1.16 First Biology Class

Mark’s pov.

Now, my real mission begins. I made up a plan in my mind before heading out to the Biology lecture in the afternoon. This class was held inside the Crown Theatre Hall, the auditorium where the welcome ceremony was held on the first day of school. It’s built exactly as a theatre where plays can be performed. Apparently, it was modeled after Dr. Martin’s favourite theatre in London and scaled up three times in order to fit around 1000 people. This is almost 20 times the capacity of an average classroom, which fits around 50-60 people.

I arrived about an hour before the beginning of the lecture, and not a single person was inside. I headed to the top balcony level and located the nearest bathroom to the stairs. After making sure that no one was around, I turned on the invisibility function of my device. I had originally planned to do this in my dorm, but I didn’t want to risk anyone seeing my dorm’s door opening and closing on its own.

The bathroom itself was filled with elaborate baroque style decorations which matched the main theatre hall. The large mirrors on the walls were framed with intricately carved golden trimmings that matched the ceiling and wall. The gentle light of the chandeliers lit up the marble floors and walls perfectly and reflected beautifully inside the mirror. Even the wash basins and faucets had matching designs. I stood in front of the mirror to marvel at my invisible self, but all I could see was the fairytale like room around me. My device has turned me completely invisible. As long as I don’t make any audible noises, or bump into anyone, I would be completely undetectable by the human eye.

Next, I inspected every inch of the theatre as I was taught in training. Every time we conduct a mission in a new space, we need to gain a thorough understanding of what we’re up against in as little time as possible. First, all possible points of entry, not only entrances and exits, but also windows and other possible escape routes. Second, blind spots and all possible hideouts, which include a thorough survey of all stairways, doors, and all rooms, big and small divided by a door. Having this information is crucial when dealing with potential enemies and all other potential danger. While conducting the survey, I was awed by the detailed decoration of the entire theatre, which matched the fanciness of the bathrooms, but on a much bigger scale. It was a true piece of art complimented by real baroque paintings on the ceilings.

It took exactly 25 minutes and 50 seconds to complete the survey of the entire theatre, a record that I’m proud of for such a large space. I also determined the spot in the theatre where I could get the best view of most of the people, the front and center seat on the second floor of the balcony. I had my device set up so that I could pick up conversations from any point of space within the theatre. I relished the moment when I sat down in my favourite velvet lined seat and rested my arms on the gold painted arm rests. Now, all I had to do was wait for my targets to come.

The first student arrived about 25 minutes before class started. At exactly 20 minutes to 1:00 pm, a middle-aged man stumbled in with a small suitcase. He had messy medium length hair and looked gazed. The whole time he was setting up the equipment for the lecture, he talked to himself. “Is this how you do it? Hmmm, this cable should go here, right? Wait a minute, that doesn’t look quite right… maybe it’s this way. Hmmm, let’s try this socket. Yes! I got it.” After about 10 minutes of struggling, he finally set up his laptop at the podium and rolled down the projector screen. He wiped off the sweat from his forehead with a sigh of relief.

Jody and Susan arrived just as the professor finished setting up the equipment. They both sat down in the few empty seats left in the front row without thinking much about it.

“Hey, let’s save a seat for Lori.” Jody placed her backpack on the seat next to her.

“Sounds good.” Susan answered. “I wonder where she is.”

“She said she was going to buy textbooks.”

“Oh, right. I wonder if she’s with Shane though.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because…”

“Maybe she just wanted some time to herself.”

“Have you notice something lately…” Susan paused for a moment. “I don’t think I’m imagining this…Shane seems to be always talking to Lori.”

“Now that you mentioned it. It does sound like what I’ve been thinking.”

“Do you think he likes her?”

“Maybe.”

“Do you think she likes him?”

“Maybe.”

“Are you going to help me out here?”

“Of course. Speaking of the devil. Hey Shane, we saved a seat for you!” Jody waved at Shane, who had just entered the theatre.

“Hi, Jody. Hi, Susan.” Shane made his way towards Jody and Susan.

“Shane, you can sit with us. We saved a seat for you.” Susan offered the seat next to Jody as she placed her backpack on the floor.

“Where’s Lori? Did you save a seat for her too?” Shane stood in front of the empty seat. The whole row was filled up by then.

“She’ll find another seat. Come on, sit down. I have a question to ask you.” Susan swapped seats with Jody. “Could you show me how you solved the last question in the calculus homework?”

“Um…give me a moment to find my homework.” Shane sat down and dug into his backpack. “Oh, actually, I think I left that homework at home since it’s not due till Friday. Is it ok if I show you tomorrow?”

“Sure. What did you think about Physics class?”

“Um, I don’t know. We haven’t really done anything yet.”

