THE WORLD was full of smoke and ash. People were running into the streets in total mayhem clutching their children and valuables. Fire leaped from house to house and roared over the screams of the people. Blood ran down through the streets like a red river. People would fall like dominos, their glassy eyes staring into nothingness. Fear was thick in the air like the smoke thick in the people’s lungs. Lights flashed from a generator above a house before it blew out. The world seemed to slow as lights were blinding the people. Someone was saying in the streets dressed as if they were a shadow, “Get out of bed! Grab your shoes and get running!”
My eyes snapped open as a flashlight was shined into my eyes. Using my right hand I shield my eyes from the glare. The officer was standing over my bottom bunk and said gruffly, “Get out of bed! It is a night run!”
I hear movement from the bunk above me and my Australian friend groans and rolls back over, mumbling something under her breath. Untwisting myself from my sheets, I fall out of the bed and my forehead meets the cold tiled floor. The cool of the floor felt nice against my feverish forehead as I draw myself away from the terror of my nightmare. I squint through the darkness to see the whites of Zaire’s eyes. He was sitting down on his lower bunk tying his shoes with concentration. Zaire’s dark skin blended into the dark of the room and he looked over at me with a hint of confusion on his face. I push up from the floor and crouched in the darkness of the room.
“Squad Nine!” shouted one of the officers who was standing on my wooden chair, “Get you *sses up and get running. You and Squad Seven are doing the night run. We will meet you in five minutes in hall L-67. Be there or be square!”
All of the officers then left the room. Zaire stood up and said in his thick African accent, “Get up! You heard him! Samantha, can you wake up Quinn?”
I nod in response to Zaire’s question, but then realized he couldn’t really see me in the dark and I respond, “Sure thing, Zaire.”
Standing up, I peek over the bar of the top bunk. Quinn laid there with her sheets crumbled up around her like a giant bird’s nest. Her dirty blonde hair stuck to her face and her eyelashes splayed across her tan skin.
“Hey, Quinn,” I said gently and shook her shoulder, “It’s night run.”
“I’m stuffed,” she said tiredly, “wake me up later, Sam.”
“We are all tired, Quinn, but they are going to kill us if we are late,” I said shoving her harder.
“Well, that is just beaut,” she said with sarcasm dripping in her voice, “I was hoping for a whole nights rest.”
“Too bad,” I said as she groggily pushed hair out of her face.
I bend over and search underneath my bed for my running shoes. The room is just too dark to see anything. I blindly stick my hand underneath the bed and grope around looking for the shoes. My hand touches something shoe-like and I grab it. Instead, it is Quinn’s shoe because of the large size.
“Catch,” I say and toss up the shoe onto the top bunk.
“Ouch!” Quinn said above as I finally find my own pair of shoes.
I finish tying the shoe as I see a blonde head emerge from the opposite bunk. Kurt sat up on the top bunk looking confused as his younger twin sat on the bottom throwing up junk from under their bed.
“Why do you have so much junk under here?” grumbled Max in his German accent as he throws a broken pencil at his twin.
Kurt ran his hand through his messy blonde hair as his blue eyes stare amusedly at his brother struggling to find shoes, “I dunno.”
“I know you don’t know,” said Max as he retrieves one shoe and chucked it at his brother’s head, “Here, you idiot.”
“That is not how you talk to your brother,” grinned Kurt as he stuffed his shoe onto his giant foot.
I stand up and grab my black jacket that basically everyone else on the compound has. Reaching into my left pocket, I find a pencil. I take it out and twirl it in my hands and take deep breaths as I try to get rid of the terrible nightmare. Each of us has a coping mechanism with fear and stress. Mine is with twirling the pencil in my hands as I take deep breaths. Quinn winds her hair around her pointer finger and then unwinds it with her eyes closed. Kurt and Max both tap on either the floor or a wall and quietly count up to hundred in German and then back down again. Zaire makes a fist in his left hand and with his right hand he taps each of his knuckles over and over again.
