Chance drove up to the gates of the Blackwater Ranch. There wasn't anything unusual about the place, it just looked and smelled like a ranch. Besides, of course, the disturbing shadows running in the tree line following the car.
"Wow. They build them big out here, don't they?" The ranch house itself was impressively large, at least to Kehpri. From the driveway, she could see at least two barns, as well as a silo.
"Most people in the US won't eat the beef. But people in Canada, Europe, and Japan spend huge amounts of money on importing it."
Kehpri started to say something then paused and peered closer to a line of trees. "Umm, is there something following us?" She wasn't sure about it, but she could have sworn there had been something there.
"Uh, yeah, I spotted them as soon as we hit their property. The entire family is Were's, although they have a weird genetic quirk. About 2% of the children born to werewolf parents are unable to shift. Which works out, I guess. on full moon nights these non-shifters make sure nobody goes and snacks on the cattle."
"Two percent?" That was strange indeed, and the scientist from Kehpri's past perked up with interest. Grimly reminding herself that her days of research were over with, Kehpri shook her head. "Anyway, I forgot to ask, how many people are in this family that we're having dinner with?"
"A lot, they are their own pack, really. But I think we're only having dinner with Gibbon's and his wife...eh...I think her name is Jessica, Jasmine, or something like that."
"Oh, ok." That sounded good. She wasn't sure if she was ready for a dinner with a huge number of people after her months of self-exile. Her personal skills at the best of times weren't that great.
The sky was ablaze with the setting sun, and along the gravel road a few motion detector lights came on, highlighting the main house.
The air had that sweet smell of cut grass and the usual smells from the nearby barns. As soon as she stepped out of the car when they stopped near the side of the house, Kehpri closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, savoring the smell. "It's nice here. How long have you been partners?" she asked, even though she knew the answer to that question.
"When did we meet?" Chance countered, her hackles rising slightly as she sensed a few Weres out of sight watching them.
"That recently?" Kehpri blinked in surprise, turning to face the dark-haired woman. "You okay?" she inquired, noticing her expression.
"Yeah, he's a good kid. God it feels like forever since I was that green." She stepped behind Kehpri, putting a hand on the woman's hip.
Raising an eyebrow at the non-response, Kehpri let Chance direct them towards the door of the house, wondering what was going on that had Chance tense.
The door opened and Gibbons looked out. "Hey, you're here." He stepped out onto the porch.
"Hey, nice place," Kehpri made a vague motion to the house and the surrounding buildings. "Hadn't figured you for a cowboy though," she grinned.
Gibbons laughed, "Oh, I'm not. Born and bred in LA…city kid."
"Thank God. At least that makes two of us." She bumped Chance with her shoulder as they climbed the steps.
"Is the security always so tight for dinner?" Chance tried to joke it off, but her voice was still somewhat strained.
"What?" Gibbons blinked and looked out. "Justine’s family is always out patrolling. It’s hard to have a successful business around cattle with all the skinwalkers around."
That was a point that Kehpri hadn't thought about. This place must be a tempting target for any lone wolf out there on the full moon. She could understand their willingness to keep a close eye on anybody they didn't know nearby. "Come on, Tex," she patted Chance on the arm, "stop getting all territorial."
"Wha...I'm not being territorial," she grumped, but let Kephri lead her into the house.
"If you had hackles, they'd be raised right now," Kehpri whispered as they followed Gibbons inside. She had to bite her tongue to keep from even grinning at the expression on the dark-haired agent's face. "Don't worry, it’s cute."
Chance just smiled and pinched her ass.
Kehpri yelped in surprise.
The home was nice, southwest art and warm paint on the wall.
Gibbons paused and looked back at the two women.
"Sorry, I umm...tripped on the door step," Kehpri awkwardly explained. And when he had turned away, she tried to elbow Chance in the side.
Chuckling, Chance moved out of the way of the elbow.
"If you want to have a seat, I'll check on the wife and get you some drinks. Wine, ok?” He brought them to the living room.
Chance flopped down and looked around. "How many folks live out here?"
"Wine sounds good." It had been a long time since Kehpri had enjoyed a nice glass. She took a seat, a bit slower, next to Chance on the couch.
"Uh, there's about forty running around. There's a couple of ranch hand bunk buildings, and a few actual shotgun houses like this. One glass of wine coming up… Chance, anything?"
"Um, wine too."
Kehpri watched him go with a slight frown. There was something just a little odd going on here. She shook her head and turned to look at Chance. "Any other large compounds like this out here? No wonder the government gets twitchy when they talk about the Reservation."
"Zoya hates them too. She's trying to unify the packs and the Blackwaters keep telling her to fuck off. They're happy raising cattle and living their lives."
"Someone telling the mighty Zoya to fuck off? That must really rile her up." Kehpri had not forgotten or forgiven Chance's sister for what she had pieced together had happened between them.
Chance snickered. "Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes she's too uppity for her own good."
"Sooo…why did your partner, of only a couple weeks, just suddenly decide to have you over for dinner?" She wasn't too sure what was bothering her, but something was making Kehpri a bit puzzled.
"Probably because his wife wants to meet his new female partner and make sure I'm not encroaching on her territory." Chance looked over and Kehpri ran a finger over the top of the woman's slightly smaller hands.
That made sense, and Kehpri relaxed with a smile. "Good thing you’re taken so she won't have to worry," she bantered back.
Chance laughed, "Why, Ms. Wyland, are you marking some territory?"
The other woman blushed a little. "I wouldn't dream of it," she murmured, glad for Gibbon's return before the discussion got into any more potentially embarrassing areas.
Gibbons returned, with his hands full of wine and food, a handsome looking woman following behind him. She had a defiant Native American appearance, her long, black hair braided, and Chance had to admit they made a lovely couple.
Chance accepted the drinks, handing one to Kehpri.
"Thank you." Kehpri was on her very best behavior, feeling a little like the scruffy kid who had just been invited in to play at a rich relative’s.
"Justine, this is Chance and her..." he stumbled for a minute, "girlfriend, ah, Kephri?"
Smiling, Kehpri shrugged, "sure, girlfriend works. You could also say..." she paused, wincing as she mentally edited the words 'sex toy' out of what she was about to say. She really shouldn't be allowed to deal with people. "Umm...good friend," she finished instead, lamely.
Justine rolled her eyes. "Being from LA, he sure can be a conservative stick in the mud.”
Gibbons huffed a little and Justine patted his ass. “But you are cute.”
Kehpri laughed and got up, offering her hand to the other woman. “Good to meet you. I’m Kehpri.” She motioned to the taller woman, who was smirking at her partner. "That's Chance."
Chance waved, "Nice to meet you."
"Do you want any help with anything?" Kehpri offered, feeling strangely on edge in this pleasant house. It wasn't even the fact that a clan of Were's called the place home.
Justine shook the offered hand, "Nice to meet you both. No, everything’s done."
She sat down. "We're going to eat in here, it’s a little more relaxed and it’s less likely my brothers will sneak in and try to join us. They're a little grumpy Zoya's sister is here."
Chance glared at Gibbons. "Why did you invite me if it was going to cause issues?"
The only man in the room looked flustered. "‘Cause I wanted to show off my home and my amazing wife."
Justine laughed quietly. "Good answer, honey."
"Oh, good points there, Gibbons." Kehpri grinned. "We'll have to work on your answers, Chance."
