Morning came with the sounds of yelling and doors being slammed. I snapped my eyes open and moved, rolling to the floor on my hands and knees. I sprang up and turned to my door, expecting somebody to come in. They didn't. Curious, I stepped towards the door to look through the little window.
Across from me was the female Water Base. The one who looked like she was stoned or something. The guard was yelling at her and taking her out of her room. I found myself wondering why.
Didn't have long to wait. I was next.
The same guard slammed my door open and pulled me out, forcing me down the hall. We went through a side door into a room with little light. There was a low table, a chair near it, and some kind of contraption near the chair. The table had straps on it, which set off alarms in my head. I tried to stop walking, but the guard forced me forward. He basically threw me face-first onto the table. I hit the table hard, which dazed me and made my nose bleed. As I tried to get my bearings again, he started tying me down with the straps.
"Geez, did you have to throw her like that?" This was a new voice. Must have been waiting in the room. The straps held my head down, so I couldn't look for the source.
"She's fine. Nose'll stop bleeding. Quit your complaining." The guard tightened the last strap, then took a strap of leather, shoved it in my mouth, and tied another strap around my head so I couldn't spit it out. "Just hurry up and get the IDs done so we can bring in the next one.
IDs? What was he talking about? I was confused and scared by now, not having any idea what was going on.
I felt the touch of steel traveling up my spine. At first, I couldn't tell what it was. But, the slicing noises and loosening of my shirt told me it was scissors. Then I felt a cold pad being rubbed hard on the back of my right shoulder, right on the blade. Probably alcohol or iodine. The machine was flicked on, and nothing happened for a moment. I was starting to hyperventilate from pure fear.
Then something pressed onto my shoulder, and all I knew was pain. Pure, uncontrolled, uncaring pain. I screamed, though the straps in and around my mouth muted that quite a bit.
The pain dimmed for a moment. Course, that was like saying twenty stadium lights ten feet away from you were dimmer than the sun. Technically true, but when your blinded by them, you really don't give a crap.
I was sweating and hyperventilating. My shoulder felt like it was literally on fire. Probably was, given the stench of burning flesh that was starting to invade my nostrils.
But...they weren't done. Without any warning, the pain returned. Felt even worse the second time, given how sore that area was. Whatever they did, they did it a total of five times. When they were done, I was barely conscious. The pain was worse than any I have ever had to deal with before.
I barely registered the straps being loosened. The guard dragged me to my feet. I might have tried to catch what was left of my shirt as it fell, but I was too busy trying not to pass out. Oh, sure, it would've been easy to pass out. But during all the pain, I made a decision. A promise. I was going to suck it up and get through it. I was going to take whatever these bastards were handing out, and I'd get through it.
I was half-dragged across the room, then shoved through the door. I landed on my hands and knees, my shoulder almost giving out from the pain. The door was shut behind me, and I heard the click of it being locked. I stayed like that for minutes, just concentrating on breathing and staying awake. I wasn't going to pass out. I wouldn't.
I heard footsteps approaching. Slowly, I turned my head to see a pair of men in white lab coats approaching. They both wore rubber gloves, and one wheeled a cart along. When they reached me, the first one had me lay on my face again. He grabbed a bottle and some cotton balls from the cart, then started cleaning my new wounds. It stung. Almost as much pain as getting them.
When he was done, he dragged me to my feet again and walked me down the hall, into another room. This room had a couple of pads on the floor. I assume they were meant as beds, because the woman that was taken earlier was lying on one, curled up on her side. Tears streaked her face, but she wasn't crying anymore. She found the sweet release of sleep.
The man shoved me in and locked the door behind me. I stood there for a moment, wondering what was in store next. Then I slowly sat down behind the woman, my sore shoulder still inhibiting my movements. I looked at her bare back for a moment before I noticed her right shoulder. My heart almost leaped up my throat when I saw what was there.
Branded. We had both been branded. That was why I smelled my own burnt flesh. And judging from her marked, I guessed what mine was. Hers was the symbol for the Water Base. Similar to a backwards "7". Under that was a four digit number. Probably what they meant by "ID". Based on that, I probably had my own number, as well as the symbol for Kinetic. Like a "Z", but with the top and bottomed curved to make it almost an oval.
I laid down on my left side, still staring at the woman's back. I had no idea what laid ahead, but I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant at all.