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IF: Interim with Academics - Excerpt

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Chapter 1 –

"Hey, wake up."

With a wide yawn, the teen who was curled up in her bed buried her face a little deeper into the blankets that wrapped over her shoulder. Though she'd heard the call, she felt too tired to climb out of bed. Her body was incredibly sore from her travel into the country of Lonan. It had been three days of travel by truck and walking, though she didn't remember much of it. The days were a blur.

"Dia, wake up."

She shook her head and muttered something unintelligible, her face still buried into the pillow. While her creamy brown skin was hidden, the long white hair was anything but. It had flipped up through the night, so the waist-length strands were splayed up over the front end of the single bed.

"I'm not playing with you. Roddiah, get up now. We have to leave."

With a light groan, the five foot nine inch lump that was her body shifted under the blankets. Her arms emerged from the fabric then pulled her hair back. With the white strands there were some pale blue streaks in them that only emphasized the length. Her periwinkle eyes blinked repeatedly, in an effort to see the person who yelled. She couldn't see him right now, but it sounded like a man.

"Dia, are you up yet?"

"I'm coming," the teen called back. "Just...let me get some clothes on." She rubbed her hand over her face while she yanked the blankets off her body with her other hand. There was a single silver tattoo in the shape of a five petal flower on each cheek at the corner of her eyes. She yawned and stood. While her hands went up, the hem of her tank top went up. To accompany that light blue top was another similarly colored long pair of pajama bottoms.

"Alright, I have breakfast ready. We have to leave soon as we can get you to school before tomorrow. At this rate we might not make it there before class starts."

"Okay," said Dia. She glanced around the room while she searched for the items there. Her mind was all fuzzy. She couldn't remember anything, but at the moment that wasn't a concern. With a quick step, she went from the bed over to the suitcase propped up by a mirror. She knelt down then put the suitcase down on the floor beside her. She pulled open the biggest compartment.

"Make sure that you put your uniform on."

"I will," replied Dia. She picked up a navy blue blazer with black lapels. Under it was a white button-down shirt. A navy blue knee-length skirt was the last part. With a soft sigh leaving her lips, Dia put them down. She stood and hurried to the open door on the other side of her room. Within that smaller space was a bathroom. Once she had washed, Dia came out again. She pulled on the clothes. They smelled like they'd never been worn. While she stared in the mirror, she looked over some of the finer details. On the right breast pocket was a patch for the coat of arms of the school. There was a yellow bowtie that she had to put on; thankfully it had a clip so she could just snap it on to the collar of her shirt. Similarly colored buttons went in sets of two under the lapels over her stomach. There were two medium-sized yellow medallions and one large one that together were like a decorative belt. A pair of black flats completed the outfit, though she did have a pair of white stockings and black boots for winter. Once she had her shoes on, she combed her damp hair out straight then clipped the sides back with black barrettes to keep the strands out of her eyes.

"Are you ready yet?"

"Coming!" called Dia. She knelt again and packed up her bag. From what she gathered, she was traveling to another place than where they were now to go to school. She wasn't sure who the person was on the other side of the door, but they had to be someone trusted otherwise she wouldn't be with them right now. With a slight shrug, she picked up a purple messenger bag from the back of the chair at a desk in her room. Then she grabbed the handle of the wheeled suitcase and wandered out of the room. Ahead were several hallways. The place she walked through seemed to be a long motel.

Down the hallway in the breakfast room was a single male. He looked to be around her parents' age, or maybe older. She didn't know her parents' age, but this man was forty-five years. He had neatly cut brown hair. His blue eyes and pale skin told Dia that this man wasn't related to her. He was in a curious sort of outfit. The robe was all in black. Over his shoulders was a short cape in the same shade of black. The only break to the black was a gold medallion on a chain that had the school's raven mascot on it. When he heard her come in, the man spoke, "I'm glad to see you finally awake. The others had to leave, so I'm still here."

"Pardon me, but who are you?"

"My name is Noufris Vorago. I'm the principal at Ambert University. You can call me Dean Vorago." The elder man spoke then nodded. With a faint chuckle, he walked over to one of the doorways. He went in then came out with a tray filled with breakfast food. There was a glass of milk, a plate of pancakes, and a bowl of fruit on the side. He carried it over to one of the tables then set it down. "When you're done eating we'll leave for the school."

"I-I see," said Dia with a nod. She wandered over to the table. She pulled her suitcase beside it then let it go. The tall teen sat and folded her hands on the edge of the table. She watched Dean Vorago put the tray down in front of her. "Where are we?"

