Right, Back to Ryol and Arno in high school, middle of fall semester.
A wonderful day at school
1 Saban 1413
“At least you don’t look like a nasty mutant.”
Arno glanced up at the taunting female voice. Nywr, of course. Head of the Mean Girls clique. “Hi, Neener, have an extra large helping of bile for breakfast?”
He brushed past her. Fast enough to foil her attempt to block him, not fast enough to avoid contact.
“You touched me, you pervert!”
“So go cry to the principal again.” Arno shrugged indifferently. “I don’t care.”
And I am so glad I decided to do the hormone block! Gah, imagine being attracted to that!
In Algebra he sat, as usual, front and center, where the bullies had few opportunities to not get caught poking or less friendly minor assaults. He was getting quite good at holding a soft physical shield for hours at a time.
The teacher had stopped calling on him. Arno never got anything wrong for Mr. Igsu to correct in public. Much to Mr. Igsu’s irritation.
The only good thing about this school is NOT boarding here!
He escaped quickly, when the bell rang, and hustled for World History. He started to detour to avoid a crowd around some . . . Oh. Great. Ryol, at full volume.
“. . . try that again and I’ll do more than just punch you!”
Arno sighed. I thought Jay was exaggerating, when he said school was hell. But apparently he was understating the situation. And Ryol, being both pretty and very noticeable, is attracting all the wrong guys and alienating all the other pretty, intelligent girls.
Arno elbowed his way through the crowd.
“Listen you little halfbreed native bastard, I’m doing you a big favor. My dad’s a subminister and rich, you could a lot worse than being nice to me.”
And of course it’s Handy Andy.
Arno stepped into the very small open space around them. “C’mon Ryol, let’s get to class.”
Andy loomed, fists clenched, but Arno spotted the second worse asshole—Wrme the Worm—reaching for Ryol’s butt.
A quick chop to his fingers aborted that. Wormy growled and swung. Arno ducked and the clumsy roundhouse swished over his head and hit a girl in the crowd. She screamed, someone yelled that Arno had hit some girl, Andy punched, Arno sidestepped tried some judo, that just sent Andy staggering into the crowd.
Arno was shoved from the back and into Wormy’s next blow . . .
Most of them hadn’t a clue how to really fight, someone tried something magical, and a fire broke out . . .
“Three days suspension’s kind of nice.” Arno ignored Mother’s glare. “I’ll polish off the two reports that are due in a week . . .”
“Arno!” Mother clutched her hands in her previously immaculate hairdo. “It’s bad enough you getting into fights, but what about Ryol? I will not have my daughter sexually assaulted!”
The front door closed on that comment and Aunt Rael popped into the dining room, where Arno was sitting. “So what happened?”
Ryol galloped down the stairs and threw herself at Aunt Rael. The tears on her cheeks were rage induced, and her explanation quite clear. Grabbed and kissed, she’d sucker punched the idiot and yelled at him and everything escalated.
“And it wasn’t either of us that started the fire!” She wound down with an angry huff. “I don’t want to go back there.”
Rael drummed fingernails on the table, then pulled out her comp. “This is the remote school that Paer went to. Perhaps . . . Oh, stop scowling Raod, they’re both responsible kids. It might not be the sort of school experience you wanted for them, but they’re good academically, and the kids can pick up some online friends and get together occasionally. Maybe even frequently.”
Mother huffed. “Well . . . well. They’re more than halfway through the semester.”
Arno eyed her waffling, and brought out the heavy artillery. “It keeps escalating. And they always blame us. We can’t have Dad getting the stink-eye at work because his kids are accused of burning down a school.”
“On grid school?” Izzo watched the kids putting their comps away. “Good idea, under the circumstances.”
Arno gave the table a quick wipe. “And we’ve both completed the classes we’d started. I figure two years and we can graduate. Head for college in the fall of 1415.”
Ryol started laying out silverware. “And we talked to Ebsa about the Directorate School, and we both run every morning, and Arno’s lifting weights. I . . . probably ought to, too.”
“And karate. We probably ought to take lessons.” Arno shrugged. “But this grid school, the senior year, we can take some college level classes and get both high school and college credit. So it’s a really good deal.”
Madam Raod bustled out with plates. “Sit down and put your feet up, Izzo. Ox called. He’s stuck in traffic, but he said he’d be here in about fifteen minutes. Are you just in town for the day?”
“And can you talk about it?” Arno, of course, perpetually curious.
“Oh, just a larger than usual bit of name calling in the Disco forum.” Izzo grinned. “Pretty much as mature as your former school problems. The Whirlpool One is accusing us of not allowing them to talk to the colonies. They want to get referendums on the ballots in 1415, so the citizens of the various colonies can vote for which One World they want to be a colony of.”
Ryol shook her pretty head. “Why would they want them? They’re eleven years behind us, with fifty years of being isolated and only two years of realizing how huge and diverse the multiverse is. They haven’t have time to adjust their thinking. About hardly anything.”
Arno eyed Izzo. “What did you recommend?”
“That they have full access.” Izzo grinned. “I figure the more they talk, the less enthusiasm the colonies will have for switching. Especially after the way they stuck their noses in the air and wouldn’t talk to the !Zolts the time I escorted them through. To meet the governor. They snubbed the trio of Matriarchs who wanted to speak to them.”
Ryol giggled, horribly reminiscent of her biomother. “Oh, that doesn’t work on Homestead! I’ll bet they’ll lose in a landslide.”
Izzo grinned. “Yes. And they ought to have known better. We were better than that from the start. But perhaps they forgot over half a century. And they really disapproved of the colonies having their own gates to Embassy. And between each other.”
Ryol looked thoughtful. “We’ve been loosening up, haven’t we? Control, I mean. And they’ve stayed with a strong central government and weak regional, like we used to have.”
Izzo nodded. “Like we developed after losing Granite Peak. We expected to be invaded at any moment. But we loosened our grip, even before Endi, Xen, rather, shook us up again.”
The clatter of the garage door announced Ox’s arrival.