Leaving the Darkness
Part V: Parole Warning
Mr Martin called Allen outside first, giving me the breather I definitely needed. I felt on the verge of punching the guy, and based on the look Defender shot me on the way out, that was part of the reason he pulled Allen outside. I suppose it would be pretty bad for me to get into a fight on day one. Although I would at least be keeping up an old record if I did. Maybe when I knew Allen’s ability I could confidently deck him one if, no, when he next said something ridiculously stupid. I heard approaching footsteps and looked up to see the new person taking Allen’s now empty seat. Wasn’t Allen my person interaction filled today? Apparently not. I suppressed a moan and spoke.
“Hello,” I said, trying not to sound rude and possibly failing.
“Hallo,” they replied with a big grin. I blinked at them. They’d not quite got the accent but it was german alright.
“You speak German? Wherebouts in Europe are you fr-” I stopped speaking when they quickly waved their arms about in a panic.
“I only know a small amount,” they said, squirming awkwardly.
“Ah. You’re European as well, right?” I asked. I had a feeling they were almost as socially awkward as me although they seemed more eager to actually interact with people.
“From Iceland,” they replied. “Although I’ve been told Sanjay is from England,” they said pointing at a boy behind us. I looked over my shoulder. I didn’t know much about ethnicity but I guessed indian of some kind. He had spiky black hair and a muscular build. He was sitting down and focussed on his tablet but I could tell he was shorter than me, which was an impressive achievement considering most guys were taller.
“He’s the one I’m roomed with. Guess I should say hi at some point…” I said, still studying him. He was fairly attractive, not that I was interested in that sort of thing at the moment. Right now I needed to focus on adjusting to life here.
“Heh, lucky,” Sage murmured, chewing their lip. I cocked an eyebrow and looking very downcast Sage explained, “My roommate is Allen.”
“Scheiẞe.” I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate to say.
“Hopefully Mr Martin stops it,” Sage said, referring to Allen’s behaviour I assumed.
“What pronouns do you use?” I asked.
“Oh, they,” they said, a little surprised.
I nodded, making sure I would remember. It had never occurred to me to ask Raven about it but I was relieved that this place was trans-friendly. The door opened and Sage quickly moved back to where they had come from next to a black girl? with awesome braids. I’d need to double check pronouns with everyone I think, just to be safe.
“Jaeger, you’re up,” Mr Martin said. Allen avoided my gaze as I stood up and followed Mr Martin. Based on Allen’s expression the teacher had said a few choice words, good.
The hallway was cooler than the classroom and empty of life or sound. All the rooms in this place must have pretty good sound proofing. Not that it would stop me if I wanted to echolocate. There were always gaps I could prod. Although I did have an upper distance limit with my echo of about 10,000 square foot. The more obstacles I had to maneuver around the less distance I could manage.
I followed him down some corridors until we were in what looked like some sort of isolation room. The walls and ceiling were all painted white, the floor carpeted in simple black. There was a row of tables and chairs, all white. I was pretty sure one wall was a one-way window.
“Raven has informed me of your history,” Defender said, shutting the door. I tried not to think of that as an ominous sign. “This is the best place to talk due to soundproofing,” he explained, waving away my expression and taking a seat. I crossed my arms and opted to lean against a nearby table rather than sit.
“I thought my identity was being protected,” I muttered for lack of anything better to say.
“It is, but for the safety of other students the relevant teachers are made aware of your past,” he explained.
“Right,” I said, trying not to squirm. Defender glanced at his tablet and signed.
“Now, I am a little concerned with your quiz results and-” he began.
“I stopped school at fourteen,” I cut him off with a shrug. I felt awkward admitting it but there was little point hiding that fact.
“I see,” he murmured, making a note in his tablet. “That does mean you’ll have to spend a lot of extra time catching up.”
“I expected as much,” I replied, fighting an internal groan.
“I’m setting up a personalised education plan for you. You’ll have to do a lot of homework in order to catch up. I’ll tell the administration office to give you twenty-four hour access to the library and if you get stuck don’t hesitate to speak to me or one of your classmates.”
Hopefully that last point wouldn’t be too embarrassing. How did I explain to them why I had stopped my education so young? Maybe the person I asked wouldn’t ask the question and save me having to explain.
“You understand you are here on parole,” Defender said and I nodded. “You are entitled to an allowance same as the other students. You will be assessed with a higher scrutiny regarding going on missions. You are also forbidden to leave the academy grounds without a chaperone. I encourage you to avoid conflict where possible. For you it will only take a few strikes before you get sent back to prison, am I clear?” I felt my fists clench at his words.
“Crystal,” I replied. He watched me quietly for a moment before leading the way back to classroom. He immediately called Sage’s name and I sat next to Allen somewhat reluctantly. Sages chat was much shorter than either mine or Allens and we were released back into the academy grounds.