Don't fight for what you believe is right- stay spineless.
All Ravegeers are soft and pathetic.
Your parents must feel ashamed of who you’ve become.
Closing my eyes and clenching my teeth, I try to drown out the taunting voices. The insulting words slowly ebb with each exhale, but they’ll be back. Every time they return, old and new faces speak them, whispering behind my back as though I can’t hear what they’re saying about me. Judging my choices regarding my future like they have the right. Sadly, I’m used to it.
Most of my life I’ve been subjected to all kinds of creative slights. I’ve been ridiculed, outcasted, and laughed at, which is fine by me. If anything, their contempt fuels my defiance. Sure, being rejected by society hurts, but being forsaken is all I’ve ever known. Plus, it’s as they say; only the hottest fires forge steel, so my iron defenses are resilient.
"... Physist Ivan Newman said that a scream can’t be heard in the vacuum of space. Do we know if that's true?" Nyx, my physics professor, asks the class rhetorically, relieving me of my pensive thoughts. "The answer’s yes, since there's no medium in space, audio-frequency can't sustain. So it's an accurate statement."
Interesting final topic choice. I wryly think to myself, my fingers tapping away on my old MecBook, documenting his last lesson. A majority of his test questions are on his lectures, only a small percentage are from the text and I couldn’t be more grateful. Tomorrow’s our final exam, and I absolutely cannot fail it. I wouldn’t call myself a dreamer, my motives for wanting to pass these prerequisites are too violent for that. My intention is to become a combat aeronaut, which is basically a space soldier, and the career is only achievable through outstanding grades. Well, technically passing these requirements is the stepping stone to one other, relatively complicated problem… The only way to join the Metagalactic Aero Force is by graduating from the Lodestar Academy. It’s an exclusive school that trains individuals for the Interplanetary Military.
While there is a regular military, it's bound to our own atmosphere, and I’m not joining the forces just to stay local. Lodestar trains elite squadrons that respond to other planetary emergencies. It’s highly competitive and difficult to get into since they only look for applicants that rank highest in academics and aptitude evaluations- which happens to be my “weakness”, so I’ve needed to make up for it with high test scores.
"The reason being, noise is produced by the vibrations in the air that create sound waves," Professor Nyx continues, and points with his laser at a hologram recording demonstrating how sound works. "So due to the absence of air in space, sound cannot travel, even with our advanced technology.” The recording then proceeds to show noise canceling out from the lack of oxygen molecules, essentially making it nonexistent. “Unfortunately, this means sometimes communication gets lost in transmission..."
His voice fades as my thoughts once again drift, and tension coils around my stomach. Not getting accepted to Lodestar Academy isn't an option. Retribution lives in my bloodstream. Killing those who wronged my kind is the reason I breathe.
It’s been twenty years since my planet, Haedmeir, was destroyed, and those of my kind who managed to escape came here to Cylia seeking refuge. As grateful as I am that the Cylians, along with two other Orders of the Interplanetary Alliances- the Alomilies and Wardors- came to our rescue, they weren’t successful in saving our planet. My parents were part of the few lucky ones who survived the attack and managed to escape, all the while my mother was heavily pregnant with me.
The fury building in the back of my throat causes me to inhale sharply. My Order’s known for being peaceful, so the old leaders never felt the need to organize a military, leaving us completely exposed to the attack. It infuriates me to think about how my people were slaughtered. They were innocent and pure, undeserving of what befell them when they became the Phantomyths’ next target.
My hate for the foul demonic-like creatures is so visceral it squeezes my throat and boils my blood. I’ve never seen one, but I’ve heard they’re grayish in appearance with nocturnal habits, neon-orange eyes, and venomescent saliva. They’re referred to as “World Annihilators” since there's no sense behind their quest for destruction, and there's no reasoning with them. The only way to stop them is by destroying them, which is exactly what I intend to do.
