I remembered what had happened after I had seen my teammates for the first time, when we had gone down into the chambers that held the warp pods.
The room had been dark, or rather, dim. Two security guards had gone up to each of them, excluding Blaise and his family, and roughly shoved them into large, plush chairs, and strapped their arms and legs down securely. Before any of them could protest against the rough treatment, they were injected with an unidentified drug, and quickly found themselves relaxing into their seats, and calming down. They could still think rationally. They could still disagree with what was happening, but they could not find it within themselves to feel any real contempt.
Looking back on it, I noted somewhat smugly, that now I could feel as angry as I wanted.
After they had calmed down, Blaise had said to them, "As most of you know, these are Warp Pods." Whilst gesturing to the chairs and various computers around them. He continued, "They allow you to learn amazing skills that normally take years of hard work, and dedication, in a mere five minutes. By using them, you can connect your mind to the mind of another one of you!" After seeing the many confused faces of his employees, he said, "Allow me to elaborate. Put simply, there are more of you. There are more worlds then just ours. By 'worlds', I do not mean planets, I literally mean another world. In each of these other worlds, and there are billions, there is another one of yourselves. They are all you, but they all have different lives. They can be very similar to the one you're living right now, but they can also be completely different. The key factor though, is that if in this world, you have the potential to be an artist, an assassin, or something simpler such as a school teacher, in another world, you are! So, today, you need to go into the Warp Pods, and find someone with the ability to fight. This session is meant to make you stronger."
They were told to look at the blinking overhead lights that the various workers and guards had turned on above them. Due to the drug that was now taking full effect on all of them, they complied with no objections. Staring unblinkingly up at the flashing lights, their surroundings began to grow hazy. The noises that had once been quite loud grew muffled, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't make out a word they were saying, and soon, she couldn't hear them at all. Her vision began to blur and double, dark splotches appearing rapidly, until her sight had been greedily stolen away. The soft feeling of the chair beneath her began to dissolve, until she was left feeling as if she was floating in a sea of darkness. The harsh scent of chemicals that once dominated the air and filled her nose slunk away from her until she couldn't quite remember what they had smelled like in the first place. The lingering taste of the lollipop she had had earlier dissipated, and though she couldn't be at that moment, courtesy of the drug, she wanted to be disappointed. Time began to fade away, until she was no longer thinking of how long she had been in such a disconnected state, or how long it would be until she regained her senses. Her very thoughts began to leave her, and soon her mind was completely blank, but in that moment, she wasn't thinking about it. She wasn't thinking about anything.
Soon though, she heard a ringing noise, quiet, and very far off in the distance. It began to grow closer and closer still, until there was a shrill ringing noise invading her ears. Irritation coursed through her body, and she realized that the drug had worn off considerably. It was then that another of her senses decided to return to her. She soon felt the pulsing in her head that the ringing was causing, as well as the more tolerable things, such as the feel of her lightweight cotton shirt against her skin, and the feathery feeling of her bangs splayed across her forehead. Her taste came skittering back to her just as quickly, and instead of the pleasant flavor of her long gone lollipop, iron flooded her taste buds, from the opening on the inside of her cheek, where she had unconsciously bit it when she felt the full force of the pounding headache that resided within her skull. After swallowing a mouthful of her own blood, the metallic substance became a scent that speedily dominated another of her senses, and settled inside her nose. Close to cracking, she shut her eyes tighter, and it was then that she realized she had closed them. Relaxing her facial muscles, she slipped her eyes open slowly, and a blindingly bright light became all she saw.
She had regained her senses, but something was indisputably off.
