The rest of the journey was dull. Watched some odd foreign films. Landed. Took my bag and got out the jet. Walked to the car with Mbali and Karen. Met some new chauffer. I wish I knew how to drive. I kind of felt stupid, having to be chauffered around. Although to be honest it probably wouldn't be any different if I did know how to drive; I'd still have to be chauffered around.
We were in the car for what seemed like a long time. I don't know what time it was, but it was light here so I guessed we'd gone west somewhere. Probably America somewhere. The signs passing us were in english and looked suitaly garish. I really don't know why they tried to disguise where we were going. If I'd caredenough to look for signs of where I was, putting me in the wrong cue at the airport would not have stopped me knowing where we were.
But I didn't care where we were. I supposed it was because I was never planning on coming back. Anyway, We drove forever in a pretty samey landscape - that's the problem with America, you can drive for hours and still be in pretty much the same place; If we'd been driving this long in Scotland we could've made it to England - and finally reached an empty carpark that seemed to go on for miles. I wondered if they'd just brought me here to shoot me in the head. Not to e dramatic, but I didn't have much to live for. I'd happily let them pull the trigger.
Instead of getting me on my knees to see my guts shoot out my mouth, Karen and Mali instead walked in front of me, with chauffer carrying their bags. I didn't even know they'd had bags. Maybe they'd een waiting in the car for them. I walked after them and let them lead me past what seemed like miles and acres of the same grey tarmac, until all I could see was tarmac. Then, after a blind summit of yet more tarmac, the pointed nose of a shuttle rose into the sky blindly. It blinked into the sun and created a mountain of metal in front of me. It was far more beautiful than any other spaceship I'd ever seen before. I felt like a peasant stumling into its wake; it was worth so much more than me. Was this just for me?
Of course not. A small crowd of roughly 25 people were gathered at the base of the shuttle. They were mostly around the 20 - 30 agegroup,though some older and younger people were speckled about. There was a boy who couldn't've been more than about 14 standing away from the group in a blue fleece. He did not look as badass as the others, who were mostly dressed monotone like me. There were 2 boys and 3 girls who looked between the 16-19 range. Maybe they'd like me. Maybe they wouldn't be like the boys and girls at school. I hoped so.
When we finally reached the base of the shuttle (it was a lot further than it looked) chauffer gave the bags to Mbali and Karen and then joined the throng of people I'd just joined. I guess he was coming too. I went and stood with the boy in the blue jumper. He was the least scary.
I guess someone said something then, I wasn't really paying attention. Then we were filing into the shuttle. It seemed bigger, but also in some ways smaller now that I was beside it. No bigger than a 4 or 5 story building, just like the one at school, but it was also the largest vehicle I'd probably ever been in.
We went through some corridors and into this little room. It was pretty unremarkable, except for the huge, bowled windows that took up 2 walls. It has seats and seats all in rows, so I fought noone to get an outside seat so I could see out the windows. One of the possibly-near-my-age boys sat beside me, and chauffer sat next to him. I doubted I'd want to talk to them much, or that they'd want to talk to me. Surprisingly, possibly-near-my-age boy held his hand awkwardly over his body towards me.
"Nturan" He said. He had a firm-sounding voice.
"Kira." I murmered back, shaking his hand. Chauffer stretched his hand over Nturan towards me.
"Chauffer, pleased to meet you, Kira." I raised an eyebrow as I shook the hand.
"Chauffer? You're actually called Chauffer?" I asked.
"Well, it's a nickname. I'm always the driver, you see. Sometimes I'm the bell-boy too." He smiled very widely. It was quite a nice smile, and it took up most of his face. The niceness of the smile was unfortunately masked by the dark neckbeard that scraggled over his adam's apple and jawline. It was patchy and rediculous.
I smiled back at him, then turned to look out the window. I then remembered the complicated looking harness we had to put on. I struggled with it until Chauffer attempted to help and failed rediculously miserably. Nturan pushed him off me and himself and clicked the straps into place quite easily. He looked like he was concentrating very hard.
