I shoot up like a rocket; I slept for way to long. Walking out of the library, people avoid my touch, still thinking color eyes are contagious or something.
Yes, I’m a Ŝťār; a living embodiment of the sky, with colored eyes to define my powers, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Everyone fears Ŝťārs because they associate them with the only other things that have color eyes: the Ŝcores; a bunch so-call evil, mythic creature races.
As soon as I get out of the library boundaries, I run. I’ve been at this since I was ten; I left because the valley I lived in is killing all the Ŝťārs. I go to the cherry tree I’ve been living in, at the edge of the Blue Valley. I had even changed my last name from Evergrowth to Chimenro: a blue valley name. The blooming cherry tree is in the white grass between the Blue Valley and Arrow Valley, my old home.
There are eight valleys: Red Valley, Orange Valley, Yellow Valley, Arrow Valley, Green Valley, Blue Valley, and Purple Valley. Arrow Valley is actually also a Green Valley, but a while ago the people living there started calling it Arrow Valley, and the name caught on.
I see a piece of paper fluttering in the branches, and I have to jump to reach it. Jade, your uncle Quint has been home since Friday. Meet us in the park. My parents leave a note every Sunday at lunch, and today is Sunday. Uncle Quint has been missing for twenty years, I wasn’t even born when he disappeared, but he’s the only other living Ŝťār in the family.
I run to the park, hoping Uncle Quint can explain some things. At least, I try running, but like everywhere, there’s always a group of kids who mess with someone because they fear them; and this was one of those cases.
“Ooh, look Scythia;” Sneers a girl named Carissa, “It’s the Ŝcřam!” Ŝcřam. That’s what people call Ŝťārs. “Hey Ŝcřam, why don’t you show us your special power? Oh wait, I forgot, you don’t have one!” I raise an eyebrow.
My right eye is moss green and the left is sea foam green. I have powers; I just don’t know what both of them are. The sea foam green means I can teleport, but the moss? I have no idea. I push past them and they recoil. Then, poof; I disappear, and reappear in the middle of the park, falling right into a stranger.
“Jade! Nice bumping into you.” He says with a smile that doesn’t go to his eyes. This must be Uncle Quint; he holds me at arm length and we both look at each other: He has a semi muscular build, his eyes are dark brown, almost black, a bit of stubble, dark brown cargo pants, a blue sweater-vest over a white collar shirt, and black hair.
As he looks me over, his face changes oh so slightly. There was a twitch here, a fast look of disgust there. He tugs my single black lock amongst the fiery red of the rest of my hair. “Dyed hair, really?” I nod, and tuck the offending lock behind my ear. “Could I see your eyes?” I shrug. As he looks, he did a lot of hmming. I raise my eye brows, “Oh?” I ask. He blinks as if he was remembering I was there. “You have two different eye colors. It’s just, unusual…” He says ‘unusual’ as if it has twenty letters. “Unusual.” I repeat.
Just then, my parents walk out from behind some playground equipment. “Jay, I see you’ve met your uncle.” Dad doesn’t look too happy, in fact, he looks worried. “Hey Papa, hi Mom,” I say, hugging them. “Hi Jade,” Mom has a quiver in her voice, so I know she’s about to explode; metaphorically, not physically. Both my parents are Norms, that is, People without colored eyes. “What’s up?” Her eyes never leave Quint. Something is up.
“Um, what’s up? Seriously,” I repeat. Suddenly, all eyes are on me. Ten seconds pass, then twenty; finally, Dad drags his hand through his hair and stutters, “Jade, I, um, Jay,” Quint groans and interrupts, speaking quickly.
“Well Jade, because you are a Ŝťār at the recommended age of recruitment, that is, fourteen, I am required to bring you to a place for you to learn how to use your powers, called the School, and discover whatever ones are hidden.” He spreads his hands. “We all already know that you’re able to teleport, but there is still the question of the other eye color. Now, you can either come willingly, or I can bring the special operatives in and they can, uh,” He scratches his chin, “They can do whatever they do; but whatever you choose, you do have to come.”
Uncle Quint turns to Mom and Dad, “listen Lara, Reynold, I know you don’t want your child to leave, but, it’s for her own good!” Mom scowls, “Is it really? She seems plenty safe here.” She pulls me close.
