When she reached them, Jean was kneeling over Mary. Ava was standing close by, nervously flickering in and out of visibility. Cindy’s gaze searched the area, keeping an eye out for attackers or supplies. Another surge of anger went through Raven when she looked at Cindy and she had to work to shove it down. Instead, she focused her attention on Mary. Mary was unconscious but was breathing normally.
Raven’s face scrunched up in worry. “What happened? Did the attackers do this?”
She looked around at the hooded figures on the ground. Each one had a green checkmark hovering above them, only the one Jean had taken down had a red X.
Jean shook her head. “The suppressor. If you push too far against the magic regulator the suppressor will shut you down. She’ll be fine, but what do we do now?”
Raven swallowed. She hadn’t known the suppressor would knock her out if she went too far with her magic. She wondered how close she had gotten.
Jean looked over at Cindy, questioningly.
“Take her back to base. I can look for the rest of the supplies,” Cindy said.
Raven gritted her teeth. Honestly, she wanted to let Cindy go off, but even with her luck, she wasn’t sure if the girl could defend against more attackers. “We should stick together.”
“I don’t care what you think,” Cindy said sharply.
Jean looked between the two girls, but she didn’t seem surprised. It made Raven wonder how much the girl knew about Cindy’s act.
“If we split up won’t we fail?” Ava said softly.
Cindy gave the girl a sharp look. Ava immediately vanished.
Raven watched Cindy struggle with her decision, but got up and went over to Mary. “Jean, help me carry her back. I’m not sure if I should use my magic again.”
Jean nodded and went to Mary’s side, pulling her up. Once they both were on either side of Mary, they began to walk back to the base.
Behind them, Cindy swore but joined them as they headed back. The march back to the base was uneventful. Raven wasn’t sure if it was because Mary had taken most of the attackers out with her magic or because Dr. Davis had pity on them. In either case, Raven was grateful. Once they had Mary settled Cindy turned back to the door.
“I’m going to look for more packs while we still have time.”
Dr. Brite’s voice cut through the air, interrupting. “The scenario will end in ten seconds.”
Cindy growled. “Damn it!”
Raven ignored her and focused on the countdown. In exactly 10 seconds the room shifted back and as it did Raven got a glimpse of different constructs and items slipping back into the floor. At the other end of the room was the Team A. They were too far for her to see how many of the bags they had collected.
The plastic barrier around Dr. Davis and the sponsors lowered. Once it had finished, Mr. Henderson stepped forward. “You kids were a real treat to watch.” His eyes gleamed as he looked them over. “But it’s time for me to get back to work.”
He then turned to Dr. Davis. “You’ll be hearing from me soon.” Then the older man and his staff left the dome with a few ECI guards guiding them out. A few seconds later, Raven felt her suppressor tightened and then the muffling feeling came back as she was once again cut off from her magic. She sighed.
“Suppressors fully activated,” Dr. Brite said. “I’ll leave you to your class.”
Dr. Davis gave the woman a warm smile and nodded. Surprisingly, when Dr. Brite began leaving the room so did the MDE officers. Once again her eyes met Syrion’s, but this time he was the one looking away. He had a slight frown on his lips. It made Raven nervous. She didn’t think she had done anything wrong during the scenario. If she had, Syrion could affect her chances of getting out of ECI. She swallowed as she watched him go, silently hoping that whatever issues he may have had nothing to do with her.
Two ECI guards went to where Mary laid, still unconscious, and took her out of the class. Jean looked after her friend and sighed. “She’s going to be pissed once she wakes up.”
Once everyone had left the room besides the students and their teacher, Dr. Davis stepped forward. “Today, I’m sure, was very intense for everyone, but you all did very well. There are a few things I would like to go over with everyone.”
Raven glanced to her team. Jean and Cindy talked to each other, while Ava hung near them. Even though Raven had just moments ago been part of the team, she suddenly felt like an outsider. The other team was still grouped together.
“One of the things you may have noticed is that some of the attackers had green checkmarks and some had red Xs. These were to show if your disabling technique used lethal force. Green checkmarks meant you disable with non-deadly force and red Xs meant deadly was used.” At this point, he looked over at Jean.
Jean gave a small smile and shrugged.
“Together I hope we can learn how to use our magic in a way that doesn’t hurt those around us,” he turned to look over the entire class. “You all are amazing people with magic that is strong and significant. All we need is a way to take that magic and prevent it from being harmful in our lives.” He smiled. “I know each one of you can do it.”
