Saturday, July 29, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Ten

Ky woke up in a cell with a collar around his neck and one hell of a headache.

There was water, a pitcher and a glass, and a bowl of something that smelled like chicken soup on the table at his bedside. Professor Nathaniel Clayborne, the man Ky stopped from killing Nila, and another man in uniform, were sitting in chairs outside the cell as though they had been waiting for him to awaken.

“Go slow,” Nat cautioned. “You have been sedated for three days. We just gave you something to bring you around. We fed you intravenously and kept you hydrated, but your stomach won’t be able to take much, hence the chicken soup.” Nat smiled and nodded toward the table as if it was normal to offer soup to someone you had darted, dragged away from their home and thrown into a cell.

Ky came to a sitting position and picked up the glass of water. He downed it without saying anything. The professor didn’t know his cast-iron stomach. He could have eaten a full-grown elk at this point. He felt like both sides of his belly had met at the middle - it was that empty.

He put down the glass and ran his hand over the collar on his neck. It felt like metal and he could find no seam or joint in it.

“I’m Riley,” the man introduced himself as he rose to come closer to the bars of the cell. “The reason you were kept asleep for so long was because we had to rush that collar into production.” He nodded at it. “It has several attributes you should be aware of in order to keep you from doing something silly, like thinking about escaping. It is not removable without a specific code, electronically sent to it. It has a GPS in it, so if you run, we can track you. It is equipped with sensors, which will activate a shock if you approach the bars of this cell. And lastly, it has a manual activation for our safety. You turn into that beast who held Dr. Clayborne again, or any other creature, without our permission, and I guarantee you… you will regret it.” Riley turned around and walked back to his seat. Once he was settled, he continued. “You are welcome to try it out if you like. I use a similar one for K-9 training, but I must admit this one has been boosted beyond what I would normally allow on my dogs.”

Ky didn’t move. He was not going to satisfy this group with any reaction. He was thinking and already planning. He picked up the bowl of soup and proceeded to drink it rather than spoon it down. His stomach growled at the intake of food, as minimal as it seemed.

“I am General Hawthorne,” the man in uniform spoke up. “You will be working with Dr. Clayborne and Officer Riley for the time being, but they are under my command and you will be seeing me often. I expect you to cooperate with the Professor and Sargent Riley. Your progress with them will be monitored. If you become too uncooperative, Office Riley tagged the female wolf you seemed so fond of… she can be retrieved… And, we will retrieve her if you need additional persuasion.”

Ky laid back down and stared up at the ceiling. This had the potential to be a lot worse than he imagined it was going to be.

Ky heard the General’s chair squeak as he rose and saw the man adjust his jacket out of his peripheral vision. “You have your orders, Clayborne. I expect results and not on your timeline… On mine,” the man emphasized.

“Yes… Of course, General,” Nat said as he followed him to the door. “I will hopefully have something for you very soon.”

“Don’t hope,” Hawthorne said. “Do!”

He left Nat standing at the door. The professor nodded at the guards stationed to either side of the entrance. The General was not taking any chances that the shape-shifter would escape this time. In fact, the collar had been his idea rather than Riley’s. In spite of what Riley said to Ky, Nat knew the man was reluctant to use a shock collar on their prisoner even if he had seen what Ky could shift into. He said putting a collar on a man was no better than slavery. The General pointed out that he didn’t think Ky classified as a man. At least not a human in the sense they knew humans. The general viewed the footage from the teams bodycams and he felt he knew what they had, and he knew what he wanted to do with Ky. He ordered Riley to give the parameters of the collar’s needed functions to the lab so they could manufacture one that would keep the shifter under control.

Nat turned back toward the cell. “We’re going to leave you to rest now. We’ll be back in the morning. There are things the General and I need to know.”

Ky didn’t even look toward Riley as he joined Nat at the door. “Bring a couple of steaks - shifting burns a lot of calories,” he said.

“Steak it is,” Nat promised. He hoped they had made their first positive connection.

*****

Ky sat on the edge of his bed fingering the collar. It was not tight, but it touched his neck all the way around. He wouldn’t be able to change into anything larger than himself, like a dragon or a Minotaur without risking choking. His immediate thought was to change into something smaller, like a weasel, raccoon or cat. He could slip out of the collar and through the bars of the cell. Then once on the other side, and free of the collar, he could change into something bigger and more formidable.

But first, he needed to get his bearings. He had no idea where he was. He hoped he was in the same building as the lab, but he would have to find out. For now, he would have to cooperate and see what he could do about getting his own needed information, while giving Dr. Clayborne as little as possible.

He stood up. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know how the collar operated, but he also felt he should know. He decided to approach the bars of his cell. Nothing happened until he got within a hands breadth away, then it was like a Manticore had stung him. Those Persian beasts with the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion packed a wallop. His knees buckled and he went down. He backed away from the bars and pulled himself up on his bunk once again.

He lay for a moment trying to steady his breathing and silence the buzzing the shock created throughout his body. Riley was right. He was not going to do anything silly like that again.


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