It wasn't the best day for a launch they'd ever had, but the pilots had seen and flown through worse. The kids on the flight were as rambunctious as usual. They were glad they didn't have to take this trip more than once or twice a year. How many kids did it take to prepare for another invasion that nobody even knew if it was coming? It seemed that recently there were fewer and fewer kids that the I.F. found suitable for whatever it was they did with them. Even the ones that succeeded in getting on the shuttle were so unfocused, it was a wonder they could even tie their own shoes or dress themselves.
One of the boys was from Osaka, Japan. Like most of the other boys, Kenji found it fun to jump on the seats and play some hide and tag around the tall backs. Boys were still coming on board, and there weren't any adults that he could see, so he figured there was still plenty of time before they left. He was hungry, since he wasn't allowed to eat at all the day before; but he was so excited, he probably wouldn't have been able to eat much anyway. He hoped there would be rice and fish once they got there; but he didn't expect so. The I.F. was mostly European and American, so how much could they know about Japanese food?
There weren't very many girls on the shuttle. Kenji wasn't sure if that was normal or just a matter of chance. One dark-skinned girl was seated towards the back, already with her restraints buckled, keeping to herself. Suck up, Kenji thought to himself as he watched the girl and dodged a flying hand.
The worst part of any space-travel, her father had told her, was the launch. Launches, he had told her, almost always seemed much more frightening and violent than they actually were, and while he had told her all of the reasons for all of the tremors he had laughed, telling her that if she ever actually experienced a launch she would forget all of those reasons. Launches were always terrifying he had told her. Battle school launches doubly so. Her father was a pilot for the IF, and at one point shipping children up to battle school had been his only job. He'd been promoted when she was only a couple of years old, and for a brief time he'd even worked for the school. That had ended just a few months ago. 'Because of me,' She thought to herself, 'He was transferred because of me.' The thought stung her because she was entirely certain of it. It made sense, she knew, after all it would present a conflict of interest for him to work in the school of his own daughter was there, and it would seem to give her an unfair advantage, but she was still frustrated by his transfer. His job had kept her father from her for most of her life. The one time she had entertained the thought that she might get to see him for more than a few days at a time he'd been taken from her. Now she wouldn't see him until her time at battle school was done. Glancing around the shuttle she tried to remember the little bits of trivia her father had told her about the school during his last leave. As she did she glanced around the shuttle, closely observing her fellow students. She couldn't understand how they all seemed so carefree, bouncing on the seats, laughing. Didn't they understand that this was as much an ending as a beginning? Didn't they feel any sadness at being ripped from their homes? Of course not, she realized. To them, this was the start of some grand adventure. It wasn't the end of their childhood. It was the start of something beautiful. To them Battle School was synonymous with Narnia. She frowned, knowing that somewhere inside she shared their excitement. Not towards the place they were going to, she knew that battle school was still just that, a school, and while she enjoyed school she didn't see anything special about going to another one, but she did find herself excited at the relief that came with being chosen for Battle School. She was proud of herself, somewhere inside, for being chosen to attend. Only the most talented children went to Battle School, she knew that much. She wondered what it was they had seen in her. She shrugged, proud at least that she was following in her father's footsteps, and doing something to help save the world. Maybe she really was his daughter after all. She smiled at the thought, turning her attention back to the students around her. She noticed quickly that she was one of only a few girls on the entire shuttle, with one dark-skinned girl towards the back being the only other one she could see, though she thought she could hear one other. She had been told that girls were rarely chosen for battle school, but their scarcity on the shuttle surprised her. She almost wanted to laugh at the overwhelming lack of fellow girls. 'Silly boys,' She thought to herself in a voice that sounded like one of the more girly girls in her old school, 'What makes you think that girls can't play soldier too?' *** Omid smiled as he clutched the top of the seat in front of him, hardly able to contain his excitement. He couldn't believe that he was actually here, on a genuine space shuttle. And not just any space shuttle, one going to Battle School. The idea thrilled him. He was going to the most prestigious school in all the world. Outside the world, in fact. He started jumping on his seat slightly in excitement. He was going to leave the planet. How many kids from his hometown could say that? He knew that the answer was 'none', at least, as far as he was aware. In fact he was already ahead of his friends back in Iran, he had been lucky enough to leave the country just the day before. Now