Once he had them on he went through the arched door way into the room. He had a seat near his best friend Tighe, who had already found his way into the room. Tighe was smaller than Dabul, which wasn’t a surprise since he was almost two years younger, but he wasn’t the smallest or the youngest in their pod. There was no set age for any of the pods in the school and students progressed at their own pace and moved into higher level pods as they were ready. Pod ten was the last pod. After that most of the students either went into an apprenticeship or straight into a job that matched their abilities and inclinations. There was also the option to go into the security force that the community maintained, but that was a low percentage.
Tighe was going to apprentice to be an architect and had already been accepted by a master. Dabul had yet to take that step, but he wasn’t far behind Tighe. Their empathic abilities had drawn them together when Dabul first moved into pod ten.
“Dabul! Check this out.” Tighe held out his tablet and showed Dabul a time lapse video of an apartment tree being coaxed into being. “This is from Master Chen. He has started including me in the distribution on project updates. It is amazing. I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Dabul watched the two minute clip and found himself holding his breath. The process in real-time was slow, but this video had taken six months’ worth of work and condensed it into such a short time frame. You could see the tree shaping under the hands of the woodworkers working under the direction of the architects. He had asked permission to expand his closet a foot deeper at home and it was taking him months just to make that tiny change. The amazing part to him was that he could do it at all.
“That is so cool,” he said to Tighe. “You are so lucky to be almost done with the pod and to know what you are going to be doing.”
Tighe shrugged his shoulders. “Another five or six months you’ll be in the same place I am now. Chen doesn’t need anyone else, but there are plenty of great places to learn.” He patted Dabul on the back as he pulled back his tablet.
“In the meantime, we are heading to the top today!”
That sentence brought back Dabul’s smile. “Yeah, I was thinking about that on the way here. The last field trip to the top was way back in pod three. I barely understood what I was seeing.”
“You and me both,” Tighe countered. “I remember being excited but mostly about getting above the clouds. It had nothing to do with the solar array or community power.”
Mr. Lovett, their teacher entered the room and looked around at the students. “Good morning everyone!”
The low buzz of sound from all the students dropped off to almost nothing and they all looked towards the doorway.
“You assignments have just been dropped to your tablets, so you can all get to work. Any questions just let me know and I’ll be happy to help. We’ll be getting our things together and heading for treetop for our field trip, as you already know. We’ll leave in about an hour.”
The sound of quiet productive voices again returned to the room as they began their work.
Dabul knew he needed to get the assignment done, but his was on the power distribution grid and it just didn’t hold much interest for him. Everyone knew of the solar farms high in the treetops and the deep earth battery systems that tied the community together and that was all he felt he needed to know. The nuances of energy storage would be useful to someone going into that field, but that wasn’t him.
He stared at his tablet and his mind wandered. The thought of the field trip had his feet itching. He loved school and learning, but getting outside and feeling the wind in his hair and the sun on his face… Well, that was too much competition for any assignment.
He started searching through the community bulletin boards and was surprised to see that his father’s name was one of the trending topics. His father was on the tribal council and had been for years, but for the most part council was more a chore, like community service, than a position of power.
That was changing. There were voices of dissent on the council lately, mostly that of Thain Prescott. Thain had been calling for a strengthening of the security forces and cited several examples of aggression from neighboring tribes. His father’s counter to those allegations was that they were exaggerated accounts of mischief and isolated incidents by individuals rather than organized aggressions. He thought that Prescott’s claims were just flaming a non-existent ember and that any flare-ups in inter-tribal relationships were manufactured.
Dabul could see both points of view, but he sided with his father. “Cooler heads must prevail.” He could hear his father’s voice inside his head. Cooler heads indeed. Confrontations could turn into skirmishes which could turn into battles which could turn into out-and-out war. Conversations could turn confrontations into accords, which were much more harmonious.
“And how is your assignment going?”
Dabul’s head jerked up as the words were spoken. Mr. Lovett was standing right behind him and looking over his shoulder at the open browser.
“No need to explain. It’s self-evident. Close that up and get back to the assignment now.” Lovett’s face didn’t give any indication that he was upset just slightly amused actually, so Dabul shrugged his shoulders and closed the window on the browser and got back to the document he has started on the power grid. It seemed like only a few minutes had gone by when Mr. Lovett’s voice rang out over the class.
“Okay, finish up what you are working on. It’s time to head out now.”
Everyone closed up their tablets and packed up their things. The excited voices were a cheerful blend of the older and younger students that made up their pod. Dabul’s voice joined into the mix as he turned to talk to Tighe.