Chapter 2: A Substitute from Reality
Chapter 2: A Substitute from Reality
Well this was unexpected. The kids couldn't think of a single time that Ms. Hertz had ever missed a class. She was the senior staff member, and seemed completely devoted to her job here at Kadic Academy. What's more, this Doctor John Smith character as their substitute? They'd never seen him on campus before; could he really work here?
"Excuse me," asked a young boy with a green sweater, glasses, and a large number of pimples as he raised his hand.
"Yes, you, pizza face, what is it?" The Doctor responded, pointing with an underhanded finger. A good number of the students began to crack up a bit, much to the boy's chagrin. He could practically hear his own teeth grinding.
"It's Herb, sir," the boy retorted, the annoyance clear in his voice.
"Yes? Speak up, Herb, what is it?" The Doctor lifted up his thin glasses, readjusting them slightly, while looking fairly bored, as though there were other things on his mind that he would rather be doing.
"If you don't mind me asking, sir, I've never seen you on campus. If you're really a substitute teacher, why haven't I seen you teaching any other classes?" Herb's frustration began to disappear, replaced instead by earnest curiosity. He adjusted the collar of his sweater, perhaps a bit nervous to be questioning his new teacher in such a way. The other students waited patiently for the Doctor's answer.
"Hey, I hate to say it, but Herb's got a point, guys," Odd whispered to Jeremie and Ulrich in a manner he thought to be discrete (it really wasn't). Ulrich narrowed his eyes and nodded, while Jeremie stared at The Doctor blankly.
"Gooooooood question, Herb! You're not half as goofy as you look!" The Doctor smiled and dramatically tore the thin glasses from his face, tossing them casually toward Herb, who barely reacted in time to catch them, fumbling the frames through his hands for a few seconds. "It seems that your primary science teacher, Ms. Hertz, is so dedicated to her job and students here that she's never missed a day! Commendable determination if I do say so myself. She's so dependable that principal Delmas never had to keep a substitute with science specialty on retainer. So naturally, when Ms. Hertz won her vacation, your principal had to call someone in from the outside, and here! I! Am!"
The Doctor threw his arms up dramatically as he shouted those final words for emphasis. Aelita chuckled politely to herself, hand in front of her mouth, but everyone else stared blankly. This man, he wasn't honestly a teacher, was he? He was more like a clown!
"Now, take your seats, class. The Doctor has much to teach you today. Now now, don't be shy, sit down. I'm just looking over the curriculum one last time before we get started."
The students began taking their seats as instructed, all of them thoroughly confused, but at least entertained by this substitute teacher's antics. Herb absent-mindedly fiddled with the glasses he had been given, sitting next to a good looking girl with long, black hair, and another boy with short blonde hair, gym shorts, and a clueless expression practically painted over his face. Ulrich and Odd sat next to one another near the window, with Jeremie and Aelita at the desks directly in front of them. Jeremie slipped his laptop on his lap, barely cracked open and hidden from sight by the desk, as he usually did as a precaution in case of an attack by X.A.N.A.
"Maybe this will be worth staying awake for, huh? He seems really fun. What do you think, Ulrich?" Odd asked his friend and roommate. Ulrich's response was less than enthusiastic, merely shrugging with a raised eyebrow and staring out the window with his chin resting on his hand.
"I don't know. He seems weird, but school is still school, you know?" The boy's eyes glazed over as he saw the football field and his mind began to drift to memories of his favorite games and all the goals he scored.
Ulrich, and any other daydreamers for that matter, found himself wrenched from his own private world as papers were tossed up into the air and came raining down across the room, scattered and disorganized. The Doctor had thrown the class curriculum notes wantonly through the air! Reactions across the room were quite varied, from Ulrich's dull surprise to Aelita and Herb's confusion to Jeremie's pained shock to Odd's cheer.
"Ugh, so boring. I can't possibly teach you kids about these theoretical space physics. It's all wrong and practically fiction! Tell you what, students, we're going to disregard the lesson plans and do things that are much cooler. What do you think?" The Doctor gave the class a wink just as the last piece of paper settled itself on the floor, somewhere between Odd's chair and the room's clock.
The blonde boy next to Herb raised his hand. "You there, number eight," The doctor said, referring to the numeral on the boy's blue t-shirt.
"Um, but if we do that, then what happens when Ms. Hertz comes back? Won't we be behind?" the boy queried, in a low, dull voice.
"Wow, I never thought I'd say this, but Nicholas has a point!" Ulrich whispered to Odd, who nodded in response, actually quite impressed by the usually simple boy's insight.
"Oh, I don't think we have to worry about that now, my dear boy," the Doctor replied, rather offhandedly. The class went quiet, expecting him to carry on, but he never did.
