Fluidity in Space: Chapter Seven

The alarm began to blare out, and the ship’s computer spoke two of the scariest words known to humankind: “Emergency: Code White”.

“Heilige kak!” I cursed myself inwardly for my unprofessional outburst, however, outwardly my body more than matched my panicked tone. The color in my face must have changed at least six shades, as I turned as white as the emergency code blaring through the ship’s speakers. It’s my worst fears come true. The highest alert has just been sent out, and I haven’t had enough experience as a captain to handle this. Sure, I had dealt with alerts before during my tenure as second of command of this ship, but they were nothing more than mere scuffles among the crew, or among the people downtown. I had trained for code white emergencies, of course, as a cadet. But that doesn’t prepare you for the real thing, especially when my bridge crew is in the brig.

After what felt like days, Lieutenant Mario Rodriguez called in. “Captain, this is an emergency. That video caused panic all over the ship. There’s violence going on everywhere, fear and panic like I’ve never seen. As is protocol, the off-duty security team went in to try to help the situation, but it’s not enough. I sent the entire bridge crew down to help. I’m the only one up here! Please, send help.”

Completely numb, and acting on nothing but pure adrenaline and instinct, I began to try to control the situation. My words seemed to come out automatically, as I felt like I was standing outside of my body watching someone else handle the situation. “Release everyone from the brig. We need to be at full staff.”

As the doors opened, I looked at my shamed crew, hoping that simply being in the brig would be enough to snap them out of it. If that’s not enough, hopefully, my speech will do the trick. I don’t consider myself a wordsmith by any standard, but I’ve always been able to inspire the crew to rise above and beyond. I hope I can still do that today. “All of the senior officers are to return to the bridge. Remember, you are officers of this ship. Put all of your anger aside, and do your duty to make this ship as safe as it can be. You are the face of this vessel, as all civilians on this ship look up to you for moral guidance. Everyone here earned their position, and I have faith in you all to overcome your demons and be the best officers that you can be.”

As the officers all began to leave the room, I looked over at Carla Jackson and Maria Corben. The physicians were amazing. They both had no outward scars from the fight, and that fact led me to think of a plan. It was a risky plan, but I was optimistic that it could work.

Both women were looking at me curiously, obviously wondering if they would be free to leave as well. I mustered up all the courage I had and hoped I could muster up a speech to help them rise above their hate as well. This will be the real test of my leadership, as the hate between these two is so raw, and my plan won’t work without them both.

“Maria, Carla, I need you two the most. I know that you are both furious at each other right now, but please overcome your hate for now, for the safety of this ship. Maria, as the ship’s counselor, I’m sure you want to do everything you can to ease the situation. Carla, as the mother of two of the ship’s officers, I’m sure that you care about the safety of the ship as well, and especially about the safety of your sons. I’m going to address everyone aboard the ship, and I need both of you to help. Please, help me convince everyone to settle down. The presence of you both together should be enough to get things back to normal.”

Maria Corben agreed without hesitation, but Carla Jackson didn’t share her enthusiasm. “I don’t want to be near that… her. If people are beating the splicers, good. That doesn’t affect me or my family. Splicers shouldn’t be able to mingle with the rest of us anyway. I’m not participating in your ridiculous ploy. This riot doesn’t affect me, and it won’t affect my sons. None of us were insane enough to change our genes and lose our humanity.”

I displayed the security footage of Main Street, and gritted my teeth, hoping that I could make my point without losing my cool. “That’s the electronics store where your husband works.” The scene showed people, non-splicers, breaking the windows, smashing the products that were on display outside the store, and stealing everything they could inside. “Don’t tell me this doesn’t involve your family. It’s bedlam out there, and anyone could get hurt in this. Please, please, help me stop this.”

Carla’s eyes widened as she saw the scene, hoping that her husband was alright. His livelihood, and more importantly, his life, was in grave danger. Begrudgingly, Carla admitted that the situation had gotten out of hand, and agreed to try to help calm the situation. I began to address the people on the ship, with both women at my side.

“Please stop this violence Both of the women shown involved in the fight this afternoon are fine, and neither wants this kind of violence to continue. Remember, we may all be different, but we all came from the same planet. We are all on this ship together. We’re not just neighbors and colleagues, we’re family.” At that moment, Carla, surprising both Maria and myself, took the initiative and spoke up: “Don’t destroy our community over me.” Maria, for the first time not sure what to add, simply stated: “Please stop.”

The gamble seemed to pay off as reports of fights began to lessen. The violence didn’t stop completely, of course, but it tapered off enough that the security crew could manage things. I allowed Maria and Carla to return to their homes. I was exhausted and was tempted to go home as well. However, I couldn’t stop yet. The ship’s alert system was reduced to yellow, or medium alert. There were still pockets of violence, but it wasn’t near the ship-wide panic that we previously confronted.

However, the continuing violence wasn’t the part of this situation that troubled me the most. The computer’s system had obviously been hacked. Someone took the surveillance video, edited it to remove the beating of Maria’s mother, and then streamed the edited video through the emergency broadcasting system. This meant that the person, or people, involved in this had extensive technical skills. Even more worrying, the computer system is only accessible in corridors that are restricted to crew members. All evidence so far seems to point towards that as the most likely scenario. However, I shudder to think that a member of the crew would sabotage the alert system in order to promote violence against people on this ship.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Six

The atmosphere in the Jackson household was anything but relaxed. Junior Lieutenant Stephen Jackson was waiting for his father to arrive home from his shift at the electronics shop, and he was not the harbinger of good news. He only had a few minutes of break to talk to his father before he had to return to his new position on the bridge crew, but he aimed to make the most of the time he had. His father had to be told about what happened to his wife and oldest son, and he was adamant that he’d be the person to tell him.

Kevin Jackson opened the door and was surprised to see that his son Stephen had arrived home before he did. He could tell by the angry look on his son’s face that something had happened at work. The fact that his son was standing here meant that he likely hadn’t been involved in a brawl, but look on his face made him apprehensive. What on virtual Earth had made his son so angry?

“That freak of a so-called-captain locked up mom and Jonathan. The splicer baby that calls itself a counselor beat mom senseless and the captain had the nerve to lock them up! The splicer spawn only got a day in the brig, while mom and Jon are being held with no set release date.”

The elder Jackson now had a look of anger on his face that made his son look like the Dalai Lama in comparison. “He did what?!”

His son didn’t say a word, but instead reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, metallic, silver disk approximately the size of a quarter of his pinky nail. He held it in the palm of his hand, then spoke. “Play file. Timestamp one-five-point-three-six-point-oh-seven.”

