"Hey! Hey! He's waking up" I heard in the near distance, my eyes fluttered open to meet two hard slaps around the face, I grabbed the third one just before it made contact.
"Midnight. Slap me, one more time and I'll hit you into next week". I mumbled as I sat up slowly to see a boy stooping directly above me, his hair was black and covered one eye, the eye that was visible was a bright yellow and his pupil was a thin black slit and very catlike, his disposition was that of a happy emo. His clothes only reflected this, he was wearing a band t-shirt, and what I assumed to be skinny jeans that were restricting him so he couldn't sit on me, it was probably the only reason he didn't.
"Now, now, I saved you from the big fat guy at least show some appreciation" He smirked.
"Ha, yeah, when you show the same appreciation to me moments after I've been drugged up you slap me to make me come round. Give a guy a break it's his birthday! ". I made a sound that was kind of like a 'psh'. Before realising the soft thing underneath me was a bed. An actual bed, a soft warm double bed, I pushed my hand out at either side of me and smelt the quilt. Washing powder
"Midnight. Leave him to rest, your food is ready". I needn't really see who it was; it was someone who I'd always remember, unless of course someone in the hell hole they just rescued me from had extracted my memories of her. As always she stood tall with authority radiating off of her. Her hair was blood red and cut into a bob. Her eyes were a seductive burned auburn that glowed with strength and wisdom, instilling a strange sense of calm about me. In all honestly I didn't think it was possible, but she had become more beautiful since the last I saw her, she was tall with a body shaped like an hourglass and her boobs were perfect. - Hey what can I say? I'm a teenage boy!
Midnight mumbled something about following everything she says as he left, giving me an evil backwards glance as he walked to the other side of the warehouse, I assumed.
"Phoebes!" I flung the quilt kicked my legs around the edge of the bed and was greeted by a soft hug.
"Welcome back, I'm sorry we couldn't get you sooner we've been planning to get you out of there for a three years now, we managed to tap into their records and reports which led us to the rest of the system, they screwed you up pretty badly, we went through it the old fashion way, using a load of equipment and we had people on surveillance seeing who went in and out for that whole time so we had the guards shift schedules, then they refurbished, as a result we had to do it all over again, of course all of this would have been easier if you were around, that's why we came to get you, there are still people in there, we only had enough time to get you, I imagine they've got a couple more weeks before they start killing them off and dissecting them to see what makes them tick, but any who! Happy birthday!" Phoebe said happily hugging me again.
"Thanks," I stood up and nodded, taking in all of the stuff she just said wondering how I could of helped, where the hell I was, furthermore how long since they broke me out of that place and lastly what was the time.
"Your questioning where we are?" I didn't realise but phoebe was watching me the whole time.
"Yeah". I said while following her across the warehouse, it was big and dimly lit with crates everywhere, there were a couple of random beds and several mattresses covered in plastic, and most of the people were sitting around a small fire.
"The very edge of Cobbleton in an old bed warehouse, with a variety of individuals you know, and some you do not" So, I was right about it being a warehouse
"Ok, cool" I said quietly following her to where the rest of the group were, I sat down next to a black panther who was eating salmon from a dish, it seemed to be enjoying stripping the fish of its flesh, I looked more closely and then realised, it was Midnight.
"Bravo, you figured it out how long did it take you?" He spoke as though it was completely normal, never thought I'd see the day, a talking panther.
"Not long, about a minute, remember this is my first time seeing you like this, you never used to be in this form a lot around seven years ago". I pulled a plate out from the stack; Phoebe gave me a salmon too.
"Touché". He said quietly continuing his meal, half-heartedly I looked away and I just couldn't get my head around it a panther that talked
I decided to scan the circle to see who else I could remember, there were a few strange people who I had never seen before, like the girl with green skin, she was blond and wore a grey halter neck woollen jumper and what appeared to be jogging bottoms but through the flames she was a little hard to make out, then there was another girl, next to her, a black hoody shadowed her face, she had long wavy hair that rested on her shoulders and her slender arms rested on her knees. she was a little behind the girl in the grey jumper and from what I could tell her skin was a chocolate brown and she had a chicken leg in her hand.
