I felt the heat of the Industrial Sector’s vents long before I entered the sanctuary that it provided us. Long, thick pipes that ran along the walls were given a sort of dark bronze shade when basking in the light of the fires of the sector.
The loud noises that came with the manufacturing of the dreaded machines that were used to restrain the population through fear, as well as the rest of the Government’s war machine, masked our own sounds. The heat that was giving Mason, Gray, and Z a reason to complain was masking our body temperature in a field of readings of the same caliber. Along with the harsh shadows that came with the territory, this was the best place to hide from the Reapers that had chased us.
I gripped one of my knives, the material of my hand wrappings groaning in protest. Lilith gave me a reassuring look, my grip loosening afterwards as we looked back at the group at the same time. We had no idea what Aiden was planning with these newcomers, but we knew that it was going to be good.
“How much longer do we have to stay here, kid?” A recruit that we had saved from the Reapers griped, shooting my sister and I a nervous look.
“Until Lilith and Blair say so,” Aiden said, resting against the steel wall of the secluded area we had taken as our own.
The pipes that ran along the walls ejected a gust of steam every now and again, masking some of the chatter among those that we had saved. That still didn’t mask the anxious looks that the newbies were giving my sister and I. It must have been how we appeared from the shadows and Aiden silently followed, or the fact that we knocked the guards in our way unconscious, that had made them weary of us. So much the better in our opinion, since that would make them more cautious when dealing with Aiden.
“I don’t have a very good feeling about trusting my life to a pair of children...” The man muttered, his black hair matted in a cold sweat from the adrenaline coursing through his body.
The glare that I gave him made his face blank in an unknown fear as he flinched away, just as Aiden said in a reassuring tone, “These two are more than enough to keep us alive. I trust them with my life.”
Lilith and I felt our cheeks flush with the weight of Aiden’s words, that he trusted us so completely. It never got old, that warm and fluttering feeling that came from any compliment or reassurance that came from Aiden. Even in the middle of this stressful situation, the two of us found time to feel flattered.
I shook my head to bring myself back to focus, the sound of a Reaper’s footsteps hitting the steel floor not far away. The whirring of its joint servos accompanied the sound of its eye-lenses adjusting to the low light. The humanoid gait that the Reapers adopted was unmistakably robotic, the mass-produced machines not having a need for smooth strides. They were able to run quite quickly though, despite the weight of the weaponry that they wielded.
The softer joint armor on the machines called out to be struck, but it would only lead to the deaths of all the people that Aiden was trying to save. Lilith and I were thankful for that, since we wouldn’t be forced to use the abilities that we were cursed with. Instead, we slipped through the cracks in their net as they tried to search for us, sliding right through their fingers as we moved for the Blacklight District.
Z had called in some of her favors with the Stream and the Mercs to have a place ready. It would be in the most secure place available, with diverted government food stuffs and guarded by Mercs sympathetic to us. Rather, they were more against the Government than for us, but that suited us just fine. It wasn’t our pockets that were being picked in order to fund this operation, but those that Aiden and Z had talked with.
Even we didn’t know who Aiden was working with in order to make this go as smoothly as it was. Of course, stealth was Lilith and I’s specialty. We were genetically engineered to be assassins that held no equal, so no one came close despite the fact that we were only eleven. But for Aiden to leave us out of the loop meant one of two things: he either didn’t trust us, or he was protecting us from the Government by keeping us in the dark.
“Blair,” Lilith said, staring into my eyes.
I stared back, my eyes saying, What?
Lilith tapped her wrist with her middle and index fingers, How much longer, you think?
Dunno, I shrugged, then brought my hand down with the palm facing the ground with a worried expression on my face for a split second, But we need to make sure that everyone stays low.
You want me to bring up the rear, then? She gestured behind her by jabbing a thumb over her shoulder.
I held my hand out, rolling it left and right in a quick fashion, If you think that’ll help, but I’d rather you not...
All right, I’ll stay, Lilith patted my shoulder, giving me a thumbs up.
I nodded, Thanks, Sis.
I turned, the silent conversation only taking a few moments, and lead the way down the corridor as soon as I realized that the footsteps of the Reaper had faded into nothing down the hall in the opposite direction. Lilith was close behind, whispering instructions to the rest of the group to stay low.
They were all muttering about their cramping legs, but complied with small nods or grunts. They were all children for the most part, since the ones that we were saving were those that were running from the Gene Exam. The new law forced those that were between the ages of sixteen and ten to take the exam in addition to those that were already taking it. We Numbers knew that the only good that would become of that was death. The only difference per individual was if that death came in a mine shift, factory, or a battlefield.
“We’re almost there,” I whispered, sensing Aiden catching up to us.
Lilith smiled, whispering at the same volume, “Hey Aiden!”
“Hey, ladies,” Aiden grinned, as if our affection for him was never going to get old, the sight of such an expression warming my heart even now, “I have a favor to ask you.”
“What is it?” I asked, Lilith looking with an expression that read the same.
“You two’ll follow me, no matter what I do, right?”
“Of course,” Lilith said with a serious tone, as I finished the sentence with her, “We’ll follow you anywhere.”
