Engineering isn't my thing

"Dear Amy McKinley, congratulations, we are happy to inform you that we have accepted your application to work with us. You will serve as part of the engineering department. Please report to the following address at 2pm on Thursday 06/04/52."

I re-read the letter for the hundredth time. Surely there had to be some sort of mistake. I thought I had applied for a job in the PR department of the European Cosmic Alliance, I was just a history student, certainly not cut out for engineering, knowing nothing about it and not really being in any shape for the manual labour required.

I found a phone number and tried to sort things out, I figured if they had employed me, they probably decided to put me somewhere other than PR, like analysing artifacts, and just hit the wrong button when they put it through their system. I explained all of this patiently to the agent, who seemed to think I was trying to back out of the job. "No, no," I explained, "I really want to join, I just don't think I'm qualified for the engineering department." And I did want to join, the opportunity to work in space was great, and the pay wasn't bad either. This seemed to get through to them. "I assure you, Miss McKinley, that we will do everything we can to make sure you thrive at your new job. We look forward to seeing you on the 6th." And then they hung up. I wasn't sure what to think, but they seemed to know what they were doing, so I thought I might as well make the best of it.

Over the next few days I made a few attempts to read up on mechanics and electronics to prepare myself, but I would get stuck on the difference between ceramic and electrolytic capacitors and my mind would wander until I found myself zoning out and idly playing with my long blonde hair while staring at the text and not reading it. Two days before I was due to join I gave up trying entirely and just focused on relaxing, mixed with sporadic packing, trying to decide what to take with the very limited weight allowance I had.

The 6th arrived and I caught a cab over to the address I was provided, which turned out to be the training compound for new hires. I was greeted by two staff members, one man and one woman, both wearing very simple ECA uniforms just a plain t shirt and dark trousers. I felt overdressed in my blouse and skirt, but I had wanted to make a good impression. They introduced themselves as Ivan and Eva and showed me to the dorms where I would be staying during training beforw I would get to ride the shuttle up to the space station. As we walked, Eva talked. "I understand you were nervous about fitting in here, and worried you wouldn't be able to keep up. Please don't be, after training you'll feel like you've been in engineering for years. Ah, here we are." She stood outside the double room as Ivan showed me in and directed me where to put my bag. The other side of the room looked like it was occupied but there was no sign of my new roommate. I hoped she was nice. "You'll have time to settle in later, but first you need to go to your induction." Said Eva, and the two began to lead me away. As I walked, I brushed past a boy in uniform, presumably walking back to the dorms. I wondered which room he was in.

After several identical corridors, we finally arrived at induction. It seemed like a quite secluded part of the compound, I thought it would have been in a more central location. "We're here," said Eva, "just this and then you can begin training. Head through when you're ready." She gestured to the door behind her. I took a deep breath since it felt like the right thing to do, and stepped through the door.

I entered an empty room, much smaller than I imagined. There was a large mirror on the far wall, and I could see myself standing, confused. Was this some sort of test? As I began to turn around to see if Eva would give me any sort of guidance, my mind began to feel foggy. I started to hear a hissing sound like running water, and I felt something shift on my body. I turned back to the mirror to see I was now naked, but the feeling of motion only got more intense. My stomach seemed to slowly lose a layer of fat as it flattened out, followed by my chest, as my breasts receded. The hissing got louder now, drowning out most of my thoughts. I could only hold onto fleeting memories: my parents' faces; my first day at school; Avery, my first boyf- girlfriend. My hair darkened, on my head, on my legs, on my arms. I felt my body rearranging around my crotch as the hissing sound grew so loud it was impossible to concentrate or think at all.

I must have blacked out for a second in the shower. Hot water hissed from the showerhead and ran down my body. I turned off the tap and stepped out. I grabbed a towel and rubbed it over my short buzzed hair. I thought about when I had long hair, that year I grew it out, and I remembered how much of a dork I looked and how glad I was to be rid of it, especially since it got in the way in the workshop. I dried the rest of my body off and grabbed the fresh uniform I had left outside the shower. I quickly dressed, then proudly clipped my namebadge to my shirt: Zach McKinley, Engineering. I ran a hand over my hair and checked my appearance in the mirror. I couldn't wait to meet some of the other newbies, especially my roommate. I hoped he was nice.

---

One month later, and training was over. I had breezed through it, being way more experienced than most of the others, and I was going to be the first of my group to get on the shuttle to the station. Eva and Ivan walked me to the launch pad. On the way I passed a slightly chubby girl about my height, with blonde hair just past her shoulders. She was clearly new, but she seemed oddly familiar. I caught a glimpse of her namebadge: Amy Roberts, Public Relations.



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