Superpowers are based on the topography of where one is born (IE: Mountains, deserts, etc.). The first person has just been born in space.
It was an accident, of course.
My birth, my being in space, and well, I suppose I was an accident as well. An accident from the director of engineering screwing the fat janitor after hours when the rest of the shuttle team had retired; the odds that my mother had been able to hide her baby bump for nine months, the chances that she had been a nurse before being selected from the program and knew how to give birth herself, in a maintenance closet, mere days before the mission was to return to earth. Keeping me hidden was difficult in the small confines of the ship, but the other hundred and fifty crew members had been too busy to pay a mere maid much attention. After all, many insisted that it had not been worthwhile to bring her along, that a maid had been a waste of tax dollars. I suppose that makes me a waste of tax dollars as well.
But there were those that spoke to her unique abilities as a maid. For she had been born deep in the snow of the north, during the first blizzard of winter, that like the first snowfall, she could smooth over any differences in her environment and make it appear uniform. As a maid, it meant that she had an extraordinary sense of cleanliness. As a mother, it meant she could ensure I was overlooked, that my crying was muffled, and later in life, that I appeared no different from anyone else.
Star Child, she had called me as she smuggled me back into the atmosphere, tucked deep in her suit like a kangaroo would carry her young. Star Child, she whispered to me when the project disbanded, and she took me to the inner city apartment where I spent my early life. Star Child, she reprimanded whenever I started pushing and pulling at the equilibrium of our apartment, when she would arrive home from work and all the furniture would be clustered at the center of the room, pulled together by a force point.
“When will I go to school?” I asked her when I was eight, watching the uniformed children marching up the street through the wrought-iron gates of the academy, one of them flicking flames across his fingers like a coin while another left footprints of frost in the grass.
“You already go to school, Star Child,” she said. “And your teachers say you've been learning your numbers well, and your reading has been progressing.”
“Not that school,” I had said, pulling a face. “I want to go to the academy. The special school, for the others like me!” I held up a fist, and items on the desk in front of me flew towards it, pens and papers and pencils that stuck out like quivering quills out of my skin.
“Star Child, listen and stop that at once,” she said, her eyes level with mine. “There are no others like you. Those children; they are all classified, they are all known. You are not like them, you never will be. And they can't know, do you understand me?”
“I guess,” I answered with a huff, watching as one of the children cracked a joke and the others laughed. “But I don't like my school. Everyone there knows we can't be like them, that we can't be special.”
“Star Child, you are special. One day, they'll know that too. But not now – if they knew, they wouldn't take you to the academy. They'd take you somewhere else, somewhere terrible.”
And as I grew older, I realized that she was right. That when our neighbor started developing powers, a police squad showed up at her front door and classified her on the spot. That they left her with a tattoo on her shoulder, a tattoo of a lightning bolt, symbolizing the storm during which she had been born. Just like the tattoo of a snowflake on my mother's shoulder, colored dull grey, to indicate a low threat potential.
So instead of going to the academy, I created an academy of my own, in my room. Mother made me turn the lights out at ten, so during the day, I collected light outside, keeping it in one of the dark holes I could create when I closed my fist hard enough, and letting it loose at night to read books I had stolen from the library. From the section for the special children, that I could only access if the librarians were distracted.
But distractions came easy to me.
As I grew older, the city streets became more populated with the blue uniforms of police. The academy became increasingly harder to attend, and the gifted girl next door disappeared one night without a note. Mother stopped letting me outside after dark, and the lines for the soup kitchens grew longer. The skies grew darker, the voices accustomed to speaking in whispers, and the television news seemingly had less and less to report. It was as if there was a blanket thrown upon us, but no one dared look to see who had thrown it.
But I would. And when I did, I realized the earth needed a Star Child.
“Why can’t anyone else know?” I asked my mother after school when I was ten. “Is something wrong with me?”
“Quite the opposite, Star Child. Let me tell you a story, the story of my early career in medicine,” she responded as she set dinner down on the table. My stomach grumbled – I had skipped school lunch that day, preferring to deposit it in the waste bin rather than my mouth. Though he tried his hardest, our school chef had little control of his own powers, weak as they were. He claimed he was from Rome, one of the cities that produced the greatest chef power types, and that our meal was Chicken Parmesan, but neither of those statements held much merit. As I started shoveling food into my mouth, my mother continued to speak, her chair squeaking as she shifted.
