The sounds of footsteps echoed throughout the great hall of the capital building's halls. The polished marble floor produced quite the distinguished click clack for blackened shoes to make as they trotted across the floor. The wide windows let the sun stream through, lighting the hall for an old, portly gentleman in a brown overcoat and slacks, with a small derby and mustache to go with it. Berlitz walked through the hall, smiling, as he held several papers under his arm.

"You wished to see me, Professor?" A somewhat larger man, dressed in the same style (except black) but lacking much hair asked Berlitz as he walked up to him.

"Ah, Dr. Duran Feld. Just the man I was hoping to see." Berlitz smiled. "You'll never guess what the senate approved."

Duran ran a hand through his scruffy white hair and rolled his eyes in thought. "A larger budget for our research and development programs?"

Berlitz shook his head. "Better. The Filgaian senate wishes to create a new Council of Seven."

"Oh really." Duran looked puzzled. "To further advance the Yggdrassil project, one would suppose."

"Exactly my dear Doctor. I have been placed in charge of the entire operation, the thirty fourth summoning of the seven department heads." Berlitz reached under his arm and pulled out a piece of paper with many signatures upon it.

Duran reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of glasses to which read. "Well what do you know. Do you have anyone in mind, Professor?"

Berlitz chuckled. "I have been out of the actual scientific forum for quite some time now, Duran. My field has been generally archeology and politics, but I have one man in mind."

"And who would that man be?" Duran placed his glasses back into his breast pocket.

"You my good boy! See here." Berlitz once again pulled a paper from under his arm, showcasing it to Duran.

Too excited to even think about glasses, Duran squinted as he placed the paper in his own hands. "In this year of eighteen hundred and sixty, we the Filgaian senate and house of representatives, representing the seven provinces and four territories of the Union of the Federal Republic of Filgaia, do ordain that the creation of the thirty fourth council of seven be commenced at once, in order to protect and serve the general welfare of our nation and territories…"

"Read a little further down the paper." Berlitz smiled.

Doing as told, Duran skipped through the legal work until he found his name. "Under the supervision of Professor Berlitz Lee, Dr. Duran Feld shall be the head of office and master chairmen of the afore mentioned council, from whence he shall summon his fellow council members, with approval of Professor Lee and ultimately, the Filgaian Legislature and Executive branches."

"Surprised?" Berlitz asked.

"Indeed." Duran replied. "Indeed I am sir. I am most grateful that you endowed this position upon me, Berlitz, but what made you choose me?"

"I couldn't think of anyone better suited for the job. Your work in the hydraulics and advanced machinery fields have left me with no other choice." Berlitz responded. "But who will you choose? You need six more department heads, who will all manage a staff of their own. Yggdrassil is a combination of several fields of science, so you must choose carefully."

"Of course sir." Duran bowed in appreciation.

Berlitz patted Duran on the back. "There is much work to be done. I trust you'll start right away."

** *

Origins Eve

-Wild ARMs Advance the 3rd-

By Hypes

Six years before the End, Eighteen years before the Ark Scepter…

1860. The stork's calls could easily be heard in the dimming of the night. Several nights had passed since Duran had met with Berlitz, and they had met several times between then and now. Meetings talking of budget, space, transportation, management, things of that nature. But Duran found himself here, of all places, in the remote town of Boot Hill. The night was coming on, as it took the better part of the day to reach this town by train from the capitol city of Jolly Roger. The moon was just slipping into the sky. Duran stepped off the train station and into Boot Hill. His first choice was here, an old time friend and master of the craft of stenography.

"Dr. Feld!" A young masculine voice shouted.

The older doctor looked about before finding the owner of the voice. It was a middle aged man, dressed in rawhide leather with a large broad hat upon his head.

"Werner Maxwell." Duran smiled. He quickly walked over as several luggage men took his cargo into the train station to be picked up. "I see you received my letter."

"Indeed I have, Doctor." Werner smiled. "I'm quite impressed."