The bright light that had previously been parading around her gaze slithered away and she blinked rapidly as her eyes tried to focus on the movement in front of her. At first she could only make out silhouettes of people, but soon her vision balanced out and she could make out their features much more clearly. Her eyes locked upon a pair eerily similar to her own, and it was only when she realized that it was herself that the ringing in her ears quieted, and the figures before her stilled. They were all her. She remembered, somewhere in the back of her head, that she was looking for a version of her that could fight well. Scanning over the dead still bodies and blocking out the stiff silence, she located one of the versions of herself that looked like a capable fighter. Taking in the guns and knives strapped around her limbs, and the lean but muscular build she possessed, Lain decided that she would suffice. Honing in on her, Lain kept eye contact, unsure of how to activate the connection, and angry that no one had told her what to do beforehand.
Finally, she felt as if something had snapped within her, and she felt herself get pulled into the intended version of herself.
Maybe if she had taken a moment to note the sad, angered, and all around negative look on her face, she would have realized that choosing her was not a wise decision
Her other selves life flew by her eyes, and her surroundings were morphing so quickly that she wasn't even trying to keep up with them. She felt all of the emotions that the other had felt, and one moment she was shaking and sobbing, and then next she felt happy, warm and content. Her body was on overdrive, and her mind was whirling as it stored all of the foreign memories alongside the ones she already possessed.
And then it was over, and she was once again wiped of her senses, before they came tumbling back violently and she awoke, back inside the dimly lit chamber, strapped to the large chair, and found herself gasping and sputtering, trying desperately to catch her breath.
She quickly noticed all kinds of things that were off about her. Her mid was whispering things about wanting her gun back, but she was sure she had never owned any weapons other than a small pocket knife. Her muscles felt extremely strained, like she had had the most intense workout of her life, when all she had done was sit. But most of all, she noticed all of her new memories. She noticed all of the sadness, and anger she felt because of them. Her other self had not had a good life. After experiencing it all in such a short amount of time, she felt so mentally drained that she let herself slip into a blissful state of unconsciousness.
The next day, they had all been allowed the privilege of resting, as well as testing out what they could do. The resting wasn't really so that they could relax physically, rather so that they could ease into their new memories. All of them were mentally tired, if only from the side effects of the drug, but many were also drained because of the onslaught of sad memories that they had gained. In her case, she had experienced a life were her parents had died when she was six years old.
There had been a war going on at the time, and though her parents were just civilians, they were caught in the cross fire, and shot to death before her eyes. From that age up until she was eleven, she hid in abandoned buildings, and stole food to live. When she was eleven, the war had stopped, and she had finally ventured out into the open, once she was sure that it was over. She was scrawny, starved, and all around unhealthy. But she had walked out into the warzone that had been abandoned for about a month, and had taken in her surroundings, and regained her bearings.
What had once been her quaint and cozy home town was now a pile of wrecked buildings and ash. Rotting corpses strewn everywhere and guns discarded here and there.
Tears streaming down her face and dripping off her chin, she trudged brokenly to a gun, lying in the rubble, still loaded and functioning. She sank to her knees and picked it up, cradling it in her hands as her shoulders shook. A dark and defeated part of her was whispering things to her, telling her that she could just end it all. It was asking her what she even had to live for at that point. And if she was being honest with herself, she really didn't have a reason. But, a stronger part of her, the part of her that had kept her going for seven years, was telling her that it didn't matter. That she could find herself a purpose. That she could give herself a reason to live. She beat a fist into the ground as she struggled to make the right choice. She did not want to waste her life. She wanted to do something that mattered, even if just a little.
With a strengthened resolve, she screwed her eyes shut and angrily wiped her tears away with a flurry of her hand. Taking deep and even breaths, she regained control over her body, and stared up at the sky. Placing her right hand underneath her for support, she picked herself up from the ground, and slung the gun over her shoulder. After adjusting it until the strap fit her snuggly, she walked into all the buildings around her, and scavenged through every inch until she had collected a large amount of supplies and food. Finding an old backpack on one of the many dead soldiers, she tugged it off his corpse and threw her things inside. Taking off her gun, she readjusted the sling until it was able to hang on her hips, and she placed her backpack where the gun had been before. After putting on a pair of shoes she had snatched from a dead kid lying in the street, she turned and started walking. She didn't know where she was going. She just knew that she was leaving, and that she would find something worth living for.
