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The station was busy - not in a pregnancy sort of way, but a "Oh my God I'm going to explode if I don't get there quick enough so let me budge up through this TREMENDOUS CROWD!!!!!!" sort of way. But on one platform was a gathering of identically dressed female children hiding the lower population of adults dressed a bit differently.


A new girl was talking to one of these adults. It was obvious that she was new because no matter how she looked - she seemed to be very relaxed even with the bustle and hustle, yes, some of those girls were con artists - but it was the unfamiliar glances of everybody else that discerned her.

"...But it's Allie," she said. "Not the other name, I only ever answer to Allie,"

"Allie," the teacher said. "I'll make sure that the other teachers are aware of that, then,"

"Thank you," Allie said. "Well, I'm just going to go and meet some people before term starts, so see you around,"

Kathie Ferrars sighed as the pupil zoomed off into the crowd. She'd not even had a chance to assign a sheepdog.

'Mind you,' she thought to herself, watching the crowd without really watching, 'She seems to be able to handle herself fine,'

Her mind was turned off of the topic when two girls started a loud shouting match that the whole of the station could hear. It didn't seem so busy now, although the pause when the girls were cornered and submitted into silence by looks was.

 

Allie hummed to herself as she walked down the corridor, looking through the compartment windows to see who was inside. Often it was the odd older girl looking totally just excellent and awe-inspiring, often it was a titch looking all sad and staring out of the window. It was almost heart-breaking to see those faces, and although Allie tried not to think about it, she ended up surrounded by a crowd of sad juniors, comforting them and getting them to talk to each other. The train had moved well into the countryside before she felt ready to leave them, to find some girls her own age.

Peering through the windows soon brought a result - a group of girls her age all chattering and talking. She opened the door and held on to the door frame, her body leaning away from it although her feet were close to the frame. Her hair, which reached halfway down her back, swished into view.

"Hi, I'm Allie," she said.

The girls in the compartment fell silent, and stared at her as she hung in the doorway. They all looked back at another girl, who seemed to be their leader.

"And what's that short for?" that girl asked.

"I don't want to say," Allie replied calmly. "And if you wish to call me by it, you won't catch me responding. What's your name?"

"You think I'll tell you?"

"I think I'll find out anyway," Allie said. "After all, the teachers will call you by it, won't they?"

"My name is Avril," the girl said. "You gonna be in our form?"

"If I knew which form that was, I might respond," Allie replied coolly.

"It's Lower IVc, idiot," Avril replied.

"In that case, yes I am," Allie said.

"Well, then, you better sit down," Avril glared at Allie. "And keep that big trap shut,"

"I'm sorry," Allie grabbed a seat. "I don't take orders if I don't see the logic behind it,"

Avril scowled and started to talk with the girl next to her, and the less-than-gentle hum of conversation gradually heightened in the compartment.

 

By the time the journey was ended at a fairly large building in Carnbach, Allie was well acquainted with Xanthe, who was fed up with her nagging sister Althea and just wanted some breathing space, Clara, who felt that the number of detentions she got per term was "seriously unfair, I mean, like, I didn't do nuthin' and then, like, teacher gives me all these punishments, like, for nuthin," and Mildred, who smiled even with those massive bags under her eyes. Allie resolved to keep an eye on each of those problems but for now, here was Carnbach.

The main school had moved from Switzerland to here a couple of years previously. It had seemed to take no time at all for them, but many reports over that 40-50 year period had made theories about what had happened to that train. It had, finally, emerged but the old mystery and this new phenomenon had somehow never been linked. Probably due to the fact that they all had memories of the recent times and they all had modern devices.

The girls were all enjoying their Kaffee und Kuchen (or how they may say it, Tea) now and were chatting amongst themselves.

"Hi, I'm Allie," she said to the girl beside her, offering a hand.

"Yes, I know who you are," the girl said. "Dorrie is who I am,"

"Cool," Allie said. "So, how are you feeling, brand new term and all,"

"To be honest, not too brilliantly," Dorrie said. "Everyone here hates me,"

"I'm sure that's not true," Allie replied.

"Well, Avril does, and everyone follows her lead," Dorrie muttered. "It means about the same thing,"

"Why does Avril hate you?" Allie queried.

"Because, when we were younger, there was an incident, and..."

 

"Hi, you're Allie, aren't you?"

"I am," Allie replied, turning to her other side. "Very pleased to meet you..."