The room became filled with colored light as the augmented reality surveillance disc turned the Jackson family living room into Main Street. Kevin Jackson’s face turned white as he watched the monster beat his wife. That thing had actually come into the shop today. He wished that he hadn’t ignored her. If he’d beat the living tar out of her, as her kind deserves, he could have spared his beloved Carol from any pain.

As he recalled the blood-curdling high pitched scream that he heard this afternoon while he was in the repair room at the back of the shop, his blood boiled as he began to wonder if that was his wife that screamed out in agony. With his temper now at its peak, he turned to his son and asked for the disc. “Give me that disc, son, and head back to duty before you get into trouble too. I’ll make sure everyone on this ship knows just what kind of demon spawn these splicer babies really are.”

With that, Stephen handed the disc to his father. They didn’t need to say a word to each other, as they knew exactly had to be done. They both walked out of the house, silently, and entered the crew corridors. The son headed for the bridge, while the father walked towards the maintenance tunnels.

Just as Kevin had suspected, he did not have proper clearance to enter the maintenance area. Putting his programming skills to the ultimate test, he downloaded the code to his memory banks and quickly set to work decompiling and reverse engineering the detection code. Since he needed a hasty solution, he simply altered it to skip the bio-scan completely, and hardcoded the system to always register as a specific individual. Kevin Jackson might not be able to go wherever he wants on this ship, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Lieutenant Rodriguez.

Once inside, Kevin quickly made his way to the emergency alert system. He needed to be extremely fast, as his quick-and-dirty hack meant that it would be extremely easy to detect. If any crew member entered the maintenance corridors now, they would definitely be suspicious if the bio scan tells them that they are Mario Rodriguez.

He quickly set up wireless communication between the two devices and copied the relevant portion of the video straight to the storage unit. Now that the video was in place, he set an emergency timer to begin in half an hour. That should give him more than enough time to remove any traces of his code and his presence from the maintenance systems. He gave himself enough leeway to do what needed to be done while still setting the presentation to start in a relatively short amount of time. He didn’t wish to delay the retribution of the race of creatures that had attacked his wife. Soon the entire ship would see these things as the bloodthirsty monsters they are.

At the exact moment that Mr. Jackson had finished erasing all traces of his unauthorized entry into the ship’s systems, the ship’s captain was finishing a conversation with the ship’s counselor, the latter of whom was presently being held in the brig. “I’ll do everything I can to try to calm tensions down. Sadly, there’s bound to be increased anger after today, but luckily it was just one small part of the ship that witnessed everything. I’ll make sure that the people of Main Street know the whole story. Hopefully, once they know everything, the people of Main Street will quell the gossip on the other areas of this ship. It may not seem like it now, but most of the people on this ship are caring people.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll nip this thing in the bud. Your safety and the safety of everyone else on the ship is my primary concern. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that it doesn’t get out of hand.”

At that moment, it seemed that the universe had conspired to play another cosmic joke on them. All of the emergency screens on every part of the ship turned red with the dreaded emergency alert text. Both counselor and captain tensed up as they braced for the worst. However, the video that followed was far worse than anything that they could have imagined.

The entire ship had just seen video footage of Maria Corben, the ship’s counselor, savagely beating Carla Jackson, the mother of two of the ship’s officers. There was no context, as the video of Carla beating Maria’s mother was nowhere to be seen. All that could be seen was Maria punching Carla as hard as she could, and all that could be heard was the primal growl that Maria had uttered due to her desire to protect her mother. However, as far as the people on the ship were concerned, the video showed Maria Corben reverting to an animal-like state, savagely beating a mother of two without provocation.

Both ladies opened their eyes wide with fear. They have now entered the absolute worse case scenario. Neither had any idea how they could possibly get things back to normal without serious repercussions.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Five

Kevin Jackson. I am the third man in my family to carry that name. It used to mean something on this ship, but it doesn’t hold much weight anymore. My grandfather was captain, my father was the science officer and second in command, and I’m working the cash register at Main Street Electronics.

I stared up at the clock, thinking about what time it would be if we didn’t use a system based on rotations of a planet that was who-knows-how-many lightyears away. All this adherence to a foreign culture that none of us had ever experienced really annoys me at times. Our experiences should be our own, not that of some people on a swamp-covered ball in a galaxy named after cow juice.

If I didn’t need the money, I’d quit my job. I’m really sick of having to deal with people complaining about the lack of colors available on our line of robo-puppies. People on this ship are so obsessed with emulating everything from the planet we left behind, but they still end up asking for replications of pets in crazy colors that never existed. When we had to study Earth history in upper form, I don’t remember seeing anything about phlox poodles, but I get dozens of requests for pets in insane shades like that every day.

Ugh, finally. Oh-seventeen-hundred hours on the tick. I can’t wait to leave this madhouse and get home to my wife and sons. I am so glad that my son Jonathan put in the request to authorize my use of the crew corridors, and I’m even more glad that the captain approved it. It’s so much quicker to go through the crew corridor just outside of Main Street than it is to walk to the housing district directly. In my case, it’s not a matter of favoritism over the fact that my sons are part of the crew on this ship. An accident left me as half of the man I once was, literally.

I used to work as a digital component programmer in a simulated sawmill that was located in the ship’s simulation of the Scottish Highlands. It was a great job until the electronics on the saw arm malfunctioned, and I lost my limbs in an excruciating minute that felt like an eternity. The audit of the accident showed that the machine’s processor was faulty. As it was a hardware issue rather than a software issue, the ship’s treasurer, Adam Rockseed, authorized complete payment for my hospital stay, rehabilitation, and for my robotic appendages.

The good side to that ordeal was that my pension would still grow as long as I worked, even if it was not at the sawmill. That was music to my ears, as I got far away from that God-forsaken place as soon as I could. Thus, I moved, with my wife and infant sons, from one simulated Earth location to another. We left our residence in the artificial Scottish Highlands to reside in the residential living quarters just off of Main Street in the simulated United States of America.

My sons are now grown men, but we still live off of Main Street. However, we’re now in a much more convenient location. It is nice since, due to the fact that my sons are officers on this ship, we’re allowed to live in the living quarters in the area reserved for senior crew members. Plus, now with my access to the crew corridors, I can leave work and go straight home.

Our sons have their living quarters, separate from my wife and I, but our family is still together. The three spacious living quarters, each with their own toilet area and shower, are combined with a kitchen and a living room in a structure that has the facade of a domicile designed following Victorian-era architectural norms.

Even as a juvenile, I was a genius when it comes to programming, so as you can imagine, living on a ship sailing through space meant that I had my pick of careers. At the time, I didn’t want my life to be determined by the career path of my father and grandfather, so I went against their wishes and took a civilian job. That was the biggest mistake of my life.