“Before you were born, I was a nurse, specializing in the delivery of children. This was back in the north, near my home. But unless your power has a direct medical property, hospitals fear the effect it can have on children, so I was eventually removed from service. But by that time, I’d seen enough to make me want to leave.
“Not everyone is lucky enough to have powers, Star Child. But those who are, their power is altered, depending upon where they are born. Think of it like the seasoning in the meal you are eating – the food holds energy, but with the right spices, it can become enhanced. Similarly, a location can make a power pop. And people are willing to pay dearly for the locations.
“The fee my hospital charged was three times my personal salary per child. If there were twins, the couple was stuck with double the bill. And if there were no powers, the bill was still due. This particular hospital was high in the northern mountains, in an area statistically proven to produce the best powers of snow, ice, and weather. If your child had a power, here they would be the strongest. And if they didn’t, well, I’ve heard too many stories of children entering orphanages after the parents wasted a fortune.
“The name of every child born in our hospital was placed on a list submitted to the police, who tracked them for the next two decades. Should a child commit a petty crime and have their name on the list, it was the same as committing a felony since these children were considered high risk. Unless you were still wealthy, of course. And it was strange, those names identified as having strong powers but belonging to a lower class, it seemed like they always committed a crime, without fail. That the police just happened to be waiting, watching them for when it happened. Ready to take them in and to send them to rehabilitation camps, where they would enter the military or the guard, after several years of conditioning, to sacrifice their lives on the front lines. And the more powerful you were, the more likely you were to be classified as a delinquent.
“So listen to me, Star Child. The hospital I worked at was a level three facility out of five. Level twos are even more dangerous, and level ones require a massive fortune to even step in the door. And as you know, having a baby in an unauthorized location is a crime punishable by death. Where you were born, that would be off the scales, a level zero location. Fortunately, you’ve been overlooked, but my power can only do so much. They’d use you or kill you, as a weapon or as a precaution. And you are destined for neither fate. You were fortunate enough that the space program that employed me ended early, due to solar flare activity, otherwise you would already be in the hands of the government. So you listen to me, and you tell no one, do you understand?”
“Yes,” I answered, sighing as I finished my plate, and her hand rested heavily upon my shoulder. And that night, when I retired for sleep, I pulled out the first book I had ever stolen from underneath my bed. Opening my palm, I called forth the small black orb from where I had kept it hidden, in a small pocket just above my wrist. Not an actual pocket, but almost like the void under my tongue, or behind my ear. A place where it almost felt as if I had turned the space inside out, and could reach inside with my pinky.
Taking the orb, I unwrapped it slowly, letting the light trapped within escape in a small beam. Over time, it would grow smaller, until eventually with a flash, it would collapse, and I would have to make a new one during the day.
A Directory of Known Powers, the book was titled. Capabilities and Locations.
Little is known about what, precisely, determines the chance that a child will develop any abilities. Conversely, the factors playing into the type of power innate in a child are well studied and well documented within the pages of this directory.
There are many dimensions in which a child’s power can be analyzed, but for simplicity, the following shall be mentioned due to their high correlation with observable outcomes: locations, power strength, and power type. Other minor effects include genetics, location and passion of conception, and diet during pregnancy. Environmental factors at the time of birth are also known to play a role in power development, though less documentation exists to confirm claims.
Yawning, I flipped through the pages to the pictures section, where a compilation of artists had depicted powers in use. Some were copies of pictures over a hundred years old, documenting powers that had not been seen in so long they were rumored to be myth. Others had so many occurrences that I skipped them, having seen them so often in real life, they now bored me.
Entry 348, Speaking in Tongues, read the title, while the picture showed a girl surrounded by people of all ethnicities, their ears tilted towards her.
Description: A condition in which languages no longer bond speech. Those born with this power have the ability to converse in multiple languages at the same time to multiple audiences.
Strength: Typically a lower level, measured by number and variety of languages that can be spoken, and whether the power can be extended to the written word. Owners of this power are also susceptible to side effects of Silver Tongue (see entry 427) and Pied Piper (see entry 201), which can increase the power by an order of magnitude.
Location: Documented cases occur in hospitals near border regions or in countries with multiple spoken languages.
I flipped backwards to an earlier entry and read another, yawning again as I felt sleep coming soon.
