Waking Other Lives

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Doing the Job

Dante’s POV

I was in the dark about how to help the humans in the cages, getting them out would automatically raise suspicions about the newcomer which unfortunately happened to be me. Bringing in the Drakon Army would again make me the obvious culprit. And, then I would have to kiss goodbye to Elvan. So not happening! There was only one thing to do, and that sat like a lump in my throat. I had to close my eyes, and let them neutralize a bunch of humans, even knowing this was against their will, even knowing this meant Drakon madness for some of my brothers. Only then would I gain the witch’s trust, only then would I finally get Elvan back, and only then could we finally destroy this whole place.

“So, my Prince, tell me what in the blazes are you doing in here? Does Seth know?” Nicole asked.

“Seth is dead,” I said, firmly. “I killed him.”

Nicole spilled the cup of coffee in her hand, No, you are kidding me,” she said. “He can’t be dead.”

“Why, do you even care?” I asked.

She closed her eyes as if to cover whatever expression hid in its depths. She was much composed when she opened them again, “No, I don’t. You are right,” she said. “I’ve just ruined my dress, I’d better go and change,” she laughed, but her eyes reflected something else together.

I shrugged. “As you wish, it looks good to me,” I said. “What are a few stains?” I commented looking at my wrinkled dirty jeans, and muddy boots. “Looks good to me,” I murmured implying my own clothes.

“Why are you whistling?” she asked, frustrated.

I wasn’t even aware I’d been doing it, Elvan always said I was tone deaf every time I sang, or whistled, but she also loved it. It was her way of pretending aloofness to what had been growing, exploding between us, ever since we’d met.

“What’s going on here, by the way?” I asked, trying to learn something. “Are you aware of the neutralization process, who are all those people?”

“Of course I am aware of it! How else do you think we can win the war against the Drakons? We capture them, it’s not a big deal. They are easy prey. We have hundreds and hundreds of people captured every day. By the way, Rocco said, you have shifted. Have you?”

I nodded, there was no gain from lying, they already knew

“How?”

I shrugged. “It happened,” I said, without really saying anything.

“Why did you kill him?” she asked.

Oh, so she was stuck there. Interesting. “I lost my mate, or so I thought at the time. I was angry. But, now it’s done, there is turning back. I’m stuck deep in the mud. There is only going forward,” I explained.

“He cared about you, a lot,” she said, in almost a whisper.

“And, he cared about you, yet here you are,” I replied back. “Why?”

She averted her eyes, “Indeed, I am. He didn’t want me. She stood in between us. I wanted so much more, and I didn’t know how to win him back” she acknowledged.

“Makes sense,” I said. It certainly didn’t. Bitch!

“Now it’s too late,” she said, her voice shaky, her eyes getting teary. She tried not to show it. She finally got up and left, whether to change her dress, or cry freely, I didn’t know, I didn’t care.

I talked to others, some of whom had been serving in my army at Rawonia, it took every effort not to destroy them, end their lives like a beetle beneath my feet, their betrayal sat heavily with me. But, I didn’t. The thought of Elvan kept me docile. But, I memorized each and every one of them, the time would come for their punishment.

I went around the facility, trying to meet everyone, learn everything until the neutralization process in the evening. Apparently, they had many such facilities, Abby constantly moving in between them without any planned schedule. I was lucky she was even here. I had to get the location of the facilities, and for that I needed to get into her office which I found out was located at the top floor. But, it was pretty much a lost cause as I needed an elevator card to get to that floor, and I didn’t have one. I didn’t also know who had one, but I predicted some of the kitchen staff would be delivering her food or drinks while she was immersed in her wicked daily plans. That cracked me up.

I’d never gotten my cup of coffee, so this was a double win situation, getting my drink and the card simultaneously. I headed to the kitchen which was exactly when I realized this could take more time than I’d imagined. The kitchen staff was no less than twenty people, and talking to each would be time consuming. I had to find a short cut. I shouted, “Abby wants coffee brought to her office right away”. There was rustling around, confused looks, and panicky movements. But, it was a young girl who stood out, holding a steaming cup of coffee as she hurried out of the kitchen. I followed her, and came from behind, knocking her out, and damn, losing the coffee in the process. I pulled her to the corner, and searched her pockets. The elevator card turned out to be hanging from a string over her neck and I took it and hid that inside my boot.

