Liedecker Institute #1: Meet the Class Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Liedecker Institute Volume 1: Meet The Class

Phil Simms was used to the brief moment of confusion that comes with waking up in an unfamiliar place. After all, he’d been spending the summer at camp since he was seven, and with five aunts and uncles, he rarely spent a holiday at home.

Still, it took him a moment to remember where he was; the Liedecker Institute in Mayfield, Virginia. It was a long way from his home in Belleair, Florida. In fact, it was much further from home than he’d ever been.

Unlike many of the students there, he had never been to the Academy in Langley. Neither he nor his parents felt it was really necessary, seeing as how his power wasn’t particularly dangerous and how he never had any trouble controlling it.

That had changed after the Academy had been exposed and rumors abounded across the nation about kidnapping attempts on young psionics. His parents had insisted on sending him somewhere they felt was safe; namely the school in Mayfield that was protected by the prelates known as the Descendants and endorsed by a noted philanthropist.

Rubbing sleep from his eyes, Phil slipped out of bed. His clock radio read ten o’clock, but classes wouldn’t be starting for a few days in the interests of allowing the kids time to acclimate themselves to the campus.

Across the room from Phil, his roommate took advantage of this time off by making a serious attempt to sleep until noon.

The roommates had spent a good deal of the previous day after their families had left getting to know each other. Like Phil, Eddie Argent had never been to the Academy, but not for the same reasons; Eddie had only discovered his powers at the end of school the previous year.

A quick glance at the door to the bathroom he and Eddie shared with fellow students Phineas and Jacob showed that the light wasn’t on and that it was probably unoccupied.

Phil made a circle in the air with his finger. There was a sound like a match being struck and a dimly glowing, bluish green mist formed in the space he disturbed with the action. In the span of a second, the swirling mist coalesced into a solid pool of light from which a corner of cloth began to slowly emerge.

Grabbing the cloth, Phil pulled on it until a full sized bath towel had emerged and draped it over his arm. A toothbrush and a partially used tube of toothpaste emerged from the pool shortly thereafter, which were also extracted from the portal. Thereafter, the pool then dissolved into the same mist it was formed from. Without another thought, Phil headed for the bathroom.

While not impressive; Phil’s power had nearly infinite utility, which he exercised at any opportunity. After three years of living with it, he felt that he could handle any situation using it. Even a new high school.


He emerged some time later, clean, refreshed and ready for the day. With exacting care, he hung his towel on the rack screwed into the back of the door to dry.

That was another limitation of his power; everything he put in the pocket dimension emerged in exactly the state it was in when it was put in. This meant food never went bad and drinks stayed cold, but it also meant that towels and toothbrushes never dried and fast moving objects came out with as much force as they went in with.

Phil solved this problem by just keeping spare towels and other such items. He’d never reached a limit of what he could put in the pocket dimension, so it never hurt to have extras just in case.

Before changing, he took a moment to take a look at himself in the mirror hanging on his closet door. A hazy blob stared back at him. Mentally, he slapped himself. Caught up in thinking about the new school and making a good first impression on everyone he hadn’t met on the account of arriving late for move in day, he’d forgotten his glasses.

With another wave of a finger, he formed another pool of glowing mist from which rose his much needed spectacles. Now able to see, he took another look in the mirror.

He was more than a few inches shy of six feet, with a slight build, coffee-brown skin and long hair that he kept tied back in a bushy tail most of the time. He honestly didn’t know if he looked good or not, but at least he didn’t look like a slob, which was important to him.

Satisfied that he looked as good as he could without major work, he quickly changed into a plain, white tee and cargo shorts before heading down to the cafeteria.


If the cafeteria was any indication, Phil noted, Eddie was not alone in his ‘sleeping until noon’ track. There were only a handful of other students in the half-glass roofed dining hall; barely enough to outnumber the kitchen staff.

As he helped himself to a plate of scrambled eggs, waffles and sausage, He considered who, if anyone, he should sit with.

At the table furthest from the doors to the dining hall, a redheaded girl wearing a silk screen T-shirt featuring the obscure New York hero, The Whitecoat, was talking animatedly to another girl with her head buried in her arms, apparently trying to get in a nap in spite of her friend’s exuberance.

Not far from them, two more girls were going over the orientation materials each student had been given for move in day. They were right out; obviously older than he was and likely two of the minuscule six person senior class.

Lastly, there was a guy Phil’s age, splitting his attention between a bowl of cereal and playing a game one handed on a notebook computer. Phil decided to start his introductions with him.

“Hey.” He set his tray down. “Mind if I eat with you?”

The other boy glanced up at him and gave a half nod. “You’re new.” He had very dark, brown hair, a very healthy tan from the summer, and was half a head taller than Phil.

“We’re all new.” Phil pointed out. “It’s a new school.”

“Yeah. But half of everyone here knows everyone else already.” The other pointed out. “You know, the Academy? Most of us went there, so you’re a new guy.”

