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No Mercy General – Installment 4

Almost there, I could see the steel elbow of a hydraulic arm attached at the top of the entrance from over the railing. After a couple more flights, a set of metal encased glass doors came into view, followed by the sharp and caustic signature of chlorine. For the second time that morning lethal fumes assailed my senses, and once again, I found myself exposed before a total stranger.

It was standard procedure to do a thorough background check on all potential personnel at Tepes Memorial Institute. I had no doubt Dr. Lynn’s investigators sifted and sorted through every intimate and private detail of my life. Damn them.

My life, not some fictional indulgence penned to provide amusement for a few hours. Yet, less than twenty minutes ago, I was required to lay out the most painful part of it before him as proof of my worthiness. To hell with that!

Dr. Lynn wanted something from me, and it had nothing to do with my control over my leopardess. The knowing I saw in his crystalline eyes stripped me bare, like a lover too far gone to bother with foreplay. A mistake many males have made when coming for my kitty. I, too, held a degree in head games, a masters in fact, and only a fool played light with me.

“As I stated before Dr. Lynn, I have never learned to shift into leopard form. However, I do possess the ability to focus my primal energy to such a degree that I can tap into my leopard’s heightened senses.”

“What else are you capable of?”

The question was expected; the accusation that lied beneath surprised me. There was no way Dr. Lynn didn’t know about the civil war in Dubai, the decimation of the Arabian leap, or my first bloodletting at age six. Any of which would justify horrendous acts of self-preservation.

Tempted to take a crack at him myself, I’d forgotten Ryland’s error for a moment. With six words, Dr. Lynn forced me back into the mountains, desperate to escape the rape squads, purists, and much worse. I could smell the burning of fur and flesh, hear the roars and curses of battle, and experienced once again the inhumanity of my second nature.

Primal energy began to fill my lungs, like the carcinogen of an unfiltered menthol. A nauseating excitement fingered every nerve ending, as the first prickles of my cat’s arousal spread across my back.

The audacity, I refused to be judged for something that I was too young to understand much less control, not by Dr. Lynn, Ryland Hynes, or anyone else. “I’m so not the one, you soulless bastard,” I thought, as I watched one corner of his lecherous mouth curl upward.

The smug S.O.B. smiled at me, as if he’d read my very thought and would relish the attempt. I forced myself to concentrate on my breathing, took one long slow breath after another. Outwardly, I gave only my clinical façade. I’d never reward him with any sign of the hurt he’d reawakened. Instead, I allowed myself to savor the tartness of righteous indignation, let it coat every syllable of my reply.

“I possess exceptional speed and strength, a trained analytical mind, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Not as chaste as I initially thought, Ryland made a half-assed attempt to cover his chuckle with a cough. In that split second, we achieved oneness in our mutual pisstivity with Dr. Lynn.

“I don’t believe your response to be very helpful, Dr. Xanders.”

“I don’t believe we have time to role play Dr. Lynn. If there’s something specific you’d like to know, please ask.”

“Let me be direct, Dr. Xanders, your inability to shift would be considered a gift to many in the were community. Yet, I get the impression you view it as a handicap, why?”

“Straight for the jugular is it, Dr. Lynn?”

“Unfortunately, Dr. Xanders.”

“I’ll have to remind myself to stake you through that shriveled up excuse for a heart some day.”

I don’t know what made me so bold, possibly the urgency of our situation, the stress on my nerves, or the look of shock on Dr. Lynn’s face. Which earned me a tearful knee-slapping bout of laughter from Ryland. Oddly, though obviously annoyed with his administrator, Dr. Lynn seemed somewhat impressed with my response. Not able to pass up an opportunity, I went for broke.

“Look Dr. Lynn, I don’t know what invisible hoops you expect me to jump through. I came here to interview for a position on your staff. Either hire me or dismiss me, but don’t waste my time.”

