Chapter 2:

Coming Together

School of Redemption

               The shrill chirp of Laverna’s alarm clock rang out. She jolted awake, slamming the alarm clock off. She hated alarms, but at times like these they were necessary. Jumping out of bed, she took a quick second to look in the mirror. Her long brown hair lay somewhat disheveled but was not completely unpresentable. Her normally sharp green eyes were clouded with sleep, so she wiped them a couple times in an attempt to wake up.

               “Good enough,” she murmured to herself. Laverna had never been one to care much about her appearance, and she wasn’t going to start caring now. She gave her teeth a quick brush and jumped into the clothes she had set aside the previous morning. It was just a simple teal t-shirt and shorts, but they functioned as clothes, which was the most important thing to Laverna. She grabbed her backpack, threw her notebooks and pencils into it, and rushed to the door. She wasn’t in any danger of being late, but she liked to get places early. After double checking she had everything, she departed for her classes.

               After struggling a little to find the room, Laverna entered the classroom 20 minutes early. Besides one girl sitting towards the front, the room was completely empty. Laverna made her way towards the back left corner, her usual spot of choice. She settled into her seat and sat quietly, looking around the room. She wasn’t as nervous as she thought she would be, but that may have been because of the lack of other people around.

               “Hello, I’m Hecate.” The other girl spoke in a quiet voice. Despite the small volume, there was weirdly a large amount of power behind it. She had shorter blonde hair and soft facial features that complemented each other quite well. “What’s your name?”

               “Laverna.” It wouldn’t hurt to make a new friend. “Are you also a freshman?”

               “Yep, college has been…stressful so far to say the least,” Hecate let out a chuckle.

               “Same here,” Laverna replied. “I’ve already had to return a bunch of stuff to the lost and found.”

               “Ah…” Hecate paused. “I meant more with classes starting up and everything. It’ll be hard to find a place to relax.”

               “I know what you mean. Especially with my one friend,” Laverna agreed, thinking of Mictian. “He can appear out of nowhere.”

               “Sounds like an interesting guy,” Hecate said thoughtfully. “Mind introducing him to me? Maybe we could grab dinner tonight. I’ll bring one of my friends, too.”

               “Sounds good to me, although he’s not much to gawk at,” Laverna replied, laughing.

               “Don’t worry, I’m not much one to gawk,” Hecate joked back. “But I can’t say anything about my friend. She’ll probably go after him the moment she sees him.” The two’s conversation was cut short as other students and the professor began to enter the room, signaling the start of the class.

               Laverna stood outside her last class of the day. The rest of her classes had passed without incident, but this last one was unique. Because of her criminal history, Thettle University required her to take a special class meant to aid her and others like her take back their lives and drop their criminal tendencies. As a result, everyone in the class had some sort of criminal record. She was relieved to know that Mictian would be there, but she would have to be extremely careful of everyone else. She didn’t want to befriend a murderer, after all. Taking a deep breath, she entered the classroom.

               “Laverna?” Before she had the chance to survey her surroundings, she heard a familiar soft voice. Hecate was sitting towards the front of the class. Another girl was standing next to her.

               “Hecate?” Laverna hadn’t expected to see Hecate in this class. “What are you doing here?”

               “I assume the same reason as you,” Hecate smiled. “Although I can’t say I expected to see you here.”

               “Same here,” Laverna replied. After a second of pause, she blurted out “Oh… and don’t worry, I’m just a klepto, I didn’t kill anyone or anything.”

               “Me neither,” Hecate laughed. “I just…like to play with fire a little too much.” As she spoke, she revealed a couple boxes of matches from her pocket.

               “Hecate, I thought you got rid of those!” The girl standing next to Hecate spoke up.

               “This is Kasdeya, the friend I told you about earlier,” Hecate said, dodging the statement. “She’s always so annoying.” Kasdeya was only slightly taller than Laverna, but her skinny waist gave the illusion of being taller than she was.

               “Who’s making friends without me?” Mictian rested a hand on Laverna’s shoulder as he appeared from behind her.

               “And this is Mictian, the friend I told you about,” Laverna chuckled. “And like I said, he can just show up out of nowhere.”

               “Lucky you’ve got such a cutie for a friend,” Kasdeya said, obviously attempting to hit on Mictian.

               “I know, isn’t she just the cutest?” Mictian joked, squeezing Laverna’s cheek. Kasdeya’s efforts were not realized.

