A/N: Character images are subject to change once the sketch has been provided by the illustrator.
Chapter I: Welcome to Piques
“Alright class, we have a new student today. Please do give her a warm welcome.” The class adviser announced.
The sliding door opened and a girl stepped the classroom. Dressed in a sleeveless white collared shirt with a red tie and white gloves, black pleated skirt that ran down to her mid-thighs, long black socks and black with white lining military boots. Over her shoulders, a short arm-length black cape with white linings. Around the waist of the new student, a white belt hugged her waist with a box hanging behind her. The new student turned to face the entire class, smiling brightly, and earned her collective murmurs.
Long black hair with white tips at the bangs, a wide smile that looked like they never frowned at all, dark golden colored eyes that looked around the whole classroom. Her arrival made the students focus on her.
“Good morning! My name’s Zane Claire Mikael.” Zane looked at all the astonished students. “And I am here to take all of your money!” she announced, surprising the students even more. She laughed at their reactions but then felt something hit her head and stopped her from laughing.
“Alright, stop it before they think you will rob them, miss Mikael.” the teacher said.
Zane rubbed her sore head. “It's robbing them per se...” The teacher glared at her and she squeaked in fear. “Clearing it up! Clearing it up!” she placed her right hand over the holster on her right and k the contents of it.
Skillfully, Zane began to shuffle the cards and showed it to her new classmates. “Let me reintroduce myself. My name is Zane and I am a card manipulator-” the cards she’s shuffling began to fan out in different ways. “An elemental energy manipulator-” the cards on her hand suddenly covered five different glows –red, blue, green, yellow and black. She then stopped shuffling and fanning the cards and took five cards from the top and did a flip, throwing the cards to the board in the process. “A gambler.” The five cards were plastered on the board and formed a royal flush of hearts. She then turned to her classmates and flicked her wrist, producing a bouquet of flowers and giving it to a light purple haired girl in front of her and adding a charming smile. “And I am also a magician.”
Zane’s classmates were in awe at her display of card skills and the girl who received the flowers blushed and shyly looked away from the golden eyed transfer.
“Alright miss Mikael, enough with the flirting. Please take a seat by the empty chair in the middle row and we’ll continue our lesson.” The teacher pointed the empty seat at the middle row, beside a woman who has blonde hair and jade green colored eyes.
With a nod, Zane went to her designated seat and placed her carrier on the side of the chair. She gave a quick curt nod to her seatmate, the blonde girl with jade colored eyes, but she was ignored by the said student, focusing on the lesson. Being snubbed by the student, the card manipulator sighed in defeated and focused on the lesson the teacher was writing down.
“By the way miss Mikael…” The teacher stopped writing on the board and turned to the new student. “I’m your homeroom adviser, Althea Andrews, and I would like to welcome you to Piques High.”
Zane laughed and nodded her head a few times, acknowledging the welcome of her teacher. After the warm welcome, the class resumed their lessons and Zane was left zoning out with her right arm propped up on the table and her head leaning on her knuckles.
“Piques High huh… What a warm welcome.” She whispered, eyes set on the board. It was indeed a warm welcome from the school that’s called as the weakest school in all of SuitZ.
Word about the new student scattered all over the campus like the plague. It was a shocking news to both the staff and the students since no one transfers to a school that’s ranked the lowest among the city. Those whose interest have been piqued ran to check on the said transfer and pry some information about her. They searched everywhere in the school for the new student and they all found her by the corner of the cafeteria, playing a game of cards with a few students.
“Read ‘em and weep boys!” Zane smirked, showing her cards to her opponents.
The game was poker and after fifteen rounds, Zane being the banker, won fourteen times. The time she lost is when she ran out of cards and had to use a new deck.
“Dammit! You cheated didn’t you! You have extra cards on your sleeves!” one of Zane’s schoolmate said, throwing his cards on the table.
The dark-haired gambler, dragging all the winnings she earned –mostly sandwiches and soda- stopped and looked at the opponent who accused her of cheating. With her left eye-brow cocked and her expression silently saying ‘are you really accusing me?’ she sat up straight and showed her palms to the student. “Cheating? Kind sir, as you can see-“ she made sure to hook her fingers cuffs and wriggle her wrists to show that there are no cards hidden on them. “I don’t have any sleeves. And my cuffs are only small enough to only hide half a card. Now tell me, how could’ve I cheated if I can’t even hide a card on my cuffs?” she questioned.
The student frowned and shouted how annoying the game was and walked out. Everyone watched him sulk away, mumbling incoherent curses about poker and the gambler. The others that Zane was playing with quitted as well, saying that they no longer have any lunch after losing to the gambler.
“Well, we have a free seats! Who’s up for a round?” Zane challenged happily, shuffling a new deck of cards that she took out from her carrier. Those around her looked around to see if anyone would join her in a game of cards. She continue to shuffle her cards, waiting for a new set of players.
“Will you let me play?”
The students crowding around Zane all gave way to the one who spoke as if parting the sea for a religious icon.
