Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Organisms don't change in order to survive. They survive because they change.

And so, the sem-break has gotten the best of me, turning me into a half-bum in between logging on Facebook every half-hour and beating the highest score for Typing Maniac(Bwahahahaha! Evil Laugh!), sneaking Nagaraya from the kitchen snack stash very few minutes, getting the Features Article together, advance-reading on Anatomy and researching on Philippine Silver Screen movies that Sophomores can handle and give justice with a bang to! I have to change something about my currently bum-mode if I want to live through the second semester in one piece! With all my goals? Well...

Please excuse the circular manner of my entry. The topics jump from one to another. There is no connection or transition from paragraph to paragraph, although there is flow and continuity. So, here it goes. :)

I spent a good six hours at the computer, multi-tasking, but never really getting anything done. It's my own fault that I can't stop checking my FB account for... anything! However, I did accomplish something just yesterday, which was, beating Kuya Van, Kuya Gelo and Joey (with scores of 290.644, 299.843, and 396.371 respectively) at Typing Maniac, with the evily evil score of 369.919! Yes, the difference between Joey's score and mine is fractionally just a fraction (excuse me for being circular). But still!

Joanna, Vicson,
and Jethro, very strong-minded and analytic writers, survived (they survived!) their practical exam yesterday. I could only text these bright and hard-working kids when they were nearly in tears: "Work your blood-lossing hardest at it, even if the results don't always conform with what you want, because, that is the right thing to do, because you've been through worse and there is worse to come, and because there will always be other opportunities." I love these kids, who are also my colleagues; I missed them dearly when I texted them the condensed form of that cheesy line and I miss them now. I'm glad I got to chat with Jo yesterday about water dispensers, laundry, zebroids, mules, zonkeys, and Hybridz, who I also miss.

My Mkule colleague and friend EJ was cast as one of the eight leading roles last 2007 in A. Solito's indie Pisay the Movie, the fact of which prompted me to research on it while FB-ing. I found the trailer, the Pisay site, and where on this Planet I can get a copy. The DVD is not being pirated and circulated like our more familiar recent movies, rather , copies can be bought at the Philippine Science QC Foundation office at five hundred pesos. I feel guilty and regretful that I didn't join the MCFam when Edge brought a copy to the office to watch last semester(or was that an episode of Goin'?). Now, I must suffer contentedly with the awesome trailer ("You are nothing but a unicellular, protozoan amoeba!" and "Who ken tell me what a hyputesis is?") until I can go to Pisay for a copy.

I finally downloaded Cats the Musical yesterday evening. I wonder if I can learn something from it. Also, I got The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros into my laptop with Cats. I am hyper and happy!

Although I frequently scanned the illustrations and the text of my new Anatomy book, Body Atlas, in awe when I bought it, I'm eager to study it again and again now. Ok. So I may not know much at the moment, and most of what I know, either everyone else knows or has something--- a lot of things--- missing, much like an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. No matter how hard or complicated it will be tomorrow, I'll never get tired of repeating, "Challenge yourself. Beat your own expectations!" Anatomy this semester, Neuro-anatomy next semester! Fight!

From the relayed experiences of the juniors, seniors, and alumni, I conclude that life in my college is not unlike a struggle for life and death. When I myself become a junior, I will be heaped with responsibilities, a bursting cocoon of academic pressure, greater institutional expectations, and such.

I will be staying at Adriatico 3 next year by myself as my sibling will be a senior high school student in our hometown, the thought of which, not only wowed, but also, shook me with anticipation. I have to be responsible for the unit, from the neatness, to the cleanliness, to the appliances, and my schedule and duties.

I am sharing a room with a junior of the same course as me. I've glanced the charts, the endless stream of handouts and presentations, the tears and frustration that the juniors in generally face, the practical exams involving finger gloves, bite blocks and counters, and the organizational responsibilities. I promised my self to enjoy Sophomore year before I face all that and more with an iron heart.

Coupled with my academic responsibilities are my institutional commitments. I can't leave TMC; I love it too much and I do believe in serving the students, and the underlying principles I have learned with my MCFam. I have learned with my batch-mates some, and I have yet to learn a lot. I will fulfill that statement I made to Ate Moe at my re-interview! "I will allow myself to be rendered tired stressed from working for the institution and studying for school work."

