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Becoming One of the Few


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The Chancellor continued on with his speech, which had quickly become a drone, most people gathered there could care less what the chancellor had to say, they wanted out, they wanted their degrees, they wanted out into the real world, the new Australia had dawned. While Mallory Beaufre had been able to keep her attention focused for the first five minutes of the chancellor's preachings, she had quickly lost patience. She had awaited this moment for four years, and with the diplomas sitting in a pile next to the chancellor, her eyes flicked between them, and then at the chancellor, in a way, she hoped, coaxed urgency and anxiety. Her leg twitched slightly as she folded her black gowned arms, the various academic and athletic awards and sashes around her neck moved, some of the awards, being metallic, jingled against one another.

The boy to her right looked at her, and she returned his stare in a cold manner, while he may have had good grades, he clearly didn't have good hygiene. She had caught a whiff of his breath earlier, and she almost keeled over, she quickly learned to breathe through her mouth. The fact that either he also didn't smell that well either also made her grimace, when he shifted a little in her direction. She swore that if she was stuck here any longer she'd probably need to take a shower after the ceremony, just in case the offenders' smell transferred to her because she was stuck sitting next to him. She looked up at the chancellor pleadingly, hoping that maybe since she was in the coveted front row, the chancellor would notice.

The chancellor closed on his remarks, and stepped away from the podium, which bore the seal of the Australian National University, the most prestiguous school in the Southern Cross. It was a childhood dream come true, to be walking away from ANU with a degree, and [i]almost[/i] at the top of her class, she had worked so long for her degree. Entering on a full scholarship, she had maintained her high standards from high school in college, notching up a number of awards in the schools' International Affairs Department, as well as the Chinese Lingual Department, her two majors, which she was due to achieve with honors. On top of her studious nature, Mallory was a top notch athlete, participating in the University League in both women's rugby, and also in track and field, particularly in distance running, she had won awards for a number of standout performances in both sports. She cut a lithe figure, not tall, but not short, well built, and, of course, like many other players, covered in a number of bruises from the the last game of the rugby season.

She held in her excitement, as the podium was borne away, and as the chancellor raised his hands, the first row, including Mallory, stood up, and turned to their right, and began walking towards the stairs that would take them up to the stage. Mallory walked slowly, behind the foul smelling graduate in front of her, trying to hold her breath as they walked. Her almost bleach-blonde hair bounced gently, she had chosen to wear it half up, the back gently tickled the rear of her neck. She smiled to herself, despite being behind the boy who doubled as a graduating garbage scow. Five people were in front of her, and she could barely contain herself, she was usually very reserved, not partaking in the usual antics of college, of course she had a drink with friends sometimes, but she never went overboard. Right now, she felt she would do anything in celebration, maybe even give in to some of her friends and team mates and go out to the bar or clubs later.

As the first graduate took to the stage, she saw a woman standing nearby, she wore a simple olive green skirt, and a lighter olive green blouse. Her shoes were simple two inch heel affairs, and she had her brown hair in a neat bun tied conservatively high on the back of her head. She wore very little makeup and she was, even in Mallory's opinion, what the boys would define as a 'looker'. Her piercing blue eyes looked along the line, on her chest, she had a number of ribbons and medals, along with what looked like wings with a parachute in the middle.

[i]Definitely someone from the military[/i], thought Mallory, as the mysterious woman's eyes met hers. The soldier smiled at her curtly, she was holding something, clutched in her well-groomed fingers. The soldier looked rather diminutive, but as Mallory flicked her eyes, she could tell that the soldier was in tip top shape, her stance was graceful, yet conservative, no hip flung to the side, just steady discipline, very [i]plain[/i]. There was just something about the soldier that didn't seem in place, and as she stepped forward again, the first graduate having received their degree, she kept looking at the soldier. As she stepped forward, however, the soldier broke her posture, and slowly walked toward her, smiling that mysterious and warm grin. The light olive green blouse's collars were both adorned with small pins, which Mallory recognized as quill pens, and she raised an eyebrow as the soldier produced a letter from her skirt pocket, and quietly handed it off to Mallory without a word, nonchalantly, before stepping back into the row of ushers, who said nothing about the female soldiers' movements.

