Fluidity In Space: Chapter Four

At first I was upset at Doctor Coleman when he told me that I should take a break. I needed to be strong. I needed to continue on despite the harassment against me. But, as I looked at my hands, I realized I had not stopped shaking since it happened. I couldn’t get the image of so many people coming towards me, wanting to do me harm. It boggled my mind so many people would hurt me simply for being a child of a splicer, who adopted a genetic trait that I had no control over. Begrudgingly, I had to admit that I was in no condition to help anyone if I didn’t attend to myself first. Edward Coleman was more than capable of dealing with the mental health of the people on this ship. After all, he managed to convince me to help myself.

I was planning to go back to my living quarters to relax, but I decided to head down to Main Street instead. It’s been a long time since I’ve allowed myself some time to just window shop. This area was designed to be a replication of the main streets that were once common in the smaller towns on Earth. It was originally designed to give the original crew a comfortable sense of feeling like they were at home. Now, centuries later, it serves as a living memorial to the planet that we left behind. But, most importantly, it’s just fun to go down there and browse. There are so many little shops that offer pretty much anything you could imagine.

When I got there I was greeted by the fresh smells coming from the hydroponic garden. I’ll definitely have to pick up some fruits and vegetables while I’m down here. There is so much you can do with fresh tomatoes. I love trying out recipes from the archives. The Earth was such a large place, with so many different cultures. It would take forever to try every recipe we had stored in the ship computer’s storage system. However, it’s definitely fun trying to do it.

Many of the recipes call for meat, though. No animals were brought on-board when the ship left the Earth’s orbit, as they felt that they would make the ship unsustainable. They were almost certainly correct, but I can’t help but wonder what actual meat was like. We have substitutes, which are quite tasty. Of course, with no reference to go by, I have no way of knowing how close they are to the real thing. Earth was so abundant in meat that they served it quickly in places called “fast food restaurants”. I wondered just how fast these restaurants really were, and what a beef burger with cheese would actually taste like. We have substitutes made from seasoned vegetables and fungi, but I can’t imagine that plants actually taste much like animal meat, no matter how they are seasoned.

I laughed inwardly as I caught myself drifting off into some odd thoughts. I always do that when I come down here. Edward was right. I needed a break. This is the best way to get my mind off of things. I walked into the grocer and grabbed some tomatoes, oregano, onions, garlic, salt, flour, and yeast. I also went into the cooler and grabbed some cheese, or at least our approximation of it. I had always wanted to try a pizza, and I had been pleased to find a relatively easy to follow recipe in my last journey into the Earth archives. I paid the clerk with my work credits, and he bagged my purchases. It always amused me that we kept up this tradition, when our orders could just as easily be ordered from and sent up to our quarters. However, I knew that tradition was important, to help keep us grounded.

I walked down the sidewalk and saw the many shops with handmade items. The people who didn’t work on the ship’s crew usually worked down here on Main Street, and they often made such wonderful things. I really admired the craftsmanship that went into the items that were for sale here. That’s one of the reasons why I went into training as a mental health officer. Well, actually, the main reason was that I genuinely liked to help people. The second reason was that I wasn’t good at crafting anything. In school, my clay pots always came out looking like the pictures in the database of the ashtrays that were once common on Earth. I would not make any money making things like that. Since the original crew didn’t include any plants that could be rolled up and smoked, an ashtray would be completely useless to anyone aboard this ship.

I continued to walk down Main Street, and saw the shop that sold electronics. I walked inside, to see what kind of augmented reality programs were available that I could use to relax later that night. I then noticed a table that displayed many different breeds of robot dogs and cats. My mind started to drift off towards Earth again, wondering what it would be like to have an actual animal as a pet and companion. I spent a lot of time in my youth reading the newspapers from the Earth archives, and remembered reading an article that claimed having a pet to cuddle greatly reduced your stress levels. I could definitely use a cuddly pet right about now.

I began to think that there might be something to that study, since I was feeling more relaxed just thinking about it. I began to think that the day might just turn itself around, when my thoughts soon came crashing down to reality. A spine-chilling scream came from the end of Main Street, near the fountain in the middle of Market Square.