Lightening flashed across those colorless orbs again. I felt a build up of power pulsate through the room. The word “smite” scrolled across my brain in canary yellow fonts. I prepared to meet my maker, which was okay for the moment; I had many questions for Him anyway.

To be continued…

No Mercy General – Installment 3

Testosterone levels had become toxic, polluted the air and caused temporary hallucinations. I sincerely prayed this to be the case. I wanted so badly to have imagined it all. The alternative was unacceptable. In the time it took to exhale one breath, the situation had gone from chest-pounding stupid to a waking nightmare.

Ryland erupted from his seat in a burst of Kenneth Cole clad fury. Hints of his other nature flickered to life, as tawny colored streaks spread from his hairline toward slightly pointed ears. The charcoal threads of his cotton blazer, which seconds ago fitted to tailored perfection, strained against a frame almost two sizes larger.

He leaned over the ancient desk. His weight rested on the tips of curved fingers that looked as if frozen in the act of becoming. A heart-stopping chuckle escaped before his words. It was the laughter of four-legged death on the hunt in the savanna.

“Let’s be very clear, Merryl. As administrator, I’m the authority at Tepes Memorial.”

“So long as I allow it.”

“I’ve earned my right to lead this facility, and you well know it.”

“Settle down cub,” Dr. Lynn sighed, “before I slap the fangs out of your mouth.”

“You dare address me in that manner, and in front of an outsider?”

Ryland personified speed. He started around the massive desk before my eyes registered movement. Too bad, it wasn’t fast enough. With a slight flex of Dr. Lynn’s left hand, a gesture better suited to remove dust from his hospital jacket, Ryland became airborne.

I watched in horror and a good measure of shame, as he was yanked five-feet above the floor. Carried by an invisible angel with obvious anger management issues, Ryland moved jerkily through the air by the collar of his expensive shirt and blazer. In that snapshot of time Ryland indeed looked the petulant cub, one about to be scolded, by a parent who missed its kill, and hadn’t eaten in days.

I knew Dr. Lynn was powerful. I’d soon learn he was also the stuff of nightmares.

Dr. Lynn didn’t rise from his desk; he levitated into an upright position with the aid of the same invisible valet. He took a half step toward the immobile Ryland, reached for him with a hand possessed of fingernails sharper than razors, and with the tenderness of a father grasped his head just behind the ear.

Ryland seemed to expect what happened. He neither struggled nor submitted. He stood his ground, such as it was, and defiantly held Dr. Lynn’s gaze.

Dr. Lynn returned Ryland’s glare with one of those this-is-gonna-hurt-me-more-than-you looks.

Yeah, when was the last time a parent went to bed with their ass burning after they’d delivered a spanking.

And for that matter, why punish me too? I hadn’t done anything.

Power, the flavor I’ve never sampled before, sucked the oxygen directly from my lungs. It was early morning; the sun flooded the small office in golden brilliance. Yet the light seemed to have dimmed. I heard children laughing, the light faded faster. A child shrieked in pain or terror, I was in darkness. Angry adults, lots of them, shouted vulgarities at Opie. I saw Opie, from Mayberry. Opie with a mop of brown hair so dark, he could have washed it in tar.

Blood. I tasted the sweet coppery tang of blood in the air. I felt a hurt between my thighs. I began to grow and stiffen, I needed to rub it and make the hurt go away. But I liked the hurt too, it made me kinda dance funny. I’d never felt like this before, I needed to rub my penis really bad.

“My penis?!”

I saw another child, flat on his butt, nose bleeding profusely. Angry hands struck me across the face and back of the head. Something hard smacked across my backside, hard enough to knock me down. More blows, someone kicked me in the rump. Where was Paw, Aunt Bee, hell, I’d settle for Barney.

“It wasn’t my fault. Martin hit me first. The blood smelled so good, it made me want more. So I hit him harder. I didn’t mean to break- De’javu.” I came too in the middle of another argument. Only this time I was the one jerked from the floor.

