Chapter 3 – Union SchoolEdit


Isegrim, my father had married again and now I had two brothers: Lothar and Tyr. My stepmother was of course Gretel Hemstaad, my father's true love and she already saw herself in the highest social circles of our planet, being very wealthy and important. She would not let an opportunity go to waste telling anyone how important and rich she soon will be. Before she came to the burg, she was barely above a commoner and she worked as Nubhir Hide scrubber, now she had servants and staff who hated her especially for her arrogance and antics.

She also always praised the manhood and strength of my father in the presence of guests and servants alike. Praising the man's skills in bed was a truly ancient tradition and her following it pleased my evil father very much.

Lothar, the older of my two half-brothers was two years younger than me, but father treated him like his true heir. Lothar not only got my old room and most of my things, but he learned from very early on that he had power over me when my father was present and he love to find new ways of making my life even more miserable. Tyr was four years younger and since he was the second born father simply ignored him much as he did me, but he would not treat him like he did me.

At first I was considering suicide. Ending it all would be so easy, but I that wish changed. I swore to myself and all the Gods, I would endure it all so I could accomplish the one task I had set for me in life: to grow older and strong enough to kill him.

Oh yes, I feared him, a footstep or a noise that announced his coming send shivers down my spine. He would not leave any opportunity to kick or hit me. If I was lucky he was done after just one or two kicks and perhaps a lash with his ever present whip and then he lost interest in me, just like now as he walked out. He would not think about my involvement in this anymore. That a woman died meant absolutely nothing to him. He shrugged his broad shoulders as he was told who the dead woman was and said." The tables smashed were expensive. I wonder how much damage was made, that wench is easily replaced."

It turned out Greifen was right. The Elhir who were the mortal enemies of the Olafson clan dropped the Fangsnapper from the deck of a Cargo Floater into our back yard. Since Clan wars were now officially outlawed, feuding Clans looked for other ways to get at each other. The whole matter was dragged before the Elders. The Elhir claimed it could not be proven that it was them, but if a single Fangsnapper would make such trouble to the Olafson Clan they would gladly train them in real combat. I knew father and the other seniors of our Clan would already brood over a way to retaliate.

My back was burned, but not as badly as the last time when father poured boiling water down my back to punish me for using warm water for a bath, and Midril tended to it with ointment after she came back from the Union Hospital with a brand new arm they had grown her. She never spoke about the incident, but she took care of the little girl now and she made sure I got a share of the good things that went to the Family Hall."

It was now almost a year after the Fangsnapper tore through the kitchen when Greifen sat in the Kitchen nursing a tankard of warmed ale with a generous helping of Midril's secret herbs and spices she gave to those who got the cold and judging by the bright red nose and the numb voice of Greifen he was very sick or perhaps had a tankard too much.

I was there as well sitting in a corner scrubbing the big kettle, because it was Wednesday and Midril would make Fin Stew.

"It's a shame how our Old Sire treats his first born!" Greifen said sipping at his ale looking at me but talking to the cook." He ought to get the hide of the Fangsnapper he killed and be celebrated for his first kill. I don't know many full grown men who would willingly go against one with just a kitchen knife."

She stopped cutting Tyranno meat into cubes, wiped her bloody hands on her apron, her left hand was pasty white compared to her other until the pigments would adjust and she said." There are many things going on in this Burg that never happened while our Old Sire was still here, but unless you want to challenge him for Clan chief and fight him you better keep quiet and drink your ale."

"I would fight him! There are more than one who would but he wields that wicket steel cable and you don't even get a chance!"

"That and the fact that he is stronger than you and humongous as all the Olafsons."

I pushed the clean kettle to its spot and left the kitchen. It was better I didn't hear those things. I knew they would soon start talking about the Fair Lady as they called my mother and I would cry and that could not be, a boy my age was not allowed to cry. Warriors never cried. Besides the school floater would arrive shortly and the weather was nice so I could wait outside before the walls and the main gate.

