Episode 1


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"With Milo Zerb and the Narloffs in, we can now buy almost as many votes on the Outer Boardz as Rask and Alicia Zerb . . ."

"Good, good, and I have plans for getting the rest" said Kronstadt, moving his large angular frame to one side of a black hogsleather chair at the head of a highly polished table. As it began to grow dark outside, he switched on a bank of soft lights, then focused intently on the smaller man sitting across from him. "But it still leaves more than a million on the Inner Boardz and Krania that we don't control."

The smaller man smirked. "True, but Laneer's people won't control them for long." With his keen eyes moving rapidly and rat-like face twitching, Weemer raised a thin finger toward his master.

"I've got the Stunz coming in from the Outer Boardz to help stir up trouble and we have operatives in place who will soon start simulating Underground operations. These soft Inner Boarders aren't used to high crime rates and terrorist bombings so Laneer will look like a fool proclaiming that 'The System works.'"

"Start the bombings at once!" Kronstadt roared, his face twisting into malevolence. "I smell an accomodation between Laneer and the Underground orchestrated by that bastard Rask! I want it destroyed and the Underground clearly blamed!"

"Of course, Axon, of course," Weemer asserted in reassuring tones, cowering slightly.

Kronstadt's mood changed instantly. He flashed a conspiratorial smile at Weemer, raised his hands expansively and lowered his voice. "We talk tough on the Inner Boardz to win votes while we continue to play the downtrodden outsider to appease those Outer Boarderz who can't be bought."

"Precisely," Weemer said, checking his personal screen then wiping sweat from his forehead with a cloth.

Suddenly, the intense face of a man with short, slightly balding, dark hair and dark penetrating eyes appeared on the wall screen above one end of the table. Kronstadt turned in his chair toward the screen, and Weemer followed suit.

"Ahhhh, Edo. What news from the Inztitut?"

"As you predicted Axon, it has not been difficult to exploit Accelerationism as a divisive force here. Recruitment is going well and a significant number of student spies have already infiltrated most departments."

Kronstadt leaned back in his chair and rubbed his large hands together. "Excellent. We want the Dons kept off balance and their braintrust infected, if possible."

"We're close to achieving that goal. Only yesterday a group of Accelerationist students and others succeeded in finding and destroying over a hundred old hardcopy books on campus. They would have destroyed several hundred more if an old retired Humanitas professor hadn't put up such a fuss."

"You let an old man stand in your way?" Weemer clucked.

Edo cleared his throat. "Professor Munro, or 'Old Dusty' as he is called, is known for his efforts to preserve old books and other old things at the Inztitut. He evidently notified the Chancellor's enforcement unit and had his storage areas sealed before our people could get their hands on the stuff."

Weemer raised his eyes mockingly. "I'd say he has friends in high places, then, wouldn't you?"

"Perhaps. Though it appears that he is simply tolerated."

Kronstadt interjected. "You mentioned this same man in a message earlier today. What was your concern?"

"It may be nothing, but it could also be important."

Impatiently tapping the table with his fingers, Kronstadt snarled at the face on screen. "Well, which is it, then?!?"

"One of our people observed and overheard the old man talking with a student in the Humanitas library basement. The student had apparently found an obsolete research device with it's memory crystals intact, and 'Old Dusty' was showing him how to use it."

Kronstadt's face took on a perplexed look. "So?"

"So, any device with surviving memory crystals found anywhere would be rare indeed, since thirty years ago all of them were supposedly destroyed in the Great Purges."

"Hmmm . . . why is finding an old machine important to us?" Kronstadt shrugged his shoulders, raising the palms of his hands up. He glanced quizzically at Weemer, then back to the face on the screen.

Taking a cue from his master, Weemer also shrugged his scrawny shoulders, trying his best to look bored. The face on screen became more animated.

"Possibly because the word 'Portal' was used in reference to the machine more than once, and there is only one Portal, if it exists at all, in the entire Quadrant."

Becoming mildly interested, Kronstadt hunched forward in his chair. "You're the academic, what is this Portal and what is its purpose?"

"If it is the Portal, it contains a thousand years of The Quadrant's history, going back to its origins, now lost to antiquity. It chronicles the great purges and who was responsible, and details the operations of The Nine since it has existed. Clearly, this would be dangerous or useful information, depending on who possesses the Portal."

"Go on," Kronstadt said.

"It is purported to have in its memory many secrets valuable to those who can access them, and legends tell of one great secret which will confer awesome powers on anyone who learns it. If what has been found isThe Portal, it is precious beyond imagining, or beyond any value in The Quadrant."

With his interest now piqued, Kronstadt pointed a blunt finger at the face on screen. "We must have it then! Where is it?"

"We think the student has it."

Now irate, Kronstadt jumped up out of his chair. He lunged toward the big screen and mock strangled the professor's image as he screams at the top of his lungs.

"You THINK the student has it!?! You mean you don't know who has it!!!"

"Well, uh . . . We've searched the storage areas and 'Old Dusty's' rooms and come up with nothing. Our people have narrowed the search for the student down to one of three possibles. Special teams are being sent out tonight."

Kronstadt spoke slowly, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Look Mezner, if you want to keep your job, I want you to find the student who has the Portal, and-I-want-you-to-bring-me-the-Portal-as-soon-as-you-can. Do you understand?" Kronstadt turned away from the screen.

"Certainly . . . but . . ."

As Edo hesitated for a moment, Kronstadt turned back toward the screen.

"Uhh . . ."what about the student?"

"Get rid of him," Kronstadt replied.

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