Mallory looked at the small white envelope, which was adorned with simple handwriting 'Mallory Beaufre' and below her name 'Open upon graduation', she just shook her head, and looked up after studying the envelope, the female soldier had gone. She was itching to open the letter, she was curious like that, but it said 'open upon graduation', so she'd respect the mysterious deliverers' wishes and wait. Graduation seemed to be a blur after that, as her brain was wracked with questions, even as she stepped up to receive that diploma, the one she had craved since her childhood. Who was that soldier? What was in the letter? What in blazes did the military want with [i]her[/i]? As soon as her diploma was presented, and hands shaken, she returned to her seat, the letter pocketed in with her diploma, she intended that the minute this ceremony she had craved for so long was done, she would get to the bottom of this mysterious letter that seemed to appear from the hand of a disappearing soldier.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mallory slowly walked through the front door of the small apartment building she inhabited, having just finished lunch with her parents and one of her girlfriends as well as her parents. They all talked animatedly, but Mallory had kept fingering the mysterious letter that had been given to her at the graduation that she kept in the pocket of her jeans. Her father had queried her on why a military officer had seemed to converse with her, but she just responded that it was just some sort of recruiter. He had quickly warned her against military service, she had a "bright future ahead of her", and didn't need to dabble with any dangerous feats of daring-do that the military was known for.

As she unlocked her apartment door, a venue she would be soon vacating, she stepped inside with a sigh, boxes scattered around the studio apartment, she leaned back against her door, shutting it firmly. She reached back and locked the door, throwing her bag containing her degree, cap, and gown aside. The academic honors inside the bag 'clinked' together, as she looked at the bag, and remembered her fathers words. She sat down in her swiveling computer chair, settling back into the comfy and cool leather, heaving another sigh, as she listened to the sounds of the city of Canberra outside the window. She could very well be joining her friends for a drink down at the Wobbly Lion down the road, maybe chatting up some good looking lad while her girlfriends giggled behind her, and see if he could produce some lame come-on line.

But no, there was something much more intriguing to quench then her thirst for a good sip of alcohol; her curiosity. She fished the slightly folded enveloped from her pocket, and looked at the simple writing on the front. Her father could be right, he usually was, and she knew this well, he was always pushing her to do better. He looked after his daughter well, and she was the apple of both her parents' eye, the youngest of a trio of children, her two older brothers already having graduated and moved on to careers. She was the baby, and she had to fight for her respect, and she had won it, but for all her parents' caution, she was a curious lass. Mallory had always sought more knowledge, and as her fingers deftly picked up a letter opener, she swiftly tore open the top of the envelope with one decisive swift stroke. The cream color paper was folded neatly and officially, and as she opened it, she found herself faced with a bronze seal at the top, emblazoned with a sword crossed with a writing quill, the contents of the letter were, to Mallory's surprise, handwritten;

[quote]Dear Miss Beaufre,

I would like to congratulate you on your recent graduation from the Australian National University, one of the Union's most prestigious institutions. Your academic prowess at the university has definitely turned more heads then you perhaps know, reports provided by your professors rate you as one of their finest students in years. We commend you for not only these achievements, but also while balancing your academic prowess with athleticism. Notes from your coach, as well as from your significant achievements in the field of women's rugby team, and in track and field are definitely laudable.

Such qualities are very rare, being able to balance ones' academic and athletic qualities, showing significant prowess in both is a gift that few possess, and for that, you have also caught our attention. While we are sure that the momentary appearance of Lieutenant Krystin Stone left you with many questions, and you believe this to probably be some shoddy attempt at recruiting you into some mundane job in the Southern Cross Defense Forces, I assure you that it is not. Few ever receive the letter you have in your hands now, and it is an honor to just be such a recipient. I believe I could continue to sing praises of you, but we both know that it is the quick and scattered compliments that can be the most effective.

While I cannot divulge any further information, if I have piqued your interest, I would be honored to have lunch with you. A vehicle will be around to pick you up at 1300 hours tomorrow, whether or not you choose to step into that vehicle, is your prerogative. There is no hidden contract, no call to military service here, nothing but choice. Whether you choose to join us after speaking over luncheon, is entirely up to you. Thank you for your time, I look forward meeting you face to face.

