Note: This story uses background and concepts from the Teenagers From Outer Space role-playing game, Copyright 2001 R. Talsorian Games, Inc. The characters and story are Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith.
Freddy stepped off the bus grinning with anticipation. Moving here to attend high school with aliens had been his Father's idea, but once Freddy heard it he was enthusiastically in favor. Contact High was one of only half a dozen schools on Earth participating in an exchange program with the alien civilizations who had made their presence known to humanity just a few years previous. The building had originally been an older school marked for remodeling anyway, and after this area was selected by the UN for the program the remodeling plans were changed appropriately and the school renamed. Freddy had moved in with his aunt and uncle shortly after the selection was announced, six months earlier. This meant changing to a new (but non-alien) school during a school year, but Freddy had willingly accepted the problems this brought, just so he could live in the area long enough to meet the residency requirements. Not only had he subsequently aced his grades, he'd made several new friends, including his first girlfriend, Karen. To Freddy's delight, when the students for the new school were announced she was also on it. Freddy was just about in heaven.
"Looks good, doesn't it?" he asked Karen, over his shoulder.
The building looked new and neat and clean and inviting. It gave the impression of being a true place of learning.
"Well, it's a school building," she countered, shrugging. "I mean, c'mon, it's where we're going to school."
"Yeah, shorty, it's uncool to stare at your school building," said a tall, well-dressed boy behind them, "so move it."
There was plenty of room for him to go around Freddy and Karen, but this guy wanted their space. Not even looking at him, Freddy stepped a bit to the side. Karen didn't move. The boy went around her, then cut back in, deliberately bumping Freddy. Still looking, smiling, at the school, the shorter boy ignored him. The tall boy moved in front of Freddy, blocking his view.
"Around here when someone bumps someone, they apologize," the tall boy said, staring at Freddy.
"Apology accepted," Freddy said, nodding, as he looked around the boy at the school.
The tall boy needed a moment to realize what had happened. Then he got mad.
"Make fun of me!" he yelled, swinging wildly.
Freddy caught his arm, grabbed his belt, shifted his left hand to the tall boy's shoulder, and hefted him into the air, over Freddy's head.
"I don't need to make fun of you," said Freddy, still smiling. "You do a good enough job of that yourself."
"Put me down!" the boy shrieked.
"Sure," said Freddy.
He took a couple of quick steps and heaved. The boy landed, rolling and sliding, on the wet grass beside the walkway, getting mud, grass stains and actual grass on his fancy clothes. He blew his cool and rose, screaming like a girl.
"I'm getting a teacher! You can't treat me like that!"
"There's already a teacher here," growled a stocky, middle-aged man, walking up. "And he's right. When you act like a fool, people can get away with treating you like a fool."
"Coach," said the boy, suddenly straightening, his voice and manner those of a cool, mature 17 year old. He pointed an accusing finger at Freddy. "This kid is trying to sideline one of your star players!"
"When did that happen?" asked Coach, sarcastically. Ignoring the tall boy's sputtering, he stepped over to Freddy, shaking hands. "Hello, Freddy. Good to see you again. I'll get with you later and introduce you to the other team members."
"It's hard to believe he's only 14," said Mrs. Mueler, after Coach briefed the faculty on the incident. "Except for his height, he could be eighteen."
"That's what happens when a boy who is a quick developer skips a couple of grades," said Coach.
"I understand his great-grandfather started a family eugenics plan back early in the Twentieth Century," said Principal Tolliver. "That's one reason the Selection Committee chose him. The aliens were curious about the family."
"Well, we haven't got time to worry about that now," said Mrs. Mueler. "The alien delegation will be arriving in just over half an hour."
"I'm looking forward to meeting them," said Coach. "I want to see if those heavy gravity boys are as good as I've heard."
The spaceship landed on the large field next to the track. Besides the school faculty and students a full delegation of Earth officials was there to greet the aliens, including a general and an admiral. The large door at the rear of the craft opened, a ramp sliding out to the ground. Out came the newcomers. Some appeared completely human. Some looked mostly human, except for a detail of coloration, size, shape or number of visible components. Some were vaguely human in shape, being approximately bipedal and mostly walking upright. A few looked nothing like humans.
