Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1404670-Sky-Underwater
by Lizzy
Rated: E · Fiction · Fantasy · #1404670
Claddissa Sky uses her wits to rescue other people, and herself, when she needs to.
                My mother sat before me, packing a large suitcase full of clothes. I loved looking at her long, straight blond hair and eyes the exact color of the sea. They were very different from my own creamy, dark chocolate hair and eyes that changed from amber to mocha, and I liked that.
         “Mother,” I said, trying to sound firm. “I don’t even like the sea. I don’t want to go!” I was trying to hold an argument with my mother, the only person that I was willing to do that with. I was losing, as always. My mother never lost arguments to anyone, so I certainly wasn’t going to win.
         In a few weeks we were moving to UnderSea, a city near the ocean. I did not like moving. We had moved a lot since my father died when I was four, because my mother always wanted new scenery. Or at least that’s what she said. Personally, I think that she wanted me to have fun outdoors and outdoors tends to be boring unless you have friends to share it with.  Moving caused me to have very few friends. Everyone at my new schools always either thought I was stupid and babyish, because I was always such a goody-goody and cried at every little thing, or they just did not want any new friends. It was six months into my seventh grade year and I finally had one good friend. I had not had any other friends since we had last moved, at the end of fifth grade. And now I had to start all over. From scratch. Of course, I was also partially lying to my mom. I really did love the sea. And she knew that.
         “Claddissa Sky, I am not completely clueless. You love the sea, and we are going to live there. I will become a lifeguard and save lives. It’s always better to save other people’s lives before your own, Claddi. It’s selfish to think your life is more important.”
         “Mother!” I cried. “You could die. Or get hurt. Or die. Or get captured. Or die. Then I’ll be alone. I’ll have no one. No friends and no parents.”
         “Claddi, I am not going to get captured or hurt, and I’m certainly not going to die.”
         How wrong she was, though neither of us knew it then. Only one week after we arrived in UnderSea, my mother got captured by a water tribe called the Stjolites. She was trying to save me. I was swimming too far out from the shore, and a Stjolite submarine approached. I had no way of escaping, so my mom came to the rescue. I should have been captured instead of her. I resolved I would never go in the water again. And for, well, two weeks I did not.

         When my father was alive, we had been rather rich and when he died, we were still rather rich. So, when my mom got captured, I had enough money to go to boarding school and if I went to boarding school, I wouldn’t need to go to an orphanage, because I would have a guardian. Sort of. But I did not want to go to boarding school. At boarding school, especially in the middle of the year, everyone already had friends and I wanted friends so badly. And the only boarding school in UnderSea was under water. And that was not an option. Or, well, it wouldn’t have been if I had had my way.
         The authorities obviously did not care what I wanted. They told me that according to my mother’s wishes, I had to go to UnderSea Secondary Boarding School because she said that I had to go to boarding school and the authorities said that I had to stay in UnderSea because officially they were my temporary guardians. So… I hired a lawyer. My “guardians” were not happy about this, but there wasn’t really anything they could do about it. We went to court, but it ended fairly quickly, as the authorities were able to produce a paper that my mother had written and signed saying that I had to go to boarding school if she died or was otherwise incapable of taking care of me. I could tell my mother did not like the idea of orphanages. And since the authorities were my guardians, there wasn’t really anything I could do about it.

         I sat at an empty lunch table in the UnderSea Secondary Boarding School’s cafeteria. Instead of talking during lunch (as I had no one to talk to), I dedicated my thirty minutes to listening to October, Cinnamon, and Esmaline, the people who sat near my table at lunch. October had dirty-blonde, messy hair and blue eyes and she was wearing a knee-length light blue dress. Cinnamon also had dirty-blonde hair and blue eyes. Her hair was slightly darker, but it was obvious that she was trying to look like October. (She was even wearing the same dress.) Esma, however, looked totally different. She had long, crimped, copper hair and dark emerald eyes with long lashes. She was the essence of pure, but soft, beauty. It was nothing like the sharp beauty of my dark hair and eyes. (Or at least, I thought my hair and eyes were beautiful. I would never say that aloud.) The longer you looked at Esma the more pretty she seemed. She didn’t stand out too much at first, but if you kept looking, you realized the beauty of her wide eyes and silky hair. She wore a short, dark green, satiny skirt with a slate-colored, lacy camisole.
