“Which way to the Dean’s office, ma’am?”
“Third office, straight down the hallway. You got business with old Farskoll?”
Omnicon One saw the look of surprise in the receptionist’s eyes. But he pretended that he hadn’t.
“Yes, ma’am. It’s urgent.”
“Aren’t you just a freshie cadet? You just got to Ithyon. Most people try and keep away from the Dean their entire time here. You in trouble?”
“No, ma’am, it’s… it's…something else. Thanks for the help.”
Omnicon looked away, avoiding her suspicious glance, and started to walk towards the Dean’s office.
There were two cadets sitting outside the office next to Farskoll’s. They seemed to be discussing something.
“You hear about what happened in Sector 5?”
“No, I been busy with coursework from Advanced Turbines.”
“Man, somebody blew up an entire fuel planet. It was awesome.”
Omnicon grimaced at the cadet’s skewed sense of awesomeness.
“You’re kidding me? What happened?”
“No one really knows, the GBCE took some remedial measures to hush things up, apparently. Looks like the Inaction Faction’s reached a new low.”
Omnicon had reached the Dean’s door, but he didn’t go. He had heard them mention the GBCE. The nickname was not lost on him. He knew the GBCE was a rusty, outdated and bureaucratic anachronism.
“It gets better. It was one of them new-fangled condensed plasma fuel planets too. It went kaboom like you have no idea.”
“F.A.E.R.Con is going to have a field day with that. PlasCorp will probably take all the heat for that one.”
The cadet spoke no further as the door outside which he was standing opened and an unseen figure received them. Omnicon only heard a gravelly voice, saying, “Did I hear F.A.E.R.Con?”
Omnicon decided to step into Farskoll’s office.
“Omnicon One, welcome to Ithyon. You said you have something important to tell me?”
“Thank you, sir. I …I just came to ask you why we’re not sending our cadets out to fight in the Anjini Wars. We’re the best at this. Shouldn’t we be fighting this war? The GBCE can’t…”
Dean Farskoll’s face had become firm, as he cut in, “The GBCE does what it best can. Ithyon’s finest are being trained, Omnicon. They need to attain their full potential before they get into a combat situation. And I’ll be damned if I send my boys out there.”
“But we can handle it.”
Farskoll’s voice rose even further.
“You can’t handle anything, young man. Do you have any idea what the Kestinos can do? They can’t be fought without training. We’re not authorized to do the job of the GBCE, we only provide them recruits if necessary. Get that in your head.”
Omnicon tried to keep his voice level as he said, “As a matter of fact, I do know what they can do. You don’t understand, sir. We have to fight them. I have to fight them.”
The Dean sighed, looked down at the floor, and said, “I’m sorry, but those are the rules. You fight after you are trained. I won’t claim to understand your…situation, but I do know that you’re a very intelligent student. You wouldn’t be here otherwise. Ithyon Academy is proud of you. Your potential would be wasted.”
Omnicon knew rejection when he saw it, and he also knew what he had to do. The Dean’s words didn’t mean much to him anymore. The Dean looked at him with a sad expression, shook his hand and escorted him outside. It was only when Omnicon reached outside the administrative building that he examined the small holo-disk the Dean had pressed into his hand, when he shook it on the way out.
Once in his room, Omnicon inserted into the disk into a pan-sensor, wondering all the while what information the Dean had given him. After a few clicks and beeps, an electronic voice that sounded vaguely female, issued from the pan-sensor. Omnicon sat through the playback, growing progressively excited. He had found what he needed to do. “It has come to our attention that you are interested in fighting the Kestinos, independently of the GBCE. We are aware of your considerable talents and would like you to work with us. Contact the telemetric code that will now be recited. And remember, this is a highly confidential operation. We will contact you soon.”
Omnicon One had just found his calling in a calling card.