This chapter is a bit long, finally introduces some other hero-esque main characters. Once again, reiterating, old writing. I think some of the cringe-worthiness came from my desire to explain everything. Make sure I communicated to the reader that as much as I could I was making the world internally consistent. Still something I try to do, perhaps too much, but I think I hide it better now a days.
Luke woke up once again, the fading song familiar after so long in confinement. The song spoke of cloying grief and defiant hope, of seeing the situation as it was but being determined to survive and escape. He probably would have broken long ago without it, the unchanging pattern and white washed walls. He had taken to blasting scorch marks into the wall for every time he woke up. Not that it gave him any real sense of time, time seemed almost irrelevant now. He could have been locked for years for all he knew or cared. He had no day or night, just the endless twilight of drained light bulbs, flickering on the edge of death. That was his fault in a way though, he was unconsciously draining them to replace the electrical stores he was using to learn his powers. The tasers had given him an immense store of energy, but practicing controlling and directing that energy had been…difficult. If he was in here much longer those bulbs would probably die out completely. Luke wondered briefly if he could extend their life span, but decided he would probably only end up blowing them up. He wanted to keep his light for as long as possible, so tinkering with the lights was out of the question. He knew he was going to spend this day (funny how people always try and divide up time to give it meaning) like all the others: exercising, meditating, testing his powers, and sleeping. He hadn’t figured out where the song was coming from or what that strange feeling that something was…sleeping inside of him. He had learned a great deal about his abnormal powers though; he could direct it into lightning and improve his physical and mental abilities. Of course that had taken time to learn, time, agonizing headaches, and severe muscle pain as he over charged his body. The most useful thing he had found was that his body seemed to be producing more and more electricity naturally, or it was becoming more efficient with using the same amount. If he hadn’t been preparing to escape he might not drain the bulbs and instead let his body charge naturally. Unfortunately he needed to master these powers quickly if he planned on escaping and finding Amelia. Thoughts of his twin sister always brought up mixed feeling and unanswered questions. Where was she? How was such an active person holding up in these monotonous conditions? Had she gotten powers like he had? Had they become a danger to her? So far Luke had been mostly fine, but he was holding an immense amount of power. Common sense said something was going to go wrong sooner or later, probably when he could least afford it. Escape was not an option; the only door was a solid slab of steel with an insulated keypad, leaving Luke no way to break out. On top of that, the quarantine officers made sure to gas the room before coming opening the door. Everything seemed airtight so Luke was doing the only thing he could, biding his time till they made a mistake. The hiss of gas from invisible vents interrupted Luke’s ruminating, soon his head was spinning and his limbs felt like they belonged to a newborn.
He collapsed to the floor retching from the horrid, smoky gas as he hovered between consciousness and dreams. This time though something new happed, instead of a needle the guards clasped a heavy bracelet around his wrist and dragged him from his cell.
“So… What is this, thing? The newest fashion craze?” Luke asked as he caught his breath. “I’m sure you meant well, but I prefer a deep blue to the dull, steel gray. I find it accents my eyes better.”
“We couldn’t care less about your taste” said the guy on Luke’s left as he removed his mask. “That fancy little toy is some sort of high-powered magnetic generator. The geeks upstairs say it will disrupt the electromagnetic currents or some-such. All I know is that it means you won’t be frying us anytime soon.“ They’ll make a mistake sometime he swore as he studied his captors. The first thing he noticed was their military haircuts and scarred faces; they were hard, violent men. The second thing Luke noticed was a faint halo of light surrounding them, but he dismissed it as the aftereffects of the gas. They were passing other rooms, some occupied, other empty, and most trashed. Luke didn’t know which made him angrier; the burns, slashes and dents left from failed escapes or the defeated, expressionless faces of the other kids still in confinement.
“So what does the government want from us? Super-soldiers? Secret Weapons?” Luke asked icily.
“It doesn’t matter what they might have wanted, you belong to us now”
“Not for Mr. Gale. A few greased palms, a little blackmail and to the rest of the world everyone of you died, victims of a mysterious incident that the government is thoroughly investigating. No one is coming to rescue you; no one in the world will know what happened to you.”
“You’re monsters!” Luke screamed all the terror, pain and anger he had pushed away rising up, roaring through his mind like the electricity he now held inside his body. It carried something else up from the depths of his mind as well; a feral intelligence screaming for the death of these enemies, these who had callously destroyed his life. Luke felt his power surge forth, lending strength to his limbs and speed to his thoughts. I’ll fry them both! Luke thought savagely. With lightning flashing in his eyes Luke threw his power out, felt it scream through his veins eager to destroy- and crash into a wall. His mind reeled from the backlash; Luke felt the power seething inside of him, a storm roaring for release. For the first time the lighting caused him pain as he forced the storm down and with it the wild consciousness that had appeared in his mind. The guards had continued carrying him, unaware of how close they had come to dying. Luke was almost thankful for the generator around his wrist. He didn’t want this power to turn him into a monster, a killer.
