A Difference in Doctors

Author’s Note: This is where I really started writing again for Nano.

A Difference in Doctors

“My head.”

“It would be best not to move,” Bonaventure said, and she blinked as she tried to focus on him. Her eyes were having trouble adjusting to the light—the lack thereof, actually. It was a lot darker now than it had been when that bastard was here. “Drink this. It will help with the nausea as well.”

She took the cup, lifting it slowly to her lips. She glanced around, now aware she was sitting on Bonaventure’s couch in his office. The sun had gone down, so the light filtering in from the windows was much less than earlier, and shadows took up most of the room.


“Not back yet,” Bonaventure answered, and she swore. This wasn’t right. As angry as she’d been with Vershon, he’d been in no state to be interrogated, and they shouldn’t have moved him. That they’d gone and sedated her, too, galled her.

She hated feeling this helpless, this powerless.

“This anger will not pass, either,” Bonaventure told her, and she looked up at him again. He must hate this. He would have been capable of fighting them, she was sure of that, but he hadn’t made a move. If he had, he’d be like her right now, wouldn’t he? “It does not improve, though you will learn to pick your battles.”

“Letting him go like that shouldn’t have been one of them. He wasn’t able to move, and that combination of drugs—”

“They simply state he is in the care of a doctor, and we are not doctors, therefore we cannot contradict their experts.”

“That’s complete crap,” she muttered, but her head was pounding too much to do more than that. “That man is no doctor.”


“He looked past me like I wasn’t a person.”

“No one with a Talent is, not to him,” Bonaventure said, sitting down in the other chair. “You are fortunate he saw only a training opportunity in you.”

She could see that now. She supposed it wasn’t like it should have taken a forced sedation to see it, but she wasn’t the sort that just laid back and took anything thrown at her. She had fought hard to get where she was, and she couldn’t stop fighting against all that had ripped it away from her.

“Now that you are awake, you can return to your quarters if you like.”

“Why should I? All I have to look forward to there is being bored while they watch me.”

Bonaventure nodded, sipping from his tea. “The amount of surveillance will reduce in time.”

“Not for everyone, though, right?”

“For Vershon, you mean?”

“They don’t watch you?”

“They do not have to,” Bonaventure said, rising. Was he really that loyal to them? Or did he have them fooled by his ‘pick your battles’ act? She didn’t know what to think of this man at all. He was somehow more confusing than Vershon.

Something beeped, and he went to the desk, checking the screen. He frowned. “They’ve returned Vershon to his room.”

She didn’t try and force herself to move. “You didn’t expect it so soon, did you?”


“If you help me up, I’ll look him over,” she said, and Bonaventure turned his frown on her. “I may not get along with him, but I’m a doctor. And I am not like that man. Vershon is human, he’s a living, breathing man, and he might be an uptight pain in the butt, but… No one deserves what they’re doing to him. Not even that bastard—Never mind that. Just help me up, and I’ll treat him like a proper doctor would.”

Bonaventure studied her, and she waited. She had to figure he didn’t trust her, and she didn’t trust him, so fair was fair, but this was getting to be just as frustrating as the rest of it.

“Not everyone is like them,” she finally said. She wasn’t the government. She wasn’t about to take more from Bonaventure or Vershon than had already been taken. She had no interest in hurting either of them or experimenting on them. She hadn’t made any secret of hating being here, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t help.

“No,” Bonaventure agreed. “They are not.”

She watched Bonaventure pass his hand over the scanner, and the door opened. He must have access to everyone’s room in the dorms, or at least every Talent that was stuck here. She didn’t figure anyone without a Talent lived here intentionally, but some might stay overnight on a case or something. That would make sense, and she doubted all of these rooms were occupied.

Talents were a very small part of the population, after all. The percentage was low, and that was the official number they gave, so it might be higher if some Talents managed to avoid detection, but that didn’t happen often, as she knew well.

She’d been lucky. She’d seen them waiting for her at her dorm and bolted, never going back to any of that even as she continued learning to be a doctor. She had never used that name again or contacted anyone she used to know. She’d left it all behind to try and keep her independence, and it worked—for a while.

Now all of that was gone.

She followed Bonaventure into the apartment. Vershon’s had the same layout as hers, but if anything, he had less in it than she did. The main difference seemed to be the bookshelves on the far wall. He had only one chair, but the shelves ran the entire room, and all of them were full of not one but two rows of books.

She couldn’t even assume he liked to read. That was probably one of the only things he could do around this place.

Bonaventure pushed open the back room, and she felt her Talent stir, the silver light starting to cover her skin as she took in Vershon’s condition. Damn it, had they actually beaten him? The drugs were enough, but he was bruised and unresponsive, and her Talent was tingling across her body, screaming at her to heal him.

Something they’d done was going to kill him if she didn’t.

She crossed over to the bed, aware of Bonaventure’s eyes on her as she lifted her hand and released the light. The color shifted, changing hues as it traveled along Vershon’s body and then faded away. She closed her eyes, exhaustion seeping into every part of her.

“I hate doing that.”

The Mask Slips

Author’s Note: I really like this part because more of Vershon shows through, but I don’t know if that really is good or not.

The Mask Slips

I hate being drugged.”

She almost laughed at that. Did she know anyone that enjoyed it? True, there were still plenty of addicts out there, but what happened to Vershon wasn’t his choice, wasn’t anything he did for fun. Judging from the reaction—or lack of one, she supposed—from Bonaventure, this was all too common. She wouldn’t be surprised if Vershon said those words when he woke up every time.

