A chilling breeze welcomed the students of class 1-A as they entered their classroom this morning. The place was the same, the cold hard classroom floor thumped as they walked, the long curtains barely covering the open window panes fluttered in their welcome, and the straight-aligned desks and chairs faced their bored teacher with impeccable decorum that would try to trickle down into the students when they sit.
Yet, all of them had their back hunched and mouths turned down as if they were forced to improv as orc extras in a classroom. And why wouldn't they be, when these orcs were about to face the worst hunter that could have walked into their den? The quiz that held their lives by a mere eleven mistakes was approaching them. They were all panicking.
All except one.
Even among the orcs was a wise and young talent that would lead the tribe in the future. Odis opened the doors of the classroom with his orc smile and stepped inside. He ran his gaze over the class and saw his classmates all tensed out of their minds, trying to revise whatever they could in the last minutes before the exams began.
'Hah, what fools,' he thought. 'Fools that couldn't even prepare for the examinations.'
Rank 398, Odis was a man of great caution and care. In his own words, he was a genius that only came around once in a while. Everyone around stared as he walked into a classroom with a haughty smirk. Odis was confident as a genius that only came around once in a while, regardless of how short or long the 'while' was, that he could easily conquer a 90% score in these written examinations. It was as easy as bingeing a 12-episode anime for him.
Dropping his bag next to his seat, Odis fanned his face with his hand and sat on his chair. It was still too hot, though, so he removed his blazer and gave a look to Mr. Claudio. The teacher nodded and the student hung his blazer from his chair before he closed his eyes in wait for the exams to begin.
“Alright, everyone. Keep your bags and personal electronics outside the classroom.“ At Mr. Claudio's words, the students all placed their watches and holo-pens inside their bags and placed them outside the classroom. Then, they were asked to boot up the holo-pen attached to their desk where a tab was pre-opened with a countdown signaling the time left for the start of the test.
Odis complied with everything happily. He knew, no matter how big the school was, they wouldn't scan people for their electronics.
He waited at his desk, bereft of any nervousness. The countdown worked its way down the numbers at a steady pace, and soon.
Odis slammed his desk with a confident smirked and turned to the holographic tab atop it. His eyes focused as the pixels of the countdown changed and morphed into the form of the quiz.
It was time to show his capabilities. Odis, being a genius that comes only around once in a while, had already made the perfect plan to counter the examinations! He placed one hand next to his cheeks, covering his ears.
“Jin,” he muttered in a whisper softer than the sound of autumn leaves hitting against the ground.
“Yes, I can hear you.“
Odis mentally pumped his hands in celebration. This was the power of modern technology! Over the past few days, he had used his study time in more productive and concrete ways, as a genius would do.
After a lot of research, he found out about the latest earpieces that used wireless radio waves to connect to another earpiece. Perfect for secret excursions of communication between two people in different settings. For nervous employees presenting in front of the CEO and for nervous students performing in front of the PTA! It picked up even the smallest of whispers with its advanced technology and transferred the sound.
One might suspect that this was difficult for a student to get inside the school right before the examinations, but capitalism wasn't to be underestimated. For a simple add-on price and possession of the set-up, one could directly have such products 3-D printed in their homes. A figurine enthusiast like Odis had more than the required set-up. Getting the device was a cinch.
With it, he and Jin were unbeatable! Having studied exactly half of the total material, they were both equipped with the perfect amount of knowledge to assist each other and solve the quiz.
“Alright,” Odis said, barely hiding his excitement. “The first question's yours.“
“No? It's yours.“
Odis' eyes narrowed at Jin's reply. “What are you talking about? Dungeon Exploration, that's yours!“
“No!? The first question is Monster Anatomy!“
A grim foreboding filled Odis. “T-the next one… That is monster anatomy…”
“No… It's Hellish Personal Development.“
A pebble was thrown at a wall of brittle glass. “Jin… the questions…”
“… They are different for both of us.“
'FUCK!!' Odis screamed in his mind. His confident smirk had turned into a frown worse than that of the others students a while back. Had his inner thoughts been revealed out loud, one would have thought he had finally accepted his inner orc-dom.
His thoughts lost all punctuation as he held himself back from smacking his head into the table. After a few exhaustive seconds of great mental agony passed away, Odis wiped away the sweat from his forehead and looked at the screen again. He might have panicked for a few seconds, but one was not to forget.
Odis was a genius that only appeared once in a while.
He was the type to have a back-up plan.
