The Kallans – Academy: Words

The Kallans – Academy: Words

THE pounding on the door gradually seeped through into his semi-conscious brain. Daniel Ravika pulled himself from his sleep and sat up. He stared at his desk in front of him. He mused have fallen asleep at it while working on his assignments the previous night. Not good. He should have gone to bed earlier. Studying at the Academy and remotely at Danger University was always going to be hard.

The sound of the banging on the door continued.

“Yeah?” he called out as he rubbed his eyes and massaged his temples to try and wake himself up. “Who is it?”

“It’s me,” came the voice of Emma Jarayka through the room intercom, his girlfriend and one of his fellow classmates. “It’s time to go for breakfast.”

“Hang on,” he called back to her, as he stood up, still groggy from the deep sleep he’d been woken from so suddenly. He stretched and glanced at himself in the mirror. He had a mark on the side of his head where the desk had left an impression on him. He rubbed the mark to make it go away, but it didn’t work. He shook his head slightly and then turned and walked to the door, quickly splashing some water on his face and glancing at the clock.

It was 6:30 in the morning. A little early for Emma. He opened the door, drying off his hands with a towel.

“This is early for you,” he commented as he gave her a welcoming kiss. “What brings you here?”

“I was looking at the program for today’s classes and noticed something amazing,” she began, but a little too loudly for the corridor at that time of day, even with all the soundproofing Kallan buildings had.

“That’s good, but let’s head up to the lounge down the corridor,” Daniel replied, gesturing her in the direction of the lounge. “We can grab a coffee. Michael isn’t here this week.” Michael was his roommate who’d had to visit his family suddenly at the weekend and wasn’t back yet.

They walked up the corridor, only a few rooms away, to the open space that was one of the students lounge. Emma sat down excitedly, while Daniel grabbed two coffees from the bimol. Passing one to her he sat down at her side.

“So, what did you want to tell me about the program for the day?”

“You know we’ve got the Astrolinguistics class today,” she began, speaking quickly.

“Yeah,” Daniels said nodding. He took a sip of his coffee. His head was still groggy.

“I checked the program this morning…”

“So you said earlier.”

“I noticed that it now has a guest speaker listed.”

“Ok.”

“You’ll never guess who it is!” She squeezed his arm tight with both her hands. The sudden pain woke him up completely, more than the coffee had up to that point.

“I’ve no idea,” he said, deciding to not even try and guess and just let her carry on with her story.

“Surely you must know!”

“Nope,” he replied again, “it was a late night and it’s now too early for me to think properly.”

“It’s Professor Andrew Chavika!”

He recognised the name, but languages were more Emma’s thing that his. Anything to do with that she would know and he probably wouldn’t. “Ok,” he finally said.

“You know Professor Chavika works for KIL?” Emma said.

KIL stood for the Kallan Institute for Linguistics, the main linguistic and astrolinguistic centre for study in the Kallan Empire.

“I know now because you mentioned it,” he joked with her. “I recognised his name, but didn’t know why.”

“He’s their main researcher,” she said, trying to emphasise the importance of this event. He smiled inwardly at her enthusiasm.

“It will make the lesson more interesting,” Daniel observed.

“Absolutely. He’s been doing a lot of research into some of the older Kallan languages, especially from when they first arrived in Kalla.”

“That’s great for you!” Daniel said, pushing the enthusiasm up slightly for Emma’s sake.

“It’s amazing. I’ve done so much research into the older languages when I was at school and want to pursue this more for the MCI. This is a perfect opportunity to do that.”

“Then make sure you talk to him outside of class time while he’s here,” Daniel replied, trying to encourage her more. This was her thing and would really be a bonus to her passion for language.

“I will, I will,” she said decidedly. “Let me tell you about his latest theories.”

 

THE class was more interesting than perhaps he would have first thought. It was very positive, very enthusiastic, and very cleverly taught. Professor Chavika was clearly an expert and was very dedicated to his field of study. His way of teaching kept the full attention of just about every student in the classroom. Though Daniel had learned a few languages as part of his schooling before, he wasn’t a dedicated linguaphile like Emma was, but what Chavika was teaching made the whole topic more intriguing.

