Some days, the memories from a life before his capture felt almost like a they belonged to someone else.
Blinking his eyes open, the small prisoner could already tell it was the beginning of another such day. In his dreams he had been strong, his body flexible and nimble, a silent predator stalking inside a fragrant forest. Only to wake up and be confronted with thin, useless skin in place of claws and scales.
Sitting upright, the prisoner looked at his hand, slowly wiggling his five fingers. They were small, pale, soft, his nail nothing more than a thin, flexible chip without a sharp edge or point. His bones were so thin and badly protected he could feel them when he clenched his fist.
But instead of sad, this made him angry. He used the emotions swirling inside him to feed the ball off hatred warming his belly. Because it was all that ensured his survival after years of imprisonment.
His hate towards his captors allowed his mind to stay clear, no matter the monotony of his days. His hatred also gave him a purpose, a reason to stay alive, strong and sane: see all those who had wronged him suffer. Suffer and die.
The prisoner was quite proud considering his self-control. While he fed his hatred and used it, he didn’t let it consume him. Not losing his head to impotent rage, he was instead biding his time, ready should an opportunity present itself.
His captors would slip up one day. It had happened before, with his fellow prisoner. The Angry One, as he had called him in his thoughts. Rash, strong but ultimately too dumb and impatient. The chance had been wasted on him.
But it allowed the prisoner to learn more about his captors - and why he shouldn’t underestimate them, no matter their pudgy, weak bodies.
Because while humans had no venom, claws or sharp teeth, they had devices. Guns.
He was alerted by steps coming down a stairwell out of his sight. His cell was equipped with a tall glass panel, laced with a metal mesh - originally probably so the humans could study him but it in turn also allowed him to watch them. He expected to see one of his captors walk into view - it was usually their arrival that woke him up, on days his sleep wasn’t overtaken by fading memories, startling him awake too early.
But instead of one of his white-cloaked captors, a Guard walked by. His eyes flicked over the cell, but never met the prisoner’s gaze. Instead he checked the room once, before disappearing again.
Seemed it was still too early for the Whitecloaks to arrive.
The prisoner had long ago separated all the humans he saw into two categories. This helped him distinguish between them, because human faces were nothing but fleshy blobs to him, looking too alike. And his system worked quite flawlessly.
Those humans that always bustled around in a crowd and liked to cut him up or feed him poison all wore long white cloaks - hence the title, Whitecloaks.
The other humans moved with precision and a sharp gaze. They were also the ones carrying the ‘guns’, which meant the prisoner was paying more attention to them. While they hadn’t harmed him directly - contrary to the Whitecloaks - they were the biggest obstacle to his revenge, right next to his sealed cell. Because even though they were stronger and bigger, humans apparently didn’t consider those traits suitable for leadership. So opposing all common instincts, they were forced to obey the puny Whitecloaks and even protect them.
To kill all the Whitecloaks, the prisoner would first have to go through the Guards.
The steps stopped echoing, meaning the Guard was patrolling another part of the building. The prisoner didn’t know where he was or the layout or size of the building. He generally didn’t know a lot about human dwellings and the way they were structured. The only places he was familiar with after years of imprisonment were his small cell and the room beyond the glass.
His cell was almost bare, only three objects sharing his space. Instead of a comfortable nest they had given him something squishy and strange smelling. He had heard the humans call it a ‘mattress’. Behind it stood a sand-filled bowl, intended for his excrements and on the other side a bowl filled with stagnant water, for drinking.
The room beyond the glass was more cluttered. Same as his cell, there were no windows but instead the humans produced light with small, controlled flames inside of glass and tin constructs. The middle of the room was dominated by big work tables, covered with dirty papers the humans had scrawled on and some of their instruments. The prisoner’s gaze lingered on an assortment of thin knives, before quickly moving on, not lingering on thin glass containers filled with blood or a clear substance. The inconspicuous metal bench where they cut him up was standing in a corner, almost out of his sight. If he hadn’t seen his fellow prisoners laid out on the cold surface, he wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint the location of his torment.
