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At Thrilling Exo University, Confidence Is High Again — and Body Armour Is Optional!

Welcome back, Buckyballs! Exo University is returning to face-to-face classes this semester, and I, for one, could not be more excited. There simply is no substitute for face-to-face instruction and the chance to laugh and work and drink and scream and learn alongside your peers. I am sure you’re all looking forward to asking questions in class without that pesky speed-of-light delay that comes with remote education in this kind of multi-system environment. Wasn’t that horrible?

I realize there may be lingering concerns out there about the tyrannomorph threat, and I want you to know that we understand those concerns. We care about our students. You’re our whole business! And I know that there are faculty and students who insist that new advances in telepathic instruction make those Einsteinian delays a thing of the past. However, we have looked carefully at the matter and we promise you that as impressive as telepathic attendance has become, it has not progressed nearly enough to accommodate the hands-on education and real-space networking that a proper university experience requires. It is also worth stressing — although this thought is entirely secondary — that we have put considerable investment into our facilities and not all of those investments have been fully paid off. Those microgravity rivers and macrogravity gyms we debt-financed won’t pay for themselves. (We checked.) So if you want to complete your degree and you’re hoping Exo University will still be around in another two years, it’s time to pick up your books, upload your dental records and grab your gate pass! Our dorms have been scrubbed clean and no longer smell of blood. The faux marble of the student union floors and walls is again a mottled white. As I walk through them with my security team, I can tell our gorgeous campus is ready. Ready for you.

You’ll be happy to know that the threat of tyrannomorph attack has been mitigated considerably thanks to the work of our team here at Exo. The admissions walk-up windows are hardened with nanoglass, we’ve installed a minigun in the historic bell tower, and bees drift lazily among the wildflowers. Our risk-management officer assures us that your chance of being devoured by a tyrannomorph during your studies has dropped a staggering 86% from last autumn, owing to a combination of armed retaliation, site hardening and diminished food supply. You might have heard meritless rumours that the lower attack rate is a lull, a pause for digestion, a regrouping. My finance office, however, assures me it’s safe for you to return to campus. Remaining fingers crossed, it seems to be a long-term and sustainable reduction. Isn’t that good news?

Nonetheless, allow me to address armaments and campus security. As I’m sure you’ve heard, gate-marines killed literally dozens of gladimorphs, stigomorphs and sectomorphs a few sectors over. By studying their surviving video, we’ve learnt a lot about fighting those morphs. Although we haven’t tried all of their countermeasures here at Exo, not yet, we are confident these same tools will prove effective on the many variants of tyrannomorphs peculiar to our own systems. Our three-person campus security team replies with a thumbs up emoji whenever I text them to ask if they’re ready to try those moves we studied. They’re ready. We’re all ready.

On the subject of hardening, again the news is good. Our campus book store now carries Exo-branded body armour that’s 90% likely to resist a glancing attack from a tachomorph. You don’t have to wear that armour if you don’t want to, of course. We want you to be comfortable. But the armour is fantastic stuff. It comprises a vest and helmet, and our supplier assures us that it protects covered body parts 90% of the time against the species and attack it was tested against. It comes in our school colours, sporting the logo on the helm and our motto from shoulder to shoulder across the back of the vest. You’ll be proud to wear it, if you choose to do so. I wear it at least once a week myself, as you will see if you check the university’s photo account. I think I can safely speak for all of us on the Exo welcome team when I say that the armour’s effectiveness against that one kind of attack has us feeling a lot more confident about returning to normal.

In short, we really have thought the whole thing through. We wouldn’t ever take advantage of you. You’re our first and last thought, every day, and you’re the whole reason we’re in business. We’ve carefully estimated just how many students we’re likely to lose to xiromorphs and traumomorphs (and the very particular appendectomorphs), and you’ll be delighted to know it won’t be that many. Some casualties are inevitable, of course, but they probably won’t be you.

A final note to our amazing staff, who never left campus even after everyone else including the administrators did: we didn’t run estimates for staff casualties. However, we are confident your bold new uniforms, declaring your special work status with our institute, will deter most tyrannomorphs from attacking you. Once the appendectomorphs see those bright red shirts, they’ll go find another target. Probably an adjunct.

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