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The Glory Star Project: Finished Chapters

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"Any luck?" Glory's father asked her hopefully.

"Not really," Glory answered with a sigh. "I'm sorry. I know Mom will be disappointed. But it's only two weeks since graduation. It may take a while for the new job offers to post."

She waited until she was seated at dinner with her parents and her brother Red before she told them about the Luna idea. "I worked so hard for so long, you know? Me and the girls figure once we find jobs, we'll never have time for anything but work. The only opportunity to have some fun has got to be right now."

Her brother's jaw popped open at such a concept, and he dropped his fork. It clattered loudly on the glass tabletop and skittered onto the floor. A cleaner-bot immediately scooped it up and headed for the kitchen area. The maid-bot just as quickly brought him another, and he continued eating without missing a beat.

"Glory, haven't we talked about this often enough?" her mother complained. "Every moment on Regulus Prime has got to be about survival. Finding productive work has got to be your number one concern, and once you've found that work, it is your duty to perform that job to the best of your ability. It doesn't matter if you and your friends are having fun, only that you are contributing."

"Come on, Mom, it's just for a few days! Dad, tell her! Didn't you two meet while you were out on leave? You weren't working that week."

"Well, but that was different," her mother sputtered. "We were at a mating retreat looking for our life partners. Don't tell me you're ready to look for someone? Because I could direct you to several of the other top graduates if you wish to date."

"No way, I'm not worried about that sort of thing right now," I grumbled. "Look here, I love the field for which I have trained, and I am more than ready to begin working. It's just that I have never been able to let off any steam, and I really want to start my new life off with a clean slate. No leftover fatigue, and no resentment that I never get to do anything."

"I can't see any harm in it, Andromeda," said her husband, giving his daughter a wink. "She did so well during her schooling, took the highest marks in the whole place. If any girl deserves to cut loose for a few days, it's got to be our daughter."

Glory's mother sighed. "Jaden, you're too soft on the girl. She needs to learn her role, and traipsing off to the moon is hardly going to curb her desires to get off this planet and go gallivanting around the universe either. The less time she spends in a ship outbound, the better I will feel about it."

"Come on, Mom, it's not like I'm headed for the wormhole or anything," Glory persisted. "It's just a few days of well-deserved fun, and then I'll start a lifetime of drudgery like everyone else. Please? You have no idea how much I need to go."

"Very well, go and pack some things up while I get your friends' parents on the phone," she conceded. "With any luck, you can all three be on a flight tomorrow. The sooner you go, the sooner you will return."

"Thanks so much!" Glory said on an exhale. "May I please be excused from table?"

Her mother chuckled. "Yes, of course, my dear. Don't dawdle, and make sure you pack plenty of clean underwear."

"Yes, ma'am," Glory agreed, kissing her cheek before she ran away.

It was no great surprise when Red soon appeared in her doorway, sneering at her. "You know what? Father already lined up my job out in the mines, and I haven't even graduated yet. I guess that's what comes of being a tech instead of relying on brute strength. While you're off having fun, just remember that my future is crystal clear. Look at you, don't even care enough about working to keep on it until you're hired."

"You know something, I don't care what you think," Glory told him with bravado. "You may want to be stuck in some hole in the ground every day of your life, but I couldn't stand doing that myself. It isn't my fault you weren't smart enough to pass any of the tests that could have gotten you into something better. But by all means, enjoy tunneling around in the mountains. If it's something you love, you should do all right."

Glory wasn't going to miss Red one jot if she managed to get hired. In fact, she was so confident in herself that she packed up a few extra bags with things she would never wish to part with if she actually got to go, and hid them inside the back of her closet. Her plan was to send in either Lacey or Venus to retrieve them so she would never need to argue with her parents herself.

Maybe she was taking things a step too far? She didn't even have the job, and even if she was hired wouldn't it be better to tell them so herself? No, if she did that, they'd probably never let her out of the house. She was much better off to make a clean break than to purposely torture herself.

