“Is this seat taken?”
Terra startled at the voice and looked up, only for her brain to come to a screeching halt at the sight of the girl with the big, black, scaly wings standing right in front of her. She had a gentle smile on her face as she pointed to the bench.
She blinked for a moment as her brain scrambled to hand her the right words to say.
“O-Oh, uh, yeah!” she exclaimed. And then—“W-Wait, no, I-I mean—Yes, it’s open; no, it’s not taken, I didn’t mean it like that, sorry—”
The girl snorted as she sat. “It’s fine, I got what you meant,” she said. She leaned against the pillar behind them and held out her hand. “I’m Soledad. Nice to meet you.”
Terra hesitated, staring for a moment at the offered appendage, before pulling her sleeves further down and taking it. Her own hand was dwarfed by Soledad’s muscular one; the grip was firm, but not so much for it to hurt. She offered up her own smile in return.
“Terra. It’s nice to meet you, too.”
As Soledad pulled her hand away, she lifted her arms and tucked them behind her head. “This’ll be your first time coming to Camp Schesi, won’t it? Are you excited?”
Eyes widening, Terra’s mouth dropped. “H-How did you…?”
“You look nervous,” Soledad simply replied. “Plus, my sister didn’t act like she’d seen you before. She knows everyone that goes there.”
Terra’s shoulders fell the slightest bit, and she turned away, choosing to stare at the concrete platform beneath them. She leaned back next to Soledad.
“…I think I am,” she softly admitted. “Nervous, I mean. I don’t really know what’s going to happen when we get there.”
“Oh, I can tell you that,” she said, pulling her arms down and back into her lap. “It was in the pamphlet thing they sent us, wasn’t it?”
“Initiation is. Not the rest of the day,” Terra explained. She hunched in on herself. “And… I don’t know anyone else yet.”
Humming, Soledad gently nudged her. “Well, that part’s solved. You know me now! And if you want, you can sit with me and my siblings on the train. My little brother and I are both first years, too, so we can stick together!”
Terra looked at her. “Really?”
Soledad nodded, and a smile started to form on Terra’s face; something behind her eyes flickered, and she curled in on herself.
“I-I don’t know,” she muttered. “I don’t want to get in the way or anything…”
“Nah, don’t worry about it! Mayra’s been real worried about Carlito and I branching out; she’ll be glad to have you join us!”
She held out her hand and flicked her wrist, palm up; there was a flash of light, and Terra recoiled, squeezing her eyes shut. Her hands flew up instinctively to cover her face.
Soledad chuckled before gently tugging them away. “Hey, it’s alright. I’m not gonna hurt you,” she stated. “It’s just my magic, is all.”
Opening one eye at a time, Terra peered over to her lap, where two tiny, glowing figures stood, so still they almost looked like dolls. Soledad scooped them up and showed them to her.
“These are my siblings. I just wanted you to know what they look like in case we get separated,” she explained. “The one with the pigtails and overalls is Mayra, and the one in the sweatshirt is Carlito. These… aren’t exactly perfect, but you get the idea, right?”
The question went unanswered as Terra leaned closer and adjusted her circular glasses. “You… made this,” she muttered.
With a shrug, she flicked her wrist again, and the figures were gone. “Eh, it’s not that great. I’ve been practicing making figures, but it’s harder than it looks. I always get the torsos wrong.” She smirked and patted the sword at her side. “Now weapons… That’s where I shine,” she said. “No pun intended.”
“What do you mean?”
“My magic is making solid objects out of light,” Soledad explained, holding up both hands. In one, she formed a tiny replica of Terra’s shield; in the other, a figure that looked almost like her, though it was a bit too tall and thin. “I used to be way better at it than I am now, but… I fell out of practice for a while. Luckily, I’ll have all the time in the world to perfect it at Schesi.”
Terra carefully held out a finger and poked at the light. Sure enough, instead of phasing through, it felt more as if she’d pressed it against a glass pane that had been sitting in the sun on a summer’s day.
“That’s amazing,” she breathed.
Soledad’s smile slipped from confident into something more soft. Her eyes flicked down to her creation, and then back to Terra. Something in her eyes made the shift, too.
“Thanks,” she murmured. As the light dissolved away, she leaned back again and looked at her curiously. “So… Have you got a magic, too?”
Terra’s stomach dropped.
Someone in the universe must have been watching out for her, because at that moment, there was a long, loud horn blasting in the distance, drawing the attention away. As she flinched and covered her ears, Soledad sat up straight and looked down the tracks.
“Oh hey, the train!” she exclaimed. Scrambling to her feet, she offered her hand to Terra. “Come on, let’s go find my siblings. I think you’ll like them.”
Terra let out a quiet sigh of relief, uncovered her ears, and took the hand of her new friend.