Proctor Henrietta Tygyn walked along the burgundy brickwork of the main thoroughfare through the University. The buildings portrayed a multitude of colors– reds, blues, greens, beiges, and the like– with no two buildings the same color. Professors, students, naval cadets, and proctors all strode across the thoroughfare, often called “the Brickyard,” towards the various buildings, but none were going where Tygyn was. She walked with her back straight and head held high towards the White Hall, where deep below the depths of the University lay her true mission.

She turned off of the Brickyard and into the Gardens. A football field of interconnected paths snaked their way through trees and flowers both native to the North American Region of Sol-3, and those which can only be found abroad. Here and there students could be seen lounging around between classes, as well as a few cadets of the Confederate Star Systems Officer Training School, which shared the campus with the civilian Confederate Institute of Technology.

She passed through the Gardens and walked up to a small white building large enough to fit two individuals standing shoulder to shoulder– secured by voice authorization, fingerprint identification, and retinal scan. No one but the most curious of freshman would venture out of their dormitories at night and attempt to gain access, to no avail of course. Tygyn de-gloved one olive hand and placed it onto the hand pad. With a soft ding the screen turned from a pale white to a shade of dark green. A small bulbous sphere extended from the peephole of the door on a retractable arm. Tygyn leaned into the orb, and a thin blue beam emitted from the object scanning both of her retinas.

“Tygyn, Henrietta. Proctor for the Confederacy of Terran Star Systems (CTS) at the Confederate Star Systems Officer Training School, Advanced Person’s Initiative.”

With a second soft ding, the white victorian style door slowly opened revealing an elevator. The chrome door, complete with up and down buttons, reflected Tygyn’s visage back towards her. Her dark shoes making way to black stockings which disappeared under her knee-length navy blue officer’s skirt. The small steel briefcase clasped in her left hand, clashed with her navy blue jacket adorned with officer studs and various service ribbons across the left side of her chest. A simple tie separated the two hemispheres of her body, and sat between her modest breasts. Her neck and face were adorned with makeup, but mainly to hide the various scars which went along with her choice of work. Tygyn stared at herself, straightening her niform and tightening her tie before pushing the down button. The elevator’s chrome doors slid apart, and Tygyn took a tentative step into the lift.  

The elevator was encased in a large, lead shell which negated all electromagnetic radiation the onboard computer issued. This was a necessity. As before, Tygyn placed her hand on a hand pad, spoke her name, and allowed a blue laser to scan her retinas before the elevator began its expeditious descent into the bowels of the University.

The door slid open revealing a white corridor with three juncture points. The walls were adorned with lead lined doors, to prevent EM radiation from bleeding out of the necessary technology used to monitor the Advanced Persons that ate, slept, learned, and were punished in these halls. She stepped out of  the elevator and turned left at the first juncture point. She continued walking until she reached the last door on the right, and turned the knob.

The door closed with a metallic clunk. In front of the proctor was a large room, one hundred feet across in all directions. The room was white in all its aspects; the ceiling, the floor, the table, the chairs, the guards’ uniforms, the depowered androids, their weapons, the chains binding a small pale girl to one of the chairs, the clothing the girl wore, the vent covers, the water pitcher, and the glasses. What wasn’t white was the slow, but steady, drip of dark red blood coming from beneath the steel cuffs, creating small red pools on the floor. By design the cuffs were too tight. These Advanced Persons were kept in a state of almost constant pain at the University to help them unlock and hone their abilities.

Tygyn sat at the head of the table, and placed her briefcase onto the white surface and produced a large file labeled “Lauron Silver” from it. Tygyn looked between the girl and the file for several long minutes. All the while the girl sat unflinching, head down, hair long and unkempt covering her face. Her head was bruised in places, bloody in others. The tips of long thick scars could be seen peeking out of collar of her baggy t-shirt.

“Lauron Silver, age thirteen, born on an off world colony in an orbit around Sol-3. You are here today to be tested. If your tests here go well, you will graduate. After a seven day period of rest and debriefing, you will be assigned to active field duty on one of the Confederacy’s vessels. This examination is a practical one, Lauron. Your abilities will be tested. If you prove too weak to handle the stresses of this examination, you will die. Rely on your training, keep a level head, and stay calm.”

