The next morn, I am awoken to the sound of Thea pounding at my door.
“Estelle!! Come on!! Wake up!! We need to get ready and my hair hates me today!!!” She says rather loudly for it being this early in the morn. I stumble around, hair a mess, and I am quite irritable at being woken up so rudely.
“You are so lucky you are my best friend. Come in, I’ll help you with your hair.” I pull her inside and start to work some sort of magic on her curly hair. .2 turns later and it is half pulled up and the bottom half is under control. I put my hair into a braid and get into a nice pale green hi-low dress with black lace on the bust area and straps. To complete the outfit, I put on boots and a metaleather jacket. Thea was in a pale pink strapless dress. The bottom looked like lily roses were sewn onto the dress. She was also in a darker pink shawl and white sandals. Rod comes in a few moments later in a dark red button down shirt, long black overcoat, black dress pants and loafers. I smile and we head out to the main area.
There were a lot of girls in their best dresses and guys milling about in similar styles to what Rod was wearing. Apparently we will all need a partner of the opposite gender and Thea and Rod already have claimed each other. I was wondering about when I saw Jak in a dark green button up shirt, dark onyx pants and matching over coat, and freshly shined shoes.
“Estelle! You look lovely today.” He says making his way over.
“Thanks. You don’t look so bad in green.” I say trying to make the conversation casual.
“I had a feeling to wear green today. I was wondering if anyone had asked to be your partner for tonight’s festivities?”
“Sadly no, are you asking me?”
“Yes I am, Celestiestelle Thorinston, would you accompany me to the ball tonight?” I sigh and nod. The ball tonight is a completely different ballgame than the opening day ceremony. First off, the ceremony is way less formal for the girls and secondly, I haven’t even begun to think about what I am wearing to the ball. I do have a dress and everything but there is a certain way of getting ready and I also haven’t thought of a speech yet! Thea would also kill me if she knew what I am thinking. Also, people don’t know that Thea and Rod were sired by two different fathers, or so the rumor goes. Another thing she would kill me if I said anything.
People start heading out of the area and to the main school buildings on the other side of the grounds. Jak offers me his arm, and I reluctantly take it. Seriously, where does it state that women can’t walk unattended. We file into a large gathering hall with rich dark wood paneling and an ornate chandelier that was brought from the home planet just over 700 kiloyears ago. Jak and I walk to the front row and take our seats among the first years. Everyone else, in their school uniforms, walks in. I spot my brothers sitting in a clump with the other upper medical students. Lex and Ben wave at me and look weirdly/threatening at Jak.
“What’s up with those two guys waving at you and staring me down like a piece of trash?”
“Oh, the one on the left is my brother Lex and the one on the right is my brother Ben. Ralf is behind them ignoring me as usual. The reason why they are staring at you because I haven’t introduced them to you yet. Also I don’t think they are used to seeing me with a first class at my side.” He nods and turns his attention to the stage. It looked like it went on forever in the back part of what you could see. There was a large podium with the insignia of the school in graved on the center panel. A few moments later, the headmaster and all of the teachers walk onto the stage. There is a polite applause as they take their seats. The elderly man with brown hair turning into silver with a longish beard, I am told, is the headmaster. He steps up and the applause has come to a complete stop.
“Welcome students to another year at the Academy. This year there is 5 new Adventure students, 20 new science students, 10 inventor students, 15 government students, 50 maker students, 25 medic students, 30 education students, and 100 military hopefuls. As you are aware, the final project for this year’s first years is to chart the unknown lands of the Celestial Realm including the largest planet Astria. This year, only 5 from each of the classes and 30 military hopefuls will travel with the graduating class to the Celestial Realm. Now I would like to name this year’s head of class, Celestiestelle Thorinston.” The crowd cheers and I head up to the stage. I peer back and I see my brothers smiling with pride. Even Ralf was smirking. I go up the steps and shake the headmaster’s hand and accept the parcel he has in his hands. I turn and head back to my seat. I will give my speech at the opening of the ball.
“We expect great things from this class. You may be the smallest class, but you are the class with the most promising future. Always remember, everything will be alright in the end, if it's not alright, then it's not the end." He turns around in a flourish and heads back into the chamber he came from. The teachers turn and follow the headmaster. Then, all of the boys stand up and offer their arm to their partner.
"Well, this is our cue. I will be at your dorm lobby in about 5 turns. Also your brothers are coming this way." Jak says as I get up and take his arm. Sure enough, Lex, Ralf and Ben were making their way over to where Jak and I were standing.