[i]V.S.[/i][/quote]

Mallory just looked at the two-letter signature, and re-read the letter again, her interest was certainly piqued, but her quest to quench her curiosity was incomplete. The letter had not done anything to answer her questions, it had only made new ones. She leaned back in her chair, with a heavy sigh, looking around her at the stacks of boxes, then at the bag that contained her coveted degree, something she had waited her whole life for. She remembered her fathers' words, but she was also overcome with that drive to quench curiosity, to learn more then she already knew.

She listened to the sounds of the nightlife growing outside her window, and sat there, staring at the letter, her face that had been full of smiles earlier that day was now full of thought, as she mulled over things in her head.

Edited by TheShammySocialist
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Mallory had slept little that night, instead sitting in the dark in her comfy, swiveling computer chair, hugging a pillow and looking out into the night through her windows. The sounds of night had done little to rock the recent college graduate to sleep, the letter sat next to her on the computer desk. She had read it over at least a half dozen times again, before shutting off her light, and just staring into the night. Thoughts raced through her head, she remembered her fathers' words, and the whispers of her friends and the media about the Southern Cross Defense Forces. Most citizens looked up to the men and women who served together on the frontline together, all units were integrated nowadays, with women serving right alongside men in combat, fighting, enduring, and bleeding just as hard as their male counterparts.

She had awaken from troubling dreams, where she walked a road filled with perils, with no end in sight, and for some reason, she knew this was a hard road, but she took it anyways. It was almost like her life now, she had always pushed herself hard, and taken hard roads and made tough decisions. She pushed her limits, just like her parents had taught her, she had always competed with her already successful brothers, and who knew what this newest opportunity meant for her. Was it just a dead end? Some sort of scam? Or even [i]worse[/i]? She looked at her clock radio, noting the time; already 1056 hours, and the sounds of the city were flowing steadily through her windows. She took a long shower, before donning a conservative and informal white dress and light make up, she cursed her bruised legs, a constant reminder of her recently finished career in rugby. She looked in the mirror at herself, she looked nervous, apprehensive, she was really going through with this, the way the letter had been delivered made her more spooked then ever, the whole mysterious circumstances around it all.

The minutes seemed like hours, as they approached early afternoon, she looked out the window at 1255, to see a black sedan with tinted windows parked out front. The vehicle was unmarked, but it didn't take a college graduate to know that it was a government vehicle. She felt butterflies in her stomach, as a female soldier, who appeared to be rather diminutive, step out of the car. The soldier had on a short-sleeved light green blouse, and a dark olive green skirt, with short heels, all well kept and very formal looking. She wore an officers' cap, and had a dress tunic slung in her hands, apparently taking the approach of looking rather normal. On the upper arms of the blouse, three stripes with three half circles slung under denoted her rank, and on her chest were a line of ribbons. She looked formal, yet everyday, with light blush applied to her cheeks, and piercing blue eyes that scanned the apartment as she looked up at it.

Mallory took a deep breath, and stepped out her door, clutching her purse, locking the door to her apartment, she descended down the stairs and stepped outside, the female soldier smiled gently when she appeared, and tipped her cap with her fingers.

"Miss Beaufre, I am First Sergeant Holly Manning, the Southern Cross Defense Forces appreciates your acceptance of this invitation," nodded the young soldier, who bowed her head with a wider smile that revealed a row of perfectly white teeth. "Shall we?" she smiled, opening the door for Mallory.

Mallory just nodded nervously, and slipped into the back of the sedan, another uniformed female was sitting at the wheel, and she bowed her head when Mallory settled herself, and Sergeant Manning slipped back into the vehicle. As soon as the doors were shut, the sedan smoothly merged into traffic, heading quickly for Federal Highway 4, which they would take south. The Sergeant quickly explained they would be heading into the hills to the west of Canberra, to Stromlo, a town nestled into the hills, and known for a number of residences of political and corporate elite in the USC. It was known for its spectacular views of Canberra and to the western hills outside Canberra, Mallory just listened attentively, not saying a word, seeming overwhelmed by everything that happened. Manning was very kind, but did not ask her why she was so quiet, and Mallory figured it was because she knew what she was going through already, and it seemed to have some sort of comforting effect on her, as the car sped through Canberra on the highway before taking an exit that would take them into the hills.

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