He looked around for Emma after the class had finished, noticing her leave the classroom with the professor. He had expected her to try and get a one-on-one conversation with him.

He started to head out of the classroom to see if he could join in on the conversation, but Vitogra intercepted him.

“Quite the class,” the Mitioan said to him.

“It was indeed,” Daniel replied, slowing down and stopping. He didn’t want to look like he wasn’t interested in talking to Christophe, but he really wanted to find out what specifically Emma was interested in talking with Chavika about. He had a gut feeling, and it wasn’t a good one, but he was just going to have to let her talk to the professor and catch up with her later.

“What did you make of his comments about the increasing importance of studying the historical Kallan languages more?” he posed to Vitogra.

“Interesting,” replied Vitogra, “I hadn’t realised that they were so poorly studied.”

“That’s harsh,” interjected Vitogra’s girlfriend Sara Niryka as she arrived at his side, threading her arm through his.

“What’s harsh?” Vitogra replied to her, turning slightly to look at her with a puzzled expression on his face.

“To say they’re poorly studied!”

Ravika laughed. “She has a point,” he said.

Vitogra smiled, the big smile he often had on his face. He was a person who smiled a lot.

“You know what I mean,” he replied. “They’ve not studied them extensively, which is…”

“Surprising,” Daniel finished for him, interrupting what he was saying. “I thought so too.”

“What’s surprising?” asked Theo Miazah as he joined the growing group of friends.

“That they haven’t studied the older languages more,” explained Daniel. Emma still hadn’t returned and, he couldn’t see her through the door.

Theo nodded at his statement. “They’ve always been obsessed,” he said referring to the Royal family and its well know interest in history, “but since the last two Kordagsars took the throne the interest has increased. It’s no surprise that Chavika seems to be more successful in pushing further research and study.”

The group of friends nodded.

“Where’s Emma?” asked Sara looking around.

“She’s with the professor,” Daniel commented. “I know she wanted to chat with him about a few things.”

“I bet!” Sara said.

“But I don’t think we’ll see her for a bit,” Daniel added, turning his attention back to the group. “Do you all want to come back to my room for dinner. Michael’s away still so I’ve got the room to myself.”

Everyone nodded. “Sounds great!” said Vitogra.

“I’ll send a message to Emma to meet us back at my place,” Daniel said, turning to make his way out of the door. He walked into the corridor. Emma was nowhere to be seen.

 

THE group had been back at his room for more than an hour before Emma arrived. She entered the room with an excited smile on her face. Ravika knew from her face that the meeting with Chavika had gone very well.

Surprisingly, Emma didn’t talk about the chat with Chavika to anyone in the group. She got involved in the discussions about the classes, but not as involved as he would have expected her to be. When the topic drifted onto other topics she became even less involved.

Daniel was sat next to her on the cream coloured sofa. He studied her face for a few moments before he finally asked her: “So, how did it go?”

It took her a moment for her mind to register what Daniel had said. “Great,” she said when she finally spoke.

“Great?”

“Amazing really.”

“How, did he offer you a job?”

She looked at him. “Er, yeah. How did you know?”

“I can see you’re thinking about something.”

“Oh. Yes, he offered me a job at the Institute.”

“And…”

“I’m thinking about his offer.”

With that statement she stopped talking about the subject. She got up from her seat, went across to Sara Niryka and began chatting with her. Daniel watched her from his seat. She was being cagey. Why?

 

THE next day nothing had changed. The classes passed one by one during the day, and in contrast to the previous day, Emma kept a distance from him. She greeted him, but quickly moved on to other friends and to other topics. He saw less of her than on a typical day.

By the evening, Daniel was really worried. Emma had shrugged him off again before spending some time chatting with Sara Niryka. After they had finished talking, Daniel went up to Sara.

“Sara, has Emma said anything to you about her conversation with Professor Chavika yesterday?” he asked her.