Raven was surprised. She didn’t expect such an encouraging speech from one of the teachers at ECI. Did that mean not everyone was like Principal Kase? It gave her something to think about.
“Next week we’ll go over your evaluation individually and I’ll give the results of the team who won. Class dismissed,” Dr. Davis said.
A few moments later two ECI guards came into the room and the girls began lining up. Raven turned to join when Cindy purposely shoved pass her. Jean followed after Cindy giving Raven a helpless shrug, while Ava avoided looking at her. It looked like Jean and Ava had decided to stick with Cindy. Raven narrowed her eyes at Cindy’s back. She would definitely have to figure out what to do about that.
Getting into line, she found herself in the back, only followed up by the ECI guard. As they exited the dome, Raven took a moment to enjoy the breeze on her face. Looking outside made her thoughts turn to the sponsors and the students’ bid for freedom. She seriously doubted they would be interested in her, especially with Cindy using her magic to trip Raven up every two minutes. She scowled at the lost opportunity. She would just have to show them she was even better than they expected.
They entered back into ECI’s main building. As the class was lead away, the guard behind Raven grabbed her arm. “Ms. Delias, come with me.”
Raven’s eyes widened and a hint of irritation appeared in her glance. How many times was she going to be singled out? She followed the guard, who didn’t take her far, just down a side hall where a familiar boy stood.
“Syrion,” she said and then bit the inside of her cheek. She wasn’t exactly friendly enough with the boy to be calling him by his first name.
Syrion ignored her familiarity and turned to the guard. “I’ll be quick.”
The guard nodded and left them as he returned back down the hall. Syrion turned his attention back to her. She looked at him, her gaze defiant. She felt she should have been more complacent, but she was just tired. Tired of being picked on, tired of her situation. She didn’t want to sit there and take whatever new thing he was going to throw at her.
“You should be careful,” he said abruptly.
Raven balled up her hands at her side. “Are you threatening me, too?”
Syrion gave her a questioning look. “Too?”
Raven narrowed her eyes. “I’m not just going to keep letting people take shots at me. I-I don’t deserve this.” She felt frustrated tears spring at the corner of her eyes. “I didn’t mean to hurt those people. I’m not a monster!”
She felt tears stream down her cheek and she abruptly turned her back on Syrion. She can’t believe after saying all that she was crying. She quickly wiped away the tears. “So if you’re here to threaten me I already know. I’m not going to do anything. Like I could anyway.”
There was silence behind her and then a hesitant squeeze on her shoulder. “Hey, I’m not here to threaten you. I’m here to warn you.”
Raven spun around with a glare. “That still sounds like a threat.”
Syrion held his hands up in mock surrender. “Don’t lash out at me. I’m not the bad guy here.”
“And I am?” Raven spat back.
“To some people, yeah,” Syrion said.
Raven deflated at that.
“Look, like I said, I’m not here to threaten you. I’m here to make sure you’re safe,” he winced as he said that.
Raven stared at him, confused. “What?”
“There are some people outside that have connections in here. You’ll want to be careful,” he said and his brow furrowed. “They’re going to try to make you break. Don’t let them.”
Raven swallowed. The knowledge that her situation had just gotten worse made her want to scream. It was with a huge force of will that she managed to shove it all down. Instead, she focused on Syrion. He had been someone she attacked during her Awakening and someone who didn’t even know her.
“Why are you doing this?” she asked.
Syrion looked caught off guard and shook his head. “I’m not sure. I’ve seen what you can do. If anyone should be losing their shit about what happened, I’m definitely one of them.” He shrugged and walked over to her. He reached out and ruffled her hair.
“I guess to me you seem like a scared kid in a bad situation,” Syrion said and then dropped his hand. “I don’t know if there’s much I can do for you, but if you need my help ask Ellis there and he’ll pass it along to me.” He gestured behind her.
Raven turned to see the guard who had brought her to Syrion standing there.
“I have to get her back to the dorms,” Ellis said.
“Wait. Who is doing this? Why are they doing this?” she quickly asked.
Syrion shook his head. “That’s all the information I have.”
Raven nodded slowly, stunned by the unexpected kindness. “Thank you.”
“Sure,” Syrion said, walking away.
“You know, I’m only a couple years younger than you,” she called back at him, flushing. She wasn’t sure what even made her say that.
“Definitely something a kid would say,” Syrion said with a chuckle as he turned the corner.
Despite Syrion’s warning, Raven felt a little better. Now she knew at least one person was on her side. The guard, Ellis, sighed.
“I can already tell this is going to be trouble,” Ellis said and waved her over. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Together, they both headed back to the dorms.