But, I couldn’t leave her like that, they would find her, and they didn’t need to be Sherlock for everything to lead back to me. Well, she wasn’t Baran, and I was sure Elvan wouldn’t mind. I shrugged, licking her back to consciousness. When she opened my eyes, I was holding her.

“Oh, my God, what’s going on?” she asked, shocked.

“It’s okay, you fainted, and I caught you right in time, see all is fine except that the coffee is gone. But, I saw Abby just leave anyway, so it seems she no longer needs the coffee. We’ll clean this mess up, and keep it between ourselves, huh?” I winked.

She smiled shyly, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

I helped her with collecting the broken pieces and wiping the floor, and she went to the kitchen, looking back at me with another shy and flirtatious smile. I grabbed the elevator card when she’d disappeared from sight, and pressed the last button, inserting the card into the slot. The elevator started moving, I checked the corridor when it came to a stop. I searched for cameras, but there was none. I saw a door. I tried to turn the knob to find that it was locked. The witch didn’t trust her own army, it seemed. Damn, this was good and bad news. It meant I was free to search the room, but only if I could find a way to open the door.

I knelt down to examine the door, and it was then I noticed there was no keyhole, but a thin slot. Could it be? Why not, that would be frigging fantastic! I took out the elevator card again and inserted it inside the slot, and the door opened just like in a hotel. I closed it, and exhaled the breath I’d been holding. Okay, the rest was like a treasure hunt. I couldn’t turn on the light, but now that I’d shifted I could tap on my abilities as a dragon. I let my eyes turn red, and moved stealthily inside. There was a large desk, and a very comfy looking chair behind it. There were some maps on the walls, though to my chagrin, they were not marked. I opened available drawers, taking out rolls of parchments which didn’t mean much, they were a bunch of signed documents, bank accounts etc. I took out my phone, taking snapshots of each thinking I could look at them in detail later. I knelt down by the desk, looking for secret drawers, but I came across nothing.

I went to search for switches beneath the paintings, anything that would open a secret tunnel, passage or safe, anything. It was when I was feeling the wall that I saw the map, really saw it. From far away there was nothing weird, but from a close distance, the map changed. It was as if it got activated when it detected movement in the vicinity, like the escalators which would start moving as somebody approached, or the lights that automatically switched on in an apartment building when somebody was taking up the stairs. There were suddenly locations highlighted on the map, each one moving like a wave. And, when I touched one, it was wet like I was really touching the water, but then the exact address would pop up for each location once I withdrew my finger from the water. I took a photo of the whole map with the waves around the locations, and then heard some approaching voices. I looked around to find a hiding place, the space under the desk wouldn’t do, and there was nowhere else to hide my bulky body. Damn, I would be caught. There was no way around it.

“Here,” a whisper drew my attention. I turned around to see Nicole. Double caught!

“Are you going to gape like a fish out of the water, or do you want a way out of here?” she asked.

I nodded, that’s how surprised I was — saved by Nicole? That was new. “Where?” I whispered. There was nowhere to go, I didn’t even know where she had come from. She walked to the wall, and pushed it with a palm, and the wall opened like a sliding door just in time. It was an adjacent room, with a set of luxurious sofa, and a large table. We barely made it as Abby entered inside.

There were several people with her, one of them I detected as Rocco. I could partially hear what they were saying, though I plastered my ear to the wall, or door, whatever that was. Words were clipped, cut off as though there was a bad network connection.

“Stop it, let’s get out of here before they find us here,” Nicole said.

“Tonight...I need ...prison,” I heard.

What prison? Was the she talking about the human cages? Nicole was dragging me way too hard, so I had to follow her out the door which looked like another wall from outside. We headed back to the elevator and straight to the bottom floor.

“Are you mad? You can’t just dig into Abby’s room like that, do you know the million things that could have gone wrong? Oh, wait they did go wrong. And you would be at the bottom of a bottomless ocean right now if I hadn’t been there.”

