Olivia did not enjoy her current situation. The guy from the donut shop named Samuel still grinned at her. Well, the mask grinned, he could be cross eyed and slack jawed for all Olivia knew. The two newcomers emerged onto the roof, and Olivia half turned, wanting to assess the new threats, but reluctant to take her eyes off the mask guy. She took a probing step to the side, Samuel did not move to intercept her. She backed away a couple more paces so she could get everyone in her field of view, getting a good look at the other two. Well this is disheartening.
A dark blue bandana wrapped across the face, just below the eyes, of the first person: a big guy a couple inches shorter than Olivia with blond hair and blue eyes. He dressed in urban camo fatigues and carried an assault rifle. It wasn’t trained on Olivia, just like the switchblade in Samuel’s hand wasn’t out. It didn’t change the fact that they were armed.
A girl in dark body armor (At least I think she’s a girl, the proportions are right) stood next to him, the visor of her helmet jet black. Olivia could make out the sound of a small fan whirring from behind the girl, and the occasional wire running under different bits of armor. The baton in her hand hummed faintly. Oh yeah. These people are here for a fight.
The group and Olivia considered each other for a few moments. Olivia’s fight or flight, curiously, told her to fight. Absolutely not. They have guns. I don’t want to hurt them unless I have to.
People would only cover up their faces like that if they were criminals, or had superpowers. Those two characteristics were not mutually exclusive either, so super powered criminals were of course not off the table. Odds were she would have to fight her way out. She didn’t like her chances, but it was better to die fighting than being locked up in a cage. She uncurled her hands and readied herself. Of course, I would still rather just escape somehow.
“Skulker, put the knife away,” spoke up the guy with the bandana. To Olivia he said “Hey, calm down. We’re not here for any kind of confrontation.” Doesn’t look like it. All three stood armed and tense, as if waiting for even the slightest excuse to fight. This made Olivia tense, showed in her body language, and that cycled back to the others in an endless cycle of escalating tense-ness. Not ideal for anyone’s health, truth be told.
“Tha’s what I said. Didn’t work then either,” broke in the mask guy who Olivia took to be Skulker in an amused tone. He pocketed his knife in what was presumably an attempt at breaking the aforementioned cycle. “Don’ go blamin’ me if she guts ya.” Or not.
“Skulker, shut up.” This from the one in the armor, with a weird voice that sounded somewhat automated.
“What… Please just leave me alone,” said Olivia. She began to back up towards the edge of the roof. If they weren’t going to attack, Olivia wasn’t either.
“Alright. I’m Nomad” said the bandana man in a rush, ignoring her plea. The others hung back a little behind him and let him speak. Leader guy? “You’ve met Skulker. This is Delta,” he gestured towards Skulker and the armor girl in turn, “We’re with the Meta Human Police. We want to help you out.”
“The same police that are with animal control, hunting me down?” asked Olivia, not noticing her bitter emphasis on the words “animal control”. Why should I trust any of them?
“Oh yeah. Probably shouldn’t ‘ave pointed tha’ out to ya,” said Skulker. “My bad.”
“And does helping me involve dragging me into a cage because I’m some kind of freak?” said Olivia before they had a chance to talk further. She was getting angry then. Still afraid, but she found a small part of herself secretly hoping they would give her an excuse.
Come on. Big guy with the big gun is the biggest threat. I’ll have to lunge real quick, swing a claw through the throat. Follow through to keep from being caught between other two. Guy without armor next, rip him up. Tear other’s armor off. Kill ‘em. Kill.
Olivia blinked. She had spaced out for a second. Nomad considered his answer, but she couldn’t tell what was going on behind the masks of the other two, whether they had caught her momentary lapse. Where did that come from? I think it would be a good idea to leave before I do something we’ll all regret. She backed up again. A couple steps and she could fling herself backwards and probably catch flight from this height.
“Fine. I guess I can’t blame you there. But before you go, I’m willing to bet that you don’t have too many memories. None, actually, at least not long term ones.” said Nomad. Skulker laughed as Olivia hesitated. How did he know that? Nomad said, “You aren’t the only one this has happened to, though you’re better equipped than most to handle it,”
What is that supposed to mean? Others like me? Olivia moved no further, reluctant to stay, yet reluctant to pass up possible information.
Nomad continued, “If you want answers, ask. But if you leave now, this opportunity is gone. Let’s go back inside, sit down, and talk.”
Answers?!? Is this a trap? They’re not just lying, are they? But a chance to answer questions, even a small chance…
“Why should I believe any of you?”
“I don’t lie, an’ he ain’t lyin’ either,” said Skulker roughly, all hints of a smile gone from his voice. “An’ besides, we could’ve just exploded ya, instead of having this little conversation.”
“You’re just going to have to take that leap of faith, and ignore Skulker’s exploded comment,” said Nomad. He put his rifle on the ground, Delta placing her baton beside it.
She paused. Exploded? Then she said, “Fine. But we stay out here.”