Mbali stood at the front. He gave a safety speech and then told us to prepare for lift-off. I couldn't prepare, I'd never lifted off like this before. I was quite glad we'd had to walk so far though, at least I hadn't been continually sitting for what, 19 hours?
It was time to say goodbye to Earth. It didn't take long to remember all the people I'd met and liked. It was one girl on camp. I'd only liked her because she gave me a piece of chocolate once. Oh, and I suppose the boy from the plane counted. I wonder if he's texted me? I can't check now, my bag was chucked into a big bin of bags at the front of the room and it had my phone in. Can you even get signal in this special space station?
And then there were tons of noises from everywhere. Taking off took forever - but still not as long as I thought it would. I put my hands on the arm rests and clung onto them. Nturan put his hand over mind and clung on evern tighter. I looked over at him but his eyes were closed. He left his hand where it was.
After the initial shock of taking off had faded a bit I opened my eyes. The view outside the window was clouds. Nothing but clouds and ocean and the occasional bit of green land. It was breathtakingly beautiful. It zoomed out incredibly quickly and I could see the stars, like speckled cracks in the midnight sky. It was so odd, seeing day on the earth and the nighttime sky at the same time. I lifted the hand that wasnt being crushed by Nturan and squeezed the hand that was crushing me. He opened his eyes and looked me, then at the fantastic views behind me. He and I watched it for a long time. It was breathtaking.
After a while the earth was on the other side of the shuttle and we saw nebulae and stars and gasses and such beautiful things filling out the edges of our galaxy. We were a tiny speck in a vast universe. It was terrifying.
Mbali stood at the front and told us we could "move about the cabin". There was some gravity-inducing thing on this shuttle so we could walk around like normal. They'd really pulled out all the stops for us.
I got up shakily and walked to get my bag out the bin at the front. It was right in the middle, very annoying. I eventually squirmed it out and went back to my seat, where I pulled it onto my lap. It had been... 8 hours since I'd met Fabros, or something close to that anyway. He hadn't called. I hadn't expected him to. I put my phone on medium volume.
Suddenly I realised how rediculously tired I was. As if on cue, Mbali got everyones attention and told them that the dormitories were "Left down this corridor, 4th door on the right for girls, 5th for boys." I and and 2 other women got up, and 6 men. We shuffled down the corridor in mainly uncomfortable silence, none of us wanting to start a conversation with the others as an audience.
The dormitories were pretty simple, bunk beds and a small cabinet either side. I chose the bottom bunk closest to the door. At the other end of the room there was a room marked "Bathroom." On closer inspection however, it actually only contained a shower and a toilet and a sink; no baths in sight. Americans.
The other 2 girls chose bunks next to each other somewhere in the middle. They started to chat as I put my bag in the cabinet next to me, rolled over and slept. I don't know why I was so tired, I'd been sitting and sleeping during most of the travel. Nerves I guess.
I slept for 3 hours, then decided to walk back to the room with all the seats in. Noone was there, so I wandered about the corridors for a bit and followed the alluring smell of food. I hadn't eaten in ages. I think I'd had a granola bar on the plane and that was it. I almost ran after the smell of bacon and eggs,it was so rediculously tempting.
The food hall was quite a large room with a self-serve hatch at one end and filled with benches and tables. Noone was sitting with Nturan and Chauffer, so I got a small mountain of eggs and hash browns and bacon and sausage and went to sit with them.
I sat pretty quietly while they rambled on about sports or a TV show or something. I don't know; I wasn't trying to follow. Mainly I was concentrating on getting as much food into me as possible. I noticed a clock in here. It said 8:23am. I have been living in entirely the wrong time zone. I changed my clock accordingly.
After I'd finished eating Chauffer looked at me, impressed.
"I've never seen a girl eat like that before." I had no idea what to say.
"You've never met me before." He laughed quite loudly. He had very oddly shaped eyes.
I smiled at him. I hadn't been expecting him to laugh, but it was pretty nice that he had, I guess. Nturan smiled too. He had a nice smile too. It wasn't as big as Chauffer's, but it had a certain something to it.
This tiny blonde came up to our table. She pointed at the empty seat next to Chauffer.
