And we're off! This is very, very different from what I usually write, so we'll see how it goes. I'm not exactly well-versed with normal stuff like fashion or music, and it's been a while since I've been to high school.

I know it's weird (and maybe a little disappointing) to see what's essentially a slice-of-life high school AU after the roller-coaster ride that was Emergence, but there's actually a lot of things I want to do with this.

New setting, new OCs, a new world to explore. Let's get this show on the road.

1: New Arrivals

Connor Lloyd

It just wasn't my day.

First, it was Monday, so I had PE first block. I mean, I have it every day, but I really hated it in the morning. I'd rather be doing math or computer stuff or even English, just anything but PE. I'd never had a good PE class I liked, but this one was the worst.

Mr. Lee was one of those PE teachers that wasn't supposed to exist anymore. Physical Education was supposed to promote fitness and knowledge of being healthy. Mr. Lee treated it as an athletics course. It wasn't what they said it was supposed to be- doing your best

Not that I could do much, anyway.

And then there were the guys who made fun of me because I was bad at the class. Or, to be not as nice about it, bullied me for being unfit. It wasn't my fault I liked other things. It wasn't my fault I figured there were more important things to pursue than being able to run fast or lift a lot of weight.

It was kind of funny, actually, because that's what my big brother is all about. We look like brothers, sort of, but he's this big football player and I'm the nerd with the glasses.

So, two hours after getting up on Monday- that's half an hour into class if you're counting- I found myself being pushed around when we were supposedly playing basketball.

Like, literally pushed around. We were supposed to be doing passing drills, but instead we were doing keep-it-away-from-Connor drills. The other guys I was supposed to be playing with- bullies who probably rigged it to all be with me- were taller and faster and just better. They taunted me as they kept the ball away from me.

"Over here! Too late!" Jason, the ringleader. Combining actions with words, I'll give him some credit for that. If only I could prove the pen was mightiest when combined with the sword.

"Hey, slowpoke!" His friend, with some Indian name I could never pronounce. Am I the only one who thinks of the Pokemon when I hear slowpoke? I hope a Charizard burns down your house and eats you.

"Geez, how fucking bad can you get?" The bully known best as Sir-Swears-A-Lot. Edgy, but unoriginal. Fuck you too.

I hate PE.

"Can I join you guys?" a girl asked quietly. I turned to look and nearly got a basketball in the face.

I hadn't seen this girl before- I had a terrible memory for names but usually I could tell if I'd seen someone before. She was pretty cute, but more in a huggable kind of way, not like a hot romance kind of way. She had black hair streaked with red, grey eyes, and an Achievement Hunter shirt of all things, which I had a minor nerdgasm at.

"I'm Ruby Jones," she introduced. I felt almost like she should finish it with something else. She did look kind of familiar, like maybe she looked like an actress or something. She added, "I'm new to the school."

"How are you at basketball, Ruby?" Jason asked, doing a really bad job of hiding his annoyance of having someone shoved into his perfectly-formed group.

"I've never played it before," she admitted. That was weird- I was a total shut-in and even I knew how to play... sort of.

"Well, we're just doing passing drills now," Jason explained, dribbling the ball like an asshole. "You catch the ball, and then you pass it to someone else, like this."

He demonstrated, passing it to the Indian guy, who passed it to Sir-Swears-A-Lot, who passed it back to Jason.

"Now you try!" He passed the ball to Ruby, who awkwardly caught it. To my surprise, she turned to me and tossed it straight at me. Way too hard.

I stumbled back and gasped when the hard rubber ball slammed into my sternum. I mean, I usually dodged balls instead of catching them because it hurt but this was even worse than usual.

"What a wimp!" Jason uttered, laughing along with his two buddies.

"Sorry!" Ruby apologized. She actually looked like she felt bad about it. She turned to the other guys. "Don't laugh, it was my fault. I threw it way too hard."

Jason shook his head, "You couldn't have thrown it that hard, Connor's just a pu-"

Mr. Lee blew his whistle at that point, cutting the bully off. When he blew the whistle, we all had to gather around him and the last people in would have to do pushups. Which really sucked because I was both slow and I couldn't do pushups.

This time, though, I wasn't last, because the new girl didn't know that and took a long time to catch on. Mr. Lee told her, "When I blow my whistle, that means everyone needs to come in, okay? Usually the last person in has to do pushups, but because you're new you don't have to. Okay?"

"Okay," she replied, still fairly quiet.

