- It's important to know that I'm never giving this story up, I'm just awful. But I've gone ahead and written up five chapters and I'm just having to type them up now. -
She wasn't the type to usually let things go or pretend something had never happened, but just this once Emm was going to make an exception. Granted it was because she didn't want to get into why Peace had chosen to stop speaking with her. It still counted, right?
But maybe she was still a little bitter about it. That would explain her current reaction, surely.
She'd been grabbing a book of notes from her locker while Maggie talked about her assignment in Aesthetics and Presentation when a raised voice caught her attention. Janice Gale was down the hall gesturing strongly at Peace. After an exclamation from her they both seemed to have quieted down, but it was more than clear that they were arguing about something.
Peace looked clearly annoyed- gritting his teeth and tensing his shoulders. A muscle in his jaw was probably twitching because that's what it did when he argued with her, but she was too far to tell.
She couldn't see Janice's face from her angle. She wondered if this was what everyone else saw when she argued with Peace. She'd never had a point of reference since Peace only ever argued with her (the fight with Will had been an actual fight, not an argument).
"I wonder what they're arguing about." Maggie said beside her. "It's weird that it's not you. I'd started thinking it was an Emm-only thing."
Emm grit her teeth. It made no sense, she knew, but she found herself very annoyed. He did only argue with her. That was just common knowledge and it bothered her that he was going against established fact.
She didn't say anything to Maggie. She knew it sounded ridiculous, even in her own head, like she was jealous. Which was absurd. Peace could argue with whomever he chose. And she could be grumpy about whatever she chose.
When Peace huffed and stormed away from Janice and over their way, she turned back to her locker. Before Maggie could finish asking what had happened the warning bell rang and Emm was free to stomp away to Mad Science.
"Now, if you start reading Gareth's thoughts you'll technically be able to understand fish as well, right?" Emm asked.
Kart stopped fiddling with the settings on the telepathy ray and looked annoyed. "I can't believe we didn't bring a fish to test that out." He said. He looked between the ray and Gareth.
Gareth shrugged. "Hey, I agreed to be the guinea pig in this because I trust you and I have no faults or secrets." They all rolled their eyes at him. "But I don't know about doing this multiple times."
Mr. Medulla hovered over them with the excitement he always had before testing an experiment. "How long is it meant to last?" He asked.
"Ideally? Twenty-four hours."
"Ah. Perfect then. I'll bring a fish tomorrow. We can test it first thing in the morning."
They looked between the four of them. "So," Garth began, "do you just own a fish or are you going to buy one?"
They smiled but said nothing more. Instead they lined up behind Karl and his telepathy ray. Gareth stood at the front of the class with only his lab goggles for protection. Karl adjusted the receiver helmet on his head.
"Hey, we're 100% sure this is the telepathy ray and not the agony ray, right?" Gareth asked, looking nervous for the first time.
Karl didn't even bother to look up. "If you recall, I had to stop working on that." He said bitterly.
"Not my fault. It was against the code of conduct." Mr. Medulla had told Karl this on multiple occasions. "Is everyone ready?"
Emm was super ready. This was what she lived for. Juliette was smiling wide beside her. Both were glad Gareth had signed up for the test instead of them.
Not that Emm had anything to hide.
"Okay." Karl mounted the ray on his shoulder, like a rocket launcher. "Count of three."
They all knew Karl would fine on two. He always did.
"One." The ray gun made a whirring noise as it powered up.
Gareth couldn't help but grimace in preparation.
"Your mutated rat-"
Juliette gave a yelp before the ray had finished firing. Emm had grabbed her arm and Karl's shoulder the moment he'd jolted.
There was a beat of silence in which they all stood, frozen, staring wide-eyed at Warren Peace.
Peace, for his part, stood in the doorway he'd burst through and watched the ray gun warrily.
Peace could not, under any circumstances, know what had happened, Emm decided.
"Well, Karl, looks like the shrink ray needs some more work." She said. She patted Karl's shoulder and angled herself so they could see her pointed look. She hoped Gareth was just clever enough.
Karl cleared his throat. "I must be having problems with the micro-oscillator again." He said, very stiff. Karl was not a great liar.
