Chapter 2: The Orphan Train
I climbed aboard a rusty, silvery train that stood motionless in the gleaming station. They called it the Orphan Train for obvious reasons: it was the only way to travel to Dunskyie, and basically only orphans went there. But, sometimes, others have to go to Dunskyie. They have a market as well as the Orphanage there.
"Psst, over here," murmured a woman, and I slipped beside her on the worn down seat.
She was elderly, but good natured...
I asked why she was there, and she replied with a laugh, "Child, I am on my way to the market. What's your name? I could get something for you and send it on to the Orphanage."
My stomach plummeted. The Train began to move and pick up speed. "I'm Margaret Cordelia Lens," I said helplessly. "And, your guess is correct, I'm going to the Orphanage."
"Ahh..." said the woman. "Well, I come and visit the Orphanage to see my dead best friend's daughter Coral. It cheers her up."
"I bet," I smiled softly.
Thud. Thud, thud. Thud. Thud, thud. I glanced outside my window, streaked with mud, to see a huge rat and his mount.
A Jivae rat, one of the largest species in the Empire. They were expensive, about a Devin (100,000 dollars), but they carried their mounts well.
They were Emerald Warriors!
The Train stopped with a jerk and the Warriors stumbled clumsily on. They glanced around, their staffs in their hands, and patrolled the area in complete silence until a brown-suited man followed.
"We are here on Empire duty," Mr. Brown said snakily, "Remain calm. We will not hurt you, only if you are a Crystal Soilder in disguise."
And the search was on. They uprooted people from their seats, and asked them to show them their ID. Which was a tattoo on their right hand that identified who they were. Most passed the test, until-
"Child!" Mr. Brown barked at me shrilly. "Your mark is of the Empire and the Dynasty! Explain yourself!"
"I-I-I-" I began, not knowing how to word it. "My mum was a rebellious Crystal Soilder, s-sir. She sought to save me and have them t-think I was already a C-curfew."
Mr. Brown looked me over with hard, square eyes. Did he believe me?
"Child, we do not tolerate half-bloods here, being of both is dangerous and can lead to fatal conquences. You must choose your side or risk your life." Then the Emerald Warriors lumbered out.
The Train picked up speed again and we began our descent to a shimmering lake of glass. Soon, I was pushed out over the Train's tracks and I fell with a clunk onto the surface. I walked carefully across it until I reached the mid-point, where there was a little boat. I climbed aboard and off I went.
How long would it be until the Nisstons hunted me down? And found out what I was?