Chapter 10:

Chapter 7: Pecking Order

Flight of The Blackbird

I woke up the next morning at the ungodly hour of five in the morning. As excited as I was to go to school for the first time in nearly three years and being able to see Kota and Shiro more…

“Damn it I don’t want to be up!”

After letting out my wake-up rage on the punching bag hanging in the corner of my living area, I took another shower and ate a quick breakfast of eggs and toast with a coffee. The coffee was painfully mediocre compared to Marie’s, but it served its purpose. Fully awake and ready, I grabbed my holo-computer and the hologram map, then set off out the door. The front door, not off the balcony like usual. Didn’t want to cause too much confusion in the early morning hours. I checked my watch while riding the elevator downstairs, which said six-thirty. I was perfectly on-time, just as I had planned.

Now on the streets of Genesis Central, I began my twenty-minute walk toward Central Genesis High School. The roads and sidewalks started out nearly empty, but were soon covered in businessmen getting to work and students on their commute to their respective schools. The irritatingly packed streets quickly became nigh-impossible to get from point-a to point-b on, and I considered flinging myself onto a building and running the rooftops multiple times, but I would have ruined my school clothes and would prefer not to do that.

After twenty minutes of pushing my way through the crowd of people, I made it to the front of the school building. I pulled out the hologram and tapped the side button, which made a full, three-dimensional map of the three story building appear in front of me. I was looking for room 235, which was on the leftmost side of the second floor. I had briefly scanned the map the night before, so I had a vague idea of where I was supposed to be going. I stifled a yawn and put in my earbuds, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible and blend in with the rest of the students. Thankfully, the uniform made us all look relatively the same.

I made my way up the flight of stairs at crawl-speed because of the crowd. It felt like I could drown in the sea of sweaty teenagers at any moment. I cranked up the volume on my old-era rock playlist to drown out the noise of all the voices. Thankfully, the classroom was in sight, so I cut across the lines of people and made it to the slightly-ajar door. I pushed it open then closed it just as quickly.

Surveying the room, I saw only a few students. I checked my watch again, and it told me that I was a bit early to class.


Kota had mentioned something about seats not being assigned, so I drifted to the back of the room and took a seat by the window overlooking the center courtyard. Decorative flowers and trees dotted the landscape, which was odd, considering that it was already the middle of Autumn. I took my earbuds out of my ears and put them away, then looked out the window a bit more, watching people scurry along to their classes.

The school building was shaped like a massive square with the center hollowed out. There were entrances at the northern and southern ends of the building shaped like arches, which led to the center courtyard. In all honesty, it was a beautiful campus, and it reminded me of those old world private schools where rich, snotty brats attended. Thankfully for me, this was actually a public school, so there would be a smaller normal-person-to-douchebag ratio.

After a few minutes of idly setting up my supplies, I noticed the room had filled up considerably. Kota was in the process of walking in, with Shiro right behind him. They took seats behind me, and we talked for a few moments about our ridiculously cramped commutes.

“That’s just how it is here, man. You’ll get used to it eventually,” He explained.

I nodded in his general direction then turned around. Class was starting, and the teacher, a twenty-something with long brown hair and wearing a button-up shirt and slacks, began to speak.

“Hello class”, she said in a legitimately positive tone. “I hope you’re ready for another day of learning!”

She seemed to actually care about this class and teaching. Unfortunately for her, it seemed that class was less than enthusiastic about another day of class. Some sighed, some groaned, and some made no reaction. She seemed to notice this, so she brought up something sure to interest more of the students.

“Well students, I do have some interesting news. A new student has joined this class!”

This seemed to pique the interest of the class, because most of their heads perked up and eventually their eyes settled on me. I felt a chill creep down my spine.

Shit… now I’ll be the focus. I don’t like this… now I have to be extra careful not to slip up...

The teacher also looked at me, then cleared her throat and spoke again.

“Can you please come to the front of the class and introduce yourself?”

Guess I don’t really have a choice, do I?

I stood up from my chair and made my way to the front. The eyes of thirty-or-so students followed me, including those of Kota and Shiro. I stopped in front of the holographic whiteboard and wrung my hands.

“Well… hello. My name’s Reiji. I’m glad to be working with you all. If you have any questions about me, I’ll answer them to the best of my abilities.”

A few hands went up so I picked the one closest to me, a short-haired boy with braces.

“Where did you go to school before coming here?”

It was an innocent question, yet difficult to answer at the same time. I hadn’t really gone to school, so I pulled the closest answer I could find out of my ass.

“Oh, I was homeschooled, but my family wanted me to come to a normal school for my last two years of high school. I just hope what they taught me will help me to keep up here,” I said with a faked chuckle.

In all honesty, what Mrs. Bates had been teaching me for the past two and a half years was at an accelerated pace, so I was most likely just as smart as the students here. And what I had said wasn’t a lie… technically.

The next person I chose was a blonde girl, but she was just saying it was nice to meet me and she was looking forward to working together as well.

I went through a few more questions about my background, which I made up some convenient lies for. Then, from another boy, came a question I didn’t have to lie about.

“Do you have any body modifications?” He asked

A lot of people my age in the lower socioeconomic classes had body mods to make their lives easier. I used mine purely for combat, but I could just say I used it for movement, which wasn’t a lie.