he was on a space ship, surrounded by the smartest kids from all over the world, and he was getting ready to go into space. The idea simply blew him away. He glanced at his fellow students with glee and immediately felt his heart soar. All of them were from different regions he saw, and it took all of his restraint to keep himself from immediately racing to each of them and asking them about their home countries. He'd only met a handful of people from outside of Iran in his entire life, mainly because his hometown was far out of the way for most tourists, but he had always wanted to learn about other cultures. His secret desire had always been to travel the world, and to learn about the people outside of his tiny little home. Now he would finally have that opportunity. He noticed a handful of boys nearby playing tag, and he jumped down from his seat, deciding to go join them. As he did he took another look around the shuttle, and noticed that most of the other students were boys, actually. He couldn't understand why this was. He was going to battle school, they'd told him, because he was smart,but in his experience boys weren't usually smarter than girls. His older sister Mariam, for example,was much smarter than her classmates, and leagues smarter than Omid himself. He had asked her before leaving why she wouldn't be going to Battle School with him, but she had simply laughed and told him that she didn't have enough aggression to fight the Buggers. Standing here he wondered if this lack of aggression was the reason there were so few girls. He could see why the ones that were here were present. The only two in his line of sight were an American girl, who seemed to be intensely observing her fellow students, as if sizing them up for weaknesses, and a darker-skinned girl, who simply seemed annoyed with the frantic action in front of her. He wasn't used to girls being so serious. He was almost afraid of the two of them, wondering if they understood some secret about battle school that made them so serious. He ignored this fear though, walking up to a nearby boy who was in the middle of a game of tag. "Hey," He asked, smiling brightly, "Can I play too?" ((OOC:Super rough, but I thought it'd be nice to get going with my pair of characters. The girl's name is Amelia Morrigan, by the way.))
Orion didn't care much for the surroundings, he didn't care much for brainless idiots who felt that their whole lives were about to be the best thing they could imagine. How careless! How Stupid! He sat and frowned as he looked down at himself. Surely he would never succumb to such a silly thought.
He Sighed, perhaps he was being too tough. What purpose wasn't there for him to go through the launch? He was the most intelligent person he could think of, Strong and surely the others would be no match for him. Military training was something he could do, He had always taken a liking to the feeling of fight or flight.
On top of that he had no family that cared about him. He thought about his mother, the lazy woman who never left the couch for more then 10 minutes and had him do pretty much everything. Sure she didn't want him to go, but he was certain that it wasn't because she loved him. He thought about just a few days ago and how he had to do everything for her. Finally when he had gotten so frustrated that he demanded her to do her own chores she sentenced him to his father.
He was damn sure his father didn't care for him either, all the beatings he received for just refusing to do what his mother wanted him to. He never saw his father other then when it was time to get beat. What love could there be for someone when all you do is punish them? He wasn't even sure what his father did for a job, nor did he care. He was sure the man was useless any way.
A smile actually appeared on his face, perhaps going to battle school wouldn't be too bad. At least now, when he received beatings it was up to him weather or not he accepted them. He knew he had an advantage from the other kids, where as they would all miss their homes, their families, their brothers and sisters. Who did Orion care for? Himself.
"Hey, can I play too?" another boy asked. Kenji was about to say, "sure," when a video started playing on a screen towards the front of the cabin. It was just some old military guy welcoming them to the flight to Battle School. It looked like he was just going to blab on about history or something boring like that. He turned away from the video and was going to tell the newcomer, like they weren't all newcomers, "tag, you're 'it.'" But before he could, the whole shuttle shook violently, the lights in the cabin flickered, and the video stopped. The shaking only lasted a second or two, but it was enough for some of the boys to stumble and fall. A couple were scared enough to start crying.
Kenji knew all about earthquakes, and this didn't feel like one. It was too sharp and too quick. That meant one of two things: either the real earthquake was just about to come, in which case they were in a lot of trouble, or it wasn't an earthquake at all. He heard one of the pilots shout, "What the **** was that?," and there was a lot of screaming coming from outside, but it didn't sound like it was near the shuttle.
An adult scrambled into the spacecraft and started checking the kids for signs of injury and getting everyone buckled into their seats. Kenji quickly answered the boy who had approached, "Maybe later," and rushed to get in his seat and buckle himself in. He didn't want this grown-up to think he couldn't figure it out for himself.
