As always this is just an unedited draft. I might change it if I don't like how my thoughts are running. However, here's what I have so far:
We really shouldn’t do this.”
Keona didn’t bother replying but simply tightened her grip around Riley’s arm. It annoyed her that he could still talk despite her strong hold on his mental consciousness –a clear indicator that he was much stronger than what she thought him to be.
“Maybe we – ”
“Another word Riley…” her voice was gentle but the underlying threat was real; her nails digging into his skin to bring across her point. To an unsuspecting outsider, they looked like a loving couple but Riley knew that Keona wouldn’t hesitate to kill him on the spot if he even dared to breathe wrong.
He kept quiet as she led them to the main entrance of the facility; aware that she had cloaked them in some form of protective shield that rendered them undetectable by the main security cameras.
Riley was slightly relieved when he felt her loosening her grip over his arm but his smile faded when he saw her turn to face him with a grim expression.
“This is for your own good,” she said, before placing her fingertips at the side of his temple. Riley didn’t get the chance to stop her for immediately after that, all he could think about was the blinding white light searing through his cranial cavity.
When he opened his eyes, Riley was unsure why Keona was standing in front of him; arms crossed as she leaned back lazily against a pillar.
Riley frowned. Morning? It was dark and he didn’t think he fell asleep did he? And what was she doing here with him? She didn’t sound too pleased and the chill in her voice wasn’t at all encouraging.
“Let’s not waste time. I need to report to Connor.”
Riley wanted to protest. He knew, at the back of his mind, that something was not right but his conscious thought was pushing him to execute her instruction. It was as though she was forcing him to –but surely not. He was much older and his shields were superb… right?
Nevertheless, he felt his body responding to her command; his feet moving a step at a time down a quiet hallway towards the Elders’ offices. He found it odd that none of the guards seemed to notice them –neither to greet nor stop their advances.
“How are you doing this?” he asked –he had to.
Like a lazy cat stretching its neck, she angled her head to her left and gave him a blank stare. She continued to eye him eerily until they finally made a stop in front of Connor’s office. Before Riley could say anything, Keona had already pushed the door open; closing it in his face.
No! I want to…
Whatever he intended to tell her was cut off by a sharp pain in his head. He didn’t think it was possible but it was as if his mind was being disciplined by a sharp whip to conform to her instructions.
Damn that youngling has power!
Shuffling his feet, Riley decided to wait. He had no doubt that Connor wouldn’t hurt Keona –at least not to the point of death. She was his prized possession and he still had much use for her, regardless of what happened.
Indeed, Connor was thinking just that as he sensed Keona walking into his office. Swivelling his chair to face her, he gave her a smile –one that bore no warmth or meaning.
“You’re still alive,” he said as a way of greeting.
“So will you if you let Marine go now.” Instead of being threatened, he laughed at her; slapping his hands down on the table top with glee. “I don’t see what’s so amusing,” she said coolly.
“Oh, nothing, nothing my dear child. You’re just the most peculiar and fascinating little creature that I have ever laid eyes upon. You… make me curious,” he said, leaning forward as though sniffing at her.
Keona remained still even as he gripped her chin lightly. She knew that he was trying to read her mind; trying to break down as many shields as he could to learn the purpose of her visit. It was like reporting to your boss without having the need to even present your findings.
That also meant that he had access to even her private thoughts and memories –secrets that she and Draven had protected by constructing layers of pseudo memories and enforcing stronger shields.
“Hmm…” Releasing her, he started to walk slowly from his side of the table, round to where she was standing before crossing his arms over his chest to peer at her thoughtfully. “Why are you still alive youngling?” he asked.
“Should I be dead?” she asked defiantly, even though her insides were rattling like skeletons in a closet.
“Weres do not survive long after the death of their mates…” he prompted. It was a test, she knew, to see if she could confirm what both of them already knew were her memories. The only thing was that she hoped he believed those “memories” had been real enough and not constructed.
