“Geez, don’t these people have exams to study for?” Becca glared at people marching in a circle in front of the Student Center.
They were one of several groups that had taken up permanent residence in front of the building. The groups ran the gamut of intentions. One group tended to a small shrine and held twenty-four-seven vigils for the people lost in the terrorist attacks and Mr. Morningstar. Because they included the fallen Hero, they were slightly ostracized from most of the other groups.
One group was handing out fliers talking about the dangers of having an HCP on the campus and blaming the high concentration of Supers for the attacks the city had seen over the last eighteen months. Becca had actually looked up those numbers, and knew what those fliers were factually incorrect. The Super ratio in Orlando, even with the HCP, was well below average, and most of the Super population was transient college students at the city’s several universities not permanent residents. The group was spreading misinformation and blaming things on the HCP.
The anti-Super group had an ally in a more established, national organization that was handing out more comprehensive pamphlets about the dangers Supers posed to society. They’d arrived on campus hours after the attack, when wounds were still fresh, and started recruiting. Becca counted a dozen new students among their numbers approaching other students here and around the campus’ various quads with the literature.
At the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, you had a group that advocated on behalf of Supers. Many had been helped by Heroes in the past, and they didn’t want all Supers’ reputations sullied by the acts of a few. They constantly pointed out to people who took the anti-Supers group’s literature that terrorists might have perpetrated the attacks, but Supers were the people that stopped them. They were big supporters of the Protectorate.
Sadly, as Becca passed through the doors of the student center and toward the sidewalk that led off campus to her home, she saw the pro-Super group was clearly outnumbered by their opposites. The final group wasn’t handing out pamphlets and fliers. The final group was the marching with signs with hateful slogans on it. They were the group walking up to people as they exited the building and ganging up on them, demanding to know their views on the situation, and shouting them down if they stated an opinion that they didn’t agree with.
<Most of them aren’t even students.> Kyoshi walked beside Becca and easily scanned the groups around them.
Becca took a closer look and saw that several members of the hostile anti-group were easily in the forties of fifties, they spanned the spectrum in race and gender, but they all looked fed up and angry, and were energized by the slogans being shouted about Becca and Kyoshi’s kind.
“Come on, let’s go.” Becca urged as they hurried down the steps.
They’d just finished their latest team competition which was one-on-one battles in the combat cells. The team had to coordinate who they were going to send into each fight, with each team alternating who they sent out first so the other team could respond. It was a test of strategy. It was a game of chess with the team members as pawns. You knew who was on the other team, but had no idea who was going to come out to face you. Some powers could counter others, and some people would clearly defeat others. Becca had been the first selected by Team Three to face off against their opponent: Team Two.
She ended up facing Janet Ibsen. The light manipulator was poorly matched against the speedster, and even after breaking out her new ability to now create multiple light-ropes, she still wasn’t able to pin Becca down before the speedster beat her into submission.
Becca’s win started off her team on solid footing and it only got better. They ended up winning five of the seven matches, making them the clear team victor. Team Two only claimed two victories. Jason Cook defeated Casey Williams to give them their first win. Becca believed the other team captain wanted to face off against Kimberly. Her multi-purpose orbs and his telekinetic attacks would have been a good match to watch, but when it came time for him to fight, Kimberly sent out Casey instead. It was still a good match, but the strongwoman couldn’t overcome the sheer force of Jason’s attacks. Kimberly ended up fighting in the final match against Teresa Shaw and won against the multi-species shifter.
The second victory for Team Two came at the hands of Anika, so Becca had trouble feeling too bad about her team’s loss. Anika went up against Richard Gibson in the second to last match. By then it was already over. Kimberly had played the matchups better than Jason, won the first five, and secured the overall win. It wasn’t to say Richard and Casey didn’t fight their hearts out. They were just poorly matched against their opponents.
