Part One: Eureka!
"I'm telling you, Lee, the system exsists! It just has to be found, that's all."
The one named "Lee" was a young seventeen year old human girl who's name was actually Leahan Sheldren but she insisted that everyone call her Lee. She had blond hair cut just above her shoulders and it swayed gently as she shook her head at her companion. The sprite sitting across from her was waving his arms around enthusiastically. His short green hair was cut around his deep magenta tinted face and waved gently as he moved. His name was Kevin Mullen and he was eightteen years old. His favourite hobby was reading legends and unsolved mysteries in both human and sprite history.
The two young cadets sat in the cafeteria of the Guardian Academy. Both were first year and excited about beging excepted into the training facility. They hadn't known each other long but already thay had a bond that was quickly growing into a strong friendship. They would study together, eat together and share new and crazy ideas. This was one of them.
"Kevin, you're crazy! If you think that you can find a legendary system with an old log file, your laptop and a large cup of energy, you're out of your little sprite mind!"
"Lee, listen. The Guardians have a record of it stored in the information database. If I hack into the..."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Time out! Hack? You want to hack into a database for a piece of fiction? And not just that, but hack into the Guardian database? Kevin, that's illegal! What if you get caught?"
"Keep your voice down!" He hissed. "It's just this one time and it's for a good cause."
"Really?" Lee didn't sound convinced. "Has it occured to you that they might not want to be found, Kev? I mean, they cut off their system themselves or so the story goes."
Kevin ignored her last comment. "I'm telling you the system is real and I'm going to find it."
Lee nodded wearily as she picked up her tray and stood up. "Okay Kev, you go find that system. But if you're caught hacking by the Guardians, don't come crying to me or say that I'm part of it; 'cause I'm not." As she walked away with her tray, she shouted over her shoulder. "I'll see you in systems-analysis class at 1500h."
Kevin sat over his laptop as he took another sip of expresso. He had already half hacked his way into the Guardian's database with no problem. The security was tight, but there were always paths around every security precaution; it just had to be found. He put down the mug and leaned back into his chair. He wasn't an expert in hacking, because there was always the risk that he'd get caught and spend most of his young life in jail, but he wasn't stupid. Kevin always covered up his tracks so he wouldn't be traced and he knew most of the tricks of the trade; he just had to do them right.
He moved toward the small screen again and began typing. In moments, the title at the top of the page read, "Guardian System Records: TOP SECRET" and Kevin smiled. This was almost too easy. Maybe he should hack into the database more often and perfect the trade.
Kevin scrolled down, looking at the file names. He didn't know what exactly to look for: co-orinates, the system name or what, but he continued to look. He'd prove to Lee that the system exsisted.
Suddenly, a file name caught his eye; "unknown system" it read. Kevin clicked on the file name and only had to wait two seconds before a red warning flashed on his screen.
"Enter password: All unauthorized access to this database will set off an alert to the Guardians."
Kevin entered the password that he had spend six hours of hacking to accuire and pressed 'Enter'.
It better be. Kevin breathed as the file opened.
The only information about this "unknown system" that appreared on the screen were a set of three numbers. Co-ordinates? Kevin desided to do a system search. He exited the Guardian database, making sure that he couldn't be tracked down and entered the Academies student information program. He started up the system search program and typed in the set of three and pressed return; hoping the information, pictures and the system name, Uphoria would appear. Nothing of the sort. All that popped up on his screen was another request for a password. Kevin typed the Guardian password and pressed 'Enter'.
"Access denied." What? Kevin thought. No. I must have typed it wrong. He typed it carefully again; making sure the letters were in the right order.
Another password? Crash! Kevin didn't have one.
Kevin typed down the three numbers, saved the file and closed his laptop. He had spent eight hours hacking, and no final product to show for it. He was closer to finding the system than he had before but not close enough. Kevin sighed deeply. He was very disappointed.
Kevin jumped when a knock sounded on his door. The first thing that came to Kevin's mind was, Security? Could he have been found out? Had security traced his line and come to arrest him?
Kevin didn't move. Didn't speak. Maybe they would just go if they thought he wasn't there.
Another knock sounded; this time accompanied by a voice. "Kevin, are you in there?" The sprite sighed in relief. It was only Lee.
"Yeah, I'm here." he called, recovering from his fright. The door opened and in walked the girl carrying a tray of something.
