Type 0

In a future where all supernatural creatures-- Pixies, Werewolves, Witches and Vampires-- have been categorized along with humans, Kara expects her operation to go as planned.
When a child turns eighteen they are sorted into their 'Type' just like any other, given a barcode on their wrist that holds all government required information. Height, weight, species, and credits to use for payment. A permanent ID, ready for scanning.
When Kara finds out she's not who she thought she was, her whole life changes in an instant. Suddenly she's training to fight creatures she never knew existed.
But her powers are more unique than anyone expected. Powers that could come with deadly consequences if she got into the wrong hands.

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1. The Barcode

I flicked through the magazine, trying to find an article I hadn’t yet read, something to take my mind off today.

            My barcode. My identity.

            I mentally slapped myself in the face. Come on, seriously! It's just a glorified tattoo, a rite of passage, even. The one thing you need to get out from living with your parents.

            My mind wandered back to the day, two months ago, when they lined us up at school, taking a vial of blood from each of us. Back then I was seventeen, my eighteenth birthday only two days ago. Now I was an adult, and about to get all the perks that came with that.

            The Test is easy for most kids, just confirms what they knew they were. The pale kids with fangs—  Type 2, Vampires, the kids who get their own special cage on full moons—Type 3, Werewolves, the green kids with a phobia of iron and anything metallic— Type 4, Pixies. And the emo kids who walk around with a constant pissed off look on their faces— Type 5, Witches. Anyone else is Type 1, Humans.

            I was the latter.

            I shifted uncomfortably in the Greenview hospital-issue nightgown, thanking whatever deity sorted out clothing that this one wasn't backless. My best friend Brionie sat next to me, feet up on the coffee table in the hospital reception. She smirked at whatever celeb gossip article she was reading, her fangs making small dents in her bottom lip. Three guesses as to what type she was.

            "How old are these things? I mean, everyone knows Sheyenne Forbes is a Werewolf, she came out like two months ago." Bri rolled her eyes, throwing the magazine back down on the table.  She sighed and crossed her arms, then turned to me, giving me a pointed look. Her hair was long and deep red, flowing around her shoulders. I was sure they told us to tie our hair up for the operation, but we were never the sort of people to follow rules.

             She tilted her head towards two girls sat in the corner. They both had green tinged skin and pitch black eyes. Both sets of the creepy eyes were staring dead ahead, it looked like they were both video game characters on pause, you couldn't even see them breathing.

            "As if they even need to be told what Type they are." She said under her breath. Though we all knew it was more than that. The barcode that the doctors insert under our skin, normally on the left hand wrist, not only marks us for what we are, but also allows the GSA to keep track of us all. Ever since the overcrowding wars of '92 everything has been a lot more controlled. To have more than one child now you have to present your case to your local branch of government, describing in full your relationship status, total earnings for that year, and a financial plan. Of course they aren't too strict, if you have twins or even triplets you get a monthly bonus to help out.

            The barcode is also like a credit card, or, more accurately, a debit card. You load it on with your credits and you scan it wherever you go. A taxi ride, a meal out, a new house. Everything includes a wrist scan.

            I rubbed mine, trying to forget the stories of excruciating pain I've heard from the girls at school, and let my eyes wander to the wall screen. This one was smaller than normal, spanning the width of the receptionist's desk. If it was turned off it would look like a regular rectangle of wallpaper, but right now it was showing a GSA sanctioned advert for the barcode. It showed a ridiculously smiley woman placing her wrist in the medi-cuff, two metal bands circling round to hold it in place. She smiled at the female doctor who smiled back. I noticed that, the smiles. They never have adverts in Medi-bays without some creepy stranger with a plastered-on smile. It was supposed to calm but it just made me feel sick. They skipped the next part, when they inserted the four needles to numb the entire hand, some people freaked out about that part. Instead they faded to a bright blue and red logo for the GSA, Global Security Alliance. The G and A were a deep blue while the S was a crimson red. The tagline faded in, 'Safe. Secure. Society. For You.' and the three bell jingle followed it. Next would be a small news bulletin, showing the latest headlines around the world. I had it memorised by now, we had been sitting here for almost half an hour and this thing circled round every five minutes.

