Ana Hopespark sat on a long-dead tree stump, carefully molding a tiny ball of clay into the shape of a panda. She loved pandas dearly, however, it's far to hot in Ember City for any to survive.
She adjusted her bandanna and smiled at her progress. The little panda was taking form!
"Ana!" called a familiar voice.
Ana turned to see her friend and mentor, Meghan Amberstone, grinning broadly and holding a letter.
"What's that?" she asked.
"An opportunity, Ana! Do you remember what I've told you about the Resistance work in Aethasia?"
"I think about it all the time," Ana replied.
"Well, dear," Meghan replied, her face beaming, "I called some Resistance members on my communicator, and they've pulled strings to give you this!"
She shoved the letter into Ana's scarred hands. Ana laid her clay panda in her lap and opened the letter. It was an invitation to the Aethasian Academy! Ana gasped, a thousand feelings welling up.
"Isn't it exciting, Ana?" asked Meghan, "You'll learn more about the Resistance then I could ever teach you!"
"But . . . what more could I learn?" she asked quietly.
Meghan's brow furrowed, "Oh dear . . I've taught you best I can, but there's so much more you could learn in Aethasia! Are you sure you don't want to give it a try?"
"I do," Ana stated honestly, "However . . . I don't want to leave Ember City, I don't want to leave our mission, I don't want to leave you!"
"I'll always be here, dear," Meghan replied, stroking Ana's blonde hair, "You won't live at the Academy forever, and I'll visit you as often as I can."
Don't turn this down, Ana! said the voice of her long lost friend, Who knows when you'll get another chance?
Quite right, Miss K, she thought, who knows.
"I'll go," Ana replied, hope welling up inside her.
Meghan clapped her hands, "Excellent! I'll help you pack your things tonight, you'll be off in the morning!"
She turned on her heels and returned to the studio. Ana sighed and stared up at the sky, I'll be off in the morning.
Ana stood outside the Aethasian Academy, wondering where to go. There was something strange about the air in Aethasia, it was . . . not as warm as Ember City.
Then, a blonde-haired Aethasian opened one of the Academy doors, a happy smile on her face.
"H- hello," Ana greeted, glancing about nervously, "I was invited here by the Resistance!" She held out the invitation as proof.