She found him eying her again, frowning as if he didn’t understand why she was there. She shrugged. Fair was fair, she supposed, since she didn’t know and had certainly given him every reason to think she wouldn’t be.

He’d called it a test, one she’d passed. She’d done what her instincts told her to do and brought him back, but from the way he kept staring, she’d say he didn’t have that happen much, now did he? He’d said the others wait for the end of training to run, but some of them must not have. Some of them must have taken the first opportunity presented by Vershon’s temper and ran for the hills.

She hadn’t. She should have, but she hadn’t.

Sounds like it’s an every day thing for you,” she said, leaning back against the wall, and he turned his from from her to Bonaventure. Did he really think she wouldn’t figure that out? “As a doctor, I know mood stabilizers have their place, but I can’t say that I think they work for you.”

Personally, I would rather not have them, but I am deemed too dangerous without them,” Vershon said, accepting the tea Bonaventure offered to him. Bonaventure really did seem believe in his tea. She supposed it might even work. Drinking it, focusing on it, and centering himself could stop some of the anger, restrain his temper and hold off the sedation. That was what he’d done earlier, before they went to the crime scene.

You aren’t really that scary.”

Perhaps not to you, given what you can to with your Talent, but to most aside from Bonaventure, that holds true.” Vershon sipped from his cup, his expression showing his distaste. Was the tea that bad? Or was he still nauseous? He was rather pale.

He was also right. She didn’t fear him, but then, she didn’t know what he could do, either.

And yet the office comes to you before Bonaventure, supposedly.”

Vershon shrugged. “With Bonaventure’s Talent, that has never surprised me. The government was quick to force him into service and keep him here, though I know he has his own reasons for staying where he is.”

Stopping after those words, Vershon put a hand to his mouth and grimaced. Shaking his head, he cleared his throat. “All I meant was—he will always scare them more than I do.”

Hmm. Now that was an interesting way to phrase it. Almost like he hadn’t meant to say that part aloud. She hadn’t even provoked him that time. She could maybe even work with this. “There is someone more dangerous than you?”

From what I understand, my mother was. That’s why they locked up my father, took me from my home, and most likely killed her.” Vershon put a hand to his head, his other one gripping the tea cup like he might break it. “Damn it. What the hell did they give me this time? It’s like I have no means of stopping my mouth from speaking passing thoughts in my mind.”

Bonaventure took the cup from him, adjusting the blanket around Vershon’s shoulders. Though the gesture was surprisingly affectionate, his face remained a blank mask, and his words were rather devastating. “It would not surprise me if they gave you something that would loosen your tongue as well as put you to sleep given how they tend to interrogate you over your intentions regarding your Talent if you activated it in anger.”

Vershon swore. “I am not having another one of those conversations. I don’t even remember what I might have thought of doing. I never do. That’s how it works with these damned drugs.”

They do not believe that. They never have.”

Do they even have a real doctor administering this stuff?” She couldn’t believe they did. No responsible medical doctor would treat him like this. “I doubt it. A legitimate doctor would know the possible side effects of the drugs include some memory loss as well as the lowered inhibitions or so-called ‘truth serum’ that they seem to think they’re using.”

She hated doctors like that, ones that gave other doctors a bad name, ones that didn’t practice good medicine, ones that were more of a menace to patients than a cure. Being a doctor was supposed to be about saving lives, not endangering them, and yet she heard of so many that did crap like this, and it just infuriated her. She was already angry enough about the way people with Talents were treated, but this was on a new level of terrible, something that shouldn’t have been happening, not ever.

There is a doctor,” Vershon said, not looking at her. “If you are fortunate, you will never have any dealings with him.”

No,” Bonaventure disagreed. “He is not a doctor. There is a researcher. He may hold a degree, but he is not a doctor as you see it.”

Great. So we have one of them experimenting on us, too?”

No. He doesn’t deal with just anyone.” Vershon closed his eyes again, and she bit back her reaction to that. This guy’s focus was Vershon, wasn’t it? The overpowered product of two people with Talents, that must be like some kind of gift to a creep who was willing to experiment on humans. “Plenty go without attracting his notice. You would do well to be one of them.”

She swallowed. With what she could do, would she really be able to do that? If she used her Talent, that alone could be enough, couldn’t it? She was almost certain it was, since Vershon figured it made her immune to what he could do. “Is that even possible?”

Vershon looked at Bonaventure. He gave a slow nod, but made no promise.

You know, I thought your life was messed up before, when you were just spouting their rhetoric, but now, I really don’t know how you stand it.”

Vershon didn’t argue with that, either.

What did you learn at the crime scene?”

Very little of use. They’d destroyed it and raised a crowd by the time I got back with her,” Vershon answered, leaning back against the couch. She doubted he could move with those drugs still in his system.I believe the killer didn’t find what he was looking for, but I don’t know if we can use the trap I set up before thanks to them treating the crime scene like a tourist attraction.”

So the whole operation is compromised?”

Vershon shook his head. “No. I think something of it can be salvaged, but I don’t know. The trap is almost assuredly ruined, since they gathered a crowd, but if it was kept off the news media, then maybe the killer is unaware of the discovery. It would be difficult to go back and set up further surveillance in my current condition, but it’s not a complete loss.”

Bonaventure nodded. “Good.”

Help me up,” Vershon said, reaching out to him. “I need to—”

Not move, because they gave you enough to put down a man three times your size and you will probably regret any attempt to move, plus they’ll be coming for you anyway, so you may as well rest instead of being a stubborn idiot,” she said, blocking his path. “You can’t make this situation better for yourself by pushing past your limits again, now can you?”

