Indigo stretched lazily in her bed, pulling the covers up around her ears, smiling happily. No school today. She’d slept in for the first time in a while, glad for the day off. She paused. A day off. She sobered instantly. For her and her friends, there was no such thing as a day off. They hated it, but they had no choice. It was the life they’d chosen years ago. None of them ever thought that it would come to this, though. The running. The hiding. All of the endless waiting and looking over their shoulders.
There were no sounds in the bunk below her, as she had expected. Looking across the room to the small cot she saw that it, too, was empty. The dorm the three of them shared was really only supposed to house two students but they’d convinced the housing authority to let the three of them stay together even if it meant some slightly cramped quarters. It was safer that way.
I should have some breakfast, Indigo said to herself, climbing out of bed while trying to avoid hitting her head on the roof. I should make lunch, too. It would be nice to get out and enjoy the local scenery. It’s not home but Elysium Valley is still a lovely place. Perhaps Ari would like to come.
Walking into the kitchen she picked up the device the humans called a phone, dialing the number of the place he was staying at. Ari was staying with some of the boys from their school. The school didn’t allow the dorms to be coed so he’d been assigned to a dorm elsewhere on campus. From what he’d said it was a four-person dorm with a vacancy and his roommates were nice enough. One of them was in her history class, as it happened, though she couldn’t quite recall his name. Human names were difficult to remember. It had taken them months to practice the ones they were using.
After a few rings someone on the other end picked up. “Hello?”
“Good morning. Is Ari there?”
“I’ll go get him.” There was the sound of the receiver being placed on a hard surface and footsteps walking away, then footsteps approaching again. Someone picked up the receiver.
A familiar voice came over the phone line. “Hello?”
“Tide’s blessings. Did you sleep well?”
“Hey, Indigo. What’s on your mind?”
“I’ve had the urge to go out and enjoy the local scenery. Would you like to come with us? There’s a park not far from our dorm that I think would be nice.”
“Sure! Just one little problem, though. Teir’s supposed to help me with my homework this afternoon. I’m having some trouble understanding this novel I’m studying but he says he’s read it before and he’ll help. Do you mind if he tags along?”
“Teir!” Indigo snapped her fingers. “He’s the one in my history class. I guess that would be alright, but I don’t know what Ember has in mind. If it has something to do with… you know, or just a picnic.”
“One never quite knows what goes through that mind of hers. And you know her better than any of us.” Ari sighed. “I’ll see if he wants to come. I’ll warn him about Ember beforehand, though, just to be on the safe side.”
“So, what time am I supposed to meet you guys there?”
“About lunch time.”
“Ok, see you there. Bye.”
Teir walked into the room as Ari hung up the phone. “Who was that?”
“That was my friend Indigo. My friends are meeting at the park for lunch and wanted to know if I’m coming along. Indigo said it’s ok if you tag along.”
“Kousei and Yan were planning on going to the park, too. I think Kousei was planning on playing some basketball with Corentin and Yan’s working on some weird art project for school. Do any of you friends do that kind of stuff?”
“Hunter and Ember. Hunter is more into sports than Ember, especially active ones like basketball. On the other hand, she’s dangerous to play with; she takes full contact to a different level.” He rubbed his head, wincing. “Believe me, I made that mistake one too many times. Ember’s more musically inclined, but she plays sports on occasion.”
“I guess I’ll come along. The fresh air will be good for me after being in classrooms and lecture halls all week.”
Ember and Hunter sat down on a park bench, both out of breath. They’d been running around the park for hours all in the name of exercise.
“This is what I get for letting you talk me into a morning jog,” Ember gasped.
“You knew full well what you were getting yourself into,” Hunter replied. She wasn’t quite as out of breath as Ember. “Ah great.”
“Look over there. It’s them.”
Ember groaned. “One’s missing, though, the tall one with the brown hair. What’s his name again?”
“Teir, I think. Didn’t Ari say he was living with them?”
“Poor guy. Wait, what are they doing?”
Hunter looked disgusted. “Ei. They’re coming this way.”
“Good morning!” Kousei said, waving cheerfully at the girls. “You’re in some of our classes at Stargazer, aren’t you?”
Ember looked down her nose at him, an impressive feat considering that she was sitting. “Some.”
“I’m Kousei Prince and this is my friend Yan Diamono.”
“I know who you are. You can’t take two steps on campus without seeing basketball posters.”
“What are your names?”
“Dragon, huh?” Kousei said. “That’s not a last name you hear very often.”
Ember stood and planted her hands on her hips. “You have a problem with it?” she snarled.
Kousei blanched and backed away. “No, that’s not it at all. It’s cool, actually.”
“Pff. Whatever.” Ember shook her head. “I have better things to do.” She walked away.
Hunter rolled her eyes and followed.
“Pass the chips, Ari,” Hunter said, picking up a plate.
“That’s your third helping,” Teir observed. “All that salt isn’t good for you. Maybe you should have some vegetables?”
Hunter wrinkled her nose. “No veggies, thanks,” she said, grabbing a piece of jerky. “At least this has some semblance of flavour.”
Just then, Kousei and Yan showed up. Kousei, spotting Ember, grinned. “Yo!” he said cheerfully and sat down beside her. Ember rolled her eyes and continued eating.
Hunter narrowed her eyes. “What are you two doing here?” she growled.
“Cool it Hunter,” Ari warned. “I invited them.”
“If you’re going to fight, please try not to get any blood on the blanket, alright?” Indigo asked, picking up her book and began to read. “The old one is completely unusable now.”
Yan wrinkled his nose. “I’m not even going to ask what you’re eating, Hunter. It looks like leather.”
“It’s what’s left of my old boot,” Hunter said, tearing off a piece. “Want some?”
“Please tell me you’re joking,” Yan gagged.
“Her mouth is open and words are coming out,” Ari said. “Odds are good that she’s joking.”
Hunter socked him in the shoulder.