Everton Academy is a walled city with no moat surrounding it. Built in 1490 A.D. as a Lutheran seminary, it became an education institution in 1797 A.D, and today, it is known as the most prestigious and advanced institution of learning ages fourteen through eighteen in the world.
Everton’s grandest reputation is that of a haven for nine-percenters. One can pass this colossal complex of royal aura, view the seventy-five-foot-tall limestone towers situated on each corner, the ivy scattered about the faded limestone walls, and seemingly thousand-foot tall watchtower-looking Palace of Education in its center, and feel either undeniably inspired or unfathomably intimidated. Amongst Everton graduates include SAA representative Langdon Arshan, four Project Miracle scientists, two-hundred-twenty war veterans, and the proliferator for the cure for diabetes.
In the backseat of the red 15 N.G. Kehoe mini-hovervan driven by another Everton alumni, Bob Maith, Jesse Maith took one glance upon the south tower serving as the freshmen entrance, scrolled his eyes upward towards the darkened gray sky, and pictured lightning striking down on the tower masts. He took a few deep breaths to ease the heaviness in his chest beneath his navy-blue sweater vest with the Everton emblem stitched above the heart, then took a moment to observe the line of seven-figure luxury hovervehicles lined up in front of the tower and other freshmen disembarking and walking toward the entrance.
As Jesse attempted to compose himself, Matt slapped him on his left shoulder.
“You’re amped up to be here, cuz!” Matt sarcastically asserted.
“I don’t see you hooting and hollering,” Jesse deadpanned.
“Easy for you to say, Matt,” Mary said, “you’re not the quarterback!”
“Thanks, Mary!” Jesse shouted. “Thanks a lot!”
Everton’s football team, the Pioneers, have won twelve national championships, ten more than any other high school in the DRF, and have gone undefeated in nine of those seasons. The Pioneers are the most prestigious and famous sports team in the DRF, and they receive extensive media coverage. Coaches have been fired for losing one game in a season, and its quarterbacks become celebrities. Jesse Maith is about to become such a celebrity. Despite his natural athletic and genius-like football IQ, he is ill-prepared to abide such a burden, and he is especially aware of the pressure on he and his cousins to academically excel in an institution where failure is not tolerated.
The Maith children disembarked from the Kehoe. Matt and Mary bid their farewells to Bob, but Jesse largely ignored him; instead, he continued to study the tower.
“Jesse!” Bob shouted out the window, un-entrancing Jesse, “Don’t forget to see Principal Harrison after lunch! He phoned me this morning to ask me to remind you!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Jesse mumbled.
“Have a great day, guys!” Bob shouted, then glided the Kehoe away.
Jesse and his cousins then walked toward the South entrance. After passing beneath the stone arch into a dimly lit vestibule, Jesse froze in place as other students in uniform walked by except for his cousins.
“What’s your problem?” Mary asked as she adjusted her plaid skirt.
“What am I doing here?” Jesse somberly asked as he fidgeted his hands through his gray corduroy pants pockets and scraped his black boots on the navy blue carpet beneath.
“To get educated, dummy,” Mary countered.
“No, I mean,” Jesse gingerly replied. “What’s our purpose for being here? This isn’t some great institution of learning and enlightenment to me. It’s…a…chamber of torture!”
“Hey,” Matt barked. “At least dad didn’t call in a favor to Harrison to get you admitted. You got the smarts, the toughness, and the looks to get admitted on your own!”
“Even if you don’t like it,” Mary added, “at least you’re set up to get into a great college and earn a lucrative living in a few years.”
“Speak for yourself,” Jesse deadpanned.
Mary and Matt looked at each other in wonder.
“I know you’re nervous, Jesse,” Mary volunteered, but just think about football practice. At least there, you’ll be somewhat in your element.”
“And when you run those wind sprints faster than I run ten yards!” Matt joked.
Jesse tilted his head upward and mustered a grin. “You guys know how to make me smile.”
“C’mon,” a grinning Mary pled. “We’re going to be late.”