Pushing Boundaries Ch. 06byArtForm©
NB: I really apologize for the hiatus. As always, credits go to wildheartedangel for editing this chapter. I made some changes so any mistakes are mine alone.
Keona stirred slowly into consciousness, fully aware that she was in a strange white washed room filled with even stranger equipment. Electronic monitors beeped beside her; their LED lights flickering repeatedly like Morse code.
She was seated on a wooden chair; her arms and legs strapped to the insulting teak while various electrode patches lay visibly on her almost chalk-like skin. It was a sign that she was exhausted and blood-drained as Vampires were when they're forced to go without feeding for months.
But Keona wasn't a Vampire.
Whatever minute quantity of blood she had ingested --two, three weeks ago --had been depleted just trying to fight off the dozens of Vampire guards earlier...
It occurred to her that she had no idea how long she had been knocked out.
Yet, no emotion or thought betrayed her true feelings as she stared straight into the mirror in front, knowing full well she was being observed.
"Good morning Miss MacFarlane. Or would you rather I call you Keona?"
Keona's eyes remained open; refusing to blink in acknowledgement of the female baritone voice booming from the speaker. Instead, she concentrated on trying to reach beyond the mirror and read whoever's mind she could get a hold on.
Her inability to do so shocked her.
"There's no use Keona... it's okay if I call you Keona right?"
"Very well Keona... this room is lined with thick lead. You can't reach out to anybody through these walls. It's futile dear."
"Don't you dare call me that," Keona's voice was passive; her eyes still staring straight ahead. "What do you want from me?"
"Just want to test out a few things... do oblige us."
Silence on the other end of the speaker.
"I'm sure you'd like to have Marine safely back home wouldn't you?"
Keona snapped at the words; her eyes widening with anger. "Don't you dare touch her you hear me! I swear I'll hurt every one of you."
Her eyes were blazing but Keona knew everything has a price. "I want to see that she's safe first."
The mirror in front of her flipped to reveal a screen --on it was a live feed of Marine, huddled in the corner of a room.
"How do I know this is live?"
"Call out to her. We'll transmit your voice directly into her holding cell."
Keona was skeptical but did as suggested. "Marine sweetie, it's Keona... are you okay?"
Marine's head snapped up at the sound of her voice. "Key... I'm sorry... they caught me..."
"No it's okay... I'll get you out," she replied looking straight up to stare at unseen eyes beyond the screen.
"That's all for now," the baritone voice said again and the screen returned to its mirrored form once more.
Keona didn't say anything. She had no idea what to do in that moment and felt so helpless strapped onto the chair like that.
"We're going to send in one Vampire at a time. He or she will display their ability and I want you to repeat it. Can you do that?"
What! How did they know about her?
"You look surprised Keona. Of course we know what you can do... but can you show us?"
"Then Marine will die."
"The first test is coming up Keona. Behave and follow my orders and I will let her go."
Keona struggled against her restraints; shaking the metal chains brutally but to no avail. It was no use, she realized as the first Vampire entered the room.
It was a very handsome Vampire; just under a hundred and when he came in, he was carrying a thick book. Sitting down opposite Keona, he opened the book and started to read out loud.
"What are you doing?" asked Keona. Was he trying to read her to sleep?
"You'll see," he said continuing the reading. It was a book about Antarctica and the Vampire continued reading until he was midway through the 1911 expedition. Then he placed the book on Keona's lap. "Tell me a page number and I will read it to you."
Frowning, Keona said, "Thirteen." The Vampire turned the page for her and got up to stand at the end of the room, reading out accurately every single word on the page. "You memorized everything?"
"Yes... and now you can too. What is the twentieth sentence on page four?"
Keona knew it wasn't possible that she'd know the answer but she did --much to her dismay --for she began to recite, "It sits atop a featureless, windswept, icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 metres and about 1,300 km from the nearest open sea at Bay of Whales. Damn you!"
"Very well done Keona," said the voice again. "Thank you Kendall. You can leave." The Vampire nodded and left the room.
"Please stop this. I don't want to do this!"
"You have no choice Keona."
