August 24th, 2059
The blow straight to my stomach drives all the wind from my body, and I tumble to the ground, hands snaking round my abdomen to protect myself from further hits. I'm not usually taken by surprise like this, but Puck is an expert at the silent assault, and I was far too busy fending off Quinn's attacks to even think about where he was. Damn, why can't I stay on track for just one second? Flipping myself up again, despite the site of the punch burning with a dull ache, I whip around to try and fend my second assailant off, but Quinn takes the opportunity to ice down the small of my back, the biting cold causing me to wince and bite my lip. I throw up my barriers once more, just in time to send Puck's fist glancing off my right shoulder, but by then Quinn's got me round the neck, and the ice is creeping up my throat, the crushing cold making me shriek out in agony. She squeezes, tighter, tighter, tighter...
'Stop!' At once, the grip under my chin lessens, and I drop to the floor, barely having enough energy to throw down my barrier one more time before I hit the concrete. My shallow, wheezing breaths become deeper and stronger as the ice encasing my neck begins to melt, but the bruises left my Quinn's stranglehold and Puck's assault remain, making it difficult to inhale enough oxygen.
'A poor performance, Lopez.' I wince again as I push myself gingerly off the floor, arms trembling as I haul myself into a sitting position. 'I fail to understand how you even managed to enter Squadron A's lower ranks if you can't even defend yourself against your peers.' Performance Overseer Sylvester's gaze bores into me like an electric drill, and it takes all of my willpower to look up and meet her eyes. 'You power is shielding from physical harm, correct?' When I don't reply, she jabs me with the tip of her boot, eliciting a snigger from both Quinn and Puck.
'Yes ma'am.' I barely refrain from spitting, instead putting as much derision into my voice as I can.
'Well, then, considering you were lucky enough to get into Squadron A with such a mediocre skill set, I suggest you use what little talent you have from now on. Understood?'
'...I understand. Ma'am.'
Doesn't she realise how fucking hard it is to fight and shield at the same time? I am so getting Puck and Quinn back for this.
'I'll be passing on my report to your Squadron Leader. If I were you, Lopez , I wouldn't expect a bright future in this Squadron.' And with that, she leaves, giving me one final jab in the ribs before she turns and walks out of the training compound.
'Well, looks like we got another new kid who thought they could make it.' Quinn sneers, as Puck guffaws in agreement. 'Stay out of my way, and try to keep your head down, understood? I don't want to catch your failure.' She struts out of the room, and Puck mutters 'Loser!' under his breath before following her back to the dorms.
I finally have enough energy to stand, and just before they leave, I shout after them, 'We'll see about that, jerkwads! Don't think I'm done with you yet!' Then, the world turns grey around the edges, and I sink back down to my knees, before passing out into a dreamless sleep.
February 17th, 2064
Her eyes. Those are the first things I notice about her. A deep, endless aquamarine that draws me in and won't let me go. The pale blonde lashes framing them are delicate, catching the dim light until they almost seem white, and her skin is pale cream, dotted with a smattering of light brown freckles that spread across both cheeks. She looked up when I entered the room, and now that her face is in the light and turned towards me, I can't seem to look away. Her lips are full, and coloured a rose pink that is totally kissable...wait, hold up, Lopez. Don't even go that way. This is a prisoner.
She hoists herself up from the floor, and I intensify my shield, amping up the energy level until every muscle is tense from the strain. However, instead of attacking me like I half-expected her to do, she looks into my eyes confusedly for a good ten seconds without looking away, before breaking out into a smile, and saying, 'Oh my gosh. I am so glad someone else turned up. Are you here to let me out? People keep telling me I broke in to somewhere, but I don't remember anything. Or did you come here by mistake too? I'm really hungry.'