“I am not an animal,” she said with as much disgust and pride as she could muster. “Vampires can live for centuries without their mates.”
“Oh?” Connor was pleasantly surprised at her reply for he dropped his hands and started to pace in a circle around her. “You have gotten stronger little one… very strong in fact.” He stopped right in front of her and stared long and hard into her green eyes. “But I do not trust you… yet.”
“I don’t give a damn if you trust me,” she replied, trying her best not to spit in his face. “I’ve done what you forced me to do and now I have my own demands for you to fulfil.” A pause. “I have nothing to lose now. I can kill you without regret Connor and trust me, this time, I will fight you even if it kills me.”
Perhaps it was her tone of voice or the slight ‘push’ of her anger indenting on his mind but Connor took a step back to re-evaluate their situation. Indeed, from what he had read in her mind, she was now alone… and scared. She could be his greatest ally or his greatest downfall but he had to decide now. To incense her further could lead to a possible blood bath and his death. To pacify her on the other hand…
“Let us negotiate these… demands then,” he said calmly.
“I want you to release Marine… and Kendall.”
“Oh? Taken a candle to the boy have you?”
Keona didn’t bother to reply him. Those two were underaged younglings just like herself and shouldn’t even be locked up in such a place. If he didn’t let them go, she was going to jail break them out –to hell with the consequences.
“I will consider Kendall’s release on one condition.”
“Such a tongue,” he laughed, wagging a finger at her. “But you are asking me to release one of my most useful assets. Surely you have to compensate that somewhat…” He waited to see if she had any reactions –to which she had none. “Join me; join this cause. Be a part of my most elite team. I’ll make you even stronger than our strongest Vanguards. Like you said, you have nothing to lose. But I have everything to lose by giving you this position.”
Keona squinted her eyes at him. Connor was an excellent master manipulator and though her mind tried to think of the possible loopholes in his offer, she couldn’t think of any yet. She had to keep up with her story that she was mateless and with nothing to lose. Besides, it was a risk she had to take –at least to negotiate the release of the two younglings.
“Abide by my wishes and we’ll deal.”
A smile crept up the Pureblood’s face. “Come, let’s see to our prisoners and… we’ll talk.”
Riley was still leaning lazily against the wall when Connor and Keona walked out.
“Oh? Eos, I’m surprised you are here,” said Connor; eyebrows raised. “Ah well, since you’re here, you might as well be of some use.”
Riley got to attention immediately. Despite his distaste for his superior, he wasn’t one for insubordination. “Sir.”
“Keona and I have something to settle… Please escort us to the holding room.”
At the smirk on Connor’s face, Riley knew instantly which room he was referring to. A rush of cold sweat trickled down his back. Could it be that Connor had given Keona another assignment –to terminate both Kendall and Marine this time?
Even as he walked in front of them, Riley tried his best to communicate telepathically with Keona but she was blocking him; her shields literally slamming its door in his face. Desperate to get her attention, he began to slow down.
“Eos, what’s the matter?” demanded Connor. “We don’t have all the time in the world to waste right now. Move along!”
“Sir…” His response was laced with a tinge of plea. Not that Connor gave a damn.
“Move it Eos.”
Riley didn’t have much of a choice but as he moved closer, he did the only thing he could to warn the two Vampires he cared most in the world.
Marine, tell Kendall to protect you now.
Being mates allowed him and Marine an exclusive line of communication that couldn’t be tapped by others. Judging from Connor and Keona’s stoic faces, he figured that they didn’t hear his warning. He just hoped that Marine did as he told her to.
With a grim expression on his face, Riley knocked on the holding room door briefly before opening it. To his relief, he saw Kendall standing guard in front of Marine who was huddled in a blanket in the corner of the room.
It broke his heart to see her like that but Riley pushed his feelings aside to allow Connor and Keona to step inside.
“Kendall,” said Connor; his voice lowered down to what Riley figured was his ‘gentle’ tone. “How is our guest?”
