Long Island, Earth
"…and that is the cause of Ophelia's madness. Some analysts, however, believe that…"
Tranni Lo Pleen sighed and buried her head in her arms. She was a freedom fighter, not a regular twelfth grader, and she didn't see the point of sitting in these ridiculous high school classes. She'd learn much more battling for her people against Baruch Jones and his EA cronies. But her mother had decided that she'd remain undercover until she graduated, and-
"Miss Lo Pleen, perhaps you'd like to grace us with an answer?" Miss Price glared down at Tranni, eyes disapproving over severe spectacles.
Tranni bit her lip. She knew that she wasn't exactly Miss Price's favorite student, mostly because Miss Price cared more about her subject than anything else, and she couldn't understand why Tranni didn't feel the same way.
Miss Price was, to put it kindly, a loser. She had been married once, Tranni had heard, but it was a loveless one that ended in divorce only eight months later, leaving her ex-husband with nearly everything she owned, including the house they had shared and nearly all the money they had earned together in a business that had run for a year or two before the marriage. Miss Price had been left with nothing but a head full of gray hairs and a surname she bore almost defiantly as she struggled to move on in life. Tranni knew that the woman had been both fortunate and unfortunate enough to be a part of a circle of family and friends who were very powerful, and they had tried to get her to let them provide for her without revealing their powers. Unfortunately, Marc (which for some reason she always insisted on spelling that way) Price was prideful and stubborn enough to refuse all their overtures. She had gotten a job as a high school English teacher eleven years before and had never stopped working since.
"Well?" Miss Price was giving Tranni the evil eye. Tranni forced herself to meet her teacher's eyes. "Weren't you paying attention?"
Tranni glanced down at her desk for a moment, then smiled. Slowly but surely, Jessi LePlante's handwriting was appearing on her paper. "Flowers!" she said triumphantly, catching Jessi's eye from across the room and grinning her thanks. "The answer is Ophelia's flowers!"
Miss Price squinted at Jessi suspiciously. "Is that your answer, Miss Lo Pleen?"
"Absolutely," Tranni smiled confidently. "It's right, isn't it?"
Miss Price grunted and turned away from Tranni. "Now, Ophelia's flowers are a symbol of her insanity. When she gives one to Laertes…"
Tranni tuned out again.
"I swear, if I have to sit through another one of Price's discussions on Hamlet, I'll shoot myself," Tranni groaned as she headed for the cafeteria with Jessi and Shannon. "She's so fixated on it, it makes me sick!"
Shannon Bourne2kil laughed. "If she knew that, with a snap of my hand, I could send her back in time to interview Shakespeare on his plays, she'd go as nuts as Ophelia!"
"Seriously, though, guys, don't you feel a little sorry for her?" Jessi asked, setting down a lunch tray on their usual corner table. "I mean, she's a fluke. It's as though someone gave out all the power in the neighborhood and accidentally missed her. I mean, this is one of the richest places power-wise in New York, and she doesn't even have a full point on the scale! I mean, if she had any less, she'd be dead!"
"Or a monkey," Shannon suggested.
"Monkeys are stronger than she is." Tranni rolled her eyes. "Do you think they are sitting around, discussing their English teacher's deficiencies?"
They were the three's nemeses in school and in the world of power. Quara Ribeira, Tachibana Kippei, Naomi Wildman, and Jake Berenson had all gone to the EA years before and graduated into the civil war that had been going on for almost three power-centuries. The Planetary Alliance, led by Baruch Jones and the Ellimist, had recruited them almost immediately, and they had faced off against Crayak and Violet's League of Magic (Fine, so I ran out of names!) countless times. As Shannon was Crayak's daughter, Tranni was Violet's, and Jessi was directly descended from Crayak's lead henchman, the three's ultimate rivals were their classmates on the other side of the cafeteria.
As it was, Quara, Tachibana, Naomi, and Jake were talking about the same thing. "Miss Price needs a break," Naomi said slowly. "I mean, after what we did to her last month…"
"We wiped her memory!" Quara argued. "She doesn't even remember about the battle in class, let alone the three missions she's been dragged on. We always manage to keep her out of the way when she's accidentally involved in these things, and it's not like there's any emotional trauma!"
"I'm going to submit a request to Baruch if she can be an Aware Civilian," Tachibana, as always, agreed with his girlfriend, Naomi. (A/N: Now you REALLY know that this is for you, Batobe!) "It could be convenient, anyway, if she were on our side when we're fighting those three in class."
"So she can dazzle us with her incredible power?" Jake asked dubiously. "Somehow, I don't think the chances of her saving us is-"
"I mean in ordinary schoolroom arguments!" Tachibana interrupted. "For one thing, I won't end up partners with Shannon Bourne2kil on our next class assignment-"
"-Though that was funny when you went over to her house to work together and brought Baruch along-"
"-And we'd have yet another ally in school," Tachibana finished, ignoring Quara's crack.
"Fine," Jake decided. "We'll talk to Baruch."
"Your English teacher," Baruch repeated, staring down at them with a mixture of perplexity and amusement. "Why do you want to make your English teacher an Aware?"
Tachibana shrugged. "Well, somehow she's always involved in our spats with the League's representatives in our school, so we figured it'd be more convenient to just tell her than to wipe her memory."
Baruch nodded and turned to his advisor, a woman named Sho. "What do you think?"
"I know Marc Price," Sho said thoughtfully. "And so do a lot of people from the Alliance and from the League. She isn't really important power-wise, but as a pawn, almost an icon of our imminent victory… priceless."
"Then it's done," Baruch agreed. He turned to the kids. "If you can do it without my routine, please do so. I don't have much time these days."
"We can do it alone," Naomi assured him. "Just give us a chance."
And in Violet's seeing crystal, Tranni, Jessi, and Shannon watched, smirking. "So they want Miss Price? Then they won't get her…"