"What? Is there something on my face?" their teacher asked, showing confusion himself. He began wiping himself with his hands frantically. "Did I get it?"
"Uh, Professor Smith?" the long haired girl between Herb and Nicholas asked, raising her hand.
"Just Doctor, deary. And yes?" The Doctor leaned forward over his desk, staring right into the girl's eyes. It made her a bit nervous, but she carried on as normal.
"Um, is there any reason why we don't have to worry about that?" She held her hand open, expressing her confusion. The Doctor leaned back to his previous position and shrugged her off.
"We just don't. Any other questions before we begin?" The girl looked offended at being brushed aside like this.
"I like to see Sissi take her lumps as much as anyone else," Aelita began, speaking with Jeremie. "But her and Nicholas are right. This teacher is being pretty rude to them."
The Doctor stood in one spot, eyeing the entire classroom from front to back, and side to side, making eye contact with each and every single student. However, when his gaze came upon the four Lyoko Warriors, it was different. He stared at each of them for just a fraction of a second longer, and his eyes switched from cheery and childish to serious, almost deadly. The four took notice, all too aware.
"Right then! Let's begin the lesson, shall we?" The Doctor clapped his hands together and suddenly his cheery, enthusiastic demeanor returned in full swing. He placed his hand within the inside of his tweed jacket, fishing around for a moment while making silly faces, before finally producing a small object. It looked like a rod with a small green light at the tip.
"Today, we'll be experimenting with the unique effects of sound waves! Now who can tell me what this device is?" he asked, waving it around for the entirety of the class to see and get a good look at.
"Ee-uh, it looks like a really fancy flashlight," Nicholas commented.
"It looks like a magic wand, to me," Odd retorted. His friends sighed in exasperation while he gave a Cheshire grin. The Doctor pointed the device at Odd, acknowledging his participation.
"Your hypothesis isn't a poor analogy. Actually, scratch that. It's nothing like a magic wand. Terrible metaphor. This, children, is called a sonic screwdriver!"
Odd's smile faded, but only a tiny bit. Ulrich and Aelita stared at the man as though he were insane. However, Sissi was the one to voice her opinion first.
"A sonic screwdriver? Are you playing games with us or something?! I'll have you know I can have my daddy fire you for wasting school time and money!" She crossed her arms defiantly and blew a stray strand of hair from her eyes, scowling at the Doctor. To his credit, the Doctor took her attitude quite well.
"Oh no, little miss Delmas, no games here. Though come to think of it, making the lesson a game might make it more fun. But no, I'm afraid games are part of tomorrow's lesson. If you'd like a demonstration, then…" The man pointed his sonic screwdriver over at Herb and clicked down the trigger. Immediately the little device shone with a little dull green light, and a high-pitched humming sound resonated throughout the class. In less than a second, the glasses he had tossed on over to Herb shattered into a million little pieces, yet none cut him. Instead, the fragments fell to the top of Herb's desk, harmlessly. The entire class stared in amazement.
"Voila!" he exclaimed, lifting his arms up once more, to some small applause. Herb frowned, wiping the little pieces of glass from his desk. Sissi, while impressed and shocked as everyone else, felt some inexplicable need to dig herself deeper.
"Well… That still doesn't explain how it's a screwdriver!" she half-shouted, turning her head in defiance, with a slight crinkle in her nose.
"Alright," the Doctor resigned, pointing his screwdriver toward Sissi instead. "But you asked for it."
He clicked the button once more, and Sissi turned her attention toward the substitute teacher, confused. Suddenly, her chair collapsed beneath her weight. The legs just fell off without any rhyme or reason, and she hit the ground with a thud and a small, "Eep!" The class stared at this new development with mixed feelings. Nicholas and Herb bent down to help the young girl up, though she fought off their kindness in her own frustration. The silence of the classroom was broken by Odd's manic laughter, who, in his own hysterics, fell onto the floor himself, and pounding at the ground as he busted a gut.
"Chill out, Odd!" Jeremie scolded, turning backward in his chair. Odd recovered, breathing heavily and occasionally still letting another laugh slip out. He crawled up back into his chair.
"Heh. Sorry 'bout that." Odd closed his eyes and rested his arms on the back of his head, giving that big Cheshire smile he was known for. Sissi scowled at the boy, completely enraged. However, there was one other in the room she was far more pissed at, and she turned her attention toward the Doctor, who was in the act of placing his sonic screwdriver back into his inside jacket pocket. With a slightly oblivious smile, he grabbed his own chair, a more comfortable, cushiony swivel chair with wheels, and skipped over to Sissi's desk with it.
