A Child of the Pink Moon
Nel bounced the orange basketball a few more times before she made the attempt and the ball goes into the hoop after bouncing off the backboard. That was a hundred! Nel walked to the bench next to the court and picked up the water bottle and took a long drink. Even with her head inclined the short black hair barely touched the base of her neck and shoulders.
The court was usually occupied by some of the boys from the Adama Boarding House, but it was too early for them. It was a fancy name for an orphanage that specialized in those almost at adulthood. The need to prepare them for the outside world was the excuse, but those who lived here knew the truth. Every one of the kids sent to the Adama Boarding House had a special power.
Nel used the towel to wipe her face, neck and under the arms of the sleeveless half-t-shirt. If she didn't wear a sports top underneath, everything would show. That would be some incentive for some of the boys to show up and play so early. Then again, nothing seemed to wake up some of them before 7:30.
Her real name is Kimberly Nelson, but she insisted everyone call her Nel. She was what they call a “Tomboy”, she didn't worry about what other people thought. Mind reading wasn't her power, after all.
“Time for some breakfast!” She announced to an empty courtyard, throwing the towel over her shoulder and the water bottle into a nearby wastebasket.
Kimberly Nelson was born seventeen and a half years ago, or just a year after the so-called Pink Moon Event. It became evident that she was not as normal as her parents had hoped when she survived a house fire unscathed at three years old. She hadn't even been afraid of the fire, even though it had burned off all of her clothes.
Two years later she was given up by the parents to one of the agencies specializing in taking care of the PME Kids. There were thousands of other children born with special abilities within a couple years of the event. None were born more than twenty-six months from the PME.
Nel had been raised in institutions designed to learn her abilities and teach her to control them from the time she was given up. Six months ago she was sent to Adama Boarding House before being released as an adult in six more months.
When she entered the dining room she found a few others were already setting down to eat. “Sweet Ebony” Kareem who liked his oatmeal sweet and never ate meat. He was tall and thin with long arms, but he was also stronger than he looked. Elise, who had a thing for Kareem, was already there too. The girl with curly blond hair was sitting at another table and often glanced at the man.
Everyone knew that Kareem was being stoic. They also knew that once he hit eighteen he would vanish from this place in a heartbeat. He might even take Elise with him when he teleported away for the last time. He just didn't believe in dating before his next birthday.
On the other side of the room Bradly “Bash” Johnson was still deciding on what to put on his tray. He was never very decisive when it came to food or girls. Although when it came to a real fight he never had to pause to consider his next move, it was all instinct. He had a career ahead of him as a superhero but he wouldn't know if a girl really liked him even if she lived in his bed. Then again, he also didn't believe in casual relationships.
Maybe it had something to do with the Pink Moon Event, but nearly everyone she met that had been born with powers were very reluctant socially. Since she was five years old Nel had never been worried about her power, never felt like an outcast because of how she was raised. Most of the others had the same kind of background, it's not like they were bullied when they were younger. Some things were hard to explain.
Such as their varied powers. It made no sense. It was scientifically impossible by all measures that had been implemented. Simply impossible that these kids could exist with the powers, yet there they were.
“Good morning Bash.” She said while putting her tray together. He was still there and she tried not to let her amusement show.
“Oh, hi Nel.” He answered.
“Just take both the white milk and the chocolate milk. It's not kryptonite.” She told him before picking up her tray and going to sit across from Elise. She had nothing against Kareem, but he was a terrible guy for small talk. He hardly ever said a word, but if you ask him a question you might end up with a twenty-minute dissertation.
“Hi.” She said sitting across the table from the other girl.
“Hi Nel. You've been working out?” The girl asked and took a sip of her juice. She wore a loose top that looked vaguely like an ugly Christmas sweater. It was thin material, though. Elise still had a middle school fashion sense with the purple earrings and pinkish lipstick.
“More or less.” Nel answered, “Mostly shooting hoops.”
Elise didn't use her power much. Once in a while she would do something just to remind everyone else that she still had them. Last week for no reason at all, she levitated a piece of toast with jam and brought it to her lips while making goo-goo eyes at Kareem. If she really wanted to, she could lift him into the air and bring him to her lips. It would probably surprise him enough to make him teleport to China.
Nel almost snorted her orange juice out of her nose from the imagery.
“Are you okay, Nel?” Elise asked. Nel wiped her nose and mouth with a paper napkin. “I'm fine.”
That's when the boy band entered. Actually they were the three muscle-bound beefcakes that usually controlled the basketball court and the gym. Randy, Marcus and Rocky wore gray t-shirts as usual as they went to the lunch line like they owned the place. Unlike the others, these guys were not shy at all and had even dated “normal” girls. Something they all swore off doing for various reasons. Probably because normal girls were boring or weak.
Nel suspected that Elise had dated Marcus before but had no evidence except for the way she talked about him. As if she had some grudge against the guy. He was kind of a snake, come to think about it. Marcus could easily use his secondary power (some PME kids had more than one) to take advantage of girls. Not that he would ever admit to doing that.
