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Sunderland College [2.1 – Checking Up]

The sun rises gently over the city of Macew. In the northern quadrant, a mighty college rears up at the top of a hill, looking over the rest of the city like a watchful guardian. Cars drive up to the imposing gates and pass through into the staff car-park, whilst others park outside to drop off sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds for their first day of term.

It’s the 6th of September, 2004, and for a group of young attendees, the most interesting two years of their lives are about to begin. Some face it with a smile on their face. Others look worried, perhaps nervous. One isn’t wearing any clothes. Each student is facing the day with a different outlook, and with their enrolment forms in hand, they all walk up to the entrance and pass through. Some are early, some are running late. As the clock ticks towards 8, a bell rings in the college, and staff begin to bustle around as the day begins.

The ground floor of Sunderland College is surrounded on all sides by eight large training arenas, where hopeful students do battle with clothing. Within the building, there is a theatre where assemblies take place; several students recognise it as the hall where Maxwell Pinnacle gave his introductory speech many months ago.

Off to the left and right of the theatre are corridors with perfectly ordinary classrooms, mostly for General Studies and Clothing History. However, there’s also two labs for designing clothes and working with patches, as well as a spacious nurse’s office.

Upstairs, on the first floor, there’s two staff rooms on opposite sides of the college, with the middle area being a huge classroom for Performing Arts.

On the second floor, more classrooms are dotted around, usually used for Social Relations and Physical Education. There’s a huge gym besides the Physical Education rooms. The classrooms are also usually where registration takes place each morning for the different forms. Combat Training does not have specific classrooms, as it is mostly performed outside, with very little written work.

Finally, on the third floor, there is a student lunchroom and relaxation area, where a coffee shop and lunch service counter are located, for getting food at any time of day.

It is the second floor where the students head, yawning loudly in the mornings. Classroom 2-A is empty, save for one girl. She is sitting in silence, wondering how everybody else spent their summer holidays.

 

*

 

“Hey, it’s you!” Donovan exclaims as he walks into 2-A. Cassandra turns to look at him and smiles brightly. He’s wearing a ragged black duffle coat and his long black hair is shaggy, but gelled into a messy style intentionally.

“Hi, yeah… Donovan, right?”

“Indeed! And you’re Cassandra, the girl with the pillar-coat of destiny!” Donovan grins.

“That’s me, though they didn’t let me keep the coat.” Cassandra chuckles. “Say, for somebody so devoted to evil, you’re here at five to eight for registration. I was kinda expecting everyone else to be late…”

“Oh, uh…” Donovan mumbles, trying to buy some time. “My… uh, my parents dropped me off! And I- uh. I felt the call of evil leading me here! It is just convenience that means I’m here on time!”

“Sure.” Cassandra grins wryly.

Soon enough, two other people step through the door. One of them is pale, with a shock of spiky hair and piercing green eyes, and the other has an excellent rear and large breasts.

“Eee!” squeals Cassandra. “Hey Ten!”

Ten grins at her friend. “Hey, Cass. How you doing?”

“Not bad, yourself? Did you recover after the party last week?”

“Pretty much,” laughs Ten. “Where’s the form teacher, anyway? It’s like, three minutes to.”

“No idea! I handed in my enrolment form to the woman downstairs… she did say to go to 2-A, right?” Donovan asks.

“Yeah.” Xilog says. Everyone turns to him and Cassandra waves at him.

“Hey, Xilog. Um, did you say you prefer ‘P’?”

“If you wouldn’t mind.” says Xilog. “Though what is a name? Just some sounds you make that somebody else recognises; a Pavlovian response to sounds that you recognise as your own. Yet you have no real ownership over them – names have power, yes, but that power they have is… over us.”

Nobody’s sure what to say, and as Ten tries to formulate a response, somebody else walks in. It’s Jackson, and he gives the group a little wave.

“Hey, it’s you guys! I actually recognise you, which is cool… thought I was gonna end up in a class with nobody I knew.” he says.

Somebody walks in behind him, so silently and nervously that the group completely fails to notice her. Boo sits down at the back of the classroom, and she goes on her phone. Donovan is brooding in the corner, staring out of the large windows on the side of the classroom and whispering to himself.

“No, no, we’re all here!”

As the clock ticks to eight, more students begin to file in, some of them not recognised by the group from the taster day. Those at the taster day decide to sit together, ending up getting a table at the back of the classroom. Boo looks up from her phone to see Cassandra, Ten, Donovan, Xilog and Jackson sat with her, and almost has a heart attack.

“Oh, uh, hi…”

“Hey, Boo!” Cassandra says. “Totally missed you coming in. Is this it for all of our group?”

“Looks like it.” Ten says, shrugging. She’s sat in a position to see the door, and looks at the group. “Someone’s coming – looks like our form tutor is running late, the prick.”

The form tutor enters. He’s tall, with dark hair, and has a large trench coat, though he only has one arm in it. He gives a sigh as he walks in, and though the other students at other tables react with confusion, the group at the back grins excitedly.

Simon Rutledge logs onto the computer and then looks at the class.

