Voices. That's the first thing I was able to even half focus on. I felt like I was stuck in grey cotton. You know the kind they make those soft little balls out of? It felt like I was swimming in it, and overhead I could faintly hear voices.
I couldn't make out what they were saying. One voice sounded angry, it was louder than the others. As my consciousness slowly began drifting to the surface, the voices became clearer, eventually sharpening enough that I could make out actual words.
"…many times have I told you not to drag people here? It's damn near kidnapping!" An angry male voice shouted.
"Oh it wasn't near. This time it was," this voice was amused. "But really we need her. It's rare to find someone like her untrained and unwatched. It was like an early Christmas present."
A groan cut the angry man off. The groan, I realized after a second, came from me. A moment later it was like my mind had been snapped back into place and I could again feel my body. Fighting the heaviness, I opened my eyes and struggled up into a sitting position.
The room I was in wasn't particularly large. The walls were made of some kind of metal sheeting while the floor looked to be made of poured concrete. A battered wooden table sat in the middle of the floor surrounded by several mismatched chairs. I was lying on a metal cot, covered in a scratchy wool blanket. In front of me were four people. A tall man with blond hair was looking guiltily at me, while a shorter dark eyed girl eyed me with some interest. I could see the outline of another girl behind the tall man but what grabbed my attention was the fourth person standing there. Pierce.
"You son of a bitch!" I cried, my anger flaring up and burning through any remaining traces of heaviness. "You drugged me!"
"I needed you here," he said with a shrug, a little smiling playing at the edges of his lips.
"I'm going to kill you," I hissed, eyes narrowing into a glare. I felt my face flush with anger, feeling the emotion flood my veins with warmth.
"Gwen, damp her," Pierce said, taking half a step back and turning to look at the woman still partially hidden from my view.
I heard a low muttered comment that was too quiet for me to make out words before the woman came into view. She was plump and very pretty, her red hair a mass of gentle waves. "I'm quite sure you deserve whatever she does to you."
"Probably. But she's untrained and would probably actually kill me. And I know you would all fall to pieces without me around."
The black-haired girl who sat on the edge of the table snorted. "Yeah right. I'll admit you're good at what you do but you're replaceable."
"Dear Nadia, if you only knew what it is I really do," Pierce said, smirking.
I glared harder at him though it felt as if part of my anger had cooled somehow. "Where the fuck am I?"
"Why, Sky City of course." The smirk on Pierce's face made my hand itch to slap it off.
"Pierce, shut up! In fact, get out. You've done enough damage for today," the other man said, glaring at my kidnapper.
Shrugging unconcernedly, Pierce walked out whistling, hands jammed into his pockets.
"I'll go keep an eye on him and Trent since Gwen had better stay here," dark eyed girl, Nadia, said.
The man nodded. "Thanks," he said before turning back to me. I glared at him for good measure, which made him sigh. He reached back and dragged chair over, dropping into it and causing the chair to creak ominously. "I'm really sorry about all of this. Pierce…well we try to keep him line as best we can but when we're not around…"
"He kidnaps people!" I snapped, my anger still humming through my veins.
He ran his fingers through his hair, not meeting my gaze. "Not exactly. You're the first person I think he's truly brought in against their will. Normally he just drags people in here and then talks them into joining."
"Who are you people?"
"Ah. My name's Warren. Gwen's the girl behind me. The other girl is Nadia, and well…you know Pierce."
"I didn't mean your names. I want to know why I was drugged and brought here!"
Warren winced. "Pierce normally doesn't do that. But you're…sort of special. It's rare to come across an untracked pyro. And Pierce says you're untrained to boot. "
"I am not obsessed with fire!"
"No, no! Not a pyromaniac. When we say pyro we mean pyroteletic. You know, someone who can set things on fire with their mind."
"What," I said, my voice flat in disbelief.
Warren finally looked at me, his face tight and his brow furrowed. "You…you didn't know?"
"It's not that I didn't know. It's that I can't set things on fire with mind! No one can! Are you all nuts?" I shouted as I leapt to my feet.
"Gwen," Warren said, nervously flicking his eyes towards the girl.
"Still holding. I'll let you know if things get dangerous."
He looked back at me, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "Please calm down. And I'm sorry. Normally when we get the untrained in here they at least have an idea. Some even know and come to us for training. I'd have thought…" He trailed off for a moment then shook his head. "Never mind. Look, we're all plusses here so you're not alone."
"Plusses? You mean the rumour of those with extra…abilities? It's just one of those crazy conspiracy theories like the Atlantis cover-up or the idea that the government had President Blanchard assassinated," I replied, rolling my eyes.
"It's not a conspiracy theory. We're all plusses here. I'm an emote and Gwen's a damper."
"A what and a what?"
"Well an emote's someone who can send their emotions to others. I can also sense emotions but it's simpler just to say I'm an emote. A damper is a person who can shut down others' powers. They're the second rarest of the plusses which is why we're lucky to have Gwen," Warren said, turning and flashing a smile in the redhead's direction before swinging back around to face me.
I crossed my arms over my chest and regarded him sternly. "You're all psychotic."
Warren sighed, running his hand through his blonde hair again before standing. "C'mon then. Nadia's probably the best one to give you a demonstration."
I hesitated for a moment, not wanting to go along with anything these people said warring with the wanting to see more of the place so I could plan my escape. The latter feeling won out and I reluctantly followed Warren and Gwen out.
The rest of the building appeared to be made of the same materials as the room I'd just exited. If I'd had to guess, I'd have said the place was an old warehouse. The metal sheeting walls continued up to where it met a roof of the same stuff. There were some gaps up near the ceiling through which pigeons fluttered in and out. The ground out here was also concrete and covered in dust and more mismatched furniture.
Leaning against the back of one of the worn and partially shredded couches was Pierce. He watched us approach, grinning. Beside him, Nadia perched on one of the armrests, her eyes flicking between us and the two men. A few feet away, laying over the arms of cracked leather armchair was a boy I hadn't seen before. His grey eyes crinkled as his lips curved upwards from where he lay, his head tilted back so the world must have looked upside down to him.
"What's the verdict?" Nadia asked.
Warren shrugged. The other man sat up and twisted around to look at us. "She'll stay."
Pierce chuckled. "Excellent."
A little hiss of anger slipped from between my lips. "I'm not staying. You're all crazy!"
Warren seemed to sigh a lot. "Did you really have to say that Trent?"
The man shrugged. "It's true enough. But Nadia will have to demonstrate first or she'll continue to think we're all several cards short of a full deck."
Nadia stood and stretched her arms over her head. "Fine. Gwen you'll have to lay off the damping cause I don't feel like trying to punch through today."
Gwen rolled her eyes. "I was waiting until you were ready. The last thing we need is to have to deal with a fire in this rat-hole."
"Well I'm ready now."
"Go ahead," Gwen said, flapping on hand at the other woman.
Nadia tilted her head to the right then to the left, stretching her neck before she turned to look at me. She eyed me for a moment then held her index finger flat out. She quirked it upwards and I could feel my coat rising. I gasped and clutched at it. Nadia grinned.
Flicking her other finger upwards, I watched the gloves in my pocket come flying out. They circled my head then danced in a few lazy figure eights before moving to drift around Nadia.
I stared, my mouth sagging slightly. I blinked a few times, put my hand in my pocket to make sure my gloves were gone, then used my free hand to pinch my arm. The scene before me remained the same. "What?" I whispered.
Pierce chuckled. "Nadia's our telekinetic. Now why don't you sit down and we can discuss your training."
My legs seemed to fold themselves and a moment later I found myself sitting on the ground.