On cue, the sound of metal balls tapping together begins. Tony is perched on the top bunk on the third bunk with his string that is attached to two metal balls. In one hand he holds the middle of the string and in the other he swings one of metal balls and watches it collide with the other as it goes back and forth. Tony must’ve had a nightmare this night as he copes with his fear. His olive Italian skin is invisible in the dark room, but I can almost see his chocolate brown eyes watch the two metal balls hitting back and forth.
“We need to move,” muttered Zaire and broke Tony’s trance as he places his string back in his pocket.
“What’s the time, capt’?” Kurt said as he finished tying his shoe that Max finally found.
“40 seconds to get there,” Zaire said with eyes straining looking at his hologram watch. It glowed a sickly green that caused shadows to dance across Zaire’s hard face.
“Done!” said Quinn as she jumped down from the top bunk and landed besides me, “Baboon! Getting your lazy bum over here!”
Quinn always seems to get more perky whenever Kurt is last of the Squad to get moving. Kurt grinned at Quinn as he strode over to the middle of the room, “I see that you are completely a morning person.”
Quinn only scowled at Kurt as Zaire exited the room. We followed in a jog, but more like a sprint for me. Everyone has long legs and fast strides while I have to speed up to catch up from my short legs. Zaire was muttering things ahead of us about how we are so slow. As a unit we jog through the dark halls, passing doors where the other squads slept.
We are living in a giant spaceship that is traveling at light speed towards an unknown planet. Squad Nine has been together ever since we were taken from our biological families down on Earth to begin training for this epic mission. A mission to save the human race. A mission that can make us all heros. A mission that can go terribly wrong in seconds.
Earth has been over populated and with depleting resources, a solution had to be found. A group of top scientist from all over the world brainstormed to figure out what is the best possible answer for this large problem. Their final solution was the get all the children who were born in the year B18 and place them on a giant spaceship and send them to a planet that is said to be similar to Earth. They rounded up the children and many officers who are to train us for the mysterious new planet. Immediately boarding the spaceship with nothing, but the fading memories of the life at home, we were split into groups called Squads. Each Squad has six kids from different places around the world. I was from America, Quinn from Australia, Kurt and Max from Germany, Tony from Italy and Zaire from somewhere in Africa. It is rumored that Zaire was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but no one knows for sure, he prefers privacy on the matter from where he was from. Also it was lucky for Kurt and Max to remain together, because most siblings were split up. The officials each selected one of the children from each Squad as the designated leader, Zaire is ours. Every Squad was assigned a number and that was that. It was lucky for us that we all got along together, because we are stuck together for life. They are my real family, not the ones from Earth. I grew up with Quinn’s roll of her eyes, Kurt’s jokes, Max’s carefulness, Zaire’s toughness and the watchfulness of Tony. We are a team.
Our unit slowed to a stop with only seconds to spare outside of L-67 hall. A group of ten officers who had rudely woken us leaned up against the wall. The tallest of them looked at his stopwatch and then at Zaire.
“That was close,” he said.
He glanced back down at the hologram watch as it turned to red as it counted down the final seconds. The officer just shook his head and tsked under his breath. The halls remained silent as we wait for Squad Seven.
“If they don’t get here in the next ten seconds, an extra two laps,” said the guard and looked at us, “for everyone.”
Kurt groaned and looked into the dark hallway and muttered, “C’mon Squad Seven, you idiots.”
We wait in silence and then Tony’s head snapped up from his gaze at the floor. He whispered, “I hear footsteps.”
Indeed he did, faintly from down the hall the sounds of feet pounding against the hard floor. The time was ticking down and the possibility of us doing extra laps was growing. C’mon! I plead in my head, This is a terrible way to start the day with extra laps!
The stop watch blared loudly as the time ended and the person at the front of the unit came into view of the dimly lit lights. His hair was stuck to his forehead and panted loudly as the rest of his group circle around him. The officer grabbed the leader’s shoulder and roughly shook him.
“You are late,” growled the officer at the boy, “Do you know what that means?”
The boy groans in defeat, “Extra laps?”
“Yes, two for everyone!” the officer let go of the boy as he rubbed his shoulder.
Kurt’s look at the boy was like daggers tearing at the boy. He wasn’t happy about laps, well, to be fair, no one was in the mood.
