The dismissed cadets arrived on earth in small clusters, inclusive of the cadets who made it slightly further than they did. On the ship, their imagination ran wild, trying to picture what a horrible place earth must be now, never being allowed to be shown a picture. Maybe its overgrown with poisonous plants! Or maybe biochemical pollution! The list went on and on. Charlotte who was sitting at the far end of the capsule listened quietly as she thought of Vadican, the base, her friends…and how it was now impossible for her to return to those, just because the federation had decided that she was not fit for the program. A spark of frustration and anger ignited inside her, but quickly turned into a sense of utter fear. She started to picture Earth… She frowned slightly and said under her breath “Oh what a disaster!” Not sure if pertaining to Earth, or her own situation. She would have very much like to curl up into a ball in her seat and imagine that everything wasn’t happening the way it was, if not for the damned seatbelt that made everything stiff and constricted. She squirmed slightly, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in the chair that she had once thought was well cushioned.
Oh how nice would it be if I was called off wrongly, and it was supposed to be Xue Hui. I am better than her aren’t I? ” She thought for awhile, before hastily wiping it out of her mind. How could she even harbour that thought? Xue Hui was her friend, even before they were enlisted! She shook her head, chiding herself. “But then again… It would be nice….”
” Arrival on earth in 3 minutes.” it echoed throughout the ship. The ship went through the Earth’s atmosphere and slowed down as it reached the dock. A cloud of dust rose as it touched ground. Earth did not have an intergalactic platform, so they just had to make do with what’s left of the remaining airports. ” Oh! It isn’t that bad!” a senior cadet commented, looking around in the airport. They walked through a scanner which were mandatory when entering any planet. Security, they had said. The group looked around, the place was indeed not as bad as they had thought. Charlotte, walking at the back of the group, heaved a sigh of relief. The dock was air conditioned and enclosed, just like the base. It was not as clean, but it was comfortable enough for the dismissed cadets. They were led from the scanners to the gates, where they were pushed into a room with wooden benches on each side. The cadets sat down quietly in the dim room. the benches were worn down, colours faded and had a considerable amount of splinters. Charlotte started to fear again, but didn’t bother as she knew before that it wasn’t going to be exactly the same. There was a moment of silence before a woman, in a tight white dress and hat walked out of the door at the end of the waiting room. On her left arm rested a blue plastic clipboard. She looked down at the thin sheet of paper and called out ” Be-a-trice?” she paused and looked up to find the girl, ” follow me please.” she walked into the room. Charlotte watched on as her toonmate followed the woman into the room, as did everyone else. What were they possibly doing inside? The door slammed shut behind Beatrice. The silence reigned until suddenly, an ear piercing scream was heard. The cadets were shocked by the sudden sound, they looked to the door, which now seemed ominous. Howls of pain resounded from within. The cadets started to change their mind of their situation, some of them wanted to run away. Scrambling to the door, only to find that it was locked from the outside. Charlotte’s heart beat faster, something told her that she was next. An awful amount of time later,the door opened. Beatrice didn’t come out of the room, only the woman. Charlotte looked at her intently as the woman looked down at the paper. Everything around Charlotte seemed to slow down as the woman revealed the next cadet to face whatever tragedy that the room holds. Indeed, the next on the list was Charlotte. Her heart sank, but her feet dragged her half conscious/ half scared body into the room.
The door slammed once again, but behind her this time. Her heart pounded in her chest as she let her eyes adjust to the extremely dim lighting. She made out a figure of a man, whose features became clearer as she was able to see better. The man had a mask on, but there was something about his white, swept back hair that struck Charlotte as familiar…
” Come over here and take a seat, Ms Charlotte.” the man beckoned. Charlotte couldn’t move for some reason. The woman then pushed her forward to the chair in the middle. Charlotte lay down, tensed, and looked at the man whom she still couldn’t figure out where she had met before… ” Okay, Charlotte, we are going to run some tests on you, this will not take a second.” the man said cheerily, his eyes revealed that he was smiling. Charlotte frowned at him, and his seemingly unfitting attitude towards the current situation. The woman took multiple scanners and waved them over Charlotte’s body before jotting down incomprehensible notes. Charlotte looked at her as she did so, following the motion of her hand. The woman took a pin from a metal tray and pricked Charlotte.
” Ow! Hey that hurts you know?!” Charlotte reached her other hand over to check on the pricked area, which was now bleeding slightly. However, the man in the mask grabbed her hand before she was able to reach her other arm. He look at her, smiled, and shook his head. Charlotte frowned again, this time from annoyance. The woman collected her blood sample and put it into a machine. Which printed out some results. The woman handed the papers to the man. The man read through, before telling the woman to go and prepare something.
“Hey look here! I want to know what’s going on!” Charlotte forgot about the fear as anger took place. The man looked at her calmly ” Don’t move and this will not hurt abit.” he said as he injected her with a serum. Charlotte felt her senses going dull immediately. She saw the woman push out a trolley with something shiny on it. She blinked, trying to get a better view, but instead her vision just kept getting worse, and in no time at all, she blacked out.
A wave of pain suddenly shot up her arm and spine as she jolted awake. She was still under the effect of the serum so her vision was really low. Pictures flashed through her mind, whizzing past. A picture of her arriving on Siron, a scene where she met the toon leaders. And a scene…. Where her climbing system was injected into her, a similar feeling to what she was feeling now. Her body shook violently, having spasms. She looked up to see a man holding the metal tube, injecting the system into her. The man had a white stubble and back swept hair…… As she realized who the mysterious man behind the mask was, she was sucked out of the world of hallucination. The drug had worn off, she was lying on a metal table, the man and woman sitting a little distance away from her. She looked down at her arm, which was aching tremendously. Her arm was completely covered in a shiny golden material, with screws and bolts that attached it to one another. Funny thing is that it didn’t seem like it was just fitted onto her, but actually permanently fixed INTO her. Her eyes widened in horror as she screamed at the top of her lungs. The man and woman spun around, and walked up towards her. Not surprised by Charlotte’s reaction. ” What-have-you-done-to-my-arm?!?!?!?!?” she shouted, demanding an explanation. The two adults pushed the reluctant girl to a gate at the back of the room without a word. ” Go out there, and find your own kind, they’ll tell you what to do.” Charlotte looked at them in disbelief and disgust. “Oh yes, show this to anyone who tells you off. This will show that you are still fresh, and unable to work. 3 days off. ” The man fished out a card from his pocket. Charlotte took it, snatching it from his hands. The man tapped his card on the scanner and the gate opened, filling the room with glaring sunlight. It was hot and humid, Charlotte could already feel beads of sweat forming on her forehead. She was pushed one last time out of the gate and it closed. She was alone. She looked around her, the dry dirt floor that made a cloud of dust rise on every step, the treeless yellow landscape, the rusty metal barracks and tents, and finally the tiny airport behind her. The fear was back again. What she had thought in the airport was wrong, even her initial thoughts were wrong. Earth was much worse than what she had imagined…