“No hesitation, I see,” Aiden chuckled like a proud big brother, “Well, then. Lilith, Blair, I’ll be counting on you. I trust you two more than anyone else in the world.”
Absolute happiness saturated my soul, and Lilith’s face showed that she felt the same, as we nodded. Aiden wasn’t usually one to dish out compliments, or to make a conversation serious out of the blue, so I sensed that he needed reassurance for whatever he was planning to pull. Lilith felt the same way of course, so we both gave him a bear hug from both sides with big grins on our faces.
He smiled, patting our heads like he would a pet's. The group suddenly stopped, not even hesitating to take advantage of our halt in progress to rest themselves. Lilith and I continued to hug our only other family besides each other, nuzzling our cheeks on his skin.
“Thanks...I needed that.” He said, sighing, “Alright, lets get going before these bums start to fall asleep.”
“Roger!” We grinned again, turning to move forwards as Aiden got the group to rise to their feet.
Mason and Gray were bringing up the rear of the group of thirteen people that we had saved from the Reapers’ sweeps. Z was in the middle of the group of fresh enemies of the Government, Aiden holding back so she’d catch up to her. Probably wanting to confirm the destination with his ally, Lilith and I focused on navigating the dangerous corridors of the Industrial District.
The metal floors were coated in grime, lubricating oil and grease smearing and staining the walls and pipes that ran along the pathway. The steam that was periodically ejected from the opening from the pipes’ joints as well as the massive crashing of the metal forming machinery made it next to impossible to hear myself think. The corridor had almost no light, save for the soft orange glow from the blast furnaces, casting harsh shadows despite that fact on the muggy walkway. My hands felt sweaty from the heat in the district, the material that I wore around my hands not helping the situation. Lilith panted next to me, pulling her sweat soaked shirt’s collar away from her neck as she exhaled.
All of this made it harder for us to be able to hear the metallic footsteps of the Reapers, or the whirring of their joint servos. It made me entirely paranoid, something that is usually impossible with Lilith’s presence. I had the creeping feeling that we were being targeted, allowed to move as if we were undetected in order to lead us to the bigger quarry. I avoided making eye contact with Lilith so that she wouldn’t see that fear in my eyes. I wouldn’t want my doubts to spread to her as well, since we both felt a strong empathy towards one another.
“What do you think they’ll have to eat when we get there?” I said, trying to get my mind off of those thoughts.
Lilith shrugged, “Who knows? As long as it tastes better than trash scraps and leftovers, I really don’t care.”
Lilith and I giggled and I nodded, “Same here, Sis. Maybe it’ll be a buffet, or some military grade rations.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice,” Lilith said in a distant tone, looking forward, “Say, Blair?”
“Yeah?” I asked, looking at her face.
“Do you think that something about this is off?” Lilith asked, whispering as she turned towards me, “Like we shouldn’t have made it this far?”
I looked away, taking in a breath, “Yeah, something definitely seems off. I thought we were done for at least three times since we found the last one. You’d think that the bio-meter proximity sensors on the Reapers would work a little better than they did...”
“Exactly what I was thinking, sis,” Lilith said, shaking her head with an exhale. “We need to be careful is all I’m saying.”
“Right,” I nodded.
A large crash resounded behind our group, causing the majority of them to either yelp or flinch in surprise. Lilith and I were trained not to do anything but react on instinct. As a result, Lilith and I were glaring in the direction of the sound with our blades drawn. Tension hung in the air was the group grew some sense and quieted down. Aiden moved on his own, not needed to ask anyone’s permission to do as he pleased, heading towards the sound without hesitation.
I drew in heavy breaths so that I would remain in control of my senses and thoughts. Aiden had no escorts, he didn’t have my sister and I to protect him from his back and sides. He always had the issue of tunnel vision, blocking out everything but his goal, making him vulnerable to sneak attacks. I gripped my knife, the blade quivering in the air with my indecision. Should I stay like he said, or go to him? Did he know what he was doing? Why didn't he consult us like he always did? What was the cause of that loud noise anyways?
He was gone before I could organize my thoughts, and Lilith and I were left in the dark with a bunch of kids.
Well, we were only eleven to begin with.
Z crawled towards us, “What’s your boy toy doing?”
We looked at each other and then at Z in perfect sinc, speaking in unison. “‘Boy toy’?”
“Boy wonder just left us and even you two don’t know why?” Z seemed exasperated, ignoring the questioning looks that we were giving her, “Great. That’s just frickin’ great...”
“You were the last one to talk to him,” I said, biting on my thumbnail. “What’d he say?”
“He just made small talk,” Z shook her head, “What the heck is goin’ on?”
It was then that an entire platoon of Soldiers, accompanied by a squad of Reapers, burst through the steel walls with blast charges in a ball of fire.
Guns trained on us, the sound of rounds entering the chambers echoing in my head.
A commanding voice shattered my thoughts and silenced the cries of the group, “Freeze! You are all under arrest for treason!”
“Master,” The service droid's female voice-box sounded at sunrise, “Your breakfast will be ready shortly. Your clothes have been laid out for you on your study desk.”
