Greetings all, I came up with an idea for a Sci-Fi story that I couldn’t let go of, so here it is.
The University of Florida at Orlando was an old style college that dated back to pre-network times, when people met for learning. With my online audition for art class, they determined I qualified for this class. Well, good for me, but now I had to attend in person. Walking through the hallways, I hesitated at the door to the classroom. Gathering my courage, I glanced around the corner, my feelers on top of my head quivering with fear. Looking into the figure drawing class, a tall human woman sat in one of the chairs with long curly hair dressed in a light colored blouse and pants. Oh come on, get over yourself! I wanted to attend this university for my my PhD in human genetics. With my independence certified, I planned to move out of the underground compound and live with humans. No more round-robin parenting, or as trakors called it, Shared Family Bonding.
Right then, I thought of my mother. She one of the first trakor computer programmers, working for the Trakon Capitol in Orlando, Florida, America, Earth. There were other trakor computer people, but my mother had an edge with her math skills. She even learned English and Spanish before arriving on this planet.
I reveled in my status, being the first trakor born on Earth. Ever since Trakon Union government arrived here more than forty years ago, differences between human countries seemed less important. Trakors benefited with the influx of human technology, computerization and robotics, while humans acquired acceleration technology and advanced chemistry. I wondered if there were humans born on Trakon. Probably, but I didn’t care, I lived in Orlando.
There was some trakor saying about putting all four feet on the ground and get going, but I was more familiar with American culture. I adjusted my belt and brown dress over my abdomen behind me, readjusted my backpack, straightened up my thorax, and walked into the class room.
“Hello,” I clicked to the tall woman, giving a quick nod with my feelers. My arm phone translated my words to English. “How are you?” The Unionist language consisted of a series of clicks and whistles. I had to expel some air to talk, unlike humans who had to breathe out a lot more. I’d give anything to speak any human language, but trakor anatomy didn’t allow for that. I’d conversed with humans countless times over the internet using the auto-translator. Like my mother, I understood English and Spanish without the need for a translator.
The woman looked at me and smiled. “I’m fine, thanks for asking.”
I was glad she wasn’t shocked to see a trakor in person. A lot of humans were still in wonderment of space aliens on their planet. Well, I was just a regular Earth girl who looked like a big green praying mantis, just trying to get by in life like everyone else.
The woman held out her hand. “I’m Ana Gonzalez. What’s your name?”
At least she wasn’t squeamish about touching me. I shook her hand, my two fingers and thumb wrapping around her hand. “My name is Margret Anderson.” I smiled, curling my feelers in. Long ago, I modified my translator to say my name the correct way in English. Due to the way that humans and trakors worked out translations, Margret in Unionist roughly meant Mom-Swim. Growing up, I got teased by other trakors about my name.
I shifted my head forward, and focused on different parts of the room. The art class had a desk at the front of the room, a view screen for notes, a podium for the model, and dozens of art work stations for students. There would be no computerization to aid with drawing.
On a side note, I could see almost any direction with my multi-eyes. I knew humans had peripheral vision, relying on moving their eyes and heads to see elsewhere. I could move my head, but most of the time I just shifted my attention to another part of my sight. Unlike Earth praying mantises, I couldn’t see directly behind.
Ana gave me a confused expression. “Margret Anderson? Forgive me for prodding, but that’s a human name.”
I smiled again. “Yeah, when my mom arrived on Earth, she took the human name of Carol, and then gave human names to me and my sister.” I shrugged. “I’m not your typical trakor.”
Ana nodded. “It works for me.”
I pulled out a portable seat from my backpack, unfolded it, set it down, then straddled it. Even though this was a human university, a number of trakors took classes, and a few professors taught here. I knew that seats for my kind would be sparse, but that didn’t bother me. I always found it fascinating that humans bent their lower body in front of them at their waist. Eh, it worked for them. I turned my head to face her. I knew humans preferred a person to look at them when talking. “I’m here for the summer art class.” Well, Duh! Why else would I be here? I ducked my feelers down, chagrin. “Sorry, I’m nervous.”
