Chapter Six

I woke up to the sound of a crackling fire and loud harsh screams. I heard the sound of my own head throbbing I grabbed my head in panic. The burning pain seemed to claw at my eyes as I clenched them close. I exhale feeling a slight relief of the awful pressure, my whole body relaxed under the bed. Parker's eyes were embedded into my brain like a swollen evil shadow in the corner of my mind.

I wasn't made for such interactions with humans, so I never thought about being attacked sexually, but the idea of it happening is more terrifying than a gun pointed at my head. I can't imagine being built to do such things with humans it feels so degrading and wrong!

Thinking back on it I remember the last bionic with that sort of job was thrown away, poor Aria. The thought provoked sad and still very alive memories, my hands tightened around my thighs. The look on Aria's face was what truly got me thinking about the job I needed to get done. Implanting spies around each district is probably the most risky thing a bionic could think of doing, and I was the only one with the ability to do it.

I can do this.

"Madam, you are needed by Mr. Romero in his office on the top floor." A lady in a black combo suit greeted me. I reached out for a white cotton suit which was a little too fancy for me. But Lucas—of what I gathered—loved to spend money, even on bionics. But thinking about it, maybe he spends more on me because I'm the newest version. I'm just the new collectable waiting to be replaced by an even newer version.

Grumbling my way up the next floor I passed the fiancé's room. The door was slightly ajar leaving a small opening just enough to peek. My hands reached out towards the knob but they were slapped away by small thin hands.

"Do not disturb her," A bionic that resembled a creepy mouse with short curvy black hair glared. Just looking at her gave me the chills. She resembled a witch from old wise tales! Turning away from her quickly I stumbled up the stair frightened and befuddled. Walking up each step as slow as possible I check every inch of my clothes for my knife only to find it was gone. I gasp feeling my pockets repeatedly stopping mid step. Taking off my shoes and socks I start to feel like a circus act.

"Having fun there?" Lucas's voice rang free making me freeze in place. My eyes widen at the sight of crystal clean Lucas—he looked like a business man for sure. "May I ask why you are undressing on the stairs?" He asked bemused. I rush to put on my shoes and straighten my white suit.

"I lost my knife."

"And you just thought undressing would solve that problem?" Lucas snickered. His whole sarcastic cheery attitude was gone replaced with a straight bitter expression.

"No Mr. Romero." I stated a bit bitterly not liking the way my head bowed down without my permission, like I just had to respect his every whim. It sickened me the most about our masters—us being completely helpless when it came to them—wanting to do anything and everything for them.

"It's Lucas." A shadow of a smile flickered, I almost smiled too. He was completely different when he was around these people, like the Lucas I met not too long ago was a completely different person in comparison to now.

I shrugged it off following him up the stairs staying behind him like a shadow. No one spoke to us, but they all bowed their heads towards Lucas. Walking passed the hall I could feel eyes watching my every move I just knew my hidden sisters were nitpicking every little thing about me. Their eyes felt large and felt like a searing beam of hate, such jealousy. I could hear their trailing thoughts—felt like a touch of wind—why does master favor her? They question so feverously I could hear it loud in my head. But for only a mere second, then the pain was gone and away.

I blinked away my aching headache only to stumble into the wall. Snickering was loud and clear echoed down the halls, as if the shadows were laughing at my pain. I wanted to spit at them but then I would just look like some crazy lady. Lucas stilled watching me as I picked myself up and followed him again. He made no move to help me, instead of spitting at the shadows I would actually like spit at Lucas.

But hey, maybe this is how he always acts.

I just met him.

But when I think about that I just remember that I'm connected to him, just like all of my other sisters. We all in some way want him to treat us kindly, like a human being. My feet tapped against the nice marble floor matching Lucas's rhythm. The rain pattered against the windows making the house feel empty and cold. The white suit clung to my body in an awkward way pinching my armpits uncomfortably. I kept worrying about my suit but I knew deep inside my head I was just trying to forget about last night.

Finally reaching the end of the hall on the top floor we found a glass sliding door revealing a large, lush, and very posh office. Everything seemed to be made out of glass or was colored in white. His chandelier looked like small twinkling stars and his large desk looked to be made out of glass as well, in a weird angle his belongings looked like they were floating. He reclined in his large white chair to unlock a cabinet that was also made out of glass, with a slight flick of his wrist. He revealed a small baize paper folder and opened it with ease flicking through the pages not taking note of my presence or simply not caring.