I knew I should just let security handle it, since I was here to relax. However, I couldn’t do it, as it is just not in my nature to leave the helping of people to others. If someone was in need of assistance, I have always been the first one there to help as best I could. Once I got there, though, I’m sure the attacker wished that I had ignored my instincts. The mother of one of the men who tried to attack me, Carla Jackson, was kneeling on top of my mother, pounding her so hard that my mother’s blood was dripping from her fists.

One security officer was trying to pull Carla off my mother, while two others were just standing there watching. At that point, I think Carla said something, but I can’t be sure, since the blood in my body rose straight up into my head. Before I knew it, all sense of reality was out the window, and I jumped at Carla. I was now on top of her, doing exactly what she had done to my mother, only trying my hardest to do it twice as hard.

I had just begun to beat her when I felt two arms circle around me. I struggled at first, then looked up, to see the captain herself. “Don’t worry Maria, the medical team is here. Your mother will be OK. I’ll make sure she gets the best care possible.” At that, Carla just laughed, and I became enraged, even more than before. Luckily, the security personnel had both of us in restraints at that point.

“She got what she deserves. The real question is: what about me? Did you see what that freak did to me? Did you hear that inhuman hiss it let out when it pounced at me? We’re not safe with freaks like that on board.”

I couldn’t listen to any more of the acid coming out of her mouth. “What about my mother? She didn’t do anything to you, but you beat her anyway. You’re conscious and talking. My mother isn’t so lucky.”

The witch just laughed again. “All of you freaks should be put down. It’s only a matter of time before your animal instincts kick in and you reveal yourselves to be the monsters you really are.”

I stared coldly at her, completely surprised at not just her lack of compassion, but at her complete lack of reality. “The only monster I see here is you.”

The captain put her arm around my shoulder and addressed the security officer. “I’ll take her down to the holding cell myself.” The guard looked surprised, but answered “Yes, captain.”

When we got to the elevator, the captain turned toward me with a sad look on her face. “I’m sorry that I have to detain you at all, as I know without a doubt that I would have done exactly what you did in your position. You’ll only be there overnight, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to place you off duty for a while. Not because of your actions today, but for all of the stress you’ve been under because of this nonsense. Doctor Coleman will take over your duties, and I’m afraid you’ll be under his care for awhile.”

I just nodded. All of my energy had been completely drained from my body. I looked over at the captain, and sighed. “Did I really hiss at her?” The captain looked surprised at the question, then frowned. “I’m afraid you did.”

I furrowed my brows in thought. “Maybe we really are part animal. No one knows the full side effects of the gene splicing. Maybe we can’t be trusted to keep our emotions in check when we’re in the middle of a dangerous situation.”

The captain surprised me, and actually pulled me into a hug. “You have more human compassion than most of the people on this ship. You just did what anyone would do to protect their mother, myself included.”

I actually smiled, in spite of everything that had just happened. In all the time I had known her, I had never seen the captain allow herself to show her human side while she was on duty.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Three

The junior staff was discussing the situation as I walked in. “But this hallway was completely empty. There’s no way everyone was locked up.” It looks like I got here just in time, as Ms. Rahman’s comment was exactly what I was expecting. I was glad that the situation didn’t get a chance to escalate among the junior staff, so I can set matters straight without resistance.

Mr. Jackson’s reply, however, was what I had feared most. “My brother said he was going to teach that splicer baby a lesson. I’m sure the captain locked everyone up. He’s always sticking up for that freak.” Today was a feminine day for me, but I wasn’t going to correct the pronoun usage. Besides, none of the junior staff had seen me yet today. However, I definitely had to do something before this got out of hand too. Luckily I got here before another brawl broke out. “There will be no talk like that, Junior Liutenant Jackson. She’s part of this crew, and she deserves your respect. She earned her position just like everyone else here.”

Mr. Jackson’s pale skin seemed to immediately turn two shades of red. It’s clear that he had no idea that I had entered the room. “I’m sorry ma’am. We were just getting nervous since all of the senior staff are gone. It was a slip of the tongue due to anxiety. It won’t happen again.” It was clear that his words went deeper than mere anxiety, but now is not the time to press the matter. I had a situation to try to get under control, and although the lieutentant’s comment was a part of it, I had already made it clear that derogatory remarks would not be permissable.