He acts like he’s softening, and quietly says “That’s what Genevieve said when I had to leave. Don’t you remember?” Genevieve was my mom’s mom; my Grandma Ginny. “What’s this about my safety?” I ask, frowning. “I can take care of myself.” Quint laughs, loudly and obnoxiously. “From your clothing choice, I would say you can’t!”
I look down at my cloths: brown leather boots with white fringe, dark grey leggings, and a thick, thigh length dark brown hoodie with its darker brown hem and muted natural colors. “I’ve been living on my own for the past four years, so if you have a problem with my clothes, you can go eat a hat,” I snap, and he chortles.
He. Chortles. I didn’t think anyone could annoy me more than Scythia and Carissa, but he did. “Jade,” Mom warns, always a stickler for good manners. I scowl and jog off, seriously? This dude is trying to steal my away from my family, and my parents expect me to me nice? I don’t think so!
“I GUESS YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO GO WITH THE SECOND OPTION,” I yell across the field, “BECAUSE I’M SURE AS HELL NOT COMING WILLINGLY!” Suddenly, I feel a sharp pain in my neck, and everything starts to go black. Crap, sleep darts. I feel the world tilt, and a bunch of people jump out of the trees. Someone picks me up, and I lose consciousness.
“I GUESS YOU’RE GONNA HAVE TO GO WITH THE SECOND OPTION, BECAUSE I’M SURE AS HELL NOT COMING WILLINGLY!”
There’s the signal: someone saying they don’t want to come. Lucas aims a dart gun at her neck and shoots; she slowly falls to the ground and we all slip through the trees. I pick her up, she’s really light. This is Jade Evergrowth, a Green Valley name. Someone must have seen her fall, because I see them coming across the huge yard. “Jeriko, someone’s coming, get us out of here!” I say quietly; he snaps his head toward me and nods. Everything goes white, and suddenly we’re in the infirmary of the School.
I set the girl on one of the many beds in the large white-washed room as a doctor rushes up and looks her over. “Honestly, it’s like you guys drag them by their ankles!” He says, “I mean, look at these bruises!” There’s one on her cheekbone, one on her collarbone, one on her shoulder, and one forming in the corner of her eye. “Sorry Ax,” I say, truthfully, “That must have happened when Luke shot her…” I realize my mistake as his face grows horrified.
“With a sleep dart, not an actual bullet! We would never do that!” He sighs and rubs his temples. “Seriously Rye, one of these days, you’re gonna give me a heart attack! Would you watch her for a sec? I need to prepare a few tests.” I nod and he walks off.
I look over at her, she’s kind of short, and her hair is short too, it looks like it’s made of blood, or fire maybe, with a streak of black. Even her eye brows and lashes are red. She has a thin nose, and a small chin and mouth. Her collarbone is pretty defined, except for the spot where it swells and bruises. Her lips are parted just wide enough to let a small line of drool run across her cheek. I feel a sudden urge to wipe it away, but I don’t want to wake her.
She’s curled up on her side, brows knitted together, frowning. Her expression goes from confusion, to anger, to sadness, to fear. A single tear runs down her face. I wonder what she is dreaming about, and as soon as I think this, she quickly sits up.
I hear a scream; I’m shrouded by darkness, surrounded by arms of unseen people. Lights turn on, spotlights. Rue, Jacob, Samuel, Rachel, Cameron, Mom, Dad, chained, drowning. I am tied to a chair, I cannot move, I can’t save them, I have to watch them die. “no. No. NO!” a whisper turns to a roar, I sob, “Rue” I say his name like a prayer. Suddenly, a figure steps into my view. It’s wearing a black cloak, its red eyes flashing. “I’ve found you. I see you. You cannot escape. You will never leave.” Smoke curls off its cloak, curling towards me. It covers me, strangling me.
I bolt into sitting position, startling the person at the end of the bed. It’s a boy.A boy is sitting at the end of the bed I’m in. My eyes dart to random things around the room, one word repeating in my head. The walls, shit. Another bed, shit. A doctor, shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. Where am I? I wonder.
“You,” The boy points at me, “are at the School.” How-? “How did I know what you were thinking? I had the same thoughts when I came.” I nod, “What’s your power?” He grins, and waggles his fingers near his face, and says “I can make illusions.” He waves his finger, and a fluffy brown kitten climbs across the bed into my lap.
