[Newer York, 523AS] I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning...

A long interview later, Anna is assigned to quarters, and makes a friend along the way. Hey, a new life has to start somewhere...

Anna 35 is introduced in "People are strange...", but here's the TLDR: Anna is a clone--one of 200 Annas in her generation--of one of her home colony's founders. Those founders, however, are remembered by Newer York as rebels who were exiled. So, on the one hand, she's the spitting image of a historical figure somewhat akin to Judas Iscariot in Newer York's culture. On the other hand, she is a refugee (reasons as yet unexplained), lost in a sea of unfamiliar faces, having spent her entire life around multiple copies of just 31 people....

Newer York, 523 After Starfall, Day 273

The immigration interview had gone on for nearly two hours--longer by far than most, but shorter than might have been expected. She was the first resident of Revi'i to set foot on Newer York since her template's cohort and been banished there, and there should have been a million, million pressing questions. Questions like, "What have you all been doing, all this time?" and "How dare you set foot here?" and "Why did she--" or worse "--you kill the Rebbe?"

She had answers prepared for questions she'd anticipated, and more prepared for questions she merely feared. In the event, she needed none of them. Not yet, anyway.

Instead, David, her immigration interviewer had taken a deep breath, listened to her reasons for being here, including her hope to join the Ellis program, and then proceeded to what was merely the longer form of the standard immigration interview.

Some people came here from places similar, with fully accessible histories, and their interviews were short. Anna came here from someplace very different, and with which Newer York had no data sharing agreement, despite that they could have done so with only a small light-lag, and not having to ship physical media via skipships. Her identicard was practically blank, having been issued to her by the crew of Carry that Weight on a temp basis so she would have something to start with.

Point being, most of the information that David might have gleaned either from the identicard, or the store-and-forward information stream that the various human systems tried to share, or some combination of the two, he had to ask for the old fashioned way, before he could even get to the usual questions used to qualify a refugee as a possible resident and candidate for eventual citizenship.

When he'd reached the end, she expected the real interrogation to begin. Or simply to be sent away, although where exactly she would go or how she'd get there was a mystery so unfathomable to her at this stage that she absolutely refused to think about it. Her brain literally shut down if she got anywhere near it.

Instead, he had smiled--a genuine smile, she hoped, but she could not really read him at all. "Thank you, Anna. I believe, and the system concurs, that you qualify without reservation for inclusion in the Ellis program. You've been assigned housing in the Ellis Ring, and your identicard is now updated to reflect this." Then he'd handed her a hand terminal, and a small pod that turned out to contain earbuds. "Tap your identicard to the terminal screen," he prompted. She did, and it came alive, greeting her and presenting her a small menu of straightforward options, the topmost of which was, "Find your new quarters".

Anna blinked. "Is...is that all? Really?"

David replied calmly, "If you like, yes. If you want more help finding your way, I can ask for an escort--I realize you're going to be in a bit out of your depth, here, and that's not really uncommon. We have mechanisms in place to assist you. In addition, once you have your earbuds in, you can ask your hand terminal almost any question and it will do a reasonably good job of answering you. Not just simple facts like where to find things, but questions you might have about what you see. The buds are rigged to pick up sub-vocalization if you prefer not to be overheard."

She nodded. Her people were not fond of artificials, but used simple assistants. Propaganda had it that outsi...Newer Yorkers and others like them lived side by side with arties. The crew of the Weight had corroborated that, although without the negative connotations of it. Of course, they grew up with it. To them, it was normal.

So, Anna considered. On the one hand, she was anxious about going out alone--or with only her hand terminal's artificial voice--into the corridors of this place where her face was not just known but notorious, while their faces were all still frighteningly strange in their variety. On the other hand, this was a life she had just chosen for herself, coming here to this small room. That was an experience she would have to confront, alone, regardless.

"Thank you, David. I believe...I will attempt it on my own."

And so he smiled again, she rose, and he showed her out. She stopped at the nearest restroom--unsurprisingly placed right past the interview rooms--to take care of necessary matters, then placed the earbuds in her ear, and pressed the button to have hand terminal to take her home.

She did not actually have very far to go, which helped. It also helped that, just like in the immigration queue, most people were really just not paying any attention to her, or really to the world actually around them. Most people were either face-down in a hand terminal, or wearing heads-up glasses, or contacts, or implants, or possibly just drugged. That last she recognized as a remnant of propaganda, but it was hard to escape the suspicion.

The immigration facility she'd gone through was part of the outermost deck of the Ellis Ring, one of the six rings of Newer York Station proper. It's traffic flow was designed to funnel accepted persons directly to a lift station. Taking an inward lift brought her to the travel-tube level, which left her slightly disoriented. The deck here was already further enough toward the hub that simulated gravity was lower. The locals mostly didn't seem to notice, but as someone for whom gravity had been a constant, left her dizzy.

