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    Chapter One:
    New School, New Life

    Tara looked up the enormous building and gulped. Today was her first day at the prestigous Smash Academy and she was having second thoughts about it. How she goit an acceptance letter was beyond her reasoning. Sure, she was exceptionally smart and whatnot, including her being the best pole-vaulter in her old school but often thought of herself as an okay student. There was no way they'd sent her a letter, though her name was right there on the front of the envelope in elegant blue ink. Maybe it was somebody else named Tara; there were at least seven Taras in Smashville. But the name Tara Kelsey was enough proof that it was her name on the envelope and not someone else's.

    At first she seemed reluctant about going but when her parents got wind of the letter and confronted her about it. Like she expected, they were thrilled that their little girl was going to attend Smash Academy in the fall. "But what if I don't make any friends?" she asked them. "What if I end up as the school dork?"

    "Don't worry hon," her father said. "There's a reason you got accepted there and it's your mighty brain power." Tara scoffed in her head. Brain power. Right.

    "I'm sure you'll make lots of friends within the first month or two," her mother consoled. "You're only about five hours away from us. We'll be sure to write you as much as possible." Tara gulped. Last thing she needed was her parents writing her goofy love letters to her. Not that she didn't mind but in a private school full of strangers anything could happen to her mail. And my dignity.

    "Okay," Tara said. And now she was staring at the giant wooden doors of the school, wondering if now would be a good time to ditch and run out of the place. Thinking that it would be a bad impression to escape, she took a deep breath and pushed the doors open and walked inside. She gasped. Just about every person there--staff included--were wearing a uniform of some kind. She noticed a few people in green uniforms and automatically knew that they were freshmen because she was wearing the same green uniform as them. As she looked around she saw some older kids in either black, purple, or green. The staff were wearing a rust color uniform that looked almost similar to that of the students. Sunlight beamed in through the large windows on the wall just opposite her.

    As she walked on she noticed a group of students gathered around a bulletin board that was encased in glass and held long lists of what looked like names and classes. Tara was all too familiar to this. Back in her old school, Smashville Prep, they often sorted students by their year and all students of one class were in those classes depending on what they chose to take for the school year. Here, the lists were assigned by either subject or last name which, to Tara, was much easier. She managed to squeeze her way through the throng of people to look for her name and immediately found it within seconds. It read:

    Tara Kelsey, 1, Homeroom: Mr. Tabuu.

    The redhead paused for a minute and then reached to put on her glasses to be sure that her eyes wern't playing tricks on her. Sure enough, her homeroom teacher's name was Mr.Tabuu and she laughed. There's no way his last name could be Tabuu. It sounded dangerous, like he broke out of some kind of prison. Or maybe he was a strict teacher. Whatever the case, she'd face it alone.

    Just as she freed herself from the group, something tripped her and she felt herself fall towards the floor. Acting by instinct she managed to break her fall with her hand, and felt a small pinching sensation at the base of her wrist. Ah, great!, she thought bitterly. First day of school and I've already sprained my wrist. How could it possibly get any worse? She motioned to stand on her own but ended up falling on her butt and hitting the hand that was already throbbing. Perfect.

    "Need any help?" somebody asked. Tara looked up to see a male--or was the person a female?--standing over her, arms laden with heavy books. The person had sapphire-blue hair that ran to the base of their neck with matching blue eyes. A gold tiara with a blue gem sparkled in the early morning rays through the large windows. She also noticed that he was wearing a blue uniform, which signaled to her that he was ahead of her by how many every years. A look of worry crossed his/her face. Tara stared at this person for a moment before he spoke again.

    "Hello? Are you okay?" Tara shook her red hair out of her eys and blinked a few times. "Y-yeah," she managed to get out. "I think I tripped over something and ended up probably spraining my wrist too."

    "Really?" the boy asked and took the hand that was now throbbing. He reached into his pockets and took out a tan colored bandage, which he wrapped carefully around her wrist then fastened it with a piece of adhesive tape before kissing it as if she were royalty of some kind. Tara blushed slightly as he did this and managed to get up off the ground and onto her feet. She swayed and the boy was holding onto her shoulders. "T-thanks," she stuttered. He was kind of cute when she got a better look at his face. She couldn't help notice that his eyes sparkled brightly when the sun shone in them. "Um, what is the tiara on your head for?"