Entry 56, Diamond Exterior. This picture was of a glinting man, half his skin sparkling, the other half normal flesh.
Description: The ability to change portions of the body to rock or diamond, often razor sharp.
Strength: Typically a medium to high power level. Power is measured by mobility after transformation, as well as ability to change objects outside of their own body. Nearly indestructible and difficult to contain, those with strong abilities of this power are weighted extremely high.
Location: Documented cases occur in volcanic regions, with high frequencies at Magmar hospitals (LVL 1), located just above active Hawaiian volcanos. Prior to civilization, it is documented that entire islands once held this ability.
With a small pop, my reading orb exploded, illuminating my room like a camera flash for a split second before immersing me in darkness. I frowned – I was just getting to the section where hospitals of all levels were listed, but I’d only stored one orb today, as I had used most of mine reading the night before.
I lay back on my pillow as I drifted to sleep, dreaming about the academy despite my mother’s words. Where I could maybe even see some of the rarer powers, where I’d be able to share my secret. Just like the other special children.
But before I had the chance to apply, when they accepted new admissions entering higher education at age sixteen, the academy moved.
“You know, you would have to be an idiot to be caught here,” said the voice behind me, and I nearly fell out of the tree branch where I perched.
I’d been skipping school, again, a regular occurrence now that I was fifteen – this time, during a career fair where parents of the children arrived to show us opportunities for our futures. Jim, the short kid with glasses held together by tape so old it had started to dry rot, had turned a bright red when his father pulled the garbage truck into the school lot like a massive show-and-tell.
“You see here,” said his father, his new school-provided name tag reading Jim already tarnished with a fleck of grease, “ev’ry day, we cart the trash away. That trash goes to the Calorie Exchanger teams, typically born near peat swamp regions, who convert what they can to petrol. Which keeps the lights on, kiddos. So next time you think of garbage, remember what you throw away always has value.”
The class nodded, several staring towards the next location we would be herded to by Mrs. Whip, a low level Distraction Attenuator. Of course, she had never received any training for a power so minimal, but she was a Saturant, so she didn’t have to – for Saturants, powers were involuntary. They simply flowed from the wielder like a type of charisma that could only be slightly enhanced with focus.
Turning right, I saw the Secretary Career location was next, and as we walked over, one of the parent's head snapped up as his face twitched.
“Kids! Oh, kids, futures! You have futures,” he said, and his eyes jumped rapidly between each of us, yet never seemed to focus properly on any of our faces. This was Jessica’s father, and she forced an encouraging smile as he entered a silence too many seconds long to be acceptable, his face strained as he fought for his next words.
“Oh yes, futures! As a secretary, you are one of the most well, most well, most well paid out of all…”
He stopped, entering another silence, and Jessica spoke up, biting her lip.
“Go on, Daddy, out of all the Regulars,” she prompted, and his face lit up, having found another train of thought as he continued, blinking several times in rapid succession.
“Like anyone would take that job,” whispered Stephen from next to me, one of the children Mrs. Whip’s effect seemed have no effect on, and who lived in an apartment several doors down from my own. “Working for the Specials, writing down every word at their important meetings, then having appointments with a Memory Drain at the end of each month to make sure you don’t retain any information. By the looks of this one, he must work for someone really important. I bet they memory drain him every day.”
I shook my head as Jessica prompted her father again and found myself losing interest, my eyes wandering to the fence at the edge of school property. Behind us, Mrs. Whip was quietly laughing as she spoke to Mr. Lynch, the muscular gym teacher who sometimes drove her home after school, and his eyes were practically glued to her own.
“I’m heading to use the restroom,” I said to Stephen as I felt my focus falter again, Mrs. Whip’s tinkling laugh sounding behind us as other members of the class shuffled their feet. “I’ll probably just join the class behind us so I don’t miss anything. If anyone asks, let them know that.”
“Hey, you can fool them, but you can’t fool me,” he answered with a wink. “I’d join ya, but Mum said I won’t get dinner if she catches me skipping again.”
So I made my way to the restrooms, and from the restrooms out the shattered window in one of the back classrooms that had been on the school repair list since last September. And I walked to something more interesting, something I could only see when I skipped my own lessons around this time.
The academy, at recess. Where I had found the perfect spot, high up in a heavily leaved rhododendron tree, where I could just barely see through the vegetation to the children playing over the fence. Placing a few well-aimed force points toward the outer edges of the tree, I pulled the branches apart just enough to make a small window, just enough for me to have a clear look.
