The Subtle Mage

Three things I knew for certain:

First, that my captors had gone to great lengths to make me comfortable.
Second, that my stay was going to be a long one.
Third, that I may possibly have some superpowers.

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6. The Meeting

Periodic unconsciousness is probably bad for me.

 

The benefit was, however, when drugged up my bed felt infinitely softer.

 

Being temporarily paralysed and all, I ran the events of the past few days in my mind. Three things I knew for certain:

 

First, that my captors had gone to great lengths to make me comfortable.

 

Second, that my stay was going to be a long one.

 

Third, that I may possibly have some superpowers.

 

Even the thought of it sounded stupid, but what else could it be? I’ve always been a ‘see-it-to-believe-it’ kind of guy, but actually seeing it?

 

Insane.

 

I tried desperately to teleport, to become untouchable again, but for some reason it couldn’t be done. I knew I hadn’t been dreaming, or imagining anything. Denial has always seemed sort of pointless to me. If something happens, just accept it and move on; don’t bury your head in the proverbial sand of ignorance and try to forget.

 

Life lessons aside, I figured that if I really did have some crazy powers, they’d probably do me no good anyway. The people who kept me here undoubtedly had countermeasures against it. Not to mention that I had no idea where I was; I had no idea if I was even still in the country.

 

My speculation was cut short as from my room I heard the door slide open.

 

I willed my body to obey me and got out of bed.

 

Needless to say, I was expecting another tranquiliser dart, so I stayed light on my feet, ready to dodge whatever feathered foe was going to be launched at me. (part of me wished I could do the untouchable thing again so that I could just allow the dart to pass through me.

 

Instead of a tranq. Dart, however, it was instead a well-dressed man.

 

I’ve never been very good at guessing age, but if I had to, I’d say he could not have been older than thirty. His hair was brown, verging on auburn, and it was clipped short. His jawline was etched with stubble, without a hint of grey. He studied me behind fashionable glasses, with eyes of intense deep blue. He stood just a hair under medium height, putting him much shorter than me, yet he carried himself so strongly that it felt as though he towered over me.

 

He broke into a warm smile that reached his eyes, as a smile should. The expression brought out faint laughter lines on his face, and spoke of a full life, and a happy one at that. The cut of his navy blue suit was sharp and form-fitting, showcasing a body that looked just as ready to give you a warm hug as it was to beat the crap out of you; he evidently exercised frequently.

 

Next to him were two armed guards. Evidently somebody didn’t trust me.

 

The man extended his hand for me to shake.

 

“Mister Kersey, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

I studied his hand warily, then crossed the room to shake it. I didn’t trust the man, but perhaps he could answer some questions for me. His hand was warm.

 

“May I come in?” He asked me, smiling. The question came as a shock to me.

 

“Uuh… Sure.” I backed away from the door and he stepped inside, leaving his guards at the door. I went to sit down on one of the sofas and he followed suit, sitting on the sofa next to mine.

 

“Now.” The man said, punctuating the brief silence that had formed between us. I am sure you must have some questions.” Just a few, yeah.

 

“I assume you would like to ask some? You’re free to ask away, Aaron.” He told me.

 

“Who are you?”

 

He chuckled.

 

“My name is Isiah Scott, I am the administrator of Artemis.”

 

Artemis. So that’s who was keeping me there. I sighed a mental sigh

 

“I believe honesty is amongst the most important traits a man can have, so I will be completely honest with you know: We work on behalf of the British government to study and employ individuals such as yourself.” Employ? The word intrigued me, but my next question was already fixed in my mind.

 

“Where is Fabian?”

 

Isiah tensed slightly. A subtle motion, but I saw it.

 

“Mr. McGregor absolutely fine, Aaron. Don’t worry about it. He has been informed of the situation and has been returned to his home.”

 

“Will I be?”

 

“What?”

 

I looked him in the eye.

 

“Will I be returned home?”

 

Isiah swallowed.

 

“The short answer is no.”

 

“Why not?” I asked, standing up. Isiah sighed.

 

“Please sit down, Aaron. You will not be returning home because as a gifted individual, you have an obligation to help your country.”

 

Where have I heard that before…

 

“What is stopping me from leaving?”

 

“Aaron, you understand we can’t allow you to leave. For multiple reasons, actually. Primarily, you have no control over your powers. The public is not ready for anything of your sort.”

