Outcasts: Part Two
Jesmin, a Cloud Xweetok of about 15, was munching her Zeenana as usual. Every morning of every week, the schedule was the same: Wake up, discover that the alarm clock had been blaring at you for ten minutes, realize you are late, rush to get dressed, grab the first food item you see, then dash down to school before the impatient teacher starts without you.
Stuck in a rut, she grumbled mentally, chewing her fruit angrily. When is something exciting going to happen? School just isn’t worth it.
Having finished the Zeenana, she chucked the peel into a nearby trash can and shoved her paws into her jacket pockets, producing a small slip of paper. Swallowing the last bite of her meager breakfast, she walked over towards the front entrance, where the attendance office was stationed. A massive line of pets were standing in single file to reach a booth manned by schedule-wielding teachers. With a huff and a quite fix of her purple hair bow, Jesmin walked to the back of the line.
A good long wait was stretched before her – that much was certain.
A tap on her shoulder startled her from apathy. Turning to face the newcomer, she was shocked to see a young Royal girl Kyrii, followed by a handsome and wary Blue Gelert. The girl lowered her gloved paw, and met Jesmin’s startled expression with her own cerulean gaze.
“Excuse me,” the girl asked tentatively, “I’m new to this place, and I was wondering if you could tell me what I’m supposed to do?”
After overcoming the initial shock of a Royal pet actually conversing with her, a regular Cloud Xweetok, Jesmin reassembled her thoughts and attempted to prepare her powers of speech.
“Are you going to be a teacher? I’ve only ever heard my history teacher, Mr. Gablok, talk so sophisticatedly.”
The Kyrii girl was confused. “Teacher? As in a scholar, a tutor?”
“Yes...” Jesmin replied slowly.
“Oh, no – no, I plan to attend this school. I apologize if my manner of speaking was incorrect for this environment. I used to live somewhere... completely different.”
Jesmin smiled a little. “Well, I hope you enjoy it here,” and then she muttered to herself under her breath “as if anyone else does.”
“What was that?”
“Oh, nothing. I’m Jesmin, by the way.”
“Daffodil – pleased to meet you.” The pair shook hands.
They had reached the front of the line. The teacher in charge of the booth, a red Tonu with tiny wire-rimmed glasses, didn’t glance up from his paperwork as they approached.
“Name and Class Year...?” he asked in a husky voice dripping with boredom.
“Jesmin Auraglass, sophomore,” she replied. He promptly scribbled down her words on the stack of paperwork. The Tonu searched through a positively enormous pile of printouts, and handed her a schedule with her name.
“Your name is lovely, Jesmin,” Daffodil commented. The Xweetok felt an unaccustomed feeling of warmth somewhere near her heart.
“Name and Class Year...?”
Jesmin watched as Daffodil started at the question. “Sorry?”
The Gelert, whom had been ignored up until that moment, leaned forward and whispered ‘Milady, you need to tell him your name and how many years that you’ve attended high school.’
“Oh, right,” she said, still confused, “um, well, my name is Daffodil Evensong, and this is my first year attending high school.”
“Another freshman, then,” the Tonu mumbled, “so many of them these days,” as he shuffled through the papers again. He passed her a schedule, which she stared at, baffled.
With an impatient sigh, he shooed her away from the booth to allow more students access. She rejoined Jesmin, who was watching her with amusement.
“If I may ask, which school did you go to before this one?”
A blank look stole over Daffodil’s expression, and she blinked. Jesmin felt a twinge of horror – this Kyrii had never, EVER, attended a public school in her life. She needed a guide, or the poor girl would not survive.
“You really are new here, huh?” she asked, to which Daffodil nodded. Jesmin had, unconsciously, decided that she would shoulder the burden of tutor to this young soul. “Then, in that case, I’ll have to teach you the mechanics of high school.”
The bell rang again, and the students all began to group in the center pavilion. Jesmin guided Daffodil to their seats on a short, two-foot-high concrete wall, and the Gelert trailed no more than a few feet behind them. It was at this point that Jesmin took the initiative to satisfy her curiosity.
“So, who’s your friend?” she asked.
“Oh! Uh, err- he’s my cousin. This is Jarav,” Daffodil stumbled over the words.
