MoboReader> Sci-fi > The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow

   Chapter 16 Band of Nitwits

The Life, Death and Life of Amelia Hollow By EJBowman Characters: 29239

Updated: 2017-12-27 12:04


We had the same teacher for tactics and combat. Her name was Alk. She was the tall woman I had also seen on stage with the skin dark like onyx. Alk appeared as hard as a diamond however she seemed like one of those women who would become softer once we got to know her better.

"Donn!" She barked before pausing the video we had been watching.

The fish boy looked up from his desk. He shrunk under her glowering yellow eyes.

"Yes ma'am?" He asked.

"What were you doing?" She asked. The voice my translator had given her was low and enigmatic.

"Nothing ma'am." Donn replied sincerely.

"That's the issue." She hissed. "You weren't paying attention to the film. You know why we're watching this battle?"

"Err…" Donn mumbled.

"So that you can figure out the strategies our fleets used to take down these terrorists. You need to focus or your ship will be the first to explode in battle." She said bluntly.

Donn nodded eagerly in agreement. "Yes ma'am. Sorry ma'am."

Watching old USM wars was tremendously boring after the first three hours. We were all just waiting for the class to end so we could have our hour break before we came back for combat. I had already taken enough notes on what had happened in the wars that I felt ready to start strategizing our first battle in the battle room.

Donn's wrist computer informed him there was a new message. When Alk had her back turned he quickly opened it. It read: "You are SO rebellious".

He turned to face me before using is disturbingly long forked tongue to lick his big blue eyes. I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean, but I guessed it was similar to how humans stuck their tongues out immaturely. I had not been watching the film either. I was just really good at looking like I was focused even though I was staring off into space.

The leisure break we had next was actually for dinner. I was curious about what they intended to serve me. I wanted a chicken sandwich desperately. Or at least something that looked like a chicken sandwich.

Data had informed me that my father had scheduled in a call to me at 29:12. Everybody got to make one call a day for exactly one and a half minutes. Boy, my father was going to be so happy to hear about how I was doing. I probably would not have enough time to give him all the details on how I talked-back to Mel, got into a fist fight with a blob, got slapped by my captain and learned that everything I'd learned in science class on Earth was a lie. Sven would most likely want Geraldine to chat with me too. I really hopped Geraldine had told my father about the dusk situation by now. Otherwise it was going to be very awkward for moi.

Once tactics class finally ended we went to dinner. Surprisingly, my 'mashed potatoes' and 'steak' dinner was pretty good. None of it actually tasted like the food it was supposed to, but I was too hungry to care. We were then told to go back to our chambers and grab our armour. Finally I was going to see what the silly black dots on my uniform were for besides looking stupid.

I strolled to my chamber with my hands in the pockets of my cadet jacket. I had not realized the things had pockets until now.

The suitcases seemed a lot heavier than they did a day ago. They were basically dragging along the ground as I carried them with my hunched back. Donn zipped up behind and slapped me on the back with one of his suitcases. Surprisingly, Henn was also with him. It seemed strange that the two were friends, but here they were acting like 'chums'. I had not considered that the cadets could be friends with people outside of their dub crew. – Unless you're moi, of course.

"Have either of you tried looking in these?" Henn asked, gesturing to his black suitcases.

Donn shook his head. "Alk said it wouldn't be wise to open them."

One of my eyebrows rose. What was inside that made them dangerous?

We had about fifteen minutes before combat started so the three of us just sat against the wall outside of the battle room. Gom, Jhan and some other people from Mar and Ket were there waiting too. This was the class we were all the most eager to attend. Science was dead to me, history and tactics were boring, and then there was combat; a place where we could all knock each other's brains out. I needed to do something physical like this. Back at my old high school I enjoyed all the usual subjects, but I found the extra-curricular activities much more to be my forte.

To pass the time, Donn wanted to prove how good he was at keeping his balance. He stacked up our six suitcases and stood on top of them. This does not sound like much of an achievement, but the walls of the suitcases warped outwards meaning that they tried to slide when they were stacked.

