Maths Vs The Gang
"I'm really glad they've sorted the sets out." Freya said, standing sensibly against the wall outside Mr Jordan's classroom in Math Block. "I mean, I don't have any problems with Sharon but, well, y'know."
"Yeah." Replied Steven, sprawling nonchalantly against the wall so that he could be the same height as the others. "She's the human embodiment of Tumblr."
"I wouldn't go that far." Sophie said. "Is she really human?"
"I'm glad you guys are back too." Chris said. "Some of the last set one students were, well, not proper set one students. Science will be so much nicer without them."
"Science can never be enjoyable. Not without Mr Andrews." Sophie said, putting her hand to her heart.
"That is a little bit weird." Chris pointed out.
"Only a little?" Asked Ali. "You know, I reckon that Sophie is a full on nutcase."
"Only a full on nutcase? That's awfully lenient of you, thanks Ali." Sophie said.
"Hello there." Said someone that, for a second, they believed was just a lost year seven asking for directions. Before Ali, who didn't particularly like the younglings of the school population, could tell them where they could go, she realised they were mistaken. The assumed twelve year old was actually their maths teacher, Mr Jordan. "Looking forwards to some fun maths?"
"Oh absolutely," Steven said, before muttering, "not that I'm expecting any."
"Come on in." Mr Jordan said, pushing open his classroom door and leading everyone in. The class flowed in like a reservoir flows through a crack in a dam, as long as you assumed it was a reservoir of uninterested, sweaty and tired teenagers. Looking around, Steven was quite confused. Despite the fact that he was now sat in the rightful Set One, forgetting any errors resulting from incorrect examination planning, there were still a lot of people from his time with Sophie in Set Two. He spotted Ellie Wright and Jack, as well as a few of the more disruptive students. His conspiracy was right! The school did want him to fail! "There's a seating plan on the board."
Steven was delighted to see that he was sat with Chris and so the two of them assumed their spots, just in front of the board. There was a poster just beneath it announcing the various things you were meant to do at the beginning of each lesson; get your books out, write the date and title, begin the provided starter. Chris and Steven did neither of them because that was Mr Jordan's class etiquette. Why do something when you didn't absolutely need to?
Mr Jordan left it a good ten minutes before saying, "Thank you and welcome to Mr Jordan Maths. We haven't got too long until the exams so we really need to buckle down and get to work. For that reason, this week we're going to just go back over the basic things like BIDMAS and the Law of Indices before moving onto exam revision next- what day is your exam on?"
Ellie rose her hand.
"Which day, Ellie?" Mr Jordan asked.
"Where's Alex and John, sir? Are they not in top set, sir?"
"That doesn't answer my question, Ellie."
"Oh my god, sir. I was only asking a question, sir."
"The exam is on Thursday, sir." Freya said.
"Right, well, I won't see you on Monday because of the Bank Holiday and not on Tuesday either because of this new timetable so we can start revision next Wednesday."
"Where are Alex and John, sir?" Becca asked from the back of class. "Are they really not in top set anymore?"
"I assume they're ill." Jordan said, with a strange glint in his eye. "Now, let's do some work, shall we?"
"I'll believe that when I see it." Steven said.
An hour passed and four questions were set. For the five radioactive anomalies, the hour passed slowly but when it finally did, they were glad to get out. Mr Jordan asked to speak to James and Cordie, probably the most intelligent students after Alex and John. "I feel sorry for them," Sophie said, "I'd hate to spend anymore time than I have to in here!"
Lunch time came and, with it, the noisy bustle of the lunch hall. It was comparable to the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul in the way that it seemed to thrive with life and commotion. Conglomerations of students gathered around inappropriate tables- four students taking up an eight seater and six students squeezing onto four seaters. Water leapt from bottles and crumpled up polystyrene containers were pushed into the huge red bins, dotted around like recycled plastic sentinels. The walls held posters advertising an E-Safety week from 2012 and pieces of environmental art created by the summer schoolers. Someone had taken the twenty pence tag from a sandwich wrapper and stuck it on, but somehow Chris doubted it was worth even that.