Vershon grimaced, turning to Bonaventure. “Exactly what did you tell her?”

Nothing that was not necessary.”

I’m a doctor. This is all coming from that, not some pity party,” she said. “I didn’t hear what I did and start thinking you had a sob story I should cry over. Your life is a mess, that’s not in debate, but I am doing this because I am a damned good doctor, licensed or not.”

I will permit her to take you to your room,” Bonaventure said, and Vershon frowned. “If they wish to take issue with it, they can discuss it with me. You, if you wish to act as his physician, should take him away from here.”

She frowned as Bonaventure helped Vershon up, not missing the strained, white handed grip Vershon had on the older man as he rose. He didn’t look well at all, and she didn’t think moving him was a good idea.

No, he should—”

Vershon. We need to speak.”

Bonaventure’s eyes focused on the man in the doorway with clear anger. He’d seemed expressionless before, but now, looking at him, there was nothing but fury there. He would love to cause that man harm, and she wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one dosed by his restraint now.

You’re not taking him anywhere,” she said, moving forward. “In case you missed it, which you shouldn’t have, since you were the ones that did it, he got a heavy dose of sedative not long ago. If you combine that with his regular medication for mood stabilization—”

Oh. You. You’re the Talent that fancies herself a doctor, aren’t you?”

She balled her fists. “I am a much better doctor than you are, clearly. What I said is basic medical knowledge, which you are ignoring. He’s in no state to answer any questions. He shouldn’t move. He needs to rest. You need to leave.”

The cold eyes of the man in front of her dismissed her without even a glance, like she had said nothing. She almost felt like she must have gotten lucky he acknowledged her before.

She is still new,” Bonaventure said despite the tension in his body. “She just started training today.”

In that case, this is an excellent opportunity, isn’t it?”

Opportunity for—”

Something stabbed through her, but the sharp pain was quickly replaced by darkness.

A Name and a Test

Author’s Note: It was interesting how the name thing ended up working out. The one character’s was rather hard to pin down.

A Name and a Test

“You have an actual name, right? He didn’t bother to tell me what it was, but you can since I was stupid enough to bring him back here.”

The supervisor glanced toward her, and she almost regretted asking. Apparently he was willing to tell her about Vershon, but not about himself, though why she couldn’t know his name didn’t make any sense to her. She wanted to leave, regretting more and more her decision to come back even if she had learned a bit about Vershon and couldn’t ignore him as a doctor.

“If you continue to stand there, you will want this,” he said, holding out a bowl to her. She frowned, not making a move to take it.

Vershon shouted in his sleep, a loud and unsettling repetition of no before he rolled over and started heaving. The bowl was under him before she saw anyone move—damn, that guy was fast—and Vershon leaned over it on all fours shaking long after he was done vomiting.

The other man placed the blanket over his shoulders, and he curled up into it, leaning back against the chair and closing his eyes. “How long was I out?”

“Not half as long as you should have been for the dose they gave you.”

Vershon winced. “Not again.”

She walked over, ignoring the bowl, holding out his glasses to him. “Here. I took them off you back at the crime scene.”

He looked up at her. “You’re… actually here?”

“It would seem she passed the first test.”

Vershon groaned. “They could leave me out of the damned thing next time. I hate training. I don’t even know what they’re punishing me for this time. Do you?”

“No.” He held out a cup of tea, and Vershon took it, sipping from it with shaky hands. “You should rest. You know the drugs are not gone.”

“Yes. I know.”

She frowned, looking between the two of them. “Wait, that was a test? You just got done telling me they sedate him because they’re scared of him, but they did it as a test?”

Vershon shook his head. “No. It… It proved a test, which you passed by not running or abandoning me, but it… I failed to control my temper, and they sedated me. That is… unfortunately very common. It was not something they planned, though they probably could have. My temper is… something of a joke among our superiors.”

“Not this one,” she said, and he glanced toward the other man. Fatigued, he closed his eyes again.

“There are some that consider Bonaventure like a father to all of us,” Vershon said. “Though I don’t think that just anyone should go around making assumptions like that.”


“He has a first name. No one dares use it.” Vershon almost seemed to smile. He set down his cup and managed to make himself smaller as he huddled against the couch in his blanket.

“You need to sleep,” Bonaventure said, lifting him back onto the couch. “There. Stay.”

She thought about asking Vershon about his first name and then decided against it. She didn’t actually need to know. She at least had a name for Bonaventure, finally. She wasn’t sure it suited him, but she was glad she had something to call him.

“Is that an exaggeration?” She folded her arms over her chest. She wasn’t sure what to think of either of them. She didn’t think that Vershon should be able to lie—at first because he was so soulless and now because she knew he was constantly stoned. Was he joking about Bonaventure? Or was that true. “About you?”

“The part about my status as an unofficial father figure or the part about no one using my first name?” Bonaventure didn’t even smile as he asked the question. “I am not certain anyone else knows the name. As for my status, I would not know. Most of the staff keeps its distance and would not speak to me of such matters. Aside from when I give them their assignments, we do not interact much. If they have a concern, they seek him out before they do me.”

“They’re not scared of him?”

“He trained most of the ones here.” Bonaventure said, adjusting the blanket. “Though that is not even the true answer.”

