Body Issues

[March 2001]

Fandom: Dark Angel
Title: Body Issues
PenName: Empress Vader
Character(s): Tinga
Rating: G
Summary: Tinga deals with coming of age in Manticore.
Disclaimer: This story is a fanwork based on characters featured on the TV series Dark Angel. A television series created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee.

Manticore wasn’t big on separation of the sexes. Everyone was a soilder, we ate together, we slept together, we bathed together. We wore identical gowns to bed and identical uniforms during the day. We all had the same hair cut, we all had a bar code etched into our necks. We knew of only one physical difference that separated us, the penis and the vagina. It was something we were all at once aware of and something that all at once didn’t matter  — we were to young for it to matter.

But one day I noted with horror a development on my chest. Where once there was a flat chest, breast began to be born, quite small, but noticable just the same. I turned away from everyone in the shower and slipped on my gowns and uniforms as quickly as possible. We were taught and trained to be robots, we were use to being the same as each other and use to being different from the adults, so I wasn’t exactly overjoyed to find out I was gaining something much different from my sisters, yet the same as some of the adult women on the base.

While we were lined up for a morning drill one of the female doctors noticed my new development and asked Lydecker for permission to speak with me in private. He demanded to know why and she whispered something to him. He looked at me oddly and then said, “It had to happen eventually.”

Max, Jondy, and some of the other girls looked at me. I heard a drill sergent hollar “eyes front” as I was excused from the group. The doctor took me into her office and pulled a training bra out of her desk. She must have been anticipating this complication. At the time I didn’t know what a bra was or how it was used. So I just stared at her like she held some alien contraption or new tourture device in her hand.

She walked up to me and lifted the top of my uniform to demonstrate and I backed away from her midway through the process. She smiled at me and said, “All little girls eventually become women” and she pulled up her top to show me it was okay. It was odd, it was the first time I felt connected to the other world, the world outside Manticore. It was the first time I realized I was just as human as my captors, it was the moment my authority figures became captors.

A weird thing happened after that, they acknowledged puberty was quickly approaching or had arrived. The girls and boys were separated, examined, and given one very formal structured session on what developments would be coming to them physically. And we all sat in the classroom, as stoically as we always did, staring at the projections before us. No giggling at the funny images of “body parts” and no visible feelings about the change. But somehow, that momment changed everything. I started to notice the older boys peeking at me. And some of the other girls, I noticed, didn’t want to be seen getting dressed, not even by the girls (because bathing and changing clothing quickly was divided into males and females after my “development”).

It was truly perplexing that being separated, even a little, by something so biological and basic, helped me realize I was human.

DZ -2001

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