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Nikki

A bullet lodged in my brain since I was a pre-teen erased my past and changed my future. I don’t know what kind of kid I was was—happy, rebellious, lazy, ambitious. One of those, none of those. My parents could tell me, if I knew who they were.
As far as I’m concerned, I was born the day a kindly stranger picked me up on the side of the road, blood covering me so that I must have looked like something from a horror movie. Andrew saved my life and gave me an education at an Academy full of talented kids.
Or, as we called it—The Factory.
My talent? Because of that bullet, I can learn just about any language and master its subtle nuances faster than anyone on the planet. The same goes for other skills. My memory is like magic—except when I can’t tell reality from fantasy.
Andrew didn’t know any of that when he rescued me. Just like I didn’t know I’d have to one day pay back the Foundation that runs the Factory.
They call it the Favor. I call it inescapable.

Cliff

Unlike most of the youth who find their way to the Factory, I’m happy to repay my Favor. I know where I come from, and I sure don’t want to go back. I almost made it out on my own. College football scouts, even a few from the Majors, were checking me out when I was just a kid with no fuzz on my cheeks.
Golden hands, pistons for legs—I could run and catch and never get tired.
Then I couldn’t run anymore, not like I needed to if I wanted to join the pantheon of football gods or even play in the minors. Scholarship offers for college dried up, gifts given from the scouts were un-given.
I was back to living in squalor, and, to this day, I can’t figure out why the Factory took me in. I wasn’t smart like the other kids...but I had my talents. Being able to take a beating and get back up was one, picking locks was another.
So, yeah, I’m happy to repay the Favor. Heck, finding out who my partner is, I’m freaking ecstatic. She’s the mystery girl of my dreams.This time, I’m going to make her notice me.

 


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