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Chapter 8

Pulling off to the side of the street, Cain set his car to park before turning it off. The steam powered engine hissed and whistled as it begun to cool off, and as he climbed out of his car; Cain examined the surrounding area. The street was somewhat busy with afternoon bustle, but none of the beings walking around paid him any attention. Not that he minded. Closing and locking the door to his car, Cain slipped the key into his pants pocket as he strolled up the sidewalk. Stopping in front of a plain brown and frosted glass panel door, he gave it two knocks before a buzz told him it was unlocked. Stepping inside, Cain’s eyes went straight up, ignoring the small living space in front of him. He scanned what he could of the open second floor, but saw nothing from where he stood. “Theo, you up there?” He closed the door, and started towards the spiraling metal staircase. “I’m up here.” Theo’s modulated voice rang out and slightly echoed against the vaulted ceilings. Stepping onto the lab floor, Cain searched among the cluttered tables until he spotted the top of unnaturally vibrate red hair. Theodora stood at the end of a rather long table that was covered in a number of glass tubes, beakers, flask and burners. In one gloved hand she held a long glass stirring, placing that into the flask in her other, the sound of glass hitting glass filled the air. “Don’t move a muscle.” As she stressed out each word to Cain, she pulled the stirring out and replaced it with a thermometer. Once she got the proper temperature, she pulled the thermometer out and rushed over to another table. Tipping the flask over, the slightly blue liquid spilled out into a funnel and was filtered into a small test tube. “I’m almost finished.” Knowing better than to disrupt her current work in progress, Cain remained where he had stopped at the end of the stairs. Leaning a hand on the railing, he studied the werewolf at work.

Setting the empty flask down, She used a set of forceps to pick up a single grain from a petri dish and then proceeded to drop it into the test tube. As the grain and liquid mix a small wisp of smoke begins to rise into the air. At the sight, Theo slightly frowned but it was from concentration rather than disappointment. Grabbing the tube with a small metal holder, Theo then rushes off to a third table where a small sphere sat in a stand. Tipping the test tube, the now green liquid emptied into the sphere. Grabbing two small metal rods, Theo placed them into the sphere and closed the opening. With a small stratifying click, Theo pulled the rods out, rose back up and smiled. Pulling her goggles up to her forehead with one hand, Theo grabbed the sphere with the other. “Catch.” She threw the orange-size sphere at Cain and, after he released the rail, he caught it with ease.

Once he had it in his hand, he held it up and examined it. On the outside it was a patchwork of metal and weighed no more than a pound. Bouncing it up into the air a few times, he then looked to Theo as he took a few steps towards her, “What is it?” She was turning down a flame burner, a small smile forming on her plum painted lips. “A prototype.” Cain looked down at the sphere once more, as his eye brows came down, “A prototype of what?” Looking back up, he was taken back at the gas mask in her hand. “You’ll see.” Placing the mask over her face, Cain had intended to ask more questions but was taken back at the sound of a sudden chime before being overwhelmed by a dense grey smoke. The smoke was thick, throat choking and filled the air with one of the foulest smells Cain had ever encountered. Falling to his knees, Cain can only focus on coughing as his senses were overwhelmed. He wasn’t sure how much time passed, it may have only been a few moments yet it felt like hours. The thick cloud filled his lungs and clouded his mind- slowly shutting it down. He fought the overwhelming urge to pass out.

The sphere, still in his hand, was then ripped from it and slowly the air around him begun to clear. He sucked at the clearing air, his lungs desperate for real air. As his lungs took in the clear air, the urge to go to sleep begun to pass and he found himself slowly working his eyes to open. Blinking hard, his vision was blurred around the edges but he was not yet blind. As his eyes scanned around from where he had fallen, he noticed the glass panels to the far wall had been open, allowing the smoke to leave the lab and the fresh air to come in; above him the ceiling shook slightly as they worked at full power to help clear the air. A foot away from him, Theo stood with the sphere in her hand and she slowly removed the mask from her face. Placing the mask on the table nearest to her, she then held a hand out to Cain. He took it and she pulled him up with ease, patting him on the back once as he regained the ability to take a full normal breath. “What- what is that?” Theo smiled at Cain as he pointed to the sphere in her hand. Holding it up in a fingerless gloved hand, she tossed it once. “While it is a prototype, I like to consider it as pay back.”