In the canteen proper, where Ali was avoiding the throng of Year Sevens who seemed to cling to ankles like barnacle clung to the hull of a ship, there was war afoot. In a strange rendition of the Hunger Games' plot, students were brutally murdering each other in a fight to grab the last packet of Squares- which should really have been entitled Rectangles- or, the most coveted of all the food, the last slice of stuffed crust pizza. The smell arising from the kitchens where the apron clad angels known as dinner ladies performed their delicate ballet of serving was the sort of smell that would kill Jamie Oliver at five hundred metres. His puffy little eyes would have welled up in horror as he caught the scent of food that children actually liked. Pizza, burgers- there were even hot dogs like the ones Molly had infamously choked on in Year Seven. It was a veritable paradise of unhealthy nosh.
On the other side of the Canteen were the four podiums around which disgruntled dinner ladies charged students. At least four times a Student Council meeting was the placement of these podiums discussed and not once in the last fifteen years had such an action been taken. Ali paid and then stepped onto the other side, passing the trays of plastic cutlery. A yob whose name had graced the lips of every shouting teacher in the school at least fifteen times that day already took half a dozen of each instrument so he could parade around, throwing them at unexpecting students. Ali rolled her eyes and continued, passing a sign on the wall declaring that Tootoot was coming. Four years they'd been there and it still hadn't arrived.
She reached the eight seater the other four were sat on and took her rightful place, next to Steven and diagonally opposite Sophie. Steven was pointing at two students on a four seater close by. "Is it me," he began, "or do they look like a pair of unemployed coalminers? Like, look at them. They aren't talking, they aren't eating, they're just sat there, staring into space, wondering why their precious trade union didn't protect them better."
Sophie shook her head. "I worry about you sometimes, Steve. I really do."
"What do you mean only sometimes?" Ali said. "I've never heard such cr-"
"Hello there." Said a teacher they called Olly Murs' Cousin on account of the fact that he looked vaguely like Olly Mur if you squinted and didn't know what Olly Murs looked like. "You're Chris, aren't you?"
Chris nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Mr Phillips wants to see you."
"He never wants to see us." The others sulked.
"Do you know where I could find," Olly Murs' Cousin consulted a scrap of paper scrawled over with his awful handwriting, "Freya, Steven, Ali and Sophie? He wants to seem them too."
"Hallelujah!" Steven cried. He jumped up, swinging his bag over his back. "Let's go!"
"Can I finish my pizza?" Ali asked.
"No!" Steven shouted. "This is the opportunity on a lifetime!"
"We've got Computer Science with him for two hours tomorrow." Chris said.
"I don't care. We need to go see him!" Steven cried.
"Calm down." Sophie said. "Else people might start to think you feel towards Mr Phillips as I do to Mr Andrews."
"Wouldn't be surprised." Ali said.
The five of them walked out of the Lunch Hall and up some steps, towards Mr Phillips' room at the top. They passed a teacher screaming at a Year Eight, but she didn't seem to have realised the misbehaver was still wearing his earpods so couldn't hear anything being shouted. Chris knocked once on the door and then opened it. The classroom was empty and delightfully cool compared to the lunch hall. Mr Phillips was waiting for them with a smile on his face. He was about the same height as Chris, so a little shorter than Steven, and had a head of light ginger hair. He had the amazing quality to be terrifying to the naughty kids but lovely to the behaving students. It wouldn't be wrong to assume he was their favourite teacher. "Have a look at the board, guys."
They looked at his smart board and their smiles wiped away. A newspaper article on the Gazette's website read, 'Bridge Saved By Mysterious Heroes and Lots Of Seagulls.' He changed tab and there was another tab which read, 'Dawn of Seagull Man?'
"Can I give you a piece of advice?" He asked. "If you're going to be superheroes, at least hide your identities well."