This sudden onslaught of friendly banter confuses me, and I almost smile back, still trying to understand what she said, but then I remember my training, and the good ol' poker face makes a return appearance. She doesn't remember anything? A likely story. She's probably a spy from the government. This thought saddens me as I open my mouth, attempting to construct a reply. Someone so beautiful shouldn't be executed. Someone so beautiful shouldn't be involved in all this pain and fighting.
'What's your name?' It's the only question I can think of off the top of my head, and fire it straight back at her in the same brisk, cold tone I use for almost everything. It doesn't betray the slightest hint of the turmoil of emotions that run just below the skin.
'Ummm...Brittany? Yeah, Brittany.' She smile happily, as if she's just completed a difficult puzzle by herself.
Her face drops at this one, and she struggles for a moment, face creasing in noticeable concentration, before shaking her head sadly. 'I'm...I'm sorry...I don't remember.'
Dammit, why is she so cute? This is not making a nasty job any easier.
'I will remind you, Brittany, that this is not a game.' I stride forward, getting all up in her grill as I snarl her supposed 'name'. Forcing my eyes away from her lips, I lock gazes with her. 'You will tell us the information we need to know, or we will find a way to get it out of you.'
'Like, how will you get it out of me?' She seems genuinely confused. 'I can't remember anything. Do you have a Rememberall, like in Harry Potter? 'Cause if you do, that is seriously cool. Can I have one?'
This outburst is even more nonsensical than the first, and I have to restrain myself from laughing in her face. Either she's very stupid, or stupidly brave. Either one's enough to get her killed here.
'Enough with the games. Who sent you?'
'I'm really sorry, but I don't know. I think my names sounds like Britney Spears, if that helps. Your hair's really nice. It's so pretty and, um, nice.'
Is she insane? Or have I not had enough coffee this morning?
A subtle noise behind me alerts me to another prescence, and I turn round. Blaine Anderson, Squadron B Leader, steps in, his face a little less cold than mine, but still as smooth and emotionless. Not surprising, though. All of the members of the intelligence sector prefer to keep their emotions under wraps.
'About damn time, Anderson.' I mutter, but he merely inclines his head, before allowing the ghost of a smile to flicker across his lips.
'Courteous as ever, Squad Leader Lopez.' He murmurs. 'How can I help you on this fine morning?'
I gesture to Brittany, and he clicks the door shut behind him before walking towards her. I step back, and walk away from her, stopping close to the door and turning so I half-face the pair.
'Blondie here broke into the compound at about 0450. Finncompetent and his cronies rounded her up pretty fast, but they still can't figure out how she got in. No breaks in the wall, no CCTV, no sightings. I've asked her a few questions, but she seems to be incapable of even remembering her full name. Very convenient, of course.'
He nodded shortly, and assumes the same position in front of her as I did. She doesn't even flinch, but instead smiles cheerfully at him, and whispers 'Hi!' under her breath. He ignores her.
'You want me to see if she's telling the truth.'
I nod. 'And if she's hiding anything else in that ditzy mind of hers.'
'What does ditzy mean?' Again, we both ignore her. Blaine steps even closer towards her, and his face grows stony with concentration. His bushy eyebrows knit together, and his hazel eyes close, scrunching together. Brittany looks a little concerned, and offers a quizzical, 'Are you alrigh-' before squeaking a little when Blaine grabs the sides of her head and presses his forehead to his own. Then she goes slack in his grasp, and the two fall into a perfect silence.
I feel sorry for Brittany. Even if she is a spy, I once let Blaine Anderson into my head, and I wasn't pretty. No-one would like having some greasy-haired Squadron B rifling through your most personal memories, and I'm sure she's no exception. I watch the pair, locked in an odd embrace, for a full minute, before they break apart, Brittany's cheeks flushed and hair tousled, and Blain breathing fast, quick breaths.
Eww, it almost looks like they've been doing the nasty. This thought both amuses me, mainly because Blaine is as gay as a three-dollar-bill, and disgusts me. I shove it away as quickly as I can, because no way do I want a mental picture up in here. I had leant up against the cell while Blaine was scouring Brittany's mind, and I straighten up as Blaine releases Brittany, who stumbles back a few paces and blinks blearily.
