Part VII: Dire Straights of Ravenhold
I didn’t feel so bad about my performance watching Sage, then Allison stepped up. I recoiled to the back of the group at the site of the flames and carnage they were causing to the environment. When the fight was over I remembered all of the things my mum had told me about mutants. They caused destruction wherever they went. I found it hard to challenge her though upon seeing the husk of trees nearby and burnt ground. They seemed less than happy being trapped in the form but I was relieved. Someone that dangerous should be kept away from people. Although I guess that was why Ravenhold existed – and why I was here as well.
I was a bit surprised that for Jaegers turn he asked for a gun. I was used to guns being from the south but my understanding was hero mutants didn’t like those sort of weapons. They either were a terrifying weapon themselves or used less invasive weaponry with a lower death rate attached to it.
I knew Jaeger could echolocate, I assume from bat genetics? It would explain his weird nose and ears then. I hoped he would fail too when Sanjay had finished explaining how to use the palm laser gun, mostly so I could feel less bad.
That hope quickly diminished as it became clear Jaeger definitely had fighting experience. He avoided and even took some of the hits that winded me and could match the Rook at hand to hand stuff. Some of it was a blur it happened so fast. Then like that it was over, or seemed that way. Jaeger tried to continue to fight even with his hurt arm and the Rook had to pin him down in the end to make him surrender.
After that the others began leaving, discussing what they’d seen or something completely unrelated. I noticed some other students from other classes watching too. Was this place that lacking for drama? Some stayed behind to help Jaeger. I opted not to hang around and followed everyone else to our next class. Which was apparently science.
We walked into a spacious lab area which was made up of high marble top tables and plastic blue stools. There was a piping system in the room that allowed for each desk to have things like bunsen burners I guessed. There were various other bits of equipment and storage drawers around the back end of the classroom. There was another door on the opposite side of the wall to the classroom door which I assumed was the teacher’s office.
We slowly filled in, taking seats. I saw the usual pairs sitting together and spotted one guy sitting on his own. I took the stool next to him and hoped I didn’t manage to offend him as well.
“Hi, I’m Allen.”
“Tyler,” he replied, looking mildly surprised. Before we could continue talking the teacher’s office door burst open and a man with wild greying hair and a lab coat bounded into the room, a large grin on his face. I wasn’t entirely sure how safe I felt with this guy.
“Right, teaching,” he huffed, his voice carrying a strong eastern european lilt to it. Apparently he had left his office for a piece of equipment, not expecting to see us. His face quickly changed to a grin and he clapped his hands together. “My name is Stanko Ferhatović and-” he was cut off, frowning at the layout of the class.
“Where are the rest of you? I know I have a track record but students don’t usually disappear that fast….” he trailed off muttering to himself. He turned to sort through the messy pile of papers and books strewn across part of his desk. “A-ha!” he exclaimed, holding up what I assumed was a register. He murmured to himself as he looked over the names.
The chick in the wheelchair raised her hand, I think her name was Yougen. I hadn’t really had a chance to speak to a lot of the others. Stanko was still buried in the register so she had to clear her throat to get his attention.
“The Rook fought the newer students who missed his class at lunchtime. One of them got injured and his friends went with him to the doctor,” Yougen explained.
“Ah, sounds about right,” Stanko said, putting down the register. “Right then, may as well get started and-” the knocking on the door interrupted him. He went over and yanked open the door, his eyes widening as he saw the others who had been missing.
“Ah! It seems that our astray students have made their way toward us, most fantastic!” he declared. “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 moved aside, throwing his arms out towards the rest of the classroom.
“What does it say about me that people being weird in this place isn’t surprising me anymore?” I sighed. Tyler let out a short laugh in response. I considered asking Jaeger if he was okay but doubted he wanted to talk to me. He had a 3D split around his arm so the Rook must’ve really done a number on him afterall. Stanko continued where he left off.
“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 beamed, radiating excitable energy as he raised a fist to the air.
“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 class with a simple but rewarding experiment about the nature of parahuman mutation and the universal paramorphic feature endemic to mutants, the Von-Neumann gene. Which of you would like to tell me what said gene is?”
Caroline looked unsure of herself when she raised her hand to explain. “Uh, it’s the gene believed to be responsible for the appearance of mutant.”
“Yes! Most excellent answer. The gene is found in pairs 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?”
I frowned at the new knowledge. What he was saying meant both my mum and dad were carriers. I had never thought about that. Maybe they felt equally bad and responsible for what was happening to me? That is if my mum even told dad. They didn’t exactly speak.
Silence pervaded the room as no one seemed to have a clue what he was talking about. I only knew the gene from the test Nucleon made me take.
“Nobody? Tsk… such a shame, one would think 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 matters.” He seemed to think to himself quietly for a moment before launching into his next piece of dialogue.
“If you would please open the drawer of your lab station, you’ll find something we shall require for our day’s experiment.” Tyler opened the drawer and frowned. There were two scalpels, small petri dishes, a clear chemical, a drop counter and plasters. Tyler laid the tray on the desk, still frowning.
“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.” Charlie apparently didn’t want to do the test but Stanko insisted.
“I’ll go first,” Tyler offered. It quickly became clear though that Tyler had issues actually getting his blood – in that the scalpel snapped when he tried to apply pressure to his skin.
“What is your mutation, marble skin?” I asked, semi-serious. It took some creative thinking but finally there were a few small drops in a petri dish. His didn’t clot though which only made me want to ask further questions.
I’d already done it before but part of me kinda hoped that when I mixed up the solution with my blood the result would somehow miraculously be different. It wasn’t. It was almost like the teacher wanted to dig the point in even deeper when he announced I was among those who were ‘officially mutants’.
“Now go grab a copy of the books from the cupboard at the back of the room. You’ll need these to keep up with the awe inspiring world I’ll be teaching you all about.”
I couldn’t work out if he just really liked the sound of his own voice or if he was that oblivious. I hesitated when Ahti stood next to me at the cupboard and let them go first. I didn’t wanna risk brushing against their weird looking skin.
“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,” Stanko explained. Tyler looked at me and shrugged. I assumed that meant he was okay teaming up with me. Another guy glanced around before deciding to join us.
“Hiya,” he said, taking one of the empty stools. I managed to remember his name was Mace. “No offence to the girls but I need to have some guy friends in this place,” he joked.
I felt relieved that my group was made of other straight guys, or at least I was pretty sure they were all straight. I wasn’t too surprised to see that Caroline, Charlie, Sanjay and Jaeger were in a group. Rowan, Ahti, Annabelle and Amber were the third group and the fourth were made up of Yougen, Yikaru and Jaime.
“Hmm, two of you are threes,” Stanko signed, glancing at the register. “Sage and Allison.” He frowned before shrugging his shoulder. “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’s groups, “And Allison you other three,” he finished.
I gulped, well aware Allison did not like me, and they were more than powerful enough to destroy me. Although they would probably made a good sparring partner if we actually got on, since I don’t think my ability could actually hurt them in that other form.
The class was less eventful after that, minus the part where Stanko singled out Jaeger. It was pretty interesting learning about chimeras though. I actually left the room with some people talking to me. Mace was easier to joke with than Tyler though, he seemed more withdrawn for some reason, his thoughts elsewhere. I looked at my tablet seeing our next class was history. As long as the teacher wasn’t racist it was an improvement on the last history teacher I knew.