Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

2113 – Andrea

“You ready for the first exam, Andrea?” Judith asked me from behind the small pile of books on her bed that towered around her like a wall. She was referring to the first exam for our Religious Studies class.

“Yes, of course.” I rocked my chin up and down to prove it. “Aren’t you?”

I followed Judith down the paved walk-way towards the grass covered square that she refered to as a “Quad.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received my assignment on Earth. Though I have to admit, the scenery here is beautiful; it almost feels like home.

The few clips of film from the Board of Human Observation didn’t accurately capture the similarities in nature well enough. As we made planet-fall, I remember thinking that the air here tastes remarkably similar to home.

We marched through a relatively quiet place filled with plants that matched the floral pattern on my dress. 9936 told me that she chose this location on Earth based on the large variety in test subjects.

She supplemented with the fact that living conditions are not too disparate from the ones we’re used to. It’s really kind of remarkable, how much the Republic of Andromeda and Earth have in common.

“I don’t know if I really get all of this ontological stuff, Andrea,” Judith brought me out of my thoughts again. “Like, it’s just all so confusing – if you even believe it.” She kept highlighting parables in the textbook I’d been poring over for days.

“Maybe people aren’t meant to get it, completely. Maybe starting somewhere is enough,” I said. “I think trying to understand is a step in the right direction.”
I’ve learned that Earthlings are particularly obsessed with their own origins.

Rival factions bicker over whether there’s a creator of the universe, what the powers that be look like, what the universe even is, or whether science and reason are more powerful than vested faith in their prophets. It seems to be at the core of their being. It makes me wonder where I would fit in, gifted with my royal genes and the power to see and know all, equal parts scientific model and sacred vessel.

I’ve observed that, at their cores, all of the human theories and philosophies speak of peace. I think that’s important to note.

I hope that the other researchers are having a decent time fitting in here.

I haven’t seen them in a few days, and I’m strictly forbidden to compromise our cover. I think 9936 is working in an office in the Raymond Center, wherever that is. I’m not sure about the others.

There’s this large field in the middle of the academic area where students come to relax and I thought I might find them there.

So far it’s been pretty fruitless, considering it’s not the easiest to see if someone’s eyes are different colors without drawing attention to myself.

I also can’t help but shake the feeling that father sent me here for more than observation.

I understand that I have to see other worlds if I am to rule the Republic, but what if we’re really trying to assess the worth of the planet as friend or foe?

They’ve got such a bloody history and certainly the firepower to back themselves into a corner, if they aren’t careful.

Eventually, Judith found us a spot on the warm yellowish grass near a few males throwing a levitating disc back and forth. It was almost ritualistic.

They were seen every day, classes or no, rain or shine, playing this game for hours on end. They seem to be a persistent, dedicated people, but their goals seem questionable.

“I’ve got a few things to do before the exam,” I said, having collected as much data as I could. “Could you tell me where the Raymond center is?”

Judith pointed to a drab gray building on the other side of the field, one with rows of small windows lining the walls.

As if summoned, the sport disc flew down and bounced off of her gesture.

“My apologies,” said one of the young men, jogging over to collect the disc. He moved a little differently than the others, what the humans call walking on eggshells, trying to be cautious.

How are their eggs so much weaker than ours? And why do they use them for pavement?

“If you’re looking for 9936, you’ll want room 25,” he said. “Make sure you have your ID number with you.”

Under his curly hair I could see that his eyes were like mine. He had a list of strange symbols lining his forearm, freshly marked. This must be 7859.

Before I could ask, just like that, he was gone again — a walking, breathing, living companion slipped right through my fingers. I left Judith behind with the athletes.

Marty Hopson is a fourth-year student majoring in English education. He can be reached at MH786110@wcupa.edu.

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