Collisions
Author: Othello Gooden Jr.

Chapter 2
The Zyran Life

“Thanks Prof. Mellis!”  Kayla exclaimed as she got up out of her chair.  She was sitting in a chair opposite of William Raylor Mellis Jr., her academic advisor and the school’s dean.  Often times she wondered how he could handle both jobs equally.

 

“Don’t mention it.”  The middle aged man waved with a grin.  “You take care of yourself!”

 

“I will!”  Kayla nodded as she walked out of her academic advisor’s office.  She picked up her class schedule from the printer on her way out.

 

“Don’t forget to pick up your freshman starter kit!”  Raylor reminded, pointing to a shelf near his office’s door.  On it was a few dozen small tote bags.  Kayla stopped and turned to him as he said those words.  She was halfway between the waiting room and his office with her hand on the doorknob.

 

“Sorry,” Kayla apologized with a giggle. She backtracked to grab a bag before exiting his office.  “Almost forgot!”

 

Peering into its contents, Kayla found a tablet and a 2 TB flashdrive with bundled software on it.  At the bottom of the bag were USB, FireWire, and FiberOptic cables tied together by several pipe cleaners.  Kayla took the tablet out first and unpackaged it from a cardboard box hugging its exterior.

 

“Z-700 Internet Tablet by Zyran Electronics.” she read the title engraved below the screen aloud as she walked out of the waiting room.  Above the screen in a small pen space was a stylus.  Kayla quickly put her Z-700 back into the bag and lugged it over her shoulders, grinning at the contents of RIAS’ ‘freshman starter pack’.  MCLT didn’t have anything like that.  Yet, the mp3 player Kayla remembered MCLT-2 gave out at freshman orientation was inferior to the one she currently had—It was an off brand one at that!

 

Kayla pulled out a folded piece of paper from her pants’ pocket and opened it up. It was a print out of her class schedule. Kayla’s schedule for the fall semester was four classes. Two of them were three days a week—Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  The first was Principles of Marketing and the other was Advanced Robotics 1. The other two classes were "Intro to Cybernetics", which was every Tuesday. The last was Quantum Physics, every Thursday. Kayla briefly remembered that in MCLT-2 she was in an advanced credit granting course called, "Intro to Quantum Physics". Kayla had a head start on what this class was about—putting Einstein's relativistic equations to practice.

 

That class shall be fun.” Kayla thought to herself with a smile.  She remembered Taizosu in regards to the AR1 class. Yet improving her suit in the Quantum Physics class made her grin wider. How these classes differed from MCLT’s version, Kayla didn’t know.  “Probably more than just showing everyone you can build a robot or a suit outta sensory—maybe competing with others in an obstacle course or science fair? Hmm... I wonder if Zyra has an equivalent to MCLT's Science Fairs."

 

Kayla giggled at that question as she kept walking through the hallways to her destination.

 

“Let’s see…” Kayla trailed off, peering over her class schedule again.  She walked up a flight of stairs to the second floor.  “Intro to Cybernetics.”

 

As Kayla reached the top of the stairs, she found herself in a hallway saturated with students.  Some of them had books in their hands while others had similar tablets to the one Kayla received in her ‘starter kit’.  Kayla looked to her left into an area where vending machines were.  Girls were standing around a young man, all giggling as he wooed them with his words.

 

“Oh Gordon,” one of the girls around the boy began coyly, leaning on him with admiration.  “We saw you in last year’s X-Games competition!  You were so hot.”

 

“That’s why they call me the Flare!” Gordon answered, he had big grin on his face.

 

Kayla turned her head away from then in disgust.  That’s when she saw another young man come up to them.  He was on his way around the corner until he heard Gordon’s gloating.

 

“Yo Gord,” the man instigated, “I think all that fame is going to your head!”  He then motioned a head getting bigger and exploding gesture with his hands.  The girls started laughing.

 

“Durk,” Gordon snapped, turning to him.  “That’s not funny!”

“It so is!”

“Can it!” Gordon warned.

The girls around them just laughed at the two carrying on.

Durk grinned as he added sarcastically, “I’m your brother, I’m not supposed to!”

Gordon waved his hand at him. “Enough! Let’s go ladies.”

 

Gordon then held his arms out.  Two of the girls laced their arms through his on both sides of him and they entered a classroom around the hall.

 

“Maybe you should be more like your brother,” one of the girls that was with Gordon suggested. “He’s a lot cooler!” Her tone was seductive.

