Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 15

Xue paced back and forth on the warehouse dock, looking out over the expanse of water.  Sael was one of the merfolk.  He’d attempted to give orders that the man be taken into custody, only to find said orders immediately countermanded.  The Cabal was sending a representative to look into the matter here.  And somehow, his guards had let one of the prisoners escape.  Everything was falling apart.

He glanced at the large iron cage.  His other captive sat inside, leaning against the bars.  Greg’s skin was pale, and his breathing labored, but he’d been assured that it could still take the man a couple days to die.  The setup was simple.  To heal Greg, the creature would have to enter the cage.  Then both could simply be taken back to the facility and secured.

The guards had tranquilizer guns in addition to their normal firearms.  A small part of him regretted ordering the girls to be killed.  He had rather liked them, before they’d betrayed him.  “People will investigate.”

The sound of Greg’s voice made him turn.  “I’m sure they will.”  He stared down at the younger man.

“Adele’s father…”  Greg swallowed before looking up at him.  “He’s a congressman.  He already knows.”

Adele’s father was a complication, but fortunately…  “My men are even now planting evidence.”  Xue smirked.  “Evidence that will show you lured the girls here with a story and killed them, along with a police officer and several others.”  He crouched down to look Greg in the eye.  “Even if you manage to escape again, all that will happen is you get taken to prison.”  He noted Greg’s glare.  “Where I’ll simply retrieve you, and well…”  He stood again.  “There will be consequences.”

Keeping Greg as a prisoner was simply pragmatic.  He’d bonded with the creature, somehow managing to communicate with it despite observation.  As he’d killed a few of the guards, the others were quite willing to help ‘convince’ him to cooperate.  Xue had already arranged an extra shock collar.

“Sir.”  One of the handlers drew his attention back to the present.  He looked over to see the man indicating a boat approaching.  “That looks like the boat from the garage.”

“Good.”  Xue smiled.  “Be ready.”

Continue reading Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 15

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Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 5

He watched as they took blood from the creature.  It never cooperated for this.  At least four handlers were required to strap it down to the operating table for the procedure.  Xue wasn’t sure why it fought this harder than it did the handlers taking turns with it.  “Punish it after this.”  He looked over at Edward.  “Make it clear to the creature that any and all refusals to cooperate will result in reprisal.”

“Understood, boss.”  Edward grinned.

Continue reading Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 5

Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 4

The creature watched the room warily.  Natalya and Adele had both wanted to get a closer look, but given Xue’s warning, it had quickly been decided Greg would handle the first couple interactions.  For all Natalya was the biology major, he did have the most hands on experience with wildlife, and unlike both girls, he actually had combat training.  Still, he felt just a little apprehensive.  The creature’s eyes reminded him of a shark.  Just solid black.

“Hello.”  He felt a little awkward speaking, but it seemed polite to offer a greeting.  The creature didn’t react.  Greg took a closer look.  The creature’s skin looked to have the same texture as that of a dolphin, but with greener tones.  There was clearly webbing between the fingers, and the fingers ended in claws.  While he might be able to pass for human in dimmer light or…  Greg frowned as he looked up.  The lights were a bright florescent.  “Can you dim those?”

“They aren’t on a dimmer.”  One of the handlers shook his head.

“Well, turn off the ones on this side of the room then.”  Greg stared at the handler until the man rolled his eyes and obeyed.  When he turned back to look at the creature, he was surprised to realize the creature was now staring at him, his head tilted quizzically.  Greg hesitated a moment, then indicated himself.  “I’m Greg.”

“It doesn’t talk.”  The handler smirked.

“Possible his vocal cords don’t align with anything that can make vocalizations for human language.”  Greg drew a little closer.  The creature’s ears were clearly inhuman, and he could see gill slits behind them that went down to his neck.  “Especially since he doesn’t breathe the same way we do.”  He looked up at the creature, and smiled, careful not to show his teeth.  “Sorry, don’t mean to talk about you like you aren’t here.”  He held out his hand a little.  “Is it alright if I touch you?”

At first he got no response, then the creature moved.  Immediately, the handlers went on alert, their hands reaching for weapons.  Greg quickly gestured for them to get back.  All the creature had done was lift up a hand, mirroring Greg’s own movement.  The lead handler glared at him.  “Kid, you haven’t seen that thing’s teeth yet.”

Greg put his palm up, then extended his hand, moving slowly.  The creature did the same, then allowed their palms to touch.  His skin was cold to the touch, and did indeed feel like the skin of a dolphin, only…  “Dry.  You’re…”  A dolphin shouldn’t be allowed to dry.  It resulted in painful lesions.  “Don’t you have misters?”