Amelia had just started to entertain the idea of trading seats with another student to get closer to one of the other girls on the shuttle when she felt the shaking. It was brief, and violent, and she was glad that she hadn't finished unbuckling her harness, but immediately it made her suspicious. She had been expecting the launch to be violent,but she knew something immediately. This was not part of the normal procedure. A moment later she had this suspicion confirmed when she heard one of the pilots shout "What the **** was that?" She watched as several uniformed adults raced through the craft, checking on the children and helping some of them get buckled in. Some of them were clearly terrified, but others just seemed annoyed that their games had been cut short. Amelia was surprised to find that she wasn't scared herself. But she was suspicious, and her curiosity had been piqued. She considered asking one of the adults what was going on, but she reminded herself that they were adults, and they were teachers. And when things went wrong people in both of those categories tended to lie, believing that children could not handle the truth. She frowned, trying to find some way to figure out what was going on. She knew that there wasn't much she could learn from simple observation. Still, she turned her attention to the adults, watching them converse in hushed voices. If she got lucky maybe one of them would let something slip that would help her figure out what was really going on. *** Omid frowned as an adult picked him up and carried him to his seat. "I can get there myself," He said, "I'm not stupid." "Of course you aren't," The man said, "We don't let stupid kids into battle school." The man chuckled, but Omid just frowned. He didn't like this man's flippant tone, or the fact that he was still carrying him. He was also disappointed that his chance to finally meet some of his fellow classmates had been cut short. "I said I can get there on my own!" Omid shouted angrily, but the man carrying him just sighed. "Look," He said, "I'm just doing this to make sure you don't get hurt if there's anymore..." He furrowed his eyebrows, looking for the right word. "Turbulence," He finished. Omid didn't like that he had struggled to find the right word. To him it suggested that 'turbulence' might not be what he meant at all. Still, he didn't as any questions about the shaking. He hadn't been on a shuttle before, and he had been told that there was a lot of shaking during the launch. He thought it was just part of that. The man put him down, buckling him into his harness. "You're not hurt, right?" The man asked. Omid shook his head. "Okay," The man said, "Well, hope you enjoy the rest of your flight, and thank you for flying IF." The man laughed again, but Omid didn't. He had been humiliated as far as he was concerned, and he wondered now if the other students thought he was some kind of baby for having to be carried. He looked around the shuttle for any of the tormentors he expected to find waiting, but he was surprised to find that no one was looking at him. Instead, the others were all looking around the cabin nervously. Almost all of the others, anyway. He saw the American girl again, and noticed that unlike most of the other children she was looking at the adults talking in the center of the cabin, suspicion in her eyes. He wondered what she was suspicious of. After all, if they couldn't trust the adults, who could they trust?
Canon remained buckled into his seat as other kids in his launch group piled onto the air craft. Some jumped from seat to seat while others, like Canon remained buckled and vigilant. On the outside he was calm and ready but on the inside his stomach was doing back flips. His anticipation made him edgy. He quickly grew annoyed with his fellow launch mates and there constant squirming.
The shuttle lurched and the chaos calmed instantly. Soon adults were rushing kids to their seats. One in particular protested and was seated directly in front of Canon. He smirked and roughly put his feet up against the back of the boys seat.
His mother's words chimed in the back of his head. "Always have to stir trouble," she would say almost every day after picking him up from another fight at school. "I cant help it." He thought. There was something so satisfying about feeling the power that came from others weakness.
Canon folded his arms behind his head as if relaxing in a beach chair. He roughly adjusted his feet again, knocking the seat forward. He sighed and snapped his fingers in the air. "Where's the peanut and complimentary drink service round' here?" he joked. Other boys snickered but soon all was hushed again.
Orion watched the cabin shake, it caught him off guard. He was deep in thought and this threw him off and he didn't like it.
"Hey what gives!?" He shouted
Of course he wasn't expecting an actual answer so he slung back in his chair with his arms folded. He glanced around and watched the others get escorted back to their chair. The kid did not look happy, who could blame him?
He looked around some more looking a little agitated. He calmed down and went back to his thinking. His eyes began to wander as he saw a girl looking rather inquisitively at the pilots. He felt that she was on to something a little more interesting then the others.
He saw an opportunity to move closer.
"Psst...Hey." he whispered as the commotion slowed down. He sat down next to the girl.
"Did you see anything suspicious? You look like you might have figured something out."
