1.13 First target

Mark’s pov.

“Have you located your target yet?” Advisor 223 called me at 7 am on Wednesday morning. My first task was to identify a girl named Lori Shin, a first year bioengineering student who lives off campus with her parents and younger brother.

“No, not yet. But I did get a cell phone and laptop.” I showed him my accomplishments. “It took a few hours to figure out how to work these ancient machines, but I managed!”

“Hmm…” Advisor 223 nodded, then knotted his brows. “It’s strange that you haven’t seen her yet. She is in all the classes you’re taking.”

“I’m sorry, Advisor 223.” I bowed my head in apology. “I was so focused on behaving myself properly all day yesterday that I didn’t get a good look at the other students in my classes.”

“Well, that will be your task for today then. Take a good look at all the students in your classes and find her.” Advisor 223 read something and turned to me. “Interesting…this afternoon is going to be your first biology class. And it’s going to be held at the auditorium of the Crown Theatre Hall.”

“Crown Theatre Hall? Eh? Isn’t that where the opening lecture yesterday was held?”

“Yes, that’s exactly where it is!” Advisor 223 was in the midst of researching something. “Ah, I see. It’s going to be a big class, that’s why it’s held there. In that case, I want you to attend this class with the invisible shield on, so you can get take a close look at all the students. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir!” I saluted him.

“Report to me as soon as you find her. Here are a few more photos of her I collected recently.”

“Who’s that guy?” There was a photo of Lori laughing with a guy with cropped dark red hair and grey eyes. They looked like they were in their mid-twenties.

“I’m glad you asked. That’s Alain Situ, but usually known as Alan. He’s your next target. He’s a first-year Biology major. And he’s also going to be in the same biology class as you. His step father is the very same professor who teaches that class, Professor Halls.”

“Am I supposed to spot him today too?”

“Of course, that would be ideal. The sooner you identify your targets, the better. However, I’ll give you until Friday evening to spot him, since he’s quite an oddball.”

“Thank you for the kind extension.”

“Remember, your task right now is to observe them closely. Don’t make any direct contact until you get further instructions from me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, tell me how you’re getting on with life there.” Advisor 223 leaned back in his chair.

“It’s been fine for the most part. I learned to use the shower yesterday…” I skipped the part about having walked to my room naked. “Last night, I had my first dinner at the cafeteria. All the food was served in plates and bowls. Here’s a picture of the meal. That big chuck of yellow thing is mashed potato. It was quite tasty. And the small pieces of green and oranges things are boiled vegetables. They were quite tasty too. And this drink is what they call ‘tea’ in Japan. The taste is kind of hard to describe, but I liked it.”

“It looks like you’re enjoying yourself there. I’m glad.” His lips stretched across his face.

“Thank you, sir.” I smiled nervously. “I’m surprised myself that I’m enjoying the food here. Haha.”

“Speaking of food, did you see a doctor yesterday?”

“No, it was a false alarm. The pain was gone after I went to the toilet.”

“That’s good news.” He chuckled. “How do you like your classes?”

“The professors and students are all quite interesting people.”

“What about the contents of the courses, are you keeping up?”

“It’s hard to say. I’ve only had two lectures so far.”

“You should take some time to study. Passing the courses is part of your mission too.” He smirked.

“Eh? Really?” I don’t remember him saying anything about passing the courses before.

“Have I not mentioned it earlier?” He looked surprised. “I’m sorry, it must’ve slipped my mind. In any case, I wish you success!”

“Thank you, sir.” I swiped my device to end the conversation. I took a look at all the new photos of Lori. I’m sure I’ve seen her somewhere. Ah, right! The girl at the registration desk with the innocent smile, her name was Lori Shin. I wonder what she did to get the organization’s attention.

“Hey Lori, we saved a seat for you!” A girl with dark maroon hair and thick rimmed square glasses waved to the girl who had just entered the classroom.

My device picked up the name ‘Lori’ from the back of the room and alerted me. I tuned into their conversation through my headset.

“Thanks, Jody.” Lori waved with a smile. Her figure was slim, and her dark brown hair ended just above her shoulders. The baby blue hoodie she wore somehow matched the formal pleated skirt.

