Part XII: Sight of Blood
Michael took the group to one of the open stretch of terrain on the academy ground for his test. Much to my delight, Allen was the first one to go. Getting his ass handed to him pretty badly. For some reason, he didn’t even use his powers and instead feebly trying to fight in hand-to-hand combat and failing miserably.
Up next was Sage. Seeing as they were unarmed and didn’t have an offensive power, I gave them my utility belt. Not that it helped much as the Rook held them in a chokehold almost immediately, trying to get them to surrender but either they wouldn’t or couldn’t…
That was when Allison jumped in, ripping the staff holding Sage away. And just like that their turn began. As Sage hadn’t surrendered, they were also still in the fight at least nominally. In reality they were mostly just in agony…
Allison was a different beast altogether. Their alternate form wasn’t physical and they ignored just about everything Michael threw at them while bombarding them with bright hot beams and bolts of burning energy, even bisecting a tree in half. I couldn’t help but think they were actually trying to murder him…
In the end, it was a foam bomb from my own utility belt that defeated Allison, somehow being covered in form forced them back into their normal form. That fight over with, Sage having been entangled with bolas, I rushed to Allison’s side, helping Sage back up and retrieving my utility belt which contained the foam dissolution formula.
There wasn’t a break before it was Jaeger’s turn, whom to our surprised asked for a fraking gun. Guns aren’t very popular with heroes, sure sharper-than-sharp knives hurt too, but it’s kind of a style and philosophical thing. Sanjay had some laser shooting gauntlet palm thing which they gave Jaeger.
Jaeger’s fight wasn’t pretty… It was short and brutal, both of them getting in some solid hits. Although Michael won, I could smell the nauseating odor of burnt flesh from where Jaeger had shot with Sanjay’s laser. He didn’t hang around, leaving us, probably to tend to his injuries…
Sanjay, Sage, Caroline, Ahti and I went to Jaeger side. He looked pretty bad, breathing painfully, one of their hand clearly damaged and blood all over their lower face, their mouth being equally full of red…
I looked away. Trying not to think about it… I fiddled through my coats pockets until I found the tissues I kept in there, handing the pack to to Jaeger while staring at the ground.
“We should take you to Doc Venus.” I said. Doc Venus or Szijkith Sja Szjjil, was our school’s doctor and as her nickname suggested she was a Venusian from an alternate universe. She was also my psychiatrist.
Jaeger tried to get up but faltered, Sanjay then giving him a hand.
“Danke” Jaeger said toward him.
“I need to stay with Allison but I hope your arms okay,” Sage said, going next to the bubble of foam where Allison was still stuck. It had reduced by half but they were still encased in there.
Jaeger and Sanjay got moving and I followed, some of the others coming with me.
“I don’t need a whole congregation,” Jaeger said with a sigh.
“I want to make sure you’re okay though,” Ahti said, visibly shaken and scared for Jaeger’s wellbeing.
“It’s not like I have a life threatening wound here jeez.”
Thankfully Doc Venus’ clinic was nearby. Jaeger and Sanjay went in the exam room together while Ahti, Caroline and I waited in the lobby. Caroline trying to console Ahti, who flat out clung to her, asking a thousand questions to her.
Soon enough Jaeger came out holding a bottle of pills in his good arm while the other had a 3d printed cast over it so he wouldn’t move it while it healed. Sanjay was just behind him, holding the door open.
“We’ve missed the first few minutes of Science.” I said to them, looking at the time and standing up. “But don’t worry. Stanko is more invested in shared interest in the sciences than timekeeping.”
I’d been kind of dreading science class. Not only was I utterly awful at it, but we’d been assigned resident mad scientist Stanko Ferhatović as our teacher…
“I gotta ask,” Sanjay asked Jaeger as we walked toward the school building, not in any hurry, “Why did you grab his cape? All heros are prepared for those type of attacks.”
“Just one of those things I’ve always wanted to do,” Jaeger answered with a shrug. “Heroes look so smug with their damn capes. It’s good to remind them that they could backfire on them.”
I couldn’t help but shoot a glare at Jaeger. For a Ravenhold student, he was a bit odd; asking for a gun, the being proud of one-upping a hero…
“What?” He asked.
“I think your German to English wording needs work.” Sanjay said.
I nodded to Sanjay’s comment. Maybe it was just different cultures?
“So anything we should expect from science class?” Caroline asked, changing the conversation.
“The teacher’s a nutjob.”
“Okay…” She answered, looking at me.
“But the good news is that I came prepared.” I said. “I have a defoliant bomb, a vial of protomatter disruption compound, a cryo-liquid spray, self-igniting liquid fuel and a pair of protective gel globs.” I listed.
“Do you really need those for science class?” Caroline asked wide-eyes. “Weird teacher or not…”
“Last year the academy had to deal with a giant super fast growing fungus carpet taking over the school, a runaway neogenetic dinosaur, an agnosia gas leak that made everyone forget who everyone else was for a day and a weird group of protomatter doppelganger who then went on to merge into a hivemind intent on replacing humanity.”
“Okay so there’s been a few accidents…” Caroline said.