"How did you know it was us?" Freya asked. "We're really sorry by the way."
"I have certain powers myself." He said. "I need to share something with you."
"What is it?" Steven asked.
He pointed to the cupboard. "Have a look."
Tentatively, the Gang wandered over to the walk in cupboard and discovered it looked pretty much the same as it always did. But, as Mr Phillips reached in and pulled a hook on the wall, they realised they were wrong in their observation. A computerised voice said, "Lift Going Down."
"Step in." Mr Phillips grinned.
The six of them stepped into the cupboard and began to head down into the cave beneath the school...
"This is like something from Havecheese." Said Ali, referencing the Catman prequel series.
The cupboard had gone down for about a minute and half before stopping, every second of those ninety absolutely terrifying. It seemed to screech against the walls on either side, as if any second the walls would cave in and they'd be swallowed by the stone. Instead, they'd come to a polite stop and the back wall had slid open, shelves disappearing to either side. It revealed a tunnel carved into the stone. Steven reckoned it almost certainly required helmets and a risk assessment. What would Ofsted think?
"Why is there a cave under the school?" Chris asked, following Mr Phillips as he led them out of the lift and down the stony corridor. The walls were rough and cold, the out jutting spikes and dark crevices caught in the light of the wire caged bulbs hanging from the ceiling. "You teachers have a staffroom. Why do you need a cave as well?"
"How much do you guys know about the history of the school?" Mr Phillips asked.
Steven raised his hand, grazing it on the low roof. "A couple of weeks ago, the science block exploded."
Nobody said anything.
Mr Phillips sighed. "Kids these days, huh? Don't know anything. The school was founded in 1955 by Desmond Gilliam. Desmond was a Brigadier General in World War Two who went to war poor and came back rich. He built this place as a way to improve the life chances of other kids from this very town, where he grew up."
"That doesn't explain why there's a cave." Sophie said.
"I'm going to get to that. You see, Desmond Gilliam was a clever man. He recognised that kids round these parts aren't exactly the best behaved and knew that his teachers would need a way to get around the school quickly. So he built this cave, a network of tunnels which lead to every block in the school, and to various other areas as well."
"How did you find out, sir?" Chris asked.
"Do you remember Mr Gilliam? The RE teacher from a few years ago? His son is in your year group."
They all knew Desmond- who'd been named after his grandad. He'd been bullied in Year Seven because of the terrible rumours that had gone around about Mr Gilliam. Some students had nicknamed him the Big D.
"Well, Mr Gilliam was the son of Desmond Gilliam who'd told him about the caves before he died. Mr Gilliam shared the information with me before he retired; we were friends on the account of me being the only teacher who could put up with how boring he was. I didn't believe him at first but when he showed me, I had to accept it."
"How come you haven't told Mr King or anything?" Chris asked.
"I'm sure you guys know just as well as I do that Mr King would have this place bricked up and abandoned to avoid a health and safety risk. Ah. Here we are."
The tunnel's mouth opened up to reveal a huge cavern that Chris estimated was beneath the quad in the centre of the school. The room was mammoth; at least the size of the assembly hall, and all the walls were composed of jutting, grey rock. Flying saucer shapes with bulbs where the engines should have been hung from the vaulted ceiling, casting the room in an orange glow.
The room itself was pretty cool, literally and metaphorically. Although there were tunnels leading off in all directions, the spaces between the holes were covered in book cases. Wing backed chairs were arranged around a coffee table and behind that small relaxation area was a ping pong table. A fully functioning kitchenette was set up on one side of the room and there was a large bank of computers opposite it.
"That was my addition." Mr Phillips grinned. "Whenever the IT Monkeys- I mean Technicians- decide to get rid of a computer, I bring it down here and fix it up. That's one of the most sophisticated devices in Northern England."
"I bet Ali could destroy it by downloading Sims 3." Chris said.
