an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.
an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.
Andy paused her hand that was still in her apron pocket, the bird seed slowly falling out of her grip. She looked over into the woods. The large bush was rustling back and forth; so Andy grabbed the farming hoe that was leaning against the farmhouse and raised it.
“Whoever is here, this is private property. Leave before-”
Two red-haired girls poked their head out, and they stared at her like she was an insane woman. She slowly lowered the tool, and slowly backed away.
“What are you doing here? This is private property. You can't be here,"
The children were fully stepped out of the forest. Their matching faces were blinking at Andy and she felt very uncomfortable. By the look of their clothes, they were Rank 3 or higher…Most likely Rank 2.
“I’m Caroline. This is Cassidy. We ran away from home.”
Andy felt unnerved. She could get in trouble for even talking to them.
“Okay, well, why did you run away?” She just needed them to leave.
They looked at each other and appeared to be communicating. Probably had one of those new-fangled communication chips. Which even more supported her rich kid theory.
“Our Mom is looking for a new spouse. We just want her to spend time with us!” The taller one exclaimed.
“Why don’t you tell her that?” She suggested.
They both scoff. Smug little brats.
“She has to marry someone. It’s given.”
Okay, that’s weird. Before she could ask what they meant, a voice called out from the house.
“Andy, are you done? Henry needs you to clean the house!” It was Nate’s voice.
“Okay!” She yelled back. The two redheads stared at her.
“What rank are you, Andy?”
“I’m an X. Now if you two could go into shed so Henry doesn’t find you, that would be great.”
“You're too pretty to be Rank X. Right, Cass?” The other sister nodded in agreement.
“Uh, thanks I guess? Can you go now? I’m not trying to get in trouble."
The two redheads scampered off and Andy went into the house. There were only three rooms, Old Man Henry’s room, the kitchen (which also was the main hub) and the tiny place where she and Nate slept. While cleaning, her mind wandered. Rank X. That was her and Nate’s rank. It was the lowest rank, and it meant you were a nobody. You didn't matter in society. Rank 4 usually meant you are some farmer or servant, but was lucky enough not to be born an X. Rank 3 were merchants and business owners who lived in cities, it meant you made decent money. Rank 2 were either old money or distant relatives of the Royal Family. Rank 1 was the Empress and her family. Children, spouses, siblings, etc.
Andy wondered what Rank the young girls were.
Henry came out of his room and snarled at her. She has been cleaning for barely thirty minutes.
“Get! Go into the woods and collect some wood for the fireplace. Now!” He was an asshole.
Andy squared her shoulders and headed into the woods. She mumbled cusses at him when she was sure that he wouldn’t hear her. Andy had a couple pieces of wood when a redhead tapped on her shoulder, scaring her to death. She gives them her best glare as she starts to pick up the wood she dropped. She continues through the forest, collecting more wood. They follow her.
“I bet your Mother misses you two very much. Perhaps you should tell her how you feel.” She suggested, practically begging for them to leave.
“That would never work. She probably didn’t even know we were gone!” One of them exclaims. Andy internally groaned. Little bastards looked like they swam in money, and they complain about this bullshit.
“I dunno, you seem to be lovely people, if I was your mother, I would miss you. Why don't you talk to your mother about the issues? Tell her how you feel about the situation.”
The twin on the right glanced over to the one on the left. Great, more mind communication.
“Do you think that we are annoying? Stephan thought we were annoying.”
The name Stephen sounded familiar, perhaps he was in the paper recently? The holovids?
“I don’t find you annoying, you seem to be very mature. But then again you are the most female interaction I had in forever.”
The two giggled at her joke.
“We don’t have much interaction either. Other than our tutor, Mom, her assistant, and Nigel. You are like, our first friend in forever!”
She smiled painfully at the two girls.
“I am honored that I’m your friend. Uh, can you grab that piece of wood? Thanks.” At least they can help her.
Together, the three of them deposited there haul into the mighty wood stack. (They didn’t even need it but Henry liked to be a hardass)
“Andy, is that your name?”
“Uh, it’s technically Andrea but no one calls me that.”
“Last name?” One of them fished. Why they needed to know this, she didn't know.
Both of the girls enveloped her into a suffocating hug. She patted both of their heads.
“Thank you for the advice, Andy Sachs. Me and Caro are gonna talk to Mom. You’ve been sooo helpful.”
“Glad to help, I guess.”
They both smiled and ran off the farm. Andy watched them, her smile bright. Thank god they left. It dimmed as she heard the tell-tale voice of Henry.
“Girl, are you done? I want you to cook. Now!”
Andy retold what happened to Nate, as they sat in the dark. It was late at night and the only time they could talk. He was probably who she was gonna marry, and have kids with. It’s not like she had many options.
“They were probably some high ranking Officials kids. You’re lucky that no one came to take you away.”
Nate was a little obsessed with the Officials. They worked for the Empress and were the ones who made sure nothing questioned her reign. Her reign over Earth, the Moon and the few colonies on Mars. Andy wanted to go to Mars so damn bad. The colonies were only starting there, and apparently, there was no Rank system. If she could save up for a ticket, she could eventually get out of this hellhole. Anyway, Officials were everywhere, making sure no one disobeys laws. Fun.