Amelia was actually surprised to hear someone speaking directly too her, and it took all of her effort to stifle her immediate response of jumping back. She was fairly certain this boy hadn't been sitting next to her a moment ago, but she had been paying so little attention to her immediate surroundings that for all she knew he had been there the whole time. "Did you see anything suspicious?" He asked, "You look like you might have figured something out." Amelia was satisfied to know that someone else had figured out that something was wrong,and glad that they were smart enough to pool information from other students to figure out what was going on. She realized she should be asking others for answers too, but she didn't think she was comfortable enough with this group to just ask random people questions. She kind of envied this boys extroversion at the moment. It'd be a useful skill to have right now. "No, I haven't," She admitted quietly, "It'd be easier to know what was going on if I could get closer, but I don't know how to do that without seeming suspicious. The best I can do is try to read their lips." She didn't know why she was telling this boy this, but thinking about it she didn't see any reason not to. They were supposed to be competitive in battle school, true, but they were also supposed to learn how to work as a unit. After all, they were teaching them to command other soldiers, not beat the buggers alone. Part of command was trust, and Amelia knew that she'd have to trust others if they were to trust her. So she'd trust this boy, and with luck they'd be able to figure something out. "I don't know if you're moving to find out more or what," She said, "But do me a favor, if you figure anything out about what's going on, let me know. I'll do the same for you." She wondered if this would be the start of some kind of friendship. It was weird, but since getting on the shuttle she hadn't even thought of the idea. She had thought of battle school from a purely tactical mindset, and she was starting to think that was the wrong way to go. The edge she might need in battle school, she realized, was being social and being able to make friends. She frowned. As perceptive as she was, and as good at understanding others as she was, she had never been good at making friends. Usually because she was bad at seeming approachable. It didn't hurt that she was also bad at approaching others. A lot of that had to do with how unpredictable they were. No matter how well she understood others, they almost always found ways to surprise her, and those surprises weren't always pleasant. This was why she normally seemed on edge, she always felt like she was walking on eggshells with even her best friends. It made her seem too serious and intense most of the time. Here that seemed more normal. 'Who knows,' She thought, 'Maybe in a crowd this intense I'll fit right in.' *** The boy behind Omid had put his feet against the back of his seat, and Omid was fairly certain that this was intentional. He sighed, realizing that, like all schools, battle school had to have bullies. He thought about telling the boy to knock it off, but he had already made friends, and Omid had a feeling they'd just make fun of him. A moment later he felt the seat jerk forward, and he turned to glare at the boy. He was about to say something when the boy launched into a joke, making the people around him laugh. Omid sighed again, realizing that like most bullies this boy was going to end up being popular. He didn't understand why that was. Clearly people saw how despicable people like this boy were, but still they gave them power and approval. Why was it that boys like this always came out on top, no matter which school he went to?
Orion frowned at the inability of the girl, she was intelligent, but still couldn't get anything out of this. Although he had to give her credit she had seen something he had not.
"Hm" he let out a huff
"Guess i'll just have to move in and get closer to listen?"
He moved his black bangs out of his blue eyes he looked around for a spot to take or 'possess' if he had to. He spotted one kid getting picked on which agitated him. He thought about stepping in but he had more pressing matters to attend to, however the spot next to him was closer to the front then where he was now.
Getting past the adult would be the more difficult part. Perhaps there was something he could do to get that seat...
He stood up walked up to the adult and put on his best act.
"Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom...can you take me there? But I want to ask my friend something first."
The adult looked at him and looked a little confused, "Look were about to launch, you should probably..."
Orion frowned "But I have to go!"
The adult sighed and put his hand to his face. "Fine, jesus, go do what you need to do and i'll take you to the bathroom...god f*ing kids." He said the last part under his breath. He quickly smiled and ran for his 'friend'. He pointed to him.
"You. Get up and move, I need your seat."
The kid looked up in shock and anger.
"What? Why me? Go find someone else."
Orion looked at him with a stern angry look. "Look I wasn't asking you to move, I told you to move. It's not like im taking your lunch money, or calling you stupid, I just want your seat. All though, I guess I could do the other things..."
The kid looked disgruntled. "Fine, geeze, I'll move, but where am I supposed to go?"
Orion glanced over at the girl he had been sitting next to. He gave her a thumbs up and then tilted his head towards her to send this kid her way. "Go sit next to her, she seems nice." The kid sighed, stood up and walked her way.
Orion grinned and then noticed the adult behind him, he rolled his eyes and proceeded to 'go to the bathroom.'
"So what was that all about?" asked the adult.
"Oh we just switched seats, I wanted to sit next to my other friend."
