This year, I will be posting a chapter of my new online exclusive novel every week. Galactic Division Heroes: Kat follows a new character, Katarine Rafalsdottir, through the timeline of the first three Galactic Division novels. You can read Chapter One here.
Stepping out onto the ship was pretty underwhelming. We were just in a large grey hanger. A group of people, dressed in red outfits, were ramming bundles into everyone’s hands as we walked past them. A few more were waving us into rows. It took a few minutes until I reached the front of my line. Yet another red-suited person was at the end, scanning our wristbands. He was then pointing people through a door. I slowly meandered through, following on the heels of the boy in front. More queueing on the other side, and more doors.
This time, though, kids were coming back out through the doors after a few minutes, dressed in new outfits. A blue jumpsuit, with white vest underneath. I looked down at my bundle, to find I had exactly the same thing inside the plastic. I got to the front of a queue, and then walked through the door. It was a personal cubicle, with toilet, steam shower, and room to change in. It was only then that I noticed I was wearing my ‘good’ outfit. I hadn’t had a chance to change back out of it before I’d left the house. Folding it nicely, I wrapped it in the bag that my Galactic Division-issue uniform had come in. It was all I had left of my old life, though it was probably my least favourite outfit.
We’d been on the ship less than an hour, and yet had been given more orders than I’d had in a lifetime. A large room awaited us, with a screen on the wall at one end. Thankfully, we were given a snack and a drink, which I pretty much inhaled on the spot. The room filled up around me, and I closed my eyes, breathing slowly. Whatever was going to happen, it was taking a long time. After several more minutes, the screen flickered to life, and a speaker switched on. On-screen was a Galactic Division insignia.
“Welcome aboard the Anastasia,” a dispassionate voice said, a little too loudly for the size of the room. “You have joined thousands of recruits on board this Galactic Division training vessel, and over the next few weeks you will learn all about the Galactic Division, and your new role within it.”
“In a few moments, you will leave this room through the set of red doors under the screen, as indicated.” Arrows appeared on screen, flashing red, pointing to a space below the screen.
“Throughout the ship, you will find interactive screens that look like this one.” An image of a screen appeared, with a boy dressed in his blue jumpsuit. He held his wrist to it, and tapped at the screen with his other hand. “Your wrist-link is your key to the information stored via these C-Terminals. When you connect it to a screen, you will have access to all shipboard information that relates to your role. As you can see, it shows where your personal quarters are, what times your personal quarters will be accessible to you, and when you are due at your next activity.”
“All through the ship, the floors and corridors will be number coded. When you use the map on the C-Terminals, every room will have be marked with a combination denoting the floor, corridor, and room number. Upon leaving this room, you will be handed a Sleep-Pack, and will then be free to connect to a C-Terminal in order to locate your personal quarters.” I was getting bored. It was too much information to take in when all I wanted to do was explore the ship. About half the inhabitants in the room were whispering to each other by this point, and I stopped listening to the announcement completely. I couldn’t help but it say “Welcome aboard the Anastasia, and the Galactic Division,” however, because the volume increased even louder for that part. The doors opened, and we pushed and shoved to be amongst the first to the relative freedom of the body of the ship.
We were handed another bundle as we left the room. Before I could examine it in search of more food, a woman, yet again in a red uniform, shouted at us to move on. I spied a couple of the terminals, noticing queues forming by them already. I jumped into the nearest line, and examined my package. There didn’t appear to be any food inside. I thought about opening it, but there was barely any room in the corridor as it was. With streams of kids squeezing past to get further up the hallway, and my clothes bundled in plastic in my other hand, I’d risk dropping whatever was inside, potentially never seeing it again.
The woman in red, joined by a man in red who had appeared seemingly from nowhere, were shouting at us to disperse through the ship, and find other terminals so we weren’t blocking the way. It didn’t stop others from joining the queue behind me, and the more they shouted, the more determined I became to stay where I was. I wanted to find out where I was going, and what I was supposed to be doing. Then, I’d know just how much exploring I’d be able to do. Finally, my turn came. Conscious of the queue behind me, I flicked through the screens as quickly as I could, picking up the vital information. My quarters were there, the nearest dining hall was there, and my first scheduled ‘exercise’, as it was termed, wasn’t for about 12 hours. There were scheduled times for eating and sleeping, and thankfully the eating time was pretty soon. I could have a look around, find my bed, and then get something to eat. I disengage my WristLink from the C-Terminal, impressed that I’d remembered the technical terms for both, and fought my way through the packed corridor.
The crowds thinned out as I made my way deeper into the ship. There were plenty of the C-terminals scattered about, which was good to know. It was pretty drab in the corridors, though. No colour, just everything grey. I’d expected it all to look a lot more hi-tech. I thought I’d be wowed by state-of-the-art equipment, and scientific devices that appeared to do magic. But there was nothing. I tried to go through some doors, see inside some of the rooms, but everything was locked. I tried my WristLink, but that didn’t win me access. I made my way up a few floors, tried a few more doors. Nothing. With a sigh I decided I might as well make my way to my quarters, check out my bed. I guessed I’d probably be sharing with other people. The instructional video hadn’t really gone into specifics. It was a huge ship, though, so maybe we did get private rooms.
I made my way to my floor, and then followed the wall markings towards the section of the ship that my quarters were located in. It was a bit confusing at first, but once I worked out how the numbering worked, it was fine. There were plenty of people milling around, some looking a bit lost, others with more purpose. I wasn’t unfit, but all the walking around, combined with the fatigue of a long stressful day, suddenly caused me to feel worn out. Stopping to take a breather, I looked at the package I’d been carrying around the ship. The packaging was see-through, much like the bag that our uniforms had been in. Whatever was inside wasn’t blue, but it did feel soft. Spare underwear? I rolled my eyes. Bed… thing. What had they called it? That’s what it was, my own bedding. Did everything on the ship come sealed in a bag?
I tried to work out what time it would be back home. The Conscription had started before midday. I’d been drawn straight away, but it must have been an hour before we left the planet. I had no idea how many hours we’d been travelling. If I had to guess, I’d say around five hours. Another hour on board the training ship so far. Mum would be eating dinner, probably. What would Seb and Ant be doing? Arranging to sell the model. The model! A pain lanced through my heart. Mister Beaton would be shutting up shop about now. If he’d even opened. He’d be devastated. Would he suspect me? Discovering the model had been stolen on the same day I had left the planet forever? It was definitely suspicious. He’d know, though, that it wouldn’t be something I could bring with me. He also knew, of course, that I hung around with some shady people. The idea that he would forever remember me as a thief almost brought me to tears. The security officer. She’d seen me. On the night the model had disappeared, she knew I’d been running away from the scene of the crime. When Mister Beaton had reported it this morning, she’d tell him she’d seen someone suspicious. Described me, what I was wearing. The old man would look at her, sadness in his eyes, and tell her who it was.
I took some deep breaths, and pushed the thought out of my mind. After a couple of minutes, the fatigue sweats had passed, and I got moving again. I spotted the dining hall on my way to my quarters, but purposely didn’t look inside. I’d be tempted to start eating straight away, but I wanted to put the sleeping bag thing down first, find out if I’d be sharing my room. Maybe get a look at who my roommates would be, if anyone. I arrived at the door with the right number, and took a deep breath.
You can read Chapter Nine here