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The rest of the night Jed spent talking to Amelia to understand what to do a little better. Not many Manifestors were like him, though: others generally didn’t even have a talking Card to help them. So theory classes were important.

Jed learned about luck: it would replenish itself naturally whenever he Evolves. About the other traits as well: mainly, it was Amelia running an ads session about the shop’s [Human Evolution Technique], how it would help to raise his attributes a little more every day. By how much exactly, she didn’t say.

Jed also ran another Revolution before bed, giving the Spirit to Amelia for once. That was the two he got to do each day done. Although his now-12 extra Spirit capacity could be used to buy the [Spades] technique and he could technically do more Revolutions, the boy was tired. He went to bed at 10. His father, thank the lord, wasn’t strict about sleeping late or early.

. . . . .

Jed woke up later than usual. The clock said 7 A.M. when he came to. It was school today. His first day after Manifestation.

There wasn’t anything to be happy about, though. Amelia had forbidden him from revealing what she was. Absolutely brilliant as the secondary world might be, it was better not to let others know in case they would use it against him.

His father said the same thing, although Jed never told Noah about Amelia either. It was just that, well, this singular Card seemed too much of a temptation for any researcher.

So it was likely that his life at school wouldn’t change. The rich kids in my class, Jon, Richie, and Mio, would still either consider it beneath themselves to bully him or find him when they felt bad about themselves. Except, with his Spirit energy, perhaps things would be different?

Jed wasn’t quite so sure.

. . . . .

Kirin School was one of the best in the Jack City, the capital of the Beginning. It was one of the best not in terms of teachers, but rather because its students had gone off-planet—and a lot of them at that. The reason for this was that Jack City was full of the wealthy, many of them having vacation houses in the city while others had simply chosen to live here after they felt in love with how “rustic” everything was.

The city itself wasn’t exactly rustic, of course. It was just a little worn, with a certain charm that came through its age. Like much of the Beginning, the city itself stood during the war that demolished many places.

The result: other places were rebuilt, while Jack City only went through one renovation period—with much of the relics of the past now considered under federal protection as historical landmarks.

The highways were rebuilt, of course, so that vertical transportation and floating horizontal highways were now a common sight. The streets were still quite small, still, only twenty-four lanes each, so that those second-generation rich kids who preferred the newly popular carriages of the Corporation—artefacts that were driven by primordial-beast lookalikes—were unable to find enough space for such. Instatok, one of the older and more popular video-sharing applications on hologram phones, had a consistent flow of complaints and tirades because of this.

Kirin School, as Jack City’s best, was located at the end of one of the vertical highways, such that it seemed to float in the air like a fortress.

Its walls, reinforced with diamond alloys, were tall and sturdy. There were little turrets and castle-like structures to the cardinal corners of the school. That was where most students wanted to be after Manifestation, since it was the place for specialised Manifestor courses for the gifted.

Kirin School was, for the most part, like the best university-preparation schools out there. Its students were arranged such that the youngest were eight-year-olds—with acceptances starting only for those who had received their full Manifestation information—and its oldest were sixteen-year-olds who were preparing for university.

Every year, there’d be a specially accepted group of students—decided, it seemed, on a whim, if not for the fact that this group was always named by the Highest Court of the Federation annually. Jed got in by a stroke of luck: because that year the automatic acceptances went to students of scientist parents.

Nobody had ever complained about such luck, though, because some of the most renowned people in the Federation got to those high-ranking schools by such a stroke of fortune. The Federation, it seemed, had a magical ability to sift out a special group this way, although this announcement only applied to these types of schools.

The normal route of primary, middle, and high schools still existed outside of these places, where students would graduate at eighteen years old instead. The two-year lag was, for some reason or other, always a reason for disdainful looks thrown at such students when they first got to university.

Coming to school today, he felt something different about it. Perhaps it was because he could finally see the Spirit energy floating in the air: the concentration in this place was tens of times higher than at his house in the downtown area of the city.

What he didn’t know (and wasn’t sensitive enough to notice) was that throughout the city, every three streets into the centre of the city, from the First (poorest) in the downtown area to the Hundred-and-Thirty-Fifth in the uptown, the concentration of spirit energy would jump by a factor of ten percent. It didn’t make much difference after one or two of such groups, but after more than thirty such transformations, the Spirit energy in the school was only about as much as, maybe a little more than, the last uptown streets.

Or maybe Jed felt different because of how strange his Card was. Up till now he still hadn’t figured everything out yet. Amelia wouldn’t say, preferring the dumbfounded Jed, with mouth open so wide as to fit a certain something sort of look. Amelia probably didn’t know everything about herself, Jed consoled himself, shook his head, and walked into the campus.

“Oh, hey, Mr. One-Card Wonder, wait up!” Someone with an irritating voice in the middle of puberty called him. It was a girl, his only best friend, Julia Ostof. Her family owned a chain of Card repair services throughout the local solar system, and she, the heiress, was so rich that her house could fit one of the downtown streets in full. She was cool, though, and “money doesn’t make Manifestors” was her favourite alliteration. Pretty she was, although Jed seemed almost immune, his immunity being, perhaps, the reason they were friends in the first place. Of course, she didn’t realise, Jed understood, just how different she looked wearing at least two storage-type Cards (a Manifested necklace and a ring) as well as her clothes. Her only fault was that she sounded like she had a grudge with everybody, probably as a result of being guilt-tripped often by her parents.

Should I be more confident? Jed wondered.

“Hey!” he shouted to her.

“Did you Manifest your one Card? How’d it go?” Julia asked, quite genuine with her deeply interested look. She herself had six different Cards, two of which were concept-type (intelligence being one of the rarest), three abilities (fireballs, darkness domain, water curtain), and one domestic-type (cooking). Her fate was determined to be a Twelve of Clubs by her highest-fated Card, the darkness domain, while her studying ability, well, made him happy for her, to put it with less jealousy.

“I did!” He wanted to share. “But my Card said—”

“Your Card can speak?! Whoops!” She shrieked so loudly that a lot of heads turned. Another shout—”Sorry!”—and the heads still seemed a little dazed. “These hotheads and their hormones, argh!”

“My Card said not to tell anybody until it was necessary,” Jed finished.

“Woah. Can I meet her?”

“Maybe, later,” Jed felt bad, “Sorry. . . .”

“It’s alright. I’ll just know when the time comes.”

And come it would, indeed.

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About the author

Mickey

Bio: Boy from Sydney-Hanoi. Been all over the place and all over the men, too. Settled down now. Hopefully back to writing as a passion.

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