Wayward: Part V

The Wayward Son

Part V: Back to School

After a long night of working on armor design, I kipped down for a short night of sleep. I woke up early enough and went through my usual routine: exercises, outside run, shower, prayers and then breakfast.

The some of the others were already up but I went past them for a run around campus. I was always a bit nauseous in the morning but exercise helped with it and it also helped me by fully awake.

Ravenhold basically held a good part of the south eastern part of priest island, it was a bit of a hilly place a lot of which had been terraced for convenience. The center of the domain held the administration which was flanked on the north and southern sides by the school building and the training center respectively. The cafeteria, a long rectangle with open shutters from late spring to early autumn was just to the back of the administration building.

The sixteen dorm houses were scattered about the place, half of them in the front part of the terrain and the other half in the back. The back of campus held not just the house but a large park, at the center of which was the hall of heroes. The hall was a large open air domed rotunda. I interrupted my run and went inside, which held a large brazier and four tall black tablets standing upright.

I walked over to the tablets and saw the names engraved upon it. Real names accompanied by cape names and dates. I traced the hollowed out letters with my fingers. Many of the names were dated to the second to last week of June 2012, the days when the Tzari empire had invaded our world.

A hundred and twenty seven names, nearly half of that year’s Ravenhold pupils. Teenagers who had given their lives to protect the world all within the same five days… Many of whom were younger than I was. I walked back to the dorm. My head full of somber thoughts.  I took a long shower to clean it out before cleaning out my altar’s water bowl, setting up the offerings and meditating for a while.

Once my head was clear, I went into the kitchen, Most of the others were up, with Caroline still serving as the breakfast cook.

“Hi, I’m Caroline.” She said with a smile. “I didn’t get your name last night.”

“I’m Sanjay.”

“Glad to meet you Sanjay, how do you like your eggs?”

“Sunny side up.” I told her. “Oh, no meat I’m vegetarian.”

“Oh alright. Are you okay with milk, cheese, eggs and other non-meat animal products? What about sea food? If I’m going to be cooking, I’d like not to leave you out.”

“Yeah, so long as it doesn’t hurt the animal. No fish or anything though. Also, I appreciate the thought.”

Like a lot of Hindu, my family was vegetarian but unlike most, we didn’t consider eggs to be analogous to meat. After all, an unfertilized egg had no chance of ever becoming a living creature.

“Okay. One vegetarian breakfast coming right up!” She said enthusiastically.

She got to work and as the eggs and toast cooked she whipped up a few fruits and assembled it into an impromptu fruit salad, setting in on a plate along with my eggs, toasts and home fries.

“You didn’t have to do all that.”

“I like going all out. Plus the plate felt a little empty without bacon.”

“Well, thank you for the breakfast.”

“You’re welcome.”

She got to work on Annabelle’s breakfast, who was the last one up, as I ate mine, before she went to sit down on the couch along with Charlie. Once school time way about, I followed the others to the classroom building and we quickly found our way to homeroom. We sat down, with my taking the seat next to Jaime as everyone else seemed to avoid her like the plague.

I gave her a nodded greeting which she returned, but that was the extend of our conversation. Mr. Martin, our teacher came in soon afterward, African-American, greyed hair, military pants, a simple jacket with a plain t-shirt underneath, a few scars on his face and a brace over his knee. He walked with a bit of a limp which made me think he’d retired to teaching post injuries.

“Good morning students. My name is Joshua Martin, although most of you have probably known me better as Defender. Which I’d like to point out that despite what the media seem to believes has no ‘the’ before it.” He explained. His voice was naturally strong and commanded attention.  Having barely followed the exploits of British capes through my life, I wasn’t familiar with American capes. So I wasn’t sure who Defender had been as a hero.

He quickly explained the purpose of homeroom; to teach us English and mathematics as Ravenhold was required to provide an education to its pupils in accordance to state requirements. The class was simple; people worked on their own stuff individually and he was there for anyone who needed help.

“What if we’ve already finished high school?” I asked, gaining me a few curious glances.

“Then I’ll find something to keep you busy; personal projects, dissertations and et cetera.” He answered, which was annoying. I would have rather been productive at something relevant. “I hope you’ve brought your tablets along as they will serve as your number one instruction tools. For those who haven’t we have spares, but don’t forget next time.” He then said to the whole class.

He passed keyboard plug ins for the school’s tablets and gave us a quiz on them. I was the first to finish, the program giving me a perfect score. I’d always excelled at academia and technical sides of language. Things like free writing, essays and the likes however hadn’t been my strong suit. Still it hadn’t stopped me from graduating years early.

“Sanjay, since you’re already done, why don’t you come over and talk?”

“Sure, Mr. Martin.”

I got up and went to his desk.

“I see you’ve done quite well.” He said, looking at the results on his laptop.

I shrugged. “I’ve finished high school years ago and crunched my way up to an engineering doctorate in a little under four years.”

“That’s extremely impressive.”

“I guess…” Was all I could think to answer. “Do I really have to do dissertations and school work?”

“Well, I admit you’re an extraordinary case. Most of our gadgeteers instead rely on parahuman insight. Have you been tested for Von-Neumann?”

I nodded. “I did at my college. Came back negative.”

“Alright. Well, I think we could arrange something productive to do with your time. Its within our mission statement to contribute to the education of our pupils but since you’ve finished the standard curriculum, we could set up a collegial level course for you to choose.”

“That sounds good.”

I would have rather just gotten more time to tinker in my lab but school rules were school rules.

“Alright, I’ll work on that today and we can discuss it next time. In the meantime, you’re free to do as you wish for this period.”

I nodded and went back to my seat, Mr. Martin called the next student, Amber to have a chat.  The rest of homeroom passed rather quickly as I took notes on my tablet, trying to figure out some of the performance issues my suit had been having before I left. We were given a reminder to pass by administration for our ID and permanent keycards before being let go.

The second class of the day was Parahuman history, one class I definitely needed to attend. To my surprise, a Gimelian had been assigned as our teacher. The slim but muscular ape-like humanoids came from a strange alternate earth we had contacted over two decades ago through dimensional portals, since then several thousands had emigrated here. I still hadn’t expected one to be working at our school.

Doctor Apex as he called himself, a rather stupid pun, seemed rather nice. He gave us a quick history of his life; emigrating to earth Aleph two years after first contact, studying our history and later being asked to teach here at Ravenhold. He took presences and both Allison and Rowan had been referred to as a Mx. something I took note of. Speaking of which, Allison seemed to know a lot about superhero history; giving the breakdown of the Legion’s foundation and their ideals.

Long story short; The Legion had been created in response to the US government creating their own team of ‘heroes’ in the Liberty League. Hero being a loose use of the term as they’d been tasked to invade other countries for disagreeing with United States on economic and social policies.  The Legion however rejected governmental control, not wanting to be told who villains were.

Next, the professor went over the summary of the next forty years of parahuman history; witch hunts in the united states against heroes, a communist uprising defeated by previously vilified heroes leading to a new golden age, the arrival of Itharii and the Tzari invasion.

Although a lot was said, the time flew by quickly and soon enough it was time for lunch followed by a free afternoon to get to know each other. Which I knew I’d probably spend locked up working in my lab.

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