“But what is it?”

“A smoke bomb- but not just a normal smoke bomb, this one is modified. I found a chemical formula that I believed would affect not just humans, witches, and werewolves but also vampires. It was am extremely difficult task with your biological structure differing as greatly as it does from all other beings but it wasn’t impossible! I just needed to test it, which is why I had you come over. Now that I know the formula to be a success, I plan to adapt it to be able to be used in the field- I’m talking five, ten, maybe even fifteen miles radius.” She tossed it up once more, a proud smile gracing her lips. “It will knock humans, and witches out cold while driving werewolves and vampires to near death-like states.”

Though he wanted to be upset with his friend, Cain was deeply impressed and was reminded once more why he had befriended the werewolf Theodora Deaeque. “I could have you killed Theo, on acts of treason. Is that why you brought me here, in an attempt to kill?” Theo gave him weary eyes as she placed the smoke bomb beside her gas mask. He crossed his arms in an attempt to make it appear that he was serious with her. “But you won’t and no- yes- slightly. Clearly not, had I chosen to kill you I would have done so many years ago, I merely needed to test the bomb and you happened to be here. I brought you here though, for tea. We haven’t spoken in a few weeks and I’m curious to know how the royal family fairs.” She made a motion for him to go down stairs, which he did with her on his heels.

Theo motioned to the small living area of the open floor, and Cain went over to take a seat. As he did, she went over into the small kitchen, hanging her goggles on a wall hook. As she set to work getting the tea prepared, she glanced over to Cain. “So, how have things been lately, any news with Drale?” As one of his top scientist, Cain had kept Theo within his small loop on the subject for nearly the past five months. Such things as her wide-range smoke bomb would be crucial to have in war times but were not made over night. “I cannot be sure, but it is looking as if Muis is moving towards war.” With a somber hum, Theo nodded her head and pulled the screaming kettle from the flame on the stove. “I’ll have to get working on increasing the radius of Little Grey won’t I?” At the somewhat confused face of Cain, she goes on, “It’s what I’m calling my new smoke bomb. I was stuck between Little Grey and Little Buddy; Little Grey ended up winning.” Cain nodded his head, and watched as Theo carried over a small tea tray. “But I know you didn’t ask me over here to speak about the Drale matter, now did you Theo?”

Sitting down the tray on the coffee table, she looked up with slightly glowing golden eyes, and took a seat across from Cain. Looking back down at the table, where Cain had reached out to, she watched him pick up the newspaper that had been lying on the table. Despite being a werewolf, a cat like smile curled on her lips as Cain held the paper in his hands and read the headline out loud. “Blessed Human Dies Hours After Purchase To His Highness, King Cainwen Dufur… Tell me Theo, did you ever believe the papers?”

“I wish,” Theo poured a cup of tea for herself before pouring the wonderful red life Cain depended on from a separate bottle, “that I could say that I did, but I know you all too well sire. Muis, as you just informed me, seems to be moving towards war, and you are not one to give up on any being so easily.” She took a sip of her tea, “I’m just curious to know if you were going to tell me or attempt to wash this horrid lie over me. That was why I hit you will Little Grey today- I don’t like being lied to and I hate being fed a bad one at that- I mean, at least put some effort into it! Honestly- who came up with this cover?” Cain laughed, unable to do anything else. “I am now ashamed to admit that I did.”

“Could you not at least come up with something more than just succumbing to wounds as a cause for death? You could have come to me.” Her glowing eyes flickered with a small ping of pain. Inwardly, Cain sighed to himself. The flash had lasted no more than a half a second, but it had been there. “In the moment of the time, you did not enter my mind, I will not lie. I acted as a King first and that was to get her killed. Muis already wants me dead; I don’t need to tempt any other rulers.”

“As I can understand, do you plan to share the truth with Pals?” Cain lifted an eyebrow at Theo, and took another sip from his cup. “Are you telling me that I was unable to fool you yet I could fool your twin sister?”