“Ah.” Phil took his seat and started cutting up a waffle. “I should have realized that, I guess. Anyone I should watch out for?”

“Depends on who you want to run with, man.” Was the response. “And what you do. But here’s some free advice.” He jerked his thumb in the direction of the redhead and her drowsy friend. “See the Japanese girl over there?”

There was really no way for Phil to confirm that the sleeping or nearly sleeping girl was Japanese or not with her head buried in her arms as it was. Nonetheless, he nodded.

“That’s Akagi. She’s kind of a freak and that’s without her ‘I-make-no-sense’ powers. If you value your cred in this school, avoid at all costs.”

Phil tried to avoid reacting to the harsh analysis of the girl. For all he knew, it was well deserved, but he would rather reserve judgment. “Thanks for the warning…” He realized he’d never gotten a name. “Uh…”

“Hightower.” Came the response.

“Is that one of those Academy nicknames?”

Hightower shrugged. “Yeah and no. Davian Hightower’s my name. I tried to come up with something cooler, but seriously – Hightower – you can’t do better than that. ‘course, eventually, I plan to take over for Infinity when he gets too old to be New York’s official hero.”

“You’ve…” Phil wondered how to react to that kind of boastful statement. He wanted to point out how insane it was to just assume that he could just plan take the place of someone so widely respected as Infinity. That’s what he wanted to say, but… “… You sound like you’ve definitely got your future mapped out.”

Hightower snorted. “Of course, man. I was born under a good sign and when it came down to getting powers, I grabbed the golden ticket. Check it out;” He slid his seat back and stood, rising into the air as blue and black planes of glowing force formed half globes over his hands. “Flight, forcefields and the cherry on top: I can lift a ton.”

There was a definite smirk on his face as he landed and dismissed the forcefields. “It’d be a crime not to share it with the little people that got nothin’.”

“God, I love it when you do that.” Phil looked up and Hightower turned. Both saw every teenaged boy’s dream walking toward them in a fluid, graceful fashion.

She was as tall as Hightower with supermodel looks and posture. Her flawless, olive skin complemented her deep, brown eyes. But the first thing they noticed however, was none of this. It was her hair that got their attention instead, before they even became aware of any of her other attributes.

The fact that the black-brown coif was clocking in at around eight feet in length may have been enough, but the fact that it was, by looping under her arms and knees, carrying its owner aloft probably helped.

As the boys watched, the mass of hair grasped the chair next to Hightower, pulled it out, and deposited the girl there with the gentleness of a nanny. Following this feat, the main body of it neatly braided into a single, massive braid and wrapped around the girl’s waist thrice before settling down.

“Who’s this?” The newcomer asked, causing a stray lock of her hair to coil down and obscure half her face, seemingly for the express purpose of letting her brush it out of her eyes with a shampoo commercial worthy toss.

“Betty Sinclair/Rapunzel, this is…” Hightower realized he never got Phil’s name.

“Phil Simms.” Phil supplied with a little wave.

“No code?”

“Pardon?” Phil asked her.

“Nickname from the Academy.” Hightower supplied. “He’s new. He doesn’t have one.”

“Then you need one.” Betty said with authority. “What do you do?”

Phil smiled at her insistence on finding out. It reminded him of the reactions of his former classmates when his powers first developed. “It’s a lot easier if I just showed you.” He created another portal to his pocket dimension and dropped his fork into it.

“You can vape things?” Betty asked with an avaricious gleam in her eyes. “That is… so cool. You’re going to fit right in.”

“Vape?” Phil asked.

“You know.” Betty scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Vape. As in vaporize. As in ‘fork go bye-bye’. Don’t waste your cred asking dumb questions, Phil. Hmm… Vape’s a pretty good code for you. What do you think Hightower?”

“Sounds pretty good to me.” Hightower gave her a sly look.

“I really don’t think so.” Phil said. This earned a hard glare from Betty. “No offense meant of course.” He focused his gaze on the table. “But that’s not my power. The fork’s not gone, it’s just somewhere else.”

“Excuse me?” Betty looked confused on top of somehow looking angry about being confused.

In answer, Phil opened another portal, through which the fork emerged. “See? Completely whole and un… uh, vaped. The green glow isn’t a weapon; it’s a pocket that leads…” He never had comes up with a satisfactory explanation for the exact process of how he did what he did. “someplace… else. A pocket dimension where I store stuff.”

Betty looked at him as if he’d grown a second head. “Okay. So, like, you can pull anything out of it you want right? Pull a rose out of there for me.”

Phil blinked. “It doesn’t work like that, actually. See, I can’t take anything out that I didn’t put in. And I can’t put anything in bigger than an orange.” There was an awkward silence as Betty’s gaze drilled deeper into him. “So, see, I can’t pull a rose out for you because I haven’t put one in.” At this point, he was rambling. “But I’ve got a lot of stuff in there. Like bottled water, canned food, batteries, flashlights, some folding and roll-able furniture, matches…”

“Your powers suck.” Betty cut him off flatly. “You had us thinking you were really cool with a vape ray in your hand or something. But you’re power is, what? That you’ve got an invisible backpack?”

