Higher Education

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Sgt. Howard
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Higher Education

Post by Sgt. Howard »

This is another one I started a few years back and forgot- reading it again, it tickled my fancy. Have at it- comments section will be separate of course.
Glytch and Al gave me some pointers and encouragement, along with DinkyInky and Chickgeek. Enjoy!

First of August, Abbot Medical Emergency room.

"Fine way to start a new teaching year," Stan grumbled as the tech was finishing the third layer of fiberglass around his torso, "... and I will be teaching 11th and 12th graders as well,"

"Well Mister Wiedemann, given that you were a pedestrian hit by a truck..." the tech ventured, "you are actually quite lucky to be alive, even more so to not be paralyzed."

"Perhaps... well, yea... you are right of course... but DAMN!!! The guy came right out of nowhere at warp 6..."

"He also blew a blood alcohol of 2.4- you DO understand that you were not his ONLY target, right?"

Stan looked at the tech, "... no... I didn't know that... I guess I missed that point in the conversation..."

"Four broken ribs and two incomplete thoracic vertebrae fractures... you might have been a bit... distracted... THERE! You ought to be functionally comfortable with this... and you can wear it underneath if you get larger clothes"

"How much larger?"

" 'bout 3-4 inches of girth,"

Stan looked at the tech again- "What other victims did the asshole claim?"

The tech went pale- "HIPA regulations... can't tell you... but he IS up for five counts of manslaughter and there is a harvesting crew working overtime right now..."

"Harvesting crew?"

"Donor organs," the tech responded with a heavy sigh...

"So..." Bill Miller wondered aloud to another cohort, "... this 'Stan Wiedemann' is a common HUMAN?"

"Yup," Todd Benson replied, "... he's been porking that whack-job Barista at 'Mucho Mocha'... that gave him a free ticket into our world, or so he thinks. been teaching pups, cubs and kits fer the last few, and now thinks he ready to teach the likes of us..."

Bill snorted a laugh... "HAH!... like I'm gonna respect the authority of a weakling mortal! We'll send him packing back to 'normal world' in less than a week!"

"I don't know, Bill," Sonya Merrill purred, "I heard he was right in the middle of the shit that went down at the Pillsbury Mill not too long ago... he might be tougher than you think..." she was admiring her claws as she said this.

"As if! More likely was peeing himself stupid when THAT happened... trust me, we'll get him broken in real quickly..."

"SHUMWAY, WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT?!?" Tor Mendelson bellowed at the Principle, "Wiedemann is a HUMAN!!! A MORTAL Human! Five of these students have KILLED! ONE out of BOREDOM, despite what the court said!!! That Miller boy...."
"Is a Dragon... yes... that has not escaped my notice... " Principle Shumway sighed, "... what would you have me do? All my other teachers have tenure... I see YOU'RE not interested in this class..."
"I am Prey, as well you know... and the Merrill girl has taken a Minotaur already if I am to believe what I have heard."
"No evidence... no body... but that is nothing new, is it? Tor, I am at my wit's end right now. I have no clue how to handle this except to either refuse these kids entry... or give them a mortal human teacher..."
"... and you CAN'T refuse them... given who's families are involved... "

"Mr. Wiedemann, you have a visitor," Nurse Cappadicia announced as a tall, slender brunette with silvery eyes walked into the room.
"I just heard about ten minutes ago," she muttered, "My GAWD it was awful! Six dead..."

"I was told five..."

"One died in surgery about the time I found out. I'm told you will make a full recovery..." her eyes were watering, her lower lip quavered... then without warning she threw herself around Stan and bawled shamelessly. Stan held her until the storm passed.

Bill Miller's cell chirped a Metallica tune... he picked it up and accepted the call...
"Wadaya want, Mom?"
A scowl crossed his face.
"Na... I'm good... no... I said no... look, YOU married the bastard not me... yea, well maybe he IS my Dad and maybe he AIN'T! YOU don't even know for sure... no, I am not going... this isn't his first time, and I doubt it will be his last... look, YOU do what you think you need to do, but don't include ME in your plans, OK? Bye." and he disconnected the call.
Bill saw everybody's eyes on him- with a deep breath, he explained-
"That stupid drunk that my Mom married just plowed up a half-dozen norms with a pickup truck- there's been some deaths- blacksuits are cleaning up the mess and holding him until they figure out what to do with him."
"Aren't you....?" Todd began...
"Worried?" Bill finished, "Naw… not really. Not my Circus, not my monkeys."

The next day, Stan was being discharged from Abbot medical when he was approached by a new visitor- a very LARGEish fellow with a deep gravelly voice.
"TOR! What brings YOU here? Honey, this is Tor Mendelson, he teaches boy's PE at Gryphon..." Stan started...
"... and he prefers cinnamon and brown sugar in his espresso!" Tina finished.
"You KNOW him?!?"
"Of course I do- how did you hear about Stan being here? And why are you so..." she squinted at him, "...worried?"
Tor drew a deep sigh- "... can't hide nothing from you, can I?" he addressed Stan, "You've got a home class with 15 students in it... these kids are dangerous disciplinary issues... they are all predators, one is a Dragon... in fact, it was the Dragon's Father who ran you over... he is being held in custody... Shumway has no choice in this matter, no other teachers will take this load and the school can't refuse them. If I were you, I would resign this position and let the school sort it out... I'm sorry to be bearing you this news..."
"Tor... I appreciate the warning... but I cannot turn this down...."
"SOME OF THESE KIDS HAVE KILLED!" Tor spat out a little too loudly, "... your life will be at risk!"
"Maybe yes and maybe no- let me talk to some friends I know..."
"If you are referring to the lunatics at RE, just remember- we are a 'gun free campus'. That is not going to change."
"Those … 'lunatics'... as you call them, can work around a number of limitations should the need arise. I have 3 weeks before my first class. I have no clue what they will come up with... but it will be... interesting..."

