"Did the data finish processing yet?"
The computer tech grunted and pointed at the screen In front of him, where information was scrolling out.
"That's it, then." Edwards,
the smaller of the two men, nodded with satisfaction, then turned to his co-worker, smiling broadly.
Davidson wiped a sweaty palm on his trousers. "Good
thing, too. If it hadn't worked, you know the boss would've blamed it on an error in our programming."
"Of course. He never makes mistakes." Edwards flashed
the other man a mischievous grin. "That's why he's still working over in the auxiliary computer centre. Guess he doesn't expect
any problems with his project."
"Well, I doubt even he expected the simulation to be this successful. The crystals seem
to be the answer." Davidson gathered the data tapes and headed for the door of the small laboratory. "You know what he's like
if he's not the first to know about these things."
He wound his way through the corridors of the vast computer complex, his excitement growing
as he went, and poked his head into several auxiliary rooms similar to his own lab, seeking his supervisor.
As he raced into yet another room, he barely missed tripping over a pair of black-clad
legs protruding from under one of the computer consoles. Close call, that! He'd learned much from this man, who was
unquestionably one of the best computer techs in the Federated worlds, an acknowledged genius -- but sometimes, he wondered
if anything was worth suffering the man's foul temper.
Faint sounds from beneath the console showed the man was still hard at work, ignoring
his presence. "Mr. Avon?" No reply. He summoned up his courage and tried again, louder. "Mr. Avon!" .
Kerr Avon reluctantly slid from beneath the console, sat up, and pinned his assistant with an icy glare. "And what
is important enough to merit this interruption?"
"Those simulations you had me set up on the aquatar project...
"You have the results?" The intent
look in his eyes belied his expressionless face and the even tone of his voice. He gathered his tools, then rose and fastidiously
dusted himself off.
Davidson smiled. "I thought you'd want to see them right away.
They look extremely promising." He led the way back to the experimental lab.
Hours later, the two men were still deeply engrossed in analysis of the test results.
Next would come the task of translating their arcane mathematical knowledge, distilling its salient points for the reports
to the next level of the hierarchy.
it was done.
my boy! Come in, and have a seat." Frel Henning,
manager of the computer complex, smiled unctuously and indicated the chair in front of his desk. Avon stiffened at the liberty,
but masked his feelings and managed an ingratiating smile in return.
"As you know, my boy, it's time for your annual performance evaluation."
Avon nodded. He was never one to suffer fools, but in this case, the
power the other man held gave him no choice. "Before we begin, sir, I believe you should see this." He took a copy of his
project report and pushed it across the desk.
"What is it?"
"The results from the latest simulations on the aquatar project. As you will note, they have been quite successful.
With additional funding, a working teleport..."
"...would not be possible."
"I beg your pardon?" Something is seriously wrong! This information should guarantee a promotion,
not to mention a fat raise...
"Teleport. Crazy idea, anyway, like something out of a bad holovid. I've recommended Development Section give it up as a bad idea."
"I don't understand, sir. These projections show..."
Henning glanced offhandedly at the report. "The Federation has neither the time nor the
resources to waste on such idle speculations as these. There are more important priorities. Projections are one thing; results
are all that matter. The subject is closed.
"Now, your evaluation. Your technical expertise is quite remarkable. However, your personnel
file shows some problems In dealing with co-workers, most especially with your subordinates. I will not stand for that, Kerr.
We're a team. Let's show some of that old team spirit, shall we?"
May I ask if this 'team spirit' of yours includes condoning gross incompetence?"
"To whom in particular are you
Oh, my boy, you must be mistaken. He's one of the best men I have. In fact, I've recommended to head the team to re-vamp security on the Federation Banking System. It's a
high-priority project, very sensitive. Extra funding has been allocated to make certain it's a success. Everyone is being
reassigned, now that the aquatar project is to be disbanded."
"I see." Avon's eyes grew hard and cold. "And my reassignment? Is it perhaps to a less
prestigious project? One that is less of a technical challenge? Not to mention less well paid?"
"I am sorry, but I have so many excellent people, and so few places worthy of their talents... Besides, you're not
really management material, my boy. You see how it is, I'm sure."
"Naturally." Avon's smile was feral.
Henning smiled back, a broad and totally false smile that nearly split his round face.
His eyes met Avon's, which were cold and piercing as a pair of laser probes. "As long as we understand each other, then. Now,
if you'll just sign this form...."
The computer tech left Henning's office, cold rage building inside
him. The most promising project of my entire career, snatched away before it can be completed! Then, to be shunted off
on some stupid, routine assignment, while an utter incompetent is given
the plum job ...!
Kerr Avon was not a man to either forgive or forget slights easily. Rogers, in charge of security for the Federation
Bank? What a farce! A five-year-old child could get through his safeguards!
And what a shambles that would make...!
A predatory smile spread across his face as he considered the havoc a highly qualified
computer tech could cause. The consequences would be great, both far Rogers and for the man who recommended him for the
job. And one could buy a good many things with a few million credits... He and Anna could run away together to one of the
outer planets, where all that money would buy them luxury and security for the rest of their lives...
smiling, Kerr Avon went to meet Anna and tell her of his plan.