"Here you go, a little peace offering. It's the least I can do. And you get extra credit today, Miss Delmas. How does that sound?" Without waiting for the young girl's reaction, he grabbed the deconstructed pieces of her chair and set them up on his desk for the entire class to see, leaving Sissi open mouthed. After a moment of pondering, she grumbled and sat down in her new seat. Her anger gave way to thoughts about just how appropriate it was for her to get the best chair in the class, and how it should happen more often.
"Now then, class," the Doctor started, waving his hand over the pieces of the chair. "Can anybody tell me what I did to murder this chair?"
Jeremie's and Herb's hands went up. The Doctor looked between the two children for a moment, tapping his chin with one hand and drumming his fingers on the desk with the other. Ultimately, he pointed at Jeremie.
"Yes, you. Go ahead."
"Well, to be perfectly frank, Doctor," Jeremie started, adjusting his glasses. "It would appear that you generated a precise, concentrated vibration field to loosen the screws in Sissi's chair. However, such to create such an effect would require either a set of extremely specific pre-set conditions, or alternatively a telepathic connection with the sound waves through the device itself."
"Yeah, and those aren't the only screws Sissi has loose! Hahahahaha!" Odd pointed to his side at the young girl, getting in another laugh at her expense. He was interrupted by a familiar humming sound, only for his own chair to collapse beneath him. The students looked between Odd's crumpled heap and the Doctor, who had taken out his screwdriver once more.
"Now now, we all enjoy a good deal of fun, but let's try not to make it at the expense of others, right? This is still a classroom, after all. Don't let the fact that I'm the 'cool' teacher trick you into behaving poorly." Odd chuckled, taking it all really well. He stood up, brushed himself off, and nodded at the Doctor with a smile. Snagging an unused chair at a nearby desk, Odd sat down once again. The Doctor turned his gaze back to Jeremie, looking upon him with an impressed smile.
"Veeeery impressive, Mr. Glasses. You are perfectly accurate, in every regard. What's your name?"
"Belpois, sir. Jeremie Belpois." Herb looked at Jeremie with a hint of jealousy and disdain.
"Well Mr. Belpois, you are, dare I say, very clever. And believe me, I know clever when I see it."
"Thank you, Doctor. I try my best."
"Yeah, that's our Jeremie," Odd chimed in, leaning back in his new chair. "There's a reason I call him Einstein, y'know. But do you think there's a way you can explain what you did, you know, so the rest of us underachievers can understand it? I really didn't follow any of that, not one bit."
"Of course, no problem tiny boy," the Doctor began, before he was interrupted by Odd.
"Hey! I'm not small! I'm svelte." He crossed his arms and sulked, while Ulrich and Aelita laughed. "And the name's Odd! Don't you forget it!"
"Odd? How… Strangely appropriate. Ha! You thought I was going to say, how 'oddly' appropriate, didn't you? Ahem. Anyway, yes. Sonic resonation. Think of it like an invisible hand, only it's absolutely nothing of the sort, that I work with my mind. It vibrates the molecules in just such a way to create an effect I desire. That makes this sonic screwdriver something of the ultimate tool. Never leave home without it."
The Doctor then pointed his sonic screwdriver at each of the students, then clicked down on the switch in tandem. The kids almost all yelped and took cover, yet nothing seemed to happen as the Doctor alternated the target of the light generating, high-pitched humming device. Once again, the Lyoko Warriors felt like, perhaps, he was lingering over them just a bit longer than everyone else.
With a flick of the wrist, the substitute teacher brought the device up to his own gaze. Four metallic notches over the green light opened up, stretching out as he inspected the instrument closely. The man mumbled something to himself, but was so quiet about it that none of the class could even remotely hear him.
"Excuse me, Doctor?" Aelita interjected, pulling the man from his concentration. Shaking his head, he closed up the sonic screwdriver and placed it away, hidden beneath his jacket.
"Aelita Stone," she answered. "Are you going to continue the lesson?"
"As a matter of fact, no, I am not continuing the lesson, Miss Stone," the Doctor responded quickly, without thought or hesitation. "Because you are all going to do that for me. First class work assignment, everyone! I would like you all to begin work on a paper detailing as many potential uses for a sonic screwdriver as you can imagine. Don't be afraid to get creative, children, this is a fun assignment! Turn it in whenever you're finished, even if it takes you more than the rest of today to finish. Right? Haaaave at it, then!"
A bit baffled, the students began writing their papers. The previously loud and lively classroom had suddenly become so quiet, all one could hear was the scratching of pens and pencils against paper. It had seemed, for probably the first time in his life, Odd was taking an active interest in a non-art related assignment, scribbling away at a far greater pace than any of his peers. Ulrich and Aelita were working at a much slower pace than they usually would (though Aelita was easily still getting more done than her friend), and while Jeremie worked diligently as always, his mind was still hampered in the same way that Ulrich's and Aelita's were. All three of them could not stop obsessing over this new mysterious substitute teacher, this Doctor John smith. There was something undoubtedly strange, and what was up with that device he had? It was unlike anything they'd ever seen before! Could he possibly be an agent of X.A.N.A.? The possibility seemed unlikely, since the Doctor didn't fit into their enemy's M.O., which was usually just wanton destruction or attempted murder. Still, with the exception of Odd, they all felt that something was up with this guy, and almost as if psychically, they knew they'd all agree to check this guy out further.