“Squad Nine! Squad Seven!” shouted the officer, “Three laps laterally around the spaceship starting at A-01. You have four hours. Your time begins in five minutes, when you should’ve reach the hall. So don’t dally! GO!”
Immediately our Squad started at a fast pace of a walk. I can already feel the aching of my bones, the ship is HUGE. No one has actually calculated the length of the ship, but in four hours you can do like two-ish laps. But three? I am so going to kill Squad Seven at the next paintball fight against them.
I hear the yawning of Squad Seven behind us and looking at their tired condition, maybe two is going to do it in time. If you don’t do it in time, it is either more laps, extra tough training or being the servant for one of the guards for a week. A day is hard enough, but for a week? Yikes! Kurt had to be a servant for two days and he was miserable and grumpy for the rest of the week.
“How much time to do we have until we have to get there?” asked Max to Zaire.
“Three minutes, pick up the pace!” Zaire responded looking at his watch.
I start to slow jog next to Quinn as she walked hurriedly and puts up her hair. I yank off a hair tie off of my wrist and quickly tie up my blonde hair into a ponytail, getting it off of my face. C-01, B-01, getting closer... I think as go past the halls.
“Okay,” Zaire said as we reached A-01, “We have an extra two minutes of a head start. Let’s go!”
“Yippee,” Quinn said with sarcasm, “Another two minutes. I wonder what I can do with it. What do you think, little girl?”
I roll my eyes at the nickname they gave me. I am short and look about 14 even though I am almost 17. Sometimes it is annoying, but it really means that I am apart of this group.
“I don’t know... how about running?” I respond and begin to run.
Quinn grins and bumps shoulders with me as we start our midnight run.
I AM almost done with lap two with only around an hour left. I don’t know how I am going to make it. I am sticky with sweat which drenched my camisole and my jacket is hanging limb around my waist. The boys have all removed their shirts as sweat glistened in the dim lights. All six of us are still running in our pack. Zaire in front, Max and Kurt on the sides, Quinn and I in the middle and Tony in back. Our breaths fill the silence and the pounding of our feet. One boy from Squad Seven is far ahead of us and one girl was behind us, but stopped twenty minutes ago to take a breather. Squad Seven isn’t working as a team.
That is the fault of this exercise. Everyone from your Squad has to make it over the finish line to make it count. If the majority makes it, then the stragglers will have a harder punishment over the whole group. Zaire’s strategy is all of us run together. I am sure that Zaire would be almost done if he didn’t run with all of us, but he doesn’t leave anyone behind. I remember when we were all seven, I tripped and fell and Kurt didn’t stop running. Zaire had to chase after him and hold him against the wall until we all caught up. We are a team, I remember Zaire saying, We work together and never ever leave someone behind. That is how we work. That is how we win and survive on this new world we are going to
MY LUNGS burned as Zaire shouted breathless to pick up the pace again. My once good looking ponytail now lays flat on my neck, sticking to it. I brush away sweat off my forehead as my heartbeat fills my ears. Our Squad is almost done, but the time is running out.
“How,” gasp, “much time do we have left?” wheezes Max from besides me.
Zaire wipes sweat off of his forehead before checking his watch, “Twelve minutes. Pick up the pace!”
Kurt lets out a tired groan and shoves his damp blonde hair off of his forehead. I see that he just wants everyone to sprint the last distance, but if we do that, I don’t know if I could get back up. Our feet pound in unison against the floor and our heartbeats keep time. My throat is parched and I really need water, now. But you can’t think as you run. Just left, right, left, right, left, right...
Max let out a breathy cheer, “Look. A. Finish. Line.”
Quinn lets out a shaky breath of relief and I grin sloppily. I am so done with this exercise and can’t wait to finish. In my moments of cheer, I didn’t watch where I was placing my feet and the ground meet my face. Immediately I feel strong arms around my shoulders and Tony pulling me gently off the ground. Pain floods my veins and I let out a yelp.
“You are doing fine, Sam,” Tony breathlessly whispers in my ear, “You can keep going, I got you.”
I want to either reply with a thanks or I can do this by myself, but all I managed out was a moan. Again, more pain shoots through me and I crumble to the ground. Tony just simply pulled me back up again and limped with me to the finish line.
