Kari’s blearily eyes opened as she recognized odd scents floating through the air. Swallowing, she rubbed her eyes. Rolling her sore muscles, she yawned, working out her mouth as she rose. She looked around in utter confusion at the foreign space. I was fighting Eric and … he beat me. If I’m not dead … where am I?
She was in a ten by ten barred cage. Stretching again, she looked down at the plain cot bed she rested on and then down at her clothes, noting she wore a simple cotton gray shirt and pants. Straightening herself on the frame, she examined the cage bars, eyes narrowing. A cage? Her cage was made of long, evenly placed railings. Sniffing the air, she clearly identified the metallic scent of silver reinforced with steel. Why would Eric put me in a silver cage?
Getting to her feet, she looked past her enclosure and into the dim room, her keen eyes penetrating the darkness. She was alone, and she could smell a considerable number of humans she’d never identified before. If I was knocked out then that left Sora to fight Eric and she could never win. That means he ate her and took me here? No, I don’t smell Eric anywhere.
Her eyes shifted to the door as booted footsteps fed into her ears and several seconds later the door opened to show a heavily armed man. The lights turned on with his entry, momentarily blinding her. Shielding her vision, she watched the shadow of the man walk a few feet in front of her cage; she smelled food.
His voice was gruff, “Food, Monster.”
Kari didn’t move as her eyes adjusted, vision clearing, she studied the man. A soldier … Eric doesn’t have soldiers in his pack, and this man called me Monster? He smells like a human. She noted his strong demeanor and cold eyes, different from the defeated wolves around her brother. Eric doesn’t turn people like this; they’re too hard to control, but if not Eric then who has me caged?
Momentarily chewing her left cheek, Kari asked, “Who are you and where am I?”
The man didn’t answer. When he realized Kari wasn’t going to come forward, he set the tray outside the cage and exited.
For a moment, she struggled to hold back her instinct to rush the cage. Sitting back on the cot, she closed her eyes and wrapped her fingers together, breathing slowly. Gradually she turned panic into cold resolve.
She tried psyching herself up, thinking back to a few motivational speeches she listened to at practice. I don’t know where I am … the hardest walk you can make is the walk you make alone, but that is the walk that makes you the strongest … stay strong, keep going! And if you show what you are made of, the right people will show up in your life. You won’t be a lone wolf forever. Feeling a little better, she sighed to release tension. Now think!
Carefully examining the room, she noted a few cameras and more cages that were empty. Containment meant for Germanic werewolves. Did I get captured by some monster hunting group? As much as I hate Eric, he’d never let that happen, if he had the choice, that is. Something’s happened since I was knocked out. Whomever these people are, they seem to think I’m a werewolf and they must be well funded.
Taking in another deep breath, she noticed odd scents and suddenly something else. She couldn’t identify the smell but classified it as a scent without a scent, a bizarre thought to her.
Her eyes widened as a voice compressed inside her ears from all angles. “So, it’s true; a near pure descendant of Fenrir. Ah, now, Hati and Sköll’s obsession is clear … What an unfortunate girl.”
It was a woman’s voice, young, yet mature, lush, and commanding to the extent that it made Kari shiver. She identified it as a woman, but at the same time, it almost didn’t seem human.
Her head darted around as she rose to her feet, trying to identify the source; it was in the room, all around her, in her head. She found something in the only camera blind spot, darkness, pure and flowing.
Kari’s eyes couldn’t penetrate it, yet she knew it wasn’t empty. It seemed infinite, swirling dark mist that shifted like liquid, drawing upon the room’s light. Focusing on the spot, Kari found herself devoid of thought, emotion, and all senses. The darkness seemed to wash over her in waves that made her numb as something hooked onto her, pulling. This had never happened before; she was paralyzed.
The voice spoke again, all noise washing away. “You must be one of Alva’s girls,” she paused as if in question. “But—what else?” The voice was silent for several seconds as her presence continued to send chills through Kari’s mind. “Hmm, you bring about problems I did not foresee and what a unique facility—how strange. So many unexpected things as of late … however, it can be set right.”
Air rushed into Kari’s paralyzed lungs as the black cavity compressed into itself until it vanished, sound returning. Her shaking knees hit the floor, and she grasped at her convulsing chest, breathing sharply she realized sweat coated her body. “What—another monster?” she gasped. “Not human…” Swallowing hurt and made her choke. “How did it do that? It dwarfed my instinct completely.” She couldn’t stop the tides of fear that pulled her mind under its influence.
