Fandom (is so, include details) or Non Fandom?: Non Fandom (ie. Original)
Chapter Number: Ten
Word Count: 2,452 Words
Rating: M (due to language & adult content... not entirely sure where this thing is going)
Summary: In 1692 a group of witches sacrificed their powers to prevent death. Almost 3.5 centuries later, these powers have befallen new generations. Those that would be heroes are lost. It is up to those who are left behind to save themselves & the world they're in.
Author's Notes: dun dun dun (in case you don't notice - there's been a bit of a time leap)
A consistent whirring sounded in the background, just behind her left ear. She was only slightly aware of it – a sound that was not instantly familiar to her. Ice cold water dowsed her skin, bringing her back to consciousness in a startling instant. She spat, trying to shake the wet strings of hair from her face as her eyes opened. All around her was equipment she had not seen before, in a room she did not recognize. Computer screens to her left showed a graph, one green line bouncing up and down on the screen in succession to the pulsing of her heart. Just behind her she could feel a soft gust of air, seemingly being generated from the site of the whirring. She tried to move but found herself restrained to the chair – waist, chest, legs wound together at the base and immersed in a tub of lukewarm water. The chair was uncomfortably hard and even shifting position could make it no better. Her hands were useless, bound in double shackles before her face, her fists still balled from the shock of the water. A chain ran from the centre of the shackles up to the roof which seemed to be several feet above her, so lost in darkness she could not see where it ended. Her elbows were bent but it allowed her no leverage in her position, the shackles fastened so tightly that she could not even turn her wrists. Her hands tingled and her triceps were sore, indicating she had been in this position for some time without being aware. She could barely recollect what she had been doing leading up to this moment. She heard the sound of metal clank against the floor and turned her head in the direction of the noise.
“Hello, Mercy,” the man said. Dark-skinned, tall and well built, there was no mistaking who the man was. He was the governing leader of all the Phoenix. And he struck fear into the very core of her heart as he made his presence known. She pulled at her arms but had no result. “You’ve put us in quite a predicament here.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied, watching him cautiously as he circled her. The leader smiled.
“Allow me to jog your memory. You’ve been with us how long now?”
“I don’t know,” she said. A volt of electricity ran through her body and she cried out in both surprise and pain while Abe observed her calmly off to one side.
“You’re probably not familiar with our new technology. Currently you’re bound by high amplitude electrical wiring embedded within poly-synthetic material. It doesn’t take too kindly to water,” he explained. “Now, why don’t you think before you open your mouth?”
This time she paused, taking the time to assemble the dates within her mind. Even before she provided an answer, she was still unsure how correct she would be. “Nearly thirteen years.”
“Very good,” Abe responded. “And in that thirteen years I would hope that you have learnt something.”
“Yes?” she said. She struggled to maintain her composure as various muscles spasmed within her body, trying to readjust to their normal state after the jolt to her somatic nervous system.
“Alliance with the Phoenix is your number one priority. Deception is not permitted,” Abe listed. “Abandonment is not permitted. Compliance is a must.”
“I recognize that.”
“I don’t think you do, Mercy. You, like your father before you, are guilty of treason.”
“I have always aligned my faith with the Phoenix,” Mercy responded. Flashes of her father’s murder crossed her mind, initiating a deeper fear that she was about to suffer the same fate.
“Yes, but the question is which Phoenix? I’ve noticed you’ve become far too close with Daniel Larkin.”
“He’s my partner.”
“Your skills don’t require you partnering. And you know I’m not speaking in a professional sense.”
She fought her restraints once again, not eager to remain the toy of the coven leader or to submit to discussions of a personal nature. The Phoenix, however, were skilled in the art of capture, torture and death. She would not have an easy time trying to escape. Her restraints refused to give, her arms too tired to lift, her pinkie fingers the only thing close enough to grip the chain. She yanked her arms once more in frustration, the cuffs chaffing her wrists.
“What business is it of yours?” she yelled, unable to keep her emotions in check.