"We're at a hotel in Ortensia. The city is one that rests on the other side from the bridge that connects the island country of Lonan with the mainland. We're going straight south across the forest to the central mountains. On the western side is Kolos Academy. They're our rivals. On the eastern side is Ambert University. On the highest part of the mountain in the center is Charisse Finishing School. You probably won't see any of those students down on the main part of the land."

"Oh," said Dia, blinking. "I guess that would be my next question."

"Which one?"

"Where are we going?" Dia replied with a small smile. She picked up her fork and knife from the table. She looked over the plate then cut up the pancakes. "And thank you for the food." She picked up one piece then nibbled on it.

With a slight chuckle, Dean Vorago nodded. "Yes, I figured that would be it." He folded his arms across his chest. As he stood, his six foot tall form towered over her. To combat that perspective, he stood a good distance away. "If there's anything else you'd like to ask, now would be best."

"Okay, um, is it a big school?"

"Over the years since it was established it has expanded from one tower to five." Dean Vorago pondered on what else to say before he continued. "So it is rather large. Each of the areas of study has their own building now. The original tower is still in use, but it's the building for me and the teachers to be in for our offices. Students can enter if they have questions or problems, though."

"I see." Dia said while she nodded. She finished off her pancakes then dove into the fruit. It didn't take long before she was done. She wiped her mouth with the napkin. "Are we going to pick up others on the way?"

"Yes, but we're going to be late picking them up. I already made the calls."

With a small nod, Dia ducked her head. "I'm sorry."

"It's alright," replied Dean Vorago. "I think they'd probably prefer to go at their own pace rather than be picked up in a bus."

"I don't know about that," said Dia with a small shrug. "But I'm ready to go now."

"Let's go then."

Dia stood then picked up her glass of milk. Once she'd taken a drink, she put the glass down. She smiled as she straightened her uniform then grabbed the handle of her suitcase. "Okay, just lead the way."

Dean Vorago chuckled faintly as he listened to her. With a slight nod, he gestured to a doorway that went into another hallway. He turned and wandered through the doorway there. It led to the outside, so they went out of the hotel. The tall man gestured down the street that stretched out across their path. "The bus is this way."

"Okay," said Dia as she walked out of the building. She glanced around while she pulled the suitcase. The place was pretty big from what she could see already. If Dia could have remembered her previous travel, she would have thought that it was very different from the place she had gone through. It was like going through the desert into lush greenery. Likewise, the buildings here were mostly freestanding ones instead of those blended into the various parts of the scenery.

While he led the way, the dean glanced back at Dia occasionally. He couldn't help a small chuckle. She looked so lost while she looked around. It would be a good cover, though it was entirely true that this was her first time in Lonan. With a small hum, he strode down the street to a parking lot on the side of the street. It was hard to miss the bus. Though it was small, the bright yellow shade of the paint was striking against all the other vehicles. Dean Vorago walked up to it then unlocked the passenger's side door. Once that was done he pushed the two part door apart and climbed in.

Dia blinked softly as she watched him go in. There didn't seem to be another way to get inside, so she followed him up the three steps. She turned around and pulled her suitcase up behind her by the handle. Once it was up, she continued down the passageway. There were a dozen seats. Dia had her pick of them so she chose the second from the front on the passenger's side. She put her suitcase up on the luggage rack above it.

Dean Vorago waited for her to sit. Then he started the bus. With a small hum, he locked his seatbelt over his waist then put the bus into gear. He glanced around for a moment. When the traffic cleared he pulled out onto the street.

While she waited, Dia just stared out of the window. Now that she had nothing to do except sit and think, she wondered about her situation. So, I know where I'm going. I wonder what sort of people will be there. I can't recall much about the time before, but I suppose that doesn't matter right now. With a slight smile on her lips, Dia watched the scenery go by. From what she could see the streets were nicely cared for. There were also trees every so often to provide shade over benches. The people she could see had pleasant appearances.

"It's going to be a while, so if you'd like to nap then go ahead."

"Okay," said Dia. She didn't know if she should sleep. Certainly she didn't want to. Every look around brought something new to her eyes. It was interesting to watch the activities of all the people.

No matter what she decided, Dean Vorago continued to drive the bus. He thought it would be better to cover the entrance of this escapee as part of a group of teens brought for the school year. They had gotten on a slower start than he hoped, but even so there would be a few students on the way that he could add to the final count. He drove straight south across the highway through the forest to the northwest corner of the central mountains. They'd have a break there as well as pick up one of the remaining students. It was unlikely at this time that they could get more, since the dean had phoned the respective places and told them to go on ahead without him.

