Orientation Part One
Terra Branford had woken up early, as she often did, and walked out onto the balcony of her small apartment. There was a cool breeze that morning and it ruffled her white night gown as she stood by the railing. She brushed a stray piece of green hair out of her face and leaned against the railing, staring out at the nearby school building. The sun was just rising and its first light seemed to illuminate the campus. It made the grounds look like they were shining with gold.
I suppose this is what people refer to when they say 'beautiful.' Terra thought to herself without emotion. Taking one last look at the sight, she went back inside and shut the sliding door behind her.
Terra ate a small breakfast, then went into her bedroom to change. She pulled on a short, strapless red dress with gold trim and a floral design that ended just at the start of her legs. She pulled a pair of floral tights over her legs and stepped into a pair of red and gold boots with pointed toes. She pulled a pair of red sleeves over her arms and tied several colorful sashes around her hips, then tied a floral cape around her neck. Lastly, she brushed her wavy green hair and pulled it back into a ponytail, keeping it in place with a flower sash. She added a little make-up and considered herself ready.
Terra gazed into the mirror, seeing herself dressed as she normally was. Part of her wondered if she should have tried to look a bit different for the first day of school, but there was no urgency in her to do so. She supposed she should be excited or nervous or happy or, well, something, about her upcoming school orientation, but she felt nothing. This wasn't anything new for the green-haired girl, but she had clung to a tiny hope that perhaps today she might experience some different emotion. Instead, she felt nothing, like always.
Turning away from the mirror, Terra glanced about her small apartment, looking for something to occupy herself with. Seeing nothing of interest, she gazed towards the campus once more. She decided that since she had nothing better to do, she would go walk around on the school grounds for a while. She exited her apartment, locking the door behind her and leisurely went down the stairs. The sun shone on her pale face as she stepped out and walked towards the campus, her cape rustling in the breeze.
Zidane Tribal heard his alarm go off and smothered a groan with his pillow. He had never been a fan of mornings and always set his alarm as late as he possibly could. However, remembering why he had to get up so early that morning put him in high spirits as he leaped out of bed and landed on his feet. Still yawning a little, he pulled out a blue short-sleeved shirt with a navy collar and tugged it over his head. He put on some jeans, pushing his golden tail through a small hole in the back, and then put a brush through his thick blond hair. Once he was done brushing it, he tied it back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He stepped into his sturdy black boots and felt like he was ready to go.
After a quick trip to the bathroom, Zidane was completely prepared for his school's orientation. It never took him long to get dressed and while he didn't want to look slovenly, he never put that much effort into his appearance. This put him at odds with another member of his household, who could and probably had, spend hours getting ready before he dared step outside. Turning towards his brother's room, he saw that the lights were on. Shaking his head, Zidane figure his older brother had likely been up for hours getting ready.
"Come on Kuja!" Zidane called from the hallway. "We're gonna be late."
When he received no answer, Zidane sighed and went to his brother's room. The door was open, so all he had to do was walk in. He stood just in front of the doorway as he examined his brother's room. The bed was covered with neatly laid out clothing that Kuja must have tried on before he settled on his current outfit. His brother was standing in front of the giant circular mirror that stood on top of his five drawer dresser. The top of the dresser was covered with a variety of make-up, everything from foundation to eyeliner to nail polish and several different colors of lip stick. Kuja was currently applying a coat of light purple lipstick to his mouth, as purple was his favorite color, and it went well with his silvery purple hair.
Zidane shook his head at the massive amount of preparation, but he was also used to it. Kuja never went anywhere without 'looking his best,' as he often put it. Zidane tapped his fist against the frame of the door in impatience, hoping to get his brother's attention. "Are you almost ready? We need to leave."
"In a minute, Zidane." Kuja replied, sounding irritated that he had even asked the question. He walked over to his full body mirror that stood beside his dresser. "I will not rush myself. It's important to make a good impression on occasions like this. The right appearance is key to making the right impression."