'Find anything interesting?'
Blaine looks troubled, and I give him a few seconds to gather his thoughts. Finally, he seems to focus back on me, and he admits grudgingly, 'Well, she's telling the truth. Nothing's left in her brain as far as memories are concerned apart from her name and age.'
'Well...what are they?'
Brittany answers before Blaine can, still blinking her eyes as if she is awaking from a deep sleep. 'My...my name is Brittany S. Pierce.' She smiles. 'See, I told you it sounded like Britney Spears. And I'm nineteen.'
Huh. Same age as me. I choose not to acknowledge her, and turn back to Blaine. 'That can't be the only thing in there. Who does she work for? Who brought her here? Childhood memories? Anything?' If we could pinpoint where she came from, then we could see whether or not she came from a government-controlled area, and therefore if she was under their control.
'Nothing. However...I can confirm one thing.'
'What?' Enough with the drama already.
'She doesn't work for the government.' This information takes me by surprise, and I raise my eyebrows quizzically.
'How can you tell? She has no memories.'
'Because...she's a mutant.'
When Blaine says this, two things happen. I lose control of my mask, and let incredulity and disbelief cloud my features. And Brittany suddenly straightens, her face snapping back into focus as she smiles and exclaims 'Oh yeah, I am.'
'A mutant?' This was rare as it got. When the United States Government issued a nationwide call for mutant capture and extermination, plenty of mutants who didn't want to get burnt by angry neighbours fled into the more remote areas of America and set up pockets of strongholds. Many of these were destroyed, but the one I call home still remains; that of the Mutant Resistance League. In those days, it was usual for the station to receive at least ten or twenty new mutants a day, many of whom had abandoned everything to find safety, or were seeking revenge for the death of their families. As time went on and the remaining free mutants were slowly rounded up and killed, the government armies scoured the countryside in search for rebel strongholds, but only the protective illusions and shields of the MRL kept them safe from their enemies. This also had the side effect of closing them off from other mutants, and it had been a good ten years since there were any intruders into MRL grounds, especially a mutant who had miraculously survived the government culls. This isn't possible. What kind of power must Brittany have to have survived what killed so many others, and to find and infiltrate our location?
I snap my mask back on, and reply sharply, 'A mutant?'
'Yes, and with a rather unique gift.' Blaine eyes Brittany, as if warning her not to interrupt, but she's looking at me now, obviously contemplating the series of emotions that had undoubtedly flitted across my face. Dammit. Blaine continues. 'Miss Pierce here has the power not only of visual invisibility, but also mental. She can bypass any heat, motion, telepathic or empathetic sensors. Including our own. Quite a powerful gift. If Miss Pierce is whom she seems to be, which is a very lucky person, then she could be utilized to great effect in our forces.'
'Yeah, well, we'll see about that.' A snarky voice emanates from a comms unit pinned to Anderson's lapel, and he almost jumps, a feat that only Sue Sylvester's voice could command from the most unflappable member of our base. 'Greasy, Taco Bell, meet me in my office immediately. I wish to confer with both of you on this matter.'
I roll my eyes exasperatedly. Of course she was eavesdropping on the whole thing. In unison, me and Blaine both drone 'Yes, Commander Sylvester.' and begin to make our way out of the prison cell. As I close the door behind me, I catch a last glimpse of Brittany's face. For the first time, she looks frightened; and so she should be. However, I can't help feeling a twinge of pity as I follow Anderson down the containment cell corridor and towards the commander's quarters.
'So.' Sylvester eyes each and every person seated around the glass boardroom table in her headquarters. Many of the people she glares at cower in their seats, others merely flinch or look away. Only me and Quinn hold her gaze, years of being personally ridiculed by the Commander in her PO days hardening our resolve. She flicks her eyes back to Anderson, who swallowed audibly.