Kendall looked at Riley then Keona before addressing Connor. “She’s… exhausted Sir.”
Connor nodded slowly before turning to look at Riley. “Leave us.”
“Sir?” Riley tried to hide his clenched fist. What the hell did he mean by ‘leave us?’. There was no way that he was leaving them… in the room to be killed. “I would like to stay Sir.”
Connor looked like he was about to shoot Riley off for daring to disobey him but Keona interrupted.
“Let him,” she said calmly. “Riley, I want you to take them out of here to safety.”
“No, you don’t get to make those calls youngling.” Connor’s eyes were turning to slits of red.
“I’ve already done so,” she challenged him; staring straight up at Connor’s defiantly. “You know he cannot disobey a suggestion keyed into his mind.”
“How dare you!” seethed Connor. “We haven’t settled the terms of our agreement yet.”
“There are no terms. I’ve done your dirty job for you, now it’s only fair you release them. What’s their use to you anyway? What, am I not more valuable than both of them combined?”
She didn’t even bother to wait for his reply. Moving forward, she crouched and hugged Marine.
Marine sweetie, I need you to follow Kendall and Riley out of here. Do not turn back, do not wait for me. Can you do that?
Marine, whose eyes were wide with fear, nodded silently; her hands reaching out to grasp Kendall’s fingers for comfort. Kendall closed his fingers around hers before glancing to his brother as though asking permission.
Go. A simultaneous instruction from both Keona and Riley.
There was only a blur where the two younglings had been huddling together and then they were gone. Marine’s superspeed ability had progressed so perfectly that Keona couldn’t help but feel pride.
It cost her.
That split second where she lowered her shields to smile allowed Connor to penetrate her mind, forcing her to get down on her knees as the pain coursed through her body. Keona might have been more powerful but he was much older and physically stronger than her –leaving her helpless to counter his abilities.
Connor’s mistake was that he was focusing too much on Keona that he didn’t notice that Riley was no longer under her control.
The moment he was released from her mental suggestion, Riley came charging at Connor; nails lengthening and fangs drawn out for a bloody fight. He was confident that Marine and Kendall would get out safely and he had nothing to lose at the moment.
He struck – right through the Elder’s shoulder, almost ripping off the limb.
But it worked. Connor howled in pain, cutting his connection with Keona’s mind abruptly.
“Get up!” shouted Riley. “He’ll heal. I need you now!”
Despite her splitting headache and a trail of blood dripping from her nose, Keona propped herself on her hands and focused on Connor. She could already see that he was healing even as Riley continued to attack him. Her mind was too injured to force Connor to yield but she had no time to search through her mental cabinet for the right thing to do.
She just pushed a thought through her mind and focused…
Everything around her started to slow down and eventually stopped. Keona widened her eyes at the sight of droplets of blood hanging still in the air; Riley’s claws half embedded in Connor’s thigh and Connor’s face caught between fear and disgust.
Did she stop time? Or was she moving so fast that everything around her stopped?
Keona didn’t care. It gave her time to think and she needed it badly to heal. Connor had stripped the shields in her mind and though one would think mental scars aren’t physical, they were wrong. Every layer of pseudo memory was connected by synapses within the brain. To tear them down forcefully would cause internal bleeding –as she was now.
But Keona forced herself to think. Somehow she trusted that Kendall would at least get Marine to the surface to where the rest would already be waiting for them. She needed to contain Connor in a way that would buy them enough time to release all the other prisoners and burn all the trial hybrids within the facility. She didn’t need to see them to know that they were there for she could feel them, hear them and smell them.
Keona could kill Connor –but, she was not a murderer.
She just needed to contain him… in what?
Then it came to her.
Looking up at the ceiling, she smiled at the sight of the emergency sprinkler, recalling how the Pureblood had made the water pour down on them and freeze the droplets mid air, almost as if she could stop time for the water itself.
