10 Years Later:
Ch. 2 What Happened To Gym Class?-
In the last standing hall of the wastelands the giant raged. For years he'd kept his prisoner alive, in anticipation of the day. Now the day was here and the prisoner was resisting. In his anger he wanted to rip the man-creature from its cage and tear it to shreds. The giant knew he could not though, which made his rage even worse. He had worked so hard to enslave the man's will. Schemed so carefully to gain just the right weapon. The man was ruined. His reputation among his own kind would earn him only death. The giant had gloated over this when he issued his command, but the man had laughed at him. Laughed at him and made rude gestures. Somehow over the years the spell of mastery had lost potency. Now the giant would have to perform the ritual again. Every day the last child survived was a day the giant could himself be slain. The head had not warned him of this possibility and he seethed. It was a strong reminder that he had no allies, only slaves. Mastering himself, he set about the task of reworking the ritual. He would bend the man-creature to his will again. He would not be stopped and soon, he would never die.
Antero found himself frowning in thought as he showered. If not for the fact he had goop from a barge carrying garbage on him, he wouldn't need to shower. His stone form did not sweat. As it was, he, Felix Reiter and Vincent Catargi were alone in the boys' shower after Enhanced Physical Education
, while mallorie Weber and Paula Cabrera cleaned up in the girls' shower. Physical education as taught by Mr. Karrell seemed to consist of pushing their Neo-Sapien abilities to the limit while performing community service. Today it had been playing fork lift for welders repairing a damaged barge. On the whole it hadn't been too bad, especially those times when he got to watch the sleek form of Paula Cabrera slicing through the water.
The big Fin was amazed that only five members of his class had neo-sapien abilities that qualified them for the enhanced physical education class. He and the Austrian underwent a complete physical metamorphosis, while Vincent could use his powers without any anatomical changes, unless he needed to fly. Mallorie and Paula underwent no transformation at all. Paula was adapted to the water like few others. In fact, to Antero's knowledge, only Mr. Karrell, the teacher code-named Narwhal and Flavia Henchoz, the Swiss girl who could turn into living water were as well-suited to the environment.
Paula was sleek and attractive, but it was mallorie he actively envied. Mallorie could fly. Vincent could fly if he manifestd his wings, but the German amazon could simply fly. Not much moved Antero to jealousy, but flight...what greater freedom could there be?
Stepping out of the shower, he snagged his towel to dry himeslf. He still was confused about the physical education program. He'd heard work outs at the school were far more energetic. Honestly, if this was indicative of the training program, his younger sister was just as well off staying home and going to school there. He dressed hurridly and hustled out of the locker room, nearly colliding with Paula Cabrera.
"Ho! Sorry. Pallas, what are you doing here?"
"Pallas? My name's Paula. Pallas is a nifty code-name for the public, so the toy companies have something to put on the action figure."
"Nevermind. Where are you headed?"
Antero cocked his head to the side as he looked at the svelte, dark skinned girl dressed in a serape and sandals. "Umm...to my room. I need to talk to Jan." Then after a brief hesitation; "Are you wearing anything under that?"
"Sure." Smiling, she hiked up the poncho-like garment to reveal a pair of white shorts and pierced belly button. "See? Shorts. I'm decent. Actually I'm fantastic, but I digress." With a sultry look, she snaked her arm though his. "So...your room? Lead on."
"I'm not really sure this...who's that?"
Ahead of the pair, a petite girl, mouse brown hair worn in a pixie cut, sat patiently in her fringed suede jacket.
"My roommate. Sophie Brouwer meet Antero Tuominen. Antero...Sophie."
"Hallo." Sophie said, smiling shyly. "So how was the boys' shower Paula?"
"Scenic." The island girl said, wiggling her eyebrows.
Antero shook his head in mock disgust to hide the fact he was feeling like there was a level to this conversation he was missing. "I've still got to talk to my roommate."
Paula snagged Sophie's hand in hers. "Let's go talk to Janez."
When they opened the door to Antero and Janez dorm room an epic battle was in progress. The drapes were locked in deadly thread to thread combat with Jan's comforter. The dark haired SPB from Slovenia was seated, his back against the wall, controlling the action like a video game.
"Tero! How was slave labor...I mean physical education?" He asked as his bedding wrapped into the curtains with a snake-like move. Then he spotted the girls with his roommate and grinned. "Aww, you brought me a present! Now I feel bad for the brutal defeat your algebra textbook suffered battling my hockey skates."
"Can we talk?"
"Can you pay attention to me, please?"
"I am paying attention. Die, evil bedspread!"
Antero rolled his eyes. In the week they'd lived together, the big Fin had come to the conclusion Janez didn't like people. He was cheerful and friendly, but constantly distracted. Maybe he just had A.D.D.
"It's allright Antero, I've got this." Sophie said managing to sound irritated and meek simultaneously. Disengaging from Paula's grasp, the elfin girl's features hardened in concentration. A low buzz filled the air. Suddenly, she thrust her hands forward. A teeth rattling hum shook the room and the curtains and comforter both shredded into random fluff.
"Hey! Why'd you do that?" Janez complained.
"I need to talk to you and I need you to pay attention. It's important." Catching Sophie's eye the blonde teen mouthed thank you
"Well you have my attention 'Tero." The other boy said peevishly. "What's on your mind?"
"Gym class. I mean, what we do is challenging and all, but it certainly isn't the type of physical education I was expecting."
Suddenly Paula perked up. "You want combat training."
"Yes I do. In fact rumor has it there used to be this tradition."
Janez nodded, his face somber for once. "The Sophmore Blitz."
Antero snapped his fingers at this eureka moment. "Exactly! The Sophmore Blitz!"