On the big work table was another, smaller glass cage padded with wooden shavings. The prisoner studied the rodent within - its small pink paws were already twitching uselessly.
The Whitecloaks would be very disappointed should they miss the exact moment of its death.
The prisoner settled in front of the glass pane, waiting for the steps and voices that usually marked the beginning of his monotone days. Most of his time was spent watching the humans, scouting for weaknesses and opportunities, or exercising in the confines of his small cell. He was quite diligent in his regime, not only to spend energy which spared him from more fitful dreams, but also so his limbs wouldn’t grow weak and fail him once his fated opportunity presented itself.
And even though he always assured himself, that should the moment come, he would be ready, when it actually arrived, he still flinched.
This day wasn’t like the other’s after all. It didn’t start with the arrival of the Whitecloaks.
It started with a gunshot. And then another. And suddenly the noise seemed to drown everything out, even his own heartbeat.
The prisoner slowly stood up, staring at the ceiling of his cell. Apart from the vents ensuring he wouldn’t suffocate and the small tubes which pumped the fainting mist into his cell, there wasn’t much to see.
Even though the noise was so overbearing he felt like his ears would rupture at any moment, no cracks formed. The building didn’t shake. The prisoner quickly glanced at the glass pane - even this fragile thing was still intact.
Slowly his thoughts started churning. Only the Guards carried guns, and he was sure the loud bangs were gunshots.
A few weeks ago he wouldn’t have been able to identify the noise. But that was before the incident involving the Angry One. The picture of bloody, fringed skin and a hole-riddled torso briefly flashed through his mind.
Shaking his head, he stared into the dark room beyond. He couldn’t afford any distractions right now.
If the Guards were shooting their guns, who were they killing? He was the only prisoner left, at least as far as he knew. The Weak One and the Angry One had already perished, and he’d never seen the Whitecloaks cut up anyone else.
So were the Guards killing each other? Or even turning on the ones giving them orders, the Whitecloaks? The thought of their deaths should have cheered him up, but instead he felt the hatred in his belly clench, turning the taste in his mouth sour. While he wanted all the Whitecloaks to perish, he longed to do it himself. He was already so deeply immersed in his revenge, if he couldn’t dye his useless, soft skin in their blood he would never feel satisfied.
The prisoner tensed again, this time because the noise abruptly stopped.
Did they run out of other targets? Were they now coming for him? For a second, he considered ducking behind the excrement bowl, no matter what an ineffective cover it would provide.
Before he could make a decision, steps echoed across the stairwell. Tensing he stared at the part of the room he could see, waiting for the first human to enter.
Which he did a few moments later, causing the prisoner’s eyes to widen.
It never occurred to him that the Guards were the ones getting shot until the unknown human entered the room. Followed by four more he had never seen before.
Even though he usually struggled to differentiate the humans, he knew all the Guards by now. The small, muscle-packed one that looked almost square. The two bald ones. The three others with short hair, brown and two blonds. The one with the scar across his nose. The one with the strange paintings decorating his neck. The tall one. The one that would be hardest to kill, because he was quick and sinewy. The one that would be easiest to kill, because he was so young and eager.
But he was sure that none of the humans walking into the room had ever been here before. Even so, he was almost tempted to label them as more Guards. It wasn’t just the black clothes and the weapons they carried, it was their eyes, searching for prey. They quickly scanned the dark room with a cold, practiced look, only briefly halting on the operation equipment in the corner and the different test tubes, microscopes and other human devices strewn across the big tables.
The sole female of the group was the first to spot the small prisoner. She squinted while looking at the reflecting glass pane separating his cell from the room beyond, obviously not able to make anything out in the darkness.
Before he could decide if it would be better to hide or give a helping hand, her eyes apparently adjusted to the darkness- which he figured because she shouted in surprise, raising her gun on reflex.
He’d apparently greatly underestimated either his intimidating effect or her nervousness.
The four men whirled around trying to spot the danger, before they noticed the young child standing behind the glass. He was naked and his pale white skin practically glowed in the low light. His face was hidden behind a curtain of equally light hair, as the boy intended. He had lowered it, because he may look mostly human, but his eyes were a dead give-away. He’d rather they’d assume he was a normal child before they came to any hasty conclusions.
