Sunday, October 09, 2005

Term of Service (Part 1)

Charan Colony Habitat - On a planet somewhere in the Inner Rim (present day):

An oversized transport shuttle lands on a tarmac just outside the main habitat entrance. Two natural born Charans, one male and one female, run to their places just outside the shuttle's door. Both wear the familiar red color found on all Charan military personnel. However, the uniforms of these two are much more modern looking than those worn by Charan Guard members. In fact, this particular uniform has never been seen outside of Charan space.

The transport's door opens.

"FALL IN! MOVE IT!" Shouts continue to stream out of the two instructors as fifty new naturalized Citizens disembark the transport. All are no more than 25 years of age, most appear to be between 18 and 22. A few carry luggage which is immediately confiscated by the instructors and tossed into a growing pile nearby on the tarmac.

"I SAID FALL IN! THAT MEANS LINE UP! DO IT!" After a few shoves in the right direction, the new arrivals form something of a line alongside the transport.

The female instructor finally allows a smile. "That's better." She begins to pace up and down the line, sizing up the new arrivals and giving her usual 'Welcome to My World' speech.

"Welcome to TraylaNu. The Charan Royal Council has been generous enough to offer you the challenge of becoming naturalized Charan Citizens. Personally, I don't think even one of you is up to meeting that challenge, but since the bureaucrats at CNP (Citizenship Naturalization Program) sent you to me...I guess I have to prove them wrong...and I will."

She stops pacing...the lot looks capable enough...and stands in-front of the group, finishing up her portion of the welcome.

"It's MY job to break you. It's MY job to destroy anyone not up to MY standards. MY name is Master Sargent Resals...this is MY world." Sargent Resals gave a parting sadistic smile to everyone present and headed off across the tarmac where another transport shuttle was landing.

The second instructor stepped up and continued the welcome speech.

"I am Sargent Serulas. As of this moment, I'm the only friend you have. Disappoint me and I'll be your worst enemy.

"As Master Sargent Resals said, you're here because you're now naturalized Charan Citizens. Mataal Population Sub-Directive 2544 states, 'any off-worlder who is granted naturalized citizenship, after the year 3394, will be required to complete four years of service to the Charan Royal Council.' It goes on to require that all newly naturalized Citizens, between the ages of 18 and 25, be sent directly to service in the Charan Armed Corps. Those who have not yet reached their 18th birthday will be sent to service once they have. Those who are already past their 25th birthday will be sent to service in some other branch of the government.

"You are all between the ages of 18 and 25.

"There are 50 of you here today. In six months, no more than 25 will remain. We are required to wash-out at least 50 percent of all new arrivals. Those washed out will be sent to duty elsewhere in the government. Those who meet the challenge, and successfully complete all four years of required service with the Corps, will earn a place of honor in Charan society and be treated as such.

"As a member of the Corps, you will be the front line protectors of the Council, the Charan people, and the Charan way of life. There is no higher service than the Corps. There is no greater challenge than the Corps.

"Embrace the Charan philosophies. Master Charan Mental Techniques. Raise your mind, body, and spirit to a higher level of being. You will become the future of your species. You will represent the future of the galaxy. You will be a Citizen of Chara.

"On behalf of the Council and Charan Corps Training Center #205, I welcome you to TraylaNu.

"NOW MOVE! GO! GO!"

The line of new recruits sprints off across the tarmac towards the habitat with Sargent Serulas bringing up the rear....yelling the whole way.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Magge's Story - The Assignment (Part 1)

Tyrsanal's Primary Education Center - Mataalicad (Chara IV) [two month's ago]:

Magge Reylana stood tall and proud at the front of the room. She'd been giving a lesson on the Mataals this afternoon, and it seemed she couldn't provide her children with the information fast enough.

She smiled as nearly every hand in the room shot up at the chance to answer the next question. Fifteen young faces stared at her from around the room. Each as eager as the next and all wanting the chance to impress Miss Magge.