"My answers? What did I say?" Chance looked puzzled, trying to figure out when she had been an ass.
She didn't have to look at the other woman to feel the look she was getting. "How many brothers do you have?"
Justine looked sympathetically at Kehpri before switching her gaze to her husband, who was about to sit himself. "You need to go get the appetizers, there, mister."
He paused, and looked at her on the off chance she was kidding. With a sigh, he went to the kitchen.
She smiled at Kehpri. "I have four brothers, one sister, and ten cousins. They all work on the ranch."
"They all have houses here?" Chance blurted out, wondering how big this ranch was.
"Most of them… The boys aren't married, so they share the bunk house." She smiled up at her husband as he brought in the shrimp and crab cakes.
"I didn't want to overwhelm you with beef, so I thought we'd start with a little seafood."
That still made for quite a few houses, and Kehpri, again, increased her estimate of how big the ranch was. "Thank you, it looks delicious." Kehpri's mouth was watering at the sight of them.
Dinner was a fun affair. Justine was witty, and funny, and Gibbons had a good sense of humor to be the butt of most of his wife's jokes.
As Gibbon's cleared off the coffee table, he looked at Chance. "Can I borrow Chance for a moment? I have some work things I need to go over with her."
Chance frowned and looked at Kehpri.
Still laughing from the story that Justine had just finished telling about her days as a teenager working on the ranch, Kehpri just waved at Chance. "Go, be adults, talk work things."
"Okay," Chance said with a suffering sigh, and followed her partner into the kitchen.
"Want a beer?" Her partner went over to the large stainless-steel fridge.
"No, I've had enough wine. Water's fine." She leaned up against a counter.
Gibbons helped himself to a beer and tossed a bottle of water to her. "Chance, how well do you know your girlfriend?" he asked, taking a swig of beer, eyes never leaving her face.
Chance twisted off the top. "I know her biblically. Not that it’s any of your business."
"Not what I meant. How well do you know her? You know where she comes from? What her past is?" He leaned against the other counter top, casually.
"I…she doesn't talk about it. What is this about? I thought you wanted to talk about work stuff."
He had to shake his head to get the image of Chance and Kehpri biblically involved out of his mind. "It is. This army spook came in with a warrant for her. She's apparently a wanted terrorist by agencies so top secret he couldn't tell us about them."
"What?" Chance sucked in some water down the wrong pipe.
He waited for the coughing to subside, serious. "She's a wanted fugitive, Chance. I wanted to tell you first, as a sign of respect, before I arrest her and bring her in."
"What? No!" She started pacing. She had known, known, Kehpri was lying to her, or at least keeping things from her.
"Let me see the file."
"There is no file. They wouldn't give us one. It's a warrant." He withdrew the heavily blacked-out piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it to show her. "It's national security, Chance. We have to hand her over."
"This is for Tyler Madison. Her name is Kehpri Wyland."
Silently, he pulled out a photograph and slid it across to her. "It's her, Chance. She lied to you about her name." He was tactful enough not to add on, like she lied to you about everything else.
Chance didn't want to look at the photo, but she did, and felt her entire world crumble.
"No, no, no." It was Kehpri...Tyler. She hid her face in her hands for a moment to get herself back together.
He looked away, uncomfortable with the obvious pain in his partner's eyes. "I'm sorry, Chance."
"I've never felt happier and more settled than these past few weeks. And I seriously hate you as much as I've ever hated anybody, right now."
Gibbons nodded, still not meeting her eyes. "I'm sorry," he repeated. "I really am. I wish I wasn't the one to tell you." God how he wished he could just sweep this under his desk somewhere, but his sense of loyalty and duty wouldn't let him. "They're accusing her of doing some awful things, Chance."
"Like what?" she yelled.
He cast a nervous look towards the door, but when his wife didn't emerge from the living room, he relaxed a little. "Murder…treason…sedition. They say they've been looking for her for a long time."
Chance went silent, her jaw clenched stubbornly.
After a while, she looked at him. "Give me twenty-four hours. That's all I ask. And I'll bring her in myself. And if I don't, you can bring us both in. I promise."
"Chance..." He paused, sighing at the stubborn look on his partner's face. That had been the look she wore when they barged into the church without backup. "Twenty four hours. Then I have to tell them about her."
"Thanks." She got up and rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment, before letting it drop.
"I mean it, Chance." Gibbons straightened up, frowning. "Twenty four hours and then I'll have to report her or try to take her in myself."
"I think we'll leave now." Her face was tight, trying so hard to keep emotion at bay.
He nodded, slowly. He had kept the news until the end of dinner for a reason, although he had expected to be arresting someone by now. "Be careful, Chance. If they're right, she's a murderer."
She walked past him back out into the living room. Pausing, she looked at Kehpri and the odd thought came to her. She looks more like a Tyler.
"Ah…hey...I think we'll be going. You're husband gave me some bad news, and well, I'm not feeling very much like good company." Well, it wasn't a lie.
"Oh, all right." Kehpri frowned, worriedly, and stood up. The expression on Chance's face, the look in her eyes, spoke of something very bad having happened. A shiver of uncertainty ran up the brunette’s spine as she forced a smile and gave Justine a hug.
"Thank you for having us over."
Justine looked uncertain. "Well, that was a shitty thing for him to do. Invite you over and then be a jerk. I'm going to give him a piece of my mind. You two drive safe. It was nice to meet you both."
Chance nodded, but she was already easing for the door, fingering her car keys.
Waving goodbye to the confused looking hostess, Kehpri had to hurry to keep up with the taller woman as she stalked towards her car. "Hey, hold up, are we in a rush?" She jogged.
"Ye... no... I just want to get away from here, or I might punch Gibbons." Her shoulders slumped. What the hell was she doing?
"Was he being a jerk?" Kehpri frowned, sliding into the passenger side of the car, looking confused. "I thought he seemed like a nice guy."
"He just set up a nice evening to give me crappy news." She started the car and peeled off down the gravel road.
"Well, at least it was a nice dinner." Kehpri tried a smile, which faded when she got nothing but a stony look from the FBI agent. "Okay, so it was really bad news."
Her jaw was clenched, tight. She knew she needed to say something, start peeling back the layers of lies Tyler had woven. But she really didn't believe for a moment Tyler had done even half the horrible things listed. Or maybe she was just being naïve.
As they took a turn faster than was probably completely safe, the woman in the passenger seat grabbed onto the ‘oh shit’ bar and hung on. Giving Chance a wide-eyed look, she winced as they bounced along the road, "Chance, where are we going?"
"My apartment, I need to get some stuff."
Her knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
"Okay." Kehpri kept her hand wrapped around the bar, alternating between watching Chance and the road, worriedly. She wanted to ask what Gibbons had told her, but that little kernel of fear kept her silent.
Finally, Chance had to say something, anything, or she'd blow. "Did you care about me at all? Or was everything, everything a lie...Tyler."
Tyler opened her mouth; eyes wide, as that kernel of fear blossomed, filling her with dread. For a very brief instant she considered trying to toss herself out of the car door. It would be a painful way to go, but it would get her out of the car. "I… Who?" she stumbled, shocked.
"Apparently Homeland Security knows you're here, somewhere, and has come to the local FBI looking for help. Gibbons recognized your picture. Quite the rap sheet you have going on. Guess it was a fun game fucking with the naïve FBI agent." She took another corner fast, and through luck or skill, they stayed on the road.
