Chapter 2 – Lifeline
I don't remember how long I lay there in my azure solitude. Time is relative inside the space of a memory; it seems like just a few seconds later when the door was opened and I was pulled out of the room by the handcuffs by yet another police officer and pushed roughly along a corridor. If I'd been able to swallow the huge lump that had formed in my throat I would have attempted to make some form of conversation or at least asked the guy where I was going (not that he would have answered, but still, it would have been nice to even have a go). Unfortunately by the time I had managed to force said lump down into my stomach we'd stopped outside a doorway, which I was bundled straight through, the door slamming behind me, which caused a dull sense of finality to bring itself upon me. It was pitch black in the room. I was probably going to be punished now. This was it.
All of a sudden, a light flickered on – a mere table light, but some kind of symbol of hope all the same. I was about to instinctively take a step towards it when I reminded myself of my circumstances and stopped myself. Before I could examine the situation and make a proper decision about whether to move with the sudden change in the room, a voice sliced through the liquid ebony. Its deep, masculine tone instantly told me it was a man speaking. He sounded calm, almost lazy in fact, but at the same time there was both a mocking undertone and a much more menacing hint to it. I knew instantly that I wasn't to get on the wrong side of him, whoever he was.
"Your name is Piper Angela Rowan, am I correct?" He said from his hiding place in the darkness. I nodded, fully aware that the light was shining on me and illuminating my actions, allowing me to stay in silence's security and use a nod rather than display the weakness that I knew would probably be all the more present in my voice right now.
"Your parents' names are Eva Michelle Rowan, maiden name Thompson, and Mike Chester Rowan." I nodded again. "You are sixteen years old, and up until July 13th you were studying at Sir Rory's Academy for Boys and Girls." Another nod. "As of today, August 28th, you have been training yourself in the art of parkour, an illegal activity to all those that want a peaceful life." I nodded once more, although this time I realised that my whole body was shaking like jelly. Footsteps echoed off the wall as the man approached – and then he too was bathed in the light of the lamp. I took a good look at him. He had dark, badly cropped hair, and hard set features, including what was either a scar or a tattoo beside his right eye, I couldn't quite tell at that moment in time. I wasn't that focused on his face though, because at that point my eyes travelled downwards and fixed themselves on the azure blue t-shirt he wore underneath a heavy leather jacket. Come on Piper, I thought to myself, get yourself together. Wrenching my gaze from his torso I forced myself to look him straight in the eye. This guy's appearance and demeanour definitely matched what I had managed to derive from the way he spoke.
"I run a huge risk, being the one to deal with you here and now," he said, "if certain people in certain areas were to find out that I was still alive..." he chuckled, but did not continue, merely moving onto the next subject. "I've been watching you through CCTV while you were in your cell, and I couldn't help noticing... you stayed on the blue side of the room. You don't like the colour red then?"
I shook my head, voice still stuck in my throat. Come on, I had to say something. "No," I said, "I detest it."
A small smile briefly appeared on his lips, but it was gone in the blink of an eye. "You prefer blue?"
"Yes," I said, "very much so."
His eyes travelled over me, lingering at the blue gloves I still had on. He nodded, almost in approval. "I see.
"You caused a lot of trouble today, Piper, I hope you understand that. Most people that are seen practising parkour are caught and instantly executed. They're known as runners as I'm sure you already know, and they work for the more shady characters in the city, those who refuse to accept the changes that Mayor Callaghan has brought upon this city."
"I'm not a r-" I started, but the guy merely raised his voice and continued.
"However, the defining characteristic of a runner is that they are heavily attracted to the colour red. When we arrest one, we put them in one of those cells for a few hours as merely a test more than anything. A test to see who's side they're on. If they stay in the red side, they're... 'dealt' with. If they're reside mainly in the blue area..." I stopped breathing. Could... could this be a lifeline? He turned back to me, placing both hands on the same desk that light was resting on.
"Those who show a liking for blue, we take in as members of Project Icarus," he said.
I swallowed hard. "Wh...what's Project Icarus? If you don't mind me asking, that is," I said hurriedly. He smiled – it was a frightening twist of the lips, but it was some hint of positive emotion anyway.
"My name is Jacknife," he said, "I'm the head of Project Icarus. We train people in parkour to help track runners down, to capture them and bring them justice. I'd like you to become a part of that, seeing as you've already showed some of the basic skills we need to bring down this menacing opposition."
I blinked. I was actually going to get out of this alive? All because I'd chosen one colour over another? No freaking way. My mouth seemed to open on its own accord, and I found myself saying, "Sure. Sounds good." Not that I appeared to have a choice anyway. Jacknife's smile widened, and I had to screw up my fists to stop me from flinching at the sight of it.
"Good decision," he said, "who knows? You could be just the person to find Faith Connors."
Oh the irony. The person that I'd become absolutely fixated with, learnt from as if she was my master, was suddenly the person who I ultimately would have to set out to find – and kill.