Life at the Bass Lake compound was beginning to settle into a loose kind of routine. Despite the majority of the residents being teenagers who would prefer sleeping until noon, most stumbled bleary-eyed to the communal showers when the sun came up and straightened their share of the cabin without being told before joining the staff in the mess hall for breakfast and the day’s announcements.
After breakfast, the instructors broke everyone into groups for classes using a seemingly random method to this group of teenagers who, up until a few days ago, had no idea they had any unusual talents. Even those who had not experienced Tess’s telepathic intrusion into their minds realized all of the adults, human and otherwise shared some kind of non-verbal method of communication they too would learn. Many, like Sasha had heard voices in their heads for several years but had written it off to an overactive imagination. The unfamiliar curriculum brought their untapped talents to the surface and proved entertaining and challenging to both students and teachers. If the teens didn’t understand why they were grouped with certain people and not others, the novelty of the unconventional classrooms and mentally exhausting work they were doing soon silenced their concerns.
Summer’s impending arrival was bringing warmer days to the compound so most classes took place either in the clearing or in open spaces between the cabins. The outdoor classrooms were as much for safety purposes as anything else since the current lesson plan required the students to practice flinging small objects with their minds. Groups were adjusted daily so students could work with others who had achieved similar levels of mastery. Guardians and others who traversed the compound while classes were in session learned to give the groups a wide berth. At any moment, anything from small pebbles to large tree branches might fly through the air and accost the unwary. Instructors exerted some control, but they were hard-pressed to keep up with the group’s ability to master skills, and begin testing their own limits.
The outdoor classrooms had a dual purpose. It wasn’t enough to develop their telekinetic abilities. Without being aware of what was around them at all times it would be impossible to move objects through space safely. Tapping directly into the Earth’s energy heightened that awareness. Beginners achieved the connection more easily without floors and shoes insulating them from bare earth. Outdoor classrooms, running barefoot, and lessons which allowed and even encouraged playful competition reinforced the belief that this was a sort of vacation with a little education thrown in. Tapping into and mastering unfamiliar areas of their minds happened naturally rather than being cause for struggle and frustration.
English, Math and Science were replaced by classes in teleportation, telepathy and telekinesis. Yet the real-world experiences managed to clarify much of what they’d learned from words on a page or teachers’ lectures. Science, Math, and even Geography became tangible concepts as their studies progressed. Afternoons were devoted to discussions as the morning sessions were physically and mentally exhausting.
Most object flinging ceased while the groups formed a circle on the ground to focus on the history of the Star Guides, and figuring out how their own skill sets would define their place on the Star Guides’ path. Instructors encouraged questions and kept their own telepathic channels open so students had access to the entire knowledge base in the compound. As active as their minds were, the groups were soon forced to employ a talking stick to keep everyone from talking at once. Still, their excitement over newly discovered abilities, and competition over who could master skills first meant the talking stick was only marginally effective. Even the instructors’ abilities were stretched trying to maintain a kind of calm chaos.
Each of the students had grown up in a community of Star Guides and, tho...