The onslaught of Vampires continued until Keona was positively sure her brain would explode. It was too much... just too much for her to absorb at an alarming rate. Due to the first Vampire's ability, Keona was now mimicking abilities even faster and at a deeper level because she retained every single detail with perfection; her mind a whirlwind of information.
"This is the last one for today Keona..."
A very Ancient Vampire entered the room. She was beautiful in that ghostly frightening way that reminded Keona of her own grandmother except that Josephine had kind and loving eyes. This Vampire looked empty and stood silently in front of the door; eyes devoid of any irises.
Keona tried not to be afraid.
"What can you do?" she asked softly. She might not want to copy any more abilities but the Ancient intrigued her. To harness such a powerful Vampire's ability could lead her to a breakdown but Keona needed to know.
The Vampire didn't speak... nor moved. She kept staring straight at Keona; her long hair trailing down the side of her face, stark black against pale snow-like skin.
Then all of a sudden, the sprinklers were activated --spraying the entire room with a torrent of water. Keona yelped slightly in surprise and held her breath.
Not a single droplet moved.
She turned her head slightly to see the Vampire still staring at her with those white balled eyes --freaky --but that was nothing compared to what was happening right that moment. This Vampire wasn't stopping time was she? Keona was still moving so time had not stopped or has it?
The sprinklers had been turned off but the water still remained motionless in mid air.
"Thank you Irene," said the voice through the speaker and immediately the water droplets fell to the floor, splashing over Keona. The Vampire left the room soundlessly, leaving Keona unsure of what exactly had happened.
"Can you repeat that Keona?"
"I... I don't know what is it that I'm supposed to repeat."
Nobody addressed her question and a second later, the sprinklers were activated once more but Keona couldn't do anything except let the water soak her right through her skin.
"Why are you not doing anything?!"
"I... I can't. I don't know. I'm tired!"
The water came down in harder torrents; creating puddles at her feet. Still Keona couldn't do anything. She tried to stop the water or was it time? Or maybe she could manipulate the metal sprinklers --what? She didn't know... and the pressure brought about by her stress was making her head spin.
"Again Keona!" The woman sounded hysterical.
Keona tried... she really did. She didn't want them to hurt Marine but right that moment, she knew they were going to hurt her first. Her head was throbbing and Keona could feel the darkness slowly enveloping around her...
Alex... help me...
Then she blacked out.
Riley was watching Keona from inside the control room. He had been slightly late in joining the team so he only managed to observe her mimicking the tenth Vampire. He had no idea how she managed to enter via the small air duct or how she single handedly break Marine out of her holding room and take down two dozen Vanguards. But what was more impressive was actually seeing her copy all these Vampire abilities --
An ability that many would kill to have.
He now understood why Madam Helene had been very specific about getting Keona to the facility alive and undrugged. And now... he needed to renegotiate his end of the bargain for bringing her in.
Stepping out of the control room, Riley walked down the hall towards Connor's office. The Pureblood, it seemed, was waiting for him.
"Eos," his greeting was low and unwelcoming.
"How may I help you?"
Riley clenched his fist tightly behind his back. "We had a deal."
"Ah... yes," replied Connor, his eyes twinkling. "Our deal..."
He flipped open a file on his desk and seemed to ponder over it for a while. That only seemed to anger Riley.
"Sir, my brother..."
"Oh? Yes, your brother." He closed the file and stared up at Riley. "He's... doing very well."
"I fulfilled the end of my deal. Now will you release him?" Riley demanded.
"Tsk tsk. Yes, yes of course. But wouldn't you rather use this deal breaker to get your precious Marine out?"
Riley's eyes widened. Marine! She didn't get out?
"No... I want my brother." Riley had to make a choice. Kendall had been held hostage for the past five years. Riley wasn't letting his baby brother be caged for another second.
"A pity," sighed Connor. "I had thought it lovely to do our trial test on him."
Riley moved; his nails elongated to lethal points aiming at Connor's throat. "You son of a bitch!"
But Connor was faster and he caught Riley's wrist just seconds before it could do any real damage. A trickle of blood appeared on Connor's cheek even as he gave Riley a ghostly smile. "You're fast Eos... but don't be mistaken. I can kill you now if I want to and nobody will know or care."
Riley heard the sound of his bones snapping before he was kicked to the floor.
