“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey, roommate!” Fara burst into her new home – Room 1002, Atlas Hall, University of Albrook. She was striking out on her own, living away from home from the first time, in the Web’s First City. She was so excited to meet all of her new best friends!
BFF Candidate Number 1, her roommate, took a break from unpacking to face Fara. “Oh, hi,” she said. “My name’s Denise. Nice to meet you.” Denise stood up, and Fara had the strange sensation she had seen Denise on a billboard or fashion or something. Tall, thin, blond hair, impeccable makeup, stylish hip-hugging jeans and a cute short jacket; Denise was a veritable fashion-plate, and Fara suddenly felt quite self-conscious of her more rugged jeans-and-hoodie combo. Denise was willowy, almost ethereal; Fara was shorter, more athletic.
“Fara,” she said.
“Nice hair, Fara,” said Denise, gesturing toward’s Fara’s short cut, red hair. “Is it natural?”
“I’m so jealous! I tried being a redhead, but it just turned my hair green,” said Denise.
“Where ya from, Denise?”
“Centwerp,” replied Denise, haughtily. “You’re from Egmont, ja?”
“How’d you know?” asked Fara.
“All your clothes are from Kuat.”
Fara wracked her brains – yes, all the clothes she had on were indeed from Kuat. Surely she must have some clothes that weren’t…but she couldn’t think of anything. In fact, come to think of it, she struggled to think of any worldly possessions she owned that were not Kuat Consortium products, down to her toothpaste and soccer cleats.
Fara chuckled. “I am an Egmonter,” she said. “Land of Kuat, jazz, and slain rock demons.” Fara moved into the room, set down her suitcase and began to unpack. First things first: from deep inside her pack she extracted her poster of Egmont’s women’s soccer team, the Thunderbolts (signed by legendary goalie Theresa Tholby - the “Minister of Defense” herself!) “Follow sports at all?” Fara asked.
“No, not really,” said Denise. “I think they’re boring and lame.”
Fara was unperturbed. Her attempt to find common ground with her new best friends would continue. “What do you do for fun?” she asked. “Going out for any extracurricular activities?”
“Partying, mainly,” Denise giggled. “Isn’t that what college is all about? There’s a big welcome party for freshman tonight.”
Fara’s eyes lit up. Her first college party! It was going to be so cool! “Yeah, on the Rec Commons!” she said, failing to contain her excitement. “But, as fun as partying is…do anything else for fun?”
“I dunno,” said Denise. “Maybe yoga? Some dance? This butt didn’t build itself. I don’t want to go the plastic surgery route, you can always tell.” A brief pause, before Denise gave the obligatory reciprocation: “and you? What do you do for fun?”
“Oh, I play soccer, as you probably guessed,” said Fara, who had already unpacked her lucky ball, shin pads, cleats, and other soccer paraphernalia. “I’m also into swordfighting, I’m excited to try it for the fencing team. I did longsword division at home, mostly, but I hear they have kenjutsu here, which I’m excited to try. Rapier I never cared for though.”
Showing polite interest, Denise asked, “Why not?”
“It’s a rubbish battlefield weapon. In a one-on-one duel against an unarmored opponent, the rapier’s pretty good, but you can’t cut with it, and you can’t break armor with it.”
Denise looked surprised. “Do you need to break armor and cut people open in competition?”
“Uh…no, not really,” said Fara. “Of course, a regular all-Tasnican girl such as myself would never have cause to use a sword in combat conditions. In-depth consideration of the pros and cons of a variety of bladed weapons against a wide range of opponents is really just a…hobby of mine.”
“Do you do, like, historical re-enactments?” asked Denise.
“…you could say that,” she said. “I have some Guardian friends who are kinda into it, too.”
“You’re kinda weird, Egmont,” said Denise.
Fara shrugged. “Everyone’s weird.”
“Fair enough,” agreed Denise. She jerked her head towards the door. “Let’s meet our fellow weirdos across the hall.”
