QBBS Meredith Reynolds, Alpha Class Dormitory

There were mixed feelings in the Alpha class dorm.

The kids surrounded Nestor, who would be leaving them for the semester, and Yana. Their separate assignments had come as a shock to the Wechselbalg cousins, Maxim especially. He and Nestor were closer than brothers, and had expected to get into the fighter group together. None of the kids wanted to be separated from the rest of their team.

Maxim was grumbling as he packed his belongings.

As always, Yana took charge. “Cheer up,” she said stoically. “It is only for six weeks. You get to stay with the Guardians, and John Grimes will be your mentor, Maxim. John Grimes!” She sighed wistfully at the thought of the Queen’s Right Hand.

Maxim blushed. “It is good, da. I will be learning from the best. It is honor to me—and to my father—to be chosen. But I will miss my brother from another mother.” He squeezed Nestor’s shoulder.

“I agree with Yana. Six weeks is not long to be apart,” Nestor declared. “I am almost a little jealous you get to take advanced combat with him, but I will become an ace pilot. So like you say, is good.”

Tina giggled and pretended to gag. “All right, give it a rest. It’s weird seeing you people swoon over my Uncle John. Who did you get, Yana?”

Yana’s regal face brightened when she tapped her tablet to reveal her own assignment. “I have been placed with your mother to learn leadership and management skills. How wonderful! What about you? You too, Ron…who did you get?”

“Jean Dukes,” they said at the same time. It was their turn to blush. The whole team erupted into fits of giggles.

“Oooh, our lovebirds get to stay together!” Yana trilled.

Ron spluttered, his face turned beet-red, and he made a big deal of looking at his tablet screen. Tina laughed Yana's teasing off. It was an open secret that she and Ron had become close—especially since the meeting of their minds now turned into a meeting of their lips whenever the adults weren't looking.

Ron looked up from his tablet, embarrassment forgotten. “Jean's class is going to be awesome. Look here—planning and application of resources, bootstrapping, the practical applications of engineering. Wait, that can’t be right… There’s no PT anywhere on my schedule this semester. I love this school!”

“What?” Yana held her hand out for Ron’s tablet. “No way!” She checked her own after confirming it was true. “I have regular training scheduled. I’m going to miss being with you all so much. I haven’t made many friends outside our team.”

“You could always request to come with us,” Tina said.

Yana shook her head. “No. Who would take care of Bai Hu if I went to the other side of the station? You know he’ll only let me or Guardian Commander Silvers near him. He needs me. Besides, I’m looking forward to a quiet semester. It was scary being shot at by the Mongolian and Chinese armies, and it was worse not being able to fight back. I need time to train.”

“I’ll come train with you, even though I get a pass this semester too,” Tina offered. “If I have time, that is. It’s weird that we get a pass when the administrators have just put all the new fitness requirements in place. How are we going to meet them if we don’t train?”

“What if it’s because Ms. Dukes will have us doing hard labor all semester?” Ron piped up from across the room, where he was pulling his shoes out of his locker. “You know that her R&D department is in charge of transforming all the stuff BMW comes up with into reality.

Yana interjected, “We’d better get going, or we’ll be late for breakfast.”

They all agreed on that, grabbing their tablets and exiting the dorm in a noisy rush.