Al and Greg were at their favorite drafting table where Greg was poring over details...
"Naow y' see here, THIS pressure regulator never lets th' damn thing get beyond 45 psi... an' even th' backup system has th' same type o' regulator fer th' same purpose. Naow th' PRIMARY is set fer 40 PSI... "
Al interrupted- "If the PRIMARY is set for 40, why bother with a 45 psi check regulator downstream?"
"Whelp, it's articulated, see? Th' whole system is over-engineered to handle 55 psi in short bursts and that's it- but a 5 psi jump from connection bindings when this thing flexes kin be 'spected, an' woan' cause no harm."
"I still don't understand why you don't go hydraulic and be done with it..."
"WEIGHT! It's all 'bout WEIGHT! Fluid an' reservoir is WEIGHT!"
"Very well... approximately how many hours have we invested in this thing?"
Greg quietly did a mental tally... "... 'bout three, four hundred..."
"And you expect this to be ready by October?"
"I 'spect it to be ready by then, if Glytch kin perfect th' motor design I give 'em by September..."
"Hmmm … rather ambitious there, mate. And you want to fly this thing?"
"Wal I didn' design it t' mix Martinis..."
"You're a braver man than I am, I'll say that..." at which point Al's phone rang.
"Al here... STAN! Well, this IS a … eh? … really?... hmmm... (here he looked at the Old Sgt.)… well, as luck would have it, our favorite hillbilly is on the grounds and Glytch has fully recovered from his last great experiment... no, the building is still intact... well, for the most part anyway... yes, by all means, do. You know where we are... hmmm... while we are at it, does your little 'English Missy' need some affection? Not a problem... right... we'll see you in a bit, then."
"That were Stan? Wuzzup?"
"It appears he has a spot of bother with his new school... students with disciplinary issues... has no clue who to turn to..."
"... an' immediately thought of us... well, go figure... Ah takes it a rolled up newspaper doan' cut the mustard here..."
"Not hardly- one student is a Dragon."

First day of school

"Well," Stan muttered to himself as he entered room 109, "here goes nothing..."

Entering the room, Stan catches the stench of Klathsmal cigar- a quick scan of the room shows it in the mouth of the one dragon.

"Is somebody burning roadkill in here?" Stan demands. Kids take notice. Stan opens the window. Breeze comes into the room. Stan walks back to the front of his desk and sits back against it, starts to address the classroom. The breeze is playing with his tie. He looks at it, annoyed... then grabs his stapler off his desk and secures it to his torso with three well-placed hits (he IS in a short fiberglass spica cast after all).

The class goes silent.

He then walks over to the Dragon, snatches the cigar from his mouth and says "Not in MY class,"- Dragon starts to protest, Stan quietly and calmly states, "Do it again and I will make you eat it- are we clear?" Dragons starts to bluster- Sgt. Howard's lessons of the "voice of command" come into play- "I SAID, 'ARE WE CLEAR?'- "
"... yessir…" the stunned student replied. Stan then snuffed the cigar out against his chest.

"William Miller, isn't it?" he asked.

All he got was a sullen stare.

"Yes, I know what you are- now ask me if I care. MIB was FORMED to protect the PARANORMAL from HUMANS once HUMANS learned how to KILL DRAGONS." he stated as he got right up in the student's face.

At this point, the silence was deafening. Bill was beginning to sweat.

"And yes-" he continued, " ... you ARE capable of killing me... if you are lucky... then you get to deal with my clan... "

Stan continued to stare into the dragon's eyes until Bill broke contact and stared at his desk.

"Excellent." Stan commented before he turned around and strode back to the front of the classroom.

"MY NAME IS MR. WIEDEMANN- I WILL BE TEACHING HISTORY, U.S. GOVERNMENT AND BASIC ECONOMICS. I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THE LOT OF YOU ARE UNTEACHABLE... that is why they gave you to ME... I will also be responsible for your... discipline... (here he gave a slight grin)… it is to your advantage not to test me in this matter..." and in a low, feral voice he growled, "...you have been warned... YOU! (he pointed at the dusky feline directly in front of him) I need these papers handed out... there's only 15, so be quick."

Sonya glared at him, her eyes showing flakes of gold in the deep green. Stan glared right back... then walked right up to her desk, planted both hands in front of her not ONCE breaking eye contact and putting his face right up in hers. She snarled, her ears went back- Stan didn't twitch. Without warning, she dropped her gaze... picked up the papers and delivered them to the other students.

"Miss Merrill is... kindly (she stopped momentarily and clenched her eyes and fists at this, then moved on in a sullen manner)... delivering a list of books needed for the class- see that you have them when next we meet. If you feel that this class is beneath your dignity or beyond your capacity, you may leave it AFTER you sign a note explaining why you have done so- failure to complete this class will deny you any thought of... graduation- and having signed the note, the school will have no further obligation to teach you- are there any questions?"
"Yea... WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU?!?" Todd Benson blurted out.
Stan gave him a look that chilled him properly... Todd nearly wet himself. Then he replied,
"One- unless I am tearing chunks out of your flesh or shattering your bones, you are NOT allowed to use profanity in my classroom... Two- there is nobody in this school... much less this classroom... that has the authority to ask that question and expect an answer. Are we clear?"
"... uh..."

Stan walked right up to the half-troll, got up in his face and quietly repeated the question... but the tone of his voice rattled everybody in the room...
"... are... we... clear, Mr. Benson?"

"...yessir… you know who I am?"

Stan gave a wicked half-smile- "I know every jack dog of you in this room. I know more about you than you know about yourselves. I know enough to make me ill... but I am supposed to teach you... and that is what I will do... assuming you can learn... do not disappoint me. Again, you have been warned…"

Class went quietly enough to the end of period... upon dismissal, the usual shuffle and murmur emptied the room. Stan mused in this- how long could he keep this up? Stapling his tie to and invisible thoracic brace was impressive... but it was pure bluff. Knowing how to back down individual species, as was the case with the Merrill girl and the Benson boy certainly was useful... but not foolproof. And snatching a lit cigar from the mouth of Bill Miller was pure chutzpah... Dragons are dicey to intimidate...

A slight cough caught his attention- the class was not totally empty. Todd Benson sat at his desk, looking at Stan expectantly.

"Mr. Benson? I believe you have a study hall in three minutes... do you have a question?"

Stan watched the struggle in the boy's mind- son of a male Troll and a female Human, his features seemed coarse for the one and delicate for the other. His Father was killed in a tribal vendetta when he was 3- said killer then tried to claim his Mother and wound up with a war axe separating his ears. As by tribal law, Mom then regained her Maiden Name and was granted tribal rights... this fellow was caught between two vastly different worlds, and trying to impress bad company.
Now he was looking at Stan that showed an internal battle...

"... uh... Mr. Wiedemann?... I don't know if... if I can keep up with this class.... I'm … I'm failing … in just about everything... "

Stan pondered this- what was it that Phix told him about Troll/Human crossbreeds? Ah, yes...

"Mr. Benson... how hard is it for you to read?"

Tears started leaking down Todd's face.

"Contact lenses don't really work with Troll eyes, do they?" Stan softly asked.

"... n-n-n-no, they don't.... an'... an'... an'... glasses make you look... make you look... "

"Weak?" Stan softly said, "Mr. Benson, I am wearing glasses... do I look weak?"

