The world pulsed with life. Even in the stillness of the early morning there is thrum that vibrates the chords on a guitar after it has been strummed, resonating from every living thing. It soared up the face of crumbling mountains and glided down into the valleys below, the natural pulse of life still thrives. It's like a heartbeat on an EKG. Each new blip resonated deeply within but barely registrable at the same time. Is it all just white noise? A way to dampen the constant stresses this new world bolsters. Or does it mean something more?
The pulse called out to her even in her dreams like a siren's song. Drawing her into its warmth as it greeted her as an old friend would. She knew she couldn't actually feel nature itself. It was something much more concrete than that. It was within her as it was within everything that lives and breathes. Electricity. The human body produced quite a bit of wattage on its own. Somehow Maggie Knight was able to detect it with much more clarity than the average person. She didn't understand how she was able to do so especially when she had thought she was fairly ordinary prior. Yet her merger existence was turned upside down following the emergence of her new found abilities. Abilities she couldn't explain.
A focused breath exhaled through her nostrils as she leaned her head back against dark fabric of the passenger seat's head rest. Her body wasn't tired but her mind certainly was being stretched thin. She had been trapped within the vehicle to the point she had nearly lost track of time. She was sure it was nearly mid morning. She and her friends had been picked up in the small hours of the morning. But she wasn't positive on the exact length of time. In times like these there were no cell phones or watches readily available unless one had the luxury to waste credits on such things. Maggie did not come from such a station in life nor had she ever longed for it. She figured herself to be a simple individual destined for simple things. She didn't know why she had been captured. But she knew it had to do something with her new gifts.
Maggie allowed her mind to wander as she studied the rest of her surroundings. With the exception of blackout windows that didn't offer any insight as to where they might be headed, the interior the SUV limo was a charcoal grey from ceiling to seats to the floor. Half empty bottles of alcohol and sticky glasses littered the floor along with wrappers and packages of snacks which had been consumed during the beginning stages of their involuntary journey. Her nose wrinkled with mirth as her eyes fell upon her companions whom were passed out upon the various seating areas within their compartment after a night of partying. All of them were unaware of the journey they had been on for the past several hours. They had spent the night partying well after they had been abducted as the vehicle had been fully stocked with every kind of booze to keep the party going. Maggie had lost track of time over the course of the night and hadn't lost herself in the illusion their captors were trying to set.
Shaking her head, she turned her attention back towards the window to her left but was unable to see beyond the dark opaque surface other than her own reflection glaring back at her. Dirty blonde, shoulder length hair was tousled and unruly bangs swayed about head as the vehicle rambled across rugged terrain causing it to conceal most of her face. A pothole caused the vehicle to rock Maggie's forehead into the window beside her. A yelp of pain squeaked out of the woman's lips as pale, slender fingers cradled contusion that would no doubt swell into a goose egg on the side of her head before the hand smoothed her hair away face to reveal sharp features and brilliant aquamarine eyes. There was an electricity sparked behind her eyes, an untapped energy bubbling beneath the surface. There was also a healthy dose of defiance.
She huffed in frustration and folded her arms over her chest. She would just have to wait until they arrived at their destination to find out where they were. Judging by the time it took to travel and the distance covered, she was sure they were far away from their home. Too far to make a run for it by any means. As the SUV slowed to a halt, her body tensed. Her thundering heartbeat pounded in her ears almost drowning out the muffled voices of their 'shofers' conversing with people outside the vehicle. And just as soon as they had stopped, they were propelled forward again. She glanced back at her companions, none of them had even been roused by the jarring motions of their lead footed driver. With a frown, the woman decided that her friends had slept long enough and needed to be warned.
"Guys," She bent over and shook the shoulder of olive skinned brunette passed out on the seat beside her, "C'mon, Lou! Eloise?"
No response. A frustrated sigh escaped her mouth as she moved towards the man and woman who were cuddling perpendicular to Maggie and Eloise. "Rupe? Della? Guys this is serious!" The pitch of her voice strained as her throat constricted as panic seeped into every essence of her being when neither of them were stirred by her pleas.
Maggie turned towards the blonde haired man parallel to herself, "Talon! Now is not the time for this! I don't need any of your jokes. Tal?"
Her shoulders slumped in defeat and her head held into her hands, "What is going on?"