“You’re a student of mine. So is he. You share a close bond, yet you’ve been reluctant in assisting us with his recovery,” Abe said. “How long has he been gone, Mercy?”
“Six months,” she answered.
“Do you know where he is?” Abe queried further.
She remained silent, unwilling to give his location away. She knew no matter how hard they searched they would not find Danny. She also knew that Abe was expecting her to answer.
“Not here,” she responded. Bracing herself for the next shock, she was surprised when it didn’t come. She heard the leader’s footsteps move to the other side. Her eyes followed, anticipating what was to happen next.
“It saddens me, Mercy, that your loyalty lies with a fugitive. You force my hand on this matter. As you are unwilling to verbally comply, we will just have to take this from you,” Abe said. His hand turned a dial, passing over a sensor. He turned and leant back against the table, taking in the contents of the area and her position within it. “Everything in this room is experimental, but you are an encouraging subject.”
A white light blinked on against the wall, a screen that had been hidden in darkness now casting a glow across one side of the room. It was perfectly positioned to be viewed from the chair, and also from the place where the Phoenix leader now stood. Mercy did not understand at first, not until her head was gripped and pulled back, sharp points digging into her temples. Purple lasers descended over her cranium like a visor being pulled down on a helmet, momentarily blinding her. And then came the searing pain as the points drilled through cartilage and bone until they reached her brain.
“Come, child. Don’t complain. You’ve asked for this,” Abe said, his deep voice piercing through her screams of anguish. His gaze crossing to the screen he saw the first images come up, those that were being ripped and read from her subconscious. This new technology he found had allowed them to resurface repressed memories, a device which was currently making its way through a number of mental institutions across the country. There was blood, a lot of blood, and a number of violent memories which would have traumatized any child. His irritation grew as she recounted events of old that involved everyone but the one man he was searching for. “Stop shielding Daniel Larkin,” he commanded.
Like a flash the name triggered the first memories of her fiancé - their first encounter as teenagers in the medical waiting room, the mission at nineteen where he had risked his own life to shield her from a powerful warlock. Abe witnessed everything that Mercy remembered about Daniel Larkin - their most intimate moments, the times they had fought, the sweeter moments with words that held all importance, the instant he had given her an engagement ring, and finally their last goodbye as Mercy told the Phoenix to place his ring under her pillow and she would come. It still did not reveal the details of his whereabouts, but the scene struck Abe with a masterful idea.
Mercy’s head lolled to the side as he removed the contraption from her. Catching the side of her face with one palm, he tapped her cheek with the other. She was mentally exhausted, he knew that. He also knew she would barely have enough energy left to remain conscious. But he needed her awake and aware to hear his next few words.
“I will let you rest, but for this you must promise me one thing,” he said. Her eyes opened, barely able to adjust to fix on his. “You will get to live, but only if you complete your next mission. You bear the intel that we lack. Therefore your next target will be Daniel Larkin.”
Elbows on the desk, Stephen drew his fingers across his eyes as he listened intently to the voice on the other end of the phone.
“No, Michael. There’s no sign of him yet,” Stephen answered. “Yes, I know you’re worried. He’s my nephew. I’m concerned too. Claire, put that down!”
The blonde looked at him, turning the letter opener over in her hand before driving it with some force into the wooden edge of the table. Stephen’s eyes darkened as he gave her a look of warning before returning to his phone conversation.
“Michael, listen. You’ve called me everyday and I still can’t give you any answers. He’s not a priority anymore. We’ve got other cases to work! They’re not going to expend any more men looking for a kid who ran off six months ago. Be happy you’ve actually still got a son who’s behaving himself for a change.”
Claire waved both hands back towards the door, indicating she could leave. Pointing a finger at her forcefully, Stephen pointed downwards, silently instructing her to sit on a chair instead.
“Yes, I’ll keep looking for him. But we’ve got no leads. He didn’t even leave a note! Just think about the evidence. The chief thinks this is a standard case of a runaway and we shouldn’t be wasting our time on it.” He paused, his gaze lifting to Claire as he chose his next few words very carefully. “Yes I know there are very bad people out there who might want to take him, but my resources in that area have also come up dry.”
