Atica was sound asleep in her portable crystal chamber when she heard loud chatter coming from the main room of the hostel. She slowly opened the chamber door and crept out of the room she shared with Elanta. The chatter turned into a loud argument by the time she reached the end of the hallway. She peeked her head around the corner, careful not to be seen. The argument was about her.
“She has to go now,” Cristasha exclaimed as she paced about the room.
“And she will,” Mingule confirmed. “Just as soon as we get back home.”
“That won’t do. You weren’t there. You didn’t see the Morethans walking around with their white wigs and blue contacts.”
Gladia shrugged her shoulders. “Who cares who the Morethans mimic.”
“It wasn’t just the Morethans,” Timos said as he hung his head low. “Some Lessthans were also dressed up like Atica. This is all the Grand Master’s fault.”
Gladia clasped her hands over her mouth and inhaled sharply. She let out a deep sigh. “Did Elanta see them?”
Cristasha and Timos nodded their heads in unison.
“She was thrilled by it,” Cristasha said. “There was a stand set up with the wigs and contacts, a line of people stretched around the plaza to buy them.”
Gladia and Mingule exchanged glances for a long moment. They knew the inevitable had arrived. Atica was far too dangerous to keep around Elanta, even for a few more weeks. They nodded at one another and turned their attention to the other parents.
“She will leave tonight,” Mingule decided. “I will contact the Astroengineering Authorities and have them remove Atica’s things from the house.
Atica crept back to her room and crawled inside her crystal chamber. In a way, she was happy about the Morethans and Lessthans mimicking her. It showed a unifying force. A start of a revolution, perhaps. In another way, she was sad that she wouldn’t even get a chance to see the home she’d known for so long again. She was more than a little frightened. She was about to embark on a new journey, alone.
“Why do you have to go now?” Elanta asked as she sat on her cot.
Atica shrugged. “The parents said so.”
“It isn’t fair. You are going so far away. Why Astroengineering? You will be off-world. I won’t get to see you very often.” Elanta sat pouting and swinging her legs.
“I’ll visit as often as I am permitted. I promise.”
Atica finished tossing her clothes into a small suitcase, sat it aside and joined Elanta on the cot. She held the young one who’d become a sister to her and placed a kiss upon her forehead.
“It won’t be forever. Maybe when you are twelve, you can join me on Elune.”
Elanta shook her head. “I don’t like astroengineering. I am going to be an artisan,” she said with a big smile on her face.
Of course, she would, Atica thought to herself. Elanta had a way with clay and sculpturing. She would make fine sculptures and houseware. It was in her blood; Mata C was an artisan too.
“We’ll stay in touch. Now you’d better run off before the parents realize you are in here with me.”
Elanta gave Atica a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll never forget you,” she whispered as she skipped out of the room.
Atica remained seated. She stared around the room, the same room she’d shared with Elanta and Sasine for so many years at these birthday festivals. Sasine was away at the Maths Authority. Someday, she would be a famous mathematician. An asset to the family. Elanta would be a famous artisan. Another asset. All the boys studied at various Authorities. They’d be nautics, chemists, doctors, and engineers. The Klaufks would be proud of every one of their natural born children. Atica knew she would never receive praise for her chosen field, or for any other reason.
“Are you ready?” Dal M asked, standing in the doorway.
Atica nodded. She stood up, picked up her small suitcase and followed the Dal out of the hostel. They’d already boarded her portable crystal chamber. She walked out into the main room half-expecting a send-off, but the room was empty.
Dal M accompanied her through the dark streets of Hatash. Atica tried to memorize everything about the place. The plaza, the main square, the streets, and the children she’d met there for the past four years – Ito, the Lessthan boy who’d never befriended her, and Ostare, the Morethan girl who had. Their faces were burned into her memory.
As they crossed the landing field, Atica stared up at the large craft that would carry her to Elune, the smaller of the twin moons. Since the day her pod had landed on Marmooth, she’d never been off-world. The steel grey sky of night matched the color of the craft, and Atica’s mood. As they reached the craft’s entrance, Atica turned to say goodbye to Dal M, but he’d already turned around and was walking back toward the man streets of Hatash.
So, that was that. No send-off from the family and not even a goodbye from Dal M. Atica shouldn’t have been surprised, but for some reason, she was. Had she meant so little to them? Apparently. With her head hung low, she boarded the craft and took a seat far away from the others onboard. Most were older children and adults. Morethans, all of them. Atica was the youngest on the craft. She’d never felt so small nor so unwanted.
Fasten your seatbelts. A voice said over the intercom.
Atica fastened hers and curled up into a ball. She pulled the hood from her coat up over her head. It would be a five-hour trip. Atica figured she would just sleep through it. She closed her eyes, but the jolting of the craft prevented her from sleeping. Suddenly, she heard a voice.
“Atica! You’re here.”
Atica opened her eyes and there sat Ostare beside her. She wouldn’t be alone after all.
Andromeda Dreaming is a YA Science Fiction story. Young Atica has been marooned on an alien world, adopted by a family there. She longs for her parents who may or may not be alive, and Allura, her homewold in the Andromeda Galaxy. Will she ever see her parents again? Or will she have to accept a life on the foreign planet Marmooth where she fears she will never fit in?
Andromeda Dreaming ©2016-2017 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
Or jump ahead to Part 5