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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3. The Training Room

The room was pure silver.

            Metallic walls and floors, each covered in see-through panels, made it feel like I was inside a large computer. Rose—because, according to her, we were on a nickname basis now—had let me change out of my medical gown. I didn't have any of my clothes here so she let me borrow her training gear. Which, apparently, consisted primarily of black. The high-necked, long sleeved, jacket was a bit too tight but the leggings fitted perfectly. The rest of the outfit covered most of my body. A set of gloves covered my hands and lower arms and a pair of tall, flexible, boots covered my feet. Most of my head was covered in a plastic helmet. I had been told this was all necessary for my training.

             When I'd suggested taking a trip back to Greenview, my home town, to get some of my stuff, I was told that until the GSA could trust me to come back they weren't going to let me out of their sight. I did glean one small piece of information whilst I was changing, the city we were in was the capital of the country. Serenity, as it was now called. The old name long forgotten.

            All the city names had been changed slowly over the last hundred years. A new start, the GSA had said. Most of them were calming, based around the colour blue or green. The main capital cities were given words like 'Iridescent' or 'Tranquil', words that promoted a calm atmosphere. It was only now I was forced to be here that the concept sounded strangely controlling, stifling even.

            Then again, as the metallic door shut behind me, this wasn't much better.

            "The computers just have to load up, they'll kick in after a few minutes."

            I had no idea where the voice was coming from; all I could see was sheets and sheets of metal, I'd even lost the door.  There was probably a speaker somewhere.

            I'd been told this was training but no more information than that. Even after Blaine's outburst earlier everyone still seemed to think it was good to ease me in gradually. I personally hated not knowing stuff.

            "Okay, we're just about ready now. You can put the eye screens down."

            I slid two pieces of flexible glass from the helmet to cover my eyes. Instantly the whole room came to life. What had previously been metallic sheets was now a green meadow. I looked up to see a bright summer sky.

            "Woah." I said, taking a step forward. I could even feel the grass beneath my feet, as if it was really there. I looked down to see my now bare feet.

            "Everything you see is a computer simulation. This is the testing screen, just to make sure the suit works. Tell me what you see."

            I'd pretty much guessed by now that the disembodied voice was Thomas.

            "A meadow. It's so sunny I even feel warm. How do you do this?" A butterfly landed on my shoulder.

            "Now now, wouldn't want to reveal all my secrets would I?"

            "You did this? I've never seen a Sim so detailed." I bent down to pick up a daisy, I could even feel the slight fuzz of the stalk on my fingertips.

            "Flatterer. Ok, do you see that tree in the distance?"

            I looked up. There was a tree on the horizon, one that definitely hadn't been there before.

            "Yep, I see it."

            "Okay, now this is sort of like a loading screen. Focus on it till I tell you to stop."

            "Got it, focussing."

            As I stared at the tree it seemed to get closer and closer, till I could tell each leaf apart.

            "What are you doing?" I asked, half expecting the tree to smack me in the face.

            "...Give us a second...got it! Close your eyes."

            "You what?"

            "Just do it, this bit's fun."

            Well I just had to take his word for that. I squeezed my eyes shut, concentrating on my breathing. As soon as my eyes were closed I could feel the gloves covering my hands, the boots on my feet. The warmth from the meadow began to fade. I counted nearly a minute before I started getting anxious.

            "What's going on up there?" I asked, raising my voice to be heard over the whirring that had just started. The sound reminded me of an overheating computer.

            "Patience, you can open your eyes in three...two...one."

            This was nowhere near as nice as the meadow; I appeared to be in some sort of alleyway at night. I squealed as a rat ran over my feet. They really worked hard to make this realistic.

            "You're on your own now honey." It seemed Rose had taken control of the microphone.

            "I don't get it, what am I supposed to do?"

            "That's up to you to figure out. We're all rooting for you."

            "No clues at all?" I took a few steps forward and stepped in a brown puddle that smelled disgusting. I shook my foot—which was now covered in a scuffed trainer—to get some of the water—at least, I hoped it was water—off.

