Want to have superpowers? Well then come to Superpowers inc! All you need is some money and a parents signature. Don't have money? Don't have parents? That's ok! Instead of taking your money, they'll just take something else... like your freedom. All you have to do is fight others to the death in an arena for the enjoyment of other human beings. No biggie right?
I stood and walked to the back of the dimly lit reception room. A nurse looking lady with a clipboard looked up as I approached and smiled. She was pretty which was bad. I wasn't good with normal girls. Pretty ones were even worse.
"How are you?"
"Fine." I croaked.
"Any recent illnesses or health problems?"
I didn't trust my voice to say much more so I shook my head.
She raised and eyebrow, "Don't say much do you?" I shrugged and she looked down at the clipboard.
"This says you are 18, so you don't need a permission slip, and... as far as payment... it looks like you've checked the "service" option. Are you aware of what that entails?"
"Y-yes." The contract mentioned cleaning and equipment upkeep. Things like that. There was a bunch of small print at the bottom, but it hurt my eyes to read. I scanned it and didn't see anything bad.
Following the colonization of Mars in 2034, many new businesses sprung up to cater to the citizens of the new colony. Some of the businesses were things that people on Earth might have been appalled to see. But the new settlers, who dealt with abnormal troubles, needed abnormal entertainment to keep them sane.
Oene of the new businesses was called Superpowers Inc. Superpowers Inc. was a somewhat new company that was in the business of, believe it or not, altering your DNA to give you superpowers. To begin, they were offering injections only to teenagers and those under age 20. I guess once those proved successful and word spread, they'd open it up to adults too. Surprisingly enough, the whole Superpowers thing was as a big deal as you'd think. A lot of people didn't care, or didn't want to be different, others were downright suspicious or disbelieving that it was real.
The powers were expensive of course. Nobody actually had the money for them. So part of the deal was that you would stay at the compound and offer "services." That's another reason why adults couldn't do it, because they didn't have the time to spend cleaning at a compound for a few months.
The lady spoke, bringing me back to reality.
"Let's see, you want serums Li-27, Te-15, and... you forgot to choose a third. What would you like?"
I hadn't forgotten actually. I just hadn't found any other powers that I really liked. I loved Star Wars, and the two powers I had chosen: Li-27 (lightning) and Te-15 (telekinesis) were as close as I was gonna get to living out my nerdy fantasies. I wanted a third power, but had a hard trouble deciding on which one to go with. By the time they had collected form, I still hadn't written anything down. So now here I was, put on the spot, nervous, and uncomfortable.
"Umm... I-I don't..." I took a breath and started over, "You pick. I-I can't decide."
She looked at me puzzled for a moment, then smiled but buried her face in the clipboard to hide it. She lifted the page, my form presumably, and scanned the list of powers. After a moment she let my page fall back down and wrote something.
"Ok! You're all set! Let's go!"
She turned and went through the door behind her, leaving me standing there as I wondered what she chose for me. I hurried after her.
"Hey! Umm... what... what did you choose?"
She looked back at me and winked, "It's a secret for now. Don't worry! Trust me!"
We came to a room with lots of wires, tubes, and one examination chair. There was a window in one of the walls showing a room with lots of computers and a few robed men and women.
I was strapped to the chair by the nurse, and there I waited as preparations were made. After a minute, the nurse turned around and slid a needle into my skin.
"This is a sedative to knock you out for the procedure. You won't feel a thinnnggg."
Her voice faded along with my vision, until there was only black and quiet.
When I woke, the nurse was unstrapping me from the chair. She seemed a bit on edge. I wanted to ask what was wrong, but a mixture of my nervousness and the lingering effects of the sedative prevented me.
"You can sit up slowly if you'd like" she said.
My head was spinning, but I did as she asked. I blinked a few times, and that was when I noticed the man standing a few feet away. After I had stretched and was on my feet, he walked up to me.
"Hi there Visp. My name is Kobish. I'm here to make sure that your powers are functional. Follow me please."
As I was leaving, the nurse approached me and brushed at my jacket pocket as if batting a fly.
"Got it!" She said with smile. There was no fly, so I assumed that was a ruse. But why? As I started down the hallway, I felt my pocket gingerly and wasn't surprised to hear the crinkle of paper. Had she given me her phone number? I shook my head. That couldn't have been it, it must have been something else.
There was no time to look at it now. It obviously wasn't safe for some reason or the nurse wouldn't have tried to hide it. So I left it alone for the time being and followed Kobish down the long hallway into a seemingly empty room. There was a single monitor hanging from the ceiling.
