04 | RYN
Thankfully for the Errors, their classes went by decently. Despite cautious looks and fake smiles, no one insulted them or flung rotten eggs and bitter gourd at them—Eris later told Em that the latter was not a logical scenario at all. Luckily, the only embarrassing thing that happened were Eli’s constant answering of questions in class just so he could see his words being flashed on the big screen due to voice recognition technology.
As Ethan picked up his tray of food, his mood brightened up considerably at the sunny-side-up egg on beef fried rice, as well as the presence of broccoli. There was even a yoghurt drink at the side and even better was that Louis had mentioned that that particular brand was the best. “This looks so nice!” Eli exclaimed in excitement as they moved across the canteen, down to their assigned seats with their class.
The Indian boy’s eyes widened when he heard the sound of trays being set on the table near him. “Oh! Hi!” Eli smiled and waved, just as the manager of the CC had instructed them to do as a friendly, welcoming gesture. Louis will be proud that I remembered, he thought. However, the boy didn’t seem very pleased to meet him. He just seemed like a frozen human being. “Hey, Arjun! Come on, there’s a free spot here!” Another boy came rushing over down the aisle, hissing the words as he grabbed Arjun and zoomed off in the opposite direction. The Errors did not miss the look of fear and distrust on the boys’ faces as they were left at the end of the table.
“What’d I do wrong?” Eli muttered, discouraged at their classmate’s obvious hate towards them. He wasn’t mean, childish or rude—why did people still give him that ‘ew-you’re-an-Error’ look?
“Nothing, they just don’t like us, and everything the prime minister said about how being an Error was nothing to be ashamed of was plain trash. People are just like that—they like to be pretty on the outside when their insides are a pile of rotten mush,” Em said.
“Because we’re Errors, obviously. And please don’t mention rotten mush, Em, when we finally get a decent meal,” Ethan spoke as he chewed. The emerald-eyed girl gave him a look of disgust as she saw food bits being ground in his mouth. Disgusting.
Eris and Eli began eating as well and the Errors entered a comfortable silence—which was rather unusual for them during a meal. Unlike the other students, who ate with only smiles and occasional chatter, the Errors’ meals at the CC were full of arguments, rants and sometimes brawls involving food.
But they were now in the Academy; the Academy commanded a foreign air of order and perfection that forcefully nudged at their shoulders, forcing them to sit up straight and behave, as did the black bands locked around their arms. It seemed to whisper, Be good, Errors, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. You’ll regret blowing it and disappointing everyone; stay in order.
And so they obeyed. But their silence was knocked out when a tray clinked on the table and a girl settled down next to Eli with a friendly smile. The Errors turned to attention with raised eyebrows.
“Hi,” The Errors chorused. “Hey, I’m Elijah, but you can call me Eli!” Eli greeted in a singsong voice. “What’s your name?”
The girl smiled back—thank goodness—and responded, “Nice to meet you, Eli. I’m Brielle. Brielle Evans.”
“Daughter of Brandon Evans, the deputy prime minister, I’m guessing. My name’s Eris,” Eris spoke in her signature monotone voice. “Whoa, yeah!” Brielle responded, her bright laughter tinkling melodiously. “The surname always gives it away. You guys keep up with the news too?”
“Well, of course, everyone watches the mandatory news screenings. And, um, my name’s Emeline,” Em stated, the hints of buried annoyance falling through the cracks of her facade as she attempted to channel her inner Eris. She couldn’t help it as she looked at the girl, Brielle Evans, DPM’s daughter and the vision of a textbook perfect City 015 girl. Her long, silky golden blonde hair was tied back with no strand out of place, and her eyes—her charming, perfect rose gold coloured eyes—glittered with confidence and an aura of optimism. One thing that everyone knew about modifications was that the more there were, and the rarer the colour and type, the more expensive it would be. A single look at Brielle was able to confirm that she had been living in the lap of luxury for her entire life. How else could she have been blessed with such a special eye colour? The way she was so wealthy and perfect just annoyed Em and Ethan. Ethan was almost glaring—the Errors all knew that genetic mods were a touchy topic for him, as he was mostly natural in appearance. No eye or hair colour was changed for him, unlike the other three. It meant that his parents had either chosen to let nature have its course… or more likely, that they weren’t financially capable to modify his appearance.
Brielle, however, seemed undisturbed by Em’s reaction—either she hadn’t noticed, or she was just trying to be nice. “And what’s your name?” Brielle faced Ethan, who grudgingly responded before he quickly shoved another spoonful of egg into his mouth. He chewed angrily, looking down at the nicely arranged tray of food to calm down—the aroma of fried rice was rather soothing, he had to admit.