 

“Uh, no.” Durk dimmed his eyes at her and walked on.

 

Kayla continued watching Durk as he entered the room, eying his athletically built figure with admiration.

 

He’s cute.” Kayla’s mind slipped.  She shook her head, fighting the thought.  “Not on the first day!

 

She dismissed the thought finally, turning around while trying to look for her class’ room.

 

“Intro to Cybernetics…”  Kayla thought aloud.

 

“Intro to Cybernetics?”  A young Chinese woman asked Kayla in broken English, overhearing the girl’s mumbling.  The girl stood almost about her height.  She had pair of glasses on and had on flat bottom shoes.

 

“Yeah, I thought it was on this side somewhere.”  Kayla answered, looking around for the room again over the girl’s shoulders.

 

“By the way, my name is Fleta Lee.” The girl introduced herself, smiling.

“Kayla,” Kayla returned.  “Kayla Dartan.  So what’s your major?”

“Music.”  Fleta answered. “Wait. THE Kayla Dartan?”

“So you know?” Kayla grinned.

“Internet fame is overrated to us, isn’t it?” Fleta joked.

 

“Yup! What instrument you play?” Kayla’s eyes lit up at hearing Fleta mention music.

 

“Keyboards.” A grin grew on Fleta’s face.  She took a quick look at her watch and added, “Listen, I gotta run to my music history class.  My name is in the directory.  Give me a call or I can call you?”

 

“Sure!”  Kayla answered with a smile.  “What about—”

 

“Room 210 if you wanna drop by and say hello.”  Fleta interrupted.  She continued walking toward her next class, disappearing into the crowd of students.  Kayla did the same.

 

As Kayla was walking, a much taller girl bumped into her.  Kayla was almost knocked down. She grunted.

 

“Excuse me.”  Kayla apologized as she looked up at the other girl.  She had long green blondish hair tied in a ponytail.  Large green spherical earrings hung from her ears.

 

“You’re excused.”  The girl said with apathy as dusted off her long sleeve shirt before turning into a classroom.

 

Kayla got up and dusted herself.  Others were standing around her.

 

“That was rude.”  Kayla mumbled to herself, but low enough for a small number of people around her to hear.

 

“Expect that from the crazy lady.” A young man from behind Kayla said.

 

“Who is she?”  Kayla asked, turning to him.

 

“Kira Mancini.”  The guy answered.  “You don’t talk to her.  If you do, she might go off on ya.”

 

“Is she always that mean?”  Kayla asked.

 

“It’s… Complicated.”  The guy hesitated, rubbing the back of his head.  “No one knows why she’s like that but I think it had to do with what happened between her and Durk a few months ago.”

 

“You mean that one guy and his brother who was just over there?”  Kayla asked, pointing to the vending area.

 

“Yeah,” the guy nodded.  “He’s Gordon’s older brother.”

“I kinda figured as much.”  Kayla shortly laughed.

 

The two then walked into the room and sat down.  Kayla passed by Kira talking to the teacher.

 

“What have I told you about being late, Ms. Mancini?”  The teacher asked, glancing at Kira with a scolding eye.

 

“I was only late once, Ms. Vernon!”  Kira answered blankly, folding her arms while rolling her eyes at the teacher.

 

“Last week you were once and then week before that!”  Vernon recalled. 

“But I wasn’t late today!” Kira pressed.

 

“Okay,” Vernon dimmed her eyes at Kira.  “Be late one more time and ignore my reminders—I’ll flunk you again!”

 

Kira’s voice softened in a tone of alarm after blinking at Vernon’s words, “No, you wouldn’t!”

 

Vernon grinned at Kira’s sudden voice change to disbelief. “I’m the teacher! I set rules—you don’t follow them, you get kicked out—end of story!”

 

That’s when the school bell rang through a loud speaker.  The speaker Vernon’s classroom was just above the door.

 

“Now sit down!” Vernon ordered, pointing to the back of the room.  “We’re starting in a few!”

 

“Fine!”  Kira grumbled, moving to the back of the room to an empty seat.  It was one space away from Kayla.

 

“Can’t believe you Kira!” She continued softly to herself in a British accent.

“Shut up, woman.” Kira countered in a grumbling American accent.

 

Kayla raised an eyebrow at hearing Kira’s bickering—at no one? Then Kayla listened more intently to the conversation—two completely different voices.

That can’t be right.” Kayla thought to herself, shaking her head.

 

That’s when she remembered the words of the young man who told her about Kira, “Don’t talk to crazy lady.

