"There's something out there."
Chaos voiced his thoughts as soon as Rave was out of earshot, and they mirrored mine. A learned training instructor wouldn't just leave a group of genetically enhanced teenagers with flight abilities in an area without a roof. Obviously, he thought, if we tried to get out, there would be something out there that would chase us back in.
I think we were all thinking the same thing. Gypsy started drifting toward the fence, no doubt trying to see whatever it was out there that was intent on making us lunch. And not in the polite way.
"Maybe..." trailed Spade, and paused with his mouth open for a minute before shutting it and creasing his brow in thought. "Maybe not," he said with a shrug.
We all followed Gypsy to the fence. Chaos wove his fingers into the meshed wire, peering closely through into the trees.
We all jumped about seven feet when a voice on the other side of the fence said, "Anyone interested in other employment options?"
"What the hell?" breathed Gypsy, her hand on her chest. My heart was pounding, but I stayed where I was, while Spade and Chaos were laughing hysterically from the adrenaline. My eyes flicked toward movement in the higher foliage as a figure dropped out of a tree to land a few feet in front of the fence.
He was obviously a rogue, an outsider or something. He was pretty much mummified in weapon belts, and his face was masked by several black bandanas over his nose, mouth, and hair. If he had any. I couldn't tell. Black leather gloves with buckles reached half way up his forearm, and well-worn but obviously stable combat boots adorned his feet.
"Well?" he asked. "Come on, if you go with me, you'll be treated like royalty. You're special, all four of you, and worth a lot. You deserve better than - "
A short knife ended more than just his sentence.
Rave pulled Gypsy and I away from the fence by our shoulders and smacked both Spade's and Chaos's jaws shut again. He had the training blades in their boxes, and his own belt sheath was empty, its former occupant currently protruding from the throat of the guy on the other side of the fence.
"There will be no escape to freedom," he growled, taking Chaos by the collar and drawing him eye-level, "whether that fence was there or not."
It was obvious. The fence wasn't to keep us from freedom. It was to keep everyone else from keeping us from our freedom, because we were valuable (or on our way to being, at least) and who ever happened to have us would be able to find out what was in that injection. If they found that out, the people who were currently keeping us would no longer have the advantage.
Later, sprawled in my bunk, I thought about what he had said. All four of us had been lectured while our wings were growing out that a long time ago, the world was a little bit less unfair. People had some liberty to do what they wanted; there were limitations, of course, but still. When some paranoid idiot decided to discuss with the paranoid president, you can imagine what happened. No freedom then. Everything was double-checked, pad-locked multiple times, and you couldn't even look out the window without some blinking security light glaring you in the face. Since people felt safe, nothing changed. Security tightened and tightened and the word 'trust' left the world's vocabulary altogether.
That was back then, in 2015.
Now it was 2038. Everyone here in this military base that wasn't a soldier of some sort was an experiment. We weren't going to be treated like humans, no; we weren't even going to be treated like animals.
We were weapons.