Authors Notes: - This is my first Sci-fi book so bear with me. I'm a little obsessed with details and getting things pretty accurate. It's really hard for me to write something without a whole hoop of fantasy influence, so if I step out of line, feel free to yell at me. :)

The Macellarius

"Ama me fideliter, Fidem meam noto, Decorde totaliter, Et ex mente tota, Sum presentialiter, Absens in remota."
"Love me faithfully, see how I am faithful, with all my Heart, and all my Soul, I am with you, even though I am far away."
--Unknown

"Once the dream of space travel was just that, a dream. Since the dawn of humanity we have looked to the heavens and searched for enlightenment. We continue seeking out knowledge to assuage ignorance." The teacher intoned earnestly. She made a sweeping motion to the window beside her. Outside blackness surrounded them, brilliant and faint starts filled the darkness and barely visible from their vantage point was the brilliant blue orb of earth. The class pressed their face to the glass and stared into space.

"Four thousand years ago space travel was primitive. The best humanity could do was send a small team from Earth to the moon." A few students snickered; she gave them a warning look and went on. "We were confined to the planet of our birth, but humans are never satisfied by what they have so as our technology advanced, so did our race into space."

One of the students, a little girl with light blond hair and large blue eyes held up a hand. The teacher nodded to her. "Yes Milla."

"Ms. Roebuck, is it true that the Bellator will be here today?" She asked eagerly. The other students began to whisper to each other excitedly.

"Students quiet please!" The teacher snapped. Once they all went silent she looked to Milla. "Yes, it will be here and since you asked I might as well tell everyone the big surprise. Our class has been invited to take a tour of the ship."

The class cheered and began talking animatedly amongst themselves. This time she didn't try to silence them. The Bellator was the prized ship of the Terrane Fleet; it was one of the largest war ships and the most advanced. She motioned for the class to followed and walked down the corridor. The satellite they were currently on was made of a series of connected circles around a central pillar. These circles were connected to the pillar long corridors, such as the one they currently were walking in. It resembled a singular long spoke with multiple wheels attached to it. When the class arrived at the pillar they boarded small shuttle just large enough to accommodate them. The teacher selected their destination on an electronic map resting in the wall beside the doors. She lightly pressed the glowing dot of docking bay 13 and with a barely discernable lurch the shuttle shot off, rapidly conveying them to their destination.

The shuttle came to a stop and the teacher stepped out first and motioned her class out. They quickly spilled out onto the ramp and looked around with interest. Soldiers, civilians and technicians crowded the narrow landing area. The room itself was much like most of the interior of the satellite, simple and unimpressive. The walls were coated in an opaque white tough plastic and the few windows were rimmed with glossy black metal that attached into the plastic wall coverings. The floor was made of a similar plastic and the same stark white color, it however had a rough coating onto to give better purchase and prevent slipping. The shuttle behind the students closed its door automatically and lifted on its magnetic tracks, after a brief second of hovering it quickly darted back down its tracks, presumably to pick up another load of passengers.

One of the students cried out and pointed towards a window. "The Bellator!"

They surged towards the small window and struggled for the best spot to view the already legendary ship. Out of the blackness of space a sleek shape slowly and gracefully floated into view. It was the color of brass and shaped like a diamond, almost flat in its design. As it came closer they could see the seams of the glossy metal. No weapons adorned its exterior but the children knew that any one of the panels that covered it could open up to reveal a weapon. That was part of its design, hidden weaponry that could be brought to bear at any moments notice without the enemy knowing where from. It slowed its approach and one of the panels slide aside and a docking tube extended out towards the satellite and was met with one from the satellite, they gently made contact and the larger tube of the satellite sheathed over that of the Bellator's, locking firmly onto the vessel. As it connected with the large satellite, the whole structure shuddered briefly, hinting at the massive power contained in the austere flaxen ship.

"It's beautiful." Milla breathed in awe, fogging up the window with her breathe momentarily.

"My Dad's going to get transferred to it in a month!" The boy next to her proclaimed proudly.

"Come children, let's go greet the captain." Ms. Roebuck said with a smile as she herded them towards the air lock.

They happily streamed in front of her and came to a stop before the large doors that separated them from the Bellator. Ms. Roebuck stepped to the front of the group and patiently waited for the doors to open. A few moments passed before the sound of the outer doors heightened their anticipation. Not even a second later the inner door slid open, revealing the proud figure of the captain. His hair was a fading brown, slowly being taken over by gray and white hairs, but he still stood tall and strong despite of his age. He was wearing his navy blue dress uniform with all of his medals and stripes clearly visible. A small metal name badge identified him as Captain York. The middle-aged man smiled down at the collection of children and waved.