She knew that she had a Talent, and she’d been sent here. Vershon had a Talent. Bonaventure might not show a scar, and he had not spoken of his Talent, but she was certain he had one, even if so far all she’d seen from him was his aura of command and incredible speed. Still, even if those others out there hadn’t been brought in like she had, she had to figure they had Talents. With a Talent at the head of this part of their division, would anyone actually be comfortable working here if they didn’t have a Talent? Even if Bonaventure didn’t have a Talent, with Vershon here and his Talent’s existence obvious by the scar on his neck, if they weren’t Talented, they probably wouldn’t last more than a day.

People without Talents feared those with Talents. They feared the power they didn’t have.

People with Talents tended only to fear people with Talents they couldn’t counter. She didn’t fear many, given what she could do, and she doubted Vershon feared any Talent except maybe his own. Bonaventure didn’t seem the type that feared anything.

Still, that they didn’t fear Vershon was interesting. Was it because they had seen him like this too much? He did seem weak and vulnerable like this, but that wouldn’t last forever. Was it a bond from training? Or did they feel better knowing the Talent that ordinary people feared so much was on their side in Vershon?

In spite of herself, she was curious. She wanted to know just what it was he could do.

A Few Answers

Author’s Note: This is where she starts to understand more, and I do like this.

“Should I be worried that this sort of thing doesn’t even faze your people, or is that actually a good sign?” She asked as she reached the doorway to the office she’d been in earlier. No one on her way had given her so much as a raised eyebrow.

They also hadn’t offered to help.

“It is not uncommon,” the man at the desk said, rising to come over to her side. He took Vershon from her with ease, carrying him over and setting him on a long couch on the other side of his office. He took a blanket off the back of it and draped it over Vershon.

“It isn’t?”

“How did this happen?”

“I don’t know exactly. I was—we were arguing. Again. That’s all we seem to be able to do. I guess made him pretty mad, and he grabbed me, but… he didn’t actually do anything but yell at me again before he just sort of… fell over.”

“That is all?”

“Well… I did think I saw a green light of some kind. Is that his Talent?”

“If you had seen his Talent, you would not ask.” He looked back at her, and she wondered just how much trouble she was in now. Should she have run instead of coming back? She hadn’t been able to ignore her instincts as a doctor, but maybe she should have. She should have run, even with the restraint. She could have cut it out. She was pretty sure she’d survive it.

She met the man’s gaze head on. “I won’t apologize for being angry. This whole situation is intolerable, and I won’t pretend I think it is. I don’t care if they’re listening. What they’re doing is wrong.”

“You do not have to convince me of that. Nor was it necessary to argue it with him.”

“What, you heard all that?”

“No. It is simply obvious what you were discussing when this happened.”

Obvious. Yes, she wanted to kick herself for being stupid now. She’d said it wasn’t natural, but she’d assumed it was some weird byproduct of Vershon’s Talent or something, not what she should have known it was. After all, hadn’t she felt light-headed earlier when she started getting really mad? “They did that. They sedated him, didn’t they?”


“And they do that often?”

“He is unique.” The supervisor turned from her and crossed to where he kept his tea pot. “Uniquely gifted and uniquely feared.”

She knew that much already. She’d seen the kill restraint scar in his neck. “What do you mean? There are dozens of people with Talents, and his little light show didn’t do anything, so why are they so damned scared of him?”

“Both of his parents had Talents.”

She tensed, her eyes going to Vershon again. He’d practically been cursed, hadn’t he? There was almost no way he wasn’t going to end up with a Talent after both his parents carried one. He might even have both of their abilities. And yet at the same time, it was hard to believe. “That’s not actually possible. They test everyone for the markers as infants. They run checks every new school year. That’s how they found mine—it got flagged on a routine check when I was in college. Unless they were very young when they had him, they would have been found before that happened.”

“This was over twenty years ago. The testing was less refined, and not all factors for Talents were known then.”

That was true. Still, she’d never heard of anyone with two Talented parents. Maybe one, but most people with them seemed to be first generation, like her. “He inherited Talents from both of them?”

“No. His is different and more powerful than either of his parents.”

So Vershon really was dangerous. She supposed she could believe it, though it was still difficult for her to understand him herself. What he’d said about them not wanting him to have any real responsibility made sense now, and yet it didn’t. “If they’re that scared of him, why do they let him work at all?”

“You already know why.”

“Because the government maintains an illusion that it’s helping Talents and protecting the people if Talents are given specific jobs and monitoring instead of roaming free or being locked up for everyone’s safety.”


“Vershon toes their line, though. He was lecturing me about doing the same, so why sedate him?”

“He has a temper.”

She could believe that now, as much as she’d thought Vershon was devoid of emotions before. “So they flip that switch any time his readings get too high. They’re that afraid of him.”


Once again, she didn’t understand how Vershon could take this, how he could stomach it and pretend even a little to go along with it. True, he’d said it was that or death, but he acted like he didn’t care at all.

“They have him sedated constantly? They’ve always got him on something?”

“Supposedly it is simply a mood stabilizer that is intended to keep him calm.”

“This is so wrong.”

“This is life as a Talent.”

Continuing for Nano

Author’s Note: So I have decided that this story is this year’s Nano. I’m only counting what I’m writing in November, of course, but this will be Nano, so I will be posting a part of it each day as I have in the past.

She blinked, confused. What the hell had she just seen? That light? Was that his Talent? But a light… that wasn’t much of anything, so why the kill switch in his neck? Had she completely misunderstood him and he tried to escape so much he got that kill switch? Was that it?

More importantly, was he dead?


She moved toward him, kneeling next to him. She checked his pulse, not sure why she was relieved when she felt his heart beating. She watched his chest rise and fall a few times before she continued her examination.

She sat back on her heels. He was… asleep? That was what it looked like now, but who the hell fell asleep like that? It wasn’t natural.

