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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20. Stupid Stupid!

~~In hindsight, the honour of being named the best performer in the team was more of a curse. There I was, rather pleased with myself, whilst Miguel was giving the most angry of stares (probably because I'd been nominated off the back of ratting out his cousin), and I should have known it wasn't going to end well. I was supposed to be humble in accepting this nomination, but I couldn't wipe the big grin off my face.

"Well Mr Adams..." Began Captain Zabat. "I hope to hear your name again, and I hope it continues to be a good light! Let me just explain to you what happens now- your name will be put forward to the first Captain's Table Award of the trip- good luck!" She shook my hand, and walked off.

"Whoa, cool man!" Said Fabin. He patted me on the back.

"Congrats mate." Russell added. Miguel and Carla both said nothing.

"I didn't expect that!" I exclaimed. I could only imagine what would happen if I took the Captain's Table Award! Was there a prize for that?

We didn't have time for chatter- dessert was coming! Banoffee Pie (a glorious mixture of bananas, cream, biscuits and toffee) really hit the spot (I really do love that stuff), but my head was in the clouds. I was imagining what it would mean to win that award... money would be nice! Or some sort of ship-board privilege? It had to be something worthwhile...

Carla kept giving me those funny looks. Was this because she suddenly liked me again? I didn't really care to be honest.

When we returned to our quarters, Sandro was looking sullen and when he heard of my nomination he stormed off. I hadn't even mentioned it myself (well, maybe a couple of times, but not to him), but it wasn't surprising that he didn't appreciate my getting nominated at his expense.

I decided it was easier to keep my distance from the miserable bunch and Gasparo, Russell and Kameyo scooped me away for a few games.

Things were good. Very good. Unfortunately I had to spoil things by getting big-headed.

****

"Good evening everyone." Came Captain Zabat's voice over the intercom. "I would firstly like to say well done to you all. The work we have done on New Porto has laid the foundations for further growth and follow-up missions by other Terra Core vessels will build upon those solid foundations. You have all worked hard and can be very proud of your efforts." She paused for a moment, letting us digest her words. "Our next mission is going to take us to the outpost of Baker 221, where we will begin to build a new colony for the UWA. This mission will be quite a lengthy one, but by the end we will have established a new world for UWA citizens. Look forward to it- I certainly am."

So there we had it. A new mission.

We felt the ship hum with energy as the Van Rompay nodes charged up, then, in the blink of an eye, we were FTL again.

****

The award would be presented within a few days. I wrote to my Mom and to Chloe and told them all about it.

Personally, I didn't feel that I'd been talking about it that much, but according to Russell, I was beginning to annoy people. 'I'm all great and wonderful and I worked harder than the rest of you', was the vibe I was apparently giving off.

I've never been big-headed, so when I heard the first whispers of criticism coming my way, I'll admit, that stung. I didn't want to believe I was being like that, and so I did what any other teenager did when my feelings were hurt- I shut up shop. I went from being chatty and happy to sullen and miserable. Helene tried to talk to me and I virtually ignored her. I could tell she was hurt but as far as I was concerned, she was one of the ones talking about how annoying I'd become (though in fact, as I'd find out later, she wasn't).

My change in mood did not go unnoticed by Miss Wilson. The day before the nominees found out if the award was theirs, she asked to speak to me after our construction training.

"Adrian, I get it, you're excited. This award... it's a vindication for you. You want to win it, and badly. It proves something to you, doesn't it?" She was being direct, but not fierce.

"I..." Truth is, though I hadn't openly thought about it, she was right. Seated in her cabin, with those eyes staring right into my soul, I knew she was right.

After I met Chloe and fell in with a bad crowd, my education suffered. When my Dad died, my education suffered even more. I questioned a lot of things. I felt lost and useless.

Then of course, came my 'incident' that led to me being ripped from the last fragment of a normal and stuck aboard this ship.

So yeah, having felt like I'd accomplished very little, to be getting recognition for a job well done, and feeling like I'd achieved something worthwhile for the first time in a long time... well, that felt pretty good. I wanted to be happy and I wanted other people to appreciate what it meant to me. Unfortunately for me, I'd gone the wrong way about it.

"Adrian, you're young, not even legally an adult yet, and there is so much to life you don't understand, even if you think you know it all. No one likes it when people boast, even if there's a valid reason to, and now you're acting all moody because no one likes your boasting, and that's just making things worse. My advice- talk to your friends, explain where you're coming from, and apologise for the way you've been acting."

That all sounded fair enough to me. Miss Wilson was right- as she always seemed to be. The only problem was, I knew I would feel incredibly small if I went out there and apologised to everyone. In fact I'd feel mortified. It had to be done- I just wasn't sure how to do it.

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