Home > Fury (New Species #1)

Fury (New Species #1)
Laurann Dohner

Prologue

“Shit,” Ellie muttered under her breath, watching the man restrained against the wall inside the next room. Every time she sneaked into the viewing room it depressed her but she couldn’t stay way.

She knew he couldn’t see her through the two-way glass and yet he seemed to be looking right at her. Her gaze skimmed over his bare chest and the straining muscles of his well-defined physique. His large biceps bunched while he pulled on the chains, rage evident on his features as he fought them.

Sympathy and compassion made her ache for him. His determination showed regardless of how he’d been stripped of his freedom and dignity. He had to know the futility of his actions yet he still struggled. Her hand lifted to touch the wood frame under the glass. She wished she could soothe him by showing him that someone cared. Most of all, she wanted to get him out of the hellish prison that contained him. He deserved to be free.

Movement in the corner of the room drew her attention away from the man who haunted her thoughts day and night. Fear made her heart race as a technician entered the room. Jacob Alter had to be one of the most callous, unfeeling monsters who worked for Mercile Industries. The ass**le actually enjoyed inflicting pain on the test subjects. He especially targeted this one with his brand of cruelty. A month before, the big man chained against the wall had broken Jacob’s nose when Jacob had gotten too close to the elbow of the restrained test subject. Ellie knew it had been well deserved. The bruising still shadowed Jacob’s face as he flashed an evil grin toward his intended victim. He planned to inflict more painful testing upon him.

“Hello, 416.” Jacob chuckled, an unpleasant sound. “I hear you pissed off Doctor Trent. You know what that means, right?” Jacob placed a tan case about the size of a bowling bag on top of the exam table in the corner. It made a loud thump. “It means I get to do something I’ve wanted for a really long time. You’re going to suffer today.” He glanced up at the security camera in the corner and waved his hand over his throat in a cutting motion.

“Shit, shit, shit,” Ellie chanted softly as panic seized her. She’d heard of inmates being tortured when they really angered one of the doctors. Jacob obviously didn’t want to record whatever horrible thing he had planned for 416. It had to be really bad.

Jacob cocked his head, continued to stare up into the corner, and then grinned before he turned to face 416.

“The camera is off now. No record is being made of this. What Doctor Trent doesn’t know is that you are going to have a horrible accident, you freak. You shouldn’t have f**ked with me. I warned you that I’d take you out.” He grabbed the bag he’d carried into the room. “Nobody breaks my nose and lives. I knew it would only be a matter of time before you would be punished. I just bided my time.” He pulled out a syringe. “You’re going to die, you bastard!”

This can’t be happening, Ellie thought. She hadn’t struggled through the daily nightmare life had become for the past two months only to lose 416 now. She’d lived in constant fear of being discovered as a spy but witnessing 416’s continual defiance had given her the strength to face each day. For him she’d taken dangerous risks to collect enough evidence to set him and the other prisoners free.

In fact, she half expected the security guards to come after her at any second. She’d become so frantic to collect real proof of what happened at the research facility that she’d committed an insane stunt half an hour before. She’d stolen one of the doctor’s badges to sneak into the woman’s office to download files off the computer. If security reviewed the surveillance tapes she’d be caught for sure. They would arrest her immediately and make her fate as grim as 416’s. They both would be dead by the end of the day.

She wavered between doing something incredibly stupid to attempt to save him and following orders from her real boss to never interfere. She’d finally obtained enough damning evidence to possibly free the forced test subjects. She had an opportunity of smuggling something out at the end of her shift if she just kept her head down, her mouth shut, and didn’t draw the attention of anyone. It would mean doing nothing while Jacob murdered the man restrained to the wall.

Her gaze locked on 416. Out of all the prisoners, she wanted to free him the most. He had kept her up nights since she’d been transferred to the illegal drug research facility Mercile Industries ran. 416 had become the last image she saw before she drifted to sleep every night. Sometimes, she admitted, he even featured a starring role in her dreams. Her decision quickly slammed into place. It would be unacceptable to just watch this happen. It would break her heart. She couldn’t live with it if she did not even attempt to save him.

“You’re not going to be able to fight me this time. You’re going to be defenseless. I want you to know you’re going to die.” Jacob’s voice grew harsh. “But not before I hurt you, animal.”

Ellie spun around, no plan in mind, but desperate now to save 416. She fled the room, forced her movements to slow when she stepped out into the hallway, more than aware of the security cameras located there, and stopped at the supply room to grab a testing kit. It would raise suspicion if she just entered the cell without a valid reason. She yanked the tackle box-sized plastic container out of the cabinet where they were stored and tried not to appear as frantic as she felt when she entered the hallway again, but knew she needed to hurry to 416’s holding cell before Jacob had time to do something horrible.

“Ellie!”

She froze, her eyes widening, and then slowly turned. Doctor Brennor, a tall redheaded man, stepped out of one of the rooms holding a chart. “Yes?”

“Did you get that mouth swab from 321?”

“I did.” She held still even though she wanted to spin and run away.

“Good. Did you drop it off at the lab?”

“Of course.”

He reached up with his free hand to rub the back of his neck. “Long day, isn’t it? Are you wishing it were the weekend already? I am.”