"Hey little sister! I'm glad you got here safely and congratulations on making head of class. Not that you had any role models that are also head of class." My oldest brother Lex says. All three of my older brothers were head of class. It was a miracle that Ralf was selected, going off his attitude towards school and his peers.
"Hello guys, it's good to see you are all here and are in mostly in one piece." Over the break, Ben had lost his leg in a surprise ambush.
"Who do you have here?" Ben asks. Out of all three, Ben was the one who was the most protective over me. It took him a long while before he started to accept Rod.
"This is Rondljakob Braunmilton. Jak, these are my brothers Alexico, Ralferico, and Benerarno Thorinston."
"How did you two meet?" Ralf gruffs at Jak
"On Terra, he shot me with a blastmast 200 and then I paralyzed him for about 2 turns." Ralf and the other two start to snicker as Jak's face starts to go red. I sigh and start to drag him out of the auditorium.
Once I was out of the auditorium, I ditched Jak and headed back to my dorm room. Thea was waiting outside of my room when I got back.
“It’s about time you got out of there! I have been here since 5:15!! The ceremony got done .2 turns ago!!” She says as we head into my room. There is a letter on my desk, no doubt that it’s from the Academy or mother.
“Well, I ran into my brothers and they started talking with Jak and I.” I walk to towards my closet and pull out my ball gown. It’s a floor length, one shouldered, dark onyx green satisilk dress with a slightly lighter green tulle overlay. Under the bust area is a band of green and black diamonds. I pull it out and set it on my bed along with my circlet and necklace from my grandparents. Thea jumps out of her seat and runs to her room just next door. She comes back with a dress very similar to the one she wore to the open ceremony. It is a long pale pink dress with rose lilies on skirt portion and a pale silver mesh over the top of the dress turning it from a strapless dress into a dress with a thick strap. She has multiple bags and hands one to me.
“Here, My mother sends these for you.” I open the bag and see that they are a pair of onyx green, pure silk gloves that go up to my elbows. In the bag closest to Thea, she pulls out pair similar to mine only in a silvpearl shine.
“You will have to comm your mother to tell her I love the gloves. So, you are going to the ball with Rod?” I am sitting at my dark, oakspruce vanity. The mirror awakes and attaches to the computer in my room back home.
“Yea, it’s better for him to go with his sibling then some girl he barely knows. How about you? Who’s your first dance going to be with? Is it that cute 1st class that you spent yesterday with?” She sits down on a chair and leans a little forward. She had changed out of her dress and are now in her standard science/inventor wear; which today was a pale orange mod dress with tight spandex pants and no shoes at the moment. I had switched into the outfit I was wearing a few days ago when I met Jak on Terra.
“Who knows, I don’t know what to do if he does ask. Lex or Ben might ask me. Ralf definitely won’t. Besides, he has that 4th year girl anyways.”
“I don’t see why girls throw themselves at your brothers anyways. It’s just weird because I see them as my brothers too, it’s just weird.”
“I know, I mean, we all have the same dark green hair that my mom has, but our body and faces favour our dad.”
“That explains why you have a flat chest then.” She always like to poke fun at the fact I have a smaller chest than she does.
“Hey!! Just because I don’t have a voluptuous body like you doesn’t mean anything!!!” I grab an old shirt and throw it at her. She starts to laugh and we start to get ready. I put hotrolls into my hair and start to straighten Thea’s mess of curls.
4 turns later, Thea’s hair is as flat as smooth glass and mine in simple, elegant curls. I had pinned some of them back so the circlet sits more comfortably. After .15 turns, our makeup is done and I am starting to put on my dress.
“Hey can you lace this for me?” I turn so Thea can start to lace up the corset in my dress. She finishes and turns so I can do hers.
“There’s something I need to tell you.” She says after I finish lacing up her dress.
“What is it Thea?” I say slipping on my boots.
“Rod isn’t actually my brother. He was 5th class with the 3rd class markings so my parents adopted him and I think I love him.” I have heard of the rumors that the doctors with radical thoughts have turned some of the 5th class children into 3rd and 4th class by adopting them or genetically modifying them. I knew that Rod and Thea weren’t actually siblings, but I thought it was because their dad and mom aren’t always all that faithful so….
“Really? That does explain the dark red hair as opposed to your bright orange hair but anyways, have you told him you feel this way?”
“No I haven’t. My parents would flip and have Rod executed. They already cut out his tongue because he swung for the wrong team. It wasn’t even his choice, that boy kissed him with no warning or permission at all. Sometimes, I really hate the government when it pulls moves like this.”