She groaned and laid her head against his chest.
“You never know, the girls could grow up and free me.”
He chuckled and yawned.
“Let’s go to sleep. Dream of a better life for us, 'kay?"
It wasn’t till a week later that Andy regretted everything. Two hover cars showed up while she was feeding the animals; Henry came out and started to tell them off. She used the side of the shed to listen in on the conversation.
“Do you have a woman by the name of Andrea Sachs here?” A man asked.
“Ya? She’s one of my Rank X’s. Why are you asking?” Henry hates Officials ever since they have been trying to buy up his farm.
“We’ve been told to escort her to the Quarian.” This time a female voice.
The Quarian was the capital of Earth, where the Empress lived. Why would anyone want her there? It wasn’t until she heard two certain voices that her blood ran cold.
“Where is she? We want her to be with us! Now!” A bratty voice screeched.
It was one of the twins. Andy started to breathe heavily.
“She's mine? You can’t take her from me.” Thank god. That was the only good thing about Henry. He was stuck in his ways.
“Sir, we have about five thousand in creds.”
Without a beat, Old Man Henry yelled at the top of his lungs,
“GIRL! COME OVER HERE!”
Andy hurried over, staring at her feet the whole time.
“No longer in my service, go with them.” He snarled at her.
Andy turned and her eyes met with the male and female. The woman had striking red hair, and her face showed disdain. The man wore glasses and he had no hair. Both were some of the fanciest clothes that Andy has ever seen. Possibly rich officials or-
“We’ll have to fix, all that, right Nigel?” The redhead asked, her voice condescending. She was waving her hand, gesturing to Andy. She never felt more embarrassed. However, one of the twins glared at the redhead.
“You can’t talk to Andy like that. I’ll tell Mom and you’ll be in trouble, Emily.” One of the twins said.
The man turned to face Andy.
“We just bought your freedom. You are gonna ride in the car with the girls. Hop to it.”
“Can I get my things? Say goodbye to Nate?”
The other twin wrinkles her nose.
“You don’t need any of your stuff. Forget about the boy, and let’s go!”
Andy looks forlornly at the farm. Her measly twenty credits sit buried beneath a stack of clothes. All the money she ever had in the world now belongs to Nate. Good for him. He better use it for something good.
Both of the girls grab her hands and dragged her over to the hover car. Its silvery steel shone mockingly at her. The windows were pure black, and the bluish tint of the hover wheels was so foreign to her. One of them opens the door, hops in, and drags Andy into the middle seat. The other twin follows. Andy studies them some more, and she decides that the twin on her right is Cassidy. Caroline hit a button on the side of the car’s door, revealing bags of food.
“What you want Andy?”
She doesn’t know any of the brands, but on one of the labels, it says chocolate. Lily, a rank 4 servant who lived not too far from her, told Andy about it. She’ll miss Lily, and Nate, and Doug. Doug was a Rank X on a neighbor’s farm. They would all meet up whenever there were town meetings. Shaking her head, trying to dispel the memories, she eventually pointed to the chocolate. Caroline grinned at her.
“Can someone tell me why I’m free?” Andy said as the hovercar started to move.
The two girls share an excited look between each other.
“So, we took your advice and talked to Mom, but she said that she still has to get married to appease the board. However, she said that if we could find someone who wouldn’t try and take her power, and some we liked, that she’ll marry them.”
“Okay, but why am I involved?”
They both give her a look.
“We chose you, dummy! You are gonna be out step-mother!”
Andy choked on her chocolate. Very good chocolate. It ruined her experience of trying chocolate for the first time.
Cassidy started to run her finger through Andy's hair, often tugging when she reached a knot.
“I am gonna brush your hair. It’s an utter mess. Afterward, I’m gonna send a picture of all of us to Mom. Caro?”
Caroline nodded, a wicked grin on her face.
“N-no. You guys are joking, right?” They giggle. “Oh my god, you are serious.” Andy’s knees start to bounce up and down. This couldn’t be happening. She glanced out the window. Bright silver towers gleamed and sparkled; the Quarian was near. Andy tuned out everything else, she didn’t question where they got the brush or the questions the twins asked. She just stared at the Quarian. Nate would, no, used to tell her what he thinks it looked like. He would say it was dark, and the spires would twist. That metal webs filled in gaps and it loomed over you like it’s presence in their lives. Turns out he was wrong. It was bright. Almost too bright.
“W-why are we going to the Capitol? Are you some Official’s kids?”
“Officials can’t have kids or spouses. Don’t you know that? Stop moving, I can’t brush your hair!”
“T-then, why are we heading to the Quarian?
They shared another look before Cassidy gasped. She reached over and slapped Caroline’s wrist.
"You don't know who we are? Is it that rural where you live? We are Empress Miranda Priestly's daughters. Aka, the princesses?"
"What the FUCK?"