It was an odd experience, judging from the fact that the students wore a confused and uncertain look. This was the first time they had heard the emergency bell, which had echoed like a thunder pushing the foundation of the school. The linage color streaking their uniforms; was the only thing that distinguished the junior class from the seniors. They all sat in hierarchy on stair chairs, which ascended towards the white roof, according to their grade. The stair chairs were arranged in semicircular pattern. At the far end, some meters away from the only door in the grand hall, was a long table, which completed the semicircle of the stair chairs, cutting it like an orange ball chopped in one end with a knife. Behind this table was a huge television screen. The numerous chandeliers on the ceiling poured out rich sunlight, whose radiance was passing through the ceiling fan, making the wallpapers of the teachers, greasy with light.
“Do you think this meeting was called because of the incident at Ema’s apartment?” Matt whispered to Jeff who was sitting beside him.
“It would be a relief to my soul if that was to be the case. I think someone must have seen us in the girls’ section.” Jeff shivered. If someone had spotted them; that means that their stay in the academy was over.
The cracking sound of the wooden door, brought serenity to the hall, as all eyes flowed towards the direction of the curvy posture of the principal. He was in white suit, together with the staffs that accompanied him. The looks on their faces were unreadable, nothing to suggest the reason for the meeting.
The principal stood over the lectern and activated the VA – the voice activator device attached to the lectern – as the hall sat down. He held the peace for a while, almost as if the words were too numerous in his mouth and he doesn’t know where to start spelling them.
“Three students were found in the girls’ dormitory this evening”
Jeff and Matt nearly choked. Ham, who was sitting next to them but a little distant away, stared at Jeff tearfully. Expulsion was etched in his eyes. Jeff saw Ema and Pinna moving their lips, from the left opposite end, but did not hear what they were saying. It looked as though they were trying to tell Ham something, but Ham wasn’t paying attention to either of the girls at the moment.
The murmurs in the hall grew, coupled with the side talks which circulated throughout, but it all dissolved immediately the principal continued.
“These three students, George Orleans, Collins Eder and Orlando Nixa” The principal said “Were found dead In the Second generation of the Dove’s scale, in the girls’ dormitory. They were students of the fifth generation and among our best.”
Jeff and Matt exhaled as relief flooded them, at least they were safe. The students started murmuring loudly, that it took the whole teachers in the hall to calm them down.
“Am not telling you this to spread panic, the academy is still as safe as ever. But since we are yet to find the killer, curfew is now six o’clock, for all students, both the seniors and the first generation.”
Some of the students especially those in the fifth grade all stood up and protested, complaining vehemently, that they do have training after six.
“Remember the first rule in this academy, ‘obey the new rule, I repeat, curfew for every student is six on the clock, any student found violating these rule in any way would be punished severely. You have your rules, you have your order, don’t let chaos destroy you” The principal deactivated the VA and walked down the podium, with the rest of the teachers on his heel. The students started departing too, wearing fear, anxiety and confusion.
“You two should wait behind” Raz whispered to Jeff and Matt “There is something I need to show you” He finished and disappeared in the crowd.
“Who is that” Ham asked the two boys who were watching Raz as he wanders and disappears in the crowd. Pinna and Ema must have noticed it too, as they stood before the three, forming a little crowd of their own.
“Our defense teacher” Matt and Jeff answered in unison, with a delighted tone.
“You mean that boy is training the both of you?” Pinna asked with a bug-eye searching the crowd, as if trying to find Raz who was nowhere in sight.
“But -” Ema wanted to say before Matt interrupted.
“I know what you are thinking, it’s dangerous. You would get expelled if the school finds out, blah-blah-blah. But don’t worry, we are always careful” Matt smiled at her and raked his blond hair with his hands. He fixed his gaze on Ema so she could adore his blue eyes, but the girl already had her attention elsewhere.
Jeff whispered to the group as he got a signal from Raz, urging him and Matt to sneak away from their little company, but the group went straight to Raz, who frowned and grumbled uneasily.
“I only requested for the two of you, not your league of friends” Raz complained and stared at them dubiously.
“They are our friends Raz, they can be trusted with whatever you want to show us” Jeff said politely. Raz grumbled again but said nothing afterwards.
They walked deeper into the poorly lit hallway, and came to a room which was clustered with cables and junks of unused gadgets. The air was dry and frosty and smell of dust too. The room itself was poorly lit and not a single window was in it.
“Who are these people” a feminine frigid voice tore the veil of their company.
The new comers lifted their heads and noticed as they entered, that they were not alone in the room. Two people – a boy and a girl – sat on one of the junk and stared at them darkly. The both of them were in black training gear, with streak of red running down its side.
Raz frowned “They are friends of the friends I told you about.” Pinna laughed loudly at the statement, she repeated it and laughed as though it was the funniest thing she had ever heard.
The boy and the girl sitting on the junk of boxes stood up and walked towards the small group. Pinna ceased laughing at once and stared at them with high guard.
“If we are going to fight what is coming, then I think we could use all the help we can find” The boy said. His angelic white eyes, contrasted his dark night hair. He had broad shoulders and bulging muscles, a careful look and you will see the cephalic vein dancing its head over the jumpsuit.
“My name is Leonard, of the third generation. And here is…” he gestured with his hands, at the girl standing towering behind him like a bodyguard “…Sandra-”
“-Enough with the introduction Leo, we should get this over with before the others notice our absence.” Raz interrupted with a hard frown. He blew off repeatedly, the dusts on one of the numerous boxes. As if satisfied that the dust was no longer a threat, he opened the box and pulled out a smaller box out of it. Leonard and the others circled him as he opened the smaller box. Raz pushed some buttons on the box for some time and then whistled when the screen of the box, settled on the picture of a crowd.
