The Terra Core

Follow the adventures of a group of young men and women as they try to tame the final frontier.

This story will contain scenes of sexual and violent natures, so read at your own risk.

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14. Hot Nights

I'm told by historians who've studied these things that McDonalds hasn't changed much over the centuries. I find that to be oddly reassuring.

My quarter-pounder with cheese was gorgeous. Yes, we had good food on board, but sometimes you just need a good old-fashioned cheeseburger.

Carla had gone for the chicken nuggets- who orders chicken nuggets!?

I was thinking as I ate, about what Carla had confided in me. Maybe it explained why she acted the way she did. She felt rejected maybe, and hurt, and angry, and she clothed those feelings with the brash, upfront girl that everybody saw.

It made me stop and think about who else was probably pretending to be something they weren't. It was quite possible nearly everyone was, in some way shape or form...

Or maybe most people were as you saw them. I guess whether you believe that depends on how far you're willing to trust someone.

As I chomped down on my burger, I wondered how far I should trust Carla.

She'd admitted to hanging out with the wrong sort of people and picking up bad habits. I knew how hard it was to be on the straight and narrow when your world came crumbling down around you, so she had more than my sympathies, she had my deepest empathy.

But, I didn't need anymore problems added to my own. Could I count on Carla, when the chips were down, or would she leave me high and dry?

"You're awfully quiet." She said, watching me as she popped a nugget into her mouth.

"Just... thinking about life and it can be pretty crappy."

"Yeah, it can be crap. Then again..." She grinned at me. "It can also be pretty good. I mean, look at us, we're visiting other planets! How cool is that?"

"Yeah, it is pretty cool. I've never been off-world before, so this is sort of an adventure." I have to confess, the adventurous spirit in me was growing.

"In a few days we'll be walking on another world, and helping to build there. I just hope I don't fuck anything up!"

I laughed! "I think Sandro's more likely to do that."

"He'll drop something on his head knowing him."

Something was bugging me. "Y'know, I never asked... where are you from?"

"Ireland. A little place called Glanmire, just to the north-east of Cork. Beautiful little place. Really dull."

I laughed again. "Never been, always wanted to."

"Well, if we survive the trip we can. But we'll spend most of our time in Cork, not Glanmire." She chewed on another nugget. "So, what shall we do after lunch?"

I hadn't thought about it. "We could, um, see what's in the rest of the mall?"

"Mmm... nah. I know!" She exclaimed suddenly, and took my hand. "Come on, lets go."

"Where?"

"This ship has an artificial beach. Lets check it out, but first we need to get our swimwear."

I felt my insides tie themselves in a knot. I really didn't want to expose my body to the world.

"I love swimming, and I love the beach!"

Well, I didn't want to disappoint her.

****

"Hey Adrian." Miguel was once again at war on Battle Fortress 4, fending off Sandro's advancing warrior.

"Hey."

"Hi guys." Said Carla breezily. They looked up at her, and back at me, noticing the towels and sunglasses in our hands. Then the pair of them gave me a funny look. Miguel winked at me when Carla looked away. I felt my cheeks heat up.

"Off to get a tan eh?" He asked, but there was something about the way he said it...

"Yup." I replied quickly. "Gonna do some swimming, get some exercise..."

"Lots of exercise." Said Miguel playfully. "Aw shit!" Sandro had sneaked up on him and scored a knife kill, the most embarrassing of all kills.

"Aha, I even the score!" Sandro pumped the air with his fist. "Now the edge is with me!"

Miguel snatched Sandro's controller from him. "Not for long!"

Carla and I left swiftly, leaving the cousins to battle (literally and figuratively)

The beach wasn't particularly large but it was pretty busy. The chance to soak up some sun- even artificial sun- and enjoy perfect sandy beaches wasn't going to be too common in deep space, so the TerraCore had thought ahead and provided its workers with such an environment. It even had palm trees sticking out of the sand, and an ice cream parlour!

Most of the other guys at the beach were buff guys that were either used to physical labour or getting used to it. I felt pretty sheepish as I slipped my shirt off.

Carla was immediately attracting the eyes of all the red-blooded males in the immediately vicinity. Her pink bikini and bikini bottoms were tight, exposed a lot of flesh and left nearly nothing to the imagination. When she hooked her arm around mine, I felt dozens of jealous eyes fix on me.

"Right, I'm gonna go for a dip. Look after my stuff!" She pecked my cheek, and sauntered off. I couldn't help but notice some of the other women were shooting her evil looks as well. Perhaps she was taking attention away from them?

Carla was gorgeous but she wasn't alone. Several of the other girls looked pretty. None of them had Carla's wow factor though.