It was pretty easy to recognize the person who waited, since she was wearing the same uniform as Dia. This five foot eight inch tall teen was a redhead. Her hair was pulled up high in pigtails. Rather than fall smoothly, the hair frizzed out like it wanted to curl but just couldn't get the form right. The only straight part about the dark red hair was the bangs across the top of the sixteen-year-old female's black eyes. Her skin was pale; though if she could have tanned she would have from all of the time she spent outside. With a wide smile on her lips, she threw her arm up in a quick wave. Like Dia she had a bag at her side, though this one was more of a duffel bag on wheels. She had a beat-up leather backpack as well.

Dean Vorago pulled the bus over to the side of the road. He put it into park for a moment. While the bus idled, Dean Vorago opened the door. "Hello Liavitta," said the man with a smile. "I'm glad to see you're coming back to us again this year."

"I wouldn't miss the chance to play in your science department," replied the redhead with a hearty laugh. She hopped up then tugged her bag in after her. "I'm surprised to see you here so late."

"Sorry, we had a last minute arrival so it took me longer because I had to collect her."

"It's my fault," piped up Dia.

Liavitta lifted her eyebrow. She laughed though while she went down the path between the seats. "It's all good. Hello, as Dean Vorago said my name is Liavitta. I'm from Sierra." While she spoke she stuffed her bags up in the luggage rack. Then she flopped down in the seat across the aisle from Dia.

"It's nice to meet you," said Dia, bobbing her head slightly. "You're from Sierra?"

"It's nice to meet you too; and yes I'm from that country."

"I went through there on my way here. It's a nice place."

"Yes, it is," replied Liavitta with a nod. Then she laughed. "Most people do go through there. Where are you from?"

"Dia's from Belden," said Dean Vorago. "She was adopted into a family there from a couple in Lonan, though."

"Really?" asked Liavitta.

"Yes," said Dia, nodding. She couldn't remember that, but if it happened when she was a tiny child then she probably wouldn't remember. The faces of the people the dean talked about didn't come into her mind, though. She pushed the thoughts back. It wouldn't do to dwell on that and get distracted from the conversation at hand.

"Well I guess this will be a sort of homecoming for you then."

"I suppose," replied Dia. "I really don't know much about this place, though. I lived in a pretty small close-knit community. All I know about Lonan comes from books."

"That's no good," said Liavitta with a frown. "I might not know much, but whatever I do I'll have to show you."

"That's nice of you, Liavitta," said Dean Vorago. "I know you have a tendency to get distracted from your studies, though."

"I can still have friends and get everything done."

"Yes, I hope you will."

"I have a friend in Lonan;" piped up Dia. "I haven't seen her for over a year."

"Who is she?" asked Dean Vorago.

"Elati," replied Dia.

"Oh, I know her," said Liavitta. "She's a year ahead of me."

"You and Dia will be in the same level," said Dean Vorago. "If you had passed, Liavitta, you would be in the same class as Elati."

"I know," said Liavitta. She sighed while she relaxed in her seat. "It was a minor miscalculation."

"You lost control of your experiment and crashed into a building."

"No one was hurt."

"That's beside the point. You did something that you'd been told repeatedly not to do. There were fixes that had to be made to the vehicle. You didn't make them and went ahead anyway. It was reckless."

"Again, I'm sorry," said Liavitta with another sigh. "I've learned my lesson. I'll pay attention to the teachers."

"Good, I don't want a repeat of last year."

Dia blinked softly as she listened to the chatter between the two. Somehow it seemed familiar, but it might just be due to something similar having happened at her old school. She chuckled faintly, shaking her head. "It sounds like a lively place."

"Oh, it can be," replied Liavitta. She grinned as she looked over at Dia. "Some places are livelier than others, though."

"Should I be worried?"

"Oh no, you should be fine," said Liavitta, waving a hand. "Just watch your Ps and Qs."

"My what?" asked Dia. She blinked several times as she watched the two.

"Your people and questions," said Dean Vorago.

"It'll be a little hard since this is your first year, but as long as you don't do anything completely off the wall you'll do fine with everyone."

"Um, thank you, Liavitta," said Dia, blinking. It was confusing to listen to, but even so it was probably to be expected since she was coming into a new place with new people to interact with. "I'll try my best to be careful."

"Good," said Liavitta. Now that the dean was distracted with driving along the hallway, the student was the only one who spoke constantly. "I think you should be fine, though I really don't pay much attention to the socializing. I'm more into my work."

"That was going to be my next question."

"What was?"

"Is there anyone I should be wary of?"

"Well, there are always groups that think they're better than anyone else. I find it to be rather stupid, so I don't pay attention. As long as you pay attention you should be okay, though."