            "Sorry. We've got to leave you on your own now. Good luck!" I heard a small burst of static, the microphone must have been turned off.

            I looked up and down the alleyway, listening out for any clues as to which way to go. A muffled growl made me turn my head to the left, down the darker part. If anything it made me want to go in the opposite direction but I steeled myself. This was a computer simulation after all, nothing could actually hurt me. Or, at least, I hoped so.

            I steeled myself and put my back to the wall, edging closer to the sound until I was close enough to peer round the side. I nearly screamed.

            "What the hell is that!" I shouted before clapping my hand over my mouth and pulling myself back round the wall. It might have been a computer simulation but I bet, whatever that thing was, it could hear me. I calmed myself down before taking another look, this time being more careful.

            It was a werewolf, but unlike any I had seen. As school kids we were shown what a wolf looked like when it changed. It was like a human had morphed into a large dog, nothing like that monster.

             It was stood up on its hind legs, facing away from me. The upper half of its body was larger than normal, almost like a human body builder. It snarled and I jumped, an involuntary squeak bursting out of my mouth.  I didn't even have to wonder if it heard me as its head whipped round.

            I was face to face with a pair of decidedly angry looking yellow eyes. A drop of saliva from its pointed teeth hit the floor. One warning growl was all it took for me to get the hint.

            I ran for my life.

            I barely got five paces before it hit me, tackling me to the ground. For a computer simulation it was a surprisingly hard fall. My head smacked the concrete and I saw stars. As my vision cleared I was faced with a set of claws and teeth, vying to dig into me. I covered my face with one hand and used the other to push against the werewolf as hard as I could.

            "Someone help me! I can't fight this thing off!" I screamed, kicking hard at whatever I could hit. My foot met with something hard and the werewolf froze for a second, giving me a chance to push it off of me. I backed away, nearly tripping over rubble on the floor.

            I kicked some away, yelling in anger. I could feel a drip of blood running down the back of my neck, and that headache definitely wasn't computer generated.

            "What the hell! I thought this thing couldn’t hurt me!" I shouted at the grey sky, betting there was a microphone somewhere that was picking my voice up. The werewolf was still rolling on the floor, growling in pain. Jeez, I must have kicked it hard.

            "You call this training right? But how is throwing me in the middle of a fight helping me!" I yelled, but got no reply, "Someone better bloody talk to me or I'll—" A ray of light hit my eye and I blinked. There was a knife on the floor. A regular kitchen knife but probably enough to cause some damage. I bent to pick it up, keeping my gaze on the werewolf as I did. It was getting stronger, about to stand up and attack again. I lunged forward with the knife, aiming roughly for the chest. My eyes squeezed shut as it hit, burying deep into the thick fur of the wolf. The werewolf's growl cut off into a whimper. It fell to the ground.

            I kicked it just to make sure it was dead. No sound.

            "Well thanks for all the help" I shouted, "Now if you'll just direct me to the exit."

            Nothing.

            I raised my middle finger, hoping a camera would pick it up.

            A sound behind me made me tense. Whatever new senses my body had told me this wasn't another werewolf. The steps were too light, too careful. I gripped the knife tighter, hoping a good stab to the chest would finish this thing off too. Whatever it was. One thing was for sure, this wasn’t over yet.

            I turned around, bracing myself for another fight, when a sharp pain exploded in my stomach. That thing was a pixie, probably one of those Rogues everyone had been talking about, and right now it had five sharp talons embedded in my stomach. I gurgled, not able to breathe. Blood spilled out of the side of my mouth and I dropped to the floor. My last thought was just a rush of pure hatred, aimed directly at the people who had just gotten me killed.

            "Game over."

            The voice was back, mocking me this time. A loud siren rang in my ears and all the colour rushed out of the world. Or, at least, that's what it felt like when the dark street turned into sheets of metal. The blood vanished, my stomach wound healed. I drew in deep, gasping breaths.

