It was like waking up from a dream, slowly coming to consciousness. The edges of reality were blurred a bit, soft and hazy. Awareness came in stages, and the first thing she knew was that she hurt all over. An aching soreness all over her body, and she was lying on a warehouse floor. Boxes with tiger designs towered over her sprawled form, and she had no idea what was in them.
Wait, she could read the writing on the boxes. She could speak the corresponding language, and a few others. She could remember writing and drawing in a sketchbook, the feel of pens and pencils in her hand.
She couldn't remember her own name.
Looking around her, there was nothing indicate who she was, why she was there, why she had been lying on the floor of a warehouse. Had she been drugged? Assaulted? Raped? She didn't feel as though she had been, so she rebelled against the idea of going to a hospital. Whoever did this to her might be looking for her. But she had no ID, no money, no way to tell where she belonged or who she was.
Frightened, she looked for a way out.
The picture Nick had given her was real. Carver said the entire thing had been manufactured, that she hadn't ever felt anything for him. But she felt something there, while being near Carver had left her stomach roiling. Nick felt safe. She could predict him, and knew he would never hurt her. He'd risk everything to save her if she was in trouble, and people didn't do that if they were Pushed into it or lying.
He was real. They were real. The photo was real, and it wasn't her handwriting on the back of the photo but his. Nick trusted her, believed in her, and was willing to let her go if that's what she wanted him to do.
It wasn't hard to Push Carver. He had to have Pushed her. To Push a Pusher! Oh, he must have laughed for hours at her expense. That was over now, at least.
Nick had let her go, and she'd promised him she had a plan. She had been lying, but Division handed her a perfect one – they'd never doubt her if she continued to pretend she was one of them. She could make sure that Nick and Cassie's sacrifice for her wasn't in vain.
The face she stared at wasn't familiar at all.
Her clothes were of good quality, fit her well, and made her think she must have been tough. The wrist cuffs had spikes, after all, the boots had buckles. She could feel some strength in her body, as if she was used to hitting or running.
Who was she?
A flash hit her, a bright office space, floor to ceiling windows, a desk of glass and chrome, a black leather chair behind it, a desktop computer to one side of the desk with an office phone that had dozens of buttons down the side. A young woman was standing at the glass window, thin and pale, in a black skirt suit. Her back was to her in the Vision – there was no other way to think of it – so all she could see was the long brown hair, stick straight and glossy, the curves highlighted by the suit, and the heels on her feet that were likely designer.
Then the woman turned. She had bangs, cut straight across her forehead, and a nearly absent expression on her face. Her gaze was turned inward, and then she bit her lip uncertainly. "I know you," the woman said after a moment. "At least, I think I do."
The nameless girl flashed back to her present, gasping in shock. She had a feeling that this was her future, that the woman she had Seen would be able to help her.
She had to find the woman.
Kira was given a stark office that likely was meant to appear imposing and commanding. A sign of trust for the faithful Division employee. Everything was ultramodern, glass and chrome, white and silver. No art on the walls, no personality at all. It could have been anyone's office at all, and Kira felt nothing for it.
"We had upgraded the system while you were in the field," a tech told her apologetically when she was brought to her office. "So everything is new. Your old login still works, but you'll have to create a new password."
No doubt there were keyloggers and trackers on this machine. Every move would be monitored.
She stuck to the script and logged into the system, supplied a new password, and went to Outlook. Dozens of emails going back months were present, adding weight to Carver's lie that she was Division. Their IT department was very thorough, she had to give them that much. Resources were one thing, but this all looked masterful. Nearly real.
Unless it is, a traitorous part of herself whispered. Carver wasn't lying. You really did Push Nick into loving you. It was strong, but you're talented. Augmented further, now. He never stood a chance against you.
No, she wouldn't think of that. That way hurt too much.
Nick was gone, Cassie fell off the map again. Kira was alone in the middle of Division, falling into line like a good little agent.
At least, they needed to think so.
Memories were there, bubbling up, half forgotten. Some she'd apparently Wiped herself, some may have been Pushed on her. She didn't even know what to believe anymore.
Maybe it was best that way. If she was inside the system, she could change it. Modify it so that those with Talents weren't used like weapons or bombs about to go off.
Her ability to Push might be quite useful after all.
