The Grey Edge: Chapter One

Two years ago.
Magnolia coughed, spitting blood over the concrete and over her hand. She quickly wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and stared up at the thing that had kidnapped her. The thing that had left her “friends” dead and had kept her alone alive for his own purposes.
‘Strip,’ he demanded a second time, thrusting the gun at her for emphasis.
He was stronger than her, a lot stronger than her, and that pissed her off, it was one thing to lose a fair fight, or even a dirty one – as there really was no point in fighting fair – but it was something else entirely to be so far outclassed as to be there being no point in trying.
He sneered at her, but instead of barking another order, he crouched to her level and wrapped his huge hand around her throat, his finger sliding across the bruises he’d inflicted when he’d pulled her from the deathtrap that her former friends had concocted.
‘I won’t ask again,’ he said, ‘I’ve been more than generous, now do it.’
She spat in his face and swung her injured leg up to where his legs met. He wasn’t human, he wasn’t even close, but mortal or not, it still usually gave men pause for thought, even if it didn’t reduce them to screaming husks, as she’d managed to do on so many occasions. The monster squeezing her neck, though, gave no reaction.
He raised his other huge hand and wiped the spit from his face before backhanding her and sending her crashing into the wall. Again. A foot in a huge, bloody, combat boot pressed into her stomach. This time, she didn’t fight, instead just focusing on the pain.
She should be dead, she knew this. He had no reason to be keeping her alive, no reason to do anything other than pull the trigger, like he’d done to everyone else, yet here she was, alive, and being dragged into something she had no interest in.
‘Go fuck yourself,’ she wheezed. ‘Or do you want to fuck me? Is this what it’s about? Get a bit of tail…or a bit of feather, then-’ The boot was lifted from her stomach, and pressed down on her throat.
‘I told you what this is,’ the agent said, ‘you’re my recruit now.’
She stared at the punching bag hanging above him, focusing on nothing but it and the chain above it. Her vision tunneled, making the punching bag seem so much further away from her than it really was, then she let go of herself and raced after the image in her mind, desperate to catch up with it before the tunnel closed.
As soon as she touched it, she found herself wrapped around the chain holding onto the punching bag, her feet vying for purchase on the much-abused bag. ‘You can’t fucking do this!’ she screamed, one hand gently massaging her throat. ‘Recruitment is a choice!’
The agent simply looked up at her, and she noticed for the firs time that the bullet she’d sunk into his shoulder was still there, the wound staining his military jacket and the shirt beneath. ‘Not one,’ he argued, ‘that you have.’ With a blink, he disappeared, and reappeared beside her, hanging in mid-air just long enough to tear the chain and send her crashing toward the ground. She landed in a rough crouch, then lunged at him as soon as he touched down. He caught her, spun her and pinned her arms beside her back, pulling her up against him. ‘Stop arguing with me.’
‘Fuck you!’
He let go of her, and pushed her to the ground. She stared up at him, wondering what was about pushing teenagers to the ground that amused him so. ‘Would you prefer the alternative?’
The gun was back in his hand, and she stared at it, wondering just what it would be like to have her brains blown out. Wondering what it would be like-
‘Answer me!’ he snapped.
Yes. Of course the answer was yes. Death was better than being forced to work for the suits. Death was better than being made to parade around in a uniform, showing exactly how much of a good little bitch you were. Death was better than-
He jammed the gun up against her temple.
‘No,’ she heard herself say.
The gun stayed where it was. ‘Hesitation is not allowed.’
‘What the fuck do I get out of this?’
‘A purpose. You get stronger. You don’t die in a situation like the one I just pulled you from. And…when I’m done with you, then I’ll pull the trigger.’
‘You’ll make me stronger?’
He slapped her. ‘Your first lesson is to never make me repeat myself.’
She sucked on her bloody lip. ‘You didn’t tell me your name yet.’
‘Taylor, but you call me sir.’
She glared back at him. ‘Like that’ll ever happen.’