January 20, 2017 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Hello there. It has been a while, hasn’t it? Almost an eon.” Gianci had spent almost all of his time in the days since they returned placating his teammates and roommates, all of whom had been irked with him. Enrie had only seen him in passing in the lounge in their tower and in even briefer moments, like this, in the dining hall.
She twisted to look up at him. “Two or three eons, at least. I think the seas rose, fell, and froze at least twice since we’ve spoken last.”
“You know, I’ve always been quite fond of your literal mind.” He smiled widely at her. “I’ve managed to pry myself away from my team and my roommates for a few moments, with promises and a signed treaty that I’ll return to them before I, ah, ‘scamper off to the wilderness like a weasel who’s sniffed the sea air.’”
“Your teammates are so kind to you.” Enrie softened the sarcasm with a smile.
“Oh, no, that was my roommates. My teammates are far more concerned with our grades.”
“I could help them with that!” Taikie leaned forward. “That’s a lot easier than locking you in a closet. Well, perhaps not ‘easier’ but it’s more prone to making friends than the closet option.”
“They might appreciate that. I might appreciate that.” Gianci smiled ruefully. “I’m a bit behind, after our little field trip.”
“We all are,” Enrie admitted. “Even Taikie — well, she was behind.”
“I spent the last four days catching up with everything,” Taikie put in. “I’m still hoping to get on the honor roll in my first year.”
“Do you think that, perhaps, you could just concentrate on solving murders and rewriting history your first year and get on the honor roll in your second year?” Gianci teased. “You three are making the rest of us look bad.”
“Well,” Saydrie snorted, “you’re just going to have to work harder. We can’t slow down just to let you keep up.”
“Besides,” Taikie added, a little sadly, “solving murders and rewriting history don’t really matter, do they?”
Gianci stared at her for a moment. Enrie thought about trying to intervene, to translate, and from the look on Saydrie’s face, he was considering it too. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence while the noise of the lunchroom washed around them like waves on the beach.
Taikie shifted in her seat. Gianci pulled up a chair and sat down. “You mean, for engineering?” he tried after a moment.
“For engineering and… the teachers that didn’t like us, they didn’t like us any better after I solved the murder, or after Enrie — well, I suppose they don’t know what Enrie did yet.”
“I don’t think even we know what Enrie did yet,” Saydrie offered. “We know what was done, yes, but not what it’s going to end up doing.”
“But it matters anyway.” Gianci insisted. “Even if it doesn’t get you better grades, or the obnoxious teachers being any nicer.” He thought about it for a moment. “Would you not invent something, just because it wouldn’t get you a better grade?”
Enrie could hug him. Taikie looked like she was thinking the question over, and then finally sighed quietly.
“No. No, I wouldn’t stop trying to figure things out, regardless of grades. But I wish it could make teachers nicer to us.”
“Me, too,” Enrie admitted. “Me, too. But hey…”
“Plotting again?” Instructor Pelnyen stomped by their table. “You’d think you could stay in classes for a week at a time before causing more trouble.”
It was probably not for the best that they all burst out laughing, and yet, Enrie thought, the look on his face might be worth it.