Her legs were numb as she stared at the ground, envisioning the void in her mind. Something was in there, more than one thing. That voice, what was it? She knew about Mom, and I brought problems she didn’t see … What did she mean by ‘set right?’
It took several minutes to calm herself. She hesitantly looked back at the spot, vision spotted. The presence was gone, but her mind still placed darkness there, something that couldn’t be seen. She quickly turned away, shivers running down her frame. Something seethed behind that wall of mist; behind that woman’s hypnotic words, something malicious and threatening. It was the first time she’d completely lost the will to fight or flee, where she’d been completely overwhelmed.
Sitting back against the cot, she looked at the food in front of her cage, appetite gone. That thing really took a toll on me, and I don’t want to be here if it comes back.
At the thought, her stomach tightened, and her skin tingled. Fighting back the terror and convulsions in her abdomen as the urge to vomit hit, she clamped her teeth together. I can’t shake this feeling! Think about something else … Always be that wolf climbing the hill, always be hungry for more, always hunger to grow, always hunger to feed your mind, and rise to the highest level you can take yourself.
Slowly, she brought her hand up to her mouth, but it took her at least two minutes to open her jaw. Finally getting her thumb between her teeth, she bit down until she drew blood. She couldn’t feel the pain at all.
What do I do? she thought in panic, unable to follow everything the being had said, and it took several minutes before the pain settled in and her thumb began to throb. Hati and Sköll? I don’t know who those people are, but … No, get a grip!
Releasing her thumb, she swallowed, tasting her blood on her tongue, and felt it run down her arm. The pain lessened as her skin slowly knitted back together. Collapsing back onto the cot, she stared up at the ceiling. I can barely feel my legs; that’s an improvement. How did she lock me in place? I’ve never felt paralyzed…
Rolling on her side, she found her thumb had already healed. At least my body is healing. Her eyes moved to examine the meager meal of chicken, bread, and water outside her cell, she swallowed. One thing’s for sure; I need to eat. That shadow sapped my strength; it affected me on every level.
She nervously licked her dry lips, struggling to get to her hands and knees. Locked her thighs, Kari tried to keep them from shaking. “Control yourself!” she growled.
Taking several more breaths, she got to her feet and took her first step and then her next. Move!
It took a full minute to make it to the edge of her cage, and looking at the bars, she couldn’t stop from panting, her legs almost buckling as she sat. I can’t touch the silver, or they’ll be suspicious.
Carefully, she reached through the opening, fumbling with the chicken, she slowly slid it back through the bars. She had to force the larger section of the chicken leg through, which left grease across the barring.
Turning the chicken around in front of her eyes, she grimaced. Deep-frying is such a waste of good meat.
She devoured it with disgust, which helped relieve her mind of the unknown horror and strengthen her body. A low growl rumbled in her throat as she noticed the inner layer of the cup was made of silver. I bet they’d get a kick watching me writhe after drinking water with flakes of silver.
Momentarily impressed by their cruel methods, she shook her head, trying to refocus. I can’t tip them off that I’m not a werewolf so I’ll drink it as I’m about to escape.
Slipping the tall cup through the bars, she was careful to avoid shaking; it barely fit as it was. She left the bread on the tray and looked up at the cameras. They’re watching me, so I can expect resistance when I escape. The man earlier was armed with a machine gun, a few knives, two pistols, several pocketed goods, and I saw two grenades. Heavily armed, but they aren’t nearly as fast or powerful as me. They’ll rely on weapons, and they probably have silver bullets, which won’t be a problem.
She shivered as her vision shifted to the blind spot. Turning away, her heart rate escalated. I need to get out!
Her eyes moved to the door as she heard footsteps. It’s time; my body seems to be responding now.
Door opening, the lights flickered on, again momentarily blinding her. Waiting for her vision to adjust, her eyes narrowed. Two men came into view, one bringing her food. The man on her left had a sophisticated looking collar in hand, while the second held a small gun that she assumed carried powerful tranquilizers.
Tranquilizers have almost no effect on me; they’re lucky Eric knocked me out.
The man held up his gun without an explanation. Kari’s jaw set as she rose and downed the glass of water. In this world, sometimes you need to do evil things to survive.
Kari’s body flooded with strength as she called it and she barreled into the silver bars, which snapped under her force. The two guards barely hesitated as the left man dropped the collar and reached for his knife, the other leaped back, lifting his gun to shoot.