Powers, as I could tell from my position, were not to be used at recess under threat of punishment. But it was similar to the busy intersection outside my apartment, viewable from my window – if you watched long enough, something would happen. And I’d spent hours in that tree, waiting, nearly always to be rewarded.
Just last week, a skirmish had broken out over a hotly contested game of whiffle ball, the two teams shouting about whether or not the ball had landed across the foul ball line. From my position, I could hear Anthony, the right fielder, being accused.
“He used his powers again, and that’s cheating!” shouted a girl in pigtails with the bat still in her hand, who made the ground tremor just noticeably when she stomped. “We should use a heavier ball so he can’t just blow it out of bounds.”
“Did not!” retorted Anthony, a reed of a boy who stood six inches taller than anyone else on the team. “You just can’t hit straight, what with the earth never being flat underneath you. Wendy Waddles, everyone calls you, because you can’t keep your feet straight!”
Wendy’s jaw tightened as she approached Anthony, and I saw Anthony was indeed correct – slight depressions or footprints were left in the dirt where she stomped, dirt that should be hard packed over years of use.
“You take that back!” she hissed. “Or I’ll, or I’ll—”
“Or you’ll what?” he teased, sticking out his tongue.
“Or I’ll do this!” she shouted and stomped as hard as she could where his foot had been an instant before he moved it, fluttering backwards like a piece of paper caught in the wind. Wendy shrieked as her foot crashed through the dirt until her right leg was submerged up to her knee, her eyes flashing with anger.
“Get back here!” she shouted, trying to yank her foot out as teachers rushed to subdue the fight. “Before I come after you!”
“Doesn’t look like you can waddle anywhere, Wendy!” he taunted back.
From my position, I saw both students were reprimanded with detention slips. It took the teachers forty-five minutes to dig Wendy out, the time significantly lengthened when she stomped her other foot in frustration and now had both jammed deep in dirt.
And today, I watched closely, trying to determine what would happen next. Too closely, as the voice behind me nearly made me jump out of the tree to the ground thirty feet below.
“I’m no Telepath, so I don't know,” said the voice again as I searched the branches, trying to find the source, “but I’d say you probably are an idiot. You should be in school. I wonder what the punishment is for skipping? For us, it’s three detentions. What's your name?”
Then I found her, floating just outside the branches, a mass of brunette hair with two brown eyes that squinted towards me. With nothing holding her up, except for her nose looking down on me, and her voice thick with mockery.
“Essie,” I choked, attempting to recover.
And I swallowed, realizing that she wore the same uniform as those playing at recess.
“Essie?” she sniffed, hovering. “That’s a girl’s name, you don’t look like a girl to me.”
“That’s because it’s S-C,” I said, slowly reaching out to remove each of the force points, letting the tree branches collapse back in around me. “Like JD or EJ.”
“Well, Essie or SC, it certainly doesn’t explain what you are doing in this tree,” she retorted and noticed the branches moving. “Hey?! Are you doing that? Are you a Special?”
“No, I’m absolutely not,” I said hurriedly. “Just a nosy Regular, and now, I’ll be on my way, thank you. Just, erm, got lost.”
“You absolutely are!” she said, trailing me from the outside of the tree as I started to climb down, realizing I knew her as one of the girls that frequented hopscotch and jump rope on the other end of the playground. With her abilities, I bet she cheated too. “And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen you up here. I tend to keep my eyes on the sky. This is just the first time my teacher turned her back long enough for me to look!”
“Nope, definitely first time I’ve been here, Arial!” I repeated, now practically falling from the tree in my haste, cursing as I realized my slip-up.
“You know my name! You’ve been spying on me, on us, listening to us? Who do you think you are? Stop, stop right there or I’ll report you in before you make it down the block. I’m sure the police would want to know why you aren’t in school!”
I froze, clinging to the branch halfway down, considering my options.
I could set a force point above her, one that would drag her upwards and away while I escaped. But it would likely do more harm than good – creating a force point was kind of like kneading dough, or playing with putty. It was as if I was pushing into that area of space, contorting it, stretching it downwards, and letting objects fall in. The problem, however, was that anything nearby would be attracted to it, not just her. It would draw far more attention to me than she ever could by calling the police, and she might be able to fly away before she could be sucked in.