“Those are just the things that happened in June like three months back. It’s like that every month. Heck we’re lucky nothing’s happened yet.”
We arrived to the lab and knocked. A second later, the teacher opened the door. Stanko was wearing his usual duds; a lab coat, jeans, sneakers and graying hair that had just survived a hurricane.
“Ah! It seems that our astray students have made their way toward us, most fantastic!” Stanko declared once he saw us, his words heavily marked by his Bosnian accent. “You’ve joined us just in time too, as I was just about to meticulously explain the wonderful bountiful mysterious world of SCIENCE to your fellow classmates. Please take a seat right over there!” He said, making a broad motion toward the lab stations.
We sheepishly sat down, Caroline and I sitting together, Jaeger and Sanjay together and Ahti going for Rowan’s desk.
“In this class, you’ll learn not only the fascinating theories explaining the mysteries of the cosmos as we know it that have arisen because of the scientific method but also practical applications that will aid you with the subjugation of the villainous elements of society with the aid of the cold, precise and replicable hand of SCIENCE.” He said verbosely, raising his fist in glee.
“Is he okay?” Caroline asked whispering to me.
“He’s definitely off his meds again…” I sighed.
Although Stanko wasn’t a bad person, he was one of the more unstable technologically adept mutants around, being prone to impulsive, poor thought out or controlled experiments. He also had a hint of reality warper as his methods could be summed up as taking physics and beating it with a truncheon behind a shed… Having him teach at Ravenhold was really more of a damage control exercise to keep him busy and minimize his free time… It was a partial success.
“But rather than bore you with lessons you are more than likely not yet ready to assimilate, I propose that we begin this year’s classes with a simple but rewarding experiment about the nature of parahuman mutation and the universal paramorphic feature endemic to mutants, the Von-Neumann gene.” He declared. “Which of you would like to tell me what said gene is?”
Caroline hesitantly raised her hand and Stanko pointed at her.
“Yes you young lady, pray tell what the answer is.”
“Uh…” She began, a little uncomfortable. “It’s the gene believed to be responsible for the appearance of mutants.”
“Yes! Most excellent answer. The gene is found in pair in all mutants on earth, passed down from parent to child through sexual reproduction. However the gene’s recessive inheritance means that a child requires a copy from both parents to manifest parahuman abilities. Although no two mutants are exactly alike, one paramorphic features unite them all. Does anyone know what this feature would be?”
There was a bit of silence, but I wasn’t sure if it was because nobody else knew or like me they were just trying to fade into the background.
“Nobody? Tsk… Such a shame, one would thing this group of youngsters would be aware of such an important element of trivia which is used to identify mutants worldwide. Still, that is why I am here, for my purpose is to educate you on those matter.”
Evidently, Stanko was not a big believer in brevity.
“If you would please open the drawer of your lab station, you’ll find something we shall require for our day’s experiment.”
I did and found a few things; a pair of scalpel, two tiny petri dish, a vial of clear liquid, a drop counter and band-aids. I took the tray containing them and put it on the lab counter surface.
“Now our experiment is most simple and will be informative in both parahuman and mundane biology. In front of you are the simple tools we’ll require to test all of your von-neumann status. Now, as unpleasant as it might be, please take the scalpel. Using the tip of the blade, prick your finger, just enough for a few drops of blood to be put into the dish.”
“Do we really have to?” I asked sheepishly.
“Of course, SCIENCE, just like heroism requires sacrifices and dedication. Can you be a hero if you cannot do this one small sacrifice?”
I took the Scalpel in my hand and slowly brought it to my finger, my hand shaking. I felt my whole body became cold and tight as the metal touched my skin. I closed my eyes until I felt the prick sensation of pain followed by a warm, wet feeling on my finger…
I opened my eyes and got the drops into the dish. Staring at the scarlet liquid uncomfortably, my stomach churning.
“Are you okay?” Caroline said, holding my arm. “You’re like really pale…”
“I think I’m going to be sick…” I mumbled, trying to take deep breaths.
The others hadn’t had the same problem I’d had. Except Tyler and Ahti who’d broken the scalpel trying to do the experiment.
Caroline wiped the blood from my finger with a tissue and then wrapped the band-aid around it.
“Excellent.” Stanko declared. “Now, open the vial provided and very carefully let one drop fall atop your sample.” I tried to take the drop counter but my hand shook too much, so Caroline did it for both of us.
Nothing happened to my blood… I tried not to think of it… But Caroline’s quickly clotted up into a tiny pebble.
“Now which of you have had their sample change?” A few people rose their hands; Caroline, Amber, Allen and Jaime. “Congratulation pupils, you’re officially mutants. What we have just accomplished was merely a simple blood type differentiation test that only controlled for one specific type of antigen; the V-type which is unique to mutants. The vial contained antibodies which reacted to the antigen in your blood. Any questions?”
“Can I go to the bathroom? I think I’m going to be sick…”
The teacher nodded and I ran out, running for the bathroom across the hall. Luckily, I didn’t throw up but I didn’t feel any better.
So I splashed my face with cold water before gobbing down one of my pills to calm my stupid brain down…