I smile and try to pet it, but my hand goes through it. I purse my lips, “Can you make a cheeseburger?” he makes one float in front of my face. “How about a purple chimpanzee?’ He creates one. “A chicken crossing the road? Five goats jumping on the bed? A lemon with limbs tap dancing?” He makes all of them. I narrow my eyes, “How about an orange dragon with a neon green spine, blue glowing eyes, doing the waltz with a stuffed manatee?” Crossing his arm over his chest in victory, he complies to my amusement. I tilt my head at him. “Where do I know you from?”
I study his face just in case I see him again. Semi-short dirt brown hair, dark eye brows, observant purple eyes, broad nose, un-defined cheekbones, defined jaw, a bit of stubble, and he’s pretty muscular too, wearing a pair of dark brown pants and a dark gray-ish red shirt. I notice he’s studying me too.
I clear my throat. “Oh! Um,” He stutters rubbing the back of his neck, “Yeah, sorry, I um, I was one of the people sent to get you?” He says it as a question, like he wants me to forgive him for something. “No, no, you’re fine,” I say, because I figure this is just a dream, “You were just doing your job.”
The doctor I saw before walks up now, “Oh good you’re awake! Would you mind if we run some tests on you?” He asks, tapping a clip board. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. I raise my eye brows. “What kind of tests?” The doctor laughs. Just. Like. Quint. I spontaneously decide I don’t like him.
The boy taps my foot, “Axle isn’t that bad!” I’m confused for a second. Oh. Axle must be the doctor. “How did you know what I was thinking?” I ask him. He laughs, deep and throaty, but real, “Your expression.” He says, screwing his face up: knitting his eyes brows together, frowning, wrinkling his nose, and squinting his eyes. I realize he’s mocking me; “What’s your name?” I ask him. “Uriah, Uriah Thayne.” I nod, “Jade Chimenro, but you probably already knew that…” Now it’s his turn to raise an eye brow. “Actually, I know your name is not, in fact Chimenro, but Evergrowth,” he smiles.
The doctor -Axle- interrupts, “So…. The tests? Are you up for it?” I look over at him, “Do I have a choice?” Axle looks over at Uriah, “We’ve got a smart one here,” then to me, “Sorry, but no. It can be delayed, but this is required.”
“This is required,” Of course it’s required, it always has been. It’s for our own safety. That’s what they all say; so many other people’s biased opinions shoved into us as soon as we get here. We can’t leave the School, the Prison that so many of us see it as, until they need us. She makes a face, and I know she’s about to say something tricky, “How about,” she says wiggling her fingers near her face, mocking my action from earlier, “I delay it forever?” I snort. “I’ll be off now,” I say with a sweep of my arm, “See you around!”
I walk out of the infirmary, down a few of the maze-like halls, and into my room. As soon as the door closes I groan and slump to the floor. I hate it. I hate having to bring other people here; trapping them so the School can brainwash them. Why? I think, why do I stay here? Why did I talk to her? I shake my head; will I talk to her again? A hopeful voice asks, making my heart flutter. No. No. Nope, don’t think about that. I rub my temples and sigh again. Someone knocks on the door. I stand and make myself presentable.
Opening the door; it’s Lucas; Lucas is one of the few dark skinned kids at the School, there is also his sister Kristle, who dresses like a strawberry, there's Valentine, the long haired romantic, Jacob, the boy with the carrot colored hair, Fare, the strange girl who paints whiskers on her face a sneeks around, and the twins: Lilly and Liza, creepy and mischievous. Lucas is a little bit shorter than me; he’s very lanky, with shaggy black hair, a broad nose, strong jaw, and deep blue eyes. He can control precious metals, and right now he is shaping a chunk of silver.
I lean against the door way, “How’s it goin’?” The silver metal starts to look like a person, “You know the Greenie?” Now it looks like Jade. I shift my stance, “I know of her… why?” He smiles slyly, “She has teleportation and disguising! Two powers in one! And she’s bunking with Kristle! I’m like, totally friending her!” Mini Jade hops off his hand and takes a place sitting crossed legged on my dresser as Luke walks off, pumping a fist in the air. “Good luck getting her to friend you back!” I yell as I close the door.
Turning around, I walk over to my dresser. I pick up Mini Jade, turning her over in my hands. She looks almost identical to the real Jade, except for the scar-like chip on her shoulder, and the clothing. This Jade has a flowing tank top, capris, sandals, and our customary brooch. Normal warm weather clothes for the Greenie girls; the boys wear thick strapped tank tops and loose shorts. All the clothes we wear here are incredibly soft and light.
