by C.M. Lacey
"Glee! Jan Glee, wake up!"
Glee groaned, and rolled over towards the voice stirring her away from her dreams. There was a tiny hand shaking her foot, so she forced her eyes to open, even if it somewhat hurt to do so. Light poured into her sky blue eyes and she winced at it. She quickly placed the back of her palm to her eyes and moaned once more, her body rebelling against the wake-up call.
"Glee, c'mon! You have to get up, or you'll make us late!"
"I don't care."
"Yes you do. If you stay, I'll stay and we'll both be punished."
And with that Glee pushed herself into a seated position. She couldn't sit all the way up, as he bed was the top section of the bunk bed she shared with her room mate, Dan Shee. As expected it wasn't Shee who had awaken her, it was her best friend Ban Re who slept in the bunk bed on the opposite wall of their quarters.
"That's my girl." Re smiled a sweet smile and climbed down the ladder so Glee could get follow her down. Even though her muscles felt stiff and she ached all over, Glee followed her friend. "We'll be just in time for showers if you hurry."
"I'm doing my best." Glee felt like complaining some more. "But putting the Blues on labor duties is taking a lot out of me. I wasn't grown to do this shit."
"We Zan-Ne do what they're told." Re gave Glee a shrug. "Even Violets like me."
Jan Glee and Ban Re were Zan-Ne, or artificial beings created from a strong human DNA source and made into a military-like labor force. Years back, Glee and the others were designed to help Terran colonist settle a planet called Musa Major. The Terrans needed more hands than they had to start the colonies, so the aliens that the Terrans rented the planet from, the Mari, provided them with Zan-Ne aid.
The two Zan-Ne opened the steel door and joined the line of their peers walking in an orderly manner to the shower room. Few of them were wearing clothes and many were holding towels, as they had woke up in time. Re and Glee were hastily pulling off their underwear and tossing them anywhere. There was no modesty between the girls, because all of them shared a sisterly kinship from having been raised in the same Institute for their whole lives.
They were all very similar looking because of the common DNA source they shared. She had been an Asian-Terran female. Her DNA had been chosen because she was the healthiest when the Terrans first arrived on Musa Major, and she matched all the requirements the Mari Zan-Ne growers needed. So all Zan-Ne were female, they all were around the same size and body measurements, and had similar features. However they weren't quite identical. The changes in appearance came genetically, and this is what made the Zan-Nes more like family members than just simple clones.
Glee was a Blue, which was Zan-Ne slang for a Tactical model. As such, her body was designed to be physically fit at all times. Because she was a Blue, her black hair had a blonde patch on the right side of her head with were blue streaks inside that patch to indicate her model. All of this was natural growing. Re, on the other hand was a Strategist Zan-Ne, so when she referred to herself as a Violet, she wasn't just talking about the color of her hair streaks. Because of her abilities, she had to look more attractive for her job. This meant that Re had a longer hair, slightly bigger bust, and didn't have the same athletic build. She had the same blonde patch as Glee had, but her streaks were violet.
"You two again?" Gan Bree, a fellow Tactical Zan-Ne that Glee often worked with. She was smiling at a silly looking Re who was hopping up and down trying to get her underwear off while still walking. "I'm not sure who's the trouble maker of the two of you, but you make our cell block look bad."
"It was my fault." Re lied. "I just couldn't get up today for some reason."
Bree didn't believe that, but also didn't call her on it. It was very hard for a Zan-Ne to lie to another Zan-Ne. In a way, they all thought a like. While Re was probably more intelligent than either Glee or Bree was, her thought process for figuring out a complicated political move was the same as how Bree figured out her own problems in a combat situation. While Glee was a grunt compared to these two, Bree had been recently made a junior officer. Despite the class difference, Zan-Ne could be very predictable in how they went about their daily lives.
"Do you have wall duty today?" Bree asked Glee politely as they entered the locker room.
The whole room was just a big warehouse converted into a bathing room. There was once again no privacy, as the rows of showers were just pipes in the ceiling with the nuzzle controls dangled from a tube where the user would stand. A soup product was in a separate pipe, and could be sprayed down at any time. Usually the unspoken rule was that the Zan-Ne to the left aided the one on the right to get areas that couldn't be reached. Showers always weren't meant to be enjoyed. They were a quick stop to the mess hall were everyone would receive their three nutrient-cubes for the day.
