The Telo makes no distinction between rich and poor, but that doesn’t mean the survivors don’t. Class identity remains strong with some groups, especially the ones who had been among the elite before the Telo and have no intention of losing their social position. The girls from St Catherine’s Prep are among the worst.Amy, arrogant in fatigues and an armband in the St Catherine’s colors, agreed with Julilla’s plan, adding that it wasn’t good to change strategy because “the public school lowlifes” among them would only screw it up.Of course, the former elites have to compete with arrivistes, such as Elissa Templeton, the self-styled Empress of the Thespians. Elissa has very specific ideas about how she should be treated.
Cassie held her breath and was relieved when Julilla let the classist remark pass as if she hadn’t heard it.He gave Elissa the briefest of bows, with a smirk that made it clear he was only playing along. In polite tones that just skirted sarcasm, he welcomed Elissa to the hotel and offered to take her to Mundo personally. “But no more than two guards,” he said. “The others have to wait here.”She also has notions about how she should be addressed.
Elissa scowled. “I never go anywhere without my retinue.”“God, I hope Mundo doesn’t make me stay there half the night with Empress Elissa and those wackos. Did you know she gets upset if she isn’t addressed as ‘Your Excellency’?”While the Thespians pay no attention to pre-Telo social status, that doesn't mean they don't have an internal class system of their own.Cassie fell silent and Marsha stood and stretched her arms overhead. “Well, time to get back to work. I’m still on probation and don’t want anyone to think I spend all my time gabbing.”Although the Regents are more democratic, that doesn’t mean its internal elite don’t have special privileges of their own.
“I see Thespians talking all the time.”
“Those are the ones who can act.” Marsha grinned. “It’s all work when you’re crew instead of cast.”
Some make sense...“It’s our dirty secret,” Julilla said as they sipped real coffee and ate powdered eggs in a corner near the pantry. “Actually, it’s not that big a secret that a person needs calories in order to train and fight, but….” She looked away, suddenly embarrassed.Others less so...
Cassie nodded. “Most of us suspected. We just didn’t know the details. That would be hard to deal with on a bad day.“Will there be dessert?” Cassie asked.
“For us? Probably not.”
“But you never know,” someone else said. “It’s happened before.”
“True,” Doc said. “It’s all about what David and them were able to scavenge today.”
As it turned out, there was no dessert, except at Mundo’s table where everyone got a few teaspoons of something that looked like vanilla pudding.
“Don’t bother being jealous,” a girl said, seeing where Cassie was looking. “It’s mostly just for show and probably not very good.”
But for the most part, it's safe to say that society has become merit-based, and friendships regularly cross former class lines.“They’re getting to be like stray dogs. They can eat anything. We’re the ones still wishing we had Big Macs and pizza.”
“Or a nice salmon filet.”
Julilla looked at her askance. “Something tells me we grew up in different neighborhoods.”
For some reason Cassie thought this was funny and for the first time in a long time, she felt herself stifling an urge to giggle. “It’s all the same now, isn’t it?”
“Sucks that this is what it took.”
Cassie agreed. “Isn’t it funny though, that we formed new tribes of our own? Makes you think maybe it’s just human nature.”