"How impressive… But random." Jhan joked. It was obvious she had a crush on her captain.

"Donn!"

We all suddenly turned to see Alk standing in the corridor. Her arms were crossed impatiently. I was expecting to have one of those 'comedic' moments where Donn yelps and tumbles clumsily off the suitcases. Luckily, he was right about his good balance. He did yelp, but he was able to leap casually of the suitcases.

Strike two! I thought. Sure, I had a lot more strikes against me than Donn did, however they were all with different people. Donn had 'displeased' Alk twice in the past few hours.

Alk did not shame Donn like she did last time. She instead just strode past all of us and let the ID confirmation camera scan her so we could get in. Fish boy sighed out of relief before quickly picking up his two suitcases. Our names were printed in silver on the top of them so it was easy to find my two as well.

We were all led into what was apparently the overview room. It was where we got briefed on what was going to happen and also where Alk would monitor the battle from. On one side there was a large touchscreen monitor and on the other there was a long glass window that let us see most of the battle room. In-between the two were four white benches that had too thin of a seat so they looked more like balance beams.

I felt a little more anxious looking into the battle room now. It looked like a ginormous white elevator shaft on a tilt. Besides turrets everywhere, there was also a huge fan at the very end of the shaft.

Well… This should be interesting. I thought while taking my seat with the other cadets on the benches. I was right about them. They were very uncomfortable to sit on unless you were as thin as Henn.

"The battle room is meant to prepare you for any type of combat." Alk began as she turned on the large monitor. "We're not going to get straight into the battle of course. Well… unless your intent is to fly into walls and misuse your gun by stunning yourself."

None of us were sure if we were supposed to laugh at her 'joke' or not. We all just hesitantly smirked instead.

On the monitor we were seeing a 3D projection of the battle room. It emphasized where the turrets were placed and the balconies that could be used to a team's advantage. It also showed where some of the passages were that could take you through the whole room. Of course, there were some secret passages we would not be shown. They were the most useful for getting around the battle room secretly and also shooting the enemy without being seen. Alk told us that in one of them there was also a hidden gun that more powerful than any of ours. I did not care about that. I was just happy that we all got our own guns.

This may shock you; I liked the power a gun gave me… Actually, that's probably not shocking. I'm from Wyoming after all. Once the real gun freaks vanished off the face of the Earth –or were sent to Florida– the shooting ranges became much more civil and were more like posh gun clubs. My father refused to touch any weapons besides a foil, but Geraldine and I had a heck of a lot fun shooting the targets.

"We're going to start with the armour." Alk said as she led us down the corridor to the prep-room. "There is a reason all of you must wear your body gloves all day even if you have an adaptable body. The glove will protect you in water, fire and deep space. It's the same with your amour. The armour recycles the air you breathe so you can last in any conditions for long periods of time."

Alk pointed to a black box behind glass in the prep-room. It was quite thin despite the fact it was the life preserver for our armour. Sure, great, but when were we actually going to get on our armour?

"If your life preserver is damaged, you have thirty seconds to remove your helm before you lose all oxygen in your suit." Alk pressed a button that made the pedestal the life preserver was on rotate so we saw the damaged life preserver on the

mputer beeped. Apparently as soon as Kel realized I was gone he sent a message demanding to know where I was. I told Data to delete the message and continued to watch what was happening above. If I was not going to be respected by the rest of my crew then I might as well go rogue.

The first to leave their base was someone from Ket. The alien was like an ant as it crawled along the walls and down to San's base. Instinctively I wrote a message to Donn to warn him. Unfortunately, my screen flashed orange and an error message came up.

"I'm sorry Am, I'm afraid I can't do that." Data told me.

I slowly looked down at my wrist computer. "Why not HAL… I mean Data?"

"Dub Cap Donn is not on your team. All contact with other dub crews has been forbidden until the end of the exercise."

The insect-like alien jumped onto the San crew's balcony and drew its gun. It had to be Va, the hermaphrodite, because I recognized his/her four insect arms and large bulbous head. I drew my own gun and aimed. If Alk criticized me later I could just say I was just shooting for the hell of it and not trying to help San.