"Well... I mean... you DO... or... you DID... when you first came in... uh..."

Stan saw the gears working- "Humans have MANY heroes that wore glasses, you know..."

THAT one lodged! Realization dawned in the boy's face like the morning sun.

"Todd had it right," George Kern muttered as they headed towards their classes, "What the FUCK is he?"

Bill stayed silent, brooding. Sonya let go a slow hiss. Urhama Balthashir simply slouched along with the rest, allowing her fangs to show.

"Hey- where IS Todd?" asked Sven Hellikson, "... he's supposed to have study hall..."

"Probably skipping it," Bill grunted, "... never gets reported... Mrs. Clarkson is much more at ease when he's not there..."

No sooner had Todd left the classroom, than Tor Mendelson came storming in. Stan Looked up-
"Tor! something I can do for you?" he asked in a nonchalant manner.

Tor looked at him in amazement. He then scanned the classroom, looking for signs of struggle... and saw none. Perfectly perplexed, he turned to Stan and asked, "How did you do this?"

"Do what?" Stan asked, keeping a perfectly innocent look about himself.

Tor looked around again- then rounded on Stan.

"Those were the most difficult and dangerous students this school has ever taken... how did you manage them?"

Stan looked back at him and replied in an offhand manner, "I established dominance and set the rules- that's what we are supposed to do, right?"

"But you are a mortal human... 'prey' to these … uh... " here he faltered as he looked at Stan's shirt, "...? are those … staples? Is your tie... stapled... to your chest?"

"Um... yes, but..."


Stan started to chuckle, "I did it to myself,"

Tor looked at him, totally dumbfounded- "... why...?... "

"Sit down, Tor- I think you can use a good laugh right about now..."
Last edited by Sgt. Howard on Fri Jul 19, 2024 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sgt. Howard
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Re: Higher Education

Post by Sgt. Howard »

After the showmanship of Monday's class, the students that filed in on Wednesday were a bit more respectful... for the most part. Bill Miller was moody, but quiet. Sonya was not actively engaged with Frida Jorgan in school gossip. Sven Hellekson, all 6'8" of him, kept a wary eye on Stan. Urhama slinked in, avoiding eye contact. George Kern Came in with a watchful eye on both Stan and his classmates, assessing their reaction to this human.

Todd Benson strolled in with a confident stride- perched on his face was a brand-new pair of black plastic framed glasses of the dime-store 'readers' variety. He stopped in front of Stan's desk with a broad smile on his face.

Stan looked up at him- "Those aren't exactly 'prescription', are they?" he asked.

"No sir-" Todd replied, "they are off a rack at 2.50 power... but they work well enough!"

Smiling, Stan continued, "... well, they seem good enough for now... but you really need to see an optometrist and get a full exam... that way, you will get a pair that works perfectly. You can read with those?"

"Not as well as I would like, but that might be a matter of practice." Todd replied.

"No doubt- very well, take your seat and let's see how the day goes."

The interplay was noticed by the class, but until Todd turned around nobody noticed he was wearing 'facial furniture'. There were stunned gazes from many students and a few snickers, but soon enough the focus of the class was back on Stan.

Eyeing each student's desk as he did a mental attendance, he noted Bill Miller did NOT have the required textbook. Quickly, he studied the short list of students who had dropped the class- of those who had NOT submitted a resignation, all were present.

"Well now," he began, "as you all can see, our numbers have dwindled slightly from Monday. I am not surprised. These people are no longer in this school- they will find out that they have cheated themselves. Nothing I can do about it. Sad. I also see where Mr. Miller (Bill snapped his head up) seems to be without a textbook- is there some problem in this matter?"

Caught on the spot, Bill blushed furiously before muttering, "... there have been some... difficulties..."

Bill would not make eye contact and had no further desire to discuss the situation. Stan watched him squirm long enough to realise that the boy might have an actual reason for his shortcomings.

"Very well- I have an extra copy here that you may borrow until your difficulties are settled. Mr. Kern," (George spooked at the call of his name) "Would you be so kind as to hand this to Mr. Miller?" reaching into the lower drawer of his desk, Stan pulled out an obviously second-hand book that seemed in decent repair and offered it to George.

There was a moment of rebellion in young Mr. Kern's eyes but thinking about Monday's display curbed it in short order. After all, this man stared down a raksasha, a dragon AND a half-troll... and that was AFTER he STAPLED HIS TIE TO HIS CHEST! -what chance would a hobgoblin stand against him? Taking the book, he handed it over to the dragon. Bill, surprised at the ease of a solution, took the book and murmered "thanks". The rest of the students were more than slightly impressed with the control Mr. Wiedermann exerted over the class, even if with some this was only grudgingly so.

"We shall open up to chapter two- having read chapter one, I was not impressed by the human point-of-view propaganda that it had to offer. We might go back to it at the end of the semester that I can point out the fallicies that are printed here. I apologize that there doesn't seem to be a better book for this class, but if there is I have not yet found it... Miss Jorgan?"

"Sir, am I to understand you are NOT interested in teaching the opinions of your own species?" the huldre asked.

Stan considered this before he replied- "First of all, not all humans have the same attitude towards the paranormal community. Chapter one is written by a man who would just as soon not have you exist, if I understand his assessments correctly. Secondly, his works are mostly opinion... HIS opinion... I do not teach opinion. I do not teach a political agenda. I teach facts. Now, please turn to chapter two..."

Near the end of the hour, Stan instructed the class to close their books- "So, now you have a light overview into the structure of the American Federal Government. Mind you, the emphasis is on 'light'- the federal government of the United States has layers and layers of activities and agendas enough to make your head spin. This is merely an overview, an orientation if you will. We will be studying the different branches through this semester, and even at that I doubt we will do much more than scratch the surface. From there, we will learn of the relationship between this behemoth and the MIB organization. Any Questions?"

"Mr. Wiederman," Todd spoke up, "if this is just a superficial understanding of the American Government, what purpose does it serve?"

"Valid question, Mr. Benson- perfectly valid question. As it stands, this one short chapter gives you a more in-depth understanding of the subject than that which the average American college student possesses. More importantly, it is essential that you HAVE this much understanding before you can understand how MIB works."

"And what use is that to any of US?" Bill interjected.

"First of all, Mr. Miller, you will raise your hand. Secondly, you will address me a 'Mr. Wiederman' or as 'Sir'- do we understand each other?"

Bill glared at Stan, but only for a moment- "Then if I may, Sir- what purpose does any of this serve us?"