"I haven't been on wall duty in months." Glee complained as she took a shower next to Re and Bree. "They've mostly got me on deliveries."
"Strange." Bree commented as she leaned her head back into the luke-warm water. "I've been noticing a lot of that lately."
Re seemed to agree. "It's true, but don't go around talking about it."
"Oh? Something we should know?" Bree seemed interested now. Re always had the best gossip because she was an assistant to Neo-Edo's Mayor.
"I wish I could say." Re turned to her and honestly looked like it. "Let's just say the Mari are making money off of the extra work we Zan-Ne have been doing."
Glee took all of that in. She didn't have Re's mind for political affairs, but as a combat Zan-Ne she could see the strategy behind this. A decade ago, for unknown reasons Confederate technology stopped working on Musa Major. As a result, conditions became harsher, and tasks had to be done with Terran-level of technology. Since the Terrans were recently perceived as a lower form of life amongst the Five Great Races, their human achievements were laughable compared to the rest of the Galaxy. So a good amount of aid on the Mari's part was required. And that aid was not free. Since the Mari owned the Zan-Ne, all the extra work they've been doing had been forcing the Terran colonists to fork over more money.
After the shower, all the Zan-Ne dried off, put on underwear from the community bins, then went to the other bins to place on their signature jumpsuits. Because most Zan-Ne were practically the same size, the full body suits were more or less form fitting but had a stretch to it so those modified to be bigger or small in some areas could fill them out properly. All the suits were an egg-shell white with the only differences being the colors lining the sides matched the Zan-Ne's model. Glee's suit had a vivid blue color striping down from her arm pit from her leg. The boots they wore were all the same white color.
After getting her nutrient-cubes for the day, Glee separated from Re to go to the assignment board in the Common-Hall to see if her job had changed during the night. Unfortunately it hadn't. Once again she had carrier duties. For the whole day, she would be lugging boxes from the trade ships to the Mayor's Mansion. The only upside to this detail was that somehow Private Bree was in the same boat. At least she'd have company.
"This is bullshit." Another blue standing beside Glee complained. "Why the hell do I have to work in the fields again?"
Glee could relate. "I don't have guard duty either."
Another tactical Zan-Ne shook her head. "I can't believe this… If we're doing this, who's hunting or guarding the wall?"
For this question, Glee had no answer. There were some tactical models assigned to wall duty, but not as many as there used to be. It seemed money was more important than safety.
So along with a few of her fellow Blues and Pinks, they Zan-Ne went off for carrier work. Generally Pinks were engineers and builders, so they weren't all that pleased with being assigned something as brainless as lugging cargo. While they complained about it to themselves, once the Zan-Ne were in public, they did no such thing. It just wasn't done for a Zan-Ne to be seen as normal people. They were a created race, which made them lower-life. They had no right to make a stink out of things like the normal races (or Norms as the Zan-Ne nicknamed them) did.
The day went along as brainless and boring as to be expected. Thankfully transport of the crates when along easier than the previous day because the Engineer types improvised some dollies for them to use. Still, the Mari wasn't allowing usages of any type of transports, so what resulted was a line of Zan-Ne going back and forth collecting crates, dropping them off, and going back to repeat the process. All of this could have been down quicker if they had a transport, but it seemed the Mari wanted to milk all the money they could from such a simple job, thus were making the Zan-Ne work longer.
"It's bad enough you Zan-Ne are taking all the jobs, but do you have to parade around town while you do it?" An angry male Terran shouted at them.
That was one of the reasons Terrans were still seen as lower-life. Only recently the primitive race was included into the Galactic Confederation of Worlds. Generally, most of the higher beings in the galaxy had one gender: female. Terrans were the rare exception of having two. Because of this, even though Terrans were still in the process of being considered the sixth great race, most Mari's felt the male gender was enough to still count them as lower-life.
