He looked at his notes and sighed. A report on the candidates for the presidency. To be turned in on the first day of class. Yikes! Maybe I should mention something Izzo said at the garden party. And I met former Ambassador Ashe two years ago.
Well, maybe I’ll save the name dropping for later . . .
“Glad to hear it’s just bruises.” Ryol groaned and tackled the stairs. “I hope I’m not stuck on the top floor for the whole four years.”
“Yeah, me too. I’m from Australia, Tasman Clan.”
“Uruguay, Montevideo. Except I’ve been living in Paris for the last two years. My Dad’s with Internal Relations. Well, Stepdad, but he married Mother when we were five years old, so he’s always been Dad to me.” Ryol tried to stop chattering, to not . . . somehow trigger recognition of who she was. “Tasmania? Oh wow! That sounds so exotic. Are there really Devils?”
Pussy laughed. “Oh yes, they’re on three reserves on the biggest island, and one on the mainland.”
“And kangaroos. Although, really, I think elephants take the weird animal prize.” Ryol staggered out on the fifth floor, or as her European friends called it, the fourth floor, because the ground floor didn’t count, somehow. “Oof. I think I ought to have added stairs to my morning run.”
Pussy just grinned. “We’ll all be fit in another month.”
“Yeah. Not that two kilometers is very long, but I refuse to come in too far behind my idiot twin.”
“He didn’t seem . . .”
“Oh, that’s just . . . socially. He eats up math and science, programming, games . . . but put him into a social situation and he’s instantly an idiot.”
Pussy sighed. “My brother calls me an idiot. I really hate it. Even when I get better grades. He just says I kiss up to the teacher, or the teacher hates him. Step-brother. One of those ‘my mom married his father’ things. He’s six months older than me and it was horrible being in the same level with him.” She broke out in a big grin. “And now I’ve escaped. He got all snotty about being accepted to the uni in Melborne, like it was a big deal.”
“Oh. Ugg. I do suppose I ought not call Arno names. It’s not that I don’t like him, he just irritates me when he suddenly turns into am inarticulate wallflower when he’s around strangers.” She blew out a deep breath. “I’ll bet he hates it here.”
“I think maybe he outgrew that, because he was fine at the range.” Pussy walked past her and three doors down the hall. “See you in the morning!”
The alarm went off at 4:55. Ryol moaned and rolled out of bed. Running gear.
Gold tee, black shorts and running shoes. Hit the lav, braid her hair . . .
So of course Arno was already on the track.
Ryol growled a bit. A trainer checked her ID, and put her name up on the scoreboard and she trotted onto the track. A moderate speed halfway around, then speeding up for the rest of the four laps. Which put her in the bottom half of the standings.
I’m going to have to do my warm up before I get to the track. And run faster.
“Hey, Ryol! When I didn’t see your name, I thought maybe you’d changed your mind!”
Ryol turned at the familiar voice. “Gior! And Voyr! I spotted you two down the table last night, but I didn’t see you later.”
Gior shrugged, and Ryol’d swear she blushed in the early morning light.
Voyr heaved a deep breath. “My parents said to stay away from you. So no one realized you-know-what.”
“Well, I’d be outraged, except, I’m trying to be just another student, too.” Ryol shrugged. “We’ll all just have to pretend we just met or something.”
She spotted Pussy and waved. “Hey, Puus, how was your time? Oh wow, you beat the heck out of mine. Umm, this is Gior? Right? And Voyr? Are you guys freshmen too?”
Gior rolled her eyes. “Yep. And now I’m going to stagger back to the dorm and shower.”
Voyr nodded. “I think getting up early to exercise is going to be my least favorite thing about the School.”
Ryol looked up at the blush pink of dawn and took a deep breath. “I think . . . I think I’m going to like it.”
Pussy laughed. “You sound surprised.”
Thursday was her easy day. Introduction to Magic, Biology lab, and Martial Arts C.
Introduction to Magic was going to be a pain. All about the Oner history of magic, the legal issues and limitations on use, and lectures. Master Xen taught us more than this. Plus all the hands on stuff. Then Aunt Rael talked about the legal trouble we’d be in if we . . . showed off and accidentally hurt someone. This is going to be easy—I just have to remember the few differences, and not fall asleep.
Biology lab was just a list of books and supplies, assigning benches, and issuing safety equipment and lockers that it was to stay in. Gior, Voyr, and Pussy were all in the same lab.
Excellent, we can study together.
“First lecture class tomorrow.” The chirpy Professor Zoot grinned. “Read the first chapter tonight.”
Martial Arts C, on the other hand, was taught by a bored old man who acted like he didn’t expect much of the women students.
“You’ll never be as strong, you’ll always have a shorter reach than any man you fight. I’ll be teaching you all the techniques and so forth that might help you survive an encounter with a man who has very little formal training. So. Let’s position you, according to the sorting results.”
The students who’d had more than two years of martial arts training got the back of the room three rows. Ryol was in the second row, as a “less than two years training, but top ranked woman of that group.”
Darn it, only Arno and one other guy were ahead of me, and they both had Speed. And my Speed is getting faster all the time! Even if Arno is faster. And for once didn’t trip over his own feet.
Gior, Voyr, and Pussy were all behind her.
I ought to have taken more karate, darn it.
But the kata Sensei Udlo took them through, move by move was pretty basic, and she picked it up quickly.