“No,” she said, pulling a slightly puzzled expression on her face, “she’s kinda dodged discussing it.”

Daniel nodded in acknowledgment.

“She just said it had gone really well,” Sara continued, “and that she was gonna have to think a bit about what he said.”

“She seems to be doing that for sure,” Daniel replied, more open that he would normally be. Sara picked up on it immediately.

“She’s not talked to you about it?”

“No, she’s ‘dodged’ answering questions about it to me as well.”

A little out of character Sara paused, before she replied. “Give her some time. Maybe she needs time to process before she talks to you about it.”

“I was thinking the same,” Daniel replied, his voice betraying a little more emotion than he normally did, “and I’ve given her space. But we’d been talking about getting married sometime after we finish at the Academy. That being the case, why hide things like this from me?”

“She’ll come around,” Sara said, resting her hand on his forearm reassuringly.

Daniel nodded, before thanking her and heading off to try and find Emma.

 

HE found her in the open courtyard in the middle of the Academy’s main building. The building was square like, but with three main wings that formed three of the sides of the square, before opening out to the mountainside above where the fourth side would be.

Emma was sat on one of the benches, surrounded by her bag and a variety of electronic pads she’d been using. It looked like she was studying something complex.

“Can I join you?”

She nodded, and he sat down on the bench, though she didn’t make any room for him to sit next to her.

“What you studying?” he asked her.

“Some old documents professor Chavika suggested I look at,” she responded.

“They look like they’ve caught your interest.”

“Uh huh,” she responded, still focusing on one of the electronic pads, before cross referencing something with another one.

He waited a little longer but didn’t get any more of a reaction from Emma.

“Do you want to take a break and go for a walk?” he asked her eventually.

He waited a moment for Emma to register what he had said. She lifted her head to look at him. She clearly wasn’t focused on the conversation he was trying to start.

“What? A walk?” she finally said. “Where?”

“Academy Point?”

She looked at him again, still not fully focused on their conversation. “Yeah, ok.”

He stood up from the bench and held out his hand to her. She collected her things into a pile, before grabbing his hand and standing up. As they made their way out of the far side of the courtyard towards the mountain on which the Academy was built, Emma put her books and pads into a locker that was situated at the edge of the grounds. Once done, the two of them walked through the gates and on to the trail up to Academy Point.

Daniel didn’t immediately push a conversation about the Professor, nor did he jump to talk about the job offer she’d mentioned.

“So you enjoyed the class yesterday?” Daniel asked her.

She paused a moment before answering. “Immensely.”

“I thought so, you were so keen to talk to the Professor after the class.”

“It brought together so much for me,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“For a long time I didn’t know how I would fit into the MCI, whether I had anything of value to offer.”

Daniel looked at her, a little surprised by her comment. “I don’t understand, I thought you wanted travel through space.”

“I do, but I didn’t know how I would fit in the ‘system’ that would give me access to travelling through space.”

“And now you do?”

“More than I did before. I think.”

Daniel squeezed her hand slightly to acknowledge her feelings. “How come you never told me before?”

“I didn’t know what I felt,” she began to reply, “about the MCI and how it would relate to me. I knew I had some skills that might be useful, but from the time I did my first spacejump, I knew that I wasn’t really an ideal MCI recruit. You knew that, right?”

He was unsure where this conversation was heading, but it didn’t feel right in his mind and that unsettled him a lot. Knowing she’d been offered a job and the way this was going didn’t bode well. He didn’t want to interrupt her conversational flow, even though he was eager to ask questions about what exactly she was trying to tell him.

Nodding to her question, he replied: “I knew you weren’t the most comfortable with the system.”

“Exactly, and though I tried to convince myself I would fit into it, and although I kept on working to push myself more to fit into the way the MCI is, I knew I wasn’t completely settled.”

She stopped speaking for a minute or two, and they quietly walked on up the path towards the peak of the mountain. Ravika chose to keep quiet until she wanted to say something more. Eventually she carried on with what she was saying.

