I didn't go there often. Maybe once a month or so, by previous agreement.
The entrance bridge was long. And the wind made it chilly, throwing my hair and clothes around me. Today the sky was bright blue, unlike its usual stormy self. The sun reflected off the polished marble walls of the citadel and made it hard to see just how high the architecture stretched.
A few scattered and lonely visitors were already in the high-ceilinged lobby, the size of which made them seem even more isolated. It was never very crowded here, which made each individual footstep echo all the more loudly.
In some ways, this was a bit of a small vacation for me. A chance to take a break from my usual habits, and meet with people I didn't usually get to see.
A large staircase led upstairs and I wandered into another entrance hall. I waved briefly to the now familiar receptionist. The flames flowing around her calmed a bit as she nodded back, before consuming her again as she returned to her work, her hands and arms only visible because of the dark blue symbols that wrapped around her skin.
"Kat will be with you shortly," she said.
I looked down the long hallway towards Kat's office. The door was closed.
Lin emerged and we made small talk while waiting to meet with Kat. Today it was primarily going to be just the three of us. Lin and Kat spent most of their time based at the citadel, so they were much more familiar with it than I was. Their conversations with the receptionist reflected that of those who were around one another on a daily basis, rather than just briefly passing by every month or so.
Towards the end of the hour, the door to Kat's office opened, and her previous visitor left. Kat beckoned us inside.
These were not normal earth offices.
While the door outside appeared normal, if a bit ancient, from the inside, it was only a frame of light. A portal back to the hallway we came from. Inside was Kat's realm, a place that could be anything she willed it to be.
Today, as usual, it was a vast expanse of black, with the stars of our universe projected onto it in miniature, a much smaller scale model of the place we lived. Against this background, Lin herself was almost invisible, having taken her own usual form of a dark silhouette, embedded with stars.
When Kat's white robes appeared, they covered half the sky before she shrunk herself down to make it easier to talk to us.
"How have you been?" she asked reflexively, but it wasn't something she needed to do. Having entered her realm, she could have just read it straight from our memories. "Here, I have something to show you," Kat said, before enlarging the projection of the universe around us, and flying us through areas we had never seen before.
Not unusual, since the vast majority of the universe wasn't anything we'd ever seen.
"We have someone here who I think needs help," she said. "Do you think you can handle it?"
"I already know about it," said Lin. "Shouldn't be a problem."
It wasn't something I had any information about, but I had confidence in Lin's assessment. "Let's take this to the conference room," I suggested.
"Sure," said Kat, and we emerged from her office into the hallway.
The conference room was much more normal looking than the way Kat liked to keep her office. Tables, chairs, although there was another miniature model of our universe floating above the center.
Some of Lin and Kat's subordinates regularly came in and out of the room, asking questions and contributing data, although subordinate was only a relative term here.
From Lin's point of view, we were all her subordinates. And from Kat's point of view, we were all Kat's subordinates. It wasn't always easy to wrap my head around. On the other hand, this was typical here.