Outland: Part IV

The Human Outlands

Part IV: Human School

The others seemed to know where they were going so I followed them into a brick building and to its second floor. We took seats, Annabelle and I sitting right by each others, and the teacher came in.

Our first teacher was a dark skinned human male, he walked with a bit of a limp as he got to his desk.

“Good morning students.” He said facing us. “My name is Joshua Martin, although most of you have probably known me better as Defender.” I hadn’t but I didn’t know a lot about superheroes. “Which I’d like to point out that despite what the media seems to believes has no ‘the’ before it.” He then added.

“You may address me as Mr. Martin from now on.” He said before starting to explain the hows and why of the class; We’d mostly work individually and Mr. Martin was there in case we needed help. Once he was done explaining, he gave us a test on English and Mathematics.

The English test itself was pretty easy. But the mathematics one was much harder; I wasn’t used to human numbers so I had to translate the equations back and forth between human math and our maths. Thankfully humans also used a base ten system so that saved me a lot of trouble.

Once the tests were done, Mr. Martin called us one by one to his desk to discuss academics. Soon enough my turn came and I joined him.

Mr. Martin was really tall. Like even for a human he was tall. I felt so tiny sitting in the seat by his desk; he had about two heads over me.

“Good morning, Ahti.” He said. “How have you been adjusting to Ravenhold so far?”

“It’s different. But not bad different.”

“That’s good to hear. How did you feel you were doing during the aptitude test?”

“The English part was easy. But the math was hard, I don’t normally use human maths.”

“I see. That does explain a few mistakes; nothing major, just some misplaced decimal points and what I believe to be an error or two in translating numbers.”

I nodded.

“Well, I’ll see that the test is translated to Itharii mathematics so you can take it again tomorrow, that way I’ll know where you really are on your mathematics skills. However you’ll have to start using human mathematics if you want me to help you”

“I can do that.”

Practicing human math seemed like a good idea; after all I had to know how to communicate with my new friends.

“If I may ask; how old are you Ahti?” Mr. Martin asked.

“In Earth years?”

“Obviously.”

“I had my thirteenth name day in April.” I said.

Ithar years I’d have been a little under nine years old but the Vaal community had decided to switch to earth years; both for age purpose and for our religious festivals which were based on the seasons.

“What is a name day? Excuse me, I’m not too familiar with Itharii customs.” Mr. Martin asked.

“It’s okay, I don’t know a lot about human customs.” I answered. “A name day is the celebration of the third day after the last member of a clutch come out of metamorphosis; that’s when my Zuzuk gave our names to Kulaat and I.”

“I see.” Was all he answered. “So, that’s like a birthday?”

“I think? It’s the day we count our age from.”

I was technically older; it took about three earth months for a little one to go through its first few stages of life; hatching as an egg, the larval phase and then metamorphosis. It was only when we were done that we received a name and started counting our age.

“That’s similar to human birthdays. Do you speak English at home?”

“No. But I studied very hard before coming here.”

“Well, I’m happy to report you scored very well on the English test; Your reading comprehension was rated at a tenth grade level which is impressive.”

“Is tenth grade good?”

“Yes, that’s the normal grade level of human teenagers aged fifteen to sixteen. Which is even more impressive since English is not your first language.”

I nodded. “We speak Ibarian at home, but sometimes Kulaat and I also speak Zulu or Afrikaans together.”

“You can speak four languages fluently?”

I nodded again. “But I’m better than her. Tzama-zuzu speaks lots of languages; Ibarian, Ztot, Ku’rik, English, French, Zulu, Afrikaans, Japanese and Spanish.” I said, numbering those I remember off the top of my head.

“Tzama-zuzu would be?”

I couldn’t help but snicker which made Mr. Martin raise a brow.

“You don’t have to call her that. You called her mommy Tzama. For you it would be just Tzama or Tzama-tun if you want to be very formal.”

“I see.” He said with an embarrassed smile. “As I said, I don’t know a lot. Since class assignments were only decided two weeks ago so I didn’t have time to learn more about your culture.”

“It’s okay. You seem nice.”

“Well, I’ll try to be less silly in the future. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?”

I took a moment to think before shaking my head. Mr. Martin dismissed me and I went back to sit at my desk.

The period ended quickly and I followed the other to the parahuman history class which was in the same building.

I couldn’t help but be ecstatic when our teacher walked in. Like me, he wasn’t a human. Rather being one of those furry ape people from another world. Seeing another alien made me really happy. Ravenhold seemed like a nice place but there were so many humans so I was alone.

Although that made me wonder about something; were Gimelians really aliens? I knew they came from another world but it was still an earth, even if it was a different one so did they count as aliens?

My thoughts were interrupted by the Teacher.

“Good morning students.” He said, his voice was really deep and I assumed he was male. As he continued his intro he took out a stylus and wrote something in his species’ language on the board.“My name is-” He said something but I wasn’t sure how to write his name down. “-of course, that is a an unpronounceable mouthful for homo sapiens. Instead you may call me Professor Apex.”

There was a pause.

“Get it; Ape-X, Apex.” He then said and the gears in my head turned.  

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the pun. However none of the others seem to find it funny, not even Annabelle sitting next to me. Maybe she just didn’t get it.

“See his name is Apex because he’s like an Ape and he’s also the top, so he’s the apex.” I explained in a whisper to her.

“I see…” She whispered back.

It seemed to me that humans don’t have much of a sense of humor. How could none of them find the play on word funny?

Humans are weird…

“Bah, you kids have no sense of humor. Except you little Itharii, I’m already liking you.” Professor Apex said, almost as if he knew what I was thinking.

Introductions over with, he started his lesson; going through the big events of the last century, which was very welcome because I wasn’t good at history so the introduction was much needed.

And there was a lot to memorize. Earth’s history was long and pretty violent, it was nothing like Ithar’s history. It was almost as if humans were constantly fighting…

After a long and busy period, with me frantically trying to take notes so I’d remember everything, class ended and the time for the midday meal came about.

And it was just in time; I was starving.

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