Probably graduated from an Earth academy. I've been on this lifeless surface too long to be phased by the lackluster heating system.
I walked by the local Academy bookstore and picked up a newspaper on my way to the mess hall. This institute was a cooperative, meaning it had both males and females. Good news for me, although I'm sure Mira had this planned out months in advance.
This is my last chance. If Mira isn't pleased with the results, I lose everything. Excellent.
Mira gave me the instructions for this mission, basically the problem here is that this Academy was built next to an underground supply-line for a Russian colony, and we have no intelligence on what's going on there. It's my job to protect the students when they go out for field training, and if possible, gain intelligence on the near-by Russian escorts. If I manage to get my hands on something giving us a clue towards what the Russians are up to, Mira will probably give me whatever I want, like a flight back home. I'm tired of being her "special assistant." This training is ridiculous, and she's becoming more psycho with each passing day. She promised me that if I took her "training," I could get out years before anyone else once the draft popped up.
What a joke, I'm in this war till the very last second. She knew that.
I folded open the newspaper. The Psy-Marshal was going to pass a new law making it illegal to work on my psychic projects outside of the government's jurisdiction. That's laughable, the vast majority of researchers would rather quit and work at a tran station than put on a collar and be led around by the government's leash. Are these the people I answer to?
I wasn't terribly hungry, so I just sat on a bench near the end of the dining hall. Passers-by gave me awkward glances, I didn't quite fit the profile of a level one, or a prospective scholar. My psyman uniform didn't help either. I looked younger than the youngest students in the hall, but my chest was littered with honors and metals from the work I did with Mira. The psy-ensign emblem seemed to glow as the florescent lights refracted off of it's golden embroidery. I try not to let it get to me. There's still a good hour before the next field training lesson started, and my first assignment began. They would all get to know me soon enough, but for now I'd rather stay an outsider.
I tried to read the newspaper across, but soon realized my peripheral vision was gone. I didn't realized my helmet was still on, which was also probably for the best. For all they knew, I was a grown adult, working for psy-command. I guess that's a relief.
"Good morning . . . officer." A student quietly spoke from behind me. She seemed to hesitate halfway through, but the voice was reminiscent.
I guess everyone needs company, even me.
"Good evening," I responded.
"Evening? It's only 0900," then she stopped herself. "With all due respect, sir." she added, hoping I wasn't offended by her correction.
"It's always evening on this side of the moon."
Her group of friends came to pull her off to another table, but the crazy girl took another step forward.
"Am I taking up your spot?" I asked.
"It's perfectly fine, we don't mind." Her voice was like a song bird's; it was as if a classical film character, out of place and out of time, was here in front of me trying to make small talk.
"So, are you reading about the new law banning research? What does an officer like yourself think about it?" She asked me, nodding at the my paper.
"The psy-marshal is a fool. If progression is outlawed, only outlaws will progress. He's like a child in a sandbox, trying to manipulate everyone into helping only him, and forcing them all away in the process." The girls' response was to gather and sit at the long gray table, as if I had passed their 'Is he a patriotic asshole?' test. Suddenly their hesitation made sense. I decided to return the courtesy by lowering my newspaper.
My eyes opened wide, a knot was strung tight in my throat. It was Lena, Jessica, Stephanie, and three other girls. Don't get me wrong, I'm just fine not being an outsider, but this is a little far. I decided to play dumb, I'm not sure why. Probably for the same reason anyone plays dumb, to give them the upper hand, or maybe I was putting up walls around myself because I've grown too use to solitude?
"Hi. I'm here to provide security on field missions."
Do they recognize my voice? It's been so long.
"What's your name?" Jessica asked.
Should I? What would they do if I told them? They probably despise me after all these years. After I've become the lapdog of the Psy-Marshal's lapdog. But, at the same time, more than anything, they deserve to know.
The knot was still hard in my throat, my heart was racing and all my mouth couldn't move. I stared Lena straight in the eyes under my visor, and let out the word that would lead to my demise, "Pink."
I guess my last thought was right. I am putting up walls, but it's not because I want isolation. I guess sometimes people put up walls because they actually want someone to tear them down. Well, that's no way to treat friends. The walls are down, I just hope the people outside them still care enough to drop in.
The table fell silent. I might have said it too quietly. Maybe they didn't hear? Or maybe they were struck with shock and disbelief. They might have . . .
Without warning, high pitched jubilee echoed through the mess hall.
Is that dramatic effect? So that's how that feels.
I decided this was the best time to take of my helmet. Eyes opened wide.
My black hair was a bit longer now. I could feel the tired look in my face become more apparent as they're eyes stared at my blank, cold expression. I noticed Lena's eyes tearing up long before they actually did. I bent my cheeks and curled my face until it looked the closest I could get to a smile, but the reflection off my helmet showed only my tired, droopy eyes, and the face of a man who did not belong.
"It's been three years." Jessica said softly, her smile fading.
I wanted to reassure and comfort Lena, but I couldn't. It wasn't meant to be. She realized that, and so did I. For a second, my mind went blank. A tiny spark hit the bottom-most piece of my conscious thought.
Either it's a spider on the small of my neck, or someone's going too far past my broken down walls. Maybe I forgot to tell them that when I said the walls were coming down I was talking about the emotional ones, not the extrasensory ones. Please, whoever you are, leave. Get out of my mind.
Immediately the sensation left. I could've easily found out who was trying to probe my thoughts, but I already had a plethra of good guesses. I got up and walked away, I wasn't that hungry away.
"Sorry guys, I have work to do. We'll catch up later."
I walked away slowly, I wanted someone to yell out, to call to me. I wanted someone else to give me a reason I should stay, but no one did. They sat and stared quietly as the dining hall bustled with life and conversation.
That was a lie, I didn't have any work to do. Not for awhile anyway. So much for a happy reunion. So much for taking down my walls.
It hurts, thinking about Lena. We could've been something, but her boyfriend came back to her. She chose him over me. We've never talked since. We had a relationship, I made mistakes and so did she, but none of that matters anymore.
All that matters is getting this job done.
It was a rather warm day on the moon. The solar winds were in full bloom this sun cycle. Not a cloud in sight. A perfect day for a picnic, or flying a kite, or field training. Naturally, I elected for the last choice. The students and I made out way out into the beautiful lunar atmosphere, or lack thereof, and it actually looked like this was going to be an easy job.
I guess this is Mira's way of rewarding me for three years of excellent service.
That thought lasted almost at long as the first volley of Russian mental blocks as the lunar base was raided by surprise.