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An Enemy Within — Chapter Seven

16 Sep

Chapter 7

At UCLA, Shannon is pursuing a degree in Global Studies. With her desire to try and make the world a better place, Shannon figures that having a formal education in this field will lay the groundwork for her to achieve this end. And as it turns out, UCLA is also the alma mater of Crow. Even though he graduated back in 1999, talk still circulates around campus about the leader of the group which Shannon belongs. She hears some of this talk, but she doesn’t give it much heed. There are more important things out there than listening to gossip.

In this quarter, Shannon is taking a class that she’s not too wild about; biology. She’s taking the class, not because she finds it appealing, but because it’s required by the school as part of the core curriculum. Her teacher, Professor Simms, is a nice enough guy, but she can’t get into this class. She’ll be happy when this quarter is over and her Natural Science requirement will be satisfied. Besides, her interests lie elsewhere. She is in her first quarter of her sophomore year and she wants to get as many prerequisites out of the way as she can.

The class period is almost over, but before Professor Simms can excuse the class, he needs to return everyone’s exams from the previous week. With how the class is setup, there are a total of four exams which the students need to take. The exams are roughly evenly spaced and cover a certain block of information. With the final exam, it generally covers everything that was addressed in class. But Professor Simms decided that, in this class, the final exam would only cover the information that was covered between the third exam and the final.

“Ok,” Professor Simms says. “When I call your name, please come up and grab your exam. Once you have, you are allowed to leave.”

As each name is called, the respective student comes up and takes his or her exam. Some students had already packed up their things when their name is called so that they can leave after claiming their exam. Others claim their exams first before packing up their things. With Shannon, she is in the middle of packing up her bag when her name is called. When she comes up to take her exam, Professor Simms says in a confidential tone, “May I talk to you after class?”

“Sure,” Shannon replies.

As Shannon goes back to her desk, Professor Simms finishes giving out the exams. When that is done, Shannon returns to the front of the class with her bag in hand. As she does, Shannon’s friend Terrance leans over and asks, “What’d you do now?” in a playful manner.

Shannon smiles a little at this and replies, “We’ll find out won’t we.”

“Woo,” Terrance says as he heads toward the door. “Bye.”

“Seeya.”

Once Shannon is back in front of Professor Simms, he says, “Ms. Brown, I’m a little concerned about your performance in class.”

Hearing this, Shannon becomes a bit nervous. “Is there something wrong?”

“There’s nothing wrong per se. I just don’t feel like you’re fully applying yourself.”

“I don’t quite understand.”

“I know my class isn’t where your interests lie. And looking at the courses you’ve taken so far, I’ve noticed that you are doing very well in your classes that count toward your major, along with a few others. You’re getting A’s and B’s. But so far in this class, you aren’t doing so well.”

“Are you saying that I’m failing your class?”

“No. At least not yet. But from what I’ve seen so far, it makes me a little concerned. I know you’re a talented young woman and I want you to do well. I just don’t want to see you get hung up because of this class.”

“So you’re saying that I need to pick up my act.”

“I wouldn’t use those words exactly, but that is the gist of it.”

Shannon thinks about it for a moment, then says, “Ok. I’ll study and hit the books more. See if I can improve my grades.” Shannon will do that and get some more studying done, but basically, she’ll talk with Terrance and see if he can help her. Terrance knows that Shannon is a psionic, and more than likely, he’ll allow her to essentially cheat off of him by allowing Shannon to read his mind. Early on, in their freshman year, the two of them had a short, physical relationship. During that time, Shannon figured that it was safe if she shared her secret with him. Though their relationship is over, Terrance has still kept her secret and they’ve remained friends. Before she goes, Shannon asks, “Is there anything else?”

“No. That’s it. Have a good day.”

“Thanks.” Shannon heads to the door and is about to leave when she turns back and says “You too.”

Once out of class, Shannon pulls out her phone and turns the volume back on. Unless the battery is about to die, she never turns off her phone. But for purposes of class, she turns the volume off so that it won’t cause a disturbance if it just so happens to ring. As she turns the volume back on, Shannon also checks to see if she has received any new voice messages or texts. Seeing none, she puts her phone away. Upon leaving the building, she meets up with some of her friends, Penn, Toby, and Yaniv, who are waiting for her outside.

“Hey guys,” Shannon says.

They respond in kind. Shannon met all three at UCLA. Out of the three, she feels the closest to Penn. Penn has the height of a basketball player and is the only guy she knows of who has the guts to wear a kilt. If it was anyone else, people would rag on him for doing so. But because Penn is big and black, people generally leave him alone. The reason why he wears the kilt is to pay homage to his Scottish heritage, which he inherited from his maternal grandma.

Penn gives Shannon a hug and then asks, “What was the holdup?”

“Professor Simms just wanted to talk to me after class.”

“Are you in some kind of trouble?”

“No. He just wants to see me do better in class.”

“Ok.”

“Well, are you guys ready?”