He also could use this as an opportunity to get closer to the commotion.
(OOC: This is assuming that everything is ok by you guys. I thought It went well. Arti, just let me know if theres something you would prefer me not to do.)
Kenji was seated closer to the door, so it was hard for him to see what was going on behind him. The seat backs were above his head, and with the launch straps buckled, it was difficult to turn around to look. It sounded like some of the kids were trying to move around to get a better idea of what was going on. Kenji could hear the pilots and adults having a conference, but with all the profanities being tossed around, he couldn't be sure if they were saying anything important. One sentence, though, stuck out, "Let's get this f'in tin can off the f'in ground before they f'in lock the whole f'in place down and we're stuck nannying all these bastards in the back."
About a minute later, another adult came into the cabin and made a hurried announcement. "We're taking off now, so you'd all better be buckled in. Anybody who gets hurt because you weren't is going to be suffering for a very long time, so save yourselves the trouble." He paused a moment, and said, "Launch in 30 seconds. 29...28...27...." The kids in the cabin began counting down with him, as he found an empty seat and strapped himself in.
As the shuttle took off, Kenji felt himself being crushed into the back of his seat. Even after the launch, Kenji kept counting the seconds in his head. He had the typical romanticized notion of war and space that many young children had, reinforced by the high budget vids that formed their entertainment year after year. The crushing changed after about six minutes from pushing him back in his seat to pushing him down. After another six minutes, the pushing stopped, and he found himself being held by his seat straps.
The adult he assumed was in charge left his seat and announced, "Every one of you is now a soldier. The flight to Battle School will still take another hour at least. Do not unbuckle your straps. They aren't there to keep you in your seat for the launch; they're there for this part of the flight. Remember what I said about anyone who gets hurt. This vid I'm putting on is part of your training, and there WILL be a quiz. I'll be back when we're about ready to dock." He left the cabin and presumably went back to the cockpit. The vid was still boring as anything.
As the boy walked off, clearly annoyed, Amelia was starting to think that she'd been wrong about potentially making friends with this boy.He clearly didn't think she had any value if she didn't have the information he needed. She watched him put on his act in front of the adults and found herself annoyed. It would have been easier to get the information he wanted by listening to the adults than hoping one of the other kids had paid attention to their conversation. Still, as the act reached it's end she noticed him give her a thumbs up. She was shocked, and she felt her heart soar. Maybe she had a friend here after all. He sent another boy back to sit back with her, and she decided to see what he knew. He sat down, clearly annoyed, and turned to her. "Can you believe that guy!?" He said angrily, referring to Orion. She shrugged. "Some people are just jerks," She said, hoping Orion hadn't heard her. She knew she just needed to agree with this kid. If he was too angry he wouldn't talk to her, he had to feel like she was on his side. "So what's going on?" She asked, "The adults seem really nervous." The boy was about to answer when an adult came in, announcing they were going to launch. The children fell silent, all either buckling in or listening to the launch countdown. Silently Amelia tried to remember everything her dad told her. "It's brief," He said, "The worst of it is brief, just 12 seconds. It's a terrible 12 seconds, but that's all you have to worry about...for the most part." She hoped that things didn't go wrong and prolong those 12 seconds. As she felt the shuttle take off she realized that 'the worst of it' literally meant the first twelve seconds. The G-force was intense from the start, and Amelia was distinctly aware of how unpleasant it was. She felt like her weight had tripled, and it felt like every part of her skin was being held down by invisible hands, and getting pulled further back. In some way it felt like gravity was trying to pull her back to Earth, trying to prevent her from making the terrible mistake of going to battle school. She wondered if she shouldn't let it take her back, let it keep her in her home. Battle school would not be easy, she knew, not that regular school had been pleasant. Still, at least it was familiar. And at least if she really wanted to leave normal school she could. After the six seconds of crushing force she suddenly felt herself leave her seat. At first she thought she had subconsciously tried to leave the seat, but no, she was floating in mid-air, as were the other students. The change was sudden, and immediately she found her body reject the change. She retched, and then embarrassed covered her mouth. She had wanted to avoid looking foolish so early, it made it easier for others to bully her, but now she'd blown that opportunity. Ashamed, and aware of the torment to come she leaned back against her seat, using the arm-rests to hold herself against it, pushing the front of them to keep her back to the back of the chair. 'Well, dad was right about the first 12 seconds,' She thought bitterly, trying to fight back her own shame, afraid that she'd cry if someone said something to her, 'They are the worst part.'
