"Wait, hold it! Let's talk about this!" The brown-haired boy tries to reason with the approaching Emmy, but she still chooses to ignore his cries.
"You sick pervert!" Emmy's words reach every ear in the hall, gaining the attention of everyone if her explosive leap weren't loud enough.
Just as the fist is about to strike the face of the boy, something unanticipated transpires.
❁ ❁ ❁ ❁
A hand swings in the brown-haired boy's direction, going to slap him across the face. Rather than standing still, he leans back and lets it fly past his face.
Emmy's angry face turns into one of shock for a moment. She's been here before. She's done this before. This is where she was 8 seconds ago. She looks around, Maria has a surprised look on her face, seeing her attempt at slapping the boy.
The boy looks uneasy, sweat dribbling down his chin. "What just happened?! You were against the wall! I was about to pummel you!" Emmy points down the hallway at the wall where the brown-haired boy once was. Some confused eyes go in the direction of the trio, curious about the uproar that Emmy is stirring up.
At this point, Maria has let go of the boy, unsure how to react to Emmy's violent advances. "I'm not sure what's going on with you, but both of you are misunderstanding the situation!" The brown-haired boy raises his hands defensively, trying to de-escalate the situation. "My aura isn't concealed, it's just because of my limiter! My aura is ranked Green, so my aura is weak even without the limiters!"
Maria stares at the Tainted student skeptically, but what he is saying does make sense. If he is at that weak of a level, that means that he'd gotten into this academy based on his pure academic skills and potential. Maria sighs, defeated. "That does make sense. My apologies for grabbing you, and I'd like to apologize on my friend's behalf for the misunderstanding."
'But you caused that misconception on your own. Well, it's not like I care too much. This pink-haired girl is a real hothead, swinging like that.'
Emmy is desperately glancing around the hallway, trying to figure out what'd happened. She knows for sure that she'd just slapped this guy down the corridor! Her thoughts are shuffling, and the only thing that she can think about is that someone with an illusion ability has gotten her from the crowd. Is it someone with an illusion ability strong enough to be used at this range? It was possible, but there was no way someone of that caliber would interfere in this situation.
The brown-haired boy rubs the back of his neck. Maria asks him, "Do you mind telling me your name? I'll be sure to make up for this situation, one way or another."
"...Bailey. Bailey Auranite." Maria holds back a laugh after hearing his name. It wasn't uncommon for boys to have that name, but it was still humorous. "I will try to get in contact with you in the future, Bailey. I wish you the best on your exams!" Maria grabs Emmy by her sleeve and pulls her along, leaving Bailey to stand there rubbing his head.
Bailey could've sworn that he saw a terrible gaze coming his way from somewhere in the crowd. This isn't the first time he's felt someone watching him, it's only fair for him to believe that it's the same person.
'This guy doesn't know when to quit, does he? Why's he so obsessed with me, there are hundreds of people he can bug.'
While walking away, Maria pinches Emmy's cheek. "What did you do!?" She pulls her closer, whispering into her ear, speaking just quietly enough for Emmy to hear, but also loudly enough for it to come out as a clear shout.
Emmy looks confused, she asks, "I saw an illusion, I'd slapped him across the hall and was about to pummel him, but then I snapped out of it." Although she seems innocent, Emmy sounds rather aggravated by the outcome. Her irritation turns into worry when she hears Maria's words.
"No, I don't think you saw an illusion. That boy, his aura was visible. It was brief, for less than a second, but I saw it. He used some kind of ability." Maria sounds worried, considering the options of what the boy's ability could be. "We should tell Hannah, I'm sure she'll know what to do."
There are already cliques formed among the Gifted and Tainted students. Whether it was from old schools, detention centers, or other miscellaneous methods, they have already designated themselves to groups. These two girls were no exceptions. This 'Hannah' must be someone to look out for if they're going to her directly.
"He might not know that he was caught, but that Tainted boy, he's strong. The other sensory specialists might not have seen it, but I know for a fact that his limiter is inadequate." Maria begins to bite on the tip of her finger, cautiously glimpsing around to ensure that no one is listening in on their conversation. "For now, until Hannah decides what we'll do, stay away from him, Emmy."
Emmy can only nod. If someone like Maria—who is exceptionally intelligent for her age—is giving her the warning to steer clear of that boy, then she will do just that. She experienced his ability firsthand, assuming that it was his. Then, doubts start to develop. "What if he used his ability to dodge my hand? I'm certain he has some sort of wind ability."
Maria's grip on her cheek tightens. "That's very possible, but we still need to be careful. If he's hiding his abilities, we don't want to be the reason why he stops." Enough time has been wasted explaining this to the clueless Emmy, so Maria just drags her off to the exam location.
Bailey rubs the back of his neck with his free hand, waiting for the results of the crystal ball to pop up.
The evaluations were in a completely different auditorium, it was pointless to have the students walk across campus to get there. They could've done everything in the first one. There was no room for complaining now that they were already here though. The instructors most likely anticipated this much.
Academically, the students were already evaluated. There's no way an idiot would get into this school. Everyone here is brilliant or unique in some way. Whether it be that their ability is strong or they're smart enough to understand the fundamentals of Gifts and other academic subjects.
