August 24, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Well, that was fun.” Tairikie was bright and smiling as they left Biological Systems. Enrie tried to smile, too; at least Saydrie looked nearly as shell-shocked as she did. “I wonder when we’ll get our grades back. I’m trying to make it on the board,” she confided. “I mean, I suppose we all are. But if I’m the youngest one to ever make it, then—” She trailed off, fiddling with her braids.
Enrie could fill that one easily enough. Then maybe my parents will have faith in me. But that was a mountain you could never reach the top of.
Taikie was happier when she had a challenge of some sort. “Listen, I—”
“Saydrie, can I have a moment? I have a dumenta, that is, I want to ask you of something.”
A hand landed on Saydrie’s arm, and a blonde boy, even taller than Saydrie, interposed himself between Saydrie and his teammates.
“Darnio, what is it?” Saydrie took a few steps away from Taikie and Enrie, effectively leading Darnio away.
He, in turn, switched to Bitrani the moment he had Saydrie’s attention. Enrie kept walking, doing her best to pretend that she didn’t understand.
“There is a meeting tonight,” he muttered. His accent was different than Saydrie’s; if she had to guess, Enrie would say further south, perhaps even the islands. “It is not expressly forbidden, and many of us—” He used nuzee, meaning an exclusive group, “—we are tired of being buried in all things Calenyena all day and all night. We want to have some time to be properly Cevati Bitrani, to be people.”
“I think that’s—” Saydrie was silenced by an angry hiss from Darnio. He made a noise, one Enrie couldn’t decipher without turning to look at his face, and continued in Bitrani. “I think the point of this school is to be immersed in the Calenyena.”
Darnio made a strange noise, much like a distressed goat.
“They don’t sound like they’re having fun,” Tairiekie commented. “I wonder what they’re talking about.” She raised her eyebrows meaningfully at Enrie.
Enrie shrugged. “It sounds like personal stuff. I suppose it’s really none of our business.”
It was bordering near treason, but that wasn’t something she wanted to say where she might be overheard – nor should Darnio have been foolish enough to. She changed the subject quickly. “Look, there was something I wanted to tell you and Saydrie anyway. When I was in the lounge last night —”
“Tai – Taizhie, right?” A hand landed on Tairiekie’s arm. “I remember you from our first day here. How have you been?”
The girl intruding on their conversation – again, yet another intrusion! – looked like an Art House girl. Her hair was perfect, her uniform was impeccably fitted and styled to somehow be a little bit different from the norm, and her linens had the prettiest pattern on them that just slid in under the regulations for embroidery.
But her colors were House Akaizen, and she was wearing a tool belt perfectly coordinated to her outfit.
“Taikie,” Tairiekie corrected.
“Yes, yes. Taikie. We’re working on a group project, the whole year, and I want you to—” she glanced at Enrie. “Or I can come back later?”
“Oh, no, it’s all right.” Enrie smiled brightly. “I’ll see you in class, Taikie.”