“What were you doing there?” I asked. “That was unexpected.”

“I followed you. I have an elevator slot, too though it took me a month in here to get that, and I hadn’t been brave enough to search the room yet.”

“I’m lost,” I said, giving up.

“Is he really dead?” she asked.

“What are you doing here?” I asked back.

“Helping him, hoping I could gather some information that would help him.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I love him, you dumb ass, why else? I’ve ruined things in between us, I thought if I could help him somehow, if I could keep him safe somehow...”

“No, he would still not have chosen you,” I replied. She looked furious with my indifferent words. “Just saying the truth, and as to your other question, he is not dead.”

There was a sigh of relief from her. “I knew it. Or else, I would have felt it. Nothing has changed really, she will be his ruin, you know?”

Was she crazy? She was like a broken piece which needed some tuning. ”Thatshe happens to be his mate,” I said, dryly. “You better find yours, and hope to God that he is still yours for the taking. With the pace with which things are going in here, it’s highly unlikely.”

It’s the first time I saw her shrug as if to show words had no impact on her belief that he was hers. She was obsessive about him, a small tuning wouldn’t it.

I asked her if she knew anything about Elvan’s whereabouts, but she didn’t. Perhaps, Elvan was in one of the other locations, and now that I had the addresses, I was one step closer to finding her. That made me feel good. I started whistling.

Seth tried to reconnect with me a few times, but I shut him down. He was probably fuming by now, not being in control was not his thing. I chuckled. I sent him the other documents I’d stored as photos, but not the locations on the map. I didn’t want him to end up in here before I had had enough time to earn the witch’s trust.

By the time it was night, I had managed to find some food, but no coffee, I was cranky as hell. I was also very wary of the evening’s ritual. I was sitting with Nicole in an entertainment room, both of us infiltrators of the first kind, even if driven by widely different motivations. Joining the crowd, acting like one of them was an important part of pulling this through, so I acted as if I enjoyed the chat laughing loudly even if there was no joke floating around.

It was Rocco whom Abby sent to find me, asking me to come. I guess I was the privileged member of the crowd tonight, chosen specially for the neutralization process, my participation meant to serve as an initiation test of some sorts.

I went to the basement with Rocco and a few others. Rocco used the lever to open the door, and brought in the first group of caged people, each one held by one neutralizer. I was the only Drakon besides Rocco, lucky me! Worse still, I’d ended up restraining Mina. She didn’t recognize me at first, but then a hopeful look emerged on her face, to revert to disbelief and then anger when she realized I was not looking her in the eye, and I’d not be helping her. She spat on my face, “You, filthy son of a bitch!” she cursed. “Does Seth know you are here?”

This was my moment to play it right. “Seth is dead, as he is supposed to be,” I said. She started punching me, and I coldly restrained her small fists. I’d be losing part of who I was tonight, by letting this all happen. I hoped what I did tonight would not come to haunt me.

Abby approached a human held by a neutralizer, and she touched her, closing her eyes in relief, and apparent joy. The human started screaming, writhing in agony, her body shivering, shaking like she was having an asthma crisis. The neutralizer held her still as Abby pulled her light right out of her body, and then when it was all over and the human had collapsed, she touched her at the back, marking her like a cow. That was the moment in which a Drakon had lost his mate.

“Next,” she said. Another human was pushed towards her face, and this went on and on, each victim going through the same pain, and shock, and it was almost Mina’s turn. I had no idea how I’d continue this charade, and allow her to be turned. She was struggling in my arms each time she witnessed the process. When there were two more left besides Mina, the basement door opened and somebody rushed towards Abby with a worried expression, whispering in her ear. Her face became all serious, the joy of the accumulated lights now forgotten. “Rocco, put these three back to their cages, and the others to the special aquarium where they can breathe more of my essence. I have things to attend to, multiple things, it seems.”

Damn, that had been close. But, though Mina was safe for another day, there was no excuse for what I had allowed to transpire in that room. None at all. The screams of humans, the face of Mina, her look of disappointment and fury would remain with me.

I went to the kitchen, my strides angry. “Give me a damn coffee,” I shouted. And, this time, they finally obliged.

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