I hear the roar of Zaire’s voice vaguely in the background. Looking up with effort I see the rest of Squad Nine was across and guilt was flashing across all of Zaire’s features. Guilt that he left someone behind. Quinn was crouched down and motioning with her arms to keep going. Kurt was turned away with his hands covering his face as he takes deep breathes and Max was shouting something that I couldn’t really hear because my heart beat was filling my ears.
“We’re done, Sam,” Tony’s gentle voice said besides my ear as I cross the line.
He half carries me a little past the line and I collapse into Quinn’s outstretch arms in exhaustion and pain. Quinn was saying something in my ear, but then the officials voice cut through the mayhem we were starting.
“You had two minutes to spare,” said the official glancing at the stopwatch.
I half wished that he would say, good job or keep up the good work, but this no comment also pushes us to do better to maybe get a comment in the future. The official then glances over at me and said, “You might want to get that looked at. Zaire, take you medical train soldier and her to the nearest med zone. That will be all, rest of you can sleep for the last two hours.”
Quinn passes me off to Max, where I loop my arm around his shoulders and he does the same. We walk in silence as we catch our breaths and Max glances at me every few steps, like making sure I was still there.
“How bad does it hurt?” he asks as he goes through the steps of his medical training to see if I was okay.
“Bad,” I reply cringing as I place a little too much weight on my step.
“Do you need me to carry you?” he asked looking worried. Max is always worried of everything. Always making sure if everyone is okay, but his twin is exactly the opposite. Careless, ignorant and has a big ego. Every once in a while, Tony pops Kurt’s ego bubble by beating him on something.
“Nah,” I say determined that I could make it to the med zone.
“You know,” said Max grinning a little, “you are very stubborn.”
“I get that a lot,” I smile back and the iconic red med zone door appeared.
Max opened the door for me as I struggle to limp in. The door opened to a pristine white room with a dozen chairs for people to sit and wait endless hours for help. At the front of the room was a counter with a nurse sitting behind wearing a red outfit and glasses perched on her nose.
She glanced up and looked horrified at the sight, “Young man! This is a Medical Zone, not your training room! Please put on a shirt!”
Max glanced down at his toned chest and then flung on his soaked shirt. He carefully placed me in a chair before walking up to the counter of the fluster nurse.
“Um, Samantha from Squad Nine, injured herself from doing the midnight run. I think her ankle is sprained,” he then stood there a bit awkwardly as the nurse went through the files.
One dark eyebrow on her forehead rose as she read a report from a folder labeled Squad Nine.
“Well, Solider Max, it seems that the next time you arrive to the Medical Zone I am assigned to give you a pop quiz. You must prepare your medical training on whoever you bring in and in this case it is Samantha. Good luck.”
Why can’t I just have a normal day by waking up at the normal time and get healed with the normal med people, no offense Max. He comes back to where I am seated and helps me back up.
“I left all my medical supplies in the room. Do you think you will make it all the way to the sleeping department?” he asked looking at me warily.
“I hope so,” I grumbled with annoyance of starting the day with not a good start.
“Sam, I am serious, do you need me to carry you?” he asks looking me dead in the eye.
“Max, I am serious, I think I can make it,” I grit my teeth as another spike of pain shoots through me.
He mumbled something under his breath saying something about stubborn teenage girls. I playfully bump shoulders with him, but he seemed to be stuck in serious mode and didn’t see the fun in it. We walk in silence for the rest of the way with Max being annoyingly sincere. He needs Kurt here to loosen him up - or maybe that might not be the best idea, because with Max grumpy is even worse than being serious.
One time, Max was in sever anxiety mode because he had a huge medical test the following week and was crouching over his desk and working nonstop. Quinn suggested to Kurt to unwind Max a bit, because being overstressed wasn’t going to help him on his test next week. So, being Kurt, he sauntered over to his twin and announced he is going to be a good big brother and wanted to make Max feel better. With his statement he grabbed all of the Max’s papers and promptly threw them in the toilet and flushed them away.