I found myself thinking about Counselor Corben, and wondering what could be done about the situation. It was sad that so much of the crew seemed against her, for something that she couldn’t help. I had at first thought that we were kindred spirits in that regard, and maybe we would have been centuries ago. However, the pure vitriol lobbied at her was something that I had only seen in the history recordings. I had suffered verbal scorn, but a good portion of the crew was ready to bear physical harm against her, and had fought their own peers in trying to do so. I just hoped that she had more supporters on this ship than detractors. I realized that I had lost myself in thought, and regained my composure.

I then addressed the entire junior staff on the senior staff wing. “Junior Lieutenant Rahman is correct that the senior staff is currently in the brig. And despite the language he used, Junior Lieutenant Jackson is correct as well. The senior staff were engaged in a brawl when I arrived, and it did indeed stem from negativity towards Counselor Corben. I haven’t yet assessed the situation fully, but for now I ask that you all be prepared to serve as senior officers until further notice. Because I’m asking you all to do so with no advance notice, if anyone can’t do so, I’ll make concessions, within reason. But, please understand the circumstances that led to this decision. It was done to protect the safety of this ship, and won’t remain permanent. You will all receive the benefits of the senior staff during this period, and will be up for consideration for promotion once this is over, pending your performance. I thank you all during this tough time for your understanding and for your service.”

I was about to head up to the bridge, but I decided that it was best to make it clear to the entire crew that discrimination would not be tolerated. “It goes without saying, but I must make it clear. There will be absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind. You are all here to ensure the safety of the rest of this ship, civilian and crew members alike. I expect that you all remember that in your actions, as well as your words.”

Mr. Jackson and Ms. Rahman both immediately replied “Yes captain”, followed by the rest of the junior staff. Satisfied that the situation here was under control, I gave the command to the lift to bring me up to the bridge. This was the most important part of my attempt to normalize the situation. I knew that the crew members that I had assigned to the bridge could handle running the ship, but the abruptness of the situation has complicated things. I had to make sure that the command deck was secure, and bring the bridge crew up to speed on the situation as well.

The elevator reached the front of the ship, and I stepped onto the command deck. The junior officers here were rigid and seemed nervous, and their senses seemed heightened. The most senior among them, Lieutenant Mario Rodriguez, spoke up as soon as I entered. “Captain on bridge.” Everyone stood to attention, but still looked anxious. I decided to get through with the official briefing first, and then I’d do my best to try to ease tensions a bit.

“At ease. You were all brought up here because there was a brawl on the senior staff wing, and all senior staff has been temporarily detained in the brig until the situation can be properly assessed. It has come to my attention that some of the crew feels strongly about Counselor Corden’s new position. As I said to the other members of the junior crew, discrimination will not be tolerated at all. You are now bridge crew, and are the people that are looked up to the most to keep peace on this ship. I expect your decorum to meet those expected standards.”

I looked around, noticed that the crew still seemed troubled, and continued “That said, I know that your promotions were sudden. You will be expected to keep these positions for some time, until the situation can be properly assessed and dealt with. Due to the fact that there was no advance notice, I will not be against anyone who has a reasonable objection towards working on their new post. However, know that your assistance at this time will be most appreciated, and you will receive all the benefits of the senior bridge crew during this period. You will also be first in line for promotions, pending your performance.”

I eased a bit, and continued, “I know this is a tough time for everyone.” I then waved my finger to turn off the data recorder. “Off the record, how is everyone doing?” Mr. Rodriguez, still in the rigid stance of an officer stated, “We’re fine, ma’am.” I smiled at him, and continued. “Relax, Lieutenant. I know that my post as captain is new, and this situation is hard. But you don’t have to be so tense around me.” He visibly relaxed, and his dark brown eyes seemed to sparkle a bit. “Thanks, ma’am. I don’t speak for everyone, but I know that you’ll handle things well. I just hope that this situation won’t last long.” I gave him a half smile, with a little involuntary nervousness apparent on my face as well. “I hope the same thing, Mr. Rodriguez”.

I knew that I had to head down to the brig, but, even though I wanted to find out the particulars of the situation, the thought of doing so emotionally drained me. I tried my best not to repeat my display of anxiety, and addressed the bridge one final time before I headed to the bottom of the ship. “You all seem to be handling everything well up here. If there are no questions, I have to be heading to the detention cells.” I actually hoped that there would be some questions, to delay the inevitable. However, just as I had thought, the junior bridge crew were quite capable of running things in the stead of their senior brethren.