“Hey, you’re wearing that cute skirt!” Jody, the girl with thick rimmed glasses, answered.

Lori nodded shyly.

“It looks so nice on you!” The girl who sat next to Jody answered. She had short orange hair.

“Thanks, Susan! Both of you look great in your uniforms too. I really like the vest and jacket.” Lori sat down in the seat next to Jody.

“Oh, you’re so kind!” Susan blushed.

“Lori, do you mind swapping seats with Susan?” Jody lowered her voice. “I think she wants to sit with Shane again.”

“Oh, sure.” Lori sat down in Susan’s seat, on the other side of Jody.

“Hey, Shane. How are you doing today?” Jody reached over Susan to speak to the guy who sat next to her. That was Shane McLaren with the moss green hair.

“I’m fine. How are you?” Shane answered courteously.

“We’re doing great!” Jody answered with an exaggerated expression. “Right, Susan?”

“That’s right.” Susan’s cheeks turned pink.

“I’m glad.” Shane leaned forward and cocked his head towards Lori, “Lori, how are you doing today?”

“I’m fine. Thanks.” Lori answered with her usual smile. “Um, did any of you finish the homework from yesterday? I got stuck on the last question.”

“Lori, you’re so fast! I’m nowhere near the last question.” Jody was surprised.

“You’re both so keen! I haven’t even started.” Susan answered. “It was already 10 pm after I took my bath, so I just watched some TV and went to bed. Now I feel bad for not having started on homework.”

“Don’t worry, Susan, the assignment isn’t due till Friday.” Jody comforted her friend.

“I did about half of the questions from each section because I didn’t have enough time to solve all of them, and I really wanted to get through them to get an idea of what the questions were like.” Shane pulled out a piece of paper from his backpack and handed it to Lori. “The last question took quite a bit of time, but I did manage to solve it. Here, you can take a look if you want.”

“Oh, thanks.” Lori took the paper. “I’ll take a quick look and give it back to you at the end of class.”

“Shane, you’re awesome! Could I take a peek at your answers too?” Susan asked eagerly.

“Sure, but I’m not sure if it’s all correct though.” Shane frowned. “If you want to learn to solve all the questions properly, you could get a solution manual from the University shop.”

“What? They sell solution manuals?” Jody’s jaws dropped. “I’m gonna get one today! It’s going to be my new best friend!”

Shane, you’re a Genius! I’ll get a solution manual too! That way, I don’t have to spend all my time solving these senseless problems.

“Hey, dude! Don’t pull any tricks on me today, k?” A hand patted me on the shoulder from behind. It was Nick Carter. He was wearing a simple dress shirt, the one that everyone got from the welcome package.

“Good morning, Nick!” I greeted him with a big smile.

“There’s no need for formal greetings. Whacha listening to?” He sat down in the seat on my right.

“Oh, it’s nothing special.” I quickly changed the channel on my device to some instrumental music.

“What sort of music do ya like?” He didn’t give up so easily.

“Hmm…well, let’s see…” People from my world don’t really listen to music for leisure. We listened to instrumental music for relaxation after a long workday. What’s it called again? “umm…classical?”

“Classical? Really? Even my grandpa thinks it’s too old fashioned for him.” He squinted his eyes at me. “Are you sure you’re from this era?”

“Of course! I mean, I’m sure that I’m not from the previous era or the next era, so I must be from the era that’s in between…” His question caught me completely off guard.

“Relax, man! I was only joking! Haha.” He leaned back in his chair. “Let’s be buddies, eh?” He held out a fist to me.

“Buddies? Sure!” I wasn’t sure what do with his fist so I just stared at it.

“Hold out your hand like this.” He hit my fist a few times from different directions. Then gave me a high five. “There we go, buddy! Haha! Are you sure you’re from America?”

“Shee!” The girl in front of us turned around and gave us a hard stare.

“What’s the problem?” Nick asked.

“Keep your voice down, the class is about to start.” She answered quickly and turned around.

I looked at Nick with a finger to my lips. He mirrored my action.

“Ah! Fine. Fine.” A middle-aged man had just entered the room carrying a briefcase. He took out a textbook from his briefcase and turned to face the class. The whole class quieted down.

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