The best day in my life was when I turned seven and I could go to Union School being away from the Burg and away from my father was like breathing lighter air.

Everyone had to go to Union School. That was Union Law and it superseded local law. Union School was such a long part of our society that it too became an Old Tradition and therefore was good.

At school I learned that Nilfeheim was a Water-World and that we all originally came from a Planet named Earth and settled here long time ago.

Our teacher was an Off-Worlder, a person that was not born on Nilfeheim and it was immediately apparent as he was a grown man and didn't have a beard.

Solken System was only one of many Solar Systems that belonged to the United Stars of the Galaxy, usually only referred to as the Union.

Humans and Nonhuman species belonged to it and space ships travelled between a huge number of worlds and places.

One morning he told us that every Union Citizen had rights and was bound by a higher law. Higher than that of the Elders and the Traditions on Nilfeheim, laws my father broke as he killed another Union Citizen.

But that didn't matter much. No one would call the Rangers and have my father or anyone else arrested for some local problem.

It was just my luck that in my class was not only Sigvard of the Elhir Clan and he his brought family induced hatred towards me from the first day we met, but also the brothers of the Oseberg Clan, who hated me for my Ragnarsson blood, lucily they were two grades higher and I did not see them all the time. There were twenty-seven Boys in our class. Girls received their training in separate classes. Every morning at six thirteen, the school skimmer would arrive and pick me up and after gathering everyone for my class, drop us of at Nilfeheim Federal School 34, which sat on top of a tumble of huge boulders barley above the waves.

Unlike the old Burgs and the traditional houses in the town, the school building was of modern design with lots of large windows. All federal schools and the Med Centers were kept in excellent condition by the Union government.

From the air the school building looked like a huge silvery letter C sitting flat on top of gray boulders surrounded by the deep green churning waves of the Ocean. The inner area of the C was the school yard and also where the floaters would land. The open side was closed off by a mount of rough rocks reaching almost as high as the flat roof of the two story building.

Dietmar, the thin man who flew the school floater greeted me as usual with a toothy grin as I climbed into the floater to find my usual seat right behind him." Good Morning, Eric. Take a seat at your station and arm all weapon systems! It seems the Shiss are up to no good this morning!"

"Yes Sir. Arming Translocator cannons and Loki torpedoes!" I said climbing the stairs to the second deck and sitting down on the seat right above him. Of course the School floater was not armed and there were no Shiss anywhere near Nilfeheim. Dietmar just knew about my dream to become a Starship captain once and since he was one of the few Neo Vikings who ever went beyond our system, lived on other worlds for many years and had even been to Earth.

I was the third kid he picked up on his morning route and the other two were already in the final grade. Almost sixteen, ready to take the Ancient Challenge and become fully accepted men of our world. Of course they would not speak to someone who just turned twelve and made it to fourth grade and completely ignored me.

Dietmar would pick up fourteen other kids and then fly the final seven-hundred miles to our school usually close to the water surface and at top speed. I loved this part, because if I put my face real close to the front view port it was almost as if I had Freya's feathered cloak and flew like Loki.

Nilfeheim had no birds and none of the local life forms could truly fly. (The Silver-Flicker Fish could glide some distance if it jumped above the waves, using its wide fins.) I had seen real birds however during our last Virtual school trip to an Earth Zoo.

My brothers would of course not use the School-skimmer. That was for commoners and poor clans. They were flown to school by Harkun, my father's manservant in our family floater. I had never even seen the inside of our floater. This was just one more of the demeaning things my father did to underline to everyone who he favored. It did not bother me since I much rather flew with Dietmar than with arrogant stuff and old Harkun anyway.

The school floater landed in the inner area of the big C along with other school and private floaters and everyone went inside.

Right by the main doors I saw Yngve Lofdahl waiting for me. He had a busted; bleeding lip and his left eye was swelling. Like me he was wearing a fur vest over a linen tunic that reached halfway to the knees, linen breeches and boots. Usually he always looked like he wore brand new stuff as his mother took great care before he left home, today his tunic was ripped and his breeches dirty.

