2

Before they came to Earth, Kris and Satsuko lived on planet EXO.

They lead completely different lives- heck, they weren’t even called Kris and Satsuko.

Kris’s real name was Yi Fan. And Satsuko’s real name was Chae Young.

Yifan was poised to marry Chaeyoung after secretly being in an affair with her for over two years.

The first time Yifan saw her was in summer, in the month of Bul. EXO had no atmosphere, so the temperatures blasted through during summer. If human beings even tried to set foot on the planet, they would get fried to a crisp.

Chaeyoung worked for Minseok, who ran an operation every summer to replenish ice in vulnerable places in the North. The North was where the fire of summer struck most, so Minseok used his powers to bring the temperatures down. The same was done for a few other places juxtaposed to The North.

Minseok was a close friend of Yifan, and often brought him down to the site.

Chaeyoung had no powers of her own, and so was forced to work as an accountant in Minseok’s operations.

People who were void of powers, be it elemental or shapeshifting, were labelled as the Most Backward Caste.

The caste system in EXO was put forth by the Emperor, the Dragon, centuries before. The same caste system had been exercised ever since- not one amendment. Needless to say, it was extremely severe and prejudiced.

Chaeyoung’s caste was at the recieving end of the monarchy’s every slip up. And besides that, they had very limited rights and practically lived in poverty.

There was a huge gap between the lower and higher caste.

Which made Chaeyoung despise each and every one of them

The middle caste was not much less privileged as the higher caste- both mingled freely, and both enjoyed the same rights.

The onlyl difference was that those in the higher caste were allowed to step into administrative affairs.

The higher caste comprised of the Time Turners, Teleporters, Psychics and the Dragons.

The Dragons were of the highest rank. They ruled the planet since it came into being and never gave up the throne.

And each time Yifan visited the Ice site, she had to resist the temptation to just stab him then and there.

Yifan was the Dragon prince.

——————————-

A meeting changed her life.

 

She had been running errands for Minseok because he was short of employees, and she had no work to attend to.

She carefully lifted the last block of ice and barged outside of the cooler to bump into Yifan, accidentally letting go of the ice in shock. She watched as the ice hit his leg and immediately melted to a warm puddle at his feet. He did not use any of his powers- it melted simply by his touch.

Chaeyoung always felt brave and strong when she fantasized about over throwing the Dragons. She could feel the fire and the energy surge through her. There was nothing that could deter her in putting them in their place. Everything seemed to fit, and all she had to do was implement it.

But at that point, she was reduced to a frightened piece of dust. Yifan was huge- besides his size, his aura was immense and deeply concentrated. She could feel his strength and power as he looked up from the ground to her.

Chaeyoung could not force her mouth to open. Her legs were going cold, and her hands were turning numb. Her face was boiling, and her head throbbing. She couldn’t imagine what he was going to do to her.

The law stated that anyone of the lower caste, if in close proximity (1 metre)  of the higher caste, will be subjected to whipping.

Chaeyoung was not only in proximity of the prince of Dragons, but had also dropped a block of ice on him.

Minseok came running to them and quickly pushed Chaeyoung out of the way.

“Chaeyoung, what are you doing? Its against the law- I can’t believe you even dropped ice on him!” he said, frantically. He glanced at Yifan before sternly instructing her to bow to him.

Chaeyoung nervously began to bow, her arms shaking as they folded in front of her abdomen.

“A-ani, Minseok, what the heck. Sorry, you don’t need to,” he mumbled, nodding his head.

“What?”

“Umm, you don’t need to bow. I’m sorry I made you drop the ice.”

Chaeyoung’s stomach lurched. She stared at him bewildered. Was he really the Dragon prince? No way!

Chaeyoung always imagined the people of the higher castes as condescending demons, with a permanent sneer plastered across their faces. Yifan was the complete opposite.

 

“Are you sure I don’t have to bow? I’m not even supposed to be near you,” she said. She didn’t know what made her say it. She was on the verge of running away- she could feel her legs shifting without her consent, yet, despite the fear and shock she was experiencing, she forced her mouth open and remarked back.

“Chaeyoung, shut up! What’re you doing?” said Minseok, confused. “Just go!”

Yifan chuckled.

“I know you’re supposed to bow- I’m not that dumb. But I don’t feel the need to force it onto people. At least, not in front of my parents,” he said, gently pushing Minseok out of the way so that he could look at her square in the eyes.