Today, when the girls stopped talking about some annoying popular girls, October said suddenly, “Hey, Cinnamon, Esma, want to go swimming during science?”
         I could not believe my ears. Not only were they going into the water (which was very dangerous), but also they were doing it during class time.
         “But that’s dangerous!” I yelped, turning around.
         Now I could not believe my mouth either. Why was I even talking to them? Now they would know I was eavesdropping and would want to be my friends even less.
         “I guess it is,” said Esma doubtfully, “but why does it matter?”
         “You could get hurt!” I said, as if stating the obvious. And in my opinion I was.
         “Whatever. We’re always careful.” Esma shrugged.
         “Always? You’ve done this before?”
         “Of course. Everyone has at least once,” claimed Cinnamon, joining our conversation.
         “Yeah,” asserted October. “Do you want to come?”
         “Of course not! Why should I risk my life!”
         “Well,” declared October, standing up. “If you aren’t coming, we need to go. Come on, girls. Bye, Dissa. See you later.”
         “It’s Claddi, not Dissa,” I called after them once I was sure they couldn’t hear. Amazingly (she must have good ears,) Esma turned around and said apologetically, “Oh, I’m sorry Claddi.” She smiled and then turned and hurried after her friends.   
         I made myself follow them, thinking of my mother. I thought that stopping them would count as saving them, so I persisted in telling them not to go. They just shrugged me off, and went anyway. I watched them go, and as they swam and dove, I longed to go with them. I loved to swim, and knew how free it made you feel. And as I watched them, captivated, a big bulk of a shape entered the scene before me, blotting out all of the light. It was… I couldn’t really tell what it was until a hatch opened and October, Cinnamon, and Esma were pulled inside. A submarine! I was amazed. There were not supposed to be any so near the school. The submarine was big, and I mean big, and black with one white word scrawled across the side: Stjolite. Stjolites were never hiding who they were because everyone was scared of them and not willing to fight them. I stood, frozen, as the vessel carried them away. Why did everyone always take chances, just to have fun? Didn’t they know it wasn’t worth it? I blinked back tears. I should have been more convincing. I could have stopped them. I was now responsible for the capture of four people. Or that’s what I thought.
                I just hate the Stjolites, I thought. That surprised me. I didn’t usually use the word “hate.” I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. This was the calming procedure that I often used to keep myself from crying. I opened my eyes. Then I decided on a plan of action. Okay, it really wasn’t a plan. I decided, as always, to “go crying” to an adult. In other words, to get help from the principal.
I immediately went to the principal, but I was wasting my time. She wouldn’t risk trying to save them for fear of others being captured. She only said with a sigh, ”Claddissa, you know the way it is. Sending personnel is highly dangerous, and the Stjolite submarines are complicated vessels. We would only lose more people than we already have.” She gave me a pass to class and said she was sorry, but I felt guilty going to science. I leaned against the wall and thought for a while about what my mother had said before we left for UnderSea.
         “It’s always better to save other peoples lives before your own, Claddi. It’s selfish to think that your life is more important.”
         What would I be losing if I went after them? I thought.
Everything, said the voice in my head.
But what is everything? My life? I silently said back. I have no friends and no family. What’s the point? My “everything” is nothing, I thought.
One life is better than none, said the voice, do you truly think you can save them?
I’m just wasting more time, I’ve made up my mind, I answered. And just like that, I had. I was going after them.