"There hasn't been a Sophmore Blitz in six years and there probably won't be another as long as Newton is headmaster."
"Why not?" Sophie asked. She spoke, but all three were looking at Janez expectantly.
"Because the sophmore class of 2012, plus the academy's headmistress were all killed during that yers' blitz."
"No way!" Paula gasped.
Janez shrugged in response. "Professor Lamperouge was crippled too. He doesn't sport all those cyborg accessories because he's got sugery addiction, you know."
"What happened?" Antero leaned closer.
Another shrug. "I'm not certain, but I know some people who might be better informed."
"Who?" Antero pressed.
"Mallorie Weber, some norwegian kid in the freshman class and those creepy girls...the Bertrands."
"Why would they know?" Asked Paula.
"Mallorie's sister, the freshman kid's sister and the twin's brother were all in that class. They all died. I figure the school had to tell the families something, right?"
"Thanks Jan." Antero said, turning to leave.
"Hold on big guy. Since you ruined my playtime, I'm coming with you."
"Me too." Said Sophie a bit more quietly.
"This really isn't the afternoon I had in mind." Paula groaned, but she followed anyway.
Janez was inclined to search out mallorie Weber or even the, as yet unidentified freshman to get the story, but Sophie was certain the twins had a study period in the Biology Lab and thus, would be easiest to find. Jan argued against the French girls vociferously. They were spooky. Horror movie spooky. Even Iulia Catargi, the vampire teacher wasn't as spooky. Mallorie Weber on the other hand was awesome. At 6' 4" tall and 180lbs, she was built like a comic book amazon...at 16! Not only might she be able to provide the information they wanted, but maybe she'd need comforting after her tale of woe and Jan was ready to comfort. It wasn't until Paula insisted no girl in their class wanted Jan to comfort them that he shut up.
When they arrived at the Biology Lab, sure enough the twin French girls were there. At first glance Danielle and Darielle Bertrand did not appear to be identical twins. Danielle was platinum blonde. her sister had hair as black as pitch. Darielle had a porcelain complexion. Danielle was riviera tan. Eyes of honey gold. Eyes of deepest indigo. If you looked more closely though, the resemblance between the pair became clear. The shared the same bone structure. The same build. The same classical features and the same mannerisms. The same disconcerting stare. many of their classmates didn't like them because they studied people intently, like scientists studying alien lifeforms. Sophie made a conscious effort to ignore their quirks. Paula was so self-assured she simply wasn't fazed.
"Excuse me. Danielle, Darielle may we talk to you for a moment?"
"Of course Sophie." The girls chimed in unison. Antero found the purring accent attractive, yet the vacant way they spoke, free of inflection, sent chills up his spine. For an instant an image of sexy, french maid, zombies flashed in his minds' eye.
"I don't want to dredge up painful memories, but we were wondering if you might be willing...that is... Antero wanted to know why we don't combat train...and..." Sophie trailed off as she searched for the words to politely ask about what can't be politely asked about.
Danielle lay her warm hand on her classmates' arm. "You want to know about the murders..."
Darielle lay her cool hand on Sophie's other arm. "...about our brothers' death."
"We know what the school told our parents, but we've never seen where it happened." They said.
"Where did it happen?" Antero asked, finally getting up the nerve to speak.
"In the lowest level of the school. The Wreck Room. Unless you've got the key to the elevator, it's inaccessible."
For once, Sophie looked clever not shy. "I bet the elevator can be opened from the inside and I... can walk through walls."
Paula shook her head. "I'm as curious as the next girl, but this is where I bail. I'll play lookout, but traipsing around murder scenes isn't anything I list as a turn on for my online dating profile."
It was surprisingly easy to locate and access the elevator. Sophie opened it and Janez used his power to override the programming locking out the lowest floor as a destination. He simply animated the elevator and directed it downward. They were all feeling pretty clever, a feeling that wouldn't last long.
The door to the Wreck Room slid open silently. Janez was a little disappointed at that. he had honestly been expencting a more creepy vibe down here, after all, to his knowledge, no one had been in this room in six years. The door opened smoothly however and as soon as it did, the lights slowly came on. There were no flickers from struggling flourescent bulbs, no clouds of dust or appearance of neglect. Looking around, the large room was clean. Clean as if an army of maids had scrubbed it fresh.
"This is it?" Whispered Sophie, as she pushed an errant lock of hair out of her eyes.
"Oui. They all died right here." Danielle and Darielle said in unison. That sent shivers up janez' spine. Leave it to the French girls to ratchet up the creepy.
Antero walked over to a wall and seemed to be looking at it carefully. "There is no sign of violence. No blood stains. No odor. Nothing."
"Of course not Basalt," the twins chimed in stereo. "the room is self-cleaning."
Janez couldn't take it any longer. "Would you two please
"That!" He hissed. "The talking at the same time! Normal people don't think in hive mind. It's really unnerving."
"Oh. Of course," Said sunny, blonde Danielle. "all you had to do was ask." Finished the raven haired Darielle.
Janez grit his teeth. Finishing each others' sentences was no better, but he was resigned to the French girls finding some way to make him crap himself and it was too late to ask them to go away.
"I can't understand it." Sophie whispered again.
"Can't understand what Sophie?" Antero asked, moving his muscular bulk over to stand protectively near the Dutch girl. "And why are you whispering?"
"I am?" She seemed startled by the observation. "I...I don't know. Maybe I don't want to disturb the spirits of the dead?" She was speaking a little louder now.
"I wouldn't worry about the dead." A sharp voice made them all jump. "What the hell are you doing in here?"
Next: A Tale of Woe...