"You ought to be my boy. You were my first choice, right from the start." Duran grinned, patting Werner on the back.

"Would it offend you that I ask that we take care of this matter at my house, rather then at this train station?"

"No, of course not! It would please me so."

"Good. You can meet my wonderful wife."

** *

Boot Hill was not a very large town, to say the least. It was more of a quiet village set out in the grassy plains of the southern peninsula, far far away from any of the hubbub of busy city life and the necessities of culture and civilization. There was a saloon, a general store, a debate hall, a town hall, a public forum, and other such basic governmental institutions. As it was after dark, the village's outdoor population shrank to that of several feral cats and a patrolman escorting a drunkard back to his humble abode. Duran witnessed this from the seat of the carriage that he and Mr. Maxwell were riding in, down the unpaved street up a hill towards Maxwell's estate. Smoke rose gently from the chimney stacks, indicating a fire's presence. A nice, warm fire. That would be nice after a long days ride in the train. It wasn't long before the carriage stopped and the carriage driver leaped off, patting the nuzzles of his two chestnut colored horses and receiving a generous payment (with a bit of a tip) from Werner as the two gentlemen stepped out. Duran had grabbed his cases and walked behind Werner as they strolled up the walkway to a large, yellow tinted building. Several small fields of wheat were around it, and thus Duran concluded that the chief income for the Maxwell family was that of wheat, but he had already known that, for he and Werner had been friends for a rather long while.

The door opened as Werner let himself in, allowing Duran to walk through behind him. Duran set his cases on the wooden floor and looked about the voyeur. It was as magnificent as the outside heralded it to be. It was a simple vestibule, complete with a wooden floor, walls hung with simple photographs (of Werner and his family) and a gas lamp that hung from the ceiling. A rather expensive looking bench made the scene complete as it sat under a large photograph of Werner's presumed parents, the holders of the Maxwell fortune. Duran smiled. Such modesty compared to the lavish estate he had in Jolly Roger.

"Say Werner, do you not have servants?" Duran asked as he gazed across the opening room.

"What do you mean, Duran?" Werner asked as he set his rawhide leather coat on a hat rack.

"You need not take any offense Werner." Duran laughed. "I respect a man who's worked hard for his gains."

Werner chuckled. "Oh, I'm not so rugged as you'd think Duran. Ekatrina and I have a few servants, but they're more of maids. They don't live on the estate or anything."

"Do you maintain a workforce for your fields out there?" Duran turned to face the bench. Werner nodded in approval, and Duran sat himself down.

"Allow me to take your coat, Dr." Werner reached for the black tailcoat Duran handed. "The fields belong to my brother, Tesla. In my father's time, we had slaves working the fields, but now Tesla hires the Baskar to do it."

"Cheap labor huh?" Duran smiled. "Well, one does what one does. Before the Slayheim revolution, every man had a slave or two I'd imagine." Duran reached into his breast pocket and pulled out his glasses, whence he placed upon the bridge of his nose. "Now, should we conduct business?"

"Hahahaha!" Werner gave a hearty laugh. His brown eyes reflected the gas lights charm, mirroring his own. "Not in here, good Doctor! This is the vestibule! Such things should occur in my office."

Blushing from his embarrassment, Duran placed his spectacles back and rubbed his small white beard, standing up. "Well, I didn't want to say anything about your house if you didn't have an office."

"Werner, is that you?" Came a lovely, feminine voice. In through the door on the opposite side of the voyeur came in a fair young lady with long, silky blonde hair and bright green eyes. Her skin was a bit darker then Maxwell's, indicating a life time outdoors, and her gown humble and simple.

Duran coughed as Werner smiled. "Ah, Ekatrina. This is my good associate, Dr. Duran Feld."

Ekatrina extended her hand out to Duran's, who took a firm grip on hers and gave a confident shake. "The pleasure is all mine."

"Welcome to our home, Dr. Would you like some tea?" Ekatrina asked, being a polite hostess.