         I practically ran to the exit hatch they had used. I put on diving gear and swam as fast as I could after that huge submarine. I was far behind, but I could still see it. I pushed at the water and shot forward. My left foot itched, and when I reached down to scratch it I suddenly zoomed forward. The diving suit seemed to be equipped with some sort of boosting device. I must have accidentally turned it on. I examined the machine and turned up the power. I shot forward faster now, and I was catching up to the submarine. Just a bit farther, just a bit, I told myself. I used every last vestige of my strength now, pushing myself forward along with the boost mechanism, and I was pleased to know that I was still a pretty good swimmer though I hadn’t practices for a while. I grabbed the hatch, and to my surprise, it opened. That would have been good for me if there hadn’t been a sardonically smiling face filling the entrance. “We saw you boosting. Bad idea, kid. Following the other three, I assume. And I guess they were following her.”

         See, the voice in the back of my head said insolently, You can’t save them, that’s what I said, and I was completely right, wasn’t I?
I ignored the voice and said,  “Who?”
“That woman. And don’t get your hopes up. I’m not putting you in a cell with them. Now get in little girl, and don’t try anything.”
I got in the submarine with clenched fists and followed the woman who had opened the hatch through winding passageways.  I tried to memorize the turns, but it was nearly impossible. My fists stayed clenched the entire time. Little girl, indeed. I was thirteen! A teenager, and a smart one. Finally she stopped and I examined her hair. It was whitish-silver blond and floated perfectly with her movement. I loved it, despite the fact that she was my captor. She turned to me, and I saw that her eyes were big and brown. Her nose was slim and pointed, and her lips small and very pale pink. She held up her hand in the universal symbol for “Stop.” I stopped walking. She took out a key, put it in the lock and opened a hatch. Then the woman turned to me again and commanded:
         “Go in, and stay there. Not that you have a choice, of course.” I crawled in, still facing her. She smiled and closed the hatch. It felt to me like she was closing my life.
         I turned around. I was in a fairly small room with two hatches on both sides. I tested them. Locked. Not that I had really expected any different. I sat in the middle of the room and began to think. The hatches weren’t key coded, and they were just wood (the Stjolites were very cheap; they never bought anything they didn't have to), but I still had no tools to work with.
         I looked around the room again. There always had to be something. Some weakness, something that would get me out of here. I tested all of the hatches again, even the one I had come through. When they didn’t open, I examined the locks. The locks weren’t actually part of the hatches; they were padlocks, except the one on the door I had come through. They were strong and new, so I knew I would not be able to break them.
         Maybe I could pick them, I thought.
Of course you can’t, the stupid voice in the back of my head answered, as disbelieving as always.
Well, I can still try, I thought back fiercely.
         I sat back down in the middle of the room and closed my eyes. Suddenly, I opened them again.
         “Cameras,” I whispered. “Perfect.”
         I never would have said this if anyone was with me, they would just think I was crazy. Or stupid. Or something.
         There were video cameras in the corners of the room. However, they were of no use to the Stjolites, as they were, well, turned off. This was the funniest thing I had seen in a while so I let myself laugh. A little.
         I am not in the right situation to laugh, I scolded myself. What is wrong with me? Okay girl; get back to the moment and this little “brilliant” idea you had of using the cameras. If anyone else was here I know they would be incredulous and probably say “Um, for what, exactly are the cameras supposed to be good for?” and would make me feel bad. I, however, knowing my own thoughts, knew what I had in mind.
         I ripped one camera and its cables from the wall and set to work. The camera was not by any means high quality, and probably cheap, if the Stjolites had even bothered to pay for it. In my opinion, stealing was more in their range. The camera was sort of bulky, and meant to be seen, to intimidate. The problem for the Stjolites was that if you were in the least bit smart, you could tell that the Stjolites had never bothered to turn it on. It was the kind of camera that had a light above the lens so you could tell if it was running. The Stjolites had obviously overlooked that.