“Vershon? Come on, wake up now. This isn’t—fine, I admit I’m glad you’re not dead, but you need to get up now.”

She shook him, but he didn’t stir. She checked his eyes, and he was definitely under. Damn it. She didn’t seem to be able to wake him with any amount of shaking or even shouting in his ear. She gave up and went to the window, looking down. Wait. Where the hell was the crowd? She didn’t remember seeing them leave.

She looked at Vershon and frowned. Did she really want to stay here until he woke back up?

No. This kind of sleep wasn’t natural, and she’d prefer to have a chance to examine him in a proper infirmary.

She grimaced and forced herself under him, lifting him up on her shoulder. He was not light, not that she expected him to be. With his height, she knew she’d be dealing with plenty of that, even if he was skinny—he was strong enough to where he must be all muscle, and so she wasn’t surprised that he was heavy.

Still, she dragged him down the stairs and out to the car, using his hand to open the biometric locks and get him inside. Dumping him on the passenger seat was a relief, and she got in on the driver’s side, almost too worn out to drive anywhere. She used to enjoy this sort of thing, but that was back before her Talent showed itself and derailed her life’s plans. Underground doctors didn’t really have the luxury of driving off wherever they wanted, and while it seemed like a career that could have meant a lot of money, most of hers went to keeping the government from knowing of her existence.

Not that it helped.

She’d still taken a bullet and ended up arrested for her trouble. She didn’t even know if it had been her patient they wanted or if they were trying to kill her. Would Vershon know? Or maybe their supervisor?

She supposed she could always ask. She also didn’t know what else she was going to do with Vershon right now. She pushed his hand on the ignition and got the car started, backing away from the building and heading back to the SILT compound.

Still New

Author’s Note: This was the part I wanted to get to, to share the start of understanding, but it sometimes feels like it took too long to get there, even if it’s not very far into things at all.

Still New

She stood by the window, looking out. She didn’t care what Vershon was doing. His way of investigating didn’t make any sense to her, and she was still angry with him for being unwilling to share anything interesting. What he had shown her was basic stuff, not anything more than what she could have picked up watching an entertainment show. This was pointless.

Then again, life seemed pointless now that she was stuck with a Talent restraint and assigned to SILT. She was a prisoner, even if they supposedly had given her a job, and she couldn’t do anything without them watching. Why would anyone want to live like this? How did Vershon and the others stand it? The one had said he was still angry, but Vershon just seemed dead inside.

“It is time to go,” Vershon said, and she sighed, not wanting to follow him again.

“Is that on a schedule or something? Do we have a curfew?”

“When you’re not working, you do.”

She swore, again, balling her fists. “And you don’t?”


“Why? Because you’re their faithful little servant?”

He caught her arm again, turning her around to face him. “Exactly what purpose do you think you’re serving provoking me? I told you—you are not special. Anyone with a known Talent is taken, restrained, and assigned a position in society. You cannot deviate from that place—none of us can. I work for them because I have to. It is that or death for me. Why is that so difficult for you to understand?”

“Because this is death. A living death, but still death, and you act like you’re fine being a prisoner. I don’t see how you can do it. Even if you or he claim you’re still angry, you don’t act like it. You don’t fight any of it. You don’t even… You expect someone new to accept it, too. You think I should just be fine with this, and I can’t be. No one should be. This is intolerable, and if you don’t think it is, then you are completely insane. They broke your mind and your spirit, and it sickens me to hear you act like I should be the same way. I’m not. I won’t be.”

Vershon shook his head. “You still don’t understand. You’re too—”

“If you say new, I will smack you.”

“It is true,” he insisted. “You don’t understand how this works or how anyone copes with it. You are still in the phase where you are monitored constantly and if you had any sense, you’d wait until that at least passed before you made an issue of everything. Discussing this sort of thing—nothing good ever comes of it. All you do is make trouble for yourself and whoever you’re talking to. This isn’t like before. That much should be obvious to you. You keep saying you’re a prisoner—then why do you keep talking like you’re free? You’re not.”

“You think I don’t know that? I do. That’s why I am so angry. You’re the one that’s acting like—like you accept it. Like you’ve given up. You’re so damned calm about all of this, and I can’t stand it or you or any of this. You make me want to scream.”

“I’m told it can be therapeutic, but it seems pointless to me.”

She balled her fists. “I take it back. You make me want to hit you. You really are soulless. You let them suck it right out of you, and you really think that’s how everyone should be? That we should just accept this and go along with it? You make me sick.”

He grabbed her arm, and she swallowed, once again aware of the strength he possessed. Would he do it? Would he actually hurt her?

“You don’t understand,” he hissed, and she swore he was finally showing an emotion. Anger. Well, it was something, wasn’t it? He wasn’t actually dead inside like she’d thought. “You’re new. That means they’re watching you. Constantly. You don’t get the luxury of saying whatever you want to say. If you want to have any hope of getting out of this, you have to learn to control your mouth.”

She frowned. Did he just say what she thought he said? There was a way out? The soulless one had a way out of this mess? Impossible.

“Did you just say—”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“Yes, you did. I heard you say—”

“I didn’t say anything,” he insisted, and she shook her head, frustrated. He was being ridiculous. “Forget that. We’re done here and we need to leave.”

“How am I supposed to forget about that? You said—”

“I didn’t,” he repeated with a hiss, and she reached for him only to stop when she saw a sort of green light surround his hand right before he fell to the floor, as lifeless as the fake dead body next to him.

Not Exactly Training

Author’s Note: I actually kind of enjoy their bickering here. And Vershon got funny.

