Tile upon tile sheathed the minds of those behind steel bars, their separated forms pacing in the echo chamber of turquoise. Stains of discharging wounds, frequented, like the tick of a clock against tension threatened by the cut of a knife. Silence amongst the cage when cameras and eyes searched through their guises. To garner attention was futile for those that cowered in the depths of their homes, whilst headstrong breeds growled and paced once they heard footfalls and creaks of the door that lead to the surface.
Like now, when lights shut on--bright and cold against their night-attuned retinas--some flinched, while others took to grumbling out their howls for freedom. Revenge, drowned out by the whirring echos of one another’s whispers. A presence unfamiliar scurried behind a man who frequented--the owner of their prison, a chieftain of criminals with bright, cruel, smiles and callous exhibitions.
While they and their sentries trekked past moon-faced, dirty souls, there was one pair of silver eyes watching from behind his own coop; fingers wrapped tight around the silver bars despite the growing itch, posture fixated on using the leverage as a way to rest his battered form.
A butt of a rifle vibrated both bars and threats amongst the chaos, silencing some, quieting others, but ultimately all seemed well to the officials after. Dominion established.
The owner turned to face the small woman, his stature and build outweighing her four to one, and he was keen to impose that on her with a towering, predatory grin. Below, under silver and black bangs and ebony, expressionless brows were lashes of the same black and silver, peppered like the brown freckles that flaked her dewy skin. Newness drew attention, ethereally baited curiosity, and realization enticed fear. Nor did he, or his brethren see a woman down in that warehouse bunker that wasn’t in chains like they were.
“I prefer fresher meat; some of your product looks.. spoiled.” a remark aloof, but business-like and cordial for the task at hand. Delicate heels tackled over the same back-room tiles that encased every droplet of blood and sweat from the beasts she surveyed. To the dismay of her caged observer, whose jail she merely passed by.
Beside him, she stopped; a different man in different rags, different eyes, and hair than he.
“You,” her neck bent, chin tilting up to adorn her newfound prize with a petulant-lipped smile. Fangs overfull, the pouty puff to her lower lip exerted whilst the angle of her heart-shaped face accented the blaring crimson of her doll-like eyes. They were pursed expectantly. It was the mark of her fangs that indicated that cool, level-headed, expressionlessness feature that only those who bled dust could bear. The opposed male stumbled to his feet, limping, before readying himself to speak to her.
“That one?” his own ego interjected. The chance to be rid of these walls, of these smells; he wasn’t sure what could hold him back from losing his tongue. Her head remained focused on what she chose the first time, but she didn’t speak, and neither did her chosen in his audacity.
“He’s got a broken leg.” curtly reminded, before straining his malnourished frame with tension. Swallowing his saliva, he’d comfort the oncoming pain he knew would reach him, and like clockwork, a baton modified with wires and silver steel thrust out purple-hot electricity that connected to his rib cage and shook him to his knees. The smoke that refracted off his burning clothes revealed scarred etching populating more than healthier tissue, just like the rest of the mutts in that horrifying distribution center.
Combating the silence were his groans, as even the wildest-eyed monsters behind those protective bars knew that the violence of a charge like that would make them endure a similar fate. The man would convulse, briefly, coughing up a small amount of yellow, bloody bile. An empty stomach, maybe a broken rib.
“This is what our organization emailed you about,” sharp, her snake-like response for what all thought would be his defense, “He has nothing to throw up in his system. You won’t get any of these filthy mutts in the hands of proper buyers in these conditions.” her gaze locked with the Overseer, then glazed over their lesser in unison.
“I frequent buyers! Your inexperience with my trade surprises me!” scoffed the well-fed man as he lumbered over to rattle the dog’s cage.
“Should be impressed that you blindly throw your opinion in my direction..” her rhetoric exuded dominance over the other in a way that only wolves could appreciate, but she seemed displeased enough to continue. “Given where both of us are standing.” Smoothing over her plum turtleneck sweater that tucked into a soft leather skirt and coated by a paired leather jacket, she lowered so that only the thin pantyhose and her little black heels were eye-level with the fallen man’s own.
“I’m not buying anything in this shack you call a warehouse. I want the best my family’s money can buy, and if I’m not happy..” her voice trailed off, lips pursed once more. A spoiled scoff retorted from her youthful lips, the opposite of the Overseer. “Well, I’m not exactly.. un-happy. Not yet.”
“I.. was merely insisting that keeping them in these cages is how we keep them in control. If you give any of them a little more than rest, then they become restless. It’s cheaper, efficient! Used by every auctioneer, I assure you.” the levy of money did seem to create a docile reaction from the Overseer.
“Numbers don’t interest me on your end, Cameron.” the femme stood once more, slow, before sweeping some of her red hair off her shoulder. A glint of silver adorned her nape, hidden by her attire, and soon her hair as it fell over her lithe shoulder once more. “What’s this one named?”
“We tag and number our product,” he gestured his right hand, and a scrawnier male scurried to hand over a dark clipboard. All the while, the very mutt they spoke about was returning to better consciousness. His groans had grown quiet, and he was pushing himself off the ground. The envy of others grew alongside the tension the auctioneer and the strange woman created, but still, not much more than the eerie backdrop of settling foundations and outside traffic filled the timeless void. “But without the chart, I can tell you that this specific dog is defective. He is useful if you plan on using him for the Undergrounds, but for daily companionship? It’s best to leave his collar on and his cages reinforced.”
“His name, Cameron.”
“030365. Twenty-seven, mixed, his mother had white fur and his father was silver. Pureblooded, vaccinated, and---I implore you to consider a different one. We have over five thousand in stock, he only acted out to secure another attempt to escape.” her brow lifted at that, turning to glance back into the slate-grey eyes of the lycan staring right back at her.
For a moment, the look they held shared an impossible knowing of yin and yang, nightcrawlers at war, and the wolves the losing party. Put in their places where they belonged, oppressed by the empowered boot of vampires, who dominate the globe above all.
Werewolves weren’t attractive to her, not typically, but underneath the grime of his living conditions. she could admire the masculine angle of his jaw and the way that it lead to his strong neck. If he were well fed, and properly trained, he seemed to possess the quality on the outside. She could make him fit the role she needed, and besides, he was only a pet. The warnings only encouraged wild self-attained trophies for taming a dog that was set to be euthanized.
“Crate him.” she turned on her heel then, breaking their eye contact and veering through the maze of cages they entered from. The Overseer was on her heel, spewing several reasons why she was too hasty in her choice, and left him to rise to his feet. The guards around him snickered, phrasing his luck in various derogatory goodbyes while they prepared his transport. Meanwhile, his fellow werewolf watched him through his own bars, scowling, hurt that his own kind would take away his chance to be free. 030365 met that disappointed gaze and rolled his shoulder as if to remind him that this was survival of the fittest. Whoever was bought, got a chance to smell fresh air. A chance to live. A chance to break free and find more than the bustle of neon lights and corporate vampires.
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