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Thunder. Flashes of lightning. Storm clouds. I stood in the middle of an open field, wind buffeting me from all directions.
“It’s about time,” an irritated voice came from behind me.
I whirled around. Behind me was a boy, about a head taller than me, who looked to be about sixteen, a year older than me. With slightly slanting stormy gray, almost black eyes, long blue-black hair that was going for a “windswept” look, and contrasting white skin, he looked like he belonged in the middle of a crowd of love-struck girls. All of his features, proud, dark eyes, straight nose, haughty mouth, said that he was descended from nobles. And not just any nobles, royalty, like the royal family of England, or France, or even Rome.
“Well?” he looked even more irritated, “You know, the first thing people do when they first meet is introduce themselves,” he had a slight accent that I couldn’t place, faint, but strong enough for it to be noticeable.
I blinked, and then, in a mocking way, bowed to him, and because I have never been the best at keeping my thoughts in my head and out of my mouth, said in a mockingly grave voice, “My name is Dayna Walker. And may I be so bold as to inquire your name, Your Annoyed-ness?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
He looked at me, shock plain on his face. My reaction was clearly not what he expected. And then he grinned, the irritation suddenly all but forgotten, “Well, you have a spark, don’t you?” he paused, “My name is—“
Suddenly the wind picked up, rushing in towards me with even greater force. Spinning around me, within seconds, I was in the middle of a twister. I brought my hands up to cover my ears…
And then I jerked awake. My room came into focus around me. Clean, orderly, all except for my desk. My desk was covered in various tests from this year, as well as more than twenty photos scattered around my computer and printer. This flaw to an otherwise perfectly ordered room was a source of constant annoyance for my mother.
I sat up and put one hand over my face. That wasn’t the first time I had had that dream. Although, that was the first time I saw that boy there. Before, all there was to see was the open field with storm clouds everywhere. Well, that and an echo, kind of like somebody was calling me, but I could never hear them.
“Dayna! It’s time to get up! Don’t make me come in there!” My mother’s voice sounded from another room.
I sighed and looked at the clock. 6:30a.m, oh well, could be worse for a Saturday, once I had to get up at 1:15a.m. I stood up, stretched and went to take my shower. About twenty minutes later, after I had gotten dressed and I had dried my hair, I walked over to the mirror that hung above my desk. A fifteen-year-old girl who looked like she should actually be thirteen or fourteen stared back at me. A pretty face, if you’re into large, dark blue eyes and dark, mid-length, wavy crimson hair which I usually, like today, tie back into a regular ponytail with a few wisps escaping to frame my face, like the teachers from back when I was a primary in elementary school always seemed to fall for. Slightly olive coloured skin, heart shaped face, cupids’ bow mouth that can speak three, nearly four languages, English, Sarcasm, Smart-ass-ism and I’m working on French, I’m very proud, medium height and slender build, according to my mother, I looked just like my father, who died before I can remember. I don’t look a thing like my mother, who had short white-blonde hair, a tall, lean build from being employed by the military, light brown eyes and snow-white skin.
“Dayna!” My mother called me again.
I ran through our small apartment and sat down at the table. My mother was sitting at the other end of the table.
“Good morning mother,” I said to her as I started to eat the cereal that was already on my place mat.
“Good morning. Today we’re going to be going to a military school up north,” my mother said, “So, I’m going to go get some groceries. I will be back within half an hour. You should have your bag packed by then.”
“Sure thing mom. Just be sure to get some extra water. You know how the schools tend to suck me dry.” I smiled at her.
“Well, then please be ready by the time I’m back,” she stood up, and walked out of the front door, “Oh, and can you please clear out the dishwasher while you’re at it?” and shut the door.
I leaned back in my chair and sighed. This is the sixth military school my mom has taken me to this year. Both of my parents are (or were, if you count my dad) in the military. My dad died a while back, so I don’t even remember his face, but I’ve heard about him from my mother. Back when my mom was younger, she was stationed in Iraq, and there was a small skirmish. Dad saved mom’s life, and mom had insisted on repaying him in whatever way possible, until their relationship went from savior/saved to lover/lover. But a few months after I was born, dad died saving the lives of his squadron from a bomb. “Willing to save others at any cost, even his life,” was how mom always described him...I wish I had known him.