Bailey is a student who didn't hit incredible marks in his academics, but they were still good enough to get him into the academy. His Gift was evaluated to be Green, making him someone who is inadequate in the field of using their abilities.
The world grades Gifted abilities based on the color of the person's aura. One can evolve their aura to a certain point, but, generally, there are a few common colors that will be seen among students.
- Green: The lowest grading, usually given to children or those whose abilities are ineffective; merely below average.
- Yellow: The average grade of a person. You're either born with this grade or grow to this grade by the time you're in middle school, maybe beforehand. Anyone with this grade is fit to use their abilities in the workplace, helping them finish their job.
- Orange: A bit above average. As the average citizen, you'd see them as professional athletes.
- Red: The threshold between the ordinary and the exceptional. With this aura, you are officially a target of monitoring. At this level, you are expected to physically manifest your aura, though not all red-graded individuals can do it. Still, you can expect someone of this caliber to fight a group of men easily.
- Blue: A category that is considered to be transcendent. The government tries to keep these people close, as they can become threats to their country if they're allowed to run around freely.
- Gray: On the normal grading system, this is the highest that someone can expect to go. They are therefore a continental threat. Thankfully, most of the individuals who reach this grade work alongside their countries to advance their development.
Of course, there are more grades besides these. These are usually special grades, reserved for those who are living paradoxes. For instance, there are those who have purple auras. Judging by previous performances, someone with a purple aura can be as strong or stronger than someone with a red aura. Because of the inconsistencies, they have never been officially added to the global grading system. Anyone with these auras is thought of as an irregularity.
Nevertheless, with this in mind, it is now clear why no one can detect poor Bailey's aura! He's just too weak!
With his hand on the crystal ball, the examiner, a sensory ability user, is currently evaluating his major points. His potential, his strengths, his weaknesses—all of these things can be detected through special means when put in the right situation. Some may consider this a breach of privacy, but you'll know what you're getting into when you decide to attend the best academy in the world.
In the end, the old man in front of him sighs. "Based on your results, I've determined what you'll be best fit for." Anyone who's seen him thus far would assume that he'd be dropped straight to the bottom of the lower classes. They'd only be half-right.
The window pops up over the crystal ball, displaying the results. "You will be placed in Class 8. Your intellect is commendable, even if you didn't score the best. I see great potential in your abilities as well. Despite being Green, you have the potential to reach great heights, young man!" The old man was clearly just giving empty words of encouragement. By all means, if Bailey were placed at Green for this long, it'd be realistic for him to give up.
Throughout history, there have been a few cases of someone who was graded at Green reaching Yellow or Orange, but never going past that point. It's the harsh reality that those who are weak will stay weak. Thankfully, in this society, there aren't too many things that you'd need your power for anyway. At least, this is what this society would like you to think.
Green citizens are subject to prejudice far worse than the average Tainted. Tainted youth are not discriminated against outside the school system as heavily. They are rowdy teens who have caused issues, certainly, but even adults can admit that there is room for them to grow. Green citizens can barely use their Gifts to help out with work.
"Thanks for the reassurance, old guy." Bailey accepts his empty words, letting the line behind him move along. He has no reason to stay here any longer if he knows what class he'll be in. More importantly, he has to know what letter class he'll go through. As this academy holds hundreds of people, having 100 people in one class would be troublesome.
To better organize the academy, classes have been given letters. A good example would be Class 2D, while they are given a letter that is lower or higher than others, it does not actually mean that you're superior to the others. It just helps divide the classes more evenly.
'Class 8F? Isn't that a bit too low down the letter list? This is what I get for coming late, now I'll end up in one of the filthy classes.'
Bailey looks at the floating box of text that the examiner gifted to him. Nope, it isn't a system from a game or anything. It is the ability of the examiner: Statistic Projection. The man gathered all the information he needed and transferred it to Bailey's brain. It's a terrifying ability when you think of how it's used by some of the stronger Gifted men in the world. There's been more than one occurrence of someone's brain becoming overloaded by a hefty intake of information.
Bailey is forced to stroll around the academy for half an hour before he finally manages to find the door to his classroom, without help. He was surprised to find that the class that he was assigned to had a few pros to it: he was on the first floor, so he didn't need to worry about hurting himself jumping out of a window, since this is a prestigious academy—even the lower classrooms are well taken care of—so he doesn't have to worry about anything being unsanitary, and his classmates were more diverse than he'd expected.
There is a good mixture of Tained and Gifted students, all of whom are practically immediately divided in the class.
On the right side of the classroom, there are Gifted students, having conquered the side of the classroom where the windows are located. They'll surely be enjoying the outdoor view during their lectures.
On the left, though, the juvenile kids are already hatching together plans to retake their rightful throne as the kings of the windows. Snickers and sneers are thrown back and forth from both sides, and Bailey can already tell that he'll enjoy this class; barely.
The ratio of Tainted and Gifted students is uneven, with the majority leaning on the side of the Gifted, which is a surprise. 'I got a unique class, huh?'