“It’s getting worse” he said. The smaller box was a portable mini laptop, and on its screen were numerous people standing like a doll and facing a three story building. The people in the picture were too numerous that it was impossible to see the ground where they stood. At the balcony of the Victorian building, stood a man in black hood.
“Who is that?” Matt asked
“That’s General Zack, the new king of Anadan” The girl name Sandra replied with a deep voice. She was skinny with low cut hair, and her shoulders were broad.
“THE WHAT” Jeff and his friends asked simultaneously.
“Our source said this man traveled out of Anadan, to the real world” Leonard paused, letting it sink in “And now he’s back, claiming he is the savior. To cut the long story short, we think this man kidnapped the king and usurp the throne. We also think he is dangerous as everything has been in chaos since he showed up”
“Chaos” Ham asked “That depends on your definition of the term. The screen only shows bunch of people in a conference.”
“Right, Bunch of people without their free will. Do you see that?” Raz zoomed in and the other students stared with confusion. The crowd had their back on the camera, with gaze fixed on the man standing on the balcony.
“I see nothing odd” Matt said
“I mean this” Raz pointed and the rest of the student gasped. At the nape on each individual in the crowd, was a circular tattoo. Inscribe inside this circle was the word ‘Heureux’.
“Heureux” Leonard explained “Is a French word for happy. For the past two months since this general showed up, people have been acting strangely”
“This is hilarious” Ham said laughing. “If all you have said so far were true, then why had the school not alerted anyone? And come to think of it, we watch TV every day, news about this man would have flooded the whole school.”
“Ham, I think Leonard is right” Jeff said as he pointed at an image on the screen. All heads followed his finger as they stared with wide mouth, at a vague image in the shadow of one of the pillar. Raz zoomed further in, that the image became a blur, but its features remained recognizable.
“You have a bird eye Jeff, we hadn’t noticed that initially.” Raz said. The image was that of the creature the other students had found in Ema’s apartment that day. But to be on a safer side, they all stared at the image as though it was the first time they had seen it.
“Again, I say these are all pictures probably posted to incite fear. Every Tom, D–k and Harry would have this news on their fingertips if it were true” Ham said with a little panic in his voice.
Jeff stared at him from the corner of his eyes and shivered. He couldn’t tell if Ham had said that as part of playing ignorance or if he really meant it.
“The school won’t tell you a d–n. They know what is happening out there, that’s why they cut us out from the rest of the world. No outgoing calls, no visit from friends or families. They just want us to believe that all is well, why the world is falling apart.” Sandra said with frustration.
Silence envelop the room, each one of them lost in their own thought, trying to put two and two together and also trying to access everything. For starters, it was difficult for them to believe that the world they have come to cherish and adore; was changing.
“Why are you telling us this?” Pinna asked
“Because we need to create awareness, so people would be vigilant.” Leonard said. His eyes went to Pinna; the dim light only lighted poorly the perfect smile on his lips. His face had no crease. It was as if they held all the answers to every troublesome moment.
“That’s impossible” Ham shrugged. “I mean… nobody would believe a portrait from an unknown source. To make ends meet, you will need concrete evidence.”
“We are still working on that, but the most important task at hand is going to warn Zone 3 about the new development.” Raz said with an appealing gaze at the five.
Sensing confusion written on their faces, Sandra quickly briefed the five newbie about Zone 3.
“Zone 3 is a code name for a group, who are trying to stand against the government and its control technology; I prefer to call them, Defiant-3.”
“So you mean you want us to sneak out of school, just to warn this Zone 3?” Ham asked and watched as the other three nodded their heads. The silence that envelope them this time was much longer.
“Why can’t either of you warn this group yourself” Matt broke the silence not minding to hide the distrust in his voice.
“We can’t, our presence is highly needed here” Raz said
“Wow, I don’t suppose we are the only students in this academy you’ve showed this pictures” Ema who had been silent all along asked.
“Yes, you are not.” Raz said smoothly and then turned to Jeff and Matt “But they are the only ones we trust, even though they are like pain in the a-s.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel any better?” Matt asked sarcastically, but was ignored.
“I will go” Jeff said after a long silence. He could see the disbelieving looks Matt threw at his direction but he paid no mind to it.
“I will go with Jeff” Ema said almost immediately. The rest of their friends all volunteered to go with them but Leonard objected the idea.
“We might blow our cover if five people just sneak out of the academy. The two of them would do.” Leonard finished. Matt wanted to challenge him but decide to keep his peace when he got a reassuring look from Jeff.
“How do we find this zone 3” Ema asked stressing the word.
“You would need this, it would lead you to them” Leo said and handed over a small device to Jeff. The device contains a hologram map.
“So that’s it, they inform this zone of yours and what next” Matt asked impatiently. The confusion swelling around him seemed to be increasing.
“They are not doing this for us. They are doing it to save millions of lives. I don’t think you actually know what we are up against” Sandra asked Matt who was staring at them as though they have the whole world in their hands and was about to crush it to dust.
“Zone 3 is in the city of Balom, and we expect you to be back as soon as possible. You leave after the grand party.” Raz said softly as he placed back the Laptop in a small box and hid it underneath a big one.
“Huh, I hate this” Matt frowned and walked out of the room. His friends followed behind, each of them lost in their own thought