"It wasn't like that!" Tyler yelped, clutching to the bar as they fishtailed. "Slow down! Jesus you're going to get us killed." …Which actually, wasn't as appealing as she would have thought, considering the current subject. "I didn't do anything! They framed me."
She knew it sounded paranoid.
"If I had a dollar for every time I heard that," Chance muttered, but she did slow down.
"I'm not lying." It didn't sound very convincing to Tyler either.
"I really liked you." She barked out a bitter laugh, and focused on the road as they hit the town limits.
"Goddamn it, Chance, will you listen to me? I didn't get involved with you because you're an FBI agent. Well, I met you because you were. Fuck, I'm not explaining this right." Tyler was flustered, confused, she hadn't expected this right now.
Chance looked over. "I'm listening. I've always been ready to listen, to whatever caused your nightmares. But you never talked to me, so stop asking me to listen if you aren't going to say anything."
That hurt, and Tyler looked away, well aware that Chance was right. She had avoided the truth. "Ha, like I could tell you anything? You're an FBI agent; you'd have to haul me in. Besides, I didn't dare dream we'd actually get involved."
"Well, were pretty fucking involved now. We're you ever going to tell me anything that was true?"
"What we’ve had for the past few days…that was true." She hesitated. "I didn't know if we'd have enough time for me to tell you everything."
Chance pulled into her parking spot and got out of the car. She went around the car and opened Tyler's door. "Come on, Tyler, let’s go water Tree."
"Is that code for arresting me?" Tyler got out slowly, eyeing Chance worriedly.
Chance rolled her eyes. "I might if you don't start telling me what the fuck is going on." She grabbed tightly on to Tyler's arm and started upstairs.
"Hey, ouch, come on, that hurts." Tyler got dragged along, protesting, scrubbing a hand angrily across her eyes to wipe away the moisture there.
Chance unlocked her door and pushed the woman inside, shutting the door behind her. She looked at Tyler angry, "Talk. Stop evading and talk to me."
"And what…you'll believe me?" Kehpri rubbed her arm, facing the other woman from across the living room. She didn't want to tell Chance about what had happened. Didn't want to admit to what she'd been involved in. To think that only a few hours ago they'd been making love in her trailer.
Chance sighed and rubbed her head then stepped forward, lightly touching Tyler's face. "No, you need to believe in me. Trust me. I know you're not a terrorist or a murderer. If I thought you were, do you seriously think I'd bring you to my house? I'd have your ass in lock up."
The kindness was the last thing that Tyler had expected. It very nearly undid her and she jerked her head to the side, clenching her eyes closed to stop any sign of tears. She took a deep breath. "Maybe you should arrest me. I helped people do bad, evil, things."
"Starting at the beginning is sometimes best. So what did you do and how did you help people do mean, evil things?" Chance asked.
"You're not going to believe me," Tyler muttered, rubbing her hand through her hair. "I was a MD scientist, was going to change the world, you know?" She laughed, bitterly. "I thought I was, at first. Then things changed." Tyler paced, knowing she was dancing around the issue, skirting it.
"What changed?" she asked watching the other woman pace.
"I got security clearance." The other woman stopped, closing her eyes as some of the images raced back. "Friends of mine showed me what they were doing with my research. What they'd done to people, to Were's. They'd made monsters."
Chance blew out a breath. This was a little more than she was expecting. "So you were a scientist working with the government to make monsters...out of Weres?"
"No. That's not what it was for!" Tyler whirled, eyes blazing. "We were going to cure diseases! Make people heal. Don't you see how much good it could have done?" She stopped, the intenseness suddenly leaving her, and the still thin woman seemed to shrink even more into herself. "But they wanted something else. Soldiers, I guess. I don't know. But they used the serum before it was ready. It turned people into..." she shuddered, remembering the human eyes looking back at her out of faces that were neither animal nor human, "into monsters."
"I-I-I..." She was still confused. "I'm having a hard time following."
"It doesn't matter. They found me." She paused then looked up. "But I can still stop Miller."
"What does Miller have to do with anything?"
"She's working for them." Tyler smiled, sadly. "She always has, I guess, probably why she took the position out here in the first place."
"You can't stop Miller. Are you nuts! You need to get out of here. I don't understand what’s going on. I do know the government is looking for you. Gibbons gave me twenty-four hours, then he and everybody else is going to come looking for you." She got up and went to her room. In the closet, she pulled down a locked case and dialed the numbers to pop the case lid.
She pulled the lid open and pulled out a small, unregistered handgun then went to her bed and crouching down, grabbed something. Taped under her bed was a plastic bag of cash.
"Chance..." Tyler followed along behind her, frowning as she took in the pistol and the bag of cash. "What are you doing?" This didn't look like placing her under arrest.
Standing up, she handed the bag to Tyler. "I think there's like 200 dollars in there." She shrugged "Beer money."
"Chance…what are you doing?" She didn't understand, didn't dare hope.
"The gun is unregistered, so they can't trace it. Take it, the cash, and my car. You just drive and keep driving. I'll think of something."
"You're just letting me go?" Tyler stood there, looking lost and uncertain. A part of her had been almost relieved that the long days of running were finally over. "They'll blame you."
"They will, but Zoya will protect me."
"You don't understand. Bob won't just blame you. He'll destroy you for letting me go. He did things to Tim, and he killed MaryAnn." It hurt…the memories of what happened still hurt. She'd tried to bury them so deep she would never think of them again, but now, she'd actually said their names and the memories were impossible to ignore.
"Again Zoya…as long as I never leave the Reservation, I'll be fine. She'll..." She went silent. "You need to go."
"Why? What is it?" She grabbed the pistol and bag of money though.
"We're wasting time, you need to get going. I'll try and sow chaos, so you have more time." She blinked and looked at Tyler, realizing that they were probably never going to see each other again.
The brunette stayed where she was, realizing the same thing. The smile she gave the other woman was full of as much emotion as she could manage. "The last few days have been the best time of my life, no matter what name I used."
"I…same here…" She smiled then frowned as she saw the red dot on Tyler's stomach. "Shit!" She tackled Tyler as the glass on her balcony door shattered.
Blood sprayed out from her back as the bullet slammed into her.
Tyler screamed in surprise as she went tumbling to the ground, Chance, a solid weight on top of her. She tried to push and drag them out of the way of the balcony doors, afraid of what would come through them next. "You're bleeding." She pressed against the wound, feeling blood well up from it. "Chance, we have to run, both of us!"
Chance rolled over, groaning. "Shit. I'm going to fucking hit Gibbons, the little bastard lied to me."
"Gibbons?" Tyler tried to put pressure on the wound. "You think he'd lie about giving you time?"
"Who else knew about you? Well, knew you and I were together?" she hissed out between clenched teeth. "I think it’s lodged next to my spine."
"Can you feel your legs?" Tyler asked doing her best not to sound panicked. There wasn't much she could do to help in the middle of the agent's apartment…maybe if she had her full kit, but that was back at the trailer.
"No... yeah I can. Cause it hurts like a son of a bitch." She crawled to her hands and needs. "We need to get moving."
"You’re bleeding, with a bullet next to your spine! We can't move you!" Tyler yelled, eyeing her incredulously, and raising just a bit too high from the floor. A bullet blew apart one of the framed photographs on the nearby wall, and the brunette hit the floor again so quickly she grunted.