She could try. Keona could get Conner wet enough or she could flood the room and encase him within a solid ice block. Connor was a mind reader and shield builder. He wouldn’t escape easily if she were to contain him in an ice coffin.
With as much power as she could spare, Keona raised her hand to try and switch on the water flow but nothing happened. Biting her lips, Keona tried again but to no avail.
She wasn’t using enough concentration and power. Half of her mind was trying to heal itself and Keona knew that she had to abandon that for now…
It would mean that she could bleed to death but the chances of her freezing Connor’s ass was much higher so she stopped healing her wounds; focusing all her strength and abilities to that one single thought: to turn the water source on.
But Keona continued focusing; forcing the pipes to burst, flooding the entire room at an accelerated pace. She knew that she didn’t have much time left for droplets of blood were starting to drip from her nose and she could feel blood tearing from the corner of her eyes.
Faster damn it…
Meanwhile, Marine was running so fast that she wasn’t sure where they were going anymore but Kendall didn’t seem to raise any objections at her speed or her choice of turns.
Kendall… I’m scared.
There’s a turn up a head. We can make it.
Marine squeezed his hand just a little harder and followed his instruction. She didn’t know why he made her calm but he did. In fact, he had been the closest thing to a friend inside the facility. For that alone, she would be grateful.
However, upon completing the turn, they were caught in a corner with nothing but a single pass-coded door on their left.
“What now?” asked Marine. “There has to be another way out!”
“This is it. The rest are monitored you see. This is the only way out that no one will think twice about.”
“Why?” Marine couldn’t hide her scepticism.
“Purebloods think that just because they are purist with no tolerance for filth, every other Vampire in their vicinity will have no tolerance for dirt either…” he grinned as he punched in some passcode. “This is where the waste and other undesirable items get flushed out.”
As the door opened, he offered his hand to her. “Here’s our ticket out. Coming?”
Marine made a face at the stench but took his hand nonetheless. Keona had sacrificed a lot to save her –twice. She wouldn’t screw it up the second time. Kendall held her hand tight, almost afraid she’d bolt.
It was a good thing that he did for she was starting to understand how the disposal system worked: The facility was simply dumping all their unwanted materials right into the lake itself without a care for its toxicity or biodegradability. Right beneath them was a metal trap door that would open at the press of a switch and let them out –to freedom.
“How are we supposed to get out? I don’t see a switch…” her voice trembled slightly.
“Wait,” he shushed her. “They’re coming.”
Marine had no idea who was coming but she crouched down and closed her eyes. Almost immediately, she felt something hit her on the head. Her first reaction was to look up and regretted it.
Kendall was grinning amidst the ‘rain’ of waste materials –thankfully packaged in some sort of plastic. Marine finally got it. They simply had to wait for the sensors on the metal trap door to register enough waste weight before it would open and release them into the water.
“Just a while more…” Kendall crouched close to Marine and held her tight. He knew that she was important –not just to his brother but to Keona as well and he saw it his responsibility to make sure that she stayed safe until they got out of their prison.
Bracing them both for the impact, Kendall tucked Marine’s head under his chin and waited for the metal trap door to open.
It was akin to free falling except that water rushed in, engulfing them within seconds, cutting off their air supply immediately.
Kendall felt Marine struggling but he forced her to remain calm. He knew that her instinctual fight or flight mechanism was telling her to move, run, do something but Kendall didn’t think her super speed worked in water.
Or he could be wrong.
Marine, stop panicking and listen to me! You need to swim up. I’m going to help you but I need you to focus and stay calm!
He tightened his fingers around her, almost willing her to listen to his thoughts. Slowly, he began to move his legs, pulling them both towards to surface with all his strength.
Help me Marine.
At first he wasn’t sure if she heard him but then he felt the pressure weighing them down lessening and they were moving towards the surface faster and faster. Kendall could feel the tightness in his chest from the lack of oxygen but he kept looking upwards; praying that they’d make it.