Xander? Razputin's mind raced. Xander was messed up. Xander liked to hang out with Bobby and Benny and beat people up. He never did anything in class, it seemed... so how did he already start out as a Rank 3 agent?
"...and Lili Zanotto." Yeah, that made sense.
Razputin would've gladly stood up to clap and whistle and cheer, had there not been the ceremony still going on. The dark room where everyone's fate was pretty much sealed. Every single little brain cell put to constant use over the last few years, and now, finally, they were agents. From fake and cheesy little practice missions to a field trip watching a real agent at work, each moment added up to this little jaunt up and down a hall to grab a slip of paper that made you an official Psychonaut.
Of course, for the sake of showiness, the papers were levitated directly into your hand, and besides the little slip of paper you also received your official Psychonaut badge you keep in your wallet or on your backpack or... whatever. The point was, for most people, this was the greatest day of their life.
"Thank you, and now for the graduates from the Psychonauts Academy with Honors..."
Razputin stood up. His group. And he started heading up the aisle slowly.
"Razputin Aquato." His name rung out, and he grabbed his diploma and badge with two hands. Even at the graduation ceremony, in a dark green gown, his goggles were still placed over his head. And as he sat down, everything else was a blur, as all the other graduates were named, and finally, it came to the end.
"I'm proud to introduce the graduated class of 2012."
And the thunderous cheering filled the hall, and Razputin jumped up. But a loud whirring began to blare over the speakers. Everyone looked up and around them nervously, as the light dimmed, and Xander stepped out into the center of the two aisles. The radio crackled.
"Break, eject, eject, eject-- break, eject, eject eject"
Xander raised his arms, a stifled laugh obvious.
"...Xander Tripe, please sit down..."
"For they catch 'ya, for they catch 'ya," cackled over the radio. Music began to play, and a spotlight shone on Xander. And without a single second's pause, he danced up to the front of the aisle, a mumble going around the crowd.
The song started to gradually crescendo on the speakers, drowning out the announcer. It was all so surrel to Razputin, yet as Xander raised his arms, people stood up, as if they had been practicing this in secret, filing out of the graduation hall. Everybody - not just the troublemakers like him, all too obvious as Marcus stood up with the crowd. Razputin started up as his aisle was passed, and like a zombie he followed down the hall, making sure not to seem any different. Was this being rehearsed? Because Xander sure couldn't do mind control. And they continued out, standing in the long corridor.
"And gentleman," Xander shouted, "welcome to the greatest summer ever!" And everyone threw their caps into the air, cheering, except Razputin, who looked anxious and confused.
"...yeah?" Razputin muttered, looking around.
Everyone, still cheering, ran out, out of the campus, out of sight, whereever. As Razputin started off slowly, he felt a cold hand on his shoulder, and everything else seemed to slow down, colors fading from his vision, the air around him growing icy.
"Razputin." He looked over his shoulder. Xander. His eyes widened.
"You know you can't leave, remember? We got a mission." He released his grip, and Razputin coughed, groaning, bent over as if to throw up.
"Why did you have to tell me that IN THE SAME WAY YOU BEAT ME UP!?"
"Frozen time, remember? It's a secret. You're the only agent besides the High Honors and my brother that gets it, kiddo."
Kiddo. Razputin HATED that. They were the same age, and same height, give or take a few inches.
The brown-haired boy absolutely HATED Xander, looking up at him. Messy, crimson hair all over his face, and as he unzipped his gown and carried it, a black jacket he zipped up, the collar raising all the way up over his nose was revealed. It was torn at his right shoulder. Covering his legs were two bright white bell-bottomed pants, with random and entirely useless chains, zippers, and blue details.
"What was going on with the whole graduation ceremony!?"
"What, you never got the memo?"
"NO, OF COURSE I DIDN'T!" Razputin growled, shrugging off his own gown, the same old jacket and pants - and a white sweater instead.
"Oh, right, Bobby and Benny don't like you. Whatever. You really ARE a lame person to hang around, now that I get to know you." Razputin looked over at him, glaring. "Whatever. We just wanted to have some fun. You know, before everyone goes home."
"Uh-huh. Okay. So why did even Marcus and Lili and goody-goody Elton do it?"
"Because they're cool. And if they didn't..."
Xander cackled, putting his hand on Razputin's shoulder, the same painstakingly bleak oddity closing in on him, before Xander tore his hand back, and Razputin struggled to walk.
