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"HELLO? Is anyone here?" I looked around the barracks, not finding a soul. "I guess I am on my own." I said to myself. It was your typical plasteel building. Functional is about all you could really say about it. Well, this is home, so I had better make the best of it. I looked around and finally found my room. "Not bad, only one bed. I was sure that I would have to bunk with someone. I guess I should get unpacked and read through all of this damn paperwork."
"What did you say?" I jumped at the voice coming from behind me.
"Oh, I was just talking to myself. Sorry." I replied as I turned around. My eyes could not believe what they saw. Standing there was one of the most beautiful boys I had ever seen in my life.
"You do seem to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with yourself." He said.
"Ahh, ahh, I, I wa, was just. Shit, I don't know what I was talking about."
"Don't worry about it. I do the same thing. My names Josh."
"Hi Josh, I'm Peter."
"Mmmmm, Peter huh? With a big grin on his angelic face. "Nice to meet you, Peter."
I stared at his brilliant blue eyes as I tried to think of something to say. "I just got in."
"I kinda figured that out."
"Oh, yeah. I guess it is obvious isn't it." My brain was not working right. Josh had short circuited every rational thought I had.
I just stared at him. His eyes were hypnotizing. I was falling into them.
"Uh, Peter, PETER?"
"W-What?" Suddenly jerked back to reality.
"You looked as if you were in a trance."
"Oh, sorry. It's just that you're so damn good looking. I couldn't help myself."
"Hey, you're not bad yourself." Josh replied.
"Uh, thanks." I blushed. "How long have you been here Josh?"
"Just over a year. I came in with the first group. My parents work for the foundation."
"Oh, I thought you were a new hire like I am."
"I am now. I just hired on last week. That is why I am here in the barracks. Actually right next door to you."
"Oh, wow, that's great. Maybe you could show me around, teach me the ropes."
"I would be happy to teach you everything I know." He replied with an evil grin.
We talked for a while longer. I did find out that he was the same age as I was. His birthday was two days before mine. We talked about work. I told him that I had been assigned to the energy division and he was impressed.
"You must be really smart to be posted there."
I looked at him questioningly. "Why do you say that?"
"That is the engineering division. They do all of the technical stuff around here." He replied.
"Well, I don't know if I am that smart, but the hiring agent was impressed with my test scores."
"I don't doubt it at all, not very many get assigned to energy."
He had been posted to the security division.
"What do you do at security?" I asked. "So far I have been in training. It goes for another 8 weeks. Then I am to be assigned to patrol duty."
"Ohhh, big bad security officer." I joked.
Josh got a hurt look on his face and turned to leave.
"Josh, don't go. I was just joking." I said as I grabbed his arm.
"Look Josh, I lived in fear of security for a lot of years. I had to steal to stay alive. When I left Capistiro, they had to pay a fine on a warrant for my arrest. Give me a little time to get used to the idea of having a friend that works for security."
Josh looked deep into my eyes, nodded his head, then leaned to me and gave me a kiss on the lips. I was stunned.
"There is more where that came from." He said as he walked away.
I stood in the doorway watching him walk down the hall. What had just happened? He kissed me. He actually kissed me. Oh shit. Does that mean he likes me? Way too much to think about at one time. I have to get unpacked and get through those damn books.
Bago trees? What the hell are Bago trees? "They originate from the Serfrensi Diosoforium family." Whatever the hell that is. "The Serfrensi Diosoforium family is known for it's neurological inhibitors." Now wouldn't that be something like the old novocaine? "The sap of the Bago tree can permeate the skin and cause loss of feeling and loss of muscular control in the human body. Extended exposure can lead to death." Wow! If that is the most serious threat this planet has to offer, it doesn't sound all that bad.
"The Triabago Tiger is the largest of the predators on Epsilon. They can reach a length of up to 4 meters." Oh! This one does sound serious. "When in a stalking mode the Triabago Tiger can approach a human without them knowing it, so silent is their approach." Looks like I need eyes in the back of my head. "When in an attack mode, the tiger's fangs extend from the upper mandible in lengths up to 31 centimeters." Ouch! "The claws of the Triabago Tiger are retractable and are razor sharp." Ok, that answers that question. Now I know better than to go exploring the countryside alone. Well maybe I can talk Josh into going with me. Hey, it's as good an excuse as any to get him alone.
The rest of the information was fairly boring. Mostly about the weather...."Hot and humid most of the time, with a short winter in which the temperature cooled off 2 to 4 degrees." What winter? One thing I wouldn't have to worry about was getting cold here. The usual precautions of staying out of certain places like the forest that abounded with Bago Trees and common sense stuff like that.
