1.46 - Troup 491

1.46 - Troup 491

I stare back at the four teenagers looking at me with distrust. No, it’s not distrust, I recognize the look. It’s defiance in the face of authority. That look was plastered on my face when I was their age. To see it glaring back at me some decades later. Martin is over to the side speaking with their parents leaving me with a group of kids I’ve never seen before. Chaperoning a troop of Galactic Groundbreakers was not in the job description. Yet, here I am. I thought I was just going on a camping trip with Martin, this was a set up. I didn’t even know he was a troop leader.

“What are you staring at slot machine,” one of the boys asks.

“Calm down, he doesn’t look like he’s been out camping before. We have to hand it to him for going on this trip,” another adds.

“Just look at him,” the third starts. “I bet he can handle anything single handedly.”

“Alright, chill out. This guy is an amputee,” the first says.

“But on the other hand, this is really fun,” the third adds.

“He looks mad, I guess we’re lucky he’s unarmed,” the second continues.

I’m not mad, I’m actually surprised they were able to string together so many bad jokes in quick succession. Were my brothers and I this terrible as teenagers? No, we couldn’t have been. We would never speak to some random guy like this, we’d wait until he left and say it behind his back. Did that runt call me a slot machine? This is a bad idea, I need to get out of here before this trip actually starts. Martin waves goodbye to the parents and makes his way over to us.

“Hey, Martin, I don’t think I can do this,” I intercept him before he can reach the kids.

“Nonsense, this is going to be my last outing as a troop leader, it’ll be great if you can come with us.”

“No, I really don’t think I can do this.”

“You were a military man, you can do anything. I’m sure you’ve got some knowledge you can pass on to the kids.”

Martin knows exactly what I mean, he’s pretending to be ignorant on purpose. This is his way of saying that I don’t have a choice in the matter. Pauline would have just threatened to bury me with the other hypothetical bodies on the ranch. But Martin finds other ways to force me into going along with his plans.

“Alright boys,” Martin starts and the boy stand up tall, “this is Efrem, he’s going to be joining us on the trip. I want you to give him the same respect you would me,” they don’t know what respect means. “Efrem, this is David, Phillip and Jacob.”

David, the ring leader, a short skinny kid with a devious look, Jacob a giant of a teenager is the second boy and Phillip, the last of the three, middling size but looks like he’s constantly plotting. I can’t stand any of them, and I don’t know what Martin is doing pretending they’re great kids. He has to know what they’re really like.

“Mr. Efrem,” David raises his hand.

“Yeah, David.”

“How did you lose your arm?”

“I was being a jerk to someone I didn’t really know. Turns out he was crazy, cut it right off,” I stare at him in the eyes without blinking. I’ll just make them fear me. “But don’t worry, you should see the other guy.”

“You’re a real jokester,” Martin pats me on the back, I smile and wink at the kids.

For the trip we’re going to be staying on Asase Ya, the second largest moon in Sol, only Ganymede is larger. While it’s a moon, of Nyame, it has two smaller moons, Bea and Tano of its own. While Ganymede has been colonized and has a sustainable population, Asase Ya is simply too wild and beautiful to be tamed. It’s a moon but according to the codex it maintains several different biomes. Martin’s goal is to spend the trip traveling through each of his favorites. I’m not sure what he has planned, but we’re all carrying massive amounts of gear suited for all kinds of wreathing, things we wouldn’t have gotten as soldiers.

The kids spend most of the ride to Asase Ya playing games and looking at various, things that teenagers look at on The Nexus. Things that they probably shouldn’t have access to, but they’ve got no shame. I try to gain some info about our path from Martin, but he’s keeping the whole thing secret. What I do know, is there’s a final destination on the trip and we won’t be leaving from the same station that we arrive on. There’s no map for him to review, and he seems perfectly at ease with the chaotic nature of it all. I start to rapidly search The Nexus for anything I can about the moon. I always tried to have information about where I was going. If you’re knowledgeable about the location you’ll be adventuring into, you don’t have to worry about things going too far off course.

Martin places his hand over my wrist comp, blocking out the holographic information, “you should try to relax some, I’ve been doing this a long time. Put some trust in other people.”

“This is the first time I ever wanted one of the facial implants instead of a wrist comp.”

Martin gives me a big laugh and moves his hand, “you don’t get to be my age by planning for everything. Going along for the ride isn’t bad, just have to know when to hop off.”

“I’m trying to make sure I know when to hop off.”

“You’re a good kid,” Martin glances out the window into space. “Maybe a little unhinged, but a good kid.”

I sigh, and close out of The Nexus. “So, what makes you want to go to Asase Ya for your last trip?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Martin looks at me and smiles.

“I could sense you really wanted to tell,” I chuckle.

“You’re smarter than you look,” he joins me in a laugh.


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