I frowned, thinking quickly as she questioned me again, her voice hard.
“I said, what are you doing here?” she repeated, whizzing in closer, sticking her head inside the leaves, a branch tearing her sleeve. “Now look what you’ve made me do! Mother is going to be irate.”
“I’m, well, I’ve only just arrived a few days ago,” I said, an idea taking root in my brain, “But I’m trying to determine if the academy is worthy for someone like me. My parents sent me here, you see, to live with my aunt, since schools aren’t the best where I’m from. Since, well, they don’t exist where I’m from.”
“Don’t exist?” she asked, craning her neck forward. “What do you mean, don’t exist? Schools are everywhere.”
“Not when your parents are researchers in the Arctic!” I said, thrusting out my chest. “But I suppose you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you, city girl?”
“I wouldn’t, and you wouldn’t either. Because it’s obviously a lie,” she snorted, inspecting the tear in her sleeve, trying to press the fabric near her elbow back together.
“Hmm, a lie? You’re right, I did lie. I am a Special, from farther north than you’ve ever seen, where it’s light outside for entire days at a time.”
“Oh yeah? What type are you, then?”
“A Boreal,” I stated, brushing a piece of bark off my shirt. “But I doubt someone from around here would be familiar with those.”
“A Boreal!” she exclaimed, eyes wide. “Of course I know what those are. I saw one when I was young! The city booked him out for an entire night. I’ve never seen a show like it! It was as if the sky came alive with colors!”
“I suppose if you aren’t used to it, it might seem pretty amazing,” I responded and started climbing down the tree again, giving her a sideways glance. “Guess I’m just used to it by now.”
“Hold it, I’m not done with you,” she said. “Prove it. Boreals are incredibly rare, and I’d know if one entered the city. We'd all know.”
“Rare, but not powerful. I don’t need any sort of permits, I couldn’t hurt a fly. There's no reason for me to enter announced.”
“Either way, prove it, or I’m still calling the police.”
“If you wanted a private show, you should have just asked,” I drawled and held up a hand palm up towards her. “I’ll need to keep it small, though, and you’ll have to keep it a secret. No one is supposed to know I’m here yet, since I don’t start school until next week.”
Slowly, I coaxed one of the black orbs out from above my wrist, peeling away several strands of light from it while keeping the sphere hidden behind my hand. Light played around the inside of the enclosure, sparkling against the leaves, and Arial’s mouth fell open as strands of it danced in vibrating streams, like tiny arcs of fire.
“Do more colors,” she breathed, transfixed, practically perched in the tree now instead of floating. “It’s beautiful.”
“Can’t, not yet at least. That’s why my parents sent me to school, to train me. And I wanted to see if this school was capable. I’m not so sure, if they can't keep track of all their students.”
“Oh, they are, they are! My father knows, he can tell your parents all about it. He would love to meet you too. He loves seeing the rarer types. You should come over for dinner and show him! Here, take this,” she said, fetching a pen and paper from her side. “This is my address. I’d love to introduce him to you.”
“We’ll see. I still have a few other schools to inspect,” I answered. “Can't make my decision until I've considered all my options.”
“A Boreal, here,” she said to herself. “He would be so pleased, and he'd be happy with me for bringing you. No, don’t even look at the other schools. Enroll here.”
“We’ll see,” I repeated and jumped the rest of the way to the ground. “I don’t want to promise anything yet.”
In the distance, over the fence, I heard a whistle and saw Arial turn back towards the school.
“I must be going, recess is over, but keep this address!” she insisted and pushed the paper into my palm. “Anytime, you are welcome for dinner. Anytime, SC.”
“Anytime,” I answered casually, starting to walk away as she flew back over the fence. I kept a slow wandering pace weaving up the street, letting my feet shuffle along as I peered into shop windows with my hands in my pockets.
Then I turned a corner at the end of the block, lost a direct line of sight with the academy, and ran.
“What are you doing home so early,” demanded my mother as I entered the apartment, my breath still coming in quick gasps.
“It was career day at school, so there was early dismissal,” I lied as she raised an eyebrow.
“Star Child,” she reprimanded, “there is only so much I can do to keep you hidden. The more you act up, the more attention you draw to yourself, and the more difficult it will be for both of us. Go on, fetch your homework – it’s too late for you to return to school now, but I won’t see that mind of yours go to waste.”