Chaeyoung was taken aback. Why was he being nice?

“Yifan, if I get in trouble for this-” started Minseok, evidently scared.

“Hyung, don’t worry. No one will even know,” Yifan assured, smiling. He turned back to Chaeyoung.

“What’s your name again?” he asked, rubbing his neck.

“Chaeyoung. Moon Chaeyoung,” she replied, outstretching her hand nervously.

A vortex of thoughts swarmed her mind. She still felt the urge to run away, but she aslo felt the need to stand up to him, to surprise him.

But how could she initiate hand shaking? That was too audacious!

Her heart stopped when Yifan shook her hand gently without batting an eye.

What was wrong with him? Maybe he didn’t know she was of a lower caste?

Before she could talk some more, however, Yifan turned to Minseok and lazily saluted him.

“I’ll get going then,” he said, before waving back at her. “See you later,” he said, flashing his gummy smile.

Chaeyoung resisted the temptation to run after him, and gingerly waved back at him instead.

“Looks like you’ve made a new friend,” Minseok remarked. “Hey, it’ll be cool if I showed you all of my friends, right! Yeah, I think I’ll do that,” he said, beginning to sketch out his plans.

Chaeyoung wasn’t listening to him at all. She had just survived a whole conversation with THE Dragon Prince.

—————————————————

After a few months, during the spring month of Biok, Chaeyoung had a reason to think of killing him again.

The Monarch had introduced a new law, exercising complete control over employment. Lower castes were not allowed to be employed in anything supplying directly to the public- which practically meant any job was out of bounds for the lower caste.

With a heavy heart, Minseok had to let Chaeyoung face unemployment.

If the lower caste were entitled to alternative jobs, or at least compensational rights, Chaeyoung would have been able to manage. Both her parents were dead for rioting against the Monarchy, so she had only her mouth to feed. It would seem difficult, but Chaeyoung was economical and fairly sneaky- she could weasle her way into something for extra bread after the existing balance ran out.

But with this law coming into effect, she had nothing but one month worth salary. Of that, half went to the Monarchy, and a quarter of the remainder went to the Higher Caste Union. That left her with a quarter of her salary, enough to keep her healthy for about a week or two. The lower caste was prohibited from selling their articles as well- their touch was apparently infertile.

Chaeyoung was worried for herself, but her heart went out to the others. The lower caste was poverty-stricken and lived in the most apalling conditions. She could manage for a few weeks because she only had to take care of herself. But other families had no sense of responsible family planning- almost every other household was shelter for at least eight people.

The lower caste had no rights, but to help their condition was the dearth of charities, due to the lack of social acceptance. All this hate was because they were born without powers, and ironically, if they started developing powers later, they were termed as slatterns, be it male or female. This was mainly because the phenomenon was likely to happen if the person had had intercourse with someone with powers. Itcould be before marriage or after, but either way, lower castes were not supposed to mingle with, let alone make love to the higher castes. It was beautiful- a start of something new and fresh, but the higher authorities slammed it.

Due to the implementation of the law, the lower caste staged a riot in front of the Emperor’s Palace.

Chaeyoung found herself subconciously looking for Yifan, a recurring face in her dreams.

The police force on planet EXO was called Doum Bosu, DM for short. It basically meant people who gave out help, but the DM was dependent on the Monarchy, and was under their complete control, which meant they could hand out any punishment under the law to the lower caste, accordingly.

Riot and rebellion were strictly prohibited, and those who weren’t killed in the protests were taken in for execution. But it was of no matter for the people, because without their right to employment back, they would die anyway.

Chaeyoung was distracted as she saw the fiery red uniform converge at the entrance. The DM had assembled and was getting ready to charge.

Shortly after, Chaeyoung’s ear rung, and vibrated violently, the sound of screaming resonating within her. She was trying hard to run away, but keep her stance at the same time.

Her head throbbed at the sight of her neighbours, practically family members, ripped apart, lying on the ground, blood spewn across the sleek, cemented roads.

Chaeyoung was stopped in her tracks when she felt a sharp pain course through her body. Her heart momentarily stopped, as she looked down to see her pants ablaze, searing through her skin.

Chaeyoung hurriedly put out the fire, before gingerly rolling up her pants, her hands shaking relentlessly. She could feel her breakfast come up when the wound was revealed.

