His face was twisted into what appeared to be a content smile as he leaned against the wall waiting for his results. His class could tell that he wasn't in his usual good humor, and he knew that for this, they couldn't blame him.
His very mind felt like it would crack soon if the scores weren't posted soon. His foot tapped slowly against the wall, attempting to keep himself as calm as possible.
Doubts danced in his mind as he tried to remember why he had thought this would be a good idea in the first place. Right, he reminded himself, it wasn't his idea. If he had his way, he would have still been hard at work in the libraries somewhere in Sirius. But no, for some stupid reason, his father had shipped him off to be tested as soon as he was legally old enough to.
He knew the speech by heart. How, if he was the correct personality with the correct type of mind, he would remind the galaxy of the greatness that Sirius used to be. He would restore the glory of his universal system. He was overall, help save Sirius and the planets that resided in it, from the dark chaos that hid inside. He was to be great, he had to be.
As a Alhaborian, though, greatness was never something he craved, nor was recognition. He was content to hide within the stacks of books from the twenty first and twenty second centuries. But no, he couldn't do that.
So, he figured out what everyone else wanted from him, someone brave, strong, outgoing, and able to calculate their way out of certain messes while charming their way out of others.
For the last five years, that had been just as much a part of him as his eye color was. Even if it took ten times more effort to keep up than his normal shields did.
He was fairly certain that most of his classmates had long since forgotten he wasn't from Orion or Earth. He his most of his visible traits that pointed it out, and was simply grateful that all three had roughly the same humanoid shape. He was stronger, both physically and telekinetically than most of his peers, faster thanks to his slim, but powerful body. His hair color, like all Siriusian's changed with his outward mood, thus why he usually kept the same careless smile on his features.
Right now, it was a dark sapphire blue that had streaks of blood red. His hair wasn't as long as most Alhaborian's kept their hair. At home, it would have usually gone down to the small of his back, but here, he kept it trimmed so that the back barely touched the base of his neck. His eyes, though, gave him away as an Alhaborian. They, like his hair, changed depending on his mood, though they were connected to his mind more than his body. Dark purple iris's with deep blue pupils were considered pretty strange, he had learned. Depending on his mood, his iris' would either darken to an almost black color, or lighten to lavender. His pupils did the same, lightening to an icy blue when he was in a good mood, or darkening to a navy color when he was more upset.
He, like most others from Alhabor, had long since learned how to control his outward emotions. For the most part, his hair stayed the same harsh sapphire against his paler than human skin. Every now and then, streaks of emotions that he couldn't fully hide added some extra color to it.
Yes, he was strange in looks, and in the way the way he talked. According to an Earthling, he sounded like he belonged in the dark ages. It wasn't wrong, per say. He had gotten better at slipping in slang, as most people thought it was hilarious. He had gotten better at relaxing his language, but that didn't mean he didn't still sound uptight most of the time.
The Sirius Star System was set up so that their royal family lived on Alhabor, like most of the rest of their population. Sirius A, or Elhabo, was their supporting star, their sun, if you will. They were ruled by a family that, in his mind, was far more complex than most royal families.
The gender of their ruler didn't matter, nor did birth order. The difference between their ruler and the royal family was simple: Power.
He had been trained from as long ago as he could remember, and it wasn't only his body. He was a telepath, like almost all Alhaborian's.
He was also the one most fit to take over the throne after his father passed away. His four full siblings, as well as his twenty - nine older half siblings were all aware of it.
They had been attempting to kill him since their father announced him as his heir just over five and a half years ago. Not that it mattered much, as a few weeks later, he had been packed and sent here.
That said, he understood his duties, and didn't bother fighting them. That didn't mean that anyone here knew he was the favored choice and heir apparent to the Alhaborian throne. No, he kept mostly quiet about his family. It was one of the only subjects he didn't talk about.
He had heard the rumors, of course he had, about his family. Some of them were quite creative, he would give them that. That said, he didn't publicly burst into laughter when he heard them, so people assumed it was him admitting it.
The most common theory was that he was the son of a slave from Lyra and a trader who abandoned him in Alhabor. While it was good for a laugh, he mentally swore to himself he would never let his family hear about it, in fear of his classmates being sentenced to death.
While he liked his classmates, he wouldn't dare go against his father for them. No, he preferred his limbs where they were, thank you very much. Besides, they would never expect Damien to be the same as Prince Damius, Heir of Alhabor. Damien was more outgoing, more social, and pretty much everything that Prince Damius wasn't.
It had been difficult to figure out how to act in his first year, but by the end of it, he had built up a strong reputation of the guy who never got mad and worked as hard as he played. Now, after five years of playing Damien, he could pull up the mask in a split second.
What had strangely helped in the beginning was thinking of the names as two different people. Sure, a few people had questioned why he had a similar name to the Heir Apparent, but most people thought he was simply named after the favored prince. That had never failed to make him laugh at the thought of being named after himself, but it helped sell the back story he had created for himself.