"Thank you, Omega," I said hazily, sitting up in my bed, "I'll meet you in the dining area."
"Very well, Master," She said, facing the door and softly turning the doorknob, "Ah, and Lord Michael wishes to speak with you, just so that you are aware."
I cringed, knowing the implications despite my grogginess, "Thank you."
"Of course, Master," Omega said, leaving with a quiet click of the door.
I sighed, rising out of the bed and moving towards the shower. I immediately thought of what sort of thing that my father would want me to do. He never really spoke with me face to face because of all of his duties and other responsibilities. He was the Governor's lapdog, after all, so there was always something that he was called to do that didn't really need his attention. That being said, he hadn't skimped on my training whatsoever, always giving me a new challenge within twelve hours of the last one I completed.
The cold water cascaded from the shower head onto my body, the near shock of the temperature difference awakening my body completely. I took a deep breath, taking this time to relax before the stressful conversation that I was bound to have.
Drying my self off some five minutes later, I clad myself in the suit and tie that Omega had left me. The expensive articles of clothing were relics of the past, of a time before the Capital, before the Union. A time when this great place was known as the United States of America, where there was at least a chance for the little man to make a place for himself in this world. A time when relatively everyone held the luxuries I was afforded as a nobleman in our society, having one or more cars for every single family and a home to call their own. But only the noblemen know this fact, that there was something before the Union.
I looked at the clock and sighed, "Time to go, I guess..."
I cracked my knuckles and moved for the door, turning the knob gently. I walked down the hall from my room to the main staircase, taking in the sights of my Father's mansion without appreciating the expenses that it had taken to create such a home. The droids that maintained the building were the highest grade that could be manufactured, replaced with the newest model as soon as it was out of the prototype phase. The security system was top of the line, nothing able to slip past it without a genetic bio-scan disabling the system. There were only a few people with permanent genetic key's: my father and myself. We only held visitors for a max of three hours, the time limit for the temporary genetic clearances.
I descended down the stairs to the main foyer, turning down a hall that lead to the main dining area. The lighting strips that ran along practically all edges of the rooms and halls bathed the expensive technology in pale light. A holographic desk that was in power-down mode, an array of prototype close combat weapons on a wall, a wall of monitors that were floating in the air and were comprised of holograms themselves were all a part of the daily lives of the Union's Elite. The watch that I wore around my wrist was able to display information on its own small hologram, the storage capacity in the small timepiece easily ten to fifteen times that of the greatest memory station of the past. All of this was for us and us alone, the Numbers deemed too unworthy and stupid to be able to use the tech.
That was the Elites' ways of thinking though, not my own.
"Alexander," My father said from where he sat at the head of the table. "Good morning to you, son."
I blinked, my father almost seeming pleased with me for the first time since I was about five years of age, "Good morning to you as well, Father...Ah, may I ask what this occasion is for, sir?"
"All in good time," the master of the Stone legacy spoke with his usual neutral expression, but his pride couldn't be hidden. "Please, sit."
"As you wish, Father," I said obediently, placing my rear into the highly upholstered chair with a nicely laid out breakfast before it.
"You're looking at a very proud man, my son," My father said, actually smiling as he spoke.
"What has gotten you so happy, Father?" I asked, inclining my head, "Frankly, I've never seen you so pleased..."
"That is true, I have been rather cold as of late," Father said, shaking his head ruefully, "You see, some terrorists from the Districts had killed a friend that I cared for very much. I combed the Districts, killing all those that oppose the Government to feel satisfied in my revenge....You see, son, I feel like I have pushed my vendetta onto you when you came of age."
I looked after him, "I see..."
"Of course, the near perfect Gene Test score didn't help the situation," My father gave a hearty laugh, "But don't worry, my boy. I just received the notice that the Intelligence Division desires you for active duty. They wish you to participate in a trial to see if you are up for the position. Son, if you could do this for me, you would be able to help me avenge my friend's death from the front lines. My friend's and...your mother's."
I stared after him, "Mother was killed in a terrorist attack?!"
My father looked at me with a patronizing look, "Please don't raise your voice at the table. And, sadly, yes. It was the same attack that took my friend..."
"I'll accept!" I suddenly exclaimed, standing with my eyes wide, "I would gladly help you father!"
I blinked, realizing what I'd just said. Why did I care about this that much? It wasn't like I remembered my mother, or cared for this friend that my father had lost. His reason for stealing my childhood was vague at best, and I didn't even really wish to go into the Intelligence Division anyways. I racked my brain for a reason why I would be so eager to help a man that had done nothing but force me to become the perfect killing machine since I was six.
I looked to my father, dressed in casual clothes for the first time in a long while. Taking a razor sharp knife the strongest man in the world took a bite of his breakfast and smiled at me. I smiled back and took a tentative bite of my own.
That's right, I only wanted to get out of this house and away from this man. He only wanted to use me to get his revenge on some long ago enemy that had nothing to do with me. Trained me to be perfect to suit his and the Government's own needs. They wouldn't care if I was to die in some terrorist attack, only irritated that they had lost some asset. I was nothing more than an item to them, to be used and worked as they say fit.
