From Wyld_Dandelyon‘s prompt: “Final Exams.”
Despite rather constant warning from their teachers: “Don’t bond. Don’t get to close. You will be sold when school is over, and it is exceedingly unlikely you will be sold to the same household,” they had gotten close.
They had been picked up on the same run, Steve, Carl, Debbie, Jill, Jakub, and Seth, and before they’d come to the school, they’d already spent several days together in a cell just big enough for the six of them. By the time their final exams rolled around, they were close enough to know what the others were thinking.
Not that it was hard, right now; they were all thinking variations on the same thing: What happens next? What happens if I don’t do well? What happens if I do do well? Is this really happening to me?
They knew, in theory, what came next: either they passed their exams, or they were sent to work camps. They’d even had a field trip to the fields, to see what it would be like. To scare them into obedience, Seth assumed; the work camps were pretty much exactly what American propaganda said being a slave in California was like: hard, constant, dehumanizing labor.
If they did well, they had been assured they would be placed well in high-ranking households. It rankled, or at least it bugged Seth – they never talked about this part, as it sounded too much like sedition, and sedition had, they’d learned fast, painful consequences – to be working hard to get a position licking someone’s boots. But better licking boots than picking grapes.
“I’m worried about the titles and terms of address in Civics,” he admitted. They were crowded into the dorm room he shared with Carl and Jakub, trying to cram for exams.
“Sommelier and barrista testing,” Steve muttered. “I can never tell the reds apart, and that whipped cream trick…”
“Law,” Jill murmured. “The little nitty gritty laws that change with every Barony.”
“We’ll done fine.” That was Carl, who had nothing to worry about. “Chin up, and just try to sleep tonight. We’ll all do fine.”
“And then what?” Steve muttered. For that, Carl didn’t have an answer. None of them did.
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