Zidane often wondered who or what his older brother was constantly trying to impress, but he said nothing. He knew his brother's moods well enough to know any more arguments on the matter wouldn't get him anywhere. He watched as his brother turned in front of the mirror and checked every angle on his outfit. He was wearing a skin tight purple shirt with a white flower and vine design that spread out from his right shoulder. The shirt ended just below his belly button, showing off a small patch of skin above his black pants. Those were also skin tight around his legs, flaring a little bit at the bottom. There was a little more room given at the top of the pants, which was covered up by a stylish black and silver belt. Zidane knew his older brother hated his tail and liked to hide it beneath his clothing, hence why he always adjusted the tops of his pants to accommodate for it. No one would notice it if they weren't looking for it, so a lot of people were probably unaware of his brother's tail.
"Can you believe they won't let us wear mid-riffs?" Kuja huffed as he scrutinized his shirt. "I know this school is requiring us to wear uniforms, but on these few casual dress days the least they could do is give us the freedom to express ourselves." The slender boy then adjusted his belt to make sure his tail was completely unnoticeable. "Honestly, I feel like these rules are just in place to punish beautiful people like me."
"Uh-huh." Zidane said with a nod. He found it was just best to agree with Kuja when he talked about matters like this. "Well, we're not going to make a very good impression if we're late for orientation." He continued reasonably, hoping this would spur his brother to get out of his room so they could be on their way.
"I suppose you're right. This will have to do." Kuja said with an elaborate sigh before he turned his eyes away from the mirror. He quickly looked Zidane over from head to toe before walking right up to him and adjusting his collar. Then he moved on to smoothing out Zidane's shirt.
"Kuja!" Zidane said as he tried to knock his brother's hands away. He hated when his brother fussed over him like this.
"Well, I'm not letting you leave the house like this. Not with your shirt half tucked in and half tucked out. It looks ridiculous!" He finished completely untucking Zidane's shirt and put his hands on his hips. "There, that's better." He nodded with approval.
"Great. Thanks. Now, come on!"
Zidane grabbed his brother's wrist and gave a big tug. He ran through the hall, practically dragging his older brother as he ran for the door. Kuja protested this, but Zidane ignored him. The blond haired boy quickly opened the door and shut it behind them. The door was equipped with an automatic security lock, so the boys didn't have to bother locking it as they ran out the door and into the street. A few feet away from their house, Kuja abruptly pulled to a stop and caused Zidane to fall flat on his back.
"Enough Zidane." He commanded as he pushed some of his silvery purple hair back over his shoulder. "I will not run all the way to school. You know how I hate being hot and sweaty. Besides, the school's not very far from here. There's no need to rush ourselves so much."
Zidane jumped back to his feet and checked his watch. They were cutting it close, but Kuja was right. They would probably be on time. Still, the younger boy didn't want to take any chances.
"All right, you can walk then." Zidane said amiably as he brushed some dirt from his back. "I'll run ahead and save a seat for you. See you later!"
With that, the blond haired boy sprinted off, happy to feel the cool morning air brushing against his face. Unlike his brother, Zidane enjoyed a good run from time to time. The thought made him smile as Dissidia Academy came into view. In spite of their differences, he truly loved his older brother—even if he didn't always understand him.
Kefka Palazzo skipped his way through the campus until he found the stage where the welcoming speech was supposed to be held. As he frolicked his way through the crowds, he noticed the odd looks that everyone gave him. He couldn't tell if it was because of his clown make-up, his costume or the peculiar way he was moving about the crowd. All he knew was that he didn't care what they thought. Why should he? His white face paint, along with his swirling red patterns by his eyes and his purple lip stick made him happy and his mismatched jester costume was as much fun to make as it was to wear. It was all perfectly suited to him because having fun was really the only thing that truly mattered to him.
He came to a stop right in front of one of the ushers, who gave him a very curious look. After a moment, she directed him to a seat in the middle of the crowd of chairs. She instructed him to keep to the right side of the chairs until he reached the row where he was supposed to sit and walk down the aisle to reach his seat. Deeming this to be a dull affair, Kefka leapfrogged and bounced his way diagonally over the chairs before he dramatically flipped into his own seat. The clown turned back around to see the absolutely baffled look on the face of the usher, along with several nearby spectators. Kefka laughed loudly at their expressions and turned back around in his chair.
