A Broken Dream
Part III: Ravenhold Standards
Since I’d gone to bed stupidly early, I woke up equally early in the morning, the sun wasn’t even up yet. I got out of bed, waking up Callie who was leaning up against me at the same time.
Kioshi was curled on in his own bed and I did my best not to disturb him. I grabbed Callie’s bowls and carried them to the kitchen, taking a can of her favorite food from my bag. I found the can opener and filled her food bowl before doing the same for her water bowl.
“Good girl.” I whispered to Callie, scratching her ear as she ate greedily.
“That’s a good warmup, Gloria!” A mixed race girl said to the person following her, coming into kitchen wearing sweatpants and a wet tee that stuck to her body. “Let’s gets some food and—” She didn’t finish her sentence as her eyes settled on me. “Oh hey there! Ryland, right?”
“Uh hi, and yeah. I said, giving them an awkward wave.”
The person following her looked at me and cross their arm over their chest. “I’m Gloria.” They or she? I wasn’t sure, their voice was kind of deep, they had a bit of a subtle growing on their chin and their haircut was kind of short and boyish despite the feminine name.
“And I’m Vicky.” The girl said, giving me a bright smile. “Gloria and I were going to get some breakfast before moving on. Want some, Ryland?”
“Oh sure, you two are up early…” I said.
“I haven’t slept at all. Been up since four in the morning yesterday.” Gloria said, matter-of-fact like. She didn’t look one bit exhausted.
“And I convinced her to join my morning routine.” Vicky said, giving me Gloria’s pronouns. “Half of it anyway.” Those last word had a teasing slant to them.
“Of course you did, my other option was staring out a window.” Gloria said, scratching her face and the layer of gruff on it. It was somewhat safe to assume she was trans.
I let them talk for a minute. I checked around my pocket and took out the transgender healthcare pamphlet I’d found on the corkboard the night before, looking over it again. The clinic wasn’t open for at least another hour.
Vicky shot a grin at Gloria. “Can’t blame me, can you?” As she spoke Vicky went to the fridge and took out a carton of eggs. “What do you guys want?”
“What ever.” Gloria answer. “No, but it’s also absolutely not fun. I don’t see how intentionally making every muscle hurt is enjoyable.”
“Scrambled eggs, but no pepper please.”
“Of course.” Vicky said, beginning to crack eggs. As she did, a ghostly version of her split from her body, went to the cabinets and looked for pans and utensils, setting them by the stove. That was pretty impressive. “It’s not really supposed to be fun.” She told Gloria. “But I do think you’ll enjoy it more once you get used to it. Plus, we have to train our bodies and our minds if we’re going to be heroes. Right, Ryland?”
I blinked, a little startled at being called out. I mushed the pamphlet against my body. “Yeah!” I said, a little too strongly. “I did a lot of training to be ready for this year.”
“See he gets it.” Vicky said.
“I’m sneaky, I don’t need to be strong.” Gloria objected.
“You never know when you’ll meet someone sneakier than you.”
“Or someone who can just detect you even if you do sneak.” I said. Super perception weren’t exactly rare.
“Conotoxin kind of defeats strength. You can lift a tank, but you can’t stop your organs shutting down from hyperconcentrated venom.” Gloria said. I shot her a look. That wasn’t particularly hero-like…
“And if you run across someone who’s immune and strong?” Vicky asked. Her ghostly self got a plate and fork from the cabinets and she dropped some scrambled eggs on them before letting her power deliver plates to Gloria and I.
“Then whatever, I die?” There wasn’t even a hint of comedy in her voice.
“That’s kind of pessimistic…” I muttered. “And isn’t using poison against the rules?”
“I’d rather my friends stay alive.” Vicky said, turning around to give Gloria a little glare. She then looked down at Callie who’d been quietly eating her breakfast. “I like your dog Ryland, does it have a name?”
“Oh, that’s Callie.”
“Yeah, but so what?” Gloria said with a shrug, picking at her plate. “If you follow rules, you’re fucked the second someone with less moral qualms come after you,” she smirked. “Besides, it’s almost my only ability, really.”
I kind of found myself glaring at Gloria, she really didn’t seem the type that fit at Ravenhold…
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, Gloria.” Vicky said, then she paused. “But always plan for it.” VIcky continued cooking, this time making five eggs and some bacon for herself.
Gloria just shrugged. “I mean, when I’m out of here, first thing I’m doing is getting a piece.”
“A piece?” I blinked. She wanted an actual gun?
“A gun.” Vicky explained. “Though I can’t say I agree. It never hurts to have a backup plan.”
Gloria pointed a finger-gun at me. “Bang bang.”
I just blinked. Was she for real? “I know what a piece mean, but you can’t be serious?” I asked.
“I am serious.”
“Don’t worry Ryland.” Vicky said. “We got four years to make her see things differently.”
“And you got 16 years of people telling me otherwise to beat.” Gloria chuckled dryly. “I carried a .44 for almost all my missions. Think I’ve told teachers? Hell, think I’m in here cuz I chose it?”
“Well, it doesn’t matter how you got to where you are. All that matters is what you do from here on out.” Vicky declared, probably trying to close the matter, she then switched subject; “What were you reading earlier, Ryland?”
“Nothing!” I tensed up then looked at the two of them one by one. But then I thought; ‘What was the harm in telling them?’ Gloria was clearly trans or something, and this was Ravenhold they made it quite clear students had to be accepting…
I put down the pamphlet on the table, letting them read the title.
Then Vicky smiled from ear to ear. “You too, then?”
Vicky was trans too? I definitely couldn’t tell, unlike me she passes easily, clearly having been on HRT for a few years. I found myself smiling, I’d never expected to be among so many other transfolks.
“So you’re trans too?” I asked.
“Yeah, I was lucky enough to have an understanding dad.”
“So… What,s the story with you Gloria?” I asked, slightly dreading the response.
Gloria got up and popped some bread into the toaster. “Helix Group made me, if you’re wondering how I got here, just imagine what I did for the last ten years.” She said cryptically.
The Helix group? Weren’t they a medical research center? Why would they make Gloria? I mean, I knew they made designer babies for rich folks who wanted to perfect kid, but that didn’t explain anything…
“What do you mean the Helix Group made you?” I asked.
“Made me in a tube. After a few months, they started raisin’ me, then I was sent out to be an assassin.” Once more there was no hint of her being anything but serious.
I glared at her.
“You’re an assassin!?”
She spoke as if she’d just told us that she mowed lawn for pocket money, not that she’d murdered people.
“How can you be so blazé about that?” I asked, practically screaming.
“What, you want me to be sitting in the corner, brooding about the people I killed or some shit?” She laughed. “Nah, fuck ’em, I don’t even remember half their names.” She extended her hand and a dart flew out and lodged in the wall a feet or two away from me. “That’s about all I was made for. That little thing right there.”
Okay. She was fucking crazy. There was no way she was for real, the legion couldn’t let someone as unhinged as her into the school… right?
“No need to defend yourself. We’re all friends here. The past is the past.” Vicky said, obviously trying to calm things down. “Sorry Ryland. She’s a good person, really”
“Yeah, I’m not gonna kill you or something.”
“I’m going to take a shower…” I muttered, getting up and leaving them.
“Come talk to me if you ever need anything, Ryland.” Vicky said, as I left the room.
This was nuts, there had to be an explanation? Maybe she was kidding… Gabriel and I had been rejected the year before but they let lunatics like Gloria in?