think of our chances, Colonel Dare?” Mrs. Rogers asked.
“I think very good, Mrs. Rogers. Emily has great grades, she is very technical, and has proven her ability to work well with scientific theory. As you know, the United States Government is picking up the tab, so finances are not the issue.”
“The issue,” Mr. Rogers interjected, “is whether they will take a female, is it not?”
Candace Dare nodded. “Yes it is. They have in the past, Mr. Rogers. They have a proven history of that, not that they haven’t rejected many females. We’ll just have to convince them that Emily is not just here to shop for a husband.”
“I hate that!” Emily fumed.
“And so do I, Emily,” Dare reassured her. “We will just have to point out Emily’s special qualities and her value to the college and well as to the country.”
“If it gets down to it, Candace, just shoot me,” Emily suggested.
“I am not going to shoot you Emily.”
After the brief rest stop, the car head to the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The car stopped in front of the main administration building. The driver opened the door.
“Thank you Sergeant,” Colonel Dare said after they were all out. “Please take the Rogers luggage to the hotel and meet us back here.”
“A pleasure, ma’am,” the sergeant said with a snappy salute.
They entered the building. Candace’s Dare footsteps resounded throughout the marbled halls. A receptionist appeared, obviously startled by the noise.
“My I help you?” she asked.
“We have a meeting with the Dean of Admissions,” Dare answered.
“The name of the student?”
“Rogers, Emily Rogers.”
“Wait here. I will announce you.”
When the receptionist left, Dare looked to Emily.
“Don’t act like you’re nervous,” she whispered.
“But I am,” Emily whispered back.
“Take a deep breath and be calm. You have been in many situations worse than this.”
Emily’s parents stared at all the trophies in cases, most for scientific achievements. Numerous portraits hung in the hallway. The wait seemed long.
“What’s taking so long?” Emily asked.
“Part of the game,” Dare answered. “They want you to realize that you have to wait for them. You are in their power now and they call all the shots.”
“I think that’s a horrible way to treat people.”
“If you become Dean here, Emily, you can change it.”
The receptionist finally reappeared. “Please follow me,” she said without any emotion.
The group followed through the twists and turns of the building. Each hallway was constructed much like the previous one. The portraits, although different, had the same dour looks from unsmiling former instructors, presidents, or notable students.
The receptionist knocked three times on the nondescript door. A muted “Come” was issued from within the room. The receptionist opened the door and motioned the part inside.
The room was spacious. This floor was wood, very high polished. The walls were lined with books and more portraits, mostly of ancient scientists. The front of the room was a long wooden polished table. The table was slightly raised. Behind the table sat five people. None seemed pleased to be in attendance.
The person in the center indicated for small wooden chairs that the party should occupy. When the party was settled, the five opened folders, almost in unison. It was then that the five actually looked at Emily. They appeared to be startled.
“Are you attempting to make a statement, Miss Rogers?” the Dean asked.
“A statement? What do you mean, sir?”
“Your green coloring, Miss Rogers. It seems a bit silly for someone applying for such an opportunity to have applied a green coloring.”
“No sir, there is no statement. This happened as a result of an accident.”
“What type of accident, Miss Rogers?” the man pressed.
“Excuse me,” Colonel Dare interrupted. “The exact nature of this accident cannot be revealed. It was a testing mistake of the United States Government. This is why we will be financing Miss Rogers tuition and room and board.”
The man’s eyes narrowed on Colonel Dare. “And you are?”
“I am Lieutenant Colonel Candace Dare of the Inspector General’s office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration.”
“See Horace, this is what I warned you all about several years ago. You start taking the government grant money and they’ll force you to take students to get rid of them.”
“James, we’ve been over this a thousand times. This is not the time to start this. We are not being forced, we can choose to vote ‘no’ anytime.”
“Perhaps we should do so,” James grumbled.
“This shouldn’t be about the government,” Dare interjected. “This should be about the merits of Miss Rogers.”
“Agreed,” the man now known as Horace said. He turned to Emily. “What are your goals, Miss Rogers?”
“I hope to be a physicist, Sir.”
“They are not many women physicists, Miss Rogers. I daresay there are no green ones. Your difference may cause you problems.”
“How so, sir?”
“This is a unique institution, Miss Rogers. We expect our graduates to be leaders in their fields. Your, er, difference may prove a distraction to yourself as well as others.”
“Would not a true leader be able to focus past and type of distraction?” Emily replied adding “Sir” after a small pause.
“True enough, Miss Rogers. Keep in mind that Boston is the big city. There are all types of temptations and distractions around. One could get hurt if one is not careful.”
“I appreciated your concern, sir. This ‘accident’ has left me with some unique abilities and would help me to avoid such injuries.”
The members of the board huddled and whispered to one another. There were many smiles. It seemed they were mocking Emily.
“Perhaps, Miss Rogers, you could give the board a small demonstration of how you can use your ‘abilities’ to stay safe?”
“What would the board like?”
“Something small, perhaps. Something that would ease the board’s concern for your safety.”
Mr. Rogers spoke for the first time. “Colonel Dare, perhaps you should do as Emily suggested earlier.”
“I hardly think that would be appropriate, Mr. Rogers,” Dare answered.
“Would it prove her ability to stay safe?” Horace asked.
“Yes, but…” Dare tried to respond.
“Would it be a long demonstration?”
“Less than ten seconds,” Emily answered.
“By all means, please proceed.”
Emily rose from her seat and walked in front on the Dean. She turned and faced right. “Whenever you are ready, Colonel.”
Dare rose reluctantly from her chair. She walked to the opposing side of the room and sighed.
Emily dropped her arms to her sides, smiled and said, “I’m ready.”
Dare hesitated. She looked at the board and saw nothing but complacency. She knew Emily was right. This would shake them up.
She unbuttoned her holster, raised her luger and fired at Emily. Emily yelped at the impact.
The faces of the board members registered shock. Dare wanted to smile.
All eyes went to Emily. She fumbled with the impact site, pulled out the bullet and placed it in front of the dean.
The smell of cordite hung in the room.