Chapter 2

Once I stepped out into the hallway, a line of arrows appeared on the ground, pointing to my left. I followed them, walking past dozens of identical doors. On the way there, I saw several other people open their own doors and start following the arrows. They were all dressed more extravagantly than I was, draped with shiny medals and shiny glass beads. I almost rolled my eyes. All the decoration was so… unnecessary.

A few of them glanced my way, but none tried to make conversation. I noticed that most of them were struggling under the weight of their many bags, most likely full of extra, gaudy things. They probably expected servants to do all the work for them. Wimps.

I walked on, ignoring the others. It was only a few minutes until the arrows to the right into another hallway, this one straight and ending with a teleporter big enough to fit hundreds of people at once. It had glass walls, and as I watched, one of them shimmered and let the others walk straight through.

There were already a few dozen boys in there, all at least taller than 5 foot 6. I looked down self-consciously, feeling like a midget.

More boys piled in, and once it seemed like the teleporter was about to overflow, I heard a disembodied voice.

::Hello, Cadets. I am the president of this school, Mason Steele. My job here is to prepare you for the Evaluation, which will take place for you in three years. Now that you have arrived, please find your dormitory. The location will be sent to your optical displays. Thank you for listening.::

As soon as his speech was over, I received a message from the LensCom I was wearing. LensComs are contact lenses that can also act as a communicator.

::You have received one message. Would you like to view the message?:: I selected the 'yes' option, and it brought me to the direction set that would lead me to my new dorm.

While I was looking at the directions, I failed to notice the teleporter's new position. The view through the glass wall was now one of a large round room, with several hallways spaced evenly, each of them glowing faintly with different colored lights. I was one of the ones closest to the doors, so I stepped out into the room first.

::Please take the farthest left hallway. Then, please enter the indicated room. This will lead you to your dormitory common room.::

I followed the instructions to the hallway, which had somehow lost its glow, along with the others. It must have just been temporary. Continuing into the hallway, I eventually found the door my directions had told me to enter. It swung open of its own accord, letting me in.

::Welcome to dormitory L113, Cadet Kitsune. This will be your living area until you a) form an alliance or b) graduate from the Academy. Please enter the indicated door. You may store your personal items there until one of the previously described instances occur. If you intend to communicate directly with me, please address me as L113, or Dormitory.::

"Thank you, Dormitory. May I inquire as to whom I will be sharing a dormitory with? Also, do you know of the special circumstances involving my enrollment here?"

::Yes to both questions, Cadet Kitsune. You will have four others sharing this dormitory. Not all of them are first years. Including you, there will be two first-years, two second-years, and one third-year. One of them is presently entering the area. His name is Drail Asher. He is a third year, one of the only ones without an alliance.::

"You talking 'bout me, Dorm? Actually, don't answer that. It doesn't matter." A tall boy walked into the room, a large bag slung over his shoulder carelessly. He had a smirk on his face, and his hair was messier than the standard soldier's. There were a few strands hanging into his face, almost down to his chin.

::Good day to you too, Cadet Asher.:: The Dorm's voice came out serene, neutral.

"You giving me sass? Geez. The quality of personality chips these days. They really ought to just remove them."

I interrupted his short rant by holding out my hand for him to shake. "Hello. My name is Rain Kitsune."

He kind of grasped my hand, looking at me with his head tilted to the side. "Huh. I didn't know the Kitsune's had a boy. I would have thought they would announce it."

My eyes widened slightly, but I quickly neutralized my expression and responded, saying, "I was a sort of a surprise child. They did not pay me much attention."

He narrowed his eyes. "Really. That's interesting." Turning away, he called out to Dorm, "Same as last year!"

::Of course, Cadet Asher.::

I flinched and shielded my eyes as one of the doors glowed a bright blue. Once my sight had cleared and the light was gone, I saw that the door had been branded with Drail's full name and family symbol, a raven.

"Nice meeting you, Kitsune." He tossed over his shoulder on his way into the room. There was the click of the door closing, then silence.

::Would you like to choose your own room now, Cadet Kitsune?::

"Sure, Dorm. Whatever." I pointed to the one closest to me. For a second it seemed to glow red, then it was gone. I blinked, then dismissed it, putting it off to the stress of the day. "I'll take that one."

The door glowed like the last one had, showing my name when the light faded. I frowned when I saw the spelling. "Dorm, would you take off the 'e' at the end of my first name?"

::I will do as you wish, Cadet Kitsune.::

The door glowed again, and when it showed my name had been modified. Rain Kitsune. Well, I guess I'm going to have to get used to it.

I opened the door and stepped into my new room.