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(Planet Caorn- Jasmin Island)

(Mariena Hotel- West Wing Cafeteria)

The cafeteria was filled with the low hums of conversation as the Atlas University students enjoyed their meals.

However, there was a tense atmosphere in the hall and an uncomfortable undercurrent that was hard to ignore.

All the nobles were seated together with those of higher ranks placed at the head of the tables signifying their status.

The commoner students were forced to take the seats at the edge of the cafeteria.

This arrangement did not come as a surprise to most of the students since they were used to this kind of discrimination.

Atlas University fostered an attitude of superiority.

Nobles were inherently better than the commoners that attended the college.

Leona was sitting down with a bowl full of steaming hot soup in front of her. She wore a light blue tracksuit that hugged her lean muscular frame.

Her once long curly hair had been cut so that it now only reached the top of her shoulders.

Her dark brown skin contrasted with the white earrings that were hanging from her ears.

She was surrounded by tittering upper class nobles and sycophants eager to pay compliments to them.

A bored expression flashed across Leona's face as she glanced at her communicator and saw a message appear on the screen.

Vivian: [Sorry! I'm going to do some more training in the holodeck, so I won't be coming to the cafeteria today]

Leona: [Don't overdo it... I don't want you to hurt yourself...]

Vivian: [Aww... are you worried? Babe... don't worry I have more than enough energy to play with you tonight...]

Leona kept an expressionless mask on her face but could not stop the corners of her lips from tilting upwards.

Her relationship with the commoner Vivian Green had taken a rather... unexpected turn.

Not that she wanted to complain.

It was just that Leona never thought that she would get a girlfriend... and a commoner one at that!

Leona gracefully picked up the spoon in front of her and dipped it in the bowl of soup. She stared at the light orange liquid and then placed it in her mouth.

Mhmmm... Delicious!

The soup was chunky with pieces of meat, fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs that created a burst of flavour in her mouth.

Leona took another spoonful and absentmindedly listened to the conversations happening around her.

"Ryan you were so impressive at the press conference!" a pretty noble girl with dark blonde hair leaned against Ryan's shoulder.

"Everyone was watching and cheering you on!"

"Yes... yes... I know," Ryan smirked confidently as he wrapped his arms around the girl and drew her in closer.

Leona rolled her eyes and focused on eating. She was still upset that she hadn't been strong enough to be chosen as the representative captain.

She was currently ranked fourth among the second-year students. It was impressive but... not good enough.

"Have you chosen a team yet?" a mousey looking boy asked Ryan with curiosity shining in his eyes.

"Oh... well... I already have many people interested but unfortunately... I can only take two," Ryan placed a hand on his forehead and sighed heavily.

"Wow! Of course!" the boy shouted in excitement.

Leona had to fight down the urge to giggle when she saw the ridiculous farce happening right next to her.

The boy singing Ryan's praises belonged to a house with the rank of Viscount.

Certainly not on the level of a duke but not to the extent where he needed to debase himself for Ryan's pleasure.

He would never make it in politics.

Leona spotted the piece of bread next to her soup and carefully used a knife and fork to cut up a neat rectangular- shaped piece.

Manner, etiquette, appearance.

The three aspects of an upper rank noble that could not be ignored.

Buzz! Buzz!

Leona's wrist communicator vibrated twice, and she saw an unexpected message appear in her inbox.

Sophie: [Hey I'm in the West Wing... where are you at?]

Leona: [I'm in the cafeteria. Do you want me to meet you?]

Sophie: [Nah it's okay. I'll come to you.]

Wait... what?

Leona's feelings towards Sophie were... complicated.

They had managed to somewhat repair their old friendship, but it was obvious that they would never be as close as they were as children.

And Leona knew that she only had herself to blame.

She was the one who betrayed her friend. She was the one who valued the opinions of people who didn't matter.

Leona still felt guilty over what she had done but... she didn't know how to make up for it.

Sophie was in a much better place now and she had new friends. It was a painful truth but... she wasn't needed anymore.

Maybe she could...

Leona's thoughts were interrupted as the cafeteria doors swung open and Sophie strode inside with slow confident steps.

There was an immediate moment of silence as all the noble children as well as the commoners stopped and watched the hybrid girl.

Sophie was intimidating.

Standing at over seven feet in height with golden eyes, blade-like appendages and sharp fangs that gleamed under the light.

She wore a black training suit with two blaster pistols strapped to her side. There was an aura of danger surrounding her body that made her seem unapproachable.

"Why... why..." Ryan stuttered nervously and fortunately no one seemed to notice that his face had turned pale.

Sophie looked around the room as if searching for someone, so Leona raised up her hand and waved.

"Over here," Leona calmly spoke and immediately the attention in the room shifted to her.

Sophie walked over and the noble girl sitting down next to Leona quickly got up from her seat and shifted to the side.

"This hotel is a damn maze," Sophie grumbled in mock anger as she took a seat.

"Took me around thirty minutes to find the west wing. I'm pretty sure that there are spatial enhancement spells on the corridors."

"Well at least you found it now," Leona replied with a thin smile as she tried to ignore the stares directed at the two of them.

She was not the same person as before.

"Yeah... so tell me... do you Atlas University students usually eat so quietly?" Sophie asked with a raised eyebrow.

Leona raised a hand to her lips to hide her giggles. She knew that Sophie had asked that question break the tense atmosphere.

"Sophie... Sophie Peterlor... my name is Rudy of House Khan," a nervous looking boy extended his hand and greeted Sophie.

"House Khan! Oh, I believe that your house has recently been engaging in the spice trade. Is that correct?" Sophie replied politely.

"Yes... yes! I didn't think that you would know that..." Rudy perked up and one could hear a trace of disbelief in his voice.

"Your father does business with both our houses so that's how we know," Leona answered before Sophie could reply.

"I... I am Ciara of House Volantis... pleasure to meet you," a beautiful girl with ashy grey skin approached Sophie with a friendly gaze.

Sophie soon found herself surrounded by a group of nobles eager to meet her acquaintance and form a relationship.

The number of students was not high... only seven in total but still it was more than Sophie had expected when she walked into the room.

And the other nobles even if they did not approve of her hybrid nature, they did not dare to voice their complaints.

Leona of House Braveheart and Sophie of House Peterlor were both heiresses to two of the most powerful families in the Federation.

One would have to be a complete fool to pick a fight with either one of them without backing or the support of a strong faction.

The only person who could match the two noble girls was Ryan of House Wilhelm and he was currently looking at his wrist communicator and pretending as though Sophie did not exist.

To some his attitude may seem rude and dismissive but Ryan would take that over them knowing the true emotion that he felt.

Fear.