Marya's Chronicles Chapter 1: Normal Life Before the Chaos

The morning air on the planet Ixions was often congested with people flying to their work places. A good deal of the youger people were flying to their educational centers, including one Marya Chang and her twin sister Misha.

Marya Chang was descended from both the Chang and the Tsektyo tribes. She had no relationship with royalty or any persons of importance, and she liked it that way. She was the older twin, and she was the eldest of all the six children in her family. She did the best in Education, with higher marks than anyone else in her family. The main purpose of Education to her, however, was for the sociality.

On Ixions, Marya's male-dominated planet, the people were born with many innate abilities. Their special Ixionian power (which included flight) was one of them. Another was that they were born knowing how to speak their language, write it and read it without anyone teaching them. They were born with the knowledge of even the most difficult calculations, too, on top of their finely-tuned instinct. With that in mind, their school was different from school on Earth. The subjects were less academic, from Primal Skills class to Strategizing Skills to History and the World, Sciences, Philosophies, Fitness and Well-Being, Out-of-Planet Language, Creativity (which wasn't really a class) and the ever-famous Ixionian Skills Management. That was Marya's favorite class.

The best things about flying instead of taking a vehicle were the lack of lanes in the sky, and one could swerve and fly any which way, as long as no crash occurred. If a crash did occur, the harm done was much, much less than what happened when a vehicle crashed. Another thing about vehicles was that they were no match for flying. Flying was the fastest, most natural form of transportation that the Ixionians had. But sometimes, even the fast flight of the Ixionians could not prevent tardiness.

It just so happened that one day, Marya's baby brother Keely had caught an illness, and it had passed to their mother. Their mother was meditating, floating several feet above ground and twisted in a position known as the Healing Knot, a rather uncomfortable-looking pose. She requested that Keely be knotted up in the same position. Marya and Misha were the girls for the job, since two of their other sisters were already in their school and their only other sister was showing symptoms of the illness and had been twisted in the position herself.

The whole charade had taken so long (Keely was not keen on getting forced into a shape more painful than the Real Pretzel) that when Marya and Misha looked through their window, they saw that the "traffic" of the morning had subsided to a lazy, lulling beat.

"We'll be late for Education!" Misha shouted. Marya had already thrown herself at the window and made a break for it. Misha soon imitated her sister.

Both of them hurtled to their school as fast as they could and were allowed to fly, but it wasn't enough. The school gates closed behind the last few non-tardy students. Marya and Misha were locked outside the educational center's gates with nobody but a few other late kids for company. Soon they were the only ones. The rest of the tardy ones gave up on the gate guards letting them go in and flew away, as they cared somewhat less about Education.

Marya and Misha, though, persisted, and begged to be let into the school. They banged on the gates, they threatened to call the authorities, they threatened to cost the gate guards their jobs, and they threatened to fly over the gates. Flying over school gates was easily possible, but it was often considered a high insult on the educational center's gate guards or head of the Center himself.

The gate guards then radioed the head of the Center, telling him to open the gates for a little, and that two female students would be in to see him. Marya and Misha showed their student identification cards, and the gates opened shortly after that. Marya and Misha walked through them, flanked by the gruff gate guards.

"You're to report right to the head of the Center," growled one of the guards. "And we will know if you don't."

The two had no intention of not going to the head man's office. They marched straight to the door of the head's Office and saw the head of the Center standing in front of it, waiting for them.

The head of the Center was a tall, intimidating man. He was the tallest Ixionian in the district. His voice was so deep that it sounded like a low rumble when he spoke. He was called Sir Miratth even by his closest friends and family, since his first name, Kevin, was taken from another planet. It was very hard to pronounce and just about impossible to spell in Marya's language.

Sir Miratth was so tall he had to tilt his head almost all the way down to get the girls in his sight line. "Come into my office." His voice was so rough that the sisters could hardly understand him. The Ixionian language was not supposed to be spoken roughly; it was a fluid and graceful language. So the two stood there mutely, shifting around, until Marya plucked up the courage to respond.

"Excuse me, sir?"

Sir Miratth just sighed, conveying the message that this gravelly voice of his was an affliction. He opened the door, and the twin sisters got the message. They entered and stood before his desk.