There was no comfort offered. The only answer the sound of the door of the SUV being ripped open and light flooded into the dark passenger's compartment temporarily blinding Maggie. Her hand shot up, immediately, to shield her eyes from the sensory overload. She wasn't allowed the opportunity to adjust to the change in atmosphere as a strong hand latched onto her forearm and pulled her out of the car. Her fight or flight instincts kicked in and she chose fight. She began to thrash with all she had. But she was far too tired to be very effective. Her captors found it far too easy to restrain her petite body and force her into submission.
"This is her." A voice from overhead stated. It was close but not within arms reach.
Blinking, her eyes finally adjusted and she was finally able to take in her surroundings. They were in what looked like an old military base that had been repurposed for some else's aspirations. A group of ten to fifteen men towering over her. They encompassed the immediate area near the black SUV, blocking any and all possible routes of escape. She couldn't see beyond their imposing figures. They were all wearing matching black/dark gray uniforms with blazing red symbols patched onto their shoulders. Her eyes gleamed in recognition, "Where am I?"
"A Kronos base, Miss. Knight." A man with badges answered as he prowled over to stand in front of her. He was the most decorated member of their welcoming party as the breast of his jacket was adorned with various badges and stars. She didn't ask how the man knew her name. She had been aware for the organization's presence for quite some time actually.
"Well, Mr. Ketchum, are we on our way to the Elite Four?" She joked hoping to cut some of the tension.
Apparently, her reference to the age old trading card game and television series was lost on her audience as the men's lips tightened into even thinner lines and she was jostled a bit by the individual restraining her before the badged man struck her over the head, "Shut the hell up, freak! You only speak when spoken too... Unless you want something to happen to your friends."
There was a predatory gleam in the man's dark eyes. But Maggie didn't consider herself to be prey. Her mouth opened for a moment but she decided against it if only for the stakes of her friends. Their lives were more important to her than her pride. She'd have to keep it together in order to get through this. The man with the badges made a few quick gestures and she was pulled aside. Several men entered the SUV and returned with her friends in tow. All of them were still in a daze and looked to be faring alright. Confused, but no harm.
She attempted to reach out to them, but she was pulled away towards the nearest building, "Lou! Rupe! Guys!"
Her desperate pleas finally seemed to breach whatever haze clouding their minds. Eloise registered that something was wrong and began to fight against her captors, "Maggie? What's going on? Mag-"
Maggie began to fight once more. She wasn't going to let them separate her so easily from her friends. But once again, her efforts were in vain as the men's total power maneuvered her without any kind of feat on their parts. The doors sealed shut behind her, severing her from her friends entirely.
"You shouldn't worry about your friends, little one. They won't be undergoing the tests you're about to endor." The man who had drug her out of the SUV informed her.
"Tests? What kinds of test?" She probed, her eyes trained on the next set of doors that reminded her of the doors in the medical center.
"Tests to sort you." He explained.
Her brow furrowed in confusion, "Sort me?"
"You ask a lot of questions." The man chuckled, his grasp tightening around her arm, his quaking body caused her's to shake in response, "You think you're the only one with special powers."
The whole process had been a blur once Maggie had been separated from her friends. So many things had happened. She couldn't keep anything straight. It felt like a strange dream or a nightmare whichever one prefered. But strangely enough, she wasn't scared at all. There was a bubbling thrill in the pit of her stomach, the kind of thrill she'd never felt before. For some strange and twisted reason being abducted from her home, separated from her friends, and tested was exciting to her. She'd never felt so alive. She figured this would have been partially because she'd just been pumped with all kinds of electricity. A part of the testing process. She suspected they wanted to see what she could handle as well the extend of what she could do. Once the testing had been finished, she found herself standing face to face with the two men who had brought her here in the first place.
"Boys." Maggie acknowledged, coldly; her smile more of a sneer.
She looked around their 'office'. It was pretty standard as far as she could tell. Plain desks. Plain brown leather chairs. A bookcase and file system ensconced the wall behind them. The walls were all beige. The floors were a black tile. The front wall was a glass panel. She didn't allow her mind to think about how many people they might've already done this to. She didn't want to know. Whatever they were apart of this was no way to get new recruits. The buzzing of the security camera pinged in the back of her mind. Her powers reached out to it and cut off the feed.
"Ms. Knight, don't you look lovely in a Kronos uniform." Fisher drawled from behind his desk.