"Greetings children, I hope you're all looking forward to the tour." He smiled broadly.

They nodded earnestly but kept quiet. He looked to the teacher and smiled. She was caught off guard by his obvious cybernetic eyes; they looked like completely normal eyes except for the irises were the color of dried blood and lacked the normal details of natural eyes.

"Is something the matter?" He queried curiously.

"Oh, I'm just surprised by your artificial eyes..." She shrugged apologetically.

"He lost his real eyes in the war!" The boy who earlier mentioned his father being transferred to the Bellator commented knowingly.

The rest of the children gaped in awe, staring intently up at the captain. He chuckled and patted the boy on the head.

"You're a little young to have read my book son."

"My father read it; he told me all about you! He's going to be on your crew in a month!" The child beamed proudly.

"Oh really? What's his name?"

"Daniel Gwin."

"And your name?" He asked with an even bigger smile.

"I'm named after him, but everyone calls me Dan, 'cause Daniel is too adult." The boy explained with a small shrug.

"Alright Dan, I'll remember your fathers name and personally greet him when he gets here." Captain York patted his head again and stepped back.

"Follow me children, and we'll start the tour."

The group walked down the shaft and into the docking bay. Long metal catwalks criss-cross the massive room. Below them dozens of workers loaded crates and boxes from incoming pallets and lined them up along the walls. They walked in pairs down the narrow but sturdy walkways. As they approached the doors leading into the ship proper slid open silently. They arrived in a tall long hall leading in three different directions. Unlike the satellite the ship was far more decorative. The floor was covered in a durable gray carpet and the walls were covered in seamless cream colored soft plastic. Milla poked the wall and found it was very pliable and easily bent under her gentle pressure. The captain took note of his and smiled at her.

"The walls are cushioned so that injuries are minimal if they are thrown off balance." He explained gently.

"Then why isn't the floor made of the same material?" Dan asked eagerly.

"Well, it would be like walking on marshmallows." He chuckled. "It wouldn't be very much fun getting around."

"Are we going to see the core?" Milla suddenly asked, staring up at him with big earnest eyes.

"No, I'm sorry but that part of the ship is not only top secret but also dangerous. I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you kids." Captain York gave her a rueful smile.

She sighed in disappointment. Before the children could ask any more questions he began them on the tour. First they stepped into a televator that quickly took them to the bridge of the ship. A layout of the ship was displayed in a translucent hologram projected just below the ceiling, showing their progress through the ship as a little blinking red light. The light darted around from the port side of the ship towards the nose. They came to a slow stop along with the light and the doors slid open. The children looked from the roof to the bridge. A long low semicircular padded rail curved around the landing that was located just before the televator. They stepped out onto it and looked below.

Dozens of stations were occupied by computer screens and the technicians operating them. On the wall facing them a giant screen displayed the outside views of the ship from all angels. The room was surprisingly dark, lit only by faint overhead lights and the glow emanating from the computer screens. People spoke in rapid low voices and quickly darted around the room as they worked.

"This is the head of the ship." The Captain explained motioning around. "From here everything is operated."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Milla asked with a frown as she looked below at the people working.

"What do you mean?" Captain York asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, what if something somehow destroys this part of the ship? You'd be helpless." She glanced up at him innocently.

"Well you got me there." He chuckled slightly. "I guess you can say we have a second heart, it's located near the core and is operated by a group of back ups. In case anything happens here, the second bridge can take over."

"Wow, the designers thought of everything!" Dan said softly staring below with starry eyes.

"Yes, that's why this is the most advanced ship our race has ever built." The Captain smiled like a proud father and looked around him. "I'm honored to be the captain of such a ship."

"Now lets move onto the mess hall, you can have lunch there with my troops!" He grinned at them and led them back into the televator.

Milla knelt down and peered into the area below and pulled a small ball from her pocket. She spat a wad of gum from her mouth and stuck it to the railing then affixed the little ball to it.

"Milla!" Ms. Roebuck snapped from the televator. "Hurry up you're holding things up, if you really want to see more of the bridge I'm sure the Captain can take us back here."

She hopped to her feet and rushed into the televator. "Sorry Ms. Roebuck." She smiled up at her sweetly and stared at the doors as they closed, her eyes sparkling darkly.

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