In between me and Phoebe was a Japanese girl, her hair was long and reached her back and she was in a black kimono, printed pink cherry blossoms were scattered all over it. She had high cheekbones, her nose was little and the size of a button, her eyes were an electric blue, if I remember her name correctly it was Live Wire, but everybody called her Olivia or Oli, She smiled at me in acknowledgement as I took a bite of my salmon. There was another boy who was lounging on a bed the opposite side of Phoebe, his appearance and clothing reminded me of one of the elf people from Lord Of The Rings, his hair was long and brown, his features were hidden because of the dancing shadows the fire caused, he wore an old fashioned waistcoat that looked a bit like the dress robes you saw in Harry Potter, his trousers made of the same material, all of his garments were a smoky white colour, next to him was a long thin tube that was attached to a strap and a bow, I presumed the tube was full of arrows.
"I assume you want introductions, your eyes have been wondering around the circle for a while now". Phoebe smiled at me, I felt heat rush to my cheeks, ever since I could remember she liked to watch my take on things and always bring it up in a room full of people just so I'd feel embarrassed, If I had an older sister I think Phoebe would have been her.
"Yeah," I said as casually as I could.
"Well, this is Assassin" She gestured to the girl in the hood, for a second I thought I saw her nod, "This is Ditto but everybody calls her Dee" She gestured to the girl with green skin.
"Hi." she smiled happily towards me,
"Hey" I said after returning the smile.
"And last but not least, Aero" That was the boy in the waistcoat on the bed.
"Hello." His voice was quiet but it had strength, I imagined him to be some form of public speaker, or a librarian
"And all of you, this is Ashley". My name compared to all of theirs sounded really ordinary, Phoebe wasn't really her real name, but I've called it her for so long I just don't remember what her name actually is, I smiled as all of them looked at me, accept of course Midnight and Oli, Midnight was pushing the fish skeletons around his dish while Oli was playing with a handheld taser, lightly touching it with her forefinger and watching its spark dance along it and literally jump back into the taser itself. It crackled loudly while emitting a an unusual humming sound.
"Mid, just to clear things up, what exactly did you do to Baldy?"
"Who's Baldy? Oh, you mean the fat guy at the Institute with chocolate cake around his mouth, I just gave him a word of warning, gave him a couple of scratches here and there, made him bleed a little, scared him a little more and I told him that if I hear anything from the rest of my friends in there I'll come back and finish the job, after that I can use his blubber to catch me a whale of a meal". Midnight chuckled as he phased back into his human form. His catlike eyes dilated in pleasure and enthusiasm leaving only a ring of yellow surrounding black circles of psychotic darkness. His skeleton started to shrink and grow more and more human until he had returned to his secondary form with emo hair, lip piercing, band t-shirt, skinny jeans and vans.
"You like doing that to people?" I asked him as I edged over to Oli a little more, it may have been Baldy, and he's loathsome, filthy, malicious, crazy, mentally ill, and needed to get shaken up a little but that may have been overkill, just a little.
"Yeah to the enemy, its fun" His laugh was a little more sinister, "I like tarnishing every human with the same brush, every single one of them fears the unknown"-
"Not true". I said stubbornly, "I'm human,"-
"Yes, with powers, and you decided to embrace that not turn away from it and brand yourself as a freak of some sort" Which was true, I nodded and silently played with the metal band on my arm, Midnight was still looking at me, his eyes closing in on the band.
"You're still wearing that? Break it, actually burn it, just destroy it". His pupil had returned to their usual slits and the eye that was visible seemed troubled.
"Wait why?" I asked.
"What it do?" Olivia looked at it questioningly.
"Monitors my brainwaves along with other things that they probably haven't told me about". I pushed my hair out of my face and sighed.
"Like a GPS locator." Midnight tensed his left hand and before my very eyes it became a paw, he slashed his claws at the band just missing my skin, the band split open and curled up in front of me and immediately burst into flames, I looked at phoebe who was staring at the band, her golden eyes reflecting the flames, she stood up and jumped through the open window onto a tree next to it and then upwards, seconds later very light and rhythmical footsteps could be heard above us.
