Battle for Freedom
It was dark when she woke to the blinding pain in her side and leg. Wincing when she shifted her body to accommodate the wound in her leg, Bethany McArthur looked around and found herself in the depths of a forest. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness around her, Bethany realized that there was something odd in the air. It felt as if someone was with her, but she just knew that she was alone.
Clutching her weapons tighter, she listened for the person or creature that was nearby. The leaves rustled in the wind, small creatures moved back and forth looking for food and shelter, and her breathing was harsh in the stillness of the night.
“I mean you no harm young one,” the musical voice that stilled Bethany spoke.
“Who are you? Where are you?” The questions came out harsh and proved, in her mind, that she was afraid.
Soft laughter was heard and the air before her shimmered allowing a figure to be seen. It was almost a mirror image of herself. Long dirty blonde hair, a sun kissed tan on her normally white skin, a petite frame that hid much danger and power, and full ruby red lips that were begging to be kissed. It was the eyes that bothered her though. While Bethany’s eyes were a dark emerald green, this creature’s eyes were a deep indigo.
Bethany could feel the sincerity from the creature and relaxed her stance. Seeing the reaction the creature sat down and began to speak.
“I am Isis, a being of Magic that is being hunted to feed the demons ruling many of the countries on this planet. I have been searching for the perfect host, one who can help me manifests the magic I can do, and destroy the Demons once and for all.
“There is a group of men and women who have accepted others of my kind into their bodies, but I have information that can turn the tide of this war. Please, young one, help me help your people from total destruction and annihilation from these Demons.” Isis’ plea struck a chord within Bethany and she pondered what to do next.
Bethany could leave Isis to her fate, a fate worse than death; or she could open her body and mind to the magical being and allow the use of her body to become another weapon. She bit her lip and thought back to what she was running from.
If she had Isis with her, it would be easier for her to hide from those hunting her as well. Looking to the nervous creature before her Bethany spoke in hushed tones.
“I will be your host, only if you can help me hide from those hunting me.”
A nod and a sigh of relief permeated the air and Bethany felt the change in the air around her. Colours and lights shown around her body, and before she could do anything, the glow seeped into her skin and knocked her unconscious. Bethany could only hope that she could handle the change after what had been done to her.
Bethany woke up slowly and was surprised at what she could hear. Everything was sharper, more focused, and she could tell that she hadn’t moved since she collapsed from the overload to her body.
She stretched before she remembered she was injured, and was surprised that there was no pain.
‘I healed you Bethany and hid you from searchers. It was the least I could do for allowing me to share your body.’ Isis’ voice sounded in her mind and Bethany relaxed.
‘Thank you Isis. I really didn’t want to go back there.’ The shudder couldn’t be suppressed and a sense of calm washed over her, keeping the horrible memories away.
Sending another wave of thanks to Isis, Bethany rose and started moving towards the location of the last camp that the magic users were at last. They left hidden clues for the newly turned, and Bethany needed to know if they moved yet or not.
The forest was dense and dark. As she made her way through the maze, Bethany was suddenly glad that she had Isis with her. The thought of being returned to the institute where they wanted the perfect hunter, made her move a bit faster. She could see clearly in the dark, and was able to avoid several traps and dangerous animals. As her body fell more towards exhaustion and hunger, Bethany spotted a small pond where she could drink.
Taking small sips of the cool water, Bethany was glad that Isis was purifying the water for her as she drank. Off to her left, a twig snapped and she froze. Peering over Bethany saw a rare sight since the new order had come into power. A Blood Tiger made its way over to her and it seemed to be seeing if she was a threat.
‘Let me speak to him, please Bethany.’ Isis pleaded in her mind, and Bethany allowed her to take control.
“Majestic Blood Tiger, we are honoured that you have graced us with your presence.” Isis bowed their body and spoke to the ground.
A growl was heard and Bethany saw the Blood Tiger closer than before, and it sat beside them, and waited for Isis to speak.
“I am Isis, my host is Bethany. We mean you no harm as we are searching for food and shelter to hide from hunters.” Her voice took on a frightened edge, and Bethany knew that both of them had deep fears of those who worked for the Order of the Lands.
Before Bethany could do anything, the Blood Tiger swiped at her arm and left a cut. Before Isis could heal the wound, the Blood Tiger let several drops of its blood to drop into the wound. Gasping in shock, Bethany felt another mind attach itself to hers and she looked at the Blood Tiger in awe. It had bonded with Isis and herself.