Yngve's family belonged to one of the newest clans who weren't older than maybe two or three generations. He was much ridiculed over this fact. That he was perhaps the physical weakest boy in the entire school was not helping either. That his father ran a successful sea weed farm and trading business and that they lived in a very nice house in the City meant little to the others. Yngve's parents were not as strictly Tradition minded and their home featured many off world technology items. For which I envied him. "Who beat you up today?" I asked more or less knowing the answer.

He shrugged and wiped the blood from his lips. "Annar and Gunnar, the twin brothers did it this time but they were egged on by Sigvard."

Fighting, brawling was prohibited on school grounds and strictly enforced. "So they are going to be in real trouble if the teacher asks what happened to you."

"I can't. Sigvard said he kills me and his clan will attack my family and beat up my parents. I will take the detention I am going to get for not speaking but I am not telling anything to Mr. Walters."

I sighed and said." We still have some time. Let's go to the washroom and see if we can fix you up a little. You know the teacher could give you up to 20 days in single detention!"

He shrugged and sighed at the same time." What can I do? Our Clan is very small and far dispersed. We have no Burg we can defend and whatever they do to my family, the Circle of Elders will rule in favor of the Old Clan."

We had reached the bath rooms, no one else was there as everyone else was getting ready for class and he started washing his face and putting a cold towel on his eye." I know you got a raw deal with your father, but you are Olafson and have Ragnarsson blood. The Elders are made up of men of the old clans and the Traditions are always interpreted in favor of them, always!" "Maybe I should tell what happened!"

"You are out of your mind. The Osebergs can't wait for you to do anything stupid to have an excuse to jump all over you and Sigvard hates you because he is jealous of your Clan!" "I am not afraid of them. There is nothing they can do to me that has not already been done to me much worse at home."

He tossed the towels in the recycler and we both headed for class as we had little time to spare and Mr. Walters was a stickler for punctuality.

"You know sometimes I think I should be more afraid of you than Sigvard and his gang!"

I gasped at his statement." What do you mean by that? I have never hurt you!" "Of course not, but you are driven insane by your violent father and one day you may snap and do something really unexpected."

We entered class and everyone was turning and looking. Annar pointed at him and hissed." You say a word and we going to kill you and take care of your parents the old fashioned Viking way!"

Gunnar the twin brother of Annar grinned deeply. "I would kill myself if I had a looser father like that. A weakling like you and who had ever heard of the Lofdahl Clan?" Yngve clenched his fists but slid in his chair and said nothing.

It was my nature. I could not stay quiet and said." Whoever heard of the Peerson Clan? You just challenged a friend of the Olafson Clan and you threatened to attack his home. I wonder what your father will say if he hears you declared Clan feud with the Olafsons without your Clan Chief saying so!"

Annar became pale. All this old Clan stuff was beaten into me on a daily basis and it was easy for me to use it in an argument like that. Despite the fact that it was quite true and Annar would be in a world of trouble.

At that moment Mr. Walters entered the class room.

Walters was almost as massive and strong looking as my father, but he did not have a beard and kept his grey hair closely trimmed to the skull. He wore he usual gray three piece suit and a white shirt underneath. Despite his bulk he could move quickly and completely silent and appear right behind you when you least expected him and thought he was clear across the room.

"Why are you still standing Mr. Olafson? Is there something wrong with your seat or are you planning to leave my class?" "No Sir!"

"No Sir! Is a good start but not an answer! I asked you a distinctive number of questions!" He suddenly made a half turn and scolded Sigvard, who was silently snickering." Since you find that funny , tell me how many questions did I ask Eric?"

Sigvard's smile froze on his face and he shrugged." It's none of my business what you discuss with this Outcast."

"Wrong answer! I just made it your business and I know you heard every word since you found it funny!" He pulled his Personal Data Device from his breast pocket. Something he only did for theatrical reasons, and said." System, record three negative marks against Sigvard Elhir and the same Number against Eric Olafson."