"I thought you might be hungery, so I brought you some food. And no matter who says it, nobody, Sprite, Human or Khatrans, can survive completely on coffee. You need substaninse."
Kevin smiled and took the ham and cheeze sandwich off the tray. "Thanks, I really needed it."
Lee held the tray tightly against her stomach. "Sooo, how's the 'wink wink' 'nudge nudge' going? Find anything?"
Kevin smiled as he chewed the sandwich, but said nothing.
Lee got the jest of it. "You did?" She sat down on a bed nearby. "You're joking. You've got to be."
Kevin shook his head as he swallowed. "I'm not joking. I found something. I'm not sure exactly what it is because I need a password for it, but I'm pretty sure it's what I was looking for."
Lee shook her head. "I can't believe you. You're actually going through with it."
"What? Would you think that I should be a quitter? Go half way and then just give up?"
"No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying you whouldn't have started in the first place and left that system alone."
Kevin frowned. "I told you, Lee. I'm going to find that system to prove to everyone it exsists."
Lee sighed. She didn't understand why he was so determined to do this. Who really cared? It wasn't as if finding the system would make everybody's life better. What was one system compared to the hundreds out there? She silently stood up and left the room without saying a word.
As the door closed behind his friend his friend, Kevin took another bite of his sandwich. Suddenly, it didn't taste very good. He placed it on the table beside his laptop, walked to his bed and lay down.
I'll show them. He thought. All I need to do is find that password. It's gotta be in the database somewhere... somewhere... and Kevin drifted off to sleep.
Lee growled in frustration as she threw down her digital pencil that rolled onto the floor.
"I hate calculus!" she hissed. "I hate math in general!"
The librarian looked up from the work she had been doing and gave Lee the look.
Lee mouthed the words "Sorry" as she bent down to get her pencil. When she sat back up, Kevin was pulling up a chair across the table from her. He flopped down into the chair with a quiet "Hey..."
"Kevin, what have you been doing? You look like death warmed over!"
Kevin's eyes drooped and were slightly bloodshot. His hair was matted and his face was paler than usual. He was dead tired.
Kevin folded his arms, creating a makeshift pillow and layed his head down.
"I've been working..." he slurred.
"Working?!" Lee exclaimed with her voice low. "Don't tell me that you've been working on your personal project all night..."
Kevin nodded faintly. "I've been trying to figure out the password; tried everything I could think of. Nothing works."
Lee sighed deeply. "Maybe you should just give it up. It's ruining you."
"No!" Kevin raised his head. "I'm not a quitter."
"Ok, fine." Lee raised her hands in submission. "Keep your personal project, but give it a break. You're killing yourself to find it. It's been in the same place for several hundred years and it's not going anywhere...as far as I know."
Kevin let out an audiable breath. "You're right. I'll lay off it for a while until I can get organized again."
Lee finally smiled. "Then you can start by getting some sleep; History class has been canceled. Proffessor Riggins had an urgent arend to run for Prime Jennings. You've got two hours."
Kevin let out a small laugh. "Oh, that sounds good. I think I'll do that." he said as he stood up and grogally walked to his room.
Kevin sat in the library reading "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells. Kevin couldn't help but laugh at the authors views of the future; Wells was completely off. It was more of a comiedy novel than an ancient science fiction, but it was a classic and the writing was great.
As Kevin looked up from his reading pad, he noticed Lee approaching and she was carrying a ton of read me files.
Kevin grinned. "What's with the personal library you have there?"
Lee dropped the files onto a table and sat down exhausted. "You know that report that we have to do in History class?"
"Well," Lee bit her lip. "I haven't started it yet."
Kevin shot Lee a look of surprise. "What? What were you thinking? We've had this assigned for a month! What have you been doing?"
Lee smiled sheepishly. "Ok...just call me the 'Queen of Procrastination'." She sighed. "Could you help me?"
Kevin flomped back into his chair. "What's your topic?" he asked, his voice lacking enthuiasm.
Lee picked up her planner where all her assignments, examinations and activities were logged. "The lost city of Atlantis." she read and put it down. "I asked you because you're the expert on this type of thing and with the new evidence found during the twenty-first century that proved that it exsisted, I was sure you'd know everything there is to know."
