Author : Kenyon Applebee & Bridget Webb

The stark woman set the blue incandescent lamp on a nearby crate and turned off her flashlight. “…Erin, would you like to sleep in a real bed again?” She wore black – military cut. The figures behind her were similarly dressed. They guarded the decaying elementary school as if against attack, though Erin couldn’t imagine these people hiding from street thugs like she’d had to.

Erin, scared, couldn’t stand. “Who are you? How do you know my name?”

“…How would you like to see your little sister again?”

Erin’s lower lip trembled, “Kitty?”

“She’s safe.”

Kitty had disappeared in the Newman Hill attack with the rest of her family. “You are the Terrorists!”

“…I suppose we are. You’re fourteen?”

“What do you want?”

“We want you to let us take care of you. How long have you been out here? Two weeks?”


“Through all the fighting and the burning?”

Tears began burning in Erin’s eyes. It had been a nightmare. She’d found no one to turn to…but… “You killed my parents!” she yelled, exploding to her feet.

A gun shifted in the darkness, aimed at her.

“We 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?”

Erin could not answer. She wanted to scream, to attack the woman, but… the guns.

“It doesn’t matter. We are not terrorists; we are,” pausing, “’international referees.’ We step in to stop egregious abuses of power, by becoming very skilled and very powerful. Education is very important here, isn’t it? It determines your social class. You are currently service class, no?”


“Were you going to be service class your whole life, like your parents?”

“No. I am… was… going to test into…” The absurdity of talking so casually to this woman struck her.

“But now?”

“…Now you want me to join you, after you killed my parents, and sabotaged my country. What gives you the right to ‘Referee’ everyone? To kill people?!”

The woman leaned smugly against the crates. “People kill each other every day. Sometimes you fight fire with fire. Besides, we don’t consider ourselves human. Not homo-sapiens anyway. Not anymore.”

“You use Forbidden Science,” Erin murmured.

“Genetic enhancements. We can give you some, if you like. Enhanced intelligence, coordination, strength – everything you’d need to make the world better.”

“How… how do you get away with it?

“No, 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.”

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. “Ok.”

They lead her onto the glidercraft parked on the soccer field. The woman hung back, pressed the transmitter below her ear. “Opal to Turquoise, I have a newborn.”

“Roger, Opal. That’s eight of eleven. Excellent work. Bring them in.”