In this instance, Glee was inclined to agree with the Mari. Who did that Terran think he was? All she was doing was her job. It wasn't her fault that Terrans couldn't make Mari technology work on Musa Major. She could see Bree in her corner of her eye, and it looked as though the Private was in the same mindset, but the Engineers among them seem to be ignoring it the Terran outburst better. If only Tactical Zan-Ne were designed to have more patience like those Pinks were.
"A zany parade?" Another Terran male's voice came from the group of Terrans watching them. "What's that?"
"Not zany. Zan-Ne." The angry man told the other.
"I still don't see a parade though."
"I'm not talking about a literal parade." The angry man tried to explain, but Glee couldn't hear the rest. She had already moved on.
She reached the Mayor's mansion and placed her box down with the others. They had been going most of the day with no breaks, and even with increased endurance and strength in her genetic make-up weren't helping. Everyone was exhausted. The Mari in charge let them rest a bit, which most were pleased about. Some took out their nutrient-cubes and popped them in their mouths. Glee followed their example.
"Have you ever tried Norm food?" Bree took a seat near Glee, engaging in polite conversation.
"A Terran child let me have her unfinished sandwich once. It's completely different of course. Not a concentrated supplement like our nutrient-cubes. But it's the taste that makes it amazing. I can see why the Norms spend a good amount of time preparing and eating food."
"Is it that good?" Glee wondered.
"Oh yeah." Bree smiled, her eyes glazing over slightly from the memory of it. "I couldn't have much, but just thinking about that sometimes makes my mouth water. I want to try all kinds of different foods some day."
"I hope you do." Glee told her and meant it. She didn't see how the Private could manage it, but it would be amazing if she did. Zan-Ne schedules were so tight, they rarely had any free time.
"Is there something that you always wanted to do?"
"Sleep in." Glee teased.
"Well, we all want that." Bree giggled. "What about….hmm… what about love?"
"Yeah. You see both Mari and Terrans find partners and fall in love. I kind of wonder if we can do that?"
Glee never thought about it before. Zan-Ne had all the human emotion and feelings that the source did, so it was possible. But she never heard of two Zan-Ne falling in love. If they had, perhaps they didn't know what it was, or maybe they didn't want to tell anyone because it was an embarrassing Norm custom.
"Maybe love is like being friends." Glee pondered.
"I think so." Bree seemed to agree. "But I've seen a Mari couple holding hands and pressing their lips together. It doesn't seem like a thing friends do."
Glee had seen this before with some Terrans. "Well, I don't see why friends can't do that. It doesn't look like it's complicated or anything."
Bree wondered about this herself, but the break was over. The two of them got to their feet with a groan and started back to the loading dock. Glee looked at an Engineer's bouncing pig-tails in front of her, wondering when Bree had time to think about Norm concepts like love and food. Maybe being a Private meant her work loads were easier than a grunt like her? She didn't know. The only things Glee thought about was having a few laughs with Re and Shee. She liked laughing.
"See, look. They're walking in a line like a parade. They aren't actually in a parade, you idiot. Now do you get it?"
"I suppose, but where does the zany part come in?"
"Not Zany! Zan-Ne! Don't you know what that is?"
Glee broke her instinct to ignore the conversation, as she was amazed the two Terrans were still fighting over something so trivial. The angry one was shorter than the confused one. He was standing on his toes red in the face and shouting. The taller one was the more handsome of the two. He had dark messy brown hair and had similar blue eyes like she did. He probably was in his early twenties, but he had an innocent look to his face that made him seem younger. Glee had mostly seen asian types in Neo-Edo, so seeing another Terran variant was interesting to her.
"I've never heard of a Zan-Ne. But I'm still curious to see this zany parade. I'm only in town for a short time, so a local festival would be fun."
"Damn it!" The short man seethed. "Morons like you is the reason why I left Earth in the first place!"
"Don't you mean Terra-3?" The taller one corrected.
"I can't take it!" The angry man shouted. He pulled back his fists and and screamed a blood curling scream. He was going to attack.
And he did. He fist swung wildly seeking the confused man's face. But the tall one must have sense this coming and stepped away. The angry one hadn't given up quite yet and continued in his wild violent direction. That was enough to for Glee's training to kick in. Tactical Zan-Ne were also bred to be peace makers. Despite her current assignment, she stepped out of line.