Story:Arrival

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Arrival
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Lina leans back on her seat with a relaxed and relieved groan, the creaking sound of her chair reflecting how her sore back feels after yet another long day in the office at the administrative building for the FBA's Baltimore Spirits team. The white-furred meerkat stretches her body and then leans forward to gaze down on the remainder of her paperwork for this evening. With the backdrop of the city behind her via the entire wall of shaded glass windows, Lina casually looks over some of the contract details for prospective free agents, and she let out another sigh. It's that time of the year again. She pushes the paperwork aside and glances at her clock with a slight frown.

From across the room, tiny raps sound from the other side of the door. Lina opens it to see what appears to be a very small, stumpy husky woman, a rather top heavy one. "Madame Khaldi?"

Lina blinks at the noise, and upon opening the door to see her, she smiles politely. "Yes, how can I help you?"

The corgi-husky looks at her phone. "You scheduled a meeting with Madame Tetreault at this time, oui?" She cranes her neck up to look at the meerkat. She peers over half-moon glasses.

Lina winces a bit and gritted her tiny meerkat fangs. "Oh! Right, right, almost forgot. Thank you for reminding me. Tell her to come to my office, please?"

A painted clawed hand, dipped in crimson, slaps the door frame. The corgi pads in, while a tall hyena bends down to come in the door. The hyena grins and speaks to the meerkat in French. "Madame is already present."

Lina looks up at the hyena. Although she's the General Manager of a basketball team, she is too short to be considered a basketball player in her youth, and she's still a short meerkat today. She blinks in surprise, and her ear flicks upon hearing the French. She's fluent in English and Farsi, but not French. "Ah, Ms. Tetreault. Please, come in and take a seat." She turns and walks back to her own office desk chair.

The two follow after. Madame takes the seat across from Lina's, while her assistant grabs a nearby stool and brings it to sit next to her.

"So as we all know, the position for the team's head coach is currently open. You are interested in it?" Lina asks once they are seated and settled down. She's appears skeptical.

Henriette speaks confidently, still in French, in long eloquent sentences strung together with little silence. "Madame says she will take the job," the corgi looking as confident as her employer.

Lina looks at Henriette and raises an eyebrow. "Um, Ms. Tetreault is capable of speaking on her own, yes?"

"Madame finds English repulsive." She translates without Henriette speaking.

Lina sighs and then starts speaking entirely in Farsi. Not as eloquently but more terse and firm in tone. She's annoyed already! But after a few sentences in the language of her Iranian refugee family, she speaks in English. "Communication is vital in the relationship between a coach and their players. Just because my own boss is French does not mean that French will be the only language spoken on the practice court. If you can speak English, then it is very much preferable that we speak in English."

"I am here, so there is no concern." The corgi looks at her phone for a moment before returning to her duties. Henriette speaks for a moment. "Madame is aware of the concerns one may have about her coaching, but she feels that her record more than speaks to her capabilities." Henriette is something of a legend, a star guard from the early days of the European league, far outpacing the FBA in age. It is equally notable that she has taken no coaching jobs since her retirement, resulting from her daughter's birth.

"Goddam...." Lina mutters the curse in Farsi under her breath instead, but she clears her throat. "I understand that you were a successful player in Europe, but the FBA is a different um...beast, altogether. Why have you decided to pursue a coaching job now, when you haven't even taken up the position for any team for decades?"

The hyena cackles, making her whole body heave. "Madame is here to teach her daughter a lesson, as well as remind the FBA of its origins. She feels this organization has become complacent and wishes to elevate a team to where it should be."

"...Hildegard? The Tallahassee coach? And where do you think the Spirits should be?"

"Championnes," Henriette says.

"Every team wants to be champion, but only one team out of twenty-four each year becomes champion. In fact, wasn't your daughter coach of a champion team a few years back?"

Henriette speaks. Her translator says, "Oui, and look at where that team is now. Unacceptable."

"Hmm. What will you bring to the team that can turn this team into a championship-caliber unit?"

"Intensity. Decades of knowledge. Experience you will not find in your other prospects. And if we are being honest, she has a marketability that I'm sure will bring fans new and old to the stadium."

"Hmm. You will be asked to do more than just talking to your players. There are countless meetings, endless travel. Forgive me for saying this, but if you do take this job, there will be a lot of talk about your...age."

Henriette speaks somewhat softer, but the confidence does not waver from either of them. "Madame assures you that her health is in good condition. Despite not taking positions since her retirement, she has kept her physique quite well." Nearing ninety, Henriette seems to have continued exercising, perhaps beyond what she would have in her playing days.

"Hmm. Well I have been talking to other prospects for this head coaching job, but so far, I'm impressed by your resume here. I'll have my assistants gather up the paperwork, and it should be ready to be signed within the next few days. You'll have a salary of $3 million a year, but as often the case of the position here in the FBA, the length largely depends on the team's performances. However, I anticipate no drama between you and your daughter when our respective teams meet for the four games in the regular season...Should I expect no drama?"

"Madame expects a pay increase when she proves herself." At the last question, both of them smile. "Of course not."

Lina frowns slightly. "I'll hold you to your word." Her expression softens, however, and she stands up. "Welcome to the Spirits, Ms. Tetreault." She extends her hand.

Henriette raises. She reaches for Lina's hand. "C'est un plaisir." The corgi nods, and with the handshake done, they make for the exit.

Lina nods in return and crosses her arms as she watches them leave. Once they finally exit the room, Lina sighs and sits back down on her chair. "This better not backfire on my face... Yaa emamzade bijan." She shakes her head and goes back to her paperwork.


Featured Characters

Lina Khaldi Henriette Tetreault

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