The war’s been ongoing for almost half a century now, and yet apparently the Interplanetary Military hasn’t made a single shred of progress. Eradicating them is impossible without knowing where their colony nests, so the Alliance’s primary aim for now is to slow them down. But because of the Phantomyths’ hive-like behavior and abundant numbers, it's been a challenging process, to say the least. So I’m more than eager to hop in on the action and help purge them from our galaxy.
It's not lost on me that my bloodlust contradicts my kind’s devotion to peace, but I can't help feeling like joining this fight is my calling. And not as a medic as most of my fellow Ravegeers are. There's a fire burning inside of me, one that demands justice, and the only way to temper those flames is by going to war.
"Nira, Why is the debacle of acoustics in empty space important for you to know?" Professor Nyx asks, startling me and breaking me out of my momentary stupor.
Even though I hadn't exactly been paying attention, I'm an auditory dominant organism. Audible information gets downloaded whether I want it to or not.
I hold in the sigh that wants to escape as I give my answer. "Because aeronauts wouldn't be able to rely on sound to know where their enemies are located." Like me, which is why the question was directed my way. It's a disadvantage, or at least everyone seems to think so. Because of the stereotypes placed on my Order, I've worked on strengthening other skills that'd make me favorable as an aeronaut. Like my quit-wit, problem-solving skills, and fast reactions. Not to add the many honors and extracurricular classes that equip me with additional resourcefulness. Things other Orders don't need to worry about.
"That's correct," he says and changes the hologram.
"He's obviously picking on her because she shouldn't become an aeronaut." I hear a student in the back of the class whisper.
"I know. She should just stick to medicine or agriculture like the rest of her Order." Someone responds. "She's taking the opportunity away from someone else."
"She won't get in. No Ravegeer ever has."
“That’s because they’re all wimps.”
The voices turn into snorts of laughter. I wish I could tune them out, but unfortunately, my pointy ears absorb every sound within a ten-yard range. My parents say it was a helpful adaptation on my home planet that kept us safe from predators. Ironic, since the Phantomyths eluded those advantages and wiped us to near extinction anyway.
As for the disrespectful comments, they aren't new to me. No one thinks I deserve a place in Lodestar Academy. They consider that my ancestral beliefs and dependence on sound make me deficient. That I'd be useless in galactic battles because my aptitude's primarily aural. Whereas Cylian's aptitudes are infrared or long-range vision. Alomilies have x-ray vision, and Wardors have particle awareness. They can sense even the slightest vibrations or changes in temperature. Some can even control molecules. Those who can are always the first to be selected into Lodestar Academy, regardless of their grades. It's not unfair or biased; it's war. I get why they choose those who increase our winning chances. I'm not bitter about that part. I'm upset because my ambitions aren't taken seriously just because I'm a Ravegeer, like my Order esteems me to be less competent than the others.
Even though there are four Orders, we're all branches of one species; Maeleeds. You’d think that fascinating tidbit would make everyone regard each other fairly, but no. My Order constantly gets shamed by the other three–
I jolt in my seat at the sound of the bell, signaling the end of class, and the end of my day. Perfect timing, I think to myself.
Students all rise from their seats and rush out of the classroom before I’ve even stored my MecBook in my school bag. I don't blame them for hurrying. Finals are tomorrow and no one wants to waste time.
Aside from me, only one other student remains in their seat. His hoodie’s pulled over his head and he’s slouched in his chair. Judging by the sounds of his steady breaths he seems to be sleeping. I’m surprised the bell didn’t wake him.
I throw my book bag over my shoulder and head for the door when Professor Nyx stops me. "Nira, can I speak with you for a moment?"
I pause and glance at the sleeping student, confirming he’s still out cold, then back at him. "Uh, sure."
"I know you're eager to start your studying, so I'll be quick. I just wanted to talk about your ambitions to get into Lodestar Academy." He crosses his arms and leans on his desk. The action looks casual, but I get the impression he’s about to subtly interrogate me. "You're the first Ravegeer to ever aspire for such a dangerous future, so I can't help my curiosity as to what made you choose this path?"