His mouth twisted slightly into a smile as he looked around. Very few people actually got this far on the Grey Track. His class, when he had started out, had over three hundred hopeful future captains, and now, the only ones left were the twenty or so that surrounded him. Of them, only maybe ten would actually see captaincy in the first year or two.
His other classmates had become Blue's, Green's, Red's, Orange's, or Purples. Blue's usually became security officers, green's went into communication or language studies, Red's thrived as healers or doctors, Orange's went into science, either botany or space expeditions, and Purple's were where most of the failed Grey's went, engineering.
Grey's were different. Grey's became the leaders of their ships, usually starting off as a Second or Third in command. The program got more difficult every year. He pitied those who were the year behind him, he wasn't sure how big the class had been to begin with, but it would shrink, probably more than his had shrunk, until they finally graduated.
Most people that became Grey's wanted it more than anything, and had the potential to become great. They had to be skilled in politics, at least two fields under them, and were put under torture to make sure they were strong enough not to break under their enemies hands. In his case, he mastered the Blue, Red, and Green sections, just in case. He could perform surgery, and was legally, Dr. Damien. He could fight using several different styles, some his peers and teachers knew about, some they didn't, and he could speak in just over two dozen languages thanks to how he grew up. It was unacceptable for a prince, or anyone of the royal family, to not know at least a dozen languages before adulthood.
A shudder went through him at the thought of his first "session" in interrogation. He was pretty sure that at least a hundred dropped out that day alone. Several of them were put to death then and there. Somehow, though, he had survived with his secrets intact.
As far as the command was concerned, he was a no one from Sirius. His father had made sure of it. It didn't mean he was ashamed of his family, or his heritage, but it was more dangerous, not only for him but for his father as well, if word about him got out. He hated to think it, but he knew exactly how dangerous life outside the royal walls could be.
The door opened, and the man in charge of their final test, a human named Hunters, came out. There was no list in his hand, but that didn't mean much. This entire place was automated, which had been the cause of a cultural shock on Damius when he first started.
Now, though, Damien was comfortable with not only the technology, but the creation behind it. He was no engineer, nowhere near, but he had a basic understanding of how it worked. Hunters looked around at them, and each of them stood at attention.
"Everyone." The man greeted. "This year, we have a great bunch in front of me today, but as you know, the Grey Program is difficult, and you're final test even more so. We had seventeen of you pass. Out of the twenty-two that makes up your numbers, it was supremely surprising. I suppose I shouldn't be. Surprised that is. Each of you has worked hard to get where you are at this moment, and even if you didn't pass this round, you should know it has been an honor to watch each of you transform from unsure rookies to the confident leaders I see in front of me. Now, I won't hold the suspense anymore. I'll put up the list. You know the rules, one at a time, state your name, and your scores will show up on the wall, then the next and so on." Hunters saluted them, and they returned the gesture, before turning on his heels and returning to the closed room of judges.
Each of them was given a simulation for this test, one that could easily happen. There was no way to save everyone in it, but the goal was to save as many lives as you could without losing your own, your second, or your third.
It was more difficult than it sounded, as his was a fiery explosion and being under attack by an unidentified non- friendly. It had felt so real. He could still feel the flames licking his skin and the metal shards digging into his shoulder as he ushered his crew to safety while barking out as many orders as he could.
He had ended up with nineteen deaths out of a crew of seven hundred. It wasn't bad, but as soon as he had gotten back to the privacy of his dorm, he had been violently sick and unable to control his telepathy. That had been yesterday.
Thankfully, there was no sign of the distress he had felt the previous day, so no one knew exactly how much it affected him. He could tell that several of his fellow possible Grey's were still suffering from their choices the previous day.
Damien would have been too, if not for his abilities that came from being Alhaborian. His powers exploded a bit, but after that, the entice feeling of failure and self hatred softened. He was still disappointed with himself for not saving more of his virtual crew, but he couldn't hate himself too much for it.
He filled in line, after most of his class. Some of them sent him nervous smiles that he returned, others greeted him happily as they saw that they passed. Two people had been ecstatic, telling him that they were Grey's, but the third clearly didn't.
She was a few years older than him, and didn't really like anyone. She was beautiful by most standards, being from the Lyra Constellation, with dark green hair that fell perfectly down her back in a cascade of curls. But, she wasn't social. At all. He knew that being able to talk easily with people was important for their job.
She screamed in rage and rushed out of the room, shaking in hatred.
Damien wished he could say he was surprised by either her failure or her reaction to it, but he wasn't. Not in the least. She wasn't sympathetic, only focused on fighting and science, and refused any and all invitations to go anywhere with anyone.