I have a Features Article I must continue to write after I finish this blog entry. The rules? Choose from the topics or pick your own topic. Sit down, read, research, analyze, write, edit, re-edit. E-mail to Kuya Clark. Then, to the workshop! There's one more rule. No consulting the Editor.

While at the meeting discussing this, I said jokingly to Yong, "It's like preparing us for what's to come. Dahil graduate na si Kuya next year!". We chuckled about the fact, Yong being Yong, me being me, and Mai--- I can't remember if Ate Mai was there or not! Gasp! Yes, Ate May-May was there.

Kuya Clark, Kuya Star, Kuya Will, Ate Moe, Ate Marianne, Kuya Janno, and the rest. I'm sincere and honest when I say I'm kind of anxious about what will happen when all these great people graduate. We will certainly miss them. T_T Then, TMC will be in our hands, the hands of the still-learning and the currently-less-experienced. I think we have to learn all we can before TMC is left with us. There's a semester left for us to do our best. So, I'll do my part for the team and get to it! We will survive together. :)

I watched Yong's, Ehcel's and EJ's stage plays for their PhilArts 120 (was it 120?) two weeks ago. These three were all great. Yong was recognized as best supporting actor. He did a very energetic impression of a live scarecrow, not to mention that, if he wasn't a healthy young man, he would have done a convincing child with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Ehcel was a narrator, a cute rain drop! Jethro can testify to that, he was with me and Ate Betty when we watched the plays. The professor said that EJ was meant for his role. I won't say much here, but I will say that Edge got best actress. My lips are now sealed! XD

Another play I'd spank myself for not blogging about is A Streetcar named Desire. My block did just great. Although I'm not the only person who recognizes the fact that we indeed have a lot more to learn about plays and teamwork in general, I'm really very proud to have worked with my block mates for this play! We all accomplished something together. It's as simple as that, but so much more.

Since my entry is now really long, I'll add this last bit about the college talent show. My block got the theme Pinilakang Tabing. Yes, the Philippine Silver screen. I was thinking of consulting Ate Pal for this, but the block has already come up with some great ideas, such as Ang Huling El Bimbo. Yes, the music video by Aurelio Solito which won internationally in 1996. It's do-able, it's well-known, it's set in the late fifties, it needs only a few props. It will make the fifteen-minute cut the rules require! However, the block only has two boys. Ely and his guys make four. I'm still thinking how the team will arrange this if El Bimbo pushes through. I think we can do better if we move far from the topic of 50's commercials, which is why I am researching on Anak Dalita.

Anak Dalita starred Rosa Rosal and Tony Santos, Sr. in 1958. The setting: the village of survivors in ruins of the Manila Cathedral after the bombing of Manila (circular!). We can make the fifteen-minute cut if we cut the story until the death of the mother...Long story. But condensible. Will work a lot on technicality to bring the stage to life. Requires really the effort of the cast, like times so and so from Streetcar. El Bimbo na nga lang! XDDD We'll talk about this when we get back. We'll do great, whatever happens. :)

We will survive.

As I type this, the faces of my MKule family and my block-mates pass in front of my visual field.

I end this long and winding entry with something from Pisay:

"Organisms don't change in order to survive. They survive because they change."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kailangan ko lang ilabas ang negative vibes na nag-accumulate sa loob ng aking Thoracic cavity

Let's get this straight. I just wasted the past twenty minutes on my cellphone.

We shall call the unknown individual at the other end of the line 'woodchuck'

anonymous texter: Busy??

Me (Amaranth): Who is this please?

anonymous texter:

Amaranth(because the name is that of my fellow mkule staff, I reply): Is this from the mkule?

woodchuck: Huh?? watz mkule?? wt b name mu?? (sends this message five times)


fifth beep

Amaranth(PISSED OFF because the senses say that this is not an intelligent person): The mkule or the Manila Collegian is... of the University of the Philippines Manila. As you are not my fellow staff member, I cannot disclose my name. DELETE MY NUMBER FROM YOUR HANDSET.

woodchuck: Huh?? sORry to say ds, but ur txt is masungit talaga. Wats ur name b?

Amaranth: Boy, are you stupid. I just said, "I cannot disclose my name."

woodchuck sends the previous message about ten more times.

Amaranth : I don't care. It's the TRUTH. At least I'm not wasting my parents' money on load texting nonsense and not trying to not study and contribute to creating an intellectual society. Try it, it makes a person feel purposeful and full of worth.

woodchuck: sory. im 2 rich to try.

