The principal was sitting on a red chair behind a massive desk. The name plate read Kadenokoji Tomochi. He had blonde, short hair and a fancy moustache. To go along with it, he was wearing a fancy monocle and an expensive, dark blue suit. He stood up which casted a long, black shadow on me. His height was impressive and intimidating at the same time. He was giving off a serious vibe. His grey eyes kept staring at the laptop in front of him.
“I’m sorry but can you help me out?”
Not only did the sudden question gave me a scare but also his voice. It was like the ocean. Never ending and deep. Like really deep. I walked over to his desk and glanced over at his computer.
“You see, I want to attach this picture to this email, but it won’t do it.”
I took a step back and laughed nervously.
“Are you sure that I am allowed to see that?”
“Of course. It’s no big deal.”
“But it says classified information on it and that only authorised personnel are allowed to see it.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
He was smiling at me like a little child. I forced myself to smile as well and hesitantly took the mouse and attached the picture to the email. He told me to repeat it and show him how to do it. I gave the mouse over to him and slowly instructed him how to do it. Was he really the principal of this school and a General?
“Now that’s out of the way, we can talk about you, Moriuchi Ayumi-san.”
“You can just call me Ayumi.”
He laughed out loud and nodded his head. The vibration of his laughter felt like a mini earthquake.
“I heard that Toshiko already told you everything, but I would like to repeat and emphasise on a few things, if you don’t mind.”
I nodded my head.
“Marvellous. It won’t take that long, I promise.”
He gave me a wink after finishing his sentence.
“First of all, welcome to the Academy of Emotions. I know, not an overly exciting name but it gets to the point. I am the principal. You can call me Kadenokoji-san. You have signed the contract with us, so you are officially an Outliner. The bronze pin that you are wearing indicates that you are a Rookie, the lowest rank and therefore are obliged to listen to your seniors. Meaning, whoever is wearing a silver, gold or black pin.”
He pointed at his own black pin that he was wearing on his blazer.
“You will attend your classes but are also allowed to actively partake in missions. You have already received your personal company mobile phone that you can use without any constraint. Everything will be paid by us. Including any clothes that need to be replaced, by the off chance that you completely ruin them. I have to say, they are quite durable.”
He laughed again and his whole body shook.
“We are an independent organization but remain in close contact with the government. You will be paid for your work and any injuries suffered are fully covered as well. And now I would like to reiterate the main ten policies.”
His hand went into the desk’s drawer and took out a piece of paper. He laid it out in front of me, for me to read it out loud.
“One. Tell no one about the organization or your work. Two. Tell no one about the locations of the school and the trainee facility. Three. Always listen to your dedicated supervisor. Four. No unauthorised use of your Paroxys. Five. Never recruit someone on behalf of the organization. Six. Wear your uniform whenever you are on a mission. Seven. Never act alone. You are part of a team. Eight. When help needed, always call for backup. Nine. Never engage in fights outside of missions.”
“And most importantly, ten. Always prioritise your and your comrades lives over the mission. I hope that you will remember them, especially the very last one. It is completely fine to flee or get out of a situation that is out of your hands.”
His eyes looked sad while he said it to me. After I promised to keep the policies, I was allowed to attend my classes. They were the same as in any other high school, except that in my entire year, there were only five of us and we had only one teacher who was capable of teaching us all the subjects. After you graduate from AoE with your high school diploma, you can then join any department for further studies with them. I didn’t know what I wanted to become. All I knew was that it would be a rough road ahead. The real challenge would begin after the lunchbreak. I was walking around aimlessly in the cafeteria, hoping to see Sayuri.
“I see you stopped crying.”
I looked over to the table next to me and saw the guy from this morning. It didn’t take me long to realise that I had seen him somewhere else before.
“You’re the I-bumped-into-you-but-I-will-get-angry-at-you guy.”
He frowned his eyebrows. One of them had a cut at the end.
“What did you just call me?”
His black, messy hair was parted sideways, and I saw that he had one ear pierced. He kept staring at me with his fierce, violet eyes.
“Yu, stop it.”
The guy next to him grabbed him by his shoulder. I recognised him too. It was the giant. He looked even taller this time. I kept looking back and forth between both of them.
“What you looking at?”
He got angry with me. Maybe I hurt his pride by comparing their heights with my eyes.
“Ohta, I haven’t done anything.”
He shook him off and continued on eating his lunch. I wondered how the other guy was able to see with his blonde bowl cut reaching his nose. He looked very put together, even though we were all wearing the same clothes.
“I’m sorry for my cousin’s behaviour. We haven’t even introduced us properly. My name is Fujinomiya Ohta and this angry guy’s name is Fujinomiya Yu. You can call us by our first names.”
