“Right, it is simple on a two-dimensional plane, but it gets a little more difficult when we add angles and multiple forces.”
Chloe drew a diagram on the inkboard. It was a circle with three lines coming out. The new classroom was just the right size. They probably could have fit three or four more students in it if they wished. Finch glanced at the window. It had been raining when he arrived, and it was still raining. He turned back to the board.
“See, here we have three vectors with different directions. I want to find the resultant.”
“Well, what do we do? How do we work with diagonal forces?” Finch asked.
“We have to break each of the forces down into their x and y values. To the nearest right angle. That way we can add them together while removing the directional issues.”
Finch studied the board.
“So… vector A is just negative sixty force on the x?”
“Right. Can you guess how we get the x and y of a diagonal line?” Chloe asked.
“I have no idea. I just went for line A because it was straight.” Finch conceded.
“Angleometry!” Chloe exclaimed
Finch’s eyes widened, “Are you telling me that we can apply adjacent, opposite, and hypotenuse rules to physics vectors?”
“Isn’t it exciting?”
There was a loud crash.
The roof caved in a little, then a large wooden beam slid through the ceiling at high speed, slamming sidelong into Chloe’s surprised face. Finch heard a wet crack as her cheekbone snapped.
“Ah!” Finch leapt up, knocking over his chair and launching himself off the desk, “Teacher!”
Chloe, somewhat less dazed now, carefully grasped the beam in her two hands, and attempted to push it off of her face. Her neck was straining under hundreds of pounds of force. Finch gazed at this feat of strength for a moment, and then went to help her. He heard voices from the floor above. It seemed others were pulling the beam up as Chloe was pushing it away. Her arms bulged with the effort. Chloe was a lot stronger than she appeared.
“Pull it up you fools! How could you drop that through the floor?!”
“Sorry Natasha! Sorry!”
The beam was pulled back through the hole. Then Finch saw a face that looked like an older, more bored version of Chloe’s. This must be Natasha, he thought.
Natasha gazed down, seeing her sister clutching a bleeding cheek in one hand, and then turned her face back up.
“Get out. You are suspended for the rest of the day.” She told someone from the floor above.
Finch didn’t worry about this. He ran to Chloe.
“Are you okay?”
“I ah,” She winced, “I don’t believe that I am. I think my cheekbone broke, Finch. I’m sorry Finch, but we’ll have to postpone classes for a bit, okay Finch?”
It seemed like talking was causing her pain, and the pain was causing a bit of confusion. She seemed to have put his name in every available sentence.
“I’ll take you to the hospital,” Finch said.
He led Chloe out of their new, now damaged classroom.
“Take me to Gwenhime’s office.” She said.
They went down the stairs, and Chloe added, “I… will send for you, Finch, when, ah, when we are to resume classes. When I am able to again run a class. Hopefully, hopefully it is soon. Finch, we’re here.”
She motioned to the locked room at the staircase landing. Finch had always had a small curiosity for what was behind this door. He walked to open it, and then stopped, hearing someone thunder down the steps behind him.
It was a very tall woman with shoulder length blonde hair. She wore a grey jumpsuit tattered with sawdust. It was Natasha. She pushed Finch aside and grabbed Chloe’s shoulders, looking down to her younger sister’s face.
“I have half a mind to fire that man. Are you okay, Chloe? Did you acquire any brain damages?”
“Natasha, I don’t know at the moment, I’m only just arriving at mother’s office…”
Chloe turned to look at the door. Her hand was still clutching at the knob.
“Yes, do that.” Natasha let go of Chloe.
Finch stared up at the woman, the guard Captain. He probably could have stood on his own head and still not reach her eye level.
Chloe opened the door, and immediately Gwenhime stood up. The room was unusually long, but in moments the middle-aged woman had crossed it.
“Chloe, what did I tell you about trying to fly?” She asked, her face now very near to Chloe’s, examining the wound.
“That I’m not ready yet. Well, now, wait a second! I got this from a wooden beam, not flying!” Chloe said.
“Hmm, that would make more sense. You are bleeding on the inside. This will be interesting.”
Gwenhime led her daughter to one of the beds. There were two of them, lined up against the right wall. Finch sat on a chair on the left side. Natasha closed the door and sat next to him. They listened patiently.