"So," said Sir Miratth, closing the door behind them and striding to his desk, "do you girls have a legitimate reason for your lateness?" He kept his voice as clear as possible. "And don't lie. I'll know." Sir Miratth would know. The Ixionians' fine instincts were all well and good for the things they had been acquired for, but they could also be useful for more modern things, like telling lie from truth.

Misha and Marya inclined their heads. "Do trust us, Sir Miratth. We have no intention of telling falsehoods," assured Misha. "Our youngest sibling was ill, and we had to stay late to care for him."

The girls were then fixed with Sir Miratth's famous lie-detecting stare. They wanted to shrink and cower but they held firm under the strain. Finally, after a long period of time that seemed to stretch for years, Sir Miratth released his gaze.

"I accept your explanation, but the fact remains that you have missed almost the entire duration of your first classes. During break, you will report to the Atrium and receive tutoring on the lesson given in the class today. This tardiness will also sully your records. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. You may now leave. If you hurry you will still be able to get a little information out of your class."

The girls did not hesitate, but turned around and left, closing the door behind them. They tried to look offhand as they did it while there was nothing more they wanted at the time than to get away from there. Once they were outside in the hall, Marya slumped against the left wall and Misha against the right. "Let's not have a repeat of that ever," they said simultaneously.

"Right," Marya declared, "now that we've got that settled, I think I'll be off to Philosophies." She gave a sigh. It was well known that she did not like her Philosophies teacher, Lady Tarske.

"And I'll go to Lady Kraalch's Sciences," Misha contributed. Misha happened to like both her teacher and the subject. "We'll meet again in History." Marya and Misha were in the same history class.

The two parted ways. Marya opened a door at the end of the hallway and disappeared behind it, while Misha hurried along the corridor and took another door. So they were gone, off in school, gleaning all the knowledge they could in the last few minutes before the bell rang.

The bell rang ten minutes after they had gotten into their respective classes. The students piled out of their classrooms in disorderly heaps, Marya and Misha among them. The sisters found each other in the crowd, and rode the sea of people to history class.

Their history teacher was none other than an overenthusiastic, hyperactive man known as Sir Miq. Sir Miq certainly knew all the things he had to teach, and he did teach them. The only problem was that nobody understood what he was saying when he did. His speech was slurred from excitement.

"Okay-class-now-get-situated-we-have-a-lot-to-cover-today," said Sir Miq all in one go. "We-are-going-to-talk-about-the-history-of-the-Ixionian-instinct," he then added in the same manner. "Get-seated-get-seated," he prompted. Sir Miq, unlike most of Marya's teachers, was so chronically excited that he hadn't bothered to give assigned seating. There was always at least one argument between boys that wanted to sit next to a pretty girl.

"There-we-go-that's-all-better-eh?" slurred Sir Miq five whole minutes later, once every disturbance had been smoothed out. "Now-sit-tight-and-listen. The-instincts-of-the-Ixionian-people..."

It was just a typical history lesson. Sir Miq talked a blue streak far too fast, and his students hung onto his words as hard as they could. They got as much information out of him as they could, and left his class promptly at the dismissal bell.

At the door, the sisters went their separate ways. After their history class, they did not meet again until after school.

"Primal Skills for me," Misha announced.

"Strategizing Skills for me," replied Marya. "I think Lady Hopha's going to let us play with weapons."

Misha smiled longingly. "I can't wait." Misha had Lady Hopha at a different time. "That'll be a real blast. Tell me how it goes." Misha then waved good-bye to her sister and started to fly, fly down the hallway and to her Primal Skills class. Marya stood watching her sister go, then ran the opposite way up several flights of stairs to the very large room that was the Strategizing Skills classroom.

There were several reasons all the Strategizing Skills classrooms were so big. The first reason was that as many students as possible were assigned to the same Strategizing Skills class. The second reason was that every so often, the teacher of the class scheduled a Weapons Wielding day. He would bring up weapons from the armory, get some professional supervision, and let the students have their fun all around the classroom, and it helped if the classroom was bigger. The Ixionian teenagers were trusted much more than their Earthling counterparts.

On that particular day, as Marya ventured through the educational center, different classes all through the school were having Weapons Wielding days. Marya was lucky enough to be in a class that got the weapons.

As soon as Marya stepped through the door, she was seized and pulled bodily into the classroom. She knew who was pulling her. "Rette, let me go," Marya said dully.

