Trinidad Academy was a second rate school - this was known to just about anyone that was familiar with the Noble Arms scene in the Philippines. There were scant few schools that were qualified to act as an academic facility for Arms masters, and more often than not, these requirements were strict - it was, after all, a facility dedicated to raising up children who were now in possession of powerful weapons that could not be taken from them, and could pose as a threat not only to the public at large but even to themselves.
That it was even qualified to be an Arms Academy might have been a point of contention for many people, but the explanation was really very simple, if not eye-rollingly typical: Simply put, the wealthy men and women who were parents or guardians of young Arms Masters kept it afloat. Trinidad was the perfect place to shunt off affluent kids who had no hope of accomplishing anything of note in an actual Arms Academy; it's administration could be bought, rules bent and broken for those that could afford it, while the poorer, less influential students were treated as chaff and disposable bodies. The vaunted scholarship that allowed students of a lower status attendance was at once both a shield and a sword - as long as it existed, the government and staff would have an excuse to keep it open under the guise of charity and opportunity for all, while at the same time raking in the "donations" of the wealthy in exchange for special considerations.
This was the academy's state until recently. The arrival and work of the new director marked a turning point for the school; an increase in standards, a stricter adherence to the rules, and a startlingly draconian approach to the the treatment of the students. Under the guidance of the new director, it appeared that all would be treated equally, and rewarded accordingly - and, it appeared, punished accordingly.
All this the new director promised, though naturally, many were disbelieving or otherwise scoffed at the notion, considering it being mere lip-service.
They would learn, in time.
Morning classes began, and the chiming of bells signaled to the students to get a move on. A day at school typically lasted 9 hours - from 6:30 AM to 3:30 PM, starting with an 30-minutes of homeroom period, followed by one subject per hour for a total of 6 subjects with a 30-minute recess and an hour lunch period in between. For students that had Noble arms, they were required to stay two hours longer, from 3 to 5 PM, for Arms related training. Noble Arms Academies also had half a day of school on Saturdays from 7:30 - 11:30, and on those days were entirely focused on Noble Arms specific training.
Each class was roughly 30 students each, with an assigned homeroom teacher that would take give out announcements and take role-call at the start of each day. The homeroom teacher would also act as their supervisor and default authority figure for class-related projects and activities, such as field trips, festival booths, and intramurals. Trinidad was a fairly typical school with regards to how they operated as a school. It was only their blatant corruption and overwhelming favoritism for the richer caste that muddled the system they operated on.
So far, the wealthy kids had been content to simply coast through their school life - understandable, after all, why put effort when it wasn't needed? - and despite the change in leadership, they had little inclination to change their ways. It had been this way for as long as they had been there, and the concept of actual change had eluded them.
"Oh god, there goes that bitch again, she things she's so special."
"Yeah I know! Ugh. Teachers pet. I heard that the school actually paid for her to come here."
"Wouldn't that make her a whore?"
The vicious, biting words hung in the air as a mousy brown-skinned girl walked past its source - a huddled group of girls and their hanger-ons. They were the popular and rich, and the ones naturally incensed when their position was threatened. They glared at her, and she tried to shrink into herself to escape their attention, but no such luck, so in spite of their continued verbal stabs she kept her head down and ignore them.
Her attempt to dismiss them only seemed to irritate them further. She heard a snort of disbelief, and suddenly she was showered in water.
One of the bullies held a water bottle in her hand, its remaining contents dripping to the floor while the group laughed. She grit her teeth, her mind blank with fury and shame and confusion. She wanted to do something but didn't know what and it was so hard to think!
And then she felt liquid pour over her head once again, accompanied by the smell of strong sent of mango.
Another girl stepped away from behind the mousy girl, a lazy grin on her face, and a crushed tetra pak carton in hand. "Aah, finally we got the smell out. Aren't I nice? You smelled like carabao, and a I thought I could help you out. I'm nice right?"
That might have been the last straw, and she was just about to snap and pull Conquistadora on them when a teacher rounded the corner.
"What's going on here?!" he asked, alarmed at what was presumably the dripping wet floor and the girl that the juice and water was dripping off of. She pursed her lips - the new director promised changed, and she was loath to hope that maybe something would finally be done about this but-
"Oh nothing, sir. Just helping a classmate out. She was smelling a bit funky so we share some perfume with her." In what most obviously a bullshit answer, the lead bitch gave a simpering smile to the teacher, who simply grinned back at her like a goon. "I hope you don't mind? I was just trying to be a good friend."
"Ah I see. Well, just be sure to call a janitor right? Wouldn't want anyone to slip over your perfume," he said with a chuckle, and in that entire time, he never so much as looked at her again.
Of course. Of course nothing was going to change. That new director was lip-service, like all the other blasted adults in this cursed school. The ones that actually cared couldn't do anything, and the ones in power did everything to keep it the way it was. If it weren't for the fact that there was no other place she could afford to study with a Noble Arm, she would have nothing to do with this school.
She turned to leave, shoulders trembling, her eyes running with tears. When she turned, the only thing she could think of was "Speak of the devil, and he shall appear..."
There appeared the new director, clothed in fine traditional clothing and smiling disarmingly. The mousy girl tried to keep her glare out of her eyes, but it was a tough doing, and the man appeared to notice. His only reaction was to give raise a single brow, before turning on the group behind her.
The teacher all of a sudden looked nervous, but the students wore the same smiles still.
"I-!" Began the teacher, before the director raised a hand to stop him. Measured, quite steps, and suddenly he was putting a hand on his shoulder.
"I expect to see your letter of resignation on top of my office in an hour, Mr. Romulo, or else I will be reporting you to the police for participating in bullying and for bribery."
And all at once, the atmosphere changed. The smile slid of the bully's faces faster than the water they had poured, while they victim's head jerked around, expression disbelieving... and hopeful. The Director turned away from the stunned teacher, who quickly ran away, to the bullies who jerked back in fear, before their ringleader, took a shaky step forward.
"Listen, m-my mom and dad are lawyers you know? And the-they've given a lot of donations to-"
"Ms. Kristine and company, you will be serving a month of in-campus suspension from classes, where you will be doing community service for your classes in the afternoon. Any tests, quizzes, and activities done during that time will be marked as zero. Kindly see me in my office after school so I can send the letter to your parents. Failure to show up will be considered as grounds for expulsion."
He smiled and all was silent for a moment.
"You may go now."
The girls all but ran, some stomping their feet in anger, but nonetheless with a fearful expression on their faces. The director chuckled and turned to the mousy girl, offering her a handkerchief.
"Clean yourself up Ms. Hanna. Hopefully you may preserve a modicum of dignity before class starts. And, it's small consolation, but you can expect these things to no longer happen. For what it's worth, I applaud your restraint - and patience."
The director nodded, and for the first time, it felt like someone was really looking at her, and that she could really see someone.
"Welcome to my academy, Ms. Hanna. I assure you, someone like you will do quite well here..."