Kobish hit a button which closed the door, then spoke.
"Training exercise. Power test one. Analyze."
Nothing appeared to happen for moment, but then a simulated voice broke the silence.
"Scan complete. Training exercise for Li-27, Te-15, and Br-45."
Br-45. That was the power that the nurse gave me. What did it mean? I looked at Kobish, who seemed as puzzled as I was.
I didn't have time to think about it further though because at that moment the room came alive.
"Ok Visp, we'll start with Lightning. A lot of powers are based on thought and visualization. In time, using a power will be almost like bending a finger. It becomes another apendage so to speak."
A target had appeared 10 meters away. I raised my arm and closed my eyes and tried to visualize a bolt of lightning. Nothing happened.
"Keep your eyes open" Kobish advised. "It cuts down on the amount of things you have visuali-"
A blue bolt of lightning shot from my palm and blew the target apart.
Kobish raised his eyebrows, "Never seen blue before."
What can I say? I'm a star wars nerd.
Without me realizing it, a machine had appeared a few feet to the right of where the target had been.
I looked up at the noise, and saw a rubber ball shoot out of a pitching machine. It caught me in the chest before I duck out of the way.
"Pain is an excellent motivator" Kobish said flatly. "This next test will exercise your telekinesis. I suggest you get the hang of it quickly. If you take long enough, I think it starts to shoot baseballs."
Another ball was launched. I stuck out my arm and visualized a hand batting the ball aside.
Gritting my teeth, I stuck my arm out again, but this time as I visualized the arm batting away the ball, I moved my arm accordingly.
It seemed to do the trick.
This time I visualized the ball flying back towards the machine, and stuck my arm out as if I was pushing the ball backwards. The ball shot straight back into the machine and stopped another ball from being launched.
The machine melted back into the floor, and the wall opposite me opened into a nozzle. I looked to Kobish questioningly, trying to figure out what this last test would be, but he just shrugged and watched. Moments later fire erupted from the nozzle.
In our general direction.
I didn't know what my last power was, nor how I was supposed to use it for this test, so I trusted my life to the telekinesis power which I had only barely grasped minutes earlier.
I stuck out both hands and visualized a bowl-like cover over the nozzle. Most of the fire didn't move past the bowl, but it had been moving so quickly that I didn't quite catch it all. Keeping one hand in place I cupped my second hand and visualized a curved wall. The fire followed along the path of the wall and bent away from us just as it had been about to cook us where we stood.
"End training!" Kobish shouted, and the fire stopped. Only after the nozzle had retracted back into the wall did I let my hands fall.
"I'm not sure what exactly that was supposed to test" Kobish said clapping me on the back, "But your quick thinking was greatly appreciated. I think we're done here."
He hit the button to open the door and we started back down the hallway. I was lost in thought. I kept wondering what power the nurse had given me, that Kobish himself didn't even know what it was. What did it have to do with almost being burnt to death?
While I was debating back and forth in my head, Kobish led me through a doorway into a second hallway that I hadn't noticed on my way in.
"So Visp. I did some checking on your file while you were out, and it appears that you aren't 18."
I froze. Kobish stopped a step ahead of me and then turned to face me.
"It's not a big deal, we'll just need to contact your parents and have them give consent."
"I um... well there's a problem... with that."
Kobish's eyes narrowed, but he almost looked pleased at what I'd said.
"What might that problem be?" He asked slowly.
"I uh... don't have parents."
I wasn't alone. Actually, many teens on the Mars Colony didn't have parents. Some teens were loaded on the ship as infants taken from orphanages, other's parents had died for some reason or another. Childbirth, occupational hazard, or in my case, the stupidity of another human being.
Kobish smiled, but it wasn't a comforting smile. In fact, it made me feel very uncomfortable.
"Well in that case you don't need their permission do you? No harm done!" He reached into his pocket and drew out something that I couldn't quite see.
"Hold out your arm, so I can introduce the finalizer."
"Finalizer?" I asked warily.
"Yes. The powers aren't made permanent until we inject the finalizer. The finalizer cements the powers into your dna. We made it this way in case a kid came without permission, that way there was no harm done if his or her parents didn't approve."
Something about the explanation seemed off to me and I began to slowly back away. Kobish suddenly snarled and darted forward, jabbing the syringe into my arm. My legs grew weak, and my vision began to grow dark.
It wasn't a finalizer. It was a tranquilizer.
I was being abducted.