            '“—Welcome to GSA News, England. The headlines today: Vampire populations are at an all time high, breeding expert Nolan Highmore will be here later on to discuss possible reasons as to why this is happening. Crowds celebrate as Japan joins the GSA. This is welcome news after the recent Werewolf attack of June this year—"

            That was good news, once you joined the Global Security Alliance they could start work. First was the rebuilding, to give each type an area to live in that suited their needs. Werewolves had underground reinforced steel cages to keep them safe when they were changing. There was a blood bank set up near the Vampire area, for people to make donations. Pixies and Witches were placed wherever there was the most nature. Parks, fields, you name it. Soon the houses and apartment buildings would go up.

            You were allocated space depending on your family situation, the more people, the more rooms. I had previously been living in a four bed house with my mother, father and, for all but just the past three years, my older sister. Now I was 18 it was time for me to have my own place. I had been allocated a small but modern one bedroom apartment, I assumed it would be in the Human part of town but you never knew. I heard a story one time about a guy who had come in expecting to be marked as a Type 1 but left with a Type 2 barcode and the knowledge that he had been adopted. So it happens.

             Every area had specific changes to meet the needs of that type. As soon as people were given what they needed they calmed down.  Japan had been kidding themselves to think that everyone could live like humans. Sometimes different people needed different things. The GSA understood that, and was set up to combine the worlds resources under one company. After the Reveal of the supernaturals in 2056 they had sprung into action, forming a set of laws and regulations that the whole world could live under. So far, for almost a hundred years at least, it had worked.

            A slim nurse walked into the room, holding a clipboard. It must have been some sort of prop because she didn't even glance at it before asking in a monotone voice,

            "Kara Williams? The doctor is ready to see you now." Her glance settled on me as I shifted in my seat. "Follow me." She said, already leaving the room before I even had a chance to stand. I rushed after her down the hallway, painfully aware of how thin my gown was. The door we paused at was already open, the doctor inside staring at his wall screen. The nurse nodded at me and I entered the room, sitting on the nearest chair to the door.

            After a few seconds the doctor turned in his chair, giving me an insincere smile.

            "Well, Kara, how are you?" He asked. I noted how his smile didn't quite reach his eyes. Creepy.

            I forced a smile of my own.

            "Alright, thanks."

            "Good, good. Now I have your details right here. Your mother and father are both Type 1, is that correct?"

            I nod, though I wonder why he's asking me. He's the one with the information.

            "And the nurse has given you the localised anaesthetic?"

            I nodded, the injection had been over ten minutes ago. My left hand and lower arm were completely numb.

            "Then we can get started. I believe you are already familiar with the process? I normally run patients through the procedure but it seems they now teach it in school." He put a new pair of rubber gloves on his hands and placed my wrist into the curved metal holders. It was so I couldn't move during the operation.

             I started to think back to the day of school we learned about this. The first part is the same for everyone, the insertion of the barcode. It contains thin strips of nano-plastic coated metal. Each one containing every piece of information about that person, age, height , weight, bank details and, of course, Type. Then it can be easily scanned.

            The second part was more personal. Your code. It ran underneath the barcode, a string of eight numbers. They told you how many of your type there were in your country, and which one you were. Type 1 humans were now in the 50 million range.

            The Doctor placed the metal strips on individual plates that were attached to a computer. He pressed a few buttons and all my information flashed up on the screen. 'Hair colour: Brown, Hair length: 42cm, Eye colour: Hazel,...' They seemed to know everything about me, the information went on and on. When the screen went black the Doctor lifted the metal strips off. He placed them on a small plastic surface near my hand and peeled the first one off.

            I hardly noticed the first incision; a small neat slice, quick and professional. The insertion of the first metal strip was always a bit uncomfortable, but it too was over quickly. The anaesthetic was so good that, even staring right at my wrist, I didn't feel any pain. It had obviously been upgraded recently. The rest of the barcode went in smoothly and a small spray of skin cells over the area meant that the bleeding had already stopped, I could almost see my skin healing over. In just a few minutes it would be as if the barcode had always been there.

            The doctor, who still hadn't told me his name, turned so his back faced me, and I knew he was preparing the needle for my code. It was basically a tattoo, only it ran slightly deeper than that. The ink contained nanos that stopped the colour fading, it would be clear as day even if you were two hundred years old.

            He tapped the syringe containing the black liquid and pushed the tip against my wrist. Again, there was no pain. It was as if I was watching this procedure happen to somebody elses wrist.