"And what is that?" I snickered getting a little irritated at his secretiveness. His dark eyes revealed a slight hint of humor, but that could be my imagination.

"Your Grading Process sheet," he stated holding out a thick document that was hidden inside the folder "just sign here."

"More like Grading Process book." I murmured under my breath knowing my sarcasm wasn't going to help anyone and especially not myself. I scrolled through the document noting a few words like 'insignia' and 'must keep your master safe at all cost', but what made me pause was one of the last lines 'biotics will be dismantled if they fail in any of their masters' personal request'. Shows how much love the master truly feels for my sisters and I, which would be absolutely nothing. Just a piece of junk to use for their own gain, to obtain their desire to destroy anything they want, or for simple sexual favors.

"Well?" He inquired looking a bit exasperated and just plain sleep deprived. If I take a closer look I can see his suit is a bit disheveled and his face looks sunken with malnutrition. Isn't that odd for a rich and powerful man with the power to obtain anything he wants? I blinked back finally forcing myself to pick up the black pen with his insignia lavished in gold on it. "We don't have all day cupcake." He muttered tapping his nice Italian black shoes on the nice hardwood floor.

Sighing one more time for good measures I signed the sheet with neat and precise hand writing with my given name Lara and in parentheses my number 01623. I skimmed my name once more just to make sure everything was in order being a bit too slow for Mr. Romero he grabbed at the paper with firm force and slapped it back into the folder. Eyes wide with confusion I stared at Mr. Romero completely dumbfounded at his impatience.

"Don't have to get your panties in a twist." I mocked feeling a bit brave in goading my master.

"Trust me Lara dear I'm never the one to get my panties all roughed up, more like I'm to the one to rough up other's panties." He smirked patting my head as if I was some sort of child needing to be coddled. My brows formed into a frown along with small lips that tightened with each fond pat on my head.

"You can stop that now." I murmured.

"Are you ordering your master around dear?" He asked sitting on his see through desk so we would be eyelevel.

"O-of course not master." I stuttered out feeling my brain work out the many possibilities he could do to show me my place.

"You can call me Lucas like I've told you before for the millionth time." He rolled his eyes and lifted himself off the desk just in time for a man and a bionic dressed in similar wear to enter his office. They both were wearing a simple one piece that was completely black and looked like another skin on their bodies. Their face showed no emotions and they held themselves with complete authority, they looked like they could kill someone with just a look.

"If I may ask Mr. Romero, but who are they?" I asked ignoring Mr. Romero's chagrin glare at me avoiding his previous comment.

"They are your new colleagues but also your trainers." He said now getting uninterested in this and started to rummage in his desk not really caring that I was glaring holes into his nice suit.

"Trainers? Mr. Romero, I can assure you, I'm well diverse in combat and I can be called by professional gunmen that I fit the ranking of Master Gunnery Sergeant." I claimed feeling proud and hardhearted by these people, especially the human man. A human are sparse when it comes to actually risking their lives in anything, that's what us biotics are for. They're the brains while were the muscle and all biotics are female so it is especially weird that they have a male in the army. People love to protect their men and sending one off to risk their life is taboo.

"This isn't just about fighting with normal combat and weapons this is about strengthening your senses and being stronger than my enemies' biotics. You have to be able to beat the best, you may be the newest version out but you won't be forever, and that's where your training will come in handy. You'll be ahead of every biotic out there." He smiled now lounging on his large white couch that faces the glass wall directed the opposite of the entrance.

I kept my mouth shut not wanting to argue or be dismissed and even though my stubborn pride wanted to complain I had to agree people were making better versions of me every day and I needed to be top notch to protect my owner. And be able to survive my actual mission, which would be the blue prints of each districts' plans and to gain allies across the world. This wasn't an easy mission and for owners like Lucas I need to be the best if I don't want to be thrown away.

"Okay, but what is there I don't know?" I question eyeing the both of them in suspicion.

"Well, go see and find out." Lucas remarked turning away from us both to fool around with his book. Feeling my body grown tense with this nonchalant respond I felt I had to question my standing and why in hell I just signed the contract for this guy? Again it is a good idea to be on the inside, but giving up everything to this man wasn't something I really wanted to do. No matter what this insignia said about me, I felt I belonged more to myself than anyone. "Go on." He waved farewell to me forcing me to leave with the two strangers.

