“Ok yu have to leave now” said Mum.
“I will miss you” Tim replied.
His little sister had not bothered to come to the door. From the distance one could hear her singing: “Tim is gona be a rubber boy, rubber toy, mindless rubber toy.”
Dad yelled: “shut up. we all are proud on his decision”
Calling it his decisions was something his parents had started doing lately. Even though his mother had signed him away and as minor Tim had really no voice in it.
Since it had become clear he would leave for a guard academy his sister had become intreasinlgy tyrannical. Relations to his parents had not been well.
His sister had made it clear they would take over his room.
For Tim the last month had not been easy. At school he struggled at home the relationship especially to his sister became more and more difficult. So what was once seen as a punishment from hi sparents now seemed as a possible relief. His mother had told him, maybe he would get some rest. And yes his grades could improve too.
So after his last school day after a couple of days hanging around in his parents house not really doing anything he was glad he could leave for indcution.
“Promise us to write”
“If they allow me.”
“Sure, they guaranteed that” Mother rememberd the leaflet with the instructions what a guard cadet would need: No clothing and toiltetries, only phone and report cards,
His father drove him to the pick up point at big guard station downtown.
They listend to some musci and disn’t speak a lot. Traffic came to a stop.
“What is it?”
“Not sure, the others have stopped.”
Tim looked out of the window of the car. At the front of the que he could see a random vehicle einspection carried out by some guardsman.
“Oh see your new coworkers.” Dad giggled.
Their car advanced to front of the que.
A tank suited guardsman with no helmet, just wearing a black beret motioned to park their vehicle and get out.
“Please leave the vehicle, take your I.D with you, we will perform an investigations without a given suspicion. Please go to seperate questioning booths.”
Many of these check points were carried out every day in Europe at random points. So for a citizen it was normal to see this.
Dad went to the que at the left booth, Tim to the one on right.
Sometimes the guardsman were content with just asking questions, sometimes they wantend to see the citizens I.D, sometimes ciitzens were asked to leave their cars to be asked some questions.
A women stepped out of the booth and sighed. She seemed to be reliefed beeing allowed back to her car.
Tim entered. Despite having had a couple of random checks this was an event that made him always a little bit nervous.
“Put your bag here”
Tim put his backpack to a fold table. One of the guardsman started searching his belongings. What did they expect to find? He only carried the items he was supposed to the recruitment station: some report cards, I.D., wallet, one pair of changing clothes.
“Bag is okay”
Tim moved on.
“Your I.D. please”
Tim handed the guardsman his I.D and he pushed it into the reader.
Guardsman A-8007-399-006: with his black baret and clear shaved skull checked it.
“Look into the camera” The reader scanned his iris and took a picture of the face.
For a short moment there was silence.
“Oh you are going to join us?”
“How can you see?”
“There is a note in your citizens file. Good decision”
“I’m a little bit nervous though.”
“You don’t have to be, it was the best decsision of my life.”
“Oh, wow. I guess that is something. How old are you?”
“19 biological standard years”
“mhh not that old.”
“Thise one joined up right after school. You are going to a guard academy?”
“Yes, my parents signed me up.”
“Our commander was at one too. That is a fast track to career”
“Wow. Where is he?”
“In the van directing the checkpoint.
You know the routine, it is my duty to ask you: Did you take any illegal substances?”
“Do you know of any illegal or terrorist activity?”
“No” Tim laughed.
“Ok, The last thing needd is some sample of your blood for the scanner”
“Yes, we take it from everyone”
The guardsman sprayed on the little finger with an antiseptic. The needle stuck him and a little blood was sucked into the scanner.
“Ok it detects no residue of banned substances. You are cleared to leave”
The guardsman radioed to his commander “Citizen is cleared to leave”
“Wait our commander wants to met you for some chat. I will escort you.”
The guadsman turned around. From the back Tim could see how the armour plates of the uniform accented a certainly well developed physique. Below the baret there was no hair, a small silver earpiece in and around the left ear.
“You look impressive”
“Thank you. Yes the training really muscled this one up and he even lost all my of pimples, not only in the face everywhere.”
“But you have no hair”
“Well for the duty in the tank suits, its easier if you keep yourself smooth. More hygienic. And its easier to maintain. This one likes the look, should have gone bald before.”
Tim had to agree, the guardsman really looked good.
They arrived in front of the truck, and with a hiss the door unlocked.
