I refused to let Mitsuo talk us through the rest of the Mysteries, so the rest of the afternoon, we showed them where the library was – basement floor, sealed doors to protect original texts that were highly delicate, priceless and extremely dusty; we showed them the auditorium for assembly, announcements etc.; the principal’s office; the gym where various telekinetics were practicing throwing those giant exercise balls around the place; the convenience store across the street; the chicken and rabbit coop we had in the back – I wasn’t sure why we had those animals but I was betting on easy access for harvesting spell ingredients; and finally, the dorm building at the back..
“The school’s got over 500 students. Right?” I said. Mitsuo nodded.
“So I think about 200 of them live here. Some of them are transfer students, some are…well.” I shrugged. I really didn’t need to say much more. Kids with our kinds of abilities rarely came from happy, unbroken families. In most cases, the parents couldn’t deal with what their children were and dumped them here to wash their hands of them.
“Do you live in the dorms?” I asked Dominic.
“I’m staying with my two aunts. They live next to the small Christian church five blocks away.” Dominic replied. “We’re a very devout family.” The Bible he carried like a security blanket was kind of a tip.
“What’s it like, living with two aunts?” It was really hard to picture it without a laugh track.
“Not quite as fun as some sitcoms try to make it seem.”
“And, you don’t live in the dorms, do you?” I asked Wu.
“Oh. So, family?”
“Yes.” Silence. Alrighty, then.
“Moving on – the school splits us into classes based on our power levels, you both know how that’s done, right?” Dominic nodded, Wu didn’t.
“Okay, well in the beginning of the school year or whenever you guys came in, Principal Igarashi meets up with you and the old hag lady, Kaede.”
“You call her that to her face?” Dominic said.
“Do I look suicidal? Anyway, she’s been here since forever, literally. They talk to you, chat about the weather, family, and meanwhile, they’re sizing you up based on bloodline, knowledge and raw power. Don’t ask me how. Then they put you into the classes they think suits you the best. Class C is the lowest, and A is the highest. Which class and year we’re in also determines what kind of assignments we’ll receive. We’re sophomores, so ours are usually pretty routine. The seniors get the most dangerous ones, you’ll see a lot of the third-year class A seniors with scars, burns and other injuries from the missions. It’s why all A classes are called the Walking Dead.”
“The Walking Dead?” Dominic repeated.
“Yeah. Supposedly our life expectancy isn’t high, and some of us go through the Door of the Dead a few times. C classes are called Fodder.”
“What about B students?”
“Middle Child Syndrome.”
“I take it the divisions aren’t friendly.” Dominic asked.
“Nope. Everyone thinks because we’re A students, we’re arrogant, full of ourselves and generally destructive because we have no control.”
“Then why was I told this was the most coveted division?”
“In the mystic world, being an A student is a recognition of your abilities being above par. It’s like getting the scholarship but being called a nerd for it. We’ve got a pretty large range of practitioners. You got the ESPers, telekinetics and you have all those…priests from different religions, vaudun, Shinto – like Mitsuo,”
“What does a Shinto priest do?” Dominic asked.
“Head ceremonies, purification rites, take care of the shrine, things like that.” He said.
“And there’s voodoo, and the witches and sorcerers and Druids and…what else?” I said to Mitsuo.
“Exorcists, monks, shamans and the Exceptions.” He said promptly.
“Yep. They’re people who have unique abilities, like uh, Sarasvati with the computers.”
“What does she do?” Dominic asked.
“Never figured it out.” I shrugged. “I asked once and tuned out after five minutes of alien talk. I think she heads our security system or something. Maybe a hacker?”
“And then there’s the Onmyouji.” Mitsuo prodded me.
“You’re an Onmyouji?” Wu asked, showing the first sign of life.
“What’s an On-myou-ji?” Dominic frowned, tripping over the words.
“Practitioners of divination and magic, I do spells, charms and summon Shikigami. It sounds important because Onmyouji used to be government officials back during the Heian era. Not so much now.”
“Do you perform exorcisms?” Dominic said.
“I guess you could call them that. They’re usually more like protection fields.” I looked at the blond. “You’re an exorcist, right?”
“Through the grace of God.” He said. From the size of that crucifix around his neck, the grace was pretty heavy stuff.
“Have you ever…exorcised?”
“A few times.”
…Okay, I guess he wasn’t one to talk about his work. Fair enough.
“So, what are you?” I said to Wu in a hopefully casual just-asking sort of way.
He looked blankly at some space above our heads and said, “Nothing.”
So much for that.