Sora found Eric’s scent as she moved through the halls, Fen lazily following her. I missed him by about ten minutes.
“Why are we tracking a wolf’s trail? We’re foxes,” Fen sniffed, “we don’t chase wolves.”
Ignoring her, Sora followed the scent attached to Eric as the trail diverted. Backtracking Eric’s path, she followed it to a thick steel door with guards posted out front. When she entered the room, the guards drew more alert. Examining one, she asked, “Can I go in?”
“Just compel him, Founder,” Fen scoffing behind her.
Her acute hearing listened for his earpiece; she heard a man’s voice say, “Let them by.” Eyes narrowing, Sora hummed. What’s their game? They do get more information out of me this way I guess, but they could have been more hospitable from the start.
Fen huffed. “This smells like a trap, and what’s that odd scent I smell? I smell mutt for sure, but what else is in there?”
Sora didn’t respond as the doors opened to reveal a three-level detention block. Steel doors lined the hallways, and armed guards patrolled all three levels. She slowly entered and made her way to a guard stationed outside one of the steel doors, heeding her nose. Bypassing the guards, he moved to the stairs, sensing every eye on her, but they didn’t give the slightest indication in restricting her movements.
Fen entered slowly, eyeing the men questioningly, but Sora continued up the levels without hesitation until she reached the room Eric had stopped at. “I’d like this door opened,” she said. The guard’s countenance darkened, and his fingers held his machine gun tightly. The stare off lasted a few seconds before he stepped aside with more orders sent through his headset.
Sora glared at the closest camera, then the guard. Why? Letting me get this far without so much as a warning? They aren’t even guiding my movements. Why are they allowing me so much freedom now? Did Fen revealing my mom’s identity give them pause? As Jian and Fen met her, Sora asked, “Jian, could you open this door?” Sora sighed as Jian looked to Fen. She definitely has him on a leash.
Fen eyed the door suspiciously. “Who’s in there? Whoever it is, they’re not human.”
Sora closed her eyes and withheld a growl. She probably doesn’t know what privy information that was … otherwise, he’d be in a much more secure room. “Just an acquaintance.”
Fen glared at her doubtfully, but nodded to Jian, likely driven by curiosity. Shifting over, he twisted the locks off, unhinged the bolts, and opened the door.
Her vision snapped to a guard as he grunted. “Didn’t have to break the door, monster.”
Ignoring him, she stepped around Jian and Fen. Aiden came into view, their eyes locking; he seemed shocked to see her, and she noted his red cheeks, he’d been crying. “Hello.” Sora greeted with a bright smile.
It looked like he’d forgotten how to speak, so she took it upon herself to help him out. Deepening her voice, Sora said, “Hey, Sora! Glad to see my nasty friend didn’t eat you! By the way, how’s it been?” Returning to her normal tone, Sora continued, “Not bad I guess. You know—kidnapped, waking up almost naked, and left to die from dehydration. Just a normal day in the life of Sora.” A wry smile played at her lips as she waited a moment and asked, “Now—how have you been?” She finished with a wink.
Fen scooted around Sora to get a better view. She looked Aiden up and down in an unimpressed calculated manner. “So—this is your friend?”
Aiden’s brow lifted. “Another Vulpes?”
Sora feigned offense, though she felt the sting. “I could have been dead and the first thing out of your mouth is to address another girl!”
Sora’s smile returned as Aiden brushed back his messy hair and smiled. “My apologies. I wasn’t aware we had such a deep relationship?”
“Oh,” Sora challenged with a sly grin. “What do you call taking a girl out to eat?”
Shrugging, Aiden followed her response, “Wait, I didn’t take you out.”
Sora quickly interjected, “No, you took me by the hand as I recall!”
Aiden sighed in defeat. “Okay, I took you out to eat.” Gaining a serious expression, he asked, “What about Kari?”
Sora’s cheer dampened. Yet another girl—Kari at that. Shrugging, she said, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen her and haven’t caught her scent.” Studying him closely, she said, “I do smell Eric.”
Fen looked utterly uninterested. “Can we please stop this flirting? It’s sad to watch and bores me.”
Sora pursed her lips as she glanced sideward at her new acquaintance. I can’t be this bad… Grinning, she said, “Why don’t you and Jian go talk with the guards? I’m sure they’d love to mingle.” Waiting a moment, Sora added, “I’d just like some time with my friend.”
Fen sighed as she locked eyes with Sora for four long seconds before finally complying. “Whatever.” Motioning to Jian, they moved down the walkway towards a nervous guard. Fen fixed a charming smile as she greeted him.
Walking into the cell with Aiden, Sora leaned up against the wall. She already knew Fen could hear everything she said and likely Jian as well. Glancing up at the two cameras in the room, Sora huffed.
