Once everything was placed where it belonged, I collapsed onto my bed. My ear perked up and twisted to the side as Shadow came over and crawled in next to me. His hand firmly grasped mine as he shifted his weight into me. He stared deeply into my eyes, both of us remaining silent. I found myself becoming relaxed, his body temperature warming me. I shifted myself closer, absorbing more of the warmth he emitted. His head came to rest on my chest, his arms now wrapping around my waist.
"I don't want to lose you on a mission… it's safer for you here." He murmured into my chest. He shifted his muzzle to my neck and kissed it a few times tenderly.
"I know." I started petting him; each kiss had sent shivers through my spine. "I don't want to lose you either, you know?" He nodded some. I sighed softly, my hand continuing its rhythm of petting.
The room was swiftly ensued by silence. I relaxed and rested my head just above his; allowing myself to envelope myself in this peaceful moment I found my heart pounding quite hard, butterflies daring to float around my stomach. A weak smirk worked its way out of me; looks like I'm still capable of feeling like this… I thought this would have been something I'd eventually outgrow.
I moved slightly to get a good view of Shadow's face. His eyes were closed gently; his breathing was soft and steady, body limp. He's asleep. I carefully pulled the thick, soft sheets over us, not wanting to wake him, and not wanting him to be cold either. I pressed my lips against the top of his head; "Sweet dreams…" I breathed out, whispering it into the still air. I then laid there for a few hours simply watching him sleep with the occasional twitching from his dreams.
My body and mind were numb, nothing but darkness surrounded me, the only thing else was the bouncing thoughts that floated in the empty spaces of my mind.
That dream was weird… being kidnapped with a bunch of other kids. Humans too. Why were we all human…?
That one girl could see the future, and there were strange creatures too, - animals walking on two legs, with clothing.
There were woods everywhere… I was running before we were caught… were we searching for one another, or was I the only one searching, gathering, the others?
Gathering the kids… why? Were they even kids? Or were they young adults, like me?
Young adult… eighteen through twenty-five or so… right?
Is that how old I really am?
How should I know when this was all just a dream… wasn't it?
Silence lingered for a brief moment.
That girl said we were gonna die when we were all thrown into that vehicle. We were all on the floor… the seats were folded up surrounding us all…
I was so scared. When they slammed down the seats on us repeatedly, I thought we were going to die then, there, just like that girl said.
So scared… So much fear… Can't die, not now… I must hide the tears. I need to hide the fear.
I'm afraid of the pain… The pain that comes with death.
Never being found.
I need to be rescued…
My phone… They didn't take it. I must hide it.
The phone is bright. I must not use it.
I need to contact him, I need to contact help, the one that leads the military. He must help me. He will help me… he will save me right?
He wouldn't let me die would he?
"Sleep." I obeyed.
The sun… it's bright.
Are they watching?
No they are driving. I must text him now.
What if they see?
They won't. The phone won't illuminate anything.
Signal, signal, signal! Come on!
'Kidnapped. Need help. In a black van. Track my phone.' The text was sent.
The notifications! Silent only.
Thirty percent battery.
Battery set to 'battery saving mode'.
Hurry… hurry… hurry…
Must hide phone.
The van it stopped. Were we caught?
I. Was I.
"Water, food, bathroom."The voice from earlier demanded.
Vague images of water collecting and drinking flashed through my mind; however, the image of drinking the water with the life straws seemed to be the only true image that seemed to stay in my head.
Are we going to die now?
They are loading us back into the van. It's mid-day.
That brown haired kidnapper… her hair is so short.
She is familiar, but how?
Is it one of his agents?
He sent help! He responded!
Don't get found out.
If she is found out, I'm done for. If she is found out…
We will all meet our deaths sooner rather than later.
He won't let that happen.
Why would he risk the military for you?
My voice slowly faded out, the bitter quiet consuming me. Each bump instilled the seeds of fear deeper.
Black is all there is beyond the window.
Were those windows always there?
The one he sent.
She is out there. I feel it.
"Sleep time.", another voice called.
It's so cold. I can't stop shaking.
Stay still. The door, it opened.
I'm asleep. I'm asleep. I'm asleep. Don't get caught. Don't get caught. Don't get caught.
Phone. Phone. Phone.
A blanket was placed over me. I jerked, fear stabbing at my heart, spreading through my body with the blood in my veins. The agent placed a finger over her lips. She then left me, only the warmth of the blanket remained.
She snuck a note!
Read it. Carefully.
Can't get caught.
'Message received. Doing all that can. Dispose of this carefully.'
No where to hide it.
Fine. Get us caught. Get us killed. It's not just you in this situation. There are five others.
The door. Quick, hide the paper.
The sun, it's rising.
The paper; quickly!
It tastes horrible.
Suck it up. You're alive, and so are they.
He will send another one. He will save us.
No he won't. Why would he? We are a few nothings.
They are everything. The military saves many, not few.
We are few. We are dead.
He must. He must… He must… He will.
You may say that, our heart says otherwise.
I'm scared. I don't want to die…
Hide it under the carpeting.
Don't notice! The phone slipped snugly under the carpeting of the van, resting between some metal.
Those men. They are searching.
Searching… Don't find it.
If they find it we are dead.
We can't die.
"Cat… You awake…?" Shadow quietly called to me.
"Mmmph…" I groaned into the pillow. The numbness of my body and mind turned into a dull ache that smothered my energy.
"You okay?" Worry had filled his voice.
"Weird dream…" I mumbled into the pillow.
"I'll get you something." The weight on the bed shifted, the mattress sprang up once the extra weight had been taken off.
