Addergoole
Rix's Guest Story
George's Change

Late September, Year 24

“Hello, Sext,” Salicia cy’Linden oro’Rigg always said his shortened name as if the t on the end almost didn’t exist. Sextus was warming to a theory that it was part of a set of behaviours resulting from whatever orders her Keeper had given her. Certainly it would explain the difference between the archly provocative manner the willow-haired 23rd Cohort girl displayed most of the time and the occasional outburst of bubbly gossip. Possibly, of course, Sextus just didn’t understand girls that well. “Have you heard what happened in PE last period?” Apparently this would be a bubbly gossip episode.

“No.” Sextus knew she shared PE with his twin George and George’s almost girlfriend Ytha. “Should I have?”

“George almost pulled the gym ceiling down on himself and then he Changed!” Salicia’s face went serious, “The chunk of ceiling that came down with the climbing rope didn’t hit anyone, luckily. After it happened everyone was just standing there looking stunned and George was just starting to say he didn’t mean to do it when he sort of curled up like he had stomach cramps and started swelling up. It wasn’t balloon swelling,” she reassured him. “It was like that old comic book where the guy turns green and becomes a dumb muscle-bound monster, except he’s not green and he can still talk. I will say,” she got a sly look on her face, “When his clothes burst off I got a look at what was underneath before Luke got a towel around him. Little Ytha might have a fight on her hands – I’m not a free agent but a few people who are were interested in what we saw.”

“Is he okay?” Sextus chose to ignore the innuendo.

“Doug and Ytha took him to the clinic,” Salicia added as Professor Solomon came into the room, “He was walking on his own, but you should probably go see him after this class.” She opened her notebook and prepared to write.

“Clothes,” said George firmly at lunch, “As soon as I’ve finished eating I have to get some clothes. I can’t wander around the rest of the day in my new gym gear. And then there’s tomorrow.” He had indeed, as Salicia had put it, swollen up and it all seemed to be muscle with increased bone mass to carry it. He hadn’t gained or lost any height so Sextus was now and for always the taller twin but his circumference had more than doubled. His features seemed to have enlarged rather than coarsened and his hands were now almost too large for the canteen cutlery.

“Have you arranged to see Dr Mendosa yet?” Sextus stabbed an innocent mushroom with his fork and ate it. His hand was fork coloured and the rest of him that was visible appeared cafeteria coloured. “Mum was quite clear on that. Mental changes you don’t even know are there, that sort of thing.”

“I remember,” George picked up an apple, “My Change happened all in one and I don’t need blue pills. Already done.” He bit into the red and yellow apple and started chewing.

“And?” Sextus prodded for the extra information he could tell his twin hadn’t shared yet.

“I have an appointment with Professor Fridmar, Luke and Doug in the big practice room on Saturday afternoon. It’s written into my schedule. No onlookers allowed. Oh, and I’m under strict instructions not to get into any fights before then.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard,” observed their goat horned friend Aswin, from his spot beside Sextus and opposite Ytha, “Today’s Friday lunch and the story about the gym ceiling is all over the school. Most of the trouble makers are going to leave you alone for a day or two while they figure out what you’ve become. Then they might start testing you.”

“Joy,” commented Sextus while George continued to munch his apple. “Tell us Ytha, is what we heard about the gym ceiling true?”

“Depends on what you heard,” the girl’s eyes sparkled and the three boys at the table all felt deeply interested in what she was going to say. A portion of the part-Grigori, part-Daeva’s innate power was the ability to make herself the centre of attention. “He did pull the climbing rope’s anchor point down, I suppose it was a double handful of rock or concrete. It didn’t hit anyone – in a perfect world it would have bopped Rigg on the head.” The four of them laughed.

Late on Saturday afternoon George returned to the pod, limping and sore. He went straight to his room, walked to the bed, turned on his heel and flopped backwards. Something in the undercarriage of the bed may have popped.

Sextus emerged from his own room a minute later and knocked on George’s door frame. “May I come in?”

George opened his eyes and lifted his head. “Yeah, sure,” he told his twin. “Close the door behind you, will ya?

Sextus did as he was bid. Sitting on the bed edge himself he asked, “So what did you do this afternoon?”

“I spent a good part of it trying to kill Professor Fridmar, Luke and Doug,” George said tiredly. “Apparently I’m what Fridmar calls a berserkr and I don’t think he’s trying to use English when he says it.”

“As in berserker and berserk?” asked his twin.

“Yes. It was weird. Something sort of clicked over in my head and I just wanted to kill, I wasn’t even angry. Looking back on it, it’s sort of like everything I did is like looking at someone else through a pane of glass.” He looked at his brother, “Apparently when I’m like that tempero intinn doesn’t work because my mind is sort of out to lunch, on its own.”

“More than usual?” Sextus grinned, then when his brother didn’t grin back, “Sorry, I suppose that was out of line.”

“I definitely tried to kill Doug. I don’t know why, but I really wanted to get him. I might get you to apologise to him for me when you see him next. As he’s your mentor, you’re more likely to see him first.”

“Consider it done.”

“And I might need to apologise to Luke, I think I might have sort of batted him out of the way to get at Doug.”

“You did what?” Sextus looked at his brother incredulously.

“I don’t suppose any of them were going at the top of their game,” George said tiredly, “It was supposed to be a sort of try out to see how this berserkr thing works with me. Anyway, Fridmar knocked me out from behind and they took me off to the clinic. Dr Caitrin didn’t seem too happy about any of it but she did say I had some interesting physiological changes going on when I’m in that state.”

“So what did your mentor say,” prodded Sextus.

“Oh, Professor Fridmar says he’s never like fighting against berserkrs, that I probably need a bigger sword and should consider taking up the battle axe as a second weapon, and that I’ll feel better after a plate of roast meat and a tankard of decent beer or mead.” He sighed, “All I want to do is sleep. Can you wake me for breakfast in the morning?”

“Sure,” Sextus stood up, “Don’t forget to take your shoes off. I’ll close the door behind me.” He looked at his twin but George was already asleep. Sextus sighed, quietly left the room and went to find Olivia who might conceivably know what Professor Fridmar meant by decent beer.

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