Damlar 16, 10,258
“You Earthers don’t belong here,” shouted an angry male voice. It seemed to come from behind the gym, so I walked quickly in that direction. I clenched my fists in anger when I rounded the corner and saw my classmates surrounded by a group of sixth-year students who were at least five years older than my friends and me.
School had been in session for over a month and this group of sixth-year students had been making our lives increasingly more difficult as school progressed. We’d reported these things to our homeroom teacher but he never took our complaints seriously. So far there had only been whispers that we didn’t belong here, name-calling, snide comments, bumping into us whenever we were in the same area and other bullying tactics when teachers weren’t around but this was the first time there had been such outright hostility and aggression on display.
“What’s going on here?” I demanded as I stomped my way over to stand by my friends.
“Oh, look,” sneered Erreq, the leader of this little group, “it’s Mkali, the centaur of attention herself.” While his fellow bullies laughed, Coville, one of Erreq’s cronies, grabbed Teith’s shirt and pushed him against the wall. That was too much for the brownie shifter, who transformed into his natural form and quivered with fright.
“Look at the little wimp,” Coville laughed and used one hand to lift Teith off the ground and pressed against the wall. Since he was only about two and a half feet in his brownie form, he was swimming in the clothes he wore in his human form.
“Let Teith down gently, now,” I ground out as I took a step towards Coville. Something in my expression must have spooked him because he blanched, set Teith back on the ground and backed away holding his hands palms out at shoulder height.
“Are you okay, Teith?” I asked as the rest of my friends helped him up and helped him adjust his clothes.
“Yeah,” he said sheepishly and stared at the ground.
While I checked to make sure the rest of my friends were far enough away so the bullies couldn’t grab them, I mentally called Albert and Fiona to let them know where we were and what was going on. Even though I was ready for a fight, I knew it would be best to diffuse the situation.
“What’s your problem?” I asked Erreq in my most diplomatic tone. Apparently, I wasn’t very good at diplomacy because he narrowed his eyes and put his hands on his hips.
“You,” he sneered, “and the rest of you first-years are my problem. You don’t belong at this school and if I had my way, you wouldn’t even be here on Theria. Theria is for Therians.”
Even though I’d assumed the bile he was spewing came from the group I was told to watch out for I actually flinched to have the confirmation shouted at me with such vehemence.
“But we are Therians,” Tiffany said, her voice breaking with unshed tears. I was even angrier that these bullies had caused the phoenix shifter such distress.
“No, you’re a bunch of earthers,” spat Jergen, another of Erreq’s crew.
“Just because we were born on Earth doesn’t make us any less Therian. You have no idea what we’ve gone through to get back to Theria. I’m not sure any of you would have survived some of the things we have,” Kabir said.
He was on the bus on Earth with me when mercenaries opened fire and we had to attack the soldiers who were trying to kill us. There were a few of us who had to take lives that night to survive and had to deal with much worse than these bullies. I took my attention off Erreq to make sure Kabir wasn’t about to shift into his naga form when Erreq reached for my shoulder.
I whirled back around and slapped his hand away. “If you try to touch me again, I will break your arm.” I said calmly and stared at Erreq. He was sixteen, muscular and a foot taller than me, but I doubted he knew how to fight. As long as he stayed in his human form, I was confident I could protect my friends but if he transformed into his wyvern form, we would be in trouble.
“You don’t belong here,” he hissed and I saw his pupils elongate so they resembled the eyes of a wyvern rather than a human. He took another step towards me and I could see that the nails on his hands had sharpened and transformed into claws. Coville saw the same thing and placed his hand on Erreq’s shoulder to hold him back. Erreq shrugged him off and raised his hand to slash at me.
As his hand descended towards me, I pulled a tonfa, a wooden baton with a handle in three quarters up the shaft, from my belt and prepared to deflect the blow. At the same time there was an angry yowl and an orange streak shot at Erreq and landed on his chest.
Erreq screamed as the large orange cat who shared my pillow each night, shredded his tunic as she climbed her way up his body and scratched his ear with her claws. He must have forgotten that he had manifested his wyvern claws because as he swiped at Bast to knock her off and instead scraped the side of his face with his own claws.
He fell, blood gushing from the wounds he’d created and Bast jumped off his head and ran away before he hit the ground.
“What did you do now?” a voice roared as a hand landed on my shoulder and spun me around. Unfortunately for Professor Vukod, who also happened to be Erreq’s father, I was still keyed up from the confrontation with the bullies so I used the momentum from the spin to lash out with the tonfa and hit him in the stomach. Since I still didn’t know why I was being manhandled, I spun the tonfa up into my attacker’s chin and I watched as our unconscious homeroom teacher landed on his back in the grass.
“Ooops,” I muttered and spun back around to confront any of the bullies who might try to attack while I was distracted. However instead of the gang of bullies who stood there moments before, I now faced a bunch of children, frightened by how quickly the confrontation escalated to violence. Their eyes were wide and the shocked looks on their faces surprised me as I straightened from my crouch.
Stand down, Mkali. I’m here now, Albert’s voice sounded in my head.
I put the tonfa back in my belt as I looked at our houseparent who was surveying the scene before him.
“I’m going to have to meet with Dean Winters again, aren’t I?” I asked.
Albert nodded as a couple of nurses from the infirmary rushed towards a sobbing Erreq and his unconscious father.
“Great,” I muttered, “I’ll probably be expelled this time for sure.”