“What?”  The handler blinked.

“Misters.  Or a fogger or something to keep moisture in the air.  His skin…”  Greg looked back over his shoulder.  “He’s amphibious, like a frog or dolphin.  Dry skin has got to be uncomfortable.  It could even get infected or blister if allowed to be dry for too long.”  He saw the handler’s eyes widen.  “Get a humidifier in here at least.”

Then he turned back toward the creature and his own eyes went wide.  The creature’s lips had drawn back somewhat, revealing a row of razor-sharp looking shark-like teeth.  He swallowed, and glanced at where his palm was still pressed against that of the creatures.  Then he met the creature’s eyes again.  “Hang on a minute, and we’ll get you more comfortable, alright?”

At first, he thought there was no possible way the creature could understand him.  Maybe it couldn’t even actually hear utterances outside the water or…  Then, so slight he almost missed it, the creature nodded.

Continue reading Storm’s Mercy: Chapter 4

Primitive: Chapter 17 – The End

“I punched the harbinger of the apocalypse in the face.”  Christophe sat on the edge of the bed, staring at the wall.

“Ragnarok.”  Lykos shrugged.

“I punched the harbinger of the Ragnarok in the face.”  Christophe kept staring at the wall.

“Not the Ragnarok.  Just Ragnarok.”

“I punched Jörmungandr in the face.”

“Was good punch too.”  Lykos grinned at him.

“I punched a dragon, in the face.”

“You know, if was going to punch a dragon, he was right choice.”  Lykos patted his shoulder.  When Christophe slowly turned to look at him, Lykos shrugged.  “He think it funny, respect your guts.  Other dragons?  They just set you on fire.  Or bit off head.”

“Your grandfather is the World Serpent.”  He exhaled.

Lykos shifted to sit next to him, and put an arm around his shoulder before pulling Christophe in.  “You should sleep.  Was big day.  Nearly got brain fried, nearly nuked, punched dragon, rode off on back of dragon…”

“He flew from Colorado to Holland in less than six minutes.  I can’t even…”  Christophe shook his head.  “We should not have been able to survive the G-forces involved with going that fast.”

“You ride dragon, and you worry about g-strings?”  Lykos tilted his head.

“G—”  He turned to stare at Lykos.  “There you go.  Thinking you’re funny.”  He smiled a little.

“I…”  Lykos put a hand on his chest.  “Am hilarious.”

“Yeah…”  Christophe shook his head.  “Like the plague.”

“Bah.”  Lykos lay back on the bed, pulling Christophe down with him.  Christophe shifted so he was laying in Lykos’s arms, his head resting on Lykos’s chest.  Lykos stroked his hair gently.  “Are you okay, my Christophe?”

“Yeah.”  Christophe nodded.  “Strange as…”  He swallowed.  “I am.”

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 17 – The End

Primitive: Chapter 12

His fingers found the marks on the collar.  Lykos had added a rune, ensuring the collar did not merely mark Christophe as a possession, but Lykos’s possession.  He slid his fingers a bit further and found the seam, then took his hand away when he heard Lykos stir.  Lykos gave him a slight frown.  “You wake early.”

“I…”  He hesitated.  “I was thinking about my mother.  By now she probably knows I’m…”  He exhaled.

Then he felt Lykos’s hand on his shoulder.  “Can get phone, go where there is signal.  You call, tell her you are alive.”

He smiled.  “You’d let me?”

“I have no grudge against your mother.”  Lykos nodded.

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 12

Primitive: Chapter 7

He pulled Christophe into the camper, then pushed him to the bed.  Christophe made a small whimpering sound as Lykos fixed the chains, leaving Christophe spread face down on the mattress.  Then he covered Christophe with a blanket.  Christophe went still at the gesture, and he noted a small trace of surprise on the young man’s face.  Lykos stared down at him for a moment, then laughed.  “You worried I would bed you.”

Christophe flinched.  “No.”

“Lie.”  Lykos shook his head.  “I punish you in morning for that.  You will not lie to you master.”  He petted Christophe’s hair.  “Are pretty man, but weak.  Soft.  Not worthy.”  He stood.  “Get sleep.”  He patted Christophe’s shoulder, then left the camper.

Outside, he crouched down and put his hand flat against the earth.  It hummed at his touch.  He’d searched before, last time he was this far west.  They were in the mountains now, the ones called the Rockies.  Slowly, then with growing intensity, he hunted among the vibrations of the ground.  There was no answering echo.  None of his kind had walked within a hundred miles of this location in the past decade.  The earth would have recalled their passage.  Lykos exhaled.