“Chaeyoung, what are you doing?” she heard from the distance.

She snapped her head to the left to see a faint figure. Tall, fairly skinny.

She knew it was Yifan without even seeing his face, and she wasn’t sure how. She had only seen him once, but there was this weird connection between them.

Chaeyung didn’t dwell too much and frantically ran towards Kris, breathing heavily. The wound was acting up, but Yifan seemed to be the only person who she could be with for the time being. No one else knew Chaeyoung- the people she did know were either missing or dead.

“Chaeyoung, why are you here? We- we have to get out of here,” he said, motioning for her to follow him.

Chaeyoung whispered, ” I can’t. I’m hurt.”

Yifan quickly glanced at her sore legs, her skin scorched into a deep, maroon colour. He knew what burns looked like, and hers was very deep, and of high degree.

“I’ll help you.”

———————————————————-

“I’m not sure on how to treat it, so I’m gonna get one of my friends to,” Yifan said, before walking out the door.

Chaeyoung was not in a good situation at all.

There were so many things she was confused about, and so many things she was shocked about. Thoughts flooded her mind as she sat clueless on a bed.

She gripped the fabric and rubbed her fingers. Silk, of course. Definitely silk. Nothing else would do. Why?

She was on Yifan’s bed. The very place that the Dragon Prince slept.

In fact, she was in his room. Which meant she was in the palace.

If that wasn’t alarming enough, Yifan had slung her on his back effortlessly to bring her there. He trudged through a compact area of woods before entering the palace through the back. He then quickly ascended to his room and placed her on his bed, making sure he was gentle.

Yifan had just gone out to get help for her burns, leaving her alone in the domain of the very people she hated most.

One thing reverberated in her mind, something that she could not ignore. It was huge, tightly holding onto her, making sure it was in her attention.

Why was he being nice to her?

She wasn’t supposed to be near him, yet he didn’t even let her bow. She wasn’t supposed to talk with him, but here she was, sitting on his bed. What was wrong with him? Was he posessed?

Yifan burst through the doors shortly after, bringing with him Yixing, a healer, and one of Yifan’s friends.

“It’s not gonna hurt,” he said, grinning. “Oh, and he’s a healer. So, you don’t have to worry- you’re safe in his hands,” he added, before Yixing bent down to heal her wounds.

Interestingly, Chaeyoung didn’t even care about Yixing and his healing. Naturally, she would nervously watch him as he worked his magic, making sure he didn’t kill her.

But something much more trivial occuppied her mind.

He kept saying ‘gonna’. She never heard him say ‘going to’.

Chaeyoung chuckled in her thoughts. Only babies said ‘gonna’ and Yifan was beginning to seem like a baby.

Yixing left both of them later, when he was sure her wound had healed.

“So, what were you doing there. And why was it all- bloody- everywhere,” Kris asked, trying to break the ice.

Chaeyoung looked up at him in disbelief. Did he really not know? What kind of a prince was he?

She hesistated for an instant. She didn’t want him to know she was against him. He seemed nice.

Right?

Chaeyoung mentally shook herself. She couldn’t believe she was softening for Yifan. For all she knew, he was trying to get her trouble.

“I was protesting. So were all the others. We basically, hate you,” she said, looking into his eyes.

She watched them as they changed from wide to small slits, obviously confused.

“Protesting for what?” he asked, making Chaeyoung question his position once again.

“You really don’t know?”

Yifan nodded, settling himslef on the bed, but keeping more than enough distance from her. He was interested.

Chaeyoung sighed as she began to explain the law, and the state of the lower caste. She explained how difficult it was to live. And she slightly hinted at her desire to kill his family. Only slightly though.

When she finished, Yifan felt a small fire burn in the pit of his stomach. He was in a dilemma. Before, he had no idea that the lower caste lived in such adverse conditions. He only had friends from the Higher and Middle Caste, and he rarely ever visited their areas.

Moreover, he was infuriated that the planet was ruled in such a tyrannical way. He was shocked to know the true side of his parents. They were dictators- power hungry, ignorant rulers, feeding off the Lower Caste. They thrived in their privileges, some of which Yifan could not believe. Even he wasn’t entitled to such a glorious life- he had his limits too. But the Monarchy, they lived freely. The only rules that were relevant to them were the ones they imposed on everyone else.