Unfortunately, that was the end of his fun for a while. His row and the row behind him filled up, making it impossible for him to escape. He regretted arriving so early as he realized his only reward for it would be to sit on a hard chair, waiting for some old codger to get on the stage and babble at him. Annoyed at his predicament, Kefka began to fidget in his seat.
After what seemed like eons to the impatient clown, a man with silver hair dressed in a blue business suit took the stage. He stood in front of the microphone and pulled some note cards from his jacket pocket. The Principal of Dissidia Academy paused in his actions to scan the crowd.
Come on, come on, you can stare at all of us later. Kefka raised a hand and moved it in a circular motion. Just get on with it already!
Finally, the speech began and Kefka relaxed a little. After the initial welcome, he paid little attention to what was being said. The clown felt that these welcoming speeches were all the same and that if you'd heard one, you'd heard them all. He drummed his fingers on his leg as the President continued to speak, pausing now and again as the crowd cheered at his words. Kefka groaned when they did because all they had accomplished was making the speech longer.
About midway through the speech, the President asked them to look around at their fellow students since this would be the first time they'd be surrounded by others who were like them. Kefka did as he suggested, but only out of a need to alleviate his growing boredom. His eyes scanned the crowd, trying to find anything of interest.
Well, let's see, there's a pretty green-haired girl who looks about as interested in this whole ordeal as I am, a boy in a white tank top who looks like he belongs in the ballet, and behind me there's a pair of meat heads in beach wear. Kefka craned his neck around to get a better view of the back rows, hoping to find something a bit more interesting. Hm, there's a brown-haired boy in the back who looks like he has some serious issues, a horny, short, blond kid flirting with every girl he can find and—Hello, what's this?
Kefka's eyes had landed on a slender young man with a feather sticking out of his hair. His long, flowing hair looked to be a shade of lavender from the distance. A light purple lipstick adorned his mouth and he was looking at his painted nails of a similar color.
I like his style. Kefka thought as brushed a finger against his dark purple lipstick. Certainly looks like the least boring person here besides me. I'll have to make his acquaintance later...
He turned back around as the principal began blabbing once more. His irritation returned in force as the speech seemed to go on forever.
Powers...blah blah...hard work...blah, blah, blah, words, words, words...BORING! Kefka thought impatiently. Closing his eyes, he was thinking he might as well take a power nap during the dull speech when clapping from all over the crowd caused him to open his eyes again. He realized the speech must have ended as the President was walking off the podium.
Well, that was terrible, but at least it was short. Kefka gave a small sigh of relief at that. Maybe now he'd actually be able to get up and move around. He hated sitting still in a chair for long periods of time. His relief immediately gave way to more irritation as the Dean of Students took to the podium and began instructing them about the order they would be getting their uniforms and how they would break into their perspective groups. Kefka was now fidgeting in his chair so much that he looked like he was rocking back and forth like an insane asylum patient.
Ugh, get off the stage! Stop talking and get off the stage! Kefka practically screamed in his head, a hand to his forehead.
Just after he had thought this, the Dean of Students bid them farewell and good luck. At the dismissal, everyone got up and stretched. Kefka hastily pushed past them all, eager to be away from his chair. Once he was out of the crowd, he was greeted by the sight of personnel with clip boards calling for different groups of students to come to them so they could be properly sorted. The other students in the crowd obeyed their orders and fell into lines like obedient little sheep. Kefka couldn't stand it.
This is all sooooo boring! Ugh, I need something to make this better. Something explosive...
Kefka scanned his surroundings for something, anything that could provide him with entertainment. That's when he spotted it. A big box full of fireworks had been placed to the side of the chairs. They had probably been saving it for the end of orientation. Kefka rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
Perfect! Now, I just have to get a little closer. He tiptoed easily past the gaggles of gabbing people and stopped when he was just a few feet away from the fireworks. He cupped his hands by his chest and used the Fire spell to form a small fireball. Gradually, he made the ball smaller and smaller, allowing the power to diminish so that the ball would shrink. When the ball was no greater than a small spark, he uncupped his hands and directed the spark towards the target. Then, he ran back a few paces and turned back to watch the show.