Huh. Although his question isn’t new, I’m a little surprised he’s taken notice of my interests since he’s Wardor. Then again I’m considered an oddity, a rogue Ravegeer they like to call me. Yet some also still think I’m soft like the rest of my Order. It's like they can't make up their minds about me. I wish people would just stop deciding for me what I am and mind their damn business.
I shrug my shoulders nonchalantly to stanch the flow of fermenting indignation that's threatening to spill out. "Because this is our fight too." The usual excuse I give.
He smiles knowingly, and the slight wrinkles at the corner of his copper eyes crease, revealing he’s slightly older than his mid-aged appearance makes him out to be- much like my father. "I want the real reason, Nira. I've had you in my class all semester and I was there for your aptitude evaluation. You demonstrate a lot of commitment and diligence for such a simple answer. Not to mention it goes against your Order's nature–" He stops himself when I raise a brow and he sighs. "Sorry. What I'm trying to say is, I can't help but feel like there's more than you're letting on. You can tell me."
The air around us thickens as I stare at him. Trust isn't something that comes easily to me. In the past, when people learn the reason they tend to judge me with snide remarks or shaming. So I’ve long stopped giving people amo to use against me. Besides, it’s not my job to humor their curiosity. I’m not a public spectacle.
Suddenly, I’m overcome with a strange feeling of calm, like I could trust him with this information. Before I even realize it, my honest answer spills from my lips. "Because I'm angry. I'm angry at the Phantomyths for obliterating my planet and making my kind near extinct. I'm angry at my ancestors for believing concord was enough to protect us. I'm angry at my peers and educators for not taking my ambitions to be an aeronaut seriously. Instead, I’m called incompetent and a waste of resources. But mostly, I'm angry at myself every time I start believing them." My hands begin shaking as the inferno blazing inside of me awakens, sensing a spike in adrenaline. Now that I started this rampage I don’t want to stop it. "Ravegeers are supposed to be peaceful beings, yet I've never felt at peace. I might not have been alive when my planet was destroyed, but I live through the devastation caused by this war daily. My parents still cry over the loss of their families. Have they ever felt angry about it? No. It makes no sense to me how after everything we've been through, my Order still holds onto their old and failed customs. They call me a dissenter, but I don't care. I'm constantly burning with rage and the only cure is to be on the front line inflicting my revenge." A heavy breath heaves out of me, feeling winded from my rant. I then look at Professor Nyx with wide eyes, shocked with myself for confessing and worried about how violent I must sound.
He shows no reaction to my outburst, but his wise copper irises watch me with something akin to realization. "I'm sorry for upsetting you. And I feel your reasons are just. Thank you for sharing that with me. I know this path you're on must be difficult." He straightens from where he had been leaning against his desk and shoves his hands into his front pockets. "For giving me your honest answer, I’ll share a secret with you.” At that I perk with interest. “I’ve been promoted to a position on the Board of Officials in the Interplanetary Alliance and will have a say in the applicant selection into Lodestar Academy this year. Please remember the choices we make for those entering the Academy aren't easy for us when you see the results on Monday."
My heart shudders. He's on the Board? Why am I surprised? He's a Wardor Veteran with a high aptitude ranking from what I’ve heard. He graduated from the Lodestar Academy top of his class. The only reason he left the Metagalactic Military was to recover from a back injury he obtained two years ago. Which, from the looks of it, seems to be doing better.
I sigh. There's no way he'd vouch for me. Especially not after my aggressive word vomit. So many other competent candidates are fighting for placement, people with advantageous aptitudes. It sucks to discover all my efforts have been in vain. "Thanks for letting me know." I turn to leave his classroom.
"Regardless, I'm looking forward to your exam scores reflecting the hard work you've been pouring into your academics," he quickly adds. "Never let the opinions of others keep you from reaching your potential. The only person whose opinion should matter to you is yours. So don't disappoint yourself."