Max was so angry, with all the energy coming off of him he could’ve powered the massive spaceship for a month. Of course, Kurt didn’t see what he did wrong and they had their longest fight ever. For weeks they wouldn’t speak to each other and if they did a massive fist fight which hall monitors had to break up. I have never seen them that angry with each other. Finally, Zaire ended it with him roaring at them until they came to their senses. Max got the fourth best score in his class as the result of it.
Max flashed his card at the room’s black box monitor which lighted up green with recognition of the card. The door opened up to a dark room where the sound of Kurt’s snoring was audible. As softly as we could, Max sat me down in my chair and he went in search of his kit.
“Jesus Christus!” shouted Max alarmed in German and dropping the kit with a clatter.
With his exclamation it shook everyone awake. Kurt immediately sat straight up and banged his head into the ceiling and was cursing colorfully. Quinn nearly fell out of her top bunk and Zaire snapped his eyes open staring at the scene.
Tony stood in the dark only feet away from where Max was moving with his kit and scared him out of his wit.
“What the hell were standing there for?” Max said to Tony.
“I only wanted to know if Sam was doing alright,” Tony said with ease as if he didn’t just scare someone.
“You didn’t have to stand right in front of me!” Max replied still shaken from Tony.
“Can’t you guys have your old married couple argument later?” growled Kurt from the top bunk still rubbing his head.
I make an impatient noise from behind Tony, “Hey, uh, excuse me? I am still injured here!”
Everyone’s head turned towards me still sitting in the chair and I try to remove all the pain from my face. I look pointedly at Max and hoping he gets the message of ‘hurry up!’ Max registers that he has a patient waiting and looks down at the mess that exploded all over the floor. The red kit laid sprawled all over the floor with a dozen strange packets of ointments and series of different types of bandages.
Max crouched down and soon followed by Tony as they quickly shove the materials back into the kit. I can see the pain on Max’s face by just shoving things in random instead of organizing it. Grabbing the kit with carefulness, he kneels in front of me and grabs the needed necessities for my injury. He pulls out a packet and tries to inspect it in the dark room and calls out to the room, “Light please!”
Immediately the light blares on, illuminating it. The room was fairly large and has a connecting door which leads to the bathroom. There is a sitting area with a large wooden table with six chairs seated around it. On either side of the room were large desks (six for all of us), with another chair and a green lamp. Drawers are also provided and it can be easily identified who is the neater ones to the sloppy ones. Kurt’s drawer had papers sticking out of the top and his seat was crooked, a tripping hazard. While Zaire’s desk (on the opposite side of the room) had papers neatly placed on top with pencils lined up perfectly.
The rest of the space was where our three bunk beds were placed with sheets rumbled, unless you were Max who had his sheets drawn tight over the corners and no wrinkle in sight. Kurt sat at the top with dark circles under his eyes and he shouted at the room, “No! Lights off!”
The lights clicked off and the room plunged into darkness. Max, who was reading another package, shouted back at the room, “Lights!”
Lights turned on and then off again at the command of Kurt. My eyes didn’t have enough time to readjust to either light or darkness and I groan in frustration.
“That is enough!” shouts Zaire as once again the lights were changed.
We all remain silent in the dark room waiting for Zaire’s final say. I barely see the outline of his body as he looks at Kurt and Max.
“The lights will remain on, since Max is undergoing his medical procedure,” Zaire said.
“Then where do we sleep?” moaned Quinn underneath her sheets in attempt to block out the light.
“Just go in the bathroom,” I pipe up, “The lights can be at different setting than in this room.”
“Thank you, Samantha,” Zaire said to me, “Now just go to sleep!”
Kurt muttered something under his breath before rolling over and smashing his pillow over his head. Quinn hung her legs over the side of our bunk bed and padded into the bathroom.
“Okay, I am going to give you this pain reducer. Just a pill and here,” Max said to me as he hands me a package and a water bottle, “is something to wash it down. I am going to spread this ointment over your-”
“Max,” I interrupt him, “You don’t have to explain everything to me. I trust whatever you are going to do.”
“Okay,” he said and opened a package, “This shouldn’t take too long.”
MAX FINISHED with my ankle using the new ointment that is impossible to say - even though Max could pronouns it. Basically it strengthens my ankle so I can go back to training. Yipee.