I missed, and Va spotted me. On impulse I fired again and hit the alien right in the gut. Va stumbled backwards and fell off the balcony. I looked away. – It was a long drop. The ant-like alien landed on the grate above the fan with a splat. At least Va was stunned or that would have really hurt.

Three members of San –including Donn– came out shortly afterwards. All of them went to Ket now that their crew was one short. None of them looked like they really wanted to fly but they had no choice. Two of the remaining members of Ket were already on their own balcony and firing down at the assailants.

It was surprising to see four members of the Mar crew fly out from their base and right into San's. Chorst seemed to be the most organized so none of us had prepared for him to do something as crazy as that. However, that was exactly what he had been planning on. I could see the flashes of light from the balcony as they took out the heart of San and lost one of their own in the skirmish.

"San has been eliminated." Data informed me as the heart was deactivated.

The final member of the blue crew suddenly felt an anonymous jolt of electricity run through his body and dropped like a dead fly. As soon as the heart was destroyed, no matter how many were left you'd still automatically 'die'.

The remaining members of Mar flew back to their own base. They were most likely already planning who they would attack next.

Little Ams was flying around like a wingless sprite. Gom and Kel had still decided to use her as a decoy even though I was gone. Zand was smarter than that and only had one member of her crew shoot Ams down while the other two went for my other team members. Even though I was 'rogue', I still had to make sure the Gall heart survived.

Stupidly, the three remaining members of my crew were out on the balcony firing at Ket. Nobody was defending the heart. If they had not made Ams go and get herself stunned they could've left her to defend. The last one standing at the end was Kel who realized his mistake and began to walk backwards. Zand did not let him get that far and shot him herself.

After Kel went down, three members from Mar came back out from hiding and decided to finish off Ket themselves. They succeeded, but the two of them got stunned.

"Ket has been eliminated." Data said.

Now it was time for me to get back in the fight. It was just Chorst, one of his teammates and moi. The crewmember from Mar –who wasn't Chorst– seemed rather cautious about entering the Gall base. He thought I was in there with the heart seeing as I had been missing the whole game.

"Data?" I whispered.

"Yes, Dub First Off Am?"

"If the doors to the bases can be opened automatically, can they be closed too?"

"Yes."

"Close the door to the Gall base and lock." I ordered, hoping Data had that sort of power.

There was silence for a moment as the crewmember took another step towards the Gall base before the metal door slid shut. He jumped back otherwise it would've sliced him like a knife. In this brief amount of time I got out of my hiding place and flew back up. I shut my boots off just as I reached the balcony and landed clumsily. The member of Mar quickly turned around and raised his gun, but I grabbed his arms and tried to direct the gun up into the air. He squealed like a little wounded animal but refused to submit so I screwed that plan and just pushed him away before grabbing my own gun. I got him in the chest and he dropped like a puppet had its strings cut.

Now it's just moi and Chorst. I thought. Ironically, I felt a gun pressed into the back of my helm.

"Do you surrender?" Chorst asked coldly.

I hated losing, but was surrendering actually an option?

"Yes?" I said more as a question.

"Drop your gun." He ordered.

I complied. He would have to be a real bastard to shoot me now.

"Dub Cap Chorst, " Alk said over the loudspeaker, "what are you doing?"

"I have no need to kill the enemy if they surrender." He said sharply.

I looked up at Alk in the overview room. Chorst was her new favourite cadet. He was the only one of us thinking about what would happen in a real battle.

"Good answer Chorst." She said, impressed. "Mar is the winner of this exercise."

The hovering robots filed in from an entrance at the top of the room and started searching for stunned cadets. Chorst lowered his stun gun as I turned. We could not see each other's face through the helms, yet I assumed he looked impassive as usual.

I wasn't sure what to say: "Uh… Thanks for not stunning me."

He did not reply. Instead he just switched on his boots and flew to the exit.

"Okay then." I muttered before following him.

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