"You could have cut me!" I said to Midnight who raised an eyebrow at me as he retracted his claws. "Why is she on the roof?" I asked Oli.
"If is locator, then those people are going to know where we are most definitely going to try collect you" Oli's Japanese accent was very strong, as I remember her voice was like music to my ears.
"Oh, then shouldn't I be worried?"-
"Nope, she's pretty fine alone; phoenixes are very strong creatures".
Dee said, taking one of Assassins pieces of chicken and waved it around while she was talking.
"For your information. I am a very good hunter, precision is my speciality." Midnight had waited his turn to talk.
I made an annoyed sound at Midnight's comment. "That's right; I had forgotten she was a phoenix". I said this more to myself and ruffled my hair.
"You don't seem to have all of your memories intact do you?" Assassin lifted her head up a little more; I got the impression that she could see me, but from where I was sitting only her chin and nose were visible.
"No, I don't really know what they did to me in there all I can remember is being chained up and trying to break out every couple of days, them injecting me with anaesthetic and being one of their many test subjects and then for the last two or three years I'd given up, but they didn't give up on my healing powers, they'd shoot me with machine guns the lot, the bullets pierced my skin and work their way out but I'd still be able to feel it, it felt like I died and come back again with each shot."
She made a sort of 'hmm' noise at me and continued to munch on various pieces of fried chicken from a bucket with an animated chicken on the side.
Phoebe stood on the roof for quite sometime, silent and motionless, her head tilted towards the sky and her golden eyes looking out for the slightest bit of movement in the air or on the ground. Assassin stood up slowly, in between my blink and sigh there was a breeze and a piece of paper had taken her place, Midnight picked up the paper almost instantly everyone except me got up and rushed to the window, Phoebe's voice echoed above us. "Follow her and hurry, already she's nearly out of town". She seemed a little irritated at something. That was the first time I'd ever seen or heard phoebe not her quirky happy self.
Assassin had found her way into a little village just on the outside of Cobbleton, she arrived at a small house and looked it up and down, she looked around her cautiously before jumping into the air and hovering outside the window on the second floor, there was a boy in his room, the room happened to be filling up with water and the door was jammed shut, he pulled and pulled but the door didn't look as though it wanted to shift, the water was shoulder deep by the time she had gotten there and was still rising.
"Stop it". Assassin said to the boy quietly, his head whipped to where the voice came from, he saw a girl dressed in black standing on his window ledge, he only hoped that she wasn't going to kill him and had come to save him, he looked at her desperately now having to swim to keep his head above the water.
"You think I wouldn't if I could, if I knew how I wouldn't have made my room into a personal swimming bath! ".
"Sarcastic much?" Her tone of voice as usual was calm and silky. "Move" she continued after a moments thought.
"Move? Move where?" The boy had his hand against the ceiling to stop himself banging his head and was finding it hard to stay above water and even harder breathing, he moved as quickly as he could to the back of the room.
"Away from the window." Assassin said as she pulled out two silver colt forty-five's, in total she had shot the window six times, the water gushed out of the little holes before the glass broke from the water pressure, shortly after the glass shattered the boy came flying through the window along with the gallons of water he had created. Assassin caught him in her arms and pushed his long blond and soaking hair from out of his face, she raised an eyebrow and turned around to see Midnight, Oli and Dee and I behind her completely unfazed by the fact she was wet to her skin.
"You took your time" she looked at the boy and then looked back at us.
"You didn't really let us know you'd found another before the Institute did" Dee said quietly as she caught her breath and leant against the nearest tree,
"Leaving name of the village did not help either, we scout whole town" Oli pulled at her kimono.
"And I had to run with this thing on my back" Midnight threw me off of his back with no intention of being gentle.
"Do not blame me, blame your poor detection skills, if you had sensed it when I did then you would be standing here with me, had I been any later he would have passed out and died, so tell me what should I have done? Taken the time to draw a map. Or leave some kind of indication get here a great deal sooner and save another?"
"Annie"- Dee began
"My name is Assassin, it has never been 'Annie' and it never will be Annie. Do not try to humanize me." Her voice darkened a little.