The female was again the first to react. The boy tried to get a read on her. He thought she made a poor warrior, if she indeed belonged to a formerly unknown group of Guards. Her tits were swollen, evidence that she must have kits stowed away somewhere, and her hair was a bright orange color which would make blending into any environment almost impossible.
She was talking to the males and gesturing in his direction. In the boy’s opinion, his grasp of the human language was more than impressive, considering he only learned by listening to the Whitecloaks and Guards talk. But, apparently, it wasn’t good enough to understand her quickly spoken words.
Were they discussing if they should get rid of him? They apparently hadn’t known that he would be here, so he guessed they didn’t have any orders concerning him. He always wondered what would happen once Guards ran out of Orders or Instructions. He had even questioned if they were capable of having their own thoughts.
Whatever the female was saying, it compelled her companions to turn toward the glass pane once more and regard the boy with unreadable expressions. The small prisoner stiffened and thought about showing his teeth in challenge. But the uncategorized humans still clutched their weapons and so he restricted himself to a glower.
Maybe he should try to appeal to the female’s maternal’ side? His current body was soft and weak, but it also looked like a young of her own species and that had to be good for something after all. He tried to straighten out of his aggressive stance to cower and whimper, but the adrenaline in his blood wouldn’t let him. His body was readying himself to attack no matter how ineffective he’d be against those rifles.
The female seemed almost frantic. Again and again she glanced in his direction, while babbling at the males.
If they decided to let him live, he had to find a way out of his cell. This was the best chance he had in years to flee … and kill the Whitecloaks. Usually the Guards were always present, so the risk was too high. But now they were gone, possibly for good. He’d find a way out of this stupid room and would lie in wait for the Whitecloaks’ arrival come morning.
Should he pick them off one by one, to increase their terror? Or simply slaughter them all at the same time so he could bathe in their combined blood, bathing in it? Maybe he could rip off their arms and attach them to another torso, just like when they tried to make someone else’s abilities his own - play his own kind of puzzle with them.
The fantasy sent a pleasant shiver up his spine. The latter option, then.
During his daydreaming, the humans apparently reached an agreement, because the female was slowly coming closer, making strange clucking sounds at him.
For a second he thought she was deranged. Then, he considered making the same clucking sounds back. Maybe it was something human children did to their mothers.
Instead he let even more of his hair fall into his face to hide his abnormalities, watching her from lowered eyelids behind a fringe of blond hair.
She crouched in front of his glass pane, her lips stretching as she revealed her teeth, but the prisoner had learned that this was not an act of aggression, but quite the opposite for humans, so he remained calm. Strange creatures.
“I’m going to let you out of here,” she declared, loud enough to be heard through the glass separating them, even though he still didn’t understand a word she was saying. “Just stay calm, no one is going to hurt you.”
He was not sure what she was telling him, but judging by her tone of voice she was concerned and trying to calm him. Was she scared he would attack them? He almost scoffed. He wasn’t about to forget that although they appeared to be helping, the humans still carried their weapons. On top of that, while the female apparently couldn’t resist her maternal instincts, the males still seemed skeptical and kept their distance from the cell and the strange child within it. At least they didn’t hinder her.
The female straightened and studied the different handles fastened to the wall.
This time a small splash of euphoria washed through his veins. Was she actually going to let him out of the cell? He’d never thought that step one of his plan would be accomplished so easily.
The prisoner stayed quiet and tense while she pondered the different levers and buttons. he didn’t understand either as they were the Whitecloaks mechanism, before pulling one.
He did, however, quickly realize which lever she must have chosen.
The strange conduit through which fresh air was filtered into his cell slowly shuttered closed. The next second the small tube on his ceiling started vomiting a sweet-smelling mist, raining down on his naked shoulders.
The prisoner groaned and didn’t even bother holding his breath. He spared one annoyed glance for the frozen female, who stared back in surprise, before his face met the floor.