Chapter 1 - Karissa
A high-pitched whine was the first thing to greet my ears as I started to regain consciousness. The light from the small, barred window was mostly blocked out by the form of a large dog. I blinked and tried to focus my eyes until the basement cell came into view. The cell was empty of anything except myself and a bucket.
A soft and low bark drew my attention back to the dog outside my window. I gave a small smile. When I first saw this dog, it reminded me of a character from a manga I had started reading and he almost instantly bonded to me.
“Hey, Ranga,” I said. “Looks like it could be another lazy day for me.” I winced as I tried turning over and felt my body protest. I didn’t have to look at myself to know I was littered with bruises, fractured and/or broken bones, and lacerations; I felt like someone put me through the ringer, which really wasn’t far from the truth.
I don’t know how long I’ve been locked away in this little cell. My hair has grown from just reaching the top of my shoulders to halfway down my back. I took as deep of a breath as I could and pushed myself up on the exhale. I gingerly made my way over to the window before I reached through and sunk my fingers into Ranga’s soft and fluffy coat.
“Akuma! Where are you, you mangy mutt?” I heard a kennel worker yell. Ranga gave a low growl.
“Hey now,” I said, scratching behind his ears. “I don’t like it either, but you have to be a good boy for me.” Ranga gave a huff and started to clean my arm. There were some muffled voices that made their way to us and made Ranga perk his head up. “No biting any visitors, Ranga. I doubt that they would come here.”
“Akuma!” Ranga huffed at the name once more. I always find it funny that they never think to check outside my cell window for him.
“You still need your breakfast, don’t you?” I asked him. “Go on, I’ll be okay. I’m just gonna rest for a bit more. You’re the goodest boi there is.” Ranga sighed, gave my arm one last lick, then belly crawled out from under the shrubs that blocked the view from the window. I let myself almost fall back to the floor; the pain had been building for a bit and once I reached the floor, it only took a few seconds before I slipped back into unconsciousness.
It was hot and humid the next time I woke up. I pulled my hair away from me as much as I could which did little to help. The heat had driven people inside to the air conditioning. I heard some rustling from the shrubs then a breeze started to come through my window. I sighed at the slight relief from the heat. Even though the wind was warm, it was drying the sweat that was accumulating and cooling me off that way.
There was a dull thud before Ranga gave a small bark and I heard his tail thumping. I managed to pull myself up once more, the heat and pain had zapped my energy and I could tell that I was dehydrated. I gave a smile when I saw Ranga’s front paws and face covered in dirt and a large bottle of water was resting against the bars of the window. Looking out I saw he had made a him-sized hole in the shrubs by breaking several branches and digging out some of the dirt. I grabbed the water and got it open with some effort. I took a large gulp and could feel the water make its way down my throat and throughout my body.
“Thanks, Ranga, good boy,” I told him, before sitting down across the cell so I could still feel the breeze as I slowly sipped the water. We have spent many afternoons like this, him laying outside my window and me going between talking while petting him or talking while sitting; sometimes I don’t talk for a while and just enjoy his company. Talking to Ranga has helped to keep me grounded and I think, mostly sane while I have been here.
Today is one of my quiet days as I think about how I first met the giant dog. The first week I was captured I learned that the people here were actual werewolves and thought that it would be funny to see the “female human” used as a practice dummy for the fighters. Of course, they didn’t realize that I knew how to fight myself, so by the time that a week had passed I had beat about half of their fighters. Apparently, me being a second-degree black belt and kicking butt of the brown belts and under wasn’t conducive to fighter morale.
After that happened, they sent me to the kennels on cleaning duty. I didn’t really mind though, I like dogs a lot better than most people, especially these people. It was there that I met Ranga. He was isolated from the rest of the dogs for being vicious and untrainable; they were keeping him for use as a stud dog because of his bloodlines. They had named him Akuma which means Demon in Japanese. According to the sign on his kennel he had only attacked people, mostly fighters who tried to force a bond with him, and he was fine with other dogs and animals.
The first couple of days he would growl at me in warning when I stopped in front of his kennel and I would toss him a treat that I had sneaked from the bin whenever he stopped for a second; I would then tell him that I thought he was a good boy because I didn’t like the other people here either. On the third day he just sat and watched me and I tossed him a couple of treats and told him he was the “bestest good boi.” The next day he actually stuck his nose through the door bars. I kneeled down in front of him and let him sniff and lick my hand. He gave out a happy yip and spun in circles and danced around. I gave a quiet laugh and re-named him Ranga. He seemed to like that name much better if the wildly wagging tail was any indication. I couldn’t have much interaction with him beyond the time I spent cleaning, but it was nice to be able to talk to him.
I only lasted two months in the kennels. One day the Kennel Master started yelling at me for working “too slow.” When I told him that I was working at the same pace that I always did, he hit me, sending me to the ground. Unfortunately for him, I was in view of Ranga’s kennel when the hit landed. Within the span of a few seconds, Ranga had escaped his kennel and had sunk his teeth into the Kennel Master’s arm.
