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By CL DelGuercio PDF Print E-mail
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By CL DelGuercio
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Sensor Cull calls me into his office and offers me a seat. I slink down into the chair. “Thank you, sir.”

“No sense in mincing words. Let’s get right down to it, Fynch.” He reaches into his robe for a joystick, taps it out on his desk, and lights it. Then he opens a drawer and places a holder on top of his desk. “You’ve made some regrettable choices, there’s no denying that, but the school feels that Study Gregory is the real rot in the wood here. That she took advantage of a naive understud,” he motions toward me, “and manipulated him to this degree for her own subversive needs is, frankly, appalling. You weren’t her first, but she was more brazen in her offenses with you.” He takes a drag off the joystick and sets it in the holder. “You wouldn’t have been her last.”

I put my head down.

“Your quartersmate, Ralen, was concerned for your well being and, rightly, tipped us off to your nocturnal rendezvous with Ms. Gregory. If I can speak plainly Fynch, she bewitched you, deceived you, and ultimately cost you quite dearly. You don’t owe her anything, do you understand?” He leans over the desk and pats my forearm. “I’d like to know where your head is at right now. It may have an impact on how we treat your particular case.”

“I’m embarrassed more than anything,” I tell him. “I guess I’m angry, too. She used me! She made me believe she cared about me and now I just feel stupid for buying into it. I mean, Cheza Gregory with me?” I make a loud snort. “It sounds even more ridiculous when I hear it out loud.”

“Every revolution needs its foot soldiers and Cheza knows that. She would’ve told you whatever she thought you needed to hear to get you aboard. None of it was true, I’m afraid.”

“I see that now,” I tell him.

Cull sits back in his chair with his palms together. He leans his head against his outstretched fingers. “Tig, I’ll be very blunt with you, this next part is important to us. It’s important for you, too.”

“What is it?”

“We need to know who on the outside juiced you. We’re aware that there may have been an agent for The Resistance who managed to infiltrate the school. We need to know who this person is.”

“I feel uneasy telling you,” I say. “He seems like a good person. I don’t think he means anyone harm.”

“I know you do, but this good person is a large piece to an even larger problem and if you can give us a name it’ll reflect very positively on our opinion of you. Forgiveness is one thing we believe in here at Fairchild, but it has a price. Telling me right now who sensed you up would go a long way toward paying that price. Fynch, what would you say if I told you we were willing to restore you to your previous sense levels and bypass any other punishment, let you return to Fairchild and wipe the slate.”

I don’t answer him immediately. I can only stare at the wall of his office, at the blurred letters of the diplomas hanging there, thinking how much better twos-and-two would be right now.

“Is your aid turned up? Do you hear me? I’m throwing you a rope here, son. I suggest you grab onto it.”

I drape my hands over my face and ease them down to my chin. “It was Linklyn, sir. The guy you’re training to take over as the school’s headman. He’s the one who got us high.”

Cull nods his head repeatedly. “You want that second chance, don’t you, Fynch?”

I exhale and a nervous teehee escapes from my lips. “Yes,” I tell him. “Yes, god yes.”

“Well, I’m giving it to you.”

“Thank you, thank you, Sensor Cull, thank you so very much. I’ll prove myself. I’ll be good, I swear. I just want everything to go back to the used-to-be way.”

He pulls another long drag from the joystick. “I’m thrilled to hear you say it. Of course we can’t let you return to eastwing. Too much talk going on there as it is. You’ll have to transfer permanently to the south arm of school. But I’ve been told you’re already making friendly with the studs there.”

“I am, they’ve been very nice to me.”

“Perfect then,” he says before his voice suddenly gets grave. “I don’t think I have to tell you this, but if you stray from the path again we’ll have to come down on you, very hard this time. Sensory confines, the age treatment, and probably expulsion.”

“You don’t have to worry about that, sir.”

“It would please me greatly not to hear your name uttered in my presence for the remainder of your time here at Fairchild. Some names aren’t really meant to be heard anyway—better to blend in to the crowd than stick out for the wrong reasons. You understand I’m sure.” He grinds out his joystick in the holder and slides the remainder inside his robe sleeve. He returns the holder inside his desk drawer. “Do you have any questions?”

I pause. “Don’t read anything into this, it doesn’t mean anything but if you don’t mind me asking, sir, what exactly happened to Cheza?”