The bars of the cell were more than just steel. Captain Oscar Guerin glanced at the creature within. It stared back at him with irritatingly calm green eyes. The steel bars of the last cage had been bent, enough that the beast inside had been able to force an escape. It had killed four good soldiers before they’d managed to hit it with enough sedative darts to drop it again. The thing only looked human.
He’d been furious when he’d confronted those in charge of the operation. Bad intel and insufficient preparation got people killed. Security around the creature had been revamped to his specifications. The titanium alloy bars of the cage were now set close enough together that the creature could not reach its arm through. The lock was electronic with a number code. Entering a different code would cause the floor of the cell to deliver an electric shock to disable the creature. The floor would deliver the same shock if force were applied to the lock without the code being entered.
Guerin smiled as he crouched a little to look the thing in the eye. “I know you can understand me. They are going to vivisect you while you are alive and watching, take you apart to see how you work.” The creature merely smirked at him. He thought about activating the shock just to wipe the expression off its face. Then he shrugged, shifted so the camera couldn’t see him, and opened the front of his trousers. The stream of piss landed in the thing’s food and water, and it growled at him before lunging forward and knocking both to spill out of the cage. He gave it a smirk of his own. “What, not hungry?”
“Chris.” He turned at the sound of his name and immediately saluted. Captain Oscar Guerin rolled his eyes before returning the salute.
“Sir.” Christophe smiled.
“At ease, jackass.” Oscar smiled back. “We’re off duty.” He grabbed Christophe into a head lock and mussed his hair. “Address me properly.”
“Fine.” Christophe pulled himself free. “Hey, Dad.”
“Better. Let’s go get lunch.”
Hunger was not a stranger. Neither was thirst. The uniformed man, the captain, sought to establish dominance, but would not even approach without bars, syringes, and numbers for protection. He sniffed, and for a moment thought he scented the captain’s return. But the man walking past the cage was far younger. The young soldier saw the spilled food and water and stopped. Then he sighed, and began cleaning up the mess. Lykos could not contain a smile at watching the ignorant young man clean up the captain’s waste.
The young man looked up, and returned the smile. He used the hose to refill the water, then frowned at the empty plate. “Sorry, the mess is closed so I…” The young man frowned, then shook his head. “I’ll be right back.”
Lykos approached the bars. The young man used a security pass and thumbprint to exit the room, only to return a few moments later unwrapping a meat stick. He stuck it through the gap in the bars. “Here.” When Lykos sniffed at the stick of jerky, the soldier shrugged. “Just don’t tell anyone, you’ll get us both in trouble.”
A snort came from Lykos as he took the offering. The scientists wanted him to talk, to answer their questions. So, he remained silent. He bit into the stick, and nodded to the soldier. The young man smiled before leaving.
“Why isn’t it talking yet?” Darrin was pacing back and forth behind his desk. He kept taking his glasses off, wiping non-existent dirt onto the sleeve of his pristine lab coat, and putting them back on.
Guerin shook his head and leaned back into the chair. He considered putting his feet up on the prissy scientist’s desk just to annoy him. “Perhaps it can’t. The thing may look human, it’s clearly nothing of the sort.”
Darrin glared at him. “It can. It passed for human for at least two years. Several of the locals were apparently even friendly with it.” He folded his arms. “That old couple could have told us more, if you hadn’t killed them. They apparently considered it quite the pleasant neighbor. The sheriff claims the thing even shoveled their sidewalk for them.”
“We weren’t expecting the fucking thing to figure out we were coming.” Guerin glared right back. “If you’d given us proper intel, we’d have caught him without collateral damage.” Guerin made an annoyed sound. “For heaven’s sake, you got five soldiers killed because you didn’t tell us the thing had a nose like a bloodhound.”
“I told you to treat it like a wild animal.” Darrin sighed. “We don’t know the range of its capabilities. Capturing it alive was…” He gave a reluctant nod. “Good work. Now we just need to figure out how to make it talk. We don’t know anything about the thing’s origins. Our assumption has been that its some kind of Cold War experiment that got loose, but I mean, hell, it could be extraterrestrial for all we know.”
“I’ll make it talk.” Guerin smirked. “Fuck, give me a few days, I’ll have it reciting Shakespeare.”
Christophe made sure his body was blocking the camera before passing one of the Twix candies through the bars of the cage. The man inside took it before nodding at him, and Christophe nodded back. His father had claimed the man inside had bent the bars of the last cage he’d been in, and forced his way out to kill four men. Granted, the guy in the cage was by no account a small man, but Christophe still found it somewhat hard to believe. Those steel cages had held gorillas, and they were far stronger than any man.
Unfortunately, he lacked the security clearance to know why the guy was in the cage or what they intended to do with him. Hell, if it weren’t for the fact his father was running the security he wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near this project. He was the youngest person on the security team by almost a decade, and the other guards made it clear they knew he wasn’t qualified.
“So, can you talk?” He bit into his own piece of the candy. The man shrugged, and leaned back to eat his half. His eyes seemed to watch everything without ever leaving Christophe’s face. “Just have nothing to say?” He raised an eyebrow. The man in the cage smirked. “I’m Christophe. Will you tell me your name?” Couldn’t hurt to try, and it wasn’t like his name wasn’t on his uniform anyway. He got no response. “Well, break time is over anyway.” He shrugged, and went back to his rounds.
Guerin hit the switch to electrify the cage. The creature within made a sound more roar than scream. Before it could recover, the man to his left jabbed a pole into the cage to deliver the sedative. The thing grabbed the pole before it could be completely withdrawn and yanked it out of the doctor’s hands. “Fuck.” Guerin hit the switch for the electricity again before the creature could make use of its new weapon.