 

I sat back in the sofa again, taking in what I’d been told. Fabian was fine, apparently, and I was to be staying here.

 

“So, Aaron, I have two options for you: The first, and I confess my dislike for this option, is for you to remain here in captivity. You will remain in this complex and preform a series of tests with you as a subject, until we no longer have a use for you. As I told you, I am not a fan of option one.” He kept his eyes on me throughout his explanation.

 

“And what’s the second option?” I ask.

 

“I am a fan of the second option, and I dearly hope you choose it:” He leaned forward.

 

“You would train to control your powers and become an Operative for us. You would work in a team of other Operatives-”

 

“Other people like me?” I asked, my eyebrows shooting up.

 

“Other children, yes.” He paused, to allow the fact to sink in. I was not alone both in body and ability.

 

“Why have I not seen anybody else?”

 

“It’s the policy of Artemis to keep new arrivals separate for the first few days. We offer them the same choice you have been given, and then, if they accept, they are taken to be trained. Which means, yes, if you accept, you will be working and training alongside children of your age, like you.”

 

Silence followed. My mind turned the proposal over and over. I could stay here for God knows how long and be tested on like some lab rat, or I could train myself. Neither option appealed to me, and if there was a third option of ‘return home and forget the events of the past week’, then I’d choose it in a heartbeat. In my eyes, the answer was obvious.

 

“Fine.” I muttered. Isiah sighed in relief, a convincing sigh, but staged nonetheless.

 

“Thank you for making this choice, Aaron. I think we’re going to enjoy working together. Erm, would you excuse me for one moment?”

 

He stood up, conversed briefly with one of the guards at the door, and returned to his seat with a small stack of filed bound in white. Handing them to me, he caught my eye.

 

“There is a lot of paperwork to fill out to legitimise your transfer, this process won’t take more than a day. I recommend that you become versed with these files. They explain in a little more depth the nature of your abilities and the abilities of your new comrades.”

 

The papers were hefty, and I tucked them neatly under one arm before Isiah stood up and bid me a ‘farewell’. Smiling contentedly, the door slid shut in front of him. I retreated to my room, showered, wrapped a towel around myself and lay on my bed and opened the first file.

 

Artemis Experimental.

 

FOR THE EYES OF THE ADMINISTRATOR ONLY

 

(I scoffed)

 

SUBJECT: Kersey, Aaron Mordecai

 

AGE: 15 (3 Sept 1998)

 

HEIGHT: 5ft11in

 

WEIGHT: 57kg

 

EYES: Grey

 

CORRECTIVE LENSES: N

 

HAIR: Black

 

CLASS: Maelamancer

 

(What did this mean?)

 

GRADE: Undetermined

 

(Beneath the filled out form was a box titled ‘Dr’s comments’. I was filled out in a hand so scruffy I could barely read it.)

 

Subject was taken into captivity on the 21st of September at roughly 1500 hours. The subject struggled and had to be sedated. Subject has been described at times as ‘socially inept.’

 

Socially inept? Me? I rolled my eyes and turned the page. Overleaf was a series of photographs of myself. The quality of the photos an the angle from which they were taken indicated that they were taken by or from CCTV. The first few pictures were me out in London, some in shops, some out in the streets.

 

The last picture showed Nathan with his fist through my stomach. It was taken from quite a way away, so the quality was grainy, but it looked convincing enough. I cocked my head, finding it interesting to see the event from an observer’s point of view, but I also felt a little invaded.

 

I halted my train of thought and turned the page.

 

Subject responded positively to the Jungle, with the first eyewitness display of short-range teleportation known as Jumping.

 

(Jumping, I liked the ring of it.)

 

Subject has yet to gain control of powers: to be worked on.

 

***

 

I reached the end of the first file and placed it delicately on the bedside table. Pulling one some clothes from the wardrobe, (turns out I had a whole supply of hoodies) I opened the second file. This one was much thicker; the first page was embossed with a logo of a what looked like a longbow.

 

Artemis Experimental

 

Pyromancer

 

(I remembered the ‘mancer’ suffix from the end of my designated ‘class’, and I really hoped that the ‘Pyro’ part didn’t mean what I thought it meant.)

 

At Artemis Experimental, there are thirty-six subjects designated ‘Pyromancer’ class, ranging from Grade 1 through to 4.

 

Observable traits of a Grade 1:

 

-Ability to manipulate light

 

Thus far, any subject capable of only filling the above criteria has been designated a Grade 1.