I'll change that, I swear...I'll make it so that the Government will never treat their own like this again...
I silently promised myself this, taking another bite of my breakfast without dropping my smile.
"It's settled then," My father said, his smile never faltering, "Omega."
"Yes, my lord?" The service droid stepped forwards with a tea tray in its grasp.
"Send for the Overseer, inform him that he may send for my son at his convenience." My father said, his tone returning to a stern, commanding edge.
"At once, my lord," Omega said, a small antenna rising out of her right temple. "It has been se--I have a response, my lord. Would you like to hear it?"
"That man was always overbearing at times..." the man laughed, "He probably was hanging over the communications officer the entire morning. Yes, Omega, replay message."
"As you wish, my lord," Omega said, her voice neutral, "'Supreme Commander Michael Stone, I am delighted that your son has accepted my request. His skills and expertise despite his youth will no doubt be well received among his new peers. His trial will consist of an interrogation of a recent patch of Numbers that have committed treason. Almost all of them have broken save for six of them. If your son is able to get these prisoners to talk, he will immediately get the rank of Agent First Class. If he doesn't, it will result in his attaining the rank of Agent. Regardless, he will be the first high school aged operative in our organization to attain either rank. We already have rumors about your son as is. Of course they are all positive rumors, sir. In an case, his shuttle will be at your gate shortly. He need not bring anything, but knowing your lineage, I have no doubts he will come armed at the very least. Thank you, again, Supreme Commander, and good day.'"
"Is that all, Omega?" I asked, looking to the slender frame of the robot in question.
"Yes, Master, that was the message in its entirety," Omega said with a small nod.
"You heard the man, my boy," Father said, catching my attention, "Bringing weapons isn't prohibited, and I doubt you're the type to care about his attire. Every thing that you will need will be provided by the Intelligence Division. Now go, and do our legacy proud, my son."
"Yes, Father," I said with a small bow, rising from the table.
I never knew that that was going to be the last time I'd ever see my father so proud. I never knew that it would be the last time I'd have a father.
The cells that they put us in had electrified bars and bugs everywhere. The sink and toilet that they's left for us was smeared and dirtied, unlikely to have been cleaned in fifty years and probably didn't even work. The stench of motor oil and feces that had been left to fester filled the air, forcing me to breathe through my mouth. The light that we were afforded was constantly indecisive on whether or not it should work, flickering in and out of operation like a horror movie.
They hadn't taken anything from Lilith and I, surprisingly, so we remained in the dark clothes with scarves covering our lower faces from view. Though, they did happen to take the knives that we had in our hands when we were captured, so we were helpless if they started brandishing their automatic rifles.
The cell across from us was a community holding pen, where the majority of the people that we had rescued were enclosed. Guards patrolled its perimeter, weapons out and ready to shoot on sight. There were already five bodies decomposing on the ground from the resistance of the group so far, the rest falling in line soon after the fourth with the last being a final warning. There were mothers that had their children firmly in their fear-stricken grip, fathers shielding them from sight as they trembled. Even the children knew that the situation they were in was bad, clinging to whatever they could that seemed safe.
Surrounding the holding pin was cells meant for pairs, those that were known to be especially dangerous or cunning. Aside from the basic toilet and sink, the only other thing was a slight plateau of concrete that served as the "bed" for the both of us. They threw our food in through the bars with distaste, sometimes spitting on the stale bread or lukewarm water for good measure. Lilith and I sat in the very back corner, holding on to each other and using the others body for warmth and as a makeshift pillow. Memories of the last time the both of us were in cages assaulting us in an unending wave.
Nothing was more comfortable than Lilith's warmth, the only thing that I've had in my existence that has been there when I needed it, even Aiden couldn't compete with what Lilith was able to give me in times of extreme strife. That's not to say that Aiden was useless when I was scared or uncomfortable, it was just that he was second place.
"Can it, you filith!" A guard yelled, slamming a baton into the bars of the community cell, "Unless you want to increase the body count again!"
The group hadn't even said a word for the past ten minutes, but just one too many coughs from the sickening children was enough to set off the guards.
"You really enjoy hearing yourself talk," Aiden's cool voice came from across the community cell, in the shadows of his cell.
"Who said that?!" The guard said, stalking over to Aiden's cell with his pistol drawn, "You better keep your mouth shut or you're next, kid!"
"You can't kill me, you idiot," Aiden responded, the shadows receding as he walked up to the bars of his cell, "The perimeter cells are for prisoners that are meant to be interrogated. What that means, dimwit, is that you would be the one to be killed for insubordination."
The man grit his teeth, "Why I oughta..."
A hand clapped on the guard's shoulder, "C'mon man, they only get in those cells alone if they know their crap. Don't let him win and get inside your head, just let it go."
The guard knocked off his hand, turning towards the guard, "What do you know, newbie? I can do a lot more without killing the kid."