Everyone worked 12 hour shifts, 5 days a week. That seemed a little long to me, but who was I to complain? I finally made it through everything and decided to get my stuff unpacked. Of course that didn't take very long, considering that I didn't own much. Suddenly I was very tired. I undressed and lay in bed, my mind racing with excitement at what tomorrow was to bring.
I was jerked out of a great dream, if you know what I mean, to a pounding on my door.
"JUST A MINUTE." I yelled.
I jumped out of bed and headed for the door when I realized that I was buck naked and had a boner that would be very obvious. I quickly went back to where my clothes lay on the floor and pulled my jumpsuit on, all the time begging my erection to go away. I didn't want to embarrass myself the first morning here. I rushed back to the door and opened it to a smiling Josh.
"Hey man, you had better get a move on if you want breakfast." He said as his eye's traveled from my eyes to the floor and back, taking in my exposed upper body and most likely the bulge in my jumpsuit.
He slowly stepped in to the room and closed the door behind him.
"Damn Peter, you are one hot looking guy." He said as he leaned to me and again kissed me full on the lips.
I pushed him back and said, "Ohh, morning breath."
"I don't have morning breath, I already sonicised."
"Not you, ME!"
"I didn't notice." He replied with a grin.
"In that case." As I pulled him back to me and gave him a deep passionate kiss. Our tongues wrapped around each other and explored, sending tingling up and down my body. Not to mention the lump in my jumpsuit getting bigger and harder. I was starting to get numb all over. I was dizzy. I was in heaven and I didn't want to leave. That is until my knees started to buckle. Josh caught me and held me up.
"Wow man, that was out of this world" He giggled.
"Oh Josh, I have never felt anything like that before in my life. It was wonderful."
"I think we may have to explore this some more and find the cause, don't you?"
"Most certainly sir." I agreed.
We stood there, our arms around each other, staring into each other's eyes. I felt comfortable with him this close. I felt safe, almost as if I was home. What could this mean? Then I noticed tears forming at the corner of Josh's eyes, slowly building until they were running down his face.
"Josh, what's wrong?"
"Nothing Peter, nothing at all. I'm just so happy. I really like this. I like looking at you. I like holding you and I really like kissing you."
"Josh, I really like it too. A lot."
"Oh shit, we had better get going or we won't get any breakfast."
We just made it before they closed down the first meal of the day. It wasn't a bad breakfast at all. Josh complained but I told him that there was a lot of mornings that I didn't have any breakfast to eat, in fact there were a lot of days that I didn't have anything to eat at all. He looked at me and frowned.
"Peter, I am sorry. I guess a person gets used to having things around and when they aren't up to his expectations he complains about it. Thank you for reminding me how good I do have it here."
"Hey, that's ok. We can help each other. You help me with getting used to living here and I'll help remind you of how good you have it."
"Ok, it's a deal."
We finished breakfast just in time for me to clean up before I was to report back to the induction center. Josh had to get to his training class and I was to be met by someone from Energy after the morning briefing.
"Good morning people. This is your final indoctrination meeting. I assume all of you have read the information given to you? It is very important that you are aware of the hazards of this world, it could save your life, therefore you will take a little quiz to see how much you have learned of this world. If you don't pass, you will be docked one days pay. You will then have to take the quiz again tomorrow. If you fail again, you will be docked two days pay and so on until you pass."
People were moaning and groaning about the pay, I could tell that a lot hadn't read the information. I sure am glad that I did. They passed out the quiz and I quickly went through it. It was easy.
I sat there for a few minutes to see if anyone else had finished before I went up to turn it in. I got tired of waiting so I stood up and walked to the front table and handed the quiz to the same lady that gave me the packet yesterday.
She looked up at me. "Finished already?"
She took the quiz and placed the answer key over it. She looked and looked again a frown appeared on her face.
"Well young man, it looks like you got them all right. One hundred percent correct."
I looked back at her and smiled. She motioned a man over to us.
"Andrew, this young man has finished and passed. Would you please arrange for him to meet his work assignment contact?"
"Most certainly Ann." Andrew replied. Then looking at me, "Come this way please."
We walked out of the induction center and down a hall to a small office.
"May I have you work assignment card please."
I handed him the card and he punched some numbers on the vid-phone.
"Hi, this is Andrew at the induction center, I have a Mr. Peter Bouchard that is assigned to your department. He is ready for duty."
"Ok Andrew, I'll send someone right over."
He punched a button and motioned for me to sit in the chair next to me. "Have a seat, it will be a few minutes before they arrive."
Several minutes passed by, Andrew sat there working on his portacomp, not looking up at me the whole time, when a tall older man knocked and entered the room.
"I am Vic Rawlings. I will be your instructor and guide at Energy. Will you come with me please?"