As Nomad nodded in agreement, Skulker’s hand shot up in the air and waved. Olivia barely suppressed a reactionary flinch. Skulker asked, “Wait, quick question. You got a name?”
“Alrighty then,” said Skulker, walking to the door between the roof and apartment, sitting down and relaxing against the door frame. Immediately his foot started to tap to a rhythm only he heard. Everyone else remained standing. He spread his hands wide. “Ask away, Olivia.”
Olivia looked around at their surroundings, both to search for any potential traps or onlookers, as well to buy some time to gather her thoughts. Some cars drove on the roads now, but Olivia and the rest were out of view of the street. She heard a distant buzz, but didn’t focus on it.
“So…who er, what…am I exactly,” she said, stumbling over the words. She hated being vulnerable like this in general, especially to people she didn’t know, but she wanted answers.
“A feral,” said Skulker, as if that statement were obvious.
“No shit, jackass. She probably has no idea what that means,” said Delta in irritation. She looked to Olivia for confirmation, and received a shook head in response. To her, Delta said, “So basically a feral is someone who triggers and becomes half animal. You know what triggering is?”
Olivia nodded slowly, having barely heard the question. Human. I was right. I used to be human and normal.
Delta continued, “Anyways, it’s not just the body that changes. The brain gets fucked up in the process, just like everything else. Kind of like some of the human structures get overwritten by the new animal brain parts. Instincts, how you act, all the rest. They don’t mesh too well so the mental thing is usually more severe than the bodily changes. The fact that you can talk is rare for ferals. Reading right after triggering is nigh unheard of. As is the fact you haven’t killed anyone.”
“Why would I kill someone? And who was I originally?”
“Each feral, excuse the term, is different, but every time one appears there is usually a body count associated. Injuries at the very least, if we’re lucky,” answered Nomad.
“And as for who you are, we don’t have much to go on, no disappearances that would indicate who you were. DNA testing won’t work, yours will have been altered too much,” said Delta, “We can usually work it out by eyewitnesses, but the first person who saw you was that one woman you rescued, then Skulker. No one would watch a feral trigger and not say anything about it. They’re actually quite horrific to see in person.”
“Yeah, you’re really fuckin’ weird,” said Skulker.
Before Olivia could think of a response (What do you say to that?) Delta rounded on him. “Impressive. I didn’t know that the human mouth could withstand a foot entering it at such a high velocity. Now stop talking.”
Nomad sighed, Olivia felt as though he did that a lot. He said, “I think what Skulker was trying to say is that your case is very atypical. You kind of just appeared out of nowhere.”
God I hope these people are honest. God I hope so. Paranoia forgotten, she listened eagerly, fingers curled (people seemed more nervous when they could see the claws). That distant buzzing was still in the back of her head but she was hearing far more important things, once they got through Skulker’s commentary. Olivia heard a murmur from Delta, who looked as if she were listening to someone else. Some of what they said was mildly disturbing but Olivia felt truly hopeful for the first time in…forever. Then she got an idea.
“So meta humans or supers or whatever. You all have superpowers right? Stuff that shouldn’t be possible, but is?” she asked.
They hesitated, exchanged looks, then nodded. Nomad said, “I know what you’re thinking, and I’m truly sorry but no, there is no fix for this. I’m no scientist, but those memories aren’t gone or hidden, they have been completely erased. Your memory of other impersonal stuff will be hit or miss. Like you know what a movie is, right?” Olivia nodded slowly again. “But you can’t remember ever watching a movie. And as for the rest of you, there is no power that can truly change you back physically, not the way you’re thinking, not without killing you. I’m sorry.”
“Oh, OK,” said Olivia in a small voice, trying not to show her disappointment.
“HEY, cheer up there! At least ya ain’t dead yet. Besides, Delta might not be the brightest bulb…” said Skulker.
“I swear to all that is holy that the next time you make that light bulb joke at my expense I will fry your ass. All you shall know will be electricity and your own screams,” Delta snapped, nearly shouting the last word. Olivia suddenly got the sense that Skulker sniped at Delta a lot. Nomad looked as though he might say something, then reconsidered. Skulker cackled madly as Delta turned her attention back to Olivia with a sigh.
“Soooo, I’m guessing you work with electricity somehow,” said Olivia to Delta. Delta gave a weary nod in response, inviting no further comments. “What were you all going to do if I wasn’t, you know…”
“Oh, I wanna field this one,” said Skulker, in between laughs.
“No,” said Delta and Nomad simultaneously. Nomad continued, “Like we said, yours is actually an atypical case. We weren’t aware of you until a couple days ago. Even then we would have typically gone straight for tracking you down and sedating you. Then you’d be transported to a feral research facility, and they would figure out where to go from there. But the people you’ve met, Skulker included…”
“You’re welcome,” called out Skulker.
“…said you were more intelligent and peaceable than any other feral. Hence us tracking you here, rather than just animal control with tranquilizers.”
He probably could have continued further, but was cut off by a building exploding a few blocks away.