Unfortunately none of us got really any sleep and we zombied (is that even a verb?) our way to the Cafeteria. In one word to describe the cafeteria: big, grey and squarish. I lied, I used four words. The ceiling stretches way up with LED lights that blare down on you, making your skin a sickly green. Then on one side of the squarish space, there are trays and a counter where one can pick up their daily freeze dry food. The rest of the space are dozens of tables where three Squads can sit together.
Kurt pushed ahead of me wanting to reach the food first. By background information, I let him go ahead, because I value my fingers. Grabbing a tray I inspect today’s food. In the containers, tiny little red squished things lay there.
“What are they?” Quinn whispers to me, eyeing the food with a questioning look.
“Red Oatmeal?” I respond unsure.
“Nope, they are ‘Instant Breakfasts’,” responds Kurt ahead of us.
He swipes his card in the provided slot and one strange red thing electronically falls on his plate. Kurt eyes it for a minute before moving on the next freeze dried food.
I stand in front of the ‘Instant Breakfasts’ slot for a moment deciding if it is worth it to take one. After a minute of consideration (and Quinn’s complaints of me taking too long), I take one of these strange things. I’ve probably have had one before, but they always seem to switch the colors on us so we have no idea what is going on.
We continue down the line until our tray was filled with about three tiny freezed dried food. Zaire leads us the the nearest table and we slump into our seats as a unit. Kurt grumbles something that Max sends a daggered look at this brother. From experience of having to live with Kurt, it was either something inappropriate or…. just inappropriate.
Quinn picks up the ‘Instant Breakfast’ and examine its closer before resting her head on her hand. Rolling her eyes at the packet she gives me a look of is-this-safe-to-eat? I shrug and glance over to Kurt who has his ‘Instant Breakfast’ packed open and eating tiny shrunken objects. He pops another in his mouth before looking at us and ask with his mouth full, “What? Why are you all staring at me? Can’t I eat this sh*t in peace?”
Immediately our eyes snap back to our food and we all take bites out of the food. At first it tastes like sand and I had the gag reflex and almost spit it out. The flavor hit my taste buds next - the hot juicy sausage. I roll it around in my mouth trying it not the hit in one spot to long so I don’t burn anything.
Quinn from across the table quickly covers her mouth as she spits the freeze dried sausage onto her plate. Looking up to the rest of us she says, “D*mn that is hot!”
WE FINISHED up breakfast and dumped our trays in the containers by the door. All of the Squads shuffle out of the doors and into a black hall with blue mirrors. The blue mirrors aren’t really mirrors, but screens where the Squad leader will flash his card in front of the scanner and shows the Squad what their schedule is for that day. The only issue is for this hall is there isn’t a screen for every Squad so it is a mad rush trying to get to them first. At least a couple of people everyday gets trampled.
Determined not to get hurt, I follow directly behind Kurt as he shoulders his way through the mess behind Zaire. The chatter of voices sounds like a hornets nest and I see Max grimace from the noise - he has always had sensitive ears. A shoulder rams into my jaw and pain blossoms at the point of contact.
“Watch where you are going,” Tony said at the guy with a dangerous tone to his voice.
“I can’t help if she is so short,” the other boy scoffs and then the crowd shifts and he disappears again before Tony could say anything back to the *sshole.
“You okay, little girl?” Quinn asks from the other side of me as I rub my jaw gingerly.
“Just fantastic,” sarcasm drips from my voice.
“I know what you need,” Quinn says with a wicked grin on her face, “a special song sung!”
Immediately I groan and shot her a look as the crowd shifts again. The look didn’t stop her as she starts up the song, “Ohhhhhhh I’m a Gummy Bear. Yes a Gummy Bear-”
“Please shut up!” cried Max from behind me. His hands were firmly shut on his ears, “You’ll make my ears bleed!”
“I’m pretty sure they are always bleeding. And you-” Quinn starts and is interrupted by Zaire, “Can’t everyone stop bickering. We got a screen.”