 

His words rang loud in Kayla’s mind but she couldn’t help but wonder. She wanted to know why, remembering Mariana’s coaching, “always look for the good in others.”

 

At that Kayla turned her head slightly in Kira’s direction, listening to the girl arguing with herself about her tardiness. Kayla reasoned that something about this girl was worth knowing about.  To Kayla, the he said-she said was trivial and quite negative.

 

“I can’t afford to flunk out again!” continued the British-speaking girl, almost weeping.

You can’t, but I can!” Kira snickered.

 

“Shut up, the both of you!” A heavier Italian voice snapped. Then she grumbled something long-winded and obscene in Italian under her breath.

 

Kayla leaned forward, trying not to be noticed by Kira as she listened to her conversation.

 

“The frak you lookin’ at, kid?” The lady spoke in that same heavy Italian accent as she eyed Kayla from her peripheral vision.  She knew she was eavesdropping.

 

“Nothin’.”  Kayla stuttered, acting like she was reading her email at the computer in front of her.

 

“Sorry about that.” the British-speaking girl apologized.

 

“Okay then…” Kayla trailed off as she leaned away from her, hesitant in her reply as she quickly looked up the curriculum of this class on the computer. She ignored Kira for the time being.

 

The bell rang a second time.

 

“It’s about that time, ladies and gents!”  Vernon introduced in a microphone.  The gizmo was clipped onto her green and white blouse.  She was sitting on the edge of her desk near the front door.  “My name is Ella Vernon, your Intro to Cybernetics professor.  First, let’s cover the basics of this course.  You will be learning about how cybernetic systems work and how to incorporate what you’ve learned in a hands-on group project.”

 

Vernon paused to press a button next to the large white board.  The board slid downward and a large flat screen was revealed. She then took a remote off her desk and pointed it the TV.

 

“Now if you follow along in your PDF file of the class schedule,” Vernon continued as the screen turned on, showing everyone the RIAS website www.zyra.rias.edu.  A picture of Raylor and Norman Mellis were in a top banner above a news report telling people about upcoming school events.  “You see that you have a project due three weeks from now!  The Midterm will be at week 7.  The final is on week 15—which will be everything you’ve learned in class used in a finished product!”

 

Vernon paused with a straight face, waiting to see if anyone had any questions.  The students looked at her, attentive to her lecturing.

 

“You will be assigned to work in groups, as I mentioned before.”  Vernon started again, reiterating the point about working in groups but added, “…And if you so happened to be the anti-social type, dump that attitude in this trash can next to me and deal with your peers!”

 

She shortly grinned widely before turning to a straight face again.  Some students laughed at her joke.

 

“No she just didn’t!” Kira grumbled, knowing the joke was referring to her.

“Seriously, you need to get along.” The British-speaking girl suggested.

“Why?”  Kira asked meanly.

“You know why!” the girl cautioned.

“What—ever!” Kira sighed.

 

“Be back here next week for your group assigning!”  Vernon admonished as she stood up.  “That’s all for now—unless you got any questions.”

 

Gordon raised his hand.

 

“Yes Mr. Mellis?” Vernon asked, nodding at him.

 

“Do we get to pick who we get to work with?”  Gordon asked after putting his hand down He flexed his eyebrows to the girls around him as he spoke.

 

“Negative, sir.”  Vernon answered firmly.

 

The girls around Gordon moaned audibly in dismay, slightly upset at Vernon’s choice.  Gordon moped, turning his head in the other direction at hearing the teacher’s reply.

 

“Anymore questions?”  Vernon asked after rolling her eyes at Gordon and his ‘girlfriends’ unsettled display.  Uninterested in his flirtatious demeanor, she looked around to everyone else.  No one else raised his or her hand.

 

“Then I guess I’ll see you next week!”  Vernon added, dismissing the class session.

 

The students got up and walked out to their next class.  Durk, Gordon, and Kira stayed behind.

 

“Hi, DeeDee!”  Kira greeted him bashfully, and with a wave while coming up to him.

Durk darted his eyes at her, annoyed with the name she had just called him. “Don’t you ever call me that again!”

 

“But you use—”

 

“Not anymore!”  Durk interrupted loudly, turning away from her. He started walking toward the front of the room.

 

“Bro!”  Gordon said as he stopped Durk by grabbing him by the shoulder.  “Easy, she’s sensitive.”

 

“Like I care?”  Durk turned to him.  He quickly glanced at Kira looking at him with sad puppy eyes.