The box exploded in an array of color. Fireworks shot out in all directions into the crowd of new students and teachers. Some of the students were tripping over chairs to get away from the colorful missiles that had been launched everywhere. Others were lying on the ground, with their heads covered as smoke rose above them. The teachers were trying to quell any of the fireworks that came near them, casting small spells to try disintegrate them. The result was pure chaos complete with people screaming, shouting and cursing as the area was covered by smoke.
A big grin spread across his face as the fireworks finally died down. Kefka cackled to himself at the mayhem he had caused. People everywhere were pulling each other up from the ground, trying to brush themselves off or trying to get away from the massive amounts of smoke. He saw a few unlucky people who were suffering from excess smoke inhalation and still a few others who were putting out fires on their clothes. Not that he cared about any of that. It had all been done for his entertainment and he was entertained.
Besides, it wasn't like all of the people in the audience had been unhappy with his little stunt. He saw quite a few people smiling and laughing at their own disheveled appearances, telling tales of this firework or another that passed them by. Others still were looking embarrassed as their peers teased them about their overreactions. Some of the teachers were trying to figure out who the culprit was who set off the fireworks, but couldn't find anyone who had seen anything definitive. Kefka whistled to himself and walked away with his hands clasped behind his back, knowing that they would never find him. The serious mood that had filled the crowd had vanished and the teachers would be hard pressed to regain the sheep-like control they'd had over the new students.
Kefka smiled to himself, his need for excitement satiated—for now. After all, life would be so dull without periodic spurts of destructive mayhem. He knew that some of those boring people who had gotten on the short end of his little joke might disagree with him, but he didn't care about them. Kefka was happy and that was all that mattered.
"Well, no one can say it hasn't been an interesting morning." Bartz Klauser murmured to himself as he pushed some black ash off of his arms.
Bartz had started off said morning by waking up early and going on one of his morning walks. He lived in a small cottage out in the countryside and loved to go wandering around the woods every day. In spite of his chocobo Boko's pecking protests, he had done his usual walk that morning, thinking he would still have plenty of time to prepare for school orientation once he got back. Upon arriving back at his cottage, however, he found he had spent more time walking than he had anticipated. Hastily stuffing a piece of bread in his mouth and changing his clothes, he hopped onto the antsy Boko and rode off.
He lived quite far away from the school and he urged Boko to hurry if they were going to be on time. As he was riding towards the school, he passed by a short boy with thick blond hair and what looked like a golden tail sticking out of his pants. Bartz had blinked and turned back around to make sure he had actually seen that, but Boko was going too fast for him to get a proper look at it again. Stocking it up to a trick of the eyes, Bartz turned his blue eyes towards Dissidia Academy and didn't look back.
Bartz had ridden the chocobo to the school gates where some of the staff offered to take care of him after a long ride. He thanked them and went to go find a seat by the stage. The carefree boy waited patiently in his seat for the school's president to take the stage. He arrived after a short wait and the speech he gave was a good one in Bartz's mind. He applauded at the end and listened for further instruction from the Dean of Students.
When all the talking was finished, Bartz got up and waited in his row with the other students. A few were chattering, but many more seemed shy or nervous about being at their new school. They all shuffled forward obediently, not wanting to cause any problems or get in trouble. Bartz was just thinking that maybe people were taking all this a little too seriously when it happened. A nearby box of fireworks exploded and fired themselves into the crowd.
Alert, the brown-haired boy saw a red, whizzing firework coming in his direction and quickly fell to the ground. He placed his hands over his head and stayed on the ground to avoid breathing in too much smoke. He urged the others around him to stoop down or lie low until it was over. Many of them obeyed him and so he lay among a small crowd of people waiting for the fireworks to run their course as they exploded all around them.
When the chaos had died down, Bartz got to his feet and brushed himself off. He helped those around him to their feet. Many of the people around him were laughing about what had happened and their was a hum of excitement in the air.