Marya was released. She fell back onto the floor, looking up into the face of her friend Rette Jamqan. Rette was looking back, grinning impishly. Her beautiful black hair seemed to fly in the windless room, and her large, soulful eyes sparkled with life.

"What was that for?" demanded Marya, pushing herself up.

"It's a Weapons Wielding Day," Rette told her excitedly. "I'm so excited I feel just like Sir Miq." She danced about Marya's head. "Lady Hopha says the weapons have gotten here already. She just wants to wait until class begins."

When the bell rang a minute later, Rette could have run the marathon in a second. She screamed, jumped, and flew loop-the-loops, always crying, "It's time! It's time for Weapons Wielding day! I'm so excited I could die!" She grabbed Marya and hugged her so tightly that Marya felt herself shrink.

From the front of the class, Lady Hopha called sharply, "Miss Rette Jamqan! That's enough of that. You will not receive your weapons until everybody else has. If you do that even one more time, you will not receive weapons at all. This Educational Center is under no obligation to let you even touch one."

Rette quieted.

"All right. Now that Miss Jamqan has decided to silence herself," Lady Hopha reminded everyone, "it's time to start the day's activities. As many of you know, today in this class it is Weapons Wielding Day. You will be given weapons from the center armory, and as you experiment with them you will be heavily supervised. The supervisors are going to be arriving very soon. But before you even lay a fingertip on a blade, there are a few rules that it is imperative for you to know." Lady Hopha paused to put extra worth on her words. "There is to be absolutely no attacking of another student. None. As I've said you will be heavily supervised and we will know right away if you are committing that transgression, or any other ones. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, Lady Hopha." It was obvious that half the class, including Rette, hadn't heard her. They were too anxious to wield the weapons.

Marya saw Lady Hopha just sigh to herself. The lady knew her class hadn't heard her. "Miss Jamqan, would you like to repeat what I've just said?" called Lady Hopha. Of all the students, Rette Jamqan had paid the least attention to the lady's words, and everyone knew it.

"We can playfight now?" said Rette mistily.

"No, little missy," snapped Lady Hopha, "that's just what I've been telling you not to do. You will not be wielding a weapon today, Miss Jamqan!"

Rette was so excited to be wielding a weapon that she didn't register what Lady Hopha had said, though the rest of the class did. They gasped in horror, whispered and pointed. Marya elbowed Rette and said, "Rette, didn't you hear Lady Hopha? You're not..."

There was a knock at the door.

Rette jumped into the air and started flying and chanting. "It's the supervisors!" she squealed. "Aren't we going to have such fun, Marya, when we start playing?" Rette had not even noticed that the only noise in the classroom was coming from her. Everyone else, including Marya, had gone deadly silent.

"Miss Jamqan." It was Lady Hopha's silencing voice. Rette was quiet, her excitement subdued. "You will not be wielding a weapon today due to your unseemly behavior and disregard for myself and your fellow students! I will not be repeating myself again. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, Lady Hopha." Rette's voice resonated with shattered hope and disappointment.

"You will leave this class and report to the Atrium. There you will write an essay on the rich history on the weapons being brought here today. Do you understand?"

"Yes, Lady Hopha."

"Go now, then. I shall have one of the assistant supervisors accompany you down to make sure you arrive." Lady Hopha floated, soundless, to open the door for the Weapons Supervisors.

"Greetings, kind sirs...and lady," added Lady Hopha with a hint of surprise. "Welcome to my Strategizing Skills class. These are my students," she said, beckoning to the class, who gave a formal welcoming gesture. "Kind sir," she continued, indicating the leader, "please speak to the class about the proper conduct. And might the assistant escort my student here to the Atrium?" She indicated Rette, whose head was hanging low with a curtain of black hair on her face.

Without a word, a very young male took center stage, offered Rette his arm (which she had little choice but to take), and flew out the door with her in tow.

As the head supervisor began to talk to the students about proper care of the weapons and how to handle them, all of them began to get restless. They wanted to hold the weapons and just start the action, but the head supervisor had no such reservations. He talked on and on. His rant finally ended when a young girl in the class, who Marya knew as Zhouia, spoke up, saying, "Many pardons, Daddy, but can we start now?"