I sat down opposite of Ohta and introduced myself as well to be polite.
“Ayumi, aren’t you going to eat anything?”
Sayuri had found me and sat down next to me with a tray full of food. She introduced herself as well and offered me half of her food.
“Look, there he is again.”
Some people were whispering behind us. I followed their gazes to see who they were talking about and saw Toshiko walking casually through the cafeteria. And next to her was a man. Another person I had met before. Twice in his case.
“Oh, that’s Himura Jun. I would stay away from him. He’s not a good person.”
It was Ohta who warned me and Sayuri.
“Why? He seems like a nice person.”
I followed them with my eyes.
“Because he’s a convicted murderer. And it wasn’t only one person he killed. He has a long list.”
This time, it was Yu who spoke up. He grabbed his tray and left the table. I let out a laugh. Sayuri looked at me confused. It made more sense now, about what he had said to me before. Himura Jun was an obnoxious and hypocritical man. I shook the thought off. We made our way out of the cafeteria as well. It was time for our other classes. We had to go across the campus to a different building after getting changed into our school tracksuits. Toshiko did tell me that the afternoon classes might kill me, but I should still give it my best try. Running away was no option as I had already signed the contract. I would be worried if Choko hadn’t calmed me down and beat Toshiko’s ass in front of me. The building looked like a gymnasium from the outside but reminded me of the room I was trapped in back at the training facility. The walls were reinforced, and the ceiling was made of glass again.
“I’m glad that I am in the same group as you.”
Sayuri was standing next to me with a nervous smile on her face. The morning classes were held as in any normal high school. My classmates were the same age as me, but it was different for the afternoon classes. We were split into groups by the principle according to what attribute we had. Sayuri was a year younger than me. There were three more people with us. Fujinomiya Ohta who we had met at lunchbreak and who was a year above me. Another guy who I remembered being in the same year as me. He had his curly, orange hair in a bun. His sides were shaved. He was taller than me but shorter than Ohta. The thing that was standing out the most were his big, dark circles under his eyes.
“Is it just me, or is that boy sleeping while standing?”
Sayuri grabbed me by my sleeve.
“Yeah, I think he is.”
The last person was a girl who was standing next to the sleeping guy. I think she was as tall as me. Her long, light brown hair was reaching her hips. You could see that she had some highlights. A light blue hairband was keeping her hair out of her face. Her dark green eyes were fixated on the guy next to her and without hesitation she punched him in the stomach. Ohta got startled and started shaking out of fear, but the sleeping guy casually opened his dark brown eyes. He yawned and closed his eyes again. The door opened and closed. Our teacher with two other guys had arrived. He was walking towards the centre of the room when he tripped over a school bag. Everyone kept quiet. He slowly got back up again and looked around.
“Whose bag is this?”
“Oh, it’s mine.”
The sleeping guy had finally awoken from his slumber.
“What’s your name?”
“Akiyama, what is your school bag doing here and why is it on the floor?”
The teacher’s voice was calm.
“I forgot it there. But how could you not see it? Are you blind?”
Everyone flinched after he asked that question, except for me. I had no idea what was going on.
“I am so sorry.”
The girl screamed out loud and punched the guy again.
“It’s fine. Get in line and we’ll start our class.”
As we were walking across the room, Sayuri grabbed my sleeve again but this time more aggressively. I turned around and saw something disturbing. The sleepy guy was getting drowned in a bucket full of water. The culprit was the girl.
“Shouldn’t we do something?”
Ohta kept glancing over at the teacher, but he didn’t seem to be too bothered by the scene.
“I don’t know but where the hell did the bucket come from?”
I told Ohta and Sayuri to ignore them and to get in line before we got into trouble. After the girl was satisfied, she and the sleepy guy joined us. Water was dripping from his hair and on to his clothes. Two other guys were standing next to the teacher. I was surprised to see that one of them was Yu.
“My name is Yabumi Yasahino. I’m your teacher for your afternoon classes. These two will be joining me.”
He pointed at Yu and the other guy.
“Name’s Fujinomiya Yu.”
We were all waiting for the other guy to introduce himself, but he wasn’t saying anything. He had straight, dark purple hair and the sides were faded. His dark grey eyes were directed to the floor and his ears were covered by white headphones. He was taller than most of us. His mouth opened and closed but no words were spoken.
“Oi, speak up. They can’t hear you.”
It was Yu who told him off.
It was a whisper that we could barely make out. After that, it was our turn to introduce ourselves. The other girl’s name was Maeda Nina. The teacher explained that today’s class was all about observation. We were told to call out our attributes but when it was my time, nothing happened again.
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