I was so held up with Quinn’s stupid song that I hadn’t realized that we found an empty screen. Zaire glared at all of us before flashing his card. The screen lit up and read:
Schedule for April 26, B35
0630 - 0930 ⇒ Basic Plant Life
0935 - 1230 ⇒ World History of Earth
1235 - 1300 ⇒ LUNCH
1305 - 1500 ⇒ Advanced Training - BLOCK A
1505 - 1800 ⇒Wrestling against Squad 17
1805 - 1900 ⇒DINNER
1915 - 2200 ⇒SPECIAL: Paintball match against Squads 1 - 20
2205 - 2400 ⇒Prepare for bed & journals
2430 ⇒ LIGHTS OUT (Squad Nine has a break for tonight’s night watch)
“Move,” the voice from behind us was firm and the statement was a command.
Zaire slowly turns around and came face to face with his arch-rival, Lucas. He is as tall as Zaire - six foot four inches with pale skin and gleaming black eyes. I’m sure his eyes aren’t really black but it makes him seem more evil. His black hair is tousled and no bags under his eyes show - I sometimes wonder how he does it.
Lucas is the leader of Squad Five - also known as Evil-Squad-which-must-be-taken-out -at-any-possible-chance. He is Canadian and arrogant as hell. He brags about his skills and his Squad (also known as his posse) backs up all of his claims. Unfortunately half of everything he says is actually true - even though we try to ignore it. Everyone on this spaceship knows the rivalry between Zaire and Lucas and their Squads. Most Squads have rivalries, but ours sometimes can get out of hand. Kurt was sent to the med room multiple times from fighting with the other members.
“What do you want, Lucas?” asks Zaire with a hard look on his face.
“I want you to move, Zaire,” Lucas placed venom in Zaire’s name as he said it.
I hear Kurt’s knuckles crack from behind me. The atmosphere suddenly turned very tense. We are all waiting from a sign from our leaders to commence the awaiting fight.
“We aren’t finished here, find another screen,” Zaire said. He is actually true - we have to transfer the schedule onto Zaire’s card.
“I guess I’ll have to repeat myself,” Lucas said tensely, “move.”
My eyes narrow at our rivals. Lucas does have a very good put together team, similarly to us. Four boys and two girls - each with differences and their own unique ways to contribute for the team. I have a hunch that authorities has placed us up like this for this exact reason - an even match for all of us. Over time we have fallen into patterns of knowing which one we should fight when a fight breaks out.
Out of habit, my eyes lands on my match - Valentina or Val for short. I can’t really remember how we got matched up, maybe is has to do with something about our height. She stands about an inch taller than me with her lips pursed ready for a challenge. Val looks like one of those antique china dolls - expect Mexican. Her skin is a honey color that brings out the color of her long thick black hair. Her eyebrows match her hair and are slender and full. Every girl would die for her eyebrows. Val’s lips are always in the puckered look and the color of rose. She is truly beautiful, from her black eyes to her slender body. But she can give you a sucker punch that can cause bruising for weeks.
“¡No manches!” Val said in her native tongue. Lucas only smirked at what she said.
I’m pretty sure they all know spanish and only speak it in front of us just to annoy us.
Zaire looks over Lucas’ Squad once more before turning around to face the screen once more. We all held our breath awaiting Lucas’ response. His lips pinched together in frustration of Zaire’s response. He was hoping for a fight. Zaire simply flashed his card and immediately our schedule downloaded onto his card.
He gave a curt nod to Lucas and something knowing passed between them. Lucas’ jaw was tight with defeat and Squad Nine rolled out.
“Why didn’t we get to fight them?” Kurt said with the tone of annoyance.
“Because, Kurt,” Zaire said as he looked start on ahead as he weaved through the crowd, “they weren’t worth it.”
“I SWEAR he just said it again!” Quinn whispered to me as we sat next to each other in Basic Plant Life.
I fumble with my pencil as I write down another ‘interesting’ fact about plants onto my crisp, neat and organized notes sheet. Quinn’s sheet was completely blank except for a tally at the top of her crumpled paper. For the whole class she has been marking down how many times the teacher has said, ‘Now moving on to the next section, class...’. It has been eighty-eight times now.
“Why aren’t you taking any notes?” I hiss between my teeth, making sure our dronning teacher didn’t notice.
Quinn rolls her eyes and places her hands on the back of her head. I half expected her to kick up her feet on the desk and lean back on our backless chairs.
