The anomaly on your left whispered that you’d crossed into Canada. Not that Canada existed anymore, but changing a name doesn’t change the feel. Atlantis this side of Niagara Falls seemed calmer, more serene with all the trees — there’d been a big push, you recall, to reforest a lot of this territory as food production ramped up efficiency — than the urban streets you came from.

You ask the anomaly how she knows, because there’s no maps inside the plane ferrying all of you to Atlantis’ training facility. You’re all mashed into seats without much for entertainment, presumably as some bonding measure, but all you really want is a chance to stretch your legs, but the bulky dude to your right conked out ten minutes in and you don’t want to risk shaking up the snores.

You’re all anomalies here, and there’s no telling what the guy might do if you wake him up.

“That’s my gift,” she says. “You want to know where we are, I can tell you. Great, isn’t it?”

You suspect sarcasm, but you’ve never met her before and she’s still looking out the window as she talks, so you play it safe and say, “Is it?”

Because having a gift replicated by every Tama on every wrist on the planet doesn’t seem high value. The anomaly, who looks near enough your fourteen years, droops her shoulders a bit and sighs.

You understand that sound.

From the moment the test comes back positive, life’s a whirlwind of doctors, Paragons, parents and choices to be made before you’re ready. You barely processed the doc labeling you an anomaly before the nurse had you pressed back on the chair, the tracer getting shot into your arm. They don’t take any chances anymore – too many rogues running around to give people any freedom. 

Classes, careers, those get realigned over the next year. You fill out surveys with your interests, your teachers fill out forms about your ability, and then you get slotted. One of your parents mentions it being like drafts in the old days, something your great grandparents dealt with. A collection of confused, scared, and forced youngsters getting involved in matters too heavy for them to understand.

But you’re here now, and as the plane starts going down, you’d be lying if you’re not a little bit excited. You’ve grown up listening and watching the legends perform, and now you’re going to get the chance to be one. Your ability might not be as cool, but it’s something, and you think, in the right circumstances, you could make a pretty good name for yourself.

“I don’t know,” she finally says. “They think so. It’s not just where I am, but it’s where things are in relation to me. Like, I know you’re exactly twelve centimeters away from my right arm.”

You lean back against the seat’s hard cushion. Consider what she said. Whether a power like hers compares to yours, and whether the fact that she’s in your group means good or bad things for your Paragon prospects. Whether it’s bad you’re even thinking like that.

Because you’re part of the machine now, and the introduction video made that much clear: You are nothing without the Paragons, and the Paragons are nothing without its people.

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