Chance started crawling, toward the door. "Come on. We are dead ducks in here."
Cursing and swearing under her breath, Tyler followed the bloody trial across the floor after Chance. "Can we get to your car?"
"I hope so…or at hotwire somebody else’s." She grabbed the doorknob and pulled herself up.
"You're bleeding a lot," Tyler said, worriedly, helping Chance to stand upright and holding onto her when the taller woman swayed. "We have to get you to a hospital."
"Zoya's, we'll go to Zoya's. She'll have a doctor," Chance replied, opening the door. She froze, staring out the door, "Halstead?"
"I'm a fucking doctor, why do we need another..." Tyler paused, seeing the man outside in the hallway with the rather impressive looking gun aimed at Chance's midsection.
Her fellow agent stood outside her door on the landing, gun in hand. "Consorting with a known terrorist, Super Agent? Guess you thought I'd be too drunk to remember your girlfriend there. Like I'd forget that rack," he leered at Tyler.
Tyler had the instant urge to try and shoot the man, even started to gauge her chances of raising the pistol Chance had given her without getting killed. "Oh, look, it's the idiot redneck from the bar. Hope you had fun getting thrown out of it."
While he was staring, Chance lunged and slapped the gun out of his hand and punched him.
If there had been any doubt if Chance was merely human, those would have been dispelled by that display. Nobody shot by a high-powered rifle should have been able to lunge like that, or punch the FBI agent hard enough to send him back into the wall.
Tyler smiled, tightly, and without much amusement, raised her gun and pointed it at the suddenly disarmed Agent Halstead. "Be a good boy and get on your knees, now."
Halstead covered his bleeding nose and blinked from Chance to the other woman. "You're not going to get away. The military is here with me; they're here for your little fuck-buddy," he snarled out, but slowly got to his knees.
Tyler wavered, eyes widening and taking a step backwards. "They're here?" she whispered, feeling the familiar terror starting. They had to go, go fast…run as far as they could, as quickly as they could.
Halstead saw the gun waver off him, and he surged up his left hand, releasing the silver hunting knife he always carried in case of problems taking in a Were. Chance grabbed him and they fought for the knife. "Tyler, run."
The doctor wavered, eyes flicking to the door at the end of the hallway. Everything in her, everything that had kept her alive for a year on the run, screamed at her to go. She couldn't just leave Chance though. Turning her back on the door, she raised the gun, aiming at the man. "I'm not leaving with you." She tightened her finger on the trigger, swearing when she couldn't get a shot without hitting Chance.
Halstead blocked Chance and hit her squarely in the back. She cried out in pain. He brought the knife up, stabbing at her head. She blocked, but they fought back and forth, the knife scraping against her forehead, cutting a small, bloody furrow. "Seriously, Tyler, if you don't run now, I have a bad feeling you're never getting away."
"How fucking touching… Why don't you just give up and die, Chance? They're going to lock you up and throw away the key, and you know how well federal agents do in prison."
"And just leave you with psycho man?" Tyler asked incredulously, trying to figure out how to get a shot at the bastard without hitting Chance.
Halstead had leverage and the silver blade lowered, slicing into her eye. Chance screamed. Halstead stood over Chance, trying to force the knife in deeper through the soft tissue into the brain.
"Just shoot him!" Chance screamed.
Now that they weren't moving much, Tyler reacted to the scream and pulled the trigger, wincing and closing her eyes as she did so. The bullet missed Halstead's head, which she had been aiming for, but hit him squarely in the shoulder. The bullet blew through the joint and out the back. The knife dropped from suddenly numb hands, and he screamed, a high-pitched sound that went on and on as he clutched at the ruined shoulder.
Chance slumped backwards. "Shit. He's fucking stronger than he looks."
"You're eye..." Tyler was pale, her hand shaking as she tried not to look at the blood sprayed across the wall or the man still shrieking in pain.
Chance kicked out, hitting the screaming man in the face until he stopped screaming.
"You don't need to tell me. It’s probably as bad as it feels." She held a hand over her ruined eye.
Lights flashed in the window, and distantly, they could both hear the sound of a helicopter getting closer now that Halstead wasn't screaming anymore. "We have to go, can you keep going?" Tyler tucked away the gun, moving to help Chance.
"I really don't have a choice." She held up a hand. "Help me up."
Tyler grabbed the blood-slicked hand and helped her up, trying to get them moving towards the door and the stairs down to the parking lot. "Just a little longer…we'll get there," she promised, worried about how much blood Chance was losing.
They stumbled down the stairs to the apartment parking lot. Only to be met by several serious looking people in camouflaged military clothing.
"Wow, that camo is just not working. I can clearly see them, they aren't hidden at all," Chance quipped, feeling kind of floaty at the moment.
"Stay where you are!" a voice over a loudspeaker from further back called, and Tyler stopped, holding onto Chance. "Hi, Bob," she yelled back, glancing right then left to see how bad the situation was. It was really bad.
"We're boned, aren't we?" Chance whispered. Her head wobbled around as she tried to track everything with her one good eye.
"It's not good," she agreed, listening as orders were being shouted from place to place ahead of them. "It's really not good." She took a step in front of the bleeding woman. "Can you get back into the building?" she whispered, shielding her eyes from the bright light.
"Why would I do that? I think you should hand me the gun and start running."
"Shut up. I can't outrun these guys. You can. Go get help, will you? Zoya and her band of misfits would be great." She gave the other woman a small shove.
Chance staggered a bit, and looked back for a second, wondering how she was going to sprint with a bullet in her back. Vaguely, she was aware at someone shouting at them to get down on the ground. She held up her hands then started running.
"Get down! Get down on the ground!" A warning shot sprang off the door next to Chance's head.
Tyler tried to get in the way of the swarm of military personnel who sprinted after the fleeing woman. For her troubles, she got a tazer to the stomach, which hurt a lot more than she expected.
Digging deep, Chance pushed herself to keep going and go faster. Car windows shattered as bullets slammed into them.
"Get her! I want her alive!" the person behind the loudspeaker yelled, clearly furious.
"Shot clear, taking it," a voice over the radio of the man standing over Tyler came. There was no sound, but Chance spun and went down as a bullet slammed into her chest.
"Target terminated," the radio clicked then went silent.
"Alive! I said alive, you idiot," Bob cursed, tossing the megaphone aside. Cursing, the Colonel moved over to the still twitching Tyler. "Dr. Madison, how good to see you again," he smiled, thinly. "Take her to the facility. We have to finish wrapping this up."
Two men ran up, their boot heels sound loud on the cement. "Sir, the other target is gone. We went to retrieve the body and she'd slipped away."
"Incompetent idiots," the colonel muttered, shaking his head and turning his back on the two. There would be time to make certain they were punished for their idiocy later. For now, he needed every pair of hands he had. When they had dragged the still spasming doctor into one of the waiting SUVs, he motioned to the nearest soldier. "Get Dr. Miller. Escort her to the base. She should be there for this."
He got into the lead SUV, slamming the door shut. They pulled away from the apartment complex, accelerating off into the desert.
Chance burst through Zoya's front door, not really concerned with knocking. Her shirt was heavy and soggy with blood. Terri came shuffling out of the kitchen, her face and hands dusted with flour.
"Hello?" She paused blinking. "Oh my, let me get a doctor for you, Ms. Chance."
"No, I'll be fine, where's Zoya?"