I sit down on the ground, holding the fake Jade, and wondering where the real Jade was.
“I’ll be off now,” he says with an overly dramatic sweep of his arm, “See you around!” You’re a strange one Uriah Thane, I think as he leaves the room, very strange. I turn to the doctor; he has a tall, muscular build, shaggy blond hair, one pure yellow eye, and one darker one; I don’t know if it’s because of a shadow, or if he also has two different colored eyes. He’s wearing black pants, steel toes boots, and a light blue shirt.
“I was joking, so… The tests… Yea,” I say, rubbing the back of my neck. He nods his head, beckoning me to follow; I do. He brings me down a hallway, and into a large white room. There are doors in every color of the rainbow; but some aren’t, like brown, pink, and grey.
“We already know about your teleportation from your uncle,” he says, Of course you do, I think, “And your other eye falls into the category of green. There are quite a few powers in the green section,” he leads me through the green door, and into a –surprise! - Green room. In this room, there are tinted mirrors on the walls, but instead of being lots of colors, these are different shades of green.
“Close your eyes and just walk forward,” Says the doctor. I do. Slowly I step forward; ever so slowly. I walk strait, but it feels like I’m turning and turning and turning. Suddenly, I trip over something. And it feels like I’m falling through some sort of wispy fabric, or dry water; and I’m floating, weightless. Then I feel something press against my back.
I sit up and I’m in my bed-or at least, the bed I used to have- It’s the day I left. I quickly get out of bed, I’m already dressed. Standing at the top of stairs, I hear a loud thud. I squeeze my eye closed. Solders were already here. But that didn’t make sense! I left before the soldiers were even at the neighbor’s house! “She’s not here!” I hear my mother yell, “She’s long gone. Search the house, you won’t find her.” I hear them stomping up the stairs, and I step backwards, and I start to walk back to room.
A hand clams down on my shoulder, “Show me your eyes,” I hear a gruff voice say. I turn around, hoping they think I’m my sister. I have black eyes. I have black eyes. I have black eyes. I think over and over, waiting for him to haul me away; but instead he shoves me away, “She’s a Normie!” He calls to the rest.
My eyes snap open. Wait, weren’t they already open? I think, as I realize I’m back in the chamber of green mirrors. Axle is still there, but now there is someone else- a girl with dark skin, semi long curly pink hair, and deep green eyes; she’s wearing a bright pink shirt and green pants, reminding me of a strawberry. Right now, she’s grinning from ear to ear.
“Hey, I’m Kristle; I’ll be showing you around.” I slowly stand up, “Ok, um, I’m Jade, and I have no idea what just happened.” The doctor looks up from the clip board he’s been contemplating, “We have found you have both teleporting and appearances, meaning you can change how you look, like morphing, but you must stay human.” I nod, “is there any food around?” Kristle laughs, swinging her arm around my neck, “You are officially my favorite Greenie! I love ya! I’m a foodie too.”
She drapes an arm over my shoulder, “You’ll be bunking with me, come on!”
“You’ll be bunking with me, come on!”
Kristle leads me through a complex series of hallways, to an intricately carved door, it depicts a figure standing over the Eight Valleys, making orbs flash around them. “Wow. That’s-” “Amazing?” A voice interrupts. I turn around, looking for the owner of the voice, but to no avail. “Who said that?” I ask, and a girl appears out of thin air, she’s a little taller than me, with faded blond hair, and grey shirt and pants; she has pale, creamy yellow eyes, like the inside of a banana, and blends into the background.
“Hi. I’m Sarah, I live across the hall.” I nod, “sorry, I didn’t see you there!” She laughs, a loud booming laugh, the first thing I found that is not dull about her, “No one does, I have invisibility, and I’m good at it too. If you want to be able to see someone, my brother Connor is EASY to find, stands out in a crowd, the parrot in the pigeon coop, the pimple on the nose, so many ways to describe him. He and Kry are the most out there people.” She smiles,
“Anyway, you probably want to see your new room, let’s go!” She dramatically opens the door to a large room, in each corner there’s a bed, with a dresser next to it, and a closet, but that’s where the similarities end. In one corner, the walls covered in murals, a silver bed sits in a corner, there’s a mat on the floor, and a simple three drawer dresser.