“Hello, all, and I apologise, but it seems you’re stuck with me for the rest of the year. Welcome to registration – you’re Form A. I recognise some of you, and some of you are new, but I hope we… ugh, I hope we all ‘get along’.”

“Hi Simon!” trills Cassandra. Donovan points a finger.

“The man with the legendary coat of destiny! Pleased to see you again!”

“Uh. Yeah. Hello, students I forgot the names of.” Simon says. Cassandra and Donovan’s faces drop, and Simon smirks. “Cassandra, Donovan, keep quiet. We’ve got lots to do.”

“Moron.” Ten says, and Cassandra smiles at her.

Xilog observes the classroom quietly as Simon begins to talk.

“Alright, firstly, we’re going to hand out your timetables. Please study these carefully – Monday morning, however, is being written off today, as you’ve got checkups instead. Lucky you.” he says. He begins to walk around, handing out timetables to each student.

“Checkups?” asks Donovan, turning to the group.

Jackson nods. “Yeah, it was mentioned in one of the various letters we got, my mum was telling me. They give us a physical checkup at the start of each term to find out if our bodies are capable of handling two pieces of Battle Clothing yet.”

“What are the chances that we can handle one at our age?” asks Boo, quietly. She shrinks away nervously as Cassandra turns to answer her.

“Unlikely. Estelle didn’t get her second piece until she was nineteen. The average for most is eighteen, so it’ll be second year for most of us. But hey, maybe we’ll get lucky!”

“Perhaps.” Ten says, as she reaches for the timetable that Simon hands her. She looks at it curiously as the rest of the group get theirs.

“Ooh, cool, we have the same timetable!” Cassandra says to Boo, looking over the girl’s shoulder. Boo nods nervously.

“Yeesh, I don’t finish until 4 on a Friday.” sighs Jackson. 

“If you want to swap courses or have any problems with your timetable in the first few weeks, make sure to speak to your course coordinator. For first-years, that’s Marlow Bell; his office is on the ground floor next to the reception.” Simon says. “Now, once you’ve familiarised yourself with your timetables, get ready to head down to the nurse’s office.”

The class are ready to go, and soon, they are heading down the stairs to the nurse’s office.

 

*

 

Aubree comes bursting into room 2-B. “Sorry I’m late!”

Phillis and Eiden, who, up until now, were standing on opposite sides of the classroom not talking, turn to look at her.

“There’s nobody here yet, you’re early. Still five minutes to go.” Eiden says. “You alright? You look out of breath.”

“I mean, I ran because I thought I was late, I ended up missing my alarm and then I saw a cute bug on the wall outside the college and it distracted me and, uh… well, I ran up three flights of stairs. It’s tiring.”

“Yeah, true.” Eiden says. “Why are the form rooms on the third floor? I’d like to question some of this college’s design decisions.”

As he says this sentence, a young-looking girl walks in and glances at the three of them.

“Oh, you’re the nudist.” she says. Phillis bristles.

“Who’s asking? Sit down and stop saying dumb things.”

The girl shrugs. “I would sit down, but I’m not a student. I’m Mia Denney, your form tutor for the year.”

She’s evidently older than she looks – with auburn hair and a low fringe, half-moon glasses and a knee-length dress with black high heels, she’s ready for the new term.

“What an idiot.” smirks Eiden behind the mask. “Form tutor already hates him.”

“You’re not a fan of Phillis, are you?” asks Aubree as she sits down on Eiden’s table. Phillis glances at them briefly, but turns away again to stare out of the window.

“Eh. It just annoys me that he intends to be a Bombardier without even touching Battle Clothing. He cannot make it through this course without using the powers Battle Clothing affords, so… why? I just have to know why he hates the stuff so much.”

Another group of students walk in and begin to sit down – Eiden, Phillis and Aubree recognise two of them.

“Clocksworth Clocksworth!” Aubree cries. Clocksworth points finger guns at her.

“Hey darling. How’s your good self? Also I entirely forgot your name.”

“Aubree.”

“Ah, yeah,” Clocksworth smiles. “Well hey! Let’s sit down. Eiden, my man, how are you?”

“Perfectly fine.” sighs Eiden. The other student sits at the table as well. She has brunette hair and smiles brightly at everyone.

“Hi, everyone. Good summer?”

“Ah, it’s, uh, Anastasia, right?” Eiden asks. Anastasia nods enthusiastically.

The last student walks in, running a little late, and Mia tuts as he sits down. His beard is trimmed and his moustache is perfect – Zaphod Smith has arrived just on time.

“Hi guys! Sorry I’m late.”

“No problem.” Mia replies. “Phillis, isn’t it? Do you mind sitting down?”

Some of the students giggle and laugh at Phillis as he begrudgingly takes a seat with the rest of his classmates, whilst others of the male variety glare with jealousy at the impressive meat sausage between his legs. He holds his head high, however, and proudly stares straight ahead.

