Name: Adelaide Corbin [Nickname: Addy]
Hair: Blonde Eyes: Blue
Age: 16 Style: Punk/Rebel/Rocker
"I'll go," I told my parents. There were tears streaming down both their faces. Our planet, Deranu, was running out of resources. Each family in our Parcel had to choose one of their children to send off to another planet. The only problem with that was, we still weren't sure which planets could sustain life. There was no way to be positive, no way to know whether we'd live, or whether we'd die like the last three ships.
My mother wrapped her arms around me tightly, but didn't object. I was the oldest of three children. The way I saw it, it was my obligation to make sure my siblings got to live their life here as long and as happily as possible. My parents seemed to agree. "Thank you, Addy," my mother whispered, still sobbing into my shoulder. I stroked her hair reassuringly.
"I'll be fine, Mom."
The children who were chosen had one last night to spend with their families, before being herded onto a spaceship and blasted off into the nothingness of space. Three of the fifty of us who were chosen would be taught to fly and navigate. The Empire, our rulers, assigned us to a planet to land on. The last three planets had been gas planets; everyone had died, their ships getting lost and trapped in the planets' strange atmospheres.
The Artisan waiting patiently by our front door was a big man. I couldn't see his face; they weren't allowed to take off their masks. If you were chosen to become an Artisan, you were fitted with a mask that protected you, but also hid your face from everyone forever. You weren't allowed to get married, or have children. And you couldn't even speak. The Artisans communicated by thinking their words, which were then spit out of the mask in a robotic voice. It was eery, really.
The Artisan took down my name, my Identifier and my Mark. Every Deranum had an Identifier, something to separate us, to group us. There were five different Identifiers: Rebel, Worker, Breeder, Engineer and Medic.
Rebels were the outcasts of our society. If you were a Rebel, you couldn't get very far in life. You were considered to already have committed a crime. In school, you were treated differently, and had to be watched constantly. Workers were the people who grew and raised our food. The people who owned businesses and worked at the schools. They were respected by everyone. Breeders were the women who were responsible for, well, breeding. As weird and disgusting as it sounds, those women were treated as highly as the Empire. They were kept in a pod away from the Parcels, injected with the male sperm and, three months later, gave birth. It was a very specific system. None of us really knew what went on in the pod; there were plenty of stories, though. All we really knew was that, after the babies were born, they were given to qualifying families. Whatever that meant. Engineers were the people who worked on our spaceships, made the Artisans' masks, and built weapons for the Empire. The Empire were the only people allowed to have weapons, which I didn't think was fair. But speaking against the Empire was a crime punishable by death. So, I kept my opinions to myself. Medics were the doctors and nurses. There were several Medic stations scattered throughout each Parcel.
The Artisan wrote my name, Adelaide Corbin; he wrote my Identifier, Rebel; he wrote my Mark and where it was located, a dark blue vine that ran up my arm, wrapping around it, up to the shoulder. The color of my Mark represented knowledge, which was good and bad, depending on I was to use it. The vine symbolizes growth and harmony.
Finally, the Artisan told me in his robot voice that he'd return the next day around noon to take me to the ship. Then he was gone and I was left with my distraught family. My two little sisters, Ava and Aria, ran over and wrapped their arms around my legs. They were twins, five years old. They had my father's dark brown hair and green eyes. Since they were so young, they hadn't been Identified or Marked yet, but I could only hope they wouldn't be Identified as a Rebel. I knew all too well that life as Rebel was not the life they should lead.
A few hours later, I'd tucked Ava and Aria into bed. I couldn't sleep and my parents weren't going to sleep either, it seemed. As guilty as I felt, I didn't want to be spend my last few hours with them. I wanted to see my best friend, Desmond. I hadn't seen him since the day before, what with all the drama of Choosing. Curfew was ten, but Des and I always liked sneaking out and meeting by the big tree down the road. The Artisans who kept watch in the streets at night had no idea about the secret pathway behind my house. Desmond lived next door to me, so there were obviously less dangerous ways to meet, but we'd always been a little on the wild side. I guess that came with us both being Rebels.
I messaged Desmond from the pad on the wall of my room: tree. He would know what I meant. I waited for his response: tree. As quietly as I could, I opened my window and crawled out into the night air. All of the houses were one-story, so I had no problem reaching the ground. Hiding behind the bushes that surrounded the house, I silently made my way to the path. I crept behind house after house and finally made it to the tree. Desmond wasn't waiting for me, which was strange, because he usually made it there first.
"Desmond," I whispered. "Desmond, are you here?"
Suddenly, I felt an arm go around my waist and a hand on my mouth, keeping me from screaming. The person holding me said, "You know you're not supposed to be out past curfew."