Not Exactly Training

She wasn’t wrong about them having cars. Apparently walking was for the compound, only, which was fine with her. She saw the ignition was biometric—this car could only be started by Vershon, which was probably another means of control—but if someone was stupid enough to think they could drive off in one of these, she figured they deserved whatever they got.

Vershon didn’t say anything on the drive, and she didn’t push for conversation. The radio had been on when he started the car, so they weren’t in some awkward silence, and really, what would they talk about? She was new to this life, and he was supposed to train her, but since she’d already been warned against her plan of leaving as soon as training was over, she wasn’t sure it was worth bothering to learn anything.

And she got the distinct feeling that he wouldn’t be willing to talk about anything that wasn’t related to work.

She found his taste in music interesting if not quite her speed, since she wouldn’t have pictured him as the type for it, but he also didn’t seem like someone who’d let someone else choose the station, either.

He parked the car in front of another building where the police had established a perimeter and marked it off with their tape, the blue warning flapping in the wind as Vershon got out of the car. She rolled her eyes and resigned herself to following him again.

He passed the uniformed officers without incident, but as soon as she got near the tape, they moved to intercept her.

“Sorry, lady. This is a restricted area.”

“You let him pass,” she said, waving her hand at Vershon. “We were in the same car. How did you miss that? Are you incompetent, blind, or just sexist?”

“Marcey,” Vershon snapped, and she shrugged at him. He sighed, pinching his nose as he spoke. “She is with me. The paperwork may be delayed, but she is now with—”

“She doesn’t look SILT.”

“I think I’d almost take that as a compliment,” she said, ducking under the tape and getting in the officer’s face. “But as much as I don’t much care for them, I think I’d rather be on their side than yours. You smell, and that is really pathetic. Basic hygiene is a thing, you know, and—”

“I know I told you not to start,” Vershon interrupted, taking her arm and dragging her away from them with ease. Holy hell. He was a lot stronger than he looked. Sure, he was tall, but he was thin, too so she hadn’t thought he could manhandle her that easily. “We cooperate with the police.”

“Speak for yourself. I didn’t ask for this.”

Vershon let her go just inside the building. “No one with a Talent does. Stop thinking you’re special. You’re not.”

He walked away from her, starting up the stairs. She balled her fists and then felt herself get a bit light-headed. She was almost sleepy. What the hell? She shook it off and started up after Vershon, looking down the second floor hall and opting for the open door out of the four there.

She stepped inside, careful of the mess on the floor. Someone had done a number on this place, scattering papers and everything else across the room in a giant mess. Most of the furniture was broken, and nothing seemed intact aside from the body in the middle of the chaos.

She joined Vershon beside the body. “Forensics already cleared the room?”

He nodded. “All necessary scans are finished. They took what they identified as necessary for additional testing already as well.”

“Just not the body.”

He shook his head. “This is a replica created to preserve the scene for analysis. The body was already removed.”

“This is fake?” She reached over to poke it and frowned. “Certainly feels real, like actual skin would, right down to the way the body is relaxing after having stiffened up after death. You’re not teasing me, are you? No, wait, you have no sense of humor. I don’t… Why?”

“Because before those idiots decided to make a big fuss outside, it was my intention to leave the scene ‘undisturbed’ in case the killer returned for a second look.”

She frowned. “You think he’s got a ritual in this?”

“No, I think he didn’t find what he was looking for so he will be back to search further.”

She stood back up, folding her arms over her chest. “The room has been trashed like they searched everywhere. And if someone didn’t raise the alarm, then how did you even know about it?”

Vershon pulled up the fake’s sleeve, and she swallowed as she saw the very familiar scar. “A Talent. So… this guy was one of yours?”

Vershon shook his head. “I don’t have people. I get assigned as a trainer on occasion, but they do not want me having any real authority.”

“So he wasn’t an agent.”

“Not of our division. Not everyone is given to us, after all. We’re specialized. We have some kind of background or Talent that is useful to the agency. In your case, your training as a doctor got you sent to us.”

“And you?”

“I excel at paperwork.”

She snorted, unable to help her laughter though she didn’t actually think he’d made a joke. “I suppose that’s not hard to believe with you throwing all those pages at me the other day, but that can’t be the only reason they dragged you into this. I mean, you’ve got that kill switch in your neck, so they must think your Talent is valuable despite how dangerous it is and how scared of it they are.”

“I have no interest in satisfying your morbid curiosity.”


“You do not need to know why I was given that restraint. It’s not relevant.”

She shook her head. “It’s not morbid to want to know why they think you’re so dangerous. We’re working together. You know everything about me, right? I don’t get to know anything about you? Not even if we might end up in combat or something? Shouldn’t I know what you can do just in case?”


“You’re infuriating,” she muttered. She folded her arms over her chest. “Aren’t I supposed to be in training? What are you actually teaching me here?”

He gave her a long, dark look. “Do you actually intend to learn anything?”

She couldn’t answer that.

Meeting the New Boss

Author’s Note: I really was going to put this up a while ago. I have just been under a lot of stress and not much up to writing or posting anything, even if this was done.

Meeting the New Boss

She stepped inside the second door and looked around the office. Plenty of people were at work at their desks, some typing away, others on calls, and a large map dominated the far wall, changing colors as she watched it, with parts of the country going red instead of yellow. She looked at him, but he didn’t seem to be about to explain anything, just walking away again.

She swore as she rushed after him.

