Disclaimer: Boy, is it good to be writing again! Just a quick note, all of everything in SotL is mine, meaning I thought of it all, so if you want to use the characters or something, please try asking me first.

AN: just to let you know, anything written in italics (EX: blah) are the person's thoughts, and anything in italics inside the arrow-thingies (EX: blah) is mind speech. Hopefully you'll get used to it.

AN: Tham's name is pronounced "TAM."

Chapter One: The Beginning

Rolling through the dull metal threshold on the wheels on the soles of her shoes, Fin hugged herself in glee. School was over! She was free for the summer! Fin half walked, half skipped down the dreary hall to the pressure shaft, and stepped in.

Her stomach shot upwards as she fell, her speed controlled by the pillows of air that rose and fell. When she reached the bottom floor of Edu Hall, -the main building of Z.A., where all the classes were held- she sauntered into the juice bar.

"Hey Fin!"

Urg… What's Tham doing here? Fin inwardly cringed, but she still replied cheerfully, "Hey Tammy-boy! Whatcha doin here?" By now she had reached the counter. "The usual. Oops, forgot you weren't Benedikt. 'The usual' for me is a raspberry smoothie, with a fiber boost."

"Just a moment. The regular guy –did you say his name was Benedikt?- got sick, so your dad gave me the day off to fill in for him," Tham said as he mixed the smoothie. "Here ya go! $2.50, please."

Fin took the smoothie and began sucking on the straw in a fashion that, when done with the correct flip of the hair in the face of the correct boy, made him turn suddenly red in the face, and his eyes go a bit glazed. Then she juggled it and her shoulder bag while trying to fish her money out of her back pocket and handed it to Tham. "See ya, Tammy-boy!" she sung with a wink as she skated out the door. Executing a graceful yet showoff-y turn on the edges of her wheels, she rolled out the main door and leapt down the steps. More than one male head turned and watched her retreating backside as she continued across the school grounds.

Fin thought about her last class of the year as she slurped her smoothie and skated across the courtyard that led to her dorm building, Chalrey Hall. Leaping up the steps, pausing for a moment to sniff the vibrant purple roses, Fin walked to the end of the quickly diminishing line for the pressure shaft. Whipping out her contact mirror, she checked her hair (a natural red, cut short as a boy's and spiked with glittery gel) and the medium blue eyeliner lining her wide amber eyes. Then she snapped it shut, stuffed it into her shoulderbag, and stepped into the pressure shaft.

This time, her stomach rocketed downwards as it approached her top floor dorm, reserved for the roommates with the top average scores on the previous year's final exams. Fin smiled smugly as she noted with satisfaction that she and her roommate Taijaura Dyosos had occupied the room for four years straight, ever since Fin's second year at the Academy. She slowed to a stop at the top of the pressure shaft, and hung there in midair until she stepped forwards through what was known to students as the 'portal.' Fin had barely taken two steps on the shiny marble floor when a small tan blur leapt onto her head. "Tali!"

Tali was Fin's six-year-old pet capuchin monkey. Fin had adopted Tali five years ago (year 4976), when her mother was killed by poachers, and they shared a strong special bond, so Fin could understand when Tali chattered at her as plainly as if she was another human being.

"What is it, Tali?" queried Fin as she pried the monkey off her head.

The curly brown boy you like-a come back-back-back, make Taijy friend very-very-very sad. Taijy friend gonna cry, gotcha come now!

"What? Zannon's back?"

Yah, buttee make Taijy friend very sad crybaby! Yoogotta come now! A concerned look on her face, Fin hitched up her shoulder bag and took the three steps past the potted tree (she really must get around to watering that) and the room's previous occupant's painting of the cantering horse. Stopping in front of the door with the two nameplates reading Taijaura Dyosos & Seraphina Gami, she fumbled in her bag for her key, grinning when Tali leapt onto her shoulder and brandished it in her face.

"Thanks Tali." Fin unlocked the door and dropped her bag down on the narrow sofa she and Taijaura had put near the door. Tali leapt off Fin's shoulder and onto her jungle gym (the object that took up the rest of the almost-living room), just before Fin barged through the white door that led to their bedroom, stopping short when she caught sight of the inmates.

Zannon –Fin's boyfriend, and Taijaura's twin brother- was sitting next to Taijaura, his arm around her. He looked rather pale, despite his rather dark tan, but what hit Fin was that Taijaura was crying, her nose and eyes red with big tears running down her cheeks.

"Omigosh! Taij, what's wrong?" Fin asked as she ran to the bed and sat down on Taijaura's other side. "Zannon? What happened?" As an afterthought, she added, "By the way, welcome back."

"Thanks." Zannon tilted Taijaura's head back to look her in the eyes. "You gonna be alright? Cause I have to go check my hoverbike, I heard some weird noises on my way back from the outpost."

"I … I think so," faltered Taijaura. "You go take care of it, I'll tell Fin, and she can help me … can help me ac-accept it."

"All right, but buzz me if you need anything; Missy Uruquar excused me from all my classes today. Love you." He turned to leave, and was followed by Fin after she exchanged a glance with Taijaura that told her it was okay to do so. Once outside in the almost-living room, they sat on the couch.

"I missed you," said Fin, hugging Zannon. He squeezed her tightly; he'd missed her too, more than he could let her know.

"Me too…"

"I better go talk to Taij, don't want her to even start getting depressed. Is this something really bad?"

"Yeah. Makes me glad we both got accepted here; maybe we -including you in the we- can help."

"Okay. Love you." Fin gave Zannon a peck on the cheek, and then turned and went back through the white door. Zannon stood there for a moment, wishing he could have stayed, but his hoverbike called. He too turned and left the room, heading for the pressure shaft.

Fin stepped into the bedroom, shutting the door softly. She took a moment to just look at her friend, so obviously in emotional pain. She sat down next to Taijaura again, this time putting an arm around her back, trying not to do so in a way that any of the long, flowing blue-black hair could get caught in any random zipper. "Taij? What's wrong?"

Taijaura turned too look at Fin, with tear streaked cheeks. She put up a white hand to rub her ice blue eyes, and then took a deep breath and began talking.

"Oh Fin… Dad's not doing too well, health wise. Millie thought he'd just caught the flu, or pneumonia, so she had Coleson come check him out. Coleson couldn't do anything about it, so they called in the local druid -remember that old guy that's drunk half the time, and can't do anything because they took his license away? Well, he said the disease was lorla-induced, so there's nothing anyone in town can do about it.

"Fin- they think he'll die from it. Normally that wouldn't be a problem, cause he'd just go to the Recar* place and get a new body, but since it's an unnatural illness, they… they can't do that. Fin… unless something's done to cure that disease, whoever sent that lorla can control his soul, and all his knowledge."

*Recar- in every major settlement, there is a Reincarnation Center. Important personages can go there if they have a terminal illness to receive a new body. Patients spend a week there [seven days], while a the center clones a healthy new body for them. However, this only works if it is a biological illness, but if it's the soul that's diseased, the new body will perish even faster than the old one would have.

AN: Hope everyone liked the new story so far. I'm putting myself on a chapter-a-week thing, so there will be a new chapter up every Tuesday, since Mondays are good for me to type and post the chapters. Also, until Chapter 9, pretty much the same events will be happening. There are differences, but I decided it'd be too much trouble to completely change the story. Plus I'm just lazy. Anyways, please send a review or an e-mail to flamester99 . Thanks!