Abstivelyposolute 882: Syncro Earrtthh
“Every one of you has a Talent,” Salvador explained. “An aptitude or a skill. A Capacitat Miraculosa if you will. You get my drift. The purpose of this school is to nurture this Talent within you. Maybe, hopefully, you will someday be able to use this Talent for the betterment of Mankind.”
“And if we don’t?” Julio asked. Salvador stopped in his tracks. Julio suddenly wished he could reverse time and slap his past self in the dick.
“If you don’t… well… then I’m afraid the only thing in your future is censorship.”
Everyone gasped again. Julio swallowed hard. Salvador kept walking.
“I want to get recruited by an Intelligence agency when I graduate,” an ebon haired kid behind Julio whispered. He was a bed-wetter and liked eating watermelon.
“I want to be a corporate headhunter,” a blonde girl in front of Julio whispered. She thought poetry was gay and secretly wanted to kill her older sister.
“I want to run a Black Ops unit and hunt down rogue syncs,” a fat kid next to Julio blurted. He wanted to marry a supermodel when he grew up and wished diets were illegal.
“I don’t know what I want to do. Not yet,” Amanda said. Julio knew she was telling the truth. Her astral shell had a lot of holes where her future was concerned.
“What about you?” an Asian kid asked Julio. His name was Zach. His dream was to make a billion dollar movie and live in an arcade.
“I don’t… um…” Julio searched for the right words.
“Don’t know?” Zach asked.
“Yeah. And you?”
“I want to be the President of the United States and bring about world peace,” Zach said.
“Don’t you have to live in America to do that?” Julio asked.
“I mean, I guess,” Zach shrugged.
“Okay, single file, marching order, children,” Salvador said. Everyone did so. Julio realized he was out of place and fell in line behind Amanda. “Our first stop today. The Welcoming Hall!”
The doors to the Welcoming Hall opened of their own accord, revealing a grand ballroom with round tables positioned all over the place. Students from years two through five were sitting at the tables and gathered into four big groups. Each group wore a different colored sash and had a unique crest pinned on their shirt. The ones with the red sash and wolf crest pin sat under the banner for Club Porcis. The ones with the sky blue sash and hawk crest pin were with Club Ishlu. The ones in the black sashes and ferret crest pins were Club Zinta. And finally, the students with white sashes and snake crest pins were with Club Tildi.
At the end of the hall, a group of professors waited as Salvador led the new blood to them. Hanging behind the professors, above their heads, was a massive portrait of a man late in his years. He had a magnificent head of frizzy white hair, little round glasses, a dark red smoking jacket, a pipe in one hand, a raised middle finger on the other, and a knowing smirk to top it all off.
The professor sitting in the middle of the other professors got up and approached a wooden podium. Julio thought he had a weird looking robe, until he realized it was actually the man’s beard covering the entire front of his body, dropping to the floor.
“Hello, students. My name is Emilio Mateo Rio Fulcrum Chrysanthemum Pewter Valdez Dearborn Rutherford Cervantes de la Mancha Rivera. The third. I am in charge of this school and, as of two minutes ago, all of you. This school was founded on the principles of service, dedication… and kicking ass. That’s what our founder, Jerold Potter, envisioned when he created the Potter School for Talented Youth. He sought to create a world made better by Talented people. To embody these values, our staff expect nothing but the best from you. Excellence par none. We demand nothing less because the world demands nothing less. I have the fullest confidence that most of you will meet our expectations.”
“Most of you?” a fat kid repeated under his breath. He wanted to marry a supermodel when he… oh wait. Julio remembered him from before. His name was Donovan. His astral shell and mental sleeve told Julio in no uncertain terms that he was absolutely insufferable.
“Is there a question, Mr. Montgomery?” Professor Rivera asked. All eyes shot to the Donovan boy.
“Well, sir, professor, I think we all know that not everyone is cut out to be special,” he grinned chubbily, “but what exactly are your expectations?”
“That is a great question. Shut up,” Professor Rivera snapped. Donovan was more confused than offended by the Professor’s answer. “All of you will be selected by the Selector to be initiated into one of four clubs. These clubs will be your family until the day you graduate, and hopefully beyond that. You will work together, compete against each other, and grow into wonderful young men and women ready to save the world. Or die trying.”
“Did he say ‘die trying’?” Julio whispered to Amanda.
“Shut the fuck up,” Professor Rivera snapped. “Now. Bring down… the Selector!”
A mechanical nightmare descended from the ceiling. Julio thought it looked like a metal spider pounded into the shape of a helmet. And boy did it look pissed.
“Miss Sullivan,” Professor Salvador called out.
The first girl in line shook in her shoes, but she steeled herself and then stepped forward. Professor Rivera had set a small chair down below the Selector for her to sit on. She nervously did so, never looking away from the frightening monstrosity hanging above her.
“Look straight ahead, please. You don’t want the Selector anywhere near your face,” Professor Vasquez said as she positioned the monstrosity in question. The Sullivan girl jerked into position.
The Selector descended onto her head, then its eight metal legs clamped down on her skull. Its eyes, all eight of them, opened one by one, sending an eerie red glow across the hall.
“Hmm,” the Selector hummed. “What a strong skull shape. Yes. Hard. Sturdy. You would best be suited with… Porcis!”
The students at the Club Porcis tables cheered as the Selector grabbed the rest of the Sullivan girl’s head and flung her at them. She landed with a crash that sent most of the silverware flying.
“Miss Glau,” Salvador called next.
She quickly shook her head no, but Professor Salvador gave her a gentle nudge. Professor Vasquez guided the Selector onto her head as she sat down.
