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   Chapter 12 Starside

The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow By EJBowman Characters: 34957

Updated: 2017-12-27 12:04

"Yeah." The holographic image of Sven Hollow nodded his head in understanding. "I remember being briefed on the 'class' system in the USM back when I was an ambassador. Don't think less of your brother though. He doesn't know any different."

"I don't judge any of them." I reassured him. "The problems are no different on Earth so I would be a hypocrite."

It was hard to tell whether or not my call was being monitored. I tried to sound as nonchalant about the situation as possible in case somebody was listening in. I was in the glass 'phone booth' near the ship's recreation room. Cameron was leaning on the other side of the glass waiting to talk to Sven after moi because this chat was coming out of his call time. I had been told the cadets got to call people for free at Starside Academy because we had no credit income. Sadly, that also meant I was probably wasn't going to be able to call my father for as long as I would like.

"Want to talk to Geraldine?" My father asked, pointing his thumb behind him to show Geraldine was just in the other room. "He's really been missing you too."

"Nah." My head shook. "I think Cameron wants to talk to you. I'll chat with Geraldine when I get to call you guys again at Starside."

"Okay." My father nodded slowly. He was suspicious of why I was being weird about Geraldine. He would not say anything because he didn't want to ruin the conversation. "You want to send in Cameron… Wait." A smile spread across his face when he remembered something. "Deanna's getting married."

"Excuse me?" I said with maybe a little too much enthusiasm. I had actually said 'excusez-moi' but my translator had made me think I had said it in English. Don't ask me why I like to incorporate a teeny bit of French into my everyday language. Everybody does because it's a sexy language.

"She's marrying that retail guy we had over for dinner once." Sven told me. "She didn't want to say anything because she didn't want her news to distract from your move to Starside."

"That biatch." I said with a smile. "Put her on, I need to talk to her."

Sven raised his eyebrows. "Wait, you don't want to talk to Geraldine but you want to talk to Deanna?"

I bit my lip. "You're right. Never mind. I'll send Cameron in now and I'll talk to all three of you later."

"Sounds good sweetie. Have fun on your first day at the academy."

"Thanks. Love ya!"

"Love you too."

I opened the door and tapped Cameron on the shoulder. He smiled before stepping in and closing the clear door. Unsure of what to do, I just stood awkwardly outside of the phone booth with my duffle bag and suitcases watching the aliens go by.

I had a strange throbbing sensation in my eyes. At first I figured it was from my new translator that was messing with my brain. Then I realized that it also had to do with the compressed oxygen in the spaceship. It did not feel like the gravity had changed much compared to Earth. I presumed my spandex body-glove was protecting me from any real change. I had tried jumping and it felt no different either. Later Cameron would explain that my boots were 'springy' to balance out the change in gravity.

A tall orange figure scoffed as he strode by. The whole crew had been warned that a second-class cadet was coming aboard to be taken to Starside Academy so he knew who I was. Sure, there were probably other second-class crew members, but nobody could handle the fact that I was part of the first generation of second-class species that were being trained as officers. My eyes shot daggers in his direction even though his back was turned. Damn him, damn them all. Stupid class-oriented society. Yes, I was born and raised in an equally bad society where me and anyone with the last name 'Hollow' were 'top dogs' but I still have a right to hate it. Not even my ego could overcome my dislike for the pyramid of social hierarchy. Only the guys at the top benefited from the system. My friends like Tanya and Elisa were very much middle-class and often struggled with finding money. Elisa was an orphan after the last civil war and was being raised by her aunt while Tanya's parents had fled their country with no more than fifty dollars in their pocket. Money didn't just fall out of the sky for them. Then there was Kim and Aiden, filthy rich like me. We kept quiet while Tanya and Elisa were around, but if it was just us three we often discussed our stock options and what we put our money towards. All three of us funded aid work in other countries. I was surprised to discover that I was the one who put the most money into my shuttle (Liffy, you met her)… I really am a hypocrite for hating the pyramid system. I probably just hated it now more than ever because I was no longer on top of the pyramid.

Once Cameron was done talking to our father he pulled me back in so we could both say goodbye. My brother was then was kind enough to carry my duffle bag and suitcases to the recreation room… Actually, we never made it to the recreation room. We were at the door when we both received the same message.

"Dub First Off Am please report to the bridge." Data told me.

Cameron turned to me. "I think we're here."

Yes, yes we were. My jaw dropped when we entered the bridge and I saw what was on screen. The nebula itself was purple which contrasted with the bright white star in front of us. There was only one major planet in sight orbiting around the giant star… and it wasn't a planet at all.