“I don’t blame you, everyone in the second class when the get out of the academy, has to go straight to the front lines. My family has an exception to that, we have to go in after our 3rd year. It’s hard to imagine that I might die without finishing the academy. We should get going, it’s almost time and I just received a comm from Jak.” I grab my dark green cloak and head out the door with Thea following me. As we head out of the dorm room.
Outside, Jak was talking with Rod and a few other boys in various shades of blue. Jak was once again in green. He sees me and turns various shades of red, causing Rod to do his smirking giggling thing. Then he sees Thea and goes as red as his hair, causing Thea and I to bust out laughing. I take Jak’s arm as he introduces a couple next to us.
“This is Tegedmma and her friend Anajaohn. Both are in our year.” I smile and nod towards the girl in green like me but the boy was in blue. He must be a first class. I think I have seen Tegedemma around before on Aeria.
“Please call me Teg. I think I am in your guy’s pod. You’re Olivithea and Celestiestelle the head of class.” Teg says taking Anajohn’s arm.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Teg. You can just call us Estelle and Thea. The guy next to Thea is Rod.” Anajaohn shakes Rod’s hand and we start to walk to the great hall.
The inside of the hall had been changed into a large ballroom with tables along the side if you wanted to take a break from dancing. I dig through my cloak and pull out a piece of paper that I had put my notes on for my speech. Jak leans over and says,”Is that your speech?”
“Part of it at least. I’m a little nervous though, I was never much of a public speaker.” To be honest, I was better than Ralf but Lex and Ben easily beat me. Jak gives me a reassuring hug and I give him my cloak to put away. I make my way to the podium and set down my card on it and took my seat next to the headmaster’s chair. My brothers and a girl with flowing blue hair were seated on the other side of me. She takes one look at me and huffs in annoyance.
“Great, another 2nd class. I would have thought that they would have put another 1st class on the council this year. I guess I am just going to have to wait.” She must be the second year class head. Lex looks over and says,” I would be careful what you say about my sister there, she may be a 2nd class but she definitely out ranks you. Remember, you are only head of class because the last head refused.” She huffs and turns her nose the other way. I sit down and cover my feet. Mother always yelled at me because I wore boots instead of nicer shoes like my flats. It’s awhile before everyone is settled in the ballroom and the headmaster and other teachers file in. I don’t see as many of the teachers as there was for the opening ceremony but that is expected I suppose. The headmaster gives me a nod and I start to speak.
“To all the students of this year and the years ahead of us, I welcome you. This year will be one that people remember. Not just because the final project is to an unknown world, but that this year holds many more opportunities than that. The memories that come from these opportunities are those we cherish for the rest of our lives and the ones we tell our children. We will make strives to make this world one that we want it to be. A world where everything we learn here at the academy. Knowledge is the greatest power you can have, no matter what you go into after you leave this academy. Whether you’re out on the front lines, inventing the latest in technology or medicine, or changing the upcoming generations; we have to grasp that the power that is the most dangerous and the most powerful is the knowledge we learn in this academy and the knowledge of life that still holds out on us to find out. Life is a precious thing that must be guarded, let us guard it with knowledge. Thank you, and now let’s get this ball officially started.” I smile and curtsy. There is a polite clap and many sighs of relief. Lex stands first and leads the rest of us off of the platform and onto the ballroom floor. Jak, a 2nd year boy, Lauremliea (Lex’s girlfriend), a 4th year girl, and a third year girl (much to Ben’s dismay) all meet us out on the ballroom floor.
“You know; this is going to be first official dance with anyone that’s not my family.” I whisper to Jak as he takes my waist in one and my right hand in his.
“So if you step on my foot that’s why?” He asks raising an eyebrow.
“It means if I trip, you need to catch me.” I say with a straight face as the music picks up.
It was a common dance, complete with a few spins and a part where the leading partner picks up the following partner to swing them around in a circle. When it got to that part, Jak had grabbed my waist to pick me up. When he did that, I made a little squeak noise and it made him blush a little.
“That was the cutest thing I have ever heard.” He says as we continue to dance.
“Sh..sh... shut up and continue to dance!” I stammer out.
The rest of the night was a blur of congratulations and lots of dancing. By the time I had managed to get away, it was 3:17. By the time I had reached my pod, it appears that Teg had come in a little earlier than I did and was in a simple night shift and her nose in a medic textbook. I head into my room, get changed into my nightwear, and join Teg out in the common area with the reports and my adventurer’s textbook.