"That's...not entirely reassuring."

"Sorry," said Liavitta with a shrug. "I really don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say much," Dean Vorago said, "But it's really something that has to be experienced."

"I'm looking forward to it."

"You sound nervous," said Liavitta with a slight grin.

"I am, but I'm still looking forward to it."

Dean Vorago laughed softly. "I'm glad." He spoke then continued on the drive. It would be a while yet, but the conversation died down so the trio sat in silence.

The travel was all eastward across the forest landscape. Far ahead at the eastern edge of the very central mountain was a gap between it and an end of the river. The crescent moon shape of the river curved all the way south around the central mountain to the southern tip of the reverse crescent shaped mountain on the western side of the central mountain. The bus went north around the top of the river then south between it and the eastern crescent shaped mountain. The city that held Ambert University was nestled inside the crescent. The school itself could be seen towering high above the tallest of the trees, though it wouldn't be able to be seen from the eastern side of the mountain. It had a distinctive look as well, since the structures were made of the pale gray stone with blue and yellow tile accenting the length of each of the five towers. The administration building was in the center while the four other buildings were placed on the four cardinal points. The science building was to the east. The literature building was to the west. The foreign relations' building was to the north. The student housing was to the south. An entrance to each was on the inner side of the campus so the teachers could go straight to the opening from the administration building where their offices were. Likewise, that central building held the campus bookstore and cafeteria.

Dean Vorago continued driving. When he arrived at the edge of the city he paused and picked up some other students. Once they piled onto the bus he headed south through the city to the edge of the campus. No motorized transportation was allowed within the square stone border that rose up three feet around the perimeter of the school's campus. "Alright everyone, you have to get your room assignments before you get started. The lobby in the central building still has the tables set up. Go inside and collect your stuff then go to the southern building where the housing is. I'll see you later."

"Okay, thanks Dean Vorago," said Liavitta, reaching her arm up high enough that he could see her wave.

"Thank you," Dia added. She waited until everyone else had piled out of the bus. Then she took her suitcase from the top. With a slow step, she wandered down from the bus to the sidewalk. She looked into the bus and waved at the dean. When he returned the wave then closed the door, Dia looked around once more. The other students were walking straight ahead, south along the sidewalk. With a quick step, she followed them. She glanced around then perked up as she noticed the student she sort of knew further ahead.

With a glance back and a wave, Liavitta laughed. She smiled while she waited for Dia to catch up with her. "So, my birthday's in May. When's yours?" said Liavitta.

"November," replied Dia. It was the first month that came to her mind. She didn't know if it was true, but for now she had to go with it. "I'm fifteen now."

"So your birthday is coming up. You're my age," said Liavitta. Her smile broadened. "That's fun to hear."

"What do you mean?"

"Well," Liavitta shrugged slightly. "It's nice to have people around the same age as you for friends. You can relate to them and so on."

"Oh," said Dia. "Do you think we'll be in the same classes and dormitory?"

"There's only one dormitory, but the floor you're on depends on your placement in school. Since we're on the lower part of the totem in terms of seniority, we'll probably be on the lower levels."

"Is there any difference between years spent here and seniority?"

"Well, it depends on how you look at it. It's unofficial, but among the student body the longer you've been here the more well known you become. When it comes to living space and meals it goes by the official seniority ranking."

"I...guess I understand."

Liavitta laughed softly. She clapped her hand on Dia's shoulder. "You'll figure it out as you go along." She stepped a little quicker. "Let's hurry and get our stuff. I want to get in and unpacked."

"Coming," said Dia, hurrying after the half a year older teen.

There were four openings in the central tower so it could be entered from any other building with ease. Due to the lateness in the day there weren't many tables left. On each table was a folder with a name on it. Behind the table was a student teacher. They each wore a teaching robe. It was just a black robe with a patch for the school on the right side, but each robe also had a cowl that was usually draped over the shoulders. The color of the hood indicated which course of study they were training to become teachers in. When they moved up into the highest level they received a scarf that denoted their professorship.

"This way," said Liavitta, hurrying over to one of the remaining tables.

With a chuckle, a much smaller orange-haired woman watched their approach. "I know who you are. Liavitta, you must behave this time."

"I know, I'm sorry about last time," replied the teen with a sigh. "May I have my packet please?"

"Yes," said student teacher. She looked about twenty years old, maybe a little older. She flipped through the packets then handed one over. "Who is your friend?"

"This is Dia."

"Roddiah is what it would probably be under," said Dia. "I'm new."

"I thought so," said the student teacher with a nod. "You'll be in the next pile."