After I finished my cereal, I made sure that my bag was ready. Of course, there wasn’t much to do, thanks to the fact that all I needed was a) an extra set of clothes b) some snacks (energy snacks of course) c) a notebook to record all of the pros and cons of this particular school and d) my trusty camera, you never know when you can get a good photo.
I walked out of my room with my bag, and set it down on my chair. Crossing into the kitchen, I pulled open the dishwasher and started to put the dishes back into their proper places. And then…
Suddenly just as I was carrying some dishes to the cupboard, I stiffened. I heard a voice, the voice of the boy from my dream, “It’s time,” what seemed like a bolt of lightning shot from the sky and hit me, and what felt like a thousand kilowatts of electricity shot into me.
The dishes smashed into the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces in a jarring crash. I collapsed, my mouth open in a soundless scream that only I could hear. I wanted to thrash around, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t move any parts of my body. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t call for help, all I could do was lay there, in more pain than I have ever been in in my entire life.
Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes…the time passed so slowly, and the pain didn’t even fade. All I could hope for was that my mother would come soon and take me to a hospital.
Somewhere, through the pain, I heard a door open, then close.
“Dayna!” my mother’s voice. Her footsteps hurried towards me.
“Damn…this wasn’t supposed to happen yet,” I vaguely heard her say. ‘What?’ I wanted to say, ‘What wasn’t supposed to happen?’
I heard my mother cross the kitchen floor, and rummage through a cupboard. I heard her walk back over to me. I felt the cold prick of something on my neck, and everything started to go black.
You…knew…? were my last thoughts as the darkness took me.
White. My eyes opened, and then started to squint. It was bright. I sat up on the bed I was laying down on and looked around. It was a plain room. Nothing to see. Just white walls. I was starting to get up when he suddenly appeared. The boy with the stormy eyes.
He smiled at me, the same smile from my dream, bright and mischievous, “Glad to know you survived that. Most humans aren’t capable of handling my power.”
Getting over my surprise rather quickly, I narrowed my eyes at him, “So it was because of you that I went through that hellish pain?”
Suddenly a door that I hadn’t noticed opened up. My mother walked through, wearing a black military outfit.
I looked for the boy, but he had vanished, so blinking hard, and wondering if I had gone slightly insane, I ran to her, gave her a hug, “Mom! Why am I here and why am I wearing these clothes?” The clothes I was wearing were black cargo pants and a light gray cadet’s shirt, which was not what I was wearing before. It’s, in a word, difficult to force me out of my casual jeans/shorts and t-shirt into any sort of formal wear, especially if the wear is a a) dress or b) military outfit.
My mother wouldn’t look me in the eye as she pushed me away. But, then she took a breath and looked at me, “First, you must address me as Sergeant Williams while you are here. And second, I am not your mother.”
Shock, “Wait, Mo—”
She interrupted me, “Sergeant Williams. Your real mother died a few months after you were born, saving some comrades under gunfire.”
I was speechless, so she guided me to the bed, and sat me down on it and looked down, “Now, why didn’t you tell me you were having dreams?”
She sighed in exasperation, “The dreams that you would’ve been having for the past few nights.”
I thought about the dreams of the stormy field…and the nameless boy, “You mean the dreams about the boy?”
She looked as though I had confirmed something vital, “Yes, those dreams. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Her straightforward attitude after announcing that she wasn’t who she had claimed to be for 15 years annoyed me, “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because there was really no point, seeing as how dreams that actually mean something only happen in books and movies?”
She sighed, “If only that were true.”
Mo— Sergeant Williams almost never sighed. “What do you mean?”
She looked up, but didn’t meet my eyes “The government organization I work for wants to recruit you. To train you, and have you help protect our country. Will you accept?”
So she masqueraded as my mom to get me into a job? “What if I don’t?”
“You never get to learn your past. You will not be allowed to make contact with anybody that you originally knew.”
I thought a little bit, and then, “If I accept, then I will protect Canada…and you will tell me about my real mother?”
“Well, then fine, I accept … Sergeant Williams.”
No going back now.
Life sucks, I thought as I followed the person who had pretended to be my mom for 15 years through a long white hallway that was part of the base that was owned by the military branch that had put Sergeant Williams up to the job of raising me.
