This section covers the work of three teams.
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Up and Away
Marita was untroubled during her journey to the University. At the gates she was welcomed by Odine Ladingor. She said. "Miss Andersson, we have some news for you. Please would you suggest that we go to the quadrangle to expand on your lecture about soil bacteria. Anita knows that the processor is still bugged so we need an excuse to get away from it."
"That is an excellent idea Odine. It is a nice day for an outdoor lecture."
When Marita arrived at her classroom with Odine, it seemed that all the students were deliberately talking louder than usual. She heard snatches of the positions of the teams in the Moon to Lagrange Five sailing race. Others were discussing a vidplay about the wars of the last century that had been shown the night before. It was deliberate smokescreen chatter. The students went quiet as she approached her lectern.
Marita said. "I am not happy about the work that you have done so far on bacteria in soil samples. You must remember that Earth is a planet too. Today I want you to do an exercise to identify symbiotic relationships between bacteria, fungi and other micro organisms. Anita, please would you get the robot sampler, the soil analyser and the chromatograph display unit and check that they are functioning correctly.?"
Anita quickly collected a team of helpers to dismantle the equipment to check for bugs. An audio bug was found in the robot sampler but none were found in the other two items.
When all was ready, Marita said. "I want you all to collect one cubic centimetre of soil from the quadrangle. I would like a full report on each sample listing the number of types of mineral, bacteria, fungi, yeasts, slime moulds, nematodes, seeds, pollen grains and insects. I would then like you to compare all the samples and compile a map of the distribution of each mineral and organism in the quadrangle."
The robot sampler would do most of the work but it had to be programmed to ensure that there was no cross-contamination between the samples. Analysis of the microscopic life in the quadrangle was the perfect excuse to spend most of the lecture period outside, away from electronic surveillance.
Pietro was the first to approach Marita when they were outside.
"Miss Andersson, we have traced Saeed. We know where he lives and we have already collected images of two of his visitors. Anita has set up a camera to monitor the people who visit Saeed's house and to find out what Saeed looks like."
Marita said. "Thank you Pietro. That is excellent work."
Susannah and Fan Cho stood waiting until Pietro had finished. Susannah said.
"Marita, Mrs. Grigson received a message not long ago that upset her. She was in her room a long time before her lecture started and she was using a communicator inside her briefcase. It was around 08:50 when she got the message. After she received the message she was very annoyed. We heard her say. 'Can't you bastards do anything properly? ...What a lame excuse. ...Are you sure that he did not call them to him? ...I know he is famous enough to be recognised. ...Can you explain three coincidences in a row? ...I hope that you have a recording to prove what you say. You know what happened to Dexter when he fouled up.'
We couldn't hear much of what was said by the person she was talking to but we think he was complaining about kids."
Marita replied. "That is very interesting Susannah. It points to Mrs. Grigson being a fairly senior operator although I have no idea what it was that her caller couldn't do. If anything had happened to my partner, George, or Undepoldus, I would have heard something by now."
Fan Cho said. "We think the man called Dexter was killed for not doing his job properly but we don't know what his job was."
Marita said. "Fan Cho, on Saturday, at the Spacer's Club, I heard about a man who was shot on Friday night. He was following George but George was able to evade him. What you have said about Mrs. Grigson's comments means that snoopers who fail could get shot. If they are prepared to shoot their helpers, they would be just as likely to try to shoot anybody who gets in their way. Undepoldus, George, you and myself are all in danger. I know that I am protected and so is George. It would be terrible if anything happened to any of your classmates."
Anita was waiting to make a contribution as Marita was speaking.
She said. "I have heard from Mr. Singh about the information that Susannah and Fan Cho were telling you about. There was a planned attempt to kidnap your partner George this morning but some children going into Regent's Park saw him and recognised him as the Undepoldus man. He was surrounded by the children as the kidnappers were about to strike. He said that if you had any problems, you should use code six. I don't know what code six means but I think that you might have to use it soon. Mrs. Grigson has been in our lecture room while we have been out here. She put something under your lectern."
Marita said. "Please tell Mr. Singh what you have just told me and that he should call the Berry taxi company. Twenty-five are at six in quad."
Anita produced her special communicator and dialled a long series of numbers. She said. "Silent Aitch. Confirm six." Then she dialled another set of numbers and waited for a moment. Then she said. "Silent Aitch. One arrived could pop. Call Berry taxis. M said six is for twenty-five in quad."
Anita put away her communicator and said to Marita. "Mr. Singh has been informed. He told me to use certain words in an emergency. This communicator and his use a fairly secure encryption technique but I try to keep messages short in case they are intercepted. Mr. Singh said that he had never seen a communicator like mine before when I told him how it worked. He has built one for himself so that we could keep in touch. The techniques are old but they still work well. It could be cracked by a good processor in a few days but it is good enough for the moment."
Marita thought that if Gurprit wanted a communicator like Anita's it must be better than anything he had been using.
Marita saw two floaters hovering above the quadrangle so she said. "Lecture cancelled. Pack up. Clear a space for the floaters."
As the two floaters landed, two more appeared.
Marita then said. "Get aboard the floaters. There will be room for everybody."
The floaters were ordinary taxis that could carry up to six passengers but they each carried a passenger already. All the passengers were bald.
As the second two floaters landed, two more appeared. One was another taxi and the other was a police vehicle. Marita and the remaining students got in the fifth taxi. Sil was the sixth passenger.
