HUMAN/SUPER Higher Learning 5

The door opened. Nila barged right into Frederica, but caught herself in time.

“Oh, hey, Fred,” Nila said. “I was just heading out to grab some lunch.”

“Me too,” Frederica said. “Do you… want to go together?”

Nila grinned.

“I thought you’d never ask.”


They found a little diner just around the block from campus. The restaurant was packed with students but Frederica and Nila found a free table near the back. Frederica settled in with a Cobb salad while Nila ordered a burger and fries.

“I’m still not used to that,” Nila said.

She nodded at a group of aliens sitting across the room. Three of them had purple skin with a row of spikes running down the middle of their heads. The other two looked like giant insects, chittering away in some indecipherable language.

“I remember watching it on the news when I was still in high school,” Nila said. “The ship came down from the sky and everybody thought it was an invasion. But then it turned out to be, like, a bunch of families just looking for a place to live. And this city just… welcomed them. I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to come here.”

Frederica remembered that day, too. Remembered listening with bated breath as Angela recounted the story of how she snuck aboard the ship and helped evacuate the refugees, saving hundreds of lives from a devastating reactor explosion. Frederica decided not to mention that part.

“Where are you from originally?” she asked.

“A little backwater town outside Calgary,” Nila replied. “Very rural, very old-fashioned. Not exactly the easiest place for a brown trans girl who loves heavy metal and science to grow up, as you might imagine.”

“Yeah, that sounds less than ideal.”

Nila laughed and said, “That’s one way to put it.”

“So what kind of science are you interested in?” Frederica asked.