The Device responded with acknowledging beeps.

"Now be seated Mr. Olafson and good morning Class!"

Everyone responded at the same time and 32 boys said." Good Morning Mr. Walters."

He went up to his desk and turned. "Today is the 14th of July 4994 Old Standard time. Do you know what happened exactly 500 years ago on this date?"

He looked over the class and his eyes found Yngve who tried to hide as much as he could by keeping his head down.

"We will discuss the significance of this date after Mr. Lofdahl gave me an answer to the question I am going to ask. Keeping your head down like that could mean you try to hide the facial evidence of tears, lipstick or a fight. Since you are Neo Vikings two of these options are most unlikely. You don't cry and you are not allowed to interact with girls at this stage!" He came closer and commanded sternly." Look at me!"

Of course Yngve did and his eye now was really swollen and turning color.

"Now I see clear evidence of a fight on you and since it is you I doubt I find similar traces on anyone else's face."

Gunnar could barely contain his giggle as he heard that remark.

Mr. Walters did not turn." I was making a logical deduction. Mr. Lofdahl is physically incapable of defending himself against one, much less two or three opponents. That does not mean I think of him any less. I do not have to point out that his mental abilities far outshine anyone else's."

The teacher returned to his desk and pulled his PDD and said." You all know or should know why fighting is prohibited on school grounds. You have been instructed on your first school day and many times since. On many other Union schools in the Galaxy this is just one rule of many and not all that important. Here on Nilfeheim the Union School board found it necessary to make it the number one rule." He pointed at Gunnar." Tell me why!"

Gunnar was no longer smiling and got up." Fighting among pupils and outside of supervised fight classes is strictly prohibited to maintain order and to guarantee a safe and violent free environment to all students."

"And because you Neo Vikings are one stubborn bunch that likes bashing others over the head. The Circle of Elders has given the Union School unrestricted control over the education process and approved the School rules. By breaking these rules you break both Union law and the Ruling of the Elders. All this is very serious and for this reason I am turning off my PDD and I give you all a chance to clear this issue here in class. Fail me and disappoint my trust and I will turn this over to the principal."

He sat down behind his desk." I know of the set of traditions that rule this society. However this is Union ground and that means for example that Mr. Lofdahl and everyone else here is under the protection of the Union. He was attacked under our watch and harmed. He could now insist on Federal Police taking his case!

He looked directly to Gunnar." Federal Police could come and arrest everyone involved and put you before a federal court. If the court finds that Mr. Lofdahl was injured or perhaps black mailed and threatened it could decide on hefty fines, on forced resettlement of the guilty party to a penalty colony a so forth."

He leaned back." Most of you think your Clans are very powerful and the Circle of Elders as the final answer. None of you ever even glimpsed the power and resources of the Union and what it truly means to be a Union Citizen."

Gunnar who was still standing said." Sir, it was me and my brother. We roughed Yngve up a bit this morning."

"It was my brother and me!" The teacher corrected and then nodded." I already deducted that much. "

Mr. Walters said to Yngve. "Go to the school nurse and come back when she is done with you!"

"Yes, Sir. Mr. Walters."

"You will report this afternoon to the detention teacher for sixteen hours for not immediately reporting the incident."

Yngve nodded and left the class room.

Gunnar sat down.

"I have not given you permission to sit!"

Gunnar bolted back up.

"Since you came forward. I want to hear your explanation why you did that. What honor was there to be found by you two attacking one? I thought warriors honor was much important to you!"

Gunnar's face turned red." It was Sigvard who told us to see how far we could go. Yngve's clan is weak and new and Sigvard thought we could earn us a few extra credits."

Sigvard hissed loudly. "Traitors!"

"Gunnar and Annar Peerson you are going to report to the Groundskeeper Office and offer 30 hours of your free time to assist. If you complete your penalty I shall keep my word and there will be no record kept. "

Both brothers nodded in unison. "Yes, Mr. Walters we will do that."

Annar added. "Thank you Mr. Walters."

