Chapter 1d: What is This Place, and Why Won’t This Line Move?
Amelia Longmire was worried. When Callum told her that he was just going to cut in line, she tried to stop him. He was going to get in trouble, right? And with that accent, she wasn’t sure he could talk his way out of it!
She stood in the line. It didn’t move. Registration must take a while, she thought. She once again took out the map printed on the back of the brochure. It was just as useless as before. It showed the Clocktower facing the ocean, and didn’t even mention the Wall at all. Now that she looked closer, though, she realized that she should have known it was wrong – even the photo on the other side proved that. The map had the Arena right next to the Clocktower, but the photo clearly showed that it was barely visible in the background. She shook her head and put the brochure back in what she liked to think of as her Inventory.
She started to plan what she would say to the…person…she was standing in line to see. She realized that she didn’t actually know who it was, but didn’t want to bother the person standing in line in front of her. He was obviously lost in his own thoughts, and probably wouldn’t appreciate the interruption.
Her stomach growled, and she took out a small container of carrot sticks and tried to eat them unobtrusively. She hoped the crunching wasn’t bothering anybody.
The line still hadn’t moved. The sun was beginning to sink below the horizon. A ship of some kind flew high overhead and made its way down to the north end of the Island. She felt the little thrill again, and made up her mind (for the third time that day) that she would ask to add Engineering classes to her schedule. The captain of the transport she rode to Earth on was so nice! She’d never been on a starship of any kind before, but he showed her around and told his crew to answer her reasonable questions (he emphasized that, for some reason). Amelia had been smitten with the Engineering compartment on the tiny ship. It just felt nice!
It was starting to get dark, and she was getting very worried. What would happen if she didn’t finish her registration (or whatever) today? Then it hit her: this must be a Decision Point! She had to make a decision! Did she stand here and wait for them to tell her what to do, or did she, in desperation, cut the line and accept the consequences? As soon as she had this thought, she felt foolish. Would Mogo from the World in Peril series have just stood here all day? No, of course not! She was a Main Character! And wasn’t that what Amelia was here to learn to be?
Sufficiently psyched-up, Amelia stepped out of line and, with barely any hesitation, trotted through the open door past the line of poor, patient Student hopefuls. She paused briefly when she saw the sensor beam sweep over her, but, since it didn’t affect her in any way, she quickly joined the shorter line right up at the teller’s desk. There was a plaque above it, telling her that the Dean of Admissions was named Dennery Molesalot. She thought this was slightly unnecessary, since it was obvious that he was a moleman. The name was a bit much, but, she supposed, he probably couldn’t help it. Most likely an old, honorable, family name or something.
As she stood waiting for the two people ahead of her to finish up, she constructed a whole family history to go with the name. By the time she had gotten to the front of the line, she had changed her mind about it entirely. Anyone whose ancestors had dug the first runs and galleries of the great underground City of Urd and almost single handedly (paw-edly?) fought off the deadly Vulpine Invaders through cunningly designed burrow-traps deserved special respect, in her opinion.
She finally stepped up to the counter. As she was about to open her mouth, the Dean said “Miss…Longmire, is it? Yes, I have your packet here. I’m afraid you’re the last Student to come through today, so there’s only the one room left available to you. Not to worry, though. Amara and Boris are Good Eggs, as they say.” He had a posh accent, like some nature documentarian. It was kind of nice, and reminded Amelia of Callum for some reason, though she had no trouble understanding the Dean.
She almost blurted out congratulations on his family’s many victories before she caught herself. “Um, Mr…err… Dean? I wanted to ask you something.” It was a good thing she’d practiced talking to people in the mirror! She was proud of how steady her voice sounded.
The Dean, who had been collating her Welcome Packet (the last of a long day) with relief, blinked at the statement. “Yes, Miss?”
“I wondered if IcouldaddanotherMajor and registerformoreClasses!”
Dean Molesalot pondered briefly, then, with barely suppressed annoyance, said “You wish to add Classes at this late juncture?” At Amelia’s nod, he continued: “Very well. Fill this in, please, while I ready your new packet.”
Amelia took the pad and quickly typed in her request to add Engineering as a second Major. She decided to drop the CGI course this Term and added Transportation Technology in its place, thinking it sounded nice and general. She hoped she wouldn’t have any trouble keeping up. She’d played with computers her whole life, but vehicles of any kind were practically exotic to her.
The Dean took the pad back and looked it over before giving a slightly undignified grunt and placing one huge, be-taloned thumb over the scanner at the bottom. A few keystrokes later, and he gathered the new papers together, turned one baleful eye to Amelia, and put them in an envelope. “Your packet, Miss. Good evening.” He hit a button beneath the desk, and the window slammed shut. Amelia was left standing in a large, darkening building with no idea what to do next.
She opened her packet and looked. There was her newly updated Class schedule, a holofilm that appeared to be a map, and some directions on how to get food and student identification. The main bulk turned out to be some information on the college’s history, and some expired coupons to some restaurants, presumably located in Town.
She shook her head and went to find her dormitory.