The gambler, busy with shuffling the cards, recognized the voice and grinned. She leaned back to her seat and with her left hand, she flicked a card to the new challenger.
The new challenger is a male student. The said student is dressed in a white open tailcoat with black cuffs and collar, a powder blue vest with white edges and black buttons, white slim pants and paired off with a knee-high boots. At his sides, dual sheathed silver colored blades hung loosely and the black hilt sticking out of the coat. He caught the card that was thrown at him with ease and looked at the value of the card.
“Five of spades.” The male student said. He turned to Zane and flashed her a dashing smile. “Fits me perfectly.”
Several students. Both male and female, all fawned over the sole student who volunteered in playing with Zane. They whispered about him being handsome, charming, and a definition of a gentleman. How his blue eyes sparkles like the ocean, or his hair that shines like the sunset. They all talked about the most sought-after male student of Piques High. The one the female, and some male, students call as ‘Prince of Piques’.
“Indeed it is oh dashing prince of Piques.” Zane said with a teasing grin. She stopped fanning the cards and placed the deck on the table. “As I recall, the current and updated database of Kardz shows that the holder of five of Spades is none other than you-” She eyed the blonde who took his seat adjacent to hers. “Harley McKnight. So to what service could this lone gambler be of use?”
Harley looked at the winnings and then to Zane. “And I have heard about you as well, transferee Zane Claire Mikael. But before I inform you of my reason for approaching you-“ he took out a kani sandwich from his coat pocket and placed it on the table “I would love to have a round of Blackjack first.” He smiled sunnily.
The gambler nodded her head and took another set of deck from her back carrier. The box of cards were unpacked and she took the card from the box and began to shuffle the cards. Those around them were in awe at her shuffling skills, adding a few tricks to the usual normal shuffle. She looked at the spectators and noticed that they looked confused and deduced it that some of them does not know the game.
“In case there are some of you here who are not familiar with the game Blackjack, this is a game where a dealer, which is me, and the players, in this case a player, compare their cards. The object of this game is to beat me, the dealer by either: A. get an instant 21 points in the first two cards which is what we call Blackjack and without the dealer having the same points. Deux, reach the score higher than the dealer without having it exceed 21. And lastly, if I, the dealer, draws extra cards and exceeded the score of 21.” She continue to shuffle the cards. “There are in-depth rules and plays with regards to Black Jack but since we only have lunch time, I would just let you guys observe.” She smiled at the students around them.
“Let us keep it simple then, alright miss Zane?” Harley gestured for them to start.
“Simple it is. Apologies if I’ll be distributing the cards by hand. I don’t have a dealing shoe* or a shuffling machine* with me.” Zane said, taking two cards from the deck on hand and placed the cards, face up, on the side of Harley. “I don’t cheat in gambling. Just a reminder.”
Harley looked at his cards, an ace of spades and a five of clubs, and then to the card that was on Zane’s side. A queen of hearts and another card faced down.
“Stay or hit?” Zane asked, smiling tauntingly at the challenger. “To inform everyone, a stay means mister McKnight here will no longer take any cards and stick with his pre-set cards. Hit is where he will take another card from the dealer.” Those around her hummed in acknowledgement of her explanation.
Harley checked his cards carefully, deciding it to be a sixteen than a six, and glanced at the card that was laid in front of Zane. It was a high card and he thought that it has a chance to win compare to his fifteen. Deciding to play it safe, he informed Zane that he’ll stay.
“A wise choice but still…” Zane grinned and flipped the card that was faced down. It showed an Ace of Diamonds. A Blackjack. “You lost.”
Blonde student, not shocked at the outcome, laughed and raised his hands to show that he concedes.
“So, now that I won another sandwich, what can I help you with?” Zane began to unwrap her newest winning and bite on the crab sandwich. She eyed the blonde student as she chewed on her food.
Harley stood up, ignoring his growing fans fawn all over him, and smiled at the gambler. “I’m afraid that gambling is prohibited in the school grounds. So I have to take you to the council room.” He said as if it was the most common thing in the world.
Zane choked on her sandwich after hearing what Harley told her. Reaching for the nearest soda can and opened it hastily. The contents of the can spewed all over and those around Zane jumped away to avoid the sticky liquid. Cleared of the blockage on her throat, she looked at the blonde in disbelief. “No freaking way.”
“Unfortunately, it is the truth.”
“But you played with me! Therefore you are as guilty as I am! Everyone saw it!”
“Really?” Harley looked around. “Was I gambling? Everyone?” he asked with a charming smile.
Zane checked the students around them and they all denied her accusation to Harley. She gritted her teeth and mentally cursed those around them. She blames the blonde’s charm that brainwashed those around them and will agree to whatever he told them.
“Now, now, it’s not that bad. I can say that the council president won’t be too harsh on you.” Harley said. He took the surprised gambler’s current situation and approached her without being noticed. Hearing Zane’s continuous grumble of annoyance, he grabbed her right wrist and pulled her up and towards the exit of the cafeteria like a rag doll.