This weeks prompt is to be inspired by the word Pretty.
I had planned on bringing you another excerpt from my F/F story, Luck of the Cowgirl, but another full weekend of Harry Potter movies and other assorted time constraints led to that not happening. Instead, I’m bringing you an excerpt from my co-authored WIP, Escaping Humanity.
This is mid-story so there is a lot you missed, and so I’ll try to short-hand it for you. The Exceptionals are mutants, created by a multi-government plan to build super-soldiers. When it failed, General Steele started war against the “Infected” as he calls them and a propaganda campaign against them, many battles later the world is a vastly different place. This is a Dystopian Urban Fantasy with a probabilty of becoming a series. 🙂
In this scene, Lynx has returned to Steele’s compound, the place she was raised after she’d been stolen from her parents who were told she was dead. Lynx was told worse lies…but fast forward some years later and she’d returned to Steele’s compound to save her now-kidnapped parents.
I know, clear as mud, right? Anyway, Lynx has decided that after all the bad things she did in her past as Steele’s “daughter”, she has a lot of karma to pay back and is willing to sacrifice everything, including herself, to save her parents and get them away from Steele…and she just might have to.
Lynx forced out her mother’s voice and rose. There was no way she’d fail in this mission. Steele forgot one very important thing.
She’d grown up in this compound, but more importantly, Steele had raised her as his ultimate weapon. Her intense, brutal training made her the best. While he’d searched for ways to create super-soldiers under the guise of destroying the threat he’d created—he’d grown his own little super-soldier in the package that was Lynx herself.
Worst of all, for him, she knew all the ins and outs of his organization. In the end the so-called military would suffer a huge blow. Roark and Talisa would be free to return home and save Annie.
Everyone would win.
If this proved to be her last mission, it would be the best damn mission she’d ever run. The best executed and the only one she’d ever done for the right cause, the right reasons, to save the right people.
If she did it right, Steele would be dead along with a chunk of his military.
“Lynx, my dear.” Steele’s smile was warm as she entered his office. “Thank you for not killing my men. Talisa and Roark actually made improvements with their latest experiment. My project is finally seeing the progress we’d always dreamed of.”
Lynx forced forward a bright smile. She could kill him right there and then, but he had safeguards in place that would mean instant death for her parents. First she had to play his game until he let her close enough to disable those mechanisms. “Good to know. Curious they were together like that, though. I thought for sure you’d never allow such a thing.”
“Oh, that. Talisa had a heart attack or some nonsense. She’s too weak to do much of anything right now. Also, it can’t be said that I’m heartless. I suppose a couple of hours once a year is allowable.” Steele smirked. “They can consider it incentive to do well. I might let them see each other again.”
“So you’re done pursuing Talisa as your own personal genetics factory and bedmate?” She picked up a gun from his large display of weaponry. All of them were empty of ammo, but she pretended to admire the new addition to his collection, wishing it could be so easy as one bullet.
“She’s been too disagreeable this time. Pretty as she is, I don’t care for such attitude. Having this disease has really changed her.”
Disease. She tried not to curl her lip over the fact he still called their mutations a disease, or his levels of denial that anything changed her mother but her losses. The genetic alterations only made her stronger. Steele would never change, though. The fact that he and military leaders from all around the world were the cause of this ‘disease’ didn’t matter to him, he only wanted it eradicated because he wanted to control the super humans, not be defeated by them. “You’ll still let me remain infected, won’t you Poppa?”
It was a good thing he couldn’t see her face, because this time she did grimace at calling him Poppa again. He chuckled behind her. “I’m not insane, Lynx. You are the best soldier I’ve ever had. So long as you remain loyal to me, you’ll stay just as you are.”
“Good to know.”
“On that note.”
Lynx’s stomach did a sickening flop. A lifetime in the man’s presence left her familiar with every nuance of every tone of his voice. She knew what he was thinking before he said it, and while she’d expected as much, it didn’t make it easier to face. He wouldn’t trust her, not yet. She’d have to endure a test of faith first. “What sort of test are you throwing at me, Poppa?”
“You should pluralize that. You’ve been out of the fold a long time, my dear. Who knows what they’ve brainwashed you to believe.” One firm hand planted on her shoulder. “You’ve endured these tests before. It should be no trouble this time.
Lynx couldn’t deny the scream of Talisa in her mind, proving she hadn’t truly shoved her mother all the way out. Of course, her own grief and guilt over what Steele’s plans would mean to her life, her husband, and how much she would betray her own wedding vows. She had to focus on the end game. “Of course, Poppa.”
“That’s my girl. I have a few new toys to play with you, but first you can go visit your old friend. He’ll be thrilled to see you again. You both did so well mixing business and pleasure.” Steele’s smile when he turned her around was cold and hard as his moniker. “Once you’ve adjusted back to our way of life I’ll be able to send you on your first mission.”
Lynx nodded and pulled away. After a brief glance toward her parents labs below, she left the office. There was no point in delaying the inevitable. Maybe in the end her ‘friend’ would be able to help her.
Chaz had been as warped as her when she’d left. There’d been seven more years since for Steele to warp him further. Unlike her, Chaz was treated like an actual animal. To Steele, he was no more than a tool and a way to get money. Chaz was regularly sold off to rich benefactors for hunting, or for women to play with in their own sick way.
First, she would have to deal with the animal. Perhaps then she could get through to the human she knew lived underneath. That meant doing something she hadn’t done since she’d met Danny, she’d have to let another man abuse her. If there’d been any doubt before, it was a sealed deal now. Danny would never forgive her.
Outside the door to Chaz’s quarters stood two guards. She waved them off. Last thing she needed now was an audience.
The door slid open at a touch of the keypad. Humidity wafted over her, and birds chirped somewhere inside. Her sharp ears picked up other animals scurrying and slipping through the foliage and trees of the jungle Steele had created in the room. If she hadn’t known its purpose, she might have called the scene before her pretty.
Instead, it was a sick elaborate cage for an Exceptional that deserved far better. Of course, that particular Exceptional didn’t know it, and had been conditioned to not think like most humans. After a few deep breaths to brace herself, she stepped into the woods.
The path to Chaz’s cage had become overgrown. Since the war it was probably difficult to find the wealthy individuals that had once fueled Chaz’s purpose as money-bait. It seemed the war had spared Chaz from some of his worst duties.
That also meant he’d been penned in for a very long time. Which meant the upcoming reinitiation could be very painful as Chaz would likely have little control over his animal instincts, as if he ever had.
“Chaz?” Lynx crept over the large log that held his cage. “Cheetah?”
A low growl greeted her, feline and nasty as hell.
“Cheetah, it’s me. It’s Lynx.” She dropped down in front of the cage. Yellow eyes glowed from inside. She was surprised to find her hand shaking as she reached for the lock. The code was complex, which bought her a few more minutes. “Cheetah.”
“You left.” It was a snarl, difficult to understand. Of course, his use of English had never been great, but based on those two words it might have devolved some.
“I had a mission. He sent me away. I’m here now. Maybe together we can get out.”
He growled low again. “Let me out.”
“I am.” Lynx hovered over the last number. “Cheetah. Remember, I’m your friend.”
“You always help.”
She swallowed against the uncharacteristic fear of what that meant. After pushing down the fear as she’d been trained, she hit the last button. She stumbled away from the cage.
A flash of pain triggered her mutation.
Soon it would be over.
Then he would listen.
He had to.
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