         I started to take the camera apart. It had a plastic casing that was pretty fragile, so I hit the camera against the boring gray wall several times and broke it. Then I started carefully in on the wires. I manipulated a stiff wire out of the camera and twisted it. The padlocks were simple enough, so it might work, it just might. I held the padlock to one of the hatches on the left side of the room. I stuck one end of the thick wire into the top of the lock and twisted it. For a few seconds nothing happened. Then for a few more. I tried twisting the makeshift lock pick harder, and I realized what the problem was. I had raised all the cogs to the right level, but I had nothing that would actually twist the lock. I took my pick out of the lock and took another, thinner wire out of the camera. I twisted it together with the other wire and stuck the pick back into the lock. I twisted the pick and the lock turned! A little. And then a little more. I kept twisting it, and little by little the lock unlocked. I pulled down on the padlock and it opened. Then I opened the hatch slightly. There wasn’t anyone in the room, so I opened the hatch wider and crawled through.
The room was a storage room as far as I could see. It was filled with boxes of what I assumed were supplies. There were, however, no hatches leading off of the room, except for the way I had come. A dead end.
My favorite, I thought. Of course, the supplies might help me, so this room isn’t a total waste of time.
I walked over to one of the boxes and opened the top. Inside, there was diving gear, which I did not need, as I already had some. I opened another box. In that one there were walkie-talkies. Which I also did not need, as there was no one I could talk to through them. I opened box after box for something that would help, to no avail until the twelfth, very small, box. Inside there was just a piece of paper. A very smudged piece of paper. The paper said:
         Access Code: 19, 20, 10, 16, 12,
in very messy pen. The paper seemed to have gotten wet several times and the last few numbers were completely illegible. Finally, something that could help. A little. But, it was enough for me, so I pocketed it, closed the box, and went back to the hatch I had come through. I crawled back through and grabbed my pick from where it lay on the floor. It was time to try another door.

         I stuck my pick in the hatch next to the one I had just tried. I turned the lock and opened the hatch. The room was completely empty and had no adjacent hatches, so I closed it and tried another. It was also empty. I hoped very much that the next room held something, because it was my last chance. I held my breath as I opened the hatch, but I had no luck. I sat down in the middle of the room feeling a failure. Until I realized that I hadn’t tried the hatch I had come through! This hatch didn’t have a padlock, but my pick should still work.
         I quickly stuffed my pick into the lock and turned it. Then I opened the hatch a little to see if anyone was in the hallway. No one was, luckily. I quickly put my pick in a pocket on my diver’s suit and crawled through the hatch. I found myself in deep water. There were many hatches leading off the hallway. And there were many hallways to try. I thought October, Cinnamon, Esma, and that other woman would probably be near the place I had come in, but I didn’t know how to get there.  I did know that I needed to move or a Stjolite would find me. So I chose a hallway leading off the one I was in and tried my best to get back to the place I had been originally. This was by no means easy, but I managed to go a ways before I heard footsteps coming along the hallway. I quickly grabbed the pick out of my pocket and inserted it into the nearest lock. I turned it as quickly as I could and yanked it open. I pulled the pick out of the lock, crawled in, and closed the hatch. Then I locked the door, although I knew that if a Stjolite wanted to get in, that would only hold them off for a few seconds, as they would have the key to the lock.
         I looked around the room. It was full of shelves and shelves of books that were amazing and wonderful whether they were brightly colored or had gilded pages or were just thick dusty volumes with nothing written on the spine. Before this, I hadn’t thought the Stjolites would have had a library, but apparently they did and it was better than any one I had been in before. I slid a book with no title off the shelf and opened it to the front page. There were several lines written in a script I had never seen before.
Well. Obviously, I could not read it.  I actually was sorry that I didn’t know the Stjolite language because I wanted to read the books so badly.  I flipped through the pages. The book was handwritten and it seemed to be poetry and drawings and music, and just stories, or journal entries. Now I really wanted to read it. There was nothing to be done about it, so I put the book back on the shelf. I walked around to look at some other shelves. As soon as I turned past the first shelf, I realized I wasn’t alone.

There was a Stjolite girl with raven-dark hair, sitting on the floor and writing in a similar volume to the one I had looked at. I tried to move back to the door unnoticed, but she must have felt my eyes on her, because she looked up at me, gasped, and quickly tried to hide the book, looking genuinely scared. I wondered what about me scared her, because I didn’t think I was particularly scary.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I shouldn’t be in here. Father will kill me. Of course,” she eyed me shrewdly. “Neither should you.”
