March 2, 2015,
22:12 local time,
Roman Senate Recreational Centre,
Rome, Roman Republic
Jana Woolley needed a good workout. After a long day at work- today was dedicated to preparing for the upcoming “Summit of the Americas”- Woolley, the Praetor Extraterritorialis, decided that, instead of going home where all she would do is curl up in bed and sleep (since her dog, Lucky, would already be asleep), she’d stay behind at the Senatorial buildings and let out her frustrations. At this time of night, there were few people left at the gymnasium, allowing her to find a corner all to herself where she could have a “personal” moment with her and her volleyball.
She came with her red hair in a ponytail and clad in her normal workout gear- her white spandex volleyball uniform, knee braces and her short black volleyball shorts- but due to the intensity of her workout, she’d doffed her top to reveal her black sports bra underneath. She had a lot of space to work with at the gym, allowing her to run full speed all over the place in trying to keep the ball from bouncing off the ground. She ran for a good five minutes chasing her ball before deciding to take a break and get some water.
“Hey stranger,” said a warm voice that Woolley recognized, despite being surprised that someone had taken a seat next to her stuff.
“Hey Bruta,” said Woolley, greeting her guest, Cornelia Compisia, the Quaestor. The 31-year-old Compisia had just gotten off work herself and seemed ready for a workout of her own, using hair ties to hold back her curly blonde hair, with the svelte woman clad in a pair of short volleyball shorts and a sporta bra of her own, both articles in black that contrasted nicely against her ivory skin.
“So I guess you feel like a bit of a workout too,” said Woolley, smiling and taking a seat next to Compisia.
“Yeah,” she said, “it’s been a long day. I love coming out...I’m glad the Senate keeps it open, it’s a great stress reliever. Plus I saw you working out and I figured I might come and join you.”
Woolley smiled. “You don’t have to.”
“It’s no big deal...I played back in my high school days...thought about going pro before I decided that politics was more my thing...so I kept up at that.”
“Kind of like me.”
“Yeah...except I was appointed by Valerius when he was inagurated for his second term three years ago...I wasn’t a replacement like you were.”
“I heard about that...glad you guys have accepted me.”
Compisia put her hand around Woolley’s shoulders, causing Woolley to rest her head against Compisia’s shoulder. The two seemed to bond pretty quickly. “It helps that you’re such a tireless and diligent worker. Plus, if you knew who the other guy was, you’d understand why.”
“Was that story true about Faisal Omar?”
“Yeah...every bit of it.” Omar was Valerius’ original choice as Praetor Extraterritorialis before Woolley, but a series of high-profile blunders- including opening mocking many North American politicians and their cultures, culminating in an embarassing episode where he got into several physical altercations at a New Year’s celebration in New York late last year after being four sheets into the wind- caused Omar to be fired by Valerius, prompting him to hire Woolley after noticing her during her time as a lobbyist in Vancouver.
“I guess I’m still trying to get used to Rome,” said Woolley. “Birea’s not known for their truth in reporting.”
“We believe in honour,” said Compisia, a lifelong Roman, “and that means accountability. That’s why we don’t have a state news agency- the news needs to be independent of the government.”
Woolley scanned her eyes around her surroundings before responding. “I’m also trying to get used to the fact that we’re two beautiful ladies in skimpy outfits and no one is oogling us.”
Compisia chuckled warmly. “Like I said...honour...and that means respect. We cannot function as a society without it.”
“That’s true.” Woolley sighed wistfully before smiling. “I remember the cads in Birea taught me that ‘respect’ makes a man weak...what a load that was.”
“That’s the other thing about Rome...we teach critical thinking, so the vast majority of us never go overboard. No one would dare suggest a thing here.”
“That’s why I love this place so much more than my old home.” Woolley smiled, squeezing herself briefly next to Compisia and tapping her knee before getting up.
“Guess you’re feeling better?” Compisia said with a smirk.
“Yeah,” said Woolley, doing some stretching. “There’s nothing like getting misty-eyed to get you worked up to hit some balls.”
Compisia smiled, enjoying seeing Woolley’s glee and gladly joined her new friend playing volleyball, which they did for over an hour before calling it a night, though not without the knowledge that they’d do this again soon.