Magge had graduated near the top of her class from a major Charan university, and held a degree in Foreign Studies, with a minor in Interspecies Relations. Such credentials would have assured a position in almost any Council agency both home and abroad. Instead, Magge had chosen to serve a tour at the local education center. Teaching had always been something she enjoyed, even if it wasn't her career focus, and she loved children. When the position came open to teach a 2nd year class of five year olds, the thought of passing up the assignment never crossed her mind. The career could wait.

That was two years ago. Since then there hadn't been a single moment of regret. But with each passing day, the end of her tour at the education center drew closer. She thought about it as little as possible.

"Who can list the Mataals?"

All the hands stayed up. A few seemed to grow an extra few inches as their owners stretched them as high as they could manage trying to out do their neighbor.

"Well it looks like everyone was paying attention then." Tapping her finger on her cheek, Magge looks toward the ceiling as if struggling to think of a question hard enough to challenge her students. "Who can tell me...hmmm...all the Mataals in the order originally listed in the Mataal Directive?"

A few stumped looks now began to spread among her class...but most hands stayed up. They'd give it a shot anyway.

Magge pointed to one of the quieter Terran children toward the middle of the room. The little girl stood up, but didn't look completely confident.

"Jennie Frost, can you tell me?"

"Yes Miss Magge." Jennie held up her tiny little hand ready to count off each Mataal as she listed it. The first finger stuck out. "Population." Magge nodded. The girl extended her second finger. "Education." Magge nodded again. Jennie's face showed a little more confidence now. Her third finger extended. "Economy."

"That's right Jennie. Do you know the last one?"

Jennie nodded her head. "Infrastructure." Her face lit up bright and proud. Then she flopped back to her place on the floor.

"Very good! You got that exactly right. Can everyone repeat them for me now?"

A chorus of little voices exploded, some starting sooner than others so that hardly a word could be understood. "Population! Education! Economy! Infrastructure!"

"That's right! You've all done very good this afternoon. What do ya say we have free time the rest of the day? Sound like a good idea?"

The chorus answered again, "Yes Miss Magge!"

"Who's turn is it to pick free time?"

Everyone begin looking around to see who the lucky person would be.

Grela Karana stuck his hand in the air, "I think it's my turn Miss Magge. Brian went yesterday and I come after Brian." The young Charan tried to stand up straight, but the anxious hands of his neighbors nearly toppled him over as they tried to convince him of what he should choose.

"So what do you want to do for free time Grela?"

"UNDER THE SEA!"

The room exploded into cheers and everyone jumped up at once to take their place in line.

Magge headed them down the hall to the holoroom. "OK now. Go on in. But keep it fun. I don't want anyone being a bully in there. Is that understood?"

"Yes Miss Magge!"

"OK then, have fun."

With that the class filed into the holoroom, each choosing their starting place carefully. Magge punched in the code for the 'Under the Sea' program. Instantly the holoroom buzzed to life. Each child appeared to transform into their favorite sea creature, and the room became a deep-sea aquarium. Magge and a few of the other teachers watched from the observation lounge as the children swam back and forth. Chasing. Tagging. Diving. Swimming. And generally having a great time.

A hand was gently placed on Magge's shoulder from behind. She turned to see the Center's director. The look on his face seemed that someone had died.

"Is everything alright Director?"

He handed her a data pad. "We're going to miss you Magge."

Magge grabbed the pad and scanned through the text flowing across it's screen. Something about Council expansion and Council needs and the good of Chara:

YOU ARE TO REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO THE OUTER RIM SECTORS FOR ASSIGNMENT AS ASSISTANT ATTACHE' TO AMBASSADOR HERBERT RESNO - GORVOSH STATION - HOPE ONE DYSON'S SPHERE.

She turned back to watch her children swimming past the observation window. They didn't notice the tear running down her cheek.