"An excellent question as well (Bill's eyes went wide at that), Miss Balthashir, I believe you caught the significance of the lesson- would you be so kind?"

Caught by surprise, the Naga gave a slight hiss before she turned to Bill and stated, "If we are to live under law, it isss bessst we know where that law comesss from and how it will be adminissstered".

"Excellent reply, Miss Balthashir, excellent reply. Now, you will notice that there are certain safeguards against governmental abuse... I will not pretend they are foolproof, because any form of government has the capacity for corruption... but even so, the citizens have a voice in the matter and can through petition change existing laws. Now, Miss Merril- can you give use a few means of redress against the government should it become necessary?"

Without hesitation, the Raksasha rattled off, "Four boxes- the ballot box, the soapbox, the jury box and the bullet box!"

There was an appreciative chuckle through the room, mostly because Stan was slightly derailed by that reply. Chuckling to himself, he responded, "Not the answer I was looking for... but in essence correct. The vote, the first amendment, the courts... and when all else fails, the second amendment. These are all things used to keep a firm hand on those who hold high office."

"Wait, what now?" Timothy Flanagan erupted as if he had just woken up, "Is that why you yanks are always on about yer bloody 'second amendment'? T' keep yer government in line?"

"HAND, Mr. Flanagan- and actually, yes-" Stan replied, " that was part of the intention... even though at the moment, it doesn't seem to be working... "

"An' yer own founding fathers wrote it in there for that reason? That the lot o' ye could oust them should things go sour? Beggin' yer pardon, Sir... but isn't that against their best wishes?"

"We will cover the reasoning behind that in detail on Friday, Mr. Flanagan- the short version is that the young country had just separated from a corrupt England run by a mad tyrant, and wanted to make certain that American citizens need never fear their own government in the same manner. Any other questions?"

"Bloody mad..." Timothy muttered to himself, "... er, not at this time, Mr. Wiederman, not at this time..."

"Your family had just come to the United Staes from Ireland last Spring, am I correct?"

"Aye, there's the truth of it, Sir."

"Well then," Stan continued, "... keep your wits about you, for there's more culture shock on the way."

The bell rang, and Stan addressed them before they made for the door- "Chapter three will be read by Friday. There will be a great deal of discussion, I expect a lot of questions. Class dismissed."

From 15 students, now there were only eight. As this was Stan's only class, he considered himself lucky. He was shuffling his notes when he sensed one student still in the room.

Frieda Jorgan was standing in front of his desk with hands clasped near mid-thigh, thus causing her breasts to protrude from between her upper arms- classic schoolgirl 'flirty' pose.

"Miss Jorgan... is there something I could do for you?" he asked with a neutral tone.

"Well... (giggle and blush)... I just wanted to say that I... really appreciate... you teaching us this semester... and... well... "

"Huldre? am I correct?" Stan shot across her bow.

Her entire demeanor shifted as she realized she had been caught out.

Stan looked at her and considered his words carefully- "Miss Jorgan, I appreciate your... appreciation- however... I cannot and will not get into anything with a student that has the appearance of inappropriate. Besides, there is already one who sees to my needs, and you are not in her class. I don't care to be blunt about this, Miss Jorgan, but your species does have a sexual predatory history, and you approaching me as a 'shy, admiring schoolgirl' will show more flags than the UN building. I fully understand that you wish to lose your cow's tail... I assume that no glamour can hide it? Which is why you wear a long, heavy skirt?"

She went from 'heavy flirt' to 'muffled angry dejection' in no time at all.

"You're no fun at all." she spat with the most adorable pout Stan had ever seen before she turned and stormed out of the room. Astonishingly, the whiskery tip of her tail was JUST visible from behind.

"THAT..." Stan muttered to himself,"... was NOT easy..."

At home that day, Tina was deeply concerned by what she saw coming through the door-


Stan looked at her and gave a wry grin- "Can't hide anything from you, can I? I just had a student try to offer herself to me, and unless I am greatly mistaken, she used some powerful magic in the effort... mind you, she didn't get far."

The shock on Tina's face slowly gave way to wrath.

"Who is she?" she asked in a damn scary tone, "What is her name?"

"Easy there Dearheart- I was able to shut her down before her first line was cast. She's a huldre, and I was informed as to their nature and how to defend against them. They are sexual predators but can only do what their prey allows."

"But... OH!... I see... " she studied his aura a bit more, "... she was remarkably ... effective... more than a bit of a struggle for you, eh?"

With a guilty blush, Stan looked down and muttered "... um, yea..."

She continued to look at him, as the coalition inside debated how to handle this-

"Come here, stud," she gave a husky growl, "I have just what you need..." and she started unbuttoning her blouse.

"HE ALL BUT SLAMMED THE DOOR IN MY FACE!" Freida HOWLED to the group after school let out, "I have NEVER been so INSULTED in my LIFE!"

"I am beginning to think he's not entirely human." Todd ventured.

"As if a four-eyed half-troll can think," Bill muttered.

"And there was a mighty pretty 'thank you' I remember hearing from a a mighty powerful dragon there, Boyo," Tim Flanagan aimed at Bill, "he's certainly more than the average human, he is."

"Still be easy to crush," Sven offered, "I could fold him up and hide the body in my rucksack. I'm pretty sure a rousing chorus of 'I didn't see anything' will be as effective as before."

"I don't know," Sonya warned, " he stilled me with one look. And he also mentioned 'his tribe'- not sure what that means, and not sure I want to find out. I mean, WE ALL WATCHED HIM STAPLE HIS TIE TO HIS CHEST!!! I'm reasonably sure that's not NORMAL human behavior!"

"I have no clue what he is or isn't..." George put in, "... but I am NOT going to cross him. If YOU (looking at Sven) snuff him, then I go 'full ignorance'... assuming his tribe doesn't decide to question me."

"All this bullshit about his 'tribe'... " Bill muttered, " as if we should actually care..."

Urhama turned her gaze directly at Bill's eyes, "Hisss 'tribe' almosssst made YOUR tribe EXSSSTINK! Or have you FORGOTTEN that? MY tribe asss well! Underesstimate HUMANSSSS at your own peril!!!"

Frieda continued to fume, lost in her own little tailspin. Todd remained silent, still stung by Bill's insult. George and Timothy kept glancing at Bill and Sven, watching for the next outburst.

That Thursday-

"What the HELL have you been DOING with this thing?!?" Dr. Lamberton exclaimed as he examined the brace on Stan's torso.

"Teaching- why do you ask?"

"Teaching what? Marine Corps basic? And what are these punctures down the middle? With compression fractures? Mr. Wiederman, we will have to re-do this... my word, I thought fiberglass was supposed to be tough... no, this is..."