Becca didn’t know how Teams One and Four fared, but she’d been riding on the high of victory until she exited the Student Center and was forced to stare at people who at best disagreed with her being what she was, and at worst hated her.
The only thing she could be thankful for was it was a bit chilly out today. They were in the final week of classes before Christmas break, and the meteorologists were predicting weather down in the forties for the rest of the week. That meant hats, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and many other means of disguising what they were. Becca currently had on a cute hat, which she’d made sure all of her blue hair was covered by, and Kyoshi had on a similar hat and sunglasses. It was later in the day, and the sun was low, so the dark glasses hiding her golden eyes looked a little out of place, but not too much.
Unfortunately, nothing could hide Kyoshi’s height, and that caught the attention of several demonstrators.
“Do you feel afraid?” A woman separated herself from the marching protestors and made a beeline for Kysohi and Becca.
Becca couldn’t figure out if the woman was talking about them being Supers and afraid of the front united against them, or them being students and afraid of the attacks on the city where they went to school.
“No thank you,” Kyoshi answered quickly. “We’ve got exams to study for.”
“Are you afraid?” The woman repeated as she moved to block their path. She slipped on the stairs and almost fell, but Becca reached out and caught her. “Are you afraid?” The woman shrugged off the helping hand and planted herself in front of the two disguised Supers.
“I’m afraid I’m not going to pass my English 102 exam if I don’t have time to go through my notes on Pride and Prejudice.” Kyoshi answered the question without really answering it.
“You should be afraid. We should all be afraid.” There was fire in the woman’s eyes and her dark cheeks were flush with passion. “Supers are going to be the end of all of us. Look at what they’ve done. Look at what they are capable of. Don’t let this institution educate a new generation of killers!” The woman was practically screaming at the end of her little tirade.
A chant started up at the end echoing what the woman had said.
“We hear you, now we really need to go.” Becca tried to be diplomatic and move around the woman, but she shifted to block the path.
“You’re a tall one. You play basketball?” The woman’s pupils narrowed as she took in Kyoshi’s height.
“Volleyball in high school,” Kyoshi answered calmly, “but I’m not good enough to play NCAA D1, so I’m settling for a good education instead.”
Kyoshi must have had some assistance from what she was picking up from the woman’s mind, because she let the question of her unusual height go.
“What’s with the sunglasses?”
<Oh poop.> Becca tried not to let the hesitation show on her face, and couldn’t think of an answer quick enough.
Thankfully, someone else came to the rescue. “You ok?” Angela was walking casually down the steps behind them.
Unlike most of the people in their little group, Angela looked nothing like a Super. Sure, she was athletic, but she had no outwardly defining Super qualities. She was the best person to have in this situation, and even better, she had an answer locked and loaded.
“The Lasik giving you trouble?”
<Lasik surgery, duh.> Becca mentally slapped her forehead at the obvious. After Lasik you had to wear sunglasses to protect your fragile eyes.
“A little. All the studying isn’t helping the strain, but I’m getting by.” Kyoshi smiled back at Angela, and the protesting woman relented with her suspicions alleviated.
“Stay in school and away from dangerous people.” She obviously meant Supers without actually saying it.
Campus security was arriving as the three Supers departed the Student Center. The protestors started yelled about their rights, but the fact was that they were on private property, not students, and the security office had received several calls about students being harassed. Thankfully, it didn’t get violent, but accusations of the university cops being fascists were thrown around as the angrier members of the groups started to depart.
It all left Becca with a growing fear of the state of the city and the school. They weren’t the only HCP campus to get hit. Reports were coming out of Lander of student groups organizing and demanding the close of the HCP after the Crucible that killed several students the year before. The other three campuses hadn’t been attacked, or near the site of attacks, but they were getting their own flak from citizens and student groups fearful that Supers were going to get their children killed.
<It’s not a great time to be in an HCP.> Becca concluded, but she couldn’t think about the right now. She had a math final to prepare for, and she hated math.