Sora’s breathing was strained as her energy drained out of her. She was blinded to the woman’s actions with the mirror blackened, but at least she could speak. Working herself up, she asked, “What—did you do to me?” Her dry throat seemed to deepen as she tried pushing her influence through her words, feeling no effect.
The woman hummed lightly. “A healing blue light emanating from the tail, emotional links, abnormal Nogitsune strength, illusions, irregular recovery rate, foxfire from the tail and now the mouth … all with a single tail. Yes, most fascinating, and I believe you just tried to push some form of influence over me.”
Still frightened, Sora tried to be brave and took a note from Tom’s book. “I want to see my lawyer; this is illegal! Kidnapping, assault, forced imprisonment, torture, and all to an underage girl!”
The woman acknowledged Sora’s statement with a light laugh. “You want a lawyer? I must say, this is the first time I have ever heard a monster say that.”
Trying to swallow her fear, Sora yelled, “I’m a United States citizen … you can’t treat me like this. I have rights!”
Voice cold, the woman said, “Shush, what makes you think we are in U.S. boundaries? Say we were, unregistered monsters have no rights, even in the United States; in fact, it would be a crime to be an unregistered monster in the U.S. The fact that you were found within U.S. boundaries and discovered to be without registration gives us full rights to you by their own laws. You were evading registration and cooperation and must be subjugated.”
Sora’s stomach twisted. Aren’t these people with the government? Then what do they want with me? Wait … they could be with the government, but just don’t want to say they are. No … I think they have to say they’re with the government if they are … I think? They’re scientists, people; obviously, they’re trying to study what I can do, but what’s after the study?
Sora’s mind snapped back into focus as the woman began talking. “I know you are panicking; who would not panic under such conditions. So, let me be somewhat courteous.”
Shocked, Sora found her head restraint released. Slowly working out her neck, she turned her head questioningly. The woman had a pensive grin and a studious gleam in her eyes as she continued to stare at her. Licking her lips, Sora asked, “Why would you do that—if you know I can breathe fire?”
The woman chuckled. “My name is Diane, and I would like to know what you can do. Your abilities, powers, gifts, whatever you call them, I would like to know all about them.” Glancing back at the clipboard, she said, “Your U.S. records, found in your apartment and from our database, show you are registered under the human name of Sora, correct?”
Sora was frightened of this woman, she didn’t know entirely why, but something about her made her skin crawl. I just need to calm down … calm down and think. She must have a plan or something if she’s released my head brace. I’m starting to feel a little better physically, but spiritually it’s like pouring water into a cracked glass. My last hope is illusions and hypnosis.
Taking a deep breath, Sora created an illusion that the room was tilting sideward and Diane had to lean forward to stay balanced, then for fires to catch where her eyes were, trying to force her attention to them.
Instead, Diane only stared around the room with passive interest while muttering, “These are more than mere impressed psychological delusions. My wards would block anything directed at me. This is real EM manipulation, but of the Vulpes species, only Húli Jīng are said to manipulate light. Fascinating, indeed, Sora.”
Sora felt her grip over the magic slipping with her energy being sapped away. Releasing it with a gasp, she looked at Diane in utter bewilderment. Why wasn’t she affected? She said her wards would stop my influence … What are wards?
Diane ignored her expression as she pulled up a chair from a side desk and a tablet pc from her bag. She began typing on the digital screen, occasionally glancing down at the sheets of paper attached to the writing board.
Picking at the bottom of her lip with her teeth, Sora closed her eyes, trying to keep her lungs in check. Don’t panic, don’t panic, just think of a way out, it will be alright…
Despite her mental assurances, her skin itched to be scratched and a vice pressed against her chest. Unable to do anything, Sora frantically opened her mouth and tried to spit fire at Diane’s tablet, trying to grab her attention, fight back, anything to break the silence. However, the only thing that left her mouth was a few dying wisps of weak red fire that quickly vanished.
Diane’s fingers didn’t skip a beat as she laughed silently. “I placed two wards on your body during your last outburst. One is to draw out your spiritual energy and the second to keep you within the confines of this base.” Sora’s face turned white as she explained. “If you leave the base, the first ward will become inactive and the second will activate, causing your own Spiritual Energy to rip you apart from the inside out, crude, but effective.”
Her body began to shake with the realization that there was no way out. “You can use magic?” Sora asked, completely lost with what to do as darkness crept into her heart, something that ate at her very soul.
