- Unravel Me
They all work together.
“Now, we still don’t know yet exactly why or how you can do what you do, Ms. Ferrars, but I’m hoping that when the time comes, your Energy will present itself. These kinds of high-stress situations are perfect for provoking our abilities—in fact, seventy-eight percent of Point members reported initial discovery of their ability while in critical, high-risk circumstances.”
Yup, I don’t say to him. That sounds about right.
Castle takes something from one of the women in the room—Alia, I think is her name. “And you shouldn’t worry about a thing,” he says. “We’ll be right there in case something should happen.”
I don’t point out that I never once said I was worried. Not out loud, anyway.
“These are your new gloves,” Castle says, handing them to me. “Try them on.”
These new gloves are shorter, softer: they stop precisely at my wrist and fasten with a snap-button. They feel thicker, a little heavier, but they fit my fingers perfectly. I curl my hand into a fist. Smile a little. “These are incredible,” I tell him. “Didn’t you say Winston designed them?”
Castle’s face falls. “Yes,” he says quietly. “He finished them just yesterday.”
His was the very first face I saw when I woke up at Omega Point. His crooked nose, his plastic glasses, his sandy-blond hair and his background in psychology. His need for disgusting coffee.
I remember the broken glasses we found in the knapsack.
I have no idea what’s happened to him.
Alia returns with a leather contraption in her hands. It looks like a harness. She asks me to lift my arms and helps me slip into the piece, and I recognize it as a holster. There are thick leather shoulder straps that intersect in the center of my back, and 50 different straps of very thin black leather overlapping around the highest part of my waist—just underneath my chest—like some kind of incomplete bustier. It’s like a bra with no cups. Alia has to buckle everything together for me and I still don’t really understand what I’m wearing. I’m waiting for some kind of explanation.
Then I see the guns.
“There was nothing in the note about arriving unarmed,” Castle says as Alia passes him two automatic handguns in a shape and size I’ve come to recognize. I practiced shooting with these just yesterday.
I was terrible at it.
“And I see no reason for you to be without a weapon,” Castle is saying. He shows me where the holsters are on either side of my rib cage. Teaches me how the guns fit, how to snap the holder into place, where the extra cartridges go.
I don’t bother to mention that I have no idea how to reload a weapon. Kenji and I never got to that part in our lesson. He was too busy trying to remind me not to use a gun to gesticulate while asking questions.
“I’m hoping the firearms will be a last resort,” Castle says to me. “You have enough weapons in your personal arsenal—you shouldn’t need to shoot anyone. And, just in case you find yourself using your gift to destroy something, I suggest you wear these.” He holds up a set of what look like elaborate variations on brass knuckles. “Alia designed these for you.”
I look from her to Castle to the foreign objects in his hand. He’s beaming. I thank Alia for taking the time to create something for me and she stammers out an incoherent response, blushing like she can’t believe I’m talking to her.
I take the pieces from Castle and inspect them. The underside is made up of 4 concentric circles welded together, big enough in diameter to fit like a set of rings, snug over my gloves. I slip my fingers through the holes and turn my hand over to inspect the upper part. It’s like a mini shield, a million pieces of gunmetal that cover my knuckles, my fingers, the entire back of my hand. I can curl my fist and the metal moves with the motion of my joints. It’s not nearly as heavy as it looks.
I slip the other piece on. Curl my fingers. Reach for the guns now strapped to my body.
I can do this.
“Do you like it?” Castle asks. I’ve never seen him smile so wide before.
“I love it,” I tell him. “Everything is perfect. Thank you.”
“Very good. I’m so pleased. Now,” he says, “if you’ll excuse me, I must attend to a few other details before we leave. I will return shortly.” He offers me a curt nod before heading out the door. Everyone but me, Kenji, and Adam leaves the room.
I turn to see how the guys are doing.
Kenji is wearing a suit.
Some kind of bodysuit. He’s black from head to toe, his jet-black hair and eyes a perfect match for the outfit molded to every contour of his body. The suit seems to have a synthetic feel to it, almost like plastic; it gleams in the fluorescent lighting of the room and looks like it’d be too stiff to move around in. But then I see him stretching his arms and rolling back and forth on the balls of his feet and the suit suddenly looks fluid, like it moves with him. He’s wearing boots but no gloves, and a harness, just like me. But his is different: it has simple holsters that sling over his arms like the straps of a backpack.
Adam is gorgeous wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt, dark blue and dangerously tight across his chest. I can’t help but linger over the details of his outfit, can’t help but remember what it was like to be held against him, in his arms. He’s standing right in front of me and I miss him like I haven’t seen him in years. His black cargo pants are tucked into the same pair of black boots he was wearing when I first met him in the asylum, shin-high and sleek, created from smooth leather that fits him so perfectly it’s a surprise they weren’t made for his body. But there are no weapons on his person.
