Keel stepped into the darkened hall first. His entire body was on high alert. Every sense was open and ready to help him and Violet survive this mission.
The smell of chemicals was much stronger inside. It burned his nose, and his eyes watered. No wonder the guards wanted to get outside.
Shaking it off, Keel focused on his other senses. There were sounds from every direction. Machines wired to the left, cages rattled, with small, frightened animals crying in a room further down the hall. He picked up on faint voices speaking, but he couldn’t understand what they were saying.
They paused by the first doo and keel turned to Violet.
“Do you know where Spot is? In which room?”
She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them and shook her head. “He’s passed out again. But I think he’s further down, closer to the end.”
“Alright. We move quickly, but quietly,” He tilted his head to the side, taking in the sounds from behind the first door.
All he heard was the faint hum of a machine, and nothing else.
“Let’s go.” He nodded to her, fighting with his instincts to pick her up and run like hell with her away from the danger. To make sure his mate is safe, then return here and find Spot.
But not only would Violet never forgive him if he did that, he needed her. She may be small, and female, but she was brave, fierce, and deadly when it called for it.
Moving with silent steps, they edged their way closer to the end of the hall. Each door they passed, Keel paused to listen inside.
So far, he hadn’t heard any of the guards speaking. If they were very lucky, they would find Spot and free him, and get out before anyone found them. They had no idea how many people were here. Now that they suspected there were tunnels leading to the city, there could be an army waiting for them.
Violet paused by one of the doors and pressed a hand to it. He watched as her face twisted in pain, but she didn’t make a sound.
When her eyes opened, he reached out and wiped away the small tear that had slipped out.
“He’s in here.” She whispered.
He nodded and gently tried to open the door. They weren’t the heavy metal doors he’d seen on the outside. These doors were old, simple wood, with ancient, rudimentary locks.
The handle clicked, but didn’t open.
Grabbing Violet gently by the arm, he pulled her back. He positioned himself a short distance away and braced.
“Once I do this, they will know we are here. Be ready to fight, little mate.”
She gave him a wicked grin filled with gory anticipation. “Let ’em come,” She twirled her daggers in her hands, “I have a hankering to kick some serious ass.”
He smiled, “Alright,” With that, he lifted one booted foot and kicked out. The door splintered and crashed to the ground inside the room.
Noise assaulted his hearing as dozens of various creatures began howling, chirping, screaming and barking in fear.
They both darted in, scanning the darkened room for any sign of Spot.
“There!” Violet called, rushing over to a large cage mounted to the back wall.
They ran over to it, his heart racing and his mind counting down the seconds it would take someone to get here if they heard the noise.
They both skidded to a stop when they saw Spot laying curled on his side, his long legs laying limp and unmoving. To Keel’s utter horror, he spotted the small stump of where one of his six legs had once been.
“Spot?” Violet asked, her voice trembling as she gripped the gace.
“Spot, baby, it’s me. It’s Violet. Wake up, honey. It’s time to go home.”
Spot rolled his head to the side, his usually bright white eyes were a dull shade of winter grey.
As Violet spoke to the creature, Keel examined the cage. It was made of old, thick metal bars built into the walls, floor and ceiling. It would be impossible to get them out without large construction bots or explosives. Next, he examined the lock on the cage door. Even though everything in this building was old, the lock looked new and state of the art.
He dropped to his knees, wincing at the loud sounds all around him, and looked at the lock closer. Then everything happened at once.
Spot hissed, his large body going tense and he stood on shaky legs. Violet cried out, her body convulsing as it hit the floor beside him. He only had a second to register what had happened, when his own body was flooded with agonizing bolts of electricity, making him crumple to the floor as his body jerked and spasmed uncontrollably.
Before he lost consciousness, he heard two males speaking, followed by a female voice ordered them to lock the intruders up.
When Keel woke, his entire body ached. Every muscle burned like fire, his chest tight and his head pounding.
He groaned, rolling his head to the side and eased open his eyes. The first thing he saw was bars. Thick, solid metal bars between him and the rest of a large, strike white lab.
Rolling slowly into a sitting position, he found that he was on a narrow cot inside a small cell. He scanned the space for Violet, but he was alone.
Stumbling to his feet, Keel moved to the bars and looked out. He spotted Violet and his heart sank. All his pain and weakness was forgotten as he took in her limp form strapped to a large metal chair.
There was all kinds of equipment he didn’t recognise around her, with long black wires extending from a dome cap over her head to one of the larger machines to the side.
Her arms and legs were strapped down with thick metal restraints, and she had what looked like a mouth guard between her lips.
“Violet!” He cried, shaking the bars with all the strength he could muster, but it was no use. This part of the building looked newer, with much stronger reinforced cells.
“Violet! Wake up!”
“Hush!” A female voice hissed from the cell beside him. Keel stuck his face into the bars, trying to see who was there.
