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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9. The New Boss

So there we were- blasting away at each other on Battle Fortress 4- and and we were already starting to bond. It was fun, and the nervous tension that hangs around when you meet new people was already starting to ebb away. I think we were all thinking this could be a fun little adventure.

Until our Team Leader walked into the dorm. I think the term 'hard ass' was invented for her.

"What are you scroats doing?" She didn't shout, yet her voice still carried across the room. Everyone stopped and turned to look at the new entrant.

She wasn't especially short, but not especially tall either. Several of us towered over her. Long black hair was tied back into a bun, which gave her a stern, headmistress sort of look. Her TerraCore uniform was pressed to perfection. Life-lines creased her forehead and her ferocious blue eyes made me freeze. She didn't look particularly strong, or hardy, yet there was something in her eyes and voice that gave me pause.

"You should have your gear stored away by now. This isn't game time." She scanned the room, giving each of us a taste of her steely gaze.

"But we..." One of the guys opened his mouth. That was a mistake.

"No buts. We are here to do a job, and part of doing our job is to be organised. My teams have always been organised and disciplined. I won't have that change now. Stow your gear, all of you, then assemble back here for row call." Her accent was American, but not New York. I couldn't quite place it.

There were a few huffs and puffs as everyone stopped what they were doing and started picking up rucksacks and bags. We shuffled to our rooms, and began to unpack. Something told me to do this quickly.

"She seems like a hard ass." Miguel whispered to me.

"Yeah, she seems pretty tough." I hadn't realised just how many pairs of socks my mom had packed. I was going to run out of room for all my clothes at this rate.

"We were just blowing off steam and she wants us to start working before we've even left!"

"Yeah, it's harsh." I agreed. I didn't like characters like that. We weren't academy cadets. I mean, we'd been on board for only a few hours. We didn't yet know anything, so why ride us so hard?

Whereas the Team Leader got a uniform, we didn't- at least, not yet. Orientation had explained that, if we impressed enough, and if the opportunity arose, we'd get proper uniforms. At present though, our 'work clothes' were whatever we chose to wear at the time. For me, that was a simple blue t-shirt and my favourite jeans, which were pretty damn comfy.

Something told me I should change, but something else suggested our Team Leader was not a patient woman.

Sure enough, she was standing there, piercing every soul with those eyes, seeing our deepest sins. Ok, that was a slight exaggeration, but that's what it felt like. I was glad I wasn't the last one out for row call.

That distinction belonged to Sandro. He was a full minute behind the last guy, so our TL moved to his door. She stood there, arms folded, lips pursed in displeasure.

When Sandro finally emerged, the TL's eyes widened. The rest of us winced instinctively.

"Everyone, here, now." She clipped. "You, out of the doorway." Sandro duly wore a look of fright and did as she asked as we gathered around.

She took in a breath, and turned to face us all. Her hands were clasped behind her back, her eyes burned like supernovae, and I felt very, very sorry for poor Sandro.

"Ladies and gentlemen, when I said earlier I have expectations about being organised, I was not joking. My standards are high, but not impossible. I believe they are entirely reasonable, and I cannot stress enough how being organised can save your life out in deep space. With that in mind, take a look at the efforts of this young man here, and decide for yourself if these are the standards I will accept."

She stepped back. I have to say, Sandro hadn't done himself any favours when it came to first impressions.

His bunkmate had stored away his gear near-perfectly. Sandro had articles of clothing and toiletries strewn across his bed and on the floor, in what was a complete mess. His suitcase was also on the floor, and the scene resembled the nightmare of any parent of a teenager. In short, it wasn't good.

"People, I'll make this simple. Keep things tidy. Keep things neat. Scenes like this are completely unacceptable. Aside from making life difficult for himself when it comes to finding what he needs, this young man has created a fire hazard that not only risks his own life but that of his bunkmate, and potentially the rest of you." She cast her steely gaze across us all. "I will be conducting random spot checks until I decide that none of you need a nanny anymore. If any one of you fails to meet my standards the entire dorm is on the receiving end of the punishment. Persistent offenders will face additional sanctions. Do not test my patience or resolve on this issue."

We all stood there, in frightened silence. This woman was terrifying!

"With that said, if you follow my rules and meet my requirements, there will be rewards, benefits if you will. I appreciate hard work and I will recognise successes. Now, let us begin row call..."

She took out a data pad and began to reel off names. It was a bit like registration at school. We'd certainly been made to feel we were at school.

Christina Wilson. At the end of row call she introduced herself as Christina Wilson- though we could call her 'ma'am'. My early optimism was being replaced with dread.

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