The dorm of Atlas Hall was a byzantine labyrinth, with multiple branches terminating in pairs of doubles. Fara Somers and Denise Pascale roomed together in one suite; across the hall (according to the “Welcome!” signs) were Violante Vaquero and Kamiko Kurita. Violante and Kamiko had apparently already arrived before the Tasnican girls, as they were already quite progressed in their efforts to unpack and personalize their rooms. Kamiko’s side of the room was austere, simple, and elegant, adorned with Eblanese calligraphy. (The most prominent of which was, of course, the characters for “One Life for the King!”, which Fara recognized because it had been on Tor Stonecliff’s mecha at the Robotics Tournament.) Violante’s side of the room was a mess, an explosion of hammers, socket wrenches, and other tools strewn about the floor; she was in the middle of putting up a poster for a band called the Spoony Bards.
“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey, suitemates!” said Fara, excitedly.
Denise couldn’t help but giggle a little bit. “Hey, we’re your neighbors,” she said.
Kamiko rose to her feet, and gave a deep bow. Her every movement seemed calculated and graceful, like part of a dance. “I am honored,” Kamiko. “I am Kamiko, of the Noble House Kurita.”
Violante grumbled. “My roommate is a walking Eblanese stereotype,” she said.
“I was merely being polite,” said Kamiko, with a tone that was too polite by half.
Violante finished affixing her poster. “Violante,” she said, extending her hand. “From Damcyan.”
“Fara, from Tasnica,” she said, shaking Violante’s hand. “Wow, I’ve never met anyone from Damcyan before! What’s it like?”
“A beautiful country, with beautiful music and beautiful people,” said Violante. Violante was definitely one of the ‘beautiful people’, with raven hair and olive skin. She was maybe not quite so picture-perfect as Denise, but Violante had a bit of an edge about her; she was stocky, more athletic and rugged. “Well,” said Violante, “at least it was before a bunch of fascists occupied it. Now it’s kind of a shithole.”
Kamiko seemed shocked at the course language. The petite Eblanese beauty narrowed her eyes, processing a deep conundrum; such language, and such an over discussion of politics at a first meeting, was simply impolite; however, pointing out her roommate’s rude behavior was also impolite. What was a proper Eblanese lady to do? She opted to change the subject. “What are you studying?” Kamiko asked.
“…I haven’t really thought too much about that,” said Fara. “I mean, it’s the first day. Plenty of time to explore and try different things, you know?”
“Not for me,” said Violante. “I’ve been a gearhead all my life. I helped out in my dad’s garage. Engineering all the way.”
“I’m majoring in partying,” said Denise. “And drinking. And sex. Sex sex sexy sex.” Denise smirked, slightly.
“What about you, Kamiko?” asked Fara.
“I am studying all the various arts appropriate for an Eblanese noblewoman,” said Kamiko. She drew in a deep breath, before unloading, “these include history, archery, swordfighting, culinary arts, child psychology, strategy, horse and chocobo riding, calligraphy, poetry, history, diplomacy, traditional dance, and, of course, military strategy and Web history.”
“So your major is, like, everything, basically?” asked Fara. “What are you going to do when you graduate?”
“Attaining perfection is an end in itself,” said Kamiko, “and it would be foolish to assume that earning my degree completes my education.”
“She’s nobility, you know,” said Violante. “Not like us plebs who will have to work for a living.”
“Really?” asked Fara.
Kamiko nodded. “House Kurita is known throughout Eblan for its courage, righteousness, benevolence, respect, sincerity, honor, loyalty, and self-control.”
“Nobility, huh?” said Denise. “How…quaint.”
Fara decided to make an effort. “Well, you seem to know a lot about Eblan’s ancient and rich culture,” she said. “I am very interested in learning more about it. Do you know Metal Suit Damogun?”
Kamiko answered diplomatically, “Although I am, of course, proud that Eblanese animation is famous throughout all the Web, I would prefer to discuss something else.”
“Like ninjas?” asked Fara, hopefully. “How about ninjas?”
“Those don’t really exist,” said Kamiko. “I mean, if I were to go to Tasnica, would I meet a Valkyrie?”
Fara smiled, slightly. “You’d be surprised.”