Warlands of Song

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Chapter Forty-Four: Glen

He should never have come. He’d made a horrible mistake. Eavan was right. Saige could take care of herself. But what about him? His transformation—if he could call it that—rendered him almost useless. Not only did he have no control over his newfound voice, but he could barely even access his Matter. He felt vulnerable and frightened for the first time in his life since joining the service. He flexed his hands, but nothing came to him. No matter how much he wiggled his two tongues in his mouth or took deep, even breaths, he was powerless. Now that the adrenaline had worn off, he found himself wishing for a savior.

Where was Saige? Had she managed to escape without him? Maybe she’d gone to look for him. Or maybe...

A pain shot through his side, and he pressed his lips together, ignoring the doctor who’d stabbed him with the needle.

“This is a very unfortunate situation, Comm—Glen. I never thought I would be doing this to you of all people.”

He kept his mouth shut, refusing to give the man an ounce of attention. But the man wasn’t looking for attention. He had a job to do. Hooking Glen up to wires and barbs seemed to be it.

“If it makes you feel better,” the man continued, “you’ll still be contributing to society. You’ll be helping us learn about your kind. What makes you tick. It’s going to be very interesting.”

Why did they care at all? All they wanted was to destroy Xinaan. It’s not as though they wanted more of them.

Another tube entered his thigh, and he smothered a groan. They hadn’t even given him anesthetic. Said that they weren’t sure how his “makeup” would react to the chemicals. As though they didn’t know good and well he’d been given such chemicals thousands of times before when he’d been injured.

The door opened and Chief Luther strode in to observe the proceedings. He didn’t speak to Glen at all, and Glen found himself getting riled up.

“So this is what my life will be? Until you all decide to get rid of me and replace me with the next unfortunate soul?”

Chief Luther didn’t bat an eyelash, pacing and looking him up and down.

“You brought this on yourself by not being upfront with us. And after you, we won’t need anyone else. We’re already close.”

“Close to what?”

The man didn’t answer, continuing to move around him in a slow circle.

“Now it makes sense,” the Chief said. “Why you and the girl were brought together. I have to admit, I thought you were going mad.”

You and me both.

But it really did make sense now. He and Saige had been brought together because of what they... were? No, that didn’t make sense. That made it seem like they were soul mates. But there was no such thing. They were brought together because... he’d never felt as though he belonged anywhere. Like something was missing. And Saige felt right. Saige was right.

He had to get back to her.

The Chief nodded to the doctor.

“Continue what you’re doing. But be careful. You know as well as I do what he’s capable of.”

“Yes sir.”

When the two of them were left alone, Glen watched carefully, everything the man was doing.

“If these tubes were to come out all at once, would it be enough to kill me?”

The doctor didn’t look like he’d answer at first, continuing to poke and prod, but at last he looked up. “No. So stop trying to kill yourself. You’re here until we’re done with you.”

“Then what?”

“Then you can kill yourself. Because you won’t be getting out of here.”

He nodded solemnly. That’s not why he was asking.

He was bound in all areas. Biceps, forearms, thighs, calves and ankles. But they’d left his head completely free. If only he could access his Matter...

He shut his eyes and even out his breathing, trying to reach it. It was still there, he knew. He could feel it, just out of his reach. All he had to do was get to it. Ignoring the pain of the needles and tubing, he calmed himself and shut everything out of his mind but his power. But despite his best efforts, images still flickered into his mind.

His daughter. His Lizzie. She was waiting for him to come home. His family wanted to see him. He’d denied them his presence for so long, but now he wanted to go back to them? When surely they would reject him because of what he was. Was there anyone in the world who wouldn’t reject him now?

Saige. She would accept him for who he was, because it was who she was too. But if he never escaped...

A burning sensation started at his side, but he ignored it. He kept breathing, and reaching. As deep as he could. It felt like a small ball in the very center of his being and if he could stretch just enough.