Another corner has gem covered walls with a diamond bird bath containing a ruby cardinal, and a hammock bed that looks like an emerald leaf;
A third corner has nothing in it, except for a small floating orb.
The last one is beach themed, with a sandy floor, walls that look like sky, a pool of salt water which water falls into a stream that snakes around the bed, a plank of wood to get over it, tiki torches, and a big clam bed with a treasure trunk next to it.
In the clam is another girl, with golden blond hair, a pail green eye and a pale brown eye, blue jeans, and an brown plaid shirt, she’s really pretty, and looks a little bit Mexican. She looks up from the book she’s reading, “Hi! I’m Meg, you must be Jade?” I raise a hand in greeting, “Yep, that’s me…” I point at the section that’s blank, “whose is that corner?” Meg giggles.
“She really doesn’t know anything, but that’s ok. That’s your corner,” she points at the corner with the hammock, “That’s Kry’s,” She points at the last corner, “That’s Tesson’s, she’s another Twosie. Kristle is the only normal Ŝťār here.” I walk over to my corner, “Why is there nothing here?” Meg giggles some more, “See that floating orb?” I nod. “Touch it and imagine what you want your room to look like.”
I place both hands on it and close my eyes. I imagine a dark cherry tree in bloom in the corner, its branches forming a cocoon for me to sleep in, I imagine the floor a blanket of soft white moss and grass, with flowers and berry bushes growing in it; my walls would have some pictures of Rue, and the rest of my family, the trunk of the cherry tree will be my dresser, with drawers going into it. The last thing I put in my section is a full length mirror.
I open my eyes, and step back. Kristle gasps, “Wow, that’s beautiful!” I sigh, “It’s based off where I’d been living before I came here: A cherry tree in the white grass between Arrow and Blue.”
Just then, the door opens, and a girl comes in. She’s wearing brown pants, black boots, black knit gloves, and a black t-shirt with a gray hoodie. She has short jagged sterling blue hair, one eye the color of her hair and one magenta. She looks like she might be Asian.
She bobs her head, “Hey, I’m Tesson. Nice section.” She walks over to her dresser and takes out a paint set. She starts to finish a mural, this one is a picture of an apple orchard, and in the vastness of it she paints a white gazebo with grape vines growing on it.
I look at the other pictures, there is one with a beautiful sunset over a sea shore, a forest in the winter, and a farm at harvest. She looks up at me, startled, I step back, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-” She holds up a hand, stopping me, “It’s ok. really; what’s art if no one sees it?” she asks.
I smile, and climb into my tree bed, for the first time since I got here noticing my bruises. As soon as I get into a comfortable position, I hear a song, like a bunch bells being rung in a symphony; I turn to the others, “Who’s playing that song?” I ask. Meg looks at me, confused, “What song?” I gesture, “The- The bell song!” I say, jumping to the floor. Meg smiles and looks at Kry, who smiles back. “That, my friend, is the Call of Companion,” says Tesson.
“That, my friend, is the Call of Companion”
Kristle walks over to me, “come with me.” She says; I do. We walk for a while, until we come to a large room, with a bunch of crates assembled into a maze. At my confused silence, she shakes her head, “Just walk and try to find your way through.” I take a deep breath, and exhale, walking forwards, I maneuver around the turns: Left, left, right, left, right, right, right, left, strait, and a U-turn.
It’s a dead-end. I turn around and am about to walk away when I hear a voice: “Silly, silly, don’t you know anything?” I spin and face the direction of the voice, but all I see is a wall. “Who, may I ask, said that?” I ask, and was responded with a chuckle, “Have you not been sent to find your companion?”
I flip my hood up, and only now notice a small purple-blue gecko with light purple eyes clinging to the wall. I raise my eyebrows, “alright joker, what’s your name?” It leaps onto my hand, and climbs up my arm; “You just said it!” It exclaims, “Joker.” I raise my fingers, and Joker jumps and sits proudly on them, “And your power?” I ask, scratching his belly.
He growls in pleasure, “Well, you see, I can shape-shift.” Without warning, he leaps off my hand and in a flash of light, turns into a beautiful aqua blue stallion. I have to step back so as not to be crushed. “Any ideas how to get out?” I ask as I jump and swing my leg over him back to mount.