Thursday, 30 June 2016

Maths Vs The Gang (part 8)

Exam season. Mr Marley was stood at the front of the Sports Hall, bellowing commands themed around Matilda. Mr Jenson was elsewhere, pointing people towards their seat changes and telling them what they needed. An army of examiners, the Sacred Guardians of Silence and Extra Papers, stood at the front, laughing and joking as they prepared themselves for an hour and half of silence.
"All steady on the balcony!" Mr Marley screamed, his voice echoing as it stretched from the bottom of one exam hall wall to the top of the balcony on the other side. Standing on that balcony, sliding their phones into their bags and taking out calculators in return, were a plethora of students, all fighting over a half inch of foot space. A few students shouldered each other out of the way, sending another tumbling towards the wooden rail that guarded balcony goers from a short and uncomfortable fall.
The Gang wrestled their way up the wooden steps, passing a gentleman called Cambo who said, "Make sure you have a protractor," to Sophie. Freya and Ali dumped their bags immediately but Steven, Sophie and Chris kept held of theirs a little longer. In the far distance, between a sea of jostling shoulders and bobbing heads, was a patch of open space where a bag could live quite happily.
"Right, so, trigonometry is the one with the compass, right?" Ellie Wright conferred with a friend of hers who just shrugged and muttered something about juxtaposition.
"Are you feeling ready?" Steven asked, shouting loudly over the sound of the confronting students.
"Only if I had Ready's consent." Sophie replied.
"I've revised Circle Theorems." Chris said. "Nothing else. Just Circle Theorems."
"Don't they only come up on the next paper?" Sophie asked. "I mean, maybe my revision list is wrong? It is Mr Jordan after all."
Chris sighed. "It's been a pleasure knowing you."
"Do you want me to tell your Texan girlfriend you love her?" Sophie laughed, zipping Chris' bag closed.
"Texan girlfriend?" Steven frowned. "What the hell are you on about?"
"It's a long story." Sophie grinned.
"I'm going to die." Freya said, suddenly appearing to their side.
"I thought you went to the Maths revision thing last night? You'll be fine." Ali said, following.
"No. I haven't got a black pen." She buried her face in her hands. "This is the end of the world."
"Keep moving on the balcony!" Mr Marley screamed again.
The Gang kept moving, heading towards the other side of the balcony where a gentleman who looked suspiciously like Bill Gates ushered them down and muttered some melancholy mantra about mobile phones. Steven slid his hand inside his blazer pocket and concentrated really hard. He knew he wasn't meant to misuse his powers but surely helping out a friend wasn't that bad? Pulling his hand back out from beneath his blazer, he revealed a black pen. Freya mouthed, "Thank you," and accepted it. She clicked the button on top and then sighed. The plastic casing might have been black but the ink was blue. Couldn't Steven summon anything properly?
"Good luck." Said Mr Jordan, who was standing at a break in the wall which separated the Sports Hall proper and the balcony path. His accent sung to high heaven of the Pansy School he had attended. "Remember to use algebra."
"Any particular bit of algebra?" Steven asked, but Mr Jordan didn't give him answer.
The Gang were swept to their seats by an impatient tide of students, all counting down the seconds until they could leave once and complain they'd never been taught anything. Steven wandered towards the far side of the room; his surname Bettany demanded it. His seat was directly in front of the stairs they'd walked up, past Cambo. Chris, on the other hand, was on the exact opposite side of the room. It seemed no one at Gilliam High School had a surname that came after Rogers in the Dictionary. His seat was in front of Bill Gates' staircase.
"I am ready now!" Shouted Mr Marley. "I am ready now! Matilda!"
The room hushed to a casual quiet, students turning nonchalantly towards the hi-vis jacketed man standing at the front. "Thank you." He said. "You are now in exam conditions."
Here we go again. Steven thought.

