Chapter 3: House Selection
On the Saturday before school started, Santiago invited Alexa over the phone to go to the movies with him, so she approached her mother to get permission.
"I only want you going if Roxie and Tricia go with you." said Mrs. Lockport. "You're only twelve, I think you're too young to go to the movies alone with a boy."
Less than an hour later, Alexa was with Santiago, and her two best friends standing in line to buy tickets at the theater.
"So what do you want to see?" Santiago asked.
"How about the movie about that teenage girl who lives in a dystopia and tries to overthrow her government?" Alexa asked.
"That film series is really popular," said Santiago. "Good choice!"
Soon, the quartet were seated in the theater. Alexa sat with Santiago on one side, and her two friends on her other side. When the film got going, there was a scene where an extremely intellectually challenged boy tried to win the heart of an attractive girl his age, but she rejected him.
"Isn't that just like Joey?" Alexa asked Santiago as she laughed, indicating someone they went to school with. "He actually tried to ask me out!"
"You're cruel, Lexie!" said Santiago. He wasn't upset with Alexa, but clearly wasn't amused.
Tricia saw the connection between the character in the film and the boy Alexa was referring to and laughed, but Roxie was angry.
"Joey isn't that bad of a kid, Lexie! I know of a couple of girls who want to go out with him. You shouldn't be so hard on him! Most people would give just about anything for the love of another human being, and you treated him like garbage!"
"I was just trying to be funny!" said Alexa with a look of guilt on her face.
For the rest of the movie, Alexa tried not to interact with her friends.
Over the rest of the weekend, Alexa stayed away from her friends and stayed in her bedroom studying her textbooks that were downloaded onto her electronic tablet. The textbook that had the least amount of information was also the most difficult to comprehend; it was the theory explaining neutrino dissimilation, otherwise known as a miniaturization device. Alexa read it from page one to the end many different times, until she understood the material. Alexa had never pondered the existence of a shrinking device, but now that she knew they existed, she wanted one.
Alexa continued to study as she waited for Monday morning. She set her alarm for five thirty a.m. but she was so eager to see her new school that she woke up before her alarm went off. She got ready and dressed in her uniform. Her parents were awake, and her mother made a huge breakfast. Alexa's parents were whispering about whether or not she would be classified for Verso house, which would embarrass them, since they were in Recto house when they were students. They stopped whispering when Alexa entered the room, but she had heard what they were talking about.
"You're going to make a lot of new friends at the academy, Lexie." said Mrs. Lockport.
Alexa took another bite of her corned beef hash. "I already met a couple of girls in my grade who were at the store where I bought my uniforms. One of them has a cute brother."
"It would be good if you only dated boys who are members of our kind," said Alexa's father. "That boy Santiago might live a much shorter life span than you, so it would be unfair to both of you if you remained young upon reaching adulthood, and he got older."
"What happens when we run out of eligible Futurians?" Alexa asked. "If we only marry each other, eventually there aren't going to be any of us left."
"We will find a way to get all of us back to our own time before that ever happens," said Mr. Lockport.
"Don't mind him, Lexie!" said Mrs. Lockport. "There's no way of knowing if and when we're ever getting back to our own time. Our best scientists have been trying to find a way for 200 years!"
"If the taxi that will take me to the academy can travel through time, then why can't we chart a path back to the time our ancestors came from?" Alexa asked.
"It's like comparing a model remote control plane to a jumbo jet capable of carrying passengers," said Mr. Lockport. "Taking all of us back that far into the future is a significant task. Traveling through temporal space isn't like traveling through normal space. Every star and black hole has a gravity trail that extends back through temporal space from when that star first formed, to the point of its annihilation."
"But if we came back into the past, why can't we go back through time the way we came?" Alexa asked.
"In normal space, the gravity well of our sun exists as a sphere," Mr. Lockport continued. "In temporal space, it is like a cable the same width as the sun is in normal space. Every single star and planet have gravity trails that must be charted. If we pass too close to a gravity well of a black hole cluster, it could rip any starship apart. The taxi that takes you to the academy just makes short jaunts through temporal space. Do you see our problem?"
"Yes, I guess so," said Alexa.
Just then, a car horn honked, and Alexa's mother looked out the window. "It's the taxi here to take you to the academy, Lexie!"
Alexa took her backpack that contained her extra two school uniforms and her electronic devices she had purchased several days before with Olivia, and kissed her parents goodbye.
"You'll be back for Christmas break," said Mrs. Lockport.
Alexa exited the house and went to the taxi. The rear door popped open automatically, and Alexa got in. A middle aged man was in the driver's seat. He had a mustache, and greeted Alexa.
"I'm Ozymandias, I'll be your time captain!"
"I'm Alexa Lockport, you can call me Lexie."
The door closed automatically, and the vehicle started moving.
"How long will it take to get to the academy?" Alexa asked.
"The academy is located in a parallel reality on a version of Earth where human life never evolved. It is in the same coordinates as Earth, but in a different space-time continuum. The academy is located where Carrizo plains are on the earth you know, but tectonic stablizers keep the area safe from Earthquakes."
"That still doesn't answer my question," said Alexa. "How long will it take?"
"I'm sorry, I'm required to explain that to all first year students. Once we phase into temporal space and subjective time slows down, from our perspective, the trip will seem instantaneous."