Tygyn stood from her seat, and walked over to the girl. The guards drew their weapons as Tygyn removed the bloody shackles, and the cuffs dropped to the floor. Tygyn went back to her seat, and pressed the table. Where Tygyn’s finger had been was now a dim blue light, and the two CTS androids powered on, a soft blue light in their chassis winking on. The girl inhaled, and looked up. Her face was pale, her eyes two different colors–one brown the other green–and her lips were split in several places. The androids drew weapons: a stun baton and a pistol. As the androids passed the large rectangular table, a slab of glass slid up from the floor to protect Tygyn and the guards. The glass appeared no thicker than an inch, but Tygyn knew that it was both bullet and shock proof.

“Begin.” It was barely a whisper from Tygyn’s mouth. Her face was now in a grimace. Her mind racing through all of the possible outcomes of this examination. She prayed this thirteen year old girl would pass, but knew if she passed she would die on some far flung world, or in the inky blackness of Free Space.

The pistol barked, and the girl dodged right as the other droid charged her with the baton. The bullet smashed into the back of the cell as the droid fired twice more at Lauron. Two more flinch-like movements resulted in more dents in the back wall of the cell. The other droid raised its stun baton, but Lauron met the droid’s elbow joint with the blade of her left hand. Her right hand hit the droids chest no harder than a playful slap, but the droid went limp, its battery pack erupting in a plume of smoke. Instead of falling to the ground, the android’s body levitated off the ground in a limp heap in front of Lauron’s open right hand. The live droid fired twice more, but the rounds slammed into the dead android. With a flick of her wrist the arm of the dead bot launched towards the live one, which dodged left. Lauron launched the rest of the dead android to the left of the live bot forcing it to move right. As the droid sidestepped, Lauron threw her hands forward as far as her arms would allow. Her elbows popped audibly, and droplets of blood from her raw wrists were sent forward. The live droid stopped in its tracks as Lauron’s hands made a shape similar to a father clasping a loving son’s shoulders. Lauron’s eyes met with the ocular sensors of the android as she slowly moved her hands further apart. Sparks began issuing from the androids chassis as rivets burst and welds were torn asunder. Within moments the android was in two halves on the floor next to its fallen brother.

The glass film receded back into the floor as Proctor Tygyn stood up from her chair and approached the young girl. Lauron’s breath was heavy, her nostrils flaring, her arms were slack at her sides. Tygyn reached for the girl’s hand, but Lauron recoiled as if she were expecting pain. Tygyn frowned, and held an envelope out to her.

“Congratulations Lauron. You have passed the examination. You will be brought to a preassigned safe house on the surface of Sol-3 where you will spend seven days being debriefed on what has happened here at the University. You will also have time to relax during the one week period. Your new assignment will be with Capt. Barret Nahl aboard CTS 1143 Vingilot. You should be very proud of yourself.”

At these last words, Lauron looked Tygyn in the eyes. Thirteen years of pain were behind those eyes. Proctor Tygyn couldn’t imagine what this little girl had done, had seen. Their eyes stayed locked for several long seconds, and then Lauron took the envelope. Her head slumped down again, her matted hair blocking her eyes from view once more.

“Weapons do not feel pride, ma’am.” Lauron’s voice was little more than a mousy whimper.

Tygyn stared at the girl. Her eyes on the verge of tears, she turned towards the door.

“Shall I punish her for her attitude, ma’am?” asked one of the guards.

“That won’t be necessary. When she is ready, escort her out of here, and to Reassignment. Proctor Josiah Northrop will take it from there.”

Tygyn then left the room. She pulled her cap down low, and walked towards the elevator. She wanted to leave. She hated what the Confederacy was doing to these “technomancers”, and how they justified their misdeeds as “a means to an end” and “the only way we can win.” What Tygyn hated most of all was that all of the Advanced Persons she examined, thought Tygyn was part of it. Part of this group of people who regarded these young children, with powers beyond anyone’s comprehension, as tools, weapons, and second class citizens. Tygyn was only following orders. Orders she hated to follow, but orders must be obeyed.

Edited by Sabrina Loftus

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