I nearly laugh. Disappoint myself? I've been disappointed by so many others. He doesn't need to worry that I'd add myself to that list. "I'll do my best."
As I make my way for the door, I cast a sweeping glance at the person still sleeping in their seat and an intrusive wave of sympathy hits me. He’s probably been pulling all-nighters studying for tomorrow’s exams. Maybe Professor Nyx will take pity on him and let him catch up on his sleep for a few more minutes.
The moment I leave the room, I open my natter to check the time and find two notifications. One’s a missed message from my mom, and the other’s my Astrology App telling me about my celestial forecasting. I open that one first.
Hello, constellation Conflagration signs. Today you'll experience a moment that leads you to self-doubt. But no worries, Conflagration star signs always find themselves. Just remember that spark that lit your flames, as it will always be your guiding light.
I glare at the screen. Yeah, that moment happened to be learning Professor Nyx will be on the Board determining who gets to attend Lodestar Academy this fall.
Ugh. I need to stop thinking about it. Dwelling on something I can't control doesn't make the situation any better.
I close the app and open my mom's text.
MOM: Hi Nira. I'm going to be working late tonight so it'll just be you and your dad for dinner. I think there are leftovers from last night's dinner, but if not then I'm sure you can come up with something. Love you.
Honestly, with this nauseating anxiety gnawing at my intestines, I might pass on dinner tonight. Which I know isn't a good idea since I've been trying to put on weight so I can gain muscles for the Academy. But I just can't stomach the thought of food when I'm stressed.
I send my mom a quick text expressing my feelings that she won't be home with a frown icon and slip outside the building. The moment I do, I pull my worn-out coat tightly against me, desperately trying to maintain some warmth as a gust of frigid air rushes into me.
Sonovabitch it’s cold! I'm not made for Cylia’s subzero climate!
With a scowl, I start my trek toward the refugee camp that Cylians designated for Ravegeers. It's a very run-down area due to the fact the place is resting on barren land and the "houses" are two-bedroom apartments that have low-quality everything. I don't understand why the government hasn't afforded us any upgrades. I know we aren't technically their citizens, but we don't have anywhere else to go... That's not exactly true. We could leave. Ravegeers stay because our little refugee camp's all that's left of us, and my people thrive better as one.
My train of thought lingers at that notion. Not me. I prefer my solitude. I constantly wonder why I'm so different from the other Ravegeers.
As I ascend the stairs of my apartment complex, my elderly neighbor, Leighly Nielton, nearly crashes into me in the hall. Perfect. Just wonderful. "Ms. Nielton," I grumble in greeting.
"Hello, Nira," she croaks. "How was school? I heard finals are tomorrow."
I nod wearily. "Yep. On my way to study now." I inch around her to make my hasty escape.
She frowns at me, making the sagging wrinkles on her face even more pronounced. "You're not still trying to get into the Lodestar Academy for aeronautics, are you?"
Here we go. "Yes, I am."
She shakes her head in disappointment, as though my ambitions make me a failure in her eyes. "Your poor parents. I wonder how they deal with you. Ravegeers aren't meant for violence or confrontation. We're peaceful beings who focus on healing or growing. You know- things that improve the world."
Almost every word she says makes me grit my teeth so hard my jaw aches. No matter how many times I hear it, my Order’s belief that we’re meant to just lie down and accept being trampled on always irks me. Also, I’m sick of people dragging my parents into this.
Unable to control myself, I snap. "My parents and I have a great relationship, not that it’s any of your business. And some would say fighting for the survival of others would count as improving the world. Or are you okay with Phantomyths taking more lives? Where exactly does that fit into your dovish point of view?"
Not staying to wait for her response, I storm the rest of the stairs. I bet she's standing there completely stupified over my lashing out. Ravegeer youths are expected to acquiesce to whatever our elders tell us since they're wise and experienced. But what wise person has the ideology that fighting for others, or having goals, are considered faults? I just can't adhere to those beliefs.