He was almost positive that the lack of empathy was the main reason she wasn't selected. A Grey had to understand what their crew was going through, and be able to empathize and sympathize with crew and leaders of other planets alike.
The moment she relaxed her shields a bit and let other people in, she would become an excellent Grey.
Until then, though, she was wasting her time with the program. He wondered if she had gotten her choice between her two specialties, neither of which needed her to be sympathetic in any way. If so, she would make a dedicated crewman for a captain. Once she grew up a bit and pulled her head, as the humans said, out of her ass.
One by one, he watched the reactions of his classmates. One in particular, Rowan Sinclair, a human who had shared a room with Damien for the first three years, walked up to the board. He hoped that the other got it in.
He didn't cheer or jump, like most of the others who passed, but he turned towards Damien with a small smile playing on his lips, which, from someone else, would have been the same as jumping in the air and laughing happily. Their eyes met, and Rowan nodded just a bit.
Rowan, or Sin as Damien called him, nodded slightly, and Damien smiled back. He was proud of his friend. Sin was calmer, quiet, studious, but knew how to both talk to people, and how to relax outside of school. Sin was also his best friend, not that either of them had ever told that to the other.
The other had reminded him of how he had been back on Alhabor, and was always finding something interesting to do. He worked minored, for lack of a better word, in Orange and Purple, or Science and Engineering, two of the things that he personally, sucked with.
That said, they got along well, despite their differences, and loved to debate. Sin would be someone that would do best in the second or third position, because he loved to challenge, even more, and didn't particularly enjoy ordering people around. He could, and did so well, but he preferred to leave it to someone else.
No, Sin wouldn't be happy as the Captain of a space ship.
Four more people, three passes and another crying fail, before it was his turn. He stood in front of the board for a moment, closing his eyes and breathing deeply. He could have done better on that last simulation. He should have done better.
What if he failed? How would he tell his father? Or his mother for that matter? He hadn't even looked at his scores yet, and somehow, he was already doubting himself. He couldn't help but think of all the things he could have, should have, done better on.
But, unless he looked, he would never know.
He rolled his shoulders back, and took in a deep breath. "Damien of Alhabor in the Constellation of Sirius." He managed to say without letting his words shake at all, opposite of his balled up hands at his side.
He scanned the hologram. Then he did it again, eyebrow raising slightly. A third time finally let the words sink in.
Cadet Damien of Alhabor is from this day on Grey Damien. Orders and assignments will be sent out by next Tuesday at the latest.
Somehow, someway, he passed.
He grinned widely, and rushed over to Sin, throwing his arms around the shoulders of his best friend.
Sin sighed and Damien could tell that the exasperation in it was completely faked. "I take it you passed then?" It wasn't a question, not really. Sin knew exactly how stressed he had been about this, and knew that his reaction would be a lot different if he had failed.
"Yep! Congratulations Grey Rowan." He cheered lightly.
Sin rolled his eyes. "And to you, Grey Damien. Or, should I call you Grey Idiot?"
He shoved his friend. If anyone was to ask where he had learned the slag and Earth curse words, he would be able to point to his best friend without hesitation. The man insulted everyone, but he didn't mind. He knew that his friend was joking and wasn't being cruel or mean.
That said, he wasn't sure how long the smile would be on his face. He was ecstatic, and a bit confused as to why he doubted himself in the first place.
"Wanna go out tonight?" Sin asked, his smooth southern accent slightly thicker than normal. Sin couldn't help but blush a bit when he noticed the accent that had slipped into his voice.
Rowan Sinclair was from earth. That part was true, but he was also from Texas. Over the years, he had gotten used to suppressing his accent and the natural slur of his drawl. It was funny to think about now, but the others natural accent had gotten him attention that he didn't want. Sin worked hard to get rid of it, and in most situations, unless one knew what to listen for, they didn't hear it.
That said, he had also learned almost all of his slang and common curse words from the other. Even if Sin was supposed to be a southern gentleman, he could curse like the best of them.
Especially when he was drunk.
Which was why his current thought was running through his mind. "Do you want to go out tonight? To celebrate?"
Sin shrugged easily, which told Damius just how stressed his best friend was. He didn't even bother with pretending to protest. It was really funny, and really sad in the same thought.
Oh well, his friend wasn't going to be so uptight for much longer.
"Great!" He chirped happily, "I'll meet you at the Greystone Lounge in 20?"
His friend shrugged again, which meant that Sin would probably be there in 15, just to mess with his head. He wanted to huff. They hadn't shared a dorm in a few years, as those fourth year and above were allowed to stay by themselves. Sin was lucky enough to get a room near the outskirts of campus, which meant he had to go further than Damien did during some classes, but most of their after class activities were on the side that Sin roomed near.
Damien wasn't so lucky. He was in a dorm with mostly younger students, as it was cheaper, and on the complete other side of campus. The only thing that was good about it was the gym that was less than two minutes away from his dorm so that he could work out whenever he wanted.