The halls felt tighter with the two at my side with the man on my right and my sister on my left. The man kept his hands to himself—which was the right choice—while my sister steered me towards the bottom floor where a large thick m-rated ballistic plate armor that could withstand the pressure of a nuclear explosion. This only made me more curious about this whole ordeal and the importance of the room behind the massive door.

"What's this for?" I interrogated feeling a chill run down my back.

"Stay in your place 01623." My sister commanded with a booming voice that could stop an army from attacking the frontline. I held my tongue trying to edge away from her and her frosty stare. I was bringing attention to myself in where I didn't want anyone knowing about, this was not a time to mess up. I gripped the end of my sleeves feeling my pride slowly fade away into oblivion.

The man entered a code in having the large door slowly open, but smoothly might I add, to show an empty white room that looked like it could go on for miles. Analyzing my strange environment I found there were no vents or lights scattered around the room, the actual panels making the floor and ceiling were the lights instead.

Stepping forward the both of them stepped in front of me to face the right wall to put their left hands on two specific panels. The panel slowly turned the shade of tomato red making, just when the panels turned into the dark color of blood the two took their hands off the device swiftly. The panels flipped sporadically before stopping suddenly to reveal they were now the same shade as the rest.

"What's going—" I stopped myself from continuing knowing they would just refrain from my question. In a blink of an eye a part of the wall disappeared to reveal Parker Campbell sway out of the strange compartment. My fingers tightened around my wrist in worry as I started to grind my teeth as my nerves started swallow me whole. I felt my lungs shrunken and my breathing seemed to come in mismatched breaths, I couldn't breathe right at the very sight of him.

His pure black suit shined under the bright florescent light that seemed to reveal his most charming features. But also amplified the darkness of his cold eyes, they looked like they could dissemble every piece of me and then happily try to put me back together with much cheer. His slimy presence felt thick and unavoidable to me but I could tell no one else seemed to notice this, not even Lucas.

"What is this place?" I asked him not caring at the obvious tense annoyance towards me was being shown by the other two. Mr. Campbell found this all very amusing and couldn't help but slowly get closer to me. Probably trying to intimidate me but that seemed like a stupid idea, even to me, since I was a living breathing weapon. And he knew all of this and still tried to get under my skin knowing I couldn't hurt him.

"Well Lara, I have to say this might come to a shock for such a master piece such as yourself," he rolled his eyes at that remark "but this happens to be your training room." He announced slyly snapping his fingers at the two of them which made them hurry off and retrieve what looked like a vile in the man's hands and a small shot in my sister's hands. They both looked somewhat amused at my terrified expression as the brief thought of being knocked out and dismantled came into my mind. "Now, why are you so scared dear? There is nothing to be afraid of." He consoled half-heartedly.

"How can this place be my training room?" I demand ignoring his half-bake cookie-cutter worries over my wellbeing.

"This vial will put you in a state of unconsciousness for a few seconds before the room can work and show you your trials all coming from your fears and your curiosity and forming into the room itself." He states waving his hand at me as if the details of this weren't important enough for him.

"What do you mean by trials?" I ask uncaring of the growing chill wrapping around my body. I can sense this isn't going to be fun or easy for me.

"These tasks you must take on aren't just for your training and strengthening your abilities but also making sure you're the best fit for protecting Mr. Romero." He declared giving no room for argument.

"But I'm the top model, I'm brand new, and I was made specifically for this job!" I yelled not caring if this was considered out of hand. I felt the whole plan slowly crumbling down into a pile of my own pieces in the trash, the horror of the image terrified me to my core. I hardened my spine and kept my eyes focused on his not wavering for one second.

"It is not your decision Lara, its Mr. Romero's."

With that that they left me to the emptiness of this white foreign room that could be disguised as some sort of trap. Did they think I would not be able to handle their so called test?

I felt my body ripple and move without my control as his world morphed into something my brain could not interpret. Moving my hands towards my face I saw them blur and form into the colors around me, if I could scream at that moment I would have. I shut my eyes with as much force I could muster as everything around me stopped moving causing me to stagger to the cold floor.

Opening my eyes to reveal luxurious green grass that seemed to form dew from right under me I sat up hurriedly from complete disbelief at this astonishing view. The trees surrounded me in colors of pink and bright orange that mixed with the blue sky as the branches tried to reach for this mystery of a celestial sphere. I squinted my eyes yearning to see what was inside the deep forest, as it hid secrets I wanted to unravel for myself.