Before anyone else could speak she turned back to Peace. "You should avoid bursting in here in the future, Peace. We could end up blowing you up and I'm sure that would mean a ton of paperwork."
Peace rolled his eyes at her.
Karl squeaked, prompting the Mad Science class to turn back to him expectantly. Had it worked?
"The reason I came in here is that mutated rat that escaped last week. It's eating Mrs. Wingtrap's desk." Peace said. He didn't look entirely convinced, but he wasn't frozen or shrunk or dead so that was a plus.
Mr. Medullas was spurred into action. "Well, let's go, Mr. Peace." Within seconds he'd grabbed enforced gloves and a containment box and begun shoving Peace out the door. He gave them a last suspicious look before the door closed.
They turned, in unison, to Karl.
"So... It works." He said.
The erupted all at once.
"What's it feel like?"
"What does Peace think about?"
"Did you squeak because of a particular thought?"
"Are you hearing the thoughts in his voice?"
"Or is it more like images?"
Karl shushed them all. "I can't hear him anymore. He must be out of range."
"Well." Emm started pulling him toward the door by the arm. "Let's go. We have to measure your range. And you have to tell us what Peace is thinking."
Karl allowed himself to be dragged out, but hissed at them. "I'm not telling you what he thinks."
Juliette, Gareth, and Emm stopped dead at the door.
"Why not?" Emm asked. She needed to know what went on in Peace's mind. Such an opportunity had never and probably would never again present itself.
Juliette and Gareth were also looking very annoyed at Karl's refusal. Everyone wanted to know what Peace was thinking simply because he was Peace.
"He didn't sign up for this." Karl said. "Gareth knew what he was getting into, he doesn't. He doesn't even know what happened."
"So?!" Emm understood, of course, what he meant. But, it didn't make her want to know any less. "All the better, he'll never know what you told us."
Karl crossed his arms. "It's not ethical."
Emm and Gareth shared a look of disbelief. "You were building an agony ray!" They shouted in unison.
Juliette sighed beside Emm. "He has a point." She said.
Emm gaped at her. "You're seriously telling me you don't want to know?"
"Of course I do. But, it isn't fair for Karl to be reading his mind in the first place so it's not fair for him to tell us."
Emm looked at Juliette in disappointment, then Karl. When she looked at Gareth he shrugged.
"I'm with you. Ethics schmethics." He said.
"I can't believe you're just letting this opportunity fly by." Not that she had given up. Emm knew Karl was neither a good liar nor good actor and there was a chance she could surprise an answer out of him. "We need to calculate your range, in any case."
Juliette, who certainly knew her best, narrowed her eyes in suspicion, but said nothing as they left the classroom.
Mrs. Wingtrap's classroom was at the end of the hall to the right and they tried to approach slowly enough to note the exact moment Karl could hear again. A couple of feet from the door Karl stopped them.
"I can hear him here. But he sounds distant."
"Stay there." Juliette said to Karl and moved to the thin window at the door.
"I lost him." Karl said from his spot.
Emm and Gareth looked at the distance between Karl and the door. "Meter? Meter and a half?" Emm asked. Gareth nodded.
"Warren is about 6 meters from the door. Wait, about 5 now." Juliette said.
"I can hear him again. Faintly."
"So, the limits of your range seems to be right around 6 meters. Maybe 20 feet?"
Karl made a face. "I'll need to work on that. It should definitely be more than that."
Emm walked over to the door beside Juliette. Mr. Medulla was trying to wrangle the mutated rat into the containment box while Dan cornered it with a line of ice.
Peace happened to look up toward the door where Emm and Juliette were standing. There was no way he knew what was going on, but Emm's first instinct was to seem as not-guilty as possible. She smiled wide at him.
Peace raised an eyebrow at her, but he looked like he was trying to hide his amusement, either with the rat situation or her. Either way it turned her smiled from fake innocence to actual amusement.
"Oh my god.
She turned to look at Karl who had gone wide-eyed again.
What? What was it?" Karl was looking past her at the door. "What did he think?" Was he talking- thinking- shit about her in his mind? That wasn't nice. Without knowing about the telepathy ray there was no reason for him to talk shit. But they'd been smiling at each other- it didn't look like he was thinking shit.