After walking for what could have been days, and might have been weeks, she finally made it to a bustling city. She had passed through small towns, restocked her supplies, worked for small amounts of money, and gotten directions until she finally made it to the city. She had decided on the way there, that she would put herself up for adoption, and once a family had taken her in, she would go to school, and have an average job. She only wanted peace.
As soon as she made it to the heart of the city, people began to notice her, and eventually someone called the cops to report a child carrying around a gun.
They arrived quickly.
Two police dressed in blue stepped out of a car that had come to a slow stop next to her. They began to approach her, and she felt panic rising within the pit of her stomach. She took a shaky step back as they continued to move towards her.
"Who are you?" she stuttered out hesitantly.
"Please remain calm miss. We just need to ask you a few questions. If you could please hand over your weapon-"
"NO!" she screeched as she undid the sling and clutched the gun to her chest.
The cops halted in their tracks and one of them put up his hands in a placating gesture.
"Ma'am, calm down. We aren't here to hurt you. We just want to talk."
"Leave me alone!" she said as she turned tail and ran away, the two authorities right behind her. She was fast, but one of them managed to catch up to her, and he lunged for her. They both tumbled to the ground, and were propelled into an alleyway.
She screeched and wriggled, desperately trying to get out of the man's grasp. He reached into his back pocket to grab a set of handcuffs when she managed to position herself so that she could hit him. He took a hard blow to the side of his head and faltered momentarily. She used that moment to move away from him just enough to reach her gun that had fallen away from her when she was tackled. Not bothering to pull it against her shoulder or line up her sights, she pulled the trigger, and let loose a short and sloppy round of fire. The man slumped to the ground dead, blood leaking from his chest and head.
Breathing heavily, she scrambled out from underneath his lifeless body, just as the man's partner drew his own gun, ready to shoot her.
She beat him to it.
Three shots later, the man was in the same state as his partner. People around her began screaming as they passed by the bloody scene. She heard sirens shrieking in the distance. Unsteadily running over to the bag that she had dropped when she was running, she hoisted it over her shoulder and secured it to her back before shakily sprinting away from the horrifying scene.
All she wanted was peace. Why did death have to follow her everywhere? She had just killed two innocent people.
What had she done?
She could ask herself that all she wanted, but she already knew the answer, no matter how hard she tried to deny it.
She had just shot down all of her hopes.
I remembered every moment of my others life. After the incident in the city, she had been forced to run and fight her way through life. She was a wanted criminal. After killing those two officers, part of her died. She only wanted peace, but it seemed clear to her that she was only meant to bring death. She didn't seek out people to kill, but if they were in her way, she would put them to rest. She hated all the death she caused, but at the same time, she no longer felt any remorse when she killed.
The day after I went into the Warp Pods, I took full advantage of the rest that had been offered to me. I slept, and spent the day pondering over what had happened to the other me. I eventually decided that she was able to learn a lot from her. She found many good morals to live by in what she had seen. Spending a few hours to get to know my new skills, I found that I was very good with guns, knives, and even hand to hand combat. My stamina had increased, as well as my strength.
The next day, we were once again taken down into the warp pods. This time, Blaise told us to find someone who we could learn stealth from. The experience was the same as it had been before, but this time, I chose someone who had a better life. She was an assassin and spy for her government. Nothing really bad ever happened to her, so I was able to handle the aftershock of the Warp Pods much better. We were once again allowed a day of rest, but I felt that she really didn't need it. Instead, I dedicated the entire day to training, and unlocking all of the things I could do. It was all muscle memory, so it wasn't too strenuous or difficult.
The next day, Blaise had separated us into teams, and assigned us our first mission. Once we completed ten, we would go into the Warp Pods again, and use them twice.
Snapping back to the present, I mused that the mission that we had just failed was our tenth. We would be returning to HQ tomorrow, to hand in our mission report, and see what Blaise had to say.