Amaranth<REALLY PISSED OFF. I ONLY RESERVE THE FOLLOWING LINES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE STUPID REALLY PISS ME OFF IN THAT MANNER. YOURE RICH, EI? SO WHAT?>: I was born and raised in the united states for seven years and I choose to study here, now. Because of that and because I am under bracket a, an additional 300 dollars is added to my already tofi-ed tution fee, which is more or less 40k. Yet I am attempting to be a purposeful person.

OK. I KNOW THAT MY LAST MESSAGE CAN CAN CAN CAN BE DEBUNKED AT A LOT OF ANGLES, BUT woodchuck, a person with that level of intellectual incompetence, cannot.

I didn't recieve a reply after that.


Happy August!

After almost a month since my last blog, I've decided to go at it. Happy August!

There are some things I thought I could live without, like chocolate, and highlighters, and things that make me really, really, really happy.


When you love a certain sentient being, you usually talk non-stop about it. I admit, I've been talking non-stop about MKule for days, but of course, I keep the other things about it hush-hush, because I swore to keep them hush-hush, for example... . See, there told ya! Haha.

The MK is a sentient being for me. Well, we're a big family that works together to carry out our purpose. The seniors keep us in line until we can commit and contribute enough that says we are prepared to keep the succeeding MKs in line too. How I feel for this institution...? Gaia! It's hard to explain. The first and last thing I'd answer anyone if they'd ask how I feel about the institution is, honestly, "I LOVE THE MANILA COLLEGIAN!" and if you go back to the definition of that type of love, it's unconditional and you expect nothing in return, (even if you do get so much in return), and sometimes, I feel like I'm not contributing enough to all the things I'm committed to.

That's how the MKule pushes my ego to give a hundred ten percent at everything, even if the result isn't always a hundred ten percent. Everything includes, goals in my academics (I NEED to make the CUT for my post-SP course!!!), my MKule writing duties (SOCIAL AWARENESS!!! and RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PEOPLE!!!), my MKule being-part-of-the-team-and-family-duties (initiative, INITIATIVE, INITIATIVE! ;D) my SP and CAMP responsibilities (which are nil at the moment and will fully reveal themselves in my junior White year two sems from now), and my being a good child to my parents and being a good example for my sibling.

It's so easy to type and say, but it's so NOT easy to do! But I'n DOING everything I can to do so. And of course, everything I do and all the efforts I give will never be enough, not until Gaia says so. XD But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up. I'm determined to pull everything off no matter what, and nothing anyone will say is going to make me change my mind! That's how obstinate you'll find me these days!

I haven't done all-nighters and late-nighters for the MKule YET YET YET, but I forsee that, and I'm commited to it.

I've been pulling off all-weekers and late-nighters for Acads lately, meaning I'm committed to Acads. And the results are dang-up-to-standard. But it's never enough. It's never enough. IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH!

I've kept my parents' trust since I promised. Well, duh, it's the right thing to do, right?! And I'm committed to keeping that trust ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS.

I'm not a sworn CAMPer YET, because I only just started taking my first Major class in SP this sem. The sparks in my noggin will probably go hay-wire next year due to the neuron mortality rate forecast, but, GAIA, I'm committed to trying and dying than lazing around and not studying. Sigh. The life of a White is a hard indeed.

When I was a high school senior, I said, "Pass the UPCAT, or DEATH. Are you intelligent? Yes? THEN PROVE IT!"

As a college freshman, I said, "Pull Math 11 off, or DEATH. Are you a loser?! No? THEN PROVE IT!"

Upon taking the MKule swearing in, I thought, "Take it all in, blow by blow, OR DEATH. ARE YOU A COWARD, AMARANTH GREY???!!! NO? THEN PROVE IT!!!"

In the future, I'm sure I'll be saying, "Pass the NMT, or DEATH. Are you a medical worker or not? Oh, really, you are? THEN PROVE IT!"

Here I am. Just as I am. And as just Amaranth Grey, Turk Intern, White, Writer of Signet, an inhabitant of Gaia, I say to myself, "Are you determined? Yes? THEN PROVE IT!"

Friday, April 10, 2009


My Room, My Home, Pincian Region, The Nation of Capitol; my personal computer
Subject: We continue our story...
Password Protected: Yes

Zeimlich raised his hands in the air and said nothing.