That’s strange, he thought as he glanced at the soldiers the glow is brighter. Must have something to do with how my power is reacting to the generator. Maybe some sort of feedback that allows me to see electrical currents? I wonder… Luke shook himself from his musings, he couldn’t allow himself to distracted yet. They exited the staircase, When did we get on a staircase?, and continued down another featureless hallway. Soon they were joined by two other guards carrying… nothing? No, Luke could see an electrical field in the shape of a person.
“What do you have there?” one of Luke’s guards asked.
“A would-be Invisible Woman.” One of the other guards answered with a harsh laugh. “Didn’t know we came equipped with infrared goggles though.” He drawled on “Lost all her fight pretty quick too. She’s as harmless as a kitten now” he finished giving her a rough shake. Luke heard her pained gasp and his anger rose once more. He almost started straining against his captor’s grip, but he caught himself before he could do anything stupid. There wasn’t anything he could do to help her just yet, probably would just get both of them in deeper trouble, but once he had the opportunity these people would pay. The invisible girl’s guards fell in behind Luke’s as they continued down the stone-gray hallway. After a while, Luke could see the exit, a blinding rectangle of light at the end of the hall. Without another word, the guards shoved Luke and his fellow captive into the light. It seared Luke’s eyes, he had obviously spent too long in the twilight of his cell, but it warmed his skin and the breeze…amazing. As his eyes adjusted Luke saw a lot of other kids milling around in the courtyard; they had to all be terrified, but the experience of being outside again lent an almost merry feeling to the air. It could almost be the last day of school Luke thought All we need are fewer guards trying to look like they aren’t scared he continued catching sight of the guards stationed along the walls. Even though they were armed, trained soldiers Luke could see they were scared of the crowd in front of them. No wonder since it seemed most of the kids hadn’t been blocked as he had. Some were even showing off their new abilities, which was a good idea whether they knew it or not. They were making the guards nervous and keep themselves from panicking; it would help later when they tried to escape. Quiet sobbing from the ground reminded Luke of some more immediate problems. He cast about with his newly improved vision looking for the “aura” without a body. It didn’t take long to locate her, lying on the ground near the doorway.
“Hey, don’t worry.” Luke said reaching down to help her up. His hand found soft flesh and he grasped her gently. Luke heard her gasp as he continued, “Things will def-“ SMACK! Luke reeled backwards as the invisible slap took him across his face. The girl faded back into visibility as she stood up, her arms protectively covering her breasts. She was wearing a baggy gray sweater and faded jeans, Luke thought he should know who she was, but couldn’t quite place her. He had time to notice her long, brown hair and pale skin, flushed red with either anger or embarrassment, before she started yelling. (It was probably anger).
“How dare you take advantage of a helpless girl like that, you insensitive, lecherous, pig!” she screamed her volume climbing with each word.
“I-I didn’t real-realize I was t-t-touching you… like that.” Luke stammered turning maroon with embarrassment.
“Yeah right!” she yelled sarcastically “And how would you not know? Huh? Explain that!”
“You were invisible, remember?” Luke said still blushing furiously.
“Oh” she responded turning even redder. “I’m so, so sorry; I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just… I forgot and you were touching me and…” the girl began fading out again.
“It’s perfectly fine. I understand.” Luke said quickly, laying his hand on her shoulder. Her eyes were a pretty hazel; actually, they were beautiful.
“Really?” she asked doubtfully, hovering in a barely visible form.
“Yes, milady.” Luke intoned formally, an impish grin spreading across his face. “If you will permit it I shall gladly atone for my transgression by protecting your delicate form from any other violations.” He finished with an overly extravagant bow. A quick glance at the girl showed that she was almost crying with the effort of not laughing. Time for the finale he thought wickedly. “Of course, if me and my knavish ways insult your fine senses. I shall leave this place and never burden you with my presence again.” Luke finished taking her hand and falling to one knee. Like a crumbling dam, her anger and embarrassment gave way to laughter. Her laugh was really pretty to, light and flowing.
“Alright” she gasped still giggling “Apology accepted.” She came back into full view. “I never knew you had such a dramatic flair Luke.”
“You know my name?” Luke asked taken aback “I thought this was the first time we had met”
“I’m in a few of your classes at school. All of them actually” she corrected with a shy smile.
“Oh, well of course I recognize you… now. You’re, you’re… I’m sorry what was your name again?” Luke asked dejectedly searching his brain furiously. One month of school was nowhere near enough to memorize names.
“It’s Dawn.” She said quietly
“Dawn? Dawn? Oh yeah! Dawn Smith, right? I remember you now, the really quiet girl. Uh… is something wrong?” Luke asked. Dawn was staring at him, her eyes distant and dreamy.