Orion walked to the bathroom door and turned his head toward the front cabin and did a fake yawn.
"What the hell was that all about?"- asked one pilot "And you think I know, it was an explosion obviously." Replied one of the female care takers.
By this time Orion had reached the bathroom.
"Well whatever it was that guy was crazy."
And with that Orion closed the bathroom door. He sat down and thought about it hard. What could they be talking about, what had happened?
It sounded like some guy did something that caused an explosion nearby. The rest was unsure. He had heard enough just from that to at least know what had roughly happened. As for weather the man who had caused the bomb was alive or not, was a whole 'nother story. Also anything regarding to why he did it was also a whole 'nother story.
"Hey, Were about to launch get done already and head back to your seat in a hurry!"
Orion grunted, might as well use the rest room while he's here. He finished up, washed his hands and opened the door, only to be immediately swept up by the guy who led him to the restroom.
"Sorry kid, but were seriously about to launch, you need to be in your seat before we take off!"
At first Orion faught a little. Wiggled and flailed. However he deemed it pointless. He stopped fighting back and got set down and buckled in next to this kid. He glanced back at Amelia, but wasn't able to really give any signs before he felt the ship move. He shot forward in minor shock only to have the rest of his body shot backward into his seat.
The vid finished and the screen went blank. Kenji couldn't tell if anyone had actually watched it, but he could hear a lot of whispering and nervous chattering. The adult floated back in and started asking questions.
"Alright, let's see how many of you bugger brains actually know how to follow a few simple instructions. First question, who was the victor from the Second Invasion?"
A disjointed chorus of "Earth" and "Mazer Rackham" followed. Of course, that was a stupid question, since anybody who had been part of society the past fifty or so years would have known that. They only showed reminders of the great victory at least once a day.
"Question two, how many humans have the buggers killed since the First Invasion began?"
A few kids blurted out some wild guesses, but most kids kept quiet. "Wrong, wrong, and very wrong. Let's try some honesty for a moment. I want a show of hands. How many of you actually paid attention to the vid?" Kenji thought about raising his hand, but decided there would be more risk in lying, since he obviously didn't know the answer to the question.
"That's what I thought. Besides the typical lot of half-iced bugger fodder, the I.F. sent me a bunch of intellectual zeroes, who can't even follow the simplest of instructions, and aren't even smart enough to fess up to it.
"You listen to me, every one of you." His voice was getting louder, and he started floating down the aisle to make his point. "I don't know why each of you decided to get on this tin can, but I'm going to tell you why I'm putting up with you. We're still at war with the Formics, and you're either going to be commanding the fleets that defeat them, or you're going to be in the front line of ships that gets blasted apart and vivisected. I don't really care which you are, 'cause we need them both.
"But let me tell you this. If you want to actually make it to your first vacation, you had better start following instructions and telling the truth. You may have been the top of the chain where you came from, but here, you're nothing but worm food." He stopped at Kenji's seat and pointed at him. "Don't you ever forget that." Kenji didn't move or say anything. The adult floated on.
"And in case any of you get any smart ideas, there are sometimes 'accidents' at Battle School. I have no problems 'accidentally' sending you out an airlock. And if any of you think you can make your time here a personal power trip or a permanent weekend, let me tell you this. I just got word that there's a bugger wannabe back on Earth, who doesn't give the slightest damn about the continuation of his species. And he's waiting for the first one of you to ice out to hunt down and make an example of. So I dare you. I dare you, to slip up, not pay attention, and ice yourself back home to mommy and daddy,..., and your own doom."
He finally took a breath, and let the impact of his words sink in. Kenji got the impression they didn't have quite the effect the adult was looking for.
"The shuttle docks in exactly ten minutes. Do not, do NOT, remove your harness before then." Finally, the cabin was adult-free once more, if only for another 9 minutes and 51 seconds.