I chose the Scottish Highlands simulation because I thought it was so beautiful and lush with vegetation. After the accident, all that I can do is look at it and see nothing but its artificial components, and I can’t help but see that even its existence is artificial. It attempts to mimic something so precisely that no one on this ship has ever actually seen. Everyone on board this ship only has an inkling of what Earth really looked like due to the digital archives created centuries ago by our ancestors.

To be honest, I can’t help but see every part of the ship that way now, as I feel that we can be so much more if we forge our own path in architecture and design instead of using designs created by people who died ages ago. The Main Street location allows me to remain close to my sons, who are now both officers on this ship, so I don’t let anyone else know about my inner thoughts. I grin and bear it, as my family is more important to me than anything else.

When I finally left work, on the way to the elevator, I walked past the pathetic attempt to recreate the stone, gravel, and sand that made up the faux-asphalt in our simulated, sanitized, 20th-century-America-inspired downtown facade. Our ship’s depiction of Main Street is so far off from the virtual augmented reality simulations that we viewed in school.

The real downtown districts from that time period had real character, style, and a sense of being that we sorely lack. The real, unfiltered, storefronts of Earth sold similar items to our stores, but the owners weren’t afraid to show the dirt, grime, and decay that naturally occurred on the planet over the decades. They were actually proud of it, as our dictionary notes that they coined words for the natural aging of buildings, calling them “weathered”, which was seen as a positive trait. They also had phrases that emphasized their approval of natural progression, stating that “things only got better with age”.

We have a clean oxygen supply throughout the ship, but Earth’s atmosphere is an amazing cocktail, containing many disparate components such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and water vapor. That’s not even going into the chemical byproducts of pollution that gathered within the perimeter between the Earth’s atmosphere and the cold vacuum of space that we are always floating aimlessly through, but do our best to pretend we’re not. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to breathe that wonderful mix of elements into my lungs, but I’m sure it tastes a lot sweeter than the cold, sterilized oxygen that we’re forced to breathe.

My parents took me to a theme park simulation in the ship’s Augmented Reality Entertainment Network Archway as a kid, and even their make-believe Main Street seemed much more realistic than ours. The builders on Earth made these romanticized attractions to escape from reality, but our sterile attempts at mimicry are not an escape, they are our reality.

I can’t speak from experience, of course. Maybe our downtown really is accurate. Maybe the dirty, gritty, virtual AR simulations that I experienced in school were just a fluke. It’s possible Earth’s downtowns really did resemble the ARENA records of a theme park’s Main Street. But, if that is the case, at least the saccharine structures in the theme parks were real. There was a designer who wanted to bring back the joy of the Main Street storefront that he or she remembered. Our attempts to rebuild the theme park version of 20th century America is hollow. None of us ever experienced the real thing, nor did our parents or grandparents.

Well, enough reminiscing. I’m finally home. It’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy some downtime with the people I love.

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Sorry About The Lack of Fluidity In Space Updates

Thanks to everyone who has read my first few chapters of Fluidity in Space, and an ultra special thanks to those of you who posted comments about it or shared their opinions via private message. It means a lot to me to know that there are readers who enjoy the tale I’ve been weaving.

The last chapter was posted a year ago, and I’m really sorry about that. A lot has been going on in real life, and it caused me to go into a depression, and I couldn’t get myself to write much of anything.

My childhood friend who is the father of my nephew was killed in a car crash. The driver was driving him to work in a car with bald tires, going way over the speed limit on a windy country road that was rain slick at the time, and passing a construction vehicle in a no passing zone that was clearly marked with a double line and signage. My friend used to talk about him as he was a perpetual speeder, commenting that he was going to get himself killed, and that “you won’t see me getting wrapped around a tree”. Sadly, he died after the car slid off the road, and hit a tree so hard that the engine was shot out of the car, landing 100 feet from the tree.

The New York State Police were sadly extremely inept in this case. They didn’t photograph the scene until 30 days later, after the road was paved over so that the double line could no longer be seen, and they didn’t check the black box that recorded the condition of the car until months after it happened. So, because of that there wasn’t enough evidence and the jury found him not guilty on all charges. He did cry on the witness stand during the testimony, and it was clear that he felt guilty about what he did, so it was a little comforting to know that he at least showed remorse. But, I was hoping he’d get a license suspension at least since friends have stated they witnessed him speeding even after he killed my nephew’s father. It seems he’s addicted to speeding, and I wish he got some kind of punishment, as I’m afraid he’s going to end up getting someone else killed, if not himself.

Even more unsettling was the murder of a woman, Kelley Stage, who I sat with at lunch when we were both in high school. In 2015, her husband hired hitmen to murder her. The trial of her husband occurred last year, and it hit me harder than I thought it would. I suffered a lot of physical and emotional abuse in high school, as all of my friends were two years younger than me. So I suffered being beaten, burned, and enduring sexual abuse in my junior high and early high school years with very little support from anyone.

Kelley was among the very few that were kind to me, and let me eat lunch at her table and made me feel welcome. She and a handful of others are among the reason why I’m here today, as I wouldn’t have been able to go on without kindness like she showed me. Sadly, I hadn’t seen her since high school, and I never got a chance to thank her for her kindness because her monster of her husband took her away from the world and, worst of all, away from her kids.

I did send Kelley’s mother my thanks for her daughter’s kindness, and let her know that I have a deep desire to help people, which led me to become a member of the Red Cross disaster action team. I strongly feel that my strong desire to help people is because of the kindness of the few people who showed me kindness when I was a kid, and Kelley is definitely a big part of that.

For all the fans of Fluidity in Space, I’m going to get back to writing the story today, as I have been to counseling and I am under the care of a psychiatrist and I feel that I’m now ready to get back to doing things I enjoy. I’m going to be writing the novel chapters and I also plan to release a comic adaptation as well. The comic will be low priced, at between one and two dollars an issue. The novel, on the other hand, will always be free.

Ten percent of sales of each of the Fluidity in Space comic issues will go to ACWP: Aid to Children Without Parents.

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If I Could Go Back In Time I Would Freeze My Age At 17

My last post showed that adult life is hard. I’d love to go back in time and freeze my age at around 17. That way I’d have the freedom to drive an automobile, but I wouldn’t have to worry about adult responsibilities. I’d take high school classes over adult responsibilities any day of the week.

And to think I used to think that my high school teachers threw too much work on me, while after I finished I’d just play video games, drive around with my friends, and text my friends on AOL Instant Messenger all the time. If only I knew what was coming, I’d definitely had taken high school a lot more seriously.