It had been that absence that had eventually driven him out of his caves.  The silence had grown deafening in his slumber, enough that he had sought out his cousins.  That had brought him in contact with humans.  At first the things they had made from metal had fascinated him.  They mixed and molded it with abandon, shaping it to their will.  There had been a few moments of hope that perhaps they had learned, after all.

From time to time he could smell dragons in their movements.  Governors remained, but no shepherds for a flock grown far too large.  None of the other elemental spirits had left marks of their passage above ground.  If any remained, they were hidden.  Hope had been dashed quickly.  There were far too many humans, and too many knew nothing.  He couldn’t share the truth even with those with whom he’d become friendly.  The first…  Lykos glanced back at the cabin.  The first he’d spoken to of his true nature had been his prisoner.  Christophe was young.  Perhaps when Lykos had avenged the wrong done, he would take Christophe back with him below.  A pet, at least, would be company of sorts.  The alternative was to seek out a dragon.

Lykos snorted.  Better to tie steel to his ankles and drop in on the merfolk than seek out a dragon.

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 7

Primitive: Chapter 6

He returned to find Christophe once again attempting to escape.  The young man had actually managed to get one of his wrists free of the chains, though his skin was bloody from the effort.  He was frantically working at the other when Lykos stepped into view.  Christophe immediately banged his head against the tree limb and uttered a few mild curses.  “I didn’t run.”

“Obey letter of law.  Hope to escape punish.”  Lykos nodded.  “Teach you that in military?”

“You didn’t tell me to leave the chains alone.”  Christophe tried to give him a defiant look, but the slight cringe in his body language ruined the effect.

“If had removed chains, would you have stayed put?”  Lykos raised an eyebrow.

Christophe glared at him.  Then he summoned up a little bit of nerve.  “No.”

Lykos patted him on the head.  “Good boy.  Honesty is best policy.  Had lied, would have put hot rocks on your feet.”  Christophe paled at the threat.  “You need bandages.  No more damaging self.  You damage self, I punish.  Understand?”  He moved in to undo the lock from Christophe’s other wrist.

“I understand.”  Christophe accepted the first aid kit Lykos handed him, and started cleaning up the abrasions on his wrists.

After watching for a moment, Lykos went back to what he’d brought with him.  He set the pieces of bar stock down, and saw Christophe jump slightly at the clanging sound they’d made.  The bags he brought over and set near his captive.  “Brought sandals.  You may wear.  Feet too soft for hard ground.”  He saw the brief hopeful look.  “Also, lotion for skin, to stop sun from burning.”  The hopeful look faded when Christophe realized clothes weren’t included.  His chest and the front of his thighs were lightly scratched from being pressed against the bark of the tree, and he’d not managed to fully escape getting some scratches on his genitals.

The young man used the first aid kit on the worst of the scratches without being told.  Lykos gave him an approving nod.  Then he took some of the leftover venison and set it on the cutting board he’d bought.  The pot he hung over the fire and added water to before going back to the bag.  He took out a couple potatoes, celery, and carrots, then set them by the roast.  Then he offered Christophe a knife, hilt first.  Cautiously, Christophe took it, then looked at the food.  “Dinner?”

“Yes.  Make.”  He waited a moment as Christophe considered the knife, then nodded when Christophe clearly realized attacking would be stupid.  Lykos went back to the lengths of metal he’d brought as Christophe began chopping ingredients and adding them to the pot.

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 6

Primitive: Chapter 5

“But he was alive?”  Guerin stared at the soldier?  “How did he look?”

“He was limping.”  The soldier swallowed.  “A bit scratched up from being in the woods, but otherwise unharmed.”  He exhaled.  “At least as far as I could see.  I couldn’t quite hear the conversation, but he convinced the thing not to kill me.”

“If he’s established some sort of rapport with the creature…”  Darrin slowly nodded.  “That is a good sign.  He may be able to get it to let its guard down.”

“Chris is a smart boy.”  Guerin took a few deep breaths. Smart, but definitely out of his league against a monster like this one.  Chris had barely passed his combat training, and he’d had to lean a bit to ensure that. If they didn’t resolve the situation soon, he was going to have to tell Sandra what had happened.  From the tone of her last voicemail, she had clearly already figured out something was going on.  “Keep an eye out.  He’ll find a way to signal us.  And track down that fucking jeep.”