She didn't hesitate to hurl herself into the beautiful blue water. I certainly wouldn't have! When she came back up, her hair flicked and shimmered as drops of water caught the light. Her breasts bounced and I really had to fight my body's natural reaction. Dayum that girl looked good!

To distract myself I got busy laying out our towels and stuff. Though the sunlight was artificial it felt good on my skin, and I felt myself relaxing a little more.

I'd just laid down, enjoying the warm sun on my stomach, when Carla came back, dripping wet and looking stunning. She collapsed on the towel next to me, rolled onto her side and propped herself up with an elbow. She also placed a hand on my stomach, which was so damn tantalising!

"I still can't believe we have a beach on this ship!" She was full of pep. "I tell ya, I always enjoyed the beach as a kid."

"I didn't really go that often. My mom doesn't like the sand."

"That's a shame. I love the beach. Used to go to the Gold Coast in Australia a lot with my dad, before he..." She trailed off, and I understood why. Memories can be painful things.

"But anyway, are you gonna go in the water? It's not actually that cold..." She grinned, which made me wary.

"Ok, but if it is, I'm gonna steal your towel!" I promised.

"Pfft, I was hopin' you'd steal my bikini." She winked.

Oooh boy. "Well, maybe later." Did I actually say that?

Carla gave me another wink, then patted me on the ass as I got up to go for a swim.

I don't mind the water but I won't go out of my way to go swimming. Chloe liked swimming though (and thinking of her brought me a fair bit of guilt, even though we weren't together anymore. I pushed that thought aside.

The water felt pretty good. Carla was right- it wasn't that cold. I was starting to enjoy having a little swim in this fake sea. I swam around in a few lazy circles, coming back on myself after a few minutes- to spot that Carla was back in the water. A few other guys were floating around near her and talking to her- and she was laughing, flicking her hair and, from the looks of it, flirting. I felt a pang of jealousy, which was stupid, because nothing had happened with her yet.

When she saw me, she waved at me, a happy look on her face. Girls are confusing.

I made my way back over to her, trying to keep my expression safe.

"Hey Aidy..." Carla wrapped her arms around me and pressing that incredible body against mine. My heartbeat sped up several notches. Blood starting pumping to a specific part of my anatomy. My jealousy melted away.

"Told ya the water wasn't bad. Guess you'll need a new excuse to remove my bikini..."

I could only blush.

****

When we returned to the form Miguel and Sandro were still playing Battle Fortress 4, though Miguel assured me they'd not been on it all day. This time they were in teams- Fabian Bergmann and Francis had paired up to take them on. Every other word was 'fuck this' and 'fuck that'. I think they were getting seriously into it.

"Whose winning?" I asked

"Team Awesome." Replied Sandro. "Oh yeah!"

"Balls to that!" Exclaimed Francis. "We'll kick your asses!"

"Men..." Carla muttered. I laughed.

"You two have had a good day, yes?" Asked Miguel. His eyes held a cheeky gleam.

"Oh yes." Replied Carla before I could say anything. "Adrian here is quite the gentleman." She hooked my arm once more and we walked off toward the kitchen.

Once seated, Carla was staring at me. It was... unsettling.

"So, did you have a good time with me today?" She asked.

"Yeah, it's been good. We should do this again."

"Oh Aidy... We haven't done anything... yet." She purred.

"You're... you're not shy are ya?" I said with as much boldness as I could muster.

"I wound up having not to be. You can probably work out why. And... well, one of my exes was a prick, who thought he could walk all over me. It took me a couple of months but when I called him out on his shitty stuff, I felt so good! I had to learn to be confident, and I had to learn to be in the faces of people who tried to put me down. Plus... well, I know what I like. A couple of my exes were crap in bed, but one was amazing- don't take that to mean you need to be fantastic, I know you're pretty young." She must have seen the look of fear on my face. "But anyway, not tonight." Now she must have picked up on my crestfallen look. "I want you to think about me." She teased. "Let those thoughts float around in your head. The anticipation will make it better, trust me."

Well that was pretty annoying. I'd gone from thinking of ways to avoid Carla, to being ready to jump into bed. And I still couldn't shake lingering guilt over Chloe. I felt messed up and messed around.

"Yeah, sure." I said, as sincerely as I could.

"You'll see. Right, I'm gonna shower- got sand in places sand shouldn't go! See ya later." She gave me a kiss on the cheek and walked off.

****

I joined Miguel and the others on the console, though now we were playing F1 Championship 2767 edition. Why we were playing a five year old version of the game I had no idea.

So we had five human competitors and we were gonna do a full race each weekend until we'd completed the season. 19 weekends of intense racing. I didn't know how I'd stack up against these guys.

"This is waaay better than the new version." Said Fabian. "Cars are so much easier to control, even with auto-assist off."

