Chapter 17.5: Demon in Plain Sight

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Mr. Mathers,

We in Squad IV hold ourselves to higher standards than the average squad. We aim to beat Squad VII, securing our place as prominent contenders in the Academy's history. We cannot achieve this goal when members of our squad fails to attend scheduled training or squad meetings.

When I agreed to take you on as a favour for Mr. Wright, I was assured that you would be willing to bring yourself up to our standards. In a nut shell, he assured us that you could be refined into a usable asset.

It is with great disappointment that I hereby notify you of your imminent removal from Squad IV. Do not reapply.

Captain Evelyn Clark

She was dead now. Her and everyone who belonged to Squad IV. She got what she deserved. They all did. It wasn't his fault he couldn't find out what happen on the field that day. It's not like he shucked his responsibilities. It wasn't his fault! Why were people always blaming him when things went wrong?

He switched to his notifications, it would be easier to find something from his friends among the brilliantly color coded notification system. He could ignore all of the orange notices, since he was officially kicked off of Squad IV.

A pile of noticed from the school, listed in grey, filled his screen, forcing him to scroll for a while before nearly brushing past a different color.

'Lecture on Advanced Applied Mathematics in Technology and Science Building on Floor 10, room 1025 in 5 minutes'

The first notice was dated four weeks ago, Monday. He always loved these little reminders. When he was approved to attend the academy, he had nightmares about not being able to find his class, or that they had switched classrooms at the last minute and he hadn't been informed.

'Late for Lecture on Advanced Applied Mathematics in Technology and Science Building on Floor 10, room 1025'

'Failed to attend Lecture on Advanced Applied Mathematics in Technology and Science Building on Floor 10, room 1025. Flagged as absent. Medic sent to general studies 3nd tier dorms in administration sector, building D unit 305.'

It was protocol to send a medic in case the student was ill. Class attendance was optional for the most part, as long as the students grades were high. It was assumed that the people who were attending class needed the dedicated attention of a professional educator. As far as William knew, there were at least four tiers of students groups. Most prayed that they never fell into the fourth group; those were the students who were on their way out of the Academy's graces. They'd finish their term and then be invited to leave.

William realized early on that class attendance was about so much more than grades. Classes were just as much about social connections. He found the advanced students just hard to relate to. They'd geek out about whatever thing they were good at as though nothing else in the world mattered. Liam was like that with his obsession in hacking the Games Matrix. The only reason Liam managed to make friends was because he got close once in his second year. People noticed and took an interest.

Most people wanted to be in the second tier group: the smart kids with too many social obligations. People like Nicole, the infamously gorgeous Captain of the Event Committee, or Sarah who spent most of her free time planning private events and catering to VIPs she wanted to have attend one of her parties. She claimed it separated the wanna-be's from the people who made things happen. Even the first tier students needed the connections the second tiered students made because there were so few first tiered students.

William fell on the cusp of the third tier to second tier groups. He was smart enough to do well in the second tier group, but didn't feel the need to show off. He couldn't give the people in the second tier group what they wanted, even if they figured out he existed. It was better to underperform than to disappoint. At least he knew he could do better, and that's what counted right?

'Failed to submit assignment #1004 for Lecture on Advanced Applied Mathematics in Technology and Science Building on Floor 10, room 1025. 10% penalty on final grade.'

'Advanced Applied Mathematics assignment #1005. view assignment requirements.'

'Student not found in dorm. Absenteeism confirmed. Student must meet with doctor ASAP in General Studies Building, floor 25.'

'Failed to meet with doctor. Absenteeism recorded on permanent record.'

The sequence of missed classed repeated each class, daily for the full week. By Friday he was receiving the red notices, a colour reserved for impending consequences.

'Due to repeated failures to attend scheduled learning, we have contacted your father, Master Mathias Mathers to assist in resolving the issue. Continued absenteeism will result in expulsion from Council's Academy.'

His dad must have got that last notice after he left the Academy, or else the last letter Mathias had sent me might not have been typed with mild disappointment. William assumed that the Red Order hadn't approved of Mathias leaving Clearwater since. He might have realized that his son wasn't trying to avoid him, but had genuinely gone missing. He might have been able to do something. Instead, William had to save himself.

'Failing grade received on assignment #1004. Failed to submit assignment.'

Similar red notices for all of his failed assignments started filtering in, until he hit more grey notices.

'Scheduled for remedial studies on Advanced Applied Mathematics with Professor Bourgeois.' Which was followed by a list involving all of his classes.

'Failed to attend session for remedial studies on Advanced Applied Mathematics with Professor Bourgeois.' Again a list that made up all of his classes zoomed by. William felt his chest tighten. How was he going to fix this? It wasn't his fault! Would they understand? Would they believe him? He knew what the next red notice was going say:

'Failed to meet minimum grade requirements. expulsion scheduled as of Friday, November 29th. Master Mathias Mathers has been contacted to retrieve the student and their belongings. Access permission status changed to guest. please report to administration building for temporary housing.'

The last notice was send Friday morning. Yesterday.

William stared at the screen. He didn't know what to think. He didn't know what to do. His life, his future, it was all over. The Academy's slogan stared back at him.

Council's Academy

Striving for Excellence

Excellence Begins With You

It wasn't his fault. 

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