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I grimace every time I move. Yesterday’s exercise had caused my muscles to writhe in pain. I cannot imagine myself to get back into the gym again today but there’s no any other choice. Plus I don’t want to listen to another lecture from Miss Raina. My friends and I wanted prove to her that we will try instead of whining. Though her words were harsh, it made sense. She talked to us as though we are already a part of this school but it has only been three days. The other students still are giving us their strange looks. I ignore them today. Maybe ignoring them would be the best for now.

I sipped my coffee as I watched my friends made their way to our table at the corner carrying their food. Last night we passed out early on the bed so we had no trouble to wake up on time today. Stephanie was gnawing her doughnut while listening to my combat class story. I was filling her in with whatever happened at Miss Raina’s and the gym. She found each of the details excruciatingly interesting. I found her very cute because of her bubbliness.

Her eyes strayed to the corridor and then flicked right back to me. I looked over and saw Ray was making his way to the cafeteria while talking to his group of friends. I noticed he was wearing the same attire as I am the tracksuit and white t-shirt. I watched him until he sat down at the middle table. Large number of kids greeted him and he was occupied with more than enough friends.

“You didn’t go to the gym like Anna?” Steph asked Naomi and Ivy. They shook their heads.

“Nope, Miss Gabriella said we will go there today.”

“Oh, she told you that?” Naomi asked in surprise.

“He didn’t say a word to me.” She stabbed her pancake.

“What happen to her?” Steph asked us in confusion.

“She’s having trouble with her trainer.” I told her. “She finds him very intimidating.” Jane added with a mischievous smile. We grinned at that.

“It’s not like that, guys. He’s just well first too young and too fierce then too quiet. He barely spoke to me yesterday. All he said was, next, next and next. That’s all until the tests were over. I have this feeling that he didn’t like me.” Naomi said. Her face fell.

“You want him to like you?” Ivy asked. “Yes.” She answered immediately and the added, “I mean, I don’t want to learn from someone that dislike me. You know, I can’t keep my mouth shut. It will be fun to talk while working out.”

“Wait, your instructor is Hugh Henry right?” Steph asked Naomi.

“Yeah, that’s him. You know him?” She enquired. “He was our senior, two years back. He wasn’t in school since then. We only saw him last week. None of us expected him to come back here as a trainer, he is really good and deserve to be out there.” Her voice slowed down.

“Then what is he doing here?” Naomi asked. “Something happened, I don’t know the details but he was not the same Hugh we knew now. He barely talks to anyone. He don’t even come out here anymore, if not for your schedule I would never had guessed he’s still here.” Her soft voice was melancholic.

“Anyway, so how’s Miss Gabriella? I have seen her a few times but never had the same class with her. She would not teach actually, she always hung out around Mr. Henderson, like his bodyguard. You know, we call her the angel of the Angels’.” Steph changed the topic purposely.

“Really, let me guess because of her look?” Naomi asked.

“That and her talent. The whole institute adores her.” Steph said admiringly.

“She’s awesome. She asked me to take it slow when it comes to exercise. She said I should master my own body before indulging in combat. That’s why we will do more work out at the gym. She wants me to build my muscles.” Ivy told us.

“That’s what Miss Loretta told me but in a very different way. She has this punishment system where if I failed to reach her target or timing I had to redo again. My body is all sore this morning.” I groaned.

“No wonder, I saw you running on the treadmill almost an hour.” Jane said to me. She was there at the gym as well with her trainer. He was guiding her on how to use the equipment for almost an hour before she started her light exercise. Mine was different. Miss Loretta didn’t waste her time explaining anything. She straight away instructed me to start warm up before using the equipments.

Our time was up so I walked to the Year 4 classroom at the fifth floor with Steph. We had the same class. Both of us sat at the third row from the front. According to the schedule, I will have the same classes every week at the same time for a month. At the end of the week I think I will be able know exactly what I’m learning about. For this month itself I have 8 different subjects to study excluding our afternoon session.

Today’s first class called Armament. I had no idea what that meant and didn’t even bother ask Steph about it. The subjects were to strange to me compared to the normal education system out there. But I had to admit. Each subject surprised me and is quite interesting.

My eyes almost popped out when a male lecturer with a thick white moustache and beard walked in with two boys carrying two boxes full of weapons. One of the boys was Ray. He placed the box on the front desk and went to the back to sit with his group. I glanced at him a few times before the class started.