With myself caught in the middle of the cross range I dropped flat to the ground in the tall, damp grass, Welsche was well-hidden behind the bumper-end of the vehicle with the driver and the Organ not far from where I ducked shaking. The other commuters were a good five meters behind me, easily outlined in the bushels on the roadside. I had no doubt they scattered in fear at the sound of the click.

On the other hand, Zeimlich was at the front line, unarmed and facing a gunman. What chance did a med student have against crook?

"Zan, heads up!" Welsche announced.

Slamming the entire left side of his body downward, Zeimlich rounded his leg behind the crook's, toppled him over, with their knees locked and with his in full control of their balance. Both the assailant and the med student hit the muddy ground.

Inhaling the muck for a moment, I felt my organs and my spine instantly freeze when my line of site hit that of the crook's yellow eyes and jaundice grimace. Eying the 45-caliber gun that was tossed aside a moment ago, he went to seize for it when a small ball of white material landed splat next to the weapon. Instantly it fumed as the man cackled, as though to hide some under confident ego.

The moment he grabbed his weapon, the sodium exploded in a haze of burning smoke and white gas. Coughing and blinded, the robber met the ground again, this time by Welsche's quick footwork: the blond young man sprinted from his hiding place, flipped the crook over like a flapjack in great haste and delivered uncountable, heavy fluid-like blows with his soft-shoed lower limbs.

Ancient capoeria from the old south continent? I realized in flash.

"Enough, Welsche!" Zeimlich roared behind Welsche. The light, silver pistol pointed directly at the assailant from the hand of Zeimlich's outstretched arm shook only slightly and ignited with a sharp whistling scream.

The assailant on the ground gagged and fell limp.

"You killed him!" was my first reaction. I scrambled back into the brush, my clothes soiled in muck and my entire body shaking in shock. Ironically, a med student who vowed to save human life had just taken it away from a person.

"Gulp," verbalized Welsche. "There goes my promotion."

"We're sworn to help people! Not put them to sleep!"

Zeimlich then stepped forward and offered the same hand that held the pistol to lift me up. He said, "Actually, miss, we just did put this fellow to sleep. Although..." he turned to Welsche and let the weapon thud to the ground, "I was expecting you to use something from the training manual."

"Put him to sleep?" I mouthed.

"Are you familiar with Benzodiazepine?" Zeimlich asked, smiling. He hoisted me up.

A jolt in my memory bank told me to say, "A nerve-calmer? B-D-Z-P-N?"

"Very good! Well, that dosage should put this guy out for a bit," Zeimlich continued, as though the situation was routine for him. "Well, miss, I'm sorry about your..."

I looked down at myself: boot camp hell broke loose all over my clothing.

Stirring groggily, the knocked-out man grizzly produced a barely audible grumble.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


On the Road in a Tamaraw, From the Gray Area, Headed to the Pincian Region; Personal Computer
Date: XX/XX/XX
Subject: How I met Xanther Zeimlich and Welsche Bidansi
Password Protected: Yes

At the moment, I don't at all feel well enough to create a journal entry. But as my schedule demands the next five hours to be used for it as well as the travel time back to my hometown, I have to make the most of it. Even though my great distress is lowering my intelligence by forty percent at the moment. The reason as to why my handkerchief is soaking wet and why the commuter sitting next to me has been inching away every few minutes, I should save for after I tell this story.

I have already mentioned in my previous posts who Zeimlich is in my life, but I have only mentioned Welsche once. For starters, Zeimlich is my mentor. He is a White, currently receiving on the job training in Capitoline Hospital as well as a recommendation for residency. One of the many near-perfect straight-A Maroons under the University roof, Zeimlich is one of the two young men who have made a great impact on the way I live and the way I think at the moment. The other young man is, of course, Welsche Bidansi. The less discreet of the two Turk minor commanders, Welsche is my classmate, a fellow White, my friend, and my best friend's infatuation.

It's just so normal here to be surrounded by brainy people who study half their day and perfect their exams during the second half, I feel that I don't need to describe Welsche to that extent. Asides from the fact that Welsche is a tad bit more handsome than my mentor, you could say that they could be fraternal twins by the way they act or work together on assignment.

