Story: Artificially intelligent (chapter 1)

Authors: UFF139823HE

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Chapter 1

Title: With friends like these, who needs enemies

I open my eyes slowly, feeling them slowly dragging the rest of my body back to the land of the awake from the sleeping.
I screw my eyes up as a bright light shines into them, a bright light that seems to burn my eyes right to the very core and I writhe slightly, pulling the blankets over my face.
"Go away girls... it's my passing out parade" I groan groggily, my own voice grating in my enhanced ears "Let me sleep..." I growl, pulling my blanket over my head.
The sudden blast of an air horn and the thump of a pillow against my quilt shoves me into consciousness with the force of a moving train and the rest of my sleepiness deserts me as I leap out of bed, determined to find the culprit who destroyed my lie in, despite my explicit instructions that I was to be left in peace...
The other officer cadets are sat on thier bunks, their dark eyes all alight with mirth as I look around them.

All Sorns...
All my roomates look so alike, I have difficulty telling them apart.
They're all tall, skinny white skinned beings with long slender arms and legs and deep, dark, almond shaped eyes and thin lipped mouths.
Then I see the culprit.
My best mate Sari-ey standing by my bed with an air horn in one hand and a bucket full of water in the other...
I can only tell it's Annie because I've known her for a very very long time, and she's already fully dressed in her class one uniform.
She grins and suddenly I realize where that bucket of water is going.I raise my hands to try and stop her, but then she flings the whole contents of the bucket in my face.
I feel the icy cold of the water suddenly bite into me and I yell out as my body's temperature suddenly drops as I'm soaked in water, then everything goes black.

I open my eyes suddenly, static slightly coursing across them, feeling slightly lightheaded, I shake my head to clear it and the water leaves my system.
My breathing returns to normal and I look down.
I'm dressed in the Navy's usual sleep wear, a black and white stripy long sleeved formfitting shirt and a pair of boxer shorts, but the shirt has been rendered nearly seethrough.
Of course, I have to take it off, and change my bedding, which has also been totally soaked.

Then I look up at my friends
They're suddenly dressed in their class One uniforms as well, which is odd... they must have changed while I was getting wet, and they’re in a state of abject panic
"Is she alright?"
"I don't know, fuck, get a doctor, quickly!"
“The Boss will have our guts for garters if she’s dead”
“Shut up, just get a doctor will you?”
“I’m going I’m going” another voice says from out the barrack room door.

"I'm fine!" I say quickly, to head off any incipient running for a doctor "what happened?" I ask, and Sari-ey answers
"I hit you with the bucket of water and your head just dropped, as if someone had turned off a switch... you've been like that for half an hour"
I narrow my eyes
"Take Note guys, I am sort of part computer" I say and they look at thier feet nervously
I don't like affirming my status this way, but sometimes I have no choice and the girls nod quietly.
"Do me a favour" I say, getting weakly to my feet, feeling my legs shudder slightly
"I'll go get dressed, you do my bed for me" I say, leaning on the wall, kicking my footlocker to open it, and I pull out my Class Ones.

I slowly make my way towards the barrack showers.
I turn to look around at the room.
It's quite a large hall, with twenty beds, ten on either side, next to each bed is a large footlocker and a small beside cabinet, all made out of the same pressed sheet metal, the walls are a dull cream plaster colour and the floors are a dark blue plasticky lino sort of material.
Human barracks I think disparagingly, turning and slowly making my way to the showers.
After five torturous mintutes of walking through the corridoor, I manage to make it to the shower block and I strip off to change into my Class Ones.

I look at my body in the mirror as I change.
I'm very tall and skinny like most Sorns are, with the characteristic white skin and long thin limbs, fingers and toes, but that's where the similarities end.

When I did some time with the CGA, they did whatever the hell they liked to my body without much thought for what I felt about it.
As a result, I'm probably the only Sorn to have blood red hair and eyes.
It looks faintly... creepy, almost like a human in how they all look different, with thier different coloured skin and hair
I shudder at the thought...

I change easily into my Class Ones, simple white blouse shirt and tie and black uniform jacket, boots and trousers, all of which have been cleaned and pressed and polished until the shoes shine, the belt buckle gleams and the creases are so sharp you could shave with them.

I then draw my hair back in a bun and pull the standard issue peaked hat on, a simple black cap with gold braid around the band
I look at myself in the mirror and smile briefly, feeling a surge of pride rush through me.
After all this time, I'm finally here, it's been a long hard struggle to get this far, but I made it...

 Breakfast is a subdued affair, all the Sorn officer candidates at this academy eat breakfast together, and whilst normally it's a riot of chatter and colour, with Sorns in combats and dress uniforms and fatigues depending on what they're doing mix, today, the only sound is the clattering of knives on plates and the only uniform colour is black.
The tension is so thick in the air you can practically taste it.

The next few minutes are a blur in my mind, we're marshalled out of the dining hall having eaten breakfast at arms length to avoid getting crap on our uniforms, and then we're given gloves and a final speech by our instructors, about how proud they are that we made it this far, how well they think we've done and how we're the pride of the Navy, etcetera.
I know I should make an effort to remember this, that's what happens in movies and it's a momentous occasion and all that.
But we're all too wrapped up in nerves to remember much.

The next bit however, I remember with crystal clarity.
We form up in fours as always, and then we march out onto the parade square.
I've been made right marker, which means I'm the person on the front right of the file, the one everyone keeps time off.
It's a hard job, and it's only given to the most experienced cadet.
I'm glad it's been given to me.
We march out onto the square, the steady stamp stamp stamp of our boots on the tarmac the only sound, the steady swinging of our arms and the marching of our legs in perfect time the only movement as we march.

Of course, there are people watching us.
The families of all the officer candidates are gathered here today to watch this ceremony and although none of us show it, we hope they notice us.
I know mine are here today, they must be.

We march forward, following a banner around the square, then we come at last to the post.
Here, the admiral will give us a speech and take our salute.
And as we right turn into position, I see him.

My dad, admiral Kor-Syl standing at the podium, surveying the massed ranks of Officers, Seamen and Marines gathered before him.
The speech is brief and to the point.
"Good morning Gentlemen"
"Congratulations on having passed basic training" he continues "I am proud of each and every one of you... you are like the Sword, that must pass through the hottest fire to become the hardest steel, you have passed the hardest training the galaxy has ever known, be you Officer, Seaman or Marine, I want you all to know, however, before you feel too pleased with yourselves that the hardest labour of your lives is about to begin... that is all!" he snaps and we chorus the line we've been taught
"Dismissed" he snaps

And with that, we turn and we're marched out.
And with that, my career as an officer in the Sorn navy begins.
I'm proud but more than a little afraid of what comes next
I do not show my fear as I hug my colleagues, whooping with joy once we've left the parade ground, since that is not what is done.
Instead I merely celebrate with them, allow my feelings of joy and elation to overtake me...
But fear is still there.

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