Aiden followed her eyes and nodded. “We’re being watched.”
“Studied,” Sora corrected. “I bet one of the people watching us is an awful blonde woman and wrinkly doctor.”
“I haven’t seen anyone, but Eric,” Aiden said, repositioning himself on the bed.
Sora grimaced at Eric’s name. “Yeah—how is the horrendously reeking hellspawn, still as psychotic as ever?”
Aiden’s eyes sunk to the floor as he shook his head with a humorless laugh. “He still thinks he’s invincible and with two broken arms.” Confusion spread across his features. “Eric said a dragon attacked him. Did that happen after he chased you?”
Eyes shifting to one of the cameras for a second, Sora said, “Yeah—honestly, I’m shocked Eric’s still alive. After the damage he took, he only has two broken arms? He really is a scary guy.”
Still staring at the floor, Aiden said, “It has to do with him being a Germanic werewolf. Eating helps him recover, and it seems like these people—fed him.”
Understanding, Sora nodded solemnly. “What’s your plan?”
Aiden huffed. “I don’t have a plan—what about you?”
Lifting her shirt to expose her belly, Sora pointed at the pieces of paper. “I can’t use any of my abilities with this attached to my soul, and our observers are letting me roam freely, at least so far.”
Aiden looked up to study the wards, after a few seconds, he shook his head. “I don’t know much about wards. You have a cute belly though.”
Sora’s face turned scarlet as she shoved her shirt down. “I’m not fat!” She huffed.
Aiden chuckled. “I didn’t say that.”
“I’m not too skinny!” Sora retorted, shooting a glare at him.
Doubling over, Aiden asked, “How can you make me laugh?”
Her smile turned sour, her eyes snapping to the wall in Fen’s direction; glaring as Fen sarcastically whispered to Jian, “Because I’m witty and pretty?”
Laughing for a few seconds, Aiden sighed, noting her change in attitude. “So, you’ve been walking around aimlessly with those two?”
Sora’s head drooped to stare at the floor, releasing her frustration. “No, I’ve been trying to find any trace of my Dad or my friend, but I can’t smell them anywhere. Not even on any of the clothes in the clothing bay.”
Aiden frowned. “Maybe they took him to another facility?”
“Maybe,” Sora whispered.
Aiden examined her sullen demeanor for a few seconds. “Right, we won’t get any answers here.”
Smiling thankfully, Sora asked, “Where should we start?”
Snorting, Aiden said, “Everywhere you haven’t been!”
Both exiting the room, Sora found the guard had moved down a level, and Fen was speaking to Jian in a bored manner. She perked up as they came into view. “Are we finally going to move?”
“Yeah,” Sora said while stretching. “I’m looking for my dad’s scent, which you wouldn’t know.”
Fen shrugged. “Being a monster, it can’t be that hard.”
Shaking her head, Sora said, “No, my dad’s a human.”
Fen’s brow lifted as she slowly worked around the information in her head. “Your Father … the person Mia, basically the most powerful Vulpes ever, found worthy of being a mate … is a human?”
Sora frowned and nodded. “Is that a problem?”
“Okay,” Fen finished, clearly stunned. Again, Fen and Jian took up the rear, following without discussion. After two hallways, Sora heard Fen’s stomach growl followed by her grown. “I didn’t have any of the buns! Where did you put them, Jian?” Aiden and Sora stopped, glancing back at them.
Jian’s face was passive. “Sora ate the ones that didn’t drop on the floor.”
Fen puffed out her breath. “Alright, you’ll have to go get me some more than.”
Aiden lifted an eyebrow, but Jian willingly complied, turning and walking away to look for food. Sora just shook her head. What’s the story behind them? Fen looked at them quizzically. “We don’t have to wait. He’ll find us.”
“Alright,” Sora whispered with raised eyebrows, and they continued down the hall. Not a minute later, Sora recognized an all too familiar scent, which made her stop in her tracks.
“What?” Fen asked as she moved next to her. Eyes widening, she covered her nose with disgust. “What’s that?”
“Jenny,” Sora breathed. “And a whole lot of werewolves.”
Aiden perked up. “Jenny might know where Kari is.”
Sora’s irritation returned. We were looking for my dad, and now it’s all about Kari. Why does he stick around bullies and psychopaths! I’m prettier than Kari! Her mind froze on the thought. Why did I just think that? Internally baffled, Sora took a deep breath which was a mistake. Coughing, she said, “Alright—let’s go see Jenny.” The girl that made my life hell for three years.
Fen chuckled. “Right, go towards the stench—oh, you’re serious?” An ill-humored expression passed across her features as she plugged her nose, but followed.