One hour and twenty four minutes later. Mr Donald Jordan was sat on the balcony, next to Ellie Wright's bag. He had a copy of the paper rested on his lap and a ballpoint pen in his hand. He looked at a question on the ratio of paper's thickness and scribbled down an answer. Inside his head, he could feel the minds of Alex, John, Cordie and James alongside all the others working away furiously. It had been strange. When the radioactive explosion had detonated, he'd been talking to a student. The student had been upset they weren't as clever as some other students in the class. He'd said he'd wished he could absorb a bit of their intelligence. Then had come the radioactive wave. Mr Jordan had been thrown across the room but when he woke up, he had a vision. He'd made the devices he'd tested on Alex and John, he'd absorbed their intelligence. Now, he was the Calculator. Thief of mathematical energy. That would teach the others back at Cambridge, the ones who had joked that those who couldn't do something went into teaching it.
The question had, of course, been how to mass produce the devices he'd tested on Alex and John. Even if he had found a way to make lots of the hats, there had been no way to get the students to wear them. The solution then? When in doubt, make it bigger.
He'd designed massive extractor beams which he'd hidden in the crevices of the room, out of sight and out of reach. But they waited, dormant, to be activated and used. Mr Jordan had also designed a targeting system built into the limited supply of free calculators he'd supplied his Top Set class with in tutor the day before. He'd had them moved around to strategic positions in the room so that the largest possible population of students would have their mathematical energy extracted. When he activated the system, beams of energy would shoot from every corner of the Sports Hall, tracing in towards the calculators. The mathematical energy would be all his. All his!!
He pulled out his control calculator and drew out the small electrodes on extendable wires, connecting them to his forehead. Once he had, he held down the On and Shift buttons on the calculator and typed in the code that would start the process. 0000.
The Extractor Beams in the corners of the Sports Hall warmed up and suddenly fired. Green bolts of energy tore through the air, signalling in on each of his rigged calculators. Then they stopped. The entire universe paused. Any remaining radio controlled clocks broke.
Time had frozen.

Steven looked up, realising that Freya had frozen time. "Hey, anyone understand how to work out the ratio of the thickness of pap- oh my god! Look at the freaky death beams of death!"
"What part of exam conditions didn't you get?" Ali asked. "Also, why are there freaky death beams of death?"
"Look!" Sophie cried, leaping from her seat. "It's Mr Jordan! Just as Mr Phillips suspected! The beams must be what he's been using on the missing maths students."
Steven pulled his blazer off and tore open his shirt, revealing his green, Summoner tunic. The others frowned. "Have you been wearing that the entire time?" Ali asked.
Steven nodded. "All of yesterday as well. I was dreading PE tomorrow."
Ali shook her head. "You are actually concerning."
"Just like this school." Chris quipped. "We need a plan."
"I can't detect the probability of the system failing." Sophie said, closing her eyes. "I think that it's foolproof."
"It can't be!" Steven cried, pulling his mask out of his blazer pocket and summoning his cape. "Mr Jordan built it!"
"Chris, what are we going to do?" Freya demanded. "You're the leader!"
"No. I don't know what to do!" Chris cried. "Captain Jaffa Cake is the leader."
Sophie smiled. "You are Captain Jaffa Cake."
"I'm Captain Jaffa Cake." Chris whispered to himself, closing his eyes as he concentrated. "I'm Captain Jaffa Cake."
When he reopened his eyes, he had a plan. "Flish, distract Mr Jord-"
"My name is not Mr Jordan!" Cried their Maths teacher. Freya suddenly realised that if her time freezing powers didn't affect the other radioactive superheroes, they wouldn't affect a radioactive supervillain either. Standing up, the maths teacher laughed. "I am the Calculator! Calculatrons! Attack!"
Before Steven could state that the villain needed to think of a better name, there was the sudden sound of electronic buzzing. The heroes looked around and saw the thirty free calculators Mr Jordan had given out coming to life. They unfolded, arms sliding out of the side and legs from the bottom. Eyes appeared on the screens and buttons slid away, replaced by small cannons. They began to fire the same green laser bolts as the Extractor Canons. Chris swore. "Flish, Tempus! Round up the Calculatrons! Lucky Cat, Summoner, with me!"
"What are we doing?" The Summoner demanded.
Chris grinned. "Saving the world!"