The new guy's back was to us, so Lilith and I couldn't see his face, but his voice was as collected as Aiden's, "We were instructed not to harm this one and his cohorts. Insubordination is counted as treason in our world, and treason against our great nation is worthy of the death penalty. If it came down to it, sir, you know that I wouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger."
The guard's eyes squinted, "You know, that could also be considered insubordination, threatening your superior."
"Yes, but you don't have people in high places with their finger over the 'delete' button on those types of files," The new guy's voice had something in it that resonated with Aiden, something that compelled me to want to see more of him.
The guard swallowed hard, turning towards a smirking Aiden, "You better be lucky that you're so special, brat, but you'll get what's coming to you during your interrogations."
Aiden looked at the guard, an evil glint in his eyes that was borderline predatory, "I'll be the judge of that, Sergeant Jones."
Eyes widening, the guard looked at Aiden, "How did you...?"
Aiden waved, as if saying farewell, "For me to know and you to find out, Sergeant. Now, why don't you go on a break so the smart guards can watch us? At least you'll have prisoners by the end of the night that way."
The new guy had to restrain the guard, "You little...!"
"Calm down, sir, don't let him win," said the new guy.
The guard shrugged off the other, "I'm going to get the Lieutenant."
With that, the guard stormed off with steam practically coming out of his ears. That was our Aiden, alright.
"Why'd you have to go and do that, Number 888?" the new guy said, shaking his head as he turned towards Aiden. I noted that his uniform was jet black with red accents instead of the standard green with black accents of the other guards.
The teenager shrugged, "He was killing my people for breathing, who could blame me?"
"Yeah, and now he's going to make the Division press you even harder now that they have a reason to."
"They couldn't possibly hurt me with what I've been through," Aiden waved off the warning, his overconfident side creeping into view from his calm exterior.
"Then they'll hurt those that came with you, you idiot," The new guard said, shaking his head and staring at the teenager in front of him.
"The same goes for those that came with me, kid," Aiden said, looking at the guard through the corner of his eye, "Us Numbers have a different idea of pain than you pretty boys in the Light District. So don't think that you're idea of torture can hurt us."
"It wouldn't matter if you were the strongest human in the world, they all lose their minds with the Inquisition."
"What's your name, kid?" Aiden said, turning his head back towards the guard, "Something tells me I'll need to know sooner or later."
A sigh, then an intake of breath, "Alexander."
"Too long," Aiden said, scratching his chin, "I'm gonna call you Lex for short. It's Latin for 'law', since you're such an upstanding guy."
Lex shook his head, starting to walk away from the cell to make his rounds again, "Some one who knows what Latin even is shouldn't be slumming it with the Numbers..."
Lilith and I looked at each other, speaking volumes of the mixed feelings that we had gotten from the conversation we just witnessed. Whoever Lex was, he was the first person that we had gotten the same feeling from as Aiden, someone that we thought had no equal. The almost predatory superiority that he spoke with was something that Aiden was a master at. We looked around the area, trying to spot the mysterious guard, but to no avail.
Hours passed after that, hours filled with boredom and the annoying cries of the weak. It was all that Lilith and I could do not to cause a ratchet to get put in a different area than this.
Before we arrived at that point, a guard had stood before the bars of our cell with a ring of keys, "I'm here to bust you two outa here."
Lilith and I looked at each other with childish curiosity, but there was no hope in Lilith's voice as she spoke to the guard, "You use that trick often?"
The guard stared at us, not expecting the response and confirming our suspicions as he frantically whispered, "No, I'm serious!"
I looked at him, my small and childish voice coming out dead and uninterested, "And I assume the guy next to you with a baton over his head is your back up?"
He shot a look over to the guard I had just referenced, "Geez...Everyone falls for that one..."
Lilith and I started to lay back down on our rock bed, Lilith calling towards them with a yawn, "We're bored now..."
"Get up, trash!" The second, formerly hidden, guard banged on the bars of the cell, "Interrogation time!"
We slowly sat up, staring at them with soulless eyes, speaking in unison, "Shut up."
"What did you say?!" A vein on the guard's head seemed it was about to burst with a sudden rush of fury, "If you want a warm up round of torture, I'd be happy to give you it, freaks."
"What could you do?" Lilith said, her voice even and empty.
"What do the rules say?" I said, matching her tone.
"You little...!" The guard said, slamming open the cell door.
As he rushed forwards, his baton raised, our instincts kicked in without any conscious thought. I went left and Lilith went right as we leaped forwards in a burst of speed. I jumped towards the wall, planting a foot on the rough concrete and pushing out. Flying up with the wall-jump, I was eye level with the six foot tall man. As I collided with his neck, starting a choke hold around his thick neck, Lilith impacted just above his pelvic area. His forward momentum destroyed and ours too strong, the man toppled to the ground with the two of us on top of him.
Lilith did a quick pat down of his pockets and found the guard's pocket knife. She tossed it to me and I flipped it open before placing the sharp blade to the old man's throat.
"You can't hurt us," I said, my voice still dead while remaining distinctly childish, "But we can hurt you..."
I pressed the blade just enough to draw blood from the man's neck before pulling the knife away. He exhaled loudly, thinking that it was all over as his friend started to surge towards us.
