(Royal Academy Guest Hall)
Sophie and the other qualifying students stood on a raised stage while the other students from their year and the parents sat in the audience below.
This was the send off ceremony where the top students would receive their tickets with the location of their entrance examination.
The entrance exam this year in particular was special as it was the first year where the site location was to be kept a secret prior to arrival.
As previous year's particpants who came from wealthy families were too well prepared for the testing environment which led to unfair advantages. It was decided that Sophie's year would trial this new method to increase the competitiveness.
Following the ceremony, there was only a short two hours of rest to say goodbye to their families before they would be shuttled into their respective transport sh.i.p.s and begin the long journey to the testing sites.
The university entrance exam was only available to the top students of every high school but the sheer number of exoplanets, planets and lunar colonies in the Earth Federation meant that millions of potential candidates gained qualification.
To accommodate these large numbers, the examinees were assigned to different examination sites and only the top one thousand students would move on to the next round of testing.
There were fifteen sites in total and the location varied each year.
Each site had their own transport starship which would pick up students from the different planets and then take them back once the examination ended.
"It is my absolute honour as the principal of the Royal Academy to give these tickets to the top fourteen students of the senior class!" Principal Yang shouted with pride.
Thunderous applause erupted from the audience as cheers of encouragement from the students and parents made the qualifying students feel like popular stars.
There were originally fifteen spots available, but Su Ling had claimed two spots for herself and surprisingly enoughthe principal did not seem to raise any issue with the matter.
It had caused many to speculate on the background of Su Ling who had kept a relatively low profile in the school until the evaluation tournament.
Sophie saw her father beaming at her with Katarina and Jack also joining in with the cheers. She felt a burst of happiness and couldn't resist giving a small wave towards their direction.
"Congratulations Aiden for being the first-place candidate for the school!"
The principal gave a resounding pat on the back to the confident boy and handed him a white envelope with a golden seal.
Screams of admiration came from several girls in the audience as Aiden smiled with a c.o.c.ky grin.
"Congratulations Qiana for obtaining the spot of the second-place candidate!"
Sophie looked at the quiet girl wearing thick glasses who just stared blankly while the Principal handed her the envelope before tucking it away in her pocket.
She nodded towards two serious looking figures in the audience and then resumed her empty stare.
Principal Yang went down the line of students before handing Sophie an envelope and commending her in a rather stiff tone.
She noticed that he gazed at her father with a fearful look before hurriedly wrapping up the ceremony.
(Gaia International Spaceport Terminal - Gate 104B)
The spaceport where the transport ship was located was on the other side of the planet, so Sophie and her family had to immediately leave after the ceremony.
She didn't even have time to open the envelope on the way as her father had just rushed to their private spaceship and spent the short trip lecturing her on the potential dangers during the entrance exam.
The other students from the Royal Academy were going into the same gate so Sophie decided to check the site number on her ticket.
"So, tell us milady! What site are you going to?" Katarina asked in excitement.
Sophie looked at her father and the two death guards that were gazing at her with expectant expressions and tore open the envelope.
She glanced at her ticket and saw that she would be going to Site 13 which was an exoplanet in the Alpha Star System.
There were no additional details about the name or characteristics of the exoplanet.
The voyage would take about one month to arrive, and the test would be held on the planet over the duration of three weeks.
"It seems like my testing site is going to be Site 13," Sophie said with a smile.
Sophie was carrying two suitcases with spatial expansion augmentations which allowed her father to stuff what seemed to be a lifetime worth of goods inside the first suitcase.
The second suitcase was completely empty except for a high security container with biometric verification that housed the Frostwing bat egg that she had gotten from the pet store.
The egg was a beautiful shade of cerulean blue with white lines gracefully running down the length of its sides. It was about the size of a basketball and would feel slightly chilly when touched.
There was an intricate pattern carved onto the egg with Sophie's blood which was the first part of the bonding ceremony.
The egg would take about five months to hatch and Sophie would need to inject her qi into the young hatchling on a monthly basis.
Rokan checked his watch and saw that it was nearly time for the space shuttle to depart so he made sure his daughter knew what was inside the luggage.
"Sweetie. the emergency first aid kits are in the left pocket,"
"I know dad."
"I also made sure to pack a year's worth of nutrient solution in the suitcase but make sure to call me if you need more."
"I know dad."
"There are also two blaster guns which I placed in the hidden space at the bottom of the suitcase."
"Dad!!" Sophie spoke in an exasperated tone.
Rokan just gave a wry smile at his daughter's pouting expression and gently rubbed her hair a few times. He couldn't help but feel a sense of loss over how quickly she seemed to be growing up.
She looked more and more like her mother especially when she got slightly angry or annoyed.
"I'm sorry princess, your old man is just worried about you," the duke said in a soft voice.
Sophie felt a wave of warmth from her overprotective father and gave him a big hug. She felt small tears fall down her cheeks as despite her tough frontit was a scary feeling to be going away from home.
A mechanical voice boomed from the speakers ahead and suddenly the departure was upon them.
[Flight 024 Now Boarding]
[All passengers on Flight 024Please make your way inside the space vessel]
"Looks like it's my flight," Sophie spoke up with teary eyes.
Sophie picked up both of the suitcases and walked into the terminal while constantly looking back at her family.
"Don't forget to beat up everyone!" Katarina yelled as Sophie was leaving their sight.
"Also, I packed several injectors with vials of poison which I expect you to keep up your schedule. When you return, I will be thoroughly testing your immunity to each type."
Sophie stumbled slightly as the second part of Katarina's encouragement seemed to break the solemn mood.
She turned around for one last gaze and saw her father give her a thumbs up sign of encouragement.
With a deep breath, she walked inside the gate and took the first step of her interstellar cultivation journey!