"You HATE that, don't you?"
Razputin nodded, catching his breath.
"It'd suck if you were me, then."
"What do you mean?"
Xander stopped, as Razputin took a few more steps, almost hitting the door of the main school offices. "Oh, whoa, jeez."
"Yeah, you're the person that phrase about the door hitting you really applies to, huh?"
Xander was a snarky jerk. It went without saying he barely got a single date the whole school year, being that he would wildly ridicule any girl in the rare event she actually cared enough to talk to him, and yet he was still dragged around by Elka whenever she got into one of her "make Nils jealous" mode. But yet, there was something that could only be described as "cool" about him.
"'Cept it hits you on the way in AND out. Real smooth, Lili must dig that."
Xander swung open the doors. "Hel-loooo Agent Vodello!" He shouted, giving that good old hyena cackle as he wandered into the room. "'Sup, how's it going, friends?"
Marcus was the only one in the room - short spiked black hair hidden under a black and white checkerboarded bandana that would otherwise be tied around his arm, a white trenchcoat and bright green shirt, with white-and-green Tripp pants leading down to checkerboarded custom Vans shoes. "Hey, what's up?"
"Oh, you're Agent Vodello now?" Razputin joked.
"Quiet." Xander ordered, and Razputin shrunk back. "Where's the whole mission briefing."
"Oh, maybe you missed it? We were supposed to get it during the whole big blurb before the graduation ceremony?"
"Yeah, I missed it, and you're gonna tell me it, then."
"Fine. We're going after a guy named Fairs Maske. Total creep. He's a serial killer and he's escaped from jail maybe... thirty times."
"Fairs? Must be traumatized from having such a ridiculous name." Xander sighed.
Razputin's eyes were wide, however - it was like Xander's painful frozen time, except this wasn't just going to stop. Nausea boiled in his stomach. A serial killer? Right out of the agency? What was going on?
"Why are we doing this?" Razputin asked.
"Because... well, i'unno." Marcus answered, laughing quietly. "I do what I'm told and don't ask questions, that's why I'm HIGH honors."
"Yeah, sure, okay." Razputin grumbled.
"Anyway, right down this hallway."
Marcus lead them down, humming. "Good song choice, Xander. I dig Fatboy Slim."
"Yeah. I know. I just heard it and knew what I had to do, man."
Razputin sighed, as they headed down a flight of stairs, and another, and another, heading through one of those big scanner doors into the jet hangar. There it was, their transport, the big Psychonauts official jet, that used to be kept at Whispering Rock. He headed into the jet. There was an empty seat, inbetween Lili and Vernon, and Razputin headed towards it. As he was about to sit down, Vernon sighed. "Um, sorry Raz. That's for Xander. I mean, it was originally gonna be for you but then we remembered how awesome the graduation ceremony was."
The goggle-wearing Psychonaut groaned, taking a seat over by the only other kid who was alone.
"Hola, bonjour! I'm Brent." Brent was a very unfortunate soul. She was born with a boy's name, and ended up with a boy's hair, acting like a boy, and in general, being a boy at heart. She had short hair that barely reached her eyebrows, black and messy. And she was always wearing the same MuteMath jacket and keytar shirt, yet one of thirty pairs of jeans that seemed to be randomly thrown around in a bunch of dyes.
"Hey." Raz grumbled, as he looked back to see Xander making everyone laugh with some stupid comment. "I take it Xander doesn't like you either?"
"Nah. Well, I'm here 'cuz, eh..."
She pulled off the ring on her left ear, a tiny fuzzy dice. "This is a clip-on." She then pointed to the same earring on her right ear. "This one isn't."
"They all don't like you for that?" Raz blinked. "That's kinda dumb."
"Nope, just Kate. She avoids me, so I figure she doesn't like me. And I don't wanna be a wet blanket, ya know?"
"Yeah. Okay." Raz sighed, looking back again, as Lili waved, smiling, and Vernon was deep in conversation with his brother. He looked directly ahead of him, at the two agents piloting the jet, Agent Vodello and Agent Nein. No surprise - they were both skilled, and they were both inseperable.
"I can't wait for my first mission. I mean, I know it's serious and all, but God... I'm a Psychonaut!"
"Yeah. Uh-huh." Razputin groaned. "Me, I'm hoping this is all just an awful dream."
"I just don't feel good is all. It's a snarky, egoistic jerk who makes my stomach churn."