I tossed the knife over my shoulder, knowing that Lilith would catch it from where she was in the cell's shadows. The knife, flying end-over-end over my shoulder, slammed into the second guard's shoulder. Purposely just a flesh wound with no chance of further damage, it served it's purpose of stopping the charging guard in his tracks before he got too close.
The whole incident lasted more than ten or twenty seconds, but the entire mood of the arrogant guardsmen was completely shattered.
"We have no intention of escaping without our big brother," I said looking at the two of them with a bored expression.
"But that doesn't mean that we can't," Lilith finished the thought.
We both rose from our crouched positions, looking down at the two guards on the ground. The entire cell block was staring at us, the guards catching on and heading our way. I speculated that there was a silent alarm, since we were surrounded by a good five or six guards in the tight space allowed us. Lilith and I looked at each other, then to Aiden. Shaking his head, we confirmed his order with a nod.
We put our hands up slowly, looking around with bored expressions, "Take us you your masters then."
The group of guards beat us to the ground with their batons soon after.
"Alright, newbie," My superior, and trainer, said, "Since you were thought you were better than Jones, you're going to take his spot while he cools down. No objections? Good. Then you'll be needed in Interrogation Room 13 in about...now."
"Yes sir," I responded, turning to leave.
"I know you're the perfect citizen and all, Sir Alexander," The man said, stopping me as I was at the threshold, "But you have to at least act like you have superiors."
"Something that I've always done, sir," I said, leaving right afterwards.
I walked down the hall, the black uniform that I wore making me stand out from the green uniforms of the soldiers that were posted on this level of the prison. When the man that took me here said that I would be getting first hand experience on the front lines, I didn't exactly have this trash heap of corruption in mind. The war-front in Eurasia, or the naval battles for resources in Oceania, would be what I preferred. Something that would help me gain notoriety and a reputation to precede me.
I had to settle with making a name for myself dealing with small time criminals and kids that were running away from Reapers. Hell, I heard that the leaders of a group of them were like twelve years old. I sighed in exasperation at my plight, shoving it away as I dodged a speeding droid racing through the halls with a syringe.
I found myself at the Interrogation wing. The rooms, labelled one through twenty-three, were all unspokenly divided into levels based on the one being interrogated. To put it another way, the higher number of room the prisoner was in, the worse off they would be. So to be in room thirteen, an unlucky number to begin with, wasn't good for one's health.
"Sir, the Inquisition is here." The guard in front of the door said, "Shall I send him in?"
"He's early." An old sounding voice said, then there was a sigh over the mic, "Go ahead. They should be tied up be now."
The guard nodded to the door, "Go ahead, kid."
"Thanks," I said, pushing past him.
I entered through the door, coming to a dimly lit room that had a massive pane of one-way glass with a control panel before it. There were two guards, one with an assault rifle, sitting in the chairs in front of it with shocked expressions aimed at the glass. I looked where they seemed to have their eyes fixed, and was surprised to see three grown men on the ground.
With rope still wrapped around their small wrists, to twin girls stood over the bodies. There was bits of rope around the backs of two chairs, evidence that they had been tied up previously, with a standard issue combat knife in the right girl's hand.
I watched with confusion and curiosity as the two children, no older than twelve or eleven, dragged the unconcious bodies to the wall. They sat them up next to one another, like they would dolls. After they had finished, they continued on to sit in the chairs that they'd been tied to. Using the table that was in front of them, one of it's corners bloodied from an impact with a guard's head, one of them began to lay her head down.
"Huh, interesting," I said, looking to the two guards behind the glass, "If you could open the door for me, guys, that'd be great."
"Uh...sure..." The younger of the two said, pressing a button that both opened the door to the interrogation room and sounded a buzzer to announce my entrance.
I walked into the room, the buzzer alerting the girls to my presence, my hands in my pockets. The one that had laid her head down, a white pair of hair pins in her black hair, looked up but didn't sit up. The other one, her twin, looked at me square in the eye with an almost feral glare. It was like I was hit with her killer intent, like something had stabbed my gut through her will alone. I shrugged the feeling off, thinking it a figment of my imagination, and sat down in the chair opposite the side that the girls sat in.
"Judging from the bodies, I'd have to say that you two don't belong in a minimum security wing like this," I said coolly, lounging with a bored expression.
"Don't play mind games," The one with black hair pins said, "This is a medium security wing. Maximum security is two floors down."
"Why does...everyone think that...we're stupid?" The other twin said with a bored expression.
I blinked, intrigued while hiding my alarm, "I'm meeting all sorts of interesting people today..."
"We know you..." The first said, crossing her arms.
"Sis...you dummy," The other closed her eyes and yawned while she nuzzled her cheek into her bent elbow, "It's Lex...remember?"
"Look at you, smart aleck," The first laughed, shaking her head.
"Lex..." I echoed, then remembered where I'd heard it before, "Wait, you know Number 888?"
The one that had been laying her head down shot up, staring at me with an intense glare, "You mean Aiden."
"'Aiden', huh?" I said, tasting the name, "So then you do know him."