He didn't have enough trust in Jin. So, he made sure to write the most important answers down on the sticker around his water bottle. He would covertly open up the sticker, read the answers and close it back. He could get fewer answers, but it would have to do. They were all multiple choice questions, so the answers he wrote were more than he normally could.
Odis calmed his breathing and reached his hand down the side of his desk, to his bag. His hand swerved over the air and… didn't grab anything. He furrowed his eyebrows and then remembered that he had left his bag outside.
'Hahaha, how silly.' Shaking his head, Odis looked at the table ahead of him. Reina, who sat there, had kept a bottle of water on her desk. He then turned to his own desk.
There was only a hologram screen.
He had forgotten to take the bottle out of his bag in his moment of overconfidence.
Odis had grabbed onto a brick and was reshaping his face in his mind, only stopping it from truly happening with superhuman willpower. Dozens of sighs left him as he tried to balance himself and grabbed hold of his thoughts again.
He wiped away the blood puddled in his mouth and smirked. The monster named examinations had dropped his HP by a lot, but he was a man who played with items in the first place. A whale, in more modern terms.
Naturally, as a genius who only appears once in a while, Odis had a backup plan for a backup plan. In case drinks were not allowed during the examination, he had written some of the answers on his biceps, hidden under his shirt.
This method allowed even lesser answers to be written, but it was a sacrifice he had to make. Anything would do, as long as he could get to 90% it was all fine. He only needed a 90 and nothing more.
Leaning down on his table, he kept one eye on Claudio Alo and the other on his sleeves as he slowly rolled them up. It was for this chance that he had worn heat-packs so that he would sweat a lot and Claudio Alo would let him remove the blazer without any hiccups. His shirt inside was half-sleeved, which meant he could easily roll it up and see the answers. A masterplan that only he could think of. And there were no mistakes this time, unlike with the bottle.
His one eye focused on his biceps while the other stealthily pushed the sleeve up.
A black smudge welcomed him with wide arms.
There was a flaw in his plans. The heat-packs made him sweat too much, and before he knew it, the sweat had loosened up the ink and it had all turned into a smudgy mess, the answers completely incomprehensible.
Odis almost bit his tongue in frustration. It was over, it was all over… NOT
Odis, genius, backup backup backup plan.
There was a chance that he would be confused about his answers, in such a situation, there was one person close by who would usually help them through most problems. His classmate and good friend, Reina Tsubame.
Every day for the last two weeks, Odis had been arriving earlier than usual. He stealthily shifted Reina's chair, who sat a row ahead of him, half an inch to the side every day until yesterday. And the cumulation of his efforts had borne fruit now. She had moved enough to the side for him to take a peek at her screen.
Time seemed to have slowed down as Odis moved his gaze from his desk to the one ahead of him. There was still a problem, that Jin from another class had a different set of questions. Breaking through the dozens of moral and ethical barriers with brute force, his eyes landed on Reina's screen.
'I CAN SEE IT!'
It was the same. The questions did not change, the quiz was the same within his class.
The smirk that had been lost returned to Odis. He copied the answers from her screen and added them to his own. One, two, ten, he was skimming through the questions in a breeze.
'Hahaha, I am sorry, Reina. But I never thought of you as a friend, not you, not Anna, you are nothing but tools to me. As long as I pass in the end—'
Right then, Reina clicked her tongue and pushed her chair to the side. She was sitting at an awkward angle and that stood out during the exam. The chair and her back blocked the way again, and Odis couldn't see her screen anymore.
He screamed in his mind. A tempest, no, an entire storm broke out in Odis' heart, soul and mind as he faced the reality of the situation.
The clock kept ticking and the time left, decreasing. Odis wasn't one to give up, he tried and tried, using all the abilities he had festered and hidden away to win today, but it was all useless. One way or another, Odis failed over and over.
Um, backup… 6? 7?
Tears were being held by the dam named Odis' last bits of pride as a man. The micro-organisms had worshipped this dam like a god, leaving it offerings and chanting prayers every other second. It was their micro-faith that still kept it strong, and Odis going. Sniffling, Odis reached into his pockets and pulled out a pencil.
The back of the pencil had been revamped into a die with the number one to four etched onto it.
Odis bit his lips and rolled the pencil on his desk, writing down whatever answer it gave him. Unbeknownst to him, all the students in the class had chanted a quick prayer for his soul, even Claudio Alo was moved to the point of feeling sad for him, just a little.
Maybe it was the prayers of the others, or maybe it was Odis' genius showing itself.
The boy had great luck that day.