Although, in order to take high school seriously, I’d have loved to have been diagnosed with ADD as a kid rather than an adult. Then I’d be able to do my homework without pulling an all nighter or doing my work in other classes on the day it was due. Especially since with the diagnosis, I’d realize why I could never stay focused enough to do the work on time. I always just thought I was a slacker.

I even had a psychiatrist, but she was really no help. She did diagnose me with high functioning autism, but she didn’t offer any advice or help me in any way. She just introduced me to another student, and he had issues similar to myself.  I think it was basically just putting us together to kill two birds with one stone, as she basically just left us to deal with stuff on our own without offering any advice. It was pretty much the blind leading the blind.

I was assigned a psychiatrist due to an incident involving kids kicking me in my injured knee and preventing me from using the bathroom. They kicked me and led me to the left of the entrance and I couldn’t take it anymore and I relieved myself right there, and that happened to be right in front of the window to the teacher’s lounge. It was tinted on the outside, so I didn’t know what was there, and the bullies were laughing, so I’m pretty certain they led me over there on purpose. Of course, the kids that kicked me were at the main entrance that was away from the window, so none of the teachers saw them and of course no one would verify my story. I got in big trouble and the teachers thought I had a screw loose. In the meantime, the students who kicked me got no punishment because no one could verify that they were there. The psychiatrist and the principal, the latter of whom I had to talk to the day the incident occurred after I was called down to his office via the intercom, probably thought I was making it up.

On top of that, I kept not getting the letters that my psychiatrist wrote to give me my scheduled appointment date. All of the notes for teachers and students went in plastic folders that were attached to the door, so I don’t know if other students took them or if my psychiatrist just gave up on me. My psychiatrist never called me down to her office on the intercom or came up to talk to me during homeroom. So I’m inclined to believe the latter was more likely, since you’d think the psychiatrist would put some extra effort in to make sure that I still saw her. I even told her that I never got her appointment schedule notes during the one time I did get a note with my appointment. That was the very last time I ever saw her. That was my freshman year in high school, and I never saw her for my second semester during my freshman year. And I never had a psychiatrist in my Sophomore, Junior or Senior years. Plus, I was never reprimanded for not going to see the psychiatrist, so I guess that shows how much the staff cared about me at that high school.

So, yeah. I guess I’ll amend things. I wish I could freeze my age at 17, but I’d definitely go to a different school.

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Adulthood Is Not All It Is Cracked Up To Be

In December, I got a loan. I cashed the check in January, and checked my balance via the ATM and it was in there. So, I ended up buying a few things and paying off large chunks of my credit cards.

The next day, the loan money was no longer in my bank. I called the bank to figure out why, and found out that the loan check was only good for thirty days. It became invalid a few days before I cashed it.

That meant that all the money I used to pay bills and the couple of items I purchased for myself came through and made my checking account go over the amount of money I had in there. My bank has a no bounce policy, so they paid the money on the withdrawals I made, except for the large amounts that were over $500.

In the meantime, all of the withdrawals that had to be made with the bank’s money gave me a $30 penalty. I ended up having around 15 of them, making my overdraw amount over $300.

I talked to a woman who worked for the bank, and I explained the situation to her. I felt that the penalties were not fair, as the bank shouldn’t have shown that the money was in there when the transaction hadn’t been completed. She would only take enough off to get my account back into positive again. And very little in the positive. I only had about $25 in there afterword. I had $25 in my pocket, so I deposited it to give me a little bit more of a buffer incase anything that is paid automatically comes through. She tried to get me to have a loan with them, telling me that I should get the loan so that I wouldn’t once more become stuck in the same situation, and told me that she couldn’t do it if it happened again.

Since I still had about 5 of those penalties there that she wouldn’t take off, and the fact that I had so little in my bank account after she took the penalties off, it really seems that she was setting me up to fail so that I would get the loan. In the end, I didn’t get the loan, and of course, my checking account is in the red again at over $200. I wouldn’t be in this situation without the penalty amounts that are still there, and it does seem like she counted on that.

I’m not getting the loan from the bank, but I am getting a loan from my mom to get me out of the negative. If I can stay in the positive until I get my disability deposit at the beginning of next month, I’ll be OK. As for my bank, I’m not sure if I’m going to be sticking with them. I like their online banking services, but I’m pretty bummed about how they handled this situation.

 

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Four

“Ms. Corben… Maria. It’s true that we have only officially worked together for a short time. However, if you factor in the fact that we attended University at the same time, we’ve actually known each other for years. I feel I’ve gotten to know you pretty well in that time, so I’m sure that you’re going to want to go right back to work after you leave here. As your counselor, I’d advise against that. You’ve been through a traumatic experience and you need time to relax and relieve the stress you’ve suffered from this ordeal. As your friend, you don’t have to face this alone. I can fill in for you for as long as you need to take. You have deserved to take a holiday long before this, so seize this as an opportunity to take care of yourself for a change.”

At first, I was upset at Doctor Coleman when he told me that I should take a break. I needed to be strong. I needed to continue on despite the harassment against me. But, as I looked at my hands, I realized I had not stopped shaking since it happened. I couldn’t get the image of so many people coming towards me, wanting to do me harm. It boggled my mind so many people would hurt me simply for being a child of a splicer, who adopted a genetic trait that I had no control over. Begrudgingly, I had to admit that I was in no condition to help anyone if I didn’t attend to myself first. Edward Coleman was more than capable of dealing with the mental health of the people on this ship. After all, he managed to convince me to help myself.

I was planning to go back to my living quarters to relax, but I decided to head down to Main Street instead. It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself some time to just window shop. This area was designed to be a replication of the main streets that were once common in the smaller towns on Earth. It was originally designed to give the original crew a comfortable sense of feeling like they were at home. Now, centuries later, it serves as a living memorial to the planet that we left behind. But, most importantly, it’s just fun to go down there and browse. There are so many little shops that offer pretty much anything you could imagine.

When I got there I was greeted by the fresh smells coming from the hydroponic garden. I’ll definitely have to pick up some fruits and vegetables while I’m down here. There is so much you can do with fresh tomatoes. I love trying out recipes from the archives. The Earth was such a large place, with so many different cultures. It would take forever to try every recipe we had stored in the ship computer’s storage system. However, it’s definitely fun trying to do it.

Many of the recipes call for meat, though. No animals were brought on-board when the ship left the Earth’s orbit, as they felt that they would make the ship unsustainable. They were almost certainly correct, but I can’t help but wonder what actual meat was like. We have substitutes, which are quite tasty. Of course, with no reference to go by, I have no way of knowing how close they are to the real thing. Earth was so abundant in meat that they served it quickly in places called “fast food restaurants”. I wondered just how fast these restaurants really were, and what a beef burger with cheese would actually taste like. We have substitutes made from seasoned vegetables and fungi, but I can’t imagine that plants actually taste much like animal meat, no matter how they are seasoned.

