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.


16. The Hard Work begins

So the ship continued on her merry way. The next few days saw Miss Wilson work us hard.

We simulated putting together bricks and mortar in wet conditions, we practised assembling pre-fabricated structures in the baking heat. We got crash courses in building wells and in setting up delicate scientific equipment. We started early in the mornings and by the time we got back to our dorm we were so completely and utterly shattered that we didn't want to do anything other than sleep.

My relationship with Carla didn't really seem to grow- it didn't have time to. I was learning how to fix leaky water pipes and how to use cranes to carefully place roofs upon houses. I was also learning how to set up farming enclosures. I was having a hard time keeping track of everything.

For some reason, I'd declined to tell Carla I'd sent a letter to Chloe. So far, neither Chloe or my Mom had replied to my letters. I hoped things were ok back home.

Carla seemed to sense I felt strained but since we were so busy we didn't have the chance to talk. Nor did I get the chance to have any fun with Miguel and the others. We were all starting to feel a bit stressed.

Then, after what felt like an age, we were finally at our destination.

The Captain's Call came out as we were in the middle of putting together a bottling plant. As was customary, we all stopped to listen.

"Good afternoon. As you know we have been voyaging toward New Porto for the past few days. In a few hours we will be arriving at our destination. This is where our mission truly begins; we shall be here for several weeks, constructing new homes, roads and factories. We shall be ensuring the soil can grow food safe for human consumption. We shall be blazing a trail for humanity. Enjoy this mission, and take heart from knowing you are leaving your mark here. As one final message, I am declaring this evening one of shore leave. Take this opportunity to visit another world, see what it has to offer, and get a feel for what it's like down there. Have fun! Captain Zabat out."

We exchanged glances. The thought of having fun on New Porto had never occurred to us! This was hopefully going to be good.


"Any ideas for what you're gonna do dirt-side?" Russell asked me as we packed a few things.

I shook my head. "I won't be allowed in any of the bars, so I don't even know if I'll go. Everyone else is gonna be drinkin' and partying, no one's gonna want to sit around and look pathetic." I was feeling annoyed at my age. Sixteen is horrid. You can't legally do anything you want to do.

"There's bound to be something you can do. At the very least you can get off this tin-can." Russell replied. His was not the most rousing argument.

My mood was, truthfully, pretty shitty because I knew Carla was going down to the surface, and when she realised I wasn't going to be able to join her in the bars she shrugged at me- then started chatting merrily to Gasparo, that irritatingly handsome Italian. Again with the mixed signals!

At the rate people were filing out of the dorm, I was starting to fear I'd be the only one left. It made me wonder if I'd actually end up being the only poor bastard on the ship!

Even Miss Wilson was going, though she had assured everyone she was going in order to keep an eye on everyone. 'You are representing the TerraCore, Hotel Shift, and Hotel Beta. I do not expect to be disciplining any of you for drunken behaviour. Watch it when you're down there."

One of the control panels beeped at us. That was the signal that the team's shuttle was ready to ferry them down to the planet. I tried not to look glum. At least I'd have the dorm to myself.

"Right, Adrian, Helene, don't do anything stupid whilst I'm gone. And don't make a mess of this place. The rest of you, follow me." Miss Wilson marched the group out of the dorm but I was still surprised to see another person staying behind.

Unfortunately it was the painfully shy Helene. I couldn't recall a signal instance where she'd exchanged more than four words with anyone else. Hopefully she'd bury herself in a book and leave me to mope.

Why is it what I hope will happen never does?

"Um, hi Adrian." She said. She walked up to me, her flowery dress billowing around. At least she wasn't looking frumpy for a change.

"Hi. Looks like it's just me and you." I smiled. "No one crazy to cause trouble."

"Yeah. Look, I'm gonna make something to eat. Do you want anything?" She asked quietly.

"Ah, no, I'm good thanks."