Since this is the first day, they'll likely be doing introductions and a bit more, but there's no need for him to bring a backpack or anything of the sort, school supplies can be brought tomorrow. Today will be the 'welcoming party', as they've come to call it.
Bailey takes a seat at the back of the room. Instead of bickering over which side to sit on, he figures that no one will notice him sitting on the 'Gifted' side of the room as long as he doesn't draw attention to himself. He isn't a very vibrant individual, so as long as he keeps quiet and minds his business, there won't be much of a problem. Especially not while the other students are gawking at each other, trying to tear one another apart with their eyes.
Another ten minutes pass before an unfamiliar set of heels approach the class. Since he couldn't bother staying awake the entire time without interacting with anyone, Bailey put his head down on the desk and was asleep—or that'd have been the case if his ears didn't twitch at the familiar sound.
Alarm bells start ringing in his head, warning him about approaching danger. Like an instinct instilled into deer when they hear the snap of a branch, he shoots up and turns his head in the direction of the door. 'Does no one else feel it...?' He wonders, watching as the 'feeling' turns into a miasma just outside their door. Scanning around the room, there were a few students who also noticed and quickly took their seats, but the others remained clueless.
The doorknob is gripped, and the students who notice the miasma nervously watch as it twists, a barely audible click sounding off.
Then, the door opens—and the students who were unlucky enough to still be chatting collapsed to the ground.
Bailey cannot see through the thick fog that floods the room, but he does notice when the first part of the person's body comes into view. A pair of cerise-colored heels, black stockings tucked beneath them. "Is this what I'm working with this year?" The voice of a mature woman comes through the fog, carelessly exhibiting the disappointment in her tone.
'Is this... her aura?' Bailey thought, in disbelief that such a person would be this low in the school's structure. The reason he sees it as a miasma or a fog is not because of the gassy substance that emits from her, but because of the grayness that colors it. 'Someone as strong as her shouldn't be here, this is the low-ends, fit only for the 'barely exceptional' students.'
When the woman reaches the very front of the class, the miasma that's flooded the room finally disappears, leaving the students who were affected gasping for air. Not only did they lose the strength to move, but also their ability to breathe under the intense pressure of the woman.
Bailey looks around at the other students who managed to detect the woman before she came in. Unlike him, they were barely staying upright in their seats; if he had to guess, they had passed out while sitting straight up.
Somehow, he was fine. This earned him a glare from the golden eyes of the woman standing at the front of the room who he can now see clearly. The sensation of her gaze is familiar to him—then a thought reaches his mind—she is the person who was staring at him the whole time.
"I guess some of you are worth my time, though." Her short, ash blond hair is brushed back to remain behind her ears. The woman wears a black suit set, with a skirt that hugs her mothering hips as though it were trying to annex her flesh. Her open black suit jacket was irrelevant, it failed to properly suppress the globes barely contained in her white button-down.
Bailey sweats profusely as the woman stares at him, and her smirk doesn't help him calm down. "W-Who are you?" Although his expression is almost lifeless, his tone does not hide his obvious nervousness.
"Would I get anything from answering that question?" The woman asks, tilting her head. Answering him wouldn't do any good with what she had planned for today.
What would be the sense of prematurely introducing herself to her class? "Joking... I'm only joking." Waving her hand through the air, the tension around the room diminishes until there is nothing but a breeze left. Quickly, the students who'd once been unconscious on the ground, suffocating in their seats, or trembling while enduring the pressure were all returned to their seats like nothing happened.
"?!" Alarmed, Bailey's eyes scan the room around him. Everything was undone. The damage, the pressure, the disarray from chairs being tossed around the room — she'd undone everything. Quickly, he deduced the probability of her Gift. "Time...?" While on a small scale, Bailey assumed that the woman at the front of the classroom possessed an ability that let her tamper with time.
Giving the students time to collect themselves, everyone in the room came to understand the authority of the woman in front of them. Without her needing to introduce herself, they could recognize the woman as someone of high standing in society. Bailey didn't recognize her because of his lack of connection with the outside world after so many years. His memory was also suboptimal, making him unfit for memory games.
"A-Angelique Battle...!" One of the students broke the silence by speaking her name, birthing memories in Bailey's head.
Angelique Battle was a woman who conquered the city of Beldove on her own a decade ago. It was considered an act of modern terrorism, but because of her ability, it became clear that she was completely clueless about the laws of the modern world. Angelique's ability was so potent that it let her leap forward in time to the modern day from times thought to be even before medieval eras.
It's amazing how fast the woman appears to have adapted to modern times, to the average onlooker.
Bailey and everyone in the room quickly understood that this woman hadn't fully adopted the methods of modern civilization. The first thing she did when entering the room was unleash an absurd amount of pressure on the students to assert herself as the 'alpha' of the classroom.
Chatter briefly broke out in the classroom from the reveal of the woman's name. Everyone's suspicions were confirmed by the content, cheeky smile on the woman's face at her name being mentioned. "Yes! I, Angelique, will be your teacher from this day onward!"
'She may be a bit of a narcissist...' Bailey's opinion of the woman changes faster than he expected.