Sergeant Williams stopped at the end of the hallway. And pressing a button I couldn’t see, she turned towards the blank wall.
In a subdued voice, she spoke, “This is Predatory Base. …Home of the pnevma corps.”
And the door opened.
At first I had to shield my eyes, it was so bright. But then when my eyes adjusted, I lowered my hands and took in the central room of the base. The ceiling was high, with bare white walls. In the middle of the room, a large ornate water fountain that sprayed water as high as the ceiling was surrounded by seven tables with differing numbers of teens and young adults sitting at each one. Each of the tables were the large, plain and circular tables that you would see in a mall food court, but each of them were coloured a different colour. Fiery red, deep blue, bright green, white, solid black, sunny yellow and stormy gray. The red table had the most people around it, at least a dozen of people surrounding one tall blonde boy as he chatted confidently. Almost of all of the tables had people eating around them, except for the gray one, which had no one sitting around it.
Sergeant Williams whistled and all of the teens looked up, and then quickly got into a line in front of us. The youngest person looked to be about twelve and the oldest was probably about eighteen. Sergeant Williams, completely in her element, said, “This is Dayna Walker, she has exhibited the signs of being a pnevma. I expect you to help her adjust to this.”
All of the teens said, “Yes Sergeant Williams,” in unison and then the tall blonde boy who had been in the center of the group around the red table spoke up, “Do you know which spirit she has been Contracted to?”
The boy was probably the oldest of the group, probably nearly eighteen years old, he was dressed in red military-style clothing and he looked like one of those stereotypical Californian football players. Tall, muscular, tanned, arrogant looks, etc, yahdiyahdiyah, all the way down to the girls fawning over him.
“No Mark,” the Sergeant answered, “Although, due to her ancestry, it is likely that Miss Walker has been Contracted to a Wind spirit.”
I looked at Williams, feeling slightly pissed off that she was speaking for me. Also about the fact that I didn’t have a clue to what she was talking about.
Williams noticed me looking at her, and shook her head slightly, “Because of this fact, it would be best that one of the Wind spirit-users would be the one to help Miss Wal--” she paused when I jerked furiously on her sleeve, gave her a look I reserved for adults who insist on formalities, and then raised her eyes to the ceiling in exasperation, “Dayna adjust to this life-style,” she pointed at a girl wearing white military clothes, “Catherine, you will be Dayna’s escort,” she exaggerated Dayna for my benefit.
Catherine, in a word, was cat-like. She had an elfin face, with a dusky coloured skin tone, and slightly pointy-ears. She was slightly shorter than the average height, and looked to be about seventeen. She looked so much like a cat, that I half-expected her to have cat’s eyes as well, but no, her amber eyes were completely normal.
“Yes Sergeant,” she said in a low voice.
“Then you are all dismissed,” Williams said and walked out of the door we came in.
Catherine walked over to where I stood, lost. The guy who had asked Williams which “spirit” I am “Contracted” to (whatever that phrase meant), Mark, walked past her and whispered, “Catty.” A shadow passed through her blank eyes, but then it left as quickly as it came. When she reached me, Catherine thrust out her hand and said, “Well, you already know my name, but seeing how it was the Sergeant introducing me, I figure I may as well tell you my name again. I’m Catherine Grant.”
I took her hand, and smiled, “I’m Dayna Walker. As Sergeant Williams,” I felt my face contort slightly, then settle back into its original look, “has already told you.”
If Catherine noticed, then she didn’t say anything. Instead she started heading towards a door on the other side of the hall. Stopping just in front of it, she looked back and said, “Are you coming? Or do you feel like standing there like a dead fish till the cows come home?”
Blinking in slight shock, I followed her through the doorway.
Walking down, yet another white hallway, passing various doors that are the same colours as the tables from the central room, Catherine gave me the summary of life at Predatory Base.
“These are the dormitories. They are divided according to the elements of the spirits that certain pnevma are Contracted to. You’re going to be staying in the Wind dorms for the tim—“
I interrupted her, “Wait waitwaitwaitwait. Everyone’s talking about spirits, and Contracts, but I don’t even have a clue what the hell that is!”