"Doc- " Stan cut him off, " you DO know I teach at Gryffon High", right?"

"Oh?... OH!... huh... yes well, THAT puts things into a better perspective... OK, Tech Goodwin specializes in this sort of thing... I'll be honest, it's a bit past my pay-scale... but if YOU are with GRYFFON, your policy covers this. I'll have her in here momentarily... she's just finishing up with a satyr in cast lab..."

"Very good, Sir."

That Friday saw an even more subdued lot file into room 109- with the exception of Sven Hellekson. Sven strode into the room with a bit of a sneer on his face. The others took their usual seats while Sven stood in front of the Teacher's desk, arms crossed.

Stan continued with his paperwork, pretending to not notice the challenge for an uncomfortable length of time until without looking up he asked, "Something on your mind, Mr. Hellekson?"

Caught by surprise, Sven regrouped quickly enough to state, "I don't understand how a human is qualified to teach paranormals."

The room went cold silent.

Stan looked up at his tormentor- "To understand requires knowledge- my job is to overcome your shortcomings in that department."

"You calling me... ignorant?" came a low hiss from the ice giant.

Stan took off his glasses, stood up and walked around from behind his desk to stand face-to-face with Sven. He was easily a full head shorter than his adversary. All eyes were either upon his calm expression or Sven's angry face-nobody noticed Stan's right hand slipping into his pants pocket.


Without focus, Stan saw the shift to the right foot and saw the elbow go back. 'Gut punch- perfect!" he thought as he leaned into it. With a fast straight hardline punch, Sven caught Stan at the solar plexus hard enough to bounce him off the far wall. The impact on the wall was somewhat mitigated by Stan leaning forward, and the punch itself had minimal effect. Regaining his balance from the blow, Stan shook his head slightly as if to clear it, then looked directly at Sven with a determination that none expected.

"Why, Mr. Hellekson... you are beginning to make me... angry... VERY... angry."

Sven first looked confused... then the pain of three broken knuckles registered as he bent over and held the injured hand. Of the lot, only Timothy Flanagan caught the glint of what he thought to be a set golden rings on Stan's right hand as it came out of his pocket into a perfect uppercut that made a sickening "crunch" when it contacted the Ice Giant's jawline. Sven's eyes registered the impact- and went blank. He rolled out flat on his back without even the chance to utter any response to the hand injury. Stan's hand went back to his pocket and re-emerged without any 'jewelry'- again, only the Leprechaun noticed this.

Stan took a moment to survey the situation. He had just cold-cocked a student in front of the most difficult class the school had to offer.

"HOLY SHIT!" uttered Bill.

"Language, Mr. Miller- language. I had explained that on Monday. I see no need to repeat it again. Are we clear?"

"Uh... yes Sir!" There was only marginal hesitation and no resentment this time around.

"Very good- Well now... what an unfortunate way to end the week. Seems young Mr. Hellekson slipped on something and fell hard enough to injure himself- wouldn't you all agree?" he asked as he cast his eyes upon the class.

The shock of what just happened was enough to prevent an immediate response- as he lay on the floor, it was pretty clear that the ice Giant's jaw was broken and partially dislocated. Three teeth fragments were sitting nearby, with the promise of more in his mouth. Frida was crying silent tears as she shook with fear. The rest were bug-eyed and slack jawed.

Timothy Flanagan was the first to recover- "Upon me affydavit, 'tis there exactly as it happened!"

"Yup" Todd added to the leprechaun's testimony, "pretty much what I saw."

"I wassss... looking down when I heard a terrible... noissse. I did not... SSSeee it." Urhama offered.

"Fair enough," Stan commented, " ... the rest of you?"

"I was reading the chapter," Sonya stated.

"Mr. Wiederman?' Bill asked, "... what was on the floor? Do we need to register a complaint with housekeeping?"

Stan looked directly at the dragon- "Perhaps not this time- I see nothing down there to hold accountable. Still, an unfortunate 'accident', wouldn't you agree?"

Putting both hands up, palms facing Stan, he replied, "No argument. Totally unfortunate."

"Did he leave a dent in the floor?" George asked, "I heard something break... oh... that was his jaw... mighty tough floors they make here..."

"Students like YOU running around this place, you think they're going to use particleboard?" Stan quipped back.

There was an appreciative chuckle from the class, except from two-

"Miss Jorgan, are you going to be alright?" Stan asked the young lady.

Still shaking and crying, Frida looked up at Stan for only a moment before she bolted out of the room.

Again, the room went silent.

"Well," Stan assessed as the door closed behind her, "We are down from eight students to six- but I expect both Sven and Frida to return... well, Frida at any rate... how about a general review of chapter two and we will deal with chapter three Monday? I do not care to see a student fall behind. As for now, I suggest the class silently review chapter two while I fetch some medical aid... and a litter team..."

There were murmurs of assent with no dissent- the class obediently re-opened their books.
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Re: Higher Education

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Stan returned with the school nurse and a stretcher team- interestingly, there was little questioning regarding the incident involved. Sven was moved to the stretcher once it was determined that no other injuries were present- it was assumed that he caught his jaw on Stan's desk (even though there was no evidence of blood or tissue on the desk) and this is what broke his jaw. The fragments of teeth, both on the floor and in his mouth, were removed- With his airway held open he was transported to a waiting ambulance. All eyes were on the ice giant as he left.

"Well," Stan continued, "... what questions do we have regarding chapter two?"

At the sound of the bell, Stan reminded them that they would be picking up where they left off on Monday as the class shuffled out. One stayed behind (Stan was getting used to this) and he addressed him without looking up.

"Mr. Flanagan- and how might I assist you?"

Timothy chuckled a bit before he replied, "And how did ye ken it were me, Sir?"

Stan looked up from his desk and with a broad smile replied, "Call it a lucky guess- what's up, young fellow?"

"Well now, beggin' yer pardon... but I seem t' recall a fancy bit of... jewelry... gracing yer fingers for but a moment there- and as one trickster to another, I was wondering what that might be?- mind ye, my kind respect power greater than our own, but we respect and HONOR wisdom beyond our own even more so."

Stan chuckled a bit himself- "Well now," he said in a fair imitation of Timothy's brough, " - seeuns as YE were the first t' collaborate me story, I suppose 'tis only fair..."

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a set of brass knuckles for Timothy's perusal.

"Well now, and I thought that might be the... HOLY MOTHER O' JAYSUS!!! DID YE LOOK AT THEM?!?"