A fist smashed into his face, and his eyes flew open. The doctor stretched his fingers, face neutral.

“Whatever you’re doing, stop it. It’s not going to work.”

He was so shocked at the doctor’s audacity, he just stared as the man got to work again. Now silver pads were being applied to his entire body. He laughed.

“You’re brave. Not many would feel comfortable doing that. Especially with no guards in the room. And I don’t believe you’ve been cleared for combat, have you?”

The man didn’t answer, but there was a slight tick in the man’s forehead. His skin grew dewy with perspiration. Glen noticed it then. His ears. The doctor’s ears were missing the black dot used to protect from Siren voices. The buds had become part of the dress code, sure, but why would the doctor need them now? According to everyone, Saige was dead. And they didn’t expect he would know how to use his voice.

He didn’t. But that was besides the point.

This time he practiced silently, with his eyes open, trying to look as helpless as possible. The great thing about the other set of powers he had access too was that his eyes didn’t glow when he used them. Saige’s hadn’t anyway. He tried to whisper to himself, listening to the pitch, but got nothing. His two tongues were useless. There was something he was missing. What was he missing?

“Why are you helping them do this,” he asked, buying time and practicing at the same time. “You know who I am and what I’ve done. I haven’t changed.”

“Tell that to the men in the critical ward because of your little entrance,” the doctor said.

“But I was acting in self-defense. You don’t want to do this. You should let me out.”

Now he was outright ignored. He was no longer Commander Mykel. He was Glen Mykel. A civilian. He had no rights, no privileges, and no respect.

“You should take all these tubes out,” he tried again. “I could be allergic.”

“That would be a shame, wouldn’t it,” the doctor droned in a dead voice.

But Glen wasn’t listening. Something was bubbling up in his chest. It felt like vomit, but different. He tried to burp, wondering if it was just gas. But it wasn’t. He didn’t like it.

“This isn’t going to help anyone,” he said. “You’re playing right into their plans—”

“I’m doing my job.”

No, there was definitely something happening.

“I have a family. A daughter. She wants to see me.”

“She wants the man you used to be. Not this freak you are now.”

The bubbling intensified.

“I’m no freak.”

His voice sounded strange.

“You’re a mistake. You shouldn’t exist.”

It felt like steam was coming out of his throat from the pits of his stomach. The next time he spoke, his voice was deeper, and sounded like dozens of church bells joined together as one. The doctor was so into his spiel about crap he didn’t even understand, the man didn’t notice. So Glen continued to speak, without being heard, tuning his voice to what he felt was right in his heart. What he felt would work. Then he reached the right pitch. He knew it as soon as the doctor stopped talking and stared at him, a dazed look in his eye.

The man quickly snapped out of it though.

“What are you doing?”

“You’re going to let me out of here. You will take all of these wires and tubes out of me and every single machine you hooked up to me, you’re going to destroy. Do you understand?”

His voice wavered at the end, and the man shook his head slowly, as though he was in a tank of molasses. So Glen steeled himself and spoke again. Slower.

“You are going to release me from these machines and destroy them. Then you will forget you ever saw me today, and I’ll leave. Do you understand?”

“I understand.”

Then, as though by magic, the man began to release him. One wire at a time, one tube at a time, one electric pad at a time. Then the bonds were cut with a blade and Glen stood. Every muscle in his body ached from his ordeal, but adrenaline and pride overpowered the other emotions.

He stepped toward the door, looking to see if the doctor would acknowledge him or try to stop him. But the man was busy taking a hammer to the machines, not even glancing in his direction.

So he left, grabbing a lab coat from the closet on his way out to cover his nudity. This time soldiers were waiting for him. But this time he didn’t care.

He told them to get out of his way, and they parted like he was a pariah. He told them to forget about him. They never looked back.

But then he reached a figure who wouldn’t obey his orders.

“You won’t be leaving this base, Glen,” Chief Luther said. “Not alive.”