The uniform she'd received from the handlers in between tests was a black shirt with some sort of logo on the right breast, skin-tight black track pants, and black combat boots. She wondered if they were some kind of undercover spy enterprise or were just hadn't gotten out of their emo phase.
"Yes, I agree. This seems to suit you." Dupont concurred, resting his elbows on the hard wooden desktop in front of him.
Falling into the single chair in front of their desks, Maggie shrugged as she propped her feet on her Dupont's desk, "Well, thanks... I guess. But I have a feeling you didn't have me brought back to you guys to talk about how good I look in your little outfits."
Their lips stretched into identical smirks, "No, quite right. That's not at all why you're here."
"I'd love to be filled in." Maggie folded her arms over her chest.
"You're in luck because we were just about to inform you." Fisher began
"Yes, you see, Ms. Knight. Kronos officials have chosen you because you have a specific set of skills they'd like to utilize." Dupont continued.
"Yeah, we've already been over this... several times. My answer hasn't changed. Still not interested." Maggie stated.
"Oh well, you see you don't have a choice anymore. You're here now aren't you." Dupont informed her.
"Only because you abducted me." Maggie pointed out
"You put up such a good front but look us in the eyes and tell us that the opportunity to be apart of something bigger than yourself doesn't intrigue you? Excite you?" Fisher prompts.
"I don't know." Maggie shrugged.
"Strange. You seemed so confident when you walked in here. Powerful even." Fisher was drawing her into his trap and she couldn't help but fall for it.
"I was." She gave in.
"Well, anyway, you're here now. And we've decided on how we are going to best use your talents." Dupont continued, "With your unique combination of offensive, defensive, and information gathering skills; we've decided to place you on a newly formed stealth team with along with two other brand new recruits."
"You will be gathering intelligence to use against specter. Most of these missions will be covert. You most likely won't be engaging the enemy directly." Fisher added, "And to make up for your group's overall lack of experience, we have assigned a seasoned veteran to lead the team."
Maggie sat in an empty gymnasium on the bleachers as close to the exit as possible. She had headed over to the predetermined meeting area as soon as Fisher and Dupont had let her leave. She couldn't believe she was being forced to be some kind of special agent for some military organization. It sounded absurd and it was. Why did people have to always fight? Why couldn't everyone just focus on surviving?
Footsteps alerted her that more people were entering the room. She watched two people being escorted in. The man was bulkingly huge, probably the size of a small truck in both stature and weight. But for his size, he wasn't fat. He was built, massive muscles strained the material of the black workout shirt he was wearing looked two sizes too small. He seemed like he could crush someone's skull without much effort. But there was a gentleness in his brown eyes. There was an arrogance about him, but Maggie figured it was probably for show. He probably wouldn't even harm a fly.
The woman of african descent was a different story. Her deep charcoal eyes were sharp, thick brows furrowed, her feminine body tense. She wore a similar outfit to Maggie and looked about as pleased to be here. Both newcomers chose to sit with a decent amount of distance between them. But the woman chose to sit closer to Maggie and the man sat on the far side of the bleachers.
So nobody knows each other, Maggie observed leaning back against the seat behind her.
There were a few moments of awkward silence as they all stared at each other. No one said anything. They probably weren't sure what to say. Had they all be abducted by Kronos or come willingly? Maggie's thoughts were interrupted by the woman who had turned her attention to Maggie, her voice was loud but friendly, "Hey there! I'm Amanda Reed. I'm a healer. It's nice to meet you.."
Maggie sighed, she hated introductions, "Maggie Knight."
"Well, nice to meet you, Maggie! What can you do?" Good god, this woman was too friendly.
"It's hard to explain." Maggie told her, not really wanting to share too much about herself with these strangers.
This time the man spoke up, "Not true, I heard you can teleport and I saw you absorb electrical charges during testing as I walked by. Rodney Cain's the name. Super Strength is my gift." He had assumed a very manly position as he had been listening to the girls converse.
What a total jock.
"Teleportation and Electrical manipulation. That's pretty powerful." Amanda seemed impressed. Maggie felt her cheeks heat up and looked away from the others to hide her embarrassment, "I guess. Still not sure what all I can do."
"Well, that's why we're all here." A gravely voice drawled, interrupting the trio.