She was never happier than she was the next morning when she met Lacey and Venus at the spaceport. Her father dropped her off on his way to work, and barely had time even for a quick hug, but Glory made sure to get one since she had no plans on seeing him another time.

"I can't believe you actually convinced them to let you go," said Venus with a smirk.

"Were there many tears involved? A lot of begging? The works?" Lacey wanted to know.

"Actually, they were uncommonly reasonable," Glory told her. "But of course my brother decided to act like a jerk."

"That's just what brothers do," she scoffed. "I'm sure he won't even remember what he said to you by the time he gets home from school today."

"You're right," Glory agreed. "Well, come on, girls. Let's hurry and get aboard before one parent or another changes their minds."

The three young women entered the building to check in, and were soon escorted along with thirty other passengers across the tarmac and into the waiting shuttle. This particular spacecraft was one of the kinds that was seated on an electromagnetic grid. Rather than require hydrogen fuel to launch, as some of the older ships still did, this one would launch using an energy pulse that would hurtle it free of the atmosphere. Luna One base was equipped with a powerful magnet to draw the ship in, and the only job the pilot really had was to apply the brakes in a timely manner so the shuttle could land there rather than crashing into the thing.

For Glory, this knowledge was all from the text books at this point, since she had never left the planet before. A certain thrum of fearful excitement coursed through her body, making her shiver. Part of it came from the adrenaline of knowing what she was about to ditch her home world, but most of it was pure reaction to the launch. But she reminded herself, if she couldn't even handle a trip from Regulus Prime to Luna One, then she was clearly not cut out to travel the stars.

Not! She wasn't going to give up on her dreams that easily, and that's where the excitement came in. The buzzer sounded, and the ‘fasten your harnesses' sign started to blink red. Glory was already as fastened in as she could get, and now she braced herself for launch.

She didn't have to wait long before the extreme pressure smashed into her body, and then it was over before she'd even had a chance to get used to it. They were already in orbit, and a new sign told them that it would take ten minutes for the shuttle to come around to the moon and begin to be pulled in by the magnet.

"This is so exciting!" she told her friends. "We have actually left the planet! I'm halfway to my new life already!"

Venus and Lacey grinned at her.

"You know, now that I'm up here, I don't want to return again," Lacey admitted. "Do you think your supernova of a captain would like to have two assistants?"

Glory snorted. "No, I don't think so."

"Sheesh, can't I even fantasize for a couple clicks before you shoot me down?"

"Besides, I already told you," Glory added, just to clarify her position, "He's not 'my' captain, and I'm not just doing this because he's so hot. You already know that I've always wanted to work off-world."

"Yeah, yeah, so you said," Lacey grumbled. "But Glory, where's the fun in working with a total hottie if you don't go for the gusto? Besides, once the guy gets one look at you, he's going to be in love, so why deny yourself such a pleasure? Stars, girl, you only live once."

Soon, the magnet had engaged, and before they knew it the shuttle was landing at the bottom of one of the spires. The sign indicated they had landed, and could now exit the ship. The three of them did just that, stepping quickly over to the luggage terminal to get their things before heading for the lift.

The elevator shaft was made of clear glass, so they could see the rocky surface as it started underground, followed by an excellent view of the base itself. Everywhere Glory looked, she was white pillars, chrome accents, and plenty of glass walls and floors. People milled around everywhere.

To get inside the main base, everyone was expected to pass through a barrier and onward into an enclosed lobby. The lines were so long Glory could tell they would be there a long time. When the finally entered, each girl stepped up onto a platform and stated their names, staring into an identifier crystal which scanned one eye. Though none of them had any trouble, just as the barrier lifted to let Glory step through, she heard an alarm sound, and saw a metal ring drop down around some other guy.

"Whoa!" she said to her friends as they regrouped. "It sure doesn't pay to lie around here!"