A Calculatron, in all its plastic glory, leapt towards Tempus, spraying tiny bolts of green energy towards her. She froze them, pulling her power harnessing stopwatch from her pocket, and knocked the bolts out of the air. She caught a tiny Calculatron that was leaping towards her, slinging it to her left. It flew suddenly, head over tails, spinning through the frozen air until it reached the general vicinity of Ellie Wright's head. The Flish exploded into existence just in time, catching the Calculatorn and crushing it with the strength coursing through her. She continued running, outracing the bolts of energy following her, until she reached the Sports Hall wall and ran straight up it, flipping over in midair and landing behind the Calculatrons. They spun, confused, and she grinned at them, before running at full speed in their general direction. Plastic and wire exploded in all directions.
The Summoner and Lucky Cat raced up the stairs, Chris quick on their heels. Lucky Cat splayed her hand at the sprinklers on the roof and willed a fire alarm to set off. The probability changed and water began to spray. "No!" The Calculator screamed. "If the papers are destroyed, I have nothing to channel the mathematical energy through!"
"Oh, you don't want the papers destroyed, do you not?" The Summoner laughed and summoned a clone army of his French teacher, who had once destroyed her entire class' papers, including the one on which Steven was sure he'd got an A*.
"No!" The Calculator cried. He turned to the three heroes as they reached the top of the balcony. Electrodes were connected to his forehead, wires leading from them to a calculator in his top pocket. He reached into the recesses of his baggy jeans and pulled out fifteen protractors. "It wasn't Alex who stole them after all!" He cried, and as they glinted in the light, Lucky Cat realised the protractors were made from sharpened steel.
Tempus ran and leapt onto a desk, summersaulting from it and onto the next. She wondered what it all looked like to the students being forced to watch, frozen to their seats and the second. Probably all very confusing, she suspected.
A Calculatron fired at her but she swung her leg out and decimated it with a simple kick. More of them teamed up- it seemed the Calculator had made more than just thirty- and tried to swarm over her but she fought them off. As she continued her frenzied leap from table to table, Calculatrons flying from her in midair, she danced over clone French teachers who were busy touching papers and making them disappear. Tempus leapt from one table to the next, the Flish racing through the archway made by her legs. Swarming Calculatrons fell and smashed against the floor, detonating and causing mini balls of fire to bloom. Tempus froze them, a bead of sweating rolling down her forehead as she concentrated. The Flish absorbed the energy of the fire and allowed it to course through her. She moved even quicker.
A sword suddenly appeared in the Summoner's hand. For a moment, he was too busy grinning at the fact he'd managed to summon something so easily. Then he realised what he actually needed to be doing. He swung it and raced towards the Calculator. Protractors swung through the air, spinning in rapid rotations. The Summoner ducked, allowing it to continue straight through the air and bury itself deep in the wall behind him. He swung his sword and raced onwards. Lucky Cat followed, changing the probability of the Calculator's aim so that none of the protractors found a target. Once they were close enough, the Summoner struck out with his sword but the Calculator was quick to defend, drawing an enlarged compass spear. He caught the blade and knocked it sideways, before sending out a powerful kick. The Summoner tumbled and fell over the wooden balcony.
"Steven!" Lucky Cat screamed and plunged after him. As they both fell, she changed the probability of a PE teacher having done their job properly to be even less likely. Suddenly, no one had put away the trampoline and the two of them landed with a soft bounce rather than an uncomfortable fall.
The Calculator laughed malevolently and turned to dispatch the final hero. More protractors shot out from his hands, swirling through the air, striking dead centre for their target. But Chris had found his bag and the box of Jaffa Cakes inside it. The protractors broke through a layer of chocolate and became stuck in a large bed of Jaffarey goodness.
"You know, Calculator, your plan just doesn't add up. You obviously hadn't counted on us taking you down." Said Captain Jaffa Cake, resplendent in his bright orange suit. His cape flowed out from behind him and his mask hid the morphed contours of his face.
"Who are you?" The Calculator demanded.
"Jaffa Cake shield. Jaffa Cake symbol on the chest and belt. Do the math!" Captain Jaffa Cake and then slung his shield out. It swung through the air, rotating rapidly and smashing straight into Calculator's chest.
The Calculator only just managed to get to his feet before the Captain was swinging out another powerful fist, straight into the Maths Teacher's jaw.
Captain Jaffa Cake deflected a punch with a new Jaffa Cake shield and swung one of his own. The Calculator ducked and kicked out, straight towards the Captain's knee.
Chris found himself backing away. His leg hurt but he couldn't give up now. The Summoner and Lucky Cat had joined the Flish and Tempus, destroying exam papers and Calculatrons alike. He owed them this. He needed to help them. Despite being in terrible pain, he soldiered forwards and punched the Calculator once-
-before punching him again and knocking him backwards. "I'm glad you're an evil villain!" Captain Jaffa Cake cried, blocking a blow and delivering one of his own.
The Calculator fell backwards. One of his electrodes fell off his forehead and the Calculatrons instantly collapsed. Captain Jaffa Cake grinned. "Now that we've brought you to justice, maybe there's a chance we'll get a decent teacher!"

