Chapter 2: Reflections
Sage walked through the Halo Hall in a daze as she kept replaying what had taken place in the café over and over. Seeing Vivica helpless in the air had made her smile, and when she run away… “I really did laugh at that,” she whispered. “Why didn’t I see that?” Growing up with her skill in energy manipulation had gotten her a fair amount of jealous starlings, but she’d never used it to force others to do anything or made them cry on purpose. Vivica’s accusations of nearly breaking her arm by hurling her down the hallway her first day rang in her ears. The thought that she was simply lying did occur to her, but something in her heart told Sage that it wasn’t a lie.
As she entered the flash vertical mover Sage sagged back against the wall. “I have to do something,” she whispered. Vivica had told her to forget even seeing her in the restroom, but that just wasn’t the kind of girl Sage was. “I’ll make things right Vivica, I promise.” When the doors hissed open, Sage moved out into the brightly lit halls of the Little Dipper Dorm. She passed a few girls in the hall and absently nodded to them, finally stepping up to the door to her pod. Automatically she placed her hand to the scanner.
“Welcome Sage,” the electronic voice greeted as the tri-part door swished open and closed behind her. Tossing her bag onto one corner of her lavender bed, Sage collapsed onto the plush sheets. She heard her star zap pulse, but couldn’t muster up the will to reach and answer it. Turning over she wiped her eyes with one corner of the sheet and tried to get her thoughts in order. The gentle scent of the Shimmer Flowers on either side of her bed helped her relax a tiny bit, and slowly the tension in her shoulders eased. Closing her eyes, she focused on one of the basic meditation techniques Piper had taught her. Slowing her breathing, she felt her stress as a series of weights pressing on her mind. “One breath, one worry,” she whispered. Trying to shift her thoughts to positive images, she visualized her family, her home and the first time she had ever seen the Crystal Mountains. But as soon as she felt her mood lightening a lash of Vivica flying away down a hallway assaulted her mind, her eyes wide in fear. Sage shot up to a sitting position with a gasp, hand on her heart. “This isn’t working.”
Getting to her feet, she stepped over to her desk and opened her holo-display. A quick swipe of her hand connected her to the star-net, four screens displaying her most common searches and sites. She entered Vivica’s name into her main search program and let the computer do its work. Within seconds her she was frowning as tens of thousands of results flashed into being. “Of course, there’s bound to be more than one girl with her name,” she whispered as she realized she didn’t know what Vivica’s last name was. Asking Vivica herself would mean finding her, and Sage had a feeling that would be easier said than done. Sighing, she switched to pics only and slowly sifted through the sea of images, her eyes slowly drooping. The sudden hissing of her opening door startled her back awake as Libby entered.
“There you are Sage; I’ve been trying to holo-call you for half an hour. I was getting worried,” the pink haired first year said.
“Sorry, I was trying to relax and I set my star-zap to silent,” Sage replied.
Stepping closer, Libby’s eyes focused on Sage’s face and let out a gasp. “Have you been crying?” She asked.
Sage lowered her head and nodded. “Yeah, a bit,” she admitted. “Have a seat,” she motioned to her bed. “Something happened today Libby, and it really made me think. Vivica and I crossed paths in one of the rest rooms earlier.”
“And she started bullying you again? What did she say this time?” Libby frowned.
“No, it wasn’t anything like that,” Sage said. “She was crying when I found her Libby.”
“Vivica crying? Doesn’t seem like her at all,” Libby replied. “She’s usually the one making other girls cry.”
“Let me explain,” Sage held up a hand. “Whenever Vivica’s bullied us, has she ever actually hurt us? Actually injured us?”
“No, unless you count the scratch on Scarlett’s sketch tablet,” Libby answered slowly. “Plus if she ever did that we’d just go straight to Lady Stella and she’d probably kick Vivica out of the school.”
