“Brats like you should be put down.”
The guards dragged Ani’s half-conscious body across the infirmary. They took no care with her or her poorly wrapped arms as they hauled her onto the table. They secured the bed cuffs around her wrists and ankles. Even in the growing darkness of her mind she felt the cold metal and its needles piercing into her skin. Ani wanted to lurch at the guard, to berate them for being nothing but trained monkeys, but between the blood loss and the tranquilizer, she could only curse them till everything went black and she slipped into unconsciousness.
* * *
Something cool touched her lips then her throat and wiped gently at her head. She instinctively moved to push whoever, or whatever, it was away only to hiss in pain. The cuffs’ needles were still deeply rooted in her skin, reminding her she was still their rag doll. She wanted to end it all but the guards found her before she could bleed out into freedom. The cool touch came again and she tried to open her eyes but they felt heavier than her pounding head.
“Take it easy. You’re safe.”
The word sounded foreign yet she couldn’t let it go. There wasn’t a place in the world that could be safe. Not a home or the arms of family. And there was no place on Avia that would ever be safe. She knew the rough hands of more men and women than she’d admit to and she was sure the same ones that carried her to the infirmary were the same ones who enjoyed their little visits with her. Safe didn’t exist.
Her lips parted in a small sigh as another needle pierced her neck and consciousness slipped away again.
* * *
Groaning, Ani rubbed her eye and froze. Her eyes snapped open as she sat up and stared at her free ankles and wrists. They were bruised but they were definitely free.
“Lapwing! Has that latest stunt of yours made you deaf? Get moving.”
“Where?” Her voice was hoarse but it was there, and loud enough for the nurse to hear. Moving carefully, she slid off the table and went over to sit on the comfier table. They were reserved for the favorites and the obedient ones. Someone like her, who enjoyed causing trouble, never got the same comforts. It didn’t matter how many people she let her their way with her, she was always an outcast, never a favorite. It made her stop at the curtain that separated the area. It couldn’t be right. She wasn’t one of them.
“Get out of my infirmary, Lapwing. Move!”
The nudge pushed her past the curtain and right onto the table. She kept her head down in case the whole thing was a lie. Her blue hair wasn’t hard to identify but there was still the off chance she got the order because of a misunderstanding.
“I don’t think so.”
Ani looked up. There were a lot of voices in her head but they were all hers, all female, and all silent. The new one was male and definitely echoed. Her gaze landed on a smiling goof, reclining on the bed next to her. His silver hair stood out but not as much as what she could only guess was his power.
“I’m not all goof, y’know.”
“Can you talk?” Unlike his voice that rang softly in her head, hers was out loud but whispered.
The guy nodded with a shrug, his smile never fading. “Don’t want everybody to know we’re talking. They might get the wrong idea.”
Despite the intrusion, Ani smiled and let her head fall forward again to hide their little exchange. “What kind of idea?”
“They might think we’re up to something. We both know they aren’t very bright down here.”
Ani masked her giggle with a series of coughs. They earned her a few stern looks for the noise but nobody ventured over. “I’m Ani.”
“Fished that out of my head?”
She didn’t look over at his uncontained chuckle.
“You’re the first person to figure out what I can do and not glare daggers at me.”
“That’s a shame.” She glanced over at him and smiled at his smug expression. He didn’t look put off by the hostility of others or by the odd non-attention they were getting. “Did you do this too?”
“I told you. Can’t have them assuming things.”
“Not like we could really do anything.”
“What if we could?”
Ani looked at him. The easy smile was still in place but she felt something more was behind it, something dangerous and enticing.
“Ani, what if we sank this place?”
“As fun as that idea is, we can’t. It’s an island. And as cute as you are, not even your dreams can come true on Avia.”
“Glad you admitted it.” His smile faded into a devious smirk. “I’m very cute.”
She laughed as he wagged his brows and ran his hands over his silver hair. He was possibly the most arrogant Bird she met but he was fun. The others cowered or ignored each other. Where as he, he still a light in him she couldn’t look away from.
“Want to help sink it?”
“Tell me the plan and maybe I’ll help make those dreams come true.”
He grinned and lay back, inspiring her to do the same. “The name’s Ryker. It’s nice to finally meet you, Lapwing.”
“You too, Peacock.” With a glance his way she knew she managed to surprise him. “A true silver tongue is something to whisper about. If your plan is as good as you are at keeping all eyes off of us, I’ll help you. Whatever it takes.”
© 2015 Maura D.
I’m not sure how clear it is but the whole conversation took place telepathically, with Ryker controlling it. He sat in her head and decided to talk with her. It just so happened that Ani liked his company.
I really wrote this per M.J.’s request, but I hope you all enjoyed Ani’s first impression of Ryker.