About half a minute later, once Tempus had unfrozen time, Mr Marley walked into the room. He had La Foule by Izzy Bizu stuck in his head and he didn't know if he appreciated it very much. Opening his mouth as wide as his skull like face would allow, he screamed, "Last five minutes! How many goals are scored in the last- Oh."
The questions that crossed Mr Marley's mind in that exact second were quite similar to the ones transcribed here. Why did none of the students have papers? Why was Steven Bettany putting his shirt on over a green tunic? Why were there hundreds of burnt out calculator robots on the floor? Why were a hundred clones of one of the MFL teachers marching out of the fire escape?
There was a loud crash behind him and he looked up to see the balcony smashed and damaged like some sort of brawl had taken place. Then he saw the victim of the brawl; Mr Jordan, stuck to the wall by a splash of what looked like the jaffaery goodness from a Jaffa Cake.
"What part of exam conditions didn't they get?" He whispered to himself, wondering when he was going to wake up back in bed with Mrs Marley at five this morning.

A week later, a lot had changed. Exams had been cancelled, because no story about teenagers fighting evil teachers can end without exams having been cancelled. Mr Jordan had been locked up in a prison for the criminally insane. PE had also been cancelled, much to everybody's satisfaction apart from Ali. "Seeing that I'm actually good at it nowadays, I just wouldn't be able to prove it, would I?" She laughed.
"Can I have a word with you?" Mr King asked, noticing the five of them walking towards Maths with their new supply teacher.
"Yeah, sure." Chris frowned. The others followed him into Mr King's office. There weren't enough seats for them to all sit down so they all stood instead. Steven spotted a copy of Wuthering Heights and physically cringed.
"This sounds rather ridiculous but you're responsible students so I'm sure you can trust you with it." Mr King said. "I'm looking at you and I'm seeing the future of this country. Programmers," he looked at Chris, "writers," he looked at Steven, "mathematicians and scientists," he looked at Sophie and Ali, "Hell, I can even see a future Prime Minister!" He looked at Freya. "I'm looking at the five of you and I know that I can trust you. Do you understand how much that means? The trust I'm putting in you."
"Sir, what is it?" Steven asked. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes." Mr King said. "I was speaking to Mr Jordan yesterday and he claimed that he was beaten up by five superheroes. This can go no further, you understand. This is between the six of us. But he said that he was beaten by five superheroes, and he claimed that you five were those superheroes. What do you have to say on the matter?"
"Us?" Chris laughed. "Superheroes? That's a hilarious idea!"
"Yeah, as if we could save the world?!" Sophie added. "We're just teenagers."
Mr King smiled. "Don't be so hard on yourselves. I sometimes think teenagers are the only people who can save the world!"
Before any of the Gang could reply with something equally sentimental and emotional, Steven felt a buzzing in his pocket. He pulled out a calculator; one of the Calculatrons that Chris had reprogrammed to work as a direct line to the computer in the cave beneath the school. A message from Mr Phillips was displayed on the screen. Trouble at Jordan's Prison. Come quickly. "I'm terribly sorry, sir. Is that all?"
"Are you in a rush, Bettany?" Mr King asked,
Looking down at his calculator, Steven grinned. "I suppose you could say we're going to be late for Maths."

The Gang Will Return

"The Gang" by Mitchell Simpson

After Credits Scene (sort of)

The English Teacher picked up her highlighter and slid it into the holster on her belt. She stepped over to her propeller pack and slid it onto her back. Walking over to the open windows, she flew away. Maths may have fallen but English was, and always would be, superior...

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