It took three more uses of the shock before the drug took effect and the creature went limp. Guerin shocked it again just to be sure. “Alright, get the restraints. And for fuck’s sake, be more careful.”
Lykos narrowed his eyes at the captain on the other side of the safety glass, and smirked instead of responding to the question. The captain gave him an angry look before having the soldiers begin another round of the torture.
It hurt. It was humiliating that these pathetic toy soldiers had managed to catch him. He’d grown comfortable, complacent in the life he’d made for himself. There had even been those he’d considered friends. Could one of those have betrayed him to these people? Had he been that foolish, let his guard down that much? The thought made him furious.
The fury washed some of the pain away, turned the rest into resolve. He looked up at the captain again. The man thought to dominate him, to make him crawl on his belly. Spat in his food and pissed in his water, all the while never being brave enough to actually stand toe to toe with him. A coward hiding behind bravado.
So, he stared defiantly at the captain, and laughed. He’d kill them all before he knelt to the likes of these men.
While making his rounds, Christophe entered the prisoner’s room. He found the man in the cage ripping off bandages and tossing them out of the cage. Angry red marks with stitches still visible were under the bandages. A few were still oozing blood. “I think you’re supposed to leave those on, to prevent infection.”
The man in the cage gave him an annoyed look before yanking off the last bandage and tossing that out. “You know I’ve got to clean that up now?” The man nodded and stuck his tongue out at Christophe. “Jerk.” Christophe chuckled as he grabbed a pair of gloves. He frowned. “Why did they operate on you?” He got only another annoyed look in response. “Still not talking to me? Fine.” He unwrapped the meat stick and passed it through the bars. “If you keep making messes for me, I’m going to quit bringing you snacks.”
He tossed the bandages into the trash, then turned to find the caged man watching him with those oddly intense green eyes. A vague chill went down his spine. “Well, see ya.” He turned and headed for the door. As he was leaving to continue his rounds, he looked back over his shoulder. The man in the cage was still staring at him.
Lykos watched the door close behind the soldier. Guerin. Same name as on the captain’s uniform. Very similar scent. The captain’s son, then. Young and pretty. The captain had stationed twelve men in the operating chamber, all armed with dart guns and tazers, while Lykos was restrained and sedated. Even then, the captain himself had not entered. Lykos had made the mistake of gripping the bars of the cage when waking back up inside. The captain had smashed his stick into the cage, breaking two of Lykos’s fingers. And he’d spat in the food again. A brave act for a man who stank of fear every time he got within a few feet of the cage.
They’d moved him after he’d broken free the first time. His captors had made one mistake. They would soon make another. And then he would hunt down that fool of a captain. Though he’d have to give the man at least an hour head start for it to be sporting.
Odd how the son did not stink of fear when he approached. Bravery, or ignorance? The boy was younger than most of the guards. The others were seasoned professionals. The captain’s son couldn’t be long out of boot camp. Nepotism in action. Shameful. The boy was so far out of the loop he didn’t even know they’d decided to starve him until he gave them information. Lykos sat back and finished eating the stick of jerky.
“How long has it been without food?” Darrin raised an eyebrow.
“Two weeks. Not long enough yet.” Guerin rolled his eyes. “I offered it a meal for its name, and it just laughed at me.” He was really starting to hate the sound of that thing’s laugh. “We added sleep deprivation two days ago. It’s starting to show strain, but it’s a slow process.”
“It won’t hold out forever.” Darrin nodded. “Everything has a breaking point.”
“And it knows it.” Guerin chuckled. “You should see the hatred in its eyes when it looks at us. It knows we’ll win, that it’s just a matter of time.”
“Once it breaks, we’ll have to see if it can be tamed. Can you imagine a thing like that working at our direction?” Darrin smiled at the thought. “I’ve been looking over its bloodwork. It is most definitely not human, but there are some similarities. If we could figure out how to give our soldiers some of its abilities…”
“That would…” Guerin let out a low whistle. “You’re talking about super soldiers. Some Captain America shit. That would — “The lights went out. Guerin frowned. The backup generator should have kicked on less than a second after a power failure, but there was nothing. The window of Darrin’s office let in barely enough light for him to make out Darrin’s movements. “What —”
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit…” Darrin started shaking his head. “Go on red alert of whatever…” The man began rummaging in his desk drawer. “If that thing gets loose…”
Guerin started to stand up, and then a chill went down his spine. Christophe was on duty, near that thing, right now. “Oh god…”
Lykos chuckled as the power went out and failed to come back on. He shifted position, braced himself, and kicked the door latch. The first kick bent it out of shape. The second knocked it open. He climbed out, and headed for the door. Freedom beckoned, but first he needed to collect something.
Christophe was halfway down the hall when the lights went out. He put as hand to radio when they failed to come back on. “This is Private Guerin. Are the lights —” He turned around in time to see the door of the prisoner’s room open. “The prisoner is loose. Repeat, the prisoner is loose.” He stuck the radio back on his belt and grabbed the tazer while holding his free hand out in a placating gesture. “Hey now, stop right there.”
The man tilted his head at Christophe, but stopped moving. Christophe nodded to him. “It’s alright. I just need you to stay calm.” He started to reach for the radio again.
“I am calm.” The man smiled. “You are the one who is frightened.” Slowly, he started walking toward Christophe.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” Christophe shook his head. “So, stop.”
The man laughed. “What makes you think you can hurt me?” He continued toward Christophe.
Christophe lifted the tazer and fired the prongs. His eyes widened when the man twisted and batted them aside. “Shit.” He reached for his sidearm as the man charged toward him.