Then a few judo holds and throws, at which Gior excelled, and Ryol stunk—along with most of the class. Gior was instantly drafted as an assistant teacher, then they returned to the assigned spots, bowed and were dismissed.
“Wow, Gior, that was impressive!” Pussy rotated her right shoulder and grimaced. “How long have you taken Judo?”
“Oh, Eight years? Something like that. I think I was ten when I started. It’s not a very aggressive style. I suppose I’m going to have to get up to speed on karate or whatnot, now.”
Ryol joined the other two in a group sigh, and added, “I had about six months of actual instruction, in a proper dojo. Then some relatives, my aunt and a sort-of stepbrother, would work with me and my sibs when they were in town for a few days.
“Well, I have the rest of the day off . . . and I suppose I’d better do the Biology reading, and the report on the candidates that Professor Ivy expects us to have by tomorrow.”
Groans and agreements from the rest of them.
“You know, I’ve heard that the old library is a great place to study . . . Why don’t we all meet there? We can keep each other on track.” Ryol grinned. “So long as we don’t all gossip too much.”
Introduction to Magic is going to be interesting. Arno made note of the Directorate students being segregated from the rest. I’m surprised at how many non-directorate students are taking the class. I know UENY has one of the most prestigious Magic Schools, but this many students? Maybe it’s a requirement for all university students?
Roughly a hundred incoming students for us, and over a thousand for the University as a whole? He ran a quick estimate of the number of students in the room. Yeah. Looks like half the incoming freshmen take intro in the Fall semester, and I’ll bet the rest take it in the Spring.
And Professor Jues is giving the Directorate area the stink eye.
Riiiight. A bit of rivalry between the schools. The experts in magic, and that trade school that dares to teach magic!
He sat back and started taking notes. I know it all, I just have to be careful what I say on any given test.
And then three labs one after another. Physics 1 and Chem 2 in the hard sciences building. A quick lunch, then off to the biology building for Bio 2 lab.
A little co-ordination and he met Ryol, Sunny and Pussy at the range and potted away at innocent pieces of paper for an hour, cleaned weapons and . . . was ready to collapse.
“And tomorrow I’ve got five hours of lectures followed by Martial Arts B. I may be really sorry I signed up for three science classes.”
Sunny eyed him. “Why did you?”
“Because those are the classes he thinks are fun.” Ryol rolled her eyes.
“They are!” Arno protested. “I just . . . may have over done it. I still have to finish the Presidential candidates paper tonight. One! I hope Izzo wins!”
Ryol nodded. The others shrugged.
Pussy wrinkled her nose. “But don’t you think we need a strong aggressive person running things? Look at those Helios!”
“Orde let them raid us! They kidnapped people right of the One World!” Sunny frowned at them.
Ryol looked indignant. “And they shut them down within hours. No one could have done better. And Izzo’s got lots of experience dealing with other worlds.”
Voyr snorted. “Including Homestead. He’s a colonial . . . federalist.”
“That bit’s all right.” Pussy reassembled her last rifle and handed it into the rangemaster. “Australia would love to handle things at a more local level. Education, Environment, and Infrastructure.”
Gior and Voyr, lifelong Parisians, looked at her in horror.
They all headed for the dorms, planning an early dinner and a late meeting in the old library.
History of the Multiverse.
Yet another class where my main problem is going to be watching what I say and write that conflicts with, or hasn’t been taught here.
He took notes, lists of books and extra reading, and headed for the hard sciences building.
For the interesting stuff.
Ryol was in his Calculus class, sitting with some girls, so he sat well apart. And no one else I recognize. Well, Ryol is good at math. I just hadn’t realized she’d caught up with me.
Then the three science classes, a two hour break to fit lunch into, and off to the big dojo, all dressed out in his new gi. With the beginner’s white belt.
“I am Sensei Umbu. Today I’m going to watch you, and see what you know. I’ll sort you out a bit more later. Today, let’s have all of you with less than two years training in the first three rows. Incoming older student and those here for remedial techniques, in the back row, please. The rest of you in the middle.”
The mats had well-spaced-out dots, so Arno walked up to the front left one.
The Sensei frowned. “A white belt?”
“I didn’t have much official training. A couple of relatives worked with me and my siblings when they were in town . . . but that wasn’t actually very often.”
“And you are?”
“Arno Withione Montevideo.”
“Ah, you won the class B sorting. And had flashes of Speed. Very good. In this class, we won’t be using Speed, you will control your temper.” He nodded and moved on to sort out the other students.
Then a few basic moves, stitch them together for a brief kata. More moves, and add them. And more . . . Arno was all right though about five additions, then they reached things he had never done. He got some pointers, then on to the next moves. At least this time he wasn’t the only one needing extra coaching.
One last Kata, then Arno followed the cues of the more experienced, and bowed to the sensei.
Sensei Umbu returned their bow and dismissed them, pulling out a pad and making notes.
Well, that wasn’t a disaster, but it’s definitely my weak point.
But the next week, his heavy schedule kept him too busy to worry about it. He just enjoyed the straightforward physical challenge, with no homework or research to worry about, and even managed to not let his thoughts drift off into thinking about his other classes. Mostly.
Regular study sessions in the old library, with what had quickly become their own in-group. Not that he and Sunny didn’t shift to a different area when the girls started gossiping. And often as not, Pussy joined them. She was pretty cool, for a girl.
Nothing like his twin or two half-sisters.
And no one recognized them. No snide comments about Halfers or untrustworthy spawn of Xen Wolfson. Fantastic!