I open the door and cross the threshold, shouting, "Dad, I'm home."
"Hi honey, I'm in the kitchen."
I turn the corner to see my dad rummaging through the fridge. It's comical watching a man of his stature bent over in our small kitchen. My father's the main Representative of the Ravegeers, responsible for speaking on our Order’s behalf and making decisions regarding our community. Technically, Representatives are supposed to stay in Embassies on the Metasphere- the planet where the Interplanetary Alliance is located- but they made an exception for him since Ravegeers are newer members and low in numbers. I hardly think it's necessary anyway as he doesn't do anything to improve our situation. He’s pliant, saying everyone’s just happy to have a planet to offer them sanctuary. It bothers me so much that even though our conditions here are appalling my Order still feels the need to repay the Cylians for their ‘hospitality’. Which actually went more like the Cylians threw us into a deserted district and expected us to call it home. I don't think my father even has plans for us in the future. What happens decades from now, when the Cylians decide we've overstayed our welcome? My Order’s avoidance of issues are things I can't help but assume are what led to our world's destruction.
With a sigh, he straightens and looks at me with his familiar round emerald eyes. "What're you hungry for?"
As I respond, his pointy ears twitch through his long, pale-blonde hair, only a shade darker than mine. "Nothing, actually. I was just going to go to my room and study."
His lips press into a thin line but he doesn't comment. My dad usually won't. He keeps his views to himself. He's a very submissive man. It drives me insane. I wish he'd fight for something. Anything.
On the other hand, my mom will speak her mind even if no one asked for her opinion. She's not confrontational, just thinks her outlook is important for everyone to know.
"Okay, well I'll be in my room," I toss over my shoulder as I head to the back of our tiny apartment.
I close the door and spread my books across my bed before plopping down to get started. A seed of doubt begins to take root as I stare down at everything. Come Monday, that's it. My chances of getting into the Academy are completely dependent on this outcome. Unlike other students, I don't get to reapply next year if I'm not considered during this round. That's the deal I made with my parents. They agreed they'd stop trying to force their system on me for the two years I'm preparing for the Academy, only if I agreed that if I'm not accepted I'd finally let go of my "silly dream". It seemed like a fair compromise at the time. Now, I'm wishing I added a second chance in there.
Swallowing around a lump in my throat, I pick up my Calculus textbook. "Here goes nothing."
*** Hi everyone thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my first chapter of the Lodestar Academy. This story was actually meant to be a submission for the Sci-fi Challenge last summer. I decided not to enter it because I wanted to improve a few things before displaying it to the world. Also, if it didn't win I didn't want to feel discouraged because I love it so much. My story is influenced by the book series Zodiac Academy by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti. Although Zodiac Academy is my inspiration, this is my original work. The book isn't completed yet, but I have about 30 chapters written and rough edited by myself. I'm hoping to one day turn this into a book series so any reviews and comments will be grately appreciated :). Thank you!***
About the Creator
I never believed the sky is the limit, therefore my passions are expansive. My interest in writing stemmed from poetry but my heart lead me to Sci-Fi Fantasy. Consequently, my stories are plot-driven with splashes of evocative elements.
Writing skills are on point in this tale. Beautiful space fiction. Love reading it. ✨❤️Subscribed
This beautiful story is nice written. Great!
Wow, what a beautifully crafted tale! Your writing skills have truly brought this story to life and I am thoroughly impressed. It's no surprise that it earned the title of Top Story, it's a well-deserved recognition. Your attention to detail and vivid descriptions make it an absolute pleasure to read. I am truly in awe of your talent and I can't wait to see what you write next. Keep up the fantastic work!
Oh, I loved it and was completely caught off guard when it ended!! And, I also love Zodiac Academy (really all of the sisters' works). So glad you kept going with this as I'd really like to see where it goes!! Congratulations on Top Story :)
This is so well written! A great story, I absolutely love it! Congratulations on Top Story - so well deserved! ❤️
Very well written! Great design of your world