After that, he explained what we were doing next. Two mini-games, switching out the teams at five-minute intervals, for the remaining half hour or so of class. Good, at least we were almost over. I ended up with a few of the less mean guys and the super-hot girl I could never talk to, and I pretty much drifted through the rest of the class. We placed third, probably because I was negative two players.

But I just had this weird feeling about Ruby, the new girl, that stayed until class ended and after. It wasn't that thing called love, was it? I didn't like her, did I? No, this was just curiosity... and confusion.

There was just something strange about her I couldn't place. It was probably just my overactive imagination, though.

Vicki Lee

None of us really liked our business class. We'd all decided to take it, mostly to be together, but also because the course description sounded cool. That turned out to be a mistake, because the class was super super boring.

I did find some parts of it interesting, but none of my friends seemed to, so none of us really paid much attention to it. I mean, we did good enough, but we weren't really putting in our best work or even close to it.

Because of the stupid bus schedule, me and my friends were there five minutes early, waiting outside the door. I was wearing my new Dior handbag, and eagerly showing it off to a jealous Ann and Daffodil. Of course, Lisa had an even more expensive one from her rich grandparents, but it was still a partial victory.

"Hey, who's that?" Lisa asked, pointing condescendingly to a confused girl strutting down the hallway toward us.

By confused, I don't mean the look on her face. That was impassive and confident. The way she walked, the way she carried herself just screamed rich bitch. Like, really rich should be going to private school bitch, not us cream of the bad crop that was regular school girls.

But the way she dressed was atrocious. She had what looked like a light blue T-shirt mostly hidden under a cream-grey wool jacket, along with a flared white skirt that looked like she bought it at Wal-Mart. Her wedge heels weren't tall enough to make up for her short stature and I'm pretty sure the grey leather was fake. It was about as low-class as you could get.

And she had dyed her long, flowing hair white. Nobody dyes their hair white anymore! At least it kind of went with her very pale skin.

I'd never seen her before, or never noticed her before, at least. She turned toward us, like she was going to introduce herself.

"I'm Anna," she introduced. "Anna Weiss."

"I don't care who you are," Lisa snapped at her. I felt a little bit bad about it, but if I felt kind of condescendingly toward the new girl then Lisa probably thought she was way beneath us.

For a brief moment, I thought I saw a strange look cross her face. "Well, I suppose the feeling is mutual."

While we were bantering, Ms. Patil had arrived and unlocked the room. She was a short Indian lady- not that it's a bad thing. I thought she was okay, but not great. She seemed to know what she was doing but she rambled a lot. But she was easy, with not a lot of assignments and generous grading on the ones we did have to hand in.

Thankfully, Anna hadn't taken our spots, although she was fairly close to us. My disgust had turned to curiosity at this point, and I asked her, "Are you new here?"

"Yes," she replied after a moment of hesitation.

"I'm Vicki," I told her. "These are my friends Daffodil, Irene, and Lisa."

"Where are you from, Anna?" Lisa asked, an edge to her voice.

"North Vancouver," she replied quickly. "But I live close by in Burnaby now."

"You dyed your hair white?" Daffodil asked.

She shrugged. "Yes, it's actually my, favourite colour."

"Of course it is," I muttered.

Anna looked like she was going to say something not so nice to me when the teacher cleared her throat, interrupting us. She began, "Good morning class. We have a new student today, so please try to give her a good welcome. Miss?"

Beside me, the girl stood up. "Hello. My name is Anna Weiss. I'm new to the school."

"Sprechen sie Deutsch?" the German exchange student asked, barely letting Anna finish her sentence.

The white-haired girl shook her head. "No, and neither did my parents."

Ms. Patil smiled at Anna as she sat back down, before continuing, "Today we will be starting the types of corporations. Now let's get down to business."

I rolled my eyes at the horrible joke she had to make at the beginning of every class. Down to business, indeed.

I was curious about the new girl. She stood out. Maybe I should have just dismissed her and ignored her, but there was something weird about her.

I wondered if anyone else felt the same way.

Gavin Lloyd

Usually, English 12 was just kind of there. I showed up- usually, mostly didn't pay attention, put in a token effort and I was getting ten percent more than I needed to pass.

Today was actually slightly interesting for once. There were two new girls who stepped into the class about a minute before it was supposed to start. The one in front was the shorter of the two, with black hair and skin a shade darker than the other girl. She gave off an air of sophistication or something, except for the hat.

The hat was a little weird. Technically, we weren't allowed to wear hats, but nobody actually enforced the rule. The hat she wore didn't fit her at all- it was a toque that I might wear when it was cold or I needed to rob a bank. Not something bookish or fancy. I wondered if she had horrible scars or some shit under there.

