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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7. Orientation

Once we'd been successfully herded aboard the La Salle and stored our gear with the quarter-master, Mr Roberto directed us toward a green path on the floor and started to follow it. Other lines were drawn on the floor and the grey walls- blue, red, yellow, orange, black- all representing different destinations. Some, older folks were greeting each other with hugs and handshakes- old timers who'd been around this block before. I thought I heard a few New York accents- at least I wasn't the only one!

We turned left down one of the ship's wide corridors, walking past various doors on either side of us. I heard people remarking about the sheer scale of it all- we walked past door after door after door, before turning right down another corridor, then right again, and finally we stopped in front of a green door.

There was quite a crowd already gathered, and most of them looked about my age, or a bit older. There must have been a hundred-plus people waiting outside this door. Other officers were addressing their charges, asking everyone to be patient.

"Ok guys, up next is orientation. You'll meet your chief supervisory officer, who'll be responsible for your orders and welfare for the next five years. My advice- do what they tell you, when they tell you, and you'll be fine." Mr Roberto smiled as the door opened, to reveal a small hall.

We sidled in, sitting down on the chairs made available, and I realised as I sat down that there were even more people than I'd first realised. I hadn't a clue as to the number, but the room felt quite cramped.

In front of us was a large screen, and in front of that was a podium upon a small platform. Behind the podium was a fairly unassuming man, somewhat short, wearing the uniform of the TerraCore, with two blue stripes upon his left shoulder. His hair was almost completely gone (why hadn't he taken advantage of hair replacement?), and what was left was dark. He looked about like a hawk, as though looking for prey. It was unsettling.

Once we were all settled, the lights dimmed, and the screen came on, with a much larger image of the man at the podium for all to see. The doors slid shut, and our orientation began.

"Good morning all of you, and welcome to the TerraCore, my name is Henry Simpson, and I will be your CSO- Chief Supervisory Officer." His stern, English voice was amplified by a hidden mike. "Many of you in this room have never served in the Core, and a few of you may be here because you once did but that was some time ago and things will have changed since the last time you were with us. As such, I will be guiding you through your orientation aboard the La Salle."

He paused for a moment, letting his words sink in.

"A few points of note. Firstly, we do not tolerate criminal behaviour aboard this ship. Steal, harass and abuse your shipmates and you'll be ditched at the earliest opportunity. You'll also be handed directly to the local authorities for sentencing. Commit violent offences and you will be locked away in solitary until such a point that we can drop you on the nearest rock. Do not test these rules."

"Furthermore, be sure to follow the rules. Do not cut corners, or skimp on your duties. If you do, you will not only be placing your life at risk, and the lives of your shipmates, but potentially the the lives of the colonists that settle on the worlds you will be working on. You can and will face manslaughter charges en masse for such dereliction of duty."

We all sat pretty quietly. So far this sounded scary. Mr Simpson continued.

"You will be divided into shifts and you will have both shipboard duties and planetary tasks. We are currently taking on cargo and supplies for our five year mission, and this cargo will need to be organised and prepared for ongoing use. Machinery will need maintenance and you may be called upon to contribute to minor repairs to the ship from time to time. You will receive full and thorough training in this regard."

"Please follow the health and safety guidelines that we'll cover later on! You will be working with heavy machinery and on alien worlds. You must ensure you follow the rules, otherwise you can easily end up seriously injured or dead. I do not want to be writing to your family to tell them their son or daughter is dead."

"You'll get down time- the entertainment facilities aboard this ship are second to none. There are numerous clubs you can join, or if you wish, you can start your own. Want to play snooker, or chess, or darts, or basketball? Want to join a track and field team? You can. What I ask is that you respect the free time of others."

"Some of you may wish to start a relationship with a member of the opposite- or same- sex whilst on board. Whilst we do not disapprove of this, please be sensible. You will be working in close proximity with each other for five years and we will not let you swap work teams simply because of a relationship turned sour. We expect you to exercise common sense. Should you indulge in sexual behaviour, use birth control- we do not have the facilities to care for infants."

So far it all seemed pretty fair. Mr Simpson started to talk about the route we'd be taking, when our first assignments would be issued, payment policies, pensions... I hoped it would all be written down.

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