“Get in, walk to the end, there the comander is in front of the monitors. This one has to get back to his duty.”
Tim entered. On the left he could see four guardsman sitting in alcove style housings, wearing tank suits, with helmets, eyes closed, sleeping.
“Don’t be afraid of them, they are just on sleep mode.”
A lanky guy with a stubble of blond hair called out to him. He sat ramrod straight and swivield the chair around. The black rubber uniform emphasized his athletic build body.
“You are right, this one is the comander.”
He couln’t be older then his early twenties. A broad smile was on his face.
“So you are going to join the guard acadmy?”
Tim walked a little bit closer.
“Yes my mother signed me up.”
On the screen the details of Tim’s I.D. flickerd.
“Yes, this one can see. You will like it”
“Why did you check us?”
“We get the orders to put up a check-point, then we take out who we find intresting or whom the computer alogrythem tells us to. In your case it was the algorythem. Sometimes we don’t even know why the systems wants us to check on someone. Maybe with your family it was so we could talk.” The comander laughed.
Tim looked around in the dark interior of the truck.
“Ah, you are intersted in the vehicle. Well where we are now is the comand module. From here we can see what is going on, monitor the camera feeds from the tank suits, the vitals, are conected to the wider guard net. Where you walked through was the personell space. Here 12 guardies can rest,travel and referesh.”
“For how long?”
“Well the truck is self contained and more or less autonomous, theoretically for months, but usally we go back to a guard station at least once a week, so the grunts can get out of their tank suits and have some rest and relax time.”
“Like the four over there?”
“Almost, no they are in sleep mode, we don’t know how long we do the check point and since there is not so much traffic we can keep the back up team sleeping and resting.”
“Why do you not wear a tank suit?”
“This one is a senior guardsman or a comander, our rank does not really do the direct policing. Well not so much fun, but also not so much danger, so we stay back and only have our R-Class Uniform. No problem it’s at least as cool as the tank suits”
“The guy next to you is he a senior guardsman as well?”
Tim pointed his finger to another guardsman, sitting at the comand console in the same black rubber suit, wearing a headphones.
“No, he is my assistant. He sorts of does everything, support me, drive, some suit maintance, feeding of the grunts.” The commander laughed.
“So he is your cook?”
“Sorts of, well more or less mixing and smashing veggies for the meals and makeing sure everything is ready.”
Tim looked around, he saw a saddle like contraption in one special compartment and a baby bottle style thing above it.
“Yeah this for feeding and relieving us while we are on duty. Very efficient.”
“How come you are so young and already the commander?”
“The academy prepares one well.” The guy laughed. “And its not so many people this one commands, my rank is E, guard ranks are very easy to memorize: It starts with the standard guardsman, their rank is A. The guy you brought you here was an A. If they do well they can get promoted towards a B. C’s are mosly leading groups of 6 guardsman. So we have two C’s and one E rank here.”
“Very efficient and again for what do you check?”
The guardsman laughed. “That we are not supposed to tell… Ok, your Dad wants to drive you, so you are not late for your induction. Don’t worry you will have great time.”
The cheerful comander let Tim out of the command truck.
Tim walked out an back to their car.
“What did you do?”
“It appears their comander was on the academy as well, so he wanted to chat me up.”
Dad smiled and drove off.
The remainder of the drive they didn’t talk.
When they arrived at the guard compound on the outskirts of town, Dad gave his boy a kiss.
“Ok, see you when you have holidays. Write us and tell me how it is. We will always love you, even your sister.”
“Hard to believe”
Tim took his backpack and walted to the entrance where he showed printout of the invitation to the tanked guardsman on duty.
“Hello” said the guardsman, and held the printed email to the camera lens on his tanksuits collar.
“The computer identifies you and accepts you, step in.”
Behind the iron gate, another gate opend and he walked into that room.
On the receptions desk was a rubbered man, black hair 3mm long, about 25 years old, swimmers built, with a tag D-3478-328-410. A little silver earpiece attached to right ear. Trying to do a casual smile
“Please put your phone and personal belongings, shoes, and everything into this bag, we’ll hand had it back to you at the acedmy, but its easier to transport. Once you are finished write your name on the label.”
Sam did as he was told then he was directed to another bare room. A metal bench on the side. Neon lights overhead. Some other guys his age all in their teens or early twenties, waited there nervously.
“Hello, are you going to the academy as well?”
“Yes”, “yes”, “yes”