Karl shook his head. "No. Nope."
Emm grit her teeth. "Karl, you can't make little exclamations like that and not say anything else. You're just being rude."
"Very rude." Gareth said. "You should at least tell us what kind of thinking Peace does. Is he chill, angry, weirdly poetic? Who does he want to set on fire?"
Karl glanced at Gareth before turning back to look at the door. Or Emm. After a long beat he said "He's really smart."
Emm sighed. "I already know that. That's boring. Give us more."
Karl justs shook his head.
"But he thought something interesting. He had to have."
Karl pointedly pursed his lips.
Emm was still groaning dramatically when Mr. Medulla walked out with the rat.
Garwin was being extra strange.
She'd been acting as if he'd never stopped talking to her, which was welcome since he had no intention of explaining why. But she'd also stormed away twice today before he could greet her and Maggie between classes.
She couldn't suddenly be angry about him ignoring her when they'd been fine in the days before. And she'd seemed fine during her Mad Science class, even smiling a ridiculously wide smile.
Maybe the ray he'd been hit with was actually slowly killing him and she was keeping it a secret. Now that was the kind of dramatic thought he got from her. She was a bad influence.
Even now, at lunch, she was being very strange. She was staring at the boy in her Mad Science class who had shot him. Intently.
Karl, he thought his name was. He couldn't remember his last name. For his part Karl seemed like he was trying to avoid her stare, angling himself so his back was turned, but every so often he would look up and shake his head at her. Sometimes Warren thought he was looking at him too.
Elijah had been trying to involve Garwin in the conversation the others were having to little success. She turned at last to face him.
"Sorry, 'Lijah. I'm in the middle of a very important scientific experiment." She said, already turning back to look at Karl.
"Does it involve hoping you'll suddenly develop lazer vision." Magenta asked.
Garwin didn't reply.
Karl had looked back at her, sighed, and stood to throw away his trash.
"Karl's a scientific experiment?" Will asked. "Does it have anything to do with the two heads thing?"
Warren remembered now- the kid turned into a two-headed wolf. He would have been in Will's class.
"No." Garwin said distractedly. "No, it's much more subtle." Her intent look turned into a sly smile and he had to turn back to look at Karl in time to see Gareth Darrows from senior hero support grab Karl by the shoulder and not-so-subtly lead him over to their table.
Karl may have turned into a giant two-headed wolf, but when not powered up he was a lot less physically imposing that Darrows the fish talker. "Why do you do these things to me?" He asked him.
Darrows ignored him. "Hey, Emm." He said jovially. "How's your lunch going?"
"Why, Gareth, my friend, I am greatly enjoying my lunch. How about you?" The smile on her face bordered on the malicious and Warren was angry to find he liked the sly look she was wearing.
"Oh my god." Karl groaned. "Why is this happening to me?"
Juliette was standing beside Karl and Gareth only a second later. She slapped Gareth's hands away from Karl's shoulders. "Stop. Both of you." She pointed at Garwin and Darrows. "He said no. And Mr. Medulla agrees."
"Mr. Medulla just can't force him. We're not trying to force him, just encourage." Garwin said. "You're my partner, Juliette. You're being a bad partner."
Juliette fixed her with a pointed look. "Maybe you should consider why you want to know so bad."
Garwin gaped at her, sputtering for a moment while Juliette walked away with Karl. "Gareth wants to know too!"
"Ethics are for losers!" Gareth called after them. He huffed when they paid him no mind. "Can you believe them?"
"Give it up." Garwin jumped in her seat and looked behind her to find Mr. Medulla had walked up while she'd been distracted. "We know Ms. Brighton can be very... well, determined. And, we can't force Mr. Harrison. Much as we might want." He clapped Garwin on the shoulder and headed on his way.
Ayers looked around the table looking for an explanation. "Are we ever going to know what goes on in that class?" He asked.
"What happens in that class tends to stay in that class." Patterson said. "Unless it explodes."
"Or tries to eat your desk." Warren added.
Gareth put up his hands in defense. "Hey now. The rat did not come from us."