I got up and followed him out the door and out of the building. He headed toward a flutter and motioned me to get in the passenger seat. He pushed a few buttons and the flutter rose off of the ground in complete silence. I had seen flutters before but they were always real noisy. I was curious why this one was so quiet.
"Mr. Rawlings, I have seen flutters before but never one this quiet. Is this a new design?"
"Yes, Mr. Buchard. It is a very new design. You will find out all about it soon enough." He replied.
We traveled toward the South end of town and were soon approaching a small gated passage. Mr. Rawlings pushed another button and the gate opened. I was amazed to see a passage descending into darkness just beyond the gate. We traveled down and down and down, finally arriving in a large chamber where there were several more flutters parked.
"This way Mr. Buchard."
"Yes sir." I answered as I extracted myself from the flutter.
We walked across the chamber to an elevator that opened as we approached. I followed Mr. Rawlings through the doors and they slid shut behind me.
"Destination?" A metallic voice asked.
"Training four." Replied Rawlings.
I felt the floor drop from under my feet. It felt like we reached zero g's as we dropped. If we were going as fast as I thought we were, this place must be very deep underground. After several minutes I could feel gravity slowly returning and the door dinged as it slid open.
"This way Mr. Buchard."
As we walked down a hallway, I notice more and more people around. Everyone was smiling and speaking to those that they passed. Some of them really cute guys too. Of course I smiled and greeted them as we met. Mr. Rawlings stopped at a door and pressed his palm to a device next to it. The door slid open with a swoosh.
"If you will take a seat at the Comp terminal Mr. Buchard, we will get started."
I nodded my ascent and took the seat indicated.
"The first series of tests will help us further define your mathematical knowledge. The second series will test you abilities in physics. The third set will push your knowledge in structural engineering and the fourth set will determine your aptitude in Electro-Dynamics. You have 8 hours to complete these exams. Please be very concise with your answers, as they will be the determining factor in your work assignment. You may begin."
With that, he punched a button on the keyboard and the screen started flashing for my response.
Please don the scanner.
I picked up the retscanner and placed it over my eyes. After a couple of seconds I heard a beep and removed the scanner.
RECORD NO: 102342ZXSW
NAME: Peter Alexander Buchard
POB: Daltonville, Petrostra, Capistiro.
HEIGHT: 168 cm
WEIGHT: 40 kg
EYE COLOR: Brown
HAIR COLOR: Blond
Is the above correct?
I punched Yes.
"You will now be given a series of questions. These questions are multiple choice. Your answers well be timed. Please use the on screen calculator for all computations. The manner in which you arrive at the answers will also be recorded and used to determine your score."
Ok, lets get going then. First question. I punched the start button.
"Calculate the diametric equivalent to the following,
"The elliptical rotation of a vertonic sphere that is .231 nill's."
Who needs a calculator for that one?
2.1324 virtons. I answered.
"Calculations were not recorded, please recalculate."
What? I didn't calculate it, dummy. What a piece of junk.
I looked over at Mr. Rawlings. "Sir, I answered the first question without calculating and this dumb computer won't accept my answer without a calculation."
"Mr. Buchard, it is not possible to answer these questions without calculation."
"I hate to disagree with you sir, but that is a very easy question. The elliptical rotation of a vertonic sphere that is .231 nill's is simply 2.324 virtons. It can't be anything else."
"Mr. Buchard, you may have just remembered the answer, please show the comp how you would arrive at the answer."
"Yes, sir." I answered.
I quickly entered the calculations, the comp beeped and the next question appeared.
"Calculate the variance in diogenese dipolar paths of two polynetrons, having a mass of .00707 and .00695."
Shit, another easy one. But I will enter the calculations anyway.
This is how it went for the next four hours. The questions were easy. Hell, I was doing this stuff with my Aunt at age 5.
"Session Complete. Please advise your instructor."
"Mr. Rawlings, I am finished."
He looked at me and shook his head. "Mr. Buchard, you can not be finished, these exams take a minimum of eight hours. Please continue."
"Mr. Rawlings, the comp says that the Session is complete and that I am to advise you of that fact."
He got up out of his chair grumbling. He came over next to me and punched a few buttons and I saw his jaw drop to the floor.
"Will you please go to the next room and have a seat Mr. Buchard."
I got up and went to the next room as instructed. Mr. Rawlings sat down in front of the comp and kept punching buttons as he shook his head. He got up and went to the vidphone and I could see him talking to someone but I couldn't make out what he was saying. After a few minutes a couple of older men came in and they sat around the comp that I had been using. There must have been some kind of sound shield because I couldn't hear them. All I could see was their mouths moving and their hands waving in the air. After several minutes I saw Mr. Rawlings get up and walk toward the room I was sitting in.
"Mr. Buchard, will you come with me please."