"What's through there?" Freya asked, pointing towards a tunnel that had a sign above it reading, 'Costume Room'.
"I took the liberty of designing us some costumes." Mr Phillips said.
"Us?" Sophie said. "Does that mean you have a power too?"
"Yes." He laughed. "I've used it about three times since we came down the lift."
"What is it?"
"I can repeat situations." He said. "So, if I embarrass myself or lose an argument, I can step backwards through time and repeat it."
"All the paradoxes." Sophie said.
"I seem not to cause them." Mr Phillips said. "Although I do cause some disturbance to time. You know those radio controlled clocks that Mr King spent the entire school budget on? Due to my powers, none of them now work."
"Did you use your powers this morning in your conversation with Chris?" Freya asked.
"I got a brain freeze feeling then that I've just been having now. I reckon I'm sensitive to it."
"I'll be sure to avoid using my powers as much as possible then." He smiled. "My superhero name, by the way, is Reiteration Man."
"Mr Phillips has a superhero name!" Steven beamed.
"You guys can call me Morris, though." He smiled.
"Your first name is Morris?" Ali asked.
"You have a first name?" Steven replied.
"Mr Phillips," Chris said, ignoring them, "you said something about a costume room?"
"Yes." He grinned. "I've viewed- and wiped, don't worry- some CCTV footage of your work on the bridge. Nice touch with the seagulls. Anyway, I've designed some costumes on Photoshop and I'll have them made once I know your powers and names. Any chance you'll tell me?"
They all looked at each other and then Chris shrugged. "Why not? I'm Captain Jaffa Cake. I become really strong when I eat Jaffa Cakes. It's weird."
"I'm the Summoner. I can summon stuff." Steven grinned.
"Lucky Cat." Sophie smiled. "I control probability."
"Tempus." Said Freya. "I can freeze time."
Ali grinned. "I'm the Flish. I can move really fast."
"The Flish? Like the TV show?"
Ali rolled her eyes.
"I'll run those through the computer and make you some costumes then to be stored in there." Mr Phillips smiled.
"Sir, why do we need costumes?" Freya asked. "Are you suggesting we become superheroes?"
"Isn't it our duty? We have incredible powers. It's only right that we use it to fight evil."
"But there isn't any evil." Chris said. "At least not yet."
"You haven't seen what's been happening in Maths Block." Mr Phillips said. "It's very curious indeed."
Bank Holiday Monday. Somewhere, someone was eating an ice cream. Elsewhere, someone was watching a James Bond rerun. Steven was doing neither of these things, although he would have preferred to be doing both. No, instead he was stood in the middle of the school playing field, wondering what he was doing with his life.
Every single Bank Holiday up until that precise moment, it had rained and stormed but this time the sun was shining down with full power. He could feel it burning the side of his face, infiltrating the forest of facial hair he'd been growing and making him wish he'd shaved. Some light was glinting off the corner of English block, blinding him. He blinked a few times in discomfort but dared not move in case he got hurt.
It had been Mr Phillips' idea. They needed some time to train, to get used to their costumes, but they also needed somewhere to practise. Where better than the school field? When better than Bank Holiday Monday? How about during double Maths, huh? I'd love to get out of that.
Ali exploded into existence next to him. She was wearing the Flish uniform, the one that Mr Phillips had made. He said his boyfriend worked in the Wearable Technology department of an important company so making the costumes had been a doddle. Ali's was one of the best. It was light weight and reinforced meaning she could move as fast as she wanted without it slowing her down or breaking. To stop her hair from burning, which Mr Phillips reckoned was a serious problem, the costume had a hood that covered most of her face, apart from her mouth and eyes. Not surprisingly, it looked similar to a certain television character's costume.
"How many laps?" She asked, bent over, panting. Steven, who couldn't even run five yards at normal speeds without getting to that condition, couldn't judge.