"Zhouia! You're in this class? Never mind," the head supervisor said hurriedly, as Zhouia began to reply. "I had no...I'm sorry, students. I think I've told you enough for your safety. Thank you, Zhouia, for reminding your forgetful father that youngsters dislike, go pick your weapons, and remember, be safe. Now, Zhouia..." The supervisor, young Zhouia's father, pulled his daughter aside while everyone else swamped the weapons. Marya ended up with a set of fans.

"Fans?" she muttered to herself. "How did fans end up here?" The fans, admittedly, were quite large, but they looked delicate and too beautiful to cause much harm.

"I know what you're thinking," said a voice from behind her. Marya turned around and saw the only female supervisor behind her. "You're wondering what in the world fans can do as weapons. You're wondering why they're not in a Decoration Hall." On Ixions, fans were decoration for the most part, with a fan show every year. In the fan shows, people decorated fans lavishly in hopes for first prize.

"Well, yes," Marya said bemusedly.

"These fans are ancient, back in the chaotic times when people used anything, anything to fight off an enemy. You won't learn about fans as weapons until next year. As for now," the supervisor said, taking the fans from Marya, "let me show you how to use them."

The supervisor was taking the fans from Marya one second and dancing with them the next. She looked graceful yet dangerous. She seemed even more so when she added sparks of her Ixionian power sparks to it.

Ixionian energy sparks were tricky little things. They were as clear as a drop of water, and split the light into many little rainbows. However, they were much more dangerous than water, capable of quick knockout. They added both beauty and more danger. She kicked and flew across the room, dancing with the fans. Then she hurtled across the room so fast she was just a blur with sparkles of powerful energy trailing after her. Marya called her move a "rush."

At last the supervisor stopped and gave Marya her fans back, to much applause from the class at her performance. "Wield them well, my child," she said breathlessly. Marya reclaimed the fans and looked them over in a new light.

For the rest of the class period, Marya replayed the supervisor's technique in her head and imitated it as best she could. By the end of the class, she had perfected the rush with her fans.

"You're a really adept fighter," complimented the female supervisor, seeing her flawless rush. "Maybe you could go into war." They both smiled. Ixionian girls never went into war unless there was absolutely no other Ixionian boy for the job. "But seriously. You're good, no denying that. Where'd your prowess come from?"

"I've always had an interest in fighting. I consider it sort of an art," Marya explained. "I've also had great Strategizing Skills and Ixionian Skills Management mentors. They've been wonderful."

"I see," commented the supervisor interestedly. She was about to speak again, but the bell rang, signaling the end of class. All around her, Marya's classmates reluctantly dropped their weapons and flew out of the room for their next class.

"Well, I'd better be off," Marya said, collecting her belongings and starting for the door. "Thank you for your time, Lady..."

"I'm Lady Svengcok."

"Thank you for your time, Lady Svengcok." Marya gave her a smile, waved good-bye, and left.

For the rest of the day, Marya did her classwork, learning how to speak a language from the Zhhrkwi Circle of Planets, writing a play in Creativity, foraging for roots in Primal Skills. She did it all, awaiting her last and favorite class of the day. Ixionian Skills Management.

* * * * *


The bell signaling the end of Fitness and Well-being rang at last, releasing Marya from the pompous Fitness mentor, Sir Heyanas. It was time for her long-awaited, favorite class, Ixionian Skills Management. The class was taught by the best teacher Marya had, Sir Anadio.

Marya was not the only one in Sir Anadio's final class going as fast as she could to it. She saw Zhouia, her Strategizing Skills classmate, flying to it, and her Primal Skills classmate Mikalo sprinting towards it. They all loved Sir Anadio and his subject.

Sir Anadio's subject, Ixionian Skills Management, was widely known to be the most well-liked subject of all the students. It was the only one where the Ixionian children were allowed, on a regular basis, to use the full wealth of their powers, as opposed to their regular classes which only permitted flight. They also learned tricks with their power. They learned to turn their energy sparks into fully-fledged energy beams. They learned to change the beams' coloring. They learned how to dance and perform various tricks while airborne. The class also invoked many of the other subjects taught at the educational center, such as Strategizing Skills, History, and Fitness.

Marya, in the meantime, had arrived at Sir Anadio's classroom, piling in along with all the rest of his last-period students. Here she was, at the best place to end the school day, bouncing back and forth, up and down in eager anticipation.