He stepped inside another room, and the man behind the desk looked up at him. His face was just as void of emotions as Vershon’s was, but he was older by at least twenty years. He looked fit for his age despite sitting at the desk, and looking at him, she knew instinctively that he wasn’t a man anyone messed with—he looked like the type who could kill in an instant without a Talent.

“This is Iris Marcey,” Vershon said. “Now that she is awake, I intend to return to the crime scene.”

The other man nodded. “I see.”

“Really? Because I don’t.” She couldn’t help saying. “I’m a doctor. I trained to be one and made a living as one until they arrested me for something that wasn’t my fault. I don’t have any skills in investigation, and while I did consider being a coroner, the government still won’t let you do that if you’ve been marked as a Talent.”

“Your training could still be of use to us.”

“To us? So you are the boss, then, the one Vershon said didn’t exist?”

“No. My authority is conditional and limited to those members of the Special Investigation, Logistics, and Tactics Division assigned to me. You are now one of them.”

She looked at Vershon. “You brought me here for an introduction. You didn’t bother to introduce him, just me. Did something get wired wrong in your head when they put that implant in you or what?”

“You won’t stay any longer than the last one did, so why bother with introductions?” Vershon asked, shaking his head. “However, the regulations state I have to bring all new recruits to the office before taking them out of the compound. He has to officially approve your release before we go even if we have orders to go. That is how this system works.”

She glanced back at the man at the desk. “They made you their fall guy if someone leaves and gets out of control.”

He nodded. “I am the one that will be held responsible if someone with a Talent acts against orders and causes damage or injury, yes.”

“But you agree to this?”

He studied her, long and hard and almost made her regret asking. This one wasn’t someone you wanted to mess with, but she was still finding her boundaries and challenging them. She wasn’t done by any means.

“You know only the rumors. You have yet to learn what this life is like.”

“And what, someday I’m going to stop hating them for everything they’ve taken from me?”

“No. That will never happen,” he said, and his conviction suggested personal experience. “You will still hate them.”

“Don’t encourage her. We lose enough idiots who think they can beat this system by brute forcing it, and I don’t want to waste more time training another,” Vershon said. She looked at him, and he shrugged. “The last five all figured they could wait until their training was complete and they were unsupervised, then they tried to escape and died. Their efforts were foolish and futile.”

“Tea,” the other man said, rising to get the pot from behind him and pour a cup. He held it out to Vershon, who frowned at it. “It is better than the alternative.”

“Yes, I know,” Vershon said as he accepted it, closing his eyes and sipping from the cup.

She frowned again as she watched them, trying to figure out exactly what was going on here. Did Vershon actually care what happened to people like her? That was a bit hard to believe.

“We should go. It has already taken long enough to make this detour.”

“Her training was supposed to begin as soon as possible.”

“I know.” Vershon set down the cup and turned to her. “I will not wait for you. Let’s go.”

Again with Potentially Unlikable Characters

Author’s Note: I was going to post more of this sooner, but I kept getting busy or being sick. That is my life anymore, it seems I’m almost always sick.

Anyway, here is a bit more of the same story as before, with the characters I don’t know if anyone but me will like.

First Day on the Job

The pounding on the door matched the pounding in her head. She groaned and forced herself up from the bed, frowning as she looked around the room. This was not her house. This was not her clinic, either. Her hip throbbed, and she swore as she sat up, cursing the government with everything she could think of and all she couldn’t, her anger building as she rose from the bed.
She was still clothed, no one seemed to have violated her in that sense, but since they’d put something in her body that could control her Talent and tracked her every movement, they’d done plenty.

She crossed to the door and opened it, almost surprised she could.

The figure on the other side of it wasn’t that much of a surprise, though she wouldn’t say she was glad to see him. “You again. More paperwork, is it? I really don’t need more documentation on how the government had stolen my life from me.”

“I’ve come to collect you for training,” he informed her with the same flat tone to his voice. “You will receive it in progress as we work. There is no class or manual. You need to dress and leave now or there will be consequences.”

“So you’ll punish me?”

He shook his head, his eyes dropping to her leg before going back to her face. “I don’t have to. They will. That is your life now.”

She swallowed, having little choice but to mouth the words and hope she got some kind of response from this rock in front of her. They can hear everything I say and do, too, is that it?

He gave her a curt nod, almost as if he didn’t want to be seen reacting to her words. She choked on her fury, feeling invaded in more ways than she could voice.

“You should change. We don’t have much time.”

“The day just started. How can we possibly be late for anything?”

“We investigate crimes. Those don’t happen on regular schedules. And while you may have just woken, it is actually quite late in the day. Come. We need to leave.” He turned toward the door, and she sighed. She supposed she had no real choice, did she? If they were watching, and she refused—he’d warned her they would punish her, and did she really want to know what that was like?

She already felt like crap, and she didn’t figure she was up to running, even if she wanted to get far away from here.

If they were watching her, this place might be full of cameras. Great. Well, that actually gave her an incentive to leave, even if it was with the soulless paper-pushing bastard who was waiting outside her door.

Fine. She could do that. She’d go with him and find a way to escape later.

“Does the soulless one have a name?” She asked as she struggled to keep pace with him. Tall as he was, whether he meant to or not, he was out pacing her easily just walking normally, and it was annoying as hell. She still felt a bit drugged and lagging, and she didn’t want to walk all over the place. If they were some kind of special investigative force, why didn’t they have some kind of vehicle?

“Several, actually, if you are referring to me,” he said, and she folded her arms over her chest. He wasn’t going to tell her? Really? She wanted to hit him. She wasn’t sure she cared how she might get punished over this. He deserved a smack for being such a jerk. He didn’t have to be like this. Shouldn’t she know his name? Or was he really just the messenger? He only came to tell her that she had to work, and that was it?