I laughed inwardly as I caught myself drifting off into some odd thoughts. I always do that when I come down here. Edward was right. I needed a break. This is the best way to get my mind off of things. I walked into the grocer and grabbed some tomatoes, oregano, onions, garlic, salt, flour, and yeast. I also went into the cooler and grabbed some cheese, or at least our approximation of it. I had always wanted to try a pizza, and I had been pleased to find a relatively easy to follow recipe in my last journey into the Earth archives. I paid the clerk with my work credits, and he bagged my purchases. It always amused me that we kept up this tradition, when our orders could just as easily be ordered from and sent up to our quarters. However, I knew that tradition was important, to help keep us grounded.

I walked down the sidewalk and saw the many shops with handmade items. The people who didn’t work on the ship’s crew usually worked down here on Main Street, and they often made such wonderful things. I really admired the craftsmanship that went into the items that were for sale here. That’s one of the reasons why I went into training as a mental health officer. Well, actually, the main reason was that I genuinely liked to help people. The second reason was that I wasn’t good at crafting anything. In school, my clay pots always came out looking like the pictures in the database of the ashtrays that were once common on Earth. I would not make any money making things like that. Since the original crew didn’t include any plants that could be rolled up and smoked, an ashtray would be completely useless to anyone aboard this ship.

I continued to walk down Main Street, and saw the shop that sold electronics. I walked inside, to see what kind of augmented reality programs were available that I could use to relax later that night. I then noticed a table that displayed many different breeds of robot dogs and cats. My mind started to drift off towards Earth again, wondering what it would be like to have an actual animal as a pet and companion. I spent a lot of time in my youth reading the newspapers from the Earth archives, and remembered reading an article that claimed having a pet to cuddle greatly reduced your stress levels. I could definitely use a cuddly pet right about now.

I began to think that there might be something to that study, since I was feeling more relaxed just thinking about it. I began to think that the day might just turn itself around, when my thoughts soon came crashing down to reality. A spine-chilling scream came from the end of Main Street, near the fountain in the middle of Market Square.

I knew I should just let security handle it, since I was here to relax. However, I couldn’t do it, as it is just not in my nature to leave the helping of people to others. If someone was in need of assistance, I have always been the first one there to help as best I could. Once I got there, though, I’m sure the attacker wished that I had ignored my instincts. The mother of one of the men who tried to attack me, Carla Jackson, was kneeling on top of my mother, pounding her so hard that my mother’s blood was dripping from her fists.

One security officer was trying to pull Carla off my mother, while two others were just standing there watching. At that point, I think Carla said something, but I can’t be sure, since the blood in my body rose straight up into my head. Before I knew it, all sense of reality was out the window, and I jumped at Carla. I was now on top of her, doing exactly what she had done to my mother, only trying my hardest to do it twice as hard.

I had just begun to beat her when I felt two arms circle around me. I struggled at first, then looked up, to see the captain herself. “Don’t worry Maria, the medical team is here. Your mother will be OK. I’ll make sure she gets the best care possible.” At that, Carla just laughed, and I became enraged, even more than before. Luckily, the security personnel had both of us in restraints at that point.

“She got what she deserves. The real question is: what about me? Did you see what that freak did to me? Did you hear that inhuman hiss it let out when it pounced at me? We’re not safe with freaks like that on board.”

I couldn’t listen to any more of the acid coming out of her mouth. “What about my mother? She didn’t do anything to you, but you beat her anyway. You’re conscious and talking. My mother isn’t so lucky.”

The witch just laughed again. “All of you freaks should be put down. It’s only a matter of time before your animal instincts kick in and you reveal yourselves to be the monsters you really are.”

I stared coldly at her, completely surprised at not just her lack of compassion, but at her complete lack of reality. “The only monster I see here is you.”

The captain put her arm around my shoulder and addressed the security officer. “I’ll take her down to the holding cell myself.” The guard looked surprised, but answered “Yes, captain.”

When we got to the elevator, the captain turned toward me with a sad look on her face. “I’m sorry that I have to detain you at all, as I know without a doubt that I would have done exactly what you did in your position. You’ll only be there overnight, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to place you off duty for a while. Not because of your actions today, but for all of the stress you’ve been under because of this nonsense. Doctor Coleman will take over your duties, and I’m afraid you’ll be under his care for awhile.”

I just nodded. All of my energy had been completely drained from my body. I looked over at the captain, and sighed. “Did I really hiss at her?” The captain looked surprised at the question, then frowned. “I’m afraid you did.”

I furrowed my brows in thought. “Maybe we really are part animal. No one knows the full side effects of the gene splicing. Maybe we can’t be trusted to keep our emotions in check when we’re in the middle of a dangerous situation.”

The captain surprised me, and actually pulled me into a hug. “You have more human compassion than most of the people on this ship. You just did what anyone would do to protect their mother, myself included.”

I actually smiled, in spite of everything that had just happened. In all the time I had known her, I had never seen the captain allow herself to show her human side while she was on duty.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Three

The junior staff was discussing the situation as I walked in. “But this hallway was completely empty. There’s no way everyone was locked up.” It looks like I got here just in time, as Ms. Rahman’s comment was exactly what I was expecting. I was glad that the situation didn’t get a chance to escalate among the junior staff, so I can set matters straight without resistance.

Mr. Jackson’s reply, however, was what I had feared most. “My brother said he was going to teach that splicer baby a lesson. I’m sure the captain locked everyone up. He’s always sticking up for that freak.” Today was a feminine day for me, but I wasn’t going to correct the pronoun usage. Besides, none of the junior staff had seen me yet today. However, I definitely had to do something before this got out of hand too. Luckily I got here before another brawl broke out. “There will be no talk like that, Junior Liutenant Jackson. She’s part of this crew, and she deserves your respect. She earned her position just like everyone else here.”

Mr. Jackson’s pale skin seemed to immediately turn two shades of red. It’s clear that he had no idea that I had entered the room. “I’m sorry ma’am. We were just getting nervous since all of the senior staff are gone. It was a slip of the tongue due to anxiety. It won’t happen again.” It was clear that his words went deeper than mere anxiety, but now is not the time to press the matter. I had a situation to try to get under control, and although the lieutentant’s comment was a part of it, I had already made it clear that derogatory remarks would not be permissable.