He never met my gaze. Maybe he’s avoiding me, I thought to myself. I regretted my action yesterday. I didn’t mean to behave rudely. Actually, all I did was glaring at him, that’s all. Was it that bad? I got very angry when that Olivia girl asked me to stay away from Ray. It’s not like I have anything to do with him in the first place. We were just starting to be friends. Everything that’s happening here is the total opposite from our high school. Never ever we sucked in school. Everything was great but now it’s like we’re in the parallel universe.

The class started and it’s about weapons. He called the students at the front and asked them to pass the weapons in the box around. I watched with my mouth hanging open. “Weapons in classroom?” I whispered to Steph.

“Why not?” She asked, oblivious to my reaction.

“It’s dangerous.” I replied.

“Yeah, it is but you got to learn about it first before using it.” She stated as a matter of fact.

“Why would I use it?” I asked her, though I knew the answer.

“I don’t know about you but us, the Year 4 will be graduating in six months. As a fully trained spy we need to know every single detail about weapons. It’s essential.” She explained. I moved away when a boy placed three different guns on my table. He placed the same three on Steph’s table and moved on to the next. I looked at the ones on top of my desk as if it’s time bomb and going to explode any time soon. Steph took one and examined it.

“Ronald, give me the name of the three weapons?”Our lecturer asked.

I glanced back and notice Ronald was sitting beside Ray. Ray was fixated onto the weapon. I watched him once again. His glossy black hair was tousled and looked a little longer than other guys in the class. “This is Enfield No. 2 Mk.1 Revolver.” He said, holding up the smallest gun.

“This is Colt 1911, and Glock 9mm.” He answered while pointing at them. The lecturer nodded at him in approval.

“Very good. For those who are still clueless about the weapons, you better start memorizing the notes I gave to you earlier this semester. Your final test will require you to use weapons.” He stated as he walked around the class. He took the one called Colt and looked at it in amazement.

“The Colt pistol was formally adopted by the army on March 29, 1911, thus gaining its designation, as M1911.”

He placed a thick note on my desk as he walked to the front. I was shocked when the note was dropped on the guns, expecting it to fire by itself. “For those who are wondering, the gun is not loaded. I want you to examine its fine details, use your notes to guide you.” I opened the thick note book. Each of the pages has a picture of weapons and its characteristics. I couldn’t understand the machinery language so Steph helped me out. The class was over in no time. We placed the guns into the box before leaving the class. I saw some students playful aimed the gun at each other. I walked out the class to the next door, its History class. Each year, the classes will be divided according to the number of students. For this semester, there’re only three Year 4 classes. I went into the other year 4 class and found Miss Fiona there.

Since history is one of my favourite subjects, I had already read through the first few pages. The syllabus here is completely different. The first chapter started with the golden age of Italy. The next few talk about the revolution, the glory and the arts of Italy. I found it very interesting but at the same time wondered the connection between this institute and this ancient country.

I was dead tired at the end of our classes. Thanks to the dear gods, Miss Loretta didn’t drag me to the gym today, we did the basic workout and she made me run fifteen laps outside, at the field. She let me go ten minutes earlier today, I thanked her gratefully and left.

I walked to the vending machine beside the stairs at Block B and bought a can of iced coffee. I almost drop the can when Ray appeared out of the blue and said, “You’re forgiven.” I calmed myself down before asking him, “What did you said?” His handsome face beamed with sheer delight as he smiled warmly at me. I was astounded to see him in a very light mood.

“I’m here to tell you that I forgive you and you don’t have to feel guilty.” He stated as we stroll along Block B’s corridor.

“What? When did I…” I started but he stepped right in front me. I stopped abruptly in surprise.

“And you don’t have to take a secret look at me with your rueful eyes.” His lips curled up. His smile reached his eyes, lighting them up, causing them to crinkle at the corners. I couldn’t help but smile at him.

“You noticed.” I said to him.

“I did.” He said as a matter of fact. We started walking side by side again. I watched him and he looked joyful.

“You look happy, anything special happened today?” I asked him out of curiosity. He shrugged, “Nothing in particular. So, your class is over for the day?” He shortened his stride to match mine. He was probably a foot taller than me. I nodded.

“What the students normally do at this hour?” I asked him. I looked around and saw none of the students out here. It was like only me and Ray at the abandoned building.

“Probably in their dorms, sleeping, doing their home works.” He answered absent mindedly.

“Oh, then what are you doing out here?”

