Evaline Hawthorne has just begun her sophomore year at Slater Academy, ignorant of the unexpected burden on her shoulders- and that of her partner.
The story takes place 2000 years after the war between the humans and the abnormals.
Monday, September 6th, 4100
The hallway smells a bit like smoke.
She felt betrayed by the strangers in the hallway, left alone just before first period with only her student tablet in her hand.
Everything she had read about being a student was untrue. No one carried backpacks. No one used lead pencils anymore, only styluses, no one helped you out no matter how special you were until you spoke up. She hadn't spoken up, but how could she when everyone around her had seemed so apathetic?
She stood still in the hallway, flushed with frustration and embarrassment and... irritation?
The one-minute notice for her first period class, English II, blinked on her white screen in pale blue text. However, her tablet couldn't lead her to her room 510.
She sighed and decided to open the left door into the staircase, heading downwards within the three-story building to the front office on the first floor, staring down.
Bump. A sharp inhalation. Really tall, jet black hair, freckles, bright green eyes.
The ghost of a song playing through black shiny skull-shaped headphones.
His tie was red and the rest of his uniform was black, marking him as a Baser. Hers, on the other hand, was white with a pale blue skirt and white and blue boots. No one else she had seen wore thigh high boots. Were they not standard?
She sneezed, glaring over the inner elbow pressed to her nose at the cigarette in his left hand.
Her mouth moved, but he couldn't hear her. He took off his headphones, slightly annoyed. He popped his neck.
She repeated herself, "Why do you smoke?"
He raised his eyebrows. "Let's start with 'What's your name?'"
"Okay, I'm Cain, and I don't tell people why I smoke."
"M-mkay." She sneezed again. "Do you know where room 510 is?"
"That's what I'm skipping right now." He checked his watch "And we're... five minutes late."
"Who says I'm going?"
"I sure don't." He puffed out a cloud of tobacco-poison-nicotine, leaning against the railing.
Evaline sneezed again, nose turning red. "How do you get cigarettes?"
Cain's eyes widened. "You... you don't smoke, do you?"
Evaline shook her head, correcting him, "I've secondhand smoked from my parents."
Cain ran the fingers of his right hand up through his hair. "Then why do you keep sneezing?"
"I'm a little cold, but I don't have a uniform sweater," she lied, and he could tell.
"Well, your uniform isn't quite Upper uniform."
"I'm the head of the sophomore Upper class."
He bit his cigarette and sputtered, "Holy shit. Aren't you new?!"
Cain recalled hearing that new students simply could not be the head of a class at Slater Academy, and this little girl didn't seem like she'd be able to fend for herself among the jackals of the four classes: Elite, Upper, Lower, Base. There were going to be two teams of two classes each this year. The notice kept flitting across Cain's tablet the night before when he had begun unpacking into his dorm room. If she got placed with... no...
She watched the gears turn in his head, trying to pick his expression apart."Y-yeah. This is my first day."
He took another puff and the smoke came out through his nostrils. She doesn't know what she's gotten herself into. "About the sweater, you're cute enough, everyone's got a spare sweater for you."
"You ever look in the mirror?"
"Well, yeah." She looked away and started a tiny braid in her white hair.
He held his cigarette between two fingers and pointed it at her. "That right there? That's cute. That'll get you anything. I bet you're really sweet, too. Don't be too nice to guys around here, because they'll start thinking--"
"Can I be too nice to you?"
"I don't bite." He squashed the end of his cigarette on the railing and let it slide down to the trash can at the landing.
Cain began to walk up and past her. She cocked her head and he looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "Aren't you coming to class?"
She followed him back up to the third floor. He led her down a shallow set of steps she had overlooked on her first pass through the hallway.
When they both entered room 510, the class had been busy at their tables with a group assignment and chatter and banter was abundant. Only a moment of silence hung between the students before a more tense, fervent buzz arose.
Not only was an Upper hanging around Cain, but she was the highest of the Uppers! And a new student?
The teacher, Mr. Burns, attempted to calm everyone and it shut them up, but didn't prevent the stares as Evaline followed Cain through the center aisle to the left table in the back: the head Delinquent dual table with... as Cain had guessed... the head Upper.
When she sat down on his right and set her blue tablet down, Cain tried to sneak a peek at her student info.
Her species was unidentified.
That's not possible. "Students are required to identify their species to the school or be evaluated for determination of species." That's not possible. This could be dangerous.
He was becoming almost as nervous as the students around him.
The Academy has thrown some pretty nasty surprises at Delinquent leaders in the 2000 years since the incident in 2100, but this? How is anyone supposed to handle this?
He laughed too loudly at an unidentified fear, and everyone heard. Evaline looked up at him with those big pale blue eyes and shushed him.
For the rest of the class, Cain and Evaline said nothing.
It was decided that Sophomore year was going to be a knife in Cain's side.