Stan looked down- a groove was now present across the face of the knuckles, some 12 degrees off the perpendicular of the bar and damn near 1/4" deep! Clearly, this was where the brass caught Sven's jaw. Further examination showed that bar was bent slightly over the finger holes and could have trapped a finger had not it landed between the ring and middle finger holes!

Stan looked at it, dumbfounded.

"I never knew ye could hit so hard with those!" Timothy sputtered.

"Nor I," Stan replied "... nor I. I might have to replace these..."

"Doubtless- crackin' th' jaw o' an ice giant... even WITH such as that... "

A slight sound at the door had the evidence disappear back into the pocket. Frida stood there, mascara a total mess with traces of it on her sleeves.

"Ahem- Well then, by yer leave, Sir," Timothy put a fingertip to his eyebrow as a salute before briskly walking out.

"Miss Jorgan," Stan addressed her, "... and how may I help you?"

She slowly put herself in front of Stan's desk and sniffled a bit before she had the courage to speak.

"First of all," she began, "I want to apologize for my previous behavior- initially I was horribly insulted, but now I think I understand how... remarkably restrained... you were with me that day. Any woman that can see to your... needs... clearly ... is well beyond my abilities. I suspect you did not tell her about me, for no one has hunted me down as I suspect would be the case..."

"Actually, I did." Stan shot back.

She froze, wide-eyed terror etched across her face. Stan put his hands out, palms forward.

"You have nothing to fear- she saw it as 'bragging rights' on two counts- one, that a Huldre would consider me worthy prey and two that her man could tell a Huldre 'no'. Besides, I can hide nothing from her- it would be foolish to try. And you are right, she is a remarkable woman on many counts... but that is not the only reason you are here, am I correct?"

"Uh, no... I mean, yes... I have never seen anybody drop an ice giant. Ever. I never even heard of such a thing. And you did it with one punch! We huldres are not particularly ... violent... in fact, we are more... "

"Pacifistic? Erotic? Manipulative? Some combination thereof?"

She had been holding her hands up to her face- now they dropped to her sides with total resignation.

"... all of the above... damn... you've done your homework, haven't you?"

"Miss Jorgan," Stan went on a different tact, "What do you suppose the goal of this class might be?"

"Uh- to learn?" she ventured.

"To learn what?"

"To understand human government and how it interacts with MIB?"

"Now... why should that be important?"

"Uh... um... I really don't know."

"An honest and expectable answer. Miss Jorgan, how much do you know of human history?"

"Um... not very much," she confessed.

"Are you aware of the fact that there has never been a time in human history that some faction of our species was NOT at war with some other faction?"

"No- I did not know that." she said with raised eyebrows.

"Are you aware of the fact that humans can launch a missile from underwater that can strike anywhere in the globe, with a single warhead that can obliterate a very large city?"


"I am sure you are aware that humans nearly erased dragons from the earth, right?"

"... I... I thought that was a 'boogeyman' story to make children behave... it is actually true?"

"Oh yes- along with Nagas, Ice Giants, tigermorphs and many other species."

She stood there stunned.

"Humans have a sharp learning curve, Miss Jorgan... very sharp. In 1903, two bicycle builders from the Midwest built a contraption that a man could fly in. It was a dangerous and flimsy affair that had limited range and speed. Within a human lifespan, we sent men to the surface of the moon. There were many deaths along the way... MANY deaths... but humans can be quite determined about a goal. And if that goal means removing paranormals from the planet, they will accomplish it"

Her hands were back at her mouth in shock. "But... why... why haven't you... done so?" she stammered.

"Not ALL humanity thinks that way... there are many who are aware and keep it hid. But the bulk of humanity? MIB has them convinced you don't exist and all the stories about you are fables, folklore and mythology. For this to WORK, EVERYBODY has to keep up the charade! THIS CLASS IS FOR YOUR PROTECTION!"

She parked her butt on the desk behind her to avoid falling down.

Full comprehension now dawning on her, Frida sat against the desk wide eyed and slack jawed. The full ramifications of what she just learned now staggered her mind. Recovery was a bit slow... but when it came, she looked directly at Stan and asked,

"Why were we not taught this at the beginning of class?"

"Miss Jorgan, did you not notice the attitudes that I faced when I walked into this room for the first time? Before I could drive that point home, I had to prove that humans are more of a threat than they appear to be."

"But- Sir, what will become of those students that dropped this class? Won't they expose the charade?"

"They were taken to MIB to explain their decision- I'm not sure how that will play out, but I'm sure there will be some resolution to the issue."
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Re: Higher Education

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Stan finished out his day, stopping at a para-friendly grocer. There were a few things he wanted to bring home, and this seemed the easiest way to deal with them. Many different species were busily engaged in the particulars of their dietary needs, the bigger paras using human glamor to fit in the store... Stan did not stand out as a result.

Browsing the meat section, he saw many references he did NOT understand among the offerings. Off to one side, a rather burly teen was loading the coolers with his back turned-

"Excuse me, my good fellow," he called out to him.

The youth turned- Stan Weiderman and Bill Miller gazed upon each other with equal astonishment!

There was an awkward moment, as Stan gathered his wits back together- "Well... Mr. Miller... I did not realize you had an after-school job. I must say, I am pleasantly surprised."

"... uh... yea... about that- PLEASE don't bring it up in class. It... it..."

"It isn't considered 'cool', eh? Your secret is safe with me. I was also young once, and worried about the judgment of my peers."

"Wow... uh, OK, cool... " a more professional mien slid into play, "and how can I assist you, Mr. Wiederman?"

"Well, " he held up a package, "I have no clue what the writing on this particular package means, or if I want it,"

Bill looked at it and chuckled, "That's because it written in Dracolian- and I doubt you should want it. It is my understanding that your kind will find it toxic. The MEAT is palatable, but the spices are not- among dragons, it is a breakfast treat. What you hold is one serving."

Stan looked at it- it was a 15-pound package.

"Like bacon?" he ventured.

"... hmmm... yea, I guess so... like bacon..."

"Well, 15 pounds of bacon at one setting on a regular basis will kill a human eventually, I suppose this would just do it quicker?"

Bill chuckled some more- then became helpful again.

"What exactly are you looking for, Sir?"

"A quick meat for dinner. Something simple, tasty and filling. Cheap would be nice as well, but not mandatory."

Bill turned to a co-worker (a thick-necked fellow with protruding lower incisors), "Erlog, would you finish this tray? I have a customer to assist."

With a grunt and a nod, the troll turned to the task at hand.

Leading the way, Bill headed to the deli section. "We use portal travel all over the world, so our stock is never more than three days' old... except where age is important, of course. The European breads are fresh daily. Does Tina... uh... do I call her, 'Mrs. Wiederman'? That was never clarified..."