"Are you all right, Anna?"

That startled her, and she almost panicked. How could someone know her name?

But the voice had come from inside her ears. It had had range and timbre, and sounded altogether human, if not obviously gendered. Its utterance, while brief, had held sincere-sounding concern.

Remembering to subvocalize, she said, "I'm fine, thank you. Just...I think the word is 'coriolis'? The change of gravity confused me."

"I understand," the voice replied. "If you begin to experience vertigo regularly, there are remedies available. Most people, though, even from planets, become accustomed after a few days."

There wasn't much more to say, and so, having regained her footing, she walked the short way to the tube stop, and then into a car. The tube cars ran continuous spin-ward circuits, outracing the station's spin. The result was that the simulated gravity of the tube was similar to that on the outer level she'd just come from, disorienting her again, a little. This time, though, she'd been a bit more ready for it.

It took only ten minutes, as the tube traveled about twenty degrees of the ring's arc. A buzz from the terminal in her hand let her know this was her stop, and arrows then led her to another lift, which led inward yet again, two more layers, with the same shift in apparent gravity. She wobbled, a bit, leaving the car. This time, one or two other people seemed to notice, but none were annoyed. At least one smiled in what Anna recognized--despite his unrecognizable face--as sympathy. "New to the station?" he asked.

She saw no reason to deny it--as she understood it, this was where everyone new to the station came, after all. "Yes. Just arrived and through immigration. I'm...Anna."

"Jasper! Nice to meet you! I just got here a week ago, myself! I stumbled around like I was drunk for three days getting used to things, I don't mind saying. Where are you heading?"

"Um..." she looked down to her terminal. The screen was directing her slightly to the right of her current facing. Finally looking up, she was somewhat astonished to see buildings, standing free, planted on the deck. The deck above was several stories away, and the buildings within the space were of varying heights, as they might be in a real town. The "sky" was painted blue and even had simulated clouds puffing by. At least, she assumed they were simulated. There was also greenery everywhere, so maybe they simulated rain, too!

Ironic that she might experience her first un-suited rainstorm inside a space station.

She remembered she'd been asked a question, and she was gawking. "I'm sorry. I...I hadn't quite known what to expect, here. I think I'm heading to that building there."

He smiled wider. "Excellent! That's where I'm going, too. My room's on the third floor." He looked at her, but she couldn't read the expression. Finally, he asked, "You?"

"Oh. I'm sorry. I...I'm bad at reading facial expressions. I believe I've been assigned on the second floor." The terminal heard her, of course, and confirmed her understanding, shifting the map to an isometric projection that showed her room relative to the door she was facing--up a lift to the second floor, which appeared also to contain a large common area."

"I'm envious!" Jasper replied. "Not that it's a long walk down to the lounge, but still, that's where the people are, and I'd hoped for a second-floor assignment."

She wondered if there was some way to offer to trade...but no. She just didn't know enough yet. Instead, needing something to respond with, she said, "Well, I suppose it's good luck. I...well, I need some of that."

Jasper looked--if she read him right--like he might want to ask more, but he seemed to understand their acquaintance was too fresh for such a question. Instead they walked toward the building in what she chose to believe was companionable silence. He waited for her while she checked in at the front desk--a cursory check of her identicard and verification of her assignment. The desk clerk looked at her closely, and Anna was immediately certain that she, like David in Immigration, had recognized her, or rather, her template.

Like David, however, she shrugged it off, and unlike him, asked no questions. Either the screen contained everything she was curious about, or she had decided the answers could wait. Instead, she offered helpfully, "Common meals are served in the refectory here on this level--your terminal or room screen will have a preview of the menu, which changes daily. The next meal begins in two hours. Your room is also stocked with some supplies, including light foods of various kinds, so if you're hungry now, you should be able to find something. If you have other questions, you can ask your terminal, of course, but we also are here if you need us--we know some people prefer the human touch."

Anna had learned a number of things she liked and didn't like about up-well food on the Weight, so it would not be entirely strange to her, she hoped. And now that the subject had come up, she was definitely hungry. "Thank you. Is there anything else I need to do?"

The woman hesitated, like she was on the cusp of a different answer, but said, "No. I believe that's all. Have a good shift!"

Anna knew this to be the common greeting and parting up here, and responded in kind, "Good shift."

So she and Jasper stepped into the lift, with Jasper starting to make small-talk about that evening's planned menu. Anna, glad of some distraction, and honestly eager to make a connection in this strange place that was now her home, paid him polite attention.

As such, she missed the speculative, and slightly concerned, look the desk clerk favored her with as the doors closed.