They took me to the nurse's office, where they told me to lie down on the cot and strap something to my face; it looked like an oxygen mask, but I suspected that it was a gaseous sedative.
I complied anyway and, making sure that I was firmly in place on the cot, breathed in.
It smelled like oxygen with a slight bitter undernote. After I breathed in a couple times, my lungs burning, my vision grew blurry and, after a few more breaths, it went black.
When she woke up, Tina noticed a pain-no, not pain, severe numbness- in her neck. Her hand ran down from the back of her head to the base of her skull, trying to rub sensation back into it, then froze.
There was a cold, metallic object on the back of her neck, shaped roughly like a rectangle. Wait. It wasn't on her neck, it was in her neck. Her eyes grew wide at the information.
Tina brought down her hand, noticing how it shook from the shock of discovering an alien object in her neck. Her hand was still shaking, so she seized the wrist, strangling it until it stilled.
Okay…how in the world did this get into my neck?! I thought I was here for a checkup, not for an installment. This is an invasion of my personal space. This MUST be illegal.
She quickly scanned her own memories and confirmed her suspicion.
She looked up and finally noticed a man in the room. His hair was a light blond, slightly graying, with a buzzcut; he was also wearing an IFF uniform with a number of pins, probably ranking and awards, with a label over his heart. Tina examined the pin, seeing a ranking and a name: LTC Graff.
This confused her even more, for she couldn't think of why she would be visited by a member of the IFF, rank five no less.
The man observed her with his cobalt-blue eyes, studying her scrutiny and surprise with only a hint of amusement, mostly with solemnity. He finally opened his mouth, speaking with an even tone.
"Martik, welcome to the program. We installed a Monitor in your neck, which is connected to your central nervous system and the brain stem. This will allow us to see what you see, hear what you hear, and detect what you think."
With more than an ounce of trepidation, she thought for a moment.
Finally, she asked, cold calculation barely showing through her voice, "What is the purpose of the program, and weshalb-WHY do you need to install the Monitor? I am certain that implanting an object in a person's body without their permission is illegal unless it is important for neutralizing a threat to the planet's survival, and the only present threat of that magnitude currently is the possibility of invasion from the Formics; I do not see the benefit from installing a device into the body of a child."
I had accidentally slipped into German at the beginning, showing weakness. I cursed myself and my bilingual status for but a moment, but I didn't let it show.
He answered with the same steady voice as before with, "Well, your parents enlisted you into our program, which is dedicated to training future soldiers; we do not need your permission, only your guardians'. As for why, since children start developing their personalities at the age of one, we put the Monitor on as soon as their bodies are able to accept it, at the age of two; we'll only take you up if you fit the requirements, and if you don't, we'll remove the Monitor."
"So I only gain privacy if I fail to fit your narrow list of traits, which probably fits those of a popular leader rather than an effective one?"
"No, it is for a different purpose."
Tina felt anger coursing through her veins, but she bottled it up, sending to the dark places in her mind, where even she doesn't dwell or explore. In its place, she felt a cold calm set in, stabilizing her mood enough to think straightly.
She calmly said, with a slight clip in her voice, "Pardon me, sir, but I have to get to class. I do not want to have a discrepancy in my education for IF I fit your requirements. Have a nice day."
At that note, Tina jumped down from the cot, wincing as the pressure sent a shock wave up her leg; she still felt phantom pain from her dream. She walked over to the door, where the nurse was waiting.
"I will take you to your class now, little girl. Your teacher's name is Mr. Jacobi. I hope you enjoy your day," the woman said with a monotone voice, clearly not meaning what she said.
Tina came anyway, hoping that class would be better than what just occurred.
"Hello, class. This is our new student, Tina Martik."
The class murmured as the teacher spoke, no doubt wondering why she came in late to class on the first day of school. Or perhaps they're just wondering who she was.
All except one. There was a black-haired boy sitting silently in the back row. He didn't smile or frown, he just watched the new girl with a steel-sharp gaze, his ice-blue eyes gazing into her brown ones.
The new girl looked back, her cool gaze asking if there was a problem. The boy barely moved his shoulders, a tiny shrug, unnoticed by all except her. She slightly cocked her right eyebrow then moved it back into place, obviously testing his observation skills.
He watched her, then did so as well, his eyes not wavering as he watched her, filled with a strange curiosity. He rubbed his neck, and she did so as well, her hands catching in her dark brown hair, and he wondered if she had the operation as well. It wouldn't have surprised him, for she looked intelligent enough.
As though she was thinking the same thing, the girl narrowed her gaze, but it wasn't in aggression; it was with scrutiny, and her gaze looked at his neck, looking for the Monitor. He barely nodded, and her gaze lightened, seemingly relieved, yet she was still guarded.
The boy and the girl both thought the same thing. Looks like I'm not the only one.
The teacher directed me to the desk beside the blue-eyed boy, telling me to sit down. Well, what else would I do with a desk, eat it?
But I am too curious about the boy beside me to acknowledge the slight condescension in the teacher's voice, which faltered when he saw the Monitor on my neck.
The teacher gave me some work that was focused on learning the school rules, which I thought were pretty obvious.
Wow, no biting or taking drugs? Huh, I'm not allowed to bring a weapon to school and threaten people with it? I rolled my eyes.
They must think of us as idiotic two-year-old cretins; oh, well, they are a third correct, at least.
I started on the work right away, carefully bubbling in the correct answers after printing my name, determined to make a good impression. I didn't notice the sudden silence, for I was focused on the activity at hand, which wasn't that difficult to be honest; I even looked for possible trick questions, but, of course, I didn't find any.
I stood up to turn it in, and finally noticed the stares of the kids around me. The teacher cleared his throat, then said, "Tina, I'm in the process of explaining the directions. Please wait until I'm finished speaking before asking any questions."
The girl beside me cleared her throat, wincing as the pressure pressed against the Monitor, then said, "Excuse me, sir, but I was just getting up to turn in the test."
The teacher blinked, much to my amusement, then said, "Well, you were supposed to wait until I read the questions to the class. Guessing on the test won't warrant good results."
"Sir, I didn't guess, I just read the questions and the answers on the sheet you gave me and bubbled in the answers. The activity was pretty straight forward, so I just want to know when I could take the test."
"That was the test, Martik, but I have to ask you to put off turning it in until I am finished telling the class what to do. While I do so, check over the answers and make sure that you are certain that they are correct."
Martik, Tina, sat down, not even fazed it seemed, and I noticed that her eyes didn't glance at the paper. Instead, she pulled out a little notebook and started writing down something.
I smiled, glad that I wasn't the only intelligent one in the class.
Or maybe she's arrogant.
No, she's smart, and she knows it, I told myself.
I hope she's not another Peter. For now, I'll just be relieved that I'm not alone.
The student you brought us has proven to have potential, but we need to keep an eye on her. We don't know where she sent that anger, and neither does she, it seems; that could become an issue later on, but for now, she's still in. For now.
If she indeed poses a threat, let's make sure that it's directed at the Formics. She is intelligent for a small child.
Well, intelligence and potential is nothing to us without the correct personality. Watch her carefully, Lieutenant, and tell us immediately if she fails.
Don't worry, sir, she won't.
Don't be so sure. A lot can happen in four years.
I am betting our lives on her and the boy.
Let us all hope that it is a royal flush.