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06.25.2012 , 05:53 AM |
Rites of Passage
“Malavai!” A familiar voice called from the doorway. Malavai Quinn turned to see his friend Donner Park holding a datapad. “Did you see?” He asked, “We’re partners on the final trial! No way we fail now.” The final trial would be a live field investigation. They would be given a base to infiltrate, they would gather any data they could find and upload it to the Academy.
Malavai was relieved that Donner would be his partner. He did not work well with most of the other cadets. Other cadets did not care for his compulsive need for thoroughness and precision. Donner was the exception. They had joined the Academy on the same day and while Quinn’s aptitude in his classes made him the star pupil among his instructors, he did not know how to negotiate the political structure among the students. Many of the cadets were the sons and daughters of officers and high-ranking officials. Donner smoothed things over; he had a way with people. He was being groomed for Cipher training, he said he looked forward to it, especially once he heard about the seduction lessons that advanced cadets were taught.
Donner tossed the orders to Quinn, “Plan it will you? I’m going to scout I’ll patch you in when I’m there.” He ran off without waiting for an answer. Quinn reviewed the datapad noting the building schematics, likely points of entry, surveillance areas, and guard positions. This would be a live investigation, the building was owned by a civilian corporation with suspected Republic ties. Quinn was eager to see if they could find proof of wrongdoing. The traitors would be punished.
Donner worked quickly, he found a high vantage point and set up surveillance cameras and patched Quinn into the feed. “I see,” Quinn said mentally calculating the differentials between the building schematics and the actual building construction. “Point a range finder through the east window.”
Donner complied, patiently waiting for his friend to ensure that everything was perfect.
“Point the infrared sensor three-point-two-three meters up and two-point-five-four meters left from the south corner.”
Donner adjusted his surveillance equipment double-checking his settings, Quinn got testy when he was even one centimeter off.
“There,” Quinn said, sending back coordinates. “That’s our entry point.” Donner looked at his datapad, Quinn had found a poorly covered vent that led straight into the main datacenter bypassing most of security.
“You’re a genius! We make entry at first dark eight hundred hours.” Donner said happily.
“Eight-oh-three,” Quinn replied. “The guard patrol will still be able to see our entry point at eight hundred.”
“Right, sorry.” Donner said grinning. He hurried back to the Academy; this was going to be easy.
The plan went perfectly; Donner and Quinn entered the datacenter without a single hitch. The lights were off but Quinn knew exactly what they were looking for. They began slicing terminals and uploading information to the Academy. Technically, cadets were not required to read the data. However, Quinn was thorough; he wanted to make sure that they did not miss any other clues.
“There’s another set of data here.” Quinn said, scanning the entries. “It’s encrypted. I think the codes are on that terminal over there." Donner finished his upload and walked over to help his friend. They patched the two terminals together and were rewarded with a new set of files.
“This is a list of instructors at the Academy.” Donner whispered, looking around. He had not expected to find anything like this. “Schedules, ranks, students, classes,” he listed. “Do you think the Pubs would try to get one of theirs in?”
Quinn did not answer, his eyes sped through the data that streamed past.
Who gave them this? He thought. It’s not exactly top secret but there certainly is a lot of information about social structures and personal observations, exactly what the Republic would need to infiltrate one of the Empires most important institutions.
The end of the file was a company personnel list. Quinn skimmed the record, only one stood out.
Information specialist, male, age 18, hiring date D3Q3, tenure 4 years, code name NN.
Four years ago on the third day of the third quarter. Quinn thought.
That’s when I arrived at the academy. Donner too.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Donner stood very still. Quinn’s mind raced remembering the times Donner had gone off for ‘intelligence training.’ How he was always quick with a lie to smooth things over. He looked at Donner’s terminal to see what he was reading. He was looking at the same file. Donner’s eyes were wide; his hand went for his blaster.
Quinn drew his blaster and shot him in the heart. Donner fell, the surprised look never leaving his face. Quinn stood a moment, staring at the still form of his best friend. An alarm sounded and the lights came on. Quinn raised his blaster readying himself to fall back to his planned escape route. The door opened and Commander Hillard, head of the final year cadets walked into the room.
“Stand down Quinn.” He said looking at the body on the floor. He checked the terminals and nodded at the technicians as they entered the lab.
Quinn holstered his blaster and started to explain, “Sir, I found evidence that…”
“Yes, yes, we know. It’s part of the test.” The man waved his hand vaguely. “You passed with flying colors. Congratulations Quinn, or should I say Ensign?” He slapped Quinn on the shoulder.
“Test?” Quinn repeated watching the technicians put Donner’s body into a bag. “But, he really was a traitor wasn’t he?”
“Now’s not the time to start asking questions Ensign,” the Commander said sharply, then he laughed. “Look at it this way, a few more seconds and he would have shot you. Now come on, let’s go celebrate the Empire’s newest Junior officer.”
Quinn thought a moment longer then straightened into a salute. “Of course, sir.” He said, and followed the Commander out of the room never looking back.
I swear, I was not trying to be mean when I wrote this. I'm actually starting to feel sorry for him.
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