I found myself thinking about Counselor Corben, and wondering what could be done about the situation. It was sad that so much of the crew seemed against her, for something that she couldn’t help. I had at first thought that we were kindred spirits in that regard, and maybe we would have been centuries ago. However, the pure vitriol lobbied at her was something that I had only seen in the history recordings. I had suffered verbal scorn, but a good portion of the crew was ready to bear physical harm against her, and had fought their own peers in trying to do so. I just hoped that she had more supporters on this ship than detractors. I realized that I had lost myself in thought, and regained my composure.

I then addressed the entire junior staff on the senior staff wing. “Junior Lieutenant Rahman is correct that the senior staff is currently in the brig. And despite the language he used, Junior Lieutenant Jackson is correct as well. The senior staff were engaged in a brawl when I arrived, and it did indeed stem from negativity towards Counselor Corben. I haven’t yet assessed the situation fully, but for now I ask that you all be prepared to serve as senior officers until further notice. Because I’m asking you all to do so with no advance notice, if anyone can’t do so, I’ll make concessions, within reason. But, please understand the circumstances that led to this decision. It was done to protect the safety of this ship, and won’t remain permanent. You will all receive the benefits of the senior staff during this period, and will be up for consideration for promotion once this is over, pending your performance. I thank you all during this tough time for your understanding and for your service.”

I was about to head up to the bridge, but I decided that it was best to make it clear to the entire crew that discrimination would not be tolerated. “It goes without saying, but I must make it clear. There will be absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind. You are all here to ensure the safety of the rest of this ship, civilian and crew members alike. I expect that you all remember that in your actions, as well as your words.”

Mr. Jackson and Ms. Rahman both immediately replied “Yes captain”, followed by the rest of the junior staff. Satisfied that the situation here was under control, I gave the command to the lift to bring me up to the bridge. This was the most important part of my attempt to normalize the situation. I knew that the crew members that I had assigned to the bridge could handle running the ship, but the abruptness of the situation has complicated things. I had to make sure that the command deck was secure, and bring the bridge crew up to speed on the situation as well.

The elevator reached the front of the ship, and I stepped onto the command deck. The junior officers here were rigid and seemed nervous, and their senses seemed heightened. The most senior among them, Lieutenant Mario Rodriguez, spoke up as soon as I entered. “Captain on bridge.” Everyone stood to attention, but still looked anxious. I decided to get through with the official briefing first, and then I’d do my best to try to ease tensions a bit.

“At ease. You were all brought up here because there was a brawl on the senior staff wing, and all senior staff has been temporarily detained in the brig until the situation can be properly assessed. It has come to my attention that some of the crew feels strongly about Counselor Corden’s new position. As I said to the other members of the junior crew, discrimination will not be tolerated at all. You are now bridge crew, and are the people that are looked up to the most to keep peace on this ship. I expect your decorum to meet those expected standards.”

I looked around, noticed that the crew still seemed troubled, and continued “That said, I know that your promotions were sudden. You will be expected to keep these positions for some time, until the situation can be properly assessed and dealt with. Due to the fact that there was no advance notice, I will not be against anyone who has a reasonable objection towards working on their new post. However, know that your assistance at this time will be most appreciated, and you will receive all the benefits of the senior bridge crew during this period. You will also be first in line for promotions, pending your performance.”

I eased a bit, and continued, “I know this is a tough time for everyone.” I then waved my finger to turn off the data recorder. “Off the record, how is everyone doing?” Mr. Rodriguez, still in the rigid stance of an officer stated, “We’re fine, ma’am.” I smiled at him, and continued. “Relax, Lieutenant. I know that my post as captain is new, and this situation is hard. But you don’t have to be so tense around me.” He visibly relaxed, and his dark brown eyes seemed to sparkle a bit. “Thanks, ma’am. I don’t speak for everyone, but I know that you’ll handle things well. I just hope that this situation won’t last long.” I gave him a half smile, with a little involuntary nervousness apparent on my face as well. “I hope the same thing, Mr. Rodriguez”.

I knew that I had to head down to the brig, but, even though I wanted to find out the particulars of the situation, the thought of doing so emotionally drained me. I tried my best not to repeat my display of anxiety, and addressed the bridge one final time before I headed to the bottom of the ship. “You all seem to be handling everything well up here. If there are no questions, I have to be heading to the detention cells.” I actually hoped that there would be some questions, to delay the inevitable. However, just as I had thought, the junior bridge crew were quite capable of running things in the stead of their senior brethren.

I waved my finger again to turn the data recorder back on, and straightened myself up. “OK crew, I now leave the bridge in your capable hands. If there are any further problems, don’t hesitate to contact me.” At that point, I, somewhat reluctantly, entered the elevator. “Lift, to the detention cells.” I had to face the inevitable, as even though I wanted to see how Counselor Corben was doing, I knew that I had to face the senior staff first. I was now about to find out exactly what happened during that brawl. I was most curious as to why the bridge was left abandoned, as that is a situation that I couldn’t fathom occurring before this week.

Just as the lift was approaching the brig, my aural sensor went off. I held my finger to my temple to initiate the video link. It seems that my trip would be postponed after all, but not in the way I had hoped, as Tiffany Accado was on the line. “Captain. Your presence is needed at Caperstone’s Bakery. It’s an emergency. Another fight has broken out. Emily Caperstone is being attacked.” I responded immediately, “I’m at level one now. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Don’t intervene. Keep safe until I arrive.”

“Cancel the lift to the brig.” I called down to security and ordered, “Security personel to level 4, Main Street. There is a fight in progress at Caperstone’s Bakery. I then ordered the lift to proceed to level 4 as well. Two fights in one night. I really wish that my mother was here, so I could seek her advice. Although, I’m not sure how much help she could give me, as this is beyond even what she had to deal with.

It seems that the problem went beyond the crew. I just hoped that it didn’t seep too far into the population. I silently cursed the people who had instituted the segregation. Although they meant well, it just made the hatred part of the system. If history has taught us anything, systematic prejudice is a lot harder to fight.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Two

As the group decended towards the counselor, I practically ran into the hallway. I lept into action, and stood defiantly in front of the counselor. My declaration of “crew, get back to your stations immediately” was met with comments about how my “kind” were just as bad as the “splicer-babies”. The situation was much worse than I had first thought, and at the rate it was escalating, I was sure it would quickly get completely out of hand. Thinking fast, I ordered “Counselor, follow me to the command station.” As the arguments began about why I would be taking “one of them” up to the command deck, I let out a sigh of relief as my plan had worked. They were more concerned about my announcement than in our actions.