I cringed. Well. It was true; I shouldn’t be in here.
“Um. No, I guess I really shouldn’t.”
“You’re a prisoner, aren’t you?” she said softly.
“I was,” I insisted.
“Well…” she said slowly, calculating. “If you don’t tell anyone I was here, writing my Taichiachē—”
         “What’s a ‘tay-chee-ah-shay?’”
         “A book of… everything, really,” she said. “Poetry, music, life. You present your Taichiachē to everyone when you graduate from childhood, and I thought of something that I had to write down right away, so I immediately came here. The problem is that the library is off limits except during set periods. I would be in so much trouble if someone knew I had been in here. So, as I said before, if you don’t tell anyone I was here, I will let you go, and not tell anyone you were here.”
         “Really? You would do that?” I asked, wary.
         “I don’t want to be punished by my father; it would ruin the rest of my life.”
         “The punishment would be that bad?” I questioned, awed.
         “He would destroy my Taichiachē,” she whispered, pained. “Without it, my life… I would always be a child, always be in school, and never be free to do what I really want. Never be free to be an author. And my Taichiachē is the first sample of my work. It may be my only sample.”
         “I guess it is that important. I would never tell anyone about you, even if you didn’t let me go.” I grimaced. “I guess I’d better leave now.”
         She slipped the book back onto the bookshelf.
         “I guess we’d better leave now,” she corrected, moving toward the door. She took a key out of her pocket and opened the hatch. “How did you get in here anyway?”
         I held up my pick and she grinned, taking out one of her own.
         “Why do you need one? You’re a Stjolite.” I said, shocked.
         “There are placed I can’t go, just like you.”
         We climbed through the hatch and I said, “Oh, I nearly forgot. Could you tell me how to get to the holding cell?”
         “Which one?” she said with a smile. “We have so many.”
         I had sort of expected that, so I wasn’t too surprised.
         “Um, the one where three girls and a woman are being held. Do you know of any like that?”
         “Of course. Come on, it’s this way.”
         She led the way down the corridor and then turned several times. I didn’t even try to remember the turns this time. Finally she stopped.
“I think this is what you are looking for,” she said, pointing to a key-coded hatch. She keyed open the hatch. I didn’t believe it was possible for a person’s hand to move that fast. I opened the hatch and crawled through, not taking my eyes off the girl.
“I’d better go,” she said apologetically and began to close the hatch.
“Wait! What’s your name?” She stopped, obviously surprised.
“Aenne,” she said and walked away, not bothering to ask for mine. At the end of the hallway, she turned back.
“You’re Claddissa Sky.”
Then she was gone. I stared after her for a moment, then closed the hatch and turned around.

“Claddi!” cried four voices simultaneously.
My mother looked at October, Cinnamon, and Esma.
         They looked back.
         “You know her?” My mother sounded surprised.
         “You know her?” Cinnamon just sounded incredulous.
         “Mom, meet October, Cinnamon, and Esma. October, Cinnamon, and Esma, meet my mom,” I said as an introduction.
         “You’re her mom?” asked Esma. “You two don’t look anything alike.”
         “I know,” I answered. “This way I’m not a photocopy.”
         “You’re so lucky. I look exactly like my mom, and neither of us is pretty. It’s all this red hair.” She finger-combed her shinny coppery hair, and continued. “I don’t think it’s fair that you’re both pretty.”
         “But you’re hair is beautiful, Esma,” exclaimed my mother. ”I love it.”
         “Yeah, I like it too, Esma. Maybe I could dye mine that color,” said Cinnamon hopefully.
          “Really? You would want to?” Esma’s face brightened.
         “Um, Esma, this conversation is nice and all, but don’t you think we should be getting out of here?” I interrupted.
         “Well, we’ve been here about a half an hour, Claddi, and we’re pretty sure that there is only one way out,” offered Cinnamon.