One of the real weirdies was in the lead, a strange creature which looked like a four foot tall purple fireplug, with four stumpy legs at the bottom and four muscular tentacles at the top. It walked straight to the school band director and offered a tentacle. The startled band director shook the proffered limb, and the fireplug creature began its prepared speech.
"Am Doctor Sumt'ang I. Of to delegation leader the am alien school this I the. Be happy am I to here."
An alien diplomatic aide approached, and quietly spoke with Doctor Sumt'ang. If a purple fireplug could look confused, this one did.
"Uniform but is he the fanciest wearing!"
Aside from that minor glitch, the welcoming ceremony went fine. Freddy stared at the aliens, students and teachers alike. One of the latter particularly caught his attention; she looked like a humanoid cat. She was also nearly naked. Well, except for her fur.
"Wow," breathed Freddy. "I bet she could teach me some interesting things."
Unfortunately, he forgot Karen was standing right next to him.
The rest of that first day was for getting acquainted with each other, and being given tours of the school. Freddie scratched under the bandage wrapped around his head, winced in pain, and sighed.
"I didn't mean it the way it sounded," he whispered to Karen, as they shuffled into the science lab.
"It sure sounded like you did," she huffed.
There were sounds of wonder from the human teachers and students as Doctor Sumt'ang and Mrs. Mueler explained how alien and human scientists and engineers had worked together to design a facility for teaching science to a combined human and alien student body. Actually, most of those there hardly heard them; they were too preoccupied with staring at the weird and wonderful gadgetry, some of it elaborate machines the size of small buildings. And no-one could understand Doctor Sumt'ang, anyway...
"This looks like it's gonna be fun," chortled Freddy.
"This looks like a combination of Dr. Frankenstein's lab and an electrician's worst nightmare," said Karen.
"It does appear to be rather cobbled together," said a new voice.
Freddy and Karen looked around, to see that the speaker was a big blob of purplish jelly.
"Hello," it announced, extending a pseudopod and forming a crude hand at the end of it. "I'm Hrpblple."
"Uh, hello," said Freddy, shaking "hands" but not too vigorously. The thing felt squishy. "I'm Freddy Luger."
"Karen Polstice," said Karen, gingerly taking a second "hand," extruded while Freddy was still shaking the first.
"I'm so excited!" Hrpblple burbled. "Actual Earthlings! You're so famous, you know."
They did, but only vaguely why. The whole thing involved something about Earth being the only known source of Chuck Berry.
"So, uh, what are you?" Freddy asked the strange creature.
Karen elbowed him, but not too hard. She wanted to know, too.
"I'm a Hrpblple, from the planet Hrpblple," Hrpblple replied. "We're amorphous."
"So, are you a boy or a girl?" Freddie asked, feeling more confused than he had after his first question.
"No," Hrpblple explained.
Freddie and Karen gaped, but before they could ask for a clarification, the tour group started moving again. Freddie and Karen were surprised to note that to move around, Hrpblple simply pulled in his appendages and rolled.
Next stop was the gym, which was even larger - and much more open - than the science lab. Coach and his partner - Miz Klupper, a female alien who looked completely human except for her green skin, pink hair and pointed ears - explained how the room provided complete environment control, including gravity. Miz Klupper turned the gravity down about halfway to demonstrate, which led to some unfortunate hijinks. The gravity was quickly turned back up, causing several people to drop to the floor with undignified thumps.
"We have the latest Earth and alien training equipment, stored neatly away in these wall cavities," Miz Klupper explained, demonstrating by pulling a ping pong table out into the room. "Everything needed for a wide variety of games, sports, and exercise, to train young bodies to ultimate fitness."
"Yes!" hissed Freddie, pumping his right arm and grinning like an idiot.
"As with the rest of the facilities here, the latest in security equipment ensures safety and modesty," Coach announced, walking towards the locker room doors. "Once the sensors and actuators are turned on tomorrow, only males will be able to enter the male facilities, only females the female, only neuters the neuter, and only herms the herm. So if you've ever been curious about what the showers for something you're not are like, this is your only chance to find out."
That brought a small laugh. And Karen grabbing Freddie as he started for the girls' locker.
"But..." he protested.
"You are not going in there!" she hissed. "I don't care if it's open house."
