Well, as you asked for new Aeron stories, I decided to head right back to boot Camp to catch up with Aeron as she trained to be a CIG officer… and it seems a lot like being in Serenity…
The CIG Base was on a big mountain with a scruffy looking desert stuck below it like somebody hadn’t bothered cleaning up the sand. The base was built on rocky terrain with asphalt stretched out under concrete slab buildings. On one side of the main drag was a bar called Dusty’s which matched its name with a grocery store and a huge building towering above them both.
I weren’t real sure what was in most of the other buildings ‘cause I was being shoved along by folks in uniform far less polite than Val and her friends in Serenity.
Renee had kinda left me at the CIG base and headed off someplace with Ursula Frei… who weren’t all that friendly and seemed mad at me that I was lumbering along.
So, there I was, being shoved toward the big building next to the grocery store trying not to flatten the other folks in front who were all in smart suits.
“Watch your footing,” a guy shot at me as I stumbled over the curb. “Dunno how you got through the application.”
I glared at him. “They let me out on parole is why.”
He turned and stared at the door in front and I nodded to myself. I weren’t in the mood for chumps. I had dealt with enough chumps. Sam especially and the chump in front looked a lot like him although he was blonde and liked the gym as much as me so I guess that was enough to my tired mind.
“Lorelei, Aeron,” somebody hollered from inside the big building.
“Er… hi?” I weren’t sure if he was doing a role call or pointing out the identity of the tallest lumbering dimwit on the base.
The guard beside me waved his big gun at me. “In.”
“You gonna hand me a jumpsuit or you always this happy?” I sighed and headed past the chump in line who groaned. “You want to hand out jumpsuits too?”
“I worked hard to get here, thanks.” He folded his arms and looked at the other blonde, bulky guys beside him. “Did you even pass college?”
“No, but the doctor said I did okay with not hurting people when they put me on meds,” I said and pulled a wide-eyed face at him.
The other bulky guys laughed and one girl gave me the kinda look Renee did when she thought something was dumb and focused on the door.
I headed inside, happy that I was as popular as always, and wandered up to the guy behind a big desk with a load of clothes in bags behind him.
“You’ll be expected to pay for these if you damage them,” he shot at me without so much as looking up from his papers. “You will be expected to place them in the launderette for washing and drying in the green building where you will be situated.” He ticked boxes on his form. “You will be expected to sew any badges on yourself.”
I stared at him. “With these paws?”
He looked up… then up… then up… then craned his neck and shielded his eyes from the sunshine through the doorway.
“I got big paws,” I said again hoping it would stop him staring. A few of the guys were my size, what was the problem?
“You look like your mother,” he said in a gentler tone. “A much… much… taller version.”
A lady hurried out from the back and handed me layers of clothes in bags.
“It ain’t my fault she’s short.” I shrugged hoping it wouldn’t sound like I was mad at Lilia. I still wasn’t sure how to see her as my mom. Even my step-mom, who’d hated me, had stuck around. Lilia had been here, picking dust out of her hair.
“Five seven isn’t short,” Renee shot from behind me and strode up with a uniform and aviators on.
The guards, the guy behind the counter, the lady… and the entire line behind me snapped to attention.
“I was talking about my mom,” I mumbled not sure if I was meant to salute too. I didn’t know how to salute. There weren’t much need for saluting when you were cuffed to the inmate beside you.
“Uh huh,” Renee said and peered over her glasses with a twinkle in her gray eyes. “I’m here to escort you to your quarters and brief you, Lorelei.”
“Sure?” I lifted up the clothes. “I got more than I had back home.”
She nodded then thumbed at the door. “At the double.”
I started walking but she needed to hurry to keep up with her short legs an’ all so I slowed. “Kinda friendly here.”
“I know,” she said, her voice gentle as soon as we were away from the line of folks. “Aeron, you need to remember that every one here is treated harshly and has to prove themselves before they get respect. It’s not personal. It’s… tradition.”
“You mean I left home just to get sent to another prison?” I grunted as I fell over a curb. I didn’t get why they needed curbs the same color as the sidewalk and road.
“It isn’t a prison but it will feel like it for a short while.” She led me up to a concrete house. “It isn’t Nan’s cabin but you just need to remember that it’s not personal.”
“It weren’t personal when folks targeted you in Serenity but I still ain’t planning on stickin’ around where folks decide they don’t like me.” I lifted up the clothes. “Surprised Lilia didn’t just make Dad, Louise, and Ruth follow her up here… it’s so… beautiful and green.”
Renee pulled her mouth to the side. “Oh, we’re in that mood are we?”
“Yup.” I nodded to the door.
She smiled up at me and gave my arm a squeeze. “You’ll have me to look after you here—”
“Black,” Frei snapped from behind us.
Renee yanked her hand back and scooted a few feet from me. “Urs?”
“You’re needed in the briefing room. You’ll be on assignment.” Frei was glaring even behind her aviators, I could feel it enough the hair on my arms tried saluting.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Renee said, saluted and smiled up at me as Frei strode off. “I have to go.”
I nodded although I kinda didn’t want her too.
“You just need to get through the training. You might find you’ll be working with me if you sail protection duties.” She grinned at me.
“Can I skip the training and go with you instead?” I weren’t sure if I could be much use but I didn’t care. I knew Renee, she liked me and it might not be so hot wherever she was headed that my skin stung from the sun through my clothing.
“I would like that,” she said in a quiet voice and held my gaze then glanced over at Frei who was ignoring everyone saluting at her. “But you have to use baby-steps, okay.” She snuck in and rubbed my arms again. “And just remember, everyone has to pee, no matter who they are or think they are.”
I chuckled. “I ain’t sure why that’s helpful.”
She patted her nose. “You’ll get it.” She snuck closer still, glanced around and pecked me on the cheek then jumped as a lady with bouncy blonde hair rounded the corner.
The lady paused and raised an eyebrow.
Renee shot me a smile and strode off after Frei.
I waved to the lady confused why Renee looked like somebody was gonna put her in a pillow prison. “Is this the green building?”
“No,” the lady said in a southern twang and called to a guard. “Escort the recruit to the dorms.”
He nodded and stomped over to me. “Move.”
I sighed. Guess I just had to get through this training so I could lumber around after Renee.
“Double time it,” the guy yelled at me.
I sighed. Baby-steps… just had to work on baby-steps.