         “I’ve been here about two weeks and I’m sure that there is only one way out,” pronounced my mom. “The actual door doesn’t count, because it can only be opened from the outside, but there is a key-coded hatch. The only problem, and it is a very big problem I promise you, is that we don’t know the code. Plus, we don’t have any way to find out.”
         “Well… maybe.” I said quietly.
         “You know the code?” asked October.
         “Only part of it,” I admitted.
         “Really?” asked Esma.
         “Yes, but not all of it.”
         “Well, Claddi, what is it?” questioned my mother.
         I got out the smudged sheet of paper and read,
         “19, 20, 10, 16, 12.”
         “What?” expressed Cinnamon. “That doesn’t help at all. It has no pattern, so we can’t figure out the rest from it.”
         “Maybe not, but also maybe. Claddi, does it have a pattern?” asked my mother.
         “Why are you asking me?” I squealed, embarrassed. “How am I supposed to know?”
         “Well, honey, I just thought you probably could tell best if it had a pattern, but if you don’t want to…well, I can always ask the others.” 
            “No, I’ll do it, Mom.”
         19,20,10,16,12. Hmm. The code had eight numbers, I was pretty sure of that. It had three little smudges after the five legible numbers. Or did it? Oh well, I could worry about that later. Hmm. What would the Stjolites use as a key-code combination? There were so many possibilities. I decided to start simple. Maybe each number represented a letter. Like, 1=A, 2=B, 3=C… None of the numbers were higher than 26, so that could be it. But what kind of word would the Stjolites use? I might as well suggest it so we could talk about it together. Two heads are usually better than one. Or, five heads, actually.
         “Well, maybe each number in the code represent a letter in the alphabet.”
“Hmm,” Said my mother. “So what would the code be then?”
Okay. The code would be S…T…J…O…L… wait! Stjolite! So, now into numbers. 19, 20,10,16,12,9,20,5.
“Ok, Mom, the code is 19,20,10,16,12,9,20,5.”
“But what do the letters represent, Claddi?” said Esma.
“Claddi! Hide!” There was fear in Cinnamon’s voice, so I obeyed without question. I hurried to the corner of the cell. I hid myself not a moment too soon, because the hatch slammed open and a large man squeezed through. Close behind him, looking incredibly small, was Aenne. Everyone automatically shrank back from the intimidating man. Aenne hid behind the man’s back.
         “Where is the prisoner!” he roared. “Aenne, where is she?”
What a traitor, I thought. It’s probably mostly my fault though, since I’m so gullible.
“Papa! Papa! Calm yourself. I’m sure—“
“I will NOT calm down. Tell me where she is.” He grabbed Aenne’s arm and held on to her. “You know where she is. Where do your loyalties lie, daughter?” Aenne shook her head. Her father made a disgusted sound and let go of her. “You will stay here until you straighten out your priorities.” He stormed out of the room (as much as you can “storm” through a trapdoor.)
I crawled out from my hiding place. Maybe Aenne wasn’t such a traitor after all.
“Claddi!” cried October. “What are you doing?”
I just shook my head. “Aenne, where do your loyalties lie?” I said simply. Aenne began to cry.
“I…just couldn’t…tell him…where you were. You…you didn’t… tell anyone about… me. My father…” Aenne paused and then continued more steadily. “My father just doesn’t understand me! He never has. I want to be an author. For all my life, writing has called to me, has tugged my soul. But papa wants me to ‘put my strengths to good use,’ as he calls it. So I’ve been helping him for a while. But I just couldn’t give up writing and I won’t betray you because you didn’t betray me! Even if papa knows that I know where you are, I will never tell him where you are!”
“But Aenne, how does your father know that you know where I am?”
“Because I see things. The future, the past, that sort of thing. And papa thinks it will be a waste if I give up being a seer to ‘chase less useful talents that I do not possess.’ So, anyway, papa knows that I can see where you are and that I am hiding it from him. I believe in loyalty, not family ties. I have no reason to be loyal to my father, except for the fact that his blood runs in my veins. I cannot be loyal to him any longer.” Aenne looked down.
“You’re leaving,” I stated.