Agent Z-332 is a special-ops Assassin who's on his way to becoming an E.C. by the end of the economic-gain driven operation season. Well, when Zeimlich turns his current badge over for an Espionage Clandestine badge, that would move his rank up from minor to marshal commander. It's a long way off, but I have all the confidence in him. Agent Bw-329, who graduated from his Scout badge the operation season after we met, is currently an Illusionist. The stress from all our paperwork, not to mention the shifts in house, must be causing him to slack a bit. At any rate, the Assassins waltzing around the city could eliminate any of us if we're not careful. But I think that for as long as we are loyal to the Turks, that won't be necessary. I'm praying that Welsche lives through it all, because, despite his brilliance in chemistry and physics, which is exactly what an Illusionist attaches his life to, his heart and mouth usually compete with his gray matter.

Now that I've put down a bit about these two Whites, I might as well demonstrate their marksmanship and bravery.

This is how I met Xanther Zeimlich and Welsche Bidansi.

In the mid-year break of my third year as a Pathologist and a White Maroon, I packed my belongings and boarded a Tamaraw for home. The compact public vehicle, which fit ten people exactly, had myself, a mother and child, two other Whites, a psychology Organ, an elderly couple, and the driver. Commuters' belongings which took up the rest of the passenger space were either in our laps or under our seats. In my case, I propped mine in the adjacent seat, parallel to one of the two Whites aboard, and perpendicular to the younger one.

It was customary for fellow Maroons to take no notice of each other outside acquaintences and group reports; at that moment, I rather found myself breaking the custom as both young men caught my eyes for their perfectly shaped faces.

The older White had a very sincere and open face, framed by short jet-black locks that smoothed out until they jutted evenly at his neck. His bright blue eyes gave me the impression he must have been born a half-blood, inheriting one of his parent's native traits to Capitoline and the eyes of a foreign parent. His smile was so sincere and open, I couldn't help but gawk for a moment, my own face hidden behind my bag. His scrub suit told me the rest of his story, or so I thought.

Next to my bag sat the younger White. It was my mistake to think they were siblings, for after all, he had shocking blond hair and the same bright blue eyes as the young man who sat infront of me. Something about how this one stared innocently into the distance told me that he was just as immature and whiny as I could be at times. At times during the ride, he would eye his black-haired companion, who would return with a squint of the brows or a nod of the head. Finally after some time, the younger one settled with a small mid-frown, not quite a smile, but not a miserable pout either. I deduced that one of their parents must be foreign, for native people of Capitol carried either green or hazel eyes, quite rarer than their shocking blue.

My daydreaming skidded to a halt as did the Tamaraw, and all the passengers were thrown forward, or rather stayed put while inertia forced the van fro, pushing us against our original positions. This caused a rather big bruise to my forehead and pocketed belongings to come jangling out of their respective owners' bodies. Out of the corner of my eye, white, bead-sized crystals of jagged edges spilled out of the younger White's scrub; they were crushed into a fine powder under the weight of our baggage and our stamping feet.

I thought, 'The van's out of plasma juice. Just great!' Bursting out of the side pocket of my backpack was my water supply for the five-hour trip. It drenched everything on the floor of the Tamaraw nearest to the door.

Faintly at first, smoke hissed from my ankles up, fuming a stinging, greenish white gas that burned my nostrils. Expectedly, the other passengers began to panic; I automatically reached for the door handle, when the younger White swung it open before I could move.

"Everyone out!" he manhandled. I pushed lightly on the elderly couple and the mother, who had a handkerchief over her son's mouth, and her son move out ahead of me. Count on a true Maroon to be the last to save himself. Even the Organ, who sat in the passenger's seat in front with the driver, made sure the engine was off and that the wiring of the Tamaraw wasn't viable to explode the way the chemicals did on the floor.

At the end of a very long five minutes, I felt myself gasping for air, for the sodium gas fumes started to rake my esophagus and ---

"Miss, step out right now!" the young voice of the blonde white startled me to alertness and I hastily hoisted myself out with my valuables. Everyone moved to the side of the road; from there I could see we were on a much unvisited highway and that the Tamaraw was smoking on both ends, the back and the front.

"Zan, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have kept a supply on me, " the younger White turned to his brother. "I screwed up again, I can't believe this!"

"Welsche, I can't say it isn't foolish to keep a supply of highly reactive chemicals in your scrub suit," Zan told the blonde. "For now, help the driver check the engine while I take care of the civilians here."

"I don't even know who's water it was that caused my Neigh to explode like that," Welsche said, approaching the front of the vehicle. "This is so not good for me!"

"Let's at least be thankful most of your sodium got powdered before the water reacted with it or there would be more serious injuries. Go, Welsche." Zan said, opening the back door of the van all the way so the remaining fumes fanned out.

