229 Days Until Celebration and the Uncertain End (Part 5)
The invitation for “Aether” was extended after a few minutes of talking back and forth. They had only planned to invite Aether, but EverDanger had been able to convince the hosts to invite Heia and her family through a bit of sweet talking and lies.
They moved in different groups. Some were headed to the after party in personal transport and others on the rails. Heia, her family, Evester, EverDanger, and the high classed Circles were in the house owner’s party bus heading back to the mansion that belonged to the Phyn family. The house was about the same of Evester’s massive mansion, with a yard that traveled over for what seemed like forever, leading them to a house in the center. They moved through the trees and the grass fields to the house. Cloud cities were monstrosities in the sky, but the fact that the high classed Circles had such large mansions bothered Heia. It was such a waste of space. So many families and homes could sit on the land. So many more people could live in the city.
The music and lights were elaborate at the house in a sort of elegant way. Those invited to the after party were dressed in evening gowns of high classed Circles, eccentric and alluring suited for the house. The atmosphere was calmer. Where the club had been a headache in the making, the sort of high that kept everyone moving and running without a direction, this was like a dream.
They stepped out of the bus and to the mist that filled the land and house. It was sweet, smoke or fog, from some sort of Circle incense that made Heia’s inhibitions drop. There were many people here, not nearly as packed as the club had been, but there were many faces Heia had not seen from the club.
“Those are celebrities.” Robee whispered under his breath.
“After parties are the real party.” Rayda explained. “There will be many people here from other events. Remember the rules.”
The entirety of Evester’s party was sober now, Heia could tell that. They took their drinks and pretended to continue, but they were on their missions like hawks without making it seem like they were. Everyone else around them were drunk and so it seemed like it would fall apart if they were caught not drinking. The scent alone, the lighting, the chilled atmosphere, everything was suited to create a night of lost memories.
Heia followed her objective, hanging out with Shawn, Lynx, and Onyx, trying to gather as much information on Zeydar as they could as well as Star Campus, the fall of Arcadia, and the rumored Star who was not yet a Superior. They spoke of his magic and how he was a scandal and a secret. They whispered their words of what he looked like, how he sounded. There were rumors that he was a drug addict. Others of how he had been kidnapped. They spoke on how had no parents. Others said his identity was all a ploy by the government and that he may not actually exist. The stories were all over the place, filled with conspiracy theories and random biased filled chatter.
It was like pulling at hair and nails to try to get them to stay on topic, instead of veering off about the latest song, movie, tv show, book, game, sports tournament, anything in the entertainment field, or worse yet: politics. Politics drove Heia crazy.
“The X’s are trash.”
“They don’t deserve our money.”
“Did you hear how the Towers are retaliating and refusing to pay their taxes?”
“The Lowerlands haven’t paid in months. They shouldn’t blame us, but themselves. It’s their fault and the Towers have to compensate.”
Anytime X came out of their mouth it was a slur. They ranted about the military and Anti-Love, saying it was Anti-Love’s fault and the X’s fault that the Yasloughve Project hadn’t stopped the Catastrophe. They had demanded it close down until MAY was forced to form and act. It was the X’s fault that the rain didn’t come. It was the X’s fault that they were suffering in their glamorized life. It was the X’s fault that the Aralax existed and so they needed to take care of them.
And then there was the drugs. Sweet Dreams, a drug Heia’d seen destroy lives in the UnderCities. The drug was recreational in the CloudCities. It was praised as the best high one could get. They took it for granted. It was okay if they got addicted, for they could just have the doctors help them get over the addiction. The drug that had popped up twenty years ago had destroyed so much in her world, and they used it like it was nothing. Worst yet, they offered it to her.
“Heia.” Shawn whispered to her as her group walked through the after party, slowly through the haze. “You need to relax.”
“I won’t calm down. Do you hear what they are saying?” Heia tried to fight her anger.
“We are Circles right now, not X’s.” Shawn placed his hand on her shoulder.
“Of course you’d be okay with faking—“
“Heia.” He snapped. “We can’t fight. This is not why we are here. You knew the Circles were bigoted from day one. That is not new.”
It did not make it hurt any less.
“We are here for information and once Evester has his in, then we are leaving.” Shawn reminded her of the game plan.
“Leaving.” Heia agreed, her eyes traveling through the room. “Let’s see if we can find Evester.”
“He’s busy.” Shawn whispered. She didn’t care. Not really. She wanted an update on when they could leave the hell hole. Heia led Shawn away from Lynx and Onyx, towards another room where Evester sat with Endwin. The other high classed Circles, were in a circle talking, some sitting, some standing. Graceon spoke to Evester before Evester walked from Endwin and Kim’s side to follow Graceon. Heia trailed behind them to another group of people, losing track of him for a moment, to walk through a door, and witness as Evester standing with Graceon, and another few more sketchy individuals. Dealers, Heai realized. Graceon offered it to Evester who took it. Evester examined it before a hand touched his shoulder.
There was a brief exchange between the new boy who had approached Evester from behind. He was young with dark skin paled unnaturally from lack of sunlight, or perhaps illness. His hair was straight and black. Evester and the boy exchanged a look that was filled with far more than knowing. The group around them laughed, before the boy took Evester’s hand, dropped it from the makeshift handshake, and walked away with a dealer. Evester’s eyes traced after him, before he slipped his hand — once shaken and still holding the Sweet Dreams, Heia figured — to his mouth. Graceon laughed with Evester, before Evester turned back to her. The moment his eyes were at the door, he saw Heia.
Their eyes met and Heia was pissed. Hadn’t he said they all had to remain sober and not to take anything? How could…
“Come.” Lynx called to Heia. “We can begin to leave.”
Nothing sounded sweeter.