“I could have left before this, but… I don’t know.”
“Hey, you want to come with us?”
“Sure… but I have to do something first.”
“Your Taichiachē?”
Aenne nodded. “I will not take long. Just wait.”
I blinked and she was gone.
“What was that all about?” asked my mother. I shook my head, grinning.
“Don’t ask,” I said. “Just go with the flow.”
The hatch opened and closed with a whoosh of air and Aenne was back.
“Well, that was quick,” said Esma.
Aenne held up the dark green, leather-bound book. “I know exactly where it is in the library of Taichiachēs.”
“We should leave quickly,” my mother commented. “We don’t want to be here when someone comes back.”
“We absolutely do not want to be here when somebody comes back,” Aenne agreed.
“Okay, then! Guys, get your diving gear ready,” my mom said.
“Got it.”
“And roger.” I added. I moved to the keypad and typed “19,20,10,15,12,9,20,5.” The keypad read “Correct Code. Exit?”
I pressed confirm. The six of us swam into the black sea.
“This way!” I said, sure of myself for the first time in my life.
We swam in the directions that I said we should go and in minutes we could see the school again. I got to a hatch and tried to open it, but it was locked.
         “Dang it! It’s locked.” I cursed. “All this for a locked hatch.”
         “Don’t be silly.” October laughed.” How do you think we got back in before?” she said, keying in the code.
         As soon as we were in, we changed out of our diving gear and were promptly found by the principal.
“Claddissa Sky! I told you not to follow them!” scolded the principal.
“Actually, you just told me that you wouldn’t risk other people getting captured. But I would risk it.”
“Oh, Claddi. I’m so proud of you! That was wonderful,” said my mother.
The principal noticed her for the first time and went all charm.
“Oh, Ms. Sky, you’ve been found, how wonderful. You must come and have something to drink in my office and we can talk about arrangements for Claddissa. The rest of you may go to your dorm for an early night. Oh, and who’s this? Another captive?”
“N—“ Aenne began to speak, but I stepped on her foot.
“That’s right, she’s another captive,” Esma quickly said.
“Yeah, she was in the same holding cell as us,” October added.
“Well, why doesn’t she go and wait in your dorm and we’ll work out arrangements for her, too.”
As the five of us left to go to our dorm, a sinking feeling formed in my stomach. Arrangements? That probably meant moving and leaving Esma, Cinnamon, October, and Aenne, my new friends.

         October, Cinnamon, Esma, Aenne, and I waited in our dorm, anxious to know what would happen to Aenne and me. We all jumped when someone knocked on the door. I hurried to open it. It was my mom.
         “Hi, Claddi. I’d like to talk to you for a moment.”
         I nodded and waved to my friends. Then my mom and I went out the door and closed it behind us.
         “Claddi, the principal and I have been talking about what’s going to happen to you now that I’ve been found. Since you were apparently very much against going to a boarding school, I thought you would want to go to a public school now. I think we should move to Tsria and have you go to one of the wonderful schools there. The principal and I decided it would be better to wait for the end of the year to change schools, so you won’t have to start over until next year. Does that sound like a good plan?” my mother said, grinning as if she was sure I would think so.
         “What’s going to happen to Aenne?”
         “We thought it would be best for Aenne to stay at the boarding school. “
         I stared at my mother.
         “Leave? You want me to leave USSBS?”
         “Not until the end of the year,” she reminded me.
         “No! What about my new friends? Aren’t you ever going to listen to me, mom? I don’t want to move! Not now and not ever!”
         My mother looked at me; surprised. I was surprised at the outburst myself.
         “You don’t want to leave?” she said. “I thought you hated boarding school.”
         “I did. But now I have friends. And I can’t leave them. I can’t always be leaving my friends. Please, Mom. Please.”
         “You want to stay?”
         “Definitely. Forever.”
         “Then we’ll stay. Forever,” said my mother decisively.
         I hugged my mom tightly. Then I opened the door to our dorm and shouted, “October, Cinnamon, Esma, Aenne! We’re going to stay! We’re going to stay!”

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