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Growth of an Empire ~ 3

Growth of an Empire ~ 3
Aegis Deck 188

Undercover security agents Glen and Senna Matise had lived Below Decks for almost a year.  Deck 188 was still under construction and wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but there was something about living among the lower class that had pulled them into enjoying a new lifestyle.  What you had, you shared. What they had, they shared. In essence, Glen and Senna blended well with the natives who scavenged for the comforts of home: a bed, a worn out carpet, a few chairs—none of which matched—a small table and replicator, and other paraphernalia. 

Posing as teachers, Senna taught the younger group the basics of education.  Glen taught the older group algebra, calculus, geometry, and physics, along with basic defensive tactics—"awesome" as far as the teens were concerned.  As soon as possible the older group cajoled him into finishing science and math as quickly as possible, then moving into defensive tactics because, after all, defensive tactics were “so cool”.  Knowing how a teen’s mind worked, Glen watched them carefully, especially after they begged him to have "scramble teams” —a little wrestling and a whole lot of just plain scrambling on the deck.  They enjoyed that part more than anything else.

As the station’s day melted into evening, Senna stepped out of their apartment and leaned against the wall to watch the children play.  Glen came up from behind with his towel barely absorbing the sweat that dripped from his scalp to his forehead.  He smelled of gymnasium, and his workout clothes were in desperate need of washing.  

“How did it go?” asked Senna, as if she didn’t know that the teens had done their best to give him a hefty workout.  

“Pretty much like skipper’s training.  Damn, they’re good.” He whispered on a sigh, then gave the towel another swipe and leaned against the wall.  “Looks like they’re making something with flowers.”

“Laurel wreaths.  It’s that time of year for them, apparently.  We made laurel wreaths in May. They make them in June and dance around what we called a May pole. The little ones are so cute, aren’t they?”

Glen had pushed off from the wall to stare at the flowers piled on the floor and the children weaving the wreaths, talking and giggling when they put them on.

“Glen, what’s wrong?”

“They’re all green,” he said quietly, moving toward them.  “Where did they get the flowers?”

“I… really don’t know,” she replied following along.  “I think they’re growing on deck 187, or at least somewhere in this area.”

“Relax and smile,” he said quietly as he approached a youngster.  “Wow, you have quite a group of beautiful green flowers there. What are you making?” he asked, kneeling next to a six year old.

“Well, I’m making a headband,” she responded with pride as she continued to work, “but Denese is making a tiara and Katie...well, she likes rings on her fingers… but they’re making her itch.”

“Hm… maybe she should wash them off and do something else if it makes her itch.  Are they all green?”

“Oh, yeah. With white flowers blooming inside. See?” she said, waving it at his face.  Glen leaned back and began to sneeze.

“Yeah, they smell, but they look so nice and it’s blooming time so we make wreaths and have a party.”

“Wow… a party?” He said admiringly as he pressed a silent alarm on his wrist that alerted Security. “I think you’d better get a shower before you have the party.  But where did you get the flowers?”

She shrugged, looking at her clothes.  “We found them on the floor just around the corner after school. But they’re so pretty… even though they smell.  Yeah, I’m going to shower.”

“Got any bags?”

“Hmm… no. But my mom does.  I’ll get ‘em for you.” And she skipped off.

Glen bagged and secured the flowers, then passed the word to the children’s parents to scrub them thoroughly and stay inside.

As soon as he entered their apartment, he secured the flowers, scrubbed himself from head to toe, then made his call.

“BD base, BD 7.  Did you get that?”

“BD 7, BD base.  Copy.  Security locked doors and is en route.  Area is quarantined.  Copy?”

“BD base, BD 7.  Copy. Deck 187 should also be secured.  Copy?”

"BD 7, BD base. Deck 187  is compromised. Copy?" 

"BD base, BD 7. Copy."

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