Chapter 15

“You’re sure it’s okay for you to be walking?” Vince asked as they made their way down the steel and concrete hall.

“No, but I think they were mainly worried about me breaking the sound barrier, not going to the main hall to check the results,” Sasha replied. Julia had texted her that the boys’ fights were finished, but rather than getting the results from her roommate, Sasha had cajoled Vince into seeing for himself.

“Well... okay,” Vince said reluctantly. “Just let me know if you need to lean on me or something.”

“I bet you say that to all the mending girls with super speed,” Sasha said.

“Only the ones with pink and black hair,” Vince shot back.

“Good answer, Silver. Good answer.” Sasha might have continued their verbal dance, but at that point they stepped out of the tunnel and into the main hall. It was really more of an entrance foyer than anything else. Conveyor systems that ran to the respective dorms were on one side, while an enormous screen was perched overhead on the opposite end of the room. There were various hallways like the one Vince and Sasha were emerging from branching off, and at the moment there was a tremendous cluster of black-uniformed freshmen under the screen, looking eagerly for their name in the listings.

The screen was split into two sections currently, boys’ list and girls’ list. Most of the attention was geared towards the boys’ listings, but in fairness, the girls had been finished for at least an hour or so. Vince and Sasha made their way into the rabble of freshman and began their short search of the boys’ list. It took Vince a few minutes to find his name, not because the list was enormous or complicated, but because he was looking in the wrong part of it. When he couldn’t find himself in the bottom section, he finally looked to the higher rankings, though he was utterly unprepared for what awaited him there.

“Eighth?!” Vince exclaimed. “How the hell am I eighth? There are, like, thirty guys and I went down in the first round. Was there a mistake?”

“It isn’t just about how many fights you were in,” Sasha said soothingly. “They were also evaluating how you used your abilities against the ones you were fighting, how you dealt with their techniques, and how well you thought on your feet. If you were fighting a really lopsided battle and still managed to show solid skills then that was factored in.”

“Yeah but still... eighth?” Vince sighed and tried to relax. It was a good thing; a high ranking was something he should be proud of. He’s been a Powered until two months ago and here he’d managed to show up twenty-two Supers by outdoing them. It was an accomplishment. Vince just wished it was one he felt as though he had earned.

“Didn’t you say the guy you fought was named Michael?” Sasha asked.

“Yeah.”

“Looks like he made it to number three,” Sasha said, pointing up at the list. Vince checked for himself and sure enough she was right. Michael Clark was the third strongest male there, below the number one slot, Chad Taylor, and the number two slot, Shane Desoto. Vince was about to look away when the name in the number five slot caught his eye.

“Who is Roy Daniels?” Vince asked.

“According to Julia, the sexiest man she’s seen in years,” Sasha said. “She keeps texting my ass about him. Also he’s number five.”

“I wonder if he has a brother,” Vince speculated. “One of my dorm mates is named Hershel Daniels.”

“Hershel, huh? I don’t see him up there,” Sasha said.

It was true, Vince looked and looked but Hershel’s name didn’t appear anywhere on either list. Nick was listed at number thirty on the boys’ side and Alice had come in just below Sasha at twentieth on the girls’, but try as they might, the only Daniels they could find on the board was Roy.

“Weird,” Sasha said at last. “Do you think Roy is Hershel but they messed up his name?”

“I somehow doubt it,” Vince said. “Nothing against Hershel, he seems like a really nice guy, but he isn’t the type that your roommate would be constantly texting about.”

“How do you know? Maybe he’s Julia’s type,” Sasha said, a glimmer of antagonism in her voice.

“Does she like LARP and table top games? Because that’s what Hershel told us he loves to do in his free time,” Vince countered.

“Oh. No. Totally a different dude,” Sasha agreed quickly. “Well, whatever; just ask him about it when you get back to your dorm.”

“I’ll have to,” Vince said. “Especially since none of my fellow Melbrook residents seem to have hung out after they saw their ranks.”

“No worries, I bet they lick their wounds in time for Casino Night,” Sasha said optimistically.

“Casino Night?” Vince asked.

“Yeah, there are flyers up all over the dorms,” Sasha said.

“Must have missed them,” Vince said, doing his best to sound casual in the deflection.

“It’s in the student union tonight at seven,” Sasha explained. “Free food, fake gambling with free chips that you can use for raffles, and all the karaoke you can handle. Supers and Normals are both invited.”

“That sort of sounds like fun,” Vince said.

“Yeah, we can meet more fellow freshman. Maybe we’ll even make a friend or two that can’t lift a bus or melt steel,” Sasha said.

“Very true,” Vince agreed. “I don’t really know anyone here except my dorm mates. Oh, and now you, too.”

“Same boat,” Sasha said. “I met Julia because she’s my roommate, but you’re the only other friend I’ve made so far. Combat doesn’t really engender communal feelings on the first day.”

“Maybe that’s why they do it,” Vince speculated.

“Point,” Sasha said. “Well, I’m going to head back up to the dorm. Seven is only a few hours away and I am desperate for a shower. You think you’ll go to the Casino Night?”

“Positive.”

“Sweet,” Sasha said, pulling out the “e” sound a bit. “Want to meet up at the entrance and then lose all our fake money together?”

“Absolutely,” Vince said. “I’ll see if I can talk any of my dorm mates into coming along.”