assume that about everyone anyway.”
“Well, Nick’s advocacy of paranoia aside, he has a point,” Mary said. “First year is already scary, the last thing they need is someone tossing on yet another thing to be afraid of.”
“Yeah, between the masses of people being drummed out, the mystery of what the classes are like, and the challenges for rank, there is already plenty to keep a freshman on their toes,” Vince agreed.
Nick snickered. “You don’t see the humor here, do you? We’re in the exact same boat. We don’t have any idea of what this year’s syllabus of examinations will be like. We’re no better off than the freshmen.”
“No, there is one big difference,” Hershel corrected. “We know we can make it through a year. We know we’ve got what it takes to survive the cuts.”
“Pretty trivial difference,” Nick said.
Hershel smiled at him. “Everything is trivial, right up until you need it. Now let’s go see what fresh horrors this year has in store.”
The grey-uniformed population of the gym had thinned slightly from its black-clad incarnation. Though Vince recognized all of his once-friends amidst the sophomores, there were definitely some faces missing. Faces of people whom he’d seen struggling and working and fighting right alongside the rest of them. Faces that wouldn’t be seen again in the HCP. It was a solemn reminder that there was a long road ahead, with plenty of opportunities to wash out. Vince shook his head and focused on the task at hand. There were six individuals clustered with Dean Blaine in the center of the room, all of them quite distinctive and unfamiliar.
“Today, we are going to talk about majors,” Dean Blaine announced once everyone had gathered within range of his voice. “Freshman year is used as a trial by fire. We drum out those who can’t cut it and get those who can into shape. From sophomore year onward, things will be working a bit differently. For starters, we’re going to be having only a single hour of gym together each day. The rest of your time will be spent in your respective classes. Here at Lander, as well as in all schools participating in the HCP, we offer six distinctive courses designed to evolve you into field-ready Heroes. I’ll let the professors introduce themselves and their courses in a moment; right now I just want to touch on the program as a whole.”
“This year you will each be enrolled in three of the six courses. These were chosen by determining the areas you can best grow, as well as your performances in last year’s final exam. Come your junior year, you will be allowed to continue in the two areas you show the most promise, and in your senior year you will devote all of your energy to a single area of focus. This final area is considered your specialty, or major, in the HCP. It will help determine what sort of Hero you’ll be and give you a good idea of where you should apply for internships.”
“Internships?” Vince whispered to Alice with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, don’t you know? Once you graduate you have to intern under an existing Hero for two years before you can work on your own. It gives real world experience,” Alice hurriedly whispered back.
“That is, of course, a long way down the road and will only concern a fraction of you,” Dean Blaine continued. “There is something else relevant to this year, however. Last year we focused on learning to fight one on one, which is a core concept for any Hero. However, one of the great advantages we have over criminals is our ability to work together in a trusted and cohesive unit. For that purpose, tomorrow you will be split up into teams. Aside from your performance in your classes, there will be several team-based challenges throughout the school year. Your performance in these will, of course, affect whether or not you join us for the junior year curriculum. The details for that will be covered at the commencement of tomorrow’s gym period
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