Sakaya – Prologue part 1

February 25th, 5120

It was a cool, sunny day, but the Sixes' class was a little warm. Suppressing a yawn, Sakaya Kikaira poured her efforts into paying attention to her teacher avatar.

"Now, focus on the screens in front of you," he commanded. The children turned their eyes to the touch screens hovering over their comfortable desks. Their books were on page 64. HISTORY OF STELLAPOLIS, the title said.

Sakaya perked up. She loved humanities. It meant the end of math class, for one thing. But it was more than just that - this was the first time the second graders would hear the history of their beloved city in the sky.

The words scrolling across each individual touch screen disappeared, and the prerecorded video began.

"The history of Stellapolis is one fraught with conflicts," the background voice began. As she spoke, animated actors acted out the scenes her words formed. "Our race, the Nokki, was created from relationships between angels expelled from heaven and demons expelled from hell. These parings were so common that, two thousand years ago, many Nokki lived in the human world."

"All Nokki have human and inhuman attributes. Because we have both good and evil blood in our veins, we can choose either path, much like a human would. But we are not human. For one thing, our bones are much lighter than a human's, and we have bigger hearts and lungs. It is these qualities, along with our wings, that enable us to fly. In addition, humans have limited hair and eye colors, wheras ours can be any color in the rainbow."

Fascinated, Sakaya pushed her long mint green hair out of her face so she could see well. The other children flexed and fluttered their wings, anxious for the school day's end. It was only ten minutes away.

"We ran into many conflicts with humans," continued the voice. "With their powerful weapons, they would mistake us to be birds flying in the sky, and shoot us down. Also, we competed with them over territory. Eventually, an all-out war between humans and Nokki seemed inevitable."

"But one Nokki woman had other ideas. She believed humans and Nokki could live in peace, if a city for Nokki were built somewhere uninhabitable by humans. And so Stella Wakimo, along with renowned technologist Ming Glavv, managed to create a city that would float in the clouds. Only Nokki could reach it, as humans cannot fly on their own, though we do have the Undersphere transport systme in case we ever need to return to the human world. The Nokkis who wanted peace - which was the vast majority of our great race - flocked to the city. Ever since then, Stellapolis has become completely self-sufficient."

The bell rang, signaling the end of the day.

"Class dismissed," the teacher said.

Cheering, the students filed out of their room, wings already outstretched to begin flying.

Once they were outside, Sakaya sat down on the puffy cloud that supported the school. Clouds, which were nothing but cold air to humans, were soft, warm, and fluffy to Nokki. (Part of being a Nokki was having a few attributes that could only be described as magic.) In addition, Stella Wakimo had discovered a technique to create the Nokki's buildings and clothes to be able to rest on clouds.

Sakaya lay back, enjoying the feel of the sunshine on her face. The other children were already flying home, to their residence centers. Sakaya continued to relax. She loved the feeling of freedom when she flew, but she was tired now. Yawning, Sakaya closed her lavander eyes.

"Hey, Sakaya!"

Sakaya groaned inwardly. She knew that voice all too well. Allon Crakyow, that white haired, black eyed jerk, had bullied her mercilessly ever since kindergarten. He was only a Nine, yet he was relentless in his tormenting of her, always looking for the slightest margin of opportunity to bother her.

"Sakaya, I have a dare for you. Do it and I'll never tease you again."

Sakaya opened her eyes to glare at him. He was with his much less annoying crony, Svese Jenoke. Her crimson eyes were turned towards the ground, her navy hair covering her face.

"Okay," Sakaya said acidly. "Spit it out."

Svese shuffled uneasily next to Allon. "Allon, are you sure?" she asked nervously. "If they find out, she'll tell us that we talked her into it, and we'll be punished along with her. And I can't afford to get in –"

"Go stuff your head down the trash zappers, you oldie!" Allon yelled at Svese.

Sakaya was appalled, and immediately felt sorry for Svese. "Oldie" was one of the worst insults in Stellapolis. Some friend Allon was.

"What's the point? There's no way Sakaya's gonna do it!"

"That's the point, idiot!" he snapped. Then he turned back to Sakaya. "I dare you to go into the human world."

Sakaya kept her poker face, though inside she quailed with fear. The human world was a black, dismal place. Long ago, a disease had turned the majority of the humans into monsters thirsty for other human and Nokki blood. But especially Nokki blood - it was like a delicacy to the changed humans – particularly Nokki magi blood. Nokki magi had incredible powers, and since their life force was stored in their blood, the humans could permanently gain the Nokki's powers by sucking them dry. Many Nokki who had stupidly strayed from the city had been shot out of the sky and killed.

"For how long?" Sakaya asked, apprehension curling in her stomach.

"For however long you want. All that matters is that you actually touch the ground in the human world."

Allon was smirking; he knew that his dare was enough to strike fear in the heart of the Nokki's bravest magi warrior, let alone a six year old girl. But Sakaya was determined to wipe that smug grin right off his face.

"I'll do it. I'm not an eagle like you, Allon."

(Calling a Nokki an eagle was the same as calling them a fraidy-cat)

Allon's smile faded, replaced by an expression of awe and grudging respect as Sakaya extended her wings from her back. She spread them wide, knees bunched in preparation for that first stroke of her wings, and hurled herself into the sky.

All Nokki loved flying. The feeling of freedom rose as you did; the sensation of the wind whipping past your face, caressing your hair and clothes, was undeniably beautiful.

Sakaya scanned the clouds below, looking for a break in them. There was a small gap between the store and the school, which she flung herself towards, utilizing one of her favorite flying tricks; a steep dive. She broke through the clouds, eyes tracing over the human world below her.

It looked even worse than her teachers had described it. Unlike the brilliant blue sky of her city, the human sky was scorched black, covered in grey clouds and sorrow. The buildings below were merely chunks of broken plaster; they were a tribute to the long-forgotten golden age of humans. Tiny transport machines (cars?) dotted the collapsing highway, probably covered in rust and chipping paint. Nature was reclaiming much of humankind's work; the destroyed monuments had vines wrapping around them and weeds at their feet, and trees grew out of the crumbling buildings. Even the cars were encased in flora; weeds, vines, and ferns.

This world was rotting.

Sakaya felt a sudden rush of pity for the humans. Living in this place would be worse than death. Was that why so many humans relied on religion? To hope for a world better than this one?

Sakaya shook the depressing thoughts out of her head, eyes searching the ground below, looking for a place to land. Allon's dare couldn't be that hard, right? All she had to do was touch the ground, and then fly back up into the city. It would be over very quickly.

A red dot suddenly appeared over Sakaya's heart.

Oh, no.