With all three of them replying in the affirmative, they make their way over to Terrace Food Court located at Ackerman Union. Once they each grab something to eat, the four of them meet up in the seating area so that they can get some work done. The reason for this meeting is to deal with some logistical issues that need to be dealt with for an event which they are planning.

This meeting represents the unofficial leadership of their little group, which itself is not officially recognized by the school. First off, they didn’t seek formal approval from the school. If they did, and they were approved, the group would receive funding from the school to aid in their activities. Second, even if they tried, they’re not sure that the school would approve of their group. This is because their group is centered on political activism, and the last political activist group that was formed at the school became the New World Power. If it was just a group interested in politics, like the college Democrats or college Republicans, then there probably wouldn’t be a problem.

As it is, the group is essentially a rag-tag group of friends and socially minded individuals who wish to achieve progress within the United States. So far, they are responsible for some on-campus rallies and managed to get a speaker or two to visit the school and give a talk. They were not big names, but they are working for noble causes and were kind enough to visit.

With what they are planning today, if they are able to pull it off, it will be the largest event which they have ever achieved. They just hope that enough people will show up. Otherwise, it may turn into a bust. That is part of the reason for this meeting today, to try and figure out how to get enough people to come. The reason for the event is to peacefully protest the government over a particular piece of legislation; the National Registration and Regulation Act of Individuals with Gifted or Extraordinary Abilities. Conducting some research, they were able to obtain a copy of the bill. And reading through it, they noticed that the act doesn’t directly state what qualifies a person to be “Gifted” or “Extraordinary.”

This could grant too much discretion to be left in the hands of the executive and judicial branches, allowing them to decide who does and does not qualify. What’s worse is that it can allow the average person to decide who qualifies or not. This can lead to a whole host of problems leading to a modern witch hunt by allowing any and everyone to be called a mutant. In turn, this could start a long legal process, which can lead to exorbitant legal expenses for people trying to protect themselves, regardless if they’re a mutant or not.

Because of the intended purpose of the act, accompanied with those it intends to regulate, there are those who refer to it as the Mutant Registration Act. This reference comes directly from the X-Men comic books, which mentions a similar piece of legislation that is trying to be enacted in that universe. Though the act is not clearly defined in the comics, it is referenced numerous times. When it is referenced, it’s basically done in an abstract manner. The language of the law isn’t alluded to beyond the fact that mutants need to register. And since the protagonists are themselves mutants, the bill is portrayed in a negative light. But regardless of this reference, the law that is currently in front of Congress has essentially the same goal in mind as that of the comics; controlling those with extraordinary abilities before they can act upon their perceived threat.

The reason why Shannon and the others are against the National Registration and Regulation Act is because it infringes upon people’s civil liberties, and if this legislation gets passed, than it will open the door for other legislation that will infringe on other civil liberties. The typical slippery slope argument; if one group loses its rights, a domino effect will occur until the Land of the Free will become the Land of the Oppressed. It is for this latter reason why a lot of liberal leaning people, with a good number of moderates, are in opposition to this bill. But despite this general characterization, there are those who are called liberals are also in favor of this bill. More often then not, people act out of self interest instead of the greater good. The same thing applies to Shannon. One reason why she is protesting this bill is because she would be directly affected by this legislation, due to the fact that she possesses psionic abilities, essentially making her a mutant.

Once everyone has grabbed a seat, Shannon, Penn, Toby, and Yaniv start talking about the rally. The first thing they talk about are the fliers. Shannon has a few examples printed out so that they have some options available to see which they prefer. Shannon pulls them out from her black messenger bag which has the Rooster Teeth logo stitched in with the phrase “Red vs. Blue” beneath it. This is a reference to the internet series “Red vs. Blue” which uses the Halo game series at its platform. She pulls them out and hands them around. Each flier is printed on a different piece of colored paper so that they can be easily distinguished from one another.

“Ok,”Shannon says. “Here are some flier examples that I’ve been working on. I wanted to experiment with a few different styles before committing to one.”

As they eat their meals, they look over the different fliers. They don’t like the orange one because it seems too busy. The red one doesn’t have enough relevant information. Eventually, the four of them decide on the purple flier because it conveys just enough information in the most productive manner. They even talk about ways which the flier can be improved upon. They also decide on what date will be best.

During the course of the discussion, Shannon has been taking notes. She wants to make sure that she addresses everything relating to the fliers. Once the flier is done, they move on to the next aspect of this rally; the march. That needs to be planned and the paperwork, such as permits, need to be obtained from the city.

“I’ll take care of that,” Yaniv says as he adjusts his flat cap. Because of the flat cap, it causes his thick, curly hair to plume out from the sides. “I know what steps need to be taken.”

Shannon is a little surprised by this, which shows on her face. “Ok,” she says.

With that settled, they move on to the next point. Eventually, the meeting comes to an end and the four friends head out to take care of other responsibilities.

 

(c) 2011 Bradley P. Thomas

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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in An Enemy Within

 

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