Sil said. "I am glad that you and your students are safe. Gurprit said that it was because they are such a brilliant intelligence team, they had seen trouble coming and warned you. You trusted them. We trust them too."
Marita said. "I know where I am going, but what can be done for my students?"
Sil said. "Admiral Chang has authorised acting cadet status for all of them for the moment. The Council usually agrees with his recommendations."
Marita said. "I bet that has given the Commander some problems."
Sil said. "Not at all. He loves it when he has got something to do. When are you going to introduce me to your students?"
Marita said "I'm sorry Sil. Elli Odongo, Boris Bukovsky, Gail Ritsos and Armand Piaget, meet Sil Agonistes."
Each gave a nod as his or her name was mentioned.
Marita said. "Sil, you have twenty more to meet when we get back to the Club. Elli is a first class pilot already. Boris loves power units. Gail is an astronomer, and last but not least, Armand is a qualified physician." Turning to the students she said. "Sil is a master pilot who knows more about power units than most."
The floater was now descending into the courtyard. The other floaters had already landed and the students were making their way towards the Club's courtyard entrance.
The Commander greeted the students in turn and told them to stay with the Spacers who had accompanied them in the taxis.
Sil and Marita were the last to go into the Club.
The Commander said to Marita. "Your quick action has saved
a lot of lives. A bomb in your lecture room was contained with
one of our devices when it detonated. One of your colleagues tried
to commit suicide when a policeman entered her lecture room. She
was immobilised before she could do anything. There have been
another twelve arrests of those who had followed you and George
or had been involved with bugging. Through Interpol there were
two more arrested in Lebanon. Admiral Chang thinks that the mastermind
behind these people is still at large but his organisation has
been devastated. Your students will be our guests for the weekend.
By Monday we hope to be sure that there are no others in the organisation
who will trouble you."
Boris said. "Sir, I am sure that all the rest of the class will agree with me when I say that it was mainly the work of one of us who prevented a catastrophe. I think that Anita Kohlvits deserves a medal for what she has done. I think that she knows more about communications and bugs than Mr. Singh does." Gail, Armand and Elli said. 'Hear hear!' in unison.
The Commander said. "Mr. Bukovsky, Boris, Anita has already filed a full report on the work that you all did. Every one of you contributed information that helped to identify those who were planning to harm Lieutenant Commander Andersson, Chief Lieutenant Commander McFigg and Undepoldus. The work you did in checking the strip by Undepoldus house was magnificent. The borer has now been removed. As a team you could hold your own in any company of Spacers. You are all an outstanding credit to Lieutenant Commander Andersson. Now please go with Lieutenant Agonistes to the dining room where you will be served refreshments."
The commander turned back to Marita. He said. "Marita, Admiral Chang will arrive later today to talk to your students in the conference room. They really are an outstanding group. For your information only, Anita Kohlvits will receive a special mention. Gurprit sent her design for a communicator to the College for analysis. Two were built and tested. None of Admiral Chang's group of communication specialists could intercept and decode the signals produced by her design even though they knew how it worked and when it was operating."
"Anita herself thought that it was vulnerable sir. She gave me the impression that she was designing a better one."
"I don't think that Admiral Chang would like someone who is not a Spacer to have better technology than we do. Anita may not be with you for much longer."
"Sir, with respect, it would be difficult to persuade Anita to go to the College without the rest of her classmates. Anita has done outstanding work recently but that was because of her expertise in communications. The other twenty-three are equally talented but recent circumstances have not called upon their talents to the same degree. The physicians and power unit specialists could not use their special skills any more than the drive engineers or the pilots."
"That is a point well made Marita. Nevertheless, although Anita was the one who had the chance to use her specialised knowledge more than any of the others, she showed that her knowledge is exceptional and she used her expertise extremely well. You should know better than most that it is often a chance event that enables someone to show the extent of her talents. Anita had the chance and has made best use of it."
Marita asked. "What was the business about a borer? I didn't hear anything about it."
"Alexander Velikovsky and Jean Valèry thought that there was a pit under the strip that carries visitors past Undepoldus House. They checked. There is. They then decided to check if it would be possible to burrow under the foundations of Undepoldus House from the pit. It was possible. They asked Anita if a remote controlled or programmed borer could be set to drill a hole through the rock and soil under Undepoldus House. If it was possible, could it be detected? Anita found out how planetologists used echo sounders and designed a special device to listen for unusual noises under the strip. It was like a little bug but it monitored underground vibration and the direction it came from. A borer was found, so she and the other students took turns to monitor the borer's progress via the bug. The borer had started horizontally and was beginning to move upwards under the display area. In another day or two there would have been a hole under Undepoldus. You can imagine what that could have led to."
"Sir. George saw them patrolling the strip and got images of them. I was furious when I found out that they had spent the day at Undepoldus House because I had told them not to try to protect Undepoldus, George and myself. George argued with me. He said that they were such a bright group, they would have a very good reason for going against my wishes. He was right as usual. I completely underestimated their intelligence. I should have known better."
"Marita, Even a parent seldom knows what a child can do. If ever you have any children, you will find that out for yourself. Be thankful that your students can still surprise you with their intelligence and abilities. I think that it is time that I welcomed them to the Club and told them what arrangements have been made for them."
The next section covers the way the teams worked.
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