I try in vain to sleep. But too much has happened today . . . Day’s interrogation, meeting the Elector Primo and his son, and then Thomas. Metias’s crime scene returns to my thoughts—but as I replay it in my mind, I see his face turn into that of Day’s mother. I rub my eyes, heavy with exhaustion. My mind whirls with information, attempting to process all of it and getting jumbled in the middle each time. I try to imagine my thoughts as blocks of data organized into neat little boxes, each clearly labeled. The pattern makes no sense tonight, though, and I’m too tired to make sense of it. The apartment feels empty and foreign. I almost miss the streets of Lake. My eyes wander over to a small chest sitting under my desk, full of the 200,000 Notes I received for capturing Day. I know I should put it in a safer place, but I can’t bring myself to touch it. After a while, I get out of bed, fill a glass with water, and wander over to my computer. If I’m not going to sleep, I might as well continue sifting through Day’s background and evidence.
I run a finger across my monitor, take a sip of water, and then enter my clearance code for accessing the Internet. I open the files Commander Jameson has forwarded to me. They’re full of scanned documents, photos, and newspaper articles. Every time I look through things like this, I hear Metias’s voice in my mind. “Some of our tech used to be better,” he’d tell me. “Before floods, before thousands of data centers were wiped out.” He would let out a mock sigh, then wink at me. “Something to be said for writing my journals by hand, eh?”
I skim through the information I’ve already read before, starting on the new documents. My mind sorts through the details.
BIRTH NAME: DANIEL ALTAN WING
AGE/GENDER: 15/M; PREV. LABELED DECEASED AT AGE 10
WEIGHT: 147 LBS
BLOOD TYPE: ?
HAIR: BLOND, LONG. FFFADL.
EYES: BLUE. 3A
DOMINANT ETHNICITY: MONGOLIAN
Interesting. High ratio for what grade school taught us was an extinct country.
SECONDARY ETHNICITY: CAUCASIAN
FATHER: TAYLOR ARSLAN WING. DECEASED.
MOTHER: GRACE WING. DECEASED.
My mind pauses on this for a moment. Again I picture the woman crumpled on the street in her own blood, then quickly shake the image away.
SIBLINGS: JOHN SUREN WING, 19/M EDEN BATAAR WING, 9/M
And then come the pages and pages of documents detailing Day’s past crimes. I try to skim these as fast as I can, but in the end I can’t help pausing on the last one.
FATALITIES: CAPTAIN METIAS IPARIS
I close my eyes. Ollie whimpers at my feet as if he knows what I’m reading, then shoves his nose against my leg. I keep a hand absently on his head.
I didn’t kill your brother. That’s what he told me. But you might as well have put a gun to my mother’s head.
I force myself to scroll to a different document. I’ve already memorized that crime report from back to front, anyway.
Then something catches my eye. I sit up straighter. The document in front of me shows Day’s Trial score. It’s a scanned paper with a giant red stamp on it, very different from the bright blue stamp I’d seen on mine.
DANIEL ALTAN WING
SCORE: 674 / 1500
Something about that number bothers me . . . 674? I’ve never heard of anyone scoring so low. One person I knew in grade school did fail, inevitably, but his score was close to 1000. Most failing scores are something like 890. Or 825. Always 800-plus. And those are the kids that are expected to fail, the ones who don’t pay attention or don’t have the capacity to.
“He’s too smart for that,” I say under my breath. I read it over again in case I missed something. But the number’s still there. Impossible. Day is well-spoken and logical, and he can read and write. He should have passed his Trial’s interview portion. He’s the most agile person I’ve ever met—he should have aced his Trial’s physical. With high scores on those sections, it should have been impossible for him to score lower than 850—still failing, but higher than 674. And he would’ve gotten 850 only if he left his entire written portion blank.
Commander Jameson will not be happy with me, I think. I open up a search engine and point to a classified URL.
Final Trial scores are common knowledge, but the actual Trial documents are never revealed—not even to criminal investigators. But my brother was Metias, and we never had trouble finding our way into the Trial databases with his hacks. I close my eyes, recounting what he’d taught me.
Determine the OS and get root privs. See if you can reach the remote system. Know your target, and secure your machine.
I find an open port in the system after an hour of scanning and then take over admin privileges. The site beeps once before displaying a single search bar. I soundlessly tap out Day’s name on my desk.
DANIEL ALTAN WING.
The front page of his Trial document comes up. The score still says 674 / 1500. I scroll to the next page. Day’s answers. Some of the questions are multiple-choice, while others require several sentences to answer. I skim through all thirty-two pages before I confirm something very odd.
There are no red marks. In fact, every single one of his answers is untouched. His Trial looks as pristine as mine.
I scroll all the way back to the first page. Then I read each question carefully and answer it in my head. It takes me an hour to go through all of them.
Every answer matches.
When I reach the end of his Trial document, I see the separate scores for his interview and physical sections. Both are perfect. The only thing that’s weird is a brief note written next to his interview score: Attention.