She grabbed both their vest fronts and lifted them off the ground; she threw them into the cameras near the wall’s roof, making them gasp as their heads struck the concrete. Falling to the ground, they didn’t move.
Quickly turning to the door, she found it bolted, and the bright lights turned red, a siren blaring in the background. She steeled herself while growling, “A fight’s what they’ll get.”
Fully transforming, her clothing sank beneath her fur as she launched herself at the door. The steel bowed under her pressure, and the bolts snapped, sending it flying into the opposite wall. Her head darted left as three men ran around a junction. They held their guns up and fired on sight. Snarls broke from Kari’s throat as bullets bounced off her dark fur. Savage hatred burned inside her chest as she leaped on them.
Jaws closing around the first man’s waist, her teeth dug through his protective clothing and punctured his skin. She tossed him to the left, the momentum ripping his flesh from her jaws and slamming him into the wall, bones snapping.
She leaped on the second, claws digging into his chest as she tensed her limbs to dart forward. Her nails ripped his vest to shreds, her weight crushing his ribcage. Shoulder colliding with the third, she sent him spinning through the air to strike the right wall then floor in a tangled heap.
Breaking through the next locked door, she stopped; the room was filled with scientists. They looked terrified as they ran toward another door. Reverting to her enhanced human form, she grabbed a woman and threw her against a wall. Eyes filled with intent, Kari picked her off the ground by the collar of her white coat. “Where am I?”
The woman’s lips quivered, and she only whimpered; eyes closing, the woman gripped tightly at Kari’s wrists, feet flailing. Hearing more footsteps rushing her way, Kari scowled at the woman and tossed her to the side, making her slide across the floor. How do I leave this place?
Exiting the room, she found several scientists running down the hall and two more guards rushing her way. They engaged with the scientists still in the line of fire; the scientists dropped to the floor screaming.
Skin thinned in her enhanced state Kari felt the bullet’s sting her skin as it punctured her clothing. They are as callous as I thought. These men are trained killers, which makes this much easier.
Transforming, she darted into the line of fire. Leaping over the scientists, she pounced on the closest soldier; her jaws ripped into his flesh.
The second tried retreating, but she easily overtook him and smashed him into the wall, crushing his body. Continuing, she broke through another door and entered a checkpoint room. The only man in the room threw a grenade at her, which exploded in midair.
Kari winced as the explosion hit and threw her off balance. Righting herself, she stared at the man’s mangled body. These men are well trained; they’re prepared to take their own lives.
Sparks danced across the room from the destroyed equipment; noticing paperwork on the wall, she studied a partially destroyed map, showing the floor layout.
Finding an elevator, she fractured the second door and continued down two hallways until meeting resistance. A woman with three guards stood in the hall. The woman looked to be as tall as her human form and put off an aura that set unease in Kari’s chest. She held golden threads that glowed dully in her hands; they made Kari’s skin itch. The woman started speaking in an odd language; Kari’s instincts told her this woman was dangerous.
The men instantly began shooting, and Kari jumped into action. She made it halfway to the woman before the faint golden threads shot from her arm and around Kari’s body. Tripping as the string wove around her; Kari was alarmed to feel her strength fading, and her body reverting to human form. She tumbled across the ground to a stop, surprised that she felt bruised. She struggled furiously but continued losing strength at an alarming rate.
Ordering the men not to fire, the woman slowly walked over to look curiously into her eyes. Kari could sense her cold amusement, callous interest that burned for answers. She spoke with a light French accent, “Yes, I think you will be worth a small portion of my time.”
Kari didn’t say a word as she growled and snarled, trying to break free of the golden bonds; however, the more she fought, the tighter they got until they began cutting her clothes as they melded back from her skin.
The woman hummed with curiosity, “Your clothes are attached to your transformation, interesting. Not very many monsters have that ability.” The woman spoke in a dismissive manner as she turned away. “Tie her to the pillars two floors down; she won’t be a problem with the threads binding her. When I free up, I will divert some time to this creature.”
Completely reverting to her human state, Kari began breathing heavily, feeling the bands compress around her chest. “Who—are you people?” Kari gasped, limbs going numb. She didn’t receive an answer as the woman walked off. Shortly after, the men began loading her on a portable bed, delivered by a shaking, scared scientist.
Kari’s jaw locked as she stared at the wall. Again, I lost. She couldn’t move an inch as they finished her straps. What are these golden threads, and why are they not letting me transform!