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Screams echoed around the steel walls.
The sound bounced, splintering through the cavernous area and slicing through the senses of those forced to listen.
There was no place for the sound to go, no cracks, no ventilation to the outside. There was no way for it to dissipate easily. The sound ricocheted from wall to wall and from ceiling to floor before making the return trip to blend with the continued agonizing sounds.
Surrounding the theater-style examination/operation room were twelve eight-by-ten cells created from steel and iron bars. The cells ran the entire length of the steel wall at one side and were connected by frames of black iron bars at the front.
The barred doors were reinforced; the locks were digital as well as electronically keyed and almost impossible to crack unless total power, including that of the backup generators, was lost. Only then would the locks disengage and allow the animals held inside to be freed.
Or were they humans?
There were times when even they were uncertain of who or what they were, other than the fact that they had been created at the hands of the doctors and the scientists who were now inflicting a hellish death rather than creating a hellish life.
The screams echoed around the cavernous room again, filled with pain, fear and the knowledge that time had run out and there was no escape.
But she had been crying for days. Inconsolable wails that had left those locked behind the bars fighting the restless rage beginning to fill them. They had even seemed to affect the guards created to rule over them. Men, animals, whose eyes held no mercy but who now seemed to glance at one another in uncomfortable silence as the time of death grew closer. As the imprisoned creations watching them seemed to grow more still, more calm and silent than ever before.
They were her young, of a sort.
Conception had occurred in the artificial environment of a lab before the fertilized egg was transplanted into her womb and carried to term. As the time of birth neared, she was injected with the monstrous paralytic they had created that paralyzed all but the vocal cords, leaving their victims with only the ability to scream. Once she was restrained, then the child was cut from her body as she screamed in agony.
Unable to move.
Unable to fight.
Unable to control any part of her body except the vocal cords that the scientists refused to silence.
She would scream until her voice broke and then only silent animalistic growls would emerge from her throat.
But she wasn’t an animal. She wasn’t even a half animal as her young were. She was a young woman who had forgotten what gentleness and freedom were. She knew only the captivity, the pain, the endless pregnancies and forced births.
And now she would only know the agony and fear of a senseless, vicious death, which her young were forced to watch in uncaring silence.
Breed number 107 sat on his cot in the corner of the cell, his head laid back against the steel bars as his mother’s terror-filled sobs echoed through the room once again.
He and the one he called brother, the one they called 108, were only a few of the young in the lab that were products of her genetics. Born not just of her body but also of her egg, which had been fertilized in vitro with the animal-tainted genetically altered sperm used to create the Breeds.
And they were forced to remain silent, outwardly unconcerned, as though her screams meant nothing. As though they weren’t ripping through their souls and tearing their guts to ribbons each time she begged, each time she screamed in agony.
Each time she begged God for mercy.
Breed number 107 kept his eyes closed, his breathing regulated, and called upon fourteen years of training to maintain the control needed to restrain his rage and pain. If just one of her young broke, if just one of them showed a reaction or showed an emotion, then three of them would die.
As so many had already died. So many had already known the inhuman agony that waited when they were strapped down on the autopsy table in the center of the room.
The day before, the scientists had tortured one of their favored pets as well. As though they couldn’t sate their hunger for the blood, screams and agony forced upon the Breeds. Their victim, the Coyote lieutenant Elder, had been a surprising addition to the scientists’ mercilessness. Because, strangely, in an act so out of character for a Coyote, Elder had attempted to slip the woman from the labs and to shut down the generators that kept the scientists’ creations caged and under control.
Elder had failed, though. He’d been betrayed by one of the twelve who now sat silently in the cells as their dam’s voice began to rise in horror.
Breed number 107 wondered if this would be the final horror that would break the only female in the group. The young Cheetah female also suspected to be the woman’s natural child. The one who lay, as though sleeping, on the small cot in a far cell.
Morningstar wasn’t just being punished, though, and they all knew it. They had all watched Elder’s vivisection the day before and heard the scientists’ muttered conversation about a mating. So it was no surprise to 107 when they dragged the gentle, weeping woman from the enclosed room where she’d been kept confined since Elder’s failed attempt at removing her from the labs.
Her long, heavy black hair had flowed around her naked body, tangled and mussed from her battle with the soldiers who’d had to drag her away from Elder’s unconscious body after they were captured.
Now she was insane with rage from Elder’s death, and the pain from the soldiers’ touch. She had fought them as he had never seen her fight.
She cursed, raged, screamed out obscenities and called down all manner of curses against them. Her normally dark brown eyes, strangely flecked with blue, were a pure ice blue now, like flames burning in her Native American features.