I finished signing the papers, avoiding the small print because it didn't matter. I was going to have superpowers, and right now that’s what I needed. It seemed ridiculous that after all the scientific advancements humanity had made, conditions like poverty still remained, and class structure had actually grown in influence. In fact the gap between the upper and lower classes was so incredible that those in poverty were treated no better than abused dogs, and no one on Mars cared enough to do anything about it. Well, except for me. For years I had fought for my life in the slums of this particular mars colony. It was hard because not only did the rich kids come by every once and a while and pick on us, but every adult there was a piece of shit. They abused their children and themselves. They let themselves become murderers, thieves, and drug addicts who kicked you when you were down.
I am going to change all of that. I will protect my friends who have become like family. And yes I knew force was no better than how I have been treated but I hadn't the voice or education to things the other way round.
"Apex Runiake?" A woman called out.
"That's me." I said standing up. She smiled.
"How are you?"
"Hmm, I would say I feel pretty awesome, perhaps even bad assed." She laughed.
"That's a first."
"Well I'm just one of a kind."
“Any illnesses or health problems?"
"No I’m a healthy, fit young martian adult."
"Well that’s good...." She said before saying under her breath," You’re going to need it."
"Nothing. So you're 18 so no need for permission. You serums chose Ex-15 , Ag-100, and Ice-18 correct?"
"Awe yeaaah!" I had decided I wanted the ability to cause explosions at any time, flash agility so at one moment I could be in front of you and in the next moment be right behind you, and then of course ice would be sweet because I could forge weapons from anywhere and impede the enemy.
"I'll take that as a yes, follow me please Apex."
"Sure no problem." I said. I followed after her down a slightly brighter hallway that quickly ended in a room that looked like it was straight out of a crazy scientist’s laboratory. Wires protruded from every surface of the clean white tiled walls, and snaked to the center of the room where there was a huge scary chair. The chair was terrifying because once you sat in it, a machine with dozens of needles faced you. And as though giant-ass needles weren’t scary enough, they buzzed and sparked with electric current. My face must have turned pale because the nurse than said, “You won't feel a thing. Please seat yourself for treatment.”
I took a long breath and pushed the fear aside. Each step I took was a step towards salvation now. As I sat in the chair, a mixture of fear, hope, and excitement ran through my veins. This was it! I couldn’t look back now. One of the motors on the needle machine started to whine while a smaller needle pointed towards my arm got closer.
"Your procedure has started. You will be knocked out with a sedative and when you wake up, you will literally wake up a new man."
"Alright. Let’s do this!" The needle poked through my flesh as I looked over at the nurse who gave an encouraging smile. As the sedative began to take affect her face began to look more and more like a friend I remembered from way back. "Lorrie?" Then the world had completely faded away.
There was a great rumbling and shaking going on as my five senses began to come back online. I couldn't see anything but I could definitely feel, hear, and touch, and whatever I sat in was vibrating heavily; because a low rumbling sound, accompanied by another clattering noise, filled the room.
"What the hell is going on?" A smooth male voice asked from my right.
"We just finished the synchronization treatment and his body is already asserting the Ex-15 serum. It’s taking all of power inhibitors to subdue it."
"Why aren't they negating him?"
"I’m not sure, but I think it’s possible he might already have natural synchronization proteins in his DNA."
What the hell are they talking about?
"You might want to pipe down guys he is conscious."
"Return his motor functions. That might stop this."
"Right on it." Suddenly a painful electric current shot up my spine forcing me to open up my eyes. A bright light was blinding me, but the shaking and rumbling began to subside into silence.
“Curious." The man said, "Anyways my name is Kobish and you must be Apex Runiake. Sorry for the scare there; however I assure you everything is alright now. How are you feeling?"
I got out of the chair feeling fine at first but when my feet hit the smooth marble like floor my legs began to shake uncontrollably, I felt like all the energy I had in my body had left. I fell to my knees.
"Weak?" Kobish asked.
"Y-y-yes." I said as my head began to pound.
"Don't worry, most of these are usual side effects. Take this, you should be fine in a few minutes." He said handing me a blue capsule which I greedily swallowed down.
"When you're ready could you please follow me? We'll be able to see if all of the powers you have received are working."
"Sure. How long was the procedure?"
"Only a few hours. I also want to clear something up with you." He said in a very business-like fashion.
"What would that be?"
"You didn't pay for you powers did you? And because of that, you are aware that you do owe us your services?"
"Yeah I signed that paper, you don't need to remind me."
"Good good. Just checking." He smirked.
"I am feeling a little bit better. Let’s test these powers out." That wasn’t really true, but something about this man wasn't right. I needed to get out of here.
A door slid open in the far corner of the room. Kobish started walking, his silver lab coat flowing gently above the floor. I followed in a less eloquent fashion, stumbling and flailing my arms about, looking for some type of support. Kobish didn't let up, and led me down a series of brightly lit halls that gave me a headache. Finally we reached an empty silver lined room that smelled of burnt plastic.
"Excuse the smell, the earlier client was testing his lightning ability."
"Cool, and no problem." I replied. Kobish pressed a red button and then after a quick silence a computer voice said “Scan complete. Initiating test." The bottom of the floor began to rise forming a large silver wall.
"Please proceed to destroy the wall." The computer asked. I looked back Kobish who shook his head.