Alexa looked out the window just as everything outside the wondows became blurry. "We're phasing now," said Ozymandias. In an instant, they were at the academy.
"Here we are!" said Ozymandias. The rear door popped open for Alexa, and she took her backpack and exited the time vehicle.
She looked around. The sun had recently risen, and she could see the architecture of this strange world. Some of the buildings looked like Spanish buildings like some of the missions in California she had been to, but there were examples of futuristic styles of structures. There were half domes covering seating areas, with an obvious purpose of keeping people out of the rain while being seated outside.
Alexa was amazed that none of the sidewalks had cracks in them. She could see students walking around. In her amazed state of mind, Ozymandias had left and returned with another student in the time it took Alexa to become aware of her surroundings. The rear door popped open, and Stratus and her brother Stratum exited the time vehicle.
An older girl greeted the twins.
"Lexie!" said Stratus. "This is my older sister Umbra, she's a third year student! She can show us around."
Alexa shook hands with Umbra. "My sister Stratus has told me about you, so you didn't know about your heritage?"
"My parents thought I'd try to take over the world or something," Alexa replied.
"Are you evil?" Umbra asked.
"Some people think so," said Alexa.
"You'll probably get selected for Verso house. I'm also in Verso, and my brother Stratus should end up in Recto, but my sister Stratus should end up in Verso, so you'll have some company."
"When does this take place?" Alexa asked.
"It's at the sorting station, they use mind control devices to determine your mental disposition. It's completely painless, you've got nothing to worry about. Follow me, the twins have to go there now, too. The earlier you get there, the better, so you won't have to wait in a long line."
Alexa, Stratus and Stratum followed Umbra to the sorting station. It was an unimposing structure with multiple doors that slid open when you entered. There were chairs lined up against a wall, about ten of them. Alexa saw a boy sit down in one of the chairs. Two metal rods extended at head level, one on the left side, and the other on the right. Within a few moments of sitting there, a red light on the left arm of the chair lit up.
"You're going to be housed in Verso house," said a woman who was in charge of sorting the new students.
"This will determine your for the rest of your life," said Umbra.
When it was Alexa's turn, she sat down, and within a few moments, the red light lit up on the arm of the chair on Alexa's left side.
"Verso house for you!" said the woman. Before Alexa could get up, a hologram appeared in the air above the seat where Alexa was sitting. A woman said a weird rhyme: "The heroine is humble, she has many flaws; without seeking payment, she stands for a cause." The hologram disappeared.
"What does that mean?" Alexa asked.
The woman in charge of the determination process said, "That was Professor Morgan Lefevre! It looks like she has taken a liking to you, Alexa!"
Alexa got up from her chair and waited to see the results of the twins. Stratum was selected for Recto, just as Umbra predicted, and Stratus was chosen for Verso.
Stratus approached Alexa. "We're both housed in Verso!"
"Do you know anything about Morgan Lefevre?" Alexa asked.
"She lives further in the future than we are, and in another space-time continuum," Stratus answered. "Nobody who works at the academy can catch her."
Just then, a tall blonde woman walked through one of the main sliding doors. She had long, blonde hair and was dressed like a business professional. She approached Alexa and shook her hand.
"I'm Victoria Valerius, the head mistress of this academy. It has come to my attention that Morgan Lefevre has taken interest in you for some reason. If she tries to make contact with you, it is imperative that you report it to me immediately. Are you okay with that?"
"Sure!" Alexa replied. "But why would she try to make a pact with me?"
"She contacted you today from several years on our future. She obviously knows more about you than we do, and she sees you as a potential apprentice."
"Status told me she lived in the future," said Alexa. "Why is she so much more powerful than your scientists?"
"She was our best engineer. She started out as a student here, much like you. She single handedly re-discovered technology that we had lost when the computer mainframe on the star ship that brought us here was damaged escaping from the gravity well of that black hole cluster. Do you know anything about those events?"
"Yes, Olivia explained all of that to me," Alexa replied. "But are there any clues that could give you any insight as to how or why she chose me?"
"You must have above average, even exceptional, scientific ability. If you excel in math and science, she might have a use for you when you get older. Tell me, what career path do you see for yourself?"
"I've always wanted to be a lawyer," Alexa replied. "Maybe Morgan Lefevre made some kind of a mistake choosing me. I just want to join a debate team and promote Verso house."
"Morgan Lefevre is never wrong," Victoria replied. "I don't want to keep you from your classes."
"Thank you, it was nice meeting you," said Alexa.
Umbra was standing nearby, so she approached Alexa. "Now it's time to pick your electives. Math and science and other general ed classes are already selected for you, but you get to choose a couple of classes of your own."
"What would you recommend?" Alexa asked.
"There is a class you have to take to get your neutrino dissimilator functioning, it's required by your second year, but first year students can choose it as an elective."
"That sounds cool!" said Alexa. "What are my other choices?"
"Temporal psychology," Umbra replied. "They teach you not to share that you're a time traveler with just anyone, because it can make them freak out."
"I'll take that class too, then." said Alexa.
Umbra showed Alexa where the computer console was where students could sign up for classes. Within a minute, Alexa was signed up for the neutrino dissimilator class and temporal psychology.