“So… what do you do in your free time?” Brielle asked as she scooped some broccoli up. he Errors exchanged glances. Free time? What did she mean by ‘what did they do’? Other than Em ranting about the government’s policies and bloodbaths between the boys, they weren’t sure what else they did besides eating, studying and sleeping. The CC was not equipped with anything much other than medical stations for treatments and therapies.
“Well, um... we, um... participate in physical activities?” Eli suggested, only to elicit the curious glance of Brielle’s expensively modified eyes and the disdainful looks of Em. “Specifically?”
“Eli and Ethan get involved in bloodbaths where they fight and Eli loses,” Eris said bluntly, killing any vague ideas that Brielle was having about actual sports such as badminton and frisbee.
“Um... pardon me? ”
“Eris!” Em gasped, “Sorry, that is totally not what she meant. She meant that, well...um—”
“I think she meant exactly what she said. Right, Eris?”
The Errors and Brielle turned their heads to the girl towering over the edge of the long bench where they were sitting at. Behind stood two other students. The trio eyed them as Brielle brightened up. “Hey, Ryn! How was your holiday?”
“Same old,” Ryn, the girl standing in front of her two friends, mumbled, her forest green eyes flashing with something strange as she continued eyeing Eris with interest. Eris looked back with a look that almost seemed bored as Em narrowed her eyes at Ryn. Ethan chewed in slow motion while Eli just smiled and gave a small wave to the girl. “And you’re still looking as caucasian as ever. I heard you went to City 002 for your holiday.”
“You’re Caucasian?” Eli asked, only to have Brielle respond, “No, no! I’m Eurasian. Ryn just likes to say I am; it’s kind of an inside joke since we pretty much grew up together. Ryn, meet Eli, Emeline and Ethan. I think you already know she’s Eris, huh?”
Ethan’s eyebrows knitted together when Ryn let out a chuckle, “Oh, Brielle, you’re so… kind to help them out!”
Something flickered in Brielle’s rose gold eyes as she watched the girl. Ethan was balling his fingers into fists; he didn’t like the condescending look that girl was giving him and his fellow Errors. She hadn’t actually said anything—but he saw it, that awful, awful look in her dark eyes. It was that look that made his blood boil in his veins and started the dark, taunting whispers in his mind once again. Punch her, smack her, hurt her and she’ll never dare stare at you again. Just do it and teach her a lesson.
As his breaths quicked and he tried to hide his whitening knuckles under the table, however, someone beat him to speaking.
“Sorry, but just to check, are you implying that Brielle shouldn’t be nice to us?” Em snapped, narrowing her eyes straight at Ryn.
Ryn laughed, “Whoa, chill! I never said that, Emeline!” The mocking look on Ryn’s face, however, only fueled Ethan’s rage as he swallowed his food and stood up. “She didn’t accuse you of saying anything. Don’t twist her words, Ryn,” he hissed her name with venomous emphasis.
“Hey, calm down, I never meant to trigger or offend any of you!” Ryn gasped, except slightly louder than her previous response to Em. Members of the student body had begun to turn their heads, attracted by the noise. The boy was enraged. She was trying to self-victimise so that the trouble would go to them, the Errors, who were the vermin, the flawed of the perfect city! God, how he wanted to just bash her nose in. Eli had become kind of good at avoiding such scuffles lately and he was more than happy to break that perfectly shaped one on Ryn’s face—
That was when a girl with a prefect tie hurried over. “Hey, guys,” she said to the Errors, “Please lower your volume, thank you so much!” Ethan’s eyes widened—why, she didn’t even once turn to look at Ryn! The green-eyed demoness just smirked at him when the prefect hurried off. That was it. He was going to destroy her face, so he never had to look at it again.
Ethan’s fist uncurled as he and Em turned around, witnessing the emotionless Error standing up and walking over. Eris casually walked to stand beside Ryn and deadpanned, “I apologise on behalf of my fellow Errors if we made you feel unsettled. However, it is mostly due to the fact that many people give us unwelcome gestures and looks on the streets. I guess Em and Ethan just thought you meant to make fun of us when it was merely your normal look. I hope you understand that we just want to stand up for ourselves against any… oppressors.”
Ryn eyed Eris with considerable interest and an intrigued expression. She seemed impressed, or at least satisfied with the response. “Hmm, I see. Thanks for letting me know… my normal look. Hmm.” She turned to leave, her sidekicks ready to follow. “Well, see you guys around school again next time… I hope we can put this behind us and fill our school year with friendlier encounters.”
With that, she walked off, her two friends-slash-sidekicks behind her, leaving the Errors at their sitting area, seething—just as Ryn had intended.