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Lieutenant Foster - I Have Eaten Worse


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((Nissitissit Middle School, Pepperel Massachusetts, Earth))
((15 years ago))
::Despite the growing cosmos and expanding enlightenment of the known galaxy, even the epicenter of the Federation was riddled with small towns full of people who were quite happy living on their home world thankyouverymuch. Pepperel Massachusetts was one such town. Many of the inhabitants rarely went farther outside their front door than the coast; and if they really felt the need for a cultural exchange they could take a weekend trip to New York and get all curiosities satisfied. Most of them wished no ill on any other species, but they all felt a solid comfort in keeping a firm footing right where they were rooted. And in turn they didn’t get many visitors. They had a half-Vulcan high school teacher for a few years and the occasional guest speaker; but like so many other small towns they mostly kept to themselves.
Which wasn’t to say their lives were boring. Most would say their lives were anything but. In Mrs. Theresa’s sixth grade class, for example, the kids were in a never-ending social struggle of developing awareness. Old enough to be awkward and self conscious, but young enough to have very little rein on their reactions any time beyond the watchful eye of their teachers was spent testing and developing a pecking order within the ranks.
For twelve year old Peter Bentley, voyaging to the stars seemed like a very far away dream when he trying to survive a new day of middle school. It was a dream he held on to, nonetheless. Sometimes it was the only thing that buoyed him through the days.
‘Hey Peter Pudgebucket!’
‘Portly Peter gonna finish all that?’
‘Bozo Bentley’s got two left feet!’
Peter had heard them all. It wasn’t his fault he was raised by his grandmother and she insisted on making everything from scratch. If he ate replicator meals like the rest of the kids he would have all his nutrients carefully and scientifically calculated out for him. But Gramma Bentley loved to bake and Peter loved to eat what she made. She was also somewhat sedentary, and therefore Peter was too. He had spent his childhood reading books and learning historical woodcrafting from his grandfather rather than running and joining sports. So now he was the awkward pudgy kid who was the last one picked for every team.
And like vultures circling around a carcass, every one of the insecure homebodies in sixth grade zeroed in on him as the target of preference.
But not today.
Today Peter had leapt out of bed, practically rushing to get ready. This surprised his grandmother, who usually had time for a full three cups of coffee before frying up Peter’s breakfast eggs. Today she had barely finished one. She wanted to ask why Peter was in such a rush, but he ran out the door before she could ask.
The answer was simple: today marked the day where he was no longer the biggest outcast in the school.
Today was the day the new kid arrived. New kids always took a bit of heat off Peter, at least for a little while – until the new kid integrated into the social scheme and the bullies went back to tormenting their favored omega. But from all the rumors he had heard, this new kid was as different as possible. An Andorian kid with a human name. And while Peter didn’t understand it in an academic sense, he certainly knew by instinct that nothing brings a population closer together than being faced with an outsider. He was determined to get the middle school equivalent of a ‘front row seat’ to see what everyone would be facing. And so he rushed to school early, getting a prime spot on the playground as the kids gathered, watching as the new kid arrived.
Peter Bentley could barely contain his glee (though later on in life he would be mightily ashamed to admit that). The kid was short! Complete with a mop of white hair, a weird smile and a strange accent. He couldn’t ask for better. He smiled inwardly, looking forward to a long term reprieve from the bullies attentions.::
((Playground – Pepperel Massachusetts, Earth))
((Two weeks after the previous scene))
Sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan.
Peter Bentley stood in the chilly November evening, holding a handful of slimy dead worms, staring into sapphire eyes that were quite possibly colder than the wind that was cutting through his jacket.
BENTLEY: Eat ‘em, or we wash your face in the snow.
FOSTER: ::Nonchalantly:: Hardly a decent threat to someone who was born on an iceball. ::The adolescent Andorian managed a wholly smug look, which made the pudgy kid named Peter squirm, and the bullies behind him bristle.::
::Peter took a tentative step forward, not liking the position he was in one bit.
The new kid had been every inch as alien as he had expected. The bullies didn’t like him at first glance, though he seemed to win accords with some of the kids who had Starfleet ties – and oddly enough he was quite popular with the girls.
Then again at twelve, being popular among the girls wasn’t a selling point with the bullies. They started up a mess of rumors that the new kid wasn’t really a man. Weren’t their species hermaphrodite or four sexed or some other crazy thing? Peter didn’t know and he was certainly too scared to ask the new kid. Not that the new kid was scared. And therein lay the problem. None of the other new kids had stood up to the bullies, but Wyn Foster seemed to have little fear when it came to staring someone down and telling them off. Which the bullies didn’t like one bit.
So they started planning ways to drill fear into the new kid. There was a pecking order and he would respect it! To this end they started recruiting. Peter Bentley was shocked when they recruited him. Him! One of the in crowd! He said yes in a heartbeat.
He never thought it would land him here, in-between the defiant new kid and a crowd of bullies who he was quite sure would beat the ever living snot out of him if he chickened out.::
BENTLEY: There’s more of us then there are of you!
FOSTER: ::eyes darting around:: Ok… not faulting you that logic.
BENTLEY: ::Taking another trembling step forward:: Eat the worms!
MATTINGLY: ::The biggest of the back bully-line called out:: Or we’ll make you wish you never came to this planet.
FOSTER: Really? Brett, your dulcet tones already make me wish I never came to this planet. But if worm eating amuses you… ::he leaned forward and snatched the slimy mess from Bentley’s hands and stuffed them in his mouth.::
::A chorus of ‘ewww!’ and ‘that’s disgusting!’ came from the back line. Wyn himself had a somewhat academic expression on his face as he chewed and swallowed.::
FOSTER: Not terrible. Tastes a bit like dirt. Would be better if they were fresh. You know, like gagh.
MATTINGLY: That is totally gross. Worm eater.
FOSTER: How would you know it’s gross if you never tried them, hm?
::Brett Mattingly grimaced, folded his hands over his chest and stormed off with his posse behind him. In that very moment the bully decided that, yes, he hated Wyn Foster and something had to be done about that kid.
On the other hand Peter Bentley lingered and slowly smiled an apologetic smile. He had decided that the new kid was pretty cool…::
Lieutenant Shar’Wyn Foster
Chief Medical Officer
USS Atlantis
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