As soon as the counselor and I got into the lift, I gave a command to the computer to emergency close the elevator door and proceed to the command deck. In a swift motion, we were now safe from our would-be attackers. It’s disturbing that these people were our colleagues, and, we thought, our friends. As we arrived at the command deck, I was in for another surprise. As we walked towards the front of the deck, it became clear that the entire command station was completely empty. No one was here to guide the ship, as everyone had left their post to join in the riot downstairs. It was clear that this was no longer merely a situation of disrespect for my position, it was tantamount to downright mutiny.

I quickly ordered the computer to set the systems to high alert, and to lock all doors on the senior staff wing of the upper deck. Then I called down to the holding cells. “All security personnel report to the senior staff wing. All of the officers in that area are to be taken to the holding cells for inciting a brawl.” I had debated adding the word “mutiny” to the end my order, but thought better of it. It’s better not to use heated language, as that could make the situation worse. As the counselor and I reached the central command station on the bridge, I called down to the rear of the upper deck. I knew that it was necessary to contact the junior staff, as we still had a ship that needed to be properly looked after. I ordered the highest ranking among the junior officers to report to the command deck. The rest would likely be relocated to the senior staff section, as soon as things calm down, and I had the time to properly assess the situation.

I looked over at Maria, who looked like she had been hit by a bus. “How are you doing, Counselor?”, I asked. “You don’t have to report back to work. Head back to your quarters. Doctor Coleman will be able to take over for you.” She looked at me, and seemed to calm down a bit. “I could say the same for you. You’ve been through the same thing, and you look just as stressed as I’m sure I look right now.”

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. “I really wish I could, but that’s not an option right now. My authority has been challenged, and I really have to let the rest of the crew know that everything is to continue as usual.” She looked me straight in the eye and responded, “There’s nothing usual about this. It’s been over a century since this kind of behavior has occurred on this ship, at least violence on this level. No one on the ship today has ever experienced this kind of behavior.”

“I know, and that’s exactly why I have to continue to assert my authority. Things could easily escalate from here, and that’s the last thing that anyone needs. It’s hard enough living in the same cramped conditions for your entire life. I have to try to calm the situation down. It’s not like we can go to port for a holiday.”

“I know, and that’s why I should stay on duty too. If we want to show that it’s business as usual, we have to conduct our business as usual. I can handle it, Captain.” I looked her in the eyes, which were now burning with a conviction that I haven’t seen since she was going through the process to get her doctorate. “I know you can, Counselor. There was never even any doubt about that.” I sighed, involuntarily, and continued, “all right, we both need to report to our stations, then. If anything happens, be sure to contact me immediately.”

“I will, Captain. Thank you.” And with that, she headed back down to the medical bay, and I headed down to the senior officer’s wing to make sure that everything had been handled, and that the junior officers were settling in alright in their new positions. I also hoped tensions weren’t rising. After I dealt with that, I knew I had to head down to the cells, and confront the senior staff. I didn’t look forward to that meeting at all. So much for the uneventful start to my captainship.

As I was walking down to the senior officer’s wing, Tiffany Accado, the principal for the secondary school, confronted me. She was an elderly woman, with piercing blue eyes. Her skin was pale, and unusually smooth for her age. However, it’s quite apparent that she’s been quite worried lately, as she had more visible wrinkles than usual, especially under her eyes. I, myself, began to worry about what she could be concerned about. Troublingly, my worst fears were soon realized.

“Is it true that all of the crew is now in the brig?” I was more than a little surprised that news had already spread outside of the ship’s crew. It was my job to make sure that everyone on the ship, crew and civilian alike, stayed safe, and content. However, as of today, it appears I haven’t done a great job accomplishing that. “Only the senior officers have been sent to the brig. A fight broke out on the deck of the senior staff wing, and the junior staff are now handling things. There’s nothing to worry about. Once they have a chance to cool down, things will go back to business as usual.” She looked unsure, but responded, “That’s good. Everyone’s worried that the ship’s crew is falling apart.”

I was worried how much of the ship’s three thousand passengers were included in her assessment of “everyone”, but didn’t relay my worries. “It’s really nothing to be concerned about. There’s always tensions during the transition of power on this ship. I’ve seen my fair share of it when I was a junior officer, and my mother told me stories of it, even during her time as captain. Things always calm down after everyone gets used to the new order of things.” Ms. Accado visably relaxed, and responded, “good to hear. I’ll let everyone know that there’s nothing to worry about.” I didn’t like the idea of gossip, but since it already started and would no doubt get out of hand if not dealt with, I decided that I could use her help. “Thanks Ms. Accado, I appreciate it.” She looked me in the eyes, and gave me one of those kindly smiles that only kind, elderly, women could properly deliver. “No problem, Captain. You’ve been doing a great job so far. Your mother would be so proud of you.”

I smiled back, doing my best to return her smile, although I still had several decades before I had enough life experience to do the smile justice. “Thanks, I really appreciate it.” I really did. She had been my fourth form instructor when I was young, and had always been one of my favorite teachers. Her opinion still meant a lot to me. I just hoped that I could instill that level of confidence in the crew. It was true that every new appointment of captain led to some level of anxiety. However, nothing had ever reached the level of dissent that had occurred this afternoon. At least, nothing like that had happened in recent memory.

Ms. Accado and I parted ways, just as I had reached the senior officer’s wing. I really hoped that I could get through to the senior staff, and that this situation really would be just a temporary one. The last thing I wanted to do was to extend the lockup of the senior staff, many with whom I had worked with for several years. That train of thought had to be temporarily derailed, however, as I had to deal with the junior staff right now. The senior staff would have to wait.

I summed up all of the courage I had, and made sure that I put on an aura of authority. I tried my best to portray the image of a person in power without appearing too stand-offish. It is a feat that I had always attempted, but it’s a tight-rope act that’s hard to pull off. I thought I was doing a good job at it, but it appears that the senior staff had seen through my act. I pushed my doubts aside, and reminded myself that it had been years of hard work and dedication that had gotten me in this position. Thinking that I was just acting like I was in charge wouldn’t help anyone. I am in charge, and I earned this position. I deserve my recent promotion, and it was high time I made sure that not only the crew understood that, but that I do as well.

Any lingering doubts had to be pushed to the back of my mind, as it was now time to gauge the level of confidence the rest of crew had in my leadership, first hand. I walked through the doors leading to the senior staff wing, hoping that the junior officers weren’t as hostile as their superiors.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter One

Our multi-generational ship has been cruising through space for three hundred years now. I suppose it’s fitting that I take on the role of captain on our tricentennial year. I am the first of my kind, after all. We’ve come a long way since our ancestors first set off so many generations ago. Back then, there was a lot of fighting. It was hard to blend so many different cultures together on one tiny vessel. People fought over religion, over race, over gender, and sexual orientation. For a while, it seemed like they might cause their own extinction. But, time really does wonders for one’s spirit of team work. The thought of the vacuum of space being the only place they could escape probably didn’t hurt either. It’s much different when you have a planet with thousands of miles of open land, as opposed to what is, in comparison, a sardine can floating in space.