He knew better than to spend time talking with the man. So he instead ran toward him and lunged. The man didn’t move, but he smacked into a wall of what felt like concrete. Though there was nothing there. He jerked back, rubbing his nose, and looked at the blank space before him. He reached out to touch it, and his hand touched a hard, rough material.

“What is this—”

“We knew that you would escape. We needed to know what you were capable of. If you would attempt to harm anyone.”

“I didn’t.”

“But you did use your voice. You learned quickly. And that is something that cannot be tolerated.”

“Learning? Well that’s telling, isn’t it?”

The man’s expression turned pained.

“I don’t think you understand. I tried to get them to spare you. I tried to make them see that you were the best we’ve ever had. The best I’ve ever trained. But now you’ve gone and ruined that for yourself. They’ll no longer believe a word I say.”

“I’m still the best you’ve ever trained. But now I’m even better.”

“That’s not how they feel.”

“I don’t give a flying—”

“Glen, it’s the end of the line. I’ve given you too many chances. I was biased, I won’t lie. I wanted you to help us—”

“Help you what, exactly? Give you the key to my DNA so you can what?”

“So we could help others like you! We could make them accepted. More desirable to the people once they saw what you can do. What you’re capable of.”

“No, because if that’s all you wanted, you could’ve told me that. You could’ve told us that. Me and Saige. But instead you go off and take her and lie to her because you’re hiding something. Your explanation is bull. Don’t you think I believe that for one second.”

The man nodded. “You were always smarter than the others. Didn’t take any crap. That’s why I wanted you to live through this.”

“As your test-tube bunny.”

“As our only link to a people we don’t understand. A race who could wipe out the entire planet if they wanted to. Doesn’t matter that they’re 1% of the rest of us. Of my kind. Your kind can do far more damage. We’ve seen that throughout history.”

“Throughout history the only thing that has caused warring and separation, is the way you’ve treated us.”

“Us. So you’ve already accepted what you are.”

“Why shouldn’t I? That’s what I am after all.”

“I was afraid that would happen. I’d hoped...”

“That I would deny it and hate myself. That I would bend. Break. But now you know I won’t so you’re going to kill me.”

They stared at one another in silence for a long while before Chief Luther nodded.

“Yes.”

The air in front of him rippled and morphed. The edges where the invisible wall met the visible walls turned black and something underneath his feet rumbled. He moved back in alarm, only to find his back pressed against another invisible wall. He was trapped. Something shot out of the floor and ceiling. Two metal arms that held two needles. He barely saw them, barely felt them, as they sunk into spots on his neck. But without warning his knees buckled and he fell to the floor.

His lungs constricted, and he gasped for breath. His veins felt like they were engorging and slithering through his body. Through his neck and face. He could feel his muscles contracting of their own accord, trying to fight the poison rushing through his veins. He gasped, until his air ran out, and he fell over. As his cheek pressed against the cool floor and his vision blurred, he listened to his heartbeat. It was slowing, very quickly. He was dying.

Was Saige dying too? If they’d predicted what he would do, they’d predicted what she would do also. But she had Eavan on her side. He’d been instructed to pull back. But he hadn’t. For Saige.

He shut his eyes. It wasn’t as though he could see anymore anyway. Saige had to have made it out. She was so smart, so powerful. She made it. She had to. She would live another day.

But his was over.

He felt air meet his body again. The walls must’ve come down. Hands lifted him and turned him onto his back. He could no longer see, but he felt the hand rest on his chest.

“Rest assured that I will never train another soldier as strong as you,” Chief Luther said, his voice emotionless.

No. He would rest assured that the man had, in fact, trained another soldier as strong as him. By appointing him as Saige’s S.O, he’d taught her everything he knew and she’d surpassed him, whether she knew it or not. She would be just fine on her own.

Her face flickered in his mind one last time. Her beautiful smile and even more beautiful soul. She would avenge him.

He rested in peace.

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