I pushed myself off the ground with amazing agility which means I still have full functions of my body. Which was a blessing since anything could happen in this unknown world at any moment. I sighed relieved but still as confused as I first started this whole trial. Scanning the area I found myself looking blankly at the scenery, confused I tried to scan once more.

"What?" I asked the sunset looking at the sky with bewilderment. Trying once more I forced my mind to focus on the layout but all I could do was stare at the empty meadow. Was I wrong? Did I not have my abilities when I came into this strange illusion? To my knowledge this was supposed to test out how capable of a bionic I was, but how could an empty meadow to test my limits or my skills if I could not take them with me.

Shadows from the corner of my eyes flashed pass my vision into the deep forest. My heart thundered as leaped backwards away from the possible threat watching for anymore movement. The forest seemed to stop shaking with the wind, everything seemed to stop, even the slight calming breeze. I felt a cold chill run down my spine with such power it almost rocked my body forward. Clearing everything away from my mind I could feel my senses heighten and my body relax into this natural primal state that only my sisters and I could truly understand.

Science could not truly recognize what made our animalistic assets appear so strongly when we were made for such cordial manners. Visions of bionics in their full animalistic power and craving for blood are a sight most humans banned and hated, but also paid millions for. We were the perfect soldier, well at least now we are. Our history was checkered at best since most bionics built for killing was usually dismantled. Once the soldier gets their first blood it gets them addicted, yearning for the next kill.

I haven't had the experience yet but I haven't received my first kill yet, and secretly I found myself scared of what I could become. Not just a synthetic piece of reusable trash but also a monster. My throat closed and my eyes strained with what felt like distress. It was an unusual and unpleasant feeling that has not completely registered with me yet. I felt almost happy at the new feeling growing inside me.

I knew secretly this show of emotion wasn't a good sign.

Everything stood still with cold silence and a crushingly cold wind that loved to chill every bone in my body. The bright colors that warmed the sky faded and chilled into grays and cold blues that zapped the beautiful colors away. Everything seemed to be frozen in time where a scary legend seemed to hide in the shadows, the forest where your mother would tell you not to venture in. Cocking my eyebrow at the thought I slipped through the trees where the giant trees covered what light there was left.

I felt my vision curve in and blur into a million swirls of misty and confusion that made my stomach turn and my eyes roll back inside my head. The trees twisted into knots of dark repugnant branches all reaching out for my flesh as if to peel it off my newly made bones. I glared at the threat dodging every suspicious looking tree and foul creature that stared at me above the within the trees. It felt as if the trees grew eyes and looked at me with lust hungry eyes, for what I don't know.

Feeling a sense of danger I reach for the inside of my thigh where I kept two of my sharpest knives finding I had to leave my weapons with the guards outside of this illusion. How would I survive without my weapons? Slowly stepping away from the dangerous path I clenched my thighs in anticipation gritting my teeth in what felt like a cold sickness that choked every organ inside me body. An emotion too big for my body to hold onto I felt bubble of something insane leak out of my throat.

My screams could curdle the blood of a dying cow. My heart stormed and screeched making my head pound with it in unbearable pain. Clenching my fist to my face I crumbled to the ground staring out to open forest of shadows and disturbing blackened trees. They called to me and taunted me with painful words. Words of regret and emotions I could never express and feel.

"Why are you doing this to me?" I proclaimed pointing at the shadows hiding underneath the moss and dirt of the undergrowth. "Who says its right to divide us into numbers and emotionless acts?" I yelled out of breath and panting for air, but I couldn't find air. My throat closed and my nose wasn't functioning correctly at the moment as wetness leaked out of my face with such force. Gripping my face in surprise I didn't know what became of me. Why was my body breaking down so easily?

"You are numbers and emotionless acts. That's all you'll ever become, you'll be the end of the equation humans have already figured out. You're a product that last only so long, while the rest of world moves on."

A whisper from the shadows; the whisper was as cruel and cold as its murky dark body and thin voice. It swirled around me curling the ends of each little dance it created in thin air, the only human characteristic it had was the voice. It echoed, the voice, it silence the forest like it owned by pure will.

"What's happening to me?" I howled lashing at the murky figure whom just danced away from uncoordinated attack—which was unusual for even in an illusion.

"Something you're not supposed to have, something you will figure out, but only know you're just halve."