And I’m curious enough to ask.
He lifts his head to look up and freezes. Blinks, eyebrows up, lips parted. His eyes travel down every inch of my body, pausing to study the harness framing my chest, the guns slung close to my waist.
He says nothing. He runs a hand through his hair, presses the heel of his palm to his forehead and says something about being right back. He leaves the room.
I feel sick.
Kenji clears his throat, loud. Shakes his head. Says, “Wow. I mean, really, are you trying to kill the guy?”
Kenji is looking at me like I’m an idiot. “You can’t just go around all ‘Oh, Adam, look at me, look at how sexy I am in my new outfit’ and bat your eyelashes—”
“Bat my eyelashes?” I balk at him. “What are you talking about? I’m not batting my eyelashes at him! And this is the same outfit I’ve worn every day—”
Kenji grunts. Shrugs and says, “Yeah, well, it looks different.”
“I am just saying,” he says, hands up in mock surrender, “that if I were him? And you were my girl? And you were walking around looking like that, and I couldn’t touch you?” He looks away. Shrugs again. “I am just saying I do not envy the poor bastard.”
“I don’t know what to do,” I whisper. “I’m not trying to hurt him—”
“Oh hell. Forget I said anything,” he says, waving his hands around. “Seriously. It is none of my business.” He shoots me a look. “And do not consider this an invitation for you to start telling me all of your secret feelings now.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “I’m not going to tell you anything about my feelings.”
“Good. Because I don’t want to know.”
“Have you ever had a girlfriend, Kenji?”
“What?” He looks mortally offended. “Do I look like the kind of guy who’s never had a girlfriend? Have you even met me?”
I roll my eyes. “Forget I asked.”
“I can’t even believe you just said that.”
“You’re the one who’s always going on about not wanting to talk about your feelings,” I snap.
“No,” he says. “I said I don’t want to talk about your feelings.” He points at me. “I have zero problem talking about my own.”
“So do you want to talk about your feelings?”
“Fine.” I look away. Pull at the straps tugging at my back. “So what’s up with your suit?” I ask him.
“What do you mean, what’s up with it?” He frowns. He runs his hands down his outfit. “This suit is badass.”
I bite back a smile. “I just meant, why are you wearing a suit? Why do you get one and Adam doesn’t?”
He shrugs. “Adam doesn’t need one. Few people do—it all depends on what kind of gift we have. For me, this suit makes my life a hell of a lot easier. I don’t always use it, but when I need to get serious about a mission, it really helps. Like, when I need to blend into a background,” he explains, “it’s less complicated if I’m shifting one solid color—hence, the black. And if I have too many layers and too many extra pieces floating around my body, I have to focus that much more on making sure I blend all the details. If I’m one solid piece and one solid color, I’m a much better chameleon. Besides,” he adds, stretching out the muscles in his arms, “I look sexy as hell in this outfit.”
It takes all the self-control I have not to burst into laughter.
“So, but what about Adam?” I ask him. “Adam doesn’t need a suit or guns? That doesn’t seem right.”
“I do have guns,” Adam says as he walks back into the room. His eyes are focused on the fists he’s clenching and unclenching in front of him. “You just can’t see them.”
I can’t stop looking at him, can’t stop staring.
“Invisible guns, huh?” Kenji smirks. “That’s cute. I don’t think I ever went through that phase.”
Adam glares at Kenji. “I have nine different weapons concealed on my body right now. Would you like to choose the one I use to shoot you in the face? Or should I?”
“It was a joke, Kent. Damn. I was joking—”
“All right, everyone.”
We all spin around at the sound of Castle’s voice.
He examines the 3 of us. “Are you ready?”
I say, “Yes.”
Kenji says, “Let’s do this shit.”
Castle says, “Follow me.”
It’s 10:32 a.m.
We have exactly 1 hour and 28 minutes before we’re supposed to meet the supreme commander.
This is the plan:
Castle and every able body from Omega Point are already in position. They left half an hour ago. They’re hiding in the abandoned buildings skirting the circumference of the meeting point indicated in the note. They will be ready to engage in an offensive strike just as soon as Castle gives the signal—and Castle will only give that signal if he senses we’re in danger.
Adam and Kenji and I are going to travel by foot.
Kenji and Adam are familiar with unregulated turf because as soldiers, they were required to know which sections of land were strictly off-limits. No one is allowed to trespass on the grounds of our past world. The strange alleyways, side streets, old restaurants and office buildings are forbidden territory.