Finch would have almost considered the woman senile, if it weren’t for the fact that Chloe was answering all of her odd questions as though they were completely normal. Perhaps they were, Finch considered. But then he thought about it. Flying? He then watched Gwenhime open a large amount of Chloe’s face and begin some sort of odd procedure.
He looked away.
Finch turned his attention to Natasha. He had been trying to talk to her for over a year now, and finally he had his chance!
“What, uh, what happened there?” He asked.
“Some fool dropped one of the ceiling beams. This has never happened before. It is my fault, I should not have assigned that man to the roof skeleton. He will only be carrying materials from now on.”
“Oh,” Finch wasn’t sure what to think about that, “Umm, I would like to join the guard. In the future, I mean.”
Natasha turned to Finch. He had been expecting doubt, but instead he got an expression of consideration.
“How old are you, Riley?” She asked.
“I’m thirteen.” He said.
“So you can join next year. But that would mean dropping out of school. From what my sister tells me, you are getting along very well with your studies. You would exit that to enter the workforce? And so young?”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll get back to learning later on. I just need to join the guard as soon as I can.”
“Why?” Natasha looked down on him.
“It’s important to me.”
Finch couldn’t quite remember why he had wanted to become a guard, but he did know that it was the most important goal he had at the moment.
“I will remember you, Riley.” Natasha replied.
“Finch.” She nodded.
Gwenhime dismissed them not too long after. Chloe was asleep. Gwenhime said she would be better in three or four days.
Finch exited and stepped out into the field. It seemed that it had stopped raining. Even now, in the damp, cloudy light, it was beautiful. He stared out to the north for a while, and then looked at the nearby mountain. He sighed.
A man exited the castle behind him. Finch turned and saw that it was a Riley, this must be the man who dropped the beam. Finch decided to follow him, mostly out of boredom.
The man headed into the city. Finch trailed him, as if he was in a pretend game of seek the hidden. He passed his own house. His father would not be home, not yet. It wasn’t long after when the man stopped and went into a larger looking house. The guard must pay well.
Finch heard some shouts from within, and then a few moments later a small girl jumped out of the building looking mildly cross. She was also a Riley, with short cut hair that came just far enough to cover her eyes. She had pale skin, and dark-lined eyes, the signature look of the Riley. She caught his eyes with her own, a pale green stare.
“Jutt?” Finch said.
“Hey Finch. I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
“Yeah, you look older.” He said.
Jutt shrugged, “I am older.”
She started walking south, and Finch followed.
“Where are we going?” He asked.
“I don’t know. I might go down to the university. I like it there.”
“What?” This utterly confused Finch, “Why go there if we’re still in secondary school?”
“I don’t know. I like to sit in on classes. I’m going to try and fast track my secondary school so that I can attend early.” She said, “We’re on holiday now, but I would still rather be learning. If it would get me out of secondary faster, anyway.”
“You can do that?” Finch was surprised.
“Sit in on classes? Yes, they don’t really care as long as there’s room. Exit secondary faster? Yes to that too. Usually you get out at sixteen, right, four years after you join. Well, you can cut it down to fifteen, fourteen if you’re some sort of prodigy.”
She gave him a dull, but meaningful look from behind her hair.
“Oh, yeah.” He had forgotten that he was known as a prodigy, because of all the textbooks he used to read.
“What are you learning with that prince anyway?” Jutt asked.
“Well, I’ve learned about alleles, and vectors, and functions, and about the Solune-Metch wars as well as the founding of the kingdom.” He replied.
“That’s final year stuff,” Jutt said, “You never told me you were fast-tracking.”
“I think your teacher is highly unorthodox if you’re learning all that this early.”
“We just go at my own pace!” He huffed.
Jutt crossed her arms, “See, this is why people call you the prodigy. Stuff like this. Accidentally being three years ahead in school subjects.”
“Well,” Finch wasn’t sure how to make himself sound dumber, “I don’t take holidays either…”
Finch didn’t know what to say. Finch just looked back and forth down the streets as they passed them. He saw a shabby looking temple, and felt a sudden emptiness in his stomach. Jutt followed his gaze lazily.
“Shame he’s dead, huh.”
“What? Who?” Finch asked.
“My father.” She mumbled, and then, “Rather, the East Metch who owned that temple. They say it’s lucky he was able to draw up a will on his deathbed, otherwise it would have been a hell to figure out who to give his possessions to.”
