|Good ol' Ky. Ditched the girlfriend angst and got a teaching job. Then he got some more angst. And. Etc. P.S. He gets totally overshadowed by Remus.|
"All right, pair off and spar -- Russo, I want to go over that kata we talked about last time."
Russo, as expected, scowled at the news, but he stumped his way over anyway, making sure his instructor understood his reluctance by slouching dramatically and glaring at the floor. His instructor ignored him.
Ky "Catseye" Wellard had seen all ranges of teenage and adult outbursts in his classes, and after three years he was largely immune to them. He was six feet tall, maybe a little more, and his hair was completely white -- not so unusual a feature when Reploids could come in any color of the rainbow, but he had two other distinguishing features that called a good deal more attention to him. One was a scar, several inches long, that ran over his right eye from his brow almost to his jaw, and the other was the eye that accompanied it. Unlike his left, which was blue, it was burnished gold.
"Let's see the initial stance." Class time was running short, and he had twenty-five other students to deal with, so his tone rapidly became clipped and brusque as his student took his slow and disgruntled time about falling into the pose. "Very good, you could have run through the entire kata in that time. First sequence."
Russo's face went hot, and he gave his shaggy brown hair a shake, which sent it over his eyes, doing little to disguise the color in his cheeks. He went rapidly -- if awkwardly -- through the first few moves, stumbling on the last and finally coming to a halt.
Ky tilted his head, waiting for a moment. When the boy made no move to continue, he spoke. "Keep going, you don't need my permission."
Russo muttered something that Ky heard perfectly well. "Don't mumble, it makes you hard to hear."
The human scowled at him again, a small flash of defiance before he said, a little more clearly, "I don't remember."
"I see." Their conference was beginning to draw attention from the other pairs, but he continued regardless, much to his student's dismay. "Why is it you don't remember?"
"'Cause he sucks," volunteered a voice from the nearest pair, and a small echo of sycophantic laughter followed the attack.
"Is that so." Ky patted Russo on the shoulder, relieving him of his weapon (a long staff) and walking toward the speaker. "Then, if he sucks, it's probably because he hasn't practiced since last week."
The speaker faltered only slightly, folding his arms in an unconscious defense, but he continued to grin in the smug, self-satisfied manner of most schoolyard bullies who think they've scored a point. Ky stopped in front of him, smiling briefly.
"I'm sure you can do him one better, then, Murphy," he said, and he handed him the staff. "Let's have a go, shall we?"
Murphy's bravado crumbled briefly, but it was quickly replaced by stubborn anger. Under ordinary circumstances, object lessons were Ky's least favorite teaching method, but his students seemed to be hitting all the right notes today, and the black-haired boy could use a whallop or two. The class slowly pulled closer, abandoning any pretense that they were doing anything but watching, and Ky stepped back, nodding as a signal for the spar to begin.
The boy hesitated, clearly put off balance by his teacher's lack of a weapon, but he recovered quickly, lunging in with a couple of quick jabs. Ky evaded them easily.
"Not bad." He dashed suddenly forward, tapping the boy in the chin before darting out again. "Keep your guard up."
"Right.." Instead of taking a more defensive stance, though, Murphy rushed his teacher with a flurry of sweeps and overhead strikes until Ky, annoyed, caught the staff in one hand and removed it from his grasp. The human lunged to retrieve it, and was met instead by two sharp cracks, one to each shoulder.
Murphy stumbled with a slight howl, and then the buzzer signaling the end of the class went off. Ky sighed, bringing one hand up to rub at his forehead. "Dismissed, and don't forget to practice," he called after those students who were still in the room. "Russo, we'll go over it tomorrow."
Russo didn't acknowledge him and continued to slouch out of the room, so he bent to pull Murphy up from where he was overdramatizing on the floor. "I didn't hit you that hard." Murphy didn't answer him, but he was spry enough bolting out the door that Ky declined to worry about it further.
He was turning to gather up the stray implements that his more careless students had left lying around when a mild and drawling voice spoke up from behind him. "That wasn't real nice, Catseye."
"Eh?" He knew who it was before turning, but he finished the motion anyway, smiling wearily. "I know. I was in a bad mood -- probably shouldn't have taken it out on them.."
Remus grinned at him, baring the single fang that was only the smallest part of his unusual appearance. Originally human, Remus had more replacement parts than a classic car, and most of them were secondhand and fairly buggy. Most prominent were his arms, which looked perfectly ordinary until one noticed their dull and slightly metallic sheen (and the fact that there was a serial code carved into the surface of the right-hand one) and the misshapen protrusion on his back, where he claimed to store homing missiles.
"What's the deal?" Remus asked, content to watch Ky go about his clean-up.
"They cut my funding," Ky answered him wearily, returning the weapons to their appropriate places and closing the simulation. The white walls faded to their usual, hologram-friendly dullness, and he walked over to join his friend at the door.
The black-haired cyborg's brows lifted briefly in surprise. "Again?"
"Yeah -- called me in right before class to tell me that not only were we not getting the supplies we need, we only get fifty minutes in the simulators now."
Remus clicked his tongue softly, ambling out into the hallway. He waited for Ky to follow before starting off again. "At this rate, you'll be joining us on Reject Row, my man."
Ky gave him a level stare. "You shouldn't call it that, you know."
"Hey hey," Remus retorted lightly, "we chose the name ourselves -- wear it like a badge of honor!"
"A badge of something, anyway," Ky chuckled. "It's strange, though -- they're only cutting the non-Reploid classes, and those are the ones who need time more. Wouldn't you think? I admit training the humans and refugees takes more effort and funding, but taking that away will only get more of them killed."
"Hey, I'm on your side, Ky, my man," Remus said absently, poking his tongue absently at the fang in the left side of his mouth. "'S not anything we can do about it, though."
"I suppose." Ky glanced over at him and flinched slightly at the sight. "I really wish you wouldn't do that."
Remus looked at him blankly for a moment. "Do what?" His face brightened, and he wiggled the tooth again. "Thith?"
The cyborg gave a short hoot of laughter, darting away from the friendly stranglehold. "Relax, man, it'll only detonate if I tell it to -- the command's internal!"
"Given the quality of the rest of your parts, I wouldn't be surprised if it was flaky, too," was the retort.
Remus' reply -- cutting and brilliant though it might have been -- was cut short by a small voice from behind them. "Mr. Ky, sir?"
Ky froze in place for a moment, then smacked his forehead in disgust and turned to face the speaker, a small Reploid girl of indeterminate age. "I'm sorry, Madrid, I completely forgot --"
"N-no, it's all right, sir!" she said quickly, looking embarrassed. "I just thought I'd check -- I mean, if you're busy I can go back, it's okay."
"No, of course not!" The white-haired Reploid sighed, scratching his head. "It just slipped my mind -- go get the simulation started and I'll meet you there."
"Okay!" Her expression cleared immediately, and she dashed back toward the simulator without another word.
"She sure seems excited," remarked Remus, then flopped an arm over his friend's shoulders, grinning in a predatory way. "I didn't know you were giving private lessons --"
"It's tutoring, idiot," Ky grunted slightly as the shorter man dragged him down. "I hate to say it, but she's probably the most hopeless Reploid I've ever seen. It's like her programming rejects the training."
"I gots my doubts, man," Remus replied sagely, releasing him. "But I'll let you go about your business."
"Just tell them I'll be an hour late." Ky shook his head and started after Madrid.
"Drow's gonna cry, yaknow," Remus called after him, but Ky only rolled his eyes.