"According to sir's device," Steven said, looking at the confusing contraption that Mr Phillips had given him, "twelve laps. And you've been running for thirty seconds. So, if the track is eight hundred metres, twelve laps would be..."
Ali watched him failing at Maths for a second and then intervened. "Three hundred and twenty metres per second. That's an awful long way."
"It's 0.2 miles a second." Freya said, hurrying over.
"How'd you work that out so quickly?" Steven asked but he already knew. She'd frozen time and used a calculator.
"Have you done any practise yet, Steven?" She asked.
"I'm waiting for everyone to be finished so that I can impress you all at once." He said. "Do you like your costume?"
Freya looked down, as if to remind herself what her costume looked like. She wore a black top with a bandolier going across the middle. It's for catching bullets, Mr Phillips had said. Not that I would willingly take you anywhere with bullets. She also had a pair of red lensed goggles and a stopwatch which hung around her neck. She grinned. "What's not to like?" She asked. "It's brilliant!"
"Cooler than mine." Steven sighed. "I look like Doctor Strange."
"Oh yeah!" Ali grinned. "That is hilarious."
Steven wore a verdant tunic with a huge red cape hanging over his back, connected to his front by an emerald. His face was partially obscured by a red mask and his hands by red gloves. According to Mr Phillips, the Summoner costume like all the rest contained small sensors that studied heart rate, breathing and various other boring logistics. The suit was comfortable but he was worried that it looked a bit silly.
"Use your powers." Freya said. "Your sensors need to acclimatise to you."
Sighing, Steven raised one of his hands towards the rounders court to their side. The grass had grown since the court was marked out but if you squinted slightly and used your imagination you could still use it. "What do you want me to summon?"
"A better costume?" Ali laughed.
Freya stifled a giggle. "How about a Swing Ball set?"
Steven didn't like Swing Balls- not after the summer of '08. Instead he suggested, "How about an Ice Cream van?" Grinning, he wiggled his gloved fingers. He felt the taste of sweet ice cream, felt the run of sticky liquid running down his cheek and disturbing his hairy chin. The sensation of the flake nearly flying up his nose was so vivid he thought he'd managed it. Instead, what he created, was a swirling vortex of purple energy. It was like a Black Hole in the respect that it seemed to be drawing air in, forming some sort of vacuum. He concentrated harder on the jingling of the siren, on the taste of the ice cream. The vortex popped and a single ice cream cone, as well as the ice cream itself, appeared in mid air. He grinned for a second, rushing forwards to catch it, but it just continued to tumble until it hit the ground with a soft squelch. Within a second of hitting the floor, it was consumed by masses of ants.
"That's a beautiful metaphor for life." Sophie said, wondering over. Her costume was a medieval tabard but coloured in the gleaming purple and blue of retrofuturistic space age. Her cape was split up into three tendrils that flew out behind her in the breeze from the sea.
"How's it going?" He asked, squinting as light glinted off her 3D glasses.
"Good." She said. "Mr Phillips is just fitting Chris up now. I like your costume. It's really Doctor Strangey."
"Thanks." He smiled. "I like yours. It's really Lucky Catty."
"We need a superhero team name." Ali said. "The Avengers, the Justice League and the Radioactive Anomalies doesn't sound right."
"It sounds like a really bad indie rock band." Steven pointed out.
"Chris is coming!" Freya interrupted.
They all turned and saw Chris' head poking out from the ground, next to Mr Phillips'. There was a lift in the underground base that led up to the field, emerging from an oversized manhole cover next to the Jumping Pit. The lift continued up until they were in line with the playing field. Whereas Mr Phillips was just wearing one of his ordinary suits, Chris was wearing the outfit of Captain Jaffa Cake. It was much too big for him, composed of various different shades of orange with a huge Jaffa Cake symbol in the middle of his chest. An amber cape cascaded down his back, swirling around his feet. On his utility belt- he had a utility belt- was a box that looked suspiciously like a Jaffa Cake container. He flipped it open and revealed it to be just that. Taking a Jaffa Cake out, the two of them finally reached the others.