It was nice in a way, though. Alhaborian's never needed as much sleep as humans did, and with his own room, he didn't have to worry about waking anyone else up when he was in the mood for a run. He usually slept anywhere from 3 to 4 hours a night, although he could get away with that amount every three days when he needed to.
Sin turned to go out of the room they had been waiting I'm, but Damien wasn't about to let him go so quickly. He threw an arm over his friend's shoulder. Sin, of course, did nothing. He knew that Damien got a bit touchy feely when he was excited or relieved about something. After five years, there weren't very many things he could do to surprise the other.
Damien knew that most people would have freaked out if he had bothered being affectionate with them. He also knew that Sin would have been actually surprised if he found out that Damien was treating him like he would treat a favored sibling or heir. He wouldn't even let most of his siblings crash on his couch as often as Sin did.
Then again, he had a lot of siblings, and most of them were both arrogant without a reason to be, as well as weak. It was a bad combination. He knew why though. They spent more time being envious than they did actually doing something about it. His sibling had mostly the same mentality of thinking everything belonged to them because of who their parents were. It was pitiful.
He understood how tempting it was to be content with his status and power, but he couldn't quell that insistent need to improve himself. He was powerful, and knew a lot, but he didn't know enough. Just because he could fight with several styles didn't mean he wasn't still going to get hurt if his reaction time was off at all. He still didn't have enough information to be able to help his captain with more than a few dozen language and cultures, which could get him killed. He wasn't good enough yet.
Damien was strong, fast, and smart but he wasn't good enough yet.
He and Sin split up, and Damien broke into a light jog towards his rooms. He knew he heard Sin laughing, as the other didn't understand his need to keep his body constantly getting better and better.
That was alright though, he knew why. He knew how dangerous fighting was for him and every other Alhaborian. Their skin was thin, and easily broken. He knew that humans had seven layers of skin. He and his people only had three. Add that to the fact that their muscle and fat was moved differently than humans, and he knew how dangerous fighting was. Most of his muscles were in his arms, back, and legs while the fat layers were in the neck, ankles, and upper torso. He had to do a lot to make sure that none of the usual fat deposits that showed up on most Alhaborian's didn't show up on him.
The fat was, supposed to, protect the weak points and give it some extra cushion so hits didn't hit as effectively as they could have. But, he didn't want that on his body.
He had noticed that some humans were big and bulky all over, and yet they still couldn't lift half of what he could. He wasn't being self centered or anything like that, but he knew what he could handle, and what was too much now wouldn't always be so.
He touched the fingerprint pad and let it scan his first and second fingers. Once it did, the door clicked and he was allowed inside. His room was on the third floor, thankfully away from most of the noise that happened on the first.
Damien raced up the stairs easily, and down the hall to the fifth door on the right. He unlocked it with his prints, like he would the front doors. That done, he opened it and glanced around the room. What to wear?
He moved to his closet and looked around for something that would look good, fit well, but be more comfortable than his current suit and tie they were forced to wear.
He finally settled on a long sleeved black shirt that slipped easily over his head, and a pair of dark gray jeans. He kicked off his boots and slid the jeans over his hips. Once they were on, he slipped on his favorite pair of curled slippers and threw a cloak around his shoulders.
He knew that he looked partially human with his current attire, but he wore cloaks and slippers whenever he got the chance to. They were more comfortable than jackets, and they reminded him of home. He used to be shy about letting his heritage show, but it wasn't because he was ashamed, he just wasn't supposed to be who he had always been. It was a stressful process, learning what was and what wasn't allowed, but he had learned.
He hid a smirk as he pinned the cloak over his shoulders. Besides, he knew he looked good, even with such a strange sense of smile. No one was able to tell why exactly he preferred cloaks to jackets, or slippers to shoes, but he had gotten used to giving them a secretive smile every time he was asked. The few people who had figured out why he wore what he did didn't know who he was, but they knew enough about Alhabor to know that cloaks were more comfortable to them with their thin skin as jackets rubbed at their arms and sometimes caused their skin to bruise and break.
Not that he would ever admit it. If the rest of his class suspected that he took more after his supposed parent from Lyra, than his Alhaborian one, well, he wasn't going to correct them. One day, he promised himself, he was going to figure out why everyone thought he had a parent from Lyra. He didn't look anything like those from that galaxy, they were usually tanned, with greenish tints to their skin, and soft orange eyes with slightly pointed ears. He had none of the common characteristics of their people.
That said, he wasn't going to dissuade anyone from believing whatever they wanted. As long as he didn't hear rumors that stemmed from the truth, or any that guessed at who he had been, well, he would take all of the other rumors in stride.
And if they happened to cause him amusement, he thought as he closed the door to his room behind himself, it didn't hurt anyone.