It was almost three quarters of the way through the academic year and the Academy’s biggest annual training exercise was about to begin. All the pieces to make it happen were moving into place. Aboard a Decindalus-class shuttle Parthi Gens and fifty-nine other cadets of various years were being transferred to the Malice of Maldeumer, a ship of the line. The safety briefing was over and Parthi had pulled out the data pad that contained her briefing material for the exercise.
Maide, Parthi’s roommate, was seated next to her and remonstrated quietly, “Parthi, what are you doing?”
“Reading my info material for the exercise, now the embargo’s over.” Parthi highlighted a phrase in the briefing and made a notation on the pad.
“But this is our first trip into space on a military shuttle,” Maide protested. “Aren’t you excited?”
“It’s a stock standard shuttle,” replied Parthi prosaically. “Nothing interesting will happen, may it please the gods of your birth and choice because interesting on a shuttle trip is bad, so I might as well get my reading done.”
“So, what role did you get?” Maide was looking around to see if anyone else was using their data pad.
“Gunnery officer,” Parthi tapped something on the data pad.
“But isn’t that a fourth year course?”
“Yes, but they’re letting me fill the slot anyway.” Parthi gave her roommate a sly grin, “Maide, this exercise is both learning experience and examination combined and the reading time has begun. What do you think you’re doing?”