               “Students, take your seats, please.” The professor spoke as he entered the room.

               “Meet outside class for dinner?” Hecate asked as Laverna drifted away.

               “Good with me,” Laverna responded, accompanying the response with a thumbs-up. She made her way to an empty seat at the back of the room. During the conversation, the room had slowly filled up until there were around 30 students in the room. Needless to say, the room was packed. The chatter in the room died down as she took her seat.

               “Alright, let’s begin,” the professor started. “I’m Professor Nakamura and welcome to CRI 126. Today we’ll be doing some ice breakers and go over the class syllabus.” Professor Nakamura paused before continuing. “Why don’t you take turns telling us your name and a fun fact about yourself?” After a couple seconds of silence, the student in the front left corner stood up.

               “I guess I’ll start,” he said, embarrassed. “I’m Akihiro Yamamoto, and I’m in this class because I graffitied a store near my house.” He didn’t seem like a bad kid to Laverna and was probably just there because of one or two bad decisions he made in his youth. The girl behind Akihiro stood up.

              “Alright, I’ll go next!” she exclaimed cheerfully, beaming. “I’m Asami, and I…may have stabbed a guy once or twice.” As she spoke, Asami face curled into a vicious grin before quickly returning to her previously normal smile. The room was silent as she took her seat, seemingly not at all put off by her classmates’ reactions. Laverna was too stunned to speak. Too many alarm bells rang in her head, and she couldn’t think clearly. All she could manage was to look over at Mictian, who seemed to be having a very similar reaction to the one she was having.

               The next couple introductions became blurs in Laverna’s memory. She finally recovered when it came to her turn. Standing up, she gave a little wave.

               “Hi, everyone,” she began. “I’m Laverna, and I suffer from kleptomania.” An awkward pause filled the room. Not knowing what to do, she continued. “So if any of your stuff goes missing, just check the lost and found the next day.” Letting out a quiet chuckle, she very quickly sat back down. Silence once again filled the room. Laverna felt her ears grow red as she tried to hide her embarrassment. Her attempt at a joke had completely backfired, and now the situation had turned awkward.

               “My name is Kasdeya.” Laverna was distracted from her worries by Kasdeya’s introduction. “My only crime is stealing your heart!” As she said that last line, her long black hair perfectly framed her face such that even Laverna had to admit she was pretty cute. Given the effect it had on her, she was concerned how much effect it would have on the boys of the class. Glancing around, many of them seemed to be enamored with Kasdeya, but her charms seemed to again be useless on Mictian. When his and Laverna’s eyes met, he smiled and gave her a thumbs-up, no doubt to reassure her that her previous joke attempt was not as bad as it seemed. Laverna flashed a smile back before turning her attention back to the introductions. Besides Mictian, she didn’t really care too much about the others, as none of them seemed to be crazy murderers like Asami; There was a guy named Steven who hacked his high school to change his grades and a girl named Claire who stalked her high school crush. Nothing super important because she didn’t really care about the people themselves.

               After introductions, Professor Nakamura passed out the syllabus.

               “In this class, you will be designing and creating a project in groups of around four or five. This project must have some sort of community service element, and each group member must contribute an equal amount to the project. Every project topic must be approved by me, but after the topic is approved, you are on your own. This project will count for 100% of your final grade. The specific details are outlined in the syllabus. Any questions?” Kasdeya raised her hand.

               “100% of our grade?” she asked, confused. “What about the tests and homework?”

               “There are no tests, and this project more than covers for your homework,” Professor Nakamura replied. Sounds of disbelief was heard across the classroom, and soon nervous chatter erupted. “If there are no more questions, you are free to go. You may use future class periods as work time, but this is not a requirement. After your topic has been approved, you no longer need to come to class, save for submitting your project.” Disbelieving murmurs rose from the class as Laverna stood up and approached Mictian.

               “Well that certainly was…a class,” Mictian said when Laverna reached him. “I thought this was supposed to help us stop doing criminal stuff.”

               “I mean… that’s what it was supposed to do,” Laverna replied. “Let’s read over the project requirements at dinner. Maybe it’ll say more there.”

               “Shall we go? Kasdeya and Hecate appeared next to the pair as Kasdeya spoke.

               “Yep, I’m starving,” Mictian replied, stretching a little as he stood up. The four left the classroom and made their way towards the dining court.