“Notes? Who is going to be taking notes on this new planet we are going to?” Quinn said a bit too loudly and the teacher’s head swiveled and stared at Quinn. Her cocky grin disappeared and is replaced by a blank look.
“Miss Quinn,” said our teacher as he took a quick look at the digital name tag on the front of the desk, “Can you please explain the parts of a Mimulus pictus and where one might find one on Earth? And also its daily needs? Miss Samantha - please don’t show her your notes.”
Immediately my hand slid my notes back towards me and away from Quinn. She kept a cool face as she struggled for an answer. From the corner of my eye, I see Kurt constructing a paper airplane out of his notes sheet. Tearing a corner piece off of my notes, I roll it into a ball and hit the back of Max’s head. He whips around looking for the source.
I stare him in the eye and tilt my head towards his twin brother. Max’s facial features rearrange into an annoyed look at Kurt. He then jabbed Kurt in the ribs who shot him a dark look, but unfolded his airplane.
“Please, Miss Quinn, take notes the next time,” the teacher finished interrogating Quinn and continued on our boring lesson.
She shot me a dirty look and I try to conceal my I-told-you-so look behind my hand. Rolling her eyes, she bends over her notes and I am surprised to see she is writing something that the teacher just said. My surprise balloon was easily popped as she shoved her page over to me with a note not about the class instead a note to me:
Don’t you dare tell me told you so. See he wanted me to take notes and I did take one. Ha.
I look around at the teacher and make sure he isn’t looking before I scribble a response back:
Well, first off this note isn’t about the class. And second off - we shouldn’t be passing notes, we’ll get caught! We already have had a bad day to start, I don’t want to continue it…
Quinn’s mischievous grin flickered onto her face like a candle being lit. She quickly wrote back:
I hate being called chicken and she knows it. I’ve been picked on when I was little about my size and how I can’t do some activities because I’m too short. I narrow my eyes back at her and wrote hastily:
I am not. I don’t see why me being cautious makes me a “chicken.” You’re just careless - like Kurt.
After reading it, Quinn looks up to watch Kurt. Yet again - he is not paying attention and attempts to make an origami swan out of his ex-plane paper. The first time when Kurt found out the wonders of using his notes sheets to make paper creations, was watching an eleven year old Tony creating a perfect origami paper from a torn out page of his journal. Kurt immediately felt the need to one up Tony and his path of making failed paper things began. No one tells him half of every he makes is destroyed, because of his extremely low patience level.
I am jerked out of my thoughts when the looming shadow of our teacher stands in front of my desk.
“Miss Samantha? Have you been taking good notes?” the teacher asks while glancing over to the page which we were only writing on minutes before.
I fumble for words and instead simply I nod, showing him my notes sheet.
“Then why were you writing on this other paper, may I see it?” the teacher said looking through the glasses perched on his nose like a bird about to take flight.
“Uh, er,” I nervously glance at Quinn who kept a cool face. Why isn’t she freaking out like me?
“This is my note sheet, and sure you can look at it,” Quinn said without missing a beat as she flipped the paper over to another side with her scrawl written all over it - none of my handwriting.
“I’ll read it aloud,” said the teacher, wanting a response out of Quinn.
He clears his throat before beginning, “This class is boring. He just said something about plants which I didn’t even understand. Didn’t he learn to talk louder as a kid, he is just droning on and on. Wait, he might’ve said something important. Wait, never mind. Why is he…”
The teacher trailed off as I imagine Quinn listing all of his faults. His face turned a tomato red and looked sharply at Quinn. She only stared him directly in the eye, she didn’t even flinch. I glance around at my fellow Squad to see what their reactions were. Kurt was grinning, Max was astonished with his eyebrows raised, Tony was emotionless and Zaire… Both a look of approval and disapproval was set on his hard features. I was simply wowed how she had this much bravery against the teacher.
“Miss Quinn, please meet me after class,” the teacher said not looking back in his dangerously quiet voice.
Quinn simply winked at me and I smile softly back. We both turned our attention back to the class (well I did, Quinn probably didn’t) and continued on with this boring lesson. Only two more hours, I thought mournfully to myself. Why can’t time fly when it is a boring lesson?