"May I?" She asked.
"Sure." Chauffer said. "What's you name, kid?"
"Chianti." I raised my eyebrows. "My parents were hippies." She explained. She had a very soft voice. Her 's's were incredibly irritating.
"How old are you? You look tiny, no offence." Chauffer has no tact.
"15." She answered. You could see it; there was a layer of pudge over her cheekbones and jaw, and her eyes were a little too big for her face. She was very pretty, though her eyebrows were mostly non-existent. She had the smallest frame I'd ever seen. "I'm not even the youngest here, though." She sounded a little defensive; I guess she's touchy about her age. "My brother Rioj is. He's 12." She pointed at the boy I'd seen in the blue fleece. He skipped over to us with a plate of mostly beans in his arms. It did not look safe.
We chatted about nothing for a while, getting to know each other. Chauffer and Nturan are from illinois, though Chauffer was originally from japan and has been a small part in Invaded for a while now. Mostly driving people around. Chianti and Rioj are from california, and they only just joined Invaded, as did Nturan. Chauffer is 19. Nturan is 18. I am from West Mey, in the highlands of Scotland. I am 17. I heard about Invaded, er, yesterday? The day before? I guess I'm the newest to the group. I'm also the only person who came here that knew absolutely noone. As it turns out, I'm the only one from Scotland here. There are 3 englishmen/women, a french girl (who has truly extraordinary hair), a woman from eygypt, 2 men from india, 3 rediculously attractive people from spain, a woman from Mexico, 2 boys from australia ( one of whom looks like he honestly hates everyone here), a fairly elderly irish gentleman, a welshman, 2 more americans, and a middle-aged woman from brazil.
Everyone had long finished eating so I asked "What exactly do we do here? Is there like a games room or something, or do we spend the next 2 days sat around doing nothing?"
Chauffer answered, chewing on Rioj's leftover crusts. "Um, there's like a TV room, and a jogging track, computers in the library, a chill out kinda room, and a little arena that I have not yet visited."
"Wanna go there?"
So Chauffer, Nturan and I went to the arena, but Chianti said it was too dangerous for Rioj and she didn't want to leave him alone because apparently a 12-year-old can't take care of himself so they scootled off to the library. I let Nturan lead the way; Apparently I'd slept through orientation.
The arena was bigger than the one at school. There were proper human-shaped targets for shooting bullets, and big circular ones for arrows. There was a black mat for wrestling and large sacks hanging from the ceiling for punching. There was a simulated shoot-em-up game that used your whole body to play which seemed to be great fun, judging from the grins on the 2 indian men's faces who'd got here before us.
Nturan chuckled as I headed straight for the shooting range.
"Aren't you british? You're not meant to even know what a gun is."
I picked up a gun and played at not knowing what I was doing.
"No, you're right, this looks much too dangerous for a dainty girl like me to be holding. I'll probably just end up-" BANG dead on target "accidently killing-" BANG dead on the next target "like everyone in this whole room-" BANG headshot "because I so obviously-" BANG "can't have any idea-" BANG "how to shoot." BANG BANG BANG. 2 shots hit the last target's chest and the last caught him in the centre on his head. I turned around slowly, a huge grin on my face and curtseyed.
Chauffer laughed and gave me a little appluase. "This is a badass girl. I do not want to get on the wrong side of this one." I laughed and he slipped his arm round me and squeezed. It scared me and I shrugged him off a little violently. He didn't seem to notice. Nturan did, but he didn't say anything.
We spent the rest of the day in the arena, occasionally swapping it for the food hall. I spent most of my time punching bags, while Chauffer and Nturan worked on their shooting. Chauffer has got several kill-shots, but Nturan can't even seem to get it on the person's outline. I decide to help him after lunch. He doesn't respond to it well at first, but once he starts to listen to me he starts hitting arms and shoulders. When he gets his first chest-shot he hugs me. The butt of his pistol stabs into my back.
I suppose, if this were a film, I'd be starting to fall for Nturan. But this isn't a film, and I doubt I'll ever see Nturan and especially not Chauffer in that light.