"Zoya's indisposed," another voice came from up the stairs. It wasn't unfriendly, but more like forced neutrality. "Let Terri call the doctor for you."
Chance looked up, where the voice was coming from. The woman wasn't as tall as her and Zoya, but she had a presence. Her skin was black, not black like African-American black; no, it was charred black, like trees after a forest fire or lightening strike. The eyes staring back at her were indifferent, caramel colored, and her hair was short, curling just under her ears.
"I need to see Zoya, my bullet holes can wait." Her chin set at a stubborn angle, she started up the stairs. The woman didn't move. Chance wavered a bit as she got closer, but kept walking. The woman was even more impressive as she got closer. The nose had been broken and reset wrong, and there were fine, pale scar lines on one side of her face.
Chance kept walking all the time, expecting the woman to try and stop her. But to her surprise, the woman did nothing, only turned and followed as she made her way to Zoya's office and shoved the door open.
"Zoya..." She would have been embarrassed if the rest of her evening hadn't been so shitty. As it was, the military had shot her and stolen her girlfriend, for whatever nefarious thing they were plotting. "Could you put it in your pants for a second?" she said in exasperation.
Zoya looked up from the cute blonde she was fucking on her desk with a sigh. "Damn it, Chance, could you come back... Oh fuck! What happened?" She pushed away from the desk and struggled for a moment with her pants. "Uh...get dressed and get out," she said absently to the woman on the desk.
The dark woman came in as well, and flopped down on the sofa with a small quirk to her lips.
Zoya got her pants zipped and with a sigh grabbed the slowly dressing woman by the arm and all but threw her and her clothes out the door and shut it. She turned, brushing pale blonde hair out of her face, frowning at the woman at the couch. "Could you at least call the doctor?"
"Done," the woman said with a stretch.
Zoya frowned, "Could you even pretend to show me a little respect."
"When you do something worth respecting, I'll let you know."
Chance had to chuckle a little at that. She eased down into an overstuffed chair and sat down. "Where did you get her?"
"I won her in a card game. I'm seriously wondering if it was an even match to the 20,000 euros I put in," the leader of the Reservation Weres said, glowering as she crossed from the door to her desk. "Chance, this is my new Second-in-Command Bones, Bones, my sister Chance."
The black woman waved.
"Zoya, you can't win people in card games. That's not remotely legal," Chance said, hopeful Zoya was joking.
"You're right, she is a fucking boy scout," the woman remarked.
"It’s legal to win anything in Nightshade. But can we not focus on my gambling issues and instead focus on why you are bleeding on my new highly expensive leather chair."
"The military shot me and stole Tyler."
Both women went very still.
"Who's Tyler?" the two women asked at the same time.
"Tyler my girlfriend..."
"Last I checked her name was Kehpri, which I think is Egyptian, but it wasn't Tyler."
"Well, apparently she was lying about a whole lot of things, even her name. And her real name is Tyler, and she used to work for the military as a research scientist until she realized they were doing horrible things with her work. And then she had a nervous breakdown and came out here to hide. Oh, and some friends died...." She removed her hand from her still oozing eye and both women flinched.
"Um, right… Could you not do that again? That's really, really gross," Bones said casually as she got up and went to the bathroom. The sink ran then she tossed a towel to Chance, "Silver knife?"
Chance nodded, "I think so. It's not healing, and I feel funny, sort of lightheaded and itchy."
Ignoring the silver knife question for the moment, Zoya finished pulling on her shirt. "What military?" she demanded.
"The US military… They were making super-soldiers and doing experiments with Weres and humans." Chance wanted to add 'duh' for good measure, what other government would she be talking about.
"Don't say it," she warned the amused looking woman in the corner. Damn it, why had she bet on that game to begin with? Frustrated, Zoya belted her pants. "And they're on the reservation?"
Chance nodded. "They attacked us at my apartment. Tyler told me to run, to get help. They want her bad. Showed up at my work with all this shit about being a terrorist, but they want something from her. I think she has the key to their super-soldier experiment." Chance itched, her forehead, her skin, burning around her eye.
Bones looked over at Zoya. "There are a few old military bunkers that were abandoned when they handed over this shithole to the Weres."
Zoya flinched away from looking at her sister’s face and the spot where her other eye should have been. "Jesus, Chance, can you put an eye patch on or something?" Thinking for a moment, she shrugged. "Well, if they're on the Reservation, that means we can handle them. I hope you aren't going to tell me that we should let the government deal with this, Chance?"
The dark-haired woman just flipped her sister off. "No, I take it somewhat personal when I get shot in my own home then they take my mate, er, girlfriend...whatever." She sighed. "I don't think the government is all bad, and I think most humans would be horrified to know what was going on within their own government, but I’m feeling really anti-government at the moment."
"Good." Zoya's smile was predatory and she motioned to Bones. "Go round up the troops; we have some people to teach a lesson to."
Bones nodded and stood up to leave.
Chance smiled. "It’s illegal for you to have troops, but I'm glad you do."
"Illegal for me to have troops!" Zoya laughed. "Sure it is. Like it's illegal to be a Were and in the government, right?" She grinned. "Come on, sis, we'll get your mate back for you." She smiled toothily, looking forward to the fight.
Bones opened the door just as Terri and the doctor reached the top landing. The older woman nodded her head. "Zoya, the doctor has arrived to take a look at Chance's injuries."
Bones slid past them and disappeared down the stairs.
"Right after we do something about that eye of yours," Zoya grimaced, not sure what the doctor, a local shaman, was going to do about that.
The man nodded to them and tsked as he studied Chance's face. "The eye, she is gone, silver burns in the nerves and in the blood stream. We will stop the poisoning then see what else we can do." He hummed and poked at Chance's flesh. "I'm surprised you are still standing, with the amount of damage you took, as well as the fact the silver is not spreading. How long ago were you attacked?"
"About forty-five minutes ago. It took me a while to run here." She slapped his hands away as he poked her bullet wound in her shoulder.
Getting a good look at the wound, Zoya sucked in a surprised breath. That wound was awful looking, worse than she'd thought. "You should be on the ground dying with a silver bullet wound like that."
Terri gently grabbed Zoya by the arm and dragged her out of the room as soon as she saw Chance's face go pale. "Why don't we let the doctor do his business and we can attended to the matter of invaders on our soil."
"What? What did I say? I was just telling her how it looked," the Alpha grumbled, letting herself get pulled away. Terri was right, of course, she had other things to take care of. Like the first in what would be a long line of cars and pickup trucks pulling into the yard.
Everything hurt when Tyler started to wake up. She'd never been tazered before, and it wasn't something she wanted to experience again…ever. She'd started to wake up on the way back to the compound. Vaguely, she remembered being inside a car or truck of some sort, bouncing across the desert. Then she'd made a sound and the man next to her punched her, and she'd known nothing but darkness afterwards. Groaning, she shifted onto her side, pressing fingers to the side of her head and hissing at the lump she felt there. A little bit of crusted blood attested to how hard he'd hit her. Whimpering, she managed to get her knees under her and opened her eyes. There was nothing, only darkness. For a second she panicked, until she realized there was a thin line of light from under a door.
Licking dry lips, she pushed her way to the door, reaching out and touching cold metal. That was it then, they'd tossed her into a cell of some sort, deep and dark. She curled up on herself, crying. The last sound she'd heard replaying in her mind was of the man over her saying target eliminated.