Claire leaned forward, placing her arms on the other side of the desk and mouthing: “Who’s that?”
“Look, I have to go. I have a problem child sitting in front of me who doesn’t know how to be anything but annoying,” Stephen said. Placing the phone back on the receiver he watched as she settled back in the chair.
“You know, you’re not my psychologist,” Claire said.
“No, but for the next hour or two I’m your babysitter,” Stephen retaliated.
Claire shrugged. “Not my fault my parents are too busy with their ‘careers’ to come fetch me.”
“You do realize you’re old enough to stop blaming everything on your parents.”
“Then I’m old enough to check myself outta here,” she said, rising from the chair.
“No. Sit,” Stephen instructed. She reluctantly obeyed. “You need to be signed out by an outside party who’ll take responsibility for your negligence.”
“Your attitude, Claire. You can’t just go and graffiti town buildings whenever you feel like it.”
“How about non-town buildings?” she asked satirically.
“Not the point,” Stephen stated. “Why do I have to keep hauling you in here for this?”
“Cause you miss my sarcastic wit?” she returned.
“No,” Stephen disagreed. “Cause you keep doing this.”
She shrugged again. “I was bored.”
“Bored?” he questioned. “Don’t you have anything better to do with your spare time?”
“What about your friends?”
“They’re all busy being paired off or superstars or whatever. You know Chris took off, right?”
“I do. We’re still trying to find him,” Stephen said. He thought for a moment, wondering why she brought it up. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”
“What do I look like, his confidant?” she replied. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. She turned her head vehemently, hair flying across her shoulders, bangles jangling as she raised her arms. “No! No I don’t know what happened to him! You’re not pinning me for conspiracy to… run away or whatever it is on top of this.”
“Okay,” Stephen conceded.
“If you ask me it was probably his fucking family that drove him away. He never got any appreciation from that lot.”
“Need I mention I’m family?” Stephen asked.
“Detective sergeant Colliver?” a dowdy overweight man asked, tapping on the doorway. “You asked me to retrieve my daughter?”
“Yes, Mr Hooper, of course,” Stephen said, rising from the desk and moving to shake hands with the man. “Claire has been brought in on charges of property vandalism again.”
“Shouldn’t you be keeping an eye on this?” Claire’s father returned.
“Well, sir, if you just spoke to your daughter—”
“For each property she defaces, the market value goes down. I would have thought this police force would be doing a better job of monitoring our streets and suburbs to ensure the better safety of our citizens. You need to be keeping people like her in line, not allowing them to rotate in and out with a revolving door policy. You make my job that much harder for not taking your own seriously.”
“I assure you, we are doing the best we can at our low level capacity.”
“It’s no wonder so many people get slain or go missing in this town,” Mr Hooper sneered. He grabbed Claire by the arm, yanking her out of the chair. “C’mon, Claire.”
“Ow, dad!” she protested.
“Get in the car,” he ordered, shoving her towards the front door. He turned back to Stephen, pointing an accusing finger at him. “Believe me, the town council will hear about how you’re wasting their dollars at the next community meeting.”
Rubbing a hand across his forehead, Stephen smacked his palm down on the front counter, pivoting and heading back into his office, kicking the door closed behind him. With both magical and non-magical pressures to his job, he knew he was suffering more than most. Claire’s father was only helping to make him shoulder more of the blame of every wrong-doing in Woodcroft, whether they had been able to prevent it or not. Little did the mortal man know that a number of those deaths he spoke of were caused by supernatural activity, and there were not enough good witches around to prevent such a thing happening. He was the only witch he knew of on the force, and one man could not deal with every incident out there.
Emptying two migraine tablets into his hand, he tossed them into his mouth, raising the glass of water to his lips and swallowing them down. He didn’t know what else he could do to find Christian, but he knew he had a mound of paperwork to finish before he could get back out onto the streets again.