He smile returned, “I wanted to talk to you about yesterday.”

“You knew I will be here?” I asked him, didn’t expecting that answer. I thought he will be avoiding us for good like the others.

“Yeah, I heard about your schedule so I guessed you will be here.”

“You heard? Oh, the rumours.”I recalled Stephanie mentioning about that.

“The Angels’, hot place for gossips ah?” I said bitterly.

“Look Anna, about yesterday.” He began but I held one hand up to stop him. He raised his eyebrow at me.

“You don’t need to explain yourself. I think I get the situation. You’re this popular guy in this institute and Olivia likes you so she got upset when she heard about you and me. She yelled at us. I got very angry and you got stuck in between this mess, right?” I summed it up.

“You can put it that way but not the popular guy part.” He reckoned. I didn’t try to defy him. It’s either he’s being humble or not aware of the fact. We walked in silence for about a minute.

We stopped at the corridor junction that connects Block A and B. I walked into the garden in the middle of the three buildings.

There was a statue painted in white stood at the centre of the garden, many flowering plants surrounded it. The statue had human form with opened wings on its back. The statue would probably be ten feet tall. I felt the statue was looking odd here, in this modern landscape.

“This statue supposed to mean something?” I turned and asked Ray. He was standing few feet away, admiring the white statue.

“You want to take a guess?” He asked me. I looked at the winged statue.

“An angel?” I guessed. He smiled, “You got it right. This statue is as old as this building, a very important symbol of this institute.” He added.

“Do you know why this institute took this symbol as its identification?” I shook my head.

“Since olden days, we the members of angels’ are meant to protect the people from evil, well there’s no evil nowadays but we have bad guys.” He explained.

“That’s sounds cool.” My mind flashed back to the wooden house at the camp. The bad guys are evil to me but I didn’t mention any of that to him. He walked around the statue as I sat on the white painted wood made bench. I didn’t know what to comment further about the angels and evil so I asked a question that was bugging my head, “About Olivia, is something going on with you two?” He stopped walking and his expression turned annoyed. I remember the way he reacted when Stephanie mentioned about them dating years ago.

“No, she’s just a friend of mine. I thought I made it clear yesterday.” He stated.

“Yeah I know. I just wanted to make sure because maybe she might attack me again. At least I know I’m not in the wrong position.” I told him.

“Anna, you don’t have to be afraid of her, she’s just a little rough and she told me she was just looking out for me. She means well.” He reasoned.

“Obviously she meant well for you.” I said sarcastically. “She told you she was looking out for you, from me and my friends?” I asked in disbelief. “I bet she asked you to stop talking to us.” I went on. I was getting angry the more I think about Olivia. Ray didn’t respond straight away so I knew I was right. I stood up in frustration.

He watched me, “You have pretty bad temper ah?” He laughed at me. I blinked him in confusion, “I, uhm not always like this. I barely get angry. This institute is messing with my mood.” I blamed the institute. “I’m sorry, Ray. I didn’t mean to throw tantrum at you.” I apologized to him again. It’s like the same situation as yesterday.

“Are you guys forced to be here?” Ray’s voice was careful but concerned. “Not exactly, we came here willingly.” I told him. “Then, why are you feeling uncomfortable to be here, if you didn’t like it maybe you should leave.” He said. His words were gentle. That thought didn’t cross my mind and I remembered Miss Raina’s lecture about the old man and about us acting like babies. “It’s not that I don’t like it here. I think I’m scared of this place. It’s new, different, everyone here is you know, the future spy and I’m just a blur girl lost in this place.” As I say those words, I realized it was the truth. I am afraid of this unknown world. I sat on the bench again. Ray joined me. “You can make a choice between staying as the blur girl or change to maybe less blur girl.” I smiled at that.

“You’re sweet, Ray.” I told him without thinking. “Yeah, I know.” He claimed casually. I grinned at his attitude.

“I was wondering even after Olivia warned you, why are still talking to me?” I asked him.

“Because as I told you guys before, you’re interesting and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be talking to you.” He answered.

I noticed his deep forest green with a tint of grey eyes. It’s a very rare colour. From far his eyes looked almost black but sitting next to him, the green stand out.

“Thank you, Ray.” I glanced at my watch. It’s been almost six. My friends should be in our room. He stood up and said, “I will see you and the others for dinner later?”

“Sure maybe in an hour time.” I told him and walked away towards Block E where the girls’ dorm at.

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