“Oh. Interesting,” the Selector said. “That pre-frontal cortex is lovely. Just lovely. Then that makes you… Ishlu!”
The Selector flung her to the Club Ishlu tables. She didn’t stop screaming for a whole minute.
“Mr. Montgomery,” Professor Salvador called.
Donovan smiled a cocky smile and pushed the kids near him away, even though they weren’t in his way. He sat and the Selector grabbed his head.
“Oh, you’re a real motherfucker, aren’t you?” the Selector observed. “Vile. Deplorable. Sheltered too. Hmm. Then that means you belong in… Zinta!”
Donovan landed on the tables over by Club Zinta. None of the club members lifted a finger to help him. He squirmed for a good ten seconds as he tried to right himself, but his portly build made it difficult.
Julio swallowed nervously. This was it. He sat on the stool and Professor Vasquez lowered the Selector onto his head. It clicked and its legs grabbed hold of him.
“Whoa. What the fuck is all this?” the Selector asked. “You’ve got a lot going on in here, kid. I sense a great deal of turmoil in you.”
“That’s my normal,” Julio said.
“Normal, you say. But you’re not destined for normal, are you? You’ve got potential. So much potential,” the Selector hissed, tapping the sides of Julio’s face with its legs.
“Look, I don’t care where you put me as long as it’s not Zinta,” Julio said.
“Not Zinta? Don’t you want to be famous? Even, infamous? You could have it all in Club Zinta. You could be an unparalleled thief. A corporate pirate. A procurer of anything and everything you could ever dream of. Doesn’t that sound interesting to you?”
“Naw,” Julio replied with a shrug.
“A slacker then. Then I guess that means… Tildi!”
Julio landed at the Club Tildi tables with a smack, jostling the empty cups and plates. The Club Tildi students golf clapped for Julio’s arrival.
“Wow, the same club. That’s neat,” Amanda said. She already had a white sash on.
“That’s a word for it,” Julio said.
Zach landed with a thud next to Julio. The Tildi students golf clapped again.
“Whoa. Same club, bro,” Zach said.
“What are the odds, right?” Julio said, rolling his eyes.
“One in four,” Amanda replied completely earnestly. Zach and Julio turned their heads to look at her. “Oh, unless you mean what are the odds that the two of you would end up in the same club, then that’s a bit different.”
“Now that everyone has been sort- I mean selected into their clubs,” Professor Rivera began, “it’s time to get oriented. The rest of today will be dedicated to learning about your clubs, your dorms, and the school grounds. The only thing I will tell you, is if your Club Presidents or a Professor tells you something, listen. It is for your own safety. And please please please, stay away from the areas marked ‘Stay the Fuck Away‘. We can’t afford to lose anymore students. This is your one and only warning! Now with that business out of the way… let’s eat!”
Food miraculously appeared on the tables, much to the joy of the first years. Julio was actually impressed.
“This place is amazing!” Amanda squealed. “I can’t wait to get moved in.”
“Ugh, I think I sprained something,” Zach said, rubbing his neck.
Julio scanned the room with all seven of his senses. Everyone seemed pretty straightforward. The younger students all had shells that were hazy and indistinct while the older ones’ were more defined. That was normal. And then there were the professors. Vasquez’s shells were a colorful rainbow mélange, Rivera’s was like a nebula space cluster; darkest black but full of soft hues. Salvador was the same as before, blank. Julio felt the distinct impression that someone was watching him in a way that could only be described as sight beyond sight. That’s when he noticed Salvador staring him down.
“Hey, club president person,” Julio waved.
“Yes, Mr. Valdez?” the Tildi Club President asked. She was a collector of tea cups and was going to be the world’s greatest British Baker someday. Her name was Melissa.
“So, what’s the deal with the professors, anyway? Are they… like us?” Julio asked.
“Oh yeah. All of them are graduates of the Potter school,” she replied.
“What about Professor Salvador? What’s his story?” Julio asked.
“Professor Salvador…” she said, her face getting a dreamy look. “He might be the greatest sync to ever live. Outside of Professor Rivera, of course.”
“If he’s so great, why is he stuck being a teacher here?” Julio asked.
“He’s here because he’s a close personal friend of Professor Rivera and Rivera asked him to,” a fifth year said as he stuffed his face with roast turkey. He liked fast cars and fast guys. Julio didn’t care what his name was.
“A friend. How personal we talking?” Julio asked.
“Professor Salvador was a student of Rivera’s. Top of his class,” the fifth year said.
“That’s right. There’s a reason he became a Sycamore Knight, after all,” said Melissa.
“Rivera knows how to pick ’em,” a perky fourth year said. She hated politics and loved eating bugs. “Every protégé he’s ever had has gone on to great success.”
“Really. So what’s Professor Salvador done?” Julio asked.
“Well, back during the Turbulence, he was a top of the line sync hunter,” Melissa said.
“No way,” Amanda said, sounding amazed and looking very bright-eyed. Julio hadn’t known there were really people like this in real life. Someone so… innocent? Perky? She didn’t seem real, either way. But, her shell pegged her as an earnest soul so maybe this was all there was to her.
“It’s true,” the fourth year said. “He was personally responsible for finding the worst of the Turbulent and even got some of them to give up their friends to the authorities.”
“There ain’t a nut he can’t crack. He’s a stone cold sync,” Melissa said, nodding approvingly.
“And he’s got the all-time capture record,” the fifth year said. “No one ever gets away from him.”
Julio turned back to the professors’ table. Salvador watched him intently, the smallest hint of a smile playing at his lips.
“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” Julio said as he took a huge bite of turkey leg.