A Child of the Pink Moon
Adama was a dangerous place. After being there for one half of a year, Nel now realized that some of these people are actually dangerous. Marcus and his bully friends, yes, but also Norm. Norm, who she often forgets is even alive, has decided to be her arch-enemy. Simply insane.
“I have no defense against Norms force-projection.” she told herself, locked into her room and pacing back and forth. “I have no way of even keeping Marcus from taking advantage.”
She sat on the bed. “What am I supposed to do?”
Marcus was probably goofing off at breakfast. He most likely didn't mean anything by what he had done, it was all a joke to him. It was doubtful he had any interest in her. Norm was most definitely not joking.
Nel wondered if her powers would blossom as much as everyone else's had. Most times this happened before someone became eighteen and she was on the cusp. Even nobody Norm had demonstrated he had become much more powerful.
Nel hadn't told anyone at the administrative office. Nobody ever tells on anyone at Adama. It wasn't their business, they had no powers. As much as she wanted to, it would be a disaster to tell on Norm, even though he didn't seem to have any friends. There were rumors that tattle-tales have been killed before. Just rumors, as far as she could tell.
Six months. She would be able to get far away from Adama Boarding House in six months. There was no reason for anyone to keep track of her with powers as weak as she had. Nel had been joking about becoming a firefighter, but the truth is that it probably was her best option.
Having avoided it before, she pulled out her laptop and began looking at the employment sites for jobs at fire departments far from Adama. Most of them would jump at the chance to hire someone who was flame-proof. Walking through a burning building and helping people get out was something she could do very easily.
Mr. Roberts assembled them as a class the following morning. He took off his charcoal gray suit jacket and folded it over the back of his chair. Then he walked to the middle of the front of the room and addressed them.
“Good morning.” He started, “If you have been following current events, which you should because it is important, you will know that the Russians are amassing troops on the border with Lithuania. There is said to be at least a dozen PME's with them.”
The Lithuanians were asking other countries to send help. Nel had read about it already. Most other countries were too worried about their own defense to come to their aid. Latvia and Estonia were just as threatened as that small nation.
“The United States has recruited some PME's already. They are preparing to send them as we speak, these young men and women are among the most powerful we have here.” Mr. Roberts told them.
“Some of us are also very powerful.” Rocky Alvarado said. Randy and Marcus nodded approvingly.
Mr. Roberts agreed, “Yes, yes. I know that. You will have your chance to shine someday too. All of you will make us proud some day, I am certain of that.”
Nel glanced across the room at Norm. She was certain he was already planning to do bad things when he had the chance. Norm felt no patriotism for his own country. Whatever had made him this way happened a long time before she laughed at the demo.
Not all PME's were good. Some of them were downright evil and it usually took other PME's or overwhelming force by normal people to kill them. The case of Craig Livingston was still fresh in her mind, it had happened just a few months ago.
Money, jewels and cars had been stolen from an upscale neighborhood in Atlanta. Security footage had been a blur at first but then some really good equipment was able to get the image that identified the perpetrator. They just could not find him, he hadn't been to his parents home in weeks. A national alert had been issued for Craig Livingston.
That is when young girls started going missing in the night. It was quite a shock but the experts, if there was such a thing, decided that his hormones were in overdrive. They wondered if he could even control his own behavior. It took another PME to track Livingston down, down an abandoned West Virginia coal mine shaft.
Craig Livingstone had built himself a throne on top of a small mountain of gold and jewels, luxury automobiles had been stashed down another side shaft. Then down in the deepest part of the abandon mine they located the sick harem. The battle between Livingston and the PME who was only known as Banner, was said to be very bloody. Parts of the mine had collapsed because of the powerful fight, but at least they recovered the girls alive, if not fully safe.
Someone managed to get an image of Banner after the fight, while paramedics rended to the girls. The mask he wore had been torn on the side, his blond hair showed through. The cuts, abrasions and burns showed on his bare arms. Livingston had put up a real fight before he was finally put out of everyone else's misery, but Banner did not look happy about what he had been forced to do.
Norm might become another Craig Livingston. He might have already.
It was obvious that Mr. Roberts had been asked to give this speech to boost military recruitment among the PME's at Adama. Not that Nel was interested, she didn't see how she could go into battle with her limited power. She also did not want to fight, kill and maybe die if she could avoid it.
Walking back to her room after lunch she saw Astra standing down an empty corridor twirling and dancing like a small child, which is what she looked like. Astra, as usual, totally ignored her and continued with whatever she was doing. Astra lived in her own world and nobody bothered her much, even the bullies stopped playing basketball when she was walking across the court.
Astra was treated like part of the environment.
When Nel got back to her room she checked her messages to see how many fire departments had responded to her queries. There were some automated replies, but there were actual human responses from Tampa, Dallas, Albuquerque and Los Angeles. The next step was to ask for a higher salary than starting humans normally received. Her power had to be worth something.