"Nothing beats the 64' edition." Remarked Francis. "Best one ever."

"No way!" Retorted Fabian. "That season didn't have Monaco! Can't not have Monaco!"

"Monaco's a shit track- can't pass, just a procession."

"I sooo look forward to passing you when we race Monaco." Said Fabian, slightly seriously.

Race one was Australia- I qualified 15th out of 24 cars. All the other human racers were in the top six. I took some ribbing for that.

"Never mind Adrian. We'll try not to lap you any more than three times." Mocked Miguel.

"I'll shunt you off if you do!" I threatened, but grinned widely. Miguel took it in the fun spirit.

We talked as we raced, which was easy for the others but I tended to wait till I was on a straight, since I was dangerously close to veering off the track every time a corner came up.

Fabian was from Germany. He told me about going to Christmas markets in Berlin and indulging in mulled wine, which sounded amazing! He was constantly brushing ginger curls from his face- why not just cut it??? I couldn't help but notice the way he looked at Sandro- he looked almost... lustful?

"Dammit!" Exclaimed Miguel when he destroyed his front wing lapping a slower AI car. He was gonna lose the lead now.

"So guys, lookin' forward to some planet time?" Asked Francis. He was closing in on Miguel.

"I am, sorta." I said. "I mean, the ship is cool and all, but it'll be great to get out of it for a little while."

"I'm not looking forward to it." Piped up Sandro. "Building houses... we are gonna sweat."

"I don't mind a bit of sweat." Said Fabian. "We'll get some exercise, help out some people, leave our mark on the universe."

"I agree." Said Francis. "It will be cool to think that our handiwork is gonna be standing on an alien world for centuries to come!"

"Anything Sandro builds will be a pile of rubble for centuries to come." Teased Miguel. He earned himself a punch on the arm for that.

"Oh come on come on!" Francis was stuck in traffic and Sandro was just four seconds behind as we approached the halfway mark. I was beginning to sense he was quite competitive.

Me? I was toodling around in 13th, and had been lapped by the first seven cars. Still, I didn't mind too much. I was actually quite enjoying myself.

Francis wasn't. Sandro was now swarming all over the back of him.

"I'm gonna pass you! I'm gonna do it!"

"No fucking way!" Francis was weaving like a maniac. They were through the traffic and were now coming up to lap me again. I wisely kept as far off the racing line as possible and tried to let them through, but unfortunately Sandro chose that moment to try and sneak past. He nicked my right rear tyre and it popped. Somehow he came out unscathed but I know had to limp halfway around the track to the pits.

"Sorry bro." Said Sandro without even looking away from his fierce duel for the lead.

"No biggie."

When the race finally ended, Sandro had won. Francis wasn't pleased, especially since he'd raced hard. It seemed Sandro simply had natural skill at this game. We were just wrapping up when Miss Wilson walked in.

"Ok people, listen up. I hear that we have a birthday tomorrow." We all looked at each other. It certainly wasn't mine!

"I won't name names, but I will say this- I treat birthdays seriously. Each and every one of you will get a present from me, and I also expect everyone else to contribute. You will all be prompted via your room computers to make a donation toward the present. It is ultimately up to you to contribute, but if you don't, don't expect other people to make an effort with you. The birthday 'person' will be revealed tomorrow." With that, she headed off to her room. We all shared looks again.

"Not mine!" I piped up.

****

After Miguel and I had made small donations to the lucky guy (or girl), we settled down to sleep. I though, was too keyed up, especially as visions of Carla in her bikini kept swimming around in my brain.

"Say Miguel?" I said quietly.

"Yeah bro?"

"I err, I was wondering, you don't think Carla is playing games with me do you?"

"Hmm, you think she would? I don't know bro, I don't know her well enough. She seems pretty interested though."

I considered that. "But in your experience, are girls usually so... forward?"

He laughed. "My experience bro, is that women can be all over the shop. One minute they love you, the next they hate you, and then they want you to jump into bed. I wouldn't worry too much Adrian- if she's serious you'll know, and if not... eh, there are plenty of other girls on board."

"Yeah, I guess."

Miguel looked over at me. "It's a long voyage. You should keep your options open, no?"

"Yeah, probably." But I could not get that bikini out of mind.

My dreams that night were vivid, but my subconscious was playing cruel games. It started out pleasantly enough, with Carla rubbing her body against mine, and kissing me. What was weird was that we were back on earth, in my bedroom, and we were getting hot and heavy when Chloe burst in, hurling obscenities at me. The mood was shattered and Carla stormed off, wanting nothing to do with me. It was just getting to the good bit as well...

Then Chloe was different, and she was kissing me, and rubbing me, and...

When I woke up, I needed to use the bathroom. Desperately.

 

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