Those three had been scouted by the military since they were in middle school. Last year, they were brought out to some secret location to show their powers off to some high-level brass. Randy, the joker, had let it slip that Marcus lifted a tank and threw it quite a distance. Even though Marcus steadfastly denied that he would ever work for the government, he still took the opportunity to push his limits.
Elise's eyes widened and she said, “He's coming.”
Nel looked behind her just in time to see Marcus' face inches from her own. He didn't look like turning around had surprised him. “Are you finished with the ketchup?” he asked in a soft, smooth voice that made Nel's lower stomach clinch.
“Um, yes.” She answered, showing a rare smile to Marcus. He smiled and then stood up and walked away with the bottle.
“Oh my gosh.” Elise said, as if disgusted.
Nel shut her eyes and shook her head. Had that fool just used his power on her? How aggravating! She could hear laughing from their table and that made it worse, because she decided they were laughing at her for being so easily swayed.
“Those guys make me mad sometimes.” Nel said, and suddenly realized how many times she had heard Nel say the exact same thing.
“Eun-Ji!” Elise said loudly, brightening up. Nel felt like a secondary friend as she looked around to see the short, bespectacled asian girl entering the dining room. Go Eun-Ji was short, her hair was cut straight across the bangs and she always wore that puke-green sweater even though it wasn't cold. She was like a walking stereotype of a nerdy asian school girl.
Eun-Ji sat right next to Elise.
“Good morning.” Eun-Ji said, “How is everything?”
Nel looked away and rolled her eyes. They had just seen her last night and Eun-Ji acts as if its been a long time. Eun-Ji was extremely shy and quiet, she made Kareem look like the class clown by comparison and he was a rock.
“I have received an invitation from the Storo Group to work as a research fellow when I am released from here.” Eun-Ji told them.
“As a fellow?” Elise asked, “You'll be starting work at the top? That must pay well.”
The girl nodded. “I haven't decided whether to take it.”
“Are you kidding?” Nel asked, “Look at me, what can of job will I get? Firefighter? NBA?”
“There are reasons to be hesitant. There are some rumors about this company that need to be checked out first.” Go Eun-Ji told them and took a bite of her steamed rice while the other girls looked on.
“And...? Don't leave us hanging.” Elise told her friend.
After a shower and putting on pants and blouse Nel was in the Study Hall on a laptop. There were commentators in the media saying that the US was falling behind on utilizing the PME kids. That Russia and other countries had integrated them into their militaries years ago, not waiting for them to become adults.
“The United States will have little PME defense if it comes to war, unless we act now!” One of the top commentators in the country had said.
The debate had been on for several years but it was becoming a top issue now that PME kids were becoming adults and their powers were blossoming. Already there had been stories about military clashes in some countries involving PME powers. At least one PME kid on the rebel side had been killed in battle in Azerbaijan.
The idea that she could be drafted into the military bothered Nel. She appreciated that the country had allowed the PME kids to grow up as normally as possible and make their own decisions. If they were all pressed into the military, it just wouldn't feel like the same country anymore.
Nel was staring off into space when the laptop closed with nobody touching it. When she looked down she felt something against her chest and then was flying backward. “Aaahhh!” She yelled as she slammed into the far wall. Nel was pinned to the wall and her feet didn't reach the floor.
“Someone help me!” She yelled. This was against the rules, heck this was against the law. This was assault. “Who is it? Who's doing this!?”
Nel saw movement out of the corner of her eye. Astra. The albino girl was casually walking toward her from the left side.
“Astra! Are you doing this?” Nel asked, “Let me go now, okay?”
Astra didn't say anything, she just seemed to examine Nel and whatever was holding to the wall. Astra turned her pale face and pinkish eyes to Nel. “I did not do this.”
Astra pointed at the other side of the room. Nel followed, with some effort, and saw that a boy was standing there. He had one hand, palms flat facing Nel. She had to squint to make out the guy who was in shadow.
“Norm?” She asked. Norm! Seriously? The shy guy walked up to her and put his hand right over her chest. “I caught you.”
“I see that! Now let me go.”
He smiled. “Don't you remember how weak my power was? Remember the last demo?”
Nel closed her eyes. At Demonstration she had laughed at his failure. Just one quick laugh and then she had apologized. “I said I was sorry, Norm.”
Her nodded and then looked down for a moment. “Nope, still hurts. I guess you didn't know or care how much I liked you. I would have probably forgotten by now otherwise. I think this is what they call a grudge.”
Short little Astra didn't seem to care that an assault was taking place. In a matter-of-factly, disinterested tone she nodded and replied, “Yes, it is called a grudge.”
Norm released her and she fell into a heap on the floor, almost too weak to stand up. Nel breathed hard and deep as if she had been suffocating. Norm stood there looking down at her, his eyes looking malevolent. “I finally have my real powers. I even have an arch enemy.”
Nel was still hardly able to move as Norm walked away. Enemy? He had just declared her to be his enemy!
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