June 7, 2016 by Lyn
It was with some trepidation that Jamian returned to the close circle of his cy’ree after the first round. Cy’Solomon was beating them; not by much, admittedly, but enough to be worrisome. They needed some good categories.
“Now come on,” Magnolia was saying, her lips pursed in a frown. “We can do better than this, people. Get your head out of the clouds.”
“Round two categories, people,” Luke declared from the front of the room. “Ready or not, here they are: Art History. Biology. Theater. Anthropology. Contemporary Literature.”
“Oh, well, that’s not so bad,” Magnolia smiled, relaxing again. “We can handle that. So that’s me, Agatha…” She pursed her lips.
“Me,” Manira offered, surprising most of the cy’ree. A little more shyly, she continued, “I’m really good in Bio, and I know a lot of Art history from… before.”
“And me,” Ivette said before Jamian had too much time to think about that one. “I can take Theater and help on the rest.”
“Right,” Ardell nodded. “Let’s do this.”
They took their places, opposing Ib, Mabina, Cassidy, and Yngvi. Jamian settled in next to Ty to watch, his fingers crossed.
“We’ll begin with Biology,” Luke declared. “The formal system of naming species… Yes, Agatha.”
“Correct. The full question was, ‘The formal system of naming species of living things is known as what?’ A bonus question?”
“What man’s groupings of species according to shared characteristics laid the foundation for binomial nomenclature?”
“Right again. Your category?”
It set the tone for the round. Jamian had always thought of cy’Solomon as smart, but they didn’t seem to stand a chance against cy’Linden. Even Manira whipped through questions, leaving Jamian feeling a bit small and stupid in the back of the room. She seemed particularly adept at the Art History, for some reason, finishing the round with it.
“What sculpture was first commissioned from Agostino di Duccio, then Antonio Rossellino, before… Yes, Manira.”
“That’s correct… and that ends the round.”
“And bloody generous he was, of that model,” she muttered as they regrouped.
“I’ve always wanted to have met his models,” Ivette mused, seeming oblivious to the tone of Manira’s comment.
Luke was already reading the next categories. “Astronomy. Poetry. Chemistry. Culinary Arts. Advanced Mathematics.”
“Well, shit,” Magnolia frowned. “Manira, ah don’t suppose you have any math hidden in there?”
The girl shook her head ruefully. “Not a whit.”
“Stick to Poetry I guess?” Ty suggested. “We can’t keep that up forever, though.”
“Well, if all else fails, we can just start taking off clothes,” Ivette offered.
“That doesn’t always work,” Mea pouted.
“You can handle Astronomy, can’t you, Ty?”
“I can manage Culinary Arts,” Joff pointed out very quietly.
“I can give Chemistry a go,” Mea sighed.
“Well, then let’s go for it.” Magnolia didn’t look happy, though.
“You, me, Mea, and Joff? Why not,” Ty said. “We’ve got a big lead anyway, we barely have to do anything.”
Jamian eyed his Keeper thoughtfully. That wasn’t a surprising level of arrogance from Ty, but it didn’t seem brilliant, either.
He hoped he was right, as the final round got underway. Cy’Solomon had swapped out Yngvi for Adrian, bringing their oldest students forward.
“We’ll begin with Astronomy,” Luke said. “Galileo realized Ptolemy’s geocentric model was impossible based on observations of the phases of what astronomical body?”
Ty buzzed in; they could do this.
“Incorrect. Cy’Solomon? Yes, Adrian.”
“That’s right. Your bonus?”
“What Galilean satellite is known for its significant vulcanism and exceptionally hot lava?”
“Correct again. Choose a category.”
It went downhill from there. They did manage to pick off a Chemistry question and run three in Poetry, but when they had to change categories, they quickly lost their momentum. Despite the substantial lead they’d built up in the previous round, they ended up losing by a considerable margin.
Jamian couldn’t bring himself to be that upset, despite the clear bad mood of most of the cy’ree. A vacation with Ty might be entertaining, but with Agatha and Ardell…? He wandered away from their grousing to check the listings. It seemed as if everyone else was heading back to the main hall, too. Oh, yeah; there was only one match left, the semifinals from the lower bracket. He filed in with the rest of the cy’ree and took a seat.
Cy’Solomon and Team Misfit were settling in at the front of the room. He wanted to cheer for Kai, but, considering Ty’s irrational jealousy on that front, decided not to.
The Director stepped up to the podium. “As only one match remains, we thought it might be entertaining to display it in this more public venue. As most of you already know, cy’Pelletier is our first finalist. This last match will determine the second – either cy’Solomon, or…” She cleared her throat, glancing down at a card, and finished the sentence in a disapproving tone. “…’Team Misfit’. I will be administering this round, and you may see some unusual categories. I do hope everyone has been paying attention.”