“Alright, everyone. I’m Mia Denney, and I’m Form B’s tutor for this year. You’ll see me each morning for registration, and today we’ll just be covering the basics. Firstly, I’d better hand out your timetables. Take yours and pass them along, please.” Mia says, handing over a stack of timetables to the nearest table. Clocksworth takes the pile, searches for his timetable, then passes them on.

Whilst this is occurring, Mia continues to speak.

“Monday morning’s lessons have been cancelled for the first day of term, since you’ve got checkups in a short while. We’ll be doing some administrative stuff to start with, and then we’ll go down for checkups.”

As Mia talks, the students discuss their timetables.

“How’s yours looking?” Eiden asks Aubree. She beams at him.

“I have Fridays off! Makes my other days busier, but that’s nice.”

“Cool,” Eiden replies. “I have Wednesdays off, too. Don’t finish until 4 on a Friday, though…”

“My Monday is hella busy.” Clocksworth says, studying her timetable. “Hey, Phillis, do we have the same classes?”

“Looks like it.” mutters Phillis, rolling his eyes. “Can’t wait.”

“OK, if everyone’s cool with their timetables, let’s get on with the checkups – make your way down to the nurse’s office on the ground floor, please. Oh yeah, if you need to fix your timetable at all, speak to your first-year course coordinator, Mr Bell. His office is next to reception.”

With that, the students begin to make their way out of the classroom, heading down to the nurse’s office.

 

*

 

“Hey, guys!” says Cassandra as she spots members of Form B heading down to the nurse’s office. Form C are also waiting outside. “I was hoping we’d all end up in the same class – besides those two – but I guess it doesn’t work out that way.”

“Nah, I guess not.” Eiden replies. “Still, we probably share some lessons, so don’t count us out just yet!”

“Everyone quiet down!” calls Jessica. “You’ll be entered one at a time – it’s just a five-minute procedure, and once you’re done, head back up to your form. Line up in an orderly fashion, please.”

The three forms line up and begin to chat amongst themselves as they wait for their turn to get checked up.

“Oh yeah,” Simon says, cutting away from his conversation with the other two form tutors for a moment. “You get the rest of Monday morning off, though lessons will start after lunch. We recommend you head to the labs to request a piece of Battle Clothing to work with. You’ll need it for Combat Training and Physical Education; get it done today and you won’t have to worry about it again.”

“Ooh, that’ll be fun,” Donovan says. “Finally, I will be granted the power I so deserve!”

“Uh, sure.” Anastasia says. “I wonder what piece of Battle Clothing I should choose…”

“I mean, if you don’t know, why not just pick a piece of clothing and a patch at random and see what you get?” Eiden says. Anastasia chuckles.

“That’s not a bad idea.”

“I get every afternoon off.” Xilog murmurs to himself. Ten smirks at him.

“You don’t get them off – they expect you to do homework or go to the gym in free periods, P.”

“Ah.” Xilog replies. “Makes sense… one’s body is a temple for the mind, after all.”

Over the course of a few hours, every student is seen and checked up, and they return to the form rooms in twos and threes, excitedly discussing the doctor’s forms they have received. The rest of the morning is theirs as they see fit, but they’re only excited for one thing: to get their first piece of Battle Clothing that they’ll be allowed to keep.

 

*

 

Nurse’s Notes

Nurse: Marilyn Dunning

Students are tested on strength and intelligence through a point-score system. 7 is around average for students of this age. Their bodies are only capable of handling more kinds of Battle Clothing once their strength score reaches 14.

Students with 11 or more strength will likely be able to wear two kinds of Battle Clothing by the end of the winter term. Those with 8-10 strength will be able to wear two kinds of Battle Clothing by the beginning of the summer term. Those with 7 or less will be able to wear two kinds of Battle Clothing during the second year.

 

Student Name: Cassandra Giles

Analysis: Good physical condition.

Int 5/Str 7

 

Student Name: ███████ “Ten” Smithy

Analysis: No particular strength, but average across the board.

Int 6/Str 7

 

Student Name: Boo Viejo

Analysis: Peak physical condition.

Int 7/Str 11

 

Student Name: Xilog ████████

Analysis: Weaker than average.

Int 7/Str 5

 

Student Name: Phillis Singen-Stevens

Analysis: Strong and well-built.

Int 6/Str 7

 

Student Name: Donovan Bullard

Analysis: Of average build and strength, very intelligent.

Int 12/Str 7

 

Student Name: Anastasia Brooks

Analysis: Above-average strength for a female of her age.

Int 10/Str 8

 

Student Name: Aubree Cyrus

Analysis: Incredibly spirited and quite strong.

Int 5/Str 8

 

Student Name: Eiden Darrow

Analysis: Ill, but immensely powerful.

Int 6/Str 12

 

Student Name: Jackson Slacall

Analysis: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Int 7/Str 7

 

Student Name: Clocksworth Clocksworth II

Analysis: Strong in body and mind.

Int 7/Str 8

 

Student Name: Zaphod Smith

Analysis: Intelligent, but lacking strength.

Int 7/Str 4

Sunderland College [1.4 - A Generation Born]
Sunderland College [2.2 - Getting To Know You]

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