The teacher raised an eyebrow." Your insight is noted and you may take 10 hours off your penalty."

He then went over to Sigvard. " You however will report to the principal right now!"

Sigvard got up." You Off -Worlders think you can do anything! "

With this he left the class room.

The teacher activated the display board behind him. "Due to the events of today I am going to change the subject of our class today. Instead of history we going to make a little Virtual Excursion and visit a session of the Member Assembly at Pluribus."

He pointed at me." Mr. Olafson. What can you tell me about Pluribus?"

I got up as fast as I could." It is the name of a Sun and a Solar system with six planets. It is the seat of our federal Government."

"Indeed it is. Pluribus Unum is the first planet in that system and it is where all members sent their representatives to meet and discuss all matters of state and union and to make decisions."

The classroom went dark and the display board showed a yellow sun in deep space and the image started to surround us and soon it was as if we sat in an all transparent space ship and approached a bright spot that soon turned into a planet.

"Who can tell me why it is called that way and what does the name mean?"

It was Yngve who answered, so he was back from the nurse's office already." It means out of many, one! Sir."

"Ah you are back. It surprised me not that you know it, but I hoped for someone else answering. Mr. Bergeson can you tell me how this name was chosen and why?"

Alvar Bergeson was a quiet guy who sat just behind me cleared his throat and said meekly." No, Sir I can't recall this fact at the moment. I think I must have had a faulty Cerebral Upload."

"No it was not part of your upload package for this quarter. It was part of the research assignment I gave to you all before Union Week last month."

"Ah yes Sir, I recall."

"After the Union was formed by the four original member civilizations. It was decided to put a new government system and a new government for all onto a new place. They found the Pluribius System, back then not claimed by anyone and in almost equal distance to Saran, Spor, Ulta and Terra. A naming contest was held among all Union Citizens and after elimination process the name Pluribus was chosen. It is form an old Earth language called Latin and means what Yngve said." We are many individuals, many civilizations, many cultures but we are together in one goal and one future."

The planet rushed up on us and our invisible space ship slowed down as it descended into the atmosphere.

It was always an incredible beautiful experience for me to see a garden world from space. It was so incredibly big when it was approached and yet compared to space a mere speck. The thin blue layer of the atmosphere and clouds it all was a feast of colors that suggested hospitality and life.

Mr. Walters's voice explained as the world turned beneath us, towards the main continent. "Pluribus Unum has as you might have noticed 3 continents, huge land masses that unlike your ice continents that form during Longnight never melt. Pluribus Unum is a Planet of many extremes. While it is a classified as a Garden world now, it didn't start out that way. It is the most populated planet in the Union and more than 40 Billion individuals live and work here, with an additional 40 billion commuting almost daily. Every Corporation has either their headquarters here or a major branch office. Every bank including the Federal Union Bank has offices here. More than 4500 Member Civilizations maintain so called Culture Pavilions, while all 4995 Member Civilizations have Representative Offices with support staff here. Every occupied world is represented. I believe Eric's Grandfather is the representative of Nilfeheim.

"Not to mention Courts, Federal Associations, Churches and temples."

He paused as we plunged towards the surface. Walters's gruff voice was replaced by a melodic female voice." Welcome future Citizens to Pluribus Unum. I am Utchat, the Giga Computronic of this world and its voice."

The voice stopped but a melodic harmony vibrated on then it said." As you dive past the Thermosphere into the Mesosphere you will notice the first spires and tops of the tallest Arcologies. Walters's voice interrupted." One moment Utchat, this class is form a Culture Type 191 P environment. "

His tone changed as he addressed us." Arcologies are hyper structures. Complete Cities, enormous habitats of extreme high population density. Providing habitation, recreation and in some cases work all in one place." He then signaled the Computronic to continue.

The female voice seamlessly continued." The tallest Arcology is Schwartz Industries Sky Needle III with 190 kilometers height. Most of the others that become visible now reach heights of up to 85 kilometers.