He caught a glimpse of a female crouching down beside unmoving, long, black legs.
“Spot? What are you doing to them?”
The female fussed with something for a few moments more, before she stood and left the cell. The bars clanked closed behind her, then she turned to face him.
“There,” She smiled coldly at him, “Now we can begin.”
“Who are you? What have you done to Violet?”
“Fear not, warrior, she is alive. She will wake soon.”
“Let her go,” He snarled, his arms burning as he tried to force open the cage door.
The female laughed, shaking her head as she went over to Violet.
“No! Don’t you touch her.”
“Oh, stop,” She groaned, “I’m not doing anything to her. Not yet.”
“What do you want from her?”
“I want to know how it is she can control the Spinner. I saw her communicating with it mentally, and I want to know how.”
“And Spot? What did you do to him?”
The female turned, “You gave that beast a name? What is wrong with you?”
He narrowed his eyes. “That beast is a beloved pet and friend to your king. You will pay for hurting him. But if you touch Violet, I will rip you apart with my bare hands.”
“Yes, Yes,” She mumbled distractedly.
Keel pushed at the cage door again, but all he managed to do was pull a muscle in his arm. With a furious snarl, he kicked the bars and stepped back, rolling his shoulder.
He stood helplessly in his prison, holding onto the bars as he watched the female doctor turn on one of the machines.
From the cage beside him, Spot began to shuttle, a low, pained whine flowing to Keel’s ears. A moment later, he saw Spot’s long legs slip out from between the bars, as though reaching for Violet.
“Easy, Spot. She’s alright for now.” He said in a soft voice. Spot whimpered again, one of his legs bending until it slipped between two bars at Keel’s feet.
Bending, he gently ran his hand over the smooth, warm scales, comforting the injured creature as best he could.
He had to think. They needed to find a way out of this situation. Just looking at Violet, in danger and out of his reach, had Keel’s rage at a near boiling point.
When the door to the lab opened, three large males came in. They all had the same bored, tired look on their faces.
“What took you so long!” The doctor barked, her voice a high pitched scratch that made all of them wince.
“We found Wanok’s and Gruk’s bodies in the jungle. They were half eaten.”
“Stupid males,” The doctor mumbled under breath, “Cant rely on you to do anything right. Get over there and make sure that Spinner behaves himself. Use the sting rods again if you have to.”
The three males picked up long, black poles and came to stand by the bars to Spot’s cage.
The long leg drew back, circling around the stone wall between him and Spot until it was out of sight.
“Now. Let us begin.” The doctor called, flicking on a smaller machine right beside Violet’s head.
Violet jerked awake, her eyes wide as she groaned.
“Violet!” Keel called. She blinked, scanning the room until she found him. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the cages. She fought against the metal restraints around her arms and legs, but they held firmly.
“What the hell is going on?” She called, looking into Spot’s cage.
“Violet,” The doctor said, moving to stand beside her, “Give the beast a command.”
“Go fuck yourself, lady.” Violet snapped back, glaring at the female.
“I do not know this word you use. Give the beast a command. Now.”
“Kiss my ass… You understand that one? How about-”
Before she could finish, the doctor pressed something on one of the screens and Violet screamed. Her back arched, her entire body jerking.
“No!” Keel roared, “Stop!”
The doctor pressed the button again and Violet sagged in the bed, panting heavily.
“Do as I ask and I won’t cause you pain.”
Violet gasped for breath, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“Must I shock you again?”
“No,” Violet breathed, “No… Just… Just give me a minute.”
“Do it, human, I have very little patience.”
“Okay, okay, chill. Just let my brain come out of the live wire haze you just put me in.”
The doctor sighed, crossing her arms over her chest as she stared at Violet, waiting.
Violet rolled her head from side to side, her eyes open into slits.
Keel was about to lose his mind. He had to go to her, to protect her. To stop her from being hurt.
Kicking at the bars again, Keel was rewarded with a sharp jolt of pain in his side. He fell to the ground with a hoarse cry, his right side on fire with pain. Looking up, he saw one of the guards holding the rob through the bars, the end of it flashing in a bright white light.
He glared at the male. That one, he will take his time in killing.
“Give the command, Violet.”
He looked over at his mate, his heart tearing in two at the sight of her pain filled eyes looking back at him.
He gave her a small smile and a nod to tell her he was alright. She shook her head and mouthed, ‘I’m sorry’.
“Perhaps electricity is not working,” The doctor mumbled, “Very well, let us try something different. Tutos, come here.”
One of the males standing by Spot’s cage went over to the doctor, his bulky frame blocking Violet from Keel’s view.
The doctor turned to face him, a cold, uncaring look on her face.
“Beat the female until she does as asked. I will be in my office monitoring the equipment from there. Oh, and Tutos… don’t kill her.”