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Breed: Four


  01:49:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 1199 words  
Categories: Breed

Breed: Four

Rox glared at Mikaela. ?What?? she asked, as Hamilton stepped away from the podium to a round of polite applause. Rox didn't respond, just kept staring. ?It was an example of a slippery slope fallacy, falsely asserting that a small action in the present will result in a catastrophic reaction in the future, without logically linking the cause and consequence.?
?Ignore my friend,? Mira said, leaning around Rox. ?She's wound a little tight. I'm Mira.?
?And this is Elijah. We're showing him around campus. If you think you'd want to come with.?
?Sure,? Mikaela said ?That'd be cool.?
The dean took to the stage one more time. ?Head of campus security has asked me to make an announcement. We've had a few incidents with stalking on this campus, often late at night, students being followed by an individual who keeps to the shadows. If you see anyone suspicious on the campus, you can reach the campus police by calling 911. We also have these stations around the campus.? He gestured to a pole with a blue light on top, stationed between two of the buildings. ?They're a direct line to the police, and they're always within a couple of minutes of anywhere on the campus. Your safety is one of our top priorities. If you can think of anything that will make you feel safer, don't hesitate to tell us.
?I want to thank you all for coming. And I want you to look to your right.? Mikaela followed Rox's eyes to a second set of chairs, faced as much towards them as the stage. In particular she was staring at a black man with high and tight hair. ?These staff are here to help you. Lincoln Martens is the head of our counseling department, and he takes pride in making sure students get whatever help they need on campus.? The man gave a little wave. ?All of the staff flanking him are advisors, or have some training in that capacity. Lean on them, that's why they're here. None of us are meant to be islands, and we're stronger linked in a chain.?
He gave a little nod, and walked off the stage. Mira and Elijah started to pull on bags. Rox continued glaring, but Mikaela tried to ignore her and stood with the others.
Rox continued ignoring Mikaela as they walked north, along the cobbled courtyard. Mikaela had been in similar situations, and she hoped she could head this off before it became a long-term issue. ?Look, I know we got off on kind of the wrong foot,? Mikaela said. At that moment, her foot caught on a slightly uneven stone, and she went tumbling to the ground.
?Rox!? Mira yelled, as the other woman caught Mikaela's bag by the strap; since it was still around Mikaela's shoulder, it stopped her a moment before her face hit the cobbles.
Mira bent to help her up. ?It's okay,? Mikaela said, standing. ?She wasn't anywhere near me.?
?She wouldn't have to be,? Mira muttered.
?It was my own clumsiness, and she stopped me from a pretty nasty impact.? Rox handed Mikaela her bag, and she slung it over her shoulder. ?Thanks,? she said. ?And I'm sorry. I was late, and on top of that I was mumbling while Hamilton was giving his little speech thing.?
?It's okay,? Rox said, though it was tough for Mikaela to know if she meant it because her tone was relatively flat.
She sighed. She knew she should leave it alone, but the talk still rubbed her wrong, and she couldn't resist the urge to scratch it. ?I'm not sure what you see in him, though. I think it's messed up, telling a bunch of women to screw around without birth control.?
?Why women?? Rox asked.
?Oh, crap,? Mira whispered.
?Because it impacts women differently. You tell college guys to screw around without condoms, and that's year-long Mardi Gras; the only overlap is both men and women have an even shot at getting an STI. But pregnancy hits a woman differently. Not only do all familial responsibilities de facto fall on the woman, including costs, but she's got to cope with being pregnant for nine months. It can be hard to deal with if you're an established woman, in a career where you can actually get away with taking maternity leave. But it's an entirely different- and irresponsible- thing for middle-aged man to encourage women to chuck their futures to incubate the next generation of super-babies. And that's why women.?
?Whew,? Mira said.
?That's an odd response to that,? Mikaela said.
?We're part of the running start program, still technically seniors in the local high school. Our classes are filled with the same, mostly, and you get a lot of sixteen year olds into a Feminism 101 class and you end up with girls who internalize the wrong kinds of messages, a lot of times boiled down to essentially, 'Men are bad, right?' And it's another in a long line of subjects about which Rox has zero sense of humor.?
?But she's got to have a fun side, right?? Mikaela asked. ?A hobby, or anything.?
?Oh, sure. You just have to know her for about a season before she gets comfortable showing it.?
?I'm right here,? Rox complained.
?We know.? Mira grinned. But the humor slid from her face when she noticed Elijah. He was standing away from them, looking at the horizon. ?Everything okay??
?I don't know,? he said.
?You want to talk about it?? Rox asked.
?I've been doing a lot of thinking, about registration. Not just what Hamilton said, but more generally, it's been on my mind for a while. And I meant what I said, earlier. People are really afraid. Most only know us from the accidents that happen, although most don't buy that they're accidents. What I've come to realize, though is we aren't going to convince people that we're just normal if we're hiding in the shadows, if we can't stand up and tell them we're their neighbors, their friends, sometimes their family. Registration absolutely makes me sick to my stomach... but I think it's something I have to do, anyway. Somebody has to stop being afraid. And I'm not willing to bet my life it'll be them. And I think we are barreling towards that point, where it will be a war, us and them, if one side doesn't turn away.?
?I don't know,? Mikaela said.
?That's okay,? Elijah said. ?I'm looking for converts. It's a deeply personal question. And one I don't think anybody has a right to ask someone else for. But the decision is right for me, for the kind of man I want to be.?
?Once you hit puberty?? Mira asked with a grin. ?I'm just teasing you, because you're making me feel immature.?
?I suspect I'm older enough than all of you that I don't want to cop to an age,? Mikaela said, ?but yeah. I probably would have done the same, if she hadn't beat me to it. I'm still not ready to pull that trigger, but I do respect the decision you're making.?
?Thanks,? he said, without looking away from the horizon.

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