"Um, 'Miss Tina' will be fine- I will announce should there be any change. You were about to ask about dietary limitations? If it is safe for me, it would be safe for her... but she doesn't care for anchovies on pizza."

"I see... well..." the veneer was beginning to crack, "... wow... this is so... surreal... uh... "

"I think I can manage from here Mr. Miller, thank you- (here he spoke quietly) and should you need assistance yourself, please do not be afraid to ask. I am not here just to teach, but also to help."

The blank look on Bill's face lased just long enough to tell Stan 1) he wasn't expecting that and 2) he NEEDED to hear that. Stan looked over some Kishka, checked the price and considered it worth his while. Bill watched him leave in stunned amazement.

"SCHLOUGH VAR NOCH!" Growled the troll.

"UH? OH! Sorry, Erlog- lost track. I got it now."


"Him? He is one of my teachers at school."


"Well, he IS human... at least, I'm pretty sure he is human... for the most part, at least..."


Bill looked at Erlog- at 7'3", he was a rather puny example of his kind... but even so...

"Trust me- he is one to respect."
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Re: Higher Education

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MIB HQ- interrogation room 28-

"SO Mister Zanopiask," Agent Curlew continued, "... you and Miss... Tanelure, was it?... were in the North Woods when you came across... this body... hanging from a tree. Do I want to know what you to were doing there to begin with?"

"We had nothing to do with the fellow's death," the young satyr blurted out, "... he was there before we got there."

"We touched nothing," emphasized the teen fey, "... it was exactly as you found it."

"That," Curlew replied, "... was not my question... but you answered it anyway. A better reply would have been a simple 'no'... because, truth be told, I really DON'T want to know what you were doing there... but regardless... our examination confirms what you have told us. Please gather your things and go home- we will not be notifying your parents but might have some more questions later."

As the two left, Tim Curlew turned to Agent Sparks and muttered, "... talk about 'blowing the mood', eh?"

"Such a waste," Sparks replied, "such a waste... all over a girl. Who will be handling the Merril girl?"

"I will." Director Oduya offered as she walked in the room from behind the one-way mirror, "... Sparks, you're with me on this. She needs to be properly cleared of all suspicion."

Near a well- frequented establishment in the Twin Cities...

Sonya, Urhama and Frida were heading to "Mucho Mocha" for a bit of an uplift... Frida was uncommonly quiet as they walked from school to the portal.

"I'm still trying to believe what I saw!" Sonya commented.

"I can no longer be ssssurprissed at what he does," Urhama replied, "... he isss sssertainly a match for any creature. Poor SSSSven... he will never live thisss down... defeated by a human."

"I'm not convinced he is totally human- I mean, he smells human- he looks human..."

"Humans have been at war with each other since they first existed." Frida suddenly stated- "They went from the first 'heavier-than air' flight to the surface of the moon in slightly less than 66 years. Mr. Wiederman told me that- then I looked it up. There's more... humans have the capacity to remove all forms of life from the planet. Totally. Leave the world dead, sterile... incapable of supporting life." she spoke with a dead voice, as if in a trance. "If he is part-human or not, it doesn't matter... kill him and thirty more will hunt you down. That is the way they are."

The other two girls looked at her in shock. This was the first real conversation coming out of her since they left school. What she was saying was truly frightening. The three stopped as Frida continued.

"The purpose of the class is to PROTECT US! To emphasize the reason for the charade! For all our powers, all our magic, all the things that we so smugly rub each other's noses in... if humanity at large was made aware of our existence, it would not take many of them to make many of our people extinct!"

"I guessss huldre only posssed a threat to human women ass competisshhhion for men. My people were amlosssst exssssterminated by them."

"There had been a time where raksasha were nearly hunted to the last in India- we went under protection back in the 8th century. When you try to play 'apex predator' with humans, it usually doesn't go too..."

"Sonya Merrill?" came a voice from behind.

Sonya started at the tone in her name- turning around the lot of them saw two MIB female agents, one tall, slim and dusky, the other a bit shorter, heavier and blond.

"You are not in any trouble- but we do need to talk to you. Preferably in private." The tall dark one was speaking. She looked at Urhama and Frida pointedly as she said the last bit.

The fear was quite palpable between the lot of them- "Am I under arrest? Again?" Sonya asked with fearful eyes.

The tall one pinched the bridge of her nose with eyes closed- "Uh... no... about that... we were wrong, and we now know that. We also now know what happened to Gart Lorengast last year. We... um... we need to clear your name and tell you what we know. Understand... I am ASKING you- you have every right to say 'no'."

"Sonya," Frida interjected, "Their mission is to PROTECT us! We are witness to their request." She turned to the two agents- "Would you give us your names, please?"

"I am Director Brandilyn Oduya- this is Agent Sparks. My department really screwed up Gart's disappearance last year and piled the blame on Sonya. We... we wish to make things right."

"What happened to him? Please, I will be telling these two as soon as we get together again so you might as well tell me." her eyes were wide and her voice was now anxious.

"Oh, bloody hell..." Brandy muttered under her breath, "... it... it isn't pretty, young lady.... I'm not sure ..."

"DID HE KILL HIMSELF?!?"- with that, the tears started flowing. She had long suspected but said nothing. Remembering Gart as a strong, jovial friend with a big heart did not allow the possibility of suicide to be part of her memory of him. All through the investigation, they would not leave her alone. Her grades suffered, she became a disciplinary issue, a 'problem student'. She fell in with the 'bad crowd' because her company was shunned elsewhere. All the while, anyone suggesting Gart committed suicide was rudely scorned by her.

But not now. Two MIB types, one the 'Director', wanting to apologize...

"DID HE KILL HIMSELF?!?" she repeated, already knowing the answer, "DAMMIT!!! TELL ME!!!"

Frida was beyond alarmed at the situation- Urhama was watching the Director and her agent for any sign of treachery. Agent Sparks was clearly without a clue as to what to do.

"SONYA MERRILL!" snapped the Director- Sonya stopped demanding and stood there with tearful pleading eyes, "... crap... THIS is why I wanted a private venue... OK... would the two of you join us?" she addressed the other two, "she will likely need the support of friends."

"Uh... yea, sure." Frida nervously replied.

"If you think we can help, yesss." Urhama answered.

"OK then- where are we going?" Frida asked.

"Can we get our coffee first?" Sonya asked, a sullen look on her tear-stained face.

