December 23, 2015 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
The three of them were quiet as they walked into Biologic Systems. There was another quiz coming up today; Instructor Kaasmasik seemed to really enjoy giving them. But not even Taikie could bring herself to be excited about it. She was quiet, glancing at Saydrie worriedly as they walked.
“Maybe we could…” She trailed off. “No.”
“Mmm?” Saydrie was also off in his own world. He shot Taikie a glance, but she clearly only had a fraction of his attention.
She shook her head. “I just want to fix it, and people don’t take well to being fixed with wrenches.”
Saydrie snorted out a little laugh. “No. No, most people don’t, at least, although some people could really use that.” He shook his head. “I don’t think a wrench would help this problem. They want me to be Bitrani, and I am. But they want me to be Bitrani their way. And I don’t think I am anymore.”
“Their way must be wrong then.” Taikie held such assurance that it was hard not to smile, hard not to chuckle. Enrie didn’t feel a lot like laughing, though, so she settled for a small smile as they took their seats.
“All right.” Instructor Kaasmasik passed out the tests. “You know how this works by now. Fill in the answers as completely as possible. When you are done, bring the test forward and return to your seat to read next week’s reading.”
Enrie looked at her test. “Instructor?” Something was definitely wrong. There were faint markings by each questions, written in pencil but very definitely readable. She’d been studying, and the pencil writing on the first question was definitely the answer. “I think you gave me the wrong copy.”
The Instructor’s face twisted up. It was only momentary, so quickly replaced by an expression of concern that Enrie could have imagined it. But the way he snatched up the test gave no question that he knew what she was talking about. “That shouldn’t have been out there.” He hadn’t even had to look. “Here’s a clean copy.” Was he angry? He was glaring at her.
“Thank you, Instructor.” Enrie responded with her best empty smile, holding Kaasmasik’s gaze until he turned away.
The test was hard. She hadn’t expected it to be anything but. Instructor Kaasmasik didn’t wander near her this time. He stayed on the other side of the classroom, hissing when he thought someone was talking, stomping about. Sometimes when Enrie looked up, he’d be glaring at her. Once, near the end of the test, he snapped out “eyes front, Enerenarie.”
To her front was a pile of braids – Larrabietta’s hair, bouncing against her back the way they always did when she was thinking hard. There were no answers woven into the braids. There were almost enough answers written on her test.
She finished the last answer and brought the test to the front of the room. Instructor Kaasimasik headed there almost as soon as she had sat back down, snatching up her test and looking it over. It was only a moment – she hadn’t even opened her textbook yet – before he cleared his throat. “Class, if you think you have made any mistakes, you may come and take your test back and make corrections.”
It was ridiculous. Half of the class already had their textbooks open. It was tantamount to inviting them all to cheat.
Considering he still had Enrie’s test in his hand, it was also tantamount to telling Enrie she’d made mistakes. She set her jaw and opened her book. Looking again would not make the answers any more obvious.
She flipped to the new reading in her book and determinedly ignored everything else. There were only a few minutes left until the end of class, anyway.