Cy’Pelletier and maybe Team Misfit were in the lead? He glanced over at Shahin, who had abandoned her team to find Emrys, and at Kailani, who looked a bit paler than normal. Suddenly, it didn’t seem fair that they’d gotten knocked out of the competition.
“Is everyone ready? Our first categories will be: Sports, Physics, World History, Magical Theory, and Ellehemaei Law.”
Near Jamian, Joff swore softly. The younger members of both teams looked uncertain at those categories; indeed, since most of Team Misfit was young, they all looked a bit nervous.
Cy’Solomon, perhaps unsurprisingly, fielded its oldest members: Adrian, Ib, Mabina, and Cassidy. None of them were below Third Cohort. Team Misfit had no such luxury, without even a single Third Cohort to their name. After a flurry of discussion, they put up Taro, Wren, Kailani, and Caity. Jamian winced. This was going to be bloody.
“We’ll begin with Ellehemaei Law, then.” Jamian noticed that, unlike in previous matches, Regine wasn’t reading from cards; was she making these questions up?
“What fundamental Law determines a being’s place and role in the world? Yes, Adrian.”
“Correct. Would you like a bonus?”
“To whom does a child first Belong?”
“Indeed. The selection is yours.”
Fortunately, even cy’Solomon seemed leery of what Regine had termed “unusual” categories, and the round was dominated by Physics and World History, where cy’Solomon held only a marginal advantage. The first question had been at least understandable, but the occasional later foray into the Magic or Law categories proved utterly incomprehensible to Jamian.
He sat back and, since he wasn’t in the match anymore, contented himself with reading people’s emotions. Kai seemed worried, but not as worried as he would have been in her position; Caity was jittery but excited. Shahin – as usual, he could barely get a read, but what he got seemed both content and concerned.
After the first round, the teams regrouped into their huddles, full of whispering, but Regine didn’t give them long before announcing the second set of categories.
“Next we’ll see Classical Music, Geology, Popular Culture, Ellehemaei History, and Ellehemaei Literature.”
Jamian, much to his surprise, glared at the Director. “Is she trying to screw Misfit?” he hissed.
Ty shook his head. “I don’t think so; Geology’s practically aimed at Taro, and Popular Culture will be rough for cy’Solomon.”
“But Ellehemaei History and Literature?” Jamian wrinkled his nose. “Who studies that?”
“Me,” Joff answered, in a tiny voice.
“Oh. Um. Sorry?” He turned back to the challenge, embarrassed.
As it turned out, this round did slightly favor the Misfits, who had swapped Caity for Renata. The score was nearly tied when they broke for round three.
“Are the field trips usually cool?” Jamian asked wistfully.
“Oh, they’re quite the party,” Magnolia acknowledged.
“We’ll be fine back home,” Ty reassured him, although he sounded a bit regretful himself.
The Director was reading the final round of categories.
“Oceanography, Economics, Military History, Nedetakaei, and Ellehemaei Physiology.”
Ellehemaei… the spurt of enthusiastic interest from Kai was almost intoxicating; next to him, Jamian could see Joff licking his lips surreptitiously.
“Let’s begin with Military History this time, for a change of pace. The first question: Some historians believe that the palm-in “V” salute, an insult in Britain, was originated by English archers in what battle?”
It took a moment, but Cassidy buzzed in. “Battle of Agincourt.”
“That’s correct. A bonus question?”
“After Agincourt, the English won a series of victories before being halted at Orléans by what leader from Domrémy?”
“Uh. Charles VII?”
“I’m sorry, no. The correct answer was Jeanne d’Arc.”
It didn’t take long for Kailani to win a question and bring up the Ellehemaei Physiology category, out of what Jamian suspected was sheer curiosity.
He wanted to pay attention, but couldn’t, and found himself paying attention to the rest of the audience. There was a lot of tension as Kailani tore through the questions, as if the upperclassmen didn’t want her to be as smart as she was.
In the end, though, she prevailed. The flood of emotions from around the room as the last buzzer sounded nearly stunned Jamian for a moment, until he remembered how to dampen his senses.
“I’m going to go congratulate them,” he told Ty, hoping his Keeper wouldn’t make a stink about it.
“Them?” Ty glanced back up at the group. “Oh, right.”
Jamian found himself shifting as he crossed the hall, so that, by the time she arrived to offer her congratulations, she was definitely she. “Hey,” Jaya grinned. “Way to upset the apple cart.”
“Let’s hope I didn’t knock it on top of myself,” she smiled, the worry well-tempered by her exhausted glee.