The long, drawn out squeak from what might have been freshly squeaky hinges woke Lisa.
Before she could do much to react, someone started speaking in Spanish. “I have her results. I’m not quite sure what to make of them.” The speaker was male and young, no older than early twenties from what she could tell.
An older female voice spoke from nearby—her bedside? Lisa didn’t remember going to bed. In fat, she remember her last rest involved trying to get comfortable on a pile of grass. “I expected this. She’s always been noted to be unusual even among the vast range of potestades. What do the results say?”
“That’s just it, doctor: the preliminary workup… is negative. The lab did them three times and they’re all the same. Medically speaking, she is an impotente.”
The woman next to Lisa’s bed scoffed. “Impossible. We’ve all seen her on the news using her powers. For God’s sake, she’s my eldest’s favorite.”
“Dr. Rojas says that the tests don’t lie. In fact he’s ordering that she and Ms. Carlyle be processed and moved to an impotente facility as soon as possible.” From his tone, Lisa didn’t think he much agreed with that, but she was more focused on the fact that at least she and Tink were in a hospital of some kind.
“I think a direct order from the President overrules Dr. Rojas.”
The young man hemmed and hawed a bit before saying, “But it’s the law. The law. Dr. Rojas says keeping them here is in direct violation of the Separation Act.”
Hearing that made Lisa wonder even more about where she was. She’d never heard of anything like that in the news and ever since the Braylocke Laws started spreading across the country, she’d started paying attention to such things.
It was then that she noticed that she wasn’t restrained in any way and didn’t seem to have an IV in. Taking a chance that this was a sign that maybe the people in her room weren’t outright villains, Lisa opened her eyes. She tried to speak, but at first her voice was little more than a rough croak.
In her view was a tall, dark, heavyset woman with a set of spectacles hanging from a chain to rest on her broad chest. Her hair, once black, was laced with silver and her wide face was kind. “Oh goodness.” After a moment’s thought, she spoke in passable if heavily accented English. “Good afternoon Miss Ortega. Please let me get you some water.”
She turned and Lisa heard water being poured. When the woman turned back, she was holding a paper cup half full of liquid. “Drink slowly please. Small sips.” She waited for Lisa to start before continuing. “I suppose you might be confused. My name is Doctor Eliza Lupa and please do not get the wrong idea, but you are currently at the National Hospital for the Mental Health of Potestades.”
Finally able to speak thanks to the hydrating power of water, Lisa quirked an eyebrow. “I’m sorry—potestades?–powers? Why would you have a hospital for powers?”
After a moment of confusion on Dr. Lupa’s part, the older woman’s eyes widened. “Oh. Your word is ‘descendants’. Here in Colombia, we call people like us potestades.”
Lisa fumbled the cup of water into her lap, caught a sip away from a spit take. “Colombia!?”
“I don’t know who you think you’re messing with, but I train once a week with one of the most powerful psychics in the world. I can tell a mind trick when it’s being pulled on me.” Warrick had found himself suddenly back at the upstairs commons of Freeland House, sitting on the couch, watching TV.
Tink was dozing at his side, her head resting on his shoulder. On the other side of him, Tammy and Kura were also asleep with a pair of golden-haired boys no older than five or six stretched out across their laps cuddling with each other.
“What’s going on?” Tink murmured, starting to wake.
“No point in answering that as you’re not real.” Warrick said.
“Actually Mr. Kaine,” the stairs creaked and a tall man with lightly tanned skin and a square, military-style haircut came up the stairs. The sharp suit and tie suggested government or business. The half diadem of chrome-painted ceramic, which clung to his temples and hummed softly suggested a psychic making use of technology to aid his powers. “There are many ways to measure a mentalist’s power. I can target multiple minds at a reduced effect. Your lover, your sister, and her friend are really also part of this experience.” The man gestured to the two sleeping boys, “As were a pair of genuine surprises. How many people know that they’re sapient?”
Warrick stared the man down, covertly nudging Tink in the side to wake her up. “Hopefully only plus one. It’s not something I like sharing.”
“Of course,” said the man with a gentle laugh, “I have no intention of disseminating this information beyond the appropriate channels.”
“Just who are the appropriate authorities?”
Another laugh. “The highest echelons I assure you. Forgive me for not introducing myself: my name is Sebastian Restrepo, Director of the Department of Intelligence—the equivalent of your CIA. The reason for this dreamscape meeting is because we didn’t want you awaking and and doing harm to those around you in your panic and confusion. It’s also so I can question you.”
“Question us?” Tink sat up, clearly shaking off her sleep.
“Yes,” said Director Restrepo. “Six hours ago, a brilliant light was seen from a military installation several miles from here. When the soldiers investigated, they found you and seven others unconscious and unresponsive. Obviously, you are well known here as US celebrities and ‘superheroes’. Unsurprisingly, we’re very interested in knowing how and why you ended up o our soil. So interested in fact, the the President is on her way here to speak with you.”