“Of course, ma mie. The foremost witch in human history trained me,” pausing, she looked up to stare into Sora’s fright-filled green eyes, “The Fae, La fée Morgan. You may know her as King Arthur’s arch nemesis, yet that is but a fragment and gross misconception in most modern stories.”
[i.e. ma mie – my love]
The information only told Sora that Diane wasn’t to be trifled with, and Sora knew she couldn’t hypnotize her as she stared into Diane’s ice-cold eyes, she didn’t have the energy. “What about my father; will you let him go? He’s only human,” she pleaded, fighting the internal disease that began seeping through her body.
Diane’s fingers paused over the tablet, and for the first time, Sora saw Diane’s mild interest falter, confusion crossing her vision. Diane pursed her lips, her studious eyes slid down Sora’s body. She began muttering to herself in a low tone, but Sora’s ears were more than capable of discerning the heavily accented English. “Father—father—Vulpes do not take characteristics from their fathers—Japanese—red hair, but something more—how?”
Sora swallowed the lump in her throat. Should I have asked that?
Humming, Diane continued her one-sided conversation, “Yes, you are Japanese, of course, you would have to be; you are a Nogitsune, yet you also have other characteristics—how?” Diane halted for a moment as she licked the top of her white teeth, trying to come up with an answer.
Sora took a deep breath. It’s already too late to take it back. I should try and negotiate my dad’s release. “I’m half Irish,” Sora answered. “And my father is a normal citizen of the United States. Will he be released?” As she asked, she almost tried to bite off her own tongue.
Why would they release a bargaining chip! Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Diane’s eyes narrowed, and she let a low huff seethe through her lips. “I was close to that deduction,” she growled. She still didn’t look satisfied. “Yes, your father should be in our custody; I have a record of it. We also have an affiliate listed as Wendy.”
Sora’s chest shook with despair as she heard Wendy’s name, tears leaking down her cheeks. Why … Why does Wendy keep suffering because of me?
Diane studied her reaction. “I assume this Wendy is of importance to you. I will say it is not looking good for her. If you continue to act out then she could be put in great danger; toes and fingers cut off or internal organs used to offset the price the organization paid for her. There are many methods one could use to offset an expenditure.”
Anger flared in Sora’s chest, strengthening her body a little as she glared at Diane. “Don’t hurt her!”
A smile lit Diane’s cheeks. “Wonderful. Now, why do you have Irish characteristics?” Sora could tell that this time she was asking her.
Debating how to respond as she settled down, Sora said, “I—don’t know. I was just—born this way.”
Looking off to the side, Diane scratched her head and asked, “You have never met your mother?”
Sora wouldn’t be caught off guard again. I’ve already dug myself a deep hole … for me and my dad. I don’t want to put Wendy in any more danger and who knows what they’ll do if they found out about Mom. Eric decided I was a healthy meal when he found out my mom’s identity. However I answer, she’ll go to my dad for more answers, and I don’t know what he’ll say. Simplicity might be my best solution, just keep silent, but she may do anything to get her answers … like hurting Wendy. I keep getting into these kinds of situations!
The silence stretched for several seconds before Diane sat back with narrowed eyes. “I am sure I do not need to tell you—I get what I want, one way, or another. For your best interests, and your loved ones … I encourage you to be helpful. I can be nice if you help me and you can see an end to those restraints. The sooner you adapt to your new life, the sooner you can get past your—discomforts.”
Sora continued to stay silent as her anxious thoughts pulsed through her mind. Diane sighed with a light shake of her head. “Sora—as shocking as this may be to you, you are not my primary focus, nor of significant interest to me, at this point. I could have that poor girl maimed, but perhaps some time in solitary will loosen your tongue. It is a surprisingly effective technique to help vixen like yourself become more—cooperative. After all, interaction is a part of your nature.”
Packing up her tablet, Diane walked to the door and opened it. Sora’s heartbeat quickened as she gazed at the opened door and Diane’s cold expression. She talked with a posted guard outside. “No visitors and no entry. Even if she dies, it is of no concern. I will be back in a few days.”
Sora’s heart fluttered at the response. “Days! I need water; I’m already thirsty!” she exclaimed in desperation.
She barely got the words out before the door shut and the lights dimmed until the only glow came from her monitoring equipment. A whimper bubbled out of her throat as her eyes adjusted, and tears began leaking from her again. First, I’m trapped by Kari and now these people. Nothing’s changed…
A few minutes passed before she started paying attention to her nose. The room smelled sterile and spotless; however, many different scents carried through the ventilation system. One food that cried out louder than all the rest was pork. She felt her lip start to tremble and her nose burned. I’m caged again… and right when I tasted freedom.