'You're telling me that this intruder, who we know nothing about, should be recruited without delay into the higher echelons of Squadron A?' Blaine looks terrified, and I'm not surprised. Even with ten years of leadership under his belt, he hasn't received the Squad A training that made us immune to fear.
'Well...what I'm trying to say, Commander, is that Brittany merely appears to be ex-extremely fortunate. Her mutant s-status means she is obviously not a government spy and her...her talents could be of great use to our cause. Due to her relatively low levels of logical intelligence, but good imagination, she would be better suited to Squad A rather than B or C.'
I scowl and let out an angry murmer. Who's he calling stupid?
'Taco Bell? What do you think of this?'
'Well, Sue.' I say, eliciting gasps from some members of the group. Well, if she's gonna call me Taco Bell...Besides, no way is she gonna demote her best S.L. 'I think it seems sensible. Brittany certainly appears pretty harmless. As long as she holds up to the training...' In reality, I don't care whether or not she held up to the training. I couldn't let myself stand my while Brittany was killed. Whoops, there goes my impartial cold front. Why does this keep happening?
'That's the problem I have with this, Taco Bell. She's harmless.' Sue makes left hand into a fist and raps it lightly on the table. 'Squad A is not harmless. Squad A are the fighters. They're the ones who aren't afraid to kill a man to save a mutant. If Pierce is a liability, and her powers aren't useful somewhere else, we can't afford to keep her alive.'
'I'll make sure she can fight.' I blurt out. 'You know me, Sue. If there's one thing I do, I make things happen. Brittany will be able to fight by the end of the training period, I swear it.'
Sue regards me for a while. Then, she withdraws her fist, meeting both hands under her chin as she holds her stare. 'Fine. But on you head be it. C Leader Hudson, make sure the prisoner is released and sent to training bunks immediately.' Finn immediately grabs his comms unit and speaks a few hushed sentences to his men. The Commander grins, and I am reminded of a cat that has just caught a small bird, before she gets up and throws a parting sentence over her shoulder.
'I hope you know what you're getting into, Taco Bell.'
Aww sheeet Taco Be-I mean Santana. Looks like Sylvester's on yo case.
Anyways, the flashback at the beginning of this chapter is kind of a continuation on the first one, where Santana got accepted by Squadron A. It's from her early days of training in Squadron A.
The hierarchy for the squadrons kind of goes like this:
Civilians-Those to old young, or sick to be assigned duty (Any able bodied person must be assigned a job in one of the three Squadrons. The youngest age is fourteen, but tryouts for squadrons, aptitude tests, et.c. start at thirteen. Most of the younger recruiots spend their first couple of years until they are sixteen learning the ropes.)
Squadron C-This squadron deals with surveillance and border patrol. It's boring, but safe, so many of those who fail aptitude for A and B get placed here. Finn Hudson leads this sqaudron.
Squadron B-Squadron B's job is almost as dangerous as A's-they are in charge of intelligence and recon (a.k.a. spying and stuff) Lots of people who have skills such as mind reading, telepathy, empathy and invisibility get placed here. Blaine Anderson leads this squadron.
Squadron A-Squadron A are the most respected, but hold the most dangerous jobs in the MRL. They are responsible for raiding government locations, and attacking soldiers that attempt to harm mutants or take over mutant-controlled areas. Squadron Leader A is often the closest Squadron leader to the commander, and A Leaders are often picked to assume Commander's position. Santana Lopez leads this Squadron.
Commander-The most senior member of the three units, they make the final decisions, and run the joint as they see fit. Sue Sylvester is the current Commander.
Hope that clears some stuff up for you. So far the character's that have been featured are Sue (Commander), Santana, Puck, Quinn and Brittany (Squadron A), Blaine (Squadron B), and Finn (Squadron C). There shall be moar.
Sorry about that ramble, and remember to review!