"Okay." She smiled weakly and walked off to the kitchen. Why did I feel like this was going to be a really long night?

I was trying to decide whether to faff around with my tablet, watch a broadcast, or play on the console, when the control panel started beeping again, indicating a message. Helene looked at me and I shrugged as I walked over to the panel. Who would possibly want to get in touch with either of us?

"Adrian, Helene..." Miss Wilson's voice came over the speaker. "I've placed two beers each- and only two for each of you- in the fridge. Adrian, I know why you didn't come down to the surface and Helene, I know why you didn't either, but I look after my team and you have both worked hard this week. You deserve a reward. For obvious reasons, Adrian, this does not leave the dorm. Relax a little, both of you, and we'll see you later."

Wow. Miss Wilson was certainly a hard ass, but she was a hard ass with a heart. My eyes met Helene's.

"So, do you want a beer?" I asked.

"Um..." Helene looked unsure, but then seemed to force herself into a decision. "Yes, please."

I offered up a smile and went to the fridge. Ah, the glorious taste of beer!

I sat with Helene on the couch as we drank. Despite my age I was acquainted with alcohol, whereas Helene, it seemed, was not. She knocked back her first beer quite fast, and it was pretty clear that she wasn't handling it brilliantly. Her cheeks were a little flushed. She was looking at me with eyes of... confusion?

"You are sixteen, yes?" She asked.

"Yeah." I took a swig from the bottle.

"You are so young!"

I chuckled. "Yup."

"I feel old, being twenty. No longer a teenager." She looked sort of... sad.

"You don't look old to me- you look very much young!" I said, enthusiastically.

"I look very young?" Helene looked at me, worried.

"No! I mean, I don't mean you look too young, just... you look normal for twenty." I hated it when I had to scramble around for an answer.

"But not beautiful?" She didn't ask in a difficult way, just a matter-of-fact way. I wanted to put my head in my hands.

Truth is, at that point, I didn't find Helene beautiful. Not in the way Carla was, anyway. She wasn't ugly. Far from it. She wasn't drop-dead gorgeous either. I couldn't exactly say any of that.

"You're lovely." I said. She smiled at me. Her brown eyes held a weird look.

"Thanks. You're sweet Adrian." She rested her head on my shoulder.

Jeez, what was going on? I really hoped she wasn't getting the wrong idea. I wondered if I should drink both the remaining beers, so at least she couldn't get any more merry.

"Uh, thanks. Look, I'm gonnaa play some games- wanna join me?"

"No thanks. I hate computer games. I feel pretty tired. I'll head to bed. Have fun." She smiled at me again, quite sweetly, and patted me on the stomach as she got up. I just didn't know what to think.

She disappeared off to her bed and I played Battle Fortress 4 and F1. I fiddled with my tablet, and thought about Chloe, Carla, and the adventure we were all going to have tomorrrow.

Thinking of going down to the planet also made me think of everyone else down there, having a good time- Carla was probably wowing the locals and that hunk Gasparo was probably all over her. Jealousy punched me in the gut.

At one point Helene reappeared; I heard the door open behind me.

"You okay?" She asked.

"Yeah, just keep getting stuck on the same level. It's gettin' frustrating."

"Well... um... we could talk some more..." I found that thought interesting, since we hadn't really talked before- she'd said a few words then gone off to bed!

Still, I didn't want to seem rude. "Yeah, sure." I saved my game and switched off the console.

When I turned around Helene was wearing her pajamas and she looked a lot cuter for some reason. Her hair wasn't tied back anymore- it flowed over her shoulders. I was a bit baffled by the hedgehog-themed pink PJs, but each to their own.

"I can't sleep." She said as she sat beside me. "I'm scared about tomorrow." She started to get a little squeaky.

"Why? You'll be ok, everyone looks out for everyone."

"No one even knows I'm here half the time, let alone looks out for me." She replied. She was starting to look a bit emotional. I really didn't need this.