Ana leaned back in her chair, continuing to smile. “Then I’m the one who is sorry. You shouldn’t be nervous.” She leaned a bit toward me. “I take you just got your basic degree?”
I sat up straighter. I thought humans didn’t know about the Trakon Union education system. A basic degree corresponded to a high school diploma, a degree to a college degree, and so on. “How do you know that?” I clicked before I could stop myself. I didn’t want to be rude.
Ana waved her arm to the side. “Back in Cuba outside of Havana, we have about four thousand rebels living there.” A rebel was a common term for a trakor who lived outside of the Trakon Union government, not subscribing to conservative lifestyle of government officials. With all of Earth opening up migration for anyone, a lot of rebels came here for the freedom. Some even applied for citizenship. The empress didn’t mandate that everyone conform to a conservative life (unlike a lot of local governments), but the name stuck. I’d never communicated with a rebel, with all of my strict parents mandating their conservative values. “Wow, that’s amazing. I take it you talked to them?”
Ana nodded. “Actually, I worked at their chemistry drug factories.”
A common stereotype of trakors was that we knew a lot of chemistry and acceleration technology. I nodded my feelers. “I see.”
Ana looked at me perplexed. “Forgive me for being nosy, but you seem young for college. Are you fifteen?”
I drew back. “What do you mean by that?”
She smiled at me. “I didn’t mean to put you on the spot, sister.” She nodded to my head. “Your feelers aren’t quite adult length, and the hair on them is still a little yellow, like a child’s.” She looked at my body. “Also, a few more moltings and you should reach your full height.”
I clacked “I’m seventeen!” I ducked my feelers in shame. “Sorry. I’m sensitive about my height.”
She held her hands in front of her, leaning back. “And I’m sorry I brought it up. Please forgive me.”
At least she wasn’t like the all the kids from my foster parents. They tormented me about my small size.
However, I felt at ease around this tall human. She must have been 190 cms tall, a good 50 cms taller than me. My mother was short, and I was a few cms shorter. I didn’t think I’d grow anymore. “Actually, I just received my advanced degree a few days ago in chemistry and genetics.” My translator converted Advanced Degree to PhD.
Ana leaned back, surprised. “Wow, you must be brilliant.” She looked down, looking embarrassed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.”
I clicked laughed, waving my hand at her. “Don’t worry about it. Yes, I take after my mother. She was a brilliant geneticists, chemist and mathematician.”
Ana leaned back in her chair, resting her arm on the table. “Very nice. She must be proud of you and your sibling.”
My feelers lowered down. “Well, my mother and twin sister died while I was pupating.”
Ana leaned forward, grasping my hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.” Her voice trailed off.
I straightened up, forcing an upbeat expression with my feelers. “She left me some money, so I’m fine.” Well, more than Some Money. I didn’t want to brag, but I was more than well off. She earned a lot from her jobs. I gestured to the podium. “Before I begin my graduate studies, I thought I’d try out a human class.” I realized how that sounded. I shook my feelers side to side. “I didn’t mean that.”
Ana relaxed back in her chair, smiling again. “Hey, I’m human, I’ll take that as a compliment. If you don’t mind me saying so, I happen to like trakors.”
I focused to my hand, noticed she still held it. I gave her a gentle squeeze. “Thanks.” I wished I could feel as well as a human, but my green exoskeleton didn’t allow that. “And I like humans.”
Ana nodded. “Good.”
A middle aged woman dressed in formal attire walked into the classroom to the desk. “Hello Ana, how are…” Her voice trailed off as she turned to face the two of us. “Oh, I see that…”
Ana stood up and gestured to me. “Hello Professor Hawthorn, I’d like you to meet my friend, Margret.”