"Sure thing," Brandi replied, "I'm buying."
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Re: Higher Education

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Tina was a bit surprised at the cluster that strolled in that afternoon- hurt, anger, uncertainty... and the golem seemed steeped in the same, judging by facial expression. Fortunately, the shop was slack for mid-afternoon- totally vacant. Her boyfriend's boss, one of her Lieutenants and three Gryphon girls grabbed a table- the Naga grabbed an extra chair.

Stepping out from behind the counter, Tina addressed them- "... I'm taking a wild shot here... hot chocolate with a slurp of peppermint all around?"

The lot looked at her and considered- then looked at each other, as if to confer...

Sonya spoke first- "Sure, why not? I've not had that since I was in pigtails. Things were simpler then."

Frida giggled, "... sorry- trying to imagen you in pigtails... but yea, my last time with hot cocoa was before I found boys interesting."

"Sssecond grade, then?" Urhama snarked.

Frida gave a thoughtful look- "... not sure... probably... why do you ask?"

Agent Sparks stifled a snort.

"Hot chocolate sounds perfect- children's soul food," the director spoke," I think we all could use a dose of that. Make them grandes, please."

"Yesss, pleassse," Urhama added.

"That would be just like the ways of the old country," Frida joined, "... yes please."

Tina returned to her counter and started her magic, leaving the five to their concerns.

"Now," Sonya addressed Brandi, "tell me- did he...?"

Brandi took her hand, looking directly into her eyes. Slowly, the truth solidified in Sonya as new tears rolled down her face in a torrent.

"I... I am so sorry..." Brandi stammered. There was a half a heartbeat before Sonya dissolved into tears and moans. Frida put an arm around Sonya. Urhama looked uncertain as to what to do- she eventually put a hand on Sonya's shoulder. Nobody spoke. Tina watched from her counter as she doled out the hot milk, chocolate syrup and oil of peppermint into five large mugs. A quick stir and all mugs went to a platter that she carried deftly to the table.

Soon enough, the smell of the mugs caught Sonya's nose. Bleary eyed, she took the mug and sampled the concoction. She would not look at anyone- at least, not just yet. Urhama tried hers with her free hand- her reaction indicated surprise and satisfaction. Frida wrapped her other arm around Sonya- Sonya responded by releasing Brandi's hand and brought the now free hand up to Frida's arm.

"I should hate you, but I don't," she finally said as she looked directly at Brandi, "... I mean, it wasn't one of my brighter moments. I spoke without thinking and you had no choice but to follow the lead I gave you."

"What?!?" Urhama demanded, "thossse ssstoriesss were true?"

"What stories?" Frida asked, "What are you talking about?"

"Do you want to tell it, or should I?" Brandi asked.

"I... I don't think I can... go ahead..." Sonya weakly replied.

Brandi took a deep pull from her mug. Then she took a deep breath and let go an equally deep sigh.

"Last year, about this time, Sonya and Gart were seen in a major argument. The final parting words were Sonya yelling at Gart "I KNOW RECIPES FOR YOUR KIND! AND RIGHT NOW, THEY SOUND LIKE A GOOD IDEA!!!". That was the last time anyone saw Gart alive."

Frida was shocked. Urhama continued with her chocolate.

"As I said," Sonya muttered, "... not one of my brighter moments,"
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Re: Higher Education

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"Where did you find him?" Sonya asked after a deep sigh.

"The deep woods north of the Library- he hung himself." Brandi replied.

"He wanted to date me- we had known each other since second grade. Even now, even though I miss him, I ... I ... I wonder... (the tears resumed) ... if I had, he would still be alive..."

"NO!" - the room was jolted by Brandi's reply, "you have the right to say 'no', regardless of circumstances. You had no interest in pursuing a more ... intimate ... relationship, I assume?"

She looked rather forlorn before replying (with a wrinkled nose), "His breath always STANK! There was nothing he could DO about it! He was a MINOTAUR! The thought of kissing him was revolting!"

"I... take it he didn't take that well...?" Brandi ventured.

"He threatened to overcome me and kiss me until I relented- that's when I... I..."

"Threatened him with the family cookbook," Agent sparks finished.

"The 'haunted woods', eh? No wonder nobody found him." Sonya commented, "... I suppose he left a note?"

Brandi was hesitant- "... there was quite a bit of evidence that this was his own action, and that..."

"Did he leave a note?" Sonya was a bit more insistent this time.

Backed into a corner, Brandi had no choice- "Um... yes... he did."

"And he blamed my rejection of him?"

"... yes... sorry..."

Sonya buried her face in her hands- once more, the tears flowed... but quietly now. Frida continued her embrace while Urhama sorted out what she was seeing.

"Mammalian emotionsss are ssso complexss." she thought to herself...

Tina watched from her counter as the drama unfolded. She remembered the upheaval when the boy went missing, and how Sonya was the prime suspect. She remembered how Sonya's friends basically abandoned her, believing the accusations that were whispered in the hallways of the school. She started showing up alone, shunned by anyone who knew her.

Then she started showing up with other outcasts. Some scary, some sad, all of them seen as 'less than desirable'.

Lost in her own thoughts, Sonya finally confronted the lie she had clung to- that Gart was incapable of suicide- that as a minotaur, he was too emotionally sturdy to do such a thing. And yet, all through childhood, she had known that Gart was a sensitive individual, that he was taunted by predators and had few of his own kind to associate with. She refused to believe he might kill himself because then she had to hold some responsibility for his death. At home, she got little sympathy over their friendship. Her own father used to chide her about 'playing with her food' and being fairly serious about it. Within three months of the investigation, her father passed from a heart attack. Sonya was convinced that her father believed she killed the boy, even though he never spoke of it.

And now, now that all the damage was done, she is exonerated. Her father dead, her mother surviving on his insurance settlement, her friendships scattered... she is now proven innocent- well, as innocent a one can be when suicide strikes a blow.

The tears slowed, then stopped. Tina stepped up with a warm wet hand towel to give her face a wipe. She cleared the ruined mascara, then looked at Brandi- "I suppose there will be an announcement?" she asked.

"Hardly necessary- those who found the body have already spilled the beans. I'm sure come Monday you will hear about it in the hallways of school."

"And if I call in sick, there will be no doubt why... "

"MIB is prepared to make a full admission as to how badly we bungled this case," Brandi added, "I am sorry that we can do no more than that."

"Yea... I'm sure..." she drew a heavy sigh, "... well... to Gart." she lifted her mug. The others followed suit. After some soft clunks, they each took a long pull of the minted hot chocolate.
Rule 17 of the Bombay Golf Course- "You shall play the ball where the monkey drops it,"
I speak fluent Limrick-
the Old Sgt.
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