Ryland lifted me into his arms and carried me to the leather couch at the other end of the office. Yes, leather couch, it comes with the license to practice. Dr. Lynn handed me a shot glass full a colorless liquor. One sniff and my sinus cleared as my eyes teared in surrender. I thought it prudent to sip the unknown concoction rather than tossing it back.

I pushed myself up on wobbly arms until I sat properly with my feet planted on the floor. Every emotion and doubt I’d suppressed during the interview, raced upward from the pit of my stomach toward the only available escape hatch.

I wanted my composure and professionalism back. I needed them. I took a large gulp from the shot glass, I wanted to get my emotions drunk enough to have my way with them. I came here with a purpose, and I planned to see it through.

“I believe Dr. Lynn, you asked about my leopardess. I’d like to continue where we left off. Assuming there are no further objections?”

To be continued…

No Mercy General – Installment 2

Less than five minutes had passed since the report of the orderlies’ death, which had shaken me more than those who worked with him.

Mrs. Ellicott, staff assistant to Dr. Lynn possessed all the humanity of an iceberg. Outside of the initial urgency she displayed when relaying the news, Thelma Ellicott did not furrow as much as one perfectly arched eyebrow.

Everything about the woman bellowed militant professionalism; from her flawlessly styled sister-locks painstakingly woven into a French braid, the stoic beauty of her unsweetened cocoa features, to her wrinkle free navy blue linen suit accented with a cream silk camisole. Thelma Ellicott was prepared to address any emergency with military precision and runway model aplomb. Exactly, what the doctor had ordered.

Dr. Lynn remained seated behind his desk, a massive piece of furniture carved from an ancient tree long extinct. He was a man of power though the source was indefinable, much like the man himself. His shoulder length mane was white, not platinum or blonde, but white. As if, the very roots had drained the color from each shaft to paint his skin in a multitude of ethnicities.

Near colorless his eyes held the intensity of an experienced sharpshooter, though his gaze emanated tenderness and sorrow. Both ears and nose had the slight sagging normally associated with advanced age, yet his face and overall build portrayed a man just short of reaching his prime.

Even his mouth, shaped by sin, was a profound contradiction. Though he spoke with the softness of cotton, Dr. Lynn’s words resonated like thunder. So, when he requested my assistance to help resolve the current crisis, refusal was neither an option nor a thought. I admit, I felt somewhat compelled to follow his instructions, and knew I wanted never to disappoint him.

“I would like for you and Ryland to lead this investigation,” Dr. Lynn said. “Your para-forensic background will be an asset.”

“I’m very sorry for your loss, Dr. Lynn. I promise you, I’ll do everything within my power to bring closure to this tragedy.”

“Forgive me Dr. Xanders; I had hoped to broach this sensitive subject with you in private. Unfortunately, delicacy is no longer an option. How much control do you have over your leopardess?”

Of course, I expected the question; where else if not a facility for supernatural and two-natured beings could I practice with some measure of peace.

In the civilian world, not many of our kind are able to pass for human. Those who are successful can only do so for limited amounts of time. Rarer still are those civilians who know and accept our kind, some to the degree of becoming willing mates.

Still it would have been preferable not to have Ryland Hynes present, not due to the flavor of his other nature, simply because he was an ass.

“As I’m sure my background check revealed my heritage traces back to the Arabian Leopard Leap. To my knowledge, I am the last of my bloodline, I have not learned to shift or survive in bestial form. However, I-”

“With respect, Merryl,” Ryland broke in. “If her parents weren’t responsible enough to teach her about her other nature, how can you think to trust her in such a critical situation?”

“Are you questioning my judgment Ryland, or just challenging my authority?”

Lighting. I swear that for a moment I actually saw lightening flash across the clear crystal of Dr. Lynn’s eyes. His expression never darkened, he made no attempt to rise to his feet. In fact, Dr. Lynn reclined further in his overstuffed leather executive chair, and laced his fingers across the flatness of his stomach.