 

“I said I was sorry, didn’t I?”  Kira asked him in a crying tone.

 

At first, Durk didn’t say anything.  He just flicked Gordon’s hand of his shoulder, fully turning to them now.

 

“Actions speak louder than words,” Durk finally said, looking her straight in the eye.  He then walked out of the room.

 

Kayla then walked passed all of them on her way out the building and to her dorm room.

 

“Cheer up Kira.”  Gordon calmed Kira, who now had streams of tears rolling down her face, hurt from Durk’s remarks.

 

“Why should I?”  Kira asked, sobbing as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Gordon rubbed his chin, flexing his eyebrows at her as he wooed, “Better yet—There’s always me.”

 

“I’ll have to sleep on it.”  Kira said shyly, and winked at him as she walked out the room.

 

On her way back to her dorm room, Kira passed by many girls in the hallway.  They moved out her way as they saw her.

 

“Ew…” the British-speaking girl started,  “You better not—”

 

“I won’t give him that chance—like I did Durk.”  Kira’s tone sounded slurred, but sure in her speech.

 

“But not one comes close to him.”  The girl said.

“Who?”  Kira asked.

“You know who!”

 

“He left me!”  Kira defended, rolling her eyes at the thought of it.  “He didn’t bother to say goodbye either!”

 

“I don’t believe that.” The girl said defiantly.

“…And I don’t care either.”  Kira added, unconcerned.

 

Kira stopped in front of her dorm room’s door and opened it.  There were girls standing around her, listing to the woman talk to herself.

 

“MIND YOUR OWN BEEZ WAX!”  Kira yelled, turning to them after entering her room.  She slammed the door as hard as she could.  The girls flinched at the door being slammed in their faces.  They went back to doing whatever they were doing before.

 

A few feet down from them in her room was Kayla. She too heard the door slamming shut.

 

“God, people just love slamming doors around here!”  Kayla turned to her door, feeling the tremor.  She was at a computer screen talking to Earl over Skype.

 

“You shouldn’t concern yourself with that.”  Earl suggested.

 

“I just hope that girl doesn’t do that every time someone gets on her nerves!”  Kayla said, sympathetic to the situation.

 

“Who is it?”  Earl asked, concerned.

“I don’t know but—”

 

“Why be concerned about something like that?”  Earl interrupted.  He looked at Kayla from the side inquisitively.

 

“RIAS has a strict policy on noise pollution.”  Kayla informed, “Almost on the lines of getting kicked off campus with an automatic withdraw from all your classes!”

 

“Oooh,” Earl sounded scared, but Kayla grinned at hearing the sarcasm in his voice.  “I bet that’ll weed out the ones who like to blast their loud and crazy music day and night!”

“These walls are hollow, dad,” Kayla laughed.  “But I heard those in the ZCOM dorms have thicker walls.”

 

“How come they get royalty treatment?”  Earl asked, “Wait… ZCOM, as in the Zyran Conservatory Of Music?”

 

“Yes!”  Kayla answered with a grin.  “They don’t enforce the noise pollution policy over there because you can’t hear anything outside the dorm rooms!”

 

Earl shrugged. “Well, you had a choice.”

“If I could, I’d switch majors!”  Kayla thought aloud.

“Do you think you can handle a double major?” Earl grinned.

 

“Not right now, though I might consider take a music class as an elective!” Kayla giggled.

 

“Kenji always said that musicians are treated like kings and queens up on Zyra,” Earl harrumphed.  “I never knew how until now!”

 

“Me thinks ZCOM students talk about music 24/7,” Kayla added but then sighed as she continued in disgust, “These girls in RIAS have only one thing on their mind.”

 

“Lemme guess—Boys?”  Earl guessed, rolling his eyes at the thought.

“If it’s not that, it’s computers.”  Kayla answered with a nod.

 

“So, are you having any problems with the other gender yet?” Earl asked, changing his tone to a fatherly demeanor.

 

“Not yet.”  Kayla laughed nervously.

“Oh, but you will—g-girl!”  Earl stopped, flinching as Liz jumped at the screen, barking.

“Hey Liz!”  Kayla greeted.

 

Liz continued scratching and licking at the screen, trying to get at Kayla.  She started whimpering as Earl pulled her away.  He started cleaning the monitor with a paper towel. It was saturated with dog saliva.

 

“Girl, how many times have I told you NOT to do that?” Earl scolded Liz.

 

Liz answered with a whimpering bark.