I had to take a double look at the sphere-shaped space station known as 'Starside'. It was at least the size of Jupiter but it was entirely manmade (or alienmade). Long branches reached out from the space station with docked spaceships attached like leaves. There had millions of USM spaceships in the area… and yet they only trained four new captains every grade?

I still could not get over the size of Starside. And to know there were millions of other space stations throughout the galaxy of around the same size scared me more. Everything was just so much bigger in the USM. I suppose that was because they had to deal with a heck of a lot of planets.

"Holy shit." I gasped under my breath. Where the hell was Starside Academy in this giant place?

Captain Gorirtz came up behind Cameron and I. "Pretty extravagant eh?"

"Definitely. Which part of it is the Academy?"

"It's on the other side of the station."

The first officer was calling out commands to the crew, organizing the docking. They could have just beamed moi to the space station but the Titonic was also docking because it had no assignments. Cameron had told me earlier that he was not going to be showing me through Starside like he wanted to. Nonetheless, he would help me find where all the cadets were meeting first. I had really enjoyed spending time with Cameron. I wish we had more time together. Oh well, now that I was at Starside I would probably be seeing a lot more of him.

If there had been more time I would have sat him down so we could really talk. He was physically and mentally exhausted. He was lacking in sleep, he was incredibly stressed and he was paranoid because of his co-workers. I got the strong feeling Cameron was getting bullied. Not just verbally, but physically as well. The way he tensed up around some of the crew members as we walked by really gave it away. There were two of them… well, three I suppose seeing as one had two heads. He would've taken another route to get to our destination, but there were no other ways. Instead he just kept me by his side as we walked by. I swear they muttered something about us. Cameron did not seem to usually mind the badmouthing that went on behind his back. However, he was cautious around the pair (or trio). Some aliens really hated Cameron. He was the descendent of a second-class species and yet he was still treated like he was first-class. Most hated him because they felt cheated. Why did he get to train to be a tactics officer and they didn't?

"Thank you so much for allowing me on board the Titonic, captain." I told Captain Gorirtz after he did his usual drag-blade-like-arm-down-chest ritual.

"It was a pleasure, Am. Maybe in five years when you graduate I could have you assigned to my ship." He said sincerely.

"I'd like that."

Pulling into the docks felt like an eternity. I thought the spaceship was cool and all, but I wanted to see the space station now. I felt a little light headed which continued to feed my reoccurring idea that this was all a dream and I was going to wake up in my bed in the mansion. Nothing about this situation felt real.

There were five people in each crew. All of our uniforms had the same black outlining but the other colours were red, blue or a fully black uniform. Man, why did I have to get white?

I was glad I was not the last to arrive. An alien in the red uniform was the last to instead. They were at least a foot taller than me but as skinny as a skeleton. I could've scanned them to see who they were –everyone else was scanning each other– but I didn't want to be rude. I'm sure I would get to know everyone later. Plus I could access a replica of the spreadsheet I had been shown back at Darwin Enterprises on Data so I could always learn a little bit about everybody that way.

Cameron kissed me on the cheek. "Have fun Amelia. I'll see you… next time I see you."

"See you then." I laughed. "And you take care of yourself. I mean it."

"Err… okay."

After a moment Cameron had been engulfed in the bustling crowd of hangar four. A feeling of loneliness swept over me. The other cadets looked just as anxious as moi except for a few who either didn't show emotion, or showed emotion in a way I could not understand.

I scanned the twenty of us with my eyes to locate the other members of my dub crew (no, I still don't know what 'dub' means). Four cadets in white were all standing together awkwardly. Nobody was talking. They were merely standing together because none of us knew anybody else, so having matching uniforms was the only reason we felt a part of something. I was on my way over to them when I noticed little blue lasers running up and down my body. I turned to my right and was shocked to see another human. No, he wasn't a human (maybe not even a he!). The four-fingered hand typing on his wrist computer was the first giveaway. He was in the black uniform that matched his hair. His skin was as white as paper and his eyes… Oh, sacr

-four hours in classes though.

Next to the archway appeared to be the bathroom… the unisex bathroom. In the USM they did not have bathrooms just for males, females, hermaphrodites and aliens who asexually reproduced. To make it easier they just had one bathroom for all. I was not sure what to think of that. I was all for genders be treated equally, but having unisex bathrooms was just a step too far for my taste.

My room was in between Kel and Henn like on the spreadsheet. All of us were ordered to stand in front of our doors under our names as the robots confirmed we were in front of the right cubicles.

"You now all have permission to enter your chambers." AI605 informed us. "When you enter, please leave the door open until either AI606 or I come and help you into your regeneration chamber. To make our job easier, remove your uniform and body-glove and place them in the drawer on your left and retrieve them when your regeneration is complete. The drawer will steam and clean them so they are fresh every time you put them on. Once we have helped you into your regeneration chamber well will close the door for you. This is the only official time we will help you regenerate so pay attention."