"Bit big for you, isn't it?" Steven said. "Not to be rude or anything."
"It's meant to be." Mr Phillips said. "He'll grow into it when he eats a Jaffa Cake."
"Let's see then." Freya smiled, encouragingly.
Chris sighed. "Stand back everyone. The suit is apparently meant to dampen my transformation but you know what they say about British craftsmanship."
Everyone took a couple of protective steps backwards for a few seconds, then stepped back forwards to get a better view. Chris shook his head and then took a bite of his Jaffa Cake. There was a sudden roaring sound like the immediate burning of gas flying out of a bunsen burner. Then, there was a bright flash of light, like a sprinkling of magnesium had been put onto that very bunsen burner. When the luminescent trails had cleared from before their eyes, the Radioactive Anomalies were treated with the sight of Captain Jaffa Cake, splendid in all his muscular, shining glory. Light glinted off his chin, sparkling with full power. When he spoke, it was with the authority and power of someone you automatically loved and respected. "That was bleedin' brilliant!" He cried.
"I don't think I've ever heard you say 'bleeding' before." Steven said. "You've changed!"
"Personally, his vocabulary wouldn't be the change I'd be concentrating on." Freya said.
"Concentrating on changes, huh?" Sophie shook her head. "You sound like a history paper."
"Everyone comfortable in their costumes?" Mr Phillips asked.
They all nodded. The costumes were indeed comfortable, if not a bit odd.
"Good. Let's see if you can take out that massive, rampaging robot in them." Mr Phillips said, turning them around and revealing that, indeed, a massive, rampaging robot was stalking towards them. It was maybe eleven foot tall and as muscular as Captain Jaffa Cake. In the palms of its massive hands were laser blasters. Steven shot a glance towards Mr Phillips. The computer science teacher shrugged. "Blame the Year Sixes." He said. "They built it in summer school!"
Steven turned back and saw the others bracing themselves. Captain Jaffa Cake ran his eyes over it, studying it quickly before turning to the others. "We need to short circuit it. Tempus, Summoner, make some sort of trap for it. Lucky Cat, change the probability of a sudden thunder storm. Flish, let's distract it!"
The Flish, in her purple body suit, grabbed Captain Jaffa Cake's orange body suit. They exploded into a haze of orange and purple, whilst the others ran in all directions. Tempus dropped her goggles and clicked the button on her stopwatch. Her energy flowed into it, swirling out in a glow of powerful blue light. The robot stopped moving. The replacement clocks broke. Time was frozen.
The Summoner threw out his hands. He knew he needed to dig a massive hole for the robot to fall into. The swirling vortex opened up in front of him. Give me a JCB. Give me a JCB.
Instead, he accidentally summoned seven hundred and seventy seven dwarves. They were all under three foot with massive beards and gigantic pickaxes. The Summoner pointed at the rounders pitch and smiled. "Please?" He said.
When Tempus unfroze time, the Summoner had unsummoned the dwarves, leaving nothing to prove they were there besides a massive hole where a part of the sports field had previously been. Having performed their duty, they stood back and watched Captain Jaffa Cake and the Flish at work.
Travelling at 320 metres per second, they exploded into existence on the other side of the field. The Captain took a Jaffa Cake shield from his arm, preparing to throw it. "Full speed, yeah?"
"One second." The Flish replied, choking. "I think I swallowed a fly or something."
Captain Jaffa Cake rolled his heroic eyes.
Once she'd got herself over the fly, the Flish grabbed him again and said, "I'm going to throw you. Okay?"
"I was wondering how I'd use this cape." He grinned and then the Flish ran forwards at full speed, lifting him up slightly with the momentum soaring through her. His feet left the ground and the rest was easy, slinging him forwards and through the air. His orange cape lifted out behind him, forming a triangle in the air as he flew towards the robot. His Jaffa Cake shield slung forwards, rotating through the air over and over until it smashed into the robot's face, obscuring its visual sensors with a sheen of jaffery goodness. The robot struggled and stumbled around a bit before tripping over its own feet and into the Summoner's hole.