"Assassin", Dee sighed, "You were born and raised to be a killer, your combat skills are far more superior to someone like mine, I may be able to copy them but only what I've seen you do already and even then it's not perfect."
"I know." She said solemnly turning around and disappearing just like she had done earlier within a faction of a second. Midnight passed me a reluctant sideways glance, I guessed that he was in no mood to take me back with him, I felt Oli's soft hand cup mine.
"We better hurry, no doubt that the Institute had had their eye on this kid for a while now, I'd think they'd be on their way here to bag 'n tag him". Midnight said it in a menacing way that sent a shiver down my spine and my blood run cold, the street lamp above him exploded, Oli looked at me, my head was starting to hurt again, my footing faltered a little and I starting panting.
"Ashley" she held me up; that was me panicking, the light exploding was caused by a sudden surge of worry.
"I'm fine, it's okay". For a second thought I saw a flicker of worry in Midnights eyes, he hesitated and turned around quickly trying to cover the fact that for a second- he cared, he cared for someone else other than himself, his back hunched over as he crouched down the shape reminded me of a loop in a rope. Effortlessly with style and the grace of a cat he sprung into the air and landed on a nearby roof and beckoned the group to follow.
"I'm having the last salmon. Any objections?" Midnight asked as he trotted along the slates above us in his panther form, I looked around everybody was now jogging in attempt to get home quickly.
"I think I speak for the group when I say you can have it" I shook my head as Oli and me jumped up onto a telephone pole.
"You ready for this?" Her eyes sparkled.
"No", I looked around to see everybody else had gone ahead, "I'm a human and my feet and I should stay firmly on the floor at all times, you see, me and heights don't really mix."
"Ah, you be alright, I with you" Oli smiled at me and ran full speed onto a single thin telephone wire, I think she had overlooked the fact that I'm only human and that there was a ninety-nine percent chance that I could die if we stopped or if I slipped.
"Olivia! In the short amount of time since I mention it last it looks like you've forgotten that I'm human
" I said shakily while trying to keep up with her, my feet kept slipping off of the wire causing me to judder as I went along, her hand still in mine.
"Oh no, I not forgotten, I told you, you fine, I with you" she smiled at me, unexpectedly she jumped onto a tree still holding my hand tightly while manoeuvring as though it was a gymnastics course, a very easy one at that, she pulled me out of the tree and clambered onto the roof of a house.
"What are you"- The rest of my sentence was cut off by two things, Oli's hand and a very familiar black four by four with tinted windows, I looked down the street to see Midnight in the shadow of a house across the street having jumped in his cat form and landed in his human form, he pressed himself against a wall, Dee was hiding on the other side of the car on the drive below us, we all stayed put for a short amount of time after it passed. Oli was the first to move she put me onto her back and jumped off of the roof landing soundlessly next to Dee, Midnight ran across the street to meet us.
"Let's take the back way". He said quietly leading us through some alleys and over a couple of back gardens, luckily most people around were asleep so we didn't get caught, it seems impossible Assassin had got to this little village in a few short minutes, it was a pretty long way away from the warehouse in Cobbleton it was only around thirty minutes after that that we finally got back there.
"Where have you been? You left ages ago and Assassin and Co came back already". Phoebe opened the door as we approached the warehouse.
"Rather that than get captured". Midnight walked in and took his place by the fire and instantly rolled onto his back while eating the salmon he wanted with a smile.
"Did they see you?" Phoebe shut the door and followed us back into the centre of the room.
"No, we stayed to the shadows and took the back way around, we've got three of their most wanted you'd think they'd have search parties or officials doing door to door searches, and what about the boys' parents? where were they while he was upstairs drowning?" Midnight was still on his back facing the ceiling. Everyone turned to look at Assassin who was in the far corner of the warehouse sitting on the floor at the bottom of his bed. The boy she had saved was sleeping restlessly. He tossed and turned in his sleep as though being tormented by some form of dream demon, his red and blotchy cheeks, sweaty forehead and occasionally string of incoherent words were all tell-tail signs of a bad dream.