“I can’t imagine it’s some kind of state secret. Or are you just giving me information again? This time it’s safe to transport me without sedation, so where’s the form? Should I get it in triplicate?”

He shook his head. “No. I will be training you.”

“So I should get to know your name, then. Because if you get any idea about me calling you ‘master’ or ‘boss’ or—”

“Those aren’t applicable to someone in our position,” he said. “Though there is some hierarchy, we are all still subject to the main authority that comes from the government.”

“Slaves, basically.”

He seemed to tense, but he didn’t deny it. “The one the government uses for me is Vershon.”

She stopped. “The government changed your name?”

He looked over his shoulder at her, frowning slightly. “That surprises you? It shouldn’t. Though… Yours hasn’t been altered, if that is your next question.”

“So you’re going to call me—”

“The government designated you by your birth name, not the one you were using when you were arrested. You will be known as Iris Marcey so long as you are with the organization.”

She sighed. “Do I look like a flowery type of girl to you?”

“You look like an irritant, and if I had any choice in the matter, I would not be escorting you now,” he answered, and she balled her fists, tempted again to hit him. “You should have attacked me at your apartment. At least then when you made yourself useless, I wouldn’t have to carry you back and have wasted all the time it has taken us to go this far and also the trip back. There is too much to do to be bothering with this.”

“Well, if I could just leave—”

“You can. You will likely lose your leg if nothing else, but that is still an option.”

“Not much of one.”

“No,” he agreed, stopping in front of another door and opening it. He stood and waited, and she frowned as she stepped inside. He could be leading her to her death for all he claimed he was here to train her, and yet she had no real choice but to go with him, did she? “This way.”

“More walking?”

“It is not much farther, though you should probably appreciate that the office is not near your residence.”

“I don’t appreciate anything about this situation.”

He didn’t say anything to that, walking away and leaving her no choice but to follow again.

Introduction to a New Story

Author’s Note: I ended up starting something new, much as I’ve been trying to finish things, and this is the most recent concept I’ve come up with. I wanted a detective story with people who had special abilities. I actually don’t know how well it’s going or if the characters are even… likeable.

This is the opening section/prologue. Feel free to tell me what you think.

Arrest and Condemnation

“You don’t have to look at me like that, you know,” she said, leaning back in her chair and glaring back at the suit across from her. “I didn’t do it.”

He adjusted his glasses, opening a file. “A man is dead. He died in your care.”

“Well, they don’t issue malpractice insurance to doctors who don’t work for the government,” she said, shrugging. She didn’t get the feeling this one, who clearly lacked personality as well as a sense of humor, would find it funny. Not that it was. The government controlled everything—or they tried. And he was just another cog in the government machine. “I was in the middle of a surgery. I was interrupted. He died. Did you happen to find the jerk who shot me? Or am I seriously the only one you consider a criminal in this whole mess?”

“Practicing medicine without a license is a crime. That man’s death is a crime.”

“So I am the only criminal you see here,” she shook her head, frustration getting the better of her again. “The government takes everything from us, all of us, and we can’t do anything about it, but you as a good little lackey, you’re going to help them and arrest me.”

“You’re already under arrest. I didn’t take you into custody, nor did I have to. I am not here for that. I am here because you are a registered Talent.”

She tensed. How the hell had they found that out? She’d buried that part of her past deep, no one knew about her reason for dropping out of medical school. That name, that identity, it was all someone else’s, not hers, not anymore. She’d heard the rumors about genetic marking and them monitoring suspected Talents, but she’d never seen any signs of it before. She got caught now, sure, but by accident, not because they’d been watching her or knew where she was all along. They would have arrested her a long time ago if that were true.

“Section eleven of the fourteenth article stipulates that any known Talent must be gainfully employed and monitored by the government,” he said, passing a copy of the exact section he quoted to her for her to look at. “You are not, therefore you are in violation.”

She glared at him. “I was training to be a doctor. I wasn’t about to throw that away.”

“Those with a Talent cannot work where they choose.”

“I know that. Do you even have an ounce of humanity in you, or did the government drain it out of you?” She demanded, leaning forward to get in his face. “Why would anyone accept this as what it is? Why do you follow their orders like a robot?”

“People who have a Talent do not have a choice.”

“You really are soulless, aren’t you?”

He took another paper out of the folder and passed it to her. “This is to inform you of your official placement. From now on, you are employed by the Special Investigation, Logistics, and Tactics Division. Some call it SILT. Whether or not you do does not matter. You will reside within the barracks designated for their use, and you will be monitored at all times as well as fitted with the standard Talent restraint.”

“They already did that. I’m not an idiot. I know my own body. I didn’t have this scar before and now I do,” she said, lifting up her skirt to show off the one on her hip. He didn’t look over at her, and she rolled her eyes. This one really was dead inside, wasn’t he?

“I am required by the existing laws to inform you of all these matters. The disclosure has been given.”

“That’s it? They sent you here to deliver paperwork? That’s all you’re here for?”

“You have been designated a flight risk and as such will not be moved while conscious. This is your disclosure for that decision.”

She crumpled the paper in her fist. “I wish my Talent involved fire. I’d burn this place to the ground and you with it.”

“You might try,” he said as he rose from the table, and as he turned to the side, she saw a similar scar on his neck. Her throat went dry.

He didn’t just have the standard Talent restraint. His was wired directly to his brain and would kill him in an instant. Whatever he could do terrified them.