The Gelert smiled and nodded to Jesmin. “Pleasure to meet you, Jesmin.”
The Kyrii’s eyes wandered during this exchange, and eventually landed on a particular group of individuals across the center quad. Daffodil pointed behind the Xweetok. “Who are those people over there? They don’t seem to be like the other students.”
Jesmin glanced over her shoulder, and loosed a groan. “Don’t worry about them. They are just fine without you stressing. Better, in fact.”
Who Daffodil was inquiring about were none other than the popular pets. Cybunnies, Hissis, Draiks, Krawks, Jetsams, Tonus, and nearly every other Limited Edition pet in existence, all stood together like life-long friends. With stunning clothes and mocking expressions, the rich, athletic, and dazzlingly painted pets alike were laughing raucously and meeting the eyes of everyone that glanced their way, as if challenging passerby to dare tell them that they didn’t look fabulous. Including her new companion – it began to trouble Jesmin that more and more of the popular clique were turning to stare at them; at Daffodil, specifically. In her peripheral vision, Jesmin watched as Daffodil blushed and ducked to avoid their prying eyes.
Soon, it began to dawn on Jesmin the reason why they were staring like hungry Lupes presented with a feast. It was so obvious – Daffodil was Royal. Daffodil was new to this school, to the inner workings of public education in general.
Daffodil was changeable. Moldable, like a lump of clay.
Turmoil racked her thoughts as Jesmin rationalized her opinions with the facts. The Kyrii did not know them at all; she had merely seemed concerned for the popular pets, not eager to join them. She felt pity for them because they did not fit in with the majority, as though something were wrong with them.
Hah! She needn’t give those egotistical low-lifes pity, Jesmin mentally scoffed. Something is wrong with them, alright.
Their attention was briefly diverted as the Tonu who had run the reception booth shuffled over to the podium. Tapping his megaphone, he wheezed and coughed for a minute before giving the cheesy introductions.
As soon as he was done, the pets dispersed to their various classes. Jesmin continued to sit on the concrete barrier, and asked Daffodil what her first class was.
After briefly glancing towards the crumpled paper in her gloved paw, Daffodil confirmed that she had first period Science class. Jesmin beamed – that was her class as well.
A shadow stopped behind them. The pair turned to look at the mystery visitor.
A Pirate Draik, standing at about their shoulder height, had his arms crossed over his chest and wore a smug grin. Behind him trailed most of what Jesmin had previously deemed the popular clique. They stood in complete, creepy silence, all watching them with exact copies of the Draik’s smile on their faces. Jesmin noticed that, once again, the popular kids had eyes only for Daffodil.
“Why, hello, new girl. My name is Darthan – but you can call me Glitterthorn.”
“Nice to meet you, Glitterthorn. My name is Daffodil, and this is Jesmin,” the Kyrii replied kindly.
Shocked outrage erupted from the posse of pets. One Cybunny exclaimed, “Did he ask you to talk? I didn’t think so!”
The outcries continued to pour relentlessly until the Draik held up one finger, and then silence followed. “That’s nice, Daffodil, but we don’t need to know who your friend is. We would like to get to know you better, though...”
Jesmin felt the fur on the back of her ruff rise in anger, and a tiny snarl escaped her control.
Darthan laughed. “Well, it seems that your friend doesn’t like us. We’ll talk later, Daffodil. That’s a promise.” Darthan winked as he left, tailed by his mass of followers.
“Come on, Daffodil,” Jesmin grabbed her arm, anger still coursing through her body. “We’re going to class.”
Daffodil was puzzled. “Why didn’t they appeal to you, Jesmin? They seemed perfectly friendly.”
The Xweetok sighed in exasperation. “That’s just it, Daffa – you don’t mind if I call you Daffa, do you? It’s easier for me to say in a sentence without stumbling over it.”
Daffodil nodded, ecstatic. She had never received a nickname before.
“As I was saying, that’s all the popular kids will amount to. They lure in pets to join their hypocritical little clan, and they never return the same. Trust me – you don’t want to mix with them, Daffa.”
Without a glance in their direction, Jesmin tugged her new friend away from the popular pets, starting their first day on a sour note.
To be continued...