I just stood there and stayed quiet as I was brought up. They sounded very much like they were used to being life guards or soldiers or police officers or something of the like. It was quite awesome to watch. The Organ kept the other passengers busy with chit-chat on their level.

"Miss," Zan approached me. My heart leapt, then sank. He looked very serious. "It would be great if you'd tend to the baggage. Just to make sure no one's things get stolen or similar, if you please. Maroons can stare each other in the eye and tell thief from truth teller, right?"

"Of course," I said. The right side of my brains said that they could stare at each other all day if they had to.

It wasn't long before---

"All right, punks, give me all your valuables and this guy gets to live!" the sound of a gun clip went click. And pointed straight behind Zan's back.

To be continued.


My Room, My Home, Pincian, Capitol; Personal Computer
Date: X/XX/XX
Subject: The Geography of the Nation of Capitol
Password Protected: Yes

The Nation of Capitol is divided into seven areas, reminiscent of the seven hills of Rome several history books ago. The central city is Capitoline, where Obermateriel or the City Proper is separated from Elendsveirtel or the Slums by The Gray Area. The Gray Area has been my home for the past few terms; it has been the pick up point of investigation assignments several times as well.

Esquiline in the north is home of Hellespoint, the mouth of the Agapes River and the port of Felherline. Caelian in the East is a vast valley, home of the second Plasma Reactore and walled by the Shera mountain range. In the south, Viminal lies, home of the nation's dumping and waste grounds and the city of Flussifer. To the west lie the backwater regions of Quirinal, Vatican, Pincian, and Palatine. Aventine, second in importance to Captioline, lies in the north east; it is the home of the first Plasma Reactore and the food basin of the nation Reishcale.

I grew up in Pincian, the most insignificant region of this nation. After passing into the University of Capitoline, I moved to Capitol City, blended in and became a nobody. The year before my White internship, I found Zeimlich, who somehow managed to bring out the dangerous side of a country-grown nobody in a matter of months, only to reveal to me that I was being tested for training under the Ottoman Turks. After experiencing failure day in and day out, I sought this a chance to create something out of nothing. It may be possible.

But I shall save that story for another entry.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hope and Horror

Capitol Stroll Shoppe, Netopia, PC 16
Date: X/XX/XX
Subject: I was Itching to Get out there and Prop the Umbrella over our heads as it Drizzled Acid Rain
Password Protected: Yes

I arrived in the Gray Area as early as 6 to make some rounds in the Organization Quads. As an insider, I have a fairly good idea regarding the operations in and outside the Maroon groups. Some, I respectfully label as "good", so Gaea help them. Others need some work. I report these weekly to Zeimlich and to the Ottoman minor commanders. When I move up a few ranks, I'll be reporting to Commander himself.

After my rounds, I stayed in the physical sciences division hall and studied for an exam, which I had ironically been expecting since the night before. The sun was high by the time I finished three chapters, creating a looming shadow on the Department of Justice next door; across the pavement from the bench where I sat, a litter of auto buses idly grouped together. Every now and then, an identical purple bus would draw itself into the lot and workers would get off and scatter like scuttling ants. Ants of Vorsitzende's Government...

Noon struck. I managed to sit with my classmates near the building entrance. We waited for Stonewall: the last instructor to post grades for the term. I had lounged around their division everyday of the week since the last test. Waiting. Waning. For a sign. Between death and failing the subject, I would choose the former. The minutes passed and I went back to that day, two weeks back from yesterday. Stonewall had turned this Ottoman Turk's systems upside down...

I went to their two-storey division to submit my research to the physical planet studies instructor. Standing by the doorway, I preached to myself under my breath about my mediocre performance for the past term. I tapped the counter, and checked my watch every few minutes for the receiver behind the glass window to notice my presence. Moreover, I had already said good afternoon.

My patience waned and I finally turned to leave, opting to place my report in the instructor's cubbyhole outside the division. That was when Stonewall simultaneously entered the receiving area; the young man's new image caused me to halt in surprise. To my own astonishment, I addressed him aloud. Seemingly, the instructor turned to look at me and then I got a full blast of his outfit: Spikes had filled the top part of his hair where a flat pudding-bowl cut had once been. He would remind someone of a generation-x of the latest millennium, donned in a black long-sleeved top and slightly rugged pants. The black shoes that always remained spotlessly shiny were still there, so was the stance, the small, triangular face and the light almond-shaped eyes that always seemed to stare into the distance during anatomy. The SOLDIER hero Zack Fair? It couldn't be. I mused.