Ryland was out of his chair so fast, the laws of gravity had become confused, as black leather and chrome somersaulted in mid air before the chair crash-landed on its arms against the hardwood floor.

I didn’t need to be psychic to know it was about to go postal, and I was first in line at the counter.

To be continued…

No Mercy General – Installment 1

Something was wrong.

I could feel it just under the skin, a nauseating prickle of excitement that threatened to overload my nerves and slam me down on all fours. I tried to center myself, concentrate on my breathing. It proved difficult. A sequestered but insistent part of me was aroused by the prospect of danger. Another more dominant and saner side simply wanted to know where all the exits were.

I knew this to be an opportunity, no matter how dreadful, to demonstrate my abilities. I’d trained for just this type of situation, it’s the reason I applied for a position at Tepes Memorial Institute; known within the community as No Mercy General. I reminded myself of this as I tried to gather my thoughts. I needed to focus on the crisis in front of me. I raced toward the basement. In spite of every save-your-own-ass synapse that lit my brain, I managed to keep my composure and not do a header down the concrete stairs.

The stairwell was windowless, but there should have been more light. Shadows huddled at strange angles along the dishwater gray walls in anticipation of the next alert to whistle. Which resounded not as a lilting tweet but an authoritative clang that reverberated through my body down to the marrow of my bones? It was all the confirmation that I needed. Iron shields slammed home across every window and door.

No way out. It spooked the hell out of me. I relied on my training, and desperately tried to get out of my head and detach from my emotions. Later, assuming there’d be one, I would treat myself to an old-fashioned-babbling breakdown.

Until then I couldn’t afford to worry that I was barely halfway down with nineteen floors to go, or that the emergency lights hadn’t come on causing my sight to switch to night vision green. Nor would I worry that the alarm didn’t sound, or security hadn’t flooded the stairwell. Just as I wouldn’t worry that, an irate administrator brushed against my heels in an attempt to get to the basement ahead of me.

“Is there anything I haven’t been told,” I asked. “Any news about his condition, the circumstances regarding the incident? Were there any other personnel at the scene?”

“I can sense your panic, Ms. Xanders. It sorta smells like lunch”, he said. “You really don’t belong here.”

“It’s Mykael, Mr. Hynes. And don’t let the boobs fool you; I can handle myself as well as you can.”

“TMI will eat you alive kitten, if I don’t first,” he snarked, then took the stairs four at a time.

I couldn’t tell if Ryland Hynes was being an ass because of the current situation, a genuine lack of faith in my skills, or simply a defect of birth. Either way he was determined to see me fail and run off with my tail tucked between my legs. As far as I was concerned, he could kiss my freckled round behind. I’ve stood my ground against other dominant males, and made every one of them regret it.

“I realize juvenile remarks are your feeble way of coping,” I said. “Maybe you’d feel better back in the Chief’s office, while a professional attends to this matter.”

“Tepes Memorial means more to me than a paycheck, Ms. Xanders. You’d do well to remember that.”

“No Mr. Hynes, you’d do well to remember it. Start by focusing on what’s really important,” I said, as I caught up to him a half pace behind.

“I know only what was reported during your interview,” he said. “I had security split up to secure admissions and the aquatic treatment center. I expect to find out the rest the same time you do.”

He was lying of course. Flames could engulf TMI and Ryland Hynes wouldn’t bother to ask if I was warm. He was as pink and fuzzy several minutes ago, when I reported to the office of Dr. Merryl Lynn, Chief of Psychology to endure the inquisition that substituted for an interview.

My nerves had become as frayed as my patience, which by that point was non-existent. I silently repeated the yoga mantra for calm “wooosaaa” for several minutes. Seconds before I was about to hurl my breakfast all over the nice man’s shoes, I realized I didn’t attend yoga classes.

Mr. Hynes, undaunted as ever, had just completed the methodical removal of my fingernails and moved toward my feet when the chief’s staff assistant exploded into the office with the news. Security reported that one of the orderlies was dead and, the body was found in the spa treatment room.

To be continued…