"Your brother is in holding cell 19PA. Now get the hell out of my office."
Riley kept his face passive as he picked himself up and limped out of the room. He knew that the bone crack will heal within the hour. In fact the physical pain was nothing compared to what he was feeling at that moment. He had chosen his brother over his mate...
But it had been five years since he'd seen or spoken to Kendall... surely Marine would understand that right?
"I've been authorized to release the prisoner," said Riley to the guard outside cell 19PA.
"Yes Sir." The guard swiped his security card and punched in the code to open the cell door.
Pushing the door open slightly, Riley saw the handsome face of his brother looking at him. Surrounding him were stacks and stacks of books.
"Riley?" he whispered as though he couldn't believe his eyes. "Is that... is that really you?"
"Kendall..." Riley got to his knees and hugged his brother tight, feeling the frailness of the youngling's body. "I've come to take you away... I'm so sorry Kendall. I'm really sorry for what happened."
Kendall stiffened in his brother's embrace and slowly pushed Riley away. Looking down, he murmured, "I... I can't go yet Riley. They... they need me."
"What! No! They do not. We have to leave now Kendall!"
"You don't understand..."
"No. You don't understand. If you stay here any longer you're going to end up a guinea pig for their experiments!"
"I have to... I have to stay here Riley. She... that little girl, she needs me."
The hair on Riley's back stiffened in fear. "Who?"
"The copycat girl... she needs me."
"What... I don't understand. She can do everything why does she need you?"
Kendall clutched his knee close to his chest. "They want me to train with her... make sure she's memorizing everything correctly..."
Riley stood completely still for a moment. "Kendall... did you..."
"Yes," he whispered sadly. "It was an accelerated process."
"Oh god..." Riley was devastated. An ability had to be learned and discovered on its own but to be forced like this... it could destroy a youngling's mind!
"Please Kendall... I can't leave you here..." pleaded Riley. "Don't do this to me..."
"I can't leave her... she's alone and scared. I have to be her friend."
Kendall placed a gentle hand on his brother's shoulder and shook his head. "I will be fine..."
Riley's heart was truly breaking now. Connor had known this that's why he kept baiting Marine in front of him... and now Riley failed to release either of the two that he loved...
Far away, Alex woke up with a start --and growled. He had fallen asleep on the forest floor after running himself into exhaustion. He would be in denial if he said he hadn't chosen to run in the Lake Tahoe region because he wanted to be close to his mate. Of course he hadn't come within a mile of her shelter --where he wasn't wanted --but had chosen to race along the periphery, satisfied with the knowledge that she was somewhere amidst the blanket of trees.
Besides, he came there to run... and to think.
His mind was occupied with worry over Marine but at times, thoughts of his mate would flit into his subconscious and whisper pleas and desperate needs.
Clearly, his wolf wasn't sated by the one tryst in the forest. It craved the feel of Keona; the intoxicating scent of her arousal, the look of pleasure when she...
"Damn it Alex! Stop it!"
He tried to shake himself out of the distraction; the sleek black pelt of the tracker wolf bristling as though combed by the wind. Furthermore, it was close to dawn and Alex knew he needed to get back home and get ready for work.
It would give him an excellent chance to see Riley and give him a piece of his mind too. How dare he take his innocent Marine out for a weekend getaway? It wasn't rocket science to guess what his colleague had in mind.
Still growling, Alex made his way back to his motorcycle; shifting back into his human form before slipping into the pair of shorts he'd hidden between some foliage.
The wolf went completely still inside of him.
"Keona?" he whispered into the air. She had to be really close by if he could hear her like this...
Alex waited; keeping still as he listened to the sounds around him and took in the scents mingling in the air --nothing.
The rational part of Alex wanted to ignore what he heard but his wolf was agitated. It wanted to resurface, take charge and hunt down its mate right that instant.
Alex should have agreed with it.
"I'm sorry buddy, but I've got to work... and you know Keona would never ask for help for anything. She's probably cursing out my name."
The wolf wasn't convinced.
Alex looked up at the sky and knew that the sun would be up very soon. He'd be very late for work. Taking out his phone, Alex began to call Keona, hoping that she would be home and put his wolf at ease.