I waved my finger again to turn the data recorder back on, and straightened myself up. “OK crew, I now leave the bridge in your capable hands. If there are any further problems, don’t hesitate to contact me.” At that point, I, somewhat reluctantly, entered the elevator. “Lift, to the detention cells.” I had to face the inevitable, as even though I wanted to see how Counselor Corben was doing, I knew that I had to face the senior staff first. I was now about to find out exactly what happened during that brawl. I was most curious as to why the bridge was left abandoned, as that is a situation that I couldn’t fathom occurring before this week.

Just as the lift was approaching the brig, my aural sensor went off. I held my finger to my temple to initiate the video link. It seems that my trip would be postponed after all, but not in the way I had hoped, as Tiffany Accado was on the line. “Captain. Your presence is needed at Caperstone’s Bakery. It’s an emergency. Another fight has broken out. Emily Caperstone is being attacked.” I responded immediately, “I’m at level one now. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Don’t intervene. Keep safe until I arrive.”

“Cancel the lift to the brig.” I called down to security and ordered, “Security personel to level 4, Main Street. There is a fight in progress at Caperstone’s Bakery. I then ordered the lift to proceed to level 4 as well. Two fights in one night. I really wish that my mother was here, so I could seek her advice. Although, I’m not sure how much help she could give me, as this is beyond even what she had to deal with.

It seems that the problem went beyond the crew. I just hoped that it didn’t seep too far into the population. I silently cursed the people who had instituted the segregation. Although they meant well, it just made the hatred part of the system. If history has taught us anything, systematic prejudice is a lot harder to fight.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter Two

As the group decended towards the counselor, I practically ran into the hallway. I lept into action, and stood defiantly in front of the counselor. My declaration of “crew, get back to your stations immediately” was met with comments about how my “kind” were just as bad as the “splicer-babies”. The situation was much worse than I had first thought, and at the rate it was escalating, I was sure it would quickly get completely out of hand. Thinking fast, I ordered “Counselor, follow me to the command station.” As the arguments began about why I would be taking “one of them” up to the command deck, I let out a sigh of relief as my plan had worked. They were more concerned about my announcement than in our actions.

As soon as the counselor and I got into the lift, I gave a command to the computer to emergency close the elevator door and proceed to the command deck. In a swift motion, we were now safe from our would-be attackers. It’s disturbing that these people were our colleagues, and, we thought, our friends. As we arrived at the command deck, I was in for another surprise. As we walked towards the front of the deck, it became clear that the entire command station was completely empty. No one was here to guide the ship, as everyone had left their post to join in the riot downstairs. It was clear that this was no longer merely a situation of disrespect for my position, it was tantamount to downright mutiny.

I quickly ordered the computer to set the systems to high alert, and to lock all doors on the senior staff wing of the upper deck. Then I called down to the holding cells. “All security personnel report to the senior staff wing. All of the officers in that area are to be taken to the holding cells for inciting a brawl.” I had debated adding the word “mutiny” to the end my order, but thought better of it. It’s better not to use heated language, as that could make the situation worse. As the counselor and I reached the central command station on the bridge, I called down to the rear of the upper deck. I knew that it was necessary to contact the junior staff, as we still had a ship that needed to be properly looked after. I ordered the highest ranking among the junior officers to report to the command deck. The rest would likely be relocated to the senior staff section, as soon as things calm down, and I had the time to properly assess the situation.

I looked over at Maria, who looked like she had been hit by a bus. “How are you doing, Counselor?”, I asked. “You don’t have to report back to work. Head back to your quarters. Doctor Coleman will be able to take over for you.” She looked at me, and seemed to calm down a bit. “I could say the same for you. You’ve been through the same thing, and you look just as stressed as I’m sure I look right now.”

I sighed and shrugged my shoulders. “I really wish I could, but that’s not an option right now. My authority has been challenged, and I really have to let the rest of the crew know that everything is to continue as usual.” She looked me straight in the eye and responded, “There’s nothing usual about this. It’s been over a century since this kind of behavior has occurred on this ship, at least violence on this level. No one on the ship today has ever experienced this kind of behavior.”