“Yes actually… I do. I have wires embedded into my wrists to help me get around faster,” I explained. People seemed interested in that, so I slid the left one out a bit. The quarter-inch thick wire slid out until it touched the ground, and flicked it at my desk to grab my backpack, then retracted it, backpack now in hand. A few people clapped, but I heard one irritated scoff coming from the back of the room. I looked to where the noise had come from, and there he was. The boy from my target file, Andy Russell.

He stood up from his chair, and I saw a few people in the front roll their eyes. Disagree on what they want, it seemed everyone in this class agreed on one thing. Andy Russell is a nuisance.

“Only pigs modify their bodies,” he said simply.

There is a stigma in the higher classes of the world against body-modding. They think it’s wrong because it could be a way to help poorer people get up to their social status. The surgery isn’t very expensive anymore, so basically anyone can afford it. And so, it’s a taboo amongst the top 1%, which this child was obviously a part of based on his accessories and his attitude.

I looked him up and down. He was of average height and build, had short brown hair, and aside from his ostentatious jewelry, was otherwise completely uninteresting. I laughed internally.

This over-glorified douche-canoe is an actual threat to society? Maybe a threat to the eyes, but that’s it.

Instead of saying that aloud, however, I kept those thoughts to myself.

“Do you have a question too?” I asked nonchalantly, completely ignoring his rudeness. He seemed stunned for a second, but quickly regained his composure. He snorted at me and sat back down.

After that little altercation, I answered a few more questions then went back to my seat. I noticed, however, that there was someone familiar in the second row on the left. Her green eyes put me at ease.

So Tomoe’s in this class too, huh? Glad to see her again.


The teacher, who later introduced herself as Mrs. Hina, began her lessons. First was Mathematics, trigonometry to be more specific, which I absolutely hated. It was the kind of thing that everyone in the class, including the teacher, knew was completely useless, but was still a part of the curriculum. Mrs. Hina, who seemed to have a legitimate love for teaching, lost a bit of steam after that lesson.

Next was a much better class, Language Arts. We read some old-world poems, considered classics since before The Fall, then wrote poetry in the same style as those poets. It was actually fairly interesting, a far cry from the last class.

Afterwards was history, which was also an interesting class. Since the school year had just begun, we were going over ancient history, since the times of the first world civilizations. History had always fascinated me, seeing as the last 100 years had been seemingly lost in translation because of The Reconstruction. I always wondered what it would be like to live out my life in a time before The Fall. Life seemed so much simpler back then. Not that I’m complaining, of course…

After this class was lunch, so Kota, Shiro, and I headed upstairs to the roof. Kota informed me that very few people used the roof other than him, so I was happy to hear that I’d be able to be with just them.

Which made it ever the more irritating when I sensed a presence standing behind the roof door while I was eating my sandwich. I waited for a few moments, thinking it was that ass Andy, but I got tired of it. I wolf-whistled and shouted at the door so they could hear me through the thick metal.

“I know you’re back there, so either come out here or don’t!”

Kota shot me a sidelong glance, but the door opened a few seconds later. It turned out to be none other than Tomoe, who wanted to join us for lunch. I immediately lightened up and scooted over for her to have a seat.

I introduced Kota and Shiro, who had just missed her last night, to Tomoe. They all shook hands and smiled, and we began a cordial conversation about school, movies, how I’m fitting in, everyone’s jobs (aside from mine, of course). As it turns out, Tomoe is also a movie fan, so we invited her to our next viewing experience. We learned that she lives alone with her mother, as her dad passed away a few years back, and that she works at a convenience store fairly close to Benny’s. After that somewhat heavy topic, Kota lightened the mood with a few of his ridiculous jokes, which got even stone-faced Shiro to laugh. It was an enjoyable experience, and Tomoe fit right in with the three of us. I caught myself staring at the new girl a bit. Just last night, she was a mess, and rightly so. Now, it was as if nothing had even happened.

She’s got nerves of steel… I admire that…

Unfortunately for my dignity, Kota also noticed this. His face was filled up by a grin one could see from a mile away.

“Interested in this new girl, my good friend? You seem unable to take thine eyes off of her,” he said in a ridiculous old-english accent.

My eyes shot across the roof until I caught them onto what had to be the most interesting rock I’d ever seen. I could feel my face heating up like a firecracker, and out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Tomoe’s had done the same.

What’s with the stupid rom-com routine?! I wanna go home!!

God seemed to pity me, however, because the bell for our next classes rang. I collected all of my stuff in one swipe then ran myself down the stairs and back to the class. Kota chased after me to deal a few finishing blows, then Tomoe and Shiro rushed after us to make it to class on time.

After that ordeal, we had a few more classes, namely Physics, Programming, and Art. We only had phys-ed on Wednesdays and Fridays, so that wasn’t a worry for the day.

Art, the final class, had officially ended, and the four of us packed up our things and walked out of the classroom together. We had made plans between classes to head to Benny’s before Kota and Shiro’s shifts.

And so, we walked down the sidewalk together, talking and joking about god knows what. Then, out of nowhere, my phone’s ringtone began blaring. Kota recognized the ringtone and gritted his teeth. I pulled out my phone and pretended to be surprised by the caller, then spoke

“Uh… you guys go on ahead, I have to take this one.”

Kota nodded and took the two girls down the sidewalk, then straight toward Benny’s. Once they were out of sight, I grappled myself up to a roof and put the phone to my ear.

“Yes, sir?”