“I know this isn’t making complete sense at the moment, and it’s probably surprising you a little that I am thinking this way. But I’ve finally realised what I want, partly a result of talking with the Professor yesterday.”

She paused again, Daniel still restraining himself from saying something or asking anything.

“He highlighted that I have a great deal of skill with languages. ‘One of the best linguists I’ve seem to come from the Academy’ were his words. He drew my attention to my inquisitive nature when it comes to languages, especially deciphering older ones. I realised then that I love the thrill of investigating…, researching…, delving into every aspect of language.”

Emma turned to Daniel to see what his reaction was. He smiled at her and nodded. “You are breathtakingly brilliant with learning and deciphering languages.”

She smiled, a slight blush appearing on her cheeks at the compliment. She pushed a couple of stray strands of hair behind her ear.

“And,” Daniel continued, “you’ve been working hard not only on your studying directly hear at the Academy, but also remotely at Danger University for your linguistic studies with them. That takes a strong passion and determination.”

“It’s been exhausting,” she commented, nodding at what he had said, “but it’s been worth the effort. Professor Chavika referred to that.”

She went quiet again for another minute or two as they continued their work. Daniel was now more convinced that she was about to tell him something he wasn’t going to like.

“So,” he said after he’d waited a bit longer, “what’s made you so evasive this past day. What has the conversation with the Professor led you to do?”

There was a silence again as they continued their work. Daniel waited patiently for her to get the courage to say whatever was concerning her.

“He offered me a job at KIL,” she finally said, “after we finish the Academy in the summer.”

Here she was coming to the point she’d touched on the day before. The job. The future.

“For the summer?” Daniel said in response.

“No, permanently.”

“Permanent work at KIL?”

“Yeah.” She said it quietly and almost inaudibly.

Daniel felt his heart sink.

“So you’re not going into space with the MCI?” he asked her.

“No… Well, I don’t think so.”

“I thought we were going to try and get a posting on the same starship?”

“I know that was our plan,” she said. Ravika could her that she was getting a little irritated in her tone. “But plans can change.”

“So what are you expecting me to do if you stay here in Kalla?” Ravika was trying to remain calm in his tone, but he was beginning to panic inside. He wasn’t used to situations getting away from him.

“How do I know?” she said snapping at him. She only snapped at him when she was under pressure she didn’t know how to deal with.

Daniel reassuringly pulled her towards him, his arm around her shoulder. He rested his chin gently on the top of her head, and the two walked on a little further to a small stone outcrop that they could sit on. He sat down and she sat next to him. He looked at her face carefully. She was on the verge of tears.

“Look,” he said, facing her directly and looking straight into her eyes, “I’m not wanting to hold you back from something that you love and that you feel settled in.”

She nodded, trying to smile. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“I know I love you, and I love you enough to let you do this without trying to stop you. Maybe this is something we just need to see how it works out.”

“We can try it and see,” she said, “because I’m sure you’ll get assigned to a starship at the end of this final year. Maybe we can keep our relationship strong even if we are apart more.”

“If I get an assignment into space, I’ll come back as often as I can.”

She smiled, wiping away the remaining tears she had in her eyes. She hooked her arm through his and leaned on his shoulder.

“Let’s try it.”

“Just promise me that you’ll communicate with me better,” Daniel said after another minute or two. He stared out towards the horizon as he said it, moving his right hand on top of her arm to reassure her. “I would have been happy to listen and help you with how you felt.”

“I will. I promise,” she said. “Thank you for being so understanding.”

Daniel smiled, but the deep emptiness in the pit of his stomach hadn’t gone away.

They sat and looked out at the horizon as the evening light grew dimmer before making their way back down the mountain to the Academy.

 

THAT evening Daniel laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. His mind wouldn’t switch off. He couldn’t sleep even though he was so tired. His thoughts constantly went back to the conversation he’d had with Emma earlier that day. He wasn’t convinced she was as attached to their relationship as he was. Yes, she was upset about things. They’d been friends since childhood. She would be upset just to part ways regardless as to whether they were together or not. But crucially, she hadn’t said one thing. She hadn’t said: “I love you.”

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