In the past century, our crew has gotten along, and had resided and worked among each other in relative peace. There is still the occasional conflict, but differences in appearance and beliefs among the crew mates usually don’t come into play in arguments anymore. I’m an exception, of course. For all of our advances in tolerance and acceptance, it’s still hard for the crew to accept someone who presents as a male on one day and then presents as a female on another. It’s even harder for them to accept a person like that in a position of authority. I’ve heard more than a fair share of derisive terms about people like me, many of which date back to the earliest years of the voyage of our vessel. They’re prejudices that most people ignore because they think that such things don’t exist in our peaceful modern society. The friction that so many of the crew have given me upon my ascension to the rank of captain is living proof that we’re not quite as advanced as we think.

I look at the ship’s counselor, Maria Corben, the woman to whom I am confiding my innermost thoughts. I realize that, if anyone would understand my situation, it is her. She is more of an exception to the rule of civility from the crew than even I, as she stands out without any effort on her part. She has green scales instead of skin, and has yellow eyes with black pupils. Everything else about her appears completely human, from her long red hair, and full red lips, to her button nose and oval face. She also has a figure that I would love to have on my feminine days. Though her appearance suggests otherwise, her parents were both human, as we have yet to encounter alien life on our journey. She is what known among the crew as a ‘splicer baby’.

Thirty years ago, some of our scientists began experimenting with gene splicing techniques. It was supposed to help with cures for diseases, but some people began using them on themselves. It was extreme body modification, a way to make them stand out from the crowd. It worked on that front, a little too well. People spliced themselves with DNA from animals on-board the ship. Most chose vicious creatures, such as reptiles, like the mother of our counselor, lions, bears, and even more extreme modifications such as rhinos. The crew were frightened of their newly remodeled crew-mates, and tensions rose to levels that our ship hadn’t seen since it first departed from Earth nearly three hundred years prior.

Those crew members who had used gene splicing on themselves were sentenced to prison terms for illegal use of the technology. Our best scientists worked to find a way to reverse it, but their pursuits were fruitless. It seemed to be a one way process. Gene splicing was eventually completely outlawed. Shortly afterward they were released back into the general populace. It was hard on them, but, as the crew realized that they were stuck that way, they didn’t give them a hard time. At least, not physically. However, old fashioned racism was brewing. It was something that our ancestors had worked so hard to overcome, and once we were confronted with people we hadn’t seen before, we were starting it right back up. The crew began referring to them as ‘splicers’, and viewed them as inhuman. Unfortunately, once the ‘splicers’ had children, it was discovered that the spliced genes were dominant, and the children would inherit their traits. They also would inherit the racism against their parents. Terms like ‘splicer baby’ were among the first wave of that.

Like with their parents, adults weren’t mean to them in public. However, when in private, they saw these children as less than human, and imparted that belief into their own children. As for these children, the young can be much more cruel than their parents, so they did not show courtesy to their peers with spliced genes. The insults were just the tip of the iceberg, as the bullies would beat these children, as their parents made them believe that they did not deserve to live. The teachers were at a loss as to what to do, as the ship hadn’t had this kind of violence and hatred on-board in over two centuries. They would send these children home for a week or more as an out of school suspension.

However, their problems weren’t resolved, as the parents of these bullies felt their children did nothing wrong. In a number of cases, the parents even went to the school administrators to get their children back in classes, express their bigoted belief in person. The school didn’t want this kind of atmosphere, so at first they tried segregated schools, supposedly to keep the children with spliced genes safe from harm.

Maria was one of the first children to attend these schools. She, along with the other spliced gene children and their parents, were treated badly by both children and adults in public now, as the adults felt that the segregation had validated their views. The captain, my mother, was brought in to try to find a peaceful resolution. It was decided that the segregated schools, while being made with good intentions, did more harm than good.
The schools were once again integrated, but the damage had already been done. Maria and her peers were still routinely mocked, and she was constantly told that she couldn’t amount to anything in her life simply because of who she was. That is the reason why she studied and worked so hard to become a counselor. She wanted to prove that she could be someone important, and she could use her position to spread compassion and show that people who were the product of gene splicing weren’t any different than anyone else.

That is the main reason why I was so relaxed in my mandated counseling sessions, as we both shared that trait in common. I was routinely mocked in cadet training, with my peers telling me to pick one gender and stick with it, and many others telling me I was just changing genders for attention. When I became second in command of the ship, people had insinuated that I had either gotten my position through grandstanding, because my mother was once captain of the ship, or both. I knew that I had gotten through by hard work and determination, and tried my best to ignore the accusations of others.
I was now captain of the ship, and she was the head counselor. We both knew that our positions wouldn’t be the easiest because of who we were, but we both felt that we could make a difference in our settlement in our positions. We were both still the same people we had always been, and we didn’t let our hardships change that. That was what made us both strong people, and that was what was the most important. We knew that we couldn’t change the opinions of everyone, but if our demeanor and aptitudes made even one detractor believe that it was possible that we weren’t so different from everyone else, that alone would make everything worth it.

It was at this point that I took my mind out of its reminiscence and brought my thoughts back into focus on the matter at hand. I was here to talk with Counselor Corben about the present, as there was no need delving back into our pasts, and it was certainly not worth it to worry about the mistakes of our parents. We had both accomplished our dreams, and were both new in our positions of power. We certainly had a lot to talk about in regards to the present, so talking about the past not only is pointless, but potentially harmful, as it would take away from our limited time allotted as captain and counselor to talk about the here and now.

I began to tell her about my first week as captain, and how surprisingly dull it had been, when the ship’s alarm went off. It seems that I had just jinxed myself with my comments, as when I got up and headed out into the hallway, I was confronted with a truly disturbing sight. This is something that not even my mother saw on her time on the ship, and was certainly something I thought that I would never see. The entire senior staff wing of the ship was now in the process of a full out brawl.

I ordered the crew to stop, but it was to no avail. Maybe the staff doesn’t respect me in my role as captain after all. Maria tried to get them to stop as well, and I thought at first that her attempt had succeeded. However, after everyone stopped fighting they all eerily turned their attention towards her. They shouted that everything was the fault of her, and people like her, and at once I understood what had started this brawl. The hatred of splicers had bubbled under the surface for several decades, and I had just witnessed it boiling over.

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