Fiera sighed as she settled in one of the seats of the transport shuttle. As she leaned back, she heard a little cough at her elbow. A well dressed woman that practically screamed central worlds was staring at her. “Excuse me, dear, but I think you’re in the wrong seat.”
Fiera glanced at the seat number. “I’m right where my father paid for me to be,” Fiera said. “So no, I’m not moving.”
The woman’s pleasant smile faded. “I am not spending my trip sitting next to a piece of colonial trash,” she snapped. She turned to one of the staff. “Move this girl out of my seat immediately.”
“Young lady, do you have your boarding ID?” the attendant asked.
“Yeah, and if you want me to move you can take it up with my father,” Fiera said.
“And who is your father?” the attendant asked.
“Eire Rezouac,” Fiera said.
The attendant blanched. She scanned Fiera’s boarding ID. “I’m sorry, ma’am. But Ms. Rezouac is quite correct in this is the seat that she paid for. We will not be asking her to move. If you wish to move, we can find you a seat back in third class.”
“I demand a new first class seat,” the woman said.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. But first class is full,” the attendant said. “You can either take the seat you were assigned by the port authority or you can move back to third class.”
“I can’t believe this,” the woman said. Her voice was getting louder. “You’re telling me that I’m going to have to spend the entire trip to Ismillon next to some unlettered colony brat?”
“Oh, you’re only going to Ismillon? Then I don’t mind if you sit next to me. I’m heading to Sioayama,” Fiera said.
“To take work on one of the indent gangs no doubt,” the woman said.
“Actually I’m starting at the university,” Fiera said. “Biogenetics and Intergalactic Studies.”
The woman actually started sputtering. Fiera smiled sweetly up at her. “I insist that I be moved to another seat in first class,” she said finally. “Make someone else sit next to this person.”
“I’ll gladly switch with you,” a young man said. “You can have my seat.”
“Thank you,” the woman said.
The young man slipped in next to Fiera. “He got to you, didn’t he, Fury?”
Fiera laughed. “Hey Tan. Yeah, dad got to me. He’s getting his way, as usual. I’m off to university.” She made a face. “I’m going to study, get my degrees, and get out. I am not lingering in the core worlds for any longer than I have to.”
“Wish I could say I was going with you,” her friend said. “I’m off to Aglyyria to work at the shipyards.”
“Jontan, that’s not a safe place to be,” Fiera said.
“Don’t worry about me, Fury. I’d be worried about all of the socially elite you’re going to have to deal with on Sioayama,” Jontan said. “How are you going to deal with their stupidity for six years?”
“Seven,” Fiera said. “I’ve got an extra year because of the fact my courses of study don’t share that many similar classes.”
“Did your father pick your study track too?” Jontan asked.
“No,” Fiera said. “I picked my own.”
“Where are you going to live?” Jontan asked.
“Father’s made arrangements with some contact he’s got. I’ve got a house to myself, though he says he hopes I’ll eventually invite some ‘nice friends’ to live with me,” Fiera said. “I’m a little worried about how big the place is.”
“I’m more worried that he thinks you’re going to find friends among the genetic wastes on Sioayama,” Jontan said.
“I can’t be the only colonial at the university. I’m sure I’ll find someone I can share living space with,” Fiera said.
“You’ll probably fill your house with people you have to protect,” Jontan said. “That’s how you usually do it. That’s how you made friends in school after all.”
“Dad says if I get kicked out for fighting he’ll understand, but I’m supposed to refrain from starting anything if at all possible,” Fiera said.
“Fury? Not start a fight? That’ll happen,” Jontan said, snorting.
“Hey, I don’t start fights. I finish them,” Fiera said.
“Yeah, right,” Jontan said. “Remember who you’re talking to.”
“The annoying brat who used to follow me around,” Fiera said. “Who am I supposed to be talking to?”
“Come on, Fury. Seriously, how are you going to get through seven years without getting kicked out for fighting?” Jontan asked.