A wave of protectiveness came through the bond, and Bethany took control enough to stroke the red fur. Giving a soft smile, the bonded pair walked towards a cave off the side of the small pond.
“We should give you a name. We can’t call you Blood Tiger or it all the time now.” Smiling Bethany sat by some furs and curled into the warmth.
Pondering over names, Isis and Bethany debated over several options. After much debate both decided on naming their bonded Kagu-tsuchi, or Kagu for short. He was their guard as they slept, allowing both Isis and Bethany much needed rest.
As the Magic and her bonded fell asleep, Kagu shifted. A man soon took his place and smiled at the body within the furs. Yes, he was quite happy with his bonded. She was beautiful and bear him many pups once her mission was over.
Bethany woke to the smell of cooked meat and fire. Blinking sleepily around the cave, she noticed that Kagu was seated by the entrance and there was a plate, an actual plate, filled with cooked meats. She shifted, noticing that Isis was still sleeping.
‘She’s probably recovering from getting the food prepared.’ Bethany ignored the tingle of amusement coming from Kagu and began to eat the cooked meat.
As she ate the meat, Bethany thought back to her imprisonment and shuddered softly. She would have many problems over the years coming to terms that the Order of the Lands had handpicked her to become a test subject. One that was expendable to their cause.
When she had first gotten there, she was treated kindly and asked to go and do specific things. At that time, she didn’t mind the tests, but after she began to get ill, she tried to refuse. Once she began to resist in any form, the minders became guards and the doctors became scientists. She remembered the searing pain from the drugs they put in her system. Every needle caused her senses to overload as she tried to force the drugs and experiments out of her system.
For a long time, it didn’t work. The experiments became more dangerous and geared towards making her a controllable killer, but they could not kick her out of her own mind. When they couldn’t remove her, they tried to make another personality in her body to take over, but that failed as well.
The day she escaped was the most frightening. A man had come in with too many teeth showing in his smile and looked over her body in a way that made her physically ill, once he left her cell. The door remained open and she slunk out into the shadows. Many of the scientists were busy preening under the praise of these people and she made it past the second to last security point before they found out that she was missing.
The sounds of the sirens blaring made her run towards the forest off to the side, where she could hide from the scientists and the men roaming around the facility. As she ran through the brush, a shot rang out and hit her leg. Muffling her scream of pain at the torn bone, muscle and skin, Bethany kept running. She was about to give up when she had met Isis, and was grateful that she had a fellow sister to move with her, keeping the loneliness and madness away.
Concern poured down the bond and Bethany jerked herself out of her memories. Seeing Kagu looking at her with worried eyes, Bethany curled around the Blood Tiger and smiled into his warm fur.
“I’m alright now Kagu. I was just remembering how I got here. If it wasn’t for Isis, I’d probably be back at the facility or, hopefully, I would have been dead.” Kagu growled softly and she sniffled.
“It hurt so much Kagu. They wanted me to be a hunter, a killer, twisted for their benefit even if it meant that I was to lose everything that I was. Everything that I could be would have been lost to the sick and twisted minds of the Order of the Lands.” The tears she had been fighting finally fell into the warm fur of Kagu.
Curling into the Blood Tiger, Bethany missed Isis’ awakening as she cried out her sorrows. Kagu noticed the other being within the bond awakening and sent concern, but muted happiness her way.
‘You are safe now Bethany.’ Isis’ musical voice pierced her thoughts, and Bethany could only nod.
‘Those men cannot hurt you anymore, and by letting out your tears, it will aid you in the long run. You are healing my friend, and while physically you are perfectly healthy, the wounds to your mind must take time to heal.’
As Bethany felt Isis take over, she fell into an exhausted sleep as muted words floated past as she recovered from her emotional breakdown.
Isis looked at Kagu and smiled. “You are more than you seem, yes?”
Stepping back from his bonded, Kagu shifted and a young man appeared in his place. Isis looked him over and noticed that golden skin and blood red hair shown first and foremost, his eyes were a pale green, and there was little body hair covering him.
His eyes were fixed upon hers and Isis smiled. “I knew you were different from other Blood Tigers. May I ask-”
He shook his head before she could finish and Isis knew that he wanted to keep his secret a while longer.