There and then, I let my academic side do the talking. Of course, I needed an outline for the coming exam. I asked for that. Prior training and schooling in my hometown in the middle of nowhere had not prepared me for something as impossible as Maroon life, nor as dangerous as Turk duty. So, there I was. An assassin-in-training, asking help from a Maroon scholar a few years older than my class, regarding air and earth and corrosion and vapor. Why I managed to master ninjitsu faster than I did the apparatus in the lab, I still haven't managed to figure out... Stonewall plainly, and quietly, offered a mentoring session the day after the day after that. I was surprised by the sincere concern for a struggling novice, or was it the sincere offer to help?

The mentoring followed two days after. As usual, I had arrived early. 8 o'clock. 9 o'clock. 10 o'clock. 10 minutes past ten o'clock, and I had another anatomy class simultaneous with the session. And finally, Stonewall came down the division hall; spiky hair still reminiscent of Zack Fair. I respectfully gave my greeting and peered to the office door. He nodded consent as to where we would sit. I had difficulty hiding a smile.

Why was I so drawn to this person?

Since the last term, it was the second time I had been in the upper floors of the division. I looked around and hesitated: the small office cubicles all had laptop bags and mini libraries of Capitoline University instructors, in neat and in disheveled stacks. My hand hovered as if to search for a chair while Stonewall directed us toward the back of the office. Another surprise. He went to get one himself across from where our learning materials were located.

The reason why Amaranth was drawn to Stonewall? The guy was an absolute gentleman, flawless at every angle and in every aspect. Before ever being taught one-on-one by this anatomy instructor, I would have never seen him as nothing other than a quiet, blank person, reciting definitions from verbatim and giving marks for neatness.

The half-hour I was taught there and then, on the verge of failing the subject, was one of the most productive in all my days in the lecture halls and seminar trainings. It actually got me to study properly and intensely. For, not only did Stonewall promise that anyone would be able to perfect the test the following day, I also received the flare, the passion, and the love for studying for the sake of it from that half-hour. I never did, not from geography, life science, and not even from my personal favorite, journo.

Akalis Stonewall, who are you and why does your annoyingly mysterious perfection continue to haunt the likes of an Ottoman Spy? I bid my thanks and my farewell, taking hold of my self-control to not turn back and pester once more. I was retaught the importance of reflection and of solitude and honor that day, aside from the lessons in the manual.

That gave me hope. It prepared me for the horror that arrived the week after the last test in that subject. Every day after that exam, I swarmed at the division. Every day, I made sure to check if our grades were posted or not.

11 o'clock sharp. Spikey hair came rustling down through the entrance corridor. Stonewall, either tingling with the eerie thought that I was hacking into his profile in the Turk databases, or for some other reason, had wide eyes and my fellows and I followed him to his division office, where I had lingered many times in the past week.

Within ten minutes, the grades were finally posted. Everyone passed and no one in my class would be taking the exam that would take place say, fifty minutes after that moment. Doubtlessly, I accepted that my mediocre standing was my fault, and entirely my fault. I just HAD to start to love studying by the manual simultaneous with field training at the END of the TERM. All my other lower grades from the beginning pulled my descent grades down. I ended up near the bottom of the middle.

I never expected to see Stonewall after that. I headed back to the Dormitories but stopped by the empty lot parallel to Capitol Stroll Shoppe. The Organs had raised funds to turn it into a play park, but all that was left of their project was a run-down, yet cozy, waiting shed. There I sat, taking a few deep breaths of relief in my confusion.

Out of the corner of my eye, spiky locks came breezing down the street. Five meters from where I sat hidden, Stonewall had come running under the nearest shade of tree. It started to rain. I was itching to get out there and prop my umbrella over his head, but my consciences pulled at me to stay put. I'm glad I listened to the one on my right shoulder. Not that not propping the umbrella open was the right thing to do, but I had pestered the person enough for the term.

My personal handset blared and I received a message from a lecture instructor that I was confirmed to take the final exam. Just great... It blared again: Zeimlich had confirmed an rendezvous with D-324 Unit for an organization infiltration in the east corner of the city, followed by a investigation. Incredibly perfect...

By the time I looked up, Akalis Stonewall had retreated onto the roofed island in front of the Shoppe and disappeared.