"That's for us to know," She said, laying her head back down with a yawn, "I'm going to...sleep now...Sis. Wake me up when...it happens."
"Sure sure, little sis," The other said, patting her on the head.
"You two seem close," I noted aloud.
"What's it to you, Lex?" She said as she turned towards me, "Trying to calmly find a weak point to exploit once you go bad cop on our butts?"
"You don't let up, do you?" I chuckled, crossing my legs, "I'll give you one thing Miss...?"
"Lilith," The girl said, then jabbed a finger at her twin, "That's Blair.
"Lilith, you and your sister are probably the most interesting things I've ever seen," I said, sitting up and leaning into the table, "After all, you know the layout of the entire prison, took out all your guards and untied yourself within the time it took me to enter the room, and you've seen through every trap I've laid so far."
I looked at the girl's burning eyes. There was a strange beauty there, something that I also saw in the eyes of her twin, an inhuman torrent of killer intent. She was a child, but it seemed that she had had more experience with the real world than the oldest citizen of the Light District ever could. There was a lot to see in those eyes, but I could only catch glimpses. When she looked at her sister was when they could be seen. When she looked at me, or past me to the one-way glass, it was as if she were trying to burn a hole through with her gaze. She was trying to get a read on me as I was getting a read on her.
I felt my heart racing. What was this feeling? Excitement? I couldn't even remember the last time that I had felt anything like this, found anyone that had the potential to stand on the same ground as I did.
When has there ever anyone that got me so worked up?
"Now," I said, taking a breath and looking at her with my own glare to test the waters, "Since you seem to also understand the situation that you are in, you might want to start telling me who you're working for."
Lilith stared at me, studying my face with a strange expression that I didn't think I would see: curiosity. I was expecting her to be at least off-put, or pressured in the least. She was a child, after all. But instead of that, she was studying my features and looking through me a long distance away as she compared me to something in her mind. What was she trying to figure out?
"We were right...and wrong..." Lilith said, slumping into her chair, almost defeated.
"Care to explain?" I inquired, my own curiosity peaked for the moment.
"You won't care anyways, pretender," Lilith said, shaking her head, tapping the back of her twin twice to awaken her from her light sleep, "You're like him, that's for sure. You have all the ability he started with, and the arrogance to boot. But one thing that he has that you don't is he's actually had to work for his power. He wasn't born with it. Aiden became what he is because of what he went through. You're still...unrefined."
Then, without warning, Lilith rocked forwards in her chair and ripped the table from the ground. It went airborne, its face aimed right at me. Just before the twin girls were lost from sight behind the metal piece, I could just see them extending in perfect sync for a charge towards the table.
Just as I heard their bodies slam into the table to push it through the air towards me, I jumped to the side. In a fighting stance instinctively, I realized their true objective. With me out of the way, they were clear to slam their metal chairs into the massive pane of glass. I charged forwards, extending my reach so I could grab onto the chairs before they could throw them. Only Blair was still where I saw the two of them, and I didn't have time to stop. If they had the strength to flip the large metal table without hesitating, I didn't want to take my chances with what they could do to that window.
"I don't think so, little girl," I said almost patronizingly.
"Then think again," Blair giggled, almost creepily, "Silly Lex...You forgot to cover all your bases again..."
I cocked an eyebrow, then felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. Eyes widening, I looked over to see that Lilith had thrown the handle heavy combat knife from one of the bodies on the wall into my shoulder. Surprised that they knew how to handle throwing a knife, and that they were that accurate to purposely only give me a flesh wound, I took the knife gingerly out of my shoulder.
Lilith looked at me with a smirk, "Lesson One: always know your opponent before you even fight them."
"So you're going to lecture me now?" I asked, getting more and more annoyed with the two of them.
Blair made a tsk tsk sound and looked up at me, "You need to know how to win, Lex, not how to fight. That's the difference between the three of us and you. Once you figure out how you win, Lex, is when we'll accept you."
"What the heck are you talking about?" I said, unable to understand what they were trying to get at.
"And three..." Lilith started to say.
"One." The said in unison, uncannily heralding the arrival of a group of six guards with rifles raised.
"Freeze!" Their leader called.
"What the hell are you idiots doing here?" I growled, "I'm in the middle of working!"
"The emergancy alarm was sounded," One explained, "If it wasn't you, then..."
"Guilty as charged," Lilith said, stepping to the side to reveal the hidden panic button that she had found and pressed.
Why the hell would they want to pull the alarm on themselves, when they should have had a perfectly good chance to run away, even escape?
Of course. It was all a part of their plan, I realized, they wanted to get some information on me. They had to know that the protocol for the prisoners after an emergency call was to return them back to their cells until a punishment could be chosen through viewing the camera footage. Not to mention that Aiden, the one that these two seemed to follow, was back in that same area. I wondered what their end game could possibly be, dumbfounded that I couldn't figure it out as fast as I had solved all of my previous problems.
What was it about them that put me off so much? Why did I want to get all the information I could out of them before someone else got to them?
One thing that gave me the chills was the way that the two of them were staring at me. Even as they were being dragged and bound, they kept their eyes on me the entire time.