Sometime later, she wasn't sure how much later, the sound of movement came from outside the cell. She winced and turned away from the light, as the metal door was slammed open. "Get her up," a man commanded. Rough hands grabbed her and hauled her to her feet.
"What do you..." She got backhanded.
"Shut up. The old man wants to see her. Get her up to the med center."
She didn't move fast enough, and the two men dragged her out of the cell, hauling her up the stairs and into brightly lit corridors that made her eyes water. A door opened somewhere, and then she was thrown into a chair and strapped down. A brief struggle earned her another backhand, and then the last of the straps were tightened.
"I told you my serum was working. She already survived a gut wound, which healed within hours. You really think a couple of gun shots were going to slow her down?" Miller's voice came from across the room, where she was in a heated discussion. "I need her caught and brought here. She's my patient zero. Her body is actually producing the serum now, I need to test her."
"Chance is alive?" Tyler whispered, smiling despite the pain of a split lip. Everything seemed better with that simple revelation, despite being strapped down on the chair in the middle of the army base.
The voices stopped.
Tyler really wished she could see anything other than the spotlight that was aimed in her face from above. "Miller…that you? I hope you eat shit and die, you scum! I knew you were using them for tests!" She didn't have much to lose she figured.
"Ah, Dr. Madison, so good of you to join us, you've been quite the pain in my ass," Miller said cattily, not happy at all about the shadow of Tyler Madison she had lived under.
"Oh, poor baby, did I make your life hard? I'm so sorry," she quipped, hiding behind the sarcastic tone.
"Now, ladies, I have exactly one month to present a Super-Soldier to the pentagon. Either get me my results or I'll make sure you reach a rather messy end."
Miller glared at the man behind her. "I had results, your men shot her."
"Bob?" Tyler blanched, shifting in the chair to try and see. There was nothing but bright light though, and she gave up, dropping her head back. "Hi, Colonel, how's it going?"
He ignored her, walking closer to the chair. "Life isn't looking good for you. You're a terrorist now, and you know how well our government treats terrorists…especially those sleeping on American soil. I can make that disappear. Of course, you'll be my little indentured servant until you die. But trust me, that's a fate less worse than that of your traitorous friends."
If she'd had enough moisture in her mouth, she would have spit at him. As it was, she had to content herself with a feeble gesture of the hand that conveyed her feelings pretty well. "Go to hell. I'm not helping you. Not after what you did, the people you've killed."
"People… Those people knew the risks when they volunteered, so don't insult their memories. Since the Weres won't serve with us anymore, insisting they have the same rights we do. We need soldiers with the ability to withstand the Vampires and other demonic forces in the world." He was studying her with cool, calculating eyes.
"Insult their memories?" She laughed. "And they say I'm crazy! You murdered those people, Bob, just as surely as if you put a gun to their heads and pulled the trigger. God forgive me, I helped you do it, too. But I won't again…never again."
"You'll help. Either of your free will or after I break your will. Somewhere in that head of yours are the answers I want. Think on that." He turned, walking towards Miller.
"I need results, Doctor. I have to show certain high officials something for all that money they gave me."
"Don't worry, Colonel, I'll get them for you." Dr. Miller looked past him to the tied down woman on the chair and smiled coldly. She would enjoy getting them for him. "I'll need some privacy, of course. And once I have results, a transfer out of this Godforsaken shit hole of a hospital."
"Now, Doctor, the work you've done here with our other volunteers has been fruitful. Plus I think if you and Dr. Madison collaborate on your theory of the hybrids, we may be able to create the kind of soldiers we need." He paused. "I'm sorry about Chance, but I do have men out looking for your guinea pig."
"There's no way I'm collaborating with either of you!" Tyler yelled from her seat, struggling vainly against the restraints.
Dr. Miller ignored her, scowling. "I don't need to collaborate with her. I can get you the results you need by myself."
Bob’s face showed nothing. "I'm not certain I made that optional. I know you're bright, Miller, but I highly doubt you can get me a working prototype in one month. Now do as I asked or I can bring in another chair."
Flinching away from the not so subtle threat, the good doctor nodded. "I'll have answers for you soon." She made a motion to the equipment she'd brought with her from the hospital. "She'll just need a little convincing."
That really didn't sound good to Tyler, and she tried, again, to slip out of her bonds.
"I trust you to do what needs to be done. I'm going to go see what we can do about tracking down your Patient Zero. I'll be back when I have news." Abruptly, he headed out.
"Prick," Miller muttered under her breath, though only when the doors had safely closed behind him.
Then she picked up the first of the row of syringes laid out across the counter top and smiled to where Tyler was squirming on the chair. "Well, time to get to work, isn't it? I really hope you hold out for a long time."
Chance woke with a start, sitting up in the bed she was in. She didn't remember lying down, let alone going to sleep. The doctor must have given her a shot of something.
Bones was standing in front of the window. "You're healing amazingly well, even for a Were. The doctor thinks that in a few years, your eye might even heal back and you'll have full vision."
Chance shook her head, trying to catch up, "Doesn't mean I don't feel like shit now. How long have I been out?"
"It’s a little after noon. Zoya has hunters out sniffing for our military friends. I'll let Zoya know you're up."
She disappeared out the door.
Zoya made her typical entrance into a room, barging in with an almost arrogant air about her, acting as if she owned everything in her sight. "Good to see you awake again, lazy," she grinned. "Doc said he was going to make sure you rested a while before charging off after your mate."
Chance flushed a little. "Have we located her...them?"
"One of the felines found a track. They were going to go check it out. They're laying low, so it's a little harder than I thought it would be. Usually the military is all about making big noises and showing off." Zoya flopped down in the old chair that was the only other piece of furniture in the room. "You feeling better?"
"Yeah… My eye still itches, but I feel better." She got up slowly, frowning slightly as she noticed the ‘Hooters' shirt she was wearing. She raised an eyebrow in question at Zoya, "Yours?"
"Nope," Zoya waggled her eyebrows, "trophy. But you needed something to wear, so I made a sacrifice. Oh, speaking of which." She dug into her pocket and pulled out a patch of tooled leather with leather strop and tossed it over. "Eye patch for the pirate."
"You're really enjoying the pirate thing, aren't you?" she said with a huff, but slid the eye-patch over her eye.
"Yup… It's even guilt-free, now that the doc said you might even be able to regenerate the eye, which really shouldn't be possible as far as he knows." She eyed her sister suspiciously, as if there was something she wasn't telling her.
Chance shrugged then paused. "Miller… Kehp…Tyler kept ranting about how she was evil. She gave me a shot of something."
"Miller…hot Miller?" Zoya frowned. "Huh, well, she was a great lay, but I guess she could be doing bad things too."
Chance gave her sister a dirty look. "Great, she probably has your DNA on file. They could be cloning you for all we know." She thought about that statement and shivered at the thought of hundreds of Zoya's running around.
"Just think how great a world that would be!" Zoya bared her teeth in a smile as she considered what she could do if there were more than one of her. "One of me could stay in bed all day long with whatever woman I wanted."
Bones' head peeked through the doorway. "Boss, could you and one-eye hurry it up, the Were-kitty is getting anxious."
"Yeah, yeah, we're coming." She started out the door, not really trying to hide her snicker. "Come on, one-eye. Don't want the kitty to get nervous."
Chance said nothing, just pursed her lips in a tight frown and stood up. "Just keep laughing it up. You'll get yours."