When I opened the door I saw the little cell for myself. The little drawer AI605 was referring to stuck rather randomly out of the wall of the stall. It was something I could see myself easily running my stomach into every morning. My duffle bag and black suitcases were high up on the shelves on each wall of the cubicle looking like they could just too easily fall down and hit me.

I put my beret and hair tie on top of the drawer so I wouldn't lose them. I set my wrist computer on my drawer too but I kept my translator in just in seeing as it was attached to my brain. My father constantly put in his earpiece and took it out with ease. However, I wanted to give it a day or two… or a year.

I did not like the idea of stripping down while knowing the other cadets could see moi, but I did anyways because everyone else was doing it with no hesitation.

AI606 went down the one row opposite moi and AI605 went to help Kel first. Due to the low temperatures in the space station I was shivering as I stood there naked. I was trying to suss out a way to use my two arms to cover my whole body. Being free of the body-glove was a strange feeling. I almost wanted to put it back on again. It was like my extra layer of skin. Sadly, it was already steaming in the drawer so there was no chance of getting back till the morning.

From my chamber I could only see Donn and his first officer, Or. Or made no attempt to cover his alien genitals while Donn had no genitals to cover… he was under 'hermaphrodite' on my spreadsheet, but apparently he could also be asexual. He was the only alien who was aquatic in our group. He had gills on each side of his face, dark blue skin with green speckles covering his body and head crests that made him quite distinguishable from the other aliens here. He only had three fingers (or two fingers and one thumb) with very sharp fingernails which on his home planet would be used while hunting other marine life. I only noticed these features when he waved at me as if it was no big deal that we were both naked. I found it interesting his species used waving as a way of saying 'hello' as well. I did not wave back because I was currently using both arms to cover my body.

I jumped when AI605 peered into my stall. The robot was long and narrow meaning he didn't take up much space in my little cell. His long arms reached past me and hit the panel that slid the glass regeneration hatch open. The chamber was on a slight slant which made it easy for me to get into. The white padding glowed as the fluorescent light coming from the top of the chamber shined on it. The padding made a mould of my body as I sunk into it. The robot's icy hands held my shoulders as he adjusted the way I stood in the chamber. If you haven't realized: I was a person who didn't like to be touched, especially by a robot.

"You will regenerate for exactly five hours. When you are done you have one hour of before your classes begin in which time you will get dressed and eat." AI605 informed me as he used an alien marker implanted in his hand to put different coloured dots on certain parts of my body.

"This ink is permanent. It tells you where the sensors go when you put them on before you regenerate. Match the dot colour to the sensor colour for an efficient regeneration."

He pulled down the sensors from the roof. Each one was connected to a wire with a colour on it. The sensors appeared to be little suction cups. My body tensed when I noticed the tiny needles below the suction cups. AI605 matched the green sensor to the green dot on my chest first. The little sensor jabbed me like a bee sting but drew no blood. He connected the other four before stepping back to examine. This must have been how I looked when I was in the artificial womb so many years ago with all the wires.

I didn't dare to move in case one sensor detached… or cut me.

"Now. Say 'close' and once you do the hatch will shut. Then say 'start regeneration process'. Do not resist anything and avoiding moving. Close your eyes and breathe steadily. It will all be fine."

I was about to ask the robot another question, but he zipped out and slid my cell door closed behind him. There was a clicking noise meaning the door was locked. I was the only one who could unlock it now.

Nothing to fear Amelia It's just your new bed… Your new bed from hell.

"Close." I said, trying to sound calm.

Claustrophobia set in as the hatch closed. I was trapped behind a thick layer of glass now. Sweat beads formed on my forehead and under my armpits. The glass was so close to my face that every time I exhaled it fogged up.

"Start regeneration process."

The light in my chamber suddenly dimmed and I could hear the whining of the mechanics inside the body of the regeneration chamber. They sounded strained and annoyed. I couldn't help but look down when a blue gel started seeping in near my feet. I was panicking slightly but I refused to move. The cool gel rose quickly and before I knew it I could feel it at my neck. All parts of my body that gel had engulfed had gone numb and I could not move any of my limbs even if I wanted to because of it. My instinct made me cock my head up to avoid my mouth from getting gelled. I tried to inhale one last breath however the gel was too quick and seeped into my mouth. It didn't taste awful yet I gagged nonetheless. My mouth numbed up just before I had a chance to try and close it. I thought about whether or not the gel was bad for me as more poured into my mouth.

I wasn't thinking straight anymore and did not close my eyes in time. I blacked out. My head cocked up and my mouth and eyes wide open. The view of me from outside of the regeneration chamber would have been quite a sight!

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