Confusion spreads through my body, reaching every joint, every blood vessel, every muscle, chilling me right through to my bones.
“How can we meet?” I ask. “If he dies today, how are we ever supposed to meet?”
“Hopefully, you won't ever meet him. Nothing is certain. An important lesson that you need to learn Adele, is that the future is always changing. Always.”
I wonder if this dude even knows to speak out of riddles. And anyway, I still have absolutely no idea what's going on. How can anyone possibly see the future. I wish that everyone would just shut up for a moment, and then for one person to just tell me what the hell's going on. What right do these people have to keep me locked up? I'm sure that impinges upon my human rights or something.
“Actually,” says the man, forcefully interrupting my thoughts. “You don't have any human rights.”
“Why not?” I ask, confused. I can't believe it's taking me this long to catch on.
“Why do you think? We're not completely human. We were made using human cells mixed with those of animals that have certain traits that we wanted to nurture. However, the many batches that we tried never quite worked, until you…
“We mixed the blood of dolphins in with some people, and now they can communicate across long distances without a communication device. However, the perfect being that we wanted to create just wasn't happening. Each batch of beings that we created had ONE special ability, but we wanted to create living, breathing creatures with all of the desired characteristics. Our attempts were unsuccessful, or so we thought.
“After your parents escaped with you sixteen years ago, your family went under surveillance. We wanted to see if perhaps the assistance of blossoming out of a laboratory might have an affect on your development. Whether that worked or not, we may never know. But I do know one thing: you are successful. You are the perfect being – virtually indestructible, virtually uncontrollable, totally unstoppable. YOU ARE THE PRODIGY.”
Then the man did something that I wasn't expecting at all – he knelt on the ground at my feet, and all of his companions followed.
If I have just about followed what has been happening, I have completely lost it now. How can I not be human? How can I NOT BE HUMAN??? My recent resolve to try to trust people is going out the window. There is no way that I will ever trust any of these insane people who are still kneeling in front of me. Is this some kind of practical joke? Am I on some weird TV show experiment where they put people in strange scenarios to see how they react? Id everyone here an actor?
The man stands up and addresses me. “This isn't a practical joke.”
“Fine,” I say. I stumble my words to keep talking, keep anything from happening, but I am struggling to make a coherent sentence. “How… how come… how come I can't… how come I'm not…”
“You mean, why is Reading the only thing I can do?” the man asks for me. “It isn't. Reading, however, is just the only skill that shows clearly without someone helping you to realise your full potential. That's all we do here, Adele. There's no need to be scared. Especially not of us. We bow to you. We are all from batches that failed. We are all Hypersensitives like you. You are what our lives were created for. All of our parents believed in our cause – believed in it enough to allow the scientists to genetically modify them and their children – or us, as you might put it.”
“Wait,” I interrupt. “Are you telling me that my parents were on board with the Unity scheme.”
“They were,” he says. “Or rather, they still are.”
“What do you mean?” I ask hurriedly. This time, I am picking up on what he is hinting. Could my parents possibly be alive? No, the police said that my mother, father, and my sister were all found dead after the car crash. No one has any idea how I even survived it.
“Your father is still alive. In fact, he works here at Unity.”
Suddenly, all fear and all ambitions that I had to trust no one go out of the window. This is family. This is a chance to find out who I really am. And I don't mean just the science behind how I was created, but who I am, and who the people I lost are. I am too young to remember my family. I just have a faint memory of what my mother's perfume smelt like – rose and lobelia – light and delicate like she was… is… was… I don't know any more. I just about manage to formulate a sentence. “Who is my father?”
“Your father's name is Harry DeWinter, but most people here at Unity know him as The Commander.”
As the man leads me into a room that I assume is to be my new home, I pluck up the courage to ask him, “Who are you?”
“That is irrelevant,” he replies. We walk further into the room.
“Okay, so you won't answer my questions about you or my past, so let's try my future. I get that you created me to be The Prodigy, and that I was your first successful attempt, but why did you need a super-human being in the first place?” I ask. “I'm the perfect person, supposedly. But why did you create me?”