The very tall black-haired student teacher who stood beside the orange-haired one grinned as he looked at them. "That would be my section." He chuckled while he picked up a folder. "Here you are. It will have our room key, class schedule with accompanying required book list, a map of the buildings, and your meal vouchers. Don't lose any of those."

"Thank you," said Dia, taking the packet. She held it to her chest with one hand. "I'll make sure to keep it safe."

"Good luck in your first year," said the tall man.

"Thank you," repeated Dia while she retreated from the tables. She turned then hurried after Liavitta. She went through the middle of the building. When they came to the other end, they exited the central tower. Then they walked across the sidewalk to the entrance of the southern building.

"So, do you want to open your packet when we're in the lobby?"

"Yes, I think that would be best."

With a nod, Liavitta went straight to the steps. She hopped up them to the front doors. Then she dodged around someone coming out. She went straight through into the lobby. Once there she waited for Dia to join her. The first floor was the entrance, along with wall-to-wall mailboxes. With a grin, Liavitta gestured to them. "Hey, just so you know, if there's any mail it would be here. You use your room key to open the mailbox."

"Okay," said Dia, bobbing her head. There were a lot of people around, so she pressed close to the other teen to get out of the way. "Do you know where you're going to reside?"

"Hmm," murmured Liavitta while she opened her packet. She took out her room key then inspected the swipe card. "It looks like I'm on the third floor – not bad."

Dia propped up her suitcase by her leg. She held the packet in one hand. She opened the flap with the other hand then plucked out a similar card. "Um, I'm on the fourth floor."

"Really?" gasped Liavitta while she stared at her. "Who's your roommate?"

"Um," said Dia while she sorted through her papers. "Oh, Elati is."

"Oh, well that would explain it." While she spoke, the other teen's expression faded from surprise to understanding. "You're basically being taken care of."

"Oh," said Dia. "So, um, how many floors are here?"

"There are a dozen. This building is just for the high school and beyond ages. Those who are younger live in a separate building in town."

"So, this isn't a college?"

"Oh, no, though they do continuing education," said Liavitta. She gestured to the central structure in the building. When they arrived, she pushed a button on the side of a pair of doors. When they opened, it revealed an elevator car. "The younger set is junior high students. It's not that easy to get into school here." She stepped into the space then gestured for Dia to follow. "Have you ever been in an elevator before?"

"A what?" She blinked as she pulled her suitcase in after her. She glanced around while she stepped into the car. "My home was only two stories, as was my school. We had a dumbwaiter for equipment though."

"Oh, well those little lifts are nothing like this." Liavitta grinned as she looked over at Dia. "You're going to be surprised at the height."

Dia nodded faintly. She gasped as the elevator car lurched in the first pull from the ground floor. Her hand went out and pressed to the wall. She held it until the elevator stopped. With a ding sound, the doors opened. She blinked then glanced around. As she stared, she watched Liavitta step off without a care. She swallowed nervously then followed with her suitcase.

"So, with the elevator in the center there are inner rooms here. Those aren't so nice as they don't have outside windows. Then there are the outer rooms. Those are the nicest because at the four corners of the building there are the communal bathrooms, laundry room, and such, not to mention the view."

"I didn't have a window at home," said Dia. Little bits of information trickled into her mind. She was remembering her past, but it was only the recent part.

"Really? I can't imagine that." Liavitta shook her head. "I've always had a window of some sort."

With a slight shrug, Dia glanced around. "It happens." She looked at Liavitta. "Where are we?"

"We're on my floor. You have another level to go up. There are two elevators, one on the north and one on the south side. There are two flights of stairs, one on the east side and one on the west side. You can probably go up the stairs if you can manage with your suitcase."

"Okay," said Dia with a nod. "I think I probably can... Can I see where you are?"

"Sure," replied Liavitta with a nod. She grinned and gestured down the hallway. "I'll show you to my room. I bet you've never used this sort of swipe card either."

"No," admitted Dia while she stepped quickly after her.
A girl without a past is struggling to build her future. It's difficult though, as every day further back than three months is lost to her. Signs are taped over everything she owns with notes to help her know what they are. At least in her home she is safe. But what about in the world where everything changes so fast that it throws even the most knowledgeable into chaos? Follow Dia in her quest to stay sane in a world of insanity.

This edition holds books 4-6: Spiders, Mantis, and Bees.
In them Dia takes refuge in another country's school. It is a place where existence is allowed outside of campus. Many people of all ages are there, both friendly and unfriendly to our heroine. Most of the danger comes from within her, however...
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© 2011 - 2020 chanthar
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