But who was she trying to impress? She had the feeling that she used to have to push herself to succeed, to always be the best. If she wasn't useful, if she had nothing else to provide, she had no value at all. As a girl child, she carried no weight in her family other than being useful. Maybe there was affection, somewhere deep and hidden, but she had to be useful. She had to follow orders. She had to stay out of the way.
The sting of a slap was familiar, though she couldn't have said why.
It wasn't from the woman she had Seen, though that woman had been important somehow. It was lost information, like her name, like why she was lost in Hong Kong with no memory at all, like why anyone that seemed to recognize her shied away and refused to make eye contact.
Instinct had her leave the alley before a gang entered it, and she walked in random directions, until they stopped being random. There was a pattern, a familiarity of sorts. She had been there before, knew this place. Nothing stood out, no reason why it should have sparked the sensation for her. Yet she knew this place was important.
Not entirely sure she was making a mistake or not, she pulled open the unmarked door and then went inside.
Kira looked up from her computer with a frown. "I just came from there. All the others with Talents went underground."
"One girl didn't. Just breezed right in."
"With what intention?" she demanded. This was a subordinate, a man with no Talent and likely was a snitch to those supervisors she reported to. Probably searching for a way to pin Carver's death on her.
The guard looked away, uncomfortable and clearly not equipped to be off script. "Uh..."
"I suppose I'll have to go."
Flushing, the guard nodded and tried to form a helpless smile. "Orders from up top."
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes or stick her tongue out at him. If it had been Nick, she absolutely would have.
But if it had been Nick, she wouldn't have been there to pose as Division. Or be Division in earnest. Kira wasn't even really sure whose side she was on some days.
"Fine. I'll go. I'll category powers and classes later."
Which meant someone would be coming. Probably soon.
The rest of the first floor was locked tight, and she didn't think she could find a way to pick the locks. Upstairs was just as barren and soulless, meaning its secrets were behind the locked doors and possibly underground. That felt right, even if she didn't know exactly why.
People would come to check on this place. Perhaps there were even sensors of some kind, some way to alert the building's owner that someone had trespassed.
Sitting down in the center of the room, the girl was ready to wait.
"How did you get here?" she asked the girl, voice even.
"I walked," the girl replied. She seemed vaguely startled, as though she hadn't been aware that she knew English.
"Where did you come from?"
"A warehouse. Why? Do you know me?"
The hope in her voice was almost painful to hear. Kira had known her once, in an offhand and terrified sort of way. Cassie had been trying to block out this girl's efforts to find them, had been trying to keep Kira and Nick safe. This girl had been the boogeyman, so to speak, along with the rest of her family, and now she had been thrown away. Disposable, like every other Talented person that the Triads, Division or other agency couldn't use.
So Kira smiled at her, small and false, but the girl didn't know her well enough to know that. "I know you," Kira said after a moment. "At least, I think I do. Your code name is Destiny, because you could draw the future. I've come to take you home now."
Just a little Push, enough to make her believe it.
Thinking over the moment later, Kira probably didn't even need to Push her. She rose to feet gracefully, grinning at her. "Thank you. Thank you for finding me."
The girl's arms tight around her felt choking, cloying, burying beneath gratitude that Kira didn't deserve to get. But she hugged her back, breathing in the scent of her, realizing it was the first time someone had willingly touched her since Nick. It made her chest ache, and she clutched at the girl in equal desperation.
"Oh! Yes, of course," the woman agreed easily enough. Kira hadn't Pushed, she knew she hadn't; it likely was just relief that she didn't have to do even more work. "I'll create a few lines of credit, since she'll need new belongings. You can just tell her that her apartment was in the Yun Ting building." At Kira's blank look, the woman blinked in surprise. "The fire a few weeks ago. The building was gutted and they're thinking of tearing it down to rebuild."
She smiled and nodded as if it had merely slipped her mind, but she hadn't known this at all. Was it even real? And did that even matter. "Of course," she told the woman politely. "I hadn't known the name of the building."
"Right. Most people just thought of it as the gothic eyesore downtown."
"Exactly," Kira agreed, taking the paperwork for Destiny.
It was now in a folder on her clear glass desk, waiting to be explained. But Kira felt hollow, aching and a fraud. Could she really do this? Could she pretend to be Division and take it apart from the inside out?
Turning around to face Destiny, Kira's breath caught in her throat. The girl was looking at her in perfect trust. And she really wasn't a girl, not the way that Cassie was. Despite the innocence forced back into her by the Wipe, this clearly was a woman dependent on her.