 

“How’s she holding up?”  Kayla asked.

 

“She won’t eat sometimes.”  Earl answered in a sad voice.  “She misses you and Marion—which reminds me, are they still searching for her body?”

 

“Zyra said she’ll let me know if they find something.”  Kayla answered.  “Right now—”

 

 “They’re busy with—stuff.”  Earl finished in his interruption.  “That’s what they always say.”

 

“But she and Madam Naira are super busy—there’s that Global Warming thing that’s been on the news lately and the oil disaster.”

 

“You mean,” Earl’s ears perked up at Kayla mentioning the latter.  “That oil spill in the Gulf from 27 years ago STILL hasn’t been cleaned up?”

 

“They’ve just now asked Zyra for help.”  Kayla answered surely.

 

“I’m surprised the Defense Minster is showing Earth mercy.”  Earl scoffed.  “The last one didn’t.  You know—”

 

“Queen Saul.”  Kayla shuttered after speaking her name.

 

“Do they talk much about her daughter up there?”  Earl asked, leaning forward at the screen.

 

“They hold her in a good light as opposed to Earth and the lunar colonies.”  Kayla laughed.  “Crime is at an all time low on the space station thanks to her!”

 

“That’s good! I guess you don’t have to worry about getting things stolen from you or getting mugged at night.” Earl leaned back with a slight cough.

 

“I’m still going to stay indoors!”  Kayla hesitated.

 

“Why? There’s so much things to—”

 

“I’ve been hearing mostly about the many clubs in Sector B.”  Kayla interrupted in a stiff voice.

 

“Okay… Nevermind!” Earl acknowledged.

“So how are you and Sadina doing?”  Kayla asked.

 

“Well, I—haven’t shown her this lately but…” Earl stopped.  He looked around to see if Sadina was nearby.  When he didn’t see her, he turned back to the screen.  He showed Kayla ring case and opened it.  Inside it was a diamond ring.  “Don’t call and tell her—I believe she’s the one for me.”

 

“I think it’s what Mariana wanted for you, dad, to move on with your life.” Kayla said with a grin.  She wiped a tear of joy from her left eye.

 

“Hey, hey, hey, young lady! No crying until the wedding!”  Earl joked as he closed the ring case and put it away.

 

“I wish I could come down and be there!”  Kayla whined.

 

“You could but I don’t think Zyra would send you down here alone.”  Earl said with seriousness.

 

“Yeah and the bodyguards would draw too much attention!”  Kayla joked and shortly laughed.

 

“By the way, where did you buy that ring from?”  Kayla looked at him with raised eyebrow.

 

“Marion’s old job.”  Earl shrugged.

“You’re not just pulling my leg, right?”  Kayla grinned.

Earl waved his hand at her.  “No, I’ve learned my lesson!”

 

Kayla giggled.  “Okay, I’m sure you did!  Sadina would put you through some stuff if you gave her something inferior—y’know she and Mariana were like sisters, right?”

 

“Yeah, which reminds me, did you get your stuff Sadina and I sent you?”  Earl asked, almost forgetting.

 

“Yep, my flute and everything in one box!”  Kayla answered happily as she quickly glanced back to an opened box near her door.  Her flute case was sitting on top of it along with its stand.

 

“Well, I hope you enjoy yourself up there.  I’m proud of you, Kay.”  Earl praised. 

 

That’s when something started ringing in the background. 

 

“Whoops!  Something’s cooking in the oven.” Earl said, looking back to the door.

 

“What is it?”  Kayla asked, she sounded suspicious because of his eating habits.  As she recalled, Earl always ate the wrong foods.  From the last time she saw him, he looked like he had put on 20 more pounds.

 

“Fettuccini Alfredo.”  Earl stuttered as he looked back to the screen.  He knew she wouldn’t let him go even if he cut the connection.  Kayla would call back and tell Sadina if Earl refused to talk to her about the matter.

 

“That’s unhealthy!”  Kayla yelled at him.

“Not the way Sadina cooks it!”  Earl countered.

“What other way is there?”  Kayla asked, folding her arms at him.

“Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice!”  Earl snorted.

Kayla laughed. “Oh, Duh!”

 

“Earl?”  Sadina called from outside his locked room.  Liz ran to the door, scratching at it while barking.

 

“Coming!”  Earl answered, turning to the door again.  “Gotta go, Kayla!  You take care!”

 

“You too!”  Kayla exclaimed, blowing a kiss at him.  She cut the connection by logging off Skype.

 

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