The sun continued to crawl across the sky as Kya and Marge stood looking down on the settlement. Kya realized that she knew of a few parks with government signs on the outskirts of the city, but she never had a reason to go looking for them. She also knew that the busses wouldn’t take her near any of them. She wondered if those government parks could conceal other communities like the one below. As she turned and looked at Marge, Kya noticed that Marge had a pleased look on her face that exuded a great deal of pride.
“Why New Eden?” Kya asked.
“I didn’t name it.” Marge shrugged, a grin still plastered on her face.
The two women walked towards the buildings, and Kya could hear the faint sounds of guitar music and the laughter of children. In nearly every way, it looked like a small town, hidden away from society and trapped behind prison-like walls.
“So how do we get in?”
Marge chucked slightly as they arrived at the edge of the light cast by the spotlights. “Just keep following me, but no more talking until we are safely on the other side.”
Marge stepped forward, and Kya followed suit. Strangely, when any light even slightly illuminated Marge, it shut off. Arriving at the edge of the wall, a thick but tattered rope ladder fell.
Kya’s heart was racing to the point where it was all she could hear. The rapid thumping in her chest drowned out all other noises, and the rope appearing from above only served to make it worse.
Marge took the first rung, and began to climb while Kya continued to follow her lead.
As they dropped down on the other side, Kya stumbled into a woman playing acoustic guitar on a front door step and a man carrying a basket of vegetables.
“Smooth” Marge said. Marge wiped a small bit of dust off Kya, while the woman, nearly unfazed, started playing music once again.
“You two okay?” The man said as he righted himself.
“Yeah, just her first time coming to visit.”
Kya felt her heart rate slow as the man with the basket shot her a disarming smile. His clothes were heavily worn in spots, but still very functional. What surprised Kya was that they didn’t cover his entire body, nor were they the dark grey she expected to find. There was nothing, beyond the dated style, that deserved any extra attention.
“Sorry about that.” Kya said. Her knee felt a little bruised from her stumble, but she knew her embarrassment was really what was shining through.
Marge grabbed Kya’s arm and pulled on her. “Come on. We can’t stay here too long or we will start attracting attention.”
Following Marge, Kya looked around, trying to take in everything she saw. Various people went about their business, seemingly uninterested in Kya. All were wearing similar clothing to the man and woman that she had bumped into when descending from the rope ladder. The three houses along the street all looked well kept, with small, well maintained gardens. The sidewalks and roads were in disrepair, and looked unfit for driving on. That didn’t seem to matter though as there were no garages or cars to be seen. New Eden smelled of wood stoves and fireplaces mixed with a faint aroma from the forest outside of the walls.
After reaching the end of the street, Kya spoke up. “You would never know that there was a huge city just outside of here.”
“Nope, and I bet you didn’t know there was a small camp here.”
Kya shook her head. Despite Marge’s iron grip on her arm, Kya was trailing a few steps behind her, so she doubted that her response was noted.
“That’s strange. I would have expected to see him by now.” Marge said.
“Yes. I thought he was supposed to be here this evening. Stay here. I’m going to check something.”
Before Kya had a chance to respond, Marge released her grip on Kya’s arm and jogged off to a nearby house. As she entered and disappeared from view, Kya started to feel exposed and out of place.
A moment later Marge rushed out of the house and back towards Kya. “Follow me.” She said without another word.
Kya turned and rushed after Marge who was increasing in speed to a near jog.
“He isn’t here, but he should be back soon. We’re going to try to meet up with him as we leave. It’ll be safer to talk in the brush than in New Eden anyways.”
Questions swarmed in Kya’s mind. She hoped that they would be answered before they burst from her, unable to stop.
The wall felt easier to climb over the second time, and Kya found her footing with ease. As they walked up the hill, three figures, dressed similarly, exited the forest and began to run towards New Eden.
The spotlights near Kya and Marge shut down again as they began to walk. “I know someone else with an Electricity Super.”
Marge shot a puzzled look at Kya. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“The lights, that’s you turning them off, right?”
Marge pointed behind her towards the wall. “That’s Scott. He works for the group that keeps them here, but helps us with getting in and out.”
Kya turned and watched as Scott flipped large breaker switches in a control panel on the wall around New Eden.
The three figures stopped only feet short of Kya and Marge, and at first, Kya just wanted to go invisible and run away, but her curiosity kept her in place.
“Kya, I am so glad you’re here.” The voice from under the hood sounded out of breath, yet familiar.
Based solely on the voice, Kya quickly was able to figure out that this man, wrapped in shades of gray and black, was the one who had given her Invisibility, Telekinesis, and Healing all from a touch of his hand. She opened her mouth slightly, expecting words to come out, but only a few short, incomprehensible sounds squeaked out before she closed it again.
“Don’t worry, it’s normal to be speechless in this kind of situation.” Marge said in an attempt to be reassuring. She turned to Callidus. “She has a million questions for you like-”
“Would you please stop doing that?” Kya growled through clenched teeth. “I can speak for myself!”
Callidus removed his hood, revealing a mop of curly black hair that flopped around his head, curling around his ears, and striking green eyes that seemed to sparkle. “I see you met Marge.” He nodded at Marge and then started unravelling the scarf at his neck revealing a long pointy nose and full pink lips. A wide smile revealed charmingly crooked white teeth. “She’s come a long way, but she’s still learning appropriate uses for her powers.”
Marge shrugged, and the corner of her mouth twisted in a small smile.
“Anyways, Kya, welcome to New Eden.”
“What is this place?” Kya asked, staring straight into Callidus’ electric green eyes.
“That,” he grinned, “is a complicated story.”
“Yeah,” Marge cut in, “She’d like to know why it’s called New Eden. I wouldn’t mind knowing too.”
With a threatening glare from Kya, Marge shrunk back.
His attention never wavering from Kya, Callidus took a deep breath. “That is a story that needs the other story in order to make sense.” As he spoke he gestured wildly, like he had in the alleyway. Kya could now see that his face was just as animated as the rest of his body.
“I think I have time.” Kya said, noticing the shadows creeping in as dusk approached.
Callidus sat at one end of a fallen log and motioned for Kya to sit next to him.
“You know those buildings you went through, in the city?” Callidus said. “That was where they housed the test subjects of a fertility treatment that was supposed to modify a person’s DNA. The hope was that the treatment would be passed down to the children of the test subjects, ending the Fertility Crisis.”