“I know, and that’s exactly why I have to continue to assert my authority. Things could easily escalate from here, and that’s the last thing that anyone needs. It’s hard enough living in the same cramped conditions for your entire life. I have to try to calm the situation down. It’s not like we can go to port for a holiday.”

“I know, and that’s why I should stay on duty too. If we want to show that it’s business as usual, we have to conduct our business as usual. I can handle it, Captain.” I looked her in the eyes, which were now burning with a conviction that I haven’t seen since she was going through the process to get her doctorate. “I know you can, Counselor. There was never even any doubt about that.” I sighed, involuntarily, and continued, “all right, we both need to report to our stations, then. If anything happens, be sure to contact me immediately.”

“I will, Captain. Thank you.” And with that, she headed back down to the medical bay, and I headed down to the senior officer’s wing to make sure that everything had been handled, and that the junior officers were settling in alright in their new positions. I also hoped tensions weren’t rising. After I dealt with that, I knew I had to head down to the cells, and confront the senior staff. I didn’t look forward to that meeting at all. So much for the uneventful start to my captainship.

As I was walking down to the senior officer’s wing, Tiffany Accado, the principal for the secondary school, confronted me. She was an elderly woman, with piercing blue eyes. Her skin was pale, and unusually smooth for her age. However, it’s quite apparent that she’s been quite worried lately, as she had more visible wrinkles than usual, especially under her eyes. I, myself, began to worry about what she could be concerned about. Troublingly, my worst fears were soon realized.

“Is it true that all of the crew is now in the brig?” I was more than a little surprised that news had already spread outside of the ship’s crew. It was my job to make sure that everyone on the ship, crew and civilian alike, stayed safe, and content. However, as of today, it appears I haven’t done a great job accomplishing that. “Only the senior officers have been sent to the brig. A fight broke out on the deck of the senior staff wing, and the junior staff are now handling things. There’s nothing to worry about. Once they have a chance to cool down, things will go back to business as usual.” She looked unsure, but responded, “That’s good. Everyone’s worried that the ship’s crew is falling apart.”

I was worried how much of the ship’s three thousand passengers were included in her assessment of “everyone”, but didn’t relay my worries. “It’s really nothing to be concerned about. There’s always tensions during the transition of power on this ship. I’ve seen my fair share of it when I was a junior officer, and my mother told me stories of it, even during her time as captain. Things always calm down after everyone gets used to the new order of things.” Ms. Accado visably relaxed, and responded, “good to hear. I’ll let everyone know that there’s nothing to worry about.” I didn’t like the idea of gossip, but since it already started and would no doubt get out of hand if not dealt with, I decided that I could use her help. “Thanks Ms. Accado, I appreciate it.” She looked me in the eyes, and gave me one of those kindly smiles that only kind, elderly, women could properly deliver. “No problem, Captain. You’ve been doing a great job so far. Your mother would be so proud of you.”

I smiled back, doing my best to return her smile, although I still had several decades before I had enough life experience to do the smile justice. “Thanks, I really appreciate it.” I really did. She had been my fourth form instructor when I was young, and had always been one of my favorite teachers. Her opinion still meant a lot to me. I just hoped that I could instill that level of confidence in the crew. It was true that every new appointment of captain led to some level of anxiety. However, nothing had ever reached the level of dissent that had occurred this afternoon. At least, nothing like that had happened in recent memory.

Ms. Accado and I parted ways, just as I had reached the senior officer’s wing. I really hoped that I could get through to the senior staff, and that this situation really would be just a temporary one. The last thing I wanted to do was to extend the lockup of the senior staff, many with whom I had worked with for several years. That train of thought had to be temporarily derailed, however, as I had to deal with the junior staff right now. The senior staff would have to wait.

I summed up all of the courage I had, and made sure that I put on an aura of authority. I tried my best to portray the image of a person in power without appearing too stand-offish. It is a feat that I had always attempted, but it’s a tight-rope act that’s hard to pull off. I thought I was doing a good job at it, but it appears that the senior staff had seen through my act. I pushed my doubts aside, and reminded myself that it had been years of hard work and dedication that had gotten me in this position. Thinking that I was just acting like I was in charge wouldn’t help anyone. I am in charge, and I earned this position. I deserve my recent promotion, and it was high time I made sure that not only the crew understood that, but that I do as well.