“Already done.”  Darrin held up his cell phone.  “They found it at the side of the road a couple hours away, the gas tank empty.  We’ve got people on their way now to search the area.  There is a town nearby, but the area is heavily wooded.  Hopefully your boy can leave us a trail to follow.”

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 5

Primitive: Chapter 4

His captive hadn’t spoken during the last couple miles, but he was starting to flag again.  Despite Lykos intending to continue their trek overland, it was clear Christophe was unable to handle such a journey.  At least, not without assistance and better gear.  Lykos glanced over his shoulder, and Christophe visibly flinched when Lykos’s eyes landed on him.  He lost his footing and fell, grunting in pain when he landed.  Lykos sighed, then walked back toward him.

“Get up.”  He gave a tug of the leash.

Christophe was panting.  He tried to get up again, then winced and cried out.  Lykos sniffed.  He could scent blood.  With another tired sigh, he reached down and grabbed the young man by the front of the shirt and hauled him over to a rock.  He tossed more than set Christophe onto it, then crouched to look at the damage.  The young man’s pants were torn near his left knee, and blood was starting to show through the cloth.  “I can’t keep going.”  Christophe’s voice bordered on a whimper.

He rolled his eyes, then tore the pant leg further to examine the wound.  A jagged shard of rock was still embedded in it.  Christophe yelped as Lykos yanked it out.  He turned the rock over in his hand, then shrugged and tossed it over his shoulder.  The wound was bleeding freely now.  “Leg is not broken.”  Lykos shook his head.  “Get up.”

“It hurts.”  Christophe shook his head.  “I’m losing blood.”

“Soft.”  Lykos shook his head, then looked at the wound again.  It was deep, and it was possible Christophe could lose enough blood to damage him if it wasn’t treated soon.  And perhaps more importantly, the wound may fester or scar.  Neither suited him.  He pulled the knife out.

“What are you doing?”  Christophe cringed away.  When Lykos brought the knife toward him, Christophe started frantically shaking his head.  “Don’t.  Please. I can walk.  I just need a banda—”

Lykos sliced the meat of his own palm, near the thumb.  He let the blood well up, then reached over to put his bloody hand over Christophe’s wound.  Christophe tried to pull away, and Lykos used his other hand to yank the chain, pulling Christophe back into position.  “No move.”

“What…”  Christophe’s face was pale.

“Shut up.”  Lykos gave an irritated grunt.  He focused, feeling the wound as the blood worked.  Then he took his hand away, and held it up for Christophe to see.  The wound on his palm was gone.  “See…”  Lykos gestured at the blood-covered but healed skin of Christophe’s leg, then stood.  He patted Christophe’s cheek with the formerly wounded hand.  “I am kind to you.”

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 4

Primitive: Chapter 3

His head was pounding, and his throat hurt.  Christophe started to reach up to rub at his eyes, but something had hold of his arm.  He tried again, and realized his arms were secured together.  Memories came flooding back, and he began yanking at the restraints.  They failed to budge.  Slowly, he sat up.  He was alone, in what looked like a garage.  It was illuminated by what light came in through a boarded-up window.  And he was alone.

He started to shift position, and there was a tinkering sound.  He looked down to see a length of chain encircled his ankle, secured with a padlock.  The other end was secured around a support pillar.  “Great.”  His boots had been removed, and he saw no sign of them.  He tried to scrap the chain off with his other foot.  Christophe began looking around, trying to see if there was anything he could use to free his wrists from the zip ties.

Some fumbling got him to a nail sticking out of the floor.  He began sawing his wrists over it, wincing when he caught skin.  “Come on.  Come on.”  It took what seemed like ages, but finally a tug succeeded in separating the restraints.  Immediately he leaned forward and began trying to get off the chain.  There was no slack in the chain.

Christophe was trying to pick the lock with a bit of wire he’d found when he heard footsteps.  He quickly hid the wire in his clothes as his captor entered the building.  “Good.  Awake.”  The larger man shrugged.  “Thirsty?”  The man held out a bottle of water, then tilted his head.  “Wrist is bleeding.”  He tossed the water down next to Christophe, then grabbed a small box and tossed that to him as well.

A glance proved it was a first aid kit.  Christophe exhaled, then grabbed the water bottle and opened it.  “What do you want with me?”  He took a long drink.

“Bait.”  The man shrugged.  Somewhere, he’d found clothes.  Christophe frowned when he realized that the man was wearing his boots.  “Your father…”  The man waved a hand, then went back to looking through the bag he’d brought with him.  “Is an asshole.”