"Alright" I said. I felt better since taking that pill, but I hadn't a clue how to activate my abilities and no one here was taking an interest in showing me. So I did what my gut told me to: run and punch. My feet clattered against the floor and I punched as hard as I could. That’s when a large red and orange light formed in front of me.
I was thrown back against the wall. My arm burned as smoke and debris littered the silver room.
"Good efforts. Try another way if you can." Kobish said.
I got up, my body sore from the explosion, but still more than capable of going on.
Maybe if I snap my fingers? I wondered.
With little hesitation I did it, but the explosion was limited to about 10 feet away from me. However the wall was about 15 feet away. In spite of this, the force of the explosion still collapsed whatever was left of the wall. The silver debris melted and repaired the damage I caused to the room within seconds. Then two machines formed, both of which proceeded to fire off balls at intense rate.
"You’re going to need to activate your flash agility!" Kobish said excitedly. I tried to escape the overwhelming attack by running normally but was quickly hit several times.
"These things hurt!" I yelled angrily.
"More motivation to use your power don't you think?" Kobish replied snidely.
"Getting angry at me won't help."
This was true, but I could feel something growing inside of me. As my anger rose, I moved to my left which, for a second was steady and normal, but then I found myself at the other end of the room, safely away from the volley of balls. The machines fixed their aim on me, but I was already gone. Already I was running out of breath; this power was taking a lot out of me. The machines melted back into the ground.
"Initiating final test. To leave this room you must be able to freeze one of these combat bots. Activation of other powers will end in punishment." Two tinny looking bipedal robots entered the room carrying blunt metal rods. Instinctively I raised my arm and imagined a burst of ice coming through but nothing happened. I rolled out of the way narrowly dodged one strike. While the other readied to hit me, I managed to trip it up before getting back up.
"How do I make ice?" I asked deftly avoiding another blow to my head.
"Keep trying." Kobish said sounding amused. I jumped back and readied myself again imagining that I was holding icicle or something. The robot came at me as a white mist was emitting from my hand, but the mist didn't stop it from giving my arm a good whack.
"Ahh!" I yelled back holding my arm.
"End test." Kobish commanded.
"Why couldn't I activate my power?"
"Your body obviously hasn't synched well with particular ability. However it is working, you just need to work on your synchronization by practicing."
"What do you mean by synchronization? Can’t we just use our powers?"
"Well no. We can't just give you the dry power, your body wouldn’t bond with it. It needs to bond with a... well… a third party agent if that makes sense. This process is called: synchronization. We introduce the agent into your body followed by the power, but the power and agent don’t always bond right away. By training the power, you are effectively encouraging the power to bond with the agent more. And the more power that has synched with the agent, the more powerful you ability becomes. Do you understand?"
"Not really. Never been one for science." Actually I’ve never been one for any type of academic. It wasn’t that I was stupid or anything, I just didn't really get the time to go to school. All I understood about what Kobish was saying was that if I wanted to be proficient with my powers I needed to train. This wouldn’t be a problem, I loved challenges, and I was sure that I would get plenty of practice when I got “home”.
“Well in time you will understand. Now Apex I wish you luck."
"What do you mean by that?" I asked, confused. Suddenly my arms were forced behind me and cuffs were placed on my wrists.
“What the hell is going on!" I yelled.
"Didn't read the paper you signed? Actually I vividly remember you saying that you did. Here let me remind you:”
I Apex Runiake agree to above terms. That if I, the undersigned, cannot pay for my powers, I will volunteer my services for Superpowers Inc. I also agree to take part in the gladiator tournament that Superpowers Inc. delivers to the general public as entertainment.
“Didn't you read the small print?"
“The hell I did! I don't remember that! You can't just do this to people its inhumane!" I yelled, wishing I could reach out and claw his face off. I tried activating my abilities, but nothing happened and then my body exploded with pain.
"Don't bother. We made sure those cuffs negate powers by inhibiting synchronization. Also you’re an incredible idiot to think that the majority of people that participate in the Gladiator tournaments do so willingly. Besides why would we give away product for just a bit housekeeping. Powers aren't free moron. Take him to assigned housing." He ordered before turning away.
"I won't let you guys get away with this! I won't die in the ring! I will come out more powerful and end this! I swear it!" I yelled frantically. I knew it wouldn’t mean anything but it was a lot better than just accepting the situation. Kobish gave me a smirk and turned away while the robots proceeded to inject yet another sedative into me.
When I awoke again I was in a small brightly lit up room.
“Welcome to area 50, engaging cleaning cycle." The room became so intensely bright that it blinded me even when my eyes were closed.
"All pathogens, and objects deemed dangerous by Superpowers Inc. have been removed. Feel free to proceed." Said a computer as opening appeared directly ahead of me. I moved forward into a clean, wooden floored area with all the luxuries you would find in a non-impoverished home. Another computer voice activated.
"This is Area 50. This is where you will stay when you are not fighting. It is equipped with modern conveniences and appliances. There is also a training area for you to practice. At present there are two other residents. Eventually you will have up to eight residents who will join you in team battles. Question should be directed to any of the CI Responsive monitor units found throughout the area. That is all.”
"Wonderful. I’m all set." I said sarcastically wishing I had something to kick and utterly destroy. I was a complete idiot for letting this happen to me. I crashed onto one of several couches in the room, and looked up as I heard footsteps approaching from the other side of the room.