Any lingering doubts had to be pushed to the back of my mind, as it was now time to gauge the level of confidence the rest of crew had in my leadership, first hand. I walked through the doors leading to the senior staff wing, hoping that the junior officers weren’t as hostile as their superiors.

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Fluidity In Space: Chapter One

Our multi-generational ship has been cruising through space for three hundred years now. I suppose it’s fitting that I take on the role of captain on our tricentennial year. I am the first of my kind, after all. We’ve come a long way since our ancestors first set off so many generations ago. Back then, there was a lot of fighting. It was hard to blend so many different cultures together on one tiny vessel. People fought over religion, over race, over gender, and sexual orientation. For a while, it seemed like they might cause their own extinction. But, time really does wonders for one’s spirit of team work. The thought of the vacuum of space being the only place they could escape probably didn’t hurt either. It’s much different when you have a planet with thousands of miles of open land, as opposed to what is, in comparison, a sardine can floating in space.

In the past century, our crew has gotten along, and had resided and worked among each other in relative peace. There is still the occasional conflict, but differences in appearance and beliefs among the crew mates usually don’t come into play in arguments anymore. I’m an exception, of course. For all of our advances in tolerance and acceptance, it’s still hard for the crew to accept someone who presents as a male on one day and then presents as a female on another. It’s even harder for them to accept a person like that in a position of authority. I’ve heard more than a fair share of derisive terms about people like me, many of which date back to the earliest years of the voyage of our vessel. They’re prejudices that most people ignore because they think that such things don’t exist in our peaceful modern society. The friction that so many of the crew have given me upon my ascension to the rank of captain is living proof that we’re not quite as advanced as we think.

I look at the ship’s counselor, Maria Corben, the woman to whom I am confiding my innermost thoughts. I realize that, if anyone would understand my situation, it is her. She is more of an exception to the rule of civility from the crew than even I, as she stands out without any effort on her part. She has green scales instead of skin, and has yellow eyes with black pupils. Everything else about her appears completely human, from her long red hair, and full red lips, to her button nose and oval face. She also has a figure that I would love to have on my feminine days. Though her appearance suggests otherwise, her parents were both human, as we have yet to encounter alien life on our journey. She is what known among the crew as a ‘splicer baby’.

Thirty years ago, some of our scientists began experimenting with gene splicing techniques. It was supposed to help with cures for diseases, but some people began using them on themselves. It was extreme body modification, a way to make them stand out from the crowd. It worked on that front, a little too well. People spliced themselves with DNA from animals on-board the ship. Most chose vicious creatures, such as reptiles, like the mother of our counselor, lions, bears, and even more extreme modifications such as rhinos. The crew were frightened of their newly remodeled crew-mates, and tensions rose to levels that our ship hadn’t seen since it first departed from Earth nearly three hundred years prior.

Those crew members who had used gene splicing on themselves were sentenced to prison terms for illegal use of the technology. Our best scientists worked to find a way to reverse it, but their pursuits were fruitless. It seemed to be a one way process. Gene splicing was eventually completely outlawed. Shortly afterward they were released back into the general populace. It was hard on them, but, as the crew realized that they were stuck that way, they didn’t give them a hard time. At least, not physically. However, old fashioned racism was brewing. It was something that our ancestors had worked so hard to overcome, and once we were confronted with people we hadn’t seen before, we were starting it right back up. The crew began referring to them as ‘splicers’, and viewed them as inhuman. Unfortunately, once the ‘splicers’ had children, it was discovered that the spliced genes were dominant, and the children would inherit their traits. They also would inherit the racism against their parents. Terms like ‘splicer baby’ were among the first wave of that.

Like with their parents, adults weren’t mean to them in public. However, when in private, they saw these children as less than human, and imparted that belief into their own children. As for these children, the young can be much more cruel than their parents, so they did not show courtesy to their peers with spliced genes. The insults were just the tip of the iceberg, as the bullies would beat these children, as their parents made them believe that they did not deserve to live. The teachers were at a loss as to what to do, as the ship hadn’t had this kind of violence and hatred on-board in over two centuries. They would send these children home for a week or more as an out of school suspension.