            I waited for him to be finished with the 5, anxious to see what number I would be. His needle curved down and I wondered if there had been some horrible mistake. This couldn't be right, genetically it must have been impossible. But, there it was.

            A zero.

            I forgot to breathe for a second. What did this mean? I can't have been human, that was obvious. So what was I? Vampire? That species was still in the hundred thousands. Werewolves were more common so that was out. I couldn't be a pixie, for obvious reasons. So that left two. Witch or Vampire. I had never felt any cravings for blood, or been hurt by sunlight, but then again I'd never shown any affinity to the elements. Wind was just annoying to me, and fire scared me.

            I realised there were now tears in my eyes, pooling at the edges. I blinked them away and tried to calm myself, this was silly, getting all upset. I took a deep breath and looked back down at my wrist.

            I stared. Three more zeros. No species was small enough to be in the thousands, what the hell was I?

            The Doctor must have been on edge too as he kept glancing my way.

            He cleared his throat. 

            "Uh, Okay. I'm going to spray another local anaesthetic on top. This one is weaker but long lasting so when you start to regain feeling the pain will be minimal."

            I nodded, surprised that I didn't feel like crying at all anymore, like suddenly a wave of calm had washed over me. I'd seen people break down for much less than this. I almost wanted to force the tears so I would feel more normal, like I actually cared about this, but I knew that would have been stupid.

            There is was, all finished.

            00001025

            "There is a psychiatrist here who specialises in...cases like this. I can book you an appointment if you feel you need to talk to someone."

            "Oh, no. Thank you. I just, I think I'll get my things and leave if that's ok."

            "Of course. I'll see you out."

            My wrist was released from the holders and I stood up. The doctor held my other arm and led me to the door. This was new. When my older sister had hers done she had left the room by herself.

            The door opened and I narrowly missed being hit in the chest by the handle. A tall man in a dark suit stood on the other side, facing me.

            "Doctor," He nodded towards my arm and it was instantly released. "I'll take it from here."

            "What...I thought I was just supposed to leave after. Is there something wrong?" Well, stupid question. This man was obviously GSA, that meant the government had decided to personally get involved in my case. I highly doubted that meant anything good.

            "I think you should just come with me. Everything will be explained later." Even though he said it as if I had a choice we had already started walking, my numb wrist firmly gripped so I could either follow or fall flat on my face.

            "No, I don't care how important you are, you can't just grab me and not tell me anything. I'm sure that goes against my human rights." I was never one for authority. Especially the kind that went around wearing dark sunglasses inside.

            "I have been sent here by the leaders of the GSA. Or, more specifically, a branch of it dedicated solely to people like you."

            "...People like me." Jeez, this guy wasn't giving me anything.

            "There is nowhere we can talk..." He glanced up at the Doctor, "Privately. So I suggest you follow me."

            "And why should I do that. For all I know you aren't even part of the GSA. Do you have a badge or anything?"

            He reached into his top pocket and pulled out a card. I had to admit it did look official; it had his picture on it so at least it wasn't stolen. That didn't rule out it being a fake though.

            "That should suffice. Now follow me."

            "You keep repeating that, but where am I following you to? The town GSA headquarters?"

            "No."

            "Okay. Then where?"

            "That is classified information—" He paused abruptly and reached up to touch an earpiece. "I am required to use force if you will not come willingly."

            "What gives you any right to—"

            "You aren't human. We own you now."

            I opened my mouth to argue but his arm shot out. A metal object prodded my stomach, making me flinch. "Besides, if you don't cooperate I can stun you and tell everyone that you fainted from the operation. It's happened before."

            I closed my mouth and gave him what I thought was my toughest glare. I was about to tell him exactly what I thought about that when a familiar burst of red hair shot round the corner. Bri smacked right into the GSA agent, momentarily shocking him. I took the opportunity to pull my wrist out of his grasp, stepping backwards away from the metal thing. I would have bet money it was a tazer. The prick.

            I gave a quick glance towards Bri, watching her take in the scene in the space of a few seconds.

            She snorts, one quick burst of laughter.

            "Trust you to get the government involved for the most common operation ever. How the hell did this go wrong?" She raised her eyebrows at me, her smile slowly fading as she realised that this was a lot more serious than she thought. Then she noticed the tazer.