Eventually, his line started moving again and he got out of the crowd of chairs. Once he headed towards some of the personnel as he had previously been instructed, he saw the teachers and other staff members were asking if anyone knew who had set off the fireworks. Glancing to his right, he was pretty sure the culprit was a tall boy in with clown make-up who seemed overly pleased with himself about something. Bartz thought about saying something about this, but decided against it. The little stunt hadn't really done anyone any harm. In fact, Bartz felt that a lot of the tension and nervousness that had been thick in the air among the crowd of new students had now dissipated. Thinking this was a good thing, the carefree boy kept his mouth shut on the matter and let the clown have his fun.
When things had calmed down and order was restored, Bartz was instructed to go to a nearby tree with the other junior high. He did so and shortly afterwords they were into even smaller groups who were going to be led around the school. Bartz's group was in the hands of a petite white mage, who was one of the school's healers. She explained that since they were in junior high, they would be the last to get uniforms and the last to get registered. So, to fill up time, she was going to take them on a guided tour of the campus until it was their turn to get registered.
The white mage beckoned them to follow, but Bartz fell towards the back of the group and stayed behind. He made sure they had moved far enough away before he started walking the opposite direction. Bartz had never been a fan of milling around with big crowds and decided he'd rather be by himself.
After all, if all we're going to do is wander I can do that easily enough on my own. I do it all the time.
With that thought in mind, Bartz began wandering the campus and eventually ended up walking towards the main building. It was a large silver building, going up at least four stories, with blue trim around the edges and windows. If you didn't know this was a school for those with powers and skills, it would just look like another high school. He was walking rather aimlessly, not really paying much attention to his surrounding when an incredulous voice spoke up behind him.
"Um, do you know where you're going?"
Bartz turned around to see the source of the voice. He was greeted by the sight of a blond-haired boy in a blue T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. Behind him, the brown-haired boy spotted a hint of gold, waving back and forth.
"Oh!" Bartz exclaimed as he pointed at the golden tail. "You're the boy from this morning. You really do have a tail." He rubbed the back of his head and chuckled. "I totally thought I was seeing things when we ran past you on the way to school."
"That I do." The boy's tail swished back and forth to emphasize its presence. "My name's Zidane. What's yours?"
"Nice to meet you, Bartz. By the way, who's the 'we' that apparently ran past me this morning? You and—"
"Boko and I. My chocobo." Bartz explained as the other boy gave him a strange look at the name.
"That's right! I did see someone on a chocobo this morning." The shorter boy smiled at him and put his hands behind his head. "So, are you going to answer my first question?"
"The one where I asked you if you knew where you were going?"
"Oh, well," Bartz shrugged, "I don't really. I was just wandering around because I felt like it."
Zidane tilted his head to the side in curiosity. "You weren't part of an orientation group?"
"Well, I was, but I kind of ditched them." Bartz explained as he rubbed the back of his head. "They were just going to be wandering around the campus and I figured I could do that just as easily on my own."
"I see." The blond-haired boy sighed.
"Why were you following me?"
"The fireworks had something to do with it. My section of the crowd ended up being held back because of all the smoke and I didn't get a chance to meet up with my orientation group. I saw you walking away from the crowd and you looked like you were the same age as me. I thought since you were by yourself you might be in the same situation I was and that they'd instructed you to go somewhere. So, I followed you and here I am." He ended cheerfully.
"I see. Sorry I couldn't be of more help."
"It's fine. I was the one who probably should have asked more questions instead of just following a stranger." Zidane smiled at him and clapped his hands together. "So, where to?"
Bartz raised an eyebrow. "You're still going to follow me?"
"Why not? It's not like going back to the stage is going to do me any good now. So, where to?"
Bartz gazed back towards the main school building and pointed towards the roof top. "How about up there? I bet the view's amazing."
Zidane walked up to stand beside him and folded his arms. "Do you think we can get up there?"
"Only one way to find out. Come on!"