"Probably… I also, probably, won't grow mine back, so don't mind your poor sister if she enjoys the moment of humility for her federal agent sibling," Zoya called, already hurrying down the stairs, away from any potential thrown objects.
A slim, African-American man stood in the living room. He would pace back and forth before standing stock still, listening. He looked at Terri, "I do as the Dog's bid because Kimberly commands it, but I don't like leaving her side for too long."
Terri made a comforting noise. "Zoya's on her way."
"We don't do this for Zoya; she's done nothing for us but push her bullying weight around. The other one, she helps puts her life on the line for those not kit or kin."
"I’m so glad you think fondly of me," Zoya quipped, emerging into the small living room. "What did you find?" She wanted good news, wanted to be able to go out and hurt something for the damage done to her sister. Bloodying the nose of the US government would be a nice addition too.
Chance followed, stumbling slightly, having a hard time navigating when half her vision was gone.
She smiled. "Jeffery, how are you?"
"Me and mine are good, but you and yours not so good?" he responded.
"No, not really, I've had better days."
"It's really nice to touch bases and all, but could you tell us what you found?" Zoya asked impatiently, instinctively not liking the way this Jeffery seemed to respond to Chance instead of her.
He nodded in understanding "We found an old depot the military used and abandoned years ago. Only, the military seems to be back. Not more than thirty people, from what we can tell. They've sent out a few packs of soldiers. They seem to be looking for something or someone."
"That's them, has to be. How far away is it?"
"Em, an hour or two as the Dog runs."
Ignoring the implied slight, Zoya nodded. "Good enough. Bones, tell everyone to gather up, we'll rendezvous not far away." She turned to look at Chance, raising an eyebrow. "You ready for this?"
"As ready as I can be. Got a gun?" was her response. She ran a hand through her hair, in frustration, not sure how much use she'd be with her missing eye. She hadn't had enough time to get used to limited range she now had.
"A gun..?" Zoya snorted. She didn't think much of guns. "Yeah, somewhere I think." She nodded to Terri, and the other woman rummaged around in a desk, coming up with an ancient looking pistol that she offered Chance.
Chance snorted, but shoved it in her waistband.
"Hope that things still works," Terri mumbled, tossing a box of bullets to the federal agent that were made probably before the Second World War.
Halstead was screaming on the gurney they had him strapped too, as Doctor Miller stood over him, having just injected him with something.
"Fuck! Goddamn bitch! I do you guys a favor and this is how you treat me."
From nearby, Tyler watched the show that Miller had so nicely set up for her. They’d even taken her out of the chair so she could see it all. She hated Halstead, but even she didn't like to see this.
Miller looked over at Tyler, who had two shadows following her with guns. "He, Chance, and Jeremy are the only three to show any sort of response to the drug. Chance and Jeremy responded without aggression, while Halstead here seems to be turning into an animal."
"Holy shit that burns!" the man on the gurney screamed.
"Better start giving me what you know, Tyler, or you can see what happens with test subject after subject."
"Guess you didn't pick your subjects very well, did you?" Tyler winced, looking away for a second as Halstead's scream turned almost inhuman. "Why should I help you? So you can go on and do this to more people? Fuck off, Miller. I'm not doing anything."
"This is your unfinished work. I'm trying to improve it so we don't get these mistakes. Because your work caused all this, you need to fix it. Instead, we've been cleaning your mess."
That struck a chord and Tyler winced as Halstead screamed again. She imagined she could hear bones groaning as his entire body arched against the pain. "At least give him something for the pain!" she snapped, shuddering as he clenched down so tightly on his teeth one snapped.
"Help me, and I'll give him a shot of morphine," Miller countered.
Another tooth shattered and she closed her eyes, listening to the man scream on and on. She'd never seen the effects of her first generation serum on a patient, only what was to come later. It was as horrible as anything that had haunted her nightmares since she'd been on the run. "As much morphine as it takes to make him comfortable?" she heard herself ask.
Miller thought about it. "Yes." She looked over at her assistant. "Prep a drip for Mr. Halstead." The man nodded.
"Fine…" Tyler took a step towards the bench, stopping when the two gun totting men stiffened, "You going to let me work or not?"
Miller waved the men back.
Looking over her shoulder to make sure that the two guards stayed where they were, Tyler reached for the instruments set out across the bench.
"You're using my latest version of the serum. It's not really a serum, of course, more of a viral protein cocktail, full of reverse transcriptases to reactivate genes for healing in humans," she laughed, shaking her head. "It really works well. Too bad it keeps going, keeps reactivating genes that we don't need anymore." She flipped through drawers, looking at what she had to work with.
Miller nodded, following what the other woman was saying. She gestured for her assistant to start the morphine drip. In a few moments, his screams had silenced.
That was a relief.
"I took parts of every virus I could find that would be useful. It had to infect the entire body, you see. I couldn't just infect part of it, or some of the cells. No…it had to be the entire thing." She paused, picking up vials and setting them on the counter top, pleased that her hands didn't shake anymore. "You should have realized that Chance was a full Were."
The young military doctor debated with herself before pulling open the freezer door and pulled out a test tube. She fumbled it, almost dropping it, the smug smile falling from her face as she heard Tyler. "What? Sh-sh-she can't be? She was tested."
"She faked it. I don't know how. I might know why, but that doesn't matter. It's recessive sometimes, you know, the genes, the chances are really low, but it happens." She grinned at her own joke, and pulled out two syringes.
"Damn it!" Miller swore and tossed the vial at Tyler. "Not that it does you any good now, but that was serum I had made with Chance's blood."
The brunette caught it, fighting, so very hard, to avoid grinning as she held up the vial. "So it has the recessive characters in it then?" That was interesting. She set it aside on the tabletop. "Too bad it won't help you. No super-soldiers from that." She started to fill the syringes. "No big promotion for you I guess, Miller. What the hell is your first name anyway?"
"It’s Helen, Helen Miller." She sat down heavily in a chair. "Bob recruited me away from John Hopkins. Now I think I should have stayed. How about you?"
"Yale. I'd just finished my PhD. He knew I wouldn't pass up a chance to join the program. I wouldn't ask too many questions, and I'd do anything to find a cure." Tyler laughed at her own naiveté. It seemed like a different lifetime, a different person back then. Carefully, she started to fill the syringes from each bottle in turn, measuring the doses.
"You should have stayed. You'd have been a hit with the old men in the geriatric wards," Tyler grinned, filling the last bit of syringe.
"My family is all military. To work for Bob on this program, my dad couldn't have been more proud. Now I just want to give Bob his super-soldier and get out of this place." …Out of this situation. She was never going to go anywhere, never win awards.
"Don't worry. You'll give it to Bob." Tyler pulled off the syringe shield, baring the long, large gauge needle, and walked towards Halstead. The morphine was doing its job, he wasn't screaming, but she could see the changes starting. It wouldn't be long until he was nothing more than the twisted horrors she'd seen before.
Miller watched, trying to keep hope from overwhelming her.
The veins were bulging on Halstead's arm, and it wasn't hard to find one and slip the needle under the skin. Then only a second’s work to push the plunger home and send the mixture shooting through him.
The agent gave a sound like a moan, and his eyes fluttered open then closed as his entire body went limp. A look at the monitors showed that his vital signs were slowly returning towards something like normal. "You just have to stop the virus from going any further." She jerked her head towards the counter top and the vials of anti-virals.