Amelia crossed her arms at the adult up front lectured them about paying attention. She couldn't stand this position, and refused to even acknowledge the idea that she should have been paying attention to the idiotic vid that had been playing. She knew that the purpose of Battle School was to fight the Buggers, but watching vids on the old invasions and knowing random facts about them wasn't going to help them accomplish that. She wasn't about to waste her time learning things that she couldn't do anything with. She was only interested in learning anything that could help her get through battle school with ease or something that covered a subject that she was actually interested in, so unless this adult was going to explain to her how this ship actually worked, or how she could fly it herself, she wasn't going to waste her time with his lectures. She had gotten onto this ship because it gave her a chance to get closer to her father. She had to admit, the idea of saving the world was certainly appealing, and being a commander seemed like enough of an intellectual challenge to be enjoyable, but that didn't change the fact that she wasn't here to get a history lesson on wars that had ended before she was born. If he'd been showing a vid of an actual battle that would at least be practical, but the documentary he'd shown, one she was fairly certain had run on TV just a few nights before, didn't contain any information the children on this shuttle shouldn't already know. Most of them had just ignored it on impulse. The horror of the invasions had been drilled into their heads every day, and as such they'd lost their impact. To them, the threat of annihilation was jut a fact of life. As such, anything that reinforced the terror of that idea was just white noise in their already horrifying lives. She also had to resist the urge of his threat that they would follow orders if they wanted to make it to their first vacation. She knew full well that there WERE no vacations from battle school. If the children actually wanted one, the best way to get it was to ignore everything he'd just said and ice out.
It always amused her how adults could be hypocrites without even noticing it.
After he was done screaming she lay back, relaxing in her harness. She was surprised at how much she liked the feeling of zero-gravity. It was like being in a pool you could breathe in, and it felt to her like all of her troubles were floating out of her. She knew that this idea was the most false one yet. Quite the opposite was true, in fact. All of her troubles were just about to start. ***
Omid was not used to adults attempting to intimidate him, and he actively recoiled from the shouting of the man. He was starting to question his decision to come to battle school. If the adults were all going to be this scary he wasn't sure he'd like it there. That didn't matter though, what mattered was that he had been chosen to come to this place. He was special, and because he was special he was going to save the world. He liked that idea. It made him feel important. He was the only boy in his town that was going, and he felt honored. He was the only one smart enough and brave enough to do this. Now he was getting to meet children from all over, and together they were going to save the world. He liked that idea. Saving the world. They weren't much for heroes back in the little town he called home. Maybe here he'd be able to prove himself, so that when he returned to his home they'd be able to see what a real life hero actually looked like.
Yohana had successfully completed his personal mission of maintaining a low profile throughout the launch. It would be inconsiderate not to use the gifts that have been given through countless hours of practice. 'The trick', Yohana repeated to himself, 'is to always appear busy'. Yohana was already used to being the odd ball of the bunch. Spending two-thirds of the full day for three-fifths of a liftime amongst adults doing what he did best, math, Yohana quickly learned how to always appear busy. The streets of Dar es Salaam gave off the impression that it was the static East African coastal metropolis that it claimed to be, Yohana knew different. There were games played by adults that Yohana hoped he would never learn to crave. 'This will be interested', Yohana finished, 'learning to be around other kids again.'
Sounds of expanding metal bridges and vacuum seals filled the cabin giving Yohana's body bursts of excitement buzz. The dream of the past few months seemed to fit perfectly into the total of his vivid four year old memory, it would only make sense that he would now be one of few docking at a school in orbit around Earth. Yohana could immediately tell that he was not the only student brimming with excitement, while a select few sat wide eyed in fear of the coming events, many instead chose to use their hours and days of preparation to enjoy the finer details of space docking. Unbuckling his seat belt, but taking great care not to show his freedom, Yohana chose to close his eyes and wait out the impatient minutes it would take the old people to unboard.
The docking procedure seemed surprisingly gentle to Kenji. The return of gravity, on the other hand, was not. He hadn't really thought about what to expect, but he somehow had it in his mind that the return of gravity would be gradual. The sudden change, like someone flipping a switch, made him glad he'd actually followed the adult's instructions. Once in a while they actually knew what they were talking about. Too bad it wasn't consistent.
As he was removing his harness, the adult strutted back into the cabin. "I'm glad to see all of you tots had the limited sense to do what you were told. Nobody seems physically impaired, so get out of your seats and line up, two columns!"
There was a scrambling as some of the kids couldn't figure out how the latch mechanism worked. A few of the kids, including Kenji, did their best to help the ones who were struggling as quickly as they could. He could hear the adult sputtering, "Sorriest launch group ever."
Then, louder, in his command voice, "I'm going to take you to your barracks, and that is the last you'll be seeing of me. Take any bunk you want, except the low one by the door. As we're walking, don't talk to anyone, don't touch anything, and don't wander off. Your launch mom will be meeting you there shortly."