Was it really a dream? I asked myself for a brief moment.
"Here. Some orange Tang and a chocolate bar. Your perfect way to start a morning." Shadow's voice called out to me, tugging my mind away from the lingering dream world.
I took it and sipped the Tang. There was half the amount of water recommended for the packet. Just how I like it. I then curled into a sitting position and nibbled away at the chocolate until it was completely devoured. I finished off the Tang shortly after.
"Any better?" He asked.
I nodded some, and tried to smile at him reassuringly.
After a moment, he decided to ask, "Do you want to talk about it?"
I shook my head in response, "It's hazy now anyways."
Sprawling myself back onto the bed, the sheets tugging away from my body, I squinted to the window, sunlight lit up my eyes catching each fleck of colour brilliantly. With a deep breath, I let my eyelids shut, red illuminating my sense of sight. I let the air slip out of me slowly, my heart beat following suit. The warmth from the fiery ball spread throughout my body, begging me to stay and soak it up as much as I could. With another shift of the mattress on either side of me, I peeked my eyes open to discover Shadow hovering over me. His eyes bore into my own; what is he searching for? He leaned down and kissed my forehead before resting his body against mine.
With a soft sigh, I began petting him. His quills smoothed out and seemed to become softer, silkier, with every stroke. My ear perked up when a low rumbling purr could be heard from him. His face nuzzled into my chest, his purring only growing louder. I did not want to ruin this moment; I wanted it to last until the end of days. I wrapped my arms around his solid body, my fingers still persistently stroking his quills. The clocked ticked away; seconds to minutes, minutes to hours, whether or not we had realized it, the afternoon was closing in on us.
"What would you do if I ever went missing? If something bad had happened and I couldn't return to you for whatever reason?" I asked unexpectedly.
Shadow's brow scrunched up, "I would never stop looking for you until I found you and rescued you." he stated simply. "I'm aware that you can't die, so no matter how long… no matter how many years- decades- centuries, I would never stop looking. I will protect you." His words were aggressive, venomous to whoever may dare try to take me away from him.
I smiled softly, "Thank you, for being so determined to keep me in your arms. I hope that you can keep that determination over time- if anything did happen that is."
"I lost Maria and the Professor… I will not let anything, or anyone, take you away from me too." His eyes hardened, the cold determination in his eyes imbedded in them, the fire of his sheer will grew stronger.
My smile growing stronger, however faintly, I breathed out and muttered, "I adore you."
His grip on me tightened, pulling me incredibly close to him. "I could never live with myself, could never forgive myself, if I let something happen to you."
"I know… and that part scares me. I don't want you miserable for something that was out of your control. I don't want you to blame yourself for something you didn't do. But just me saying that won't stop you from doing so, if something ever did happen." I snuggled up against him; his chest fluff tickled my nose. "Perhaps you could say it would be likewise for me… but I think you would be a lot harder on yourself, because of ARK…" I took in his scent.
The air stilled as we settled, neither of us speaking anymore. I could still sense the determination off Shadow. Faint footsteps began approaching from outside the hall. I could barely pick up on them until they were only a few feet away. With a couple more taps, a few knocks emitted from the other side of the doorway.
I sighed softly, glancing at Shadow. He seemed to understand and his grip gave way, his arms pulling away from me. I stood and answered the door only to find a familiar, old, face. I stared at him with slight annoyance; his eyes glanced from me, to around the room, stopping at Shadow for a moment, then back to me.
"I have a mission for you. It's a more urgent matter involving an incident that happened about two years ago." Abraham Tower spoke sternly.
I glanced back at Shadow for a moment, "Okay. Whatever it is, I'm taking Shadow with me." Shadow looked slightly relieved, but he was still uneasy about the thought of going out to the field.
Abraham came in, closing the door tightly, and then shut all the blinds. He turned around, his hands falling to a resting position behind his back, one of his hands clutching around the other. "Do not speak a word of this until your mission has been completed." He looked at us both.
In turn, Shadow and I looked to one another then nodded at Abraham. "Aren't you being a little paranoid though?" I asked, slightly amused at his cautiousness.
"I have my reasons for it. Now for the matter at hand. Now, two years ago, just before you arrived here, Cathy, there was a kidnapping of children. The ages ranged anywhere form fifteen to twenty. All these children were connected to assets of GUN. One of the children I happened to have close contact with, and she, while being held captive, managed to contact me. It was by text over the phone. I had sent in an agent, however shortly after she had infiltrated herself into the group, she had been discovered and killed. No kidnapper had ever asked for ransom money, nor did they even send threats to us." He explained simplistically, and quickly.
"Okay… so…? What does that have to do with this mission, now?" I led on. I glanced to Shadow whom looked a bit grim.
"Well, another group of children went missing, and there are tell-tale signs that it is the same group that attacked about two years ago. The children from two years ago, all but one was found dead. They were killed in a sacrificial fashion. I need you two to stop this from happening again." Abraham stared at me, the blood in my face rushed out.
"You're kidding right?" I grumbled. He shook his head. "What are we to do with the kidnappers?" I sighed, trying to will the blood back into my skull.
"Capture, kill- I don't care. As long as they are taken care of, and the children are saved. Last time a demon had appeared for a brief time. If this is another attempt at summoning that creature, it makes it all the more important to stop this. That demon was not fully brought back last time, if it were to be fully resurrected this time…" He trailed off, genuinely concerned for the future world at hand.
I nodded, "We better not fuck up then, huh?" Abraham just gave a small wryly smile.