“I will speak when it is time, not before.” His voice was a deep baritone and it rumbled from his chest.
Isis knew that there was a reason he bonded with them, but she would keep her speculations to herself. Smiling at their new aid, Isis followed him out into the sun where they began to make their trek towards the settlement that Isis had lodged in her memory.
Bethany woke and found herself in a different place. Panicking a bit at first, she relaxed a feeling Isis in her mind and seeing Kagu sitting by the fire. Taking a deep breath, Bethany relaxed and looked at her surroundings.
They were in a more open area of the forest, and she could hear more animals. Light shone through the trees and made small, dancing shadows across the ground. There were thicker trees in this area and much undergrowth. She knew that this area was kept alive by the Magics of the Old Order. The smell of lavender and baby’s breath made her smile, it reminded her of home.
Home; that was something she hadn’t thought about in a while. Her parents had been mysteriously killed and the rest of her family had died many years before. She had a bad feeling that the Order of the Lands had wanted her and her parents refused to give her up. By refusing their orders, her parents were killed, and she was taken in and tested upon.
She shuddered at the thought of them getting her now that she was bonded to a Blood Tiger and had a magical being inside of her. Settling her resolve, Bethany swore that she would die before letting anything harm her two allies in this dangerous time. As she was thinking, Kagu came over with a few branches with edible berries on them. Smiling her thanks, Bethany ate a few and kept the rest on her for while they were walking.
“We should keep going. The more ground we cover, the faster we can catch up to the other Blended.” Bethany’s voice was soft and Kagu nodded, pushing his head into her hand and motioning her to get up.
As they made their way forward, Bethany kept her senses open to the air and area around her as they walked and was able to dodge a patrol. Now that they were in an open area, it would be much more difficult to hide from the Enforcers or the Hunters.
Bethany looked at the trees and smiled. She knew that is she had to, she could hide in the trees and Kagu could hide in the bushes. Seeing Kagu agree with her, Bethany climbed the tree and kept a look out for the many patrols and slinkers that could expose them.
Spotting several gaps in the patrols, Bethany made her way down the tree and motioned Kagu to follow her and Isis decided to take over.
‘I know how to keep us hidden Bethany, please let me take control.’ Isis’ voice was pleading and Bethany allowed the shift.
As they moved quickly through the trees and forest, Bethany was worried that they would be spotted, but they ran by several patrols, and none ever noticed them. They had made much progress after several hours, but Bethany could feel her body tiring. Getting Isis to stop at a nearby cave, they hid in the shadows until dark before even thinking of making a fire.
It was four hours after dark, and a nap in Kagu’s fur that got them moving again. As they traversed the land, Bethany grinned at the freedom she had, even though she was bonded to two beings, she never felt more alive.
Kagu felt the exhilaration through the bond and smirked mentally. Bethany would be a fine mate, but they needed to get to the camp of the Magic before he could show his true self to her. Hopefully she would not be too afraid.
Isis began to stir and jolted Bethany to a stop. The area was well known to Isis and her excitement began to build.
‘They were here Bethany! My people were here!’
As they searched the area, signs that the Blended had been there recently and that they were headed for the ruins of the Old Order. Bethany knew where that was and began the run towards the new location, and just missed being spotted by the patrol as they moved over the hills.
Isis explained that they remained in an area for a month before moving again, and Bethany explained that it took merely a week to get there by foot. As both women spoke in their mind, Kagu led Bethany to a cave where she could rest as he hunted some meat. She needed fuel and rest, and the best way to get that was if she sat while he hunted.
Finding a remote cave that was dry and mostly clean, Bethany and Isis sat to wait for Kagu to return with meat so that they could eat and then rest for a few hours before moving once more. All three were wary of being in one place for too long, and only took short naps that allowed them to rest. They would sleep only when they got to the main camp, and not before.
Kagu returned with a carcass of a baby deer and Isis cleaned and cooked the meat with magic. They couldn’t afford to have a fire, and by using magic, it would be easier to hide from the Hunters and the Enforcers.
As they ate in silence, Bethany knew that they were hiding something from her, but decided to wait until they were at the camp of the Blended before she said anything. She smiled at Kagu as she went to sleep and swore that she felt a bolt of lust from the Blood Tiger, before it was smothered by protectiveness. Shrugging off the feeling, Bethany missed the sigh of relief shared by Isis and Kagu as she fell into a deep slumber.