"Good afternoon, class!" called Sir Anadio. He got back an enthusiastic gush of greeting from all his students. "Y'all ready for today's lesson?"

The resounding shouts were all the answer he needed.

"Okay. You're all an enthusiastic class. Just wait until you hear what you're going to be learning today." He paused for dramatic effect. "Encasement."

The class was silent. They had hardly heard of Encasement and were eager for enlightenment on the subject.

"Encasement is the first step to the highly refined art of levitation," Sir Anadio lectured. "Once you have managed Encasement, we will move on to levitation itself. Encasement is the process of trapping an Object in a tight-fitting space made of your own power energy. Watch me. I will use the crate over there as my Object of Encasement." He indicated a sad-looking, small crate in the corner of the room. "Last week," he continued, talking his students through the process, "I taught you how to change the colors of your energy beams. I will use colored beams to make it easier for you to see the Encasing."

Sir Anadio stood back, speaking to his class all the while. "The first step is to do as you normally do when releasing beams. Power up." Sir Anadio's hands sparked with beautiful blue energy. "But when Encasing, it's not just beams. You have to control them." Sir Anadio released his beams carefully. He stopped their progress when they had almost reached the crate. "Remember you have full control over your hand beams. Remembering that makes it easier to start warping the ends of the beams, and that's just what you have to do. Now, to begin warping them. Concentrate heavily on them. Will them with all your might to change shape." The class watched, enthralled, as the end of their teacher's hand beams started to wobble, changing into a large, complex shape with the exact dimensions to Encase the crate safely and comfortably. The next thing they knew, Sir Anadio pushed the beams forth, and the crate was snugly inside its Encasement.

The class jumped up in wonder, exclaiming over Sir Anadio and applauding him. "Teach us to do it! Teach us, Sir Anadio!"

Sir Anadio smiled. "I thought you'd say that. So, I brought enough things to Encase for all my classes." He opened a case standing nearby, and out spilled every object imaginable. Dinner plates, decorative fans, a bookshelf, a potted plant; they all fell out of the case. None of the students even thought about how they fit inside the case, though. They were too eager to start their Encasing work.

Marya, as she'd hoped, ended up with the decorative fans. She got situated next to Zhouia, her Strategizing Skills classmate, and awaited further instruction from Sir Anadio.

She didn't have long to wait. "Is everybody ready to begin?" he called soon enough. "Okay. Clear one! Do as I told you to. Begin by releasing hand beams gently." Marya followed his direction, clear sparks dancing around her fingers. "Stop the beams before they reach the crates!" called Sir Anadio. For some, his call had come too late.

There was a terrifying exploding sound and a burst of light and smoke. Without hesitation, Marya dispelled her hand beams and picked up her fans. She flew to the explosion, waving them madly. She had noticed in Strategizing Skills class that fans were the perfect shape for channeling air in such a way, though on Ixions they were rarely used that way. But they did work, and soon enough the smoke and light cleared, revealing a very frightened Ename Wykmyn and the remains of her Object, which was aflame.

Sir Anadio, who had already flown over, was both comforting Ename and explaining what had gone on. "It is very often that those beginning the difficult subject of Encasement pack too much power at the ends of their hand beams, and stop them too late. The result is one that is enviable in combat, but very undesirable in the study of Encasement." With that, Sir Anadio disposed of Ename's object and gave her another.

After the chaos had been resolved, Sir Anadio picked up his lesson where it had abruptly ended. "Resume your work, my children. Conjure your hand beams, and extend them until they are almost touching your object."

As before, Marya extended her hand beams until they were millimeters away from her fans. "Then," continued Sir Anadio, "it is time to warp. The hardest part about warping to Encase is how you have to tone down the temperature of your hand beams at the end to ensure that your Object does not burn. You must will it so. Bring nothing but cold on nothing but the end of your Object." The room fell quiet, with no sound but the struggling students bringing down the temperatures of the ends of their beams. Soon enough, Sir Anadio broke the silence.

"All right. Sufficient time has been allotted for your beams to cool enough. Now begin to form a shape to encase your Object with!"

Marya opened her eyes and stared as hard as she could at the ends of her beams. She willed the ends of the beams to morph, and she visualized a cubic box for them to morph into.