"Aiden sure was right to get all the information that we could on this place," I said, stretching out on the 'bed' in our cell.
"Almost too right, I'd say," Lilith sighed, sitting down at the foot of the bed. "I mean, Lex is just who we need to complete his plan."
"'Another me'," I said, quoting the answer to the question we'd asked him a while ago, of who he needed, "I didn't think it was possible...You think that he'll come around?"
"Did you see the look on his face?" Lilith said, laughing, "Aiden will have that guy eating out of his palm by the end of this week."
I sighed, closing my eye as I readjusted my pillow, which was made up of my folded black jacket, "You're right though, Sis. I have no idea how Aiden knew about Lex...You think he's a clairvoyant or something?"
Lilith shrugged, "I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he was. But we need to help him get Lex on our side. That's what he wants us to do."
"Yeah," I said, nodding, "We'll have to undo a whole lifetime of brainwashing to do it. If he's anything like Aiden, he'll be tossing and turning in his bed thinking of a way to beat us."
"We'll have to think of a plan to beat that plan," Lilith exhaled, resting her chin in her hand. "We'll need to figure out a place to meet Aiden when the show starts...Before they transfer us to some higher prison security level."
"Right," I said, "What about Gray, Mason and Z? Weren't they in the back of the group?"
"Somewhere around there," Lilith nodded, her voice distant as she formulated a plan, "They got away, so they'll be manning the getaway car."
"But..." I started, but my ears perked up at the sound of combat boots approaching.
"Get up, wenches!" The same old guard that had a beef with Aiden stood before the cell, "Moving time!"
We stared at him with empty expressions, mostly out of annoyance for his interrupting our planning, while Lilith spoke, "Moving time?"
"When did I say that you could talk back to me, Number?" The guard snapped, glaring at us like we were merely cattle, "When I say move, you move!"
"Be nice if we knew where..." I said, making it sound as though I were muttering under my breath, but loud enough to be heard by the old man.
"...You two really do have a death wish," We heard a familiar voice from just beside the cell door.
We, who had super-human senses through what we had gone through, still hadn't heard Lex approach the cell. Lilith and I would have known if he was there even if he had matched step with the rest of the guards. We looked at each other, surprised and cautious. Lex appeared from where we heard him, his arms crossed over his chest.
It must have appeared that Lex scared us, since we both lost our bored facade with the surprise arrival of our current candidate, because the old guard's temper flared with anger, "Open cell number 823!"
"Are you sure you want to do that?" I asked, cocking my head, "The last time our cell was opened, the guards got a nasty taste of reality."
The old guard grinned, "Then it's your turn to get a taste of your own medicine..."
Suddenly, as if on que, the three or so guards that had tagged along with the old man drew their tasers and trained them on Lilith and I.
Eyes widening, we both leaped into action on instinct without realizing it. I went high, Lilith went low, trying to vacate the space that we had occupied on our rock bed. Hearts racing, we felt confident that the guards wouldn't know where or who to shoot with the two of us moving so fast and in opposite directions. The aim was so that we would have enough time in between the interval of when their normal reflexes would catch up with our movements to get too close for them to have any degree of accuracy. Something that was drilled into our minds since before we could remember.
Without warning, I felt a small pair of pin-pricks on my stomach. My mind racing with realization, the corresponding voltage of the taser darts ravaged my small frame. As I was in the middle of flying through the air in preparation for a wall jump, my face slammed into the rough concrete wall of the cell. My head was the least of my worries, as I was now convulsing involuntarily next to Lilith. My twin shared the same fate, but with two sets of darts embedded into her arm and stomach.
The voltage subsided, leaving Lilith and I breathing heavily with our drooling mouths open.
Terror racked my body and my mind, the pain all but forgotten. Memories of horrors that I tried to let die in silence returned with a vengeance. The images of scientists' electrocuting me when I failed, or if I was being difficult, the terror that I felt when I was no older than six resurfacing. The reprimanding words that those wearing lab coats said, patronizing like a parent but as harsh as a drill instructor. Thoughts that I needed to obey whoever was shocking me, just so that they would make it all stop flooded my mind. The overwhelming urge to do whatever it took to make it all just go away.
Lilith...Where are you? I...I need you to make it all go away...
I laid on the ground in a fetal position with my breaths shallow and quick, rocking from side to side. Lilith, shaking, reached out with her trembling hand out to me with tears in her eyes.
I reached out with all that I could, equally terrified.
"Not so fast, girlies," The old guard said with a sneer, kicking me away from my sister hard, "I have another surprise for you two. The place you're moving to is solitary confinement!"
But I could no longer hear his rough voice. The edges of my vision blurring as I tried to find something to focus on. My gaze fell on the sight of Lex, standing at the edge of the cell with a taser. The wires that came from the non-lethal weapon lead directly to the metal tacks that were embedded into my flesh.
Just as my vision cut out, I could just see the faintest hint of a smile on his usually placid and bored expression. The smile of a shark, a sinister grin that would stay in my mind long after this night was over.
The same grin that Aiden had when I first met him.