Warrick frowned. “Wait a second. We called ahead. We cleared a flight plan and booked a hotel. We are not here illegally.”
“We have no records of that.”
Tink sat up, bewildered. “Hold on. You said the President was on ‘her’ way? The president of Venezuela is male, Manuel Huertas.”
Director Restrepo cocked his head, curious. “You think you’re in Venezuela?”
“I’m going to take it from that question that we’re not,” said Warrick.
“Indeed not. You’re in Colombia.”
Warrick groaned aloud. “I’m starting to understand why Mr. Smythe hates magic.”
On the other side of the couch, Kura awoke with a snort. “Did someone say we’re in Colombia? Dude! That’s where descendant are like in charge! This vacation just took a new turn for the awesome!”
“Not all that awesome, Kura,” Tink said, her tone guarded.
Tammy, who had been waking up, reached full consciousness at this. “Yeah, don’t you remember out social studies group project? They’ve got that crazy law where descendants can’t hang out with normal people. They can’t even work in the same buildings or live in the same neighborhoods. Wouldn’t it suck if you couldn’t spend time with your parents anymore?”
The Director cleared his throat. “Actually, the Separation Act makes provisions for the families of the powered. They are of course, allowed to live with blood relatives.”
“But not work,” Tink said. “Or shop with. Or go to a restaurant with. And the exception is only for families. Otherwise, descendants and baseline humans aren’t allowed near each other. And of course they aren’t allowed to be friends with each other… or fall in love. And let’s forget about any baseline human having any political power.”
“All of these provisions are for the protection of the powerless, not to discriminate against them,” explained the Director. “If anything, the passage of the Separation Act is an admission by we who are powered that we are inherently dangerous to those not as gifted. After all, not all of us are naturally gifted with our abilities or as controlled. Keeping ourselves separate keeps them from harm and from having to compete with those with an unfair natural advantage for jobs and other opportunities.”
Tammy gave him a blank stare. “Dude. ‘Natural advantage’? Our power came from mad science during that time in World War Two before anyone thought to invent things like ethics.”
“Yeah and some of us like one of our friends? They’re even mo–” Kura was cut off by Tammy putting her hand over her mouth.
“Kura! We’re not supposed to talk about that! Especially not in front of a mind reader!”
The Director gave another genial laugh that proved that if the spy game didn’t pan out, he could easily head up the diplomatic corps. “I assure you that I would not pry into the minds of foreign civilians—without sanction, which I don’t have at the moment.”
He folded his hands in front of him. “And as for your… concerns… about the laws of our land, we merely ask that you follow them while guests in our country.”
“Then I have to leave then?” asked Tink.
“Whyever for? You had well-documented powers above and beyond the other weapons you use.”
Tink lifted her chin. “Except my powers don’t come from being a descendant. They’re more like cybernetics than an artificial inherited trait. You can test my brain waves. I don’t have the abnormal theta wave reading most descendants have.”
Her words made the director stop and consider this. After a long moment, he spoke again. “We do not use the theta test here. Too many false negatives especially in those whose powers manifest physically; the ones you in your country are called ‘protomorphs’. We have a test that looks for a modified complex in mitochondria that is far more uniformly prevalent.”
“I won’t have that either,” Tink insisted, “I am not a descendant. Do you believe I need ‘protection’?”
“That would be up to the courts to decide. If you want my political opinion? A power is a power regardless of the source. You have immense strength—are you in control of it at all times? Don’t you worry about harming others if you lose your temper? Or in a diminished capacity?” He spared a meaningful glance toward Warrick, “Or in the throes of passion?”
Tammy made a gagging sound. “Jesus, that’s my brother you’re talking about!”
“And it doesn’t even make sense!” added Kura. “I mean she could crush his ribs with her thighs like anyone else’s if he’s unarmored. Being a descendant doesn’t make you less killable—unless being less killable is your power.”
Throwing up his hands, Warrick shook his head violently. “Okay. Time for everyone to stop talking before an international incident happens. Look, mister…”
“Director Restrepo. We didn’t mean to end up in your country on purpose. Um—trying to figure out how to explain this to you without sounding crazy…”
He was cut off by Tammy clapping him on the shoulder. “I’ve got this. Okay, remember the dragon a couple of months ago?” The Director nodded, “Yeah, well magic is real. There’s a whole other world called Faerie out there and right now they’ve go this big bad wicked queen type–”
“Tammy!” Warrick said, shocked about all she was giving so much away.
She shrugged. “What? Telling a giant nation full of descendants—with a trained descendant army—about Maeve is a bad thing?”
Her brother stared at her for a long moment before nodding. “Point taken. Actually… we don’t know what happened to Maeve’s hit squad.” He looked back at the Director. “Did you find anyone… or anything else with us?”
The Director frowned and touched the machine attached to his head. “I think we’ve successfully defused any possible danger you would have posed upon waking. Perhaps we can move this discussion to the waking world.”
To Be Continued…