Everything was fuzzy, voices around me muffled by the ring in my ears. My head was throbbing in time with my heartbeat. The sharp metal taste of blood strong on my tongue. Why was there blood in my mouth? There were no cuts, Damian could not have hurt me, he was strict, not cruel...
Moaning, I slowly opened my eyes while bringing my hand up to block out the blinding ceiling lights. Something brushed against my cheek making me pull my hand back. A needle was stuck to the back of my hand, its tube looping up to a fluid-filled bag.
“What happened...?” The rest of the room slowly focused in. The walls and door a creamy white seemed to form the room into a cubicle. Sitting up slightly, sharp pain lacerated my back, little glass shard fingers dragging down my muscles. Where was I? What happened to Damian?
Only when I leaned my head down did I catch an idea of where I was. Under the grey blanket thrown over me, was camo peeking out. Lifting up the blanket, my gut clenched. My pants were no longer my pyjama bottoms but military issued. My skin crawled at the thought of someone touching me while I was unconscious.
“You’re awake.” I snapped back up to see a woman in the doorway. Her hair was hidden under a military cap, dark eyes held behind red glasses. In her hands was a clipboard most likely with my patient records. Nodding, I sat up fully before inching back, the pillow crumpling between me and the wall.
“You can relax, Hunter. You are safe here,” the woman said with a small smile on her lips. She walked into the room and pressed a black button on the wall. The closer she came to the bed, the more I pressed myself against the wall. This situation was making the bile at the back of my throat rise, my body nervously twitching with each step she took. Strangers, in the last six months had always brought on this type of reaction. It was muscle memory now, embedded between the pain and fear.
“Don’t come closer,” I growled, gripping fistfuls of the sheets under me. The woman stopped at the end of the bed, brow furrowing.
“I’m not here to hurt you, Hunter. I have seen your file and know how your previous situation was but here, you can trust us.” She held up her left hand in a calming gesture. “My name’s Amy.”
“Why am I here?” My eyes narrowed, anger replacing the fear, a familiar heat blossoming within my chest and tickling my skin. Pins and needles spread through my palms as the light smell of gasoline tackled my sense of smell. The woman couldn’t smell it yet though.
“This base is a safe haven for your kind. We don’t have a lot of you, only the ones we could find or who came to us,” Amy replied, letting her hands come together in front of her, holding the clipboard on its side.
“How did you find me?”
“Your owner got a bit too loud about his new powered possession. We had a soldier follow him back to the mansion, a week later and here you are.”
“What do you want to do with me?”
Amy was silent on that, choosing to think over her words slowly before she obviously came up short. With a long sigh, she pursed her lips.
“We want you to join our team of Gifted, to make you into a soldier,” She finally stated, her knuckles turning white. “Your file makes you very special to us and your team, you know that?”
My lips were sealed, vision now settled in my lap. Soldier. From slave to a soldier, how fucking wonderful!
“No, I don’t.” Setting my jaw, I glared back at her. “I guess my owner forgot to mention it when he first brought me home. What makes me so damn special?”
“You are the only Gifted to have two more powers than the average!” Amy smiled as if that meant anything to me. The smell of gasoline was becoming pungent, the tickle of heat under my skin becoming persistent.
“Are you okay?” Amy inched closer. As she did, I bared my teeth, waiting for her to smell the gasoline. When it did hit her, the smile on her lips vanished and she jerked back until her back hit the wall where the button was.
“I am not going to be one of your mindless drones fighting for something I don’t even believe in,” I sneered, ripping the IV needle out of my hand before storming past her on unsteady legs.
The place they had stuck me, a somewhat empty hospital wing, was a maze of light grey walls and panicked nurses trailed by soldiers with disgust written clear on their faces. The scent of the growing gasoline was beginning to make me feel nauseous. I needed fresh air or I was going to throw up or my body would burst into flames.
“Stop right there!” A girl’s voice shouted, an invisible rope pulling around my waist. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw a head of pink hair before the face that scrunched up in concentration and hands held up in the air.
“Why don’t you try and stop me?” I guess not the smartest of things to say because as soon as the words left my mouth, my bare feet left the tiled floor and I tilted forward before crashing down headfirst onto the floor. Stupid me for challenging a telekinetic.
“So, this is the Hunter? He doesn’t even look like much,” this coming from a guy most likely the same age as me. I growled, pulling on the leather cuffs holding me to the bed. They didn’t give. Sighing through my teeth, I studied him. Tall, lean and muscled, dark hair cut into a longish military cut. A powered soldier, a puppet. The only thing about his appearance that did bug me was his eyes. Forest-green mixed with clear distrust and hate, not what a puppet would have.
“We know he is a pyrokinetic so we need you to stick close to him until he gets it under control, okay Echo?” Amy cautioned, glancing at the restraints. “I’ll be informing Tango on his behaviour. Goodluck.”
“Wonderful,” Echo spat as Amy left, falling into the chair next to my bed, his legs stretched out in front of him. I rattled on the cuffs again before lying down, not caring how my skin crawled at having a stranger so close.
“Don’t... Don’t come closer,” I mumbled, feeling the fight leaving me. “Just, please stay where you are.”
“Was not planning on it,” he replied, no venom in his voice. “You have a phobia or something against people?”
“Something like that. Can you take these things off?” I lifted my hands up over my stomach, the chains causing the leather to bite into my skin.
“No can do.”
The conversation was short and left us in silence. Neither of us attempting to make a move to speak. I didn’t mind, it meant there was time for me to cool off, think a little harder about my situation.
“I read your file, saw that you were a slave under Damian Skalk’s rule. A Gifted owned by another Gifted,” Echo began, voice gentle but not stopping the tension in my muscles to form.
“Why are you bringing it up?” Gritting my teeth, I waited for him to mock me about the low status I had been labelled with. The old electric burns seemed to ignite again around my neck.
“I’m not gonna pretend to understand what you went through with him but here, you’re surrounded by people who come from messed up backgrounds too. These last six months have fucked us all over,” He explained, clasping his hands in his lap and resting his head back. “Tango was the one who started our section in this base. Convinced the head that he would be doing good.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked, sitting back up to glare at him. “Were you forced to have sex with someone you didn’t like? To have your body betray you in the worst way possible?”
Echo’s left eye twitched before he turned his gaze on me. His knuckles were white, a tic forming in his jaw until it vanished with whatever argument he was trying to bring up.
“No, I didn’t think so,” I sneered, yanking on my restraints again and again until Amy returned to take me to my medical test.