Origins Part 1: Indoctrination
Echo briefly revealed a network of clear pipes filled with a clear fluorescent liquid, I moved closer and tried to use the tip of my gun to shove more of the material onto the floor but I couldn’t. It really was solid. It was probably pure luck I’d manage to target a weak point. I couldn’t stretch further but I knew there was a way out through these panels, unfortunately, it wasn’t a human sized exit.
I felt something behind me and dropped in time to see a bullet connect with a pipe, liquid instantly gushed out, blurring my vision. Shit, shit, shit. I spun and could see a vague silhouette behind me. The white light showed the gleam of his gun. He was about to fire a second time. I turned to run and slipped on the liquid. Luckily he chose that moment to fire a second time. I felt the bullet zip above me, where my chest had been seconds ago. I winced as I connected with the hard flooring.
“Stupid bitch,” he muttered with a strong eastern european accent. “What’s a girl doing in here any way?” he practically spat. I sat up, glaring at him.
“Cause a girl can’t do what a guy can?” I threw back, my grip tightening on my- oh crap, I dropped my gun. My eyes widened and he smirked at my slow realisation. I saw it to my side on the floor but he anticipated my move for it, his foot suddenly appearing and kicking my chin as I went to my knees. My head spun as my teeth clicked together loudly, blood erupting in my mouth. I felt water forming in my eyes, a sharp sound leaving my lips.
“See, pathetic,” he laughed. I glared at him and picked up my gun. He let out a wolf whistle. “You going to really try to beat me girl?” he snorted. “Hey, maybe I’ll protect you and fuck ya before killing you.” I drowned out the rest of his words, all of a similar degrading nature. I shuddered at the very idea of letting him touch me again. I slowly shifted backwards on the floor, putting space between us.
“Ohh, the girl has a plan. Let’s see what you have,” he smirked. I tried to go into echo but my surroundings were patchy. I came back to the visual world, confused. I glanced down at my hand, seeing the strange orange glowing liquid from the pipes. It was vicious. I focused on it briefly and realised the interference was coming from it. And this was in the pipes, probably all around the structure. So that’s why I couldn’t see past this maze in my echo and why I couldn’t find an escape route. I figured this out in three seconds before looking at the guy again. Apparently he was playing with his prey, sick bastard. I let my hand form a fist. Why had I been put in this situation? Sure I’d messed up but I’d never challenged the syndicate in any way. Without my echo I felt helpless and naked.
“Bored now,” he sighed, taking a step forward. I moved quickly, dropping down and throwing a handful of the liquid in his direction. It missed his face but he recoiled anyway. I used that time to grab my dropped gun. I feigned to hit him and missed. I knew I was close to him and he would try to attack me in some way. I rolled, avoiding his foot but colliding with the right wall.
“Bitch,” he muttered, wiping the orange fluid from his clothing before turning, his body easily towering over mine. He hadn’t realised I’d grabbed my gun yet. He grabbed my collar with both hands and lifted me up, shoving me into the wall. The way the material of my PJ top hung half-strangling me. “You’re going to pay for this,” he said, his disgusting breath rolling over my face. Even with the liquid I was close enough, my echo showed his heartbeat, bright and clear. I couldn’t hesitate. It was me or him. I lifted the gun and shot. He’d barely acknowledged the weapon pressed against his chest beforehand.
I’d watched people die in films and TV shows but I wasn’t prepared for the reality. His eyes widened in shock, a harsh wheezing sound leaving his lips. I was instantly dropped to the floor, a thick dribble of blood pouring from his chest wound and onto my head. I cringed and crawled away on the floor. Meanwhile the guy slipped onto his knees, trying to draw in gasping breaths. He tried to say something but no words could form.
He slumped forward, blood continuing to drain from what I could see was a gaping wound in his back. His body convulsed once and then went still. I covered my mouth with one hand but it didn’t make a difference. I turned and threw up on the floor, my body shaking. The sight of the body and the blood immediately set me off again. I escaped into echo, ignoring the sharp smell of blood. The other liquid was still throwing me off but I was already walking away from the carnage. I could feel my heart beating wildly in my chest, my breathing ragged and loud and my steps hurried. Any of the other two would easily find me at this rate.
“You’re alive?” I couldn’t really register the words in echo, but the sound of another voice sent my panic into overdrive. I turned around to the source of the voice, raised my gun and fired. Piercing the heart again with accuracy.
“My oh my, you are something.” I jumped at the voice in my head as it ripped me once again from echo. I blinked, seeing the guy who had let me go from earlier, the one I had assumed was already dead. I knew nothing more about him but guilt rolled through me. I turned, hacking but it wasn’t physically possible for me to throw up more. I left his body and tried to find the last person. A part of my mind nagged me to go back to the hole I’d created in the pipes, to find a way out. But I shuddered at the idea of going back to the bodies. Echo was safe, there was no blood. No body, no face. Screams didn’t pierce my ears. The third person was running, their heart racing. They weren’t a fighter, just like the second guy.
“Ten minutes,” the voice said, this time more gently, not yanking me away from my echo sanctuary. I needed to get out of here. I knew the fastest way to do that was ahead and with another bullet. I’d done it twice already, what difference would a third make? I think it was a girl, based on the higher pitch when she tried to beg me. I felt my hands shaking as I realised she couldn’t run anymore, her lungs heaving, her heartbeat going crazy. Her form slid down the floor before me.
“Two minutes,” the voice whispered, “What are you waiting for? You’re about to earn freedom and much more?” I didn’t care about anything he said apart from the word freedom. I needed out of this hellish place, out of the clothes covered with another man’s blood.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. Her breathing hitched then stunted. Like the other two her death was surprisingly quiet. When I left echo I saw she had long black hair and smooth caramel skin. For a moment I panicked it was Kellen but no, she was taller and more mature than Kellen. I slumped against the wall furthest from the woman’s body and slid down, blood trailing the walls above me as I did so. The lights shut off and I considered my echo but I was too tired.
“You’ve done very well Juliette. I can’t wait to meet you.” I looked upwards at those last words, just who was this guy?