HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 11

Frederica glanced over at the alien and noticed a trail of silver tears rolling down her cheek.

“Are you okay?” Frederica whispered.

The girl nodded. Frederica fished around in her bag and handed the girl a tissue. She took it reluctantly and wiped her face.

“Thank… you.”

Frederica said nothing for a while, just watched the girl, all hunched over and withdrawn. She wondered if she looked the same way to everyone else.

“I’m really good with languages, by the way,” Frederica said. “If you’re having trouble understanding anything, I’d be glad to help you with it.”

The girl looked up at Frederica and smiled weakly. Her eyes were slightly larger than the average human’s and the irises were a deep red. Frederica saw flashes of the girl’s life; childhood on an alien world, ships descending from the sky, buildings on fire. Then escape. Months spent in the belly of a cargo transport. And, finally, Angela, ushering everyone through a portal to Earth. Frederica cleared her throat and held out her hand.

“My name is Fred,” she said in a flowing, almost musical language.

The girl’s jaw dropped for just a moment, then she shook Frederica’s hand. Her skin was faintly fuzzy, like a grey peach.

“I’m Magh,” she said in the same language. “Who taught you the Old Tongue?”

“You did,” Frederica said. “Just now.”

Magh raised an eyebrow but didn’t press the matter.

“Now,” Cyrus said. “You’ll all be sick of my voice by the end of semester, so I’m going to let you go for today. Make sure you grab a course outline from my desk on your way out. I probably won’t be following it very closely but it’ll give you an idea of what to expect. In the meantime, get out of here and have some fun.”

The students rose from their seats and filed past Cyrus’s desk. The crowd from earlier lingered to chat with the instructor. Rather than try to squeeze through, Frederica grabbed a couple outlines telekinetically. She handed one to Magh.