It laughed at my questioning stare this causing a cold ripple of wind breaking through the forest like a tunnel wave. I forced my body again the dirt floor not wanting to feel the ice cold on my face. Looking back up I saw the murky figure still dancing around as if there was nothing at stake here.

"What kind of trial is this?" I asked barely above a whisper. Trying to force myself to think I stood up causing my legs to shiver uncontrollably but I kept my ground as I stared back at the unmoving black mist of a figure.

"There are many names for me and there are many views on what I am, what am I to you?"

I gripped the dirt under me and thought about my unknown surrounding and how I've never seen a place like this or even had contact with nature. I've never been in a forest before or felt the wet grass before. It was all such a sight at first and for one moment I felt happily surprised for once, just in complete awe. But what am I feeling right now?

"It's alien to me and unknown it makes me…" I shrank away not knowing why I couldn't get the words out.

"Are you afraid?"

"No!" I yelled at it with great force as I pushed myself back in full stance ready for a fight if one happened. Bionics does not fear for their lives, at least not the ones made to kill and risk their 'lives' every day. We live only to become the perfect war asset for our master, that's all I'm supposed to want. To only feel great after a kill or feel satisfied that my owner compliments my skills. That's all.

"So you are as I thought, just an emotionless case of war power."

"You are trying to confuse me shadow. I will not succumb to your power plays. I am who I choose to be." I said methodically trying to force my will onto the misty figure. The smoke engulfed the forest with what felt like silent rage.

"Listen more to the unknown and watch what the being forces you to grasp, sister."

The shadows danced away whispering songs as they went off from this world like the light and beauty of the forest that once was. My vision blurred and my footing staggered as the world changed around me and morphed into something darker than shadows. No, the trial wasn't over, it had just begun.

The sound of machines burning metal echoed throughout my mind like an everlasting wind swishing by. Screams surrounded the area coming from small children's' tiny shrieks to the old men's gurgles of pain that had that left over rasp of pain in their voices. The sounds surrounded me while vision stayed blurry with constant gray images that could not be deciphered. I put my hands to my ears trying to block out their screams of pain and torment, but it seemed to be echoing in my mind. I wouldn't be able to stop it.

"Stop!" I wailed feeling weak and overused by now the trial seemed to have completely conquered my very soul. I looked pathetic, I bet, just wailing about and pleading to the ghost in my head. I guess I never was strong, just a useless piece of junk aren't I?

"She's going very well sir," the man in the white lab coat and black rimmed glass told the large intimidating figure. The figure made an abrupt gesture and pointed towards the sealed door.

I opened my eyes with such force and pain I screamed, but the flash of images that appeared before me made me want to look. All I saw was white, nothing but me just inside this empty white space. Blinking rapidly I caught the image once again, the image of those two men sitting just outside I sealed door. What did I just see?

Pushing at the white walls in frustration I sighed, I was completely out of my zone. I couldn't understand what kind of trial this was or if they just sent me into my head where nothing but nuts and bolts lay. How would this prepare me for anything?

The wall I was leaning against slowly opened to reveal a dark room with small spot of blue light poking out at random places, but all I could do was stand still at the entrance. The sounds of beeps and hums came from the room as if the sound belonged to the room. It felt almost eerie.

I walked in with my fight stance with my legs shoulder apart with my hands ready to throw a fist if something came out for an attack. I stuck to the wall always having my right hand to it just in case if something…surprising happened. Just in case, of course. Wishing for my weapons as I looked across the room I saw something that could be considered brutalizing and horrific. But people themselves probably are the true monsters, if I think about it I now know what the first trial is about. It's about my fears.

Piles of bionic parts lay at the corner of the room with a dim blue light shining on it like an ugly spot light. I felt my stomach twist at the blood staining the room and the stench of burned flesh from countless insignias burned into my sisters' backs. Water again spilled from my eyes as I wretched out everything in my stomach, which caused my throat to burn acid. I crawled towards the pile of body parts unable to stop my curiosity as clawed at the parts. I could sense something under the pile of parts of sisters, something that would twist my insides out.

It felt like I was being possessed, I couldn't stop searching for this unknown object. I didn't know what it was that was causing me this psychotic episode, my hands were bleeding as I ripped medal apart to get to the middle of the corpse pile. I shuddered inwardly looking down through the gap I created I saw something I could never un-see. My shaking hands slowly reached down through the gap to pick up Aria's disconnected head.

I screamed.