Catherine paused, “Pnevma is Greek for spirit. Pnevma is the formal term for those who make a Contract with spirits and can use their powers.”
“Wait, so pnevma, god that’s a weird word, have contracts with spirits…” I said, giving Catherine one of those ‘you’re kidding me right?’ looks that every high school student has perfected for stupid teachers. When she didn’t break out laughing and give away the huge practical joke Williams had planned for me, I continued, “How are these ‘Contracts’ made? And as in spirits, you mean ghosts?”
Catherine looked at me, and then continued down the loooong corridor, “I’m not really good at explaining this, but spirits are kind of like reincarnations of the seven elements,” seeing my ‘what the hell are you talking about’ look, she added, “The seven elements, not like those from the periodic table. I’m talking about the mythological elements. Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Shadow, Light and Storm. It’s currently unknown as to when the Contract is made between pnevma and spirits, but the current belief is that it is decided at birth.
“The origin of the pnevma is unknown, but ancient stories have traced back as far as Ancient Greece, which is allegedly the place where the pnevma were created. Which is why the name of our…particular kind is pnevma. It is assumed that after Greece invaded Egypt, and then the Romans invaded Greece and expanded throughout the world, that the pnevma had intermixed with other cultures, and now it is possible to find pnevma among every race. And by the way,” Catherine looked back at me, “Pnevma is only our formal name. We’re much better being known as Hecateens. Hecate is the Greek goddess of magic and spirits/ghosts, and every single Hecateen we’ve ever heard of awoke to their Contract when they were in their teens, so it’s the perfect name for us.”
Another shadow ghosted through her eyes, but I just let it be, “So according to my…family tree, it’s likely that my Contract is with a Wind spirit…do spirits have names?”
“Yes, every spirit has a name. Although, they won’t, or can’t, tell their Hecateen their name until the Hecateen is ‘ready’. Although how this ‘ready’ time is determined, I have no idea,” Catherine stopped at the door at the end of the hall. The door was plain white, with a large black insignia on it. Two swirls connected by a line, like one of those really fancy doorknobs.
Seeing that the conversation was almost over, I asked one last question, “So what’s your spirit’s name?”
She placed her hand on the large button beside the door, and it beeped, “Zephyr. Most spirit names are from ancient religions, because most myths are related to Hecateens.”
“Well, what do you know?” I whirled around; the dream boy (I really can’t figure out what to call him) was leaning on the wall. He winked at me, said, “Don’t worry, she can’t see me,” and disappeared.
Blinking, I turned back to Catherine, who had already opened the door and was waiting for me to go in. She gave me a weird look as I turned back to her, and walked through a small, dark room. About halfway through the room, Catherine turned left, apparently to the girls’ dorms.
It was a fairly large room, big enough for eight queen-sized beds to fit together with about two feet of space in between them. On each side of the room, there were four beds, and about a meter’s walking space in the center. At the back of the room, there was a huge flat-screen tv. There was another girl lounging on a bed, lying upside down while reading a book, with her feet up on the headboard.
The girl who was reading the book lifted her head slightly, “So this is the newbie?”
I opened my mouth to protest the name ‘newbie’, but Catherine answered for me, “Yes. This is Dayna. Where’s Vapour?”
A voice came from behind me, “Hello Miss Walker.”
I swear, if I was about an inch taller, I would’ve gotten a concussion on the ceiling that was at least a meter higher than me. After I touched down, I whirled around to find a pair of eyes staring out at me, so of course, my head nearly made yet another surprise introduction to the ceiling. Behind me, Catherine and the other girl were laughing their heads off. As if the air had weaved a person out of it, a girl, just suddenly faded into existence.
“Hey Vapour,” Catherine said in between giggles.
Unnoticeable. Unnoticeable and utterly forgettable. Those are the three most accurate words I can think of to describe her. A plain white face, unevenly-cut short dirty-blonde hair with long and messy bangs that partially hid her large, washed-out gray eyes. A few inches shorter than me and definitely a few years younger, probably twelve, Vapour was skinny, and which was only emphasized by her white military clothes, the same that Catherine and the other girl wear, which hung loosely around her frame.
She holds out her hand and says, “I’m Vapour. My parents would tell you my name is Jeanette, but I’ve never been comfortable with that name, so I just go with my spirit-name,” her voice is very quiet.