 

Observable traits of a Grade 2:

 

-Ability to manipulate light

 

-Ability to manipulate fire in its visible form

 

These criteria describe a Grade 2.

 

Observable traits of a Grade 3:

 

-Ability to manipulate light

 

-Ability to manipulate fire in its physical form

 

-Ability to manipulate heat to some degree.

 

These criteria describe a Grade 3

 

Observable traits of a Grade 4:

 

-Complete control of light to a LETHAL LEVEL

 

-Complete control of fire in its physical form to a LETHAL LEVEL

 

-Complete control of heat to a LETHAL LEVEL

 

*WARNING* Grade 4 Pyromancers are extremely dangerous. There is only one recorded Grade 4 in Artemis Experimental. Approach with EXTREME CAUTION. Contact your designated security officer in the event of a breakout.

 

I swallowed. Somewhere in the facility was a kid with the ability to kill people. And they were training him. It dawned on me just to what extent my powers could reach.

 

From what I’d just read, the higher the Grade, the more dangerous the kid.

 

I flipped the page, to reveal a series of photographs of kids in acts of what could only be described as magic. One boy held twin balls of fire over his palms, black hood drawn. I shuddered and tried not to look too closely at the other pictures.

 

The next few pages were forms like my own, filled out with name, age and ability. I skipped them without looking before I lightly tossed the now-closed file to the foot of the bed and opened the next one.

 

The next file described the abilities of ‘Aquamancers.’ As the name suggested, it was people who could control water. Not only could they control water in its physical form, but also humidity. What scared me most, however, was that they could, should they choose, literally suck the water from you. Being roughly eighty percent water, the thought didn’t appeal to me. Fortunately they could only do it on contact, so in that respect I was allowed some peace of mind.

 

The results were the same when I flipped to the back of the file. There were CCTV shots of kids standing in pools, tendrils of water all around. The image that stayed in my mind, however, was a shot of a pile of dust. This one was taken not on CCTV camera, but something else. The harsh lighting in the shot and the tag placed in front of the dust made me shiver; the tag was marked ‘Exhibit A’.

 

Truthfully, it terrified me. If that pile of dust was what I thought it was, then I wasn’t just in league with dangerous kids, I was in league with killers.

 

I placed the file down on top of its predecessor and opened the next file.

 

Zephyromancers, as I’d learned, were those who could control air, to various effects. The thing that stood out for me, though, was the ability to seemingly move objects with their minds. I guessed they manipulated the flow of air around the object, or something. Some of them could actually fly.

 

As in, through the sky.

 

In the air.

 

They could also become ‘untouchable’ like I could. I was beginning to think this was the class I belonged in, when I remembered my file marking me as Maelamancer, whatever that meant.

Fire, water, air.

 

The fourth file was marked ‘Terramancer’.

 

The file told me a lot. Terramancers could control the Earth (bloody hell) and plants. Not only that, but the ‘Grade 4’ Terramancers could use the plants’ ‘life energy’ (was that a real thing?) to heal themselves and others around them. Vice versa , they could literally suck the life from you.

 

So: fire; water; air; earth.

 

Where did that place me?

 

Shaking a little, I picked up the last file and opened it to the first page.

 

Artemis Experimental

 

Maelamancer

 

There are currently no subjects that fall under the Class Maelamancer. The work or Dr. Isiah Scott confirm the existence of a fifth class, however there is still much controversy surrounding this theory.

 

Without ample research, not much can be said at this time regarding Maelamancers. In essence, Maelamancy is the manipulation of the absence of energy*

 

*see Dr. Isiah Scott’s ‘Maelamancy: The Fifth Class.’

 

Below is a list of abilities that may be present in Maelamancers. Note that without subjects to study and observe, a reliable Grading system is impractical and mis-informative.

 

Abilities present in Maelamancers

 

-Short range line-of-sight teleportation

 

(Check)

 

-Ability to passively ‘Blend’ with crowds.

 

(Come to think of it, check.)

 

-Ability to become Ethereal

 

(Check. I wasn’t a Zephyromancer then.)

 

-Cellular re-enrichment on contact with shadows.*

 

-Abnormal increase in speed and strength on contact with shadows**

 

*To be confirmed

 

*To be confirmed.

 

I set the last file down and breathed out through my nose. Assuming the files I’d just looked through were legit, then ‘interesting’ was the only word that could describe the days that would follow.

 

 

 

 

 

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