The Old Man's Hint
Jane woke up from a dream.
It was still pretty early — much earlier that she needed to be up to work in the kitchen in any case.
But something about yesterday reminded Jane of something that happened to her in her childhood…
Well, actually many things that happened.
She couldn't help remembering that time that Akira and her witnessed an elderly man being picked on by the local hoodlums.
As they were walking back from school together, Akira handed her his bag and ran towards them screaming.
Oh course, he was much older than those teenagers, and was nocked out quite quickly.
Another time, he noticed smoke coming from inside a house, but long after the firemen arrived, he was found washed up on the river bank nearby.
No matter how much he wanted to help people, he always ended up hurt instead…
This might have contributed to his timid nature, staying out of people's lives, but Jane still saw the Akira that cared for others inside of him.
She thought that yesterday, he probably did what he did just to make enough of a scene to make those guys stop.
Jane convinced herself that was the case, but found herself still unable to sleep.
Since everyone was still sleeping, she got up from her bed and slowly tiptoed out the room.
Since the sun was starting to come up, the hallway wasn't too dark and she could make her way to the day's event board.
An old man was standing in front of it, short in stature, staring at the day's list of events.
He was quite short, but that didn't seem to bother his as the board was just his height.
"Good morning" said Jane with a smile.
"Good morning young lady!" said the old man.
His voice sounded familiar, but Jane couldn't place where she had heard it before.
"A fine schedule of events we have today." the old man said.
Continuing, "I look forward in particular to this one right here…", pointing to the seventh entry.
Jane looked up to the board, and read the following: "The ultimate trivia competition. Team Battle."
Jane noticed that this was the only entry that said Team Battle on it.
All the others said "Individual Battle" on them, and ranged from a variety of topics, but this seventh entry was to be entered as a whole team, at least that's what Jane supposed.
"The reason I look forward to it is because I'll be able to watch people at their best, working with others to accomplish their goal."
"However, it's not always the easiest working on a team." he continued.
"Not only do you have to know your teammates, but you have to respect and trust them as well."
Jane took the chance to speak in: "But isn't this whole entrance exam a team competition? After all, if we can't all pass, none of us get in."
"Well…", the old man took a moment to think.
"That is indeed true, but that way of thinking is very flawed. It ensures your success, but only by using others, not by working with others."
"In any case, I heard that you are allowed to use anything to answer those questions. I always love how creative people get when they can do that! Ho ho ho!" the old man laughed.
"What's your name young lady?" he asked.
"Jane" she replied.
"Well I hope to see you pass this round! ho ho!" the old man said as he waved his hand and left through the front door.
"Who was that" someone said from right behind Jane.
Startled, she jumped a little, but saw Akira behind her.
"Just a mysterious old man" she replied.
Once everyone got up and they were headed to the kitchen, Jane stopped them all and proposed something.
"Hey, let's enter the team battle trivia today." she said with enthusiasm.
"But before that… let's… equalize all our points." she nervously proposed.
Everyone looked cautious amongst each other, but she continued:
"After all, if we are going to pass this thing, we will need to work together, but more so trust each other."
After a period of silence, Ken spoke up: "Why not. I just have to split what I have 8 ways, right?"
Mary and Lucy joined in next, and after everyone had shared what they had, the last one to say anything was Ting.
"Wh… why not" she quietly said.
After they split everything up, they would all have just over 950 points each, and they headed to the kitchen to earn 60 more each.
After several hours of waiting, it was finally time for the trivia challenge to start.
Although they decided early on what they wanted to do, they were late in the signups due to their help with the kitchen that morning.
They were thus in the second pairing right after lunch, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
A teacher spoke up to give the rules.
Namely, in team battles, it wasn't allowed to transfer points between members, and the order for the team would have to be decided ahead of time.
Then, one person from each team would be called up, and they would need to answer a single question between them.
Whoever answered first would get the other player's points.
In total, there were three matches.
The first pairing stepped forward, but they weren't expecting the questions.
"Where is Easter Island?" the teacher asked.
After 5 seconds, the teacher yelled time, and asked for their answers, but no one had one.
The round was over pretty quickly actually, with no exchange of points at all.
Jane's team was up next though, and they were quite surprised to see that the opposing team was composed of the bullies they saw outside their door.
Akira went up first, and surprisingly, the same question was asked.
"Where is Easter Island."
Akira, of course, had no clue what the answer was, but Jane quickly went up to his ear and answered it for him.
"Polynesia" he answered.
"Correct." The teacher answered. "+ 254 points"
"WHAT!?" the other competitor yelled. "You cheated! How can this be allowed!?"
"Next pair please" the teacher ordered, forcing the student to hold back his fist.
David walked up.
"What year did the French revolution end?" the teacher asked
"I see how this works." David said to himself as he pulled out his phone.
"1789" he answered.
Even more pissed, the second guy grabbed David by the collar and nearly listed him.
David recognized him as the leader from yesterday, and starred back into his eyes.
"I'll get you for this, remember that!" He whispered into David's ear.
Throwing him aside, the teacher asked the next pair to step forward. Jane took the stage.
"You only lost 464 points, it wasn't that big of a deal" Jane said under her breath.
He heard though, and stomped the floorboard so hard to made a crack.
The teacher asked the next question: "Name a nucleotide sequence for a stop codon."
This time, the competition was faster, and answered after looking it up on his phone.
"TAC!" he yelled.
"Incorrect." the teacher responded.
"What!? But that's what Wikipe…" he shouted back, but was interrupted by Jane: "I think you meant to say TAG"
"Correct" the teacher said.
The rest of it went very similarly, with the other team completely destroyed.
They managed to gain a total of 2549 more points, and decided to meet up in the kitchen once night fell upon them.
After napping under a tree in the park that was part of the campus, Jane started to get hungry, so she decided to head back.
Based on what she was hearing, the round after theirs ended in a stalemate, as both teams simply switched off answering the questions in time.
Finally ending up in the kitchen, she looked around and saw Akira, Ken, and Sean all together.
Ting arrived right after Jane did, and the badly coordinated duo Mary and Lucy made their presence known after they knocked down several pans.
David didn't get their for a while though.
They waited ten minutes.
No one came.
They waited another 10.
Finally, they saw him enter the room.
Mary let out a tiny scream when she made eye contact with David's inflamed right eye.
They would also soon notice that he had a limp, but he found a place to sit before they could notice.
"Sorry guys for being a bit late…"
"Are you okay!?" Jane asked.
"I'll live." he said back.
"I'm going to go grab a first aid kit" Ken said while running off.
After he got back, Sean offered to patch him up since his parents were doctors.
After things quieted up and they finished working, they returned to their dorm room.
As they sat down, Ting said: "Let's divide up our earnings for today."
Unexpectedly, David spoke up again: "Sorry guys…"
"I'm down to zero."
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