The smile on her face was genuine. "Let's go home and get you settled in. I'll explain everything you need to know on the way."
Destiny took her hand, and Kira smiled back. She talked of inconsequential things until out of Division, and they walked a meandering route to her apartment. Along the way, she explained about the different Talents, that Division thought to collect them all and use them to further their own agenda. It was too painful to bring up Nick and Cassie, the horrible ways that people were used as pawns.
But Destiny heard it in her voice and stopped her a few blocks from Kira's building. "I'm sorry," she murmured softly, hand on Kira's wrist. Her touch was light, reassuring. It made her heart catch in her throat, the honest concern she never thought she'd have again. "You lost so much, and I don't know how to help you."
"Be here with me. Help me."
It felt like she was watching a car wreck. Destiny had no memories, no loyalties other than what Kira had Pushed into her head. She should feel guilty about that, she supposed, but she was hollow and needy, and she didn't know which way was up most of the time.
The fingers trailed up her forearm to the crook of her elbow. "What were we to each other before?" she asked softly, eyes tender as she took in Kira's distress. "Is that what you can't tell me? I don't remember being lovers?"
She leaned in quickly, mouth over Kira's and tongue sliding along her lips. It was a kiss that was sure and confident even as it was gentle, giving Kira time to pull away.
Instead, Kira deepened the kiss. "We could've been," Kira murmured against her mouth. That wasn't a Push, not with her eyes closed and her will strangely absent from the statement. "I'm sure we could've been. Maybe we can be now. I won't let them use you like that. I won't let them hurt you. They'll want to. If you're good enough, they'll drug you until you're damn near comatose like Elizabeth, and all you can do is mumble Visions for them all day."
"I saw you," Destiny said, stepping back with a smile. "Standing in your office. That sad expression on your face. I knew my future lay with you."
"You trust me? Even without knowing me?"
"I'm safe with you. Everything I see in these Visions with you in it keeps me safe. I know that much. If I'm on my own, I don't last very long."
That didn't mean much if she didn't remember anything. Kira had given her a name, a position, finances and now a home. Destiny would be safe hiding within Division. And if Kira could have her help in taking them down from the inside out...
Sliding a hand along Destiny's cheek, Kira leaned in for another kiss. Slow and sensual, the press of her body against hers. "Let me take you home."
Kira had lived alone, that much was obvious, and she was trying not to appear awkward about Destiny invading her space. But she merely peeled back the layers of clothes and let her hands and mouth do the talking. Destiny wasn't sure if she had slept with women before, but she knew far more about what she was doing than Kira did. She made Kira moan and shake, clutch at her sheets and cry out as she came. Kira writhed so prettily, and tasted so good on her tongue, felt like silk on her fingers. Destiny had to have done this before to appreciate such things, even if she had no memory of it. She smiled in satisfaction as Kira lay beneath her, sweaty and spent, and licked her fingers clean.
"That was amazing," Kira murmured, smiling up at Destiny. "Think of the moves we can make..."
The woman was old, with white streaks in her dreadlocks, deep lines scored into her face, the weight of age in her dark eyes. Her shoulders stooped, and she sat in front of Kira's glass desk, leaning on her silver cane. "There are limits to how far you can Push your way through the ranks," she told Kira, voice hard. She sounded stronger than she looked.
"Are you upset that I'll be taking your place?" Kira sneered.
"Stupid girl," the told woman snapped. "Who do you think created Division? This is mine, not yours, and it will never be. I'll see you dead first."
Then the woman opened her mouth to scream, and Kira collapsed, bleeding and seizing.
Kira was shaking her, panic in her eyes. "You can't move quickly," Destiny told her. Her voice was a mumble, and she stumbled from the bed, tripping over the tossed aside clothes and strewn sheets. Somehow a pencil and torn slip of paper was shoved into her hands, and she began to sketch. "I need a notebook. Pens."
"I'll get them," Kira promised. "Whatever you need."
"I need you alive," Destiny hissed, eyes still unfocused as she sketched the old woman. "Her voice can kill, and you can't make her angry."
She didn't recognize the woman, but that was all right. Now she knew who to look out for, and Destiny would be able to give course corrections so that Kira didn't do something stupid.
Shoving the completed sketch at Kira, Destiny pulled her in for a desperate kiss. "You can't leave me, Kira. I won't let you."
Nodding with her eyes wide, Kira nodded. "Together. We'll do this together."
Division would never know what hit it.