Bartz took off at a brisk pace and Zidane kept up with him easily. The two of them conversed as they made their way towards the school and he learned that Zidane was the same age as him. They were both thirteen, soon to be fourteen and would be placed in the eighth grade. He was surprised to learn that Zidane had also been placed into some of the advanced level high school courses, just as he was.
"I did so well on my weaponry skills test that they decided I would be bored in the regular classes. They figured it would be beneficial for me to be trained with the high school students."
"Me too." Bartz said with a smile. "I'll bet we'll be in the same class."
"I hope so." Zidane replied as they entered the school building together. It was incredibly crowded inside, with students and teachers milling about everywhere. The pair of boys pushed their way through the crowd and entered one of the school's stairwells. Once they got past the people on the first couple of floors, they were able to take the steps two at a time.
Bartz challenged Zidane to a race and soon they were laughing as they dashed up the flights of stairs, always trying to push past each other as they climbed higher and higher. The challenge ended when Zidane flipped over Bartz at the last moment and slammed into the door to the roof with both hands. He turned to Bartz, breathing hard and grinning like a fool.
"Rematch." The brown-haired boy breathed out as he wiped some sweat from his brow.
"Any time." Zidane assured him confidently.
"Well, we're finally here. Let's go."
Bartz gripped the handle and tried to open the door, only to find it was locked. He released the handle with a sigh, wiping more sweat off his face with his hand.
"Great, it's locked. We came all the way up here for nothing."
"Maybe not." Zidane's voice was mischievous as he got in front of him and worked the lock. After a brief moment, it opened and Zidane gestured for him to go inside.
"Nice move." Bartz nodded his approval. "Where did you pick up a skill like that?"
"Let's just say I picked up a few tricks when I had some down time in my old neighborhood." Zidane replied, trying to look innocent as they both walked through the now unlocked door.
The two boys walked right up to the roof's railing and looked down. The campus below was a mixture of modern walkways intertwined with tall trees, flowers and plenty of green grass. It would have been pretty to look at, had it not been swarming with people. There was a mass of people milling around in large groups, going this way and that as per the instruction of their guides. From above, it seemed like one step short of chaos, as large lines of people had to stop and go to accommodate for even larger groups of people to pass them by.
Bartz whistled. "I'm glad we're not down there. I'd love to wander among the trees on campus when they're aren't so many people. This spot is ideal for people watching though."
"Agreed." Zidane said, as he took a bag off his back and slung it in front of him. "And I have just the thing to make it better."
Bartz watched as the shorter boy pulled out a bunch of fresh food from his bag. Sandwiches, fruits, small cuts of meat and even a few pastries. The brown-haired boy eyed the other curiously.
"Did you make all this yourself?"
"No, the school did. It's the stuff they're giving to us for lunch today."
Bartz eyed the position of the sun and turned back Zidane. "It's not even close to lunch time yet. I'm surprised they gave all this to you."
"Maybe they didn't 'give' it any more then that door was unlocked." Zidane explained with a grin.
Bartz frowned at this, not really liking the idea that the other boy had stolen the food. Zidane saw his expression and his own became more serious.
"Look, I didn't eat much for breakfast this morning and I was feeling pretty hungry. I didn't think I'd last till lunch. Besides, they were going to give this stuff to us anyways. You can't really steal something that's yours to begin with, can you?" Zidane held an apple out to him.
Bartz shook his head at the logic, but took the apple anyway. "I suppose that's true." He added as he took a big bite. He had to wipe his chin as juice dribbled down his face.
Zidane took an apple of his own and bit into it. "How long do you want to stay up here?"
"As long as we feel like it." The brown-haired boy replied vaguely. "After all, since we're eighth graders, we're going to be some of the last people to get registered and fitted for uniforms. We may as well enjoy ourselves while we wait."
"Couldn't have put it better myself." Zidane said as he leaned on the railing, eating an apple and watching the people below.
Bartz smiled back and the two of them conversed for a long time, watching the people below.
Author's Note: Well, that's it for the first part of this chapter. I was originally just going to do one chapter, but it was just getting too long so I decided to split it in half. The good news is that the next chapter should be up shortly as I have most of it written already. Thanks for reading and I hope you're looking forward to part two!