“N-N-No,“she stammered her face turning a deeper shade of maroon than before “it-it’s just yo-your, your, your… your eyes!” she said quickly Then, looking mortified, she blinked out of sight and ran off into the crowd.
“What was that about?” Luke wondered aloud.
“You really are as clueless as they say aren’t you?” a voice from behind commented. Luke turned and saw they guy who had protected Amelia that night on the hill. In the daylight, Luke could see his strong facial features and long, black hair falling to the base of his neck. He seemed tough and dependable, the kind of guy that saved the damsel in distress. Which he did Luke thought with a wry grin.
“Let me guess,” Luke said still grinning “Someone else from school who I’ve forgotten.”
“Pretty much” he said easily “You didn’t pay much attention did you?”
“It wasn’t like that,” Luke said defensively “I was just so busy with school work; there wasn’t room for anything else in my head.”
“Fair enough.” The mysterious boy said with a laugh “My names Robert, Robert Jones. It’s nice to meet you again, but…” a gleam came to Robert’s eye. “Where’s Amelia? I bet she’s really boiling over the fact that I saved her.”
“I haven’t seen her yet,” Luke sighed scanning the crowd “I hope she’s okay.”
“She’ll be fine,“ Robert said matter-of-factly “She can handle herself almost as well as I can.”
“Says the guy her saved her” Luke said dryly.
“She was outnumbered and tired“ he said smoothly ”Five less guys and she would have been fine… But don’t tell her I said that, okay.”
“Fair enough,” Luke said laughing “Besides she would have been fine with only two less guys” Wow Luke thought as he continued searching for his sister I’ve been all over the place recently, I’ve never been this emotional before. It’s like I’m a completely different person. Luke felt a smile tug at his face again Then again with the whole lighting thing I guess I am a different person. “By the way, what did you mean by me being completely clueless?”
“That’s something I’m going to let you figure out for yourself.” Robert said mischievously, then his face turned grim. “So what do you think this is all about?” he gestured to the crowd around them. Actually, now that he thought about it Luke was surprised that there wasn’t any fighting, not even any hostile glares.
“Now that you mention it, it does seem strange that no one is fighting, considering how brutal it got up on the hill.”
“That’s nothing new.” Robert spat, acid dripping from his voice. “Most of the guy’s you were fighting weren’t Reapers; they’re just too scared of Jack to anything but follow him around like lapdogs. He made it clear a while back that I you weren’t with him you were against him, no middle ground. I’m surprised they left you alone while you were at school.”
“Yeah, that is odd.” Luke said suspiciously “So what did you mean?”
“Why are we all gathered out here, do you think they’re releasing us?”
“Not likely, probably just a general announcement to give us hope and quell any unrest. They’re being extra cautious because of these powers.”
“Yeah, that.” Robert said looking at his hands and shivering. Luke noticed for the first time that his hands were heavily wrapped in gauze.
“What happened?” Luke asked
“My power comes through drawing symbols.” He explained his voice quiet “I had nothing to write on or with, so I started biting my fingers and drawing with my own blood.”
“Why?” Luke asked unsettled by the thought of writing with your own blood. “Why go that far?”
“I couldn’t stand it” he said a haunted look creeping into his eyes “They were burning inside my head; the pain, so much pain, I felt as if my skull was trying to contain the sun.”
“So the gauze was to keep you from hurting yourself.” Luke said sympathetically trying to imagine the torture Robert had been through. Robert gave a harsh, sarcastic laugh.
“Hardly! They came in afterwards and the seal started glowing. Then, poof! they disappeared and so did my drawing.”
“Were they dead?”
“No, later I heard they had appeared in my house. Miles away in an instant, so the next day they brought a bucket of water to smear it.”
“I thought you said it had vanished.”
“Yeah, but I had already drawn another one. I couldn’t stop; it was like I had lost all control over myself. All that mattered was drawing these seals no matter what the cost.”
“So what happened? When they brought the bucket I mean.” Robert laughed again, a more natural laugh Luke was grateful to note.
“They tried to toss the water in, but it hit a barrier and splashed all over them instead.”
“So how did they get those on you?” Luke said impressed with the range of Robert’s ability. He had foiled these guys twice and Luke and just been knocked out every time.
“Seems they had dealt with these barriers before, they grabbed a few sledgehammers and started pounding on it. Took them over an hour to break in, but they just rotated people out when they got tired. Once they were in on went the gauze. I got one lucky break though; it seems that those two were enough to suppress the…urge.” Robert shook himself, as though to tear away from the cobwebs of the past. “So what about you?”
“I control electricity, but they just kept gassing the room to knock me out. Now they decided to slap this super magnet on my wrist.”
“I wonder why they didn’t negate everyone’s abilities. I mean we’re the “dangerous” ones but why risk it.”
“What are they risking?” Luke asked bitterly” Dawn can still turn invisible, but one soldier with infrared can easily track her down and deal with her. On top of that, none of us has any idea where we are, so escape is unlikely at best.”