The Terra Core

A young man is forced from his home to the stars after a terrible crime (inspired by a dream I had!)

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8. Meet your Mates

~~After orientation we were informed our luggage had been sent to our dorms, and we were directed to said dorms in short order. We had to get in a couple of huge elevators, and after some to-ing and fro-ing, we finally reached our living quarters.

I have to say, I'd expected worse.

I was part of Hotel Shift, one of ten different shifts, and with a crew of over 6,000 people, this equated (obviously) to six hundred people per shift team. We were further broken down into twenty different details of thirty people each. As part of Hotel Beta, I would be joining them on whatever assignments we were given. I would also be living with these same twenty-nine people for the next few years, so I sorely hoped no one was inclined to be a dick.

Each little group had a Team Leader, a man or woman with previous experience of working for the Core. They could appoint a deputy from their team, provided the person they chose met the desired standards.

The dorms? Well, we had a large, communal kitchen with a reasonably modern oven, stove and microwave oven. We had a large fridge. There were several tables and chairs of different shapes and sizes to choose from. I didn't really like the boring wooden colour of it all, but I'd get used to it.

The bland white walls had been filled with group photos of previous occupiers- and the memorial wall caught my attention. A reasonably large gold plaque was occuping part of the far wall, with a list of names. It was quite a list. I figured it came from a previous ship, since the La Salle was supposed to be brand new.

We had a pool table! This pleased me no end- I like pool and I consider myself to be quite good at it. We also had video game consoles and access to the UWA network, and (this is important!) we had a decent red carpet that felt nice and soft.

I'd hoped for individual bedrooms but we had to share bunks in groups of two. At least we didn't all have to sleep in the same room. I'd known some kids on school trips who suffered with terrible flatulence!

Our Team Leader wasn't here yet, so some of us put away our stuff, others chatted to each other; a couple of the lads shot some pool.

"Hey, name's Miguel, what's yours?" A Latino kid, probably a couple of years older than me, stuck out a hand at me. I looked up, and smiled politely.

"Name's Adrian." I dutifully shook the lad's hand. "Nice to meet you." I'd heard him introducing himself to everyone. He wasn't shy!

"Where you from hombre?"

"New York. You?"

"Barcelona, well, just outside. I checked the roster- you and I are bunk mates."

"Ah, cool. You don't snore do you?"

Miguel laughed. "No no, you?"

"Not that I know of!" We chuckled, and as I looked around, I noticed more people breaking the ice. So far, everyone seemed like good company.

"Excuse me a second." Miguel moved off to another Latino guy, who looked quite similar- they were related perhaps? Except Miguel had short black cropped hair that reeked of hair gel, and the other guy, slightly tallker, had a mess of near-shoulder length stuff stuck on his head. They hugged, and babbled excitedly to each other. Yup, probably related.

There were few women in our group. This wasn't surprising. More than two-thirds of the crew were men. Of the twenty-nine of us currently in the dorm, only four were female. I therefore hadn't expected to wind up in conversation with any of them, so when a drop-dead gorgeous brunette in mini-jeans, showing a generous percentage of smooth leg, walked up to me with a beautiful smile, I was a little stunned.

"Hi, I'm Carla." She thrust out her hand, which I shook, whilst willing my eyes to focus on her face and only her face. That wasn't easy- she'd chosen to wear possibly the tightest, near-seethrough t-shirt in history.

I couldn't place her accent. It wasn't American, nor was it English. It had a weird, almost poetic note to it.

"I'm, uh, Adrian." I gently shook her hand.

Carla smiled. "You're a little young to be here aren't you?"

"Minimum age limit met." I said. "I don't really have a choice, I have to be here."

"Oh?" That piqued her interest. I really wanted to look at more than her face.

"Yeah, it was that or serve time."

It was weird how that made her eyes twinkle. "What for?"

The conversation had barely begun and already it was getting uncomfortable. "I'd rather not say."

"A bit of a bad boy eh?" She teased. Her voice was like honey. I didn't know whether to feel aroused or scared.

"It... I accidently... I'd rather not say."

Carla looked disappointed. "Aw, come on!" She playfully punched my arm. Well, if she really wanted to know...

"If you must know, I accidently killed someone." I tried to sound calm about it. Her face dropped.

"No way! You're joking!"

"Nope, dead serious."

She gave me a funny look. "That is so... intense! What happened?"

"I'd rather..." She cut me off.

"Nah ah, no 'you'd rather not say'. Tell me."

At this point I was starting to get annoyed. I didn't want to revisit the story that began with my father's death on my first day.

"Look, I don't mean..." I was cut off again, this time by the long-haired guy who'd been talking to Miguel.

"Hey, Adrian is it? I'm Sandro, Miguel's cousin. We need a third person for our team on Battle Fortress 4, you in bro?"

"Oh yes." I wasn't great at that sort of game but I was willing to do anything to escape Carla's questions, even if she was hot. She shot me a heated look. "Err, we'll talk later?" I asked earnestly.

"Yup, we will." She folded her arms, and wandered off.

There was another team of three to play against on Battle Fortress- Russell (from near London), a tall kid who looked like he spent half his day down a gym- Gasparo, from Florence, another tall guy, and a little older than the rest of us, complete with blue eyes and blond hair. I saw Carla eying him up- she moved on quickly- and finally, Kameyo, a girl from Japan. She was actually quite tall herself, defying expectation, and at first I thought she was a guy- her hair was cut so short it gave her a tomboy look.

The battle began! I decided to play as a sniper- which I soon realised was a mistake, since the map was a small, compact affair with few obvious places for snipers to hide and do their work. I wound up getting killed more times than I cared for. Still, we had a laugh- and a small crowd gathered to watch us blast each other's guts out. It was pretty cool.

If only our Team Leader felt the same way...

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