Fear and panic had flooded through me. I couldn’t let this dog get hurt because of me. This dog that greeted me with kisses then would plop down with his tongue lulled out wanting belly rubs. I didn’t think about what would happen, I called out to him to stop. Everyone that had been running towards us froze with shock as Ranga released the man’s arm then stood over me protectively, growling at anyone who moved closer. I saw rage flash through the eyes of the Kennel Master and the Alpha who had showed up. Then, in a blur, Ranga and I were separated. I was thrown in here and Ranga was almost literally thrown back into his kennel.
Ranga found me the next day after I had been beaten by both the Alpha and the Kennel Master. They had been yelling at me for “stealing” Ranga away from them, that a filthy human like me didn’t deserve to be bonded to him, that Ranga was supposed to have been bonded to the Alpha’s son. He laid outside the little barred window whining softly until I talked to him and pet him as best I could.
I have been in here ever since. Ranga comes and lays outside the window to keep me company, stealing things he knows that I need like food and bottles of water or a blanket when it’s cold. I’m only brought out once a week, hands bound, and brought to a bathroom just across the corridor from my cell where several female werewolves are made to scrub my body, wash my hair, then rake a hairbrush through my hair pulling cruelly at the knots and snares; I’m then thrown back into my cell where it’s a fifty-fifty shot on whether or not the Doc shows up and gives me some sort of shot then leaves. I hate seeing that man. My body always feels awash in fire coursing through my veins. My screams echo off the concrete walls until my voice gives out.
The days became a haze and one blended into another as various pack officials took turns beating me and keeping me in a constant state of varying injury and pain so I couldn’t fight back easily, if at all.
My current state is thanks to the Alpha. He was drunk last night and was particularly vicious. Yelling nonsense about me trying to tempt the pack visitors into letting me out or trying to escape with them. He’s been spouting this more and more frequently and I still have no idea where he’s getting this nonsense.
“Fuuuck, that hurts,” I groaned as muscles pulled and joints ached as I stood and limped back to the window. I slipped the now empty water bottle back out to Ranga. “Thanks again, Ranga. I’m feeling a bit better now,” I told him, brushing some of the dried dirt off his face and paws. He grabbed the empty water bottle and walked away with it. I once more went to lay down in the breeze and nodded back off to sleep.
“You fucking bitch!” The drunken slur jolted me awake just before I felt a hand grab my hair and toss me into the far wall of the cell. My head smacked against the concrete wall and I saw stars flash across my vision. A fist hit across my left cheek and a knee went into my ribs. I felt a crack in my rib cage before a hand fisted my hair again and I went flying across to the other side of the cell. I was able to roll enough to minimize any extra damage, but what was already there sent white hot shooting spasms throughout my entire body. “Tell me how!” The Alpha yelled in my face.
“How what?” I asked, the words coming out in a wheeze. “I don’t know what you’re asking about.” He grabbed the front of my dress and pulled me up towards his face.
“You’re whoring yourself out to him, aren’t you, Slut. How many times have you spread your legs for him? Tell me!” I could smell the alcohol on his breath as I tried pushing him away, but my battered arms had no more strength left.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I said once more. He growled and roughly grabbed my left breast, his fingers digging in and leaving even more bruises as he pulled.
“You enticed him with these tits of yours, didn’t you? Gave him a peep show through your window?”
“I only talked to Ranga today,” I said. My breast was released and a slap landed across my face along with a backhand right after.
“That mutt’s name is Akuma, and he’s the only reason you’re still alive you worthless bitch.” I couldn’t help but smile slightly.
“What’s the matter, Alpha? Afraid of the big, bad Direwolf?” The Alpha’s eyes flashed and his fists and feet were hitting any part of me that they could. I was able to deflect a few, but more hit their mark than didn’t. Fuck, I just couldn’t keep a lid on my sarcastic mouth.
'Here lies Karissa Synger. She was sarcastic at the wrong time, but she made a good pun,’ I thought before a fist hit my temple one last time and sent me into darkness.
Fuck... everything hurts and something is licking me. I managed to crack one eye slightly open and saw Ranga laying right next to me. It felt like my body just moved on its own as my arm draped itself over Ranga.
“Shhh, Ranga. Sleepy time.” The words left my mouth without me meaning to speak them. My eye slipped back closed and Ranga started whining and barking right above my ear. Fuck that hurts my head. “Raaaaangaaaa, sleeeepyyy tiiime,” I whined. There was some scuffling, growling, and shouting behind me. At the moment, I really couldn’t care less about what was going on, I just wanted some fucking peace and quiet. Ranga kept whining and licking me, but at least whatever else was going on was finally calming down. I felt warm hands rolling me over and an unknown voice asking something.
“Sleepy time,” I tried saying, but I don’t think the actual words came out before I succumbed to the darkness once more.