New Recruits

4 min
Image of Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Day 256, 1600 hours
Their ship gently glided towards the waiting station below. Raz shifted uncomfortably in his new uniform as he watched the shiny mass slowly approach. Today was his first day as deck manager, and he wanted to show the new recruits he meant business. What he did not want to let slip was how he got the job, by accident, and that he was completely unqualified.

“So, ready for the new buggers?” Lieutenant Holz asked as he walked towards Raz.

“Yes, sir,” Raz responded with feigned bravado. Holz looked at him carefully and then chuckled under his breath.

“I hear that some of them might even be humans. Have you had experience with those types before?” he inquired. Raz looked at him with slight alarm.

“No, I have never had the opportunity to meet one before. However, you always hear them...the rumors,” murmured Raz, his tremulous voice betraying his nerves.

“They’re greatly exaggerated of course!” responded Holz. “And yet, they are some of the best pursuit predators on this side of the galaxy and often extremely unreliable and tempestuous,” Holz paused and looked at Raz with a gleeful smile. “But nothing you can’t handle.” Holz slapped his comrade on the back and sauntered down the hallway, whistling a cheerful tune. Raz turned back to the window and blinked slowly as the ship made its final descent to lock with the connecting bridge of the temporary space station.

Soon the doors opened, and a line of recruits made its way onto Raz’s newly commissioned command deck. Raz called them all to attention and swiftly made bunk assignments. He furtively looked from face to face trying to identify the humans from what he knew of their widely varying descriptions. At the end of the line he recognized a new breed he had never seen before. Raz’s eyes narrowed as he tried to reconcile the creature’s appearance with all of their legends. It was soft-skinned and pale-looking, no external vertebrae or weapons could easily be identified. Like any normal biped it walked on two legs but had no great muscles or power of any kind.

The new recruit stopped in front of Raz and saluted. “Hello there!” she responded cheerfully. “My name’s Jasmine.” Raz shrugged his shoulders and assigned her to the proper bunk. She smiled at Raz and walked away. His stomach churned as he remembered the friendly smile; few other species had face cavities that revealed internal bone structure. He shook his head and walked back to his own quarters.

Day 259, 0800 hours

Raz supervised the meal area while the recruits took their required rations. He couldn’t help himself from watching the human with vague dread, waiting for her to do something unpredictable or sensational. Each day he discovered something new about their internal systems that shocked and often disgusted him. Reading over a handbook Lieutenant Holz had given him about their species, he learned he had to provide supplies each month for routine bleeding. Also, additional materials for maintaining hygiene and overall health. Raz puzzled over what kind of barbaric species could survive a constant process of losing important bodily fluids, and one that was a normal health procedure.

The human casually demonstrated its usual strange customs and phrases, and yet still got along well with most of the other recruits. Raz watched them in the dining hall as she enthralled them with a legend from her childhood, when she had to extract some of the minor bones from the mouth in order to make room for greater ones. As a rite of passage, she would hide them under her sleeping pillow and the bones would mysteriously disappear the next morning. Raz couldn’t help but think the practice was disgusting. He didn’t like how willing the other new recruits were to follow her lead. Jasmine caught his eye and smirked. Raz lowered his head quickly and left the dining hall, unable to let go of his uneasy suspicions.

Day 275, 1300 hours
Alarms sounded up and down Raz’s command deck. He rushed to the control panel, furiously leaping over unconscious bodies strewn over the ground. Some type of leak had occurred in the last half hour, leaving many of the recruits without proper breathing flow. The human ran up behind him and waited for orders. Of course, since she required oxygen to breathe, and not the pervading culpable gas, she was completely unaffected.

“What do you need me to do?” Jasmine offered. “Do you know what caused this and where we can get tools to assess the damage?”

Raz trembled and looked through the papers in his hand uncertainly. “Move crew members out of walkways and entryways” he stammered. “I will see if I can fix the leak.” Fear began to creep up his spine and leak into his thoughts. His species’ nervous system wasn’t adequately equipped to handle large amount of stress. He didn’t have the heart to tell the human that careless supervision in the past resulted in the last manager being sucked out of a ventilation hole, with no one else with sufficient training who could reasonably take their place. He also did not mention that Lieutenant Holz and most other superior officers had already boarded escape pods and were no longer on the ship. Or that for many months, proper protocol had been steadily declining as the governing officers took financial short cuts.

These thoughts continued to swirl around his mind as he went to the command panel on his main deck and began rolling back camera footage near the area where the leak first began to spread. A pale figure darting in the corner of one of the screens captured his attention. Jasmine was there, puncturing large holes into the systems main ventilation system. Raz started with surprise and began respiring heavily. He knew that she would cause trouble. All over the Xobae solar system humans were revolting against any alien governance. They could never be trusted.

The sound of a large laser gun whirred behind his head. Raz whipped around and stood face to face with the human herself.

“You’re a traitor and a liar,” Raz said.
“Well, you’re all a bunch of parasites.”

“I knew you couldn’t be trusted. Your species is base and vile,” Raz spat furiously.

“And that’s why we keep fighting back.” Jasmine fired the gun at him and everything went black.

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