He only got her voice mail.
After trying a few times, Alex called the shelter and a very tired and sleepy Rina picked it up.
"It's Alex. Is Keona there?"
"She's been out since yesterday. I'm not sure where she went but she was with that other guy."
"What guy?" Alex found himself growling. If said 'guy' dared to even leave a sliver of scent on her, he'd hunt him down and rip his throat out...
"The other guy who was with you the first time. I didn't quite catch his name." His inner wolf went completely still. Riley was supposed to be with Marine...
Alex knew immediately that something was wrong. "Okay, thanks Rina. Give me a call when she gets back okay? It's important."
Disconnecting the call, Alex heard his wolf howling loud enough to give him a headache.
"Yes, you're right and I'm wrong. Geez. Give me a minute!" Alex's wolf was scratching to be let out from inside but Alex needed to make another call --this time to his office to call in sick.
To his surprise, his superior told him that Riley had called in sick too and that he could only allow Alex to come in later after lunch hour. Damn!
That meant he wouldn't have much time to look for Keona but he had to try. Shifting back to wolf form, they begin to search.
Alex couldn't find either Keona's or Riley's scents and was about to be pissed when he caught faint traces of Marine's scent. What the hell was she doing here?
The predatory instincts kicked in. She'd better not be naked and smelling of sex or he'd swear he'd claw out Riley's eyes and string them...
There was a clearing and what looked like a cozy picnic set up but no vehicles or even things to signal that there were people around. Plus, the whole place was cold which meant that it had to be abandoned for some time, leaving very little heat and scent behind.
But Alex had definitely scented Marine here.
Moving around, he began to inspect every inch of the clearing, hoping to find something --a strand of hair, blood or even...
"Wine?" He came closer and sniffed... "No... blood. Wait, blood?" This wasn't just any kind of blood. It wasn't Marine's kind and it didn't smell like human blood either...
The wolf whined in confusion. Did the two of them drink from a bottle or something? Impossible! Or did Marine lose control of herself and attacked Riley?
The thought pleased him. The guy deserved it...
Except that Marine doesn't even know how to use her fangs. She's too young to have been taught how to hunt and had been relying on bagged blood her entire life.
But this blood had a very acrid, chemical-like scent to it that his wolf disliked. It was blood... but it was also laced with something...
"Drugs?" Very likely. Alex moved away from the spot of blood and tried to follow Marine's trail but it ended a few feet away and he knew why.
He had lost her and to venture throughout the forest looking for her would take him hours --that is if she was even in the forest. On top of that, he had to look for Keona...
Alex knew what needed to be done.
Alex barely made it to his office when his phone rang. Looking at the number, he groaned.
"Now's not a good time Naira..."
"Something's wrong with Key... I saw her."
Alex stopped in his tracks. "You saw what?"
"Well, my forecasting still sucks but I swore I saw her in some sort of lab..."
"Are you sure Naira... you know that skill of yours is unreliable."
"Are you at home?"
"Mmm, with my grandmother. We're in training but I didn't tell her what I saw."
"Coz Keona's not supposed to leave the country didn't you know? So... I can't tell anyone or else she's going to be in a lot of trouble."
"Pass the phone to her."
"Grandma? Hell no."
"Naira... give the damn phone to her!"
He heard her complaining but then she did as he told... or perhaps the phone was taken from her.
"You wanted to talk to me?" came to gentle voice of Josephine. "Alexander is it?"
"Yes it's me Dame Josephine... I was wondering if you had seen anything about Marine or Keona lately?"
"Why my dear?"
"I think they're in trouble."
"Oh? My... then have you called their parents?"
"Not yet. I just... I know something's wrong but I don't want to worry their parents unnecessary. They could simply be out on a girl's shopping trip or something and not want to be disturbed." Alex couldn't believe he just lied to an Ancient.
Josephine called his bluff.
"Alexander... if you're worried enough to ask me for help, that means you have a hunch they're in big trouble. You're a wolf... your instincts are much better than mine. So I will try to see if there's anything to help you... but you have to let Keiran and Alaron know. They will be most devastated if they can't protect their babies."
Alex could almost see her smiling when she said that. "I will."