I followed him back into the exam room where he introduced Professor's Hamilton and Dengheim.
"Please have a seat Mr. Buchard."
"Now, we would like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind." Professor Hamilton began.
After two hours of them asking me questions very similar to the questions from the exam they finally looked at me and shook their heads then they began talking to each other about work assignments. It seemed that Professor Hamilton wanted me to work in one area and Professor Dengheim disagreed. After several minutes Professor Hamilton addressed me.
"Mr. Buchard, according to the comp's results, you have an IQ of 220. That is unheard of. I thought you had found a way to hack the comp but after spending quite some time verbally quizzing you I feel that the results were correct. In determining this, we have decided to place you in the research department as a senior engineer. This will be very difficult for you as all of your colleagues will be quite a bit older than you are and they will not take kindly to associating with someone as young as you are. So, you will have to prove yourself to them and it will not be easy. Mr. Rawlings will process you now. Thank you for your time."
With that, the two professors walked out, leaving me sitting there dumbstruck.
"What was that all about?"
"Mr. Buchard, you have just blown the socks off of the two senior professors in the energy division. These two men are at the top in their fields. You almost made fools of them. As soon as I get you processed, you will be my superior and young man, you will be earning four times what I am." He shook his head as he walked back to his desk.
"I don't know what to say Mr. Rawlings. I wasn't trying to impress anyone."
"Don't worry about it kid. You did very well. I suppose from now on, you will be teaching me instead of the other way around."
He leaned over his keyboard and began pounding on the keys. After several minutes he grunted and looked over at me.
"Ok, Mr. Buchard. Report here tomorrow at 6 AM for your first shift. Come to this office and I will show you around the facility. You now have a class 5 security clearance. That is next to the highest clearance anyone can obtain here. You will be able to access areas that I can not. Take that very seriously Mr. Buchard. Oh! We have one more thing to take care of before you leave."
He rose and motioned me to follow him again. We went to a retscan unit and they recorded my information and gave me an ID badge with a big red 5 in the background underneath my photo and ret information. I didn't understand what the badge was for but I had noticed everyone had been wearing one around town. Mr. Rawlings escorted me to the parking garage, and assigned me a flutter.
"Ever driven a flutter before Mr. Buchard?"
"Well it is very easy. You remember your billet number?"
"First of all, It will respond to your ret only. All you have to do is punch in the number of your billet on the keypad and it will take you there. When you return here tomorrow," reaching into his pocket. "Here are the coordinates. It is as easy as that. Inside you will find an operator's manual and a coordinate map. I think you can figure it out. Have a good afternoon Mr. Buchard."
With that he walked off leaving me standing outside the flutter. "Well what the hell. May as well go home and kick back for a while." I said to myself.
I punched in D41F and then Enter. The flutter lifted and turned toward the ramp leading up. "Shit, this was easy." I thought to myself as I leaned back and put my hands behind my head. It wasn't long until I was above ground and traveling through town. I notice people staring at me as I passed. "Wonder why they are doing that? Is the sight of a flutter that rare here?" I said to myself. I shrugged my shoulders and leaned back again, almost dozing off when the flutter beeped at me and told me that we had arrived at our destination. I grabbed the operator's manual and the coordinate map and jumped out.
As I made my way into the barracks, people kept staring at me. I would smile and say hi and they would weakly respond. "What the hell is going on? Why are they acting that way?" I was dumbfounded but once again shrugged my shoulders and kept going. I made it to my room and lay down on my bed to read the operator's manual. The next thing I knew there was pounding on my door again. Seems like I always get interrupted at the high point in my dreams. I slowly got up and went to the door and opened it. I was hit full on by Josh who was hugging me and kissing me.
"God Peter, I missed you. When did you get in?"
"Ahh, about 4 I think."
"Why so early?" He asked.
"I got through with what I needed to do today and they let me come home."
"Well, tell me all about it."
I walked toward the bed to sit down. As I turned around Josh suddenly went white as he saw my ID badge.
"Peter, why are you wearing a class 5 badge?"
"Oh, this?" I said taking the badge and holding it out to him. "I guess I did really well on the exams today and they assigned me to a research division that requires a class 5 security clearance. Hey, they also gave me a flutter. Isn't that great?"
Josh looked crest fallen. Lowering his head and looking at the floor, "I guess it is ok."
"Josh, what is the problem? I don't understand. I just took some dumb tests and they gave me this ID. No big deal."
"Peter, you don't know do you?"
"Don't know what?"
"You don't know that people with a class 5 and higher clearance are not to associate with those of lower class."
"What do you mean? Are you saying that I can't see you anymore? That I can't talk to you?"
"That is exactly what I am saying." He said as he looked at me with tears in his eyes.
Copyright S. John Holder 2000
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