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“And so it was today two decades ago that the order was made by congress to capture any who were born with genetically deformed DNA.”
That is all I heard. That alone was enough to tell me what was in store for these naïve eleventh graders.
My hands were placed respectfully in my lap, my narrow eyes pointed at the teacher, but not seeing anything. Without a glance, I could tell that the teenagers around me were bored out of their wits. They would be falling over their own arms as their scrawny appendages tried to prop up their chins. The sleeping ones would cover their paper in drool and print letters on their cheeks from pressing their faces on the assignments sheets. Yet when their history teacher spoke those words, it was like a spell. Their eyes would glow and the brain implanted in their skulls would tell them to listen. Friends would poke neighbors so that when the topic was brought up at lunch the next period, there would be at least a partially educated reply.
“Miss?” a student asked with a raised hand. For some reason, even at this age, they felt it necessary to talk when moving.
“Are they really born with it? I heard that their powers just randomly appeared at puberty.”
Once more, I blocked them out. I didn’t need to listen to the teacher tell some lie to the students. Besides, I had heard the same excuses every year, only by different teachers in different schools. The corner of my mouth twitched with slight impatience.
It was true what the teacher had said before. Anyone found with “genetically deformed DNA” as they like to call it, would be rounded up. Of course this was a difficult task with the human right protesters, but even now it had dwindled down to a few tree huggers. After seeing the destruction of what these unfortunate humans could do, there was no sympathy.
No sympathy for those with superpowers.
It started two decades ago. It began first with one, then five, soon becoming an epidemic around the world. Every country had their own method of dealing with them. Once a few bad eggs arose from these numbers, many started up concentration camps to exterminate them. Some of the camps are said to still exist, but a better solution was developed: weapons. Those with superpowers were set against each other, taking the place of innocent soldiers who had no real means of defending themselves. It was said to be the perfect solution. The country’s armed forces were able to go home to their loving families knowing that they were safe, and no one had to worry about the “superhumans” getting out of control in public. Not that anyone knew what the government did with them, except me.
I pushed a lock of sunny blond hair behind my ear. To everyone, I was a simply a female student. They didn’t know that I was actually seventeen –I had always been short for my age–, no one knew that I worked for the government, or that I was one of those special humans with powers.
Those who did find out were the ones I put away.
My gift was special, and to my employers, not dangerous in any way. Like all other superhumans, I developed my ability at puberty, but unlike other breeds, my birth was on purpose. It has been found that the defects in the DNA were not random at all, and could be manipulated and predicted. I had been plucked from the crib to work for my country. To maintain its safety and make sure that those with powers don’t get away with any acts of injustice.
My gift was tracking.
It was simple really, and not at all unique. There were many kinds of trackers. The ones that could tell what kind of power another had were sent out into the war to predict where the enemy was coming from, while others like myself could simply tell if a human had a power and were randomly spread out to observe the public.
The teacher kept talking about the legislative procedure as well as how the other countries dealt with us – I say ‘us’ considering that I am one myself. I feel lucky considering how everyone would avoid me –more than they already do– if they were to find out I was a superhuman. Any other power and I would be locked up with the others, waiting for the day I could see the light. Too bad for them that it could also be the day they would die. No, I was lucky. In return for capturing my own kind, I was given special freedom. I could actually walk among the others, live my own life even if it had to experience high school over and over again. After repeating the classes for so long, I had practically memorized the lectures. One can only take so many graduation ceremonies.
I cracked my fingers under the desk.
I could feel it. Today, there would be someone. Finally, there was some action. With the mutants being rounded up all the time, less were being born.
Not that I felt bored with my job. I took it seriously. One of them could slip through my fingers if I wasn’t careful, especially since I can only track them if they use their powers. My radar is widespread so I can detect the slightest spark of power throughout the school campus. The easiest targets were the laid back kids who spent their time testing out their newly found ability at the back of the classroom. I am able to go after them in a heartbeat. Freshmen were also easy since they probably just received their powers, and weren’t expecting anyone like me to appear. That is why I sat in the older elite classes where some felt they got away–not that I have been lucky enough to actually sit in the same classroom as another superhuman. If one is smart enough and don’t use their powers, they will never get caught. That’s okay. One can’t threaten society if you’re not a threat. But just in case, I sit and wait.
There it is —that spark. Someone is using their power. If only I could just get out of this classroom.
“Excuse me?” I asked with raised hand. I could act just like them if I wanted. Unfortunately, I forgot that no one talks politely anymore. The other teenagers glanced in my direction.
“May I go to the bathroom?”
I had fantastic behavior all year, and there was no reason for her to refuse. With a graceful thank you, I jumped from my seat and headed out the door.