“That’s true, that Chihu guy took up the entire class trying to impress Prof. Polish.”

“Yeah. I wonder where he got his ideas from. They are pretty cool though I have to admit. It’s not something I could come up with.”

“That’s true. Have you found a group to do the project with yet?”

“No, not yet.”

“Wanna join us?”

“Um, how many people are in a group?” Shane asked.

“It’s supposed to be between 2-4 people. We are going to ask Lori too, so that’ll make us 4.”

“Is it ok if I work with you then?” Shane sounded ecstatic.

“Of course!” Susan was excited.

“Maybe we can meet up after class to talk about it.” Jody added.

“Today?” Shane asked.

“Yeah, is that ok?”

“Sure.”

“Hey, look, Lori’s here.” Jody pointed out.

“Maybe I could give her my seat…” Shane stood up nervously, holding his backpack.

“Hey guys, sorry I came late.” Lori made her way to Susan and Jody.

“Hey Lori, you can have my seat.” Shane offered.

“Oh, it’s ok. It’s my fault for coming late. I’ll look for another seat.”

“You wanna meet up after class to talk about the physics project?” Jody asked.

“Sure. I’ll find you guys after class.” Lori hurried off down the aisle and took the first free seat she spotted. It was a 5 rows behind and the second seat from the aisle.

“Hello, everyone. Welcome to Biology 101. I’m Professor Halls.” The middle-aged professor cleared his throat. “I know that it’s a little odd that you’re taking a class in this huge theatre hall. The reason behind it is that the University decided to make this biology course a general one for all the students taking first year biology this year, so the class size is exceptionally large. And there isn’t a large enough classroom to fit everyone in, so they’ve decided to use this theatre as a trial run. This is a new experience for me too, teaching a class this large. So please let me know if there’s anything I could help you with.”

“This is the course outline for this class.” He pointed at the projector screen with a laser pointer. “It’s going to run for 2 semesters. There’s going to be a midterm at the end of this semester and a final exam at the end of the next one. There’s also going to be 2 tests during each term. And there will be a wet laboratory every other week. Please take care that you learn as much as possible from these labs because they are basically the course material in action. Haha.” He chuckled at his own joke.

“My biggest advice to first year students is that you should try to stay on top of the course work. And make sure you hand in your assignments on time. All the lecture material will be posted on the course website, and all you have to do is log into your student account to access it.” He paused with a big nervous smile. “So today, I’m going to introduce you to the wonderful world of biology.” He continued on with technical course material.

Now’s my chance to find Alan. Since this is a 2-hour lecture, I should have plenty of time. I started my search on the ground floor. When I stood next to the podium and looked out at the ground level of the theatre, I didn’t see anyone resembling Alan. In order to be sure that I didn’t miss anything, I walked through all the sections of the ground floor and took a good look at every single face. Chihu’s face sent shivers down my spine, but Lori’s face made me smile. However, there was no luck with Alan.

Then I started my search with the mezzanine level, which was divided into 3 sections that circled the theatre. I started with the right-hand side section of the mezzanine seats. This section was only half full, with most of the students sitting in the seats near the back of the theatre, where they could get a better view of the podium. The middle section of the mezzanine was nearly full, and the left section of the mezzanine was similar to the right one. Still no sign of Alan.

After searching the two levels of balcony seats one by one, I sat down in the seat I picked earlier and decided to wait. Could it be that Alan’s absent today or is coming late? It’s only the second day of class after all. Of course, being the good Protégé that I am, who doesn’t waste a single moment during his mission, I decided to tune into the conversation of the two guys sitting in the back row, chatting away. If I don’t manage to find Alan today, at least I can get some practice with local conversation.

“I thought you didn’t want to come here.” The guy with light blonde hair and light blue eyes said to his friend. His build was slim and his mannerism like a gentleman.

“No kidding!” The guy with dark red hair answered with rather rough language. “My mother forced me.”

“I thought you didn’t listen to her anymore.” The blonde guy continued. “I remember you saying that you stopped talking to her before the summer.”

“Yeah, I did. But shit happened at the old man’s place and now I’m stuck with her.”

“It must be some real bad stuff…”

“The old man loves my bitch sister too much!” The dark-haired guy beat his palm with his fist.

“What’s the deal with your sister?”

“She’s engaged to some rich asshole. The old man is so happy about it that he practically lets her do whatever she wants, literally! Guess what she did? F@*&, it pisses me off just thinking about it!”

“What can she possibly do that’s so horrible, my young master Alan?” The blonde guy joked.

Alan! My device picked up the name Alan. He’s been here all along, and I didn’t even notice?! Am I having problems with my eye sight? I realized why when I pulled up the picture Advisor 223 sent me.

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