"Okay. What about the neuters' room?"
"You can check that out if you want. I'm going into the boys' locker room."
"Hey! Howcum it's okay for you to go in there, but not for me to..."
"Because I'm not a pervert," was Karen's smug reply.
Freddie sighed, and went with her. He was curious about what alien equipment might have been installed. To their mutual disappointment, all of it turned out to be very mundane, except for the sonic dryers just outside the showers.
"What are those?" Karen asked, as they entered the restroom.
Freddy thought about lying to her as a joke, but they were with several other people and he figured one of them might call him on it.
"Urinals," he told her, shrugging. "For guys to - uh - urinate in."
Karen frowned, looking confused.
"But how do you sit on them?"
"They're for guys to urinate in," Freddy repeated.
Karen glared at him.
"You told me that already. And I asked you a question. And you didn't answer it."
"You do know guys can aim, right?" said Freddy, with a smirk.
Karen opened her mouth to make an angry retort, then left it open as she turned bright red.
"Oh," she said, weakly.
They tried the neuters' room next, but that was so weird they quickly exited. The herms' room appeared identical to the males'. Karen relented, since so many non-females were doing it, and went with Freddy into the females' room. Again, little difference from the males', except for the lack of urinals in the restroom.
"This is going to be great," Freddy announced with a contented sigh, taking a last look around the gym before the group headed to the cafeteria for lunch.
"You and exercise," teased Karen.
"Hey, I thought you liked my muscles," said Freddy.
"I do. And I know they need a lot of work. But sometimes you seem obsessed with them."
"Sorry," said Freddy, with a shrug, "that's just the way I am."
The cafeteria also had a mixed Earthling and alien staff, as well as mixed types of food. Freddy eagerly grabbed two trays, three plates and two bowls, plus silverware. He then went down the line, taking a bit of almost everything.
"Uh, Freddy," said Karen, looking worried, "some of this stuff might not be safe for humans."
"I asked," Freddy replied. "See that symbol? That's for stuff that's toxic to humans. I'm avoiding those."
But nothing else. Freddy carefully carried his trays to an empty table, put his dishes out and sat cheerfully down to eat. Karen sat gingerly next to him, her plate holding mostly uncooked vegetables, which she nibbled on as she watched Freddy. He dug in with relish, and mustard, and ketchup, and a number of alien condiments and spices neither of them could put a name to. Some dishes he did no more than taste, and a couple he rejected by smell alone, but a few he obviously found delicious.
"You're going to make yourself sick," said an alien boy at the next table, twisted around to watch.
He was almost entirely human in appearance, except for his colors. He had chocolate skin and grey eyes, which weren't really unusual, but with those went pink hair. Bright, almost fluorescent pink hair.
"I'm Ramet Genet. And that's Ldbotelf with Hskmert sauce. It's normally only eaten by Hrpblple."
"We met one," Freddy mumbled around a mouthful of the unpronounceable stuff. He swallowed, considered for a moment, then nodded. "Say, this stuff is all right."
He spooned another load into his mouth, as Ramet stared in wonder.
"Man, you don't know what that stuff will do to you!" said one of Ramet's tablemates, a creature which looked like a giant daddy longlegs. "I know one of Ramet's people who tried some of that on a bet, once, and dissolved into a puddle of goo."
"Yeah, but that's because they're shapeshifters," said another, this one humanoid but extremely stocky, with heavily wrinkled, grey skin. He looked vaguely like the mutant offspring of a humanoid rhinoceros and a bipedal whale. "Stuff probably triggered an allergic response which caused an undefined state change."
"Freddy..." said Karen, becoming more concerned.
"I bet he won't eat the gronk!" said the spider.
A betting pool quickly started, on whether Freddy could actually eat particular dishes he had yet to try. Two of them had twenty-to-one odds. Except for one of the latter, Freddy actually swallowed at least one bite of all the remaining dishes. Though he made clear his dislike for some of them.
Finally, he finished, delicately belched and dabbed his lips with a napkin. Applause broke out.
"Thank you, thank you," said Freddy, grinning, standing to bow. He sat, still smiling, looking quite content. "Y'know, I think I'm gonna like it here."
End Part One
This story is Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reprint or repost it must have permission from the author, who can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.