No one even bothered to notice that I was headed in the wrong direction
I walked. There was no reason to run. He wasn’t going anywhere. The clicking of my shoes against the cold floor almost matched the tick of a clock in the hallway. My hands stayed at my side, and my face remained neutral. I took no pride in what I did, though it did provide a living. Why should I be happy gathering up my own kind? Yet, one needs to survive in such a war.
One more corner.
Perfect. Not a single classroom nearby and rows of lockers on each wall. He seemed to have been retrieving something and became tempted to try out his power thinking there were no eyes watching him. No eyes except mine. He seemed too entranced with concentration to bother noticing my approach. I continued walking towards him, not batting an eye.
He was of average height, average looks, and presumably of average intelligence. His brown hair and light skin displayed his northern European descent and possible lack of sunlight. The clothes he wore gave the impression he didn’t want to stand out, much like me. Too bad. If he had my power, he would have blended in perfectly as a tracker.
I looked to see what he was doing, still walking towards him. He was too far away for me to see accurately, but he appeared to be levitating a book. That narrowed it down. It could be telekinesis, but something about it told me no. There was a faint haze around the book as if something was covering it. This went beyond telekinesis. If my observations were right, it was a combination of mind control and force fields. He seemed to be putting a field of magnetic energy around the binding and pages while levitating it at the same time. If trained, his power would make a good weapon both offensive and defensive.
The clicking of my shoes became too much.
He saw me.
I stopped as our eyes locked. His were hazel.
There was a point of understanding between us in that look. There always seemed to be, as if my target knew what I was. Then again, I was their worst nightmare.
Like the others, he ran. I was already in a heavy sprint by the time the book clasped against the tile floor. The chase was on.
If I hadn’t been attending the school for two years, I would have been at a great disadvantage. But lucky for me, I had a map of this place drawn out in my head. If needed, I could take a detour to cut him off, but this boy was smarter than he appeared. He kept turning around to check on me, and would constantly throw barriers in my direction. Mostly in brick form, they passed by my head at high speeds. Colorless, I would watch my slight reflection look back at me before dodging. A particularly sharp one flew at my head, and I barely moved out of the way. It grazed my cheek, leaving a bleeding cut. There was no time to give it attention. Some walls of his doing were popping up inches from my feet. They were still too easy to avoid. Still, it was obvious that he knew how to handle his ability. Nothing I haven’t seen before, but still an annoyance to my mission. Seventeen years of training was enough to prepare me and I dodged everything he threw at me with ease –ignoring the fresh cut on my face. I even thought I had him until we reached a dead end.
He was forced to stop. A large glass panel was separating him from the outside world, but it’s not like the outside world was freedom. I decided to point this out as I made a quick stop. His heavy breathing was enough for me to feel confident. This would end soon.
My mouth twitched.
“There is nowhere you can run. Out there are only others like me who will find you.”
There was no response as his dehydrated mouth tried to regain lost breath.
“You might as well come with me. The two of us will be spending quite awhile with each other until I hand you over, and it would only make things easier if you cooperate.”
My face stayed blank. There was still no response from him. Suddenly, the corner of his mouth rose in a smile. My thin eyebrows knit together, but I didn’t show emotion anywhere else.
“Maybe another time,” he responded, weakly laughing. He also appeared to see this as a game.
Before I could take another step, he ran right into the window. The calm weather from this morning had whipped itself into a windstorm and shards of glass cut my shielding arms. I pulled a few obvious pieces out before calmly stepping over the broken debris and towards the wrecked window.
Of course he wasn’t hurt. There he was, flying off. He had more control over his superhuman powers than I had thought. In fact, he had absolute control. Not only had he covered himself in the telekinetic shield when shattering the window, but like the book, it caused him to levitate once he was outside. The boy, confident with his victory, waved at me while heading towards the city. My blank expression turned to a smile as he gestured his farewell.
I pressed against the edges of the metallic bracelet on my wrist. After a few seconds, a voice responded with a static background.
“Yes, but he got away. Made quite a mess too.”
“You better get here to tell that to your supervisor.”
“I plan to. I thought I might as well stop at the infirmary while I am there too.”
“He gave you that much trouble?”
“He has a power not yet recorded. With some digging, I think I could find out his name as well.”
“Alright, I will get a ‘healer’ to see you once you arrive. You know, if you were in any other country, your head would be on a silver platter right now for losing him.”
“Yes, that is why I am thankful I am under your employment.”
Then again, if I was in another country, I would have joined the small band of superhuman rebels. All of us knew a rebellion was coming. At least I had some means of power to protect me when it actually starts.
I pressed against the bracelet again to turn the communicator off. With that, I headed towards the first floor –it was a good thing I decided not to go after him– and strolled out the door to the car that would await me.
As I said, I am not proud of my job.
I have no identity, no friends, no means to know that I will always be safe.
But I do have a life. I have freedom. I have a power.
I am a tracker.