The second tallest of Enroe Industries becoming visible now, is open for visitors and can be accessed via Pluribus Unum Virtual Tours.

Walters said." We are here to see the Assembly today and watch a session."

"Very good choice."

The visual images were almost incomprehensible. I saw it all. I knew what I was seeing but I could barely process it. There were countless flyers, in all shapes and sizes buildings upon buildings and between the buildings canyons many kilometers deep, with bridges and arcs connecting some of them. But it all was dwarfed by a huge white hemisphere in the back and as our virtual flight speeded up and we rushed towards it kept on growing, everything else around it, buildings, green parks, reduced to miniature size.

"This is the Sphere of assembly. " The Computronic Voice explained." Of course not all representatives are here all the time and some choose to use holographic Avatars, but by custom and not by any rule, most are here in person and here every weekday. The Assembly is always in session around the clock and every day of the year, except during Union Week celebrations."

We passed through the wall and emerged inside a complete sphere. The dome shaped structure we saw from the outside was only half of the entire structure. The inner walls of the sphere were dotted with small alcoves. Each alcove had a desk and several seats. Humanoids and Non Humanoids alike occupied these alcoves. Our floating class room descended further into the middle of the immense sphere. "As you can see many thousand seats are still dark, those are reserved for future members. When the assembly was constructed it was decided to build it with future expansion of the Union in mind. A section of the sphere changed color high lighting twenty alcoves and the Voice said." The seats that I have colorized for you are representatives of the Andromeda Galaxy for example. Who can tell me the first Civilization that joined the Union that was not of this Galaxy?"

I heard Yngve's voice almost immediately answering." It was the Pertharians."

The Computronic managed to sound impressed. "Very good and correct indeed. A Knowledge Citation Star has been awarded to you."

A single seat was highlighted next." These are the representatives of the Artikaa Civilization, admitted as full members only yesterday. They are the very first Civilization joining us from the Large Magellanic Cloud."

Our class room zoomed close to an alcove near the top of the sphere." This is the alcove of your planet. Here your representative adds your voice to this mega culture."

A man in expensive looking traditional Neo Viking dress, with long fur brimmed leather coat and silver beard and hair expertly braided sat there, talking friendly to a non-humanoid being. I suddenly felt a deep pride coming over me. This was my grandfather, Eric Ragnarsson; I had seen him only once as a child while mother was still alive. He looked very stately, and seemed at ease talking to being that looked almost like a very shaggy Fangsnapper.

I wanted to say something to him to let him know I saw him. The Voice said. "I am sorry Future Citizen, but this is a Virtual Experience, there is no interaction with the projected environment or individuals possible."

"How do they all come to any form of conclusion to a problem?" Someone in the class asked.

Walters responded instead of the Voice." Good Question Mr. Lindholm. Every problem, proposal or request is first analyzed by the Office of Proposals and is then sent to the Councils. There are seven Major councils: Science, Political, Foreign Affairs, Military, Health and Medical, Intelligence and Trade and finance. Each Council gives a recommendation and the proposal or problem is posted on GalNet were every citizen can read about them and leave a comment or opinion. For big issues and major proposals it is advertised and Citizens are encouraged to vote on it. The representatives here can add their opinions and comments why a proposal is good or bad for them or whatever else they want to say to an issue. Finally a Computronic analysis is made considering all opinions, recommendations and the Issue complete with the analysis is put up for a vote. The assembly then has a certain time to vote on it."

He took a breath." Sounds a little complicated and it is, but it is the best system we could come up so far to give every citizen the chance to participate."

Lindholm grunted." As if the opinion of a single citizen would make a difference!"

Walters responded." It does and it can. If that citizen's opinion to an issue is a valid point not only does the Computronic recognize that and raise a flag for that Citizens representative, but it also sends the issue back I the analysis cycle to view the issue with the new aspect included. Besides there is a population of approximately one Centillion sentient beings classified as legal Citizens, the chances that more than one has the same opinion about any given issue is quite high and it is usually never just one citizen who objects or suggests something, but every citizen counts and your opinion and your ideas are as important as these of the president."