“It’s more like an invisible warehouse, really. I haven’t really reached a limit yet…” Phil tried to defend.

“She’s right, man.” Hightower shrugged. “It is a pretty scrub power. I don’t think you’re going to fit in like I thought.”

“Totally.” Betty said acidly. “You’re just a-a… packrat. We can’t be seen hanging out with you.”

It had never occurred to Phil until that moment that his powers implied some sort of social status. In fact, he still couldn’t fathom how they could, considering that they were at once random and hereditary. He felt his face heating and clenched his jaw against sounding off on that point.

“I think you better go, man.” Hightower looked like he felt sorry for him, but whether it was in relation to Betty’s behavior, or for him having a ‘lame’ power, Phil couldn’t tell.

“Yeah.” Phil kept his voice level. “I think I better. There’s got to be a better class of people to eat with.” He grabbed his tray and got up to leave.

“Heh, good luck with that.”

Phil didn’t feel the slightest bit hungry anymore, so instead of finding somewhere else to sit, he took his tray to the trash and dumped it before storming out of the dining hall. Along the way, he tried to think things out logically. Those two didn’t have to be examples of everyone in the school or even everyone from the Academy. Logically, he shouldn’t let them color how he saw the school and the other students before he met anyone else.

Still fuming over this, he almost didn’t notice the humanoid plant until he’d almost run into him.

“Whoa! Slow down there, chief.” The other boy was a mass of vines and waxy leaves with a face that looked like a Venus fly trap with two orange fireflies trying to escape. He wore cargo shorts, sandals and a t-shirt advertising the television series Imago. He was Phil’s suitemate, Phineas, though they hadn’t been properly introduced.

“Sorry.” Phil said. “I was just in a hurry to get out of here. Something made me lose my appetite?” He wasn’t shy about looking pointedly at Hightower and Betty, both of whom seemed to have already forgotten about him.

“Don’t worry; that’s a perfectly natural reaction to the Princess’s bullshit.” The plant boy grinned, baring even more crooked nettle-teeth. “It’s a shame, ain’t it? Girl that hot with that level of ‘tude?” He eyes dimmed, “And of course, she hooks up with a guy like Dave, who is so full of himself, he… okay, can’t think of an example here, but trust me.” He leaned against the door, watching the pair ruefully.

“Oh, don’t worry, I do.”

“Good. So. You know what I think?”

“Not really.” Phil stood to one side as a girl came into the cafeteria past them.

She was dressed in some sort of black rubber suit with a seal at the neck and cuffs and metal nozzles at the wrists and on her back. Wordlessly and without a glance, she passed by them as if they weren’t there.

Phineas furrowed his leafy brow. “Hey, we’re standing here. Do you mind?”

The girl stopped and very slowly turned around, training inquisitive hazel eyes on Phineas. Something in the stare made him feel like he was being attacked by aphids. “It is none of my business if you stand.” She informed him as if telling him that the sky was blue. “Why would you seek my opinion on the matter?”

Both boys glanced at one another.

Phineas took what he assumed was bait. “I didn’t ask your opinion.” He pointed out.

“You asked me if I minded. Is that not requesting my opinion?”

“Uh, no.”

“Actually, it kind of is.” Phil supplied, not helping one bit.

“I didn’t mean it that way.” Phineas gave the best impression he could of rolling his eyes.”

“I see.” The girl said. “It was a figure of speech I am unfamiliar with then?”

“I’m going to go with yes.” Phineas had no idea where this was going.

The girl nodded sharply. “I will commit that to memory. What is the real definition of this expression in this situation?”

“Uh… sarcasm?” Phineas didn’t actually know the answer to that further than the fact that ‘do you mind?’ was something demanded of rude people doing rude things.

Another sharp nod. It reminded Phil of a military officer in the movies. “Thank you. This interaction has been informative.” The girl said. “In these situations, I am told that introductions are standard. My name is Alice Tatopoulos. I have also been referred to as Steampunk. I prefer this designation, if you have any inclination toward referring to me by my preferred designation.”

“Sure then.” Phineas said. “Whatever it is you said. I’m Phineas Michaels. Or you can call me by my codename Xylem. But seriously; do not call me Finny. My mom calls me that and it’s like the worst name ever.”

“I see.” Steampunk looked as if she was considering asking him to elaborate, but decided better of it. Instead, she turned he exacting gaze on Phil. There was no attempt to repeat her question to him, she simply expected him to answer without it.

“Phil.” He gave her a small wave. “Phil Simms. I don’t really have another name yet. So… yeah, just call me Phil.”

“I will.” Steampunk turned back toward the serving line. Without looking back at the other two, she said. “I was told that I should take my meals and hydration periods with other students. Will the two of you also be taking your meals at this time? If so, I ask your permission to join you.”

Series NavigationLiedecker Institute #2: Meet the Class Part 2 >>

About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore
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