“Air or water? Which is the most important?”
A girl sat in the middle of the class whipped up her hand.
“Yes, Cheryn?” The Teacher Intelligence asked the girl.
“Water.” Cheryn responded. She lowered her hand and crossed her arms; a smug smile appeared on her face.
“That is only partially correct, Cheryn. Does anyone else have an answer?” The TI’s voice held no admonishment but I watched as Cheryn’s smile slid off her face.
Like Mother said I should, I tried to quell the spark of satisfaction that I felt, but I only barely managed to keep my own smile from forming on my lips.
“Gweth? Did you have something to add?” The TI asked. Goosepimples erupted over my arms and legs. I looked down, unable and unwilling to look at the rest of the class and shook my head.
“The answer is that they are both vital. You cannot pick between one or the other; humans need both to survive and whilst there are some trials commencing under Mother’s guidance regarding anaerobic humans; those are very much in their infancy.”
Through a curtain of hair that had fallen around my face I saw the class nod. Cheryn cast a glance my way and stuck out her tongue.
Heat from my face manifested sweat on my brow and I wiped it away on the sleeve of my shirt. The TI continued her lesson and eventually dismissed the class.
I waited until the rest of the room had cleared before I packed up my things and followed them out. The TI smiled down at me, the corners of her mouth flickering slightly as the light she was made of shifted.
“Thank you, Teacher.” I said and left the room.
I turned to close the door behind me as my backpack was wrenched from behind. The straps dug into my shoulders and I bent backwards; the magnets in my boots held fast to the ground and the ligaments and tendons in my ankles shredded as my feet stayed in place.
Waves of agony radiated up through my body. I felt warm blood leak from tears in my skin and fill my boots.
A haziness swam over my eyes and I blinked them unable to focus on the indistinct shapes that came to stand over me.
That was Cheryn’s voice.
She knelt down and put her hand on my forehead. I tried to fight but someone else grabbed my arms and in the zero G environment of the Tell Me I had no leverage bar my ruined ankles and feet.
Cheryn’s cool hand turned my head until I faced her.
A blinding thunderclap of pain radiated from the left side of my head and reverberated through my body. Cheryn slammed my head down again on the grated floor and blood floated lethargically away. I screamed, my eyes closed, and faintly heard the sound of magnetic boots receding down the hall.
I didn’t pass out.
“Mother.” I whispered through the blood drifting from my mouth.
“Mother help me, please.”