Part XIII: Rivalty
I stayed on the ground in the bathroom for a few minutes, hyperventilating until I felt my breath and heart calm down. My med hadn’t taken effect yet, but at least the initial panic had faded. I got up and splashed my face with cold water before going back into the classroom.
I sat back down next to Caroline and she gave me a hard cover science manual, she had picked an extra for me.
“Hey are you alright?” She whispered.
I didn’t even have the strength to lie.
“No…” I answered.
“Do you want to leave?”
“I… Eh…” I rubbed my temples, trying to think. “ No… I took my meds, I’ll get better soon.”
Under the table, Caroline’s hand found mine and she squeezed it, giving me one of her warm gorgeous smile, which gave me a little bit of courage even though all I wanted to do was break down and cry in her arms.
“Get into four groups of four please, be mindful of the grouping as you’ll be working with each other for the rest of this year.” The teacher said.
“So anyone you want to–” I began before being interrupted.
“Hey shortie, wanna team up?” Jaeger said.
I just glared at him and his stupid leaf nose.
“I don’t see why not.” I replied. “Batboy.” I then added. I saw he was taken aback by it and felt good. I wasn’t normally a jerk, but if he wanted to make fun of my height, the gloves were off. I might have been small, but I could bite back.
“Is that the type of chimera you are?” Sanjay asked.
“Yeah. Let’s move our stuff.” Jaeger answered clearly uncomfortable. I knew I’d hit the jackpot.
Since Jaeger only had one arm, Sanjay and I moved their heavy lab table closer to ours.
“Hmm, two of you are threes,” Stanko declared. “Sage and Allison… If they think my class is worth skipping I’ll just assign them to a group each. Sage is with you lot.” He said pointing at Yougen, Yikaru and Jaime “And Allison you other three.” Tyler, Allen, Mace and Allison made that team. Leaving Annabelle, Ahti, Amber and Rowan together.
“They’re not gonna be too happy to hear that,” Jaeger muttered.
“Not from me.” I said. “Someone else can break it to them.”
“I thought you were a brave hero.” Jaeger said to me. Before I could answer him, Stanko began one of his long rants so I focused on taking notes. The ‘lesson’ covering just about everything. As he passed through the rows, his eyes fixed on Jaeger.
“You, what is your name?” he asked.
“Jaeger Smith.” I couldn’t help but notice that smith wasn’t a very German name.
“Your paramorphic features are unique, are you a chimera?” Stanko asked. Jaeger looked really uncomfortable which I admittedly enjoyed. “Amazing. Now I wonder does anyone in the class know what a chimera is?”
“Are you alright?” I heard Caroline ask Jaeger. “He shouldn’t have singled you out like that…”
“Something made of genes from different animal species.” Yougen answered.
“Yes, now does anyone know how the process is done?” Stanko asked. I knew the answer, having done lots of research after having acquired Nibbles, but I didn’t volunteer an answer. Stanko looked at Jaeger to explain, but instead he just froze.
“I’m going to be setting you all a lot of reading.” Stanko sighed. “A chimera is made using one of two methods. The most straightforward and popular approach is splicing the DNA of a developing embryo. The second approach is combining immune suppression and cell infusions to alter pre-existing DNA. The second approach is riddled with a lot of risks. Anyone care to guess what those might be?”
Caroline shot me a look before raising her hand. “Infection risk from the immunosuppression.” she suggested.
“Yes, any others?”
“Would there be a risk of things like cancer?” Mace asked.
“Ah, due to the advancements in this area cancer is no longer a heightened risk for chimera unless they are poorly made. Or if we’re looking at it from the second approach the attempt to bind the genes fail.”
The more people talked, the more tense Jaeger became.
“Side-effects of the drugs and cell infusions,” Annabelle said.
“Yes and yes. A lot of chimeras made this way are effectively sterilized by the process. Any others?”
“Painful puberty.” Jaeger said.
“Yes, due to the way the genes are being combined, most of the paramorphic changes don’t occur until the onset of puberty. Now we know animal chimeras were made illegal in early 2012, but creating human chimeras have been illegal since the technology was first founded.”
That was when the bell rang, announcing the end of class.
“Ah, I guess I’ll teach you about famous scientists involved in chimera research next time,” he sighed.
“So where next shortie?”.
“Follow the leader batboy,” I answered.
I guided the group downstairs, knowing where every classes were. I’d been coming to Ravenhold since I’d been taken in by Ian so I knew the place by heart. I’d even been down in the Nexus, the super secret superhero base under the administration building.
By the time world history class started, my meds had kicked into full gear, leaving me rather drowsy and out of concentration. So I didn’t listen to Dr Chrononaut’s history lesson, just pretending to be doing so.
Jaeger tried to get my goat with more short jokes but I was too tired to listen. Eventually the class ended and we all went home. Caroline dropped her gift in our room, having carried it all day, and went into the kitchen, checking her sauce.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m going to be any help in the kitchen tonight.” I told her.
Caroline gave me a hug. “That’s alright. Get better okay?”
“And get that bun some love. I think Nibbles’ been lonely with how busy we’ve been.”
“Yes mom.” That made her chuckle.
“Get to it.”
I went into and I found Nibbles doing his favorite thing in the world; eating hay while sitting in his litter box. Rather than go to him already, I went to my bed and crashed down, just lying there for a while until my brain started working a little more. Nibbles was happy to keep eating hay. When my head was a little clearer, I got up and went to Nibbles’ side.
“Hey boy.” I said, kneeling down next to him and rubbing his back. In answer, he looked at me and started to ‘purr’ by softly grinding his teeth together.
I called him and he got out of the box and followed me to the door, just in case I picked his leash and harness. I Then picked him up and made sure his bottom was clean .Which it was although he was due for a hair brushing so I picked the brush and stuffed it in my pocket.
“Alright, let’s get food.” I said, opening the door one handed before holding Nibbles with both once more.
When I came back into the kitchen, I saw that Allen had joined Caroline in the kitchen, helping her make a whole lot of dough. Quite a few people got closer once they saw Nibbles and he got really stressed.
“Please don’t crowd him, he’s a shy little guy.” I said and everyone backed off. I got an apple from the counter and sat down on the couch where Sanjay also was. With Nibbles, I shared the apple, him eating one side while I took some bites from the other.
Once he’d eaten his share, Nibbles hopped away on the couch until he ended up on Sanjay’s lap. Who looked at him for a second before just calmly petting Nibbles who sat down on his lap.
“Nibbles seems to likes you.” I said, I got my brush out and gave it to him “Here, why don’t you give him a brush.” He took it and I left for the bathroom, I needed to wash my face and my mind along with it.