"What does the president do then?" Asked another student

"The Office of the president has many functions but it does not interfere with the decision and law finding aspect of the assembly. Its main function is to represent us. In cases of foreign affairs the Assembly can give the president a series of options and the president can then choose among those during negotiations. The President becomes the Commander in Chief of the military in case the assembly declares war or war is declared upon us."

Our class room slowly moved to the center and we could now hear a high pitched voice speaking and an insectoid beings image was projected in midair, a moving text band identified the being as the representative of the Klack Empire." Fellow Citizens and those assembled here. Her majesty the queen supreme Nt'gtar thk the 745th has asked me to address docket issue 5 and the continuous Shiss attacks on trade ships running the Corridor and she suggests not only an increase of Fleet patrols but the installation of six trade lane forts along the corridor."

While the Klack spoke a visual representation of the galaxy appeared behind him. All the major species neutral, enemies as well as Union territory were represented in color. Most of the Union was in the upper left quarter of the Galaxy, this quarter was called the upward sector. The Klack Empire enveloped a huge are in the lower left quarter called the Core Ward Sector. There were the Shiss and Nul spheres of influence in between and much unclaimed space. A very long but narrow strip connected the Klack Empire with Union space, known as the Corridor; an enormous amount of space ship traffic went through that Corridor. Neither the Shiss nor the Nul liked the idea that the powerful Klack were Union members now. While the Shiss officially accepted the Corridor they claimed to have no control over private Shiss raiders that kept attacking trade ships.

All this information was transferred via text directly to my retina as I looked at the image.

The representative of a world that was close to the Corridor demanded that war was to be declared against the Shiss and their menace removed once and for all.

While we were there, the Klack proposal was approved and a fleet liaison promised increased fleet patrols along the corridor and the planet representative was happy after it was decided that a special Corridor Patrol fleet was to be created and head quartered in the same system.

The images faded and our classroom returned to its normal boring self.

Walters pocketed his PDD and said." I want you to write about what you think would be an important Nilfeheim issue that should be addressed by the Assembly and then we will role play an assembly session tomorrow. After the break you are to upload sections 4 and 5 of the History Knowledge. Do not upload more than these and don't let me catch anyone forgetting to do it! I will be here to check!"

He sternly looked at each of us and then nodded." Dismissed for lunch break!"

We had two school yards. One was outside and the other one underground and inside, used during Longnight and it was here were the Cafeteria was.

I glanced over the menu." Lobscouse again! "I complained to Yngve who stood in line behind me." Not that I mind it, but she puts way to little fish and way to much beetroot on it."

"Do you realize that she is doing you a favor? At least in a sense of value. The fish are local silver-flicks and you can buy a full kilo for less than a credit. The beetroot comes from New Holland 70 light years away."

"I still don't like it."

"Well you helped me out big time this morning so I am buying lunch. Take what you want."

While I had no money at all, father did not find it necessary to give me an allowance Yngve's father was quite wealthy and Yngve always several hundred Credits to spend on his strip.

Quite happy I accepted his invitation and selected Pizza from the Serve-Matic and Sparkle Bright Soda."

The Cafeteria's viewports were actually underwater and for the most part you did not see anything but the same greenish water and the occasional fish.

I just had finished half my pizza when a collective awe made me look. A huge Tyranno Fin made swam past the view ports.

Everyone tried to give their expert opinion on the sex and size of the fish.

Mr. Walters and another teacher I didn't know by name stood almost next to us and he said." I am teaching Neo Vikings now for almost eight years on this planet and I never seen a Tyranno Fin in the water like that. The other teacher said." I was just transferred here and I am stunned by the size of that thing."

"I think it is what they locally call a Six Double. Meaning it is 2 times 16 meters long and about 90-100 tons. This is not a mammal like the Terran whale but a fish, very fast and very aggressive."

"Is there a man in the water?" The new teacher asked and as he pointed it out we saw it, there was a swimmer in the water and he was unarmed.

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