"What are you talking about? We all had a good time for your birthday, didn't we?"

"Well... more or less... but everyone got bored with it pretty quickly." She looked at me with big round puppy-dog eyes.

"Well, that's because we're all still getting to know each other. No one quite knows what to say, but we'll still help keep each other safe."

"I... I still feel scared Adrian!"

I had absolutely no idea what she expected me to say or do. I didn't have a magic pill or a wand to wave and make her fears vanish. I was full of my own.

I decided to go with honesty. "Truthfully, I'm pretty scared too. I've never been so far from home, and I've never set foot on another world. I have no idea what to expect. We just have to place our trust in each other."

Helene looked like she was getting tearful, but she nodded. "Thanks for this talk Adrian. You've made me feel better." She didn't look any better- she still had a dear-in-head-lights look, but I smiled as warmly as I could. 

"Glad I could help!"

"Ok, I'm going to go to bed. I'll let you get back to your game." She patted me on the knee and headed back to her room. 

What annoyed me now, is that my little chat had made me think more of my own worries. I truly had to wonder what I would face down on New Porto. I would be building things, on an alien world, billions of miles from earth. It was scary stuff.

I wished I hadn't have had the misfortune of being left alone with Helene.


At exactly 11.34pm (and I knew the time because I was laying in bed, wide awake, thinking about the mission), I heard the return of the rest of Hotel Beta.

Well, I heard the doors open to the dorm, and the shuffling of feet, and the muttering of voices. Then I heard a familiar voice, barking in anger.

"Sandro, Miguel, to me, now." Miss Wilson sounded pissed. 

A few moments of silence, then...

"Ladies and gentlemen, I consider myself to be a fair team leader. I do, believe it or not, cut you guys a lot of slack. I was under no obligation to allow you down to the planet for shore leave, but, since I know how it feels to be cooped up on tin cans like this, and since you've worked hard, I thought, 'I'll reward you'. However, I attached certain conditions. I expected you all to be on your best behaviour. You are representing Hotel Beta, Hotel Shift itself, the La Salle, and the TerraCore, not to mention the UWA. Some of you forgot that tonight, and I am very disappointed."

This did not sound good...

"Sandro and Miguel, you two are the worst offenders by far, though you are not alone by any means. The damage you caused in that bar will be paid for by your wages. Lucky for the pair of you that I was able to smooth over the feathers of the owner and that they won't press charges, otherwise you'd both be turfed off and left to face your punishment. You'll also be barred from any of the clubs and bars on this ship for a month and banned from alcohol for the same length of time. I will be watching both of you and expecting nothing but exemplary behaviour from now on."

Miguel would have a face like thunder when he came in here.

"Believe it or not, this a light punishment for a first offence. Things can and will get worse for you if you do anything like this again. Now, all of you, it's lights out time. We have a very busy day tomorrow."

Sure enough, when Miguel stormed into our room, he moved around jerkily, stomping and muttering to himself. I wisely kept my head down and pretended to be asleep.


The next morning Miguel was in a sour mood. He said good morning to me but his eyes were burning with injustice. I really wanted to know what had happened but figured it was best not to ask- or at least not to ask Miguel.

Breakfast was an orderly affair, with most of us choosing cereal or toast, wolfed down pretty quickly. We donned our safety boots (reinforced metallic things that were supposed to keep our toes safe from heavy items) and, at Miss Wilson's direction, made our way to the loading bays.

We loaded up the cargo vessels with the equipment we were going to need and after a short while we watched as several of them departed for the planet's surface. Then it was our turn.

For the second time in my life I was sat aboard a transport ship. It was fairly small, and we were joined by another group from Hotel Shift- Hotel November. Miss Wilson greeted the other Team Leader- a tall, thin man with a painfully shoddy beard- with a curt nod and we all stared awkwardly at each other.

Except for Carla. She was making googoo eyes at Gasparo, laughing with him and flirting away. I did my best not to notice. 

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