Episode 10: Shape Up or Ship Out

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Mom and I have agreed not to discuss our intentions to leave Tenacity Prime with Dad yet. Neither one of us are sure if it's the right decision. Mom said we should give it another month or two, see if things start to calm down after people move on from Molly's misconduct hearing. With Phoebe's dad currently being investigated for coercion because of Henry's testimony, I don't think people will be moving on any time soon.

Shortly after Molly and Henry left, we received a letter from Ezrah Belafonte on behalf of the station leadership. It said that the hearing had brought some social issues on Tenacity to light, and they do not support any citizens who are treating us differently because of the affair. They are putting together a committee to explore the elitism and corruption problems, and they want Mom and Dad to be a part of it. I think the letter and the committee are a bunch of BS, but they did seem to sway Mom in favor of staying. Ezrah's letter doesn't change the fact that his daughter won't talk to me, because he told her not to.

I'm angry all the time, and my only outlet is TPEF training. Tucker's nickname for me, "psycho boy", has stuck with my classmates since away training. I always push myself until everyone thinks I'm about to break a bone, pass out, or die. I think it's the only reason I haven't been getting in fights at school. Every time I see the Nova deck kids and their smug faces, I feel sick to my stomach that I ever wanted them to like me. Except for Ebony, when I see her I feel a dull ache in my whole body. She smiles at me when nobody's looking.

I'm going to confront them. Everyone who stopped talking to me after the hearing. I've pretty much made up my mind that I'm leaving the station, and even if I don't, I still have nothing to lose. Next lunch period, I'll -

"Ben?" Mom cracks my bedroom door open. "Your Elite Force instructor guy... I forgot his name, Rage? Rrr-"

"Rath? Sargent Rath?" I say.

"Yeah, Rath! He's here and wants to speak to you." Oh no. This is it. I'm getting expelled.

When I enter the living room, Rath is chatting with my dad. He smiles warmly when he sees me, which makes me more worried, because he never smiles like that. When I see him in class, the most I get is a neutral expression and a firm nod.

"Ben, I have to run and meet up with a patrol ship that's having mechanical problems. I know you've been having a rough time lately, so I thought you might like to come along with me, if your parents are okay with it," Sargent Rath says.

I look at my parents. "Well?! Is it okay?"

"Yeah, I think so," Dad says as he looks at Mom. She nods.

"Great, lets go," Sargent Rath says. I grab my shoes and cram my feet into them without untying the laces.

"Oh, and I don't recommend you tell your classmates about this trip, I don't think it'll go over well, if you know what I mean," Sargent Rath says.

"They don't talk to me, anway," I say, and immediately regret it, because now I have three adults giving me pity eyes. "Whatever, I don't care. I'm ready," I say, inching towards the door.

"About how long will it be, Sargent?" Dad asks.

"Oh, a few hours tops. I'll have him home before dinner," Rath says as we head out the door.

When we board Sargent Rath's patrol ship, there is a familiar face in the co-pilot's seat. Officer Nash. Well, there goes my brief moment of happiness.

"Hi, Westley," Nash says, with no hint of sarcasm or disdain. I say 'Hi" back and sit down in the back, in the only passenger's seat. Rath sits in the pilot's chair and immediately starts preparing the ship to leave.

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