By the end of the class period, the majority of the students had turned in their papers. Only Aelita, Jeremie, and Herb seemed to still have more work to do. Out of all the papers turned in, however, Odd's was by far the largest, encompassing three pages front and back, written with absolutely tiny print. The smallest paper was the one written by Nicholas, in which he listed the potential uses as breaking glasses, unscrewing screws, helping with fishing (which he failed to elaborate on), and making totally awesome drum beats.
The bell rang, signaling the end of the period, and so all the students rose up from their seats and began to head off to their next classes. As they passed through the door, Odd was the first to speak.
"Oh man, that was the best class ever~!" he sang, pumping his fist in the air. "Our new science teacher is awesome, don't you think? I mean, the only problem I can see he has is his unstylish dressing, but I can totally fix that. What do you guys say?"
"He's trouble. We need to look into him," Ulrich stated plainly, frowning. Odd nearly tripped from the shock.
"What are you talking about, Ulrich? You're crazy! Come on Einstein, don't tell me you agree with Mr. Sour-Pants here, do ya?" Jeremie looked down and shook his head before refocusing on Odd. He spoke to his friend in an informative tone.
"Sorry Odd, but I agree."
"So do I," Aelita cut in. "He seems fun and quirky, but we need to look at the facts, Odd. He possesses technology that shouldn't be possible, even by X.A.N.A.'s standards. Ms. Hertz wins a surprise vacation at extreme short notice and he just happens to stand in at the last second? Plus, you saw how he was looking at us. There's something definitely not right with Doctor John Smith."
"Ah man," Odd whined, letting his shoulders down. He knew his friends were right, but man that sucked. "Ok, so what's the plan? What are we going to do?"
"Well first thing I think we should do is tell Yumi about this," Ulrich threw out. Even as he spoke, he pulled out his mobile phone and began typing in the characters for a text message.
"That's a good idea," Aelita added. "Anyway, I think one of us should follow him, see what he's up to outside of his really strange classes."
"I agree," Jeremie started. "I nominate Odd."
"What? Why me, Einstein?!" Odd shouted, attracting a few stares from passing students, but nobody stayed long enough to hear the rest of their conversation.
"Yeah, why Odd? I mean, he's pretty conspicuous, don't you think?" Ulrich explained.
"Hey!" Odd objected, feeling a bit offended. Ulrich continued on, ignoring Odd's attempted interjection.
"I mean, he's loud, colorful, and his feet smell." Ulrich lifted a finger during each of the traits he listed.
"That may be true," Jeremie began with his own explanation. "But Odd is sm-… Svelte, and acrobatic, not to mention he's the best of us when it comes to thinking on his feet. Also, he'll probably volunteer just to prove you wr-"
"Stop ignoring me, guys! Yeesh, I can't believe you're so insensitive, Ulrich, and to your own best buddy too. Tell you what, I'll do it just so I can rub your face in it and then you'll have to admit that I'm Odd Della Robbia, ninja extraordinaire. You got that?" Odd gave a wink to his roommate and pointing with both fingers in a gun shape.
"Well then it's settled. Make us proud, Odd." Jeremie pat his friend on the back and began walking off, with Aelita following suit. "I've got to get to math, see you guys later!"
"Take care, Ulrich. See you, 'super ninja,'" Aelita joked, waving back at her friends.
Ulrich and Odd were left to their own devices. Each one had a free period to spend as they wished, but it was usually spent keeping an eye out for attacks by X.A.N.A. Even on their lax days, they rarely got to have any real fun or relaxation. Being a Lyoko Warrior was a twenty-four hour duty, unfortunately.
"So now what, Ulrich?" Odd asked, leaning up against the wall. "Want to head back to our room and play some Samurai Warrior Conquest 7 with me?"
"Naw," Ulrich shook his head. "I asked Yumi to meet me in the lounge room. I'm going to tell her about our new, er, mission. It looks like you've got your work cut out for you, too."
Ulrich pointed and Odd immediately saw what he was talking about. The Doctor was leaving the science lab, locking it up behind him. The strange man was humming something to himself as he turned round and began heading down the hallway in the opposite direction of the duo, a bit of a hop to his step. Odd narrowed his eyes and Ulrich went off himself. Oh yeah, it was game time…