All three sets of eyes snapped in the direction to find a tall, lanky man with steely narrow eyes standing in the middle of the basketball court. A thick beard covered a rugged jawline, his lips were stretched thin in a sneer. There was a dangerous air about this man. Several silver scars littered the tan skin of his face and hands. Maggie could tell that this Kronos agent was different than the others she had encountered thus far. This man was a field agent not some black suit or lab coat. He had probably been on a lot of high risk missions. But his body language didn't scream pure military. Despite his facial expression, there was almost a relaxed aloofness about his posture. He donned a standard Kronos uniform and a black cavalry hat that covered shaggy brown wavy hair that stuck out at the sides. The hat casted a shadow over his eyes, but Maggie could feel him judging them.
"So yer my new team, huh?" He sounded unimpressed as he shifted his weight from one leg to the other, "Name's Shannon Welch. I'll be yer unit captain. We'll begin trainin' tomorrow mornin' at 0600. Any questions?"
Of course, Amanda raised her hand, "Uh, yes sir. I'm curious what might you do?"
Shannon fold his arms over his chest, "What makes ya think I have powers?"
"Everyone else does. Even the snakes who brought me here. I killed them twice and they came back both times." Maggie throws out there.
This caused Shannon to smirk, "Killed 'em, ya say? I'm not surprised. Yer profile says yer powers recently emerged. How can I be sure ya're not goin' to kill one o' us on a mission?"
"You can't. That's what trainings for, isn't it?" She smirked right back. She wasn't going to let him intimidate her.
"Ya've got spunk, girl. I like that. Ya're gonna need it for what I've got planned for ya." He informed them, as he promptly pulled out a cigar from his jacket pocket and set it between his teeth. He chewed on it for a moment as he studied them once more. Without another word, he loped out of the gym.
The trio looked at each other in confusion.
"Uh, what just happened?" Rodney spoke up first this time.
"Uh, I think we just met the biggest hardass this place has to offer." Maggie blinked for the first time since Shannon had left the room.
"You said it, gurl." Amanda agreed, "Can't believe that guy's gonna be our captain."
"Dupont and Fisher said we need work." Maggie pointed out.
"Work? That man's prolly gonna kill us before we even make it to our first mission." Rodney grumbled. For a total jock, he was a total pussy.
"Buck up, buttercup. Anything we do in training will probably prepare us for whatever we face out in the field." Maggie reasoned. Even if she didn't want to be here. She knew that she was coming to make the most of her time. No sense in fighting it when she didn't have a choice.
Amanda spoke up, "True, I've heard that Specter's agents kill without reason."
"Then they're probably kill first and ask questions second type people." Maggie implied.
"Glad I grew up in a Kronos city." Rodney revealed.
"True that." Amanda agreed, fluffing her hair before she turned to the other woman, "Where did you grow up, Maggie?"
"A free city? That's pretty lucky." Rodney seemed a little jealous.
"Yeah." Maggie acknowledged as she stood up from her seat on the bleachers, "Lucky I got out of that dump."
"Really? I've heard that free cities are really fancy." Amanda stated.
"Oh, they are." Maggie conceded, "If you don't live in the slums."
Another silence settled over the group. This time Maggie didn't wait around for another round of idle chit chat. The day's excitement was catching up to her. She needed a nap. Her stomach made a rumbling noise. Maybe a bite to eat, too. She couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten.
After she had made a pit to stop in the cafeteria. Maggie was slinking down one of the base's many corridors towards the dormitory, when she peeked out one of the windows. She still wasn't sure about where they were. Cliffs and walls of rock jutted out of the earth like a person's backbone told her she was somewhere in the mountains. Not much to go off of but still better than the view being nondescript and boring. The pines and the deciduous trees slashed a variety of greens over the terrain. The sky was cloudless and the late afternoon sun had burned them away. A glow of an ember caught her eye and she looked down to the source to see Shannon Welch seated at one of the concrete picnic tables. His vast assortment of weapons were strewn out before him as he cleaned one of his glocks. He was still chewing on the cigar from before or at least she thought it was the same cigar.
As if he sensed her staring at him, he looked up from his work. His hands still nimbly continued their ministrations while he visually broke his focus. Their eyes met. Neither held an ounce of surprise. Both faces were steeled with indifference. Shannon shook his head at her before his attention turned back to his current task. Maggie rolled her eyes and continued to her dorm.