But Yifan found himslef contradicting his anguish now and then as she explained her condition. It was natural to think of one’s parents as God. Yifan didn’t want to accept reality and label them as the opposite.

“I’m really sorry about it. We really are-” he hesitated, thinking of the right word.

“-dickheads,” she finished, trying hard to hide her smile.

Yifan laughed. She had an attitude, and he liked it.

“But, seriously, how do you not know all this?” Chaeyoung asked, after a few seconds. “You’re the prince!”

Yifan shrugged. “I don’t really take interest in politics and stuff. I like travelling, and meeting new people. That’s why I’m outside a lot,” he said, looking out his window. “That’s also why I visit Minseok during work a lot. He goes to cool places, so…” he trailed off, nodding. “What about you? Do you like travelling?”

Chaeyoung shook her head. She had a few areas because of Minseok and her job. But other than that, she had never stepped out of her house. She had no idea what it was like in other places, outside of her area and a few adjoing places.

She didn’t have the capital to travel by herself, for one, and secondly, she didn’t have any interest in travelling. Sure, new people were nice, but she had more work where she was.

“Do you want me to take you?” he asked. She could see his eyes brighten, like a lightbulb. It was evident he liked moving around.

“How? It’s dangerous down there, and I’m not even supposed to be with you,” she said, shaking her head, speaking quickly. She was flustered and she knew because she coud feel herself blushing, but she knew it wasn’t safe.

Kris stood and gently took her hand in his. He pulled her towards the balcony and watched her as she stood bewildered.

Yifan slowly changed his form. A deep red coloured wing sprouted from either shoulder blade. Black scales covered his body, his clothes disappearing behind them. His fingers slowly morphed into dry, hay-colored claws. His face elongated, showcasing a rich crimson color, and a long, muscly tail from his back slid in front of him, bending at the end.

Chaeyoung’s heart dropped. She had never seen him in dragon form, and he looked menacing, intimidating.

Yifan hoisted her onto his back using his humongous tail, and readied himself for flight. He chuckled at her silence.

“You’re blushing, and I’m taking that as your consent for this. TAKE OFF!” he shouted, as loud as he could, before bounding into the open sky.

Yifan flapped his gigantic wings, ascending above the clouds, with Chaeyoung on his back, evidently in total disbelief.

 

He flicked his tail on her head, slapping her out of bewilderment.

“Are you taking in the sights?” he asked, motioning to the landscape in front of them.

“Yifan, stop it!” she said, ignoring his questions. Yifan, its scary!”

Yifan suppressed his laughter, and said, “Nothing’s going to happen! You believe me right?”

Silence.

For once, Yifan questioned his words. That was too- romantic, wasn’t it? He mentally slapped himself, trying to correct his words.

You believe me right?

It resonated in both of their minds for a while.

Chaeyoung was taken aback. She literally swerved backwards when she heard him say it.

Chaeyoung found it hard to negotiate with the two sides of her mind.

You can’t believe anything he says. And anyways, doesn’t it seem too over the top to say that? You just met him.”

“What’s in a sentence? There’s nothing ‘over the top’ in asking for your trust. He’s just taken responsibility for you. I mean, he flying you on his back!”

Chaeyoung dwelled on her second side’s opinion. They were right- he had to make sure of her trust.

And anyways, it wasn’t like they weren’t friends, right? They shared a lot of their lives over the bed. And he even saved her during the protests.

Chaeyoung took a deep breath, and to Yifan’s amazement, she silently whispered, “Yes, I do believe you.”

But she couldn’t help but question if it really was the sense of friendship that compelled her to say that.

She couldn’t help but think it was something else.

———————————————————————————————

After their dragon ride, Yifan settled onto the roof of the palace and turned back into his human form.

They held hands, much to the surprise of each other, and stared into the horizon for a few minutes.

Yifan was the first to speak.

“Chaeyoung, I know I just met you, but I feel really close to you. Let’s be best friends forever, OK?” he said carefully, his stomach lurching. He tried to finish it fast- make it short, try and act like it was nothing. He didn’t dare turn to look at her.

“Nae, let’s be friends forever,” she replied, against the small voice in the pit of her stomach.

It was telling her not to- he was still the dragon prince, and was a good-for-nothing liar.

But she quickly swatted it away. She liked not having to worry about Yifan every minute she was with him. She trusted him.

She believed in him.

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