"Thank you my dear lady, with a bit of lemon if you have any." Duran replied.

Ekatrina smiled to Werner and exited the vestibule. Werner looked to Duran and raised his eyebrows. "So, what do you think?"

"Good Abram in Paradise man!" Duran laughed. "I didn't think such goddesses dwelled in the wilderness!"

"And you wondered why I would never move my lab into Jolly Roger…" Werner chuckled. "Now, I'll escort you to my office."

** *

The office was a small room, made of wood as the rest of the house was. Werner's oak desk sat in the middle, atop a dark burgundy carpet. Several book cases lined the office, and the desk was cluttered with papers, different magnifying glasses, and a microscope. Two gas lamps on the wall burned brightly, allowing the two entering men visibility. Werner sat himself behind his desk as Duran took the seat before it.

"Pardon the mess, I've just been doing a bit more work and lost track of time." Werner apologized.

"Oh no need to apologize. I know how offices work." Duran sighed. "Have you a light?" Duran requested as he took a cherry wood pipe from his vest.

Werner turned a valve upon the wall beside him and a fireplace came to life. Duran leaned close to the fire, letting his pipe grow warm enough so that the tobacco and cherry started to ember, allowing his senses the pleasure of a fine smoke.

"Would you like anything else, Duran?" Werner asked, making a joke.

"I am quite content, Mr. Maxwell. Say, before we start business, I've often wondered… why have you never acquired a doctorate?"

Werner leaned back in his chair, placing a hand to his strong chin. "Is it so strange that I don't."

"Oh not at all! I've just find it strange that a man of your skills has never bothered gaining one."

"Well, stenography is not exactly a doctoral practice."

"Eh… I guess you are correct." Duran thought for a moment before placing several papers upon the mess of a desk. "and now for business."

"I am quite impressed, as I said before, that you chose me as your first candidate for Council of Seven, Duran. I am but a simple cryptologist and stenographer…" Werner addressed as he picked up a paper and scanned it.

"A simple cryptologist? Good Abram man! You cracked the Hyades code! Without your achievements at Mimir's Well, the entire Yggdrassil project wouldn't be able to stand!" Duran practically shouted.

"I was just working off the cryptologists before me… however, I do have the understanding of how the information library Hyades works…" Werner smiled. He was a proud man, and loved a bit of admiration every now and then.

"Exactly. The technology we work with is based on Hyades coding. My skillfulness with machinery is only applicable by itself when working with trains, ships, sand crafts, and other conventional machines. Yggdrassil runs on Hyades, not steam power or electricity or anything conventional…"

"And I'd be a Department Head at Yggdrassil, correct?" Werner questioned.

"The Senate and Berlitz have already approved you, Werner. It took some persuasion because your lack of any kind of diploma, but your concrete as of now. At Yggdrassil, you will handle a small team that you yourself will choose. The task of revitalizing the planet's a big one of an enormous scale, so a task force is needed."

"Understood. I'd have to move away to Yggdrassil, would I not?"

Duran sighed. "Unfortunately, yes. Traveling to Yggdrassil is not like a ride to the post office. Our ancestors built the place as far as possible from everything for who knows what reason."

Werner began quoting from one of Berlitz's papers he had been scanning. "Yggdrassil lies atop the most active Leyline in all of Filgaia, so therefore, it is the most plausible place to start an action such as this…"

"Are you satisfied by making a fool out of me?" Duran smiled.

"I sure am." Werner chuckled.

"Well, back to business, to sum it up, yes, you would. However, The Senate so graciously added to their bill that Yggdrassil shall not be entreated upon by any persons until the year 1863."

"What for?" Werner narrowed an eyebrow in question.

"They'd like us to have an idea of what we're doing before handling such machinery. If something were to go wrong, the potential for disaster is global. They don't realize that in order to use the machines we need to be able to observe them. Politicians no nothing about science."

"That's why they're politicians. So, for three years we'll be conducting research somewhere else?"