“I have no idea, Tan,” Fiera said. “It’s not like I fight all the time.” She paused. “No, really, I do fight all the time. I know it. This is going to be a test of my self control, that’s for sure.”
“I predict you’ll make it a year, maybe two, before you get blasted home,” Jontan said.
“I predict you’re going to get your ass handed to you on Aglyyria because of the work gangs,” Fiera said. “We’ll see who’s right when we both go home.”
“You’re on,” Jontan said. “The only problem I have is if I don’t make it on Aglyyria, I don’t have a dad to give me a place to work or a farm to return home to.”
“If you don’t make it on Aglyyria, go see my dad,” Fiera said. “He and mom are always looking for extra farmhands, and he does teach mechanics at that school of his. You might be able to help out there too.”
“I’ll talk to him if I go home,” Jontan said. A loud and annoying sound cut across their conversation, effectively ending it. The two of them fastened their harnesses. The ship’s engines roared to life and the ship shuddered as it lifted off.
The trip to Sioayama was a long one. Fiera spent the time studying or sleeping. She chafed at the enforced idleness and whenever they stopped over for any length of time she got out and stretched. Six weeks after getting on the transport, Fiera walked off of it for the final time.
The main city on Sioayama was simply called Sio by its residents. The colonists had other names for it, and most of them weren’t complimentary. The sprawling mega metropolis offended the sensibilities of those who preferred life on the wilder planets. Most of the colonies were agrarian with very little of the intense tech that the core worlds had. Simple lives and basic living were the rule rather than the exception in the colonies, a fact that the core worlds didn’t appreciate.
Fiera shouldered her bags and walked out towards the doors. “Excuse me, miss, but if you came in from that shuttle you have to go through decontamination before you’re allowed to enter the city,” a man in the uniform of the Port Authority said, stopping her.
“Why is that?” Fiera asked.
“It’s not known what kind of viruses or bacteria comes in from the colonies,” the man said. “You have to go through decon to protect the residents of the city. Can you imagine what would happen if a disease from one of the colony worlds broke out in the city?”
“Colonials tend to be a healthier bunch than core worlders,” Fiera said. “But if it’s a requirement I’ll do it.”
“Your things will have to go through their own decontamination. If any of them are found to be contaminated by anything, they will be destroyed and you will be responsible for replacing them yourself,” the agent continued, guiding Fiera towards a series of booths.
“What? You destroy my things and I have to pay for them? Isn’t that something the Port Authority should pay for?” Fiera asked.
“It’s a risk you take visiting the colony worlds,” the agent said.
“I wasn’t visiting the colony worlds,” Fiera said. “I’m from a colony world. Born and raised there.”
“Then you most definitely have to go through decon,” the agent said. He took her bags from her and shoved her towards a booth. “Step inside and hold still. The process will only take a few minutes.”
Fiera did as she was told. As soon as she stepped in, the booth closed and locked behind her. Rings of light repeatedly filtered over her until her whole body tingled as if she’d been out in the light of the twin stars of her homeworld too much. Finally the door unlocked and Fiera was able to step out.
The agent handed her a small bag. “Where are my things?” Fiera asked.
“Your credit chip and your pad are in the bag,” the agent said. “The rest of your belongings were full of hazardous biological material and had to be destroyed.”
“‘Hazardous biological material’ my ass,” Fiera said. “There was nothing wrong with my clothes and personal effects. You destroyed them because I said I was from the colonies.”
“Be glad we didn’t destroy what you’re wearing as well. Now please leave. There are shops in town where you may purchase new clothing, things far more suited to life in the core worlds,” the agent said. He roughly pushed her away and turned to the next person, who seemed eager to go into the decon booth.
Fiera muttered curse words under her breath as she stalked out of the terminal and into the city. She coughed a little at the ever present miasma that came with the industrialized worlds. She hailed a auto cab and climbed in. A computerized voice asked her what her destination was. Fiera rattled off the address her father had given her. The cab eased itself into traffic and headed deeper into the city.