Kari Machiavelli was typing up a report in her Venetian office when the phone beside her rang. He sighed, finished her sentence, and picked up the receiver. "Salve?"
"Machiavelli? This is Leonardo Barnes." Replied the person on the other side.
Bells rang off in Kari's head. Leonardo Barnes was a Czech astronomer from Prague, and an old friend of Kari's. They had been good friends in their school days, but lost touch after Kari was offered the position of Aeronautica Militare in the Italian government. "Leo? How have you been? I haven't talked to you in five years!" She looked at the caller ID on the phone. "You're calling from a Venetian area code!" Kari said excitedly. "You need to drop by sometime!"
He heard a sigh on the other side of the line. "Kari, i'm in the building."
Suddenly, Kari jumped up in her seat. The Venetian department of science was a top-security building. Not even a renowned Astronomer like Leonardo could get in without special permission. "What's wrong?" She said.
"Just come to the meeting room, and hurry up." Leonardo said, ending the conversation abruptly. The faint sound of static buzzed on his line.
Kari saved the program he had been working on and got up out of his seat. Well this is exactly the way I wanted our reunion to turn out... She thought sarcastically. And with that, she trudged off to the staircase.
When Kari arrived at her destination, there were four people already there. Himself, Leonardo, Kurt, and a glassy-eyed woman she did not recognize.
Kurt was a steadfast assistant to Kari, and was born American. Soon after he turned twelve, though, his father got a job in Florence and the family moved there. Unfortunately, the job turned out to be a dead end, but his family was stuck in italy for good. He was good at his job, and accompanied Kari everywhere.
Leonardo walked up to Kari and gave him a hug. "Great to see you again, compadre." He whispered into Kari's ear.
"Likewise," Kari replied, still in the hug, "But let's get down to business. Who is this?" She said, gesturing towards the woman.
The woman jumped in surprise, and then regained her composure just as quickly.
"This is Natalia." Leonardo said. "Please forgive her for any abnormalities in her behavior; her husband just passed away."
"Mi dispiace veramente." Kari said politely.
"Oh, it's okay." She said, shaking her head. "I can deal."
"Down to business." Leonardo chimed loudly.
The four bodies locked their gazes on a 3D chart in the middle of the meeting table.
"The reason for which I have called you all here tonight is very vital to this country's reputation." Leo said. Kari shifted a little bit in her seat.
"Asia has been caught boasting about their space achievements and most of them have been caught in the paper. Their most recent one is of this matter:"
A diagram on the table told them everything they needed to know.
"If Central Europe and the Italian Peninsula join together... With all of their technologies combined... We can gain make up major ground in the space race--"
"--And make headway into the mid-21st century." Kari interrupted. Her face lightened up. "I can take the political scene, you do all of the science work. It's brilliant." she stood up and laughed. "Leonardo, tu fantastico!"
Leonardo smiled happily. "I knew you'd like it."