Read Second Class Supers – Page 52
There was rustling in the nearby forest. Kya turned her attention to the trees. The shadows were quickly getting longer, and it was difficult to tell what was pushing its way through. She felt a pang of apprehension as she considered the patrols that Marge had previously mentioned.
“It’s just more sociology professors coming home for the night.” Callidus explained.
“Callidus, you aren’t still using that silly title!” Marge laughed.
“Like anyone would really know what Shadow Striders do or what they’re about. At least sociology professors says something about our mission. Shadow Striders makes us sound like a bunch of superheroes and we are anything but that.”
“We’ve been called Shadow Striders since before you became one.” An older, but soft voice came from the taller of the two figures standing off to the side.
Kya couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. She had considered Callidus the sole authority before arriving, and had never considered there might be others more senior to him.
Callidus shrugged. “Audentia,” he called to the other person from his group wrapped tightly from head to toe in black.
Audentia, the shorter of the two, approached and removed her hood. Kya was shocked when the long flowing raven locks and soft eyes of a young woman were revealed.
“Will you please go see that they’re alright?”
Audentia nodded and swiftly disappeared into the forest.
“Where was I?” Callidus began.
“The buildings.” The timidness in her own voice surprised Kya.
“Yes. They built this part of the city to house test subjects. They wanted to monitor the progress of the mothers throughout pregnancy, but also monitor the growth and development of their children, specifically to see if they were affected by the Fertility Crisis.”
“It didn’t work.” Kya said, nodding.
“Well,” Callidus raised his hands and pointed his fingers in the air, “it did and it didn’t.” He stood up and began pacing. “The women did get pregnant, but there were complications. And the babies were viable, but there were side effects.”
The other Shadow Strider, who had spoken before, sat beside Kya. “I love this story.” He said from under his hood. By the sound of his voice, Kya got the impression that he was smiling.
Marge was leaning against a nearby tree, twirling a piece of hair that had fallen from her ponytail around her fingers. “Callidus loves pausing for effect. We might be here all night.” She explained.
Callidus laughed. “Strange things started happening in that part of the city. Unexplainable events! People disappearing, or appearing from thin air, people summoning objects.”
“Supers!” Kya interrupted.
“Perfect timing.” The man beside her said. “You make a great audience.”
“Exactly!” Callidus pointed both index fingers at Kya and grinned. “The genetic manipulation techniques that they were using rewrote the mothers’ genetic codes, and gave them a random smattering of superpowers that the doctors weren’t expecting. The powers had limits, these women could jump high, but not fly, lift things with their minds, but only what they could carry with their hands. Some could hear the thoughts of others, but only thoughts of intent, something the person was about to do or about to say, a decision they were making. Deeper thoughts remained hidden.”
“That’s what I got.” Marge shot a large grin and wink at Kya.
Kya clenched her teeth and returned her attention to Callidus.
“The ability to read deeper thoughts, maybe it would have protected the women. Maybe it could have changed their fate.”
The man beside Kya chuckled quietly. “Callidus is such a great storyteller.” He whispered.
“Of course, the doctors and scientists saw the marketability in this turn of events. If only they could control the mutations, expand the limitations. What would people pay to be able to fly?” Callidus gestured to the heavens as if he was about to take off. “What would they pay for super strength?” He flexed his muscles and scrunched up his kind face into a scowl. “They’d pay anything!” He said sadly as he flopped down to sit cross legged on the ground. He began unwinding the fabric from his hands. All of his attention focused on that task as he continued his story. “They lost sight of the people they were trying to help. These mothers, they had no idea what was happening to them and it was scary! Some of them…” He put his still bound right hand to the side of his head like a fist and opened it outward in an explosive gesture with an accompanying “boom” noise. “Many died. Many husbands were widowers, many children were orphaned.”
“I don’t like this part of the story.” The man beside Kya whispered.
Callidus continued, unwrapping his right hand. “As I said before, there were side effects for the children. They were born looking and acting like any other babies. In fact, to look at them, hold them, play with them; they were normal little human babies. But within a number of days of their birth, strange things started happening to those who had touched them. Genetic mutations spread like a virus. The babies were carriers!” Callidus looked up, both of his hands now free. “Oh! Where are my manners? Kya, this is Nitor.”
Nitor nodded to Kya. She nodded back.
“Back to the story, Callidus!” Nitor clapped his hands as he spoke.
“The mutations were on the verge of becoming an epidemic! I mean, who doesn’t want to hold a baby? And the onslaught of uncontrolled Supers was, well, unpleasant. There were a lot of deaths and even more orphaned babies. But now they were seen as untouchable. The government worked hard to shut them away, and built these camps specifically for them. Keeping them and any surviving parents or medical staff who had contact with them locked away from the city at large. That way, they could perfect their marketable Supers.”
“So New Eden is one of these camps?” Kya said.
With a nod and a sigh Callidus continued. “It was named New Eden in order to try and turn our prison into a paradise. We have been banished out of the larger world for nothing that we have done, which is kind of the opposite of the original biblical story of Eden.”
At that moment Audientia came out of the bush, her face soaked with tears. “I-I’ve tried everything!” She sobbed. “He – Callidus, Facillis… Ohhhhh…” She placed her hands to her face and wept as she crumpled to the ground.
Callidus ran past her and Kya followed. He stopped suddenly and she bumped into him. A boy who looked to be in his teens, was lying on the ground. His face pale, he struggled for breath. Kya noticed his head was exposed as his hood and scarf were being used as a pillow. Blood gushed from the wound on his stomach, his black and grey clothing in tatters, cut away, making it easy to see.
“What happened?” Callidus growled.
“He was shot as we scaled the wall at the South Street Turnaround. The cops found us leaving the alley on Seventh.”
“You got pretty far.” Callidus mumbled, his hands had found the wound in the boy’s stomach.
“I’m going to die.” The boy said, his green eyes staring into Callidus’.
“Facillis, don’t talk like that.” Callidus said, gently.
“I’m not afraid.” Facillis replied.
Kya moved without saying a word, she knelt beside the boy opposite Callidus. She placed her hands on the bullet wound and felt the familiar cold sensation of healing. The sensations spread past her wrists, past her elbows, and up to her shoulders.
“What are you doing?” Callidus asked.
“Healing him.” Kya said through gritted teeth. When she pulled her hands away they were covered in the boy’s blood. His clothes were drenched and the ground around him had turned to sticky mud. The hole in his stomach was gone.
“Thank you.” Facillis whispered, and he closed his eyes. The trembling in his body stopped. He fell limp.
“What happened?” Kya asked. Her body tingled with fear. Her ears started ringing. She looked at Callidus.
Tears burst from his bright green eyes as he blinked. He licked his lips and opened his mouth but no words came out.
“What happened?” Kya asked again. “I healed him. Look! He’s fine!” She pointed to his flesh where the bullet hole had been.
“I’ve seen it before. First Gen limitations.” Nitor said, placing his hand on Kya’s shoulder. “You can only fix so much. You can close the wound, but you can’t replace the blood.”
Read Second Class Supers – Page 54
Second Class Supers – Page 53
Read Second Class Supers – Page 52