Landing, Captain Jaffa Cake cried, "Now, Lucky Cat!"
Lucky Cat took control of the weather's probability. Those wonderful blue skies that Carol Kirkwood had enthused about so happily on the news that morning were gone suddenly, overtaken by a sudden rolling of grey clouds of thunder. A bolt of lightning snook its way from between the clouds, a brilliant fork of pure white energy. It hit the robot's chest dead centre, pulsing through it in every direction. Even under the roaring wind, the fizzle of electricity was loud.
"Is it dead?" The Flish asked, appearing next to Tempus.
"No!" She cried. "Lucky Cat, hit it again!"
"Lightning can't strike twice!" Captain Jaffa Cake shouted.
"It can but what are the chances?" Lucky Cat grinned and, sure enough, a bolt of lightning sliced through the sky and caused the robot to explode.
"Very good work!" Mr Phillips cried, clapping his hands. "That was absolutely fantastic!"
"I'm just saying," Steven just said, "that we didn't get a chance to revise for that giant robot attack and nothing happens in real life that we don't get a chance to prepare for."
Mr Phillips shook his head, sighing. "Everybody come over here and we'll deal with the mess."
Frowning at the fact that they were walking away from the mess to deal with it, the gang joined Mr Phillips who immediately demanded that they all held hands and stood in a circle.
"Someone call Leigh, or is it pronounced Lisa?" Sophie cried. "We're summoning Satan and she cannot miss this!"
Once they were all holding hands, Mr Phillips closed his eyes and seemed to screw his face up. The others exchanged bemused looks and then suddenly the sound of loud, ticking clocks seemed to race out of their computer science teacher. Before Steven could say something sarcastic, offensive or generally ignorant, Freya cried, "Look at the robot!"
They all turned, daring not to break the circle, and watched as the bolt of lightning leapt upwards, watched as the robot stood and climbed out of the hole. It walked backwards the way it had come, a Jaffa Cake flying away from its visual sensor and reforming in the air as it did. Meanwhile, 777 dwarves appeared, filling in the hole before disappearing. Within moments, the robot had retreated around the Sports Hall again and it seemed as if nothing had ever happened.
Mr Phillips opened his eyes. "We can let go of each others' hands now. That was just to stop you five from being reiterated."
"I didn't get a headache." Freya frowned. "How interesting."
"You know what else is interesting? What I found out earlier about the maths students who've gone missing. Very interesting indeed." He gestured to the lift in the middle of the field. "Let's go down to the cave and have a look."
The Gang, dressed in their new uniforms, marched across the field after him, towards the lift. Steven summoned another ice cream, managing to catch it this time. He ate it as they climbed into the lift, the flake almost getting stuck in his nose. Being a superhero did have its benefits.
Although the heroes were unaware, they were being watched. From an office in Maths Block, a pair of seemingly twelve year old eyes stared down at them. An evil chuckle tumbled from the observer's mouth. Once the lift had started going down, he turned away and said, "Soon, they too will fall into my plan."
"You'll never get away with this!" Cried John, who was proving to be a tricky subject. "This is evil, Mr Jordan!"
The Math's teacher laughed as he picked up a hat filled with electrodes and put it on the student's head. "That is not my name, John. Is it?"
John said nothing.
The teacher walked towards a lever jutting out of the wall, pulling a similar electrode hat onto his own head. He grabbed the lever and grinned. "My name is the Calculator!"
He pulled the lever and a spark of electricity blasted around the room, turning on the lights and revealing the other twelve students who had gone missing since the Radioactive Anomaly. They were all chained to their seats, covered in wires and electrodes. Mathematical energy soared out of them, flying through the complex network of cables and into the Calculator's brain. He began to laugh, malevolently.
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."
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...