Leigh could still feel the lingering effects of the anesthetic when he woke up, his mouth feeling like a badger with a shedding problem had taken up residence inside. Glancing around, he could see that his room was guarded by at least two men in Crusader’s uniforms. It took him a minute to remember why he was here.
He had chosen to let the Church shove a chip into his brain that would give him a superhuman power. This in itself was a fairly common occurrence. What made his situation more precarious was that he already had a gift. To top the cake, the combination of his natural telekinesis and the adrenal chip they had installed had a survival rate of zero, but it was either that or prison. They usually wouldn’t try a sixteen year old kid as an adult, but crimes involving those with powers were always punished severely.
Leigh had been caught stealing food from a supermarket, but that wasn’t the crime the Church was interested in, it was just what tipped them off. His real crime was being a civilian with a gift. Everyone in the United States of God is tested on the date of their fifteenth birthday at school. The problem was that Leigh had dropped out of school and vanished after his foster parents discovered his talent. Anyone found to be one of the ‘Chosen’ is immediately conscripted into the Crusaders, essentially the police force. Violators of this law could expect the spend a great deal of time behind bars wearing power suppression collars.
As Leigh stretched his body and cleared the fogginess from his mind he knew that he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Yes, him still being alive was a minor miracle, about three quarters of previous attempts at this combination of powers died before they even woke up, the few that made it this far always fried their brains as soon as they tried to activate either gift.
Well, may as well get this over with.
First he tried to mentally lift a cup of water on his bedside table. No problem. Next was to focus on pumping adrenaline through his system and see if it made him stronger. He focused and could feel the difference even without trying any incredible weightlifting feats. It was as if everything was suddenly in slow motion, and he could hear the guards outside his door chatting about the nurses as if he were standing right next to them, despite the door being closed.
He had done it. He was now the first ever telekinetic adrenal survivor and would become a Crusader. The only problem being that he wanted to be a Crusader about as much as he wanted to spontaneously combust. If he had wanted that he wouldn’t have avoided the testing in the first place. He needed to escape.
The guards outside the door would be a problem. Though not all Crusaders had powers, it was unlikely that they’d put normal people outside his room to guard him. Then again, they probably didn’t expect him to survive. Leigh hadn’t really expected to survive, he had simply preferred a quick death to spending the rest of his natural life in prison.
He slipped out of bed, being careful not to disturb the needle in his arm; he knew that pulling it out would set off an alarm in the nurse’s station. Creeping over to the window, he could see that is had bars over it and that he was on the fifth floor. He doubted that he could muster enough power to dislodge the bars with his mind still addled by drugs, and certainly couldn’t focus enough to undo the bolts that held them on.
Or could he? With his new gift, it just might be possible.
He concentrated and again felt the sensation of clarity that accompanied the release of adrenaline into his bloodstream. He reached out with his mind and could feel the octet of bolts that secured the bars in place. It was a oft forgotten fact that most powers came with an extra sense that allowed them to be used. Telepaths could sense minds, healers could sense the inner workings of living beings, and telekines could sense matter. Without being able to feel it, they wouldn’t be able to interact with it.
He had just finished unscrewing the final bolt when he heard the guards shouting behind him, having finally noticed that he was up and about.
He turned the bars and ripped them through the window, reducing it to a rain of shards. He continued the movement of the bars into the guards as a jolt of electricity racked his body. So the one on the right was an energist.
Fighting through the pain, Leigh swung his makeshift weapon in a low arc, connecting with the energist’s legs. A sickening crunch told him that it would be some time before his foe danced again. With the lightning hurler out the picture, he brought the bars around to intercept the other Crusader. They passed right through him.
A phaser. A man who could make his body ethereal. That would normally be a problem, but Leigh knew a little trick for dealing with phasers: when they become corporeal, they don’t displace other objects. All he had to do was keep something within the man’s body and he would be unable to become solid again without being impaled.
Leigh backed up to the now open window, keeping the bars hovering within the man’s form. He stepped up onto the ledge, mentally preparing himself for what he was about to do. Once he’d psyched himself up, he jerked the bars past himself, grabbing hold as they flew out the window.
Unfortunately, the phaser had been waiting for this and coalesced the second he was able to, grabbing Leigh’s foot as he tried to escape.
Leigh launched a kick at the man’s head, causing him to phase out again to avoid the strike, and releasing his grip in the process.
As Leigh sailed off through the night, he realized he has nowhere to go, but at least he was free.
One thing at a time, he told himself. One thing at a time.