If the first girl gave a kind of quiet not-quite-nerd impression, the other girl was pretty much the opposite. She is smoking hot, like really fucking hot. She's got long, flowing blonde hair kinda sorta tied up into a ponytail, big boobs, a nice ass, and an outfit that shows it all off. I could have sworn it got a few degrees warmer as she walked in.

She's also aware, catching me staring and winking at me with a crystal blue eye.

The guy beside me- Jason, I think his name was- poked me. He pointed really obviously to the hot girl and asked me, "Hey, does she look kind of familiar to you?"

I thought about it a bit. She did look a bit familiar, maybe like a celebrity or something, but I couldn't place it. "Maybe. I dunno, man."

While we were talking, the hot girl passed me by, following the girl with the hat. They sat together near

the back of the class.

Seconds later, literally seconds later, Mr. Johnson came in. I could make the obvious dick joke, but I mean seriously, this guy is a douchebag. He looks like a douchebag with his weird-ass sweaters and overly stylish glasses. He sounds like a douchebag talking about the human condition and shit. He even moves like a douchebag.

Then again, he said he had a wife and kids, so maybe he's not actually gay, just metrosexual. He's not Asian enough for it, though.

"Good morning, students," he lisped. Did I mention he talks with a lisp? "I hope you all had an interesting weekend. Maybe you discovered something, maybe not, you know, not every day has to be a revelation, although one could argue that everything is a revelation."

Thankfully, he cut his own rambling short, thank all that is holy. "But speaking of new experiences, we have two new students today. Could you introduce yourself?"

After sharing a look with her friend, the girl in the hat reluctantly stood up and quietly said, "I'm Bella Blake."

"Tell us something interesting about yourself, Bella," Mr. Johnson pressed.

"I like to chase sparkly vampires," my neighbour said in a very bad imitation of Bella's voice. I should have seen that one coming.

She glared at him, narrowing her brown eyes in almost a catlike way.

"What? Come on! It was funny."

"I know you're just having fun, but keep in mind that not everyone comes from the same background." As usual, Mr. Johnson managed to turn an admonishment into philosophical bullshit. "What's considered offensive can be very different. Please, Bella, do tell us something."

"I uh..." I noticed her eyes dart around like she was looking for a place to escape. There's no escape from this class, just an hour of bullshit better left ignored. "I like books."

"What kind of books?" our effeminate teacher asked, curious. "Tell us what you're reading right now, Bella."

"Let The Trumpet Sound," she replied quietly, reluctantly. "It's about Martin Luther King."

"A very interesting, very influential, very multifaceted man," the teacher mused. "You could spend an entire lifetime just studying that man, understanding what made him who he was."

He turned to the other girl as Bella sat down again. She took it as her cue to stand up and introduced herself. "I'm Linda. I sometimes go by Yang. Either one's okay."

"Yang? That's Chinese for the sun, is it not?" Mr. Johnson asked.

"Yeah," one of the Chinese kids in the front muttered, loud enough for me to hear.

"I've gone by it since I was five," the girl added.

"Interesting," our teacher mused. "And tell us something interesting about yourself."

She shrugged casually, ponytail and boobs bouncing with the motion. "I'm a boxer."

I suppressed the urge to laugh and sort of made it. She looked like a model, not a boxer. I've seen boxers, and even the girls are a lot more muscular than that. Kickboxing- no, she wasn't built for it. Maybe she could put out a nasty hit, once, but no way she could take one.

"Hmm... there's an interesting issue there," Mr. Johnson mused. Yes, I'm not exaggerating, this was what he actually does. "At what point does a sport become violence? Is a violent sport really violent? Is it acceptable?"

"I enjoy it," Linda casually protested.

The teacher nodded. "And that is an argument in and of itself."

"Fuck..." my neighbour muttered. I nodded in agreement.

Then Mr. Johnson finally started doing actual teaching. I don't know how much time we wasted, but, eh, it was time we didn't have to do actual work. He introduced what we were doing to the new arrivals first. "We're reading a book called The Things They Carried. Written by Tim O'Brian, a veteran of the Vietnam war. It's a loose collection of stories about the Vietnam War that straddles the line between fiction and nonfiction. Do you have the book yet?"

"No, we don't," Bella said for both of them. I guess they were friends.

"That's okay, you can look at a neighbour's, and I might have an extra. How much do you know about the Vietnam War?"

I tuned him out as he started talking about war and morality and other bullshit, spending the rest of the class doodling in my notebook and sneaking glances at Linda.

Actual boxer or not, I knew who I wanted to get to know.