Then she turned to the sink and continued the dishes, shaking her head. After cleaning the sweat off, I returned to the kitchen, opening my books on the table, positioning myself near a window where sunlight streamed inside. Placing my index finger in the webbing under my thumb, I flicked my nail against the skin, concentrating as I imagined pulling the space in that region together, tying it into a swift knot with my mind. Then, in my palm, a black orb formed and started to absorb the sunlight, growing slightly larger with each passing minute.
In that time, our apartment was quiet save for the tinkling of dishware as I fell into the book, practicing the mathematical equations on the pages for a quiz the next day. The air was near still, the air conditioning turned off either from being broken or to save money, as each week it seemed to alternate between the two. And occasionally, I caught the sound of my mother humming an old tune softly, one that I recognized but could not quite identify, fading in and out of my perception as she moved.
But then, the three knocks on the door nearly started me out of my seat.
These were not neighborly knocks, like those when Stephen’s mother visited to borrow the salt, or even strained knocks like when our landlord came to collect the rent, and my mother sent me to raid the couch cushions for spare change while she rummaged together the last dollar. No, these were sharp, quick raps, staccato bursts that didn’t wait for my mother to reach the door before opening it.
“Police,” stated the square-faced man at the front of the trio as he stepped into our kitchen uninvited, a younger man to his left and a middle-aged woman to his right. “We’re looking for a Ms. Alcmene; do you know her?”
“Speaking,” said my mother and forced a smile. “May I ask why you have entered my kitchen, and whether I can offer you any refreshments?”
Cold washed over me as my breath caught in my throat, and the trio squinted at my mother. Somehow they knew, somehow they had found me from spying on the academy. But how? That Arial must have told them or trailed me back. I thought I had been careful, but it must not have been careful enough.
I stared as the head policeman looked about the kitchen, his eyes gliding over me as my mother’s wrinkles deepened and a vein throbbed her temple, but still managed to smile.
“Yes, you live alone, then? Good,” he said, and pulled out a stack of papers, consulting them. “You are the Ms. Alcmene that served as a delivery nurse and exhibit Snuffer powers, correct?”
“Yes, yes,” my mother responded, wiping dishwater off her hands. “A weak form of powers, nothing to be noticed.”
“Nothing to be noticed indeed,” came the reply. “If I recall, that’s the exact purpose of a Snuffer. It's written here that you are measured to be one of the stronger Snuffers, not that that means much. Regardless, your unique services to the state are requested, Ms. Alcmene. You’ll be coming with us at once. We’ve seen to it that your rent has been paid, that your crucial belongings will be transported. Come along.”
“And if I choose not to come?” she inquired, leaning back against the counter. “I already served the state once, quite some time ago.”
“Ms.,” he said as the woman behind him reached to the handcuffs on her belt, “don’t make me change this request into an order.”
“What?” I shouted, pounding my fist on the table. “You can’t do that!”
A bead of sweat trickled down my mother’s neck and the muscles around her smile tightened. For a second, the lead officer’s brow creased, and he looked her over once more in annoyance, tilting his head in slight confusion.
“Ms., there is no time to mumble, and I suggest you show us the respect of enunciating your words. Are you coming of your own volition?”
“The hell she’s not!” I shouted, springing up from the table as my mother’s vein looked like it was about to burst, and she shouted, her voice filled with strain, her face directed at the policeman but her voice at me.
“Shut up and leave! You owe me that!”
I froze, watching as the slap from the officer caught my mother square across the jaw with the back of a gloved hand, knocking her hard against the cabinet.
“The state owes you nothing,” he hissed as the woman turned my mother around to fasten the handcuffs behind her back, forcing my mother’s face to meet mine as it was flattened against the cabinet.
Leave, she mouthed, her eyes pleading, her lip bleeding as I felt myself preparing to cast a force point stronger than I had ever done before, to crush the officers together while we escaped. But her eyes began to water, and she whispered once more as they started to pull her away, and I found myself paralyzed by her command.
The police left the door open, and I watched them enter the squad car from the window. I heard the officer’s final words as I memorized his face, just before the car pulled away.
“We’ve found a far better use for you than a maid, Ms. Alcmene. And I suggest you cooperate. You’re still far enough from Special to be considered a Regular, and I do have witnesses of you putting up a fight. In these circumstances, an accidental fatality would hold up well in the court of law.”