"Hand me your assignment sheet." Lee did so. "Ok, 'You will be assigned a historical mystery that has never been completely solved. Research this topic and prepare an oral presentation. You will be marked on blah blah...blah..." Kevin let his voice trail off. A new look of realization came over his face. "That it!"
"What's it?" Lee was confused.
Kevin lowered his voice to a whisper. "I've gotta go..."
"Whoa! Aren't you going to help me with this? Where are you going?"
"I'll tell you later. Just read those files on Atlantis and I'll be back shortly." he said as he stood and ran out of the library.
Lee's gaze followed her friend as he exited. She shook her head and picked up the top file. "Even though he's my best friend, I don't think I'll ever completely understand him."
Kevin sat egerly infront of the small, glowing screen of his laptop as he waited impatiently for the system search program to start up.
"Come on...come on!..." he encouraged the computer quietly. When the loading was complete, the usual information window popped up, asking for a system name, net address or co-ordinates. By now, Kevin had the memorized the three numbers and he feverishly typed them in. A drop of cold sweat rolled down his temple and along his jaw bone as he waited fot the request for the password. His fingers bent down and typed 'atlantis' into the text box and his hand was shaking in anticipation as he pressed 'Enter'. The few seconds for the reply to the password seemed like an eternity, but finally, the answer came:
Kevin stopped. Was he seeing right? Were his eye's playing tricks on him? He had seen 'Password denied' so many times that he had taken it for granted. He checked again; read it for the second time.
Kevin jumped up, knocking over his chair in the process, but he didn't care. He had found the system!
He enjoyed his success for only a minute. What if it's not the right system? he found himself thinking. What if it's the wrong one? He picked up the chair and sat back down. He had to be sure. He clicked 'OK' and what Kevin saw next made all his hard work feel worth the effort.
Guardian Geoff Dunning, and Guardian Shashi Elrick, were on system watch as Kevin re-opened the port to the hidden system. It had been a slow day with nothing out of the ordinary, and both of the sprites wanted a little excitement.
"Another day, another few hours of my life I'll never get back." Geoff complained to his bored partner. His dark green face was cloulded over with his frustration about his job and his bright green eyes rolled as he spoke. His hair was a black chrome and tied away from his face by a blue elastic that matched his Guardian uniform.
"Aw, just shut it, Geoff. You know that I feel the same as you do about this job, but, it has to be done; there's no use in crabbing about it." Shashi hissed. Her lavender face frowned in displeasure at her conpainion as she crossed her arms. "Prime Jennings will have our heads if we're not found at our post, and you know it." her black eyes flashed. Her white hair was held up with two sticks and seemed to glow in the dimmly lit room.
"Yeah," Geoff sighed. "I just wish that something would happen though."
As if an answer to Geoff's request, flashing lights accompanied by a loud shill siren filled the room. Shashi and Geoff sat, fully alert in their chairs as they scanned the screens for the problem.
"What is it? Do you see it?" Shashi asked as she searched hundreds of television monitors.
Geoff's eye's stopped on the monitor above his head. "I think I've found it..." his voice concluded as he typed the monitor number and the image appeared on every screen. "You check what the situation is and I'll report it." he said as he picked up the receiver.
Shashi typed quickly on the computer and rewound the tape. On the screen was five dots representing system locations. Nothing new about that... she thought. I've been looking at those all day... Suddenly, a white blank space on the screen was filled with a sixth red dot. "What in the NET?!?" she exclaimed.
Geoff rolled his chair over to Shashi. "What?"
"That system just appeared out of nowhere!" The white haired sprite said pointing at the monitor infront of her.
"Are you sure?" Geoff asked as he pressed the rewind button.
"Positive! I counted five and all of a sudden...POOF! There were six!"
"Let me see..." The male sprite pressed play.
"You think that I'm random? I know what I saw!"
"Yeah...yeah...Keep you processor in check..." Geoff was concentrating on the image infront of him.
As Geoff watch the servilence tape, Shashi gave a running comentary. "See? Five dots...like I told you ..and..." when the sixth dot appeared, Shashi raised her hand slightly as an inaudable 'Told you so.'
"A system that pops out of nowhere? Could this be a roaming system?" Geoff thought out loud.
"If you think that," Shashi said as she grabbed the receiver out of his hand, "you're even crazier than you think I am." She dialed 3-1-1 and Michael Houston, head of Net secruity, picked up on the other end. Shashi's voice was a matter-of-fact. "Houston, we have a problem..."