Ms. Hawthorn stared at me for a moment before she shifted into a formal stance. “Well, of course, ma’am…” Her words faltered before she began again. “Please forgive me, how do I address you?”
I stood up. “Don’t worry, professor. Margret is fine. I’m one of your students.”
Ms. Hawthorn forced a smile. “Then… very good. I’m glad one of your kind… I’m glad you are here.”
This was the kind of reaction I didn’t want, but I didn’t push the situation. In a formal tone, I clicked “I always wanted to take a human class.” Crap, now I was doing it. “An art class.” Why couldn’t this go right.
Ana smiled at me. “You need an art class,” She spread out her hands. “So here you are.”
Ms. Hawthorn nodded to Ana, then stepped toward me. “Please choose a workstation, Margret.”
I dragged my seat to a workstation, then pulled off my backpack.
Other students began to walk into the room. They gave me side glances, making me a little nervous, but I steeled myself. I’d made a number of human friends online, this was no different. I knew that Orlando had a lot of interactions with humans and trakors, rebels included. I could fit in.
Ana walked to my station and smiled. “Don’t worry about the others.”
I clicked “I’m fine. I’m fine.” I pulled out my art supplies.
A tall clean-cut student approached me from behind. “Hey, I’m Bobby Kealoha. What’s your name?” He wore a t-shirt, jeans, and had a muscular build.
I turned to him and smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Bobby. I’m Margret.” I held my hand up to him. He looked to be the same height as Ana.
Bobby looked down at my hand before he shook it. “Great, great.” He released my hand and stepped back. “I’ve talked to a few trakors in the city.” He halted, standing up straight.
He seemed sincere but nervous, I let it slide. I mimicked his tone. “And I’ve talked to a few humans.” My translator didn’t convey my humor, but he smiled back.
Ana said “Margret, I’ve got to get ready. Let’s get something to eat after class.”
I pulled out my drawing supplies, and began to put on my textured gloves for holding my pencils. “I’d like that.” I couldn’t believe my lucky stars! I had already made a human friend! In person!
From behind me, Bobby said “Hey Ana? Can I tag along? I’d like to get to know her too.”
I turned my head partially to him, clicking “Yes, please.”
Ana smiled. “Great. It’s a lunch date for the three of us.” With that, she walked to the podium.
After the rest of students assembled, professor Hawthorn walked to the head of the class. “Hello students, this will be figure drawing summer program class.” She turned to Ana. “Are you ready?”
I focused my attention to Ana and my feelers shot out to my sides in shock. Ana stood on the podium Stripping Down Naked! I riveted my focus to my paper, trying to keep it together.
I knew this was a figure drawing class, but I assumed that the model would be someone I didn’t know. I had seen online images of naked humans, and (out of view from my foster parents) naked trakors.
I forced my feelers upright, relaxed. You can do it! I look at naked Ana. Over the past forty years, plastic surgery became available for everyone. Trakors and humans took to body alterations since everyone wanted to look like a robotic doll. With that saying Sight Is Everything, I could see the trakor and humans alterations, those too perfect bone adjustments, modified exoskeletons, extended colored feelers, everything. I had to admit, Ana looked beautiful, natural, unaltered.
Ms. Hawthorn asked Ana to strike a pose. Once done, she gestured to Ana’s arms, then her legs. “Note how long each limb is relative to the other.” She faced the class. “For today’s assignment, I want everyone to focus on proportionality.”
I began to draw a rough outline, then after a minute, recalled what the professor said: Proportionality. With exasperated clicks and whistles, I put down my pencils, turned to a new sheet, and began to draw again.
Ana stood tall, with a sleek structure, but a feminine heir about her. She had nice… hips, rounded… breasts, and all her bones seemed to fit. She had a darker than normal olive skin tone for a human. She had tied her hair back so that the students could see her shoulders.
As I worked, I became less uncomfortable, focusing on her bone structure. I began to smile, curling my feelers in. This will work.