When I opened my eyes again, the first think I saw was an iron rail - and nearly fell out of the bunk I was in thinking I was stuck in a cage.
"Hey, hey! Calm down, kid, geez."
I was sitting upright, my back pressed to the wall at the head of the bunk, and I turned to see that the voice was a boy in the bunk next to me. He looked a bit older than me, about a year, maybe two. He had shockingly black hair that fell in front of his eyes and was so dark that it looked feather-soft. He was half-sitting up, on his back with his upper half propped up by his elbows. It looked like I had just woken him up from a sleep that probably wasn't too good to begin with.
He watched me watch him. My expression was probably one of wild fear, while his was just blank and cold. My mind spun with thoughts I didn't want to address at the moment.
"If you're wondering where you are, you're at a military base God knows where and you got in last night stoned as hell with sedatives. I could smell them." I didn't move. I was still scared out of my wits; all I remembered was that I was supposed to be dying.
His face softened a little. "Wanna know what happened? Or do you want me to save it until tomorrow?"
"I'm so not ready to hear this," I whispered. "Tell me now. I'd rather not wait."
He laughed a little. "I'm Hawk. Not terribly creative, considering, but we mostly name ourselves around here, since they erase our memories. Don't freak out, but the next time you change clothes you're going to find out that you're the same as me."
I shifted in horror. Say what?
Hawk rolled his eyes. "You're still a girl. I meant..." He sort of trailed off, shrugged a little then shifted his shoulders. Something peeked around both of his arms, soft and just as black as his hair. Feathers. Wings.
Hawk had wings. He spread them a little, then stretched them out more. He ruffled the feathers a bit then folded them again. The feathers looked soft,but something told me they could be used dangerously.
My breath caught in my throat once more when it sunk in what he had actually said. I would look like him? Did he mean I had wings?
I reached over my shoulder and touched my back lightly through my shirt. I could feel my fingers, but it didn't feel like it was my back that was sensing their touch.
"Oh, God," I whispered.
"It was injection," he continued, leaning his arms on the metal rail of his bunk. "None of us know how it works. I think it's sort of like venom, and they sedate us when they first get us and then inject the stuff and let it work its twisted excuse for magic." He sighed. "The process of it probably erases our memories. Either that or they do it manually. Either way, none of us remember anything."
"How long does it take?" I whispered. "For the injection to... Work."
He thought for a minute. "I don't know," he whispered back. "I think it might take a few days. We always know when there's someone knew coming in, even though it doesn't happen. They get here, and about a week later they're sentenced to bunk-arrest and then some weird exercises while their wings grow out and mature. That takes a little over two months. Then they get the fighting training. You're a killer now." The last bit I hardly heard, he said it so quietly. "And don't consider an escape attempt, because you'll only die confused."
There was something much bigger, much worse about this place than I had thought.