I shot a questioning glance at Catherine at the word ‘spirit-name’, when she motioned that she’ll tell me later, I turned back to Vapour and took her hand, “I’m Dayna,”
The other girl got up from her bed, and walked over to me, all casual-like. Small, just like the rest of us, but, unlike Vapour, she was noticeable. Black hair tied up in a knot, dark skin, dark almond eyes, pierced nose, and her right ear was also pierced three times. She was probably around my age, and she was wearing the same uniform as the other two.
After she was almost right in my face, she looked me over, and said, “Well, we could always use a new recruit, even if they are green. Cause, other than Storm and Shadow, we’re the smallest division here. Has Catherine brought you up on everything?”
“Well, she’s answered the majority of my questions. I have yet to find out what a spirit-name is and WHY the military is using Hecateens, but I can find out tomorrow, right?” I was tired. Even though I literally couldn’t tell the weather from being underground and all, I could feel that it was night by the way that my brain was ordering me to drop and sleep.
The girl in front of me thought for a moment, and then said, “Well then I’ll bring you up-to-date on the things you don’t know before you drop dead,” at my reaction to her words, she grinned evilly, “Don’t worry, it won’t take as long as it would to give you the whole history of the glorious pnevma.
“Basically, you get your spirit-name when the spirit you’re Contracted to tells you their name, meaning they’ve ‘deemed you worthy enough to use the awesome powers of your Contracted spirit’. They make a big show and they give you a nickname to suit your talents and whatnot. All of the names come from things related to the element of the spirit you are Contracted to. For example,” she went over and leaned on Catherine, “I am Gust. Just like Vapour, I prefer to go by my spirit-name. And this lovely young lady here,” she nodded at Catherine, “is Breeze. Lovely nicknames aren’t they? As for why the military is using us, it’s rather simple.
“The pnevma corps was founded about 15ish years ago, when a woman saved a military unit under fire in Iraq using her spirit’s power. But later she died, saving that same unit again. So, because truthfully, when it comes to war, the military needs every asset they can get, they took what little they knew and started searching for Hecateens. When they find one, they keep them under watch until the Contract is awoken, and then convince the Hecateen to join the corps. They train us until we’re either considered skilled enough to join the army, or we have reached the age of eighteen.”
Gust yawned and sauntered back over to her bed, “We stay in the military for as long as they can convince us to and then we can do what we want with our lives after that. Some Hecateens will stay here for some time after they turn eighteen to help newbies gain control and whatnot, and join the military after. But in the end, we’re all fighting for Canada. And not to mention, we get cool perks, like high pay, good positions, etc, etc. Now,” she laid down on her bed, “I’m going to get some sleep. Tomorrow’s our free day, and I would like to be as well rested as possible,” she was out in seconds.
Catherine and Vapour also went and laid down on their beds. While Vapour turned over, and was silent, Catherine motioned to a bed that was between hers and Gust’s. I walked over and sat down, “What’s the free day?”
“One day per week, we get to go out to various cities and towns to have fun, so long as we get back to where we were dropped off by the time specified. Everyone comes along for the fun, even the instructors, so it’s a good way to meet all of the other Hecateens and personnel from Predatory. So far, this year, we’ve gone to Edmonton, Toronto and various little towns and places, one time we even managed to go to Canada’s Wonderland. And the best part is, we all get credit cards to spend as we please, cause technically the rest of the week, this is our full-time job, or at least will be.”
Not bothering to take off what I was wearing I laid back in bed, dying to ask one more question, “Is it so bad here? Like, is it worth it to leave behind all that we knew, and promise ourselves to the military and the country?”
Catherine was silent for so long I thought she was asleep, but then, right as I was about to fall asleep myself, she said, “When it comes to good, well-paying jobs, this life is among the best for people like us. And even after we leave the military, the government, or at least the people who are in charge of this division make sure we are always working for either the federal or a provincial, depending on your individual talents, government, and we’re always on call in case of a crisis. But as to whether or not it’s worth it…that’s for each of us to decide.”
The way she said it made me think that there was more to that statement than she was letting on, but because I could tell the conversation was closed, I kept my mouth shut, rolled over, and dropped off to sleep.