Suddenly, the door to the office opened, revealing that charming woman Ekatrina, carrying several tea cups. She walked in, smiling, and placed the sea set at the end of the desk. She handed a small saucer with a tea cup before both men and sat herself down in a chair next to Werner. "Oh do please continue gentlemen…"

Duran took a sip from his tea and smiled. "Thank you miss Maxwell."

"Oh please. Just Ekatrina." Ekatrina blushed.

"The tea is perfect as usual, honey." Werner commented on his cup.

Duran nodded in agreement as he sipped once more. However, he felt something bump into his leg. He placed the cup on the desk. "You don't have a dog, Werner?"

"Not at all, why?" Werner replied.

"Something seems to be bumping into my leg under the desk." As Duran and Werner looked under the desk, they found a small girl, about two years old, leaning against Duran's pant leg. She had honey brown hair (the same as Maxwell's) and bright green eyes (the same as Ekatrina's) and wore a small purple dress. She looked up at the faces and smiled.

Ekatrina picked up the small child and set her in her lap. "When did you get in here Virginia? I thought you were in your cradle?"

"Not tired!" Virginia said with much emphasis, pumping her little fists in the airs. "I wanna play! Daddy bring a friend!"

Duran chuckled. "You never mentioned having a child, Werner! Isn't she the cutest thing."

"Ah yes. Virginia is quite something special to me."

"So I can see why you are so interested in our living arrangements…" Duran sighed once more. Family life always brings the process up a whole other level. "Up until the Senate's bill time passes, we will work at Leyline Observatory near Humphrey's Peak. And to answer the next question you'll ask, you'll have five days to home every two weeks."

"Werner, what are you talking of? Does your promotion require moving?" Ekatrina questioned while trying to keep Virginia in her lap.

"I did tell you how I was nominated for being a member of the Council of Seven. Doing so requires that just I attend a work place rather far out, near Humphrey's Peak. We're talking about revitalizing the planet, honey, and that requires a lot of work!" Werner tried to rationalize.

"Six day workdays." Duran nodded.

"I know… but you never mentioned anything about moving away… Five days every other week? I don't know we'll manage?!" Ekatrina thought.

Duran coughed, excusing himself from the office room. He knew what was coming, and he never was one for fights. Ekatrina saw this, and asked the man to take Virginia out with him. And so, Duran and little Virginia walked outside the office and closed the door.

"This is why I don't like to bring families in…" Duran sighed, taking out a handkerchief and wiping his balding forehead.

"Hey mister!" Virginia shouted happily from the floor. "My name is Virginia!"

Duran looked down and gave a fake smile. "Is it really?"

Virginia nodded her chubby face. "Uh huh! It's spelled V-I-R-Ginia! But my mommy calls me Ginny!"

"Really now? Isn't that interesting…" Duran kneeled down to face the little girl.

"Uh huh! I'm two years old!" Ginny held up three little fingers.

"Why don't you show me your house while we wait, Ginny?" Duran asked, trying to get away from a tense moment.

"O.K!" Ginny leaped into the air with excitement. She grabbed Duran's old hand in her tiny young one and dragged him down the hall. "Hey guess what!?"

"What is it?" Duran asked in reply.

"I'm two years old!"

"Didn't you just say that?"

"Uh huh! Hey mister! Why's your hair white?"

"Because I'm an old man, that's why…"

"When I'm old, will my hair be white too?"

"I'm afraid so…"

"Will I have a beard too?"

"Heh. I don't think so…"

This type of conversing and running around the upper floor of the house continued for some time. Pretty soon, the two disappeared, and Ekatrina and Werner exited the office some hours later. The two had a fight, it was clearly evident. However, they were making up for it, and they wandered the hall, looking for their guest, when they opened Ginny's door. Inside the dark room, they found the old man sleeping soundly in a chair with a fairy tale book titled "The Giant with Two Heads" and a little sleeping girl in his lap.

** *