    "Oh this?" he motioned to the tiara. "It's my sister's. She gave it to me when I became an exile in my kingdom to remember her by." Tara giggled at this. His sister's tiara made him look more feminine than Tara's older brother, who was currently studying abroad in England. "It accentuates your looks," she suddenly blurted out, then covered her mouth at her outburst, hoping that it didn't offend the boy. Instead he smiled at her and patted her on the head as if she were a puppy. She felt her face get hot as he did this. "I'm sorry if I said something wrong...."

    "No, it's okay," he stopped rubbing her hair and smiled even more at her. "I get it all the time so I'm used to it by now." He cleared his throat and decided to change subject. "So, you're new here?"

    "Wha--oh yeah! I am," Tara gathered herself together. "My homeroom teacher is Mr. Tabuu, whoever he is. The name doesn't sound pleasant."

    "Mr. Tabuu. Oh, he's a nice guy most of the time, when he's not mad or having a hangover. I had him for homeroom my freshman year. Guy had a hangover just about every other day. But you don't get him mad, whatever you do. I can't explain what happens because he never had any trouble out of my class that year. Heard he gives you detention for a week." The boy sighed. "I never got your name, by the way. What is it?"

    Tara blushed at the mention of her name. Please don't let me make a fool of myself in front of him, she thought to herself. "Tara Kelsey. Freshman." Well, that was easy. No screw-ups yet. "What about yours?"

    The boy was about to answer when a group of older boys walked up behind him and placed a hand on his shoulder. The tallest had scraggly dark blue hair that looked like it hadn't been touched at all. He wore a dark purple uniform with a red belt over his shirt, along with dark brown fingerless gloves on his hands. The second person behind him also wore a dark purple uniform but this time he had a black headband tied around his forehead. He looked slightly older than the blue-haired teen in front of him, dark brown hair that looked a little better than said teen's, but still messy nonetheless. A cigarette was intertwined with his fingers, smoking. The smell made Tara cough from her position. Then the blue-haired boy spoke.

    "Hey Princess, who's the newbie?" he asked in a bored tone. Said "princess" turned around to face the older bluenette with an annoyed face and said to him, "Ike, I've told you not to call me that." The boy named Ike smirked and added, "You never said to not call you that in public. Besides, you wouldn't want the whole school knowing about your precious kingdom, do you?"

    The young boy pretended to look horrified as he said, "Oh my goodness, he'll tell the whole school about Altea. They'll kick me out!" He laughed then sighed. "The school already knows, and they don't blame me for what happened. I mean, how do you expect to stay royalty when your father gets killed and your sister is kidnapped by your worst enemy? Never thought of that before, have you?"

    Tara looked puzzled. Altea, exile, kingdom? Was this person some kind of prince or king of the type? "Who's Altea?" she decided to ask. The brown-haird teen answered for her. "Altea is the kingdom this guy's from. He was apparently forced into exile when the neighboring country decided to take over." She turned to the three teens and asked, "Who are you people?"

    "My name is Solid Snake, but you address me as Snake," the brunette said, inhaling from the cigarette and flicking it aside. A nearby teacher shouted, "No smoking in the school!" Snake shrugged it off and yelled back "It's before hours!" He chuckled and pointed to his comrade. "This one over here is Ike from the country of Tellius. He's a mercenary who took over from his father when he got killed by the Dark Knight or whatever."

    "My father was killed by the Black Knight," Ike hissed at him, "and I suggest you don't bring that up again unless you want me to kill you."

    "May I remind you that I was once a mercenary myself," Snake glared at him. The youngest of the three ignored them and turned to Tara. "My name is Prince Marth Lowell of Altea, at your service." He did a short bow for her and Tara noticed how his bangs fell in front of his eyes and then back into place when he straightened back up as a bell rang. All around them, students began rushing to their classes, trying to get last minute conversations squeezed in. Tara took the opportunity to ask "Where's this Tabuu guy's room anyway?!"

    Ike turned to her and pointed towards the set of stairs that students were climbing up and coming down off of. "Take those stairs and as soon as your get to the top, take a left and go straight down. It's Room 210, you can't miss it; the door ha a pair of holographic wings on it that change color when you move. Now get going, kid."

    "Thanks!" she yelled as she ran towards said staircase. Marth watched her until she vanished into the crowd then Ike grabbed him by the arm. "Come on Princess," the mercenary said. "We'll be late if you keep holding back."

    Snake grunted and extinguished yet another cigarette. Meanwhile, a certain red-haired freshman was scrambling to get to her class.