Author : Kenyon Applebee & Bridget Webb
The stark woman set the blue incandescent lamp on a nearby crate and turned off her flashlight. â€œâ€¦Erin, would you like to sleep in a real bed again?â€ She wore black â€“ military cut. The figures behind her were similarly dressed. They guarded the decaying elementary school as if against attack, though Erin couldnâ€™t imagine these people hiding from street thugs like sheâ€™d had to.
Erin, scared, couldnâ€™t stand. â€œWho are you? How do you know my name?â€
â€œâ€¦How would you like to see your little sister again?â€
Erinâ€™s lower lip trembled, â€œKitty?â€
Kitty had disappeared in the Newman Hill attack with the rest of her family. â€œYou are the Terrorists!â€
â€œâ€¦I suppose we are. Youâ€™re fourteen?â€
â€œWhat do you want?â€
â€œWe want you to let us take care of you. How long have you been out here? Two weeks?â€
â€œThrough all the fighting and the burning?â€
Tears began burning in Erinâ€™s eyes. It had been a nightmare. Sheâ€™d found no one to turn toâ€¦but… â€œYou killed my parents!â€ she yelled, exploding to her feet.
A gun shifted in the darkness, aimed at her.
â€œWe did. But we did not kill you, or your sister. And you are the reason I am here. If you stay out here, you will die. Have you been raped yet?â€
Erin could not answer. She wanted to scream, to attack the woman, butâ€¦ the guns.
â€œIt doesnâ€™t matter. We are not terrorists; we are,â€ pausing, â€œ’international referees.’ We step in to stop egregious abuses of power, by becoming very skilled and very powerful. Education is very important here, isnâ€™t it? It determines your social class. You are currently service class, no?â€
â€œWere you going to be service class your whole life, like your parents?â€
â€œNo. I amâ€¦ wasâ€¦ going to test into…â€ The absurdity of talking so casually to this woman struck her.
â€œâ€¦Now you want me to join you, after you killed my parents, and sabotaged my country. What gives you the right to â€˜Refereeâ€™ everyone? To kill people?!â€
The woman leaned smugly against the crates. â€œPeople kill each other every day. Sometimes you fight fire with fire. Besides, we donâ€™t consider ourselves human. Not homo-sapiens anyway. Not anymore.â€
â€œYou use Forbidden Science,â€ Erin murmured.
â€œGenetic enhancements. We can give you some, if you like. Enhanced intelligence, coordination, strength â€“ everything youâ€™d need to make the world better.â€
â€œHowâ€¦ how do you get away with it?
â€œNo, Erin. The question is, are you coming with us? Our offer is grander than your wildest dreams. If you say no, we disappear. Now, choose.â€
Erin hesitated. Sounds from outside filled the silence between them; a radio blaring, engines, a car alarm. About a block away, there was breaking glass followed by laughter. â€œOk.â€
They lead her onto the glidercraft parked on the soccer field. The woman hung back, pressed the transmitter below her ear. â€œOpal to Turquoise, I have a newborn.â€
â€œRoger, Opal. Thatâ€™s eight of eleven. Excellent work. Bring them in.â€