“So,” Finch pondered, “Who owns the cathedral now?”
Jutt shrugged, “All I can tell you for sure is that it isn’t me.”
They came to the academic district. Finch had never been here, but already he was happy he had come. It made him really excited, being around all this knowledge.
“Alright, I’m in! How does it work? What do we do?” Finch asked.
“Hmm? Oh, we wait.” Jutt said flatly.
Finch looked around. The plants here seemed overgrown, grasses tall enough to seed, and dripping vines running up the buildings. This made Finch even happier. These people didn’t bother with the look of the buildings because they were focused on the knowledge on the inside! He also realized that there were quite a few different buildings, many were different sizes, and some looked older than others.
Jutt started walking, and Finch fell into step beside her. They stayed out of the damp grass as they moved.
“So,” He said, “Which one is the university building?”
“All of them. What subject are you interested in?”
“Uh, Natural Studies.”
“That’s this way.”
They walked past the first set of visible buildings, and Jutt navigated through what was almost a maze. The path they walked on was covered in gravel. Finch had the vague suspicion that this had once been a dirt foot trail and that the school had simply covered it in gravel and pronounced it an official path.
They came to a building that looked like a regular, albeit large inn on one side. The other side was mostly made of large panes of glass.
Finch looked at Jutt, and she said simply, “For plants.”
After a couple of minutes, many young adults exited the building.
“Now we just wait for others to come in, and then we just follow someone to a class.” She said.
Finch wasn’t sure if it would end up being that easy, but it really was. He diligently followed Jutt, who in turn was tailing a young man with unusually long black hair. Finch reached out and grabbed Jutt’s hand so that he could look around freely without losing her. She gave him a passive look, and continued her task.
The inside of the building was even more interesting than the outside. They walked through halls and went upstairs. Finch read every door label. After a while he noticed that a brunette woman was following them. Finch had just assumed that she was going to the same class, but after staring at him for a moment, she vanished in the crowd. They soon found themselves in a classroom. It was far bigger than Chloe’s. Finch expected it could fit forty or fifty people.
“We’ll sit at the back,” Jutt said, “We don’t want to draw too much attention.”
Finch nodded, and they sat down. He then realised his hand was in hers and so he let go. Jutt, who always wore black cargo pants, pulled out a small notepad and a fountain pen.
“I think this is the biochemistry room.” She mumbled, flipping through her book.
There were a lot of headers on her pages, subjects Finch knew, and others he didn’t. She flipped to one titled biochemistry just as the brunette woman strode in.
“Oh,” Finch said. That explained why she was following them.
The class itself, while very interesting, went almost entirely over Finch’s head. He glanced at Jutt every now and then. About half the time he was sure that she was just as lost as him, but other times she listened intently and even jotted down a few words in her book. At the end of it all, Finch surveyed the inkboards at the front of the room in amazement.
He had no idea what had just happened, but he wanted more.
“Can we do that again? Like, right now?” Finch asked.
“That was the plan,” Jutt replied, stowing her book away.
And then Finch realized that the teacher, the brunette, was walking towards them. The rest of the class had nearly all exited by now. Jutt noticed her too, but remained silent, putting away her pen.
“You two are not students here.” The woman stated.
Finch started to panic. Were they not allowed to be here? What was going to happen? Were they now in trouble?
Jutt crossed her arms defiantly, “Is that a problem?”
The woman considered Jutt, just a short girl with hair nearly covering her eyes.
“I’ve seen you around here before.” The teacher said to Jutt.
“That’s because I’ve been here before.”
The woman frowned, but pulled a card out of her pocket, saying, “You should register.”
“Not as a student, I’m sure you’re too young, but rather as an unrestricted learner. That way, at least you’re in the system. You can even start logging your courses. Of course, you cannot obtain credits until you have your secondary school papers, but logs are quite favourable additions to applications.”
Jutt had loosened up as the woman went on.
“Oh. Thank you.” Jutt said, taking the card.
“I don’t have one for your friend, but he can request one himself if he’s interested.”
The brunette teacher exited.
“Woah,” Finch said, “Favourable additions to applications!”
Jutt did something that Finch had never seen her do. She smiled.
“Yeah,” She said, “Let’s go to the secretarial building and register. Like, right now.”
Finch nodded vigorously.