Miller stood up and scrambled over Tyler, grabbing the syringe, and motioning for her assistant to check Halstead.
The brunette let her have the empty syringe, smiling faintly as she watched them scramble about the body, poking and prodding like excited medical students with their first patient. "He'll have to take the cocktail for the rest of his life. If not..." she trailed off, shrugging.
"What? Why? There's no way to stop it?" Miller asked.
"Sure, if you give me the same budget they give for AIDs or Cancer research. Have you looked around you? We're in the middle of the desert, with a half-assed lab set up. You should be happy I did that much." She hadn't really known if it would work. The idea was sound, but reality sometimes differed from the theoretical.
Miller nodded then looked at one of the guards. "Terminate subject 26."
In a quick, precise move, the man moved, fired the rifle then trained it back on Tyler, leaving only the aftermath of sound and smell. "Take blood and tissue samples and get us a guinea pig."
Her brain frantically working, Miller muttered to herself, "Well, we are certainly in a better place than an hour ago, but what we need is a subject that's not reliant on injections every couple of hours. That's just not feasible in certain enemy combatant situations."
Tyler flinched as a spray of blood arched across her shirt from what had been Halstead's head. Gagging, she turned away, blinking away tears. "I take it back, Helen. The old men would have been terrified of you."
"I've studied you, read your file. I'm glad to see you're not as big a wuss as I've come to expect. I expected you to start crying and asking my why, in a woefully choked up voice."
"I try not to ask too many questions to psychopathic bitches. The answers I get aren't worth the trouble." Tyler braced herself against the counter tops, not looking behind her as one of the guards dragged off the body of what had been Halstead. Her left hand curled around the remaining syringe.
Miller laughed. "Trust me…that was a mercy. Bob would have started dissecting while he was still alive, just to see the response patterns."
"Yeah, you did him a favor by injecting him with an experimental serum that would have turned him into a monster and then shot him in the head when I found a way to stop him from turning into a monster."
Miller stared at Tyler angrily for a minute. "He's been getting injections before I even started on this project. Look at yourself first before assigning blame. Besides, I wasn't kidding about Bob. A soldier who has to keep taking injections to stay sane does him no good in the field. He would have cut Halstead open while he was still alive just to time how long it took him to heal. Then maybe he would have taken him out to the firing range and let some of the other soldiers take shots. I did him a kindness."
Tyler turned around, slipping the syringe up her sleeve as she did so. "I know I share blame here, but let's not delude ourselves about who actually killed him." Screaming came from down the hallway, she assumed from the next victim.
"I killed him, Tyler. I don't deny that. But I really can't live through another one of Bob's hands-on moods." She went pale remembering the last subject she thought she had been close on the super-soldier serum.
She refused to feel pity for the other woman, but she nodded slowly. "All right, no more hands-on things from Bob." That, she could agree to. "I think it's the vector then. We have to change it."
Miller nodded, moving over to the table. "I still think Chance is the key, there's something about her."
"There certainly is," Tyler mumbled, but turned to look at the table. "Do you have more of her sample?"
"Two more… She really didn't seem to want to let me take the blood in the first place." She pondered the change in the agent’s attitude. "So you and her..." She shook her head and let it drop.
"Repeatedly," Tyler mumbled, picking up the first set of tubes and frowning. "She's special," she whispered to herself. "Special." She blinked then smiled slowly, "Yeah. Ok, Dr. Helen Miller. Let's see about making you a serum that won't kill."
Zoya stared out of the trees. "Shit, they have that thing locked down. I bet all those guns are full of silver." She looked over at Chance. "There's a hole on your left, watch out, one-eye."
Chance jumped and looked over, turning her head to get the piece of offending ground in her limited sight. "Asshole," she muttered under her breath.
"Love you too, Sister," Zoya grinned. "You know, this is going to be messy. That's a lot more people than I thought would be here." The base was definitely bigger than she'd thought it would be, more trucks, more guards…more barbed wire.
"You know, it would be a lot easier to open those gates from the inside," Bones said, brushing dirt off her leather jacket.
"No." The Alpha slid down a bit so that she was out of sight from anyone looking from the base. "We aren't doing that."
"Come on, they’re looking for the one-eyed pirate here. I'll go with her…we'll get captured…I'll unleash hell on earth inside…and open the gates…piece of cake," Bones said with a shrug.
"No," Zoya said, again. "Didn't you hear me the first time? I'm not letting my sister be captured by the army just so we can get inside. We'll find another way."
Chance frowned. "How many people are going to die if we try an assault? Bones is right, they don't know I'm a Were. Right now they just think I'm one of Miller's guinea pigs. It’s the best way…as long as your new second is as big and bad as she swaggers."
Bones smiled, her teeth a bright white against her dark skin. "You have no idea."
"You," she pointed at Bones, "keep her safe. This isn't a good idea." She motioned the others who were nearby backwards. "But I guess it's the best one we have. The first sign of something going wrong we're coming in after you."
Chance nodded. "I'd appreciate that." She hesitated a moment then hugged Zoya tightly.
Bones looked at the two of them wistfully before making her expression once again sardonic.
A little awkwardly, Zoya returned the hug. "You be careful," she whispered then stepped back.
Chance nodded before she and Bones melted into the night.
She still wasn't sure this was a good idea, and lately, she'd had to admit, most of Zoya's ideas and thoughts had been better than her own. But she really hated this to be the moment she turned out to be wrong.
Currently, she was marching with her hands tied behind her back, which had opened the stitches on her upper chest from where the doctor had sewn her up. Bones was marching along next to her, hands tied as well. The smirk was gone from her lips, and her face was almost scary in its intensity. Chance was almost certain Bones wasn't a Were, but the answer had yet to be confirmed.
It was the middle of the night, but the base was up and running. People hurried from point A to point B, looking very busy.
They were slammed inside an elevator, four guards joining them.
Again the guard glared at her and gave her the warning. "These guns all have silver in ‘em, just try something, freak."
Chance said nothing, but Bones just gave a tight-lipped smile. "Thanks for the refresher."
One guard slammed the stock of his rifle into her face. Bones just shook her head and smiled. Blood ran down over her white teeth and she spat it on to the floor. The guard closest to the splatter jumped a little.
Chance frowned when she saw the blood flare up like fire, and then leave nothing but a scorch mark.
She looked over at the other woman, but Bones just shrugged.
The elevator started its decent. Happily, the two women noted it only went down three floors.
"Move," the guard shoved Chance forward, "time for you to go where you belong." He raised his gun at Bones as she tightened. "Try it."
Bones shrugged. "So, did you like blowing your psychologist so he'd fudge your psyche eval?"
The guard hit her in the stomach with the butt of his rifle.
"I'll take that as a yes, you did like it. Men get so defensive about certain things, especially if they’re true," Bones chuckled and stood up.
"Where the hell are you taking us? I am a Federal Agent, you have no right..." She shut up as the butt of the rifle smashed into the back of her head. She never saw it coming. The next thing she knew, she was being dragged down the hallway.
Bones whispered to her. "Just be quiet from now on and let me do the talking."
They dragged them down a hallway full of crumbling cement into an obviously newly renovated and freshly installed cell. The bars gleamed in the dim lighting, silver. They slammed the door shut behind the two of them and locked it.
She looked at Bones. "What now?"
"I'll think of something."