            "You did quite well for a first timer, Rose barely survived the werewolf the first time she did this. I would give yourself a well deserved pat on the back." A door opened and light shone in, Thomas smiled down at me. I pushed myself off the floor, smiled back, then swooped one of my legs out. He fell to the floor, smashing his shoulder to the cold metal.

            I stood up, leaning over him.

            "If you think I'm going to stay here after that, you're crazy. All of you are. I mean...how the hell did you even do that? I thought it was a computer simulation. I felt like I died!" Rose and Kat had followed Thomas in. Blaine was nowhere to be seen.

            "It's mostly a Sim, Kat is half witch so she boosts the experience with a bit of magic." Rose explained. Kat dangled a small fabric bag off her fingers. A hex bag.

            I shook my head.

            "You know regular people would call this torture." I looked back and forth from Rose to Kat, "Sick and twisted torture."

            "Well, we're not technically people." Kat said, smirking. I snapped.

            "That's it, I'm out of here." I pushed past them, already working out the way to the elevator.        

            "You won't be able to get out. They lock all exits for the first week training new people. Besides, don't you want to stay for your friend? Bri, is it?" Kat said. I grimaced, pausing at the door. I felt a hand on my shoulder.

            "I know it seems bad, but it's all to help you. I promise." Rose said, turning me back round to face her.

            "Help me? How?" I asked, not really caring about the answer. Whatever they said I wasn't going to stay here. In a week Bri would be better and I would be off, taking her with me.

            "You won't get far. You'd be dead within a day. Hours, maybe. You have no idea how many Rogues would be out to kill you."

            I whipped my head round.

            "What the...did you read my mind?" I stared accusingly.

            "One of my less annoying powers, yes." She answered, crossing her arms.

            "Kara, listen. She's right. You've reached maturity now, you've just come into your powers. The Rogues can smell that, it's one thing they all have in common. We are their natural born predators. They will do anything to kill us. And if you leave here, they will do anything to kill you." Rose said, stepping closer to me. "We train you like this because this is how the world is for you now. If you can't fight, you can't survive." Her foot nudged Thomas's leg and, as if she just remembered he was in the room, her steely calm melted into worry.

            "Thomas, are you ok?" She knelt down, placing one hand on the shoulder he landed on.

            "Ouch, be careful. I'm a fast healer but everyone knows broken bones take a good hour." Thomas winced, rolling onto his back.

            "I broke your leg?" I asked, "I didn't hit you that hard, did I?"

            He barked out a short laugh, "You don't have to anymore, you have the Type 0 strength. I wasn't kidding earlier, you did really well in training. You could be field ready in a month, maybe even sooner."

            "Is that...good?" My previous anger had calmed a bit, now just bubbling under the surface.

            "Very." He said, pushing himself off the floor with his good arm. "You'd give Blaine a run for first place at least. I, for one, was impressed when you kicked that werewolf in the groin."

            Oh, that was what I hit. I'd wondered why it was out for so long.

            "See, Kara?" Rose said, "You're meant for this."

            I wasn't so sure, but if what they said was true; if I really was in danger if, or when, I left, I would need to learn how to fight.

            "I'll give it a week. If I want to leave after then, no-one stands in my way. And I take Bri with me." I had no idea why they'd want her to stay, I just wanted to make sure.

            "Fine. To be honest I don't really care either way. I just want all the whining to stop." Kat said, patting Thomas on the shoulder as she walked out of the room. Rose rolled her eyes.

            "I think what she meant to say was, we're glad to have you here. And we hope you'll stay when it's all over..." I shot Rose a warning look, and she put up her hands in mock surrender, "But we accept your demands. No one will stop you if you want to leave after that."

            "Thank you. And until then...I'll do whatever training you think is necessary. No matter how..." I glanced at Thomas, "Painful it might be."

            He grinned.

            "You'll love the next Sim, I spent ages working on the textures. You should be able to smell stuff if Kat's charms do their thing."

            "I look forward to it." I said, forcing a smile back.

            Rose put her arm around me. I flinched slightly, these people were still almost strangers to me. I wasn't used to people being this familiar.

            "One more important thing." She said, beaming. I braced myself, "I haven't shown you your room."

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