“Oh no, the brain of my sister is almost nearly as bright as my own, I was just curious to know the time line.”

“I believe I may see her sometime this week, she is due to return from her vacation from the seaside in two days- is she not? I am sure Claudia will be anxious to talk to her. She got her trainers together today for their first meeting and Pals was the only one who wasn’t there.”

“I’m sure Pals will be just as anxious once she gets the update and it’s three days, her airship gets in, in the early morning…” Theo took a small sip of her tea and the room settled into a silence that begged to be broken. Suddenly Theo shot up slightly in her seat, unable to contain herself anymore. “So when can I meet her?” The sparkle in Theo’s glowing eyes returned once more as she changed the subject back to Scarlet. “At the soonest… I would say a few months’ time.”

“A few months’ time?! Honestly now sire, you cannot expect me to wait that long-” Cain cut her off, “I do. I know you Theo, and you wish to study her like one of your microscope slides.” Theo frowned, and took another sip of tea. Cain sat back, and took a sip from his own cup, quietly waiting for her to retaliate.

“I wasn’t going to do much.” Ah, there it was, “Just a few tubes of blood, a hair strand with a follicle and maybe a few skin flakes- just to compare. She would have only been here a few hours tops…” Glancing up from her cup with a loose innocent head shake, Theo said nothing more. Cain watched her. He knew there would be no way for him to just talk her out of studying Scarlet. He needed to do more, to draw her in and give her a reason, one she could not fight nor would she want to fight, to not study Scarlet. Perhaps a sooner meeting was meant to take place. He could not talk her out of her strong will but Scarlet might be able to charm her out of them. “Would you care to come to dinner tonight? I could have Ariana make your favorite meal.” Theo studied Cain, and he waited. “I would love to, but you must know you’re not going to talk me out of my study.”

“I’m not going to try to.”

“No.” Dolra looked at Cain, spinning around to face him from where she sat in their shared sitting room and watched him enter into his bedroom. She stood, and angrily followed after him. “Cain!” Turning mid step, Cain faced Dolra. If her face could emit color, Cain was under the impression it would be redder than Theo’s false hair. “What my dear?”

“You know what! You invited Theodora to dinner without even considering my opinion-” With a groan, Cain found himself rolling his eyes as he once did when he was a young vampire, “You like Theo- I did not think you would mind!” Cain turned and started back towards his closet to change. Behind him Dolra frowned and let out a scoff, “My personal preference on her is not the subject- the fact that you once again made a decision without my, your wife’s, opinion! We’re supposed to be a team Cain- a team!” Cain turned, holding a grey jacket in his hands, and looked at his wife with the most serious of faces, “Dolra- it’s a dinner, not a meeting to declare war!” Cain slammed the jacket back onto the rack, angrily searching through the rest. “I’m sure even if it was I wouldn’t find out about it until the damn gunshots filled the air!”

“What is wrong with you?”

“Me? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?! You told me right before you went to Tobus that once you settled matters with the High Lord; we would see each other more, yet I’ve seen less of you! Then the only time I do see you is either when you come to tell me some official news or to say goodnight. But you had more than enough time to go and buy those two little pets of yours, but not enough to join me for dinner thus leaving me with them, but you can go to Theodora’s and invite her to dinner and show up for her…Cain it’s…” With a small exhale, his wife closed the space between herself and Cain, reaching for him as she did. “It’s not just about all that… I miss you, you haven’t come to me for weeks and I miss you… your presence… the feelings I get from your touch.” She ran her fingers across his shoulder, trailing them along the back side of his neck before moving them back down. Sighing, Cain ran a hand through his hair before looking to his wife.

“I’m sorry, you’re right. You’re my wife, we’re a team and I haven’t been taking your opinion into consideration these past few days,” The look Dolra gave Cain had him changing his response, “weeks, weeks, and I’m sorry.”

“So you’ll come to me tonight?” Cain pulled his wife closer as she asked this and planted a light kiss on her forehead “Yes.” She closed her eyes, and gave him a small smile as he held her. “Now may I be allowed to get ready?” She opened her eyes, looking with a small slight look of disappointment before nodding her head. Giving him one final smile, she twirled from his arms and out of his closet.

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