“Hi Estelle, how are you?” Teg asks me as I sit down in a chair near the fireplace.
“Alright, the ball took a lot out of me.” She had taken her hair out of it’s complicated bun and it fell to the tops of her shoulders. It was a pale mint green as compared to my dark green and it framed her face quite nicely, unlike my unruly hair.
“I bet, you being class head in all. How many people did you dance with?” She asks setting down her book on the table beside her.
“Too many to keep track of. How about yourself? Any memorable dances?” I set down my two books and lean a little forward on my knees. My hair fell a little forward but I push it back.
“Well…. Jao asked me for my first dance. It was sweet and all but he seems kinda distant.” She looked away a little down. I go over and place a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“It will be fine, why are you so worried about him anyways?”
“He and I are betrothed. It’s been set since a year before last. His family was looking for a suitable military wife so they found me.” She puts her hand over mine. I can say that I know how she feels. Many 1st and 2nd class men have come to my family’s house to ask for my hand. Every time my father has turned them away. He kept saying they weren’t worthy of me.
“My family hasn’t quite chosen my betrothed. They keep putting it off. I am a little bit worried when I head back to Aeria for break that they will have found a betrothed for me.” I kneel right next to her and offer her a kind smile. She returns the smile and turns her head towards the door to see Thea there, hair a mess and make up running down her face. I jump up and run towards her and ask, “What happened???? Did Rod do something???? Please don’t tell me that Ben tried to make a move on you again.” She pushes me out of the way and sits down. My brother Ben has been in love with Thea since she first came to my house. Thea looks up at me and said,” No, it was just that Rod had made it clear the feelings are not mutual and I guess I am not the best at taking a rejection like that. The reason being for my hair is that some girls who like Rod decided to take it out on me. I got away before they could do any real damage.” Like my brothers, Rod was also seen as very attractive. He even has his own little fan club of girls vying for to be his girlfriend. They didn’t take so well when I told them that Rod was not into girls. They almost did to me what they did to Thea but because of my family, they refrained to just destroying my social life. I was always a quiet yet stubborn girl. Mostly because I spent a good portion of my life with those of the opposite gender.
I jump up and start to head towards the door when Thea grabs my arm. She pulled on it, brought my face to hers, and said,” If you think I am going to let you fight my battles you are sorely mistaken.” She lets me go and heads into her room with a slam of her door. Teg looks at me and I shrug my shoulders.
“Thea is as stubborn as I am. Also she hates it when I step in and “save” her from the prejudice that she gets from being a third class with an adoptive brother.” Teg smiles a little and gets up.
“It’s late and We have class tomorrow morn. Good night Estelle!” I wave and continue to sit out in the common room for a while. I can’t help but think of Rod and Thea when we were younger, back when Rod could talk and Thea and I had a bit of a skirmish.
It was about 7 years ago when I was allowed to go to Terra for the first time. I was doing some archery practice with Lex and Ben as Ralf does not like going outside. I had nailed my first bull's eye when I saw a short girl with a mess of orange curls and a boy with straight red hair. The boy and the girl were having a little fight about whether or not to kill an animal that the boy had captured. I was behind on of the trees and as they were arguing, I continually crept forward until I fell forward. I landed on a giant pile of leaves, accidentally letting the animal go and getting caught up in the trap. The rest of the day was a mini fight between Thea and I about me letting go of their dinner and almost destroying their trap. We have been best friends ever since then.
After Teg heads into her room, I pick up the reports I was going to read and head into my room. Rohn gets up out of his little area and heads over to my bed, effectively running into the desk and the wall behind my bed. I smile and pick him up.
“What’s wrong creator. Your levels are off.” He must have picked up on my worries about Thea and what is to happen next. I know this won’t be the last time Thea gets hurt and I know that my team will be the cause of much scrutiny because of who is all on the team. Jak won’t get much of the taunts because of his class and I won’t because of what family I am a part of. That leaves Thea and Rod to take the brunt of the taunts. I look down at Rohn and say, “It’s nothing that concerns you. Why don’t you go shut down for the night? It’s been a long day and I am sure that you are tired.” I set him down and he goes off to his corner, no doubt that he is genuinely worried about me. Well, as genuine as a robot can get. It’s hard for me not to worry. As leader, it should be me taking the brunt of all the team’s troubles. I wish I could fix everything. As a Thorinston, I should be able to do something. With that troubling thought, I lay down to go to sleep.