“To be the perfect soldier,” he replies. As I spin around to face him, I feel a sharp pain in my arm. A syringe. A small, clear syringe filled with creamy-white liquid. I look up at him, my caramel eyes growing wide as I realise what he's done. What dug is it? Am I going to die? All I see as the blackness engulfs me, are two girls standing on the other side of the room. My eyes blur them together, so they look like they are one. What is happening to me. I have to fight this darkness. I have to know who those girls are. I have to meet my father. But I can't do it. I stop kicking. I stop wondering. I stop fighting. To just close my eyes… to close… to…
Alison leads me to one of the most well-known buildings in London. I look up. The tower of glass is impressive. But not impenetrable. Why is the front of Unity so open? Random visitors can go up it. Maybe that's why they chose this place. It's so obvious, that nobody would ever think of it. The Shard.
We walk in, hand in hand. I never want to let her go again. Her warm hand grips tighter as we walk into the lift. This must be awful for her – returning to the place that tortured her for nine years.
“How many floors up are we going?” I ask Ali. Instead of answering me, she just turns and gives me a knowing smile. I feel like it's an inside joke that I don't understand. She turns to the panel, and indicates ehich floor she wants to go to. She clicks:
5, 12, 3, 26, 17, 9
“How many floors do we need to stop at? How high are we going?” Again, she graces me with that smile, but actually answers.
“We're not going up, silly. We're going down...” And with that, the lift doors seal and we lurch downwards. After what feels like an age, the doors open and I am taken totally by surprise. I'm not quite sure what I expected Unity to look like, but whatever I had suspected, it wasn't this. What stands before me is a clean, polished, white area. Obviously there are no windows because we are significantly below ground-level. However, the thing that strikes me so much, is how much the whole place looks like a hospital. People in nurses uniforms, and long white doctor's coats bustle around the place, carrying on with their daily lives.
I look at Ali. “Go see your Commander and make a distraction. Try to make it last as long as possible without putting yourself in danger.”
“Max, just coming back here has put both of us in more danger than you can possibly imagine. So focus, and go free my friends.”
I give Ali an encouraging smile, then walk away. I grab a lab coat from a nearby peg and stop a nurse. “I'm very sorry, I seem to have lost my way.”
“Don't worry,” she says. “It's like a labyrinth down here. It took me long enough to learn my way around. Where do you need to be?”
“I'm looking for Courtney and Summer Krimsen.”
“What luck,” she replies. “I was just on my way there too.” We walk through a labyrinth of rooms and corridors together. I have no idea how I'm planning to find my way back to the lift. I make pointless chit chat with the nurse. She seems friendly enough. Finally, we reach a room with glass walls. The nurse scans her security pass on a little black box. The door clicks open. Two girls stand together. Something about the way they stand seems amiss. They are very close together, and I understand that. They need each other to lean on through this.
Suddenly, something clicks in my head. They've only got two legs between them, and their clothes are joined together as if… No. It's so rare. They're conjoined twins, and not only that, but if they're here at Unity, they must be conjoined Hypes! I put my hand up to the nurse's neck and twist my hand in just the right way that she passes out. As she crumples to the floor, I look up at the twins.
“Are you Summer and Courtney?” I ask.
They look unsure whether or not to answer when the one on the right answers. “I'm Summer, and this is Courtney.”
“I'm a friend of Alison's,” I say. They relax visibly at this. “I was sent to rescue you two. You need to come with me now. The longer we stay, the more we're putting Alison's life on the line. If they find out that she's a decoy, I dread to think what they'll do to her.”
The two girls follow me to the door, but then one of them stops. She looks towards one of the many beds. I hadn't realised this room had another occupant. “What about her? We can't leave her here. Also, we can't move that fast, what with everything.”
“You two go on ahead,” I say. I chuck Summer the stun gun, and at the horrified look on her face, I hasten to add, “It's only a stun gun.” Summer nods at me, and the two of them leave. I walk over to the girl on the bed. Her eyes are closed. She looks so peaceful. Her flame red hair is gorgeous. I dread to think what her untamed beauty would do to me if only it was loose. I shake her shoulder. Softly at first, then harder. I can't waste any more time here. I have to keep moving. Finally, her pale eyelids start to flicker...