Shut up, she ordered him silently, so I can go. She shrugged. “I like work. Speaking of, I need to take a blood sample. It’s a stat order.”

“Yeah. Sure.” His gaze drifted down her body. “Do you want to go out to dinner with me tomorrow night?”

It stunned her for a split second that he’d ask her on a date. “I have a boyfriend,” she lied easily. The idea of going out with anyone who worked for Mercile made her nauseous. “But thanks for asking.”

His mouth tensed and the friendly light cooled in his green eyes. “I see. Fine. Go. I have to update reports.” He turned to head in the opposite direction and strode away. “I do too much damn paperwork,” he grumbled before disappearing around a corner.

Cameras are watching me, Ellie remembered, resisting the urge to sprint down the hallway. She strolled casually to 416’s cell as if she didn’t have a care in the world. At least she hoped that was the appearance she gave.

Dear God, she prayed silently, let me reach him in time! Her fingers trembled as she punched in the code on the digital lock. The door beeped when it accepted her numbers and the steel bars made a distinctive sound as they slid away, allowing her to open the door. She entered the room quickly.

She forced a smile she didn’t feel. “I’m here to take a blood sample.”

The door automatically closed behind her, the locking pins slammed into place to seal her inside the cell, and a quick, sharp buzz sounded to underscore that fact. She took in the scene and gasped at the pure horror she witnessed.

416 wasn’t chained to the wall anymore. He was stretched out on the hard, cold concrete floor, facedown. The chains secured to his wrists had been locked to one of the pins cemented into the floor, forcing his arms high above his head while his legs were shackled to the wall. Jacob had removed the restrained man’s pants—they were a balled-up white pile on the floor—and he was on his knees between 416’s spread thighs, which were forced apart by the way he’d been bound.

It took her only seconds to realize what horrific thing she’d interrupted. Jacob sat back on his heels, frozen, stunned as well by her sudden appearance, but he recovered faster than she could. He dropped the instrument of torture, what appeared to be one of the guard’s batons to the concrete floor, and tried to rise. He grabbed for his unfastened pants, trying to close them, cursing. Ellie reacted.

“You sick bastard!”

She sprang into action before she thought, the hard plastic case gripped so tightly in her fist that it dug painfully into her palm, and swung it with all the strength she could muster. It smashed into Jacob’s face. He reeled back, cried out, but Ellie didn’t stop when he hit the floor. She ended up dropping onto his body, straddled his belly, her body pinning his down, and grabbed the kit with both hands. Pure rage drove her to batter him with it. He tried to defend his face but after a few hits, his hands slumped to the floor.

“You monster,” she panted, hit him again, and then realized how bloodied his face had become. She stopped, her entire body shaking, and stared in horror at the technician.

Her gaze lifted away from his smashed nose and mouth, to the kit. Blood smeared all over the side she’d used to bash him repeatedly. She dropped it on the floor, in shock, and eased her weight off the downed man. His chest wasn’t moving.

“Oh God,” she gasped. She reached for his throat, a moan tearing from her parted lips, and felt for a pulse. She couldn’t find one. “Oh God, Oh God, Oh God,” she chanted, certain she’d killed him.

She turned and stared at 416, just remembering him. He faced her, his eyes were open, his cheek against the concrete, and he blinked. He’d watched what she’d done. Her hands shook and she glanced down at them.

I just killed Jacob. Her gaze drifted back to the horrific sight of the monster she’d attacked in a fit of pure rage. He deserved it. She tried to sooth her panicked mind. Think. They are going to come in here and find him. They’ll know I killed him. They’ll drag me away, torture me to find out why I interfered, and they’ll kill me. The evidence will never reach my handler. Think, goddamn it, Ellie!

She peered up at the camera. Usually a red light blinked but this one didn’t. It wasn’t on. The guard had followed Jacob’s instructions. No one but 416 had witnessed what had really taken place. She had no idea how long those cameras would remain off but she assumed they would until Jacob ordered them to start monitoring the prisoner again. She swallowed hard and rose to her knees. All her focus shifted to the man who watched her so intently, helpless on the floor.

“It’s going to be okay,” she crooned to him.

The test subjects were dangerous. She’d been warned a hundred times that sometimes the chains that restrained them broke. Mercile Industries had illegally altered human beings with animal genetics somehow, made them stronger than normal humans, and even their appearances had been changed. Testing facility assistants and some doctors had been killed by the people they’d helped create. She’d silently cheered at hearing that news but then, she hated everyone who worked inside the secret facility, performing illegal experiments. Mercile Industries was a drug research and development company that would do anything to make a buck.

She watched 416 cautiously as she allowed her gaze to roam over his na**d body. His back rose and fell with his breathing but besides blinking, he didn’t otherwise move. She noticed a red mark on his side. With his arms stretched upward she could see it clearly. Ellie hesitated. He could kill her if he broke a chain.

He is worth saving. She repeated that silent chant a few times while she worked up the nerve to inch closer to his downed body. She’d already decided to put her life on the line when she’d agreed to work undercover, understanding the real possibility that she might not survive. Lives were all too often taken in the name of science. This company only cared about money and they needed to be stopped.

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