However, their problems weren’t resolved, as the parents of these bullies felt their children did nothing wrong. In a number of cases, the parents even went to the school administrators to get their children back in classes, express their bigoted belief in person. The school didn’t want this kind of atmosphere, so at first they tried segregated schools, supposedly to keep the children with spliced genes safe from harm.

Maria was one of the first children to attend these schools. She, along with the other spliced gene children and their parents, were treated badly by both children and adults in public now, as the adults felt that the segregation had validated their views. The captain, my mother, was brought in to try to find a peaceful resolution. It was decided that the segregated schools, while being made with good intentions, did more harm than good.
The schools were once again integrated, but the damage had already been done. Maria and her peers were still routinely mocked, and she was constantly told that she couldn’t amount to anything in her life simply because of who she was. That is the reason why she studied and worked so hard to become a counselor. She wanted to prove that she could be someone important, and she could use her position to spread compassion and show that people who were the product of gene splicing weren’t any different than anyone else.

That is the main reason why I was so relaxed in my mandated counseling sessions, as we both shared that trait in common. I was routinely mocked in cadet training, with my peers telling me to pick one gender and stick with it, and many others telling me I was just changing genders for attention. When I became second in command of the ship, people had insinuated that I had either gotten my position through grandstanding, because my mother was once captain of the ship, or both. I knew that I had gotten through by hard work and determination, and tried my best to ignore the accusations of others.
I was now captain of the ship, and she was the head counselor. We both knew that our positions wouldn’t be the easiest because of who we were, but we both felt that we could make a difference in our settlement in our positions. We were both still the same people we had always been, and we didn’t let our hardships change that. That was what made us both strong people, and that was what was the most important. We knew that we couldn’t change the opinions of everyone, but if our demeanor and aptitudes made even one detractor believe that it was possible that we weren’t so different from everyone else, that alone would make everything worth it.

It was at this point that I took my mind out of its reminiscence and brought my thoughts back into focus on the matter at hand. I was here to talk with Counselor Corben about the present, as there was no need delving back into our pasts, and it was certainly not worth it to worry about the mistakes of our parents. We had both accomplished our dreams, and were both new in our positions of power. We certainly had a lot to talk about in regards to the present, so talking about the past not only is pointless, but potentially harmful, as it would take away from our limited time allotted as captain and counselor to talk about the here and now.

I began to tell her about my first week as captain, and how surprisingly dull it had been, when the ship’s alarm went off. It seems that I had just jinxed myself with my comments, as when I got up and headed out into the hallway, I was confronted with a truly disturbing sight. This is something that not even my mother saw on her time on the ship, and was certainly something I thought that I would never see. The entire senior staff wing of the ship was now in the process of a full out brawl.

I ordered the crew to stop, but it was to no avail. Maybe the staff doesn’t respect me in my role as captain after all. Maria tried to get them to stop as well, and I thought at first that her attempt had succeeded. However, after everyone stopped fighting they all eerily turned their attention towards her. They shouted that everything was the fault of her, and people like her, and at once I understood what had started this brawl. The hatred of splicers had bubbled under the surface for several decades, and I had just witnessed it boiling over.

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Welcome to the new blog that will be used to share stories and information related to transgender and mental health issues, and to offer hope to those who share in those struggles.  I’ve shared this blog with some of my friends, who are welcome to post and share their stories here as well. 🙂

In regards to the blog’s title – Hope – it’s a fitting name for my journey (and the shared journey of my friends).  But, deeper than that, it’s also a name that I thought about using as my name (along with Katie – which I used since I was a child – and is the name of my great aunt – but I decided it didn’t fit my personality – and Melanie – which I used when I was in my teens and early 20’s, but ultimately decided was too close to Melissa, my sister’s name).

I decided that Hope was a nice name, but it was a bit cliche.  Ultimately, I decided to let my mom give me my name. I went with Jennifer as my first name, as her first choice – Michelle – was too close to my childhood nickname of Mickey – which I still sometimes use on the internet since it’s unisex – and Jennifer is a name that my mother always liked.

My mom chose Renée as my middle name, which I recently learned means “Reborn”, so that name is just as fitting as Hope. 🙂

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