“But we’ve hurt her,” Sage said softly. “When Scarlett had her in the air in the café, she had no control over herself. Can you imagine someone doing that to you, making you hurt and humiliate yourself?”
“Why are you thinking about this Sage? Vivica’s the one who started it when she tried to short out Scarlett’s tablet with that glass of zing.”
“Because I hurt her first,” Sage answered. “You remember when we were leaving Lady Stella’s office and Vivica was waiting outside?” Getting a nod, Sage continued. “I didn’t even mean to do it, but I sent out a pulse of wish energy and threw her down a hallway.”
“So that’s what that noise was,” Libby said, smiling a bit. “Let me guess, she said something happened to her that none of us saw?”
Sage nodded. “She hit three walls and fell down a level of stairs. She ended up with a bruised bone and almost had her arm broken when she landed. Libby, I almost broke someone’s arm. What kind of starling does that make me? What if she HAD broken her arm? I could have been kicked out of school!”
“Sage, deep breaths,” Libby placed a comforting hand on Sage’s shoulder. “I don’t know why Vivica told you a lie like that, but trust me. You could never do something like that.”
“But I did!” Sage shook off Libby’s hand and started pacing from one window to another. “I didn’t see where my energy sent her, but you have to admit it’s at least possible that she was telling the truth.”
“Ok, maybe it is,” Libby said grudgingly. “But even if it is true, you didn’t do it on purpose right? You just let out some energy and it pushed Vivica away. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I know, but it still makes me feel horrible,” Sage said. “I promised myself I’d do something to make it up to her, but the problem is that I know nothing about her. Not even her last name,” she sighed.
Libby was quiet for a long minute as she thought. “If it’ll help you feel better, I guess I can help. Why not just do an image search on her name? When I saw this totally cute guy at the mall one time just as I was leaving I heard one of his friends say his first name. So I took a quick zap pic and put in his name and ZAP, I found him…after about an hour. But it was worth it,” Libby giggled.
“I already tried that,” Sage frowned. “But I don’t have a zap pic of her on hand, and I doubt I’ll run into her again anytime soon. Plus it turns out her name is pretty common. I Wish Vega were here; she’d know some trick to narrow the search.”
“I’ll send her a message if you want,” Libby offered.
“No, I need to find out more before we tell anyone else about this.”
“Let me try something,” Libby said as she sat at Sage’s holo-screen. “I usually search for cute guys, but I DO know a few tricks for finding people on the net.” Libby’s fingers danced over the projected keys with the ease of long practice. “Ok let’s see, searching Vivica, link to PixieZap, add tag Starling Academy. No one can be at this school this long without ending up in at least one zap pic.” With a few more keystrokes Libby leaned back. “Now we let the net do its work.”
The two girls watched as thousands of zap pics flashed across the main screen until several were highlighted and enlarged. “You did it Libby! I can’t believe I didn’t think of something like that.” Sage managed a small smile as she saw pics of Vivica in class, the café and Halo Hall, and in each the same girl with braided crimson hair was at her side, her bright smile a sharp contrast to Vivica’s frowns and turned head. “But none of these say her last name either,” she sighed.
“No, but I know who this girl with her is,” Libby smiled. “She’s in my Wishers 101 class and her name’s Inara. Maybe she can help us. I’ll try and talk to her next class.”
“Thanks for helping Libby,” Sage smiled.
“Hey, it put a smile on your face, so I’m happy to do it. So, now that you’re feeling better, you wanna come watch the rest of the starball game? I hear there’s gonna be a great party after in the Star Quad.”
“No, you go,” Sage replied. “I’m still feeling really drained. I need a nap.”
“Well, ok,” Libby said. “But after you wake up I’m taking you out for some fun!”
“Sounds good,” Sage nodded as she leaned back on her bed and watched Libby leave with a final smile. Closing her eyes, she tried again to calm her mind, and this time she succeeded. Gradually the tension in her muscles went away and she turned her thoughts to Wishworld and what it would be like when she was finally selected to go there.