She was staring so hard that her eyes went blank and she didn't notice the hand beams wobble and bubble, hardening into a somewhat lopsided shape that wasn't at all cubic. It wasn't cubic, but it was better than what any of her classmates had made so far.

Marya remained lost in a daydream until she was shaken out of it by a scream. "Look at her!" shouted Zhouia, who had given up trying to Encase at Marya's side. "Look at what she's doing!"

It took Marya a few seconds to realize Zhouia was talking about her. She looked at her hands, then she gave a scream herself. "What have I done?" she cried. "It's supposed to be cubic!"

Sir Anadio (with most of the class on his tail) hurried over to see what the disruption was about. Upon hearing Marya's shout, he replied, "It's the best one I've seen all day! Quick, push it into your Object!"

Marya, still fretting about her hand beams' shape, nevertheless did as she was told. The fans were locked inside her hand beams, unscathed and safe.

The class erupted into applause just as they had for Sir Anadio. They whooped and screamed and paraded around her. They called her a genius and a super talent.

Then they fell silent, watching in awe as Marya performed again.

Marya closed her eyes. When she opened them again, they were sparking with the same energy coming from her hands. Nobody saw it really happening. But soon enough, Marya yanked her hands upward, and her beams and her Encased fans flew up in the air.

"She's levitating!"

Marya brought down the fans gently on the other side of the room, using nothing but her hand beams. Then she released the fans from their Encasement with all eyes on her.

The final bell rang.

"Um...I reckon I'll go now," Marya addressed them awkwardly. She gathered up her belongings on a nearby table and flew out the door before anyone had a chance to talk to her about things. She didn't stop flying at her highest speed until she reached the large, spiky rock where she met her sister every day after school and flew home from.

Misha turned up much later than she generally did, panting and looking exhausted.

"What took you?" demanded Marya. "Mother wants us home to help her and Keely out of their Healing Knots."

Misha didn't answer until she had her breath back, and she didn't get her breath back until they had started flying home, and were already halfway to their destination. Marya bugged her all the way, the result being that, when Misha finally spoke, Marya completely missed it.

"Misha, I swear, if you don't tell me right now I'll attack you. Don't make me do that. Why were you late? Mother is not going to be happy, she said she wanted us home by...half an hour ago! If you don't tell me, I won't just attack you. I'll sit here in the air and bind you to me, and Mother's going to get both you and me, but I'll have the fact that she got you too as a consolation prize..."

"I was late because they were talking about you up and down the school," Misha finally said breathlessly.

"...I'll tell Father, and the world will know that you made us late for home and the world will not like to be interrupted with news like that, news that has no significance in their lives, and..."

"Didn't you hear me?" Misha demanded, her voice slightly stronger. "Didn't you? I said I was late because everyone was talking about you! They caused standstills in the air, even, if you can get that!"

Marya heard that, and it stopped her cold. "They were?" she said blearily. "What did they say? Why?"

"They were all about something that happened in your Ixionian Skills Management class, or whatever," replied Misha. "You could master Encasing and Levitation, and you're going to usurp Sir Anadio." She had a little smile playing around her mouth when she said the last bit.

"Well...I'm not going to usurp Sir Anadio. He's the best, not me. Who's saying that stuff about me?" Marya gave an uncomfortable spin. "Gossip."

"Come on." Misha edged up to her sister. "Aren't you good at Encasing? And levitation?"

"I'm okay."

"Okay? Not by what the flying rumors are saying about you. Can I see if they're true? Levitate that mossy rock down there."

"I don't have to do it just because you want me to, little sis."

"If you don't, I'll just sit down in the air and bind you to me, and when we're late Mother's going to get you and me, but I'll have consolation in that she got you too..."

Marya smiled in spite of herself. Misha was grinning too. "Okay. But just since you're so persistent." Within the minute, the mossy rock Misha had been indicating was hovering in the air next to them.

"Shoot. I couldn't even get through a round of that without burning my Object," she said in awe. "And we weren't going to start Levitation for another week and you've gotten that down!"

Marya relinquished her control over the rock and let it fall back down to where it had come from.

"We'd better get home. We've already wasted enough time," said Marya hurriedly. "I can take care of Mom and Keely and Lirie. As for can go off and learn proper Encasement."

Misha shot her with energy sparks all the way home.

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