            I had never really thought about how useful it would be to have a vampire as a best friend before, but the lightning speed with which Bri stole the weapon from the GSA guy was impressive to say the least. She crushed it into dust as she gave a steely glare to the agent that would have made a regular person whimper in fear.

            "Now, can we talk about why you brought a weapon into a hospital, or do I have to bring fangs into this?"

            I thought a round of applause was needed there, I was so proud. I glanced down at the metallic pile of ex-tazer at Bri's feet. The GSA obviously hadn't expected a supernatural fight, they had only brought human grade weapons.

            The agent quickly pulled his right hand up and flashed a hand gesture in front of his sunglasses, which I now realised were communicating to someone, probably headquarters, as they flashed twice.

            "I suggest you turn around and leave now. Otherwise I will arrest you for perverting the course of justice." His voice matched his demeanour, gruff and monotone.

            "Why would you do that? Am I under arrest? I thought you said I was just supposed to follow you." I felt a bit shaky. This was escalating fast.

            The agent turned his head slightly so he was staring at me directly. Or at least he might have been, I couldn't see his eyes beneath the dark shades.

            "This is a delicate situation. It would be best if you just come with me now and ask questions later."

            "She will gladly go with you," Bri chimed in, linking arms with me. "But only if I go with her."

            "I'm afraid that's not—" The agent started but Bri took a step forward, getting right up into his face. I couldn't see but I could've sworn she bared her fangs at him. He shook slightly, the first time I had actually seen a GSA agent scared. He must have been new.

            "This. Isn't. Negotiable." Bri spoke slowly, the slight distortion of her voice from the fangs making it even more menacing. I thought it was about time I spoke up.

            "She's right, I won't go with you if she doesn't come too. Either that or you tell me why all of this is happening right now. Final offer."

            Wow, I actually sounded confident. I was almost sure he didn't hear the slight shake in my voice. The agent considered for a while, looking around himself at the rest of the waiting room. There were around ten people there, all different types. From what I had gleaned so far I had bet the GSA guy wasn't so keen on revealing all to everyone who would listen. This seemed more private than that.

            A few seconds later his shoulders went down slightly, the only sign that we had won. He turned on his feet and muttered that we should keep up, before marching us down the hallway off from the waiting room.

            It was a few minutes walking before we stopped, directly in front of an elevator. He swiped his barcode across the scanner and the words 'Level 5 Entry' flashed on the small screen just above it.

            Brionie whistled.

            "Jeez, what are you guys? The Men in Black?"

            "I do not understand that reference." The agent said. I heard him mutter under his breath "Vampires".

            Sometimes I forgot that Bri was over two hundred years old, and sometimes so did she. I got the joke, having watched every Men in Black film. Along with about a hundred other supposed 'classics' that I 'just had to see'. Although I did admit, Harry Potter was pretty good for a pre-hologram film.

            We stepped into the elevator, one so small that we had to stand uncomfortably close to each other. Well, I was uncomfortable. Bri didn't seem to care, puffing up her chest to try to intimidate the agent. It seemed much longer than a minute or so before the doors opened and we spilled out into a dim underground parking lot. One that I hadn't even realised was under the hospital. It was abandoned, since hardly anyone drove anymore. Computerised hover cars were pretty much the norm now.

            The agent pulled out a piece of black plastic out of his pocket and pressed his thumb to it. A set of bright lights flashed in the dark, belonging to what looked like a four wheeled black car. I hadn't seen one like this in ages. Most of the old wheeled cars were in museums. I wondered if this one would even work, did they even make petrol anymore?

            No matter how freaked out I was about what was going on, there was no way I was going to back out now. I had to see where this was going. Bri seemed to have the same idea as she flew past me and jumped in the passenger seat. The agent slid the piece of plastic into a slot on the dashboard and the car came to life. The screen at the front showed a SatNav; the destination already set. I was about to lean in and check where we were going when the agent pressed a button. The screen went dark and a tiny light came on in the corner. A similar light flashed on the side of his sunglasses.

            "Damn." I heard Bri mutter, slumping back into her seat

            The car started to roll forwards, and the windows blacked out. We would have no idea where we were going till we got there.

            Well I for one was going to catch up on some sleep. I had a feeling I would need all my energy when we arrived.

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