"Jenna," she said. She indicated the person on her other side, "and this is Katrina,"

"Nice to meet you both," Allie said.

"Want to tell us what 'Allie' is short for?"

"Not particularly," Allie replied. "But it's not Alexandra, I will tell you that,"

"Alex...?"

"It's what Avril kept on calling her on the train," Katrina spoke for the first time. "Jenna here's dragged here by car. But then, her first term-"

"Annnnnnnyway, it's nice to have you here," Jenna cut across Katrina.

"She doesn't like it to be told," Katrina muttered. "But you're gonna find out anyway, it's in the Legends book, under the title of-"

 

At that point the Head, Miss Annersley, dismissed the girls and they all trundled out happy and fed. Allie hummed as she went in an entirely different direction to her form, intent on exploring the building.

Her exploration started at a suitable distance from her form. She first discovered an old storage room, with plenty of papers, floppy discs, video tapes and DVDs. There was a layer of dust over the items. One of the bottom-most papers caught her eye, and she tore through all above it to take it. It was a play that no-one had heard of. Thinking that her Aunt might know who J M Bettany is or was, she put it into her bag. She then left the room.

Carrying on with her explorations, she found the lost property room, several form rooms including her own, a couple of computer labs, several storage rooms, and, one of those rare things in the Chalet School world, a toilet. She was just looking at the interactive whiteboard of a form room - most form rooms had these as well as basic whiteboards - when somebody came in.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"I'm exploring the school to see where everything is," Allie replied, eyeing up the elder girl with interest.

"Why don't you go to your common room, where you're supposed to be,"

"If that's where we're supposed to be, why aren't you in yours?"

"Nosy little brat" the senior said.

"No, just interested why it's one rule for you, another for me,"

"Well, I've got exams,"

"So?"

"So, I need to revise, thickhead!"

"What - before you've even covered it in class?"

"Oh - you - ack - *splutter* "' the Senior was crimson-faced by this point. "Who's your sheepdog, eh? Not that it matters, seeing as you're so imprudent,"

"I don't need a sheepdog," Allie kept her calm tones. "I'm not a sheep,"

 

The Senior spluttered. "All new girls have a sheepdog," she said.

"That might be because they're sheep?"

"The escort mistresses match up sheepdogs and newbies,"

Allie remembered how she'd sped off, then just sat back on a desk, looked at her nails, and said "It is such a displeasure to meet you,"

The Senior glared, and turned to leave.

"Fine. You won't mind if I lock the door, then, seeing as you like it in here so much,"

"Do as you wish," Allie said. "You can't actually lock the door, can you, because you're not staff, you're just a Senior, anyway,"

"Oh yeah, little girl?" the Senior sneered, holding a key in her hand. "Well, let's just see,"

The Senior stalked out, put the key in the lock, and twisted. "It really does work," the tones were in a slightly higher tone.

"You know you're pathetic, don't you?" Allie replied.

The Senior didn't reply. Allie headed to the door on the other side of the classroom, and walked into a mess of books and papers and piles and boxes. She navigated carefully through the debris, and opened the neighboring door. It headed into another classroom, and Allie slipped through that door.

The Senior was facing the other way. Allie sneaked up behind her, not making a sound.

"Like to apologize?" Allie asked.

"To a titch like you?"

"I'll follow you around until you do,"

 

Allie kept true to her word, following that Senior around. Even at Supper, Allie managed to sit right next to the Senior, the rules being very relaxed that first day. When the Senior went up to her common room, Allie followed, silent but very determined.

"Who's this?" another Senior said.

"I'm Allie," Allie said, holding out her hand.

"She's a pest," the Senior muttered, as the other Senior shook Allie's hand.

"Megan," the other Senior said to Allie. "So, why are you in here?"

"I'm following her around until I've got what I'm expecting to receive," Allie replied. "But when the time comes that I can no longer do that, I shall resort to other measures,"

"Yeah, like what?"

"Telling everyone I meet about it, whether it be mistress or pupil or random staff member or random person unconnected to the school. Don't think I don't know who you are, Andrea Morris,"

"Alright, fine, I'm sorry, okay?"

"I didn't hear that,"

"I am sorry,"

Allie pretended not to hear.

"What more do you want, girl, damn it? Okay, I am sorry for what I did and I promise not to do it again,"

"Thank you," Allie said. "See you around, Meg,"

And a whirlwind fell through the common room and exited through the door.  

 




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