“He is not.”  Christophe glared.  Then he blinked.  “You took me as bait for my father.”

The man nodded.  “And to punish your father.”

That part didn’t sound good.  Christophe exhaled.  “I was kind to you.  I—”

“You live.  In one piece.”  The man smiled.  “I am kind to you.  See?  Brought bandages.  Tend your wound, or I will.”  He tilted his head.  “What is wrong with your name?”

“What is…”  Christophe pulled the first aid kit over and opened it.  “What do you mean what is wrong with my name?”

“Is missing letters.  Your parents not love you enough to give you a whole name?”

“Missing…”  Christophe glared.  “It’s French.”

“Thought Americans didn’t like French.  Cheese-eating surrender monkeys.”  The man took a bottle of water for himself.  “Though that does explain your father.”

“You’re a dick.”  He took ointment out of the kit and began putting it on the scratches the nail had made.

“Been called worse.”  He opened the water and drank it.

“So, what do I call you?”  Christophe grabbed a bandage.  “Dick?”  He glared.  “Asshole?”

“Brave now.”  The man smiled.  “Master.”

“What?”  Christophe blinked.

“I am Lykos.”  The man set the half-empty bottle down.  “You will call me Master.”

“I won’t do anything of the —” Christophe cut himself off when the man produced a long bladed knife.  He swallowed.

Continue reading Primitive: Chapter 3

The Woods : Chapter 3

Refusing to let him dress had been petty of her, she knew that.  Yet the look on his face when he realized he was going to have to be stark naked in front of a dozen of her dinner guests had been hilarious.  Her friends weren’t making it easy on him either.  He sat next to her, hunched in front of the table, trying to keep what modesty he could.  Janna trailed a hand across his shoulder, leaning in behind him as she poured wine into Ileana’s cup.  Then she ‘accidentally’ dumped half the flagon of iced wine into Thomas’s lap.  He yelped when the cold liquid hit him, but managed not to jump out of his seat.  Several of her guests made disappointed sounds.

The slyph produced a towel.  “Here.”  She grinned.  “Let me get that for you.”

He caught the towel.  “Thank you, but I can manage.”

“No, really.”  Janna licked her lips.  “I insist.”

“I have the matter under control.”  He tugged at the towel, but Janna didn’t release it.

“It is a big mess.”  On the other side of him, Keffer picked up his napkin and started toward him.

Thomas immediately released Janna to catch Keffer’s wrist.  “I appreciate the…”  He trailed off when Janna started reaching into his lap again, and caught the towel with his other hand.

“Maybe he just likes being wet and sticky.”  Tsara laughed.

“Well, then…”  Keffer pulled his wrist free of Thomas and set the napkin back down.  “If that’s the way he likes it.”

“Hmmm…”  Janna shrugged, then pulled the towel away before going back to her seat.

Ileana hid her smile behind her wine cup.  Then she set her glass down.  “Thomas.  Would you be so kind as to go to the sideboard over there…”  She pointed.  “And fetch me another roll?”

His glare was luminous.  Then he shoved his chair back, stood, and stalked toward the sideboard.  Several cheers accompanied the action.  He grabbed a roll and brought it back, holding it out to her.  She smiled.  “And could you put some butter on it?”

Continue reading The Woods : Chapter 3

The Woods: Chapter 2

“How?”  Thomas stared at her.  She was…  and yet she couldn’t be.  Princess Ileana had thrown herself from her balcony into the river below.  He’d seen it with his own eyes.

Instead of answering, she lifted a thin bladed knife.  She moved toward his neck, and for a heartbeat he thought she was going to slice open his throat.  Instead, she cut the rope around his neck.

His head dropped forward, and he sucked in air.  His position still prevented him from drawing a full breath, but he was no longer limited to the painful, shallow gasps.  He wasn’t sure how long he hung there, limp, just breathing, before she caught his hair and viciously yanked his head up and back again.

Around her wrist was coiled a golden serpent.  It raised its head, flicking its tongue at him.  It hissed, revealing glistening fangs.  “You belong to me.”  Her voice was soft, with a curious echo to it.  “Body and soul.”

“Kill me and get it over with.”  He stared back at her.

Her smile was vicious.  “Oh no.”  She gave a small shake of her head.  “It won’t be that easy for you.”

The serpent reared its head back and struck, its fangs piercing the skin of his throat.  Fire seemed to flow through his veins as he felt it coil around his neck.  He screamed as darkness closed over him.

Continue reading The Woods: Chapter 2