Jolene Brandt is an empowered human, and the hero of my new series, The Empowered. Today she talks about the Empowered, magic, and what possessing such a “gift” means.
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Powers are gifts from God. Powers make you a god. Powers are magic, and defy analysis. Take your pick.
People hate it when you try to reconcile the magical with reason. It doesn’t work. It wasn’t always this with. Grandmother Ruth told me about a time when you needed to know the reasons, when scientists weren’t just a flavor of engineers, but were getting at the mechanisms beneath reality. Now it’s all about the magic being real, and worshiping the few of us which are empowered. Easy times for some of us with the Power. Rock stars have nothing on those super stars.
They used to call me Weed back in the old days, back when I was an idiot teenage girl who thought she was on top of the world because of her power, because of what I could do. I could control plants–okay, weeds. I could accelerate their growth, push them to be bigger, nastier, and use them, kill them if I needed, conjure them when I wanted. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to send me to prison, Special Corrections.
I got mixed up with the Church of the Insight. We used to battle the New Olympians and Heaven’s Soldiers. We were idiots, and I was the biggest idiot of all. We all had stupid names in the Cult of the Rebel. At least the Scourge had better names. The Hero Council, now there’s a name that speaks to Americans, and because Golden was an American, it stuck. I think the British, the Chinese, the Kenyans might have picked something different.
Then there’s the magic trick no one sees, which is the best kind of trick at all, because, like all magic tricks, it’s about distraction. You don’t see the thing the right hand is doing because the left is doing something flashy.
In the absence of reason, Grandmother said once, religion takes hold. I shivered when I heard this. I was twelve, and about to come into my Power, I hadn’t become a rebellious teenager yet, and I worried for Ruth. That kind of talk could get her in trouble. Her father had been a preacher, and she must have been pushing back against that. She’d had the chip on her shoulder for a long time, before the New Schism hit faith. New religions arose. Old ones had to rethink things. Not all, some adapted without change, and some acted like nothing had changed. Those withered and died.
Then there were those that denounced the Empowered, called them spawn of the devil. Religious terrorists killing followers and even an Empowered—Melinda Jacks back in 1968, killed by some holy roller, and now the Holy Rollers are just one of a number of terrorists in the name of God. The Assassins for the True Faith are another.
But when you have Enchanters, Empowered who can enchant, imbue, craft, forge, call it what you will, weapons, tools, and items as an alternative to simple science based technology, well, the sky’s the limit.
At the same time, International Law and the Second Geneva Convention mandated how the Empowered were to act, and to treat others, and in term, be treated. Taking an agnostic stance as to divine origins, the Second Geneva Convention stated that Empowered had a moral duty to larger humanity. The Tokyo Protocols extended that duty to Empowered Others.
We’d managed as a world to reach the 21st century more or less in tact, but plenty of tatters along the way. Grandmother says her grandparents wouldn’t have recognized the world, but some of that is simply being in the future.
I was born into this world, so it’s normal to me, but normal isn’t always right, in fact, it’s often wrong once you see what is really going on.
What is really going on is that the Empowered and the rest of Humanity are both controlling each other. Yes, the Empowered in the Hero Council have special privileges, but the rest of humanity benefits from the Crafted creations, and the sense that the Gods walk among us. The Conventions and the Protocols restrict what the Empowered can do, which is why breaking them can send you to Special Corrections for life. I only avoided that fate because I was under seventeen when I was convicted, so I had the chance to parole at twenty one. If I’d been fifteen I could have go to Educational Detention or whatever they are calling it now, and had the chance to get out at eighteen. My conviction hit at sixteen. It was confusing to sixteen year old me. I was still underage, but the Convention said sixteen was old enough to be responsible for actions, but since like all sixteen year olds my neural wiring was still in progress I was cut slack. I wasn’t automatically convicted for life, I had a chance at parole at twenty one, if I behaved while in prison. Excuse me, “Special Corrections.” An odd name since most convicted Empowered were lifers, but the Convention made allowances for saving souls.
Some Empowered are located before they turn criminals and get enrolled in the Creche program, but others, like me, slip through the cracks, and some of us turn bad. Like I did.
Now my sisters were slipping through the cracks. They weren’t Empowered, thank God. Twins, if they had been, or if one had been, we’d have known by now. They were sixteen
Our parents were dead, so it was left to Grandmother Ruth to take care of us. Our father’s mother. Mom’s mom was also dead.
Lots of dead going around. Someone once said in the long run we are all dead, but many of us wind up dead in the short run, too.
I’m rambling, I’m sorry, I do that when I’m worked up. And I’m worked up now.