Kaatetzie watched the problem children – his private name for them, although Pelnyen called them something similar – exit his class, the three of them thick as thieves again. Kaatetzie knew what would happen if he asked them about their tiff: Tairiekie would jut out her chin and tell him “We are supposed to be a team. That is what we were assigned to do.”
Pelnyen hadn’t been the only one to complain. Libkazaari had, as well, presumably taking it up with Kaat because he taught Mechanics. Other teachers had mentioned this trio in particular to him. Kaat found it amusing – and just amusing, because every student, especially every first year student, was trouble in their own special way. Edally was built to foster trouble.
Kaat watched the trio leave, Taikie and Enrie and Saydrie, and watched his own problem trio enter. Kyevtyieptes – Kyev – Lizhvaa, and Opegrikpeggno – Pegpeg. They were laughing. They were always laughing; the problem was that often what they were laughing about was some other student’s misfortune.
“Did you see the way his face squinted up…” Pegpeg twisted his own face up. “Like he’d never even heard of it?”
“Well…” Lizhvaa spoke slowly, carefully. “Coming from the far North, he probably didn’t, I mean, when I-”
“Can it, Liv. Nobody wants to hear it.” Kyev cut their teammate off with the wave of his hand.
“But I do.” Kaat did not normally get involved. Today, he was feeling capricious. “Lizhvaa, what happened?”
Lizh was probably not going to thank him for this. Kaat felt a little bad about that, but the look on Kyev’s face was priceless.
Lizh coughed. “Nothing, sir. Just kids talking.”
Of course it was. Sometimes, the three-teams worked well together. Saydrie, Enrie, and Taikie were an example of the best the system could create. On the other hand, sometimes the three-teams just made everything worse. Pegpeg, Kyev, and Lizh exemplified that far too well.
Kaat considered what they were saying, and then turned to his chalkboard. Lizhvaa didn’t want to speak up, but maybe he could. “When I was a young student, first come to school…”
Some of them were interested. Some were not. Kaat remembered what it had been like, to be their age, to be as sure of everything and as nervous about it all. He brought himself back there as he told them his story: coming down from the far North, where it was always cold. The trees that grew up there, that he missed. The river, and how loud it was. The clothing everyone wore, where everything he owned had fur on it.
Kaat wasn’t going to get through to Pegpeg, nor to Kyev, but either they would grow and change or they would flunk out. It was possible Lizh had potential, and it was to her, and to the other students who listened, that Kaat talked.
It wasn’t anything to do with Basic Mechanics, but that didn’t matter. If there was one thing that Edally focused on, it was a broad base of education. Kaat met Lizh’s eyes, and broadened horizons just a little further.
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