“I need to be able to save something up quick.” She thought out loud. Nel thought that it was only a matter of time until people turned against PME's. That is what always happened, isn't it?
At breakfast the next morning Nel could hardly concentrate. Elise and Eun-Ji were discussing the rumors surrounding the Storo Group.
“Some people say they do experiments on PME's!” Go Eun-Ji said, finding this a bit alarming, “I'd be scared to show up if that's true. I'm not a lab mouse.”
“That is a horrible thought.” Elise said covering her mouth with her hand. “We should go and tear the place apart!”
“We don't know if it's true, though.” Eun-Ji said, “It would be hard to explain why we are tearing it apart if we have no evidence. Right, Nel?”
Nel had been looking into space and shook her head. “What? Oh, yea, right. Of course.”
“What is bothering you?” Elise asked, pulling her mirror from the pure she was carrying, to check her makeup.
Nel looked at the plate in front of her. “I don't know. The possibility of war.”
“There are twelve international conflicts going on at the moment.” Eun-Ji told her, “None of the involving this country yet.”
“All of them involving PME's though.” Nel added. “There aren't that many of us and they're throwing people like us into battle. PME's are dying and governments just use them up. What happens when we're all gone? Will the world just move on as if we never existed?”
“Brutal.” Elise said and then turned back to Eun-Ji, “So we find the CEO and we kidnap him to Antarctica where he has to tell the truth before he freezes to death.”
“What?” Nel asked, her mouth dropped open.
“We're just kidding around.” Eun-Ji explained, “Haven't you been listening?”
After classes and lunch, Nel went back to the Study Hall. She looked around to make sure it was really empty before she sat at a table and opened her laptop.
More bad news. A PME had just taken out the government of a South Pacific island nation and declared himself their new king. Matahani Narvi, as he called himself, had decided that the former house of parliament be rebuilt as his palace and temple. The temple would allow the locals to worship him properly.
“That is crazy.” Nel said to herself. The experts who had known the guy warned that he was extremely powerful. They advised that other nations not try and intervene on the island with ordinary military forces.
Oh great. Send in the PME's, they're just tools.
Suddenly Marcus was standing right behind her. His hand was on her shoulder and she thought she might melt. He leaned over and read the headline. “More bad news, I guess.”
“It's terrible.” Nel told him, her eyes starting to tear up. “I don't know what we're going to do anymore.”
“You're safe here.” He told her, Nel reached up and wrapped her arms around his strong neck and shoulders and rested her head against his chest. It was all just sad. The whole world was crazy and people like them were just pawns.
Suddenly Marcus Smith broke contact and stood up. He was smiling and chuckling. Nel felt like she had just been jilted by a lover, at least for a moment. Then she was angry that he had used his power on her again.
“You're terrible! You know that? You are a horrible person. Marcus.” She said while he just laughed before he left the room. Nel breathed hard. Marcus could easily take advantage of her and probably most of the other girls, but he hadn't. He evidently had some self-control but he was certainly not a very nice guy.
Before she went to bed that night the news about the south pacific had led several countries to begin assembling an international naval flotilla with thousands of Marines who could storm the shores. Sending normal people against a powerful PME was a stupid idea, Nel thought, and she wasn't alone, many people online were petitioning against a move. Most of the petitions were telling the governments to let the PME's handle it.
“That's not much of an improvement.” Nel said before shutting the computer down and climbing between the sheets. The whole situation could resolved if someone could teleport into that palace and take out that evil PME. Someone like Kareem. Let Kareem bring Marcus with him, they could end it in minutes. Of course, then Marcus might stay and rule the place, she thought as sleep took over.
As usual Nel got up early and headed to the basketball court in shorts and t-shirt. The building was quiet as usual, with it being dark and everyone sleeping, but this time it felt a bit creepy. She shrugged off the ominous feeling and went down to shoot some hoops before breakfast.
A few minutes after she starting throwing from the free-throw line, she had a really bad feeling. Somehow she just knew she wasn't alone. Letting the ball bounce away from under the net, she turned around to see someone standing on the other side of the court, just watching her.
It was Norm. Nel suddenly regretted coming out to the court alone. She felt very vulnerable even though the guy was just standing there and doing nothing, so far. With her flight instinct frozen by fear of what he might do, she stood there watching him. Like some sort of standoff, in which she was very much unarmed.
After a minute of this Norm turned and left. Nel sat on the ground and wrapped her arms around her knees against her chest. He was now taunting her. Norm had basically threatened her when he said they were now enemies, he was just going to make her suffer until the end came.
Nel sat like that until the sun came out, and then she went to the dining room. Being in the same room as other students made her feel a bit safer. Not as safe as she had hoped, but some.
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