They made their way past several checkpoints, which opened with more orders from above. Fen seemed to grow more and more nervous as they went, likely feeling naked without Jian’s protection. Finally stepping into a thick glass research room that overlooked an expansive area, she found Jenny and about seventy other human werewolves. They all had collars on, and railings surrounded the room above. The only way down seemed to be a heavy looking steel door and a retractable staircase.
Sora studied all the researchers and guards in the room and honed her hearing to listen in on the guards’ headpieces. “Let them in, but none of the werewolves leave with her.” She hummed as a guard pressed a button in front of a scared researcher and the door to the railings opened. Motioning to Fen and Aiden, they entered and walked down the staircase as it extended.
The werewolves were all in human form and looked very unhappy. Jenny moved to meet Sora. “I never pictured the day I’d be happy to see you,” Jenny mumbled.
Sora glared at Jenny, in some ways she was worse than Lori and Kari. “Trust me; the feeling’s not mutual.”
Jenny ignored her statement and changed position to block Sora from the conversation as she engaged Aiden. “Have you heard from Kari?”
Fen shifted uncomfortably, in a room full of potential threats. Sora walked over to stand by her; she didn’t want any part of their conversation. Sitting on the stone ground, Sora watched them with dull eyes. I literally had the thought that I was prettier than Kari. Now that I look at Jenny, I think I’m prettier than her too. Yet, Aiden wants to talk with her, not me. Then again, Jenny’s more curved … there I go again! Why am I thinking like this? It’s stupid! I should be worrying about my dad and Wendy!
Fen seemed to be simmering as well. She sat next to Sora but kept looking around as if expecting a werewolf to leap at her, likely counting the seconds for Jian to return. She watched Jenny question Aiden, who had no answers for her and found herself getting more and more vexed, which only made her more confused and angry. It soon escalated to grinding her teeth and thinking of horrible things that could happen to Jenny.
She was momentarily caught off guard when Aiden suddenly called out her name. “Yes,” she responded, trying to take the anger out of her voice.
With complete innocence, Aiden asked, “You didn’t smell Kari on Eric’s trail, did you?”
Sora felt her face heat, and savagely replied, “No.”
Every head in the room turned as a loud crash sounded above, and Sora’s hair stood on end as a gun went off. Her head snapped up to see a guard drop over the railing into the pack of werewolves that quickly backed away.
Her skin crawling as Eric’s voice carried down like a symphony of foreboding doom. “Why do I need permission to talk to my pack?” Eric leaped down from above and landed in-between Sora and Aiden. His toothy grin was more wicked than she remembered. “Yes,” He breathed, licking his lips and swallowing the saliva in this mouth, “I thought I smelt you, Mia’s kin.”
Both Sora and Fen leaped to their feet and backed up. Sora jumped as Fen, and her backs touched, their tails brushing against each other. Suddenly a shock reverberated from Sora’s tail to her brain and then fluctuated through her entire body, she only felt the fire. She had enough time to gasp before her vision went fluorescent white.
* * *
She found herself in a pure white area with a reflecting floor; the emptiness stretched on endlessly. She blinked and seemingly from nowhere several humanoid-shaped beings appeared; they had canes in their hands and skin like stone. Completely baffled, she asked, “Who are you? Where am I?”
Their response came from raised canes, pointing in her direction. Bright red energy emitted from the sticks as her body locked up. She couldn’t breathe, a blaze burned inside her stomach, slowly filtering throughout her insides.
Her eyes bulged as a tsunami of blue flames surged over her from behind and engulfed everything she could see. The fire was warm and comforting, it didn’t burn, but her insides were still alight with coals, something black burning its way out of her. The blue flames dwindled until only large pool sized patches of fire raged across her vision.
“You have not called in such a manner since we were but children, Mia … no.” It was a woman’s voice. The tone was mature but held ringing mirth and such command that it deafened Sora’s mind. The sound alone carried an authority that Sora could not perceive.
“Another dream?” Sora breathed, finding it hard to even gasp as the fire inched up her chest, face turning red.
The woman’s voice turned curious. “The Spiritual Plane, my dear? Not a dream.”
Unable to shift her feet, Sora’s stomach convulsed as she breathed. “Why—am I—here?”
“You called me, of course.” The woman answered. Sora’s eyes followed the figure as the woman entered her vision, her throat going dry.
The woman wasn’t very tall, maybe an inch more than herself. However, she had pure white hair that glowed faintly with the surroundings. Three thin black marks showed on each side of her smooth cheeks that had the